tv The Rachel Maddow Show MSNBC April 29, 2019 9:00pm-10:00pm PDT
96. and then, just today, we learned of the death of john singleton. in his time and in his own way, he shed more light on intercity life than a dozen federal judges could. his breakthrough film "boyz n the hood" showed us south central. the part of l.a. that so far below the hollywood sign it was invisible to every other director before him. he was nominated for an oscar for best director, first african-american ever in that category, and by the way, he was 24 at the time, not even a year out of usc film school. that started a life in directing for film and tv, the body of work he now leaves behind. john singleton died of complications following a stroke. he was just 51 years old. and that is our broadcast on this monday night as we start a new week. thank you so much for being here with us, and good night from nbc
news headquarters here in new york. thanks to you at home for joining us this hour. happy to have you with us. a lot going on today. it's been a busy monday and monday night. deputy attorney general rod rosenstein has just submitted his letter of resignation. he says he'll be leaving the justice department in two weeks. in yet another sign that the embattled deputy attorney general is perhaps more likely to be remembered as a trump administration figure than he will be as a justice department figure. rosenstein's resignation letter today went out of its way to compliment and thank president trump for the president's demeanor and attitude and courtesy toward rosenstein during their, quote, personal conversations. don't say that part out loud. for basically the entire duration of rod rosenstein's tenure as deputy attorney general, he has been directly
overseeing a massive criminal investigation into this president and his campaign. so that means he shouldn't be having personal conversations with the president at all, let alone multiple ones. for him now to complimenting and thanking the president for how awesome all of their personal conversations were while he was deputy attorney general overseeing the investigation into the president, it portrays a lack of concern about even trying to pretend that justice department objectivity was something rod rosenstein specifically was supposed to take great care to protect while he was overseeing that investigation. rosenstein has now resigned and says he'll be out by the end of next week. meanwhile, the newly appointed attorney general, william barr, is balking now as the prospect of testifying before the democratic-led judiciary committee in the house. he's supposed to testify before the judiciary committee in the
senate, led by lindsey graham. he was supposed to testify for the democratic-led, jerry nadler-led house judiciary committee on thursday. he might not do that now. and the terms of the fight between william barr and judiciary chairman jerry nadler, it's interesting already. it's actually been getting more and more interesting as his thursday testimony date gets closer and closer. but honestly, at home right now, raise your hand if you would rather hear from william barr some more about the mueller report, at this point, or whether you've heard plenty from william barr on the mueller report and at this point, since at least a redacted version of it is out, wouldn't you just rather hear from robert mueller about his report? barr said quite a lot already. mueller said nothing. when mueller's report was submitted, the judiciary committee, jerry nadler, chairman of the judiciary committee, told mueller that that committee would like to hear from him, mueller
personally, in testimony before may 23rd. we've since had no real further update on whether that testimony is going to happen. we heard from attorney general william barr that he wouldn't object to mueller testifying. we heard chairman nadler today say that he hopes they'll have mueller in sometime before the end of next month. i mean, now there's all this energy being expended as to william barr will come testify later this week, we shall see how that all works out. personally i have to say i'm much more interested to hear mueller's testimony about the mueller report. i'm even more interested in learning the details about how that's going to go. is mueller going to testify alongside his investigators and prosecutors? is it going to be mueller alone? what's the format going to be of that hearing? is it going to be on tv? is it going to be behind closed doors? is it going to be in combination with some other committee? are they going to use committee counsel to ask questions like a professi professional-led committee might, like the way they did during watergate or will it just be -- i'm really interested in
what's going to happen with the mueller testimony. barr may or may not testify this week. we'll see. jordan kelper at comedy central this weekend did a gag with bill and hillary clinton in which the premise was there was an online fund-raiser to raise money to get hillary clinton to voice the audio book version of mueller's report. which is something -- it's sort of like, what do i want to hear now that the mueller report is out? i want to hear from mueller -- no, wait to hear from mueller and all of his prosecutors and investigators, then, after that, i want to hear from mueller. then, after that, i think i would want to hear hillary clinton read the mueller report as an audio book. the gag's premise was they were helping jordan kelper out trying to figure out what kind of online fund-raisers he should support, and then they got to this supposed online fund-raiser about hillary clinton reading mueller's report outloud. >> the investigation established that the russian government perceived it would benefit from a trump presidency. >> a couple notes.
>> yeah. >> like you mean it. >> the investigation established that the -- >> feel it. secretary clinton, feel it. feel it. just imagine, like, you have a history with this. >> okay. the investigation established that the russian government perceived it would benefit from a trump presidency. and worked to secure that outcome and that the campaign expected it would benefit electorally. the president's slumped back in his chair and said, oh, my god, this is terrible. this is the end of my presidency. i'm [ bleep ]. >> what do you think? i'd listen to that audio book. >> yeah, okay. >> i know that is a joke premise for a comedy central gag, but honestly, i would pay to hear hillary clinton read the robert mueller report. i would. and i don't think i'm going to get that, but i do have a clinton-related announcement of my own. secretary clinton is going to be
here in studio with me for an interview on wednesday night, this week. we contacted secretary clinton's office after she published her op-ed last week in "the washington post" about what she believes the country's response should be to the mueller report, specifically what congress ought to do in response to the findings of the special counsel's investigation. hillary clinton will be here herself to talk about that in an interview with me wednesday night. looking forward to that. wednesday, of course, is also going to be the day that attorney general william barr might give testimony to the senate judiciary committee, whether or not he ultimately backs out of his planned testimony to the house the following day. for sure there will be plenty to talk about with hillary clinton. but she's going to be here in studio wednesday night, 9:00 p.m. eastern, i'm very excited about that. i also want to update you on something that we covered late on friday night here on the show. it's about the activist group indy viivisible indivisible, that sprung up
after trump was elected over clinton in 2016. indivisible is a group we've covered -- it's not really a group as much as an effort. we've covered indivisible stuff a lot here on the show because they're a little bit different in their approach to activism and progressive politics and they've been really effective. indivisible is the group that developed and promoted this intensely pragmatic approach to trump-era politics, in which they train people and equip people and help people organize to communicate effectively with their own senators and their own members of congress, specifically, people who represent you from your district only. this indivisible model, this sort of playbook for how to do activism in this way, it was cooked up by former congressional staffers who know from personal experience what it takes to actually move members of congress and get them to do stuff. so, you don't contact the member of congress who has you mad at that moment, you only ever contact your senator, your member of congress, you focus on the people who have to listen to you.
and they've been really effective. it's been interesting to cover them. there are thousands of indivisible groups all over the country, including in every single congressional district in the country, red states, blue states, it doesn't matter. the basic idea is it's your representative you need to communicate with, it's your representative who has to respond to you because you are their constituent. that's your only real leverage for this type of political activism. here's how we can make it work. so, we've been watching indivisible for the past couple of years, organizing events, having an impact in hundreds of congressional districts across the country. now, having had pretty good success with that model when it comes to legislation in congress and targeting specific members of congress and specific senators and getting them to change their behavior, now, this indivisible group is trying to take that same pragmatic trump-era ethic and they're trying to apply it not just to congress but to the democratic presidential primary for 2020.
we covered this friday night. there is a new "we are indivisible" pledge that more than 10,000 people have signed up for already. there's two versions of it. one is the grassroots pledge which is just for people who specifically want trump to be defeated for re-election in 2020. the grassroots pledge, the regular people pledge, is three parts. number one, make the primary constructive. that's the headline. we'll make the primary election about our hopes for the future and a robust debate of values, vision and the contest of ideas. we'll remain grounded in our shared values, even if we support different conditions. this is people who want trump to be defeated, we will support each other, even when we have differences in opinion as to which democratic candidate is the right one. number two, rally behind the winner. we pledge to support the ultimate democratic nominee, whoever it is, period. no monday morning quarterbacking, no third party threats. and three, third part of the pledge, do the work to beat
trump. they're asking regular people to sign on to this pledge. in this case, the grassroots pledge is, we're the grassroots army that's going to power the nominee to victory. we will show up to make calls, knock doors, and do whatever it takes. it means just don't talk about this stuff. you have to pledge to actually do something. so those are -- that is an effort targeting regular people to sign the grassroots we are indivisible pledge. but then they are also asking all the democratic presidential candidates to make what is essentially the candidate's version of that pledge. you see the main points match here. it's another three-part pledge. and the headlines are all the same. number one, again, make the primary constructive. and the candidate's pledge says, quote, i will respect the other candidates and make the primary election about inspiring voters with my vision for the future. i will respect the other candidates. so, no tearing them all down, right? no tearing each other down, keep it a constructive primary.
number two, again, same headline from the other pledge. rally behind the winner. and the candidate's version of that says, i will support the ultimate democratic nominee, whoever it is, period. no monday morning quarterbacking, no third-party threats, immediately after there is a nominee, i will endorse. hmm. so this is a very specific thing they're asking all the candidates to pledge to. and then finally, number three, again, the same headline as the other pledge, do the work to beat trump, but for the candidates, right, this is a different kind of pledge. this is a very specific thing. quote, i will do everything in my power to make the democratic nominee the next president of the united states . as soon as there is a nominee, i will put myself as the disposal of the campaign. so this is not, like, you know, airy fairy aspirational pledge. no offense to airy fairies, or to aspirations. i mean, this is a really specific commitment for specific action by all of the democratic
candidates. immediately after there is a nominee, i will endorse. as soon as there's a nominee, i will endorse and i will put myself at the disposal of the nominee's campaign. i mean, that's a lot, right? i mean, candidates -- often, they get asked to be positive and construction and say sure and then do whatever. but they don't ask to you sign on the dotted line that you will endorse by name the nominee as soon as he or she is chosen. i will put myself at the disposal of the campaign immediately after there is a nominee. that's what these candidates are being asked to do here by indivisible. and because this is such a specific request, because this is such a specific, testable thing they're asking these candidates to do, i was not sure that indivisible was going to succeed in getting any of the democratic candidates to sign on. it's very interesting to me that they're having tremendous success with this. they unveiled this thing on thursday.
on thursday, bingo, they got their first candidate to sign it, bernie sanders. he was first. fascinating, right? and still, at that point, maybe you think, okay, maybe it's only going to be senator sanders. maybe, you know, because of leftover feelings from 2016, maybe he alone among all the candidates feels like he has the most to prove about his ability to bring his supporters over to support an eventual nominee, if that eventual nominee is not him, since he was the last man standing when hillary clinton got the nomination, maybe that's a hangover from 2016. maybe it's just bernie? no, he was the first to sign on, the day the pledge was unveiled on thursday of last week. on friday, cory booker signed it, and then jay inslee, julian castro, pete buttigieg, elizabeth warren, kamala harris,
and then amy klobuchar, today kirsten jilgillibrand signed an john hickenlooper. they're putting it out on social media letting you know they have made this pledge. which means a majority of the candidates have pledged as soon as there is a nominee, they will endorse immediately. they will completely put themselves at the disposal of the campaign of the nominee, no matter who it is, full stop. and i fully believe in the timeless adage in the primary, you vet your heart, in the general, you vote your head, it is almost always folly to try to, like, game it out, right, during the primary, to try to pick a primary candidate who you're gouge to vote for, not because that's the candidate you like the most, but because it's the candidate who you think will ultimately be the most electable candidate in the general election at the end of the day, the candidate who you might think would have the best chance somewhere down the line at unifying the party after the primary and bringing as the strands of the party back together to make a unified effort. i mean, honestly, you can try
that, but i think it is easy to overthink these things. in the primary, you vote your heart, and in the general, you vote your head. but pragmatic as ever, here's indivisible nevertheless taking this concrete effort and has thus far surprisingly effective effort to put concerns to rest about whether the primary might be divisive, about whether the whole democratic party will end up pulling together in the same direction once a nominee is picked, no matter who that nominee is. it's one thing to worry about, it's another to do something about it. well, again, they've got more than 10,000 regular people signed onto their grassroots version of this thing, but the candidates' pledge already has 11 of the 20 declared democratic candidates signed on and counting. and for now, at least, that means they've got a majority of the declared democratic candidates for president signed on. although that may change with the denominator moves, when inevitably they have more candidates.
i mean, they've got a majority now because they have 11 candidates that have signed on out of 20. we're probably going to end up with more than 20. politico.com reporting this morning that montana democratic governor steve bullock may be getting ready to join the race, as well. he's at least moving staff around and seems to be gearing up for something. colorado democratic senator michael bennett may yet get in as well. he has not been shy about talking about his interest in the race, but as yet we have not heard a declaration from senator bennett as to whether or not he's going to run. the former democratic leader from the georgia legislature, last year's celebrated democratic gubernatorial candidate in georgia, stacey abrams, says she will make an announcement about her political future by tomorrow. now, that is widely expected to be an announcement about whether she's voting for senate in georgia, but there is also an active betting pool, proverbi proverbially speaking, as to whether or not that announcement from her might actually be a presidential announcement. so i don't know what number of
candidates we will ultimately end up with on the democratic side, but it is getting to the point where it's clear, you know, we're no longer in the pregame, right? the actually competition has started. this thing is under way. i mean, just a quick snapshot of what's going on. like, it's clear this is happening now, it's on. the fight is joined. this weekend, the bernie sanders campaign held nearly 5,000 organizing kickoff parties. they were in all 50 states. that's an average of, like, 100 events per state. joe biden today held the first rally at a union banquet hall in pittsburgh, pennsylvania. biden starts his campaign at the top of most polls and with a big fund-raising bang right out of the gate, he raised $6.3 million in his first 24 hours. now as of today, we get to see biden as a candidate. we get to see how he performs both on polls and otherwise, not as a potential contender. but as somebody who's really running. as of today, he's really running, out there doing his
first rally today. today, we learned that kamala harris just made a big and potentially important hire for her campaign. she just hired obama's admaker from the 2008 obama campaign and the 2012 obama campaign, which means that kamala harris has hired him, it means that admaker wanted to be working for the kamala harris campaign at this point in the primary, which is interesting. mayor pete buttigieg today was in harlem in new york city talking with reverend al sharpton at the harlem institution of sylvia's. we know from intense reporting, some of which took place through telephoto lenses shot through the window right next to them, that mayor pete had fried chicken and collard greens and macaroni and cheese, while reverend al had dry toast, because, oh, my god, the willpower. god bless you, reverend al, there's no way i could do that. julian castro was in las vegas for an seiu union event. it attracted a whole bunch of candidates. while julian castro was there, look at this, he toured the
storm drain tunnels under the las vegas strip. this is what he posted online, quote, beneath the massive casinos las vegas is known for, hundreds of homeless residents find shelter in a network of storm drain tunnels. people live in the storm drain tunnels underneath the casinos. he says yesterday i toured these tunnels with local organizations working to find them permanent housing and support. we must do more to end homelessness in this country. on my campaign, housing will not be a back-burner issue. he was secretary of housing and urban development in the obama administration, so he knows what he speaks. massachusetts senator elizabeth warren by all accounts was well received at that seiu event in nevada this weekend. we saw a lot of early kind of beltway punditry about elizabeth warren's campaign, saying that voters weren't going to like her focus on policy and having concrete die diagnosis and
proposals and so many different issues. given how elizabeth warren is performing in the primary at this point and how she is being greeted at big, important events like the she the people event in houston where she brought the house down, and the seiu event in nevada where she did the same, that punditry about how people don't want to hear about these plans of hers seems to have been offbase. the warren campaign has, in fact, now updated their merchandise to reflect the fact that the people do like that she still a plan for everything. see the t-shirt there. warren has a plan for that. elizabethwarren.com. new jersey democratic senator cory booker turned 50 years old this weekend. he asked people who support his campaign for president doing 50 minute minutes of a service project in their community as a birthday present for him. judging by the online reception, seems like lofts people took him up on that this weekend. today both telemundo and univision aired long interviews with senator booker that he conducted in spanish.
which is not something people widely know about him that he able to do spanish language media now without a translator in a way that's going to be very helpful to his campaign both early on and down the road. that is just a snapshot. that's not even everybody and everything that's going on right now. but like, the thing is on, right? the fight is joined. this thing has started. and other than that indy viivis pledge, what i just described, with 11 of the declared 20 democratic candidates signing onto this pledge, that really does lock each of them into endorsing the eventual nominee as soon as that nominee is chosen, putting themselves at the disposal of the nominee, as soon as that nominee is chosen, on top of that, which is fascinating to see that thing take, but there's two other things in today's news about the 2020 field and about how the election is shaping up, that are particularly interesting to me. one of them is actually just
data. open secrets just published this fund-raising data about what proportion of donations each candidate is raising from women versus from men. and then, this is a snapshot. this is not all of the candidates, they just looked at people that had declared in the first quarter and who had raised a certain amount during that quarter. it gives you a snapshot that's really interesting and gives democrats a lot of room to grow. there was only one candidate among all of the declared democrats who thus far has raised more money from female donors than from male donors, kirsten gillibrand is the only one. her donors are 48% male, 52% female. other than that, every other candidate in the race skews even slightly more male in terms of the donations they have received thus far. most democratic voters are women. most democratic donors are women. so this is interesting.
in a race where you have a half dozen top-tier female democratic candidates running, all but one of the candidates are raising more money from men so far than they are from women. and the other end of the spectrum, kirsten gillibrand's doing the best in terms of targeting female donors, but look at the other end of the spectrum, just strikes me as unsustainable. right now both bernie sanders and pete buttigieg are doing great in terms of donations overall and buzz and polls and press. they're doing great. but look at them. both of them are 2 to 1 in the gender balance of their fundraising. both of them are raising twice as much money from male donors as they are from female donors. 66% and 67% of your donations are from dudes? dude. bernie sanders had a gender police split in his fund-raising when he ran in 2016, as well. that split you're seeing for him thus far for his first quarter for 2020 is worse than the gender split he had in 2016.
that dynamic, which i think is surprising, given the central importance of female voters, female donors, female activists in the democratic party in particular, that's surprising data in terms of the fund-raising so far. it relates to the other news that i find absolutely fascinating and underscores why all of these candidates are going to need to turn that around in terms of appealing to women voters. >> women are the majority of americans. >> we are the majority of voters. >> we are the majority of grassroots volunteers and donors. >> our government should look like us. [ speaking spanish ] >> the only way we can make that happen is by standing shoulder to shoulder. >> with women who believe this too. >> maybe you fought for change for decades. >> demanding equality in your home, in your workplace, from your government.
>> maybe you're just getting started. >> let's work together because one of us can be dismissed. >> two of us can be ignored, but together -- >> we aren't just the majority -- >> we are a super majority. and we are unstoppable. >> this is the announcement video for a new project which was launched today which is called super majority. it was launched by three superstar female activists, including cecile richards, whom you know from her 12 years at the helm of planned parenthood. supermajority is the name of this organization. this is a different thing that we've seen from cecile richards before. she's in astonishing company to start this thing up. and she joins us to explain, next. lief live claritin clear. for one week only, save up to $31 on select claritin products. check this sunday's newspaper for details.
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in 1996, started organizing for domestic workers, people who work in home environments. she went on to found the national domestic workers alliance which has become just a powerhouse organizing force for labor standards and workplace conditions for these workers who were otherwise thought of as basically politically powerless. she was awarded the mccarthy genius grant for that work. this is alicia garza, she ran that initial clarion bell on facebook when she wrote, quote, black people, i love you, i love us, our lives matter.
and then there's cecile richards. for 12 years, she was at the helm of planned parenthood. during her time there, she more than tripled the size of the group to 11 million members. there are not have many organizations in this country that boast 11 million members. imagine what these three women might do if they all decided they were going to do something together. today, these three women launched a new political group together, they're calling it supermajority. in terms of activist talent and experience at the helm, the firepower here is almost a little overwhelms. but what exactly is this new group going to do? joinings now is cecile richards, the cofounder of supermajority. thank you for being here. >> thanks for having me, rachel. >> you can tell by the way i'm talking about this that i'm impressed that you guys are doing this together because i'm impressed with you all individually, and you seem like
sort of a superhero dream team in terms of your skills and capacities and experience. that said, i don't really understand what supermajority is going to do. >> so, first, thanks for having me. i spent the day with alicia and ai-jen, two of the most amazing organizers, and this is an organization built of organizers. it really came out of other own experience organizing women in various fields, as you described. but a frustration that no matter how much organizing we did, that the issues that women care about fundamentally seem to be absent in the political debate by and large, even though women have been -- are the majority of voters, as you mentioned. they've been the majority of activists. they're increasingly donors in the political world and are really the reason why people get elected. and yet, the issues that we hear about every day from women, whether it's equal pay, whether it's access to affordable health
care, reproductive rights, being able to take care of their families, getting affordable child care, these are issues that aren't front and center. even in this election. supermajority is founded to actually create an organization now, a movement of millions of women in this country to demand equity for all women, and make sure this is front and center. >> is this going to be a membership organization? >> yeah, we launched today. in fact, we've already had thousands of people join. i think women in this country -- i mean, ai-jen and alicia and i, katherine granger, some other great organizers, have been traveling the country the last few months, and the most important thing -- the thing i hear consistently across the board is women raising their hand and saying, i want to do more. frankly, women want to do more than resist. they have been leading whether it was the effort to keep planned parenthood open in the country, keep the affordable care act intact, whether it was going to the border defending families that have been
separated, whether it's teachers striking across america, 2/3 of whom are women, women are saying resisting have been fine, but we now we actually want to make sure that our agenda is acted upon. that's why i think women are eager to work together across issues, across race, across generations. that's the animating idea behind supermajority. and just based on the experience we've had already today, women are signing up in droves. >> in terms of people signing up and becoming a member, one of the things i've been watching in the trump era is people innovating approaches to activism that seem right for the moment, that seem pragmatic, inspiring in hopefully equal measures, but that gets stuff done in this era, at a time when republicans are in control in important ways, but they are also different than they used to be as republicans. when you guys talk about signing up members and educating and
training people and building a movement and trying to achieve the things that you just described, do you have an organizing principle in mind? do you have a trick or tactic or specific way you're planning on doing this that's different than what we've seen from other groups before? >> well, i don't think it's a trick or a tactic. i actually think, the truth is, rachel, and you know this, is that women have been leading all of the efforts to both fight back against the policies of this administration, also, they're the majority of people volunteering on campaigns and with candidates. and yet all of that work is often ignored. and so actually, the first out of the gate, which we started today, will be engaging millions of women across this country in advocating for a new deal for women. one of the things women need to be actually successful in the economy, in government, in our culture and in our society and demanding that that agenda, wherever two or more are gathered together, at any
candidate campaign, rally, open forum, that women's issues are heard. and i spent years fighting for reproductive rights, and that is a central issue and continues to be important. but women are saying other things matter, as well. like the fact that women are still paid 80 cents on the dollar. if you're a woman of color, it's much worse. we're the only industrialized country with no mandated national paid family leave, that we have absolutely no child care plan in this country, and it's now the second-highest cost more most families. these are issues women are waking up every morning worried about, and it's time they be part of this agenda, particularly going into this presidential election. >> cecile richards, cofounder of supermajority, which launched today. thank you for helping us understand. keep us apriced. i don't know how this is going to develop at all, but i know i want to keep talking to you guys about how it works. thanks. >> thank you, rachel. >> much more to get to tonight.
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there used to be a thing called the trump foundation. it was the charitable entity run by donald j. trump and his family. in 2013, that foundation cut a check to a pac that was supporting florida's attorney general, pam bondy. the foundation was not supposed to do that. the trump foundation also made a habit of giving gigantic checks to various interest groups during campaign events. that also turned out to be legal trouble. the reason it turned into
trouble is named barbara underwood. during her time as attorney general of new york state, barbara underwood investigated the trump foundation for violating state laws about how nonprofits are supposed to work. what they can and cannot do, according to the law. new york's a.g. got very serious about challenging the trump foundation's nonprofit status and holding them accountable for all the laws they broke. she ultimately got the trump foundation shut down. now there's a new attorney general for new york state. this is actually going to be here on this show tomorrow night, and part of the reason why is because she is now doing something as new york attorney general that also has president trump absolutely driven to distraction. along with one of his richest and most important political supporters, and that story is next. d. so no matter what, you're guaranteed to have a perfect drive.
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letitia james is the new attorney general of the great state of new york. she took her post at the beginning of this year. since taking that gig, she's made national headlines for among other things, issuing subpoenas to president trump's long-time lender, deutsche bank. deutsche bank has reportedly started handing over documents to her. letitia james is going to be a guest on this program here tomorrow night. one of the reasons i'm looking forward to that conversation with the attorney general is because of the most recent investigation that she has announced she's opened as new york state attorney general. it's actually not directly related to president trump. she's announced she's opened an investigation into the national
rifle association. the nra spent more than $30 million in support of trump's candidacy in 2016, that's nearly triple its previous presidential spending. that's never totally been explained. since then, the nra interestingly has been operating in the red and contending with growing accusations and increasingly flagrant accusations of financial mismanagement and self-dealing inside the organization. not to mention scrutiny over the nra's somewhat bizarre ties to russia, including its relationship with maria butina, who was sentenced to federal prison on friday for her role in a scheme to infill rate the nra as an agent of the russian government. letitia james is investigating the tax exempt status of the nra in new york. she has issued subpoenas, sent letters telling the nra and its charitable foundation and other affiliated organizations that they need to preserve their financial records. the announcement of that investigation by letitia james
comes at a particularly nutty time at the nra, and i say that with consideration. earlier this month, the nra filed a lawsuit against its long-time ad firm, saying essentially that nra president oliver north has been getting millions of dollars for a no-show fake tv show job from them. the nra says its ad firm is paying north millions of dollars to host an nra tv series, but they haven't really been producing it. they've just been paying him. then late this week, the long-time executive vice president of the nra, wayne lapierre, accused north of attempting to extort him. lapierre went public saying oliver north was threatening to take the nra's board a bunch of accusations against him including financial mismanagement and sexual harassment at the organization, plus apparently he was going to blow the whistle on wayne lapierre's ostensibly extensive wardrobe budget -- what --
unless lapierre resigned his post and dropped the lawsuit against the ad firm. if that was, in fact, oliver north's weird gambit, it didn't work. this weekend, oliver north was ousted as president of the nra, right in the middle of the organization's big annual conference. the nra appears to be falling apart right now. couldn't happen to a nicer bunch. but that's before new york's attorney general even really gets started with this new investigation that she has opened into them. joining us now is national correspondent for "the washington post," kate zezima. thanks for being with us. >> thanks for having me. >> so, the nra story, i feel like, if i close one eye and back up a little bit, i can kind of tell what's going on, but this story seems to morph every day into something less and less believable. what do you think is important about what's changing or falling apart at the nra right now? >> so, this all actually happened during the nra's annual meeting, which took place in indianapolis thursday until today, actually.
so, what is really important is they are facing both internal drama and external pressure. intern internally, they had this power struggle with allegations of extortion, the power struggle between wayne lapierre and oliver north, which lapierre won. he was chosen to stay on as ceo today at the board meeting, which was behind closed doors. at the same time on friday, letitia james announcing that she is investigating their nonprofit status. you know, she issued subpoenas and she issued letters to the nra, its charitable organization and other affiliated organizations, essentially saying, you know, you need to preserve your financial records. >> in terms of that investigation and the external pressure that is putting on the groups, why is it that the new york state attorney general has jurisdiction here or why is this something that at a state law level would potentially pose a real risk to the nra, which i think of a national organization and one that i don't really associate with new york at all. >> actually, a little bit of a history lesson.
the nra was chartered in new york in 1871. so they are technically within new york state and they are therefore under the jurisdiction of the new york attorney general. they are also a nonprofit and new york has very, very strict rules and laws that guide its nonprofits. and the attorney general has a lot of leeway over that. so they are chartered in new york, even though they're based in virginia, that is where they're registered as a nonprofit, that's why letitia james is able to do what she's doing. >> and in terms of the relationship between that external pressure from james and the internal fissures that are breaking open here, and obviously oliver north is out now and wayne lapierre has emerged with this thing in his teeth, are they related, too? it seems like part of the fight between lapierre and north and what's been going on inside the organization is about the group's finances and is about serious allegations of financial wrongdoing. i'm guessing that those may ultimately turn up in a new york state investigation about how the group's nonprofit status is
being evaluated, at least, by new york state. does it seem to you from your reporting that the fight inside the organization is about the kind of stuff they might get in trouble for with this investigation? >> well, north said that in a letter that was read as he was resigning, that he wanted to open up a, you know, a committee, essentially, to look into these allegations of financial mismanagement, many of which were reported in the press over the past couple of months. you know, another factor here is that the nra is actually suing its long-time public relations firm, which it paid $40 million to in 2017, according to the lawsuit. so, that is another financial issue that is happening within the organization right now. so, you know, there have been -- there's been lots of talk about it. we've spoken with members, as well, just rank and file members who said, i would like to know about what's happening financially. so, it does -- all of these things are coming to a head right now and they happen to come to a head over this meeting this weekend in indianapolis.
>> yeah. to have it happening while the convention is happening, while president trump is giving, forgive me, a blood curdling speech at that convention, while maria bu tea thbutina is being sentenced to federal prison, it is all things all at once. katie, thank you for being with us tonight. >> thanks for having me. >> thanks. stay with us. s. stay with us that was a stunt driver. that's why esurance has this drivesense® app. the safer you drive, the more you save. don't worry, i'm not using my phone and talking to a camera while driving... i'm being towed. by the way, i'm actually a safe driver. i'm just pretending to be a not safe driver. cool. bye dennis quaid! when insurance is affordable, it's surprisingly painless.
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still developing tonight, is this now slightly bizarre standoff involving attorney general william barr and congress. on wednesday, day after tomorrow, attorney general barr is scheduled to testify before the judiciary committee in the senate, where republican chairman lindsey graham will fluff the seat cushions before mr. barr sits down. he is expected to ask mr. burr tough questions about all the different rhyming couplets he can to describe the childlook innocence, the beauty and all-around good nature of president trump. for that, mr. barr says he will be there with bells on, no problem. but the next day, on thursday, that's when barr's supposed to appear before the judiciary committee in the democratic-controlled house. and that one, he is not excited about. that testimony as of now is still on the calendar, but attorney general barr is threatening to bail, saying he doesn't like the planned format for his testimony. as planned, in addition to taking questions from members of the committee, he will have to take some questions from staff lawyers, which would allow for more followup from interviewers
who are often more skilled than members of congress, as "the new york times" puts it. if barr backs out and bails on the house yjudiciary committee, jerry nadler says they might issue a subpoena to the attorney general. but william barr having this allergic reaction to the prospect of being questioned by the committee's lawyers, by professional legal staff, rather than just members of congress, i mean, he may not want to do it, but it's not like they're asking him to do something that nobody else has done. during watergate, it was john door, the chief counsel to the house judiciary committee, who led questioning like that. iran-cont iran-contra, questions were lobbed then. the impeachment hearings for former president clinton, counsel was asking questions, including of ken starr. during supreme court justice brett kavanaugh's confer make hearings, you will rare the female attorney who was hand-picked to ask dr. christine
blasey ford questions. and having staff lawyers, having counsel, ask a witness questions, is -- they're trying to treat it like it's this outrageous proposition and barr wouldn't do that -- it's kind of a standard thing. but who blinks first here? we still don't know if barr is going to show up, so, watch this space. watch this space. ♪ limu emu & doug
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one day in, already this is a busy week. as i mentioned at the top of the show, former secretary of state, former senator, former first lady, 2016 democratic presidential nominee hillary clinton is going to be here live in studio with me for the interview, again, that's wednesday night, right here, 9:00 p.m. eastern. even before that, right here tomorrow night, we're going to have new york state attorney general letitia james. she's just announced a major investigation into the nra. and cnn reports that as of late
last week, the president's favorite lending organization, deutsche bank, has starting handing over documents about their financial relationship with president trump to james. she's going to be here tomorrow to talk about it. busy week, exciting times, you won't want now it's time for "the last word with lawrence o'donnell." >> apparently this week, fox news won't be the only network that mentions secretary clinton. which they do apparently. i don't know this, but i read that they like every minute or every hour certainly there's some in primetime there's some reference tops why they're talking about secretary clinton instead of any of the investigations of this president. >> they're still literally talking about hillary clinton's e mails. that's a fresh thing like the republicans in the senate are about to advance the prospect there needs to be a new investigation of her e mails. if it comes up, i'll talk about that with her, but i imagine we have other topics. >> thank you, rachel. well, at the end of this hour to