The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 03/13/15
CHRIS HAYES, “ALL IN” HOST: THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts now. Good
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chris. Happy Friday, my
HAYES: You, too.
MADDOW: Thanks to you at home as well for joining us this hour.
Happy Friday to you, too. We have a big show tonight.
So, this is the week when Democrats started expressing public anxiety
about Hillary Clinton`s seeming to have already locked up the Democratic
Party`s nomination to try to succeed Barack Obama as president of the
United States. This was anxiety week.
With a little political wobble that derived this week from “The New
York Times” revelations about her use of a private e-mail account when she
was secretary of state, with the media collectively losing its mind about
that story, with the Clinton camp perceived as having responded at little
slowly, maybe a little raggedly to those allegations, and to the
unrelenting media interesting they inevitably generated.
With all of that going on this week, the Democrats started to forget.
Maybe it should be Deval Patrick instead of Hillary Clinton. Maybe it
should be Amy Klobuchar, instead of Hillary Clinton. Maybe it should be
Let`s try again to get Elizabeth Warren to run, even though she
obviously doesn`t want to? How about Mike Bloomberg, even though he`s not
even a Democrat? There is Jim Webb, and Martin O`Malley and Bernie Sanders
over in the corner saying, hey, hey, how about us? We`re actually running.
But this is a freak-out. This is not a well-planned discussion. And
so, the conversation this week was not about those guys, it was like,
somebody call Michael Bennet. How about Mark Warner? Mike Beebe, he`s a
Democrat right? That`s the guy.
Al Franken, Jeanne Shaheen. Jeanne Shaheen will save us.
None of those people are running for president, and there is no sign
that any of them will run for president. But as the Beltway press lost
their minds on the Clinton e-mail story this week, this was the Democratic
freak-out fallout from that Clinton media frenzy.
It was novel and interesting. We have not seen that kind of freak-
out on the left about Hillary Clinton`s prospects and the sort of being no
plan B if she doesn`t work out. But when that public freak-out finally
happened this week, it was not the most coherent discussion. It was mostly
just noise. It was interesting noise.
But meanwhile, while all of that was happening, there was all of that
hubbub this week in the press, quietly, without really any sound at all
this week, on the other side of the ledger, this week, the Republican field
for president seems to have shrunk by one very high profile contender. And
I`m not sure the Beltway press has even really noticed it yet.
I mean, there was this one “Politico” story about the Chris Christie
folks holding a closed door meeting in D.C. sometime in the last few days
to try to reassure power players in Republican politics that Governor
Christie is still running, that he`s still a viable candidate for the
nomination. There was that one story.
Their stated concern, what has been written up thus far in the
Beltway press is the real way for the Christie would be campaign, is money.
Chris Christie`s big advantage in running for president was supposed to be
that he could lock up all the big Wall Street money on the Republican side
of the race.
It turns out in reality, that money is going to Jeb Bush instead of
Chris Christie. So his whole fundraising game plan, his whole big picture
strategy, had to be rethought. It is late already to be rethinking
something that important to a run for the presidency.
So, the fact that basically Jeb Bush stole all of Chris Christie`s
donors, it does have to be seen as strike one against Governor Christie.
That much the Beltway press has figured out. That`s strike one.
But strike two and strike three just happened to Chris Christie. And
this is the part that I`m pretty sure the Beltway hasn`t figure out yet.
One of the two strikes that has just happened to him is this guy.
Chris Christie was never going to win Iowa or even do well in Iowa.
It is just too conservative there for guys like Chris Christie. Chris
Christie was going to make a splash in Iowa. He was always going to have
to make his big stand in New Hampshire.
And so, Chris Christie, great tactician, hatched a brilliant plan.
He has a young genius political staffer in New Jersey, this guy. His name
is Matt Mowers. Matt Mowers agreed to leave the Christie political
operation in New Jersey right after Governor Christie was reelected in
2013. Matt Mowers left team Christie right around the time of the
reelection effort, left team Christie and moved to New Hampshire.
So, ace in the hole, right? I mean, Christie sent his own guy to New
Hampshire to become the executive director of the New Hampshire Republican
Party, just in time to start wiring the state for Chris Christie for 2016.
And Chris Christie needs New Hampshire if he`s going to make a credible
run. That`s where he`s going to have to do it, because he`s going to get
clobbered in Iowa. genius move for New Hampshire, right?
Until the bridge thing screwed it up, because it turns out the boy
genius who Chris Christie dispatched to New Hampshire, he is also the same
boy genius who Chris Christie dispatched to Fort Lee, New Jersey, during
his reelection effort in 2013. Fort Lee is that the town that was
gridlocked on purpose for nearly a week as some sort of political
retaliation orchestrated from inside Governor Christie`s office by at least
one of his top aides. All right, remember time for some traffic problems
in Fort Lee and they shut town lanes of traffic on the George Washington
Bridge that, in fact, caused major days-long traffic gridlock in Fort Lee.
That matter of course is still the subject of a pending from
investigation by the federal prosecutor in New Jersey. That scandal is
therefore still looming over Chris Christie and his political prospects.
Exactly what happened in that scandal, why it is still mostly unexplained -
- I mean, the only working political theory for why the Christie
administration might have purposely shut down those bridge lanes to hurt
Fort Lee is the theory that it was retaliation against Fort Lee`s mayor,
because Fort Lee`s mayor refused to this overture from the Christie
campaign when they asked him to endorse Governor Christie for reelection.
The mayor said no.
Well, the person who personally, individually made those overtures to
Fort Lee`s mayor, who personally asked the Fort Lee mayor to endorse Chris
Christie, it was this guy. It was the guy who Chris Christie then sent to
New Hampshire to take over the state Republican Party there and set him up
to win the Republican Party`s presidential nomination in 2016, starting
with winning New Hampshire.
Once he had already been tapped to be the executive director of the
New Hampshire Republican Party, Matt Mowers, this guy, was subpoenaed back
in New Jersey. He had to testify for hours about the bridge scandal,
because he was right in the center of that as yet unresolved scandal. He
played the pitiful role of asking for the endorsement. And right now, the
working political theory is that endorsement, and the guy saying no to the
request for that endorsement is what kicked the whole thing off.
And because that scandal is unresolved, obviously, that guy right at
the center of the scandal cannot be the face of Chris Christie in the most
crucial state in the country for Chris Christie`s presidential campaign.
He can`t be the face of the Christie campaign in New Hampshire.
It turns out he is. Apparently, there was no plan B. Chris Christie
just hired the bridgegate subpoena guy, the guy right at the center of the
alleged bridgegate plot. He just hired that guy to return his New
Hampshire operation. Apparently, there was no plan b. There was no other
And that might have been fine if bridgegate were, you know, case
closed, but literally, it`s not. The case is open at the U.S. attorney`s
office in New Jersey and it looms over his political prospects still like
an Anvil, right, hanging in midair in the Roadrunner cartoon.
So, yes, there is the money thing with Jeb Bush getting all of his
donors. There is the bridge problem, which might not have been a big story
in the early primary states, but it`s now front and center for him in New
Hampshire, the place he has to win, the place he cannot afford the
distraction like that.
And there is also strike three which looks like this. This is “The
Daily Show with Jon Stewart” last night, hitting Chris Christie for the
strange and still unexplained Exxon deal that just started to be made very,
very public in New Jersey.
Here is Governor Christie on Tuesday, this week, at one of his famous
town halls in New Jersey. At this town hall, getting grilled by local
residents about this strange and still unexplained Exxon deal that just
Here is Governor Christie in Florida giving a keynote address at a
Republican Party event this past week, all the way down the coast in
Florida and, again, what does he get asked about? He gets asked about the
strange and still unexplained Exxon deal that`s just made public in New
Here, today, state senators and state assemblymen and the local mayor
and local residents from Linden, New Jersey, today holding an event to make
public complaints and ask public questions about the new and still
unexplained and strange Exxon deal that people are starting to learn about
in New Jersey.
This Exxon deal is the deal where the state of New Jersey has been
suing Exxon for more than a decade for $9 billion, billion with a B. At
two huge refinery sites near Linden, New Jersey, Exxon over a period of
decades had dumped and leaked tons and tons and tons of toxic chemicals and
oil and other petroleum products into 1,500 acres of New Jersey wetlands.
Part of the reason it has become a national joke that New Jersey is
called the Garden State, is because when you drive from New York City into
New Jersey, you go past that exact refinery site and you know what? It
stinks. People roll up their windows and hit recirc. It stinks like
sulfur and worse.
And that is most people`s welcome to New Jersey. The Linden refinery
site is a toxic dump. Exxon admitted it decades ago. They are already in
the process of starting to clean it up. This lawsuit by the state asking
for $9 billion was not about the clean up, itself, it was about
compensating the state for the damages that Exxon had done.
And the state had asked for $9 billion. They were at trial all last
year. This thing has been in the courts for 11 years now. They finally
had the trial all last year. The judge was due to rule about how much
Exxon was going to have to pay for this giant toxic dump site, where it
admitted its liability.
The state for 11 years had been asking for $9 billion. And at the
very last minute, the Christie administration asked the judge, please don`t
rule, and said that they instead were negotiating a settlement with Exxon,
an out of court settlement.
They twice asked the judge to hold off on his expected ruling. And
then, “The New York Times” published a report about this that landed like a
bomb shell. The state might have been asking for $9 billion, but
apparently, the settlement was for $250 million, a quarter of $1 billion.
That`s a 97 percent discount for Exxon compared to what the state had
At first, “The Times” report it`d would be $250 million. Then it was
reported that Governor Christie`s counsel was directly involved in the
settlement talks. So, the governor`s office, not just the attorney general
in the state, but the governor`s office. Then, they announced the
settlement amount publicly, turns out it wasn`t even $250 million, it was
Then, “The Times” did the math on what they could figure out about
the attorney`s fees on the case, and they found that actually, New Jersey
would not even get $250 million, or $225 million, it would be more like
$180 million. Around this time, people in New Jersey started saying, hey,
where is my $9 billion from Exxon?
And Chris Christie has been getting asked about it on the campaign
trail. So far, his answer has been that this is a great deal. People
should be excited about it.
People do not seem excited about it. There remain these unexplained
questions about why didn`t they let the judge rule. What should the state
have expected to get had they not settled for this unexpectedly small
amount of money. Why did Chris Christie`s office directly intervene in
what was being worked on by the attorney general`s office? After 11 years,
the attorney general`s gets this encroachment from the governor`s office at
the very last minute, and all of a sudden, there is a settlement? What`s
up with that?
I mean, there is simple, easy to understand, totally open questions
about this Exxon deal, and questions that go unanswered are questions that
keep getting asked, particularly when someone is trying to run for
And we now know what became clear this week, what became clear today,
specifically, is this thing is not going away any time soon. This is going
to go on for awhile.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: If you are going to fight this in court, what would be the
legal argument against the deal?
STATE SEN. RAYMOND LESNIAK (D), NEW JORK: The legal argument is that
this settlement shocks the conscience, that is arbitrary and capricious.
And the procedure is, there will be a public comment period beginning on
April 9th. When the settlement is published in the New Jersey record,
we`re going to comment on that. And that will give us standing to appeal
any decision that is ultimately made.
I made two requests. The first one is due today. What are the
chances of them giving me anything today?
If I have to go – yes, I don`t expect anything but we`ll go to court
to make sure we get all of those documents.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: So, here we go, public records requests. Why did you arrive
at that settlement? Why did you intervene in this court case to get this
settlement? Public comment period? What are you, the New Jersey public
think about this settlement?
People participating the public comment period just so they can get
standing, just so they can sue at the end of the public comment period when
the judge decides whether or not this Exxon deal is bogus, or whether or
not he`s going to OK it. If he OKs it, all these people, they`ve got
standing, they file lawsuits against Chris Christie and this Exxon deal, to
force them to explain how this happened. What happened to New Jersey`s $9
billion? What Exxon to get this 90 percent off deal when it comes to their
stinking sulfuric hell gate that welcomes travelers to the Garden State?
Bridgegate is still not over and Chris Christie, for whatever reason,
just put it front and center in his New Hampshire campaign effort as he is
running for president and he desperately needs to do well.
The Exxon thing is getting bigger, and not smaller. It`s already a
national news story. It is guaranteed now to stretch on for months unless
someone comes up with answers to these big, obvious, easy to ask questions
that Chris Christie is not only getting asked about in New Jersey, he`s
already getting asked about it all over the country. And Jeb Bush stole
his lunch money.
And look at his numbers – this is the new NBC/”Wall Street Journal”
poll that just came out this week. It was an interesting way to post the
questions to Republican primary voters in this poll. They were asked if
they could see themselves supporting each of these potential candidates for
president, sort of a no pressure poll, right? You just had to say whether
you could potentially see yourself supporting a particular candidate some
time in the future. No commitment. Could you ever see yourself supporting
Fifty-seven percent of Republican primary voters nationwide said at
no time in the future could they even imagine themselves ever supporting
Chris Christie for president, 57 percent.
All of these other potential candidates scored higher than him. The
only candidate they dislike more than Chris Christie is Onaldy Omptrey (ph)
that guy. Seriously, that`s the territory that Chris Christie is in.
The Beltway press is, I think, sometimes slow to adjust on these
things because of what their Beltway conversation is about, which is about
donors and money, and lobbyists, right. Even beyond that, those poll
numbers are shockingly low numbers for somebody who is still sometimes
considered and still sometimes described as a tier one candidate, right?
As a potential front runner.
And yes, things charge. First Republican primaries and caucuses are
still months away, but this week, Democratic voters freaked out out-loud
about Hillary Clinton and the Republican field very quietly rid itself of
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie as a national contender.
Everybody is expected to have a little baggage, but what he has taken
just as of this week, he looks sunk. He`s done.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRICIA MCKINNEY, TRMS SENIOR PLANNING PRODUCER: This is in
preparation for the upcoming Friday night news dump. We need to pick some
prizes to give our player.
MADDOW: Is this like the swag delivery advice?
MCKINNEY: I found – OK, I`m going to save this one for last.
MCKINNEY: So, the first thing is, look here, found this in the
drawer. No memory whatsoever.
MADDOW: May I touch it? Is it plastic or –
MADDOW: It`s a creepy fingerless black plastic glove.
MCKINNEY: Ill-fitting as well.
MADDOW: It fits somebody I`m sure. I don`t know why –
MCKINNEY: Second –
MADDOW: Who`s drawer?
MCKINNEY: The prop drawer, we have a drawer crammed of junk and
every week, I look in there for new things. And every week, I find
something I didn`t find the week before. So, I think we have elves, one of
them in here. And also this, I have no idea.
MADDOW: Does it squeak?
MCKINNEY: No, it does nothing.
MADDOW: A finger parrot. No, it`s just a –
MCKINNEY: It`s just a parrot. An ex-parrot, no idea why.
MCKINNEY: Those are the two mysteries. This one I found by the
printer, in the sort of no man`s land by the printer. I was like, what is
this box? Look at it. It was a black box demonstration of what happens
when you launder money, dirty money –
MADDOW: I`m having a flash back. Yes, I remember.
MCKINNEY: The dirty money comes in the black box.
MADDOW: It comes out –
MCKINNEY: This was in the prop theater.
MADDOW: Wow. This was, OK, this was a campaign finance –
MCKINNEY: No, I think it was like the heist story, I don`t know,
money laundering –
MADDOW: Well, I feel like there is a logistic logistical concern
about sending this because it is large.
MCKINNEY: Well, I don`t have to send everything. I could send one
of the bags, or –
MADDOW: OK. Can we – I mean, it depends on where on contestant is
from and what the preferences. I say we give them the choice of creepy,
inexplicable plastic glove or fake bag of money.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I`m embarrassed for
them. For them to address a letter to who they claim is our mortal enemy,
and their argument is don`t deal with our president because you can`t trust
him to follow through on an agreement. That`s close to unprecedented.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: President Obama in an interview with Vice News, that has a
drumming soundtrack. The president says he is embarrassed for the 47
Republican senators who decided to write their letter to Iran this week.
In the aftermath of that letter, I`m not sure if the Republican
signers of that letter are themselves embarrassed that they signed and sent
it. But some of them have started to express a little regret, or at least
come with up some regretful sounding excuses for why they did what they
First, Senator John McCain told my friend Greta Van Susteren at FOX
News, quote, “Maybe that wasn`t the best way to do that.”
Then, Republican staffers told “The Daily Beast” that actually the
whole thing was supposed today be a joke. Quote, “The administration has
no sense of humor.” They said, “We meant it to be a lighthearted thing.”
Just a lighthearted letter to the ayatollah. “We thought it would be
cheeky.” Two different Republicans given reporters that word, “cheeky”.
Then, Senator McCain came up with another explanation. He says the
whole thing only happened because it was snowing. Quote, “It was kind of a
very rapid process, everybody was looking forward to getting out of town
because of the snowstorm.” Nobody could concentrate because of the snow,
so we just signed whatever it was and got out of town. Snow – makes it
hard to think.
And that`s how 47 Republican U.S. senators ended up sending a letter
to the ayatollah.
Well, today, we got a new one. Today, Republican Senator Ron Johnson
said the problem with the letter is that it was addressed wrong.
You know, wrong zip code. That darn zip code.
As Republicans have tried to claw this thing back. The nation`s
editorial pages have been fairly exploding over this issue.
From “The New York Times” today, “Republican idiocy on Iran.” “The
L.A. Times”, “This puts Republicans on the same side as Iranian
hardliners.” The Metro West Daily News” in Massachusetts says “GOP
senators dumb distractive letter.” Bee says it`s beyond the pale. New
Jersey`s “Bergen Record” says “it`s a shameful stunt.” Alabama Aniston`s
Star” calls the letter ignoble.
Senator Tom Cotton`s home state of Arkansas, he`s the senator who
wrote the letter. “The Arkansas Democrat Gazette” says, “If this letter is
an example of Cotton`s leadership in Washington, then he`s still got a lot
There are dozens and dozens and dozens of these in papers large and
small, editorials all across the country ripping what these dozens of
Republican senators did.
And so, what happens next? I mean, what is the impact here of this
debacle, this debacle of an egg that 47 Republican senators laid this week.
What happens to them? What happens to American foreign policy politics
that pretty much everybody believes these guys just screwed this particular
stunt up so badly?
Because meanwhile, the other really radical thing that Republicans
just did on the issue of Iran was invite Israel`s prime minister to come
speak to a joint session of Congress on the subject of Iran while he is
right in the middle of trying to get reelected back at home in Israel.
Republicans thought that his speech to Congress would be really helpful to
It does not at all seem to have changed the dynamic here, or the
administration`s thinking about the negotiations with Iran at all. But
Prime Minister Netanyahu`s chances of reelection in Israel seem to have
dropped considerably since that address.
Israel`s elections are on Tuesday. The latest poll out today shows
that he may not be reelected. He is down by four points.
Joining us now is Steve Clemons, editor at large for “The Atlantic”.
Steve, it`s great to see you. Thanks for your time tonight.
STEVE CLEMONS, THE ATLANTIC: Good to be with you, Rachel.
MADDOW: This letter this week from 47 Republican senators, we`re
still talking about it at the end of the week, which means it doesn`t feel
like another dumb thing that happened in Congress. It feels like a big
Was this enough of a big deal to potentially reorient things at all
CLEMONS: Yes, even though many people are backtracking on the
letter, this letter is highly consequential because Tom Cotton has
demonstrated something we have seen Ted Cruz and other colleagues in the
House do, a willingness to diminish America, diminish its interest, do
anything to diminish the president, to shutting down the government, not
funding DHS, whatever it may be, across a whole variety of policy
spectrums, and they brought it into the sacred area of national security
where bipartisanship has traditionally been the norm, not always.
And they are likely to continue to do this. You know, the power of
one vote, one senator to disrupt matters is very, very high in the Senate.
And I imagine that they`ve opened a Pandora`s Box in whether a Republican
or Democrat is in the White House. They`ve really caused problems that are
going to continue to have that effect.
MADDOW: How does the reaction to the letter inflict that, though?
Because this really is being decried as a humiliating disaster – I mean,
not just in Democratic circles, not just from the White House, but in
mainstream circles. I mean, I think that`s why I highlighted those
editorials, in papers large and small across the country. I mean, on the
Republican side, do they not see this as a disaster even as everybody else
CLEMONS: Some see it in the GOP and the GOP is going to run into
different corners. I mean, the real master of the Senate today who signed
that letter was shocking and it`s why you had so many other GOP ducklings
follow was Mitch McConnell. He gave space for people to not think about
this and just sign up.
Tom Cotton did something provocative, very distinctive. John McCain
really regrets signing that letter. People like Bob Corker, the chairman
of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, who looks like the Richard Lugar
of the day, much more judicious, much more constructive, differs with the
president, but much more respected the White House in the process, you now
have different camps in the GOP that I think are going to go to war with
And so, while many disdained and have regret about what they did,
this has opened up fissures that are going to be resilient and continue to
do battle within the Republican Party and probably do damage to the nation
as a whole.
MADDOW: Steve, on the issue of Benjamin Netanyahu in the wake of his
very controversial visit here, controversial both in Israel and here, right
leading up to his reelection effort, his poll numbers, obviously, polls
aren`t everything – do you think this visit here ended up harming him at
home? And if he ends up losing as prime minister, and it`s seen as being
connected to this visit, how does that change things both for them and for
CLEMONS: Well, I think that many of the things Netanyahu did both
here and also in the “Charlie Hebdo”, after the “Charlie Hebdo” attacks in
Paris, where he sort of angled himself in, made him look overly desperate
in this kind of pugnaciousness that he`s brought to the game, which he
thought was effective for running for campaign. Looks as if, at least
today, it may have backfired.
The problem with the Israeli elections is if his party comes in
number two, another one comes in number one, but is unable to form a
government, you may see Netanyahu back in the game. So, we shouldn`t
basically overthink this until you see the election results. If he does
lose, if he`s not in, then I think it chastens the Republicans a bit, and I
think it gives the White House an opportunity to restore the sense that it
matters, that it`s the defining edge of what`s going on in foreign policy
and it knocks back some of this pugnaciousness and irresponsibility we`ve
seen from the House and the Senate recently.
MADDOW: Steve Clemons, editor at large for “The Atlantic” – Steve,
it`s great to see you. Thanks for being here tonight, my friend.
CLEMONS: Great to see you, Rachel. Thanks.
MADDOW: All right. Still ahead tonight, a big development in the
story that we have been tracking on this show for a very long time. It`s a
serious story. It`s most specific to Texas, but it has national
implications. And that story is right here, ahead.
MADDOW: We still got that Texas story ahead. But this is something
to keep an eye on tonight and into tomorrow. We are watching a truly giant
storm in the South Pacific. It is a huge and potentially destructive storm
that somewhat incongruous is called Cyclone Pam.
The island nation of Vanuatu has already been getting hit by this
category 5 monster. It`s got winds of 174 miles an hour, significant storm
surges. There`s been flooding already in Vanuatu`s capital city. The
capital has been put on lockdown. There are reports of power being out and
there`d be no running water.
The United Nations is preparing an emergency response team for the
region. A U.N. official telling reporters there tonight, quote, “We fear
We will keep you updated on this as we learn more about this. We
keep an eye on it. Again, it is Cyclone Pam hitting the South Pacific
MADDOW: This is a story you have not heard. The state of Texas
executed another of its prisoners this week by means of lethal injection,
compared to the drawn-out horror show botched executions we`ve seen in
other states recently, Texas executions have been going more smoothly.
They ate least have been going as planned.
But the Texas death penalty system is still right now kind of in
trouble, because Texas is running out of the drugs that they use to kill
their prisoners. They`ve only got enough drugs on hand to kill one more
guy, and they`ve got a whole lot more guys who they`re supposedly planning
to kill pretty soon.
How will they do it if they don`t have the drugs that they use for
their lethal injections? It is happening now in Texas. It`s an acute
crisis there, but it`s also happening in a bunch of states right now.
There is no drug that is manufactured for the purpose of being used
in a lethal injection. The prisons take drugs that are manufactured for
other purposes and they purposely misuse those drugs in a way that is
intended to cause a person`s death.
But those drugs aren`t made for that. They are made, and tested, and
proved for sale for totally different purposes to alleviate pain or to cure
things. And now, increasingly, the companies that make those drugs which
are being used in lethal injections, those companies are refusing to sell
their drugs to prisons anymore, because they know the prisons are buying
those drug to use them to kill people.
The drug companies are objecting and they are increasingly refusing
to go along with this process and it`s making things really complicated.
So, after this most recent execution this week, Texas has just one dose
left of what they like to use to kill people. They have half a dozen
executions scheduled with times, and dates, and everything, but they only
enough drugs to kill one more person.
So, Texas has this problem. South Carolina has it worse. South
Carolina just run out of their stockpile of execution drugs. They don`t
Georgia has had trouble getting them. At one point, Arizona was
buying their drugs from a black market supplier they found operating out of
the back of a driving school in west London in England. But when that came
out in the press, that source dried up too.
And the death penalty was controversial enough before states wanting
to carry out executions had to start improvising and scrounging around for
drugs, or trying to get special compounding pharmacies to make them home
made versions of these drugs that nobody will legally sell them. Even the
work-arounds are getting harder now.
And so, states are now turning to the backup plans for their backup
plans. Meet Yellow Mama. Yellow Mama is the Alabama is the state house –
excuse me, is the Alabama state execution chair. The Alabama state house
voted the other day to bring back Alabama`s old disused electric chair. If
the state finds that they can no longer logistically figure out how to get
the drugs to carry out their lethal injections any more.
Tennessee made that same decision last year. In Tennessee, they call
their chair Old Sparky.
In Utah this week, lawmakers voted that prisoners should be killed by
firing squad if the state of Utah can`t get ahold of the drugs that they
would normally like to use to kill people. They say the firing squad
worked OK. The last time that Utah did it, it worked find. If you didn`t
mind a little moving around on the part of the prisoner when you have your
employees shoot him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There is a strap across his forehead so he
couldn`t move his head. But I could see him moving his eyes.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was cleaner than I expected and it was fast.
But he moved. He moved a little bit.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Some of us I think weren`t sure if he had
passed away because we could see movement. He had his fist clenched, and
we can see his elbow moved up and down, and his some fingers rubbing
against each other.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Just a little wiggle, the elbow, maybe the fingers.
That was the last time Utah used a firing squad to kill one of their
prisoners. Now, Utah lawmakers have decided to reinstate the firing squad
option if they can`t get the drugs they want to execute prisoners the other
Utah`s Governor Gary Herbert says he hasn`t decided whether or not to
sign the firing squad bill. He says he finds the firing squad idea, quote,
“a little bit gruesome.”
In Texas, they`re not planning on using a firing squad as a backup or
an electric chair. In Texas, the backup plan the prison officials have
come up with now that they`re down to their last dose of their preferred
drug, they say if they can`t get more of their preferred drug, their backup
plan in Texas might be to switch drugs. The state of Texas thought ahead
last summer and they obtained 40 vials of a different drug, a sedative
called Midazolam. The state won`t say whether they intend to use that
Midazolam for executions until they run out of what they like to use.
Texas officials told us they are exploring all of their options,
including we guess, killing people with that Midazolam stuff they bought
last year. That particular drug, that sedative Midazolam, that was
involved in a string of botched executions recently in Ohio and Oklahoma
and Arizona, where prisoners writhing for a long time and gasping for
breath. In once case where they tried to kill a guy with Midazolam, it
took nearly two hours for the prisoner to die.
And if Texas really does want to switch to Midazolam to kill its
prisoners, well, now, they`ve got a new problem to contend with, too. In
January, a drug company called Akorn, they told the “Aniston Star”
newspaper in Aniston, Alabama, that they, too, were taking steps to stop
prisons from using their drug to kill people. They announced this new
policy, quote, “to prevent the use of our products in capital punishment,
Akorn will not sell any product directly to any prison or other
correctional institution, and we will restrict the sale of known components
of lethal injection protocols to a select group of wholesalers who all
agree to use their best efforts to keep these products out of correctional
So, that was surprising for us to hear because we asked Akorn about
that last year and they told us they didn`t have a policy and they didn`t
have any plans to make one. Now, they do have a policy and it`s a really
aggressive one. No sales of our drugs for executions, period.
And get this – this is the news here – they are also now asking for
their drugs back. Look at this, we have obtained this letter that the
company Akorn has just sent out to every state in the country that still
does execution executions and any state that has prisoners one death row.
The letter tells all of those states to please return whatever
supplies of Midazolam they might have on hand.
Dear penalty states, quote, “If your prisons have purchased Akorn
products directly or indirectly for use in capital punishment, we ask that
you immediately return our products for a full refund.”
This is a big shift for the company and potentially a problem for a
state like Texas where the office covered with execution drugs is almost
bare, but they still have that other drug at least, Midazolam. We don`t
know where Texas got its Midazolam. We don`t know if it came from Akorn.
The state of Texas so far has not answered our questions about it.
But if it is Akorn`s Midazolam, then, hey, state of Texas, right now,
you`re looking at a request from the company that they want it back and so
is Alabama, because they, too, have stockpiled that same drug even though
they too are not saying which company they got it from.
Over the past few days, we have been asking every company that makes
Midazolam about their policies on this. Of the nine we have found and
talked to, six of them tell us they will not sell it for executions or
allow it to be sold for executions. Three others have so far not responded
to our questions but we think they will.
I should mention here that the drug in question, Midazolam, it is
also now the subject of a U.S. Supreme Court challenge because of the spate
of recent gruesome executions. The Supreme Court is expected to hear that
case in the next few weeks. So, there is that to watch out for as well.
In the meantime, though, the next execution is scheduled for
Wednesday. If that happens, that will use up the last dose of the drug
that they have been using in that state to kill their prisoners one by one.
Once that drug is gone on Wednesday, if Texas wants to switch, honestly
nobody knows what`s going to happen. Legally, arguably morally, and now
logistically, it is chaos right now with the death penalty in this country.
Watch this space.
MADDOW: All right, this – or this? It`s fake. Which one is going
to be? This or this? It will all be clear in just a moment.
MADDOW: If you tend to tune out on the weekend, let this weekend be
an exception, because Sunday is the day when we as a nation start to max
out on our national credit card. You might remember the time a few years
ago when the U.S. had our national credit rating cut for the first time in
our history because Republicans in Congress refused to raise the debt
ceiling. That was four years ago, 2011.
But now, what`s old is new again, because after he hit the debt
ceiling on Sunday, the Treasury Department will have to start extraordinary
measures to keep us from defaulting. Those extraordinary measures can keep
the payments going and keep the government running through the fall, but
then who knows?
Next crisis, ready to go and it starts Sunday morning. I will be the
one hiding under the covers.
MADDOW: Happy Friday. Here comes the truck.
It`s the Friday night news dump. Yay.
Producer Nick Tutz, who`s playing tonight?
NICK TUTZ, TRMS PRODUCER: Tonight, we have Aimee Black from San
Diego, California. She was brought up on politics. She loves all outdoor
activities, and she has a 9-year-old son named Rex.
Rachel, this is Aimee.
MADDOW: Aimee Black, very nice to meet you.
AIMEE BLACK, SAN DIEGO, CA: Rachel, I am so excited to meet you.
You are so awesome.
MADDOW: Oh, I`m not at all, but I`m glad you`ve been duped into
When you say you were brought up on politics, what does that mean?
BLACK: That means that my father was very like mom, staunch
Democrat, and he was very into political shows. He brought me up on “Meet
the Press” and (INAUDIBLE) and Wall Street Week in Review and I can`t even
date a Republican. He`s just so into that type of stuff. So –
MADDOW: All right. If you never need a doctor`s note to excuse a
date with a Republican, just give me a call. I`m not that kind of doctor.
All right. I`m going to ask you three questions. You probably know
how this works. If you get two or more of them right, Nick, what will
TUTZ: You will win the Rachel Maddow drink mixer.
MADDOW: It`s a tiny cocktail shaker.
We also have an extra credit prize/consolation prize, which is
something random we found in our office. And tonight, I believe we are
giving you a choice between two particularly worthless prizes, both of
which are a little bit gross.
Nick, what are the random office choices?
TUTZ: The first one is this weird fingerless glove.
BLACK: That`s awesome.
MADDOW: It`s plastic. It`s plastic. We think it`s plastic.
TUTZ: I think it`s like a plasti-pleather.
MADDOW: OK. All right. What`s the other one?
TUTZ: And the other one is these two money bags. There`s no money
in them. This money bag and this money bag, and it`s from a segment that
we did way back when you were talking about cleaning money, where you would
put one in the box.
MADDOW: Oh, money laundering.
TUTZ: And pull it out, yes. And we have a little video for it.
MADDOW: So that`s how we used it. Very good. As seen on TV.
So you get to choose between those if we get to that point in the
game. We also need to bring in the disembodied voice of Steve Benen from
Maddow Blog, the man who determines the rightness and wrongness of all
Steve, meet Aimee.
STEVE BENEN, MADDOW BLOG: Good evening to you both.
MADDOW: Good evening.
BLACK: Hi, Steve.
MADDOW: All right. Aimee, ready for your first question?
BLACK: I am.
MADDOW: Tuesday`s show. On Tuesday`s show, we talked about the
letter to Iran in which 47 Republican U.S. senators try to school Iran`s
leaders about the U.S. Constitution. We also reported that the president
of Iran holds a PhD from a highly regarded Western University. So this is
your question. Where did Iranian President Rouhani get his PhD? Was it,
A, Sweden, B, Canada, C, Scotland, or D, Cambridge, Mass, our fair city,
he`s a Harvard guy.
BLACK: I`ll go with D.
MADDOW: Cambridge, Mass, he`s a Harvard guy.
Steve, did Aimee get it right?
BENEN: Let`s check the segment from Tuesday`s show.
MADDOW: All right.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Glasgow Caledonian boast a few notable staff and alumni,
including two very well known international leaders. The current president
of Iran, Hassan Rouhani, got his PhD there in 1999.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BENEN: Yes, the correct answer is C, Scotland. I`m afraid Aimee did
not get that correct.
MADDOW: You know what? There are more chances ahead, including
right now. Don`t worry. You only need two right to win the good prize.
BLACK: I want the cocktail shaker.
MADDOW: You know, just keep hope alive, Aimee.
All right. This is from Wednesday`s show. On Wednesday, we talked
about former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton turning over roughly 30,000
e-mails to the State Department. How did she hand over those 30,000 e-
BLACK: In paper!
MADDOW: Did she A, put them on a thumb drive, B, print them out and
deliver the hard copy printouts, C, forward them to an official State
Department address, or D, post them on WikiLeaks? Did you say –
BLACK: It`s B, it`s B.
MADDOW: B, paper.
BENEN: Let`s take a look at from Wednesday`s show.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Those messages warranting preservation as records must be
printed out and filed. They can`t handle it if you forward them to them.
When it comes to e-mail, the State Department archives paper that are
printouts of e-mails.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BENEN: Yes, I think this is the first time we ever had anyone jump
in with the answer before hearing the options. Nevertheless, Aimee,
correct answer is B.
MADDOW: Correct with an exclamation point.
All right. Bringing that momentum into your last question. This is
from last night`s show. We reported towards the end of last night`s show
that one poor state is now beleaguered by two mysterious and gross unsolved
repeated neighborhood attacks.
In one community in the state, a house has been egged hundreds of
times and nobody can tell where the eggs are coming from or how to stop
them. And in a community nearby in the same state, somebody keeps
defecating on parked cars.
Which state is suffering through hundreds of unsolved eggings and
hundreds of unsolved pooppings? Is this, A, Oregon, B, Utah, C, Oklahoma,
or D, Ohio?
BLACK: It`s Ohio.
MADDOW: Steve, do you have the answer for us?
BENEN: Let`s check last night`s segment.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: In the Cleveland, Ohio suburb of Euclid, Ohio, there`s a
house that`s been pelted my hundreds of eggs over the past year.
TV ANCHOR: A man in Akron wanted by police for defecating on cars.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BENEN: Poor Ohio. Anyway, yes, the correct is D, and Amy is
MADDOW: Nick, tell us, did Aimee win the prize?
TUTZ: She did!
MADDOW: And, Amy, because you were the first person to ever jump in
without the benefit of multiple choice, you also get the other thing.
Would you prefer the gross plasticized glove or the inexplicable props?
BLACK: I take the money bags. I change my mind, the money bags.
MADDOW: All right. We`re going to send you Aimee “money bags”
Black, we`re going to send you that stuff. Thank you so much. It was
great to meet you, Aimee.
BLACK: Thank you. It was awesome.
MADDOW: See, she came right back.
All right. If you want to play, send us an e-mail, Rachel@msnbc.com,
who are you, where are you from, why do you want to play. That`s all you
need to tell us. There`s cheap stuff in our office with your name on it.
Now, go to prison.
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