tv All In With Chris Hayes MSNBC July 9, 2018 5:00pm-6:00pm PDT
trouble he can generate for the democrats in red states to decide between their near-term loyalties and their long-term careers, for the democratic leadership to decide what is more important for them, to release endangered senators to flee for their lives or to demand ha they fight till as one recent democratic star put it so well, till the last dog dies. and that's "hardball" for now. thanks for being with us. "all in" with chris hayes starts right now. tonight on "all in" -- >> this could be a presidency that chooses the most supreme court judges in history. could happen. could happen. >> in just one hour trump will announce his second supreme court pick. >> i believe this person will do a great job. >> tonight, the leading contenders and why they're all pretty much the same. >> they're excellent. everyone. you really can't go wrong. >> then the administration failing to meet a court deadline to reunite kids with their parents. plus, a brand new theory
about trump and russia. >> putin's fine. >> and the president's fixer threatens to break his silence. >> people are seeing through the nonsense. >> "all in" starts right now. good evening from new york. i'm chris hayes. in one hour the president will announce his decision on the most consequential supreme court nominee in a generation at least. washington is abuzz with speculation on just which potential nominee has won the president's favor. "the new york times" has reported that just hours ago one of the reported final four was spotted leaving the u.s. courthouse in washington, d.c. accompanied by four black suvs believed to be secret service. another spotted back at her home in indiana, where she was clearly not getting ready for an announcement. but here is the truth, and it's important to keep focused on this. the real decision for supreme court nomination was made for trump, and the nominee will be another from the list by the conservative group the federalist society and its current effective leader in this
enterprise leonard leo. leonard leo's a man who also has strong ties to the judicial crisis network. that's the right-wing organization which helped block scores of obama judicial nominees and was key in the pr blitz to outright deny a hearing to president obama's last supreme court justice pick, judge merrick garland. helping mitch mcconnell effectively steal that supreme court seat. leonard leo is also connected to the dark money organization called bh group which according to the non-profit watchdog group open secrets, donated $1 million to the trump inauguration though it tried mightily to keep it a secret by donating anonymously. >> president trump during the campaign asked leonard leo, the founder of the federalist society, to assemble a list of possible supreme court justices for him to pick from. mr. leo was not only aware of candidates trump preferenced for a supreme court that would reverse voe v. wade.
he himself spent his career in pursuit of it. no one has been more dedicated to overturning roe v. wade than the very man who chose the list of 25. >> so any one of president trump's picks is essentially a leonard leo pick. and that nominee will hold in their hands the future of legalized abortion, of roe v. wade, the almost certain collision course as well between president trump and the mueller investigation, with questions about whether the president himself is above the law, as well as of course a whole raft of questions about civil rights, labor rights, consumer rights, regulation that have already been chipped away by the court's majority. senator richard blulen that'll, member of the senate judiciary committee, joins me now. i want to start with something that your colleague senator bob casey said today and get your reaction. "we'll see what they do tonight but i'm going to be a no, and that's because it's a corrupt process. when you can only pick from 25 people from a list generated by and developed by the heritage foundation and federalist society and funded by the corporate right i cannot support
that. it's a flawed system." do you agree with him? >> i agree totally. and the reason is quite simply that every one of the names and nominees potentially on this list has been vetted and screened to meet the trump litmus test. let's be very, very blunt here, chris. i was a law clerk to justice blackman in the year after he wrote the majority opinion in roe v. wade. of all the cases in the united states supreme court, four of them, never before has a president outsourced the decision about supreme court nominations in this way. never before has a president in effect made the federalist society take him as a puppet, the president of the united states has become a puppet here of a far right fringe group, and at stake are the potential rolling back rights involving health care, millions of americans protected from a pre-existing condition, but also
taking us back to a time when abortion was criminalized, women were prosecuted, they died and they were denied access to contraception. so real impacts on real lives, more than just the chipping away. the possible overturning because of this corrupt process. >> let me just make sure i understand you. i said do you agree? casey says he is a no already. doesn't matter who it is. are you a no already? >> i hesitate to advance the president's process. if it is one of those nominees, i would be almost certainly a no, and i believe that my colleagues will join me because at stake are not only those rights but also as you mentioned earlier the idea that we could have the swing crucial vote on whether the president has to comply with the subpoena to the grand jury, whether he can pardon himself or others, whether he has to obey the emol'
yooumts clause. the chief federal protection against corruption. i've sued the president of the united states along with 200 of my colleagues to compel him to obey that clause. i think this nominee has to commit to recuse him or herself. but i would be a no vote. >> do you -- you're familiar with the -- you just told me you clerked on the court, a biographical detail that i did not know actually. there is this argument, right? that this is all people who are fundamental fundamentally trying to call balls and strikes in the words of justice roberts, that it's all sort of process driven and, you know, that us on the outside we're so concerned with outcomes and we're focused on that but the people like leonard leo and others, they're not testing for a litmus test on how someone's going to decide, it's about judicial temperament and their approach to the constitution. do you buy that? >> you know, we have heard these phony platitudes again and again and again. we heard them from neil gorsuch.
we heard them from now chief justice roberts, about adhering to established precedent. just a couple weeks ago we saw an established precedent 40 years old overturned by the court with roberts and gorsuch supporting that step. we know that these evasive canned rehearsed answers are absolutely meaningless when they are accompanied by refusals in response to my questions and others to state that brown v. board of education was correctly decided or roe v. wade was correctly decided or loving versus virginia, or bergapel or other established principles of law. sought answer to your question is no more business as usual, no more deferential or courteous acceptance of these phony platitudes. >> that sounds like it would make for interesting hearings one way or the other. senator blumenthal, thank you for some time tonight. >> thank you. >> harry lipman, former assistant deputy general.
he clerked for justice kennedy on the supreme court. and vinta gupta. former assistant attorney general at the justice department's civil rights division. here's to me the preamble for tonight. the right has felt like it was done wrong time after time. they felt like they were done wrong with justice bork when he was voted down, then that they got suter and they got kennedy, who upheld the core holding of roe. and basically my read is they have developed a process over the years for vetting that out. trey gowdy was complaining about suter and those folks. my feeling is we should take them at their word ha they figured out the process to make sure that that doesn't happen again. >> i take them at their word. and really they developed this since before then. kennedy was preceded by bork, and then ginsburg. they didn't have the direct political line, the automatic okay from the president before
there were camps that would choose one nominee or another. but i absolutely take them at their word their word that they have sussed it out, they are at point of dominance for a generation and they're not going to mess up. >> vinita, what do you say to people that say you can't know ahead of time that judges are going to make these decisions in front of them as you look to evaluate what the stakes are for who the president names tonight? >> look, i think everything is at stake tonight. and this process has really been corrupt because not only do you have the federalist society and the heritage foundation, ultra conservative organizations that as you say have sussed out the process and vetted for the extreme agenda that they represent, but in this care, and this is what is unprecedented, you have a president who has been more than explicit about having tests, about wanting o'take away women's freedom to control our bodies, about wanting to take away health care for millions and only appointing judges who will do that.
you have a president who over the past year has lifted up nominees who have told the senate judiciary committee that they will not say that brown versus board of education was correctly decided. i mean, this is a no norms apply at this moment which is why given how much is at stake with health care-w women's freedom, with civil rights, the supreme court is usually a backstop to prevent other institutions from rolling over constitutional and civil human rights, and that is what we are faced with today, with nominees who have been vetted and who have met trump's clearly explicitly stated tests and vetted by these ultra conservative groups. >> president at one point in the campaign trail said it would be almost guaranteed that roe would be overturned if he got two or three -- >> and that's how he came to have this list in the first place, he wanted to signal i'm going to do right by you on this list. >> and it was totally unprecedented. it was this very explicit
bargain. there were people saying don't trust this guys because can't trust him on judges. he said what do you want? give me a list. and basically that's what we got. zbln only that's what we've got, he's executed it. for all the chaos and fecklessness of every other area, he's not just on the supreme court but the court of appeals, he really has played it by the book. and i think vanita's word is exactly right. it's been a backstop now for 30, 40 years, and that's exactly what's going to be going away and it's going to move to state courts and democracy. i'll tell what you we won't have today. remember, within 45 minutes of the nomination of robert bork ted kennedy was out with his speech defining bork, robert bork's america. we will not be able to hear about thomas hardiman's america or brett kavanaugh's america. >> why not? >> because -- >> just answer that question first, harry. why not? >> in short, it won't sell in the same way. >> vanita. >> and chris, i want to say, look, we are at a point in this country where millions of
americans who never thought of themselves as activists before are literally enraged by the vision of america that this administration is putting out. and the courts are a huge part of defining what fleemd looks like, what liberty looks like, what our civil and human rights look like, what health care and access to health care and women's rights are going to look like. and women are leading the charge. and i think that now is a moment where progressive's who care so much about the kind of what this current's about, and the kind of america we deserve are going to stand up and say look, yes, the democrats don't have the majority in the senate but there is a majority of senators who do believe that there should be access to health care in the millions affordable by the affordable care act and who do believe women should have the 23r50e78d to choose what toe we do with our bodies and who don't want to he soo a rollback on civil sxriets voting rights and lgbtq rights. and that's what we're seeing is the energy burgeoning all around the country coming to bear on the fight to save the court. >> that's tape of gop senators
getting on the bus to go to the white house tonight. >> quick point, speaking of majorities, gorsuch is the first justice in history to be nominated by a president who didn't get a majority of the vote and confirmed by a senate that together doesn't represent a majority of the vote. and this justice will surely be the second. >> i would say not surely with this caveat. they have 50 votes right now. of people that can vote in washington, d.c. john mccain still receiving treatment for cancer back in arizona. that's a very thin margin. lots can happen. i think it will be very interesting to see what happens here in the reaction to tonight and how it plays out over the summer. harry litman and vanita gupta, thank you both. michael cohen sending signals he is ready to cooperate putting him on a collision course with the president. the latest on the fallout between donald trump and his former fixer after this. ♪ ♪ keep it comin' love. ♪ keep it comin' love. ♪ don't stop it now,
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as we await the president's supreme court announcement tonight, donald trump's former lawyer and fixer michael cohen appears to be embarking on a new legal strategy. and it's putting him on a collision course with his one-time boss. cohen's latest moves proclaiming his loyalty to country and family in the interview and then adding long-time clinton ally lanny davis to his legal team have seemed to signal he's willing to cooperate with federal prosecutors that are investigating him. now, according to the president's outside counsel rudy giuliani they are eager to see cohen cooperate. >> michael cohen should cooperate with the government. we have no reason to believe he did anything wrong. the president did nothing wrong with him. so we've gone through every document we can. >> you have no concerns at all about anything that michael cohen might tell the
prosecutors -- >> as long as he tells the truth, we're home-free. >> but cohen's newest attorney, at forementioned lanny davis, responded in a tweet this morn, "did rudy giuliani really say on sunday shows that michael cohen should cooperate with prosecutors and tell the truth? seriously? is that the trump and giuliani definition of truth? trump giuliani next to the word truth equals oxymoron. stay tuned. #the truth matters." for more on michael cohen's impending showdown with the president i'm joined by former watergate prosecutor nick akerman and former u.s. attorney joyce vance, both msnbc legal analysts. that strikes me as a pretty clear signal in one direction or another from lanny davis. am i right? >> a signal because he hired lanny davis? >> that he hired lanny davis and the first thing lanny davis does under this new contract is essentially tweet a warning shot. >> yeah, he does, but this is not unusual. during the watergate investigation it was amazing how many nixon people actually went out and looked for democratic lawyers in order to try and
appeal to this idea -- >> really? >> yes. that somehow they thought that by having something that's like former senator tidings represent them in our office they kind of bought into the idea that we were a bunch of kennedy democrats, which was not true. so they were hiring lawyers thinking they could appeal to us and somehow get a better in if they came in with these lawyers. you even saw jared kushner, he's retained the woman who was deputy attorney general under clinton. >> yeah. >> a democrat. >> i think it's the same sort of mindset, that people don't realize that what you ought to be looking for is the best possible lawyer. >> giuliani, joyce, has been playing this game now for several months on moving the goalposts of when they're going to cooperate under which conditions, robert mueller. he threw a new one out over the weekend. take a listen. >> we would not recommend an interview with the president unless they can satisfy us that
there's some --? basis for this investigation. we've got to see something. i mean, something started this investigation. what we're asking them for is is this the witch hunt that a lot of people think it is or is there a factual basis for this? >> i mean, what do you make of that? >> it's interesting. giuliani is negotiating over the president's interview with the public, with the press, thru but there's no appearance that he's negotiating with mueller or any of his prosecutors at this point in time. so i think at the point where we see mueller scheduling an interview or grand jury testimony we'll find out if this is posturing or just if it's for real. but chris, i think we all know there was never any legitimate intention on the part of this president to sit down with these prosecutors for a real interview. simply too risky for him. >> do you agree with that? >> look, i worked with rudy giuliani. i was in the same office with him. he wouldn't -- if anybody ever came in and said tell me what
this investigation -- give me all your evidence so i can decide whether we're going to obey your subpoena, then i will come in, he would have laughed that defense lawyer right out of the office. and the reason for it is simple. you don't let people know what your investigation is -- >> of course not. >> -- what you have, because then they're going to tailor their testimony to precisely what the evidence is. >> giuliani, who had sort of gone dark for a while, was out talking again this weekend. he also seemed to admit something i thought was fairly significant. you remember that james comey's account of the president pulling him aside, everyone else leaves the room, basically says can you see your way to letting flynn go? right? directly saying -- now, when he said, that the president, white house, everyone said comey's a liar, that never happened. listen to what giuliani admitted this weekend. stake a listen. >> what he said was -- >> comey said he took it as directive. >> that's fine. by that time had been fired. he said a lost other things some of which have turned out to be untrue. the reality is as a prosecutor i was told that many times, can
you give the man a break. either by his lawyers, by his relatives, by friends. you take that into consideration. but that doesn't determine not going forward with it. >> joyce, what do you think? no big deal. first of all, confirming the essential part of the comey account of this. but also no big deal if the president tells the head of the fbi lay off my campaign worker, who lied to you guys. >> it's absolutely incredible. if somebody comes into your office when you're a prosecutor and says, you know, whether it's a lawyer or a friend of the subject or target and says, please lay off my friend and here's the reason that you should lay off him or whatever they say to you, that's obstruction of justice. and it might be krirnl. it might just be something where you tell them get out of my office. but it's outrageous. here we have jim comey's boss, the president of the united states, telling him to cut back on an investigation, and apparently rudy giuliani is confirming jim comey's version of events. >> and i can tell you exactly why he's doing that. because there is somebody else
out there, there is another witness that had a conversation with donald trump after that meeting between him and comey and trump admitted to that person. it could be hope hicks. it could be reince priebus. it could be a whole host of people. but the bottom line is rudy giuliani is anticipating that donald trump is going to be shown to be a liar very soon on that issue. >> and in fact, there's a pattern here. he keeps coming on the air and admitting things that the president denied. remember the knowledge of the payments to michael cohen? >> and that's going proven too by michael cohen's own records. >> right. because he knows -- giuliani knows that this stuff is documented other places. that's what you're saying. >> so they have to move the goalposts. otherwise, they're going to have to just be stuck with a baldfaced lie, which it is anyway. >> nick akerman and joyce vance, if you bo thank you both for joining me. coming up, cot president's ties to russia be even more extensive than anyone knows? a looming question ahead of his meeting with vladimir putin behind closed doors.
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a week from today the president is set to meet behind closed doors with russian president vladimir putin one on one plus translators. the meeting is raising concerns, grave ones, among u.s. allies and some of the president's own advisers that trump will be outmatched by putin, who has reportedly been cultivating their personal relationship in a series of phone calls. according to the wshtd wshtd, the russian president complains to trump about fake news and laments the u.s. foreign policy establishment, the deep state in putin's words, is conspiring
against them. "it's not us," putin has told trump. "it's the subordinates fighting against our friendship. it's beautiful." the precise relationship between the two leaders is at the heart of the mystery still surrounding the 2016 election. did the trump campaign, did the candidate at the heart of it conspire to subvert american democracy and/or does russia have some kind of leverage over donald trump p? in a new cover story for new york magazine jonathan chait argues "we have not allowed ourselves to consider the full range of possibilities." chait lays out what could be the worst case scenario for trump-putin collusion. that donald trump has been a russian intelligence asset since 1987. "new york" magazine's jonathan chait joins me now. okay. it sounds insane. i just want to say, it really does. the idea that he goes to moscow in '87, is cultivated as a russian intelligence asset, this sort of sleeper cell for decades, sounds nuts. it sounds like the stuff of
conspiracy theories. why are you not insane? >> so that's a great question, chris. i get that all the time. so first of all, the piece acknowledges that that is probably not true. but it might be. and one of the reasons i wrote this is you need to take seriously some of these low probability high impact scenarios. before the election sort of everyone heard that hillary clinton had about an 80% chance of winning and we all just treat td like that meant 100% and didn't think about what would that 20% alternative really mean? that's part of what i'm doing with this -- with aspects of this piece, like this trip to mosc moscow. what would it mean if it really went that deep? now, there's a lot of ways in had which this scandal could be really bad and not go that deep. but i think you need to consider that for another reason, which is everyone always says that has been trump's view forever, all the stuff he's saying about the western allies splitting us apart from the west and how he's missing on them all the time and saying we should let them go their own way, that's just wheeze always thought.
it's not really what he's always thought. it's what he's thought since 1987. he never thought that before then, or at least he never said it before then. and in 1987 is when he went to moscow and he's vetted by the russians and tours moscow and then he comes back, then he starts talking about running for president for the first time and then he starts talking for the first time about how our allies are a bunch of freeloaders and we should kick them to the curb. >> i just want to be clear here. he is really consistent on that point, the idea of this really zero sum view that our allies are free riding and we're paying for fep takes out full-page ads and spends $100,000. he sounds identical to now. we're getting abused, we're taken for granted and we're paying for other people's defense. >> we're paying for other people's defense who we're defending against the russians. >> right. at that point particularly, yes. >> so it really dovetails with russian foreign policy interests then and now. now, again, that's probably a coincidence, but it might not be. i mean, i think you have to take seriously the possibility that it's not a coincidence.
and i tried to assemble all the information that i think can be brought to bear on this question. like i quote john brennan, who was the cia director as recently as 2016, who said that he thinks the russians have something over on donald trump. and the weird thing is thinking the cia director, maybe he knows what he's talking about, that's the cooke theory as far as we understand it. the kooks are the ones who say we should listen to the guy running the cia. usually the kooks are saying the cia is part of the conspiracy and now it's we kooks who say let's listen. and i want to follow up on that. there's one piece i'd completely forgotten about. i want to play brennan's testimony may 2017 you that cite in the piece just to give people a flavor of how he talks about it. take a listen. >> i've studied russian intelligence activities over the years and have seen it. again, manifest in many different of our counterintelligence cases and how they have been able to get
people including inside of cia to become treasonous and frequently individuals who go along that treasonous path done even realize they're along that path until it gets to be a bit too late. >> and you also have a reminder in the piece, he got briefed in what was it, august -- in august 2016, the head of british intelligence flies to the u.s., this was reported by jane mayer, to brief him personally on what was going on between the trump campaign and russia. >> yeah, and "the guardian" had another report about another western european or eastern european intelligence agency briefing him. the same thing. they were listening to intercements of russian officials talking about the trump campaign and the connections they had between them. we don't know what those intercepts said, but clearly something alarmed him, set him of and made him reach these dire conclusions. >> we have this metaphor of the cave, that we keep thinking the bottom is right around the corner and maybe we're at the mouth of it. i've had this thought too. a vertigo-inducing thought. i never know quite where to orient ourselves and we just
know the facts as they come to light, you assemble them, you come up with a mental theory. my question is are you confident we will know the final truth? that ultimately the thing will be revealed about what is true and what's not, what the facts of the matter are. >> i think some of the facts we'll find out. i think things pertaining to the end of the trump campaign we'll probably find out because a lot of people are flipping and cooperating with mueller. but if there's leverage in moscow my guess is that's going to stay in moscow. i don't see how mueller's going to get at secrets locked in the kremlin. >> jonathan chait, thanks a lot. we are waiting for the president's announcement of his supreme court nominee. while the pageantry is going on at the white house the trump administration says they will fail to meet the court-imposed deadline to reunite immigrant children with their parents. the latest on that, next.
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wrong. homeland security said in june, "the united states government knows the location of all the children in its custody and is working to reunite them with their families." adding "this process is well coordinated." but in court today the government said it would fail to meet a tuesday deadline to reunite children under 5 with their parents. adding to the difficulty is confusion over how many children need to be reunited. last week the government said there were 101 such children, that's children under 5 in their custody taken from their parents. then the number rose to 102. leaving one to wonder where did the other kid come from? today the government said in six cases the adults have criminal histories or aren't really the children's parents. as vox reported, the aclu says there might be, quote, as many as ten additional separated children the government has not included on its list. the government expects to reunite maybe half or a little more of those young children, that's the kids under 5, by tomorrow's court-ordered deadline. we don't even know for sure how many older kids remain to be reunited because the government
still will not say exactly how many children are in custody they took from their parents. and that does not bode well for the july 26th deadline to reunite those kids up to 3,000 of them. congressman dan kildee, a democrat of michigan, visited a facility where some children are held last week. the governor had this court order that said kids under 5 there's about 100 of them you have to reunite them in two weeks and then you have another two weeks to do the full 30-3,000. they're going to miss the deadline, they're probably goat to get an extension. are you confident they know what they're doing and they're trying hard enough? >> i'm confident they done know what they're doing. when i visited the facility in grand rapids, mitch mvp i spoke to some of the case workers there who are responsible for managing these cases of these children. they were spending time on the telephone calling every federal detention facility that they could find a telephone number for to try to track down the parents of the kids that rundowner their care. they couldn't get the answer from the federal government themselves, from the offices.
they were calling the detention centers to try to locate parents. >> wait a second. the case workers, this is bethany christian services in michigan. >> right. >> they have some tender age children under 5. >> i saw maybe a dozen or so -- >> kids under 5. >> yes. >> so what you're telling me is these case workers are affirmatively just cold-calling detention centers attempting to locate parents. it's not some central hing coming from hhs where they're making the match. >> no. and i will say, this the agency looks like they're trying hard. looks like the kids are being wellen care of. they said these kids done belong theer here, they shouldn't be here, they should be with their parents. i spoke to the extent that i could with a little boy who's probably 3 or 4 years old. when i waukds into tlked into t where he was sitting he looked up at me as if i wonder if this will be mom or dad. it just breaks your heart. to see these kids torn from their parents. they don't know where their parents are. they don't know what's happening. i worked in this field.
i worked in the child welfare system. i know something about the trauma that children face who have been taken away from their parents. i worked every day to try to get them back into an intact family. and that trauma, they will live with that trauma for the rest of their lives. in this case they were taken away from the one person perhaps that they knew cared so much about them that they were willing to sacrifice everything to try to save them from the violence that they were facing back home. they were taken from that one person by the government. the worst thing about this entire story is that the trump administration made this decision to separate these children as a tactic because they knew -- they thought it would work to prevent others from seeking shelter and asylum in the united states of america. shame on them. think about the morality behind a tactic to tear a child away from their parent because they think it might dissuade someone
else from coming to the shores of the united states, to cross this border to try to find some degree of security and safety for their children. shame on them. >> is congress -- i mean, so i'm watching the zboft sort of say we've got it under control, then doing a little hide the ball on the numbers and doing these court fielgsz, milings, missing. this is 100 out of 3,000. they can't make a two-week deadline. they've got 50 of them. is congress going to do anything about this? shouldn't there be some very serious oversight being exercised right now? >> there should be. and of course our visit to the senate was one way of exercising that oversight. i will tell you, it took a long time to be able to get that appointment scheduled. and some of my colleagues now i saw that congressman mark desaulnier in california tried to get into one of these facilities, was turned away. we're not able to do our job to exercise oversight because the administration is telling these agencies don't let members of congress in. >> i believe this is bipartisan
at this point. republicans have been turned away as well. and it seems to me that congress should be holding hearings where hhs and where nielsen and azar have to come before and actually tell the truth about what is going on. >> absolutely. obviously, one of the problems that we see is that the republican leadership in this congress have their arms so tightly wrapped around donald trump's ankles that they will not do anything that upsets him. >> ankles. congressman dan kildee, thank you very much. >> thank you. >> coming up, the president's upcoming announcement for his supreme court nominee. it's going to happen tonight. keith williams will have the latest. and i'll talk to sharon eiffel and jeff macintosh about what happens next after this. ble wit. - learning from him is great... when i can keep up! - anncr: thankfully, prevagen helps your brain and improves memory. - dad's got all the answers. - anncr: prevagen is now the number-one-selling brain health supplement in drug stores nationwide. - she outsmarts me every single time.
to keep our community safe. before you do any project big or small, pg&e will come out and mark your gas and electric lines so you don't hit them when you dig. call 811 before you dig, and make sure that you and your neighbors are safe. all right. you are looking at live footage outside the supreme court, where in anticipation of the imminent announcement of president trump's replacement for justice anthony kennedy there are protesters out. you see them holding the sign "protect roe," which is apposite given the fact anthony kennedy
was part of the majority that last upheld the core ruling of roe. and there are many who believe in his absence and given the president's explicit pledge to appoint anti-abortion justices his explicit pledge that probably roe would be overturned if he got two or three picks that that is now on the chopping block and will be put -- will be effectuated by whoever he names in the next 15 minutes. at the top of the hour we will know who donald trump's nominee to replace justice anthony kennedy, giving republicans a conservative jurisprudence that could reshape the country. i'm joined now by msnbc news justice correspondent pete williams. pete, you've been a long-time observer of the court. you've covered the court. how has this process been different? >> well, let me start by telling you, first of all, who the nominee is not going to be. we know it's not going to be amy coney barrett. and we know it's not going to be raymond kethledge. and how do we know that? because they're both home. one in michigan, one in indiana. we don't know where the other two are. but there are strong indications
to think it may well be brett kavanaugh, the judge here in washington. among the indications, brett kavanaugh was seen leaving the d.c. courthouse, which is just a couple of blocks down pennsylvania avenue from the white house earlier this afternoon in a small flotilla of secret service vehicles. now, they may have been taking him somewhere else. we don't know where he went. but he doesn't usually travel that way. secondly, the d.c. circuit issued a court opinion today, an unsigned opinion for the court, a procuring opinion it's called, that he was a member of. that's a little unusual. the d.c. circuit doesn't normally hand opinions down on monday. so that's suggestive. it's not definitive. it's suggestive. as for thomas hardiman, we don't know where he is. we didn't know where he was last year either when the choice was down to between him and neil gorsuch. but as for what's different this time, everything. because last time when the president nominated neil gorsuch he was trading a conservative
seat, the one left vacant by antonin scalia's death, for another conservative judge, in this case neil gorsuch from the 10th circuit. this time it's a conservative for anthony kennedy, who came to the court 30 years ago as a conservative but became the justice who was willing to vote sometimes with the liberals when the court, for example, approved same-sex marriage, when the court whittled away at the circumstances that states could impose the death penalty, upheld affirmative action. so in a number of ways he was the swing vote that this -- whoever's appointed by president trump is certainly not going to be, it's going to lock in a permanent 5-4 majority for perhaps years to come. >> do we know -- kavanaugh and hardiman are the two sort of finalists. these are people that have -- kavanaugh in particular sort of moved in conservative legal circles for years. >> yes. in fact, he is -- he's as close
to a child of washington as you can get. he was not actually born here but he grew up in maryland nearby, where his mother was a state court judge. but he went to georgetown university. he worked in the justice department under the solicitor general at the time, who was kenneth starr. and if that name's familiar, it's because he became the independent counsel investigating whitewater and the lewinsky scandal. and brett kavanaugh was a senior aide to ken starr during that work. then he went to work in the george w. bush white house. so he's traveled in those republican and legal and political circles. and interestingly, by the way, he said in a law review article a couple of years ago that his experience in the white house persuaded him that a president should not be subject to civil lawsuits, criminal investigations, or criminal prosecutions because of the pressures of the job. now, he went on to say that that would require action by congress
to make the president exempt, but it tells you something about how he sees the obligations of the office. >> that's a fascinating tidbit. pete williams, thanks for joining us. >> you bet. >> to talk about who the presidents's about to nominate on the supreme court i'm joined by sherrilyn i your thoughts tonight. >> well, my thoughts tonight is that this is pretty extraordinary. it is extraordinary not only because the president has teed up a reality show announcement once again but because this is an extraordinary circumstance. we're dealing with a president whose close campaign aides have been under investigation, at least two indictments of senior people around the president, an ongoing investigation, the president having offloaded the selection of supreme court nominees to the federalist society. the whole context of this is deeply unusual. an election coming up in just three months after last year, or
two years ago when there was no vote on judge garland for the supreme court on the theory that it was too close the an election but it was twice the amount of time as this one. this is so unusual. while i'm talking to talk about either of these nominees, we shouldn't forget unusual context. this vote should not be happening this year. this is a rush. this is same congress that has not had one oversight hearing about these children separated from their parents. and we have secretary azar and nielsen all giving conflicting stories about where the children are. they canceled in anticipation of trying rush through a supreme court nominee who will change the shape of american democracy, equality and justice for generations to come. what an unusual circumstance this is and quite dangerous. >> pete williams has some news with who the choice is likely to be.
>> we are told the president will nominate brett kavanaugh. here it is a little shy of eight minutes before the president was to speak so this thing did hold pretty well. i don't know when the president made his decision. certainly by this afternoon when we think brett kavanaugh was taken to the white house by a little caravan of seek service vehicles. so it held pretty well. but this is what we're about to hear from the president. we'll see brett kavanaugh there in the white house with his family and the president will formally announce the news. we can report that the president will choose, will nominate brett kavanaugh, a u.s. district court appeals judge to succeed anthony kennedy. >> thank you for that. kavanaugh, not surprising, and this is a guy who cut his teeth
on the starr report. he has moved in conservative right wing legal circles for the entirety of his career. he was largely seen as someone like neil gorsuch. >> and we know about kavanaugh is sympathetic to the idea that a commander in chief shouldn't be dealing with questions from investigators. shouldn't be indicted, shouldn't be subpoenaed, and we know that donald trump makes decisions about everything based on what that person can do for donald trump. so as soon as that legal thinking became paramount in kavanaugh's resume, of course donald trump would pick him. it is the least surprising thing we could see. it is not about the pick. bits the vote. no matter who he put in, the fact a president under investigation for possibly childhoodi colluding with a foreign adversary, is absolutely insane.
everybody in d.c. needs on get to pro-choice america's rally. go to the supreme court. stay there. the reason why we have kennedy in the first place is because america got really, really mad about the possibility and they stopped it. and they got anthony kennedy instead. we can do this again but it will be really, really hard. >> last time i had you on to talk about, this you were stressing, and there were different ways to think of it. it is one vote as long as john mccain stays in arizona where he is getting treatment for cancer at this moment. how do you see this? >> well, obviously if we go to the vote, it is very, very close. since brett kavanaugh is the nominee, in light of mitch mcconnell wanting to press ahead, he will face some very tough scrutiny. this is someone, whoever the nominee, has to be able to
demonstrate they are prepared to be independent of this president. the president has already teed up questions that will likely go to the supreme court. a whole plethora of issues that may wind up in the supreme court that are about the president. so this nominee, brett kavanaugh will face seriously tough scrutiny. the razor thin margin might not come out in his favor. i hope people will vote for what is the best for our future. >> we are awaiting the president's announcement which is scheduled for just a few minutes. i will hand it over to rachel maddow. >> let me hold on to you for a second. we've just had this news that pete williams broke your air. this will be an historic night no matter who is nominated. this president has not been in office a 84 and a half yet and making his second supreme court nominee. nbc news reporting that it is
brett kavanaugh, this is someone who has been the subject of really, really hard fought confirmation hearings before. what is your reaction to this? >> my reaction, twofold. i'm not surprised. it seemed like this was the most gorsuch like pick of the bunch. someone who had punched all the tickets. all the elite credentials and who had spend his life in conservative right wing legal circles in which people can be sure they're not going to get a suitor. there is an entire infrastructure built up on the right to create processes, associations, pipelines of cultivation, to make sure that they get conservative justices appointed by republicans who end up ruling in ways that align with their policy preferences and their constitutional theories. and they've gotten very good at
it. gorsuch has performed the first few years on the court and i think cavanagh is cut of that same cloth. so this vetting process, one that has been the subject of a lot of attention and labor by people for whom nationalers a lot, would produce this pick. >> yeah. the thing you're identifying, which sit absolutely right, there is this infrastructure on the right when it comes to judicial nominees that doesn't have any parallel whatsoever on the left. so therefore there is, even with an unpredictable president like this, there is a predictability that would produce someone like kavanaugh. >> we are awaiting the official announcement from president trump. but nbc news pete williams has just grown news on our pair according to the reporting, the pick will be brett kavanaugh.
he was nominated' to the d.c. circuit in 2003 by george w. bush. his nomination stalled for three years amid intense controversy. he was called the youngest, least experienced and most partisan appointee to the court in decades. he was nominated in 2003. he didn't actually have a successful confirmation hearing until 2006. there were 36 votes against him. there's been some intriguing reporting about his history with justice kennedy. he made his decision this year. there have been some interesting reporting about the way that was negotiated between justice kennedy and the trump white house. brett kavanaugh was a clerk to justice kennedy. and brett kavanaugh, his name
was not on the list that president trump might choose. when he was added to the list in late last year, some people saw it as a change to the list that would assure that brett kavanaugh would get his seat. this encouraging justice kennedy that it was safe to retire. we're that a minute and a half away from the nomination. i want to bring in our friend here from slate.com. brett kavanaugh was seen as the most likely pick instantly. is there anything that surprises you about this? >> a little, i thought he would troll us with coney barrett. i thought he would pick a woman to be the person to reverse roe, to have senator collins and murkowski fight a woman. i thought that would be fun for
donald trump. this seems like a slightly safer pick than i thought he might do. >> and we've been told republican leader had cautioned about brett kavanaugh saying, he has a long record that we're going to have to go through. and he's not saying that might be a pain but there might be some issues over the course of his confirmation process. more than a dozen years on the appeals court. he was in the bush white house, there for a lot of the controversial times. there will be a very long paper trail here. >> i think dick durbin once called him the forest gump. every time there was bush v. gore, he was there. elian gonzalez, he was. there he's been at the epicenter of every big white house story for a long