The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 05/27/15
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chris. Thank you, my
CHRIS HAYES, ALL IN: You bet.
MADDOW: And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour.
Huge show tonight. It`s been an amazing news day today.
We`ve got really big, dramatic news coming tonight from a deep red
state, a deep red state doing something that nobody expected from such a
For the interview later on tonight, we`ve got exactly the person you
want to hear from live on the biggest news story in the world today.
We`ve got a lot coming up this hour. I`m very excited about
But we start tonight with this – because we started this as
basically kind of a joke – the Republican field of candidates and likely
candidates for 2016. We started this as a graphic, this thing you see on
your screen, basically as a joke to show how many people were running or
were likely to run. It`s such a big field. It`s such a big field that
there`s – basically not enough room to get these guys names up there,
along with their faces.
And we figured when we first made kind of funny graphic – well, yes,
OK, we figured there are 22 Republican candidates or possible candidates
for president this year, but it`s early days. We won`t be stuck with this
graph for long, a lot of these guys will drop out very soon. We`ll have a
much easier visual to work with soon enough.
That`s what we thought would happen. That`s not at all how it has
worked out. We started with 22 candidates and likely candidates. That was
So far, we`ve only been able to poof three little Republican heads
off that very crowded screen. The first one we were able to take off the
list was Michigan Governor Rick Snyder. Poof. Second one we were able to
take off the list was U.N. Ambassador John Bolton. Poof. And then it was
Indiana Governor Mike Pence. Poof. Bye-bye.
That was three of them. Bye-bye. Three of them saying they won`t
run. But we still got 19 little Republican heads up there, and we are
still at 19. And maybe we are not going to go down from that number at
all. At least we`re not going to any time soon.
I mean, we can add this, right? These people with little red boxes
around them, they have formally confirmed that they are in. All of these
people have formally declared they are running for the Republican
nomination for president in 2016.
But it`s very clear they`re not going to be the hole field, it`s not
just that we`re going to add the obvious and famous people like Jeb Bush
and Scott Walker to that list, and we will eventually have to add them.
It`s now becoming clear that even the most obscure and anonymous remaining
people on our potential list are not going to be poofed off this list
either. They`re just not opting out. Nobody`s opting out any more.
One after the other, they keep either announcing that they`re in or
signaling that they`re going to be in. Like, for example, this guy, do you
recognize this man? Could you pick this man out of a lineup? Could you
pick him out of this specific lineup?
I mean no offense by that – I just mean to say, by virtue of his
deep national obscurity, and honestly, his lack of any distinguishing
political characteristics in this field, this guy was one of my personal
top contenders for a guy who would take a look around and decide not to
actually run. But alas and behold, “The Washington Post” reports today
that he, Ohio Governor John Kasich, is in.
Today, his long time friends and strategists close to him told “The
Washington Post” that John Kasich will formally join the race for the
Republican nomination for president sometime after June 30th. And it turns
out John Kasich might be kind of a fun addition to the race. The last time
he ran for president was the year 2,000. When George W. Bush chased John
Kasich and everybody else out of the Republican field by just blowing
everybody away in terms of early fundraising and early endorsements.
John Kasich talking to “The Washington Post” about the fact that he`s
going to – he`s going to run this year again. He was asked about that
experience in 2000, and he told “The Post”, quote, “I didn`t get scared out
in 2000, I got destroyed out. I had no money and no oxygen.” That`s what
happened to him in 2000 when he ran against George W. Bush.
“The Post” then asked him about the prospect of doing it again, the
prospect of running against another front running Bush brother who`s trying
to push everybody out of the race with early showoffy fund-raising and all
the rest. But check out what John Kasich had to say about running against
Jeb Bush this year.
This is from today`s article, Dan Balz and Robert Costa in “The
Washington Post”. Look, “Asked in this recent interview whether his
message would be similar to Jeb Bush`s message, John Kasich said, `I don`t
know anything about Bush`s theme. I really don`t. I`ve never listened to
him. What`s Right to Rise? Getting up in the morning?`” Right to Rise is
the name of Jeb Bush`s super PAC.
So, Ohio Governor John Kasich, I mean, (a), even though he`s the
governor of Ohio, sadly at least for now, he`s totally unrecognizable and
indistinguishable from all of the other candidates in the field. At least
he will be to most Americans looking at him in the midst of this giant
field of contenders, (a). But, (b), he`s apparently going to run anyway.
And (c), if his initial quotes about running are anything to go by, let
alone his well-known tendency toward emotional outbursts in Ohio politics,
John Kasich might end up being fun to watch, if we can just remember which
one he is when it comes to putting a camera on a guy who think is John
Kasich, is that him?
But it`s not at all. In today`s news of this sort, though, because
John Kasich`s leading competitor for the national Republican figure least
likely to be recognized in a crowded room is this guy. OK, who is he?
His name is – I mean, do you know what his name is? I mean, hit
pause, ask anybody near you. Does anyone in the room watching TV with you
right now, know who this man is? Do you have any guesses as to who this
His name starts with a J sound. That`s helpful, John something
maybe? Jim something maybe? Joe? No.
His name is George – now do you know who he is? Nope? Time`s up.
His name is George Pataki. That`s him.
George Pataki also apparently sees no reason not to run for president
this year. We`re talking about George Pataki on television not because he
is formally bowing out of the race for president. He is going to run.
He`s going to make his official announcement tomorrow that he`s in the
running for the Republican nomination for president of the United States.
That feeling in your chest is your heartstrings thrumming.
And then there`s the other big news today. More reaction to get to
put another box on the list, we get another I`m in formal declaration from
another Republican contender in today`s news. The announcement happened
today in Butler County, Pennsylvania. And it was made by Rick Santorum.
Rick Santorum is now the seventh candidate to make it official. And
lots more still to come apparently.
It is traditional for candidates to announce in their home state.
So, Rick Santorum did that today. It`s a little awkward for Rick Santorum
to announce in his home state of Pennsylvania because the last time Rick
Santorum ran for office in Pennsylvania, he lost his incumbent U.S. Senate
seat by 18 points to a man who makes George Pataki look like Mr. Charisma,
Democratic U.S. Senator Bob Casey – God bless him – beat Rick Santorum in
2006. When Rick Santorum was the incumbent senator, Bob Casey beat him by
18 points, and Bob Casey today still holds that U.S. Senate seat.
But true fact, when Rick Santorum bounced back after that devastating
loss in his home state and decided that six years later in 2012, he would
run for president, Rick Santorum actually did great in that race in 2012.
Yes, it was Mitt Romney who ultimately won the nomination for the
Republican Party in 2012. But the guy who very clearly came in second to
Mitt Romney in the race for the nomination in 2012 was Rick Santorum.
I mean you might remember in 2012, the Iowa caucuses were all screwed
up that year, But when they finally did count the votes in the caucuses in
2012, it was Rick Santorum who won Iowa. Rick Santorum then went on to win
10 more states after Iowa, more states than anybody won against Mitt
And that has set Rick Santorum up to make a compelling argument about
why he ought to be seen as a top tier contender this time, if not the
nominee in waiting for the Republican Party. Rick Santorum told the RNC
spring meeting a couple of weeks ago this accurate truth about the modern
history of the Republican Party choosing its nominees for president.
He told the RNC a couple weeks ago, quote, “Since primaries and
caucuses went into effect, every single Republican nominee has met one of
three tests. One, they were vice president. Two, they were the son of a
former president. Or three, they came in second place the last time and
So, Rick Santorum is essentially saying, hey, look, Dick Cheney is
not on the ballot. So, it`s either Jeb Bush, son of a president, or me,
the guy who came in second last time. And if we`re going to go on the
merits rather than nepotism, frankly, I came in second last time, so I am
next in line to win the Republican nomination this time.
It is an accurate historical argument, whether it`s a good case to be
made for how people should think of his candidacy. Republican beltway
types do not seem to think that Rick Santorum has a chance in 2016.
But honestly, they`re not asking me? Honestly, though, Rick Santorum
is the best natural speaker of all of the Republican candidates who are
running or who have considered running this year, all 22 of them. Social
conservative issues like being anti-gay or anti-abortion, if those are
important issues to Republican voters again this year, which the beltway
tends to underestimate but tends to be very important for Republican
voters, if social conservative issues are important to Republican voters
again this year, Rick Santorum has stronger bona fides on those issues than
anybody else running, anybody.
And strategically, what Rick Santorum has decided to foreground in
his campaign this year, what he`s decided to run on is something that the
beltway types hate, but real people tend to really like. This is the cover
of his last book, “Blue Collar Conservatives”.
He`s trying to run as the blue collar Republican champion. He`s
trying to run as a Republican economic populist, the guy who stands up for
the little guy, and beltway types tend to dismiss economic populism as
ridiculous, and they dismiss the prospect of the Republican populist as a
fairy tale. And honestly, economic populism has absolutely nothing to do
with how the Republican Party governs in Washington right now or any state
in the country right now.
But if Rick Santorum can do it, if he can define a Republican message
for the country, that is about helping regular people and not the rich, if
he can change the view of the Republican Party, they`re about regular
people and not rich people, that is a bull`s eye for the American
electorate if he can do it.
So, you know, the beltway writes him off. Just like the beltway
writes off Bernie Sanders, who is running on economic populism with an
exclamation point. But that is because the beltway does not get and has
never gotten economic populism.
People really like it. Beltway doesn`t get it, so the punditocracy
will rule these guys out on the basis of their ridiculous, old school,
Marxist-sounding message. But you know what? People will like it if they
get their message out.
And Rick Santorum in particular is the best communicator of all the
Republican candidates who are running or considering this year. So, if
anybody can get the message out, he can. On this economic populist thing
which the beltway does not get, both of these guys, both Bernie Sanders and
Rick Santorum, will do better than they are expected to do.
So, this is the field as it stands right now. Seven people
officially in. It will be eight as of tomorrow when George – sorry,
George Pataki dives right in.
But if guys like George Pataki and John Kasich and all the rest of
them are seeing no reason to bow out, it is possible that we will have a
field of 19 plus whoever we forgot to put on the list. And that field is
incredibly flat. The front-runners, honestly, nothing personally, they all
have deep flaws or in some cases lack important skills.
And the supposed also-rans, the supposedly lower tier candidates,
frankly, all have a pretty good story to tell. And if the 2012 Republican
presidential primary, in 2012, if it was amazing to watch that year,
because everybody in the primary was ridiculous at some level, the 2016
Republican primary this year is going to be amazing to watch because
everybody has got a shot. Legitimately, this field is not ridiculous, this
field is huge, but it`s refusing to un-crowd itself. This is going to be
so, so much fun to cover.
MADDOW: Whether or not you are a soccer fan – today, soccer was the
biggest news story in the world for all kinds of terrible reasons. But
here tonight for the interview is one of the stars of the U.S. national
soccer team, for real, right here, live. Seriously.
Stay with us.
MADDOW: Honestly, at the time, this might have qualified as the most
obscure political event in the nation. It happened on April 15th, Tax Day,
when people are distracted. That was this year.
It was an obscure little group that held a press conference to
announce that they were going to repeal the death penalty in a very
conservative state. They said they were going to do it in Nebraska.
Now, since the 1970s, lawmakers in Nebraska have voted over and over
and over again to keep the death penalty. They rejected dozens of bills to
shutdown death row in that state. But this new group in this low key press
conference said they were going to get it done and they were going to get
it done this year.
The guy you see here is a national leader of that group. His name is
Marc Hyden. He`s a veteran of conservative politics. Before he took this
job, he worked for the NRA, and he`s not made an exit from conservative
politics in order to take up this new cause. He said all along that he`s
working on ending the death penalty as part of the conservative cause.
He`s doing this as a conservative cause.
And this obscure new thing that he was doing, that he was working on
Nebraska, it did get some press locally, local paper noted that the new –
this year`s get rid of capital punishment law wasn`t just a Democratic
joint. It had 13 cosponsors and nine of them were Republicans. The
campaign also got some national press, the beloved lefty magazine, “Mother
Jones” covered it, I think in part because this is it the kind of thing
that liberals would be amazed to see happen in a conservative state.
But “Mother Jones” in their coverage threw some cold water on any
hopes about it. They said the bill is unlikely to become law. No chance,
right? I mean, you can line up conservatives, Republicans to a certain
extent, that doesn`t matter. In the end, the numbers were conservative
Nebraska will not let go of the death penalty.
But that group from the Tax Day event, Conservatives Concerned About
the Death Penalty, they weren`t just talking smack, they also had a grounds
game lined up. This guy, for instance, was their Nebraska coordinator.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MATT MALY, COORDINATOR: In favor of repealing the death penalty,
it`s so expensive. It can cost as much as 10 times as much to execute
someone as to keep them in prison for the rest of their life, and, you
know, we`re an organization that cares about limited government and we can
have a government that has the power to kill people or we can have a
government that doesn`t have the power to kill people.
And as a conservative and a kind of libertarian-leaning conservative,
I always favor government with less power.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: I always favor government with less power.
This conservative group with their surprising but cogent conservative
cause, they started on Tax Day when conservatives are railing about the IRS
and the size of government. They kicked off their campaign in earnest in
They decided that in order to get this thing done, they would have to
take on the well-financed, well-connected new Republican governor of
Nebraska, his name is Pete Ricketts. He is a Republican. He used to run
the online trading company Ameritrade. His father founded the company and
now owns the Chicago Cubs.
Pete Ricketts comes from money and power. And in January, he became
the new governor of Nebraska. He won by 20 points to get the job. If
great striding confidence could be distilled into human form, it would look
a lot like Governor Pete Ricketts of Nebraska.
But when that attempt began to repeal the death penalty in his home
state, Governor Ricketts decided he was not going to be on the side of the
conservative groups, he was going to stand up for the death penalty in his
And Governor Ricketts did two things to try to stop the repeal effort
and keep the death penalty system in place. First, he did this very bold
thing and placed an orders for lethal injection drugs with a company in
Like a bunch of death penalty states, like all death penalty states,
Nebraska didn`t have a way to get lethal injection drugs any more. Pete
Ricketts said he would get some, he`d buy them in India, and have them
shipped to Nebraska. His office told us they expect to get the first
shipment in June.
I think Governor Ricketts meant that to be persuasive to Republicans
who don`t mind the idea of the death penalty in principle but who were
worried in a conservative good government way about the way it was working
or not working in Nebraska. He meant this announcement about the new
purchase of drugs to be persuasive that the death penalty could work in his
state, that it was a working system and the governor had fixed it.
And for some people, I think that was persuasive. The Omaha police
union last week put out a statement saying that they didn`t want the death
penalty to be repealed in part because the system was fixed, the lethal
injection drugs would soon be on the way, Governor Ricketts had said so.
One of the lawmakers who supported repealing the death penalty said, OK, he
changed because of what Pete Ricketts said about the drugs being on their
way. If the governor said the drugs were on their way, the system could be
fixed, the state could get those drugs and maybe it was true, maybe the
system could get work and there was no reason to object to it on good
Well, however persuasive it was to important stakeholders and
legislators in this argument, it turns out that Governor Ricketts` plan to
import those lethal injection drugs from India to Nebraska, it is a plan
that is not going to work. If that`s how they`re planning on fixing the
death penalty in that state, it`s not going to happen. And we know that
from this statement that we have obtained from the FDA.
The FDA tells us, quote, “With very limited exceptions which do not
apply here, it is unlawful to import this drug. And FDA would refuse its
admission into the United States.”
So, Governor Ricketts tried to hold on to the death penalty in part
by saying, don`t worry, I`m getting the drugs, I fixed the system, he`s not
fixed the system, he`s not getting those drugs.
But that was not the only thing that Governor Ricketts did to try to
stop this conservative uprising in his state. The governor also did an
impressive full court press, more than two dozen media interviews in which
he directly appealed to Republican legislators to change their vote. He
appealed to the public to put pressure on Republican legislators to do
that, and nobody knew if that would be enough.
The legislature passed the bill last week. Governor Ricketts vetoed
it, on Tuesday. Today, the sponsors of the bill were trying to override
that veto. At the outset, the governor needed to flip three votes to make
his veto stand. He had already flipped one with this thing he did about
ordering the drugs from India. Could Governor Ricketts get two more votes
today to keep the death penalty in place?
The debate today in Nebraska was very long. It was sometimes
personal. It was sometimes very difficult to listen to. It was so
But in the end, when they counted the votes, the governor had lost by
the narrowest possible means, the death penalty opponents had won. They
repealed it. They had voted to repeal it before, he vetoed it, they
overrode his veto with a single vote to spare, by the slimmest of margins,
by no margin really.
Nebraska today has done what a red state has not done for four
decades. Nebraska today got out of the business of capital punishment and
they did it with Republican votes against a very powerful and very well-
resourced Republican governor. And that powerful governor went up against
a group of conservatives who seemed to have no chance, and the group with
seemingly no chance won this one.
And you know what happens next? Today, the Conservatives Concerned
about the Death Penalty issued their own statement of striding confidence.
They say they weren`t surprised at all by what happened in Nebraska today.
They said they are now moving on to talk to conservatives around the nation
who will follow Nebraska`s example.
And after the way this has played out in Nebraska with this
remarkable and dramatic vote today, who`s to say they`re not right?
Joining us now is Nebraska State Senator Jeremy Norquist. He`s a
cosponsor of the bill to repeal the death penalty.
Senator Nordquist, thanks for being here today. This is a very big
day in your state.
STATE SEN. JEREMY NORDQUIST, NEBRASKA: It`s so great to be with you.
Truly, it is a historic day for Nebraska and the entire movement to repeal
the death penalty.
MADDOW: I said it was hard to watch some of the debate today in part
because it was so prickly, and it was a difficult debate. And at times it
was so personal, there was a lot of very personal religious reflection by a
lot of legislators, a lot of interpersonal conflict among them. But part
of it was just the drama of not knowing how it was going to turn out.
Did you know how it was going to turn out today heading into this
NORDQUIST: Well, ever since the governor vetoed the bill, we`ve been
having ongoing conversations with colleagues and it really came down to the
last minute. And until the votes were set on the board, we were a little
bit in doubt. And thank God that we were able to pull together 30 votes to
repeal the death penalty, but the governor cashed in all of his political
chips on this, and came up short.
MADDOW: There is a unique system in Nebraska in which you have a
single house in your legislature, there`s no House and Senate. It`s a
And also, it`s a sensibly a nonpartisan body, although we know from
Nebraska politics it`s a largely Republican institution, is what made the
difference this year that phenomenon of conservatives lobbying
conservatives on conservative terms. Obviously, there`s been a lot of
interest in the issue over the years, but is that what put it over the line
NORDQUIST: Well, you know, there`s been a committed block of us for
a number of years who stand behind repealing the death penalty for moral
reasons. And obviously, the data is on our side as far as public safety
and it not being a deterrence to crime.
But what really tipped it was this group of what I would call – you
know, they`re fiscally conservative individuals who just see the death
penalty as a wasteful government program right now, that in our state is
completely broken. It`s bordering on the ridiculous, as you mentioned in
your intro, bordering on the ridiculous, the steps we`re taking to try to
obtain the drugs to implement lethal injection, and we have failed and
failed and failed.
In 2009, my first year in the legislature, we fought hard to block
the bill to replace the electric chair which had been ruled
unconstitutional with lethal injection, and we couldn`t get 17 votes to
NORDQUIST: But now, we`ve been able to build a coalition with those
moderate fiscal conservatives who see this as a wasteful program. They see
it through pragmatic eyes rather than through dogmatic eyes.
MADDOW: Nebraska State Senator Jeremy Nordquist, this story about
what happened in Nebraska will be taught in political science classes in
years ahead. Just a remarkable story. I know you`ve been a key part of
this all along, sir. Thanks for helping us understand this tonight.
NORDQUIST: Glad to be with you, Rachel.
MADDOW: All right. Fascinating.
One of the things to watch on this story in Nebraska is whether or
not people who support the death penalty, including the governor, try to
get it back through some sort of popular referendum. We saw this work
through the legislature to get it repealed, including this incredible drama
today with overriding the governor`s veto. It will be interesting if they
put it to a vote. And what the organizers will be around that, and whether
or not the same tactics will work.
It`s a fascinating question and a very deep red state. Lots more
ahead tonight. Stay with us.
MADDOW: In November last year, the awesome New York City tabloid
paper, “The New York Daily News” published this report about soccer. And
it`s got all the great things that make tabloid reporting tabloid
So, because they`re talking about a guy turning states evidence and
helping the FBI, they call him in the headline, the Soccer Rat!
And even though it`s not particularly relevant to the story, “The
Daily News” goes out of their way to point out the guy in question is 450
pounds and when they want to call him corrupt, they call him corpulent and
corrupt. They give juicy, slightly unnecessary details about how the FBI
first picked the guy up on a Manhattan sidewalk, but also you get the pure
tabloid ooze that at the time, he was riding a mobility scooter down that
Manhattan sidewalk when the FBI nabbed him and he was riding that mobility
scooter, quote, “to a pricey Manhattan restaurant.”
They also point out that he was a regular at Table 4 at a fancy
restaurant called Elaine`s. And that he only live his lavish lifestyle at
the Trump Tower apartments, but that he actually held down two Trump Tower
apartments, one that cost $18,000 a month for himself, and one adjacent
that cost $6,000 a month for his cats. His cats had their own apartment in
the Trump Tower.
I learned today in “The New York Times” that he also used to wear a
live parrot around as an accessory. But months ahead of “The Times”
teaching me that today, there was “The Daily News” last November with their
scoop about the cat apartment and everything else you would want to know
and more, about how the top soccer executive in the United States lived so
large and by implication, how he live so large.
“The Daily News” had the scope on him turning states evidence back in
some kind of FBI investigation back in November. Well, today, we learned
the results of that investigation as Attorney General Loretta Lynch and
James Comey, the head of the FBI, announced a 47-count indictment against
14 different people involved at the highest levels of the world`s most
International soccer is a multibillion dollar affair. And today`s
indictment says executives at the top of that sport figured out how to turn
it into – how to turn that multibillion dollar business into millions of
dollars for themselves.
Some of the evidence in the case was gleaned through the not terribly
willing corporation of former U.S. soccer bigwig Chuck Blazer who walked
right into the fed`s clutches or rolled right into the fed`s clutches when
he refused to file income taxes or explain the source of his lavish
lifestyle, cat apartment included.
We learned today as part of the unveiling of this big case and
international soccer that Chuck Blazer secretly pled guilty to 10 counts in
November 2013 involving his taxes and lots else besides. The evidence he
apparently secretly recorded on a secret key chain recorder, among his
former colleague at the highest echelons of international soccer, and the
other results of years long FBI investigation, turned into blunt
allegations today that basically everything up and down the food chain of
international soccer, everything from which countries get major matches and
the World Cup, to who gets to run FIFA and thereby collect and channel all
the bribe money, to who gets the marketing deals and the distribution
rights to the games – everything has for years been for sale.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LORETTA LYNCH, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: In short, these individuals
through these organizations engaged in bribery to decide who would televise
games, where the games would be held and who would run the organization
overseeing soccer worldwide. They did this over and over, year after year,
tournament after tournament.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: It is a little bit of a weird irony to see the attorney
general of the United States bring these charges, right, and to see all of
these international soccer executives face arrest abroad, and then face
extradition to the United States to face these charges. It`s a weird irony
because, honestly, the U.S. is thought of as one of the only countries in
the world, the only large country in the world that isn`t as in love with
soccer as the rest of the world is. As evidenced by the fact that we call
a whole different sport football.
But this thing is a U.S. investigation, it`s U.S. charges. It may
have been the U.S. cat apartment guy who`s saving his own skin evidence led
to today`s 47-part indictment.
So, if you are an American international soccer star, if you are a
star on the American national soccer team, today has to be a truly bizarre
and perhaps distracting day. One of those stars is here next for the
Stay with us.
MADDOW: On May 10th, Mother`s Day, the U.S. national soccer team
played an international match against Ireland in San Jose, California. And
the U.S. women`s team beat Ireland 3-zip. The stadium they played in holds
about 18,000 people, it was a sellout game.
The next game was May 17th – which is the previous – last Sunday.
They have another big international match against a tough opponent. It was
the U.S. versus Mexico. They played at the stub hub center, which is a
soccer arena in the L.A. area. The capacity of that arena is 27,000, that
was also a sold out game. In that match on May 17th, the U.S. women beat
Now, this upcoming Sunday, May 30th, the U.S. women`s national team
has a match against South Korea, another tough opponent. They`re going to
play at the Red Bull Arena, that arena holds over 25,000 people and again
that is expected to be a sold out game.
I just checked online before we got on the air, there are still some
tickets available. But by game time Sunday, all of those tickets are
expected to be gone.
These are their last three matches. This match on Sunday will be
their final match before the start of the World Cup, which is being held in
Canada this year.
So, there`s kind of a lot of drama around the World Cup for the U.S.
women`s national team, right, because – I mean, yes, the World Cup is
always a big deal, but there`s always these lingering worries that maybe
Americans aren`t all that into soccer, the way that people are into soccer
in other countries.
Well, this year, all of the women`s teams send off matches, all of
them are selling out. Last time they played the World Cup four years ago
that wasn`t the case. This year they`re selling them all out. People are
super pumped, that`s part of it.
The other part of the legit drama around this World Cup, is the for
some God forsaken reason, the women are being forced to play on artificial
turf. The men don`t have to play on artificial turf. They get to play on
But for the women`s World Cup, all the practice fields and all of the
game fields are artificial turf. And the players are mad about it. But
the World Cup is forcing them to do that anyway. So, that`s not positive
drama, that`s negative drama, it`s still dramatic.
And then on top of all that, the charmers who are making the women
play on artificial turf are an outfit you may have heard of called FIFA,
which distinguished itself today by having its top tier of executives
indicted by the U.S. Justice Department in a 47-count indictment, having
them all extradited from all over the world to the United States, to face
racketeering and corruption charges totaling more than $150 million in ill-
gotten gains and rigged bids and bribes, allegedly.
And if there`s already no love lost between the players, the people
who actually do the work, right, and the organization that runs
international competitive soccer which Attorney General Loretta Lynch today
described as corrupt in a rampant, systemic and deep rooted way. There`s
already no love lost between the players and the international governing
body for their sport, which Dave Zirin described as having a level of graft
and ostentatious excess that would make Caligula blush.
If there was already a little frison (ph) between the FIFA and the
players already, consider how they`ve treated the women players of this
international sport. The president of FIFA has suggested that one way to
make the women`s game more popular is to adjust what they wear.
“Female players are pretty, if you excuse me for saying so, and they
already have some different rules to men, such as playing with a lighter
ball. That decision was taken to create a more female aesthetic. So, why
not do it in fashion?”
Quote, “Let the women play in more feminine clothes like they do in
volleyball. They could have tighter shorts.”
He`s the international president of FIFA which saw lots of its other
top executives indicted today, so they will be extradited to the United
States for prosecution. He was not among those named in the indictment
But if you are an international player who does this as your work,
whose about to embark on an incredibly dramatic start to the top national
competition in your field in the most popular sport in the world, this
rattling of the golden cage today, this international haul them in,
racketeering perp walk for the executives who have been sucking the
integrity of the sport like vampire leeches, right, and making themselves
rich off the blood and sweat of the players, and the people who love the
game – it`s got to be somewhere between distracting and delicious and
bewildering to have all this happening right at the start of your World Cup
Joining us now for the interview is one of the stars of the U.S.
women`s national team, Megan Rapinoe, who I was really looking forward to
talking to today even before all of FIFA got arrested at a Zurich hotel
Megan, thank you so much for being here. It`s great to see you.
MEGAN RAPINOE, U.S. WOMEN`S SOCCER OLYMPIC GOLD MEDALIST: Thank you.
Good to see you, too.
MADDOW: I have to imagine as a professional athlete that most of
what you are thinking about right now has got to be playing South Korea
this weekend, right?
RAPINOE: Right, the singular focus, of course. Everybody gets up
and has their coffee and reads the paper in the morning. That was an
interesting one to wake up to.
MADDOW: Is this a huge distraction for you, guys? I mean,
obviously, you`re doing your media day stuff, you`re getting people psyched
for the World Cup. Everybody wants to talk about it, is it distracting?
RAPINOE: I don`t think so. I mean, I don`t think it`s – I think
it`s a shock they`re being indicted. I don`t think it`s a big shock that
people think they`ve taken bribes and they`ve had all this corruption.
So, it doesn`t come as a shock in that way, but kind of just one more
thing on the plate, and it`s OK, today was our media day. So, it was a
good day for it all to hit.
MADDOW: I guess that`s true. In one sense you get it all cleared.
As the World Cup approaches, there has been this other drama about
the turf issue in Canada, which again is not about how you play, not about
how you prep, not about how you scout other teams and all that stuff, but
sort of an externality. Is that a concern for you guys as you head in, do
you feel like you`ve adjusted to it? How is that going to affect the World
Cup this year?
RAPINOE: I think we`ve adjusted as well as we can. I mean, there`s
other things that you just – it`s harder on your body. We have an extra
game. There`s seven games hopefully to get to the final this year. So, I
mean, we can do as much as we can. I`m not 22 any more. It will be a
But, you know, we`ll file a lawsuit, and got a lot of press on it, I
think what we have done, there won`t be another woman`s World Cup on turf,
but unfortunately, we couldn`t get it done for this one.
MADDOW: So, you`ll have to play this one, but you think it will
never happen again?
RAPINOE: I think so. I mean, I hope so, that would be a definite
slap in the face if the next one was.
MADDOW: Is the worry injury or is that more complicated than that?
RAPINOE: I think it`s both. There definitely is an injury worry
which is harder on your body, but I think just the quality of the game is
just, you just – the top games aren`t played on turf, and I think you
know, people try to argue, all the teams are playing, and it`s the same
surface for everyone, they would never blink at putting that for any kind
of top level men`s game, and to have the biggest event something that is
for something a once in a lifetime opportunity to have it on a second rate
surface is disappointing and disrespectful.
MADDOW: Watching the numbers – the attendance numbers for you guys
spike, especially in the lead-up to the World Cup has to be exciting. I
wonder if you – I mean, women have been so disrespected by FIFA. And
continue to be including this issue with the turf and out loud, including
by the president of FIFA, I wonder if you see that those numbers going up
and the increasing popularity of the sport is something that`s going to
give you guys more leverage in terms of getting your due, in terms of the
way that the professional leagues are treated, the way that international
competition is treated and how women factor into this sport in the world?
RAPINOE: Yes, I think so. I mean, I think – you know, while on the
one hand FIFA can say that Blatter was quoted as saying he`s the godfather
of women`s soccer. And he`s done so much. It`s like, you don`t get a
congratulation for doing the right thing.
These federations are being mandated to put more money in the women`s
program, but we`re also making money now, we`re selling out stadiums. You
know, I think we came and saw you after the last women`s World Cup, since
then it`s grown tremendously, and I think we`re putting ourselves into that
conversation where we`re making money now, and it`s not just about goodwill
for the women and send them on their way and have them be thankful.
I think that we`ve done a lot to put ourselves in this great spot and
to grow our sport the way that we have.
MADDOW: Yes, people don`t watch you as a favor, people watch you
because they`re psyched for it. Are you worried about the toughness of the
group you`re in?
RAPINOE: Not worried. I`m excited about it.
RAPINOE: It is a tough group. It`s an interesting group, I think
there`s – we have Australia who`s a wild card and the young. I think the
average age of their team is like 23, which is – I don`t know if we have
one 23-year-old on our team. But there`s kind of an interesting dynamic
between all the teams.
MADDOW: Young and naive, that`s how we think of them.
Megan Rapinoe, Olympic gold medalist, member of the U.S. women`s
national soccer team, good luck. It`s great to have you here. It`s great
to see you.
RAPINOE: Thank you.
All right. Much more ahead. Stay with us.
MADDOW: Do you need a best thing in the world today? You do? OK.
Got one. Coming up.
MADDOW: Almost exactly a year ago, the Centers for Disease Control
did something terrifying. Last summer, the CDC sent live anthrax bacteria
to laboratories around the country by accident. They meant to deactivate
those samples of anthrax before they ship them off, but they didn`t by
mistake. And it was only through luck that nobody contracted anthrax out
of that incident.
Well, today, another part of our government has confirmed that they,
too, accidentally sent live anthrax to labs. This is an actual A.P.
headline today. Oops, military mailed live anthrax. The Pentagon was
supposed to deactivate the anthrax, before they sent it out, but they
didn`t. They sent it to something like 20 labs by mistake. And now, four
civilian DOD lab workers are taking medicine just in case they were exposed
to this live anthrax virus, which wasn`t supposed to be live.
But you know who is in charge of investigating what went wrong at the
Pentagon with this accidental shipping of the anthrax? It`s the CDC. So
hopefully they`ve got their own accidental mailing anthrax problem under
control because they`re now in charge of investigating the Pentagon`s
accidental mailing of the anthrax problem.
So, the snake at least eats its own tail.
MADDOW: Today was the preliminary rounds in this year`s Scripps
National Spelling Bee. Today, 285 competitors got whittled down to 48.
The finals are going to be tomorrow. Whether or not you are a good speller
and however you feel about national pastimes, honestly, this event is
unqualified greatness beginning to end.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CONTESTANT: Chastushka. C-h-a-s-t-u-s-h-k-a, chastushka.
CONTESTANT: Angiitis. A-n-g-i-i-t-i-s. Angiitis.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: And they high five each other, even in – even in – they
high five each other, they congratulate each other – even in defeat these
guys are gracious. There was a moment of real drama today when 13-year-old
Jojo Viti (ph) of Laramie, Wyoming, took the stage.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CONTESTANT: Gamboge. G-a-m-b-a – b-o – may I start over?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Now, because he tripped over himself like that, the judges
had to confer. This is them conferring. The conferring went on for a
minute and a half. Poor Jojo just stood there waiting, wondering what they
were going to do. Until finally, no!
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JUDGE: Gamboge is spelled g-a-m-b-o-g-e.
CONTESTANT: Thank you.
JUDGE: Thank you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Apparently, Jojo was not allowed to start over the way he
did when he said can I start over? You can`t.
Now, my response at that point would have been are you kidding me
followed by a tantrum, – but Jojo was calm and polite. That is why I`m
not a spelling bee champion and one of those awesome kids will be as of
But you know what? The fact that this spelling bee thing is one of
our national past times, the fact that this is happening when the biggest
story in the world today is the corruption and terribleness of most
countries` national pastime, the Scripps Spelling Bee arriving today in the
midst of today`s terrible corruption news is honestly relief. And it is
the best thing in the world today.
Go, Spelling Bee kids.
That does it for us tonight. We`ll see you again tomorrow.
Now, it`s time for “THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL.”
Good evening, Lawrence.
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