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Transcript: The Rachel Maddow Show, 6/9/21

Guests: Chris Murphy, Bill McKibben

Summary

Today, President Biden arrived in Europe for the first foreign trip of his presidency. And in his first remarks upon landing, he talked about saving democracy. Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut is interviewed. The Keystone XL pipeline is officially dead.

Transcript

CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: That is ALL IN on this Wednesday night.

"THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" starts right now.

Good evening, Rachel.

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chris. Thank you, my friend. Much appreciated.

And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour.

In the White House, there`s an important but sort of low profile job that is called staff secretary. If you are staff secretary in the White House, what that means is that you are the person in charge of managing the paper flow around the president. All the documents and materials that are handed to the president, everything the president is asked to review, everything that the president does review, anything that ends up on the president`s desk, everything that goes to the president or from the president, White House staff secretary is the person in charge of keeping all of that in order.

It`s a very important job. It`s obviously a very sensitive job because you see everything that goes to and from the president. For all the reasons you might imagine, it`s not only detail oriented job and sort of 24/7 job, but it`s a job for which you need to be an incredibly trustworthy person.

In February 2018 -- so almost exactly a year into the Trump presidency, the staff secretary at the Trump White House had to resign for a terrible reason. He had to resign because both of his ex-wives came forward with lurid and terrible domestic violence allegations against him.

That young man`s name was Rob Porter. A scandal like that, somebody in that job, a job that sensitive, having longstanding known, serious domestic violence allegations against him by multiple previous wives, but nevertheless getting that job and holding onto it for a year, I mean, a scandal like that would be a marquee thing in any other presidency. It would be a defining scandal. That would be remembered forever by any other modern president.

In the Trump administration, that was like one blade of grass on a football field. How do you keep track? Yeah, remember that scandal?

Again, it would be a massive overshadowing scandal for any other president, going back to Nixon. But for this president, it was like, literally one in a gazillion.

That scandal-ridden disgraced had to resign staff secretary, his name was Rob Porter. That same Rob Porter today had a cameo role in the long awaited testimony of the star witness against President Trump for the serious allegations of potentially criminal obstruction of justice that dog him even now as a former president.

This is from the transcript we got today.

Question, so going back to the meeting with Rob Porter, that White House staff secretary. Answer, okay. Question, you told Porter that you would not write the letter the president had requested, correct? Answer, right.

Question, did Rob Porter tell you about his conversation with the president earlier today? I`ll direct you to page 115 of the report. Answer, okay. Question, Porter is now describing his conversation with the president earlier today.

i was disappointed to read in the report that the president had called me a lying bastard because I`m not a lying bastard. Why do you think he called you that? You would have to ask him. Nobody is going to ask him. It`s more and more clear it seems like nobody is go to ask him not unless he is going to face criminal charges for obstruction of justice, in which case prosecutors might talk to him then. Get his answer to that and many other questions. So far, he has never been questioned. That isn`t -- it hasn`t been in the cards. Channel: 103 date: 06/09/2021 time started: 21:05 time ended: 21:10 comments: hdhr_channel 192.168.17.44-103 -------- --------------------------------------------------------------------------- ---------- e has never been questioned. That isn`t -- it hasn`t been in the cards. There`s also this from the same transcript that we got today about the kind of lawyer president Trump wishes he had had when he was in the White House. Really the great villains in modern American history. Right? Aide to Joe McCarthy during the worst of the demagoguery in Washington. Roy cohn famously corrupt lawyer to the mafia and to the Trump organization as it turns out. That testimony just unsealed today from don mcgahn who served as White House counsel to Donald Trump. Mcgahn is the star witness to the more than ten instances of alleged obstruction of justice, instances of alleged obstruction of justice by Trump when he was president, when he was maneuvering to try to shut down the investigation foo rushinto r interference, when he directed don mcgahn to create a false paper trail to cover up how he tried to derail the investigation. The president told you to put out an inaccurate statement denying that he told you to get rid of robert mueller. He told you to do that, right? Yes. That would have been a false statement? Yes. But he told me to cover it up. Here it is. Channel: 103 date: 06/09/2021 time started: 21:10 time ended: 21:15 comments: hdhr_channel 192.168.17.44-103 -------------------------------------------- ------------------------------------------------- statement? Yes. But he told me to cover it up. Here it is. The firsthand testimony from the White House counsel about alleged serious acts of obstruction of justice committed by the former president while he was president. This only came out today. This is testimony that was taken last week. The transcript was only released today. It took the house judiciary committee years to get this testimony on the record from don mcgahn. This is the first time he has testified. The judiciary chairman saying, quote, don mcgahn provided the committee with substantial new information including firsthand accounts of president Trump`s out of control behavior and insight into concerns that the former president`s conduct could expose both president Trump and don mcgahn himself to criminal liability. Could it really? Could Trump really be exposed to criminal liability by any of his actions? Really? Only if there was a prosecutor who would be willing to prosecute him for these alleged crimes. Under Justice Department policy, robert mueller, the special counsel, didn`t believe he or any prosecutor had the power to charge Trump with any crime while he was still serving as president. Mueller made very clear when his report was released that once Trump was out of office, yeah, he could be charged as a former president. CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST, "ALL IN": Peter Goodman, you should check out his article on this in "The New York Times" -- thank you so much.

PETER GOODMAN, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Thank you.

HAYES: That is "ALL IN" on this Wednesday night.

THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts right now.

Good evening, Rachel.

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chris. Thank you, my friend. Much appreciated.

And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour.

In the White House, there`s an important but sort of low profile job that is called staff secretary. If you are staff secretary in the White House, what that means is that you are the person in charge of managing the paper flow around the president. All the documents and materials that are handed to the president, everything the president is asked to review, everything that the president does review, anything that ends up on the president`s desk, everything that goes to the president or from the president, White House staff secretary is the person in charge of keeping all of that in order.

It`s a very important job. It`s obviously a very sensitive job because you see everything that goes to and from the president. For all the reasons you might imagine, it`s not only detail oriented job and sort of 24/7 job, but it`s a job for which you need to be an incredibly trustworthy person.

In February 2018 -- so almost exactly a year into the Trump presidency, the staff secretary at the Trump White House had to resign for a terrible reason. He had to resign because both of his ex-wives came forward with lurid and terrible domestic violence allegations against him.

That young man`s name was Rob Porter. A scandal like that, somebody in that job, a job that sensitive, having longstanding known, serious domestic violence allegations against him by multiple previous wives, but nevertheless getting that job and holding onto it for a year, I mean, a scandal like that would be a marquee thing in any other presidency. It would be a defining scandal. That would be remembered forever by any other modern president.

In the Trump administration, that was like one blade of grass on a football field. How do you keep track? Yeah, remember that scandal?

Again, it would be a massive overshadowing scandal for any other president, going back to Nixon. But for this president, it was like, literally one in a gazillion.

That scandal-ridden disgraced had to resign staff secretary, his name was Rob Porter. That same Rob Porter today had a cameo role in the long awaited testimony of the star witness against President Trump for the serious allegations of potentially criminal obstruction of justice that dog him even now as a former president.

This is from the transcript we got today.

Question, so going back to the meeting with Rob Porter, that White House staff secretary. Answer, okay. Question, you told Porter that you would not write the letter the president had requested, correct? Answer, right.

Question, did Rob Porter tell you about his conversation with the president earlier today? I`ll direct you to page 115 of the report. Answer, okay.

Question, Porter is now describing his conversation with the president earlier that day. The report says, quote, the presidents that he wanted Don McGahn to write a letter to the file for our records. Wanted something beyond a statement to demonstrate that the reporting was inaccurate.

Did Mr. Porter convey to you the president wanted you to write a letter for records? Answer, I don`t know if he used the word "for our records", but that is consistent with what he was telling me the president wanted.

Question, so it was consistent with your understanding that the president wanted a formal written statement? Answer, yes, yeah. Question, according to Mr. Porter`s statements, President Trump also referred to you during that conversation as, quote, a lying bastard. Did Mr. Porter convey that to you when you spoke to him? Answer, not that I recall, no. I think I learned I learned about that one once the Mueller report was released.

Question, and what was reaction when you learned that? Answer, disappointed. Question, why? Answer, well, because it`s not true.

Question, why isn`t it true? Answer, because I`m not a lying bastard. Question, what was your understanding of why the president said that then? Answer, you`d have to ask him.

I was disappointed through reading the report the president called me a lying bastard because I am a lying bastard. Why do you think he called you that? Well, you`d have to ask him. And nobody is going to ask him.

It`s becoming more and more clear it really seems like nobody is going to ask, him not unless he is going to potentially face criminal charges for obstruction of justice in which case prosecutors might talk to him then, and get his answer to that and many other questions. So far, he`s never been questioned. That hasn`t been in the cards.

There is also this, again, from the same transcript we got today about the kind of lawyer President Trump wishes he had had when he was in the White House. Question, you testified you told the president knocking Robert Mueller out could be a fact used to claim obstruction of justice, correct? Answer, right. That`s in the Mueller report, we talked about that, yeah, right.

Question, was it your understanding the President Trump was concerned him asking you to have the special counsel removed could be harmful to him, in their investigation? Answer, certainly. Yes.

Why? Well, for the same appearance reasons, among others. If it`s known that you are under investigation by special counsel and you seek to remove that special counsel, someone, probably more than one person is going to suggest you did that to end the investigation. So, that`s a pretty obvious point.

Question, during the meeting on February 6, did the president raised the issue of why you took notes during meetings? Yes, he did. He asked about why do I take notes. What was your reaction to that? Answer, I said, look, I take notes because, you know, I`m a real lawyer. Real lawyers take notes, as a way to keep track of things.

I conveyed that was all going on in the West Wing. You need to keep track of things, right? That`s generally how government works. You take notes.

I mean, the truth is, I actually didn`t really take a lot of notes, but that didn`t seem to be the place to have that sort of dispute. So, I responded notes create a record and it`s not a bad thing, and oftentimes it can be helpful. And then as the report indicates, his response is he invokes, you know, Roy Cohn, apparently didn`t take notes.

Question, so, was it your understanding he thought great lawyers like Roy Cohn did not take notes? Answer, he said that, yes. Not only did I think that, I heard him say that, yes.

Question, what was your reaction to that? Answer, I didn`t really have one. My recollection is I didn`t really respond. I`ve made my point.

This was not the first time Roy Cohn has sort of the ghost of Roy Cohn had come into the oval office. It didn`t seem to be a point worth responding to. You know, he is the president. He gets the last word.

Question, what was your reaction to being compared to Roy Cohn? My reaction? Well, this wasn`t the first time. You know, I didn`t want to be compared to Roy Cohn in any way, shape or form. I understand he was, you know, a brilliant lawyer in certain ways. But he had some ethical trouble later in his career.

Question, and by ethical trouble, do you mean he was ultimately disbarred for unethical conduct? Answer, yes. Yes.

You know, I may have mentioned that at some point in some of these exchanges. I don`t recall specifically. But Roy Cohn was not really my role model anyway. So, saying I was know Roy Cohn, in a weird way, I thought that was good! He doesn`t think on that sort of lawyer.

Question, but the president was suggesting that you should be more like Roy Cohn who was a great lawyer, correct? Answer, well, you know, I think he had made his point that he really had a fondness for Roy Cohn.

Roy Cohn, one of the great villains in modern American history, right? Aide to -- underhanded duplicitous aide to Joe McCarthy during the worst of the McCarthy-ite demagoguery in Washington, Roy Cohn famously corrupt lawyer to the mafia, and the Trump Organization, as it turns out, that testimony unsealed today from Don McGahn, from the lawyer who served as White House counsel to Donald Trump, even though Donald Trump told him he wished he was more like Roy Cohn.

McGahn is a star witness to the more than ten instances of alleged obstruction of justice, instances of alleged obstruction of justice committed by Trump while president. He was maneuvering to shut down the investigation into Russia`s interference in the 2016 election, when he among other things directed Don McGahn to create a false paper trail to cover-up how he had tried to derail that investigation.

Question, if you had put out the statement President Trump was requesting disputing that he had ever ask you to have the special counsel removed, would that have been accurate? Answer, that statement would not have been accurate. So, the statement -- question, the statement the president was asking you to put out would not have been accurate, correct? Answer, would not, right. It would not have been accurate, right. Thank you.

President told you to put out an accurate statement denying that he had ever told you to get rid of Robert Mueller? He told you to do that, right? Yes.

And that would`ve been a false statement? Yes. He told me to cover it up!

So, here it is, the firsthand testimony from the White House counsel about alleged serious acts of obstruction of justice committed by the former president while he was president. This only came out today, testimony taken last week, the transcript of the testimony was released today.

It took the House Judiciary Committee years to get this testimony on the record from Don McGahn, but they finally got it, the first time he`s ever testified. The chairman saying today, quote, Don McGahn provided the committee with substantial new information including firsthand accounts of President Trump`s increasingly out of control behavior, and insight into concerns the former presidents conduct could expose both President Trump and Don McGahn himself to criminal liability.

Could it, though, really? Could Trump really be exposed to criminal liability by any of his actions. Really? I mean, only if there was a prosecutor who would be willing to prosecute him for those alleged crimes.

Under Justice Department policy, Robert Mueller, special counsel, didn`t believe he or any prosecutor had the power to charge Trump with any crime while he was still serving as president. But Mueller made very clear when his report was released that once Trump was out of office, oh, yeah, oh, yeah, he could be charged as former president.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. KEN BUCK (D-CO): Was there sufficient evidence to convict President Trump or anyone else with obstruction of justice?

ROBERT MUELLER, SPECIAL COUNSEL: We could not make that calculation.

BUCK: Okay, but let me just stop. You made the decision on the Russian interference. You could have indicted the president on that, and you made the decision on that. But when it came to obstruction, you threw a bunch of stuff up against the wall to see what would stick.

MUELLER: Ii would not agree to that characterization at all.

BUCK: OK, but the -- could you charge the president with a crime after he left office?

MUELLER: Yes.

BUCK: You believe that he committed -- you could charge the president of the United States with obstruction of justice after he left office?

MUELLER: Yes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: Yes. You could charge the president of the United States with obstruction of justice after he left office? Yes, yes, yes. That`s the whole point.

And now, he`s left office. And the main witness for the ten plus instances of alleged obstruction of justice in that report, that witness has just testified to Congress about what he saw and what the president tried to get him to do, confirming the allegations at their core.

So, now, the president could be -- the former president could be prosecuted for those alleged instances of obstruction of justice. Any takers?

Think there`s any appetite for that in the U.S. Justice Department under Merrick Garland during the Biden administration?

The Judiciary Committee has the option, if they want, to make a formal referral to the Justice Department for potential prosecution of crimes they have become aware of. That among other things would require a response from the Justice Department as to what they were doing about that criminal referral. We know from ongoing current court battles that under the former attorney general, under the Trump administration, the Justice Department never actually substantively considered the evidence against Trump and whether he should be charged. The Justice Department never looked at it.

Now there`s no reason why they couldn`t look at it now. He is only a former president now. He is not protected any more by any Justice Department policy that would grant him immunity.

So, again, any takers? Is this all just going to slide? Why was this evidence all compiled if the Justice Department, if federal prosecutors are never substantively going to look at any of that evidence? Despite the fact that there`s no prohibition on bringing criminal charges against somebody who committed crimes like this once they`re no longer serving as president?

Is there anyone considering potential prosecution here? What was this evidence collected for anyway?

"The Boston Globe" this week has just launched a kind of remarkable project. You should check this out if you can. It`s not behind a pay wall or anything. It`s all up on "The Boston Globe`s" website. You can access it for free.

"The Boston Globe" this week is running a series of -- I mean, they are editorials. They are more like arguments, more like essays sort of for the -- as a public service.

It`s a series of six. First was yesterday. Second was today. There are six of them altogether. They`re going to run six consecutive days on the paper. All six of them are up on the website right now.

But what this six-part series of recommendations for basically how to tyrant proof the presidency in the wake of Trump. They`re calling it future-proofing the presidency. But the idea is that if Trump comes along again or if somebody else with this sort of corrupt or tyrannical mindset of a Trump approach to politics comes along again, how can we make sure that the presidency isn`t abused? The presidency and its vast powers and its vast immunities aren`t used to serve a corrupt purpose to try to hurt the country?

Basic idea is that before we had somebody that bad and that destructive in office as president, as a country, we sort of thought that norms and rules and policies and strong recommendations and firm precedent would be enough to constrain the worst behavior by a potential president. We thought that stuff coming to light would bring about such shame and political opprobrium that a president wouldn`t do the worst stuff, not if there were norms against it.

We learned the hard way over a very hard four-year period that those norms didn`t hold. They weren`t effective. He pardoned people for their crimes after praising them for not ratting on him. He installed his unqualified family members in higher level government jobs, and then directed millions of dollars in taxpayer funds to himself and his family`s private business, because he didn`t divest from his family`s private business.

He took in payments from foreign governments, privately, while he was serving as president and making U.S. policy that served those foreign interests. I mean, even without all of obstruction of justice stuff, we`re not even scratching the surface here.

The point of what "The Globe" is doing is they say, without reforms, the modern U.S. presidency under Trump was exposed as what they are calling a treasure map for an American tyrant.

Quote: Donald Trump exposed the witnesses in our system of government that could now be exploited by a corrupt leader with control of the White House. And so, they have done a six-part series that sort of methodically lays out six major reforms and actions that the U.S. government could enact now. Things that the Trump experience shows we need before somebody else like that gets back into the presidency in order to make sure this doesn`t happen to us again or worse.

As I said, it`s a six-part series. The final one, step six of six is this one. It`s titled, quote, the case for prosecuting Donald Trump.

Quote, saving American democracy for the long run requires a clear condemnation of the Trump presidency. That means making clear that no one else is above the law. Norms in a democracy are only as good as unwillingness to enforce them. After the president busting, law breaking presidency of Trump, Congress needs to pass new laws to constrain future officeholders. That`s the case "The Globe" has made in this series.

Curbs on the pardon power. Safeguards against nepotism. Broadening the power of Congress to investigate the president. Protections for whistleblowers. Requirements the presidents make financial disclosures to root out conflicts of interest.

Quote, all of that is crucial to protect Americans against repeat against last four years. But an imposing stricter rules on future presidents by itself is clearly insufficient. Those presidents also need a clear message. One that will echo through history, that breaking the law in the Oval Office will actually be punished.

That ethics policies and legal requirements, both existing ones and those Congress will play an act in the future, those are more than just words on paper. Trump`s presidency did not just expose glaring legal witnesses. It also made clear that our institutions are incapable of holding presidents accountable for breaking even our existing laws.

If Congress had played the role the founders envisioned, by removing Trump from the presidency after his criminality became clear in the Ukraine affair, that might have been enough of a deterrent to scare future presidents. But lawmakers didn`t do that.

So now, there is only one way left to restore deterrence and convey to future presidents that the rule of law applies to them. The U.S. Justice Department must abandon two centuries of tradition by indicted and prosecuting Donald Trump for his conduct in office.

Quote, that is not a recommendation made lightly. The long-standing reluctance to prosecute former leaders is based on legitimate concerns about the justice system being used to settle political stores. But filing charges against former leaders is not a radical step either. Foreign democracies including South Korea, Italy, France routinely managed to prosecute crooked former leaders without starting down a slippery slope towards authoritarianism.

President Nicholas Sarkozy of France was recently found guilty of bribery. A decade after his predecessor, Jack Chirac, was convicted of corruption. France is democracy and its image around the world remain intact.

In the case of Trump, prosecutors would have plenty of potential crimes from which to choose. While Trump may be prosecuted for financial crimes he potentially committed before he became president, what`s most important to go after are his actions during his time in office. And it goes on from there.

As I said, this is from "The Boston Globe". A remarkable series they are running this week from yesterday, for the next six days. It`s sort of a plea to the country, potential map to save democracy from this kind of crisis ever happening again in the presidency.

Today, President Biden arrived in Europe for the first foreign trip of his presidency. In his first remarks upon landing, speaking to U.S. troops after he landed in the U.K., he, in fact, talked about saving democracy.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I believe we`re at an inflection point in our history, the moment where it falls to us to prove that democracies are not just endured, but they will excel, as we rise to seize the enormous opportunities of the new age. We have to discredit those who believe that the age of democracy is over, as some of our fellow nations believe. We have to expose this false narrative that decrees of dictators can match the speed and scale of the 21st challenges.

You know and I know they are wrong. But it doesn`t mean we don`t have to work harder than ever to prove that democracy can still deliver for our people. The many who think things are changing so rapidly, democracies cannot get together and form a consensus to respond, like autocrats can.

You know better than anyone that democracy doesn`t happen by accident. We have to defend it. We have to strengthen. Renew it.

We are going to make it clear that the United States is back and democracies of the world are standing together to tackle the toughest challenges and the issues that matter most to our future, that we`re committed to leading with strength, defending our values and delivering for our people. This is my first overseas trip as president of the United States. I`m heading to the G7 and then to the NATO ministerial, and then to meet with Mr. Putin, to let him know what I want him to know.

(APPALUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: To let him know what I want him to know. The crowd goes wild.

President Biden today speaking with U.S. troops in the U.K. as he starts this overseas trip, pledging to make the United States a world leader again. Not just in our own performance domestically as a country, but as a leader of the world`s democracies. To show in this moment, in his words, that essentially, democracy is the better choice for the people of the world, because democracies can act to not only affect the will of the people, but to meet the challenges of the century.

In advance of that summit between Biden and Putin, the Russian government today, prepped for that summit by declaring illegal the political organization of the main opposition figure in the country, Alexei Navalny, who they have locked up. They put his political organization today, in the same category of ISIS, calling it an extremist organization, the same category the use for ISIS, making it illegal to be part of it. It`s a political movement that is anti corruption, pro reform. It`s now considered essentially, to be a terrorist organization in Russia and its leader is in prison.

That`s the message for Putin and the autocracies of the world are offering. In the lead up to that summit, on the other side, the Biden administration announced today that the U.S. government is purchasing a half billion -- 500 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine against COVID-19, which we will distribute abroad. Not directly ourselves, the United States shipping in creates marked in made in the USA. But rather shipping them abroad to dozens of countries around the world through the international COVAX initiative, because that`s an international initiative that we want to support, because we believe democracy of the world working together in international institutions, is good for the world.

American leadership, American strength, American leadership strengthening international institutions, America leading the world`s democracies. Democracies leading the world.

We`ve got a lot to take care of in our own democracy here at home as we try to broadcast that message to the world.

We`ve got Senator Chris Murphy joining us tonight.

We`ve got really big news on the Keystone pipeline ahead tonight. Activists fighting that for more than a decade now, getting huge news today, like a lightning bolt out of the blue.

We have lots to come for us tonight. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW: Tonight, he state of Ohio announced the latest winners in that state`s big money giveaway designed to encourage people to get vaccinated against COVID-19. Just a little while ago, we learned that a guy named Mark from Richwood, Ohio, would be winning a million dollars because he got vaccinated in Ohio. A student named Sara from Sheffield Lake, Ohio will be receiving a four-year scholarship to any university in the state, room, board, books, tuition, the whole megillah, all because she got vaccinated in Ohio.

Ohio is going to announce to more rounds of these weekly prizes before they are done. And it is a crazy thing, but from a global perspective, it must look particularly crazy, right? Contrast that really quintessentially only in America, a strategy of spending hugely to convince Americans to please go get vaccinated with so many countries around the world that are desperate to get vaccines for their citizens. Others don`t need to persuade reluctant people to get shots that are readily available and that are indeed potentially expiring on the shelves. Other countries need access to vaccines at all, desperately.

Today, as President Biden left on his trip to Europe, "The Washington Post" was first to report that the U.S. government is going to buy a 500 million doses of Pfizer`s vaccine to donate to the world. The first 200 million doses will go out this year. The rest will be shared during the first half of next year. The World Health Organization will handle distribution of these 500 million doses to low income and middle income countries around the world, all through the international COVAX initiative, which the Biden administration has today made tremendously viable by this huge international donation.

I should say these half billion doses are in addition to the 80 million vaccine doses the U.S. already plans to share with the world by the end of this month. It`s one thing to pound your chest and say to the world America is back. It`s another thing to put a half billion vaccine doses behind those words in the name of the American people.

Joining us now is Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut. He`s a member of the Foreign Relations Committee in the Senate.

Senator Murphy, thanks for making time to be here tonight. I really appreciate it.

SEN. CHRIS MURPHY (D-CT): Thanks for having me.

MADDOW: Let me get your reaction to the Biden administration`s plan to buy and donate half a billion vaccine doses to the world.

MURPHY: Well, I think this is an extraordinary announcement and it`s a recognition that American power really, in the end, is not about our Army, our Navy, our Air Force. It`s about our example. It`s about our reputation.

And for 100 years, it was America that offered the big solutions to the big problems of the world, right? It was America that invented the Internet. It was America that saved democracy in Europe after World War II.

And that light has been fading. It faded fast over the last four years. China has taken advantage of it.

Now, people look often to China to provide solutions to big problems. As Chinese technology that`s now the backbone of the Internet rather than American technology. Here is the opportunity for America to, once again, capture the world`s imagination. This is about American bigness, it`s about American boldness, and it is perfectly timed as the president makes his first foray back to Europe.

It makes people just want to be part of the American experiment again. It wants them to align themselves economically and diplomatically. It also is good for America from a purely selfish standpoint because we`re in a race to try to stamp out this virus and experience as quickly as we can, so that we don`t end up with a variant that is immune to the vaccine.

So, it ends up protecting us to inoculate the role as fast as possible. It was a whole lot of friends and begins to rebuild our ability to create partnerships that are good for the country.

MADDOW: The idea of building partnerships and winning friends, I listened to a really interesting interview today by President Biden`s national security adviser Jake Sullivan. He did an interview at the BBC upon arriving in the U.K. for the start of this trip and he stressed a couple of points about the move.

He said, as you know, the other two countries in the world that have been making a very big deal out of the fact they are distributing their vaccines abroad are China as you mentioned and also Russia, Jake Sullivan making a point that this will put the U.S. in the position of far outpacing, China or Russia, in terms of the number of vaccine doses that we have distributed. It`s a higher quality vaccine than anything China or Russia is distributing, number one.

But he also went out of his way to point out it`s without strings attached. This is being done through the WHO, to strengthen the WHO. It`s being done to the COVAX initiative, and it`s not something the United States is asking for anything in return. We`re not using this as leverage or putting any sort of strings or prerequisites on any country who is going to get any of those things.

Do you agree with that approach?

MURPHY: I do, and it`s, of course, reminiscent of the Marshall Plan. It`s been compared to that over the course of the last 24 hours, appropriately, right? The Marshall Plan was criticized by some because it didn`t come with many strings attached.

We basically said to Europe, if you are interested in building a participatory democracy, if you are interested in an open economy, in which American companies can compete, then we are willing to be your partner. And the bet was that level of generosity would be paid back overtime. And, of course, it was.

We have created millions of jobs in the United States because of our partnership with Europe. And it was the Europeans who came to our defense after September 11th as we fought back against those who attacked us. So, that theory worked.

Now, it`s a different world today than it was in 1945, but psychology hasn`t changed. People are going to notice that if you want the Russian vaccine, if you want Chinese investment, it`s going to come with all sorts of the strings you talked about.

America wants to be your partner, ultimately down the line. We may come asking for something, but it`s going to be, I think, the way in which we approaches vaccine distribution campaign that will help to sort of rebuild the reputation of the United States, which under Trump became entirely transactional, which ended up pushing a lot of folks away.

MADDOW: As the president sets off on this foreign trip, he`s doing the G7 summit, has a lot of bilateral meetings with our most important allies. It`s going to end this meeting with Putin.

I wanted to ask you about this hearing that happened today in your committee about Belarus. This crisis in Belarus, including a state sponsored hijacking of a commercial passenger plane in order to arrest a young opposition journalist. Putin obviously is bringing Belarus very tightly, even more tightly into their camp in the wake of these incredible abuses by the dictator there.

Today, your committee heard among others the main opposition figure in Belarus, may very well have beaten that dictator in the last election he rigged. She said the country is becoming, Belarus is becoming the North Korea of Europe. That`s what Lukashenko is doing there. And that, of course, has implications not only for Belarusians and the way they live, but also for how much of a threat that poses to Europe and that neighborhood as Putin, again, embraces that country as its dictator seems to be going off the rails.

Do you expect there will be new sanctions there, and this is potentially a new global flash point the president is going to have to confront on this trip?

MURPHY: Listen, Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya is a remarkable leader. I was in Lithuania with Senator Shaheen and Senator Portman last week meeting with her. And we should offer her and her democratic movement support.

Listen, does it matter to the U.S. in the end whether Belarus is aligned with Russia, or aligned with the West? Probably not. That`s a decision for the Belarusian people to make.

But we should stand squarely behind their right to make it. And now with the downing of this plane, with a state sponsored hijacking having taken place, we need to send an unequivocal message to the world and other dictators who would-be dictators that if you cross this line, there are going to be horrible costs.

So, yes, I think there will be additional sanctions and maybe that doesn`t have an immediate impact in Belarus, but it at least has a chilling effect on this kind of behavior, in other parts of the world. But I also think we need to support other mechanisms to try to uncover what`s happening in Belarus. So, we talk now hearing about supporting independent journalists to make sure there are people inside and outside of Minsk that are telling the story about the kleptocracy that Lukashenko has presided over in the way that Alexander Navalny did to Vladimir Putin.

So, it`s not -- sometimes, we get so hung up on sanctions that we forget there are ways to get under the skin of dictators, and supporting independent journalists, supporting the true story of his brutal regime. That can go a long way towards helping the pro-democracy movement there.

MADDOW: It is a remarkable thing how Putin truly independent journalism can be against authoritarianism.

Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut, it`s always great to have you on the show here tonight. Thank you so much for being here, sir.

MURPHY: Thanks, Rachel.

MADDOW: All right. We`ve got much more ahead tonight. Stay with us.

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MADDOW: People turned out in pretty large numbers in northern Minnesota this week. More than 1000 people there to protest the construction of a new multi billion dollar oil pipeline. The pipeline that among other things would cross through the delicate headquarters of the Mississippi River. The protesters are trying to block that new pipeline and all the environmental hazards that it brings with it.

A separate group of protesters made their way into one of the new pipelines pump stations. That`s currently under construction. They piled a whole bunch of stuff, including a boat at the entrance we, so nobody could get in or out.

The demonstrators and started locking themselves to the construction equipment, bodily, at that side. That had the effect of shutting down all work on the pipeline for the day.

Eventually, police showed up. They started drag and protesters through the door to arrest them. About 200 people were arrested, just at the pump station. But the response by law enforcement wasn`t just a local one, in terms of local Minnesota police officers.

Look at this. This is a helicopter belong into the federal government. U.S. Customs and Border Patrol. CBP staff flew this helicopter really low, dangerously low, over this pipeline protests, using the rotor wash from the chopper to blow dirt and debris all over the place, apparently to try to get those protesters to leave.

CBP now says they`re investigating the use of that helicopter, you`re not supposed to use a government helicopter like that, even if it is against protesters, especially if it is against protesters.

This pipeline, which is called Line Three, it`s a pipeline by a company called Enbridge. It was approved, green lit under President Trump. The protesters are pushing for President Biden to suspend the permit for the pipeline before construction on it is finished.

About 200 protesters are also camped along the pipeline saying we won`t stop pushing. They`re not saying they won`t lead. Some of the protesters against line three, they`ve already been at this for years. We don`t know if they will succeed ultimately in blocking the Enbridge pipeline, this Line Three pipeline.

But even as that battle continues in northern Minnesota over that incredibly controversial project, which the Biden administration has the power to block, even as that battle continues today brings fresh and truly astonishing evidence that with enough stamina and enough strategy, protests just like that one can sometimes do succeed against incredible odds, against huge multibillion dollar projects. If you stick with it for years and years and years, and you never give up, sometimes you win.

And as I said, astonishing news today is our next story here tonight. Stay with us, you`ll want to see this.

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MADDOW: A decade ago, in 2011, November, thousands of activists surrounded the White House to urge President Obama to block construction of an oil pipeline called Keystone XL. Keystone XL would have piped Canadian tar sands oil all the way across United States from Canada, all the way down to the Gulf of Mexico.

That`s surrounding the White House, that was the culmination of a summer of protests outside the Obama White House. Over 1,000 people were arrested in those demonstrations.

Bill McKibben, the author and activist who you`ve seen as a guest on the show, he was among those arrested. Four days after that big November surround the White House protest that Bill McKibben helped organize, President Obama announced he would at least delay a decision on approvals for that pipeline. He would delay consideration for over a year.

After that, "The Boston Globe" published a profile of Bill McKibben with this title: The man who crushed the Keystone XL pipeline.

And, you know, as flattering as that might have been, that headline was a little premature. The fight would go on for another decade as the oil industry and their many allies in Congress pulled out all the stops they could to get the thing approved. It wasn`t until late 2015, the very end of his presidency, that President Obama finally announced he would in fact blocked the pipeline. And, of course, the following year, he was elected a very different president who made a very big show of reviving the pipeline in his first week in office. In fact, construction on Keystone XL started last year in 2020.

What else happened in 2020? Joe Biden won the presidency and ousted Donald Trump. And on Biden`s very first day in office, he canceled the permit for that pipeline. And while that sounds like a definitive thing, honestly, it`s set off whatever but expected to just be a whole other round of years of wrangling and fighting over this thing.

But then, today, this lightning bolt finally arrived, a decade in the making. The Keystone XL pipeline is officially dead. Dead.

The company that was building the pipeline said today is pulling the plug, it`s not going to try anymore. They said they will work with government agencies, quote, to ensure a safe termination of an exit from the project.

Tonight, Bill McKibben said this online, he said, quote, just a reminder that ten years ago this summer, when mass arrests began in the Keystone fight, 93 percent of insiders said the project would be approved. Today, TC Energy, the pipeline company, threw in the towel for good. He closed by saying: never ever give up.

Joining us now is Bill McKibben, climate expert, one of the founders of the grassroots climate campaign, 350.org.

Mr. McKibben, thank you for being with us tonight. I appreciate you making time.

BILL MCKIBBEN, CLIMATE EXPERT: Rachel, what a pleasure.

And let me just begin by saying, I did not crush the Keystone pipeline. This fight began with indigenous groups and ranchers across the Midwest, and it has involved millions of people, perhaps as far as any environmental fight in American history. And what it really does is show now there is possibility of meeting these other things just like that Line Three fight that you`re describing a minute ago.

MADDOW: Well, let me ask you aside from persistence. I mean, you correctly noting today this was ten years plus of work by all the people you are describing, and so many of them. Other than persistence, what was the secret to success here?

MCKIBBEN: Well, there are many. Part of it was the huge coalition of people that came together. As they said, indigenous groups frontline communities, (INAUDIBLE) farmers and ranchers, but also climate scientists, Jimmy Hansen, very early on, our greatest climate scientist, said, if we pump the tar sands dry, then it`s game over for climate.

That helped people begin to understand that we are going to have to leave fossil fuel on the ground. This Keystone fight was one of our first moments on that kind of keep it in the ground message began to emerge, and now, it`s at the heart of so many battles that are underway.

But what was so special here, and the reason correctly I think that all the experts said we`d lose was that big oil never lost a fight like this. I mean, remember, 2013, Exxon was still the biggest company on Planet Earth, you know. Big oil was still powerful.

And yet, people were willing to take it on, willing to believe that we had a chance. And because of that great organizer that so many groups from so many vantage points, you know, the emergence. Remember, we were talking tonight about the fact that Julian Bond, the great civil rights leader, the last time he got arrested before his death was outside the White House, outside the Obama White House protesting the Keystone pipeline.

There were people in every kind of community, it became a big, broad fight that brought the environmental justice movement together, and in a way we haven`t seen before, but that has continued now. And, you know, I was out in Minnesota earlier this week, you know, backing up the indigenous leaders that were occupying that land along the headwaters of Mississippi.

If Obama`s climate test was Keystone, Biden`s probably going to be Line Three, because -- and here`s the thing, Obama said that we wouldn`t have the Keystone pipeline because it couldn`t pass a climate test. Line three is exactly the same size, about 800,000 barrels a day, and it carries exactly the same stuff, tar sands crude. So, if Keystone couldn`t pass the climate test, there is no way six years later after we`ve had the hottest temperature ever recorded, the biggest forest fires ever recorded, the biggest hurricanes ever reported, after we`ve had the Paris climate accords, there is no way that anybody with a straight face can say Line Three is somehow passes a climate test that Keystone couldn`t.

MADDOW: Bill McKibben, environmental activist, one of the Founders of the grassroots climate campaign, 350.org -- Bill, thank you for joining. As I know it`s a landmark moment but one that was a long time coming. Thanks for being here.

MCKIBBEN: Thank you so much, Rachel.

MADDOW: All right. We`ll be right back. Stay with us.

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MADDOW: All right. That is going to do it for us tonight. Thank you very much for being here. I`ll see you again tomorrow. What`s tomorrow? Friday Eve.

Now, it`s time for "THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL".

Good evening, Lawrence.