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Transcript: All In with Chris Hayes, 5/20/21

Guests: Hakeem Jeffries, Olivia Beavers, Rosalind Helderman, Alexis McGill Johnson, Harry Litman


Last night, just 35 Republicans in the House joined Democrats to vote to create a commission to investigate what happened on January 6. Trump`s supporters are seeing to replicate the Arizona audit on other parts of the country. Texas Governor Greg Abbott signs one of the country`s strictest abortion restrictions into law yesterday. Trump executive, Allen Weisselberg is under criminal investigation over his taxes.


JELANI COBB, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: So, people know that this has been -- may have been more than they could chew. There are protests that are going on at the university now. We have to fight this at every level to make sure that it doesn`t metastasize.

JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: Absolutely. This is not just about Nikole Hannah Jones. This is about the truth and we are going to fight for it every single day. Jelani Cobb, thank you very much, my friend. I really appreciate you being here.

And that is tonight`s REIDOUT. "ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES starts now.


ZERLINA MAXWELL, MSNBC HOST: Tonight on ALL IN. The Republican attack on their own continues as their leader runs away from questions about a cover up.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you absolutely certain that none of your members were in any communication with any of the people who stormed Capitol Hill?

REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): I don`t believe any are but thank you for the question. Everybody, have a nice day.

MAXWELL: Tonight, Congressman Hakeem Jeffries on the future of a January 6 Commission. Then, new reporting on how the tactics of Arizona`s phony election audit are being exported around the country.

Plus, the CEO of Planned Parenthood on the Republican crusade to end a woman`s right to choose. All that and former Mueller prosecutor Andrew Weissmann on the criminal investigation into the Trump Organization when ALL IN starts right now.


MAXWELL: Good evening from Washington D.C. I`m Zerlina Maxwell in for Chris Hayes. Every day, the party of the insurrection, the party of Donald Trump is showing us exactly who they are. Last night, just 35 Republicans in the House joined Democrats to vote to create a commission to investigate what happened on January the sixth when hundreds and hundreds of rioters mob the United States Capitol Building.

I lost everything, everything.


MAXWELL: And we`re back after having just a few technical difficulties. So, I will pick up exactly where I left off. Last night, just 35 Republicans in the House joined Democrats to vote to create a commission to investigate what happened on January the sixth, when hundreds and hundreds of rioters mob the U.S. Capitol Building, sending members of Congress literally fleeing for their lives all in an attempt to overturn the results of the election and keep Donald Trump in power.

Now, that vote came after a four-month long negotiation between Democrats and Republicans. Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy even sent one of his own members, Congressman John Katko of New York to advocate for their side. He worked out the details of that bill with his Democratic counterpart on the Homeland Security Committee, Congressman Bennie Thompson of Mississippi.

And when they finally came to an agreement, Kevin McCarthy knifed John Katko in the back. He said he would not support the bill and urged his caucus to do the same. Congressman Katko was left alone to defend himself and the bill from the false attacks coming from within his own party.


REP. JOHN KATKO (R-NY): Another charge I heard was that the commission could be controlled by partisan staff hired unilaterally by the commission chair. That is simply not true. The Commission creates rules as a team, then they then hire as a team.

And lastly, there`s been some concerns or arguments made about the criminal investigations. Make no mistake about it. This Commission has nothing to do with the criminal investigations. This commission by law cannot interfere with criminal investigations.


MAXWELL: Today, Kevin McCarthy took the backstabbing even further calling the deal that Congressman Katko negotiated for him, remember, the Democrat`s commission.


MCCARTHY: This Pelosi commission that we tried to work on for quite some time, remember, I asked Pelosi for one on January 13th. She spent four months just playing politics with it. I just think a Pelosi commission is a lot of politics.


MAXWELL: Now, we know at least part of what is going on here, and that`s the vast majority of the party remains completely loyal to the retiree in Mar-a-Lago, former President Donald Trump. They do his bidding, and he does not want this commission to move forward. In his statement about the vote, Trump said in part, "See, 35 wayward Republicans, they just can`t help themselves. We have much better policy and are much better for the country, but the Democrats stick together and the republicans don`t."

But here`s the thing. Whatever Trump and McCarthy do not want to come out about January 6th, that will most likely come out with or without a commission. And probably before the midterm elections next year. Democrats could hold hearings, and that would bring wall-to-wall coverage.

A commission would actually be a better strategy for Republicans. And yet, they remain afraid, so, very afraid. In fact, they literally ran away from questions today.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you think it`s a conflict of interest for members to be voting on a commission that they might have to potentially be witnesses for and provide information on?

MCCARTHY: No, because who knows what they`re going to do on the commission? So no, I don`t think so.

Are you absolutely certain that none of your members were in any communication with any of the people who stormed Capitol Hill?

MCCARTHY: I don`t believe any are but thank you for the question. Everybody, have a nice day.


MAXWELL: So, instead of the commission and investigating the insurrection, Republicans are focused instead on nonsense. Like the bill Congresswoman Ashley Hinson of Iowa just introduced to defund Vice President Kamala Harris` international travel until she visits the southern border. I`m sure a pressing issue for her constituents who live in Iowa more than 1000 miles away from that border.

And I want to bring in Congressman Hakeem Jeffries of New York who serves as chair of the House Democratic Caucus. As a member of leadership who has to pull together divergent perspectives, Congressman, do you have any empathy at all, just be honest, for the position Kevin McCarthy is actually in right now?

REP. HAKEEM JEFFRIES (D-NY): I have zero empathy for him. The House Republican conference is a three-ring circus and Donald Trump is the actual ringmaster. Kevin McCarthy is not in control and we see that time and time again. It`s a complete embarrassment. Donald Trump, in his statement, referenced policy. Where is the Republican policy?

We welcome a policy debate, but we don`t see any. All we see is the big lie over the rule of law. That is what happened to Liz Cheney. She chose patriotism over party, and they threw her out.

MAXWELL: So, were Democrats thinking about alternatives to a commission. Obviously, there`s precedent for a select committee given what Republicans did or Benghazi. So, are you thinking about holding here at hearings or another alternative?

JEFFRIES: Well, we`re focused right now on making sure we get the bipartisan commission over the finish line. The bill passed the House with, under the circumstances, substantial Republican support. 35 House Republicans broke from their leadership to do the right thing.

In the aftermath of the attack on Pearl Harbor, America had a bipartisan commission. In the aftermath of the attack on September 11, America had a bipartisan commission. In the aftermath of this January six violent insurrection and attack on the Capitol, we should have a bipartisan commission.

In all three instances, there was a massive intelligence failure and an existential threat to our way of life. And that bipartisan commission bill that passed the House was negotiated, as you pointed out, Zerlina by the lead Republican on the Homeland Security Committee, John Katko, a former federal prosecutor who`s a law-and-order member of that party`s wing.

MAXWELL: Yes. I wouldn`t want Kevin McCarthy to send me off to do anything if this is how he`s going to react. So, you tweeted earlier this week, we must never let the cult win. How do you see the cold of Trump taking over in the House right now? What if anything can actually be done about it?

JEFFRIES: We`re going to continue to govern with a focus on the Build Back Better agenda. And I think that`s the most important thing that we can do. If the Republicans are willing to work together with us to continue to effort to crush the virus, to provide direct relief and assistance to everyday Americans who are struggling, to create millions of good-paying jobs to the American Jobs Act and lay the foundation to supercharge our economy and create prosperity and opportunity in every single zip code, we welcome that.

But we will not allow the cult to dictate the agenda. And we certainly will not engage in an unconditional surrender.

MAXWELL: When I look at what happened to Congressman Katko, who again, is in the Republican Party, and was sent by Kevin McCarthy to go forth and negotiate, you know, he tried the bipartisan tact and it failed. So, how can you guys on the other side of the aisle work with Republicans in a bipartisan fashion if one of their own can even work in a bipartisan fashion?

JEFFRIES: Well, President Biden has made clear that he`s going to be the president for those people who voted for him and those Americans who did not vote for him. He`ll be the president, for Democrats, Republicans, and for Independents. And I think the agenda that he has set forth is broadly popular amongst the American people.

Divorce that from the sycophants to Donald Trump who are running the Republican Party in the house in the Senate. What`s most important is that the American Rescue Plan, the American Jobs Plan, the American Families Plan are all popular not just amongst Democrats, but amongst Republicans and Independents, because they see the leadership that is coming forth from President Biden, Vice President Harris, Speaker Pelosi, Leader Schumer and our respective caucuses to get things done for the people.

MAXWELL: Congressman Hakeem Jeffries, thank you so much for being here tonight. It was great to see you. Please stay safe.

JEFFRIES: Thank you. You too. Great to see you.

MAXWELL: Carlos Curbelo is a former Republican congressman from Florida, and Olivia Beavers is a congressional reporter at Politico who covers House Republicans, and they both join me now. So, Carlos, I want to start with you. How do you see this as a former member of the Republican Conference in the House? What are your former colleagues thinking right now?

CARLOS CURBELO, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, the first thing I want to highlight, Zerlina, is something that Congressman Jeffries said, and that by today`s standards, this was a bipartisan victory. This was an important bipartisan win in the U.S. House of Representatives.

35 Republicans, that`s more than 10 percent of Republicans despite Donald Trump`s threats, despite leadership whipping against this vote joined the Democratic majority, unanimous Democratic majority to support a commission to find the truth, to highlight the truth, to underline the truth about this horrible event, this horrible threat to our democracy. So, that`s the good news.

The bad news, of course, Zerlina, is that Republican leadership worked against this bill, that most Republicans voted against it. And that even though this was a bipartisan win, there are still a lot of members of Congress and a lot of people in the country who are following someone who only leads people to lies and to dishonesty and to untruth.

So, there`s some good news and bad news here. I think we all have to celebrate that it really looks like we`re going to get a commission that`s going to get to the bottom of all these lies and everything that happened on the sixth of January.

MAXWELL: Look, I think Americans no matter their political persuasion, can look at what happened to our Capitol building and say, we want to make sure that doesn`t ever happen again, especially in terms of the loss of life.

And Olivia, what does that battle look like from Capitol Hill? Does it seem like Republicans are reading hostage notes from Donald Trump? He called a couple of them out by name.

OLIVIA BEAVERS, CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER, POLITICO: Well, as Mr. Curbelo brought up, I think the important part that we`re looking at is, if you look at what Kevin McCarthy`s motivations are, you have to look at the prism that he wants to be speaker and he is hoping that they can win back the majority.

So, he knows that the House Freedom Caucus will not support him if he`s behind this commission, which is why you saw his tactics are first thing. OK, no fingerprints, you vote your conscience. And then, he suddenly starts to get involved because they get -- they became uncomfortable with how many members are starting to support the commission.

I`ve heard from sources who say that they had their minds changed because of McCarthy`s stance on this commission. And some are even assuming that they could have had upwards of 50 votes, if not more, if he had not gotten involved.

So, McCarthy is really trying to go and yes, he needs Trump on his side, he needs the Freedom Caucus on his side. And that`s where he is basically coming at the commission. And if it is run -- if Democrats end up running their own kind of special investigation with setting up a committee, you can imagine they`re going to attack it at every single turn.

And they`re going to claim it`s another witch hunt. It`s probably going to be similar to their tactics that we saw during the first impeachment inquiry into Donald Trump. And, you know, that`s something that they will be able to market themselves on as fighting for Trump when they go into the midterms.

MAXWELL: Well, to that point, Carlos, about the Freedom Caucus and Kevin McCarthy kind of looking at the different sections of the Republican conference and saying, I need the Freedom Caucus, it feels like he`s being led by the extremists. Is there a breaking point or do you think, you know, everybody`s just going to walk together off the cliff?

CURBELO: Well, I think the problem for Leader McCarthy is that this is a no-win situation. So, yes, he has a piece the Freedom Caucus with this stance that he has taken. But I think a lot of these 35 Republicans who voted for this commission, who may be feel like the leader wasn`t there for them or hung them out to dry, he needs their votes too if he wants to be the Speaker of the House.

So, this is -- you know, you win some votes on one end, you lose votes on the other. So, I mean, Kevin McCarthy is taking a big risk here. The issue that I see is that he`s taking a risk not on the side of the truth, but on the side of what the former president is advocating for and encouraging people to do.

So, this is, in my view, a no-win situation. And no matter what Kevin McCarthy did, there were going to be some Republicans who were upset. How those Republicans vote in January of 2023 if Republicans do win back the majority, that`s the question.

MAXWELL: Well, that`s a really big question. If Republicans win back the majority in the meantime, there`s either going to be a commission or hearings. You know, I mentioned the Select Committee on Benghazi. Nancy Pelosi could do that here.

So, Olivia, what`s the Republican strategy if they decide to hold Congressional hearings that are televised? Are we going to see more of that it was just a normal tourist visit?

BEAVERS: You know, I think that you`re going to be seeing Republicans fighting this as fiercely as possible. That is something that they have been shown to do in different hearings when it relates to Donald Trump`s activities. (AUDIO GAP) but it`s going to be kind of hard to tell, depending on what Democrats decide to do.

But going to Mr. Curbelo`s point, there was definitely frustration. I just wanted to highlight that frustration of these moderates that the leader, the GOP leader would throw his own frontline member basically under the bus with a deal that he had tasked him with negotiating. And, you know, I heard that personally from different members being like, you know, that was really not cool.

So, exactly to his point, he needs to make sure that he`s keeping these moderates in his camp too. So, that is something that`s really worth watching.

MAXWELL: There certainly is a balancing act these days in the GOP conference. Carlos Curbelo and Olivia Beavers, thank you so much for being here tonight. Please stay safe.

BEAVERS: Thank you.

CURBELO: Thank you.

MAXWELL: We already knew about the PAC funded by billionaires that was exporting voter restriction laws to states around the country. Arizona is one of the states where the Heritage Action Fund was coaching them on how to slim down the voter rolls. Arizona is also the first state where Republicans were conducting that phony forensic audit looking for literally bamboo shoots with UV lights.

You will notice I said the first state because the Arizona phony recount model is also being exported around the country. And the reporter who can tell us where it`s happening is up next.


MAXWELL: The Republican-led audit of votes in Arizona`s Maricopa County is still ongoing, and nowhere near close to done. After about a month of counting, only about 500,000 of the 2.1 million ballots have been hand- counted. The audit was paused all week. Why? Because the Coliseum where it was taking place was previously booked for high school graduations. It`s set to start up back up on Monday.

This audit has been anything but usual. From the hiring of the firm Cyber Ninjas, which had zero experience in election audits, to using microscopes and UV lights to examine ballots for non-existent watermarks. Two of my very personal favorite, examining ballots for bamboo fibers. No really.

But even with all of that, this Stop the Steal audit strategy is finding support outside of Arizona. The Washington Post reporting that in Michigan, New Hampshire and even California, there have been Republican calls for similar audits. In e-mails, phone calls, and public meetings, Trump supporters are questioning how their elections are administered and pressing public officials to revisit the vote count."

Oh, great. Joining me now is the author of that piece, Rosalind Helderman, political investigations and enterprise reporter for The Washington Post and MSNBC columnist and editor Hayes Brown who wrote an opinion piece looking at that security firm, titled Cyber Ninjas, which is just a funny name. The article is titled :"Arizona`s audit of the 2020 election is a con artist`s dream.

So, Hayes, how is the audit a grift in your view?

HAYES BROWN, MSNBC COLUMNIST AND EDITOR: How -- isn`t it a grift is the better question because like you said, Cyber Ninjas is a firm based out of Florida that has absolutely no experience with elections. Its founder, Doug Logan, is someone who, after the 2020 election was out there posting conspiracy theories on his Twitter account. He later deleted those.

But he`s someone who saw an opportunity in Arizona and took it. And you know what? Props to him in a weird way because I feel like the really good con artists are the ones who can see someone and are sure like no, I can convince this person the skeptic about whatever lie I`m telling.

But the great ones see the people who want to believe whatever it is that`s coming out of their mouth. And in this case, the Arizona Senate GOP really wanted to believe that he was the person and his firm were able to conduct this audit despite mounting evidence that no, they really are not able.

The Senate -- the president of the Arizona Senate, she has doubled down on this firm. She`s trying to claim now that despite all the wackiness we`re seeing, everything`s going exactly the way that she wanted it to, that the whole thing wasn`t about finding fraud, per se, but about you know, checking to make sure the election went well, despite the fact that no that is not what anyone who`s actually been on the floor there seems to be saying what`s the point.

MAXWELL: I mean, for me, it`s just you plan an event when there was an actual carnival taking place outside. I just feel like that was poor planning and, you know, foresight. But that`s my editorializing.

But Rosalind, is this an organized effort by Republican activists to spread the Arizona audit strategy to other states or as Hayes calls it, a grift?

ROSALIND HELDERMAN, POLITICAL INVESTIGATIONS REPORTER: I mean, I think that there is some of both. There`s a financial motivation. There are various groups, including anchors from OAN, the pro-Trump news organization, who are raising money for this. But you know, Donald Trump himself, we have reported, is really fixated on this Arizona process.

He is talking about it constantly. He is asking for updates about it multiple times a day. And the reason why he`s doing that is he believes, and a lot of his fans believe, it`s the first domino. We`re going to see this in Arizona, and then we`re going to see it all over the country and it`s going to vindicate his false claims that he actually won the election. This was the greatest sphere of elections officials, including Republican elections officials who I spoke to as this process started in late April, and now we see it really happening.

My colleague, Amy Gardner, and I found examples just this past month, just in the month of May, seven months after the election in counties in multiple states where you have ordinary people calling their local officials and demanding an Arizona-style audit of their own election results.

MAXWELL: What states are they focusing on, Rosalind, in terms of how Trump sees the strategy to overturn the election? So, it starts in Maricopa County, which is just one county in Arizona, and then what? Because Arizona doesn`t do it math-wise.

HELDERMAN: Sure. I mean, if you talk to Trump or if you look at his statements, he`s focusing on the big swing states. He`s talking Arizona, he`s talking Georgia, he`s talking Pennsylvania. Where we have actually seen this bubbling up from local activists, interestingly, has been in small places, and really Republican-controlled places.

And what appears to be the strategy is, you know, this is local people focusing on counties where they believe they might find friendly local officials. And they`re really, you know, they`re still fixated on this false and disproven theory that Dominion, Dominion brand voting machines could have somehow slipped votes.

So, they`re focused even on Republican counties that use Dominion machines with the goal, it appears, of trying to come up with some vulnerability or anomaly that they have spotted in the Dominion machines, even in places that voted for Trump, that they can then argue, oh, my goodness, if this happened in a Republican county in North Michigan, it might have happened all over the country.

MAXWELL: It`s an interesting strategy. And Hayes, do you see any other organizations like Cyber Ninja popping up anywhere else, you know, these firms that never existed, and all of a sudden, they`re experts in auditing elections?

BROWN: So, while I, myself am not familiar with any of them, I mean, it`s a pretty good gig, if you can get it because I mean, while the actual contract that Cyber Ninjas signed with the Arizona State Senate, is only worth about $150 -- $150,000, excuse me. But what they`ve been able to do is leverage that, like Rosalind said, into fundraising more from private donors.

There`s many, many people out there who are willing to throw money at these kinds of projects because they want to believe that somehow they will magically overturn the election and make Donald Trump president or the very least vindicate him and showed look, the election actually was stolen from him.

So, I would not be surprised if we see a surge in these kinds of firms who are trying to bilk honest people. I mean, because on the one hand, you have people who want to believe that Trump, you know, was over -- was, you know, taken out through illegal means during the election and all that nonsense. But on the other hand, I`m sure there are people out there who I will be convinced during this process that you know what, there are a lot of questions about the elections, we really should just have an outside firm come through and figure all this out.

I mean, that`s what will be the argument of a lot of them. But however bad faith argument, they are there to make money and or to promote this conspiracy theory that Trump actually won.

MAXWELL: Isn`t the grift always about fundraising, though? And last question, Rosalind. How far can these local groups take this? I mean, should we be concerned that you know Joe Biden is going to all of a sudden not be the president any longer? It feels to me like, you know, stuff like this start small, but it came, you know, spin out of control?

HELDERMAN: Well, there is no legal avenue by which Joe Biden is not going to be the President of the United States. The concern is the ongoing undermining of faith in democracy and faith in our democratic elections. Also, just today, the Secretary of State and Arizona has told Maricopa County that they`re going to have to get rid of all of the voting machines that have been handed over to Cyber Ninjas because we can no longer trust that they don`t have malware or other problems with them.

So, once people start to see just how costly this has proven to be in Arizona, there`s a possibility that other places will not be interested in going down this road.

MAXWELL: Well, we`ll pay attention because the future of our democracy is at stake. Thank you Rosalind Helderman and Hayes Brown for joining me tonight. Please stay safe.

Next, an attack on women`s rights in Texas where the governor has just effectively banned abortion. The CEO of Planned Parenthood is here to talk about it after this break.



GOV. GREG ABBOTT (R-TX): Now, we`re about to make it law.


MAXWELL: Texas Governor Greg Abbott, in a room filled mostly with men, sign one of the country`s strictest abortion restrictions into law yesterday. It bans abortion even in cases of rape and incest. And before most women even know that they`re pregnant.

Texas is the 12th state to pass a law banning abortions as early as six weeks though courts have stopped those other laws from going into effect. It`s all part of a broader attempt by the Republican state legislatures to limit women`s reproductive right.

According to a recent report, over 500 abortion restrictions have been introduced in 44 states just this year alone and access to abortions are now threatened on the federal level too. The Supreme Court`s recent decision to hear a challenge to Mississippi`s abortion ban poses a direct threat to Roe v. Wade. And if Roe is struck down, abortion would be completely banned in at least 10 states which have already passed what`s called a trigger law to automatically ban abortion the minute Roe doesn`t exist.

Alexis McGill Johnson is the President and CEO of Planned Parenthood and she joins me now. Alexis, it`s so great to see you tonight. Thank you for being here.

ALEXIS MCGILL JOHNSON, PRESIDENT AND CEO, PLANNED PARENTHOOD: You too, Zerlina. And I really appreciate it. And before we jump in, I just want to like, remind people that abortion is still legal in all 50 states right now. And that despite their damnedest to try to create all of these horrible, diabolical restrictions, it is still possible and legal to get abortion in Texas.

And, you know, I`m very concerned because these laws are so intended to sow disinformation and chaos before we have time to, you know, rely on some of our backstops in our -- in our protests, essentially, to stop these horrible bans.

MAXWELL: I mean, you said diabolical. In terms of this Texas law, one example that sticks out in terms of something bad, and it was highlighted by the Texas Tribune, is a provision that can help it evade legal challenges. "Instead of having the government enforce the law, the bill turns the reins over to private citizens who are newly empowered to sue abortion providers or, wait for it, anyone who helps someone get an abortion."

How bad is this law? That feels like an overreach. Anyone can sue even the person who gave you a couple of $100 to go get an abortion?

JOHNSON: Well, and it`s also not just anyone in Texas, it`s anyone from any state is able to sue you for creating access to abortion. What they`re essentially saying here, right, is that they want to make these laws but they don`t want to be responsible. They don`t want to be held accountable for enforcing them.

And so, again, you know, clearly designed to shame, intimidate providers, people driving their, you know, partners to a clinic to access abortion. Like, all of these things they`re putting into question, so people are literally afraid to access abortion.

We had -- I talked to one of my colleagues today in California who had a patient from Texas who Ubered from Texas to California to get access to abortion because they literally did not know what to do. And I think that is the intent of these laws to create these unbelievable extra burdens on to patients who are seeking access in an effort just to essentially control our body.

MAXWELL: So, you`ve mentioned at the top that -- and this is true. Abortion is legal in all 50 states, but access to abortion, it depends upon where you live in the country. So, in terms of the how things are right now, the state of things right now, in Mississippi, there`s only one clinic left. So, it`s not like access to abortion is easy. Is it getting worse or is it sort of the way it`s been since 2010 with this concerted effort to restrict abortion access?

JOHNSON: Well, look, I think the restrictions are certainly getting more intense. As you mentioned, they`re upwards of 530 restrictions that we`ve seen just since the beginning of this year. And with the Supreme Court taking this particular case in Mississippi that the Center for Reproductive Rights has brought on behalf of Jackson Women`s Health Organization, which is the last abortion provider in Mississippi, you know, we`re seeing now a full challenge to Roe.

It literally goes to the heart of Roe. It goes to the heart of viability and the period in which we have been able to make decisions about our own bodies. And the court is stepping into rule whether or not that is constitutional. And so, yes, I mean, I think what our reproductive justice partners have said all along is that row is the floor, right? It`s a -- it`s a right that only depends if you have access.

And what we are seeing is now additional restrictions that are being layered upon this right. And if something happens with this particular case in Mississippi next year, it will mean that many will have access and yet no right. And so, that`s the fight that we are fighting and gearing up for.

MAXWELL: And one of the things we don`t talk about enough is the role of state attorneys general in challenging, unconstitutional abortion laws or any laws that are passed by legislatures. So, in Oklahoma, we have Attorney General Mike Hunter acting in the interest of personal politics, urging the Supreme Court to take up the Mississippi abortion ban.

But, you know, there are alternative ways attorneys general can approach this issue. Should we be talking more about that and getting advocates and supporters of Roe to focus in on the importance of that role of Attorney General in many of these states?

JOHNSON: Yes, look, I mean, I think attorneys general play an incredibly important role, you know. And I`m really proud of DAGA, the Democratic Attorneys General Association who decided that they would not endorse any attorney general that was not in support of access to abortion under Roe.

And so you know, I think that they have choices, right, as we all do, in terms of pushing and supporting proactive legislation. And that`s what we`re seeing right now in many states. I was in New Jersey today with Governor Phil Murphy and their state legislator leader leadership talking about how important it is to pass the reproductive freedom act.

Because we know that in many states, we will have to, given what`s happening right now, really pushed the boundaries to make sure that we are expanding as much access as we possibly can, knowing that there are a number of states that are already set to have these trigger laws, you know, click with Roe being overturned, potentially.

And so, you know, there is a lot of work that has to happen. You know, this is -- this is going to be a state by state fight to make sure that we are focusing on constitutional amendments, we are making sure that we are, you know, working as much as we can with our congressional partners as well to identify where there can be federal protections.

And I think that, you know, our attorneys general are going to play a really important role as the chief enforcers in each state to make sure that we`re continuing to protect people who, again, are going to be traveling and needing to access abortion, because that`s what we know is not going to happen. People will not stop seeking access.

We saw it when they were trying to add these restrictions, these executive orders during COVID. You know, people got in their cars. They drove 18 hours from Texas to Colorado, you know, in some cases, just to get access to medication abortion. They also like had to take off work. They had to, you know, put their kids in the car, put their parents in the car, you know, to travel through a pandemic. And that is what the reality is going to be.

And I think the more we talk about what that reality is, how it disproportionately impacts low-income people, people of color, trans, non- binary folks, like, that is really what the impact is here. And that`s what the fight is.

MAXWELL: So, last question in the last minute here, we talked a lot about the laws that are passed and the impact on people around the country. But you spoke to this a little bit. Preemptively, what can be done, knowing that these laws are coming down the pike knowing that the Supreme Court is going to take this up, what can be done in the offensive position additionally to those things you mentioned to protect women`s access?

JOHNSON: Yes, I mean, I think that this is exactly where we need people to focus on what`s happening in their state legislatures now. And you know, when they reconvene in the, you know, in the -- in the coming quarters, right, that they can actually focus on whether or not their state has a constitutional amendment and the work that they can do to protect and codify Roe in their state constitution. That is a protection on a state level.

We also know that we need to continue to educate people and have them understand what is at stake if something happens to Roe and it is overturned. We know that in a number of states, because of these trigger laws, there will be 25 million women living in states without access to an abortion provider. And the impact and the extreme burden on those people seeking to access abortion is going to be incredibly intense.

And we have to think about how we support them, how we make sure that we are creating the right structures for them to gain access, just as we have seen over the last year in particular. But certainly, you know, these laws, since as you mentioned since 2010, coming on with these restrictions, we have been doing a lot of work to try to really understand how to support and make sure that, you know, across the movement that we are engaging in everything we can.

MAXWELL: And again, as you said, abortions don`t end just because they are made illegal. Rich women who can afford abortions can get safe abortions. It`s everyone else that suffers as a result of these restrictions. Alexis McGill Johnson, thank you so much for making time tonight. And please stay safe.

JOHNSON: Thank you. Good to see you, Zerlina.

MAXWELL: Up next, we`re learning more about the criminal investigation into the Trump Organization and the connection to the longtime money man of Donald Trump. That`s ahead.


MAXWELL: Now that Donald Trump no longer has the protection of the White House, we`re starting to see decades of bad behavior catching up with him. The legal Web site Just Security has put together a detailed list of all the legal peril Donald Trump still faces.

Those include at least 10 civil lawsuits with accusations ranging from defamation, to fraud, to incitement, and at least three separate lines of criminal inquiry. And there are the dual investigations into Trump`s taxes and the Trump Organization that the Manhattan District Attorney and the New York State Attorney General are conducting.

And that does not even include the mounting legal trouble for Trump`s former lawyer, Rudy Giuliani. And now, we are learning that the Trump Organization`s chief financial officer is also, guess what, under criminal investigation, and his name is Allen Weisselberg. He was first hired as an accountant by Trump`s father, Fred, more than 40 years ago.

He has been the Chief Financial Officer of the Trump Organization for nearly 20 years. When Donald Trump was elected president, his lawyer actually said, "Trump had relinquish leadership and management of the organization to his sons, Don and Eric, and longtime Trump executive Allen Weisselberg. So, Allen Weisselberg is a very integral part of Donald Trump`s business.

And two days after the New York State Attorney General Letitia James announced there was a criminal investigation into the Trump Organization, NBC News confirmed that her office is also conducting a criminal investigation into Allen Weisselberg`s personal taxes.

The New York Times reporting that investigators have examined whether taxes were paid on fringe benefits that Mr. Trump gave him including cars and tens of thousands of dollars in private school tuition for at least one of Mr. Weisselberg`s grandchildren.

This development is bad for Allen Weisselberg, but it might be even worse for Donald Trump. As the Times reports, two assistant attorneys general from Miss James` office have joined the district attorney`s team which has been seeking to turn Mr. Weisselberg into a cooperating witness against Mr. Trump and the Trump Organization.

Harry Litman is both a former U.S. attorney and former U.S. Deputy Assistant Attorney General. He is now the host and creator of Talking Feds, a podcast, and he joins me now by telephone.

So, Harry, break this down for us. Allen Weisselberg, that`s the money man. What can he do in terms of making things very difficult for Donald Trump personally, but also the Trump Organization which is also now under criminal investigation.

HARRY LITMAN, FORMER U.S. DEPUTY ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL: Right. He`s the money man, but you can also think of him as the accountant. In other words, all the funny business, and by all accounts, Trump did this again and again and again paid off people with sort of gratuities that they -- that were misreported. All of that goes through him. He would have signed paper after paper.

So, this is maximum pressure on a 73-year-old man who wasn`t primarily liable to Donald Trump, but as you mentioned, to Fred. And the big point here is all roads to the higher -- highest level of the Trump Organization, Trump himself but also the children, all of them lead through Weisselberg.

From there, they fan out and you could go in different directions. But you need to secure his cooperation in order to dispense with any defense. We had no idea. It was just the accountant. He`s the guy, more or less the only guy, to say, as Mike Cohen said before, Trump knew exactly what was going on. This was the way we did things here. And they are really putting the lien on him in a maximum way to get him to do just that.

MAXWELL: We`re almost out of time. But is there any irony to the fact that, as you said, this is the accountant? So you would imagine -- I mean, I know big companies have, you know, accounting firms, but if the company accountant is being investigated for tax fraud, is that a bad sign for the organization?

LITMAN: Terrible. The organization is in huge trouble anyway. But the question is the personal liability. It is ironic because Trump is a guy who`s always wanted to keep his crimes, if you will, close to home, to small confederates that he can trust. So, he`s now done that, but he`s put all the power to bring down the kingdom having given Weisselberg the keys to the kingdom to this pretty fragile person who is -- it doesn`t seem to me likely to pull a kind of Manafort and resist and go to jail for Donald Trump.

MAXWELL: So, last 30 seconds here. How do you see this playing out? Do you think that, you know, with all of this pressure from a variety of prosecutors on Allen Weisselberg, that he will flip given his history -- long history with the family and business?

LITMAN: Yes, always precarious to predict, but man, I think this is more than he can probably handle. And he is the linchpin here. I think if she doesn`t get him or the combined investigation with her, and the D.A. did not get him, then her particular financial crimes are not going to pan out. If she does, they probably will at least up to a level above, not necessarily yet the former president.

MAXWELL: We`ll have to leave it there. Harry Litman, thank you so much for being here. That is ALL IN for this evening. "THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" starts now. Good evening, Rachel.