The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 08/08/13
RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: And thanks to you at home for joining us this
This is the part where America turns its lonely eyes to Reese
Witherspoon, to explain what might need to happen next in our country if
we`re going to take the next big leap forward in American politics.
Specifically, America must turn our lonely eyes to Reese Witherspoon`s
character Elle Woods in the movie “Legally Blond 2.”
We now join our “Legally Blond” explainer as she`s talked out of being
distraught by friends who see a way to make something happen in Congress
even though the leadership in Congress does not want it to happen. Take it
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REESE WITHERSPOON: I just don`t think I`m cut out for this.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, we have a plan. Two words for you: discharge
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: With a couple hundred signatures, we can spring
Bruce`s (ph) bill from committee straight to the House floor for a vote.
WITHERSPOON: I don`t know. That sounds really complicated.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You`ve come farther than any of us while
maintaining your balance and sparkle. We never sparkle.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I mean, none of us ever thought one person could
make a difference, until you came along.
WITHERSPOON: If I remember correctly, isn`t that, like, 218
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It`s not that hard.
WITHERSPOON: Yes. Yeah. I guess I know women with more shoes than
that. Wait, that`s me.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Elle, it`s time to finish what you started.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: And it works. It works. At least I think it – I can`t
quite remember how the movie ends, but I think given how movies like this
usually – I think it works. I think it works.
“Legally Blond 2” is not a movie about a real political thing. It is
not a documentary, as you can probably tell from the shoes references and
everything, but this key plot twist in the movie, “Legally Blond 2,” the
discharge petition, that is a real thing in our politics. There are 435
members in the House. So, 218 is a majority.
And if you can get that majority, if you can get 218 members of the
House to sign a discharge petition, then “Legally Blond 2” is right. You
can send a bill straight to the floor for a vote even if the speaker of the
House doesn`t want it to be voted on, even if it hasn`t gone through
committee and all the rest.
It is a weird and arcane, but real shortcut that you really can take
with popular legislation that is otherwise not going to get a vote despite
its popularity. It almost never happens. It happened once on a gun bill
in 1986. It happened once on a campaign finance bill in 2002.
It`s rare, but it is possible. And in the House right now,
Republicans are in the majority, but it`s not that huge of a majority. And
if all of the Democrats were in support of some popular bill, they would
only need to get 17 Republicans to cross the aisle and vote with them to
make something like this work. Seventeen out of 234 Republicans is all
On immigration reform, it is utterly conceivable that every Democrat
in the House and some small number of Republicans wants it to pass. Some
small number of Republicans in the House right now thinks that immigration
reform is necessary and a good idea. If it did come to the floor, and the
Dems hung together and just a handful of sane Republicans, maybe the ones
with lots of Latinos in their districts, if they voted the way they know
you want to vote, immigration reform absolutely could pass.
But John Boehner won`t bring it to the floor. He`s sitting and doing
nothing about it. And so, Nancy Pelosi is now talking publicly about the
possibility of using a Reese Witherspoon, using the “Legally Blond 2”
discharge position idea as a way of end running John Boehner and forcing
the issue, bringing it to the floor even if the leadership does not want it
Immigration reform already passed the Senate. It is stuck in the
House right now. But maybe it will take something wacky like this to
unstick it. It could happen, maybe – or at least it is as likely as any
other next step at this point.
But meanwhile, alongside the increasingly abstract and arcane and
occasionally wacky beltway wrangling over whether to move forward and how
on this issue, alongside the Washington incessant nattering on this issue
which right now feels like it is going nowhere, at the same time, a totally
different, very emotional and at times daring series of actions and
provocations and protests have been unfolding around the country and on the
border on this issue, actions largely taken by young people.
Like these kids who worked with the group called United We Dream to
organize this effort that you see filmed here. These three kids, living
here in the U.S., whose mothers had been deported.
These three kids went to Nogales. The kids in Nogales, Arizona, on
this side of the border, and their moms to Nogales, Mexico, on the other
side of the border. They road tripped and agreed to meet at the fence.
These kids who had not seen their moms in years got to see their mothers
finally through the barrier of the border fence. Just very emotional,
This is not play acting. This is real. These are real people, real
family, real kids and their moms.
And this was accompanied by a very clear political message. This is
what immigration reform looks like. Call your legislator pass immigration
reform with family reunification.
A similar human, moving case made by Jose Antonio Vargas. Jose was
brought here from the Philippines as a kid when he was too young to know
the difference. He did not even know he was here illegally until he tried
to get a driver`s license in high school and found out the hard way.
When he found out, he kept the secret. He coped the best he could and
he hid that he was undocumented. As he went to college, he pursued a
career, eventually by the time he came out on the cover of “The New York
Times” Sunday magazine, as someone who is in this country without papers,
by that time in his life he was a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, with a
story to tell about why we need immigration reform in this country, a story
to tell you just could not believe until you saw it through his personal,
human, totally understandable story.
This has all been going on outside of Washington. This is the outside
game on this issue. As Congress and all the Beltway pressure groups and
special interests fight out the inside game, this is what`s happening
outside. But now in that outside game, there is a bit of a new frontier –
nine young people putting themselves on the line, literally putting
themselves on the border line. These are kids who were born in Mexico but
who came to the U.S. illegally when they were little kids with their
The nine of them in protest met in Mexico a few weeks ago, and then
they came to the border on the Mexican side heading into the U.S. and at
the border they asked to re-enter this country. At the pedestrian cross in
Nogales. They call themselves the Dream Nine.
This kind of dare, this kind of direct action and peaceful
confrontation, it`s controversial, even among the staunchest advocates of
immigration reform. Does this sort of confrontation help win the argument?
And whether or not it helps win the immediate argument, does it help you
win the long-term fight?
And whether or not it helps achieve immigration reform, and more
humane policies toward immigrant families in the future, even then, is it
just too much risk for these individual young people to take for this
cause? Even if it is of their own volition?
Of the nine cap and gown dreamers, these kids who went to the border,
six of them are people who are already in Mexico. They had left for Mexico
or they had been deported there already, six of them. But three of them
live here without papers. And by voluntarily leaving the country for this
protest, they are courting the very real risk that they would never, ever
get back in.
And that even if they could get back in, by virtue of this protest,
they will never, ever be able to get legal status here, even with a
lifelong record of doing everything else right, this protest action risks
it all for them.
One of the ones risking it all is 23-year-old Lulu Martinez. She was
born in Mexico but came to the United States at the tender age of 3. She
has been here in the U.S. ever since, in Chicago, with her family, most of
her life. Lulu is enrolled at college at the University of Illinois.
She`s also undocumented, which means that to take this leap, to use
herself and her own situation, her own body to make this political case,
for her it is a huge risk.
Lulu Martinez knew from the get-go that crossing the border into
Mexico could mean that she would not be allowed back into the United States
where she has lived her whole life. She also knew that she was running the
risk of being held in a detention center, essentially a prison by any other
name, maybe for months, even years. But she was willing to take that
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LULU MARTINEZ, DREAM NINE ACTIVIST: My name is Lulu Martinez. I`m
here in (INAUDIBLE) Mexico. I still can`t believe that I`m here, and –
pardon me? Really, really happy.
I got to see where I was born. I got to see where my dad grew up. I
got to see my cousins who are my age. And I`m really excited that we`re –
we know that we have a lot of support back home in the U.S. Mama, papa,
I`m going to come home. I`m going to come home.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That is video from the National Immigrant Youth Alliance,
made while Lulu was in Mexico preparing to make the trip back to the border
to try to come back to the U.S. to demonstrate, to make the case that as a
lifelong American, she ought to be able to come home, and our country`s
policies ought to be reformed to make that possible.
When Lulu and the other eight did make their attempt to cross the
border back into the United States where they had lived their whole lives,
the reason they look so funny is because they`re wearing caps and gowns.
It is not a graduation ceremony. They are wearing caps and gowns to show
their desire to finish school in the U.S., also to call attention to the
hundreds of thousands of people who have been deported during President
Border officials, as expected, detained all nine of them when they got
to the border and shipped them off to a detention facility in Arizona.
Now, the Dream Nine, these activists, that they did this on purpose. This
was a calculated risk that they took.
And they have support. People knew they were going to do it. And
they have support. They have support online. They have support in the
flesh, too. And 33 members of Congress signed on to a letter to President
Obama asking that the Dream Nine be brought home, that they be allowed to
They`re in the detention center in Arizona for two weeks. But the
surprise ending, at least the surprise next step here, is that they are not
still in detention and they are not back in Mexico. Lulu Martinez and the
other members of the Dream Nine have been granted permission to apply for
asylum which is a difficult thing to get, but a judge going to hear their
case. They`ll get notices to appear in court to plead that case, and they
meanwhile have been released to come back home. They made it back.
Joining us now is Lulu Martinez, one of the Dream Nine activists
released yesterday from the Eloy Detention Center in Arizona.
Lulu Martinez, thank you very much for being with us tonight. It`s
nice to have you here.
MARTINEZ (via telephone): Thanks, Rachel. It`s nice to be on.
MADDOW: First, I just want to ask, how are you doing after two weeks
in the detention center? Are you doing OK?
MARTINEZ: I`m doing OK. I`m really excited to be back outside the
detention center. We – me and another fellow Dream Nine woman were in
solitary confinement for about eight days. So we had – we didn`t have any
communication with any of the other Dream Nine youth and it was really
difficult having to readjust ourselves and finally be in conversation with
them after eight days.
MADDOW: Why were you in solitary confinement for eight days?
MARTINEZ: We – once we entered the Eloy Detention Center, the women
that were in our pod were warned and intimidated by ICE officials and CCA
staff not to speak with us because the cases were going to be a lot more
difficult to handle. And so, we wanted to organize while we were in the
detention center and at one point we were really frustrated and decided to
pass out a free legal hotline and decided to chant and encourage the women
to speak out against injustices that were happening in the detention center
and to fight their cases.
Many times, they`re told by ICE officials that there`s nothing they
can do and that the best thing they should do is just sign a deportation
order. So me and Maria, one of the Dream Nine women, ended up being
charged with a group demonstration, even though we had tried to resolve the
communication issue with a lot of CCA staff and ICE officials. We were
placed in solitary confinement for, originally it was going to be 15 days,
but we appealed it and were released a day before we left the Eloy
MADDOW: Lulu, everybody who participated in this action was taking
some degree of risk. Obviously, you all ended up at a minimum in this
detention center for 15 days which, itself, was a cost to pay. But you in
particular are putting a lot at risk by doing this in terms of your own
immigration status and your own living status. Why is it worth it to you
to take this risk, to do this kind of action?
MARTINEZ: We understood that no one is safe from deportation. With a
record number of over 1.7 million people who have been deported and
separated from their families, we know that at any point we could easily be
swept under the deportation machine and be deported back to countries that
we haven`t been to in a really long time. So, essentially, we recognize
that we were already running that risk and we have been in contact with a
lot of youth and families who have – who are wanting to come back into the
And there`s no other way for them, there`s no other way to come back
into the United States or to apply to have legal status. And so,
essentially it`s the same risk that already was present.
MADDOW: Having been granted this first step in the asylum process,
essentially having been given leave to apply for it, that`s a long process
and nobody knows exactly how that will play out. But is it possible that
the nine of you having been granted the opportunity to apply for asylum to
be here while that process goes through, is that possible that that`s going
to set a precedent that other people could now be able to use that channel
as a way to try to ease their own way?
MARTINEZ: We`re hoping so. That`s exactly what we`re trying to do.
We hope that there`s going to be a more efficient way of having people be
reunited with their families without having to be in detention for weeks at
a time and having to endure the really horrible conditions within the
So, we`re hoping that through our process of fighting our asylum cases
that others will also be as excited to go through this process with us and
with the support of the community and our families, so that they can
finally come back home after being forced out of the U.S. and having been
MADDOW: Lulu Martinez, one of the Dream Nine activists, now back
home. Lulu, thank you for being here with us. Good luck. And stay in
touch with us, please.
MARTINEZ: Thank you so much.
MADDOW: Thank you.
All right. Joining us now is Eugene Robinson, Pulitzer Prize winning
columnist for the “Washington Post.”
Gene, it`s good to have you here.
EUGENE ROBINSON, THE WASHINGTON POST: It`s great to be here, Rachel.
MADDOW: As a student of Washington process and somebody who knows a
lot about politics broadly, how does this very dramatic, very emotional,
very sort of moving outside game being played by these radical kids who are
willing to make these confrontational actions? How does that affect the
policy debate in Washington? Is it – are they totally separate channels?
ROBINSON: Well, I think it can have some impact. I mean, this is the
weirdest thing I`ve ever seen, actually, because immigration reform is
something that some of the Republican leadership wants to do. Eric Cantor,
for example, wants to do something like the DREAM Act. Democrats all want
to do it. And yet, Congress is incapable of doing it.
It is just a ridiculous situation. I think this highlights the
absurdity of this impasse that we`ve reached.
Does it move things along? Does it bring us closer to immigration
reform? I`m not sure that it does, but we`ll see what the members hear
when they go home.
MADDOW: You know, I feel like the idea of this is the very broad and
old idea of moral persuasion. You hope that you open people`s hearts. You
know, you see them with their mom through the fence and you think this is
going to have an emotional impact on people who are deciding what they
think about this and maybe that emotional impact lets people change their
arguments about it in some ways.
I don`t know if that works on members of Congress.
ROBINSON: Exactly. It works on people, but does it work on members
of Congress? Does it work – does it work on the Republican majority in
the House? That`s a basic question.
Look, John Boehner, I think, would love it if immigration reform would
pass. The Republican establishment wants it to pass because of the party`s
problem with Latino voters.
But Boehner says he won`t bring up a bill that`s not supported by the
majority of the majority. So, maybe he`s secretly rooting –
MADDOW: For Reese Witherspoon.
ROBINSON: Exactly. For a discharge position that takes him off the
hook basically and allows him to go forward and he doesn`t take the blame.
It`s, frankly, unlikely that that`s going to happen, even if Boehner`s
in the back room nudging it along. And, ultimately, I think he`s going to
have to make a decision, and I don`t think it`s inconceivable that he will
change his mind, that he will let some immigration bill come forward. I
think it`s maybe unlikely, but it`s not inconceivable.
MADDOW: I think that the impact of what kids like these are doing is
– it`s controversial even among people who support immigration reform. I
think it is easily underestimated, though.
MADDOW: If the only impact they have is on strengthening the
emotional connection to the issue of people who already want it to happen,
particularly for the Latino community who wants it to happen, they are
creating a lot more political inertia.
ROBINSON: This is the way movements develop and grow. It`s with
brave people taking risks, sometimes suffering the consequences.
And, you know, there are always voices saying you`re going too far,
this is too much. I remember hearing those voices about the gay marriage
issue just a few years ago and look at where that issue is now, because
people went there. And so, I think it is all to the good for advancement
on this issue that they went for it.
MADDOW: Yes. It`s – I mean, they had to be brave even within their
own movement to do it. It will be interesting to see how this asylum thing
works out. That`s a technical issue as well.
ROBINSON: Exactly. That`s a whole different legal theory.
MADDOW: Fascinating. Eugene Robinson, Pulitzer Prize-winning
columnist for “The Washington Post” – thank you for being here tonight.
ROBINSON: So good to be here.
MADDOW: Great to see you. I like your glasses.
MADDOW: You`re welcome.
All right. Regardless of what you do for a living, you do not want a
staffer who says he is, quote, “holding his nose” in order to work for you.
Yes, these are strange days for some very senior politicians right now.
Hold on. That story`s coming up.
MADDOW: 2010 was a very fun year to have a job that involved
explaining things in American politics. And all hail the news gods, all of
a sudden, it kind of looks like some of the best parts of 2010 are coming
Republican Christine O`Donnell of Delaware says, I still am not a
witch – but she says she is thinking of running for senate again, despite
how things turned out for her in 2010. Woo-hoo!
Republican Ken Buck of Colorado, the guy who said voters should pick
him because he doesn`t wear high heels, yes, Ken Buck has just said he is
launching his own repeat bid for Senate.
Also, Republican Joe Miller of Alaska last seen, by me, anyway, trying
to explain as we tumbled down a series of escalators in Anchorage trying to
explain gay marriage is a state issue which is why he supports a federal
amendment against it. Yes, Joe Miller, that guy, also says he is going to
run for senate again from Alaska. Because, hey, why not?
In 2010, there were those three amazing characters. There was also
Sharron Angle who said her supporters would turn to Second Amendment
remedies if she didn`t win at the ballot box. Wow.
There were those guys in 2010. Then, remember after Rand Paul
announced on this show that he was running for Senate from Kentucky in
2010, he then came back on the show and refused to say whether or not he
would have voted for the Civil Rights Act. Yes, the Republican class of
2010 was crazy. It was crazy to cover, at least.
And, of course, all of those amazing characters lost in 2010, except
for Rand Paul. Rand Paul won. He won that Senate seat in 2010, and in
order to do so, he had to win his Kentucky primary that year which was
essentially a death match against mainstream Mitch McConnell`s protege who
Rand Paul was running against. The protege was a guy Senator McConnell had
basically handpicked to become his junior senator in the job.
Mitch McConnell expected to hand that junior Senate seat to whoever he
wanted, but that did not happen because Rand Paul beat Mitch McConnell`s
handpicked guy. And so, now, a senior senator, Mitch McConnell, is senior
senator to junior Senator Rand Paul, even though Senator McConnell tried so
publicly to keep the Senator Paul thing from ever happening in the first
place. It`s kind of an awkward thing, right?
Well, once Rand Paul won the seat, the uneasy resolution of the whole
thing in Kentucky came when the campaign manager for Rand Paul in 2010 left
the Rand Paul camp and went to work for the enemy. He went to work for
Mitch McConnell. The campaign guy`s name is Jesse Benton. He is a
longtime, lifelong Rand Paul/Ron Paul loyalist.
Now, he`s supposed to seem like a Mitch McConnell loyalist? OK.
It was such a bizarre kind of iron-on patch to this whole rift, trying
to make it seem like there was a healing in the rift between these two
competing wings of Republican Party. But it also made clear who won
between those two competing factions, right? Mitch McConnell tried to beat
the Ron Paul/Rand Paul wing of the party and he lost, because he knew he
lost, he knew he would need that other side to come around to his side if
he was ever going to survive his own re-election campaign this year.
So, old mainstream Mitch McConnell hiring the Rand Paul operative kind
of sort of solved problems for everybody. Sort of. The fit has always
seemed a little unnatural.
Well, today, though, there was an unexpected twist in an ongoing story
we`ve been reporting all week out of Iowa – the story about alleged
bribery in Iowa Republican politics. A local Iowa Republican politician
accused of demanding and getting payment, cash payments, from presidential
campaigns in return for their endorsement.
In a tape recording released yesterday by a conservative Web site
called “The Iowa Republican,” a conservative Republican state senator who
allegedly demanded and allegedly got bribe money from the Ron Paul for
president campaign for switching his allegiance from Michele Bachmann to
Ron Paul, in the tape, he talks with another conservative activist in Iowa
about whether Ron Paul, himself, knew that his campaign was bribing people
for their endorsements or whether maybe it was just the campaign guys like
Jesse Benton who knew about the bribery.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I understand Ron Paul came out and said nobody
gave you – the lying that`s going on is just incredible. It`s one thing
to be smart politically and tough, you know, but, you know, Ron Paul out
there lying. So –
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You think he knows?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, actually, I think he doesn`t.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What do you think he knows?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All these guys are corrupt. Who do I think knows?
Everybody you told.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you think the whole Ron Paul, like all of them
know, the inside group?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sure. I`m sure Jesse Benton knows. He`s a scum.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I know Jesse knows. I know Jesse knows.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That was the state senator who allegedly asked for and got
the bribe money from the Ron Paul campaign for him to endorse them saying
he knows the campaign chairman, Jesse Benton, knew about the bribe. Now,
Jesse Benton denies that.
The aftermath of the Iowa Republican cash for endorsement scandal
remains to be seen in Iowa, right? The state senator who reportedly got
the bribe from the Ron Paul campaign, he`s still a state senator in Iowa.
Ron Paul, of course, is personally out of politics. He`s now cashing
in on the speaking circuit. It is his son who`s running for president now.
But Jesse Benton, Jesse Benton is the guy who moved on out of Paul-
ville and into the mainstream. He`s now the campaign manager for Mitch
McConnell in that re-election effort. And Mitch McConnell really is in the
re-election fight of his life with not only a strong Democratic challenger,
but also a strong Republican primary challenger who is hitting him from the
And then today, another new twist in this story. Another tape
released by the same guy who released the alleged bribery tape yesterday,
except this time it isn`t just other people talking about Mitch McConnell`s
campaign manager, this Jesse Benton guy. This time, it`s Mitch McConnell`s
campaign manager, Jesse Benton, allegedly talking about Mitch McConnell.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
JESSE BENTON, MITCH MCCONNEL CAMPAIGN MANAGER: Between you and me,
I`m sort of holding my nose for two years because what we`re doing here`s
going to be a big benefit for Rand in `16. So, that`s my long vision.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MADDOW: Holding my nose to work for Mitch McConnell? Still seems
like the greater sin here is the alleged bribery. Paying Republican
politicians to switch their endorsements?
But pretending you`re committed to a candidate in public, being his
public spokesman and in private saying you`re holding your nose about it
and you`re in it just to help some other guy and it`s that other guy, ick.
Late this afternoon, in an attempt to make fun out of his miserable
turn, the McConnell campaign posted this picture of Jesse Benton holding
See, it`s just all good Kentucky Republican fun. Seriously. Fun.
MADDOW: You may be familiar with our virtual infrastructure project
here at THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW that we call Debunktion Junction.
Well, on Monday, at the junction, came a trolley full of Eric Cantor -
- Eric Cantor being wrong. Wrong to the point where he even got the “you
are wrong” noise. We did not know it at the time, but while we were busy
debunking Eric Cantor, we achieved our first ever pre-bunking on the show.
We were more right than even we knew. We were right before we knew we
were right. It was spectacular. And he was even more wrong than we could
Hold on. That train`s a coming.
MADDOW: Say you are walking down the street and an FBI agent shoots
you. Even say you`re not just walking down the street but maybe you`re
committing a crime and an FBI agent shoots you. Either way, the bottom
line is you have been shot by someone who works for the FBI.
If the FBI shoots you, for whatever reason, the entity that looks into
the fact that the FBI has just shot you is the FBI. The FBI, itself,
examines the circumstances surrounding them shooting you.
And if past is prologue, what happens when they look into those
circumstances is that they determine that they were justified in shooting
you. That is what has happened over and over and over again without
exception for the last 20 years.
That`s what Charlie Savage from the “The New York Times” turned up in
his recent blockbuster front page reporting for “The New York Times”
reviewing the last 150 FBI shootings going all the way back to 1993. The
FBI looked at all of those shootings and determined them all to be
justified –70 people fatally shot, 80 more people wounded, every single
one of them ruled to be justified. Twenty years, 150 people shot, almost
half of them killed, and the FBI was in the right every single time, the
FBI batting a thousand, according to the FBI.
And that`s all that ever matters because really nobody ever asks
anybody else to look into it. Right now, this self-evidently super dodgy
even laughably dodgy FBI internal review process is the only review process
by which the bizarre shooting death of Ibragim Todashev is being checked
Mr. Todashev was a friend of one of the Boston bombing suspects. He
was killed during an interview with the FBI inside his Orlando condo. The
way we found out he`d been killed is that the FBI put out a statement
saying Mr. Todashev had been killed following a violent confrontation
inside his condo.
What kind of violent confrontation? Well, the FBI wouldn`t say
officially but then the anonymous leaks started spewing. First, anonymous
law enforcement sources said that he was armed with some kind of knife.
Except then they said he was not. Then, anonymous leaking law enforcement
sources said he was actually armed with some kind of pole or broom stick.
And then anonymous law enforcement sources said, OK, no, maybe he wasn`t
armed with either of those things, either.
Then, they said, OK, no, no, no, they got it this time. The new line
is he didn`t have anything, didn`t have a knife or blade or ceremonial
sword or broom stick or pole or anything like he said before. Actually he
lunged or something. Or he tried to throw over a piece of furniture maybe?
Yes, in other words, whatever happened, whatever reason Ibragim
Todashev was subjected to legal force during an FBI interview, nobody who
knows the truth is telling the plain truth about it. How will we no what
Since then, Ibragim Todashev`s father has traveled from his home in
Russia to Florida, to meet with groups like the ACLU of Florida, and the
Florida Council on American Islamic Relations. For months now, CAIR and
the ACLU in Florida and the ACLU in Massachusetts, also the “Boston Globe”,
also, even the “Boston Herald”, pretty much everybody has taken a hard look
a this has called for some kind of an independent investigation.
For somebody to look into how and why this guy was killed other than
the folks who killed him. It`s the only review we`ve been told we`re
getting is the uniformly 100 percent self-exculpatory process that the FBI
assures us is something we ought to trust in. The chances of an
independent review have seemed slim.
First of all, anybody outside the FBI reviewing an FBI shooting is
pretty much unheard of. It has been known to happen maybe twice that we
know of in modern history. It`s basically never. And then, late last
night the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, they said they were
declining to investigate the shooting. Then the medical examiner`s office
in Florida said they were told by the FBI they couldn`t release Todashev`s
autopsy report though they were finished with it.
It seemed like it was going to end with the FBI investigating itself,
alone, just like they always do using the process that always says the FBI
was right. But then today there was an unexpected breakthrough. The top
prosecutor in Orlando announced that he would conduct a, quote,
“independent review of the circumstances surrounding the use of deadly
force” in this case.
However, there is no timetable as to when he will complete his review.
There will be no further public comment regarding this matter until the
state attorney`s review is completed.
Todashev`s father is scheduled to speak publicly in Florida on
Tuesday. He`s threatened to sue the FBI for killing his son. How big a
deal is the fact we had an independent review announced of an FBI shooting?
Is this likely to shed light on this case? And why did it happen?
Joining us now is Howard Simon. He`s executive director of the ACLU
in Florida. Mr. Simon, thank you very much for being with us. Appreciate
HOWARD SIMON, ACLU FLORIDA: Thank you. Good evening, Rachel.
MADDOW: Did I describe this new development accurately in terms of
what the state attorney`s office says they`re going to do here? This is
going to be an independent review of the circumstances of the shooting?
SIMON: Well, you`ve described it accurately using his words, but we
don`t know w independent review means. And I think, you know, it`s
crucially ambiguous, and I think you put your finger on the crucial point.
Does independent review mean that there will be an independent set of
eyes just reviewing the file sent to him by the FBI? Or will he actually
conduct an independent review in the sense in which he`ll call in the
Orlando police officers who are there, he`ll send out his investigators to
interview the witnesses and the neighbors and so on.
How independent will this be? And we don`t know. I mean, this is
clearly a breakthrough, and very unusual that somebody has stepped up to
say, well, maybe we should take a look at what the FBI has done here, but
frankly, I don`t know what that means.
MADDOW: Howard, when other people have declined to bring independent
investigations in this case, they have said they don`t have jurisdiction to
do it, that they don`t feel empowered to investigate a shooting that was
perpetrated by an FBI agent in the pursuit of his or her job.
Is it your view if this Orlando prosecutor wanted to do a real
material investigation, looking at physical facts, looking at evidence,
interviewing people visiting the scene and all those things – is it your
view the prosecutor is legally empowered to do that?
SIMON: I don`t see why not. This is a shooting that took place in
his jurisdiction. It`s a shooting and a killing that took place in the
state of Florida. Frankly, you know, I don`t think all the various law
enforcement agencies have been speaking with one voice. This has a kind of
almost sometimes a Keystone Cops flavor to it.
We wrote to the Florida department of law enforcement, the state
police, who are legally charged with the responsibility of investigating
the shooting death of anybody at the hands of law enforcement. They wrote
back saying, this is a federal investigation, it would be inappropriate for
us to interfere. Inappropriate for the state police, but apparently not
inappropriate for the state`s attorney in Orange and Osceola County.
People ought to get their story straight and their act together. This
is a killing that took place in Orlando, and Orlando officials have the
responsibility, and Florida officials have the responsibility to
investigate it. Just as our sister affiliate in Massachusetts has said
that since there were Massachusetts state troopers present there,
Massachusetts officials have the responsibility to investigate what role
they played in it as well.
MADDOW: Howard, what else do you want from the FBI at this point?
Obviously, you`re making the case that there a other authorities outside
the FBI who have the authority to get involved here if they wanted to.
Just like this prosecutor in Orlando has said that he would. In terms of
what the FBI could disclose that they haven`t yet, what else do you want to
hear from them?
SIMON: Well, I think it`s premature to say what we want to hear from
them. I think we`re really talking more a process, and I think you put
your finger on it earlier. The principal thing I want out of this is with
regard to the FBI, and I have to say, Rachel, with regard to any police law
enforcement agency in the country, they shouldn`t be entitled to
SIMON: There`s got to be some oversight of what they did – whether
it`s by another law enforcement agency, whether it`s by a court, whether
it`s by an independent agency. But we do not build confidence in our law
enforcement agencies when we simply allow them to investigate themselves
because what happens is what you just summarized from the Charlie Savage
story. They will always be exonerated.
MADDOW: Howard Simon, executive director of the ACLU of Florida.
Keep us posted on your involvement here. I feel like this is moving now in
unexpected directions. It`s turning into a very, very interesting case.
Thank you, Howard.
SIMON: Thank you.
MADDOW: I have to say the Charlie Savage piece from a couple weeks
ago in “The New York Times,” you can never predict what`s going to be a
huge story. But you just think on its face if you found out that the FBI
only ever investigates itself when it shoots people, and 150 out of 150
times it has exonerated itself in shootings, wouldn`t you think that would
be kind of a top of national political discussion? Never can tell.
We`ll be right back.
MADDOW: Once upon a time, august was the month off from politics. It
is not anymore, because Congress`s August recess time is now August recess
town hall time, which is a whole new shouty season in American politics
that we never had before 2009, because in August 2009, we got all of those
shouty, shouty, super shouty town halls.
(BGEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. KATHY CASTOR (D), FLORIDA: You got the health insurance, your
private employer – you all have the most to gain –
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Ahhhh so fun a shouting good time. What is important to
remember about that screaming mess back in 2009 was that those seemingly
spontaneous yelly grassroots town halls were not actually grassroots
responses to health reform. They were a coordinated and organized effort
by big money groups, like Koch brothers and Americans for Prosperity,
right? Under grassrootsy sounding names like Patients United Now and
These pressure conservative groups produced August recess action kits.
They distributed them around the country – handy guides on how to do the
town hall meetings into conservative spectacles. They came out with
printed questions to ask.
Look, dear friend of freedom, right, here is your step by step guide
to disrupt the town hall meetings for your freedom-hating Congress person
or senator at a location near you.
For the logistically impaired, the kit even came with Google Maps of
the upcoming town hall events. And it worked, people showed up and read
the pre-printed questions and shouted down the discussion and silenced
members of Congress with their conspiracy theories about death panels and
tyrannical health care, and it was all very intimidating and very
strategically deployed outrage.
Republicans looked back on shouty, shouty August 2009 as kind of a
high water mark. It may not have let them stop Obamacare, which passed
anyway, but they always thought the big August of anger helped propel
Republicans for their big wins in the election the next year. So, now,
that we`re in the odd year, and it is August again the Republicans are
trying to re-create that august magic, through the handy dandy, worked
before, August recess planning kits, right?
This is the planning kit the Republican Party sent to their House
members, telling them what to do during the district`s month break, telling
them to convene the emergency health care town halls, to engage
constituents on the negative effects of Obamacare. Emergency! There are
myriad bad effects of Obamacare for the people in your home district,
happening right now, the people, you know, health providers, seniors,
patients, medical students, emergency town hall, we still hate Obamacare.
And the point of the planning kit is not just to organize your
supporters to show up and be on message, it`s about controlling what the
events are like, so they become campaign stops. You`re morphing legitimate
interplay between citizens and their members of Congress in the kind of
pageant of Obamacare hatred that ends up on YouTube. However, if you
cannot actually script and cast it like a pageant and you do actually let
real people in by some lapse in your organization, sometimes things go
horribly off message, like this town hall with North Carolina Republican
Congressman Pat McHenry, caught on tape yesterday by a liberal PAC.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. PATRICK MCHENRY (R), NORTH CAROLINA: Yes, sir.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`m Steve Edwards from East Ashville. I`m 63l. My
wife is 63. And without Obamacare, we would have no health insurance. I
would like to ask you and the Republican Party to answer the questions, why
do I not have a moral right and access to health care? You want to defund
Obamacare which is by low and policy going to save billions of dollars over
the next 10 years?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: It turns out there is nothing in the how to stoke fury during
the August recess of an odd year better midterms guide to your town halls,
there is nothing in that guide when somebody actually turns up who likes
Despite all best efforts to make sure that they stuck to the script,
the town hall was actually a town hall, it ended becoming a real exchange
between the constituents and their congressional representatives. Local,
responsive and unscripted, apparently making all involved very unsettled.
And maybe that is a good thing.
And now, conservative and liberal groups are putting out web casts to
find out when they`re doing town halls near you. This August thing, you
know, nobody likes giving up a season when we didn`t use to have politics
for one where we do have politics now, but if the new August is the season
in which we actually have – people having unscripted conversations that
unsettled everybody about real policy issues, that may not be so bad.
We`ve got links to both the left and the right to town halls near you at
We`ll be right back.
MADDOW: “Debunktion Junction”. All right, the deficit is shrinking -
- shrinking at the fastest rate since World War II, seriously.
In April, the government actually ran a budget surplus, and then it
happened in June. And whether or not you think it is a good thing or bad
thing that the deficit is shrinking faster than new jeans in a hot drier,
the deficit is in fact shrinking, which means that this is the sound of a
politician not telling the truth on television.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ERIC CANTOR (R-VA), MAJORITY LEADER: Keeping our eyes focused on
try8ing to deal with the ultimate problem, which is this growing deficit.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Growing deficit is not a thing. The deficit is not growing,
it`s shrinking. And we learned it is shrinking faster than we previously
The Congressional Budget Office just announced that we`re going to
have an even smaller deficit this year than they had originally forecast.
So, in this show earlier this week when we previously debunked Eric
Cantor for lying about there being a growing deficit, we were sort of
wrong. With today`s revised numbers, it is actually going to be smaller
than we said it was going to be.
So this is the graph revised as of today, the graph we hope that you
clip out, laminate, put on your wallet, put up on the fridge every time
somebody tells you we have to do something very bad for ourselves because
of our out of control spending.
You know, when PolitiFact, the terrible fact-checking site from “The
Tampa Bay Times” looked at the Eric Cantor statement, they noted he said
the deficit was growing when in fact it was shrinking, they then noted Eric
Cantor`s statement was half true. That`s another way you can actually know
it was a false statement of his. PolitiFact is another way of learning the
truth in American politics.
That does it for us tonight. We`ll be back with you tomorrow.
Now, it`s time for “THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL”.
Have a great night.
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