BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT
MADDOW: House of Representatives tonight voted to pass a resolution condemning President Trump, specifically condemning President Trump`s racist comments directed at members of Congress. Joining us now is the author of this resolution that has passed the House tonight, New Jersey Congressman Tom Malinowski. Sir, thanks for being here tonight. I appreciate you making time.
MALINOWSKI: Thank you, Rachel, and thank you for reading the resolution. That`s the first dramatic reading I`ve heard.
MADDOW: Well, unfortunately, I`m a bad actor, and so it wasn`t as dramatic as it should have been.
MALINOWSKI: It was good.
MADDOW: Well, it`s an eloquent piece of work. And I know you`re the lead author of this resolution. I have to ask about your thought process that went into asking the house to weigh in on something like this formally and why you structured this the way you did.
MALINOWSKI: I saw the tweets with everybody else this weekend, and as you mentioned, unlike three of the four congresswomen that Trump attacked, I was actually born in a foreign country. I`m an immigrant. I -- I took that oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States for the first time when I was 10 years old, getting sworn in to be a citizen of the United States five years after my mom brought me here from Poland. And so I thought, you know, I don`t -- I don`t necessarily share the same politics as AOC or Congresswoman Tlaib or Omar, but if you`re going to go after my fellow members of Congress because of where they are from or appear to be from or how they look, you`re going to have to go through me. And so, I offered this resolution and I`m glad the House passed it today. We said that we are better than this. The president doesn`t speak for the country. We do.
MADDOW: I know there was a lot of consternation in the House during the debate over this resolution about the use of the word racist. It`s in the title of the resolution condemning President Trump`s racist comments directly at members of Congress. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had to deal with a real tempest today when she used that word to describe the president`s statement as well. There was a big controversy over whether or not she was allowed to describe the president`s remarks that way. Did you struggle at all with whether or not to include that specific word, expecting it would be as much of a lightning rod as it was?
MALINOWSKI: Well, it`s hard to avoid. Obviously they were racist. These words that -- that people who are immigrants or who look like immigrants should go back to other countries, that`s -- that`s classic racism that`s been thrown at generation after generation of new arrivals to America, whether they`re Irish or Polish or Italian or Indian or Muslim or Jewish. So I didn`t struggle with it intellectually. It turns out there is an arcane House rule that says you can`t accuse the president of being racist in a speech on the floor. A little hard to defend a resolution condemning his racist remarks if you can`t refer to them.
MALINOWSKI: So we had a -- this was a distraction because some of the Republicans I think wanted us to be talking about this and not the main issue, which is that the most powerful person in this country is saying things that we teach our children to be wrong.
MADDOW: You did get a handful of Republican votes. You got four Republican members joining all the Democrats in this vote today, plus Justin Amash who recently left the Republican Party. Did you expect more than that? Obviously, it was interesting to see the president sort of whipping Republicans to not side with Democrats on this, to not vote in favor of this resolution. That signaled to me at least that the president cared about this outcome. I wonder what your expectations were.
MALINOWSKI: Of course he cares. He wants us to think he doesn`t, but of course he does. Of course, I hoped for Republican votes. And you noticed I`m sure when you read the resolution, half of it was from Ronald Reagan. And what I really wanted, what we wanted was for every member of Congress, especially my Republican colleagues, to choose between Reagan`s open, hopeful, confident vision of America and President Trump`s fearful vision. And, you know, I`ll take -- I`ll take the four plus Justin Amash who chose Reagan. We will build on that and the rest will have to answer to their conscience.
MADDOW: New Jersey Congressman Tom Malinowski, in Congress now as the latest iteration of his long career in public service -- sir, thanks for being here tonight. I appreciate you making time.
MALINOWSKI: Thank you so much.
BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT