The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 06/09/15
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chris. Thanks, my friend.
CHRIS HAYES, “ALL IN” HOST: You bet.
MADDOW: And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour.
When he was running for election in 1992, President George H.W. Bush
famously flubbed an answer at one of the presidential debates. He was up
there with Bill Clinton, and Ross Perot. Remember 1992, Ross Perot, right?
It was a town hall style debate where regular people got to ask questions
to the candidates.
And a woman at that town hall asked President Bush a question about
the national debt, and he just didn`t understand the question and he
started to answer it. And she interrupted him, and she was like, no, that
wasn`t my question. And the moderator tried to explain what the woman had
been asking. And President Bush tried again, and the woman was like no,
again, you didn`t get it, you didn`t listen to my question. It was very
awkward, it was very tense. It went on for a long time.
And Ross Perot and Bill Clinton, you know, did what they`re supposed
to do. They just sat there, let it go on and on and on, while the moment
got worse and worse and worse and more tense.
Poppy Bush at the time was the sitting president of the United States,
running for reelection, right? So, him screwing up like that at a debate,
it was a consequential thing. It was a big deal in that campaign.
The way that moment was crystallized in politics, though, the way it
is remembered even now is not so much the back and forth that President
Bush had with the woman and the moderator there. It`s the way the question
happened. The way that that moment is crystallized sort of in political
science and political how-to even now is that while that young woman was
asking President Bush her question, this question that he didn`t
understand, at that time, President Bush was ostentatiously checking his
She was asking him a question and he was like oh, I have places to be,
I got stuff to do.
Do not check your watch when you`re running for president. Especially
not when you`re in a roomful with regular people who are already suspicious
that maybe you`re not all that psyched about being there with them, you
know, among the hoi polloi. Don`t do it.
That`s become the rule ever since, right? Nobody knew it had to be a
rule until he did it. But that`s the rule. Don`t check your watch. Don`t
check your watch. Resist the urge to check your watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BEN CARSON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You know, medicine has always
been my dream as a youngster. And fortunately living in this country, I
was able to realize that dream. And our government is incredibly
inefficient at this stage right now. And we need to think about that as we
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Don`t check your watch.
Poppy Bush never lived down checking it once. So, certainly don`t
check it one, two, three, ultimately four times in a speech that lasts only
eight minutes. But that`s what happened in Iowa this weekend. Retired
neurosurgeon declared presidential candidate Ben Carson apparently had
somewhere to be, had a plane to catch.
It`s possible that this is some of what he needs to go home to deal
with. “The Washington Post” reporting that Dr. Carson`s presidential
campaign had a mass staff exodus. His campaign chairman, his deputy
campaign manager, his national finance chair and his general counsel have
all just quit the Ben Carson for president campaign.
The deputy campaign manager apparently quit to return to his farm.
“The Washington Post” says he is a part-time lawyer and farmer. He longed
to return to his estate.
As for the general counsel, a Carson spokesman explained to “The
Post”, that she, quote, “grew tired of the political game. She is now in
Africa on a safari.”
When is the last time a campaign`s top lawyer left in the middle of a
presidential campaign with their candidate polling in the top five
nationally, sometimes in the top three, left in the middle of that campaign
because they suddenly needed to go on a safari. You think you have covered
everything in politics, and then.
One of Dr. Carson`s last remaining staffers, though, that his business
manager does have a public explanation for all of this, for the general
counsel going on safari and the deputy campaign manager going back to his
far and the overall campaign manager quitting, the national finance manager
quitting all at once. The official explanation for what remains of the Ben
Carson for president team is this, and I quote, “Things happen, man.
That`s the way life works.” Things do happen.
Ben Carson right now, he doesn`t get top tier media coverage but he is
a top tier Republican presidential contender. An average of recent polls
puts him at number four, nationally. There are a lot of guys and even one
gal behind him among the Republican contenders.
Based on a new running tally, you know, posting at “The Wall Street
Journal”, keeping track of the national polls and who is likely to be even
invited on the stage for the first presidential debate, there are a lot of
people way more well known than Ben Carson in the Republican field who are
not only running behind Ben Carson, but they`re running so far back in the
pack, they are likely not even able to make it in the debates.
When the Republicans finally get around debating, all that makes it
all the more remarkable that Ben Carson, number four in the national polls
right now, basically has nobody running his campaign. No wonder the man is
in a hurry, right? He has stuff to do. He has to find a campaign chair,
and a deputy campaign chair, and a national finance chair and a general
Only candidates with no immediate safari plans need to apply. Things
happen, man. Things happen.
Things also happen apparently with Jeb Bush. Watch this. This is
NBC`s Chris Jansing with Jeb Bush in Germany today. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRIS JANSING, NBC NEWS: Governor, why did you replace your campaign
Governor, can you say why you replace your campaign manager?
JEB BUSH (R), FORMER FLORIDA GOVERNOR: I will tomorrow when we have
our press availability.
JANSING: Was something not working properly?
BUSH: Everything`s great.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Everything`s great. That was former Florida Governor Jeb
Bush today on the first day of one of these turbo foreign trips that
candidates make abroad, particularly when they don`t have any international
experience. These kind of trips are supposed to show that they can handle
themselves well in foreign countries. Jeb Bush was in Germany today. He`s
also due to make stops in Poland and in Estonia on this trip.
But right before living for this foreign trip, the Bush folks
announced that Jeb Bush will be replacing his campaign manager, too, just
like Ben Carson. And they`re otherwise shaking up the whole top tier of
the Jeb Bush for president staff.
And that kind of thing is never good news for a campaign, right?
Nobody ever fires their campaign manager because their campaign is going
great. “The New York Times” describing turmoil in Jeb Bush`s organization.
“The Washington Post” saying the change was, quote, “a frank
acknowledgment that Bush`s six-month exploratory phase has not met
A Politico.com, they said the move show that Governor Bush was, quote,
“struggling to establish is own brand and regain his footing. There was no
clear manager to keep the trains running on time.” Quote, “The surprise
move came for several tumultuous weeks for Bush, and amid recent polling
that suggesting that his standing has fallen both in national polls and in
the key early state of Iowa.”
Iowa is important here. The guy just fired as Jeb Bush`s campaign
manager was an Iowa guy, a long-time Iowa Republican operative. Even with
this Iowa guy serving as Jeb Bush`s campaign manager, though, Jeb Bush is
not running well in Iowa at all. He`s running nine points behind Scott
Walker in Iowa right now. He`s even running behind Marco Rubio there.
He`s even running behind Mike Huckabee there.
And in this giant Republican presidential race, this giant field, the
fourth is probably an exciting place to be if you`re somebody who most
people have never heard of. But if you`re Jeb Bush and you`re supposed to
be running as the prohibitive shock and awe frontrunner, that`s basically
your determined path to the nomination, that you will scare people out of
the raise, with more $100 million already raised, and all the rest of it,
fourth in Iowa right now pretty much stinks.
And so, his campaign manager from Iowa is fired. I think the idea was
that they could sort of shorten the shelf life of Jeb Bush in trouble
story, right? They shortened the shelf life of the story by announcing it
ahead of his European trip and didn`t count on reporters like Chris Jansing
chasing him down to ask him questions about it. Even while he was in
Germany, even with Andrea Merkel in the background, right?
I mean, you can take the candidate out of the country. You cannot
take the candidate out of the news cycle, not anymore.
In the 2016 presidential race, though, there is one other candidate
for whom there is a – an unusual dynamic concerning Jeb Bush`s father, the
former president. And also Jeb Bush`s brother, the former president.
Because in 2004, when President George W. Bush was running for re-election
as president, there was one Republican U.S. senator at the time who said
that even though he was a Republican and George W. Bush was a Republican
and George W. Bush was running for election, he, the senator, would not
support the reelection of George W. Bush.
He said, instead when that he went to vote on Election Day in 2004, he
would write in the name George H.W. Bush. He would cast in a write-in
ballot that year for W.`s dad, but not for W., and he was a serving
Republican U.S. senator at the time.
As a Republican U.S. senator, he was also pro-choice. He was pro-gay
rights. He was pro-marriage equality for same-sex couples. He was against
the death penalty. He supported raising the minimum wage. He supported
higher taxes on the rich. He was against drilling in the Arctic.
As a Republican U.S. senator, he not only voted against the fiscally
disastrous George W. Bush tax cuts for the rich. He also voted in 2002
against authorizing the U.S. war in Iraq. He was the only Republican
senator who voted against George W. Bush`s war in Iraq.
He was, of course, Republican U.S. Senator Lincoln Chafee, who was the
last known living specimen on earth of the liberal Republican.
When he left the Republican Party in 2007, the whole idea of a liberal
Republican went extinct. By 2007, he had left the Republican Party and
became an independent. By 2008, he was an independent endorsing Democrat
Barack Obama over John McCain for president. By 2012, he was the
independent governor of Rhode Island who was serving as Barack Obama`s
national campaign co-chair in President Obama`s reelection effort.
By 2013, Lincoln Chafee had officially become a Democrat. In 2014, he
said he would not run for re-election as Rhode Island governor. And then
last week, he announced that he would run himself for the Democratic
nomination for president of the United States – last month, excuse me.
And that was not exactly the most unexpected move on earth when he
said he was running for president. But, then, Lincoln Chafee has always
done things a little differently. He`s always prided himself on being
Joining us now for the interview is Lincoln Chafee, the only
Republican senator who voted against the Iraq war. He has since become an
independent and a Democrat. He served as a mayor, a senator and a
governor. He`s now the fourth candidate this year to declare a run for
Democratic nomination for president of the United States.
Governor Chafee, thank you so much for being here.
LINCOLN CHAFEE (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you for inviting
MADDOW: Does it – when I talk about your transformation from
Republican to independent to Democrat, are you – are you proud of that
transformation about leaving those party labels behind? Do you worry that
Democratic primary voters might hold that against you?
CHAFEE: Yes, but my record and convictions are open to scrutiny. And
on the issues that you so fairly articulated, whether it`s the environment,
of fiscal responsibility, or civil liberties, or a version to quagmires
overseas, I`ve been consistent over my 30 years. So, whether I`d been a
Republican or an independent or a Democrat, you can look at my voting
record, and it hasn`t been flip-flopped. It`s completely consistent on the
key issues that the Democrats care about that you just talked about.
And also I have to add one more –
MADDOW: So, you feel like – yes, go ahead. Sorry.
CHAFEE: The only Republican to vote against Sam Alito for the Supreme
MADDOW: Right. Yes, I –
CHAFEE: In a 5-4 votes, with Justice Alito casting that fifth vote,
Citizens United being the most infamous.
MADDOW: But you feel like you essentially stayed who you are and
believed in the same principles and the same things in terms of policy all
along. But you feel like party affiliations have shifted around you?
CHAFEE: Yes, absolutely. And the Republican Party move more to the
south the priorities became the Southerners switch from being Democrats,
the solid South who was Democrat became Republican. The priorities for the
Republican changed. They weren`t my priorities. I am fiscally
responsible, and socially, let people live as they want to live, liberal.
MADDOW: Let me ask – let me ask you about the Iraq War vote. I know
that you`ve explained as really central to your thinking about why it`s
important for you to be in this race. When you cast that vote against the
Iraq War in 2002, your whole – you`re Republican at the time – your whole
party basically lost their minds, they were so mad. I remember Vice
President Cheney used to call in to talk radio in Rhode Island to try to
make your constituents mad at you.
Was that a hard decision for you to make? What did it cost you
anything at the time?
CHAFEE: I had set my path prior to even the October of 2002 vote
against many of the Bush initiatives that you talked about earlier – the
tax votes being the early one. So, my Republican colleagues started to
understand, Linc is going to stand up for his convictions and they actually
understood I felt strongly about this.
I went to the CIA. I saw everything they had on weapons of mass
destruction. I was not convinced. I came back to my Republican
colleagues, and I said, this is insanity.
But just – the train was going down the tracks and you were
considered unpatriotic if you didn`t support this war. People were angry,
obviously, after 9/11, they were scared. And those were two dangerous
So, yes, I – that was not a hard vote for me. There was a lot of
pressure obviously back home. Everybody was mad at me for not supporting
what they thought was weapons of mass destruction, but I just – weapons of
mass destruction, but I just didn`t believe it.
And when you said I voted against George W. Bush – or did not vote
for him in 2004, I learned not to trust that administration based on the
campaign promises they made.
Governor Bush at the time said, “I`m going to be uniter, not a
divider. We`re going to regulate carbon dioxide, the climate change
pollutant. We`re going to have a humble foreign policy.”
And all these things when they came to govern were the opposite, very
arrogant. Not humble at all. Very divisive.
And the first thing they did was get rid of any pretext that we`re
going to regulate carbon dioxide. In fact, they were going to have clean
So, I didn`t trust them. And that was another factor in me not
wanting to vote for the war and for him.
MADDOW: When I look at that the Republican field this year,
obviously, the first thing that strikes you is that it`s giant. If you had
to pick who is going to win based on money alone, you might guess that Jeb
Bush was going to end up being their nominee.
I mean, you famously, you know, picked the elder George Bush over the
younger George Bush when it came to your own preferences and who you felt
like did a better job as president. Do you have any sense of which of them
Jeb Bush is more like? If he ends up being the nominee, are you – do you
think it would be a second George W. Bush presidency, or do you think he`d
be more like his dad?
CHAFEE: Those Republican primaries really pull you, as everybody
knows, way to the extreme. And John McCain saw that, he was unsuccessful
in 2000. So, when he came back in 2008, he was a different John McCain,
completely different on the way he`d been as a senator in order to appeal
to these primary voters.
And Mitt Romney, governor of Massachusetts, Northeast New England
state, where he governed well, and instituted a health care initiative, had
to change his policies.
Americans don`t like flip-floppers. So, those Republican primaries
make it difficult for the nominee than to appeal to those purple states.
MADDOW: So, do you think Jeb Bush is running more to the right than
he actually would govern as if he got elected?
CHAFEE: Absolutely, absolutely. I can already see it.
MADDOW: Can I ask you a weird Jeb Bush question? You can tell me if
you don`t want to answer it.
MADDOW: I think, and I might be wrong, that you went to Andover with
Jeb Bush. Were you classmates?
CHAFEE: Yes, yes. We were in the same dorm together.
MADDOW: What did you think of him? Were you friends?
CHAFEE: Yes, we were friends.
CHAFEE: It`s a strange world, isn`t it?
MADDOW: It is a strange world. I mean, are you – have you
maintained a friendship?
CHAFEE: Not really.
CHAFEE: He went off and married Columba, his senior year, met her his
junior year, and then was in love all through his senior year and that`s
all we talked about and then, married his freshman year in college. He had
a different life. But we`ve crossed paths since.
MADDOW: Yes, and you may yet.
One last question for you: Bernie Sanders on this show said that he
wants to only debate more and debate earlier, he wants to debate
Republicans before either party has a nominee. Do you like that idea?
CHAFEE: Now, I`ll be honest.
CHAFEE: Let them get their issues out on their side and let us get
ours out on our side. There is so much to talk about on our side, I think
– where we`re going in the world, and these endless wars, just endless
wars. And the Republicans are in that direction.
I think Democrats need a nominee that wants to stop these endless
wars, and redirect these resources to more beneficial uses at home –
education, infrastructure, health care. So many good areas that we could
be sending that money.
MADDOW: Lincoln Chafee, you are an unpredictable person in your
political choices. And it`s fun to talk to you because I never have any
idea what direction you`re going to go and you always make sense.
CHAFEE: Thank you.
MADDOW: Thanks for being here. It`s nice to see you.
CHAFEE: Fun to talk to you, too.
MADDOW: See, I want everybody to spend time here. It can be fun. It
can be fun. It`s only very mildly interrupty. I`m telling you, you will
have a good time if you come here, talk to Lincoln Chafee about it, talk to
Bernie Sanders about it. They have both survived. It`s been fun.
Everybody should do this.
We`ll be right back.
MADDOW: So, it is day four now, which historically speaking is a long
time to have not yet found two prisoners who escaped Friday night or
Saturday morning from a maximum security prison near the Canadian border in
Upstate New York. Today, everybody went on alert when it looked like the
capture of these guys might be imminent in one town in Upstate New York.
It turns out it wasn`t imminent. These guys are still not in custody. The
But the story about why at one point authorities thought they had them
cornered this afternoon is itself a fascinating story. We`re going to have
a live report from there on the ground as the manhunt continues in just a
Stay with us.
MADDOW: So this was Willsboro, New York, earlier today when New York
state police and corrections officers and U.S. marshals and sheriff`s
deputies all flooded into that town in response to a tip that they hoped
would lead them to the two prisoners who escaped from a maximum security
prison this weekend. Two sources tell NBC News that somebody was driving a
car near the town of Willsboro, New York, saw two men walking along the
road in that town in the middle of a rainstorm earlier that morning.
The driver said after they saw the men walking, they then ducked into
the nearby woods. In response to that tip, authorities blocked off the
roads in that area. They made their way into the fields, through all
wooded areas around Willsboro, at times during the middle of really heavy
rainstorm and thunderstorms. They trekked through knee deep water trying
to locate these prisoners.
The town of Willsboro is about 40 miles southeast of the Clinton
correctional facility in Dannemora, where these two guys escaped this
weekend. Willsboro sits on the banks of Lake Champlain.
But in that search in Willsboro today, it was an incredibly extensive
search. They had a great tip. They thought they were on to these guys,
but they didn`t find them. As of now, these two guys are still on the
loose. In addition to the two escapees, police say they have named another
person of interest in conjunction with the escape. She`s a civilian who
works at the prison. She works at the prison tailor shop. Both of the
escapees worked in the shop with her.
Police say on that day the escape, this woman had, quote, “a case of
nerves” and checked herself into a local hospital. She was treated and
released over the weekend. She has since been checked by police.
We should be clear that while she is described as a person of interest
and police are talking to her, she is not in police custody, she`s not
under arrest. But she may be part of the puzzle as to how these guys
pulled off their escape. And now, however, they have stayed at large for
four solid days.
Despite all of this excitement this afternoon that he might have been
cornered in Willsboro, New York, the manhunt continues tonight.
Joining us now is Jesse McKinley, a reporter with “The New York Times”
who spent most of the day at the search site in Willsboro today.
Jesse, thank you very much for being back with us. I appreciate your
JESSE MCKINLEY, THE NEW YORK TIMES (via telephone): Yes, of course,
MADDOW: How good was the tip that led all of these law enforcement
personnel to Willsboro today? Were they quite sure they would find these
guys in the search today?
MCKINLEY: Well, it was strong enough that they put a lot of boots on
the ground today. This was by far the biggest kind of action on a point of
interest that I have seen in the four days I`ve been here. We were talking
about literally hundreds of corrections officers. There was FBI on the
scene. There was U.S. marshals on the scene. There was heavy armament,
and heavily armored people, people in camouflage, helicopters.
You really did get the sense that this was going to be fruitful, which
of course made the fact when they came kind of clamoring out of the woods
at about 5:30 in the pouring rain completely empty-handed, it made it all
the more frustrating, I`m sure for them.
MADDOW: When you say completely empty-handed, obviously, they haven`t
caught the escapees yet. But also they have not seen any determinative
signs of the trail where these guys in terms of where they have been.
MCKINLEY: Well, the state police put out a statement a couple of
hours ago that was intriguing in the fact that they suggested that they
were getting a lot of tips in this area, that there were a lot of leads.
Now, keep in mind, this is an investigation that`s now four days old
and has already generated hundreds of leads. And, of course, going through
all of these tips, all these potential leads is painstaking.
In talking to one of the troopers today, you know, he put it very
plainly. He put it clearly, saying we were going to investigate every
possibility. And this was a strong possibility, strong enough that they
didn`t flood the zone as it were with a bunch of people looking for these
two criminals. But they did not – as near as we can tell – find anything
There was some sense that they may have caught a scent with some of
their bloodhounds, but as of yet, that has not borne fruit.
MADDOW: In terms of what they`ve got to go on. Obviously, the tips
coming in from the public, possible sightings out in the world. But then
there were two other things described by authorities, or in some cases, by
One of them is, a person of interest who was a woman who worked in the
prison tailor shop, which apparently both of these prisoners also did, that
she may have been a link to them and a link through to the outside world.
There is also some discussion today that there may have been an attempt in
an arrangement for a getaway car, providing these guys with an automobile
for when they got out of prison.
Can you shed any light on either of those for us?
MCKINLEY: Well, of the two, the first you mentioned is probably more
important and the state police did come out today and said, listen, we have
been talking to two people. They did not identify this person
particularly, but they did say we have been talking to both civilian and
uniform guards about possible involvement. And as you cautioned in your
intro, no one has been arrested but these are people that they obviously
have some reason to be suspicious of. In terms of reports from the scene
that there may have been a getaway car that did not show up, there is
another report that somebody saw these two individuals, two escapees
walking through their yard at night, or the night of the escape, those have
not been confirmed.
But it does – you know, as we`re trying to put it together some of it
will be chasing ghosts. There`s going to be bad rumors. There`s going to
be bad leads. But you do get a sense of perhaps, you know, this is
supposedly an ingenious plan, may not have been quite ingenious as they
thought, that perhaps they didn`t have someone waiting for them, perhaps
they fled on foot.
And today`s activities, well, they did not once again result in an
arrest gave some credence to the fact that maybe these guys are on the run,
or maybe they`re nearby.
MADDOW: Justin McKinley, reporter with “The New York Times” – thanks
for helping us keep up on this. I appreciate your time, Jesse. Thank you.
MCKINLEY: Absolutely. Thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: It is fascinating to think about the auctions that these guys
have, right? Everybody is looking north because that prison is within
about 25 miles of the Canadian border. This intensive search today
involving hundreds of personnel was actually about 40 miles south of the
prison, so that would imply they were going to a totally different
direction. Even still, though, if they made it 40 miles, if they`re making
those miles on foot, if they`re having been stolen vehicles, they didn`t
have a getaway car, even that is very hard to imagine, making it that far
and foot and not being seen.
Historically speaking, really, guys in these circumstances always,
always get caught. But four days is a long time for them to have been
without getting caught so far. Fascinating story.
We`ll be right back.
MADDOW: In theory, these are the states that still kill prisoners.
That still execute prisoners in this country.
Lately, though, in practice, it`s really only these two states. It`s
only Texas and Missouri, they`re the only ones still actively doing it
right now, and that`s partly because the drugs for lethal injections have
become so difficult to obtain.
As lots of states have run out of these drugs and not found ways to
replenish their supplies, Texas and Missouri still have them. Texas told
us they have enough drugs to kill all the people they had plan to kill
between now and October. In Missouri, “BuzzFeed” reports that prison
officials have suddenly come up with their own mysterious plentiful source
of new drugs, which may or may not be some pharmacy that supplies drugs for
veterinarian purposes. Since no regular human pharmacy is known to supply
prisons anymore, and the drug companies themselves won`t do it either.
Well, wherever Missouri got their supply of lethal injection drugs,
and whether or not those drugs were formulated for humans or for animals –
tonight, Missouri dipped into the mysterious supply and carried out another
lethal injection. It happened just over an hour ago at 6:58 local time.
It is possible that this execution that happened in Missouri tonight
may end up being the last lethal injection ever in the United States. As
soon as Monday, but definitely before this end of this month, the United
States Supreme Court is set to rule on the constitutionality of lethal
injection as a means of killing prisoners. That ruling is going to happen
sometime this month – again, perhaps as soon as Monday.
If the court rules against the lethal injection as many people are
expecting them to do, what happened tonight at the state pen in Bonne
Terre, Missouri, may be the last one of this ever on U.S. soil.
Watch this space.
MADDOW: So, we have some breaking news to report tonight. It comes
from both “The New York Times” and “The Wall Street Journal”, both
newspapers late tonight have just published major stories about a coming
escalation of the U.S. war against ISIS, specifically, our war against ISIS
inside Iraq. And this is a big deal.
At the end of last month, you will remember that ISIS, which has been
on the move in both Iraq and Syria, last month ISIS captured the major
Iraqi city of Ramadi in western Iraq, in Anbar province. That ISIS victory
at the time seemed to sort of stun U.S. military officials. The Defense
Secretary Ash Carter initially said the Iraqi army showed no will to fight
against ISIS there, and said that Iraqi troops turned and ran in the face
of those is fighters advancing on Ramadi.
However, it happened that ISIS victory in Ramadi appears to be the
trigger for what appears to be the U.S. shift in major strategy in that
war. “The New York Times” and “The Wall Street Journal” both reporting
tonight that President Obama is about to order a major increase in American
military personnel to Iraq, and effectively a new U.S. military base in
Both of these developments reportedly aimed at retaking the Iraqi city
of Ramadi in Anbar province. “The Times” report that Obama administration
is planning to establish a brand-new military base in Anbar, where Ramadi
is located, right? They say that President Obama will announce that
hundreds of U.S. additional military personnel will be deployed there to
help Iraqi forces retake that area.
ISIS right now is in control of huge swaths of Iraq, and this increase
in U.S. military personnel ultimately means that U.S. members are going to
be stationed on the ground in Iraq in really close proximity to ISIS
fighters. Now, an increased numbers, right?
“The Wall Street Journal” reports tonight that after the fall of
Ramadi, President Obama asked the Pentagon for new options about how to
reclaim that city. They say those new options were presented to the
president him last week. He has essentially been fine-tuning the plans
“The Journal” says calls for 500 more American personnel to be sent to
Iraq to operate out of that new base in Anbar province. And again, the
specific mission will be to train the Iraqi military to take on ISIS, the
same Iraqi military that has apparently been turning and running in the
face of ISIS advances in that part of Iraq.
The last U.S. troop increase announced by President Obama was November
of last year. There are now more than 3,000 U.S. military personnel in
Iraq serving in this mission against ISIS, that`s before this latest
I should note that NBC News has not independently confirmed this
development. These details tonight are coming from “The New York Times”
and from “The Wall Street Journal.”
Joining us now is Dion Nissenbaum. He`s the national security
reporter for “The Wall Street Journal.” He broke the story today. He
joins us live from Istanbul.
Mr. Nissenbaum, thanks very much for talking with us.
DION NISSENBAUM, WALL STREET JOURNAL: Thanks for having me, Rachel.
MADDOW: So, am I right that it`s about 500 more troops? Do we have a
clear sense of how many more troops will be going and what exactly they`ll
NISSENBAUM: I think that`s one of the things they`re still trying to
fine tune, is because when you send in more advisers, you need to provide
more security for those people to move around. But we`re looking at 4 to
500 more advisers going to this new base. What is especially interesting
is that they`re not there to train the Iraqi forces as much as they are
there to help them to craft the plan to re-take Ramadi, and that`s really
the significant shift in the strategy.
MADDOW: In terms of the material difference there, crafting the plan
versus advising them, are you – do you mean by that they`ll actually be
actually more involved in the actual fighting?
NISSENBAUM: We don`t – they`re not going to be more out-forward as
some critics of the president`s plan called for in terms of helping to
target Islamic station positions or things like that. But they`re going to
have a hands-on role in devising the strategy for retaking Ramadi as
opposed to just training forces and sort of the basics of soldiering.
MADDOW: The other news here is the idea of a new U.S. military base
on the ground in Iraq. Why is that so important to this type of
NISSENBAUM: What the military officials are saying is they
established one base in Anbar where they have been doing some of this work
in advising and training. And they had some success there, they say, in
helping plan strategy, and retake some of these towns from Islamic State.
So they want to replicate that with a second base which is a little
more further out. A little closer to the front lines and it does put
Americans probably at a greater risk of potentially being drawn into direct
combat with the Islamic State as they move to and from the base.
MADDOW: How much of the area around where this base would be is
actually under the Islamic State control? Obviously, I`m just thinking
about the job of defending that base, keeping personnel safe in that area?
Is that going to become in effect a combat mission just because of the
presence of the Islamic State fighters in that area?
NISSENBAUM: That`s definitely a concern. You know, the battle lines
there are shifting. And the presence, the U.S. military force, they feel
like they have enough root there and it`s safe enough to go back and forth.
This is a fast-shifting battlefield. This does put U.S. forces closer to
these front lines.
MADDOW: Wow. Dion Nissenbaum, reporter for “The Wall Street Journal”
– part of the team that broke this story tonight. Thanks for helping us
understand. I appreciate you being with us tonight. Thank you.
NISSENBAUM: Thank you.
MADDOW: Mr. Nissenbaum joining us live from Istanbul.
I`ve got to say, it is one thing just as a U.S. citizen to see the
U.S. military presence in Iraq balloon, right? To see this fight against
ISIS escalate the way that it has, both in Syria – both in Syria and Iraq,
but particularly in Iraq.
It is another thing to see this escalation happened without any
American political process around it at all, with no debate, right, with
certainly, with no vote, or no military authorization whatsoever, we`re
seeing a big military now – big military escalation, including –
according to this reporting tonight, a new American base in the middle of
ISIS held territory in Iraq, with no American political debate about it
Congress has not authorized this or debated it or voted on it. It`s
just astonishing. I do not know how much longer they can keep going while
pretending this is the president`s problem and has nothing to do with them.
Stay with us.
MADDOW: If you are the type of person who gets a little squeamish
about pictures of bruising, and even a little blood, I hereby give you
permission to look away from just a moment. OK? OK, here it comes.
Ready? One, two, three.
OK, don`t be alarmed. It is a little gross, I know. It is a nasty
photo, but it is not a serious medical emergency. What this is, is a
sports related injury. And technically, it`s like a sports day at the
office when this particular sport forces its players to play in really
terrible, dangerous conditions.
Luckily though, the players are screaming bloody murder about it. Or
at least screaming bloody knees and shins about it, and it is therefore
getting better because they have made so much noise. And that story is
Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Thank you. Thank you
so much. Everybody, please have a seat. Thank you so much.
Well, I don`t know whether this is appropriate. But I just told
Sister Carol I love her, on a big stage. It is true, though, I do.
She is just – just wonderful. You know, her dedication to doing
God`s work here on earth, her commitment to serving the least of these, her
steadiness, her strength, her steadfast voice have been an inspiration to
me. And it`s true, I just love nuns generally. I`m just saying.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Everybody loves nuns. Seriously, everybody loves nuns.
Statistically speaking, you are probably not Catholic, you love nuns,
admit it. Even the president of the United States loves nuns. Everybody
Today, President Obama spoke to the Catholic Health Association. He
says he loves him some Sister Carol. By which he means Sister Carol
Keehan. She`s a member of the Sisters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul.
That`s her order. She`s also the head of the Catholic Health Association,
which the president addressed on the 100th anniversary of the founding of
He also addressed them more bluntly, to thank them for supporting the
Affordable Care Act, to thank them for supporting Obamacare, which is maybe
on the verge of going away. Seriously.
President Obama talked about it in blunt terms on his trip abroad.
Over the weekend, he said, the Supreme Court never should have taken up the
case they are about to rule on, which could have them strike down Obamacare
and throw 6 million people off their health care. That Supreme Court
ruling is due any day now, certainly before the end of this month.
But in anticipation of that ruling, the White House has built this new
health care in America Web site, this big elaborate Web site. They`re also
talking about the benefits of the health care law, and I think trying to
dramatize to Congress just how terrible it will for the country if the
Supreme Court strikes down the law and throws millions of people off their
health insurance and Congress doesn`t act to fix it. Congress very easily
could fix the law in the face of the Supreme Court`s ruling if they wanted
So, the White House has basically been making this case, that, you
know, politics aside, if the Supreme Court strikes down Obamacare on this
technicality that`s before the court right now, it`s not the president who
would lose. It`s not Democrats who would lose. It is not a theoretical
win or loss, right? It`s 6 million real, live Americans who have health
insurance now who will lose it in the face of that ruling.
So, the White House strategy I think has been to try to personalize
this as an issue, to make it about real Americans.
Today, the White House blog posted this kind of remarkable letter
which was written to the president by a woman in Palmer, Pennsylvania, a
woman named Debra Lee Oren. As you can see you, it`s a handwritten letter
written on a yellow legal pad.
“Dear President Obama, I`ve been in a wheelchair since 2010.
Osteoarthritis was so bad, I couldn`t stand or walk. My knees couldn`t
straighten at all. I was in constant pain, and then you got us the health
plan. I was able to get both knees replaced. It was done May 21st, 2014.
It was hard work but so worth it.
I bless you every night. I`m able to walk the dogs again. I walk
with my husband, Michael, and hold hands. It`s like a new world for me.
You are the one responsible for this wonderful gift. Please don`t let
the Republicans bully you. We people at the bottom of the ladder love you
for the hand up. Now, I can cook without worry of getting burned, I can
food shop by myself. I can go to the doctor when in need of assistance.
I`m a strong Irish woman. You just keep pushing. Let them know you
won`t take any guff. You will always be in my prayers you and your family.
God bless America and God bless you. Sincerely, Debra Lee Oren.”
If you are the president of the United States you have to love a pep
talk like that any day of the week on any issue from somebody in your
But now, the White House is now putting stories like that to work.
They posted that on the blog, right? They are telling stories like that.
They are basically trying to use personal stories like that to make the
country brace itself – brace ourselves for the fact that the Supreme Court
might be able to take away healthcare for 6 million people, and implicitly,
they are making the case that Congress might want to save the law, which
they could do if the Supreme Court moves to strike it down.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: Remaking Debra`s world didn`t require a miracle. It`d just
required that Debra had access to something that she and every other
American has a right to expect, which is health care coverage. More than
five years ago, I said that while I was not the first president to take up
this cause, I was determined to be the last.
And now, it`s up to all of us, the citizens in this room and across
the country to continue to help make the right to health care a reality for
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: President Obama today rallying support for Obamacare whose
fate hangs in the balance of the Supreme Court right now, and on which a
ruling is expected any day.
As I mentioned earlier, we are also expecting rulings on the
constitutionality of lethal injections. We`re also expecting rulings from
the court on the small matter of whether or not the Constitution requires
equal marriage rights for same-sex couples coast to coast.
The Supreme Court has a lot of really huge issues on their plate right
now. All of those decisions and more are due by the end of the month and
could come anytime. Tick tock.
MADDOW: The women`s World Cup started this week. The cheers you
heard last night from every house on your block, those were for the U.S.
women`s team beating Australia 3-1 in this first game last night.
The World Cup this year is in Canada, kicked off with Canada versus
China. That game was played in Edmonton on Saturday. They had near
perfect weather for that game, 75 degrees, clear. It was beautiful.
But look at this – even though the temperature in the air was 75
degrees, the temperature on the field, the temperature of the field itself
was 120 degrees for the opening day on Saturday. Following day, on Sunday
for the games in Ottawa, the field was 130 degrees – 130 degrees, just
You know, grass doesn`t heat up like that. Only artificial turf heats
up like that because it is plastic. Plastic with rubber backing and even
on nice days, it gets incredibly dangerously hot.
The other thing artificial turf does is it shreds your skin, which is
nice. Here`s U.S. forward Sydney Leroux tweeting out a shot of her own
legs after a practice on artificial turf in 2013. She said this is why
soccer should be played on grass.
Australian player Samantha Kerr posted a month later, #turfburn.
American Abby Wambach scored more goals in international games than
any player in history, man or woman. And when she does score a goal, this
is she usually slides on both knees. Woo! Right? She will only do that
on grass, though. She will not do that on turf because if you do it on
turf, it will shred you.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ABBY WAMBACH, U.S. NATIONAL TEAM: Playing on turf effects everything.
Affects the way the ball rolls and bounces and whether or not going into a
slide, side tackle, should I slide in to a goal and deal with bloody knees,
bloody hipbones. It`s kind of a nightmare.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Playing on artificial turf, it`s kind of a nightmare. Burns,
bloody lacerations, layers of skin sheered off for doing normal play stuff.
Players on this Women`s World Cup have been pulling their socks over
their knees. They`ve been smearing Vaseline on their leg. They`ve been
wearing compression shorts to try to keep their thighs covered, even when
they slide, doing everything they can to try to protect themselves from
Soccer, though, is inherently a rough game and a lot of sliding
around. Part of the worry with not letting them play on grass is an
increased risk of concussions from banging their heads on this unforgiving
World cups are normally played on grass. The Men`s World Cup is on
grass, always has been, always will be. Before this year, the women`s
world cup had been on grass, but this one for the women it is on artificial
turf, all six venues, every game.
And frankly that`s because turf is cheap. Turf is cheaper to maintain
than grass and apparently FIFA does not care as much about the risks to the
players in the women`s game the way they care about the men. FIFA`s former
president, the guy who recently resigned in the midst of this huge criminal
corruption scandal, he said in the past that the women`s game would be
improved if women wore tighter uniforms while they played. He also said he
thinks artificial turf is the future, with added benefits such as
Ahead of this World Cup, the players sued trying to get grass fields
instead. They ended withdrawing their suit when it became clear FIFA
wasn`t going to budge on the issue for this World Cup. But because of
their loud objections, FIFA promised they would never do it again for women
or for men. It is ridiculous this year, they are making the best women`s
players in the world compete on a 120 degree, 130 degree rubber and plastic
on top of concrete.
But because of the way they stood up for themselves and fought it,
this World Cup will be the last time that ever happens. They will never
again play on turf after this World Cup because they fought it.
The next U.S. game is against Sweden on Friday. I believe we will
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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