The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 03/12/15
CHRIS HAYES, “ALL IN” HOST: Yes, exactly. Mike Pesca and Jeff Smith,
thank you very much.
That is “ALL IN” for this evening.
THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts right now. Good evening, Rachel.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chris. Thanks, man.
HAYES: You bet.
MADDOW: And thanks to you at home for joining us at this hour.
There is a lot of competition for the top news story in the country
We`re going to have more about what has happened in Ferguson,
Missouri, over the past 24 hours, where two police officers were released
from the hospital today after being shot late last night outside Ferguson
police headquarters while protests against the Ferguson PD was just winding
down. That story has gone off like a shock wave in the already incredibly
anxious racial environment around Ferguson, Missouri, and the policing of
There are further developments in that story still breaking tonight,
including a vigil we`re keeping an eye on that has been called for right
now in Ferguson. That vigil had initially been planned to take place right
outside the same Ferguson police station where those officers were shot
last night. At the last minute, the planned vigil was moved to a different
site in Ferguson this evening.
So, we`re going to be keeping an eye on that tonight. We`ll have more
on those developments including my interview with an eyewitness to the
shooting of those police officers last night. That interview and our
report on that subject coming up in just a moment. So do please stay with
us for that.
But alongside that story today, we also got further disturbing and
honestly increasingly inexplicable news about law enforcement at a very
different level in our country. Carol Leonnig at “The Washington Post”
today broke what I think is just unbelievable news about the Secret
What we knew this time last night was that two senior Secret Service
officers had been put under investigation for an alleged incident that took
place last week. Last Wednesday night, March 4th, in which the agents
allegedly drove their Secret Service vehicle onto the White House grounds
in a way that suggested to officers on the scene that the men were drunk.
The Secret Service agents reportedly drove through police tape that
had been set up at the site and hit their Secret Service vehicle into
barricades that had been set up at the site again on the White House
grounds. This is what we knew last night. Now, we know more.
Specifically now we know more about what was going on at the White House at
the time these guys apparently rolled up.
“Washington Post” today cites a police report to explain what was
going on the grounds of the White House that night last Wednesday night and
what these senior Secret Service officers allegedly crashed their vehicle
This is from “The Post.” Quote, “At about 10:25 that`s night last
Wednesday, a Pennsylvania woman hopped out of her car at the southeast
entrance of the White House on 15th Street Northwest. The woman threw a
package wrapped in a green shirt at the Secret Service security post. She
yelled at an officer, “It`s a bomb.”
So this is from the police report about the “it`s a bomb” incident.
After this woman threw this package on the White House grounds, security at
the White House reacted the way you would expect them to. The woman
apparently fled after flinging this thing and yelling “it`s a bomb”. But
they did get her license plate number. They were eventually able to track
Around the package that she had thrown onto the White House grounds,
they established a perimeter. They marked off the entire area with police
tape and they called the bomb squad. This woman had reportedly yelled
“it`s a bomb”. They called the bomb squad to check and to see if, in fact,
it was an explosive device.
So, that whole thing started at 10:25 last Wednesday night. Roughly
30 minutes into that whole process, according to “The Washington Post”,
shortly before 11:00 p.m., these two high ranking Secret Service agents
arrived on the scene in a Secret Service vehicle with its lights on.
They had reportedly been at a party about a mile away from the White
House at this bar in Chinatown in Washington. It was a going away party,
apparently, for a Secret Service spokesman who was retiring. The agents
reportedly left that party in a Secret Service vehicle. They drove about a
mile away to the White House.
The White House is in the midst of dealing with the suspicious package
and the crime scene around the suspicious package is being cordoned off and
they called in the bomb squad to check to see if this thing is safe.
They`re in the middle of dealing with that and these two high-ranking
Secret Service agents roll up to the White House and, quote, “drive their
government car through the crime scene.” According to people familiar with
the incident, they drove through police tape and then hit a temporary
So, the allegation here is that they did not just drive through police
tape and hit a White House barricade. The allegation here is that they did
so physically in the midst of an active investigation into what might have
been a bomb on the White House grounds.
And then we learned two further very important details about this
Number one, it`s all apparently on video. As you might expect, there
is surveillance video of everything that happens on the White House grounds
and this incident was apparently caught on surveillance video and
investigators who are looking into this incident have now started reviewing
that video to see what happened. So, that`s detail number one.
Detail number two, investigators who are reviewing that surveillance
tape to see what happened in this incident, those investigators tell “The
Washington Post” that these guys who drove through the police tape and hit
the barricade that had been set up around the suspicious package, that was
maybe a bomb, investigators looking at the tape say the agents apparently
came pretty close to driving over that suspected bomb.
Investigators who reviewed the tape of the incident tell “The
Washington Post” that the two agents drove up through the crime scene next
to the suspicious item wrapped in the shirt. They drove so close to the
item that it was difficult for investigators to tell for awhile based on
that video whether the agents might have even run it over.
Secret Service officers on duty reportedly considered the agents`
behavior to be erratic enough that they suspected the two agents were
drunk. The uniformed Secret Service officers on the scene who suspected
that the senior agents were drunk when they did this and they drove up into
the crime scene, those uniformed officers wanted to arrest the agents. But
a more senior supervisor at the White House complex told the officers to
let the agents go without arresting them and without giving them a sobriety
So, OK. This alleged incident is terrible, right? This is terrible.
I mean, no other agency has a name like the Secret Service, right? These
guys are supposed to be unknowably cream of the crop hyper-elite when it
comes to law enforcement. I mean, no matter who is president is, no matter
who occupies the White House, these are the guys who keep the president
safe, who keep the White House safe. These are the defenders of the
Even if we did not right now have a president who faces an incredibly
heightened threat level, a failure at the Secret Service under any
administration, at any time, a failure at the Secret Service just is not an
option. Drunken failure at the Secret Service just seems inconceivable.
And, you know, you can sort of talk yourself down about this, right?
Sure, it`s the Secret Service and that sounds high end, but it`s a big
agency. Not everybody who works there is going to be one of these guys who
we assume is just super elite, above reproach. One of these guys in the
suit with the curly ear piece standing right above the president`s
You can try to talk yourself down from the worry here by imaging that
these kind of failures are happening in some lower level part of the agency
that we don`t necessarily see, where people don`t have these very big
responsibilities of being an arm`s length away from the president. We can
try to talk ourselves down about maybe this is a bigger agency and parts of
it are less important than we think.
Except in this case, one of the two guys in the car for this alleged
incident really is one of those super elite, supposedly above reproach guys
in a suit with a curly ear piece standing next to the president.
I mean, that`s him. Here is that agent, the number two person in
charge of President Obama`s personal security detail. He was one of the
two cars this – he was one of the two guys in the car that night,
allegedly, according to this incident report, right?
Here he is with President Obama again. Here he is with President
Obama and Michelle Obama. Here he is with President Obama again. See him
on the left there?
This is not some low level guy. This is not some bureaucrat.
The problems at the Secret Service are not low level problems. And
that is starting to be the most anxiety provoking thing about these ongoing
problems at the Secret Service.
In 2011, when somebody took shots at the White House with a high
powered rifle, it was a Secret Service supervisor who told Secret Service
officers to stand down and not do anything about it, even though officers
on the grounds of the White House were convinced that they`d heard gunfire
and wanted to respond. It was a supervisor who told them stand down, it`s
Eventually four days later, it was a housekeeper who had to point out
to the Secret Service that, in fact, the White House residence where the
first family lives had been hit by that high powered rifle ammunition, when
the housekeeper showed the Secret Service the broken chunks of glass and
chunks of concrete from the impact. But that supervisor said, ah, stand
That same year, “The Washington Post” was first to report that prowler
teams who patrol nearby the White House had been diverted from that duty to
instead go patrol the home of the Secret Service director`s assistant
because apparently she was having issues with her neighbors.
So, Secret Service at the highest level made this decision, don`t
protect the White House teams, prowler teams, instead go protect the
director`s assistant from her neighbors.
The following year, that director left the Secret Service after a
prostitution scandal in which a number of Secret Service agents hired
prostitutes while they were on an advanced team visit for a presidential
trip to Colombia. They hired prostitutes, and then they got in trouble at
their hotel because of a dispute over whether or not they were going to pay
A year after that, the supervisor who the Secret Service had put in
charge of investigating what happened in Colombia with the prostitutes,
that supervisor investigating the Colombia incident himself got busted at a
Washington, D.C. hotel when he got caught trying to force his way back into
a woman`s hotel room at the Hay Adams after he apparently left a bullet in
her room. A subsequent investigation later turned out the same supervisor
had also sent sexually suggestive e-mails to a female subordinate employee
at the Secret Service.
And now, it`s not just a senior supervisor at the D.C. field office,
and a senior supervisor in the president`s personal security detail who are
alleged to have drunkenly driven their car onto White House grounds through
police tape and into a barricade nearly running over a suspected bomb that
was actively being investigated on the White House grounds, now the
allegation is that a supervisor – even more senior, apparently, than the
two of them – told the uniformed officer who wanted to arrest or at least
drunk test these guys that they should instead just let these guys go home.
I should also mention that the new head of the Secret Service, the
head of the whole agency was also the supervisor in charge of White House
security back in 2009 when during the first state dinner of the Obama
presidency, the Secret Service inexplicably let this soon-to-be reality
show based TV couple into a – into the White House and in to meet the
president even though they were not on the guest list for the state dinner
and they were not cleared to enter.
Joseph Clancy was in charge of White House security when the Salahi
thing happened at the first state dinner at the very start of the Obama
presidency. That was the event, of course, that kicked off this now years
long cascade of humiliating and, frankly, scary failures at the Secret
Service. He was in charge at the White House when that very first, very
public, very shocking failure at the Secret Service happened. The price he
eventually paid for that was this year being named director of the Secret
And even as we have had incident after incident after incident after
incident, where a guy with a gun is let onto an elevator with Obama even
though the Secret Service doesn`t know who he is and doesn`t know he has a
gun. Or a guy with a knife runs over the White House fence and through the
White House grounds and gets into the White House, way into the White House
before anyone takes him down. Or a mentally ill guy who is not a sign
language interpreter being allowed on stage right next to Obama as if he is
a sign language interpreter but nobody actually knows who he guy is or how
he got there. Or drunk Secret Service agents passed out in brothels in
Thailand and hotels in the Netherlands and on street corners in Miami.
As all of these things continually have happened, more than a dozen
incidents now over the course of the Obama presidency, the scariest part of
– the scariest part of all of it, including this latest incident with the
allegedly drunk senior agents busting into the active crime scene on the
grounds of the White House, the scariest part of all of it is that it does
not seem to be a problem of low ranking junior officers who were just
screwing up here, right? Screwing up here and there but at least at the
adults are still in charge. The scariest thing of all of it is it seems
like the adult who are supposed to be in charge of what is supposed to be
the most elite security in the nation, the adults who are supposed to in
charge of protecting the American presidency appear to be the ones who keep
screwing up. And apparently, it`s not getting any better. Even now.
Joining us now is Congressman Elijah Cummings of Maryland. He is the
ranking Democrat on the House Oversight Committee. He along with the
chairman of his committee today, Republican Congressman Jason Chaffetz,
wrote a scathing letter to the Secret Service, expressing their grave
concerns about this latest incident.
Congressman Cummings, it`s a real pleasure to have you here. Thank
you for joining us tonight, sir.
REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS (D), MARYLAND: It`s good to be with you, Rachel.
MADDOW: So, what can you tell us about the investigation into this
incident so far, and what you and your staff have been told about what
happened and how it`s being looked into?
CUMMING: Well, first of all let me say this, Rachel. This whole
incident is extremely upsetting to me and to Mr. Chaffetz, Chairman
Chaffetz, and our entire committee, both Republicans and Democrats.
A lot has been done with regard to the Secret Service over the last
several months. Director Clancy came in and he relieved half of all the
top administrators in the Secret Service of their duties and brought about
some staffing changes and did a number of other things to make the agency
better that I can`t even talk about because they`re classified.
But clearly, Rachel, when you look at what happened here, it is – it
is extremely alarming and shocking to the conscience that two senior
supervisory types in the Secret Service could come and crash a barrier,
basically tamper with a crime scene because they may have ran over the very
thing that they thought was a bomb, and to put other people in danger
because they appeared to have been impaired by alcohol.
And so, it – when we look at the series of events, one by one all the
things you just named, it makes you wonder number one, whether there is a
cultural problem here and whether the agency has moved into a culture of
complacency and how deep this problem goes. But, again, we`ve got clearly
a lot of work to do. I think this was a major wakeup call.
The good thing, Rachel, is that the homeland security inspector
general is doing this investigation. That`s a good thing, because they`ll
do a very thorough investigation. They`ll do a deep dive. But they`ll do
something else. And that is that they will come up with recommendations as
to what needs to be done to straighten out the situation.
MADDOW: Congressman Cummings, one of the things that I found
disturbing when I was working with producers today laying out this segment
and we just made a chronological list of the incidents that happened during
the Obama presidency, and I didn`t expect to see the pattern, but once we
made the list, it did appear there is a pattern of a surprisingly high
number of incidents involving surprisingly high ranking people inside the
MADDOW: Supervisors being involved in some of the worst incidents.
Do you know if the current investigation into this latest incident is
just focused on those two agents that may have been in the vehicle or if
they`re also looking into this report that the supervisor may have told
those uniformed officers to not give these guys a breathalyzer, not do a
sobriety test and let them go home?
CUMMINGS: I can be certain about this, Rachel. It does include that
the allegation that the supervising officer there told these guys they
could go home. And we do know for a fact that they – the rank-and-file
officers, the uniformed officers really did believe that these Secret
Service agents were impaired.
And so that concerns me greatly too, because here we have officers
trying to do the right thing.
And, Rachel, let me be clear: there are a lot – I`d say 99 percent of
our officers in the Secret Service are great men and women doing a great
job. But I`m telling you, when you have a situation where your supervisor
tells you to look the other way and allow somebody who appears to be
impaired to just go home and sleep it off as if nothing happened, it has a
phenomenal effect on morale. It also brings confusion to those officers
and it also brings a level of disrespect.
In other words, they have to – they end up disrespecting their
superiors. And then we go right back, Rachel, to something that was
happening months ago where Secret Service agents will come to us in the
Congress before they will go to their higher ups to report things, because
they just don`t feel comfortable.
We are better than that. And I look at this thing very seriously
because as you said, you`re talking about the president of the United
States of America, the most powerful person in the world, and his family.
And I`m telling you as I look at what`s going on here, it makes me so
upset. And I will not rest and I know Chairman Chaffetz feels the same way
until we get this resolved and get it right.
MADDOW: Congressman Elijah Cummings of Maryland, thank you so much
for joining us tonight, sir. I share your concern about this. I find this
incredibly anxiety provoking. But to hear your aggression on this and your
unity with Chairman Chaffetz on this, the lack of partisanship around this
issue is heartening. So, thank you, sir.
CUMMINGS: We`re together on this one. No doubt about it.
MADDOW: Thank you, sir.
CUMMINGS: Thank you.
MADDOW: All right. Still ahead tonight, we`ve got a lot more news
including the latest from Ferguson, Missouri. We`ve got an interview
coming up with an eyewitness to the shooting of those two police officers
in Ferguson about midnight last night. There`s also a candlelight vigil
you can see underway at this hour. We`re going to be live on the ground in
Ferguson in just a moment.
Please stay with us.
MADDOW: You`re looking at a live shot right now from Ferguson,
Missouri, where a candlelight vigil is taking place just down the street
from the Ferguson police station. It was less than 24 hours ago when shots
were fired at officers in front of that station.
One officer hit below his right eye, the other on his shoulder. Both
were taken to the hospital last night. Both were released today. Neither
injury is said to be life-threatening.
There is a manhunt still underway at this hour for the shooter.
Federal government pledging full support for the effort to find and
prosecute the shooter in this case.
In Ferguson tonight, Missouri State Highway Patrol and the St. Louis
County Police Department have once again assumed command of policing in the
streets of Ferguson. Again, this is a candlelight vigil taking place down
the road from the Ferguson police department.
Stay with us. We`re going to have more on this live in just a moment.
Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ERIC HOLDER, ATTORNEY GENERAL: What happened last night was a pure
ambush. This was not someone trying to bring healing to Ferguson. This
was – this was a damn punk, a punk who was trying to sow discord in an
area that`s trying to get its act together and trying to bring together a
community that`s been fractured for too long.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: A punk, a damn punk. That was Attorney General Eric Holder
today speak about the two police officers who were shot just after midnight
last night in Ferguson, Missouri.
One of the officers was shot just below his right eye. The bullet
reportedly lodged just below the officer`s right ear. That officer is 32
years old. He`s been on the force for five years.
The other officer was shot in his right shoulder. The bullet exited
from the right side of his back. He`s 41 years old. He`s been in law
enforcement for 14 years.
St. Louis County police department says both officers were treated and
released from the hospital today. Based on the injuries they sustained,
based on the sound of the bullets last night, police say they believe that
the shots came from a handgun and not from a rifle.
You can actually hear the shots – on this amateur video that was
captured last night. Police say based on the sound of those shots and
muzzle flashes seen in the distance, they think the shooter may have fired
from about 125 yards away from the officers who were hit. Neither of the
officers incidentally was a Ferguson police officer. One was a St. Louis
County police officer. One was an officer from a nearby town.
As the search got underway for the shooter, earlier today, we saw
police SWAT units descend on one house that was a few blocks away from the
police station where the officers were shot. That involved them going in
through the building`s roof. At that raid, police reportedly took a few
people in for questioning, but as of tonight, nobody is in police custody
in conjunction with the shooting. No one has been arrested.
Crimestoppers is now offering a $10,000 reward for information leading
to an arrest in the shooting of these two officers. Also, interestingly,
two Democratic congressmen from Missouri, Congressman Lacy Clay and
Congressman Emanuel Cleaver put out a joint statement offered a $3,000
reward personally. These two are offering it personally for information
leading to an arrest in this.
But as of tonight, whoever shot those two officers is still at large,
and a manhunt is underway. I`m going to interview an eyewitness to the
shootings of those two police officers, next.
Stay with us.
MADDOW: So, we`re keeping an eye on Ferguson, Missouri, tonight where
a candlelight vigil is underway just down the road from the Ferguson police
station where two officers were shot and wounded last night. Both of those
officers have since been released from the hospital. Neither of them
thought to have life-threatening injuries but there`s a manhunt for the
Joining us now live from Ferguson is Bradley Rayford. Mr. Rayford is
a freelance journalist. He was covering last night`s protest/rally. That
was winding down outside the Ferguson police station when the shooting
happened. He was a witness to the shooting.
Mr. Rayford, thank you very much for your time tonight.
BRADLEY RAYFORD, FREELANCE JOURNALIST/EYEWITNESS TO OFFICER SHOOTINGS:
Thank you for having me.
MADDOW: We see you out there on the streets tonight in Ferguson.
Before I ask you specifically about what you saw last night, can you just
tell us what the mood is like tonight and what it`s been like today in
RAYFORD: Right now, it`s pretty much just media in front of the
police department. There are about 40 people walked past us, while I was
waiting for the shooting to a take, but about 40 people walked past towards
where the candlelight vigil was scheduled to be held down – just past the
Ferguson brew house if you`re familiar with the Ferguson area. It`s an
area where there`s a large area for people to gather for the vigil tonight.
MADDOW: OK. Last night when you were at the police station and you
saw the shooting happen, can you just tell us what happened? It`s my
understanding when I looked at the footage, it seemed like it was sort of a
protest/rally. It seemed to be sort of winding down when the shots rang
RAYFORD: You could almost say that the protest did wind down when the
shots rang out. It was around 12:00 midnight last night. The – most of
the police were already sent home by the commander officers. Most
protesters left to go home.
And you heard out of nowhere what sounded like a fire cracker or
firework go off at the top of the hill. So, once we looked to the top of
the hill we saw what looked to be muzzle flashes from gunfire firing
towards – from my standpoint, towards my direction as well as the
officers, because I was adjacent to the officers in front of the Ferguson
MADDOW: Was it scary? I mean, I can tell from some of the video shot
last night that people reacted in a pretty panicked way and that people hit
the ground, a lot of people ran. What happened after the shots rang out?
RAYFORD: It was definitely a scary moment because you did not know
where the gun shots were coming from, if there were going to be more gun
shots and who were the target of those gun shots. So, it definitely was a
scary moment for all of us out there, because the gunshots could have hit
anyone, the protesters, the police officers, the media. Anyone could have
been a target of those gunshots last night. So, it was definitely a scary
MADDOW: Bradley, before the gunshots rang out last night, in terms of
what e the character of the protest and rally had been like, had anyone
been threatening violence? Had there been anyone who tried to provoke
people into more dramatic action? Did it seem like the sort of thing where
it might turn into a dangerous situation? What was the vibe like?
RAYFORD: Certainly no. Like I said, when gunshots rang out, it was
definitely a calm moment. And naturally when you have a large group of
people gathered together anyway, you have some people who have
disagreements. But overall, the protests are always, often peaceful aside
from police officers arresting some of the protesters out in the street.
But overall, it was a pretty peaceful night. Like I said, the – it
was almost – I won`t call it – it was basically dead basically. Everyone
was going home. It was the end of the night. Gunshots came out of nowhere
so it was a surprise to us all.
MADDOW: Bradley Rayford, freelance photographer, witness to last
night`s events – thanks for helping us understand what it was like. I
appreciate you talking to us about it tonight.
RAYFORD: Thank you for having me on.
All right. We`ve got a couple of great things still to come tonight
on the show. Number one, a triumph in local news coverage, a triumph. And
two, the interview tonight which tonight is a very rare species for this
show. And it comes from Texas, and I`m really looking forward to this.
Please stay with us.
MADDOW: So my parents were here this week. We had a family thing
And while they were here, they raised what we call in my house the
question. Capital “T,” capital “Q,” “The Question”. And like it is in
most families, I`m sure, the question between me as an adult and my parents
is, why can`t you get more Republicans to be guests on your TV show?
Tonight, I made progress on that front. This one`s for you, dad!
The interview`s coming up.
MADDOW: The Texas state legislature meets every other year on odd
numbered years. This is 2015. And so, meet.
Texas lawmakers are in session, they`re making laws. They`re giving
speeches, having meetings, doing the lobbying, all of it. They are in
This week, Texas legislators got a visit from the anti-abortion lobby
which handed out these signs for lawmakers to use, identifying each of them
as not just a current lawmaker, but also a former fetus. Hey. Mazel tov!
One conservative Texas lawmaker proudly placed his former fetus sign
up next to his office door in the state capitol. That ran afoul of the
people who enforce the rules about what you can and can`t put up on the
walls at the state capitol. They took it down saying, quote, “We don`t
decorate the halls.”
That made the self-identified former fetus lawmaker angry. He told
“The Austin American Statesman”, quote, “I think the Kumbaya is about to be
The Texas state legislature famously is not a land of kumbaya. It`s
not a land of subtlety either. But even by Texas` slash-and-burn political
standards, the Republican fight against women`s health care in Texas and
Planned Parenthood in particular, stands out over the last few years. In
2011 Republicans slashed state funding for family planning by two-thirds.
So, that means birth control, cancer screenings, preventive care, all
that. A two-thirds cut.
People who provide that kind of care to Texas women warned at the time
cutting all that money two thirds of the budget, would force a lot of
women`s clinics to close and among other things it would lead to more
unintended pregnancies in the state.
And, yes, that law caused dozens of Texas clinics to close. It also
caused thousands more to have unwanted pregnancies because of that law.
The Texas Evaluation Project attributes roughly 30,000 unintended
pregnancies in Texas to just the first full year of that law that closed
down Texas clinics.
That not being enough, Texas Republicans then moved on to blocking
Planned Parenthood out of the Texas women`s health program. Forty-four
percent of women served by that program got their annual checkups and their
cancer screenings at a Planned Parenthood clinic. But Texas Republicans
told them they had to find somewhere else.
Then after that, the Texas legislature passed the strictest
antiabortion laws in the country, which regulated among other things what
kind of buildings were allowed to house clinics and banned a large number
of doctors from being allowed to perform abortions in the state. That law
closed yet more clinics in the state, clinics that not just did abortion
services but all kinds of women`s health.
And now in the current session, Texas Republicans have decided to make
another run at the places where Texas women get their health care. This
time they`re going specifically after women`s cancer screenings. That`s
the target now.
A program that pays for cancer screenings for women in Texas, for
women who can`t otherwise afford it, that program is primarily funded by
the federal government, about 75 percent federally funded. That program in
Texas is used by tens of thousands of women every year. But now, in what
appears to be another effort to try to shut down the remaining Planned
Parenthood clinics in the state maybe, Republicans in the Texas legislature
have come up with a proposal – to totally restructure this program for
cancer screenings in such a way that it`s expected to shut down dozens of
the remaining beleaguered women health care centers that are standing in
Texas. Not just Planned Parenthood clinics, lots of clinics.
So, that`s the new word from Texas Republicans. And Republicans have
unilateral control over Texas government. They can pass any law they want.
They have a lock on the governorship, on the state house, and the state
Texas is Republican world. And Texas Republicans have been making it
really hard on Planned Parenthood in particular but women`s health in
general. That part is not surprising anymore.
But this is. Not all Texas Republicans are going along with it. Meet
Sarah Davis. You`re thinking Wendy Davis. No. Totally different Davis.
No relation, different party.
Sarah Davis is a three-term Texas lawmaker. She`s a breast cancer
survivor. She`s an attorney. She is a Republican. She is a Texas
In the summer of 2013 during the Wendy Davis filibuster of the anti-
abortion vote that shut down dozens of clinics across the state, Sarah
Davis made a name for herself as the only House Republican to vote against
those new restrictions.
Sarah Davis explained her position at the time, quote, “a traditional
Republican perspective is personal freedom, individual responsibility, and
limited government. That is to me what being a Republican is. So just as
much as I`m opposed to over-regulation of industry, I`m opposed to the
legislature practicing medicine.”
I`m opposed to the legislature practicing medicine. That was Sarah
Davis, Texas Republican lawmaker speaking in 2013. And now, because it`s
an odd numbered year, now with this new plan by Texas Republicans to shut
down some of the last remaining women`s health care clinics in the state,
using cancer issues to do it, now, Representative Sarah Davis is back at
it, warning of the consequences if her own party`s plan becomes law.
And this time, super interesting, she might be getting somewhere
maybe. Republican state Rep Sarah Davis told the House this week they
should reject this new plan, the one that targets the cancer screenings.
She told this House committee, quote, “If we don`t have the provider
network, women cannot be served and they will die.”
At least for now, her proposal to undo what the Republican state
Senate is trying to do that would shut down the clinics at least for now,
this lone Republican voice of Sarah Davis appears to have persuaded her
fellow former fetuses on the House side to advance her bill, to try to undo
what has been proposed in the Senate, to advance her bill that would
effectively keep the clinics open.
Joining us now for the interview is Sarah Davis. She is a Republican
state rep for the great state of Texas.
Representative Davis, thank you so much for being here. I really
appreciate you being here.
STATE REP. SARAH DAVIS (R), TEXAS: Well, thank you for having me.
It`s a pleasure.
MADDOW: So, I knew about your stance when you were the lone House
Republican to vote against the bill that was filibustered by the Democrats
and got all that attention. I knew that you had this stance – that you
had articulated around abortion rights and limited government. I was still
surprised this week to read that you convinced the House Budget Committee
to advance your idea on this, to maybe stand up to other Republicans on
this clinic thing.
Were you surprised?
DAVIS: Well, it`s very early in the budget process. We still will
have to debate the budget once it moves to the full floor.
But I`m 38 years old. I was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age
of 32. I spent the entire – full year of my life in surgeries and
chemotherapy and radiation. And so, obviously, when we`re talking about
programs that are screening women for breast cancer and cervical cancer, I
feel very passionately about it.
And I do think that my colleagues will – have paid me some deference
because of that personal experience. And, you know, to me, I am the face
of cancer. Cancer does not discriminate based on age or race. And it
certainly doesn`t care what primary you vote in.
And so, that`s the message that I`ve been trying to get across. And
being a cancer survivor, that`s negative for the gene and has no family
history of breast cancer, I know first hand that early detection is key.
And so, I think a lot of my colleagues tend to have respect for the
position because of the experience that I`ve had. I do not believe that
women`s health is a partisan issue. And I do my very best from an advocate
standpoint to try to make it, or at least as non-partisan as possible.
But we are still fairly early on in the process. And the fight`s
definitely not over yet.
MADDOW: I wonder when – the way you have articulated your
perspective on this, not just in terms of that powerful personal story that
you just told here, but also just in terms of your ideology and how you
believe in limited government and that you believe that as a Republican and
as a small government conservative, that that this just isn`t the realm for
government to be imposing itself between women and their health care
I just – I wonder if your colleagues in private are more sympathetic
to that position than they might appear to be in public. I know that the
politics around this issue in Texas are really strict. I`m sure you`ve
paid somewhat of a political price from taking this stand.
Do you feel like away from the glare of political necessity that your
fellow Republicans are susceptible to these kind of arguments that you`ve
DAVIS: You know, I just – I can`t speak on behalf of my colleagues.
Obviously, we have conversations in private. And I do think that there is
definitely support for funding programs like the breast and cervical cancer
screening program. I think that Republicans can certainly acknowledge that
losing a 75 percent match is not the fiscally responsible thing to do.
But at the end of the day, we all are elected by a constituency. And
so, my colleagues are making votes and making policy decisions based on the
people who elect them. And I make policy decisions and take the votes that
I take based on the folks that elect me.
So, I mean, there are discussions, but at the end of the day, we
answer to people who come out and vote. And we answer to our constituents.
MADDOW: Do you ever envision a time at which women`s health issues as
you describe them might end up going back to being a less partisan issue?
Obviously, you are a Republican who staked out a very lonely stance on this
issue. Other than you, it has been very partisan. Are you optimistic
about that changing?
DAVIS: I actually am very optimistic. I don`t feel alone on this
issue. I may be the only Republican that votes against certain
unconstitutional abortion restriction, but I have got the support of
thousands of men and women that come out to the polls and elect me.
I`m in my third term. I`ve won three Republican primaries, two of
which were contested. I`ve won three general elections, all three of which
I receive e-mails and calls of support from men and women not only in
my district and throughout the state but throughout the country. And in
fact, the majority of those correspondents are from self proclaimed
Republicans, saying thank you for expressing what we believe to be is the
true Republican core philosophy – personal freedom, individual
responsibility, and limited government.
I do my very best to try to remember that philosophy and be consistent
in how I vote. Not everyone is perfect, and I`m sure any – you know,
anyone could find a place where I may not have been 100 percent consistent,
but I do my best. And I certainly don`t feel alone. I feel very
MADDOW: Sarah Davis, Republican state rep from Texas, I`ve so enjoyed
talk you to you tonight. Please tell your fellow Texas Republicans that
I`d love to talk to all of them, and that there was no biting, everything
went great, it was a pleasant conversation. It`s really nice to have you
DAVIS: That`s right. I will give you great reviews, and I`m sure
going to get a lot of Texas Republicans.
MADDOW: I`ll hold you to it. Thank you very much, ma`am. I really
DAVIS: Thank you.
MADDOW: All right. That was great.
All right. Ahead: two mysterious crime sprees, one involving eggs and
the other involving something much more disgusting than eggs. Please stay
MADDOW: These next two stories, oh, my God.
OK. In the Cleveland, Ohio suburb of Euclid, Ohio, there`s a house
that`s been pelted by hundreds of eggs, over the past year. One house,
hundreds of eggs, hundreds of times.
This poor gentlemen is 85-year-old Albert Clemens (ph). For the past
year, Mr. Clemens` house has been egged on a regular basis, and it`s been
egged from blocks away with astounding accuracy.
The eggs usually hit the front door, sometimes they hit Mr. Clemens or
his family, as they are walking out the door. One time a police officer
got hit with an egg while he was standing in front of the house taking a
report about the house being egged.
Nobody can figure out who is doing it or how they are doing it or
where they are launching the eggs from, hundreds of times.
And the local news in Euclid, Ohio, is taking this mystery very
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: The family contacted Fox 8 News in early January about the
serial attacks on their home, and we set up a night vision surveillance
camera on their property. But the vandal has not struck since the weather
turned cold. Al Clemens and his family fear the egg bomber will return
when the weather breaks.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: The egg bomber. They set up night vision cameras and
everything but the mystery remains unsolved.
And now, now the same part of the country has another ongoing
repeated, super weird act of vandalism going on. And it has provided me
with the best evidence I have seen in a very long time for the fact that
local TV reporters really are American heroes. And this is amazing.
Please stay with us. It`s next. Please. You won`t forget it.
MADDOW: I swear this is not made up, and I should warn you, viewer
discretion is advised.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now to a story many of you may find disturbing and
disgusting. I know we did here at Channel 3. A man in Akron wanted by
police for defecating on cars.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And this is something that has been going on for a
while. It has a neighborhood frightened and concerned.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Did you say defecating on cars? Please go on.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: In the Castle Homes neighborhood, there was a game going
on. A game Rob Brunson (ph) never knew he was part of.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These people play the blame game. You know, they
think it`s someone getting back. Now, we realize no one knows who this
REPORTER: Who was defecating on car hoods and mirrors, and in his
case, his kid`s front yard toys?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My mother-in-law came out and it was on there. So
we had to sanitize it.
REPORTER: Most would clean up, then not show up to file police
POLICE OFFICER: So, once we look into it, we go back to about May of
2012, we find 19 reported incidents.
REPORTER: Akron police mapped those 19.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I live right there.
REPORTER: But a huge number of incidents, including Rob`s, went
How many times would you guess at a minimum he`s done this?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: At least 100.
REPORTER: This resident, who asked not to be identified, counts 20
incidents on his walk alone.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: The resident asked not to be identified. They go dark
silhouette, informant style, for the neighborhood defecator story.
And then there`s a break in the case.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: You said, I`m going to catch this guy.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
REPORTER: And overnight last night you got him.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I took 2,000 photos last night. I got a shot
POLICE OFFICER: Bent over, pants down to the ankles, and he`s going
to defecate to the car.
REPORTER: What is your message?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He needs help. That`s my message to him. We`ve
got a sick puppy out there.
REPORTER: Make no mistake: there are jokes at every turn on this
story. We heard them from police, to the victims, to people asking us what
we`re doing down here tonight.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: There are jokes at every turn on this story, but WKYC in
Akron, Ohio, will not be distracted by them. They are heroes.
In all honestly, their viewers are lucky to have them, in such a
stinky story. Good luck, Ohio.
That does it for us tonight. We will see you again tomorrow.
Now, it`s time for “THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL.”
Good evening, Lawrence.
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