tv The Rachel Maddow Show MSNBC May 30, 2017 6:00pm-7:01pm PDT
she's directing funds into resistance organizations. >> it's a fascinating chapter and rebecca tracer who is just a master at these sorts of things profiled hillary clinton is the cover story of this week's "new york" magazine. that is "all in" for this evening. the rachel maddow show starts right now with the one and only joy reid. >> fascinating what headquarter is choosing to do with herself. all right. thank you, chris. thanks to you at home for joining us. rachel is still under the weather today. she will be back very soon. n we start tonight with aluminum. the man who controls russia's aluminum industry and who thereby controls a good 7% of the entire world's aluminum production is this man. oleg deraposkov. he is a billionaire. and he is also quite close to vladimir putin. he travels with him. he's one of putin's favorite oligarchs. when the associated press reported that paul man fort
signed a $10 million a year contract starting in 2006 to, quote, influence politics, business dealings and news coverage inside the united states to benefit putin's government, it was oleg deraposkov the man who paidau manafort for that work starting in 2008. and ending who knows when. after that ap story came out, oleg took out an add in "the washington post" and "the wall street journal." he took out the same quarter page ad in both papers saying i demand that any and all further dissemination of these allegations by the ap or any other media outlet must cease immediately. he demanded -- spoiler alert, that didn't work. he is now suing the ap over that story. he and paul manafort deny there was anything pro-putin about the work they did. oleg deripaska says that work ended in 2009 and he's upset by any indication that his payments
to manafort had something to do with the trump campaign. the ap says it stands by its reporting. this russian aluminum oligarch paid millions to manafort who would later go on to chair donald trump's campaign. bank accounts that raised repeated red flags for money laundering investigations and were quickly closed when those investigators stopped making inquiries. started making inquiries. so oleg deripaska is one of the names we know. another name in the trump/russia investigation. and here is why he's really important to this story. in that ad, he took out in march, objecting to the ap reporting of his past dealings with manafort, deripaska said he was ready to take part in any
hearings conducted in the u.s. congress on this subject in order to defend my reputation and name, which is pretty exciting. if russian oligarchs are going to start giving sworn public testimony to congress, pass the popcorn. but on friday night, "the new york times" reported that oleg deripaska has offered to cooperate with congressional committees investigating russian meddling in the 2016 election but lawmakers are unwilling to accept his conditions. the times reported that mr. deripaska recently offered to cooperate with congressional intelligence committees in exchange for a grant of full immunity. according to three congressional officials speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the issue publicly. the senate and house panels turned him down because of concerns that immunity agreements create complications for federal criminal investigators. russian state broadcaster rt claimed to to have a statement from oleg deripaska in which he disputes the "new york times" reporting and wants to help congress get to the truth.
oleg deripaska tells rt the truth is that russia did not medsle in the u.s. prattial election and he has proof of that. deripaska is not the only one to have asked or been reported to have asked for immunity from congress and been turned down. michael flynn offered to testify to the senate intelligence committee in exchange for immunity but the committee says no, even after flynn invoked his fifth amendment right against self-incrimination and refuse to turn over documents subpoenaed. the immunity was still off the table. and we may just be getting started. political reported this weekend that a number of witnesses connected to the trump campaign who had previously offered to testify before congress voluntarily without precondition of seriously considering whether to withdraw the offer and insist on immunity. politico noting that among the trump advisers who have previously offered to cooperate fully with congress are jared
kushner, paul manafort and campaign adviser roger stone and carter page. but as we've seen with oleg deripaska and michael flynn, congress doesn't seem to be inclined to grant anyone immunity right now. at least in part because of, quote, concerns that immunity agreements create complications for federal criminal investigators. if you're wondering what kind of complications, think back to ir iran/cont iran/contra. they secured felony convictions of two top aides to president ronald reagan. those convictions did not stick. >> good evening. iran/contra. the wide ranging and complex scandal the reagan administration. iran/contra will not die. oliver north is legally free of iran/contra. bob kur tonight on how all the charges were dropped. >> reporter: oliver north, point man in the scandal that rocked the reagan administration says he and his family are ready to
celebrate. >> and for five years my family and i have been under fire. >> reporter: today the prosecutor gave up and a judge threw out the case. >> totally exonerated. fully, complely. i don't have another word for it. >> reporter: five summers ooh the country was fascinated for weeks. in thought the former marine lieutenant colonel had the smoking gun which would bring down the reagan administration. as a white house aide, north raged secret arms for hostages deals with iran and sent the profits to nick raugan rebels. the legal hangup was whether testimony at north's criminal trial was tainted by what he said under a grant of immunity during a congressional testimony. robert mcfarland, his former white house boss, told a judge his testimony at north's trial was influenced. >> this, i think, is a very serious warning that immunity is not to be granted lightly. i have never criticized congress. i urge them not to grant
immunity. >> the special prosecutor says he has no regrets or apologies and vows to pursue his $30 million investigation. yet no matter how it turns out in the end, a big one got away today. >> so both oliver north and reagan's national security adviser john poindexter had their convictions toss out because of the testimony they gave to congress when congress granted them immunity. and now that the trump/russia investigation has its own special counsel it seems congress is trying to steer clear of mucking up robert mueller's investigation by granting immunity to people that mueller may be looking into. at least congress is steering clear of that for now. politico points out granting immunity would also be a handy way to throw a wrench into mueller's operation if republicans in congress decide that's the way theyant to go. so that's one thing t watch here. do more people start asking for immunity? does robber mueller perhaps ask congress not to offer it so not
to get in his way. do congressional republicans stick to their plan to offer it. all things are moving forward what what seems like increasing speed. just this evening we learned mike flynn has agreed to turn over some documents to the senate intelligence committee after initially refusing to comply with the subpoena. sources close to flynn tell nbc news after the committee narrowed their document request to him, he'll provide some personal documents. heess also going to hand over documents in response to the subpoenas that the committee served on his businesses. meanwhile, folks in ukraine they the fbi has started questioning them about former trump campaign chairman paul manafort. and what they know about him from his decade of work for the pro-putin former dictator there. during which there were all those unusual money transfers and -- in and out of his bank account in cypress. we continue to get a drip, drip of information though much of it is speculative about what it is
that jared kushner was up to when he was trying to set up a back channel to the kremlin in december. reuters reported late friday that according to one current law enforcement official, quote, fbi investigators are examining whether russians suggested to kushner and other -- or to other trump aides that relaxing economic sanctions would allow russian banks to offer financing to people with ties to trump. snen reports today that during the 2016 election, u.s. intelligence intercepted russian officials discussing potentially derogatory information that they had about donald trump. that the information was financial in nature and that the russians believed it could be used to influence a trump administration. so is that what the trump transition team wanted to have back channel discussions about? we just don't know. intelligence officials caution that the russians who were intercepted talking about that stuff could have been making it all up or blowing it way out of proportion. also today we learned where the senate and house investigations are turning their attention to
next. the house intelligence committee is requesting information about russian contacts and communications with the trump campaign about russia from boris epshteyn, a former trump communications team. his lawyer says they've reached out with follow-up questions to determine whether he can provide the information. and the senate and house intelligence committees have both requested similar information from his longtime lawyer michael cohen. cohen has declined the invitation to participate as the request was poorly phrased, overly broad and not capable of being answered. cohen tells nbc news that if he is issued a subpoena, he will testify saying, i will make myself available and i am more than happy and willing to testify. so is that what's next? a subpoena for donald trump's personal lawyer? joining us now is congressman eric swalwel, democrat of california. first of all, thank you for being with us tonight. good to talk to you. >> good evening, joy.
>> let's answer that last question. is the next step in this process for the house intelligence committee to subpoena donald trump's personal lawyer, michael cohen? >> work with republicans we've identified a witness list and documents we want to see and people who we want to hear from. and the first step is to send them an invitation to come speak to us and to do so voluntarily. i believe that if you care about our country and you care about the future, there should be no reason not to cooperate with a committee trying to understand the attack that occurred in the last election. if individuals don't want to come in, then the other option we have is to subpoena them. if we can agree on that. so i hope that anyone who has received an invitation to come before us does so willingly because they care about our country. >> you are a former prosecutor, i do believe. and the question that we started the show off with is the question of whether or not the youngal committees wind up working at cross purposes with robert mueller. with his investigation which is in the criminal realm. is it possible that your committee, the committee that
you serve on, could wind up sort of bollixing the investigation if you subpoena people, they come out and testify and the information they say publicly harms the investigation? are you worried about that? >> we certainly don't want to do that. our goal is different than the goal of the criminal probe. we want to tell the american people what happened with russia's interrence, identify any persons in the united states who may have worked with russia and close any vulnerabilities so it never happens again. as a former prosecutor with immunity, you have to be very careful. in the way that you use it. if there's witness testimony that you cannot get any other way, then that's the only time you should ever consider immunity. you still have to corroborate it because jurors look at them very skeptically if they don't have other information that can assist them. at this point we just want to have witnesses come forward without any conditions to tell us what happened and help us tell the american people what vulnerabilities are out there and what we can do to make sure we're never in a mess like this again. >> isn't a grant of immunity
typically married to a commitment by the person getting immunized to give up someone else to incriminate somebody other than themselves or at a higher level than themselves? >> in the criminal sense, before immunity is given, a proffer takes place. the person would tell us what they have to offer and then we would consider whether we want to receive that information and give them immunity. that's usually in the criminal setting. i don't want to speak for adam schiff or our chair. that's a decision that they will have to make. so far, since chair conaway has taken over, we've made a lot more progress and witness comes in to cooperate, not obstruct. >> that implies good old devin nunes, your former chairman, maybe made less progress under him. what do you make of comments the los angeles times reported he madet a fund-raiser. these were made shortly after he was ousted as chair of the select intelligence committee. devin nunes saying the democrats
don't want an investigation on russia. they want an independent commission? why? because they want to continue the narrative that vladimir putin and donald trump are best friends and that's the reason he won because hillary clinton would have never lost on their own. it has to be someone's fault. he says they tried to destroy the investigation. they've never been serious about it. essentially blaming the democrats on the committee for just trying to use this investigation to hurt donald trump and excuse hillary clinton. what do you make of that? >> he's right that we want an independent commission. elijah cummings and i wrote legislation and two republicans have joined us to call for that. he's wrong that we see this as anything political. if hillary clinton were elected president i'd still be calling to understand what happened with russia's interference campaign. and when we saw president macron in france stand next to vladimir putin yesterday and call out russian propaganda outlets for what they did in his election, that's what it looks like when somebody puts their country ahead of politics. that's what i hope my republican
colleagues will do. >> we go back to the very top of this discussion. could you see your committee granting immunity to allow oleg deripaska, a national of russia, to testify publicly before your committee. could you see that happening? >> i'll leave that to our chair and ranking member. my hope is witnesses come forward voluntarily. especially u.s. witnesses. of course, he's a foreign national and so there's other complications there. but anyone in the united states, if they were a part of this or had something -- if they witness something, we want to hear from them and they shouldn't come forward with any conditions because this about protecting our democracy. >> eric swalwell, thank you for being here. there's much more ahead, including how the white house is trying to deal with the onslaught of headlines about the russia investigation by creating a so-called war room headed by none other than jared kushner. stay with us. be live monday.
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thank you guys very much. i appreciate it. >> come on. come on. >> is kushner fake news? >> today's white house press briefing, the first in more than two weeks ended abruptly after just six russia related questions and not a lot of answers from sean spicer. despite having four days to come up with a plausible explanation, the white house had no answer for why jared kushner sought to create a secret communications channel with the russians.
those mysterious flashing red lights at the white house over the memorial day weekend, well, spicer did end that mystery yesterday. those were the reflections of a nearby ambulance and not any kind of emergency sos signal. this morning the news at white house communications director mike dubke was out after just three months on the job. whether he jumped or was pushed remains a little unclear, as does who would be willing to step up for messaging strategist for this particular president. that's like asking someone who just witnessed a horrific bungee jumping accident whether they'd like to go next one republican source told buzzfeed. with bombshells dropping daily it certainly seems like they could use the help. even before the explosive product night scoop about jared kushner's contact, white house aides were telling nbc news they were creating a war room to combat russia stories. the war room that would be headed by, among others, jared
kushner. it's unclear what role kushner would play in dousing the flames when half the incoming fire is all about himself. but it seems a f old faces from the campaign may soon be on hand to help. spotted at the white house yesterday, former and formerly fired campaign manager corey lewandowski and david bossie who may be brought back in to the fold to help shape the white house message. the prospect of their return is already causing panic inside the west wing. one white house official told the daily beast it would be another train wreck. another senior aide said they gagged when they first heard about it saying corey would not be an asset in the white wing but a hot head in a white house that needs the opposite. joining susjohn harwood. let's talk about this potential change. and let's start with mike dubke, the communications director. was this his decision to leave or was he pushed out? >> not specifically, but i would
suspect that there's a little but of both. the president has made clear he's not satisfied with the performance of his staff. and if you are mike dubke, somebody who has served successfully mainstream republican politicians for a number of years, imagine how difficult it is to walk into this environment, a white house this factionalized, this dysfunctional, this outside the norms of what we've seen. i'm sure that, you know are he's been there three months. i'm sure he cannot wait to get out the door. >> what's interesting and upside down about this white house and has been since the campaign is that the people who seem to find themselves on the outs are the people with some connection to washington who have done something like politics at the national level before. and the ones who seem to be able to survive are the former bloggers from breitbart and the folko cam in as ideological fellow travelers with donald trump. is there anyone in the white house that understands he needs the former and not the latter? >> i'm not sure thereat that
there is. the person who needs to understand that is the president himself. and like everything with this administration, the problems do not flow from his staff. mike dubke had nothing to do with the problems of the trump white house. this all goes straight to the top and to the character, actions, behavior of the president of the united states and those closest to him. and that's not something a new communications director can do much about. >> among the things that a communications director can't do bch is a president who forms his own -- serves as his own communications director, including on his twitter account. have you ever seen a white house where the president of the united states communicates without first check with a layer of staff to make sure the things he is saying publicly are presidential or make sense or fit the communication strategy? >> not only have i not seen it, joy, no one has seen it. you haven't seen it. anyone we -- anybody that we know in journalism hasn't seen it because it hasn't happened
before. you know, you've got a president of the united states who has not been in politics before. the circle of people that he trusts is tiny. it may not even exist beyond his own family. and in that kind of a situation, when he believes that his personality, his bluster, the things that he says, are more important than anything else, he's not likely to be nstraid. maybe ivanka trump and jared kushner can constrain him to some degree, but i'm not certain of that. now jared kushner himself is in deep, deep trouble. >> and in the past there have been war room set-ups before. the clinton team did it during impeach lt. that was five years into his presidency. it wasn't like 130 days in. but have you seen that setup work where you set up a war room that deals with the crisis and the problem so the rest of the west wing can get back to its normal job? >> well, war room, remember that term was coined in the 1992
clinton campaign. bill clinton won the election. they had a war room of sorts to deal with scandal in the clinton administration, as well, and bill clinton was able to survive some very, very severe blows. but this is a different situation, joy. you've got a president who is not just fighting the other party. he's at odds in conflict with important elements of his own cia, his own fbi, his own department of justice where robert mueller is leading a special counsel investigation. he is somebody who is very serious about his work. and i'm not sure hiring more people to say more loudly that they're not going to answer questions, which the president doesn't want to answer is going to make much difference. think about the press briefing that sean spicer had today. he wasn't seriously trying to answer questions related to jared kushner's role or any of the other things that came up during the president's foreign trip. that was a press secretary who
was trying to satisfy his boss, the president, who watches the daily press briefings, which is another thing that makes him different from past presidents. they may have watched it every once in a while but not routinely. and he was trying to please his boss by swatting away these questions and it wasn't an especially convincing performance. he looked extremely unhappy delivering that performance, and that just shows you the state that this white house is in right now. >> and it's not clear that there are people in the professional republican world exactly lining up to take his job. >> definitely not. >> cnbc editor at large john harwood, thanks for being here. we have a telling video about how at a loss for words the trump administration is leaving some members of the government. we'll be right back. e playing. -what? -we gotta go. -where? -san francisco. -when? -friday. we gotta go. [ tires screech ] any airline. any hotel. any time.
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it takes usain bolt nine successes to run 100 meters. well, 9.58 seconds to be exact. that is the world record. when you watch him run, it's so fast that if you blink, you could miss it. nine seconds. and then there's this kind of nine seconds. >> have you talked about this issue with admiral rogers? >> that is -- that is something that i would like to withhold
that question at this particular point in time. >> that was director of national intelligence dan coats. he was asked about last week's bombshell reporting from "the washington post" that the president asked him to deny the existence of any evidence of collusion in the russia investigation. and whether he'd talk to the head of the nsa about it. it took him nine whole seconds to come up with what amounted to, uh, i'm not going to tell you. that was last tuesday. today, we got another artifact for the museum of pregnantz pauses. >> how do you characterize saudi arabia's commitment to democracy, and does the administration believe that democracy is a buffer, a barrier against extremism? >> um --
i think what i would say is that at this meeting, we were able to make significant progress with saudi and gcc partners in both making a strong statement against extremism and also -- and also putting in place certain measures through this gcc mechanism where we can combat extremism. >> 14 seconds. this time featuring the poor acting assistant secretary of the near east affairs bureau asked to defend president trump's trip to saudi arabia given tha country's murky record with democracy. took him 14 seconds to figure out how to do it. now the president is back from that first trip abroad, the beleaguered acting assistant secretary is not the only one who is speechless in terms of our foreign policy or confused
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from dry mouth symptoms. where are mom and dad? 'saved money on motorcycle insurance with geico! goin' up the country. love mom and dad' i'm takin' a nap. dude, you just woke up! ♪ ♪ i'm goin' up the country, baby don't you wanna go? ♪ ♪ i'm goin' up the country, baby don't you wanna go? ♪ geico motorcycle, great rates for great rides. this is from the associated press earlier today. the president says the allegations of russian meddling in the u.s. presidential election are, quote, fiction, invented by the democrats in order to explain their loss. would it surprise you to note the president who said that was not donald trump. it's not. that's actually what russian president vladimir putin said in an interview released earlier
today. president putin must be having a bit of a mind meld with our president. donald trump said nearly the exact same thing this morning tweeting, quote, russian officials must be laughing at the u.s. and how lame excuse for why the dems lost the election has taken over the fake news. and while the kremlin and the white house seem to be work off the same talking points, that's not the case when it comes to our longstanding allies. following last week's nato and g7 summits, german chancellor angela merkel said her country can no longer rely on allies like the united states. the times in which we could completely depend on others is over. chancellor merkel's opponent also blasted donald trump for his behavior during the nato summit. despite being in the thick of a heated election, the chancellor represents all of us at summits
like this. and i reject with outrage the way this man takes it upon himss to treat the head of our country's government. the level of trust between the two countries has gotten so bad that germany does not want the u.s. intelligence help when it comes to monitoring their election. a senior u.s. intelligence official told nbc news that there isn't much trust in the trump administration, especially when it comes to elections. if you're hoping that our country's relationship with our other european partners might prove more fruitful, well, think again. the senior eu official had this to say about the current american president's rapport with other european leaders calling donald trump, quote, a new strange kid in the class nobody likes. and as for that very tense handshake between donald trump and the new french president, emmanuel macron, last week, the one describe as a white knuckled clenched jawed battle of wills. that was no accident. presidentacron told a french newspaper that, one must show that we won't make little
concessions, even symbolic ones. president macron went on to compare trump to the likes of strong men like vladimir putin and thayyip erdogan. donald trump, the president of turkey or the president of russia are a mind-set of power relations which doesn't bother me. i don't let anything go. that's how i make one self-respected. talk about a new world order. joining us is a former u.s. ambassador to nato who is now president of the chicago council on global affairs. ambassador, thank you for being here. and first of all, let's start with the relationship with germany. how much should the american people be concerned at what appears to be germany's willingness to break essentially from the united states? >> well, it is concerning that the relationship between the united states and what really is our most important european ally, germany, the strongest economy, the leader of the european union, and a major
player when it comes to our relations with russia that that relationship is not as strong as it should be. i don't think it's breaking. i think chancellor merkel was making a point that she had another, not such a great meet with president trump. her first meeting in march wasn't very good. meeting in both nato and in italy at the g7 summit was a problem. and she's making it clear that if it com to the future of how we are going to make decisions, don't automatically assume that germany will be following america's lead. >> there are a lot of republicans who said european needed for a long time to stand up for itself, to do more for itself, spend more on its own defense and not rely so much on the united states. it's part of what donald trump ran on. is that something that americans should welcome if europe says, okay, fine, we'll take you oup that. germany and france will lead and we'll put america to the side for now. >> yes, a stronger europe is in everybody's interest. it's in our interest. it's in europe's interest.
and to the extent that chancellor america cemerkel is strengthen her relationship with france and the other eu countries and bolster their defenses, all of that is good, but only if it takes place within a larger context of a strong trans-atlantic relationship. it's not europe or the trans-atlantic alliance. s it -- it has to be europe and the trans-atlantic alliance. we've encouraged them to do more and be more capable but within the contsext of our commitment o nato. >> are you among those who thought it was catastrophic and a huge error for donald trump not to explicitly endorse article 5 when he was at the memorial? >> i do, both because of the situation where he found himself next to the 9/11 memorial which, after all, was the 9/11 attacks was the first and only time that nato invoked article five, the
collective defense provision of the treaty. so during th campaign, he had says things about nato, he called it obvious letsolete and necessary. there was an expectation on the part of his aides and everybody else that he'd come to nato headquarters, embrace the alliance, recommit america to article five as every one of his predecessors since harry truman has done and move on from there. that's not what he did, and it was deeply disappointing. >> all these headlines that talk about donald trump as the kid in class no one likes. the bully in school no one likes to talk to that you have to be nice to in front of the teacher. the whole golf cart ride while everyone else was walking. it feels like the united states president is much more isolated from our former allies and then this interesting story. an article that came out while we owere on the air from the associated press. president trump has been handing out his cell phone number to world leaders and urging them to call him director.
an unusual invitation that breaks diplomatic proets coland is raising concerns about the security and secrecy of the u.s. commander in chief. justin trudeau has already taken advantage of the offer. what do you make of this report? >> i think in some sense it conveys the idea that the president does want to have a strong personal rapport with other leaders and by exchanging cell phone numbers, he's trying to say, i really would like to have a relationship where we can talk to each other whenever you want to. and that's a good thing. the bad thing, of course, is our cell phone communications are hardly secure. anybody in the intelligence community will be able to listen , and equally importantly, the reason we have not only secure communications but more regular communications, is so that people can take notes and we know what promises the president will have made to act upon it. if no one is listening in, if
it's just a call between two guys or a guy and a gal and no one is paying attention to what's being said, then diplomacy will become more difficult to pursue, and agreements, whatever is reachod the telephone, may not be acted upon. so secure communication, very important. making sure that everybody knows what the president says, and acts upon it equally important. >> and one wonders whether you can create better relationships on the phone that you weren't able to do in person when you had the opportunity. so that is an interesting tack. >> that's certainly true. >> thank you, sir. really appreciate your time. >> my pleasure. up next, a bizarre story involving ivanka trump's business interests. one you're going to want to stick a pin in. plus, the roll back of civil rights efforts under president trump. are former members of the obama administration worried about the path that we're headed down? we'll ask one straight ahead.
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okay. here's something to put a pin in. as a presidential adviser and first daughter, ivanka trump has faced questions about her outside business interests. notably her fashion company. she stepped down from running the company in january but still owns it. back in april, the company got a green light fromhe chinese government for three new trademarks. that same night she joined her father at a dinner with chinese leaders. it's the kind of thing that raises eyebrows. more recently the ivanka trump brand has been a target for
labor activists in china who allege that workers at factories making ivanka trump shoes have been paid the equiv lint of $1 an hour. activists with china labor watch sent their findings to miss trump. for the record her company says they are committed to working only with suppliers and factories that meet international labor standards. enforcing that across international lines can be challenging for any company, and tonight we have another chapter in the story of the chinese labor activists who have been carrying out that investigation. according to the director of their non-profit, three of those investigators, including the two that you see here, went missing over the weekend. the wife of one of the men says she got a call today from local police telling her that her husband had been detained on suspicion of illegal eavesdropping. at that point he'd been missing since saturday. "the new york times" says the three could be held for days or weeks before they're formally arrested. the non-profit in this case, china labor watch, has probed conditions for workers across china, including workers at big
name companies. the group's director says they've never gotten this kind of attention from the chinese -- that they have gotten this kind of attention from chinese security before. quote, our plan was to investigate the factory now it has become more political. tonight associated press says the white house referred for comment for the brand and the company declined to comment. like i said, put a pen in this one.
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perhaps the most visceral was the question of who donald trump might bring with him to washington as president. one of the worst case scenarios was that trump could put someone like rudy jewel annie and it would set up to dismantle barack oba obama's legacy not just on obama care but also immigration, now with donald trump in the white house, that nightmare scenario for many has happened. in fact, it's even worse. it's not just access to voting and decency towards dreamers and other immigrants that's being rolled back. the trump administration is rolling back civil rights enforcement across the board. we know by sessions justice department is planning on rolling back police reform. they've ordered a review of
consent decrees and troubled police departments across the country. no surprise there. giving the campaign that donald trump brand we also know that the budget will cut funds and jobs for the department of education. we know the administration has dropped the federal government eight years of opposition to voter i.d. laws. with the president himself has promised to investigate what he claims widespread voter fraud. the claim for which he and his administration have offered no proof. now, the washington post is reporting on the labor department -- the labor department plan to do away with its office of federal contract compliance with contractors looking for discriminatory practices, it has proposed ditching its environmental justice program. it's specifically designed to address pollution with the health threats concentrated in minority communities. the program gets federal, financial and technical help for people exposed to oil leaks.
communities like flint michigan, one that's dear to the heart of this show where people are being poisoned through no fault of their own by contaminated water. and then the environmental squlus tis program is designed to help communities like flint and trump administration wants to gut it. that's not to say that all is lost, it's not. there have been small and important victories, places like north carolina where gerrymander district have been shot down by the supreme court. including a vote from clarence thomas, no less. automatic voter registration is picking up steam in the legislature. even in florida, florida as a push to restore voting rights for former fell lans doing ballot initiative. it's not enough. those fighting for civil rights are facing a situation where the federal government appears to be actively moving against them in a way we've not seen in decades. nobody knows that better than our next guest. joining us now is bonita whose to head civil rights division at
the civil rights division, she was sbe gram for the police reform efforts in baltimore and ferguson soon be president and ceo of leadership conference. thank you so much for being here, a i appreciate it. >> great to be here. >> let's start from the end and work our way back. on the consent degree that the justice department is rolling back. do you think that might have an effect on community and police relations or some hope of salvaging the good that was done. >> the good news on police, those decrees are under the control and authorities of federal judges. who are all too aware of the agenda of this administration to roll back on the constitutional rights of communities of color, in particular. there's also -- so the justice department has a limited role that it can play. i think a lot of what was behind that announcement was political bluster, but it sends a very clear message to communities around the country that this
justice department is not interested in remedying major systemic problems and police departments, even while law enforcement leaders are actually supporting of this. they need they need the trust of their communities to push for public safety. without that, they can't do their jobs effectively. that's what's been so trouble soom about this justice department under attorney general sessions is that the he's not engaging in the congressional mandate that he is suppose to do which is to ensure that people's constitutional rights are protected by the -- by the law enforcement agencies that serve them. >> we know that are on the mind of a lot of people today they're in the -- et cetera. let's talk about some of these roll backs. the justice program, gutting that feels particularly painful in light of what happened in flint michigan. what do you make of that endeavor to push that back. >> look, i think that what is happening in these proposals for the epa, labor department, the
actions that the administration take into cut back voting rights, police reform, reviving discredit and criminal justice policies, all of this, these are death by a thousand cuts that in all make no mistake, these are very consequential roll backs of all the civil rights progress that has been made in this country. it is part of a concerted agenda to roll back civil rights, to hurt communities of color, lgbt communities, to hurt vulnerable communities all of this, of course, happening against the backdrop of really horrific hate violence that's taking place around the country. you know, what is concerning about the epa action, some of the actions that were reported in the washington post today is that every federal agency is taxed with having an office for civil rights to ensure that our taxpayer dollars do not fund discriminati discrimination. we deserve to know that our
dollars are not going to fund discrimination ain federally funded programs. that's what this agency is going to do and we can't stand for it. >> and are you concerned that the agencies, morale of the people who are doing this work in these agencies, you know, how will they even continue to do the work that they, you know, signed on to do and not create pay. >> absolutely. i think that the career men and women who signed on to do the important work of enforcing laws. it's a law enforcement job that they are taxed to do. that the morale is suffering. i also worry very much about the impact in communities around the country that rely on this very core function. civil rights enforcement is not super -- this is core to what the feral gernmt is tasked to do. it is what american taxpayers expect of the federal government and so i am very deeply concerned not only about the moralities of these folks that
are working in these positions, but, really, for all americans. >> indeed. former head of the civil rights division at the justice department. thank you so much for your time. >> thank you. >> thank you. that does it for us tonight. we'll see you again tomorrow. now it's time for the last word with lawrence o'donnel. >> good evening. >> rachel is feeling a little ill. and luckily we've got you. >> i think all of america is going to be sending her meds. i hope she has a really big mailbox. we all want her to get better. >> if twitter's encouragement could get rachel to come in, she would be in. so her temperature, whatever it is, is just over that line, even with twitter's encouragement, she's got to stay home tonight. >> put your hands on your phones right now, all at once. i think everybody collectively is wishing her rachel a speedy recovery. i think all of that, all of those vibes are going to help. >> thanks. well, the breaking news tonight is that more people