The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 07/28/15
CHRIS HAYES, “ALL IN” HOST: That`s “ALL IN” for this morning.
THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts now.
Good evening, Rachel.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: As we get closer and closer and closer to the
start of the actual primary, the word Thunderdome gets used more and more
HAYES: Yes, it`s a good model.
MADDOW: Eventually, everybody is going to have a chainsaw, not just Rand
Paul, and they`re all going to have them in the same room. Amazing.
Thank you, Chris.
HAYES: See you.
MADDOW: Thanks to you at home as well for joining us this hour.
OK, 1985, I was 12. 1985 was a big year. It was not because that`s the
year the Falcon and Snowman came out, which was an amazing spy movie. For
nonfiction reasons, for non-pop culture reasons, 1985 was called the year
of the spy.
On May 20th, 1985, a chief warrant officer in the U.S. Navy was arrested by
the FBI after his wife basically narced him out to the U.S. government for
spying for the Soviet Union. His name was John Anthony Walker. He had
been stealing classified information from the Navy for years, selling it to
the Soviet Union. He had been doing this for almost 20 years, by the time
the FBI finally caught up to him and arrested him in May 1985.
Walker had roped basically his whole immediate family into helping him with
his spying efforts. He`d been paid a lot by the Soviets for doing it. But
eventually, his wife turned him in. And when the John Anthony Walker
spying arrest was disclosed that year in 1985, it was really shocking at
But it turned out that it was just the first of many, many such arrests and
revelations that year.
John Walker was arrested May, 1985. Fast forward a few months. In
September that same year, it was Edward Lee Howard. Edward Lee Howard
worked at the CIA. He had started selling U.S. intelligence to the Soviet
Union in the previous year, 1984. The FBI was apparently tipped off that
he might be a spy inside the CIA, stealing secret information. He might
secretly be working for the Russians.
The FBI was sort of on to him. They were set to potentially arrest him.
But he got away. He defected to Russia. He got away in September 1985,
and then he lived in Russia for the rest of his life until he died almost
20 years later. That was September.
Then in November, that same year, November 21st, they arrested Jonathan
Pollard, who was then a civilian research analyst working for U.S. Navy
intelligence. They arrested him for selling U.S. classified information
Then, the day after they arrested Jonathan Pollard, November 22nd, the FBI
arrested another CIA guy – a long time CIA employee who was charged with
selling classified information this time to China.
Then, two days after that the FBI arrested a long-time employee of the NSA,
Ronald Pelton. Ronald Pelton worked at the NSA 14 years. He sold very
highly classified U.S. information from the NSA to the Soviet Union.
I mean, those last throw arrests all happened within the same week. And
the NSA guy, the Robert Pelton case, that was just an incredibly damaging
case. Ronald Pelton had worked at the NSA for 14 years. He gave over very
highly classified information to the USSR. He ended up getting sentenced
to three life terms in prison plus ten years for how he sold out his
country to Russia, three life times plus ten years is a long time.
But when they arrested Pelton in 1985, and sentenced him in 1986, that was
basically the last anybody heard of Robert Pelton.
It turns out the test of time has proven that the guy who was arrested
three days before Ronald Pelton, Jonathan Pollard, the guy who worked in
naval intelligence spying for Israel, turns out of all of the traitors
unmasked in the year of the spy, out of all of those Reagan era, Cold War,
espionage cases this one, Jonathan Pollard, ended up being the one who has
been a constant source of news and high level intrigue for going on 30
Jonathan Pollard went by the name Jay. He was considered to be a smart
guy. His dad had been a professor at Notre Dame. He went to Stanford. At
one point, he applied for a job at the CIA, although he didn`t end up
working at the CIA.
He did get a job as a research analyst working for the naval intelligence
command. And his remit, his area of focus as a research analyst for naval
intelligence was supposed to be the Caribbean and North America. Some of
his co-workers started to notice that he was going out of his way to access
all sorts of classified information that didn`t have anything to do with
the Caribbean and North America, particularly interested in top level
information about the Middle East.
So, there was some suspicions about his behavior at work among his co-
workers. And that led his co-workers to alert the FBI that they were a
little worried about that guy. In November of 1985, the FBI stopped Jay
Pollard on his way out of work and they questioned him about how he was
handling classified information. They ended up questioning him that night,
it was a Monday.
They questioned him that night and the following Tuesday and the following
Wednesday. And he did apparently admit to the FBI he had been mishandling
classified information, he had been taking classified documents and he had
been handing them off to someone.
He promised to keep talking. He promised to get more specific. He
promised to even help the FBI find other people involved in this plot. So,
the FBI apparently decided it was OK to keep sort of a loose leash on him,
to keep him talking, to hope that they could learn even more from him, to
hope that he could lead them to even bigger fish.
They also allowed him during the course of their questioning, they allowed
him to make a few different phone calls to his wife. He said he wanted to
apparently let his wife know where he was, to keep her from worrying about
him. So he asked several times to be excused to go make those calls to his
And one of the legendary things about the Jonathan Pollard case is that in
each of those calls, he apparently found a way to bring the conversation
around to the topic of – cactuses. He told his wife to “Go see our
friends and give them our cactus.”
Note to self. If you ever need a code word that you don`t want to sound
suspicious, in case somebody is listening, pick something you might
reasonably talk about on the phone and not something like cactus. It was
more like a safe word, less like a code word if you know what I mean.
In this guy`s case, he had worked out this code word, with his wife in
advance. The word cactus may or may not have been an acronym for some
secret weapons system or something else he had stolen information about.
But in any case, he and his wife worked out this plan where he mentioned
the cactus to her, she would know that would be a signal that she should go
retrieve from their apartment, a giant suitcase he had stashed there full
of classified U.S. intelligence documents.
So, he gave the signal. He is being questioned by the FBI. They let him
make a phone call. He says cactus to his wife on the phone. She knows she
is to get the suitcase and get rid of it.
So, the FBI has been tipped off this guy might be doing something fishy at
work. They start questioning him. He basically confesses a little bit he
has been handing over classified information. The FBI lets him tip off his
wife to get rid of some of the damning evidence.
But then because he says he was going to lead them to others involved in
the plot, they let him go. They started questioning him Monday of that
week, November 1985. They started questioning him on Monday. On Thursday
of that week, November 21st, 1985, he got into his Ford Mustang. He
grabbed his cat, Dusty. He grabbed his wife.
And he and his wife and Dusty the cat they all drove to the Israeli embassy
in Washington, D.C. and they knocked on the door and Jonathan Pollard asked
at the Israeli embassy for them to take him and his family in. Take them
in. He asked for asylum.
And the Israeli embassy said, I`m sorry, who now? You want what? You are
who? You want what?
They turned him down, kept the door shut. And the FBI arrested him.
And if people had not already been shocked by the John Walker Navy spying
case and the CIA guy defecting to Moscow – well, the Jonathan Pollard
arrest sealed the deal the 1985 would be the year of the spy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TOM BROKAW, NBC NEWS: Federal officials are saying tonight that Navy
employee Jonathan Pollard has admitted that he was paid almost $50,000 for
American military secrets he supplied to Israel. And Israel apparently was
not his only customer. He was arrested outside the Israeli embassy in
NBC`s Jim Miklaszewski reports tonight that he almost got away.
JIM MIKLASZEWSKI, NBC REPORTER: Jonathan Pollard had top secret service at
the Naval Intelligence Service since May 1984. That`s when he`s alleged to
have started selling secrets to the Israelis for $2,500 a month, $45,000
total over a year and a half.
The Navy is now frying to determine the extent of damage from this latest
spy scandal. Sources tell NBC News that Pollard almost got away. The FBI
had questioned him Wednesday, but after he offered to lead them to other
possible suspects, let him go.
Thursday, Pollard bolted and attempted to seek political asylum at the
Israeli embassy in Washington. It was then he was arrested and charged
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Once Jonathan Pollard had been arrested it became clear that
though he had been spying for about a year and a half, he`d only been
stealing information for a year and a half, he had been doing it on an
industrial scale. The amount of information that he had stolen, and handed
over was just epic.
It also turns out he was demanding top dollar for what he was handing over.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKLASZEWSKI: The evidence showed that Pollard, who worked at this naval
station as a civilian analyst, hauled out suitcases of classified documents
as often as three times a week, and delivered them to Israeli embassy
officials including a graduate student, a science counselor and secretary
all working as intelligence agents. Court documents said several people
took part in photocopying the documents at the home of an Israeli diplomat
in Maryland. Pollard admitted he got $45,000 in cash, plus the first
installment on a $300,000 bank account and diamond and sapphire ring.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: A diamond and sapphire ring.
Now, the ring it turns out was an engagement ring. Aw. Apparently at one
of his meetings where he was offering to sell the classified military
information to Israel, he not only negotiated his cash payment, he also
asked to be paid partly in jewelry. That meeting happened in Paris, which
I`m sure itself was nice for him. But then an exchange for this classified
military information he was handing over, he asked Israelis to buy that
nice diamond and sapphire ring for him at a Parisian jewelry store which he
then apparently used to propose to his wife, the one who he would
eventually have the cactus code with, and yes, she ended up going to prison
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Prosecutors say Pollard gave away more secrets than any other
spy in American history.
JOSEPH DIGENOVA, U.S. ATTORNEY: This case represents a serious – and I
underscore serious – grave breach of national security secrets of this
REPORTER: In a three-hour court hearing, Pollard said what he had done was
wrong, that he expected to be punished but asked for mercy for his wife Ann
Henderson Pollard, saying he had sacrificed her on an altar of political
ideology selling secrets to Israel.
Pollard was given life in prison. His wife sobbed as she was sentenced to
five years for helping her husband. Led away to a holding cell, she could
be heard screaming and pounding the walls.
Prosecutors think any parole for Pollard is unlikely.
DIGENOVA: Mr. Pollard I believe will not see the light of day.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Jonathan Pollard is one of the highest profile, and most lurid,
and if you believe prosecutors, most damaging spying scandals of the past
But despite what prosecutors thought when they got him locked up for life
30 years ago, he is about to see the light of day. John Pollard was
arrested in 1985, year of the spy, pled guilty in 1986, given a life
sentence for espionage in 1987, but a life sentence for that kind of crime
apparently means that you go before the parole board after 30 years.
And today, the U.S. Parole Commission announced that they`re letting him
out. They`re saying he is going to get out 30 years to the day from that
night he was first arrested at the Israeli embassy with his wife and his
cat asking for asylum. November 21st, they`re going to spring him.
Now, this is not clemency or a pardon by President Obama. This is a parole
board decision at the end of I guess what is effectively the 30-year
minimum time served in order to qualify for parole on a life sentence.
But the Obama Justice Department could have intervened with the patrol
board could have asked them to keep him in prison for a decade or longer.
The Justice Department decided not to do that. And that is a big reason
why he is about to get out.
And the Israelis over time have lobbied so hard for him to be released. It
makes it a remarkable political thing he is getting out now. I mean, every
American president since Reagan has come under such incredible pressure
from the Israelis that the U.S. should release this guy specifically
because he spied for Israel. It is a remarkable political thing it is
finally happening, particularly because Jonathan Pollard has been seen as
kind of the ultimate bargaining chip, in all sorts of different Middle East
Under George W. Bush, under President Obama, under Bill Clinton, under
Poppy Bush, the release of Jonathan Pollard has been dangled, or
negotiated, or at least floated, or demanded as a way to try to achieve
otherwise unattainable Middle East deals. I mean, here`s – this is not
only one I`m going to show you. But take this is an example.
Also, take this as an example because it is amazing Andrea Mitchell
reporting from 1998. Bill Clinton trying to negotiate an Israeli-
Palestinian deal. It`s the Wye River Accord, right? It`s this very
difficult process, but it is going along, swimming upstream, inch by inch,
by inch, trying how to get the deal done. Everybody thinks they know what
is on the table at all sides. They`re deep into the deal.
But this one ever loving spy case that never goes away, it gets thrown into
the middle of the deal, unexpectedly. This happened again and again and
Watch Andrea Mitchell here.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC NEWS: Like everything else in the Middle East, it was
anything but easy. Nine nonstop days and nights including 90 hours
involving the president and final push from Jordan`s ailing King Hussein.
7:00 a.m., the deal is done. Handshakes all around. Yasser Arafat leaves
to get ready for the signing ceremony.
Marine One gets ready to take the president back to the White House.
Israeli officials even talk about how good a deal it is.
DORE GOLD, ISRAELI U.N. AMBASSADOR: This takes Israelis and the
Palestinians closer to achieving peace with security.
MITCHELL: Suddenly 8:00 a.m., Netanyahu takes Clinton aside. U.S.
officials say for the first time he says he won`t sign the deal unless the
president first releases Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard, convicted of
stealing U.S. military secrets for Israel.
Aides say the president is shocked. He has twice denied clemency for
Pollard. For six hours, they argue. Finally, Clinton says he will review
the Pollard case. The summit deal is back on.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That kind of thing happened again and again and again through
every presidential administration since this guy was first arrested while
Ronald Reagan was president. Every president since Reagan has reviewed
this guy`s case, has had studies to see if he could be released, spent it
off these appeals for clemency, pardon, parole.
It has been this incredibly high stakes negotiating flash point for 30
years until today. Today, they said they will let him out.
I mean, as recently as 2011, Benjamin Netanyahu was telling the Obama
administration they had to let Jonathan Pollard out because he served 25
years. As recently as 2011, Vice President Joe Biden quoted saying at the
time that would happen over my dead body.
But now, Jonathan Pollard is being let out. How come? What is the U.S.
getting for it if at all? How did this happen?
Joining us now is Dafna Linzer, managing editor of MSNBC digital. Dafna
has covered the Pollard case for years, ever since she was a correspondent
for the “A.P.” in Jerusalem.
Dafna, it`s great to have you here.
DAFNA LINZER, MSNBC DIGITAL: Thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: Did I get anything wrong?
LINZER: No, you got everything exactly right. But you know what, even
last year when Kerry was making this last-ditch effort again with the
Israelis and Palestinians, the Pollard case was dangled out there. Would
Obama release him early? Of course, it didn`t happen.
MADDOW: Well, that`s part of my question. So, last year, they`re talking,
they`re still, once again, talking about Jonathan Pollard. They got to get
him, they got to him out, they got to get him out. They`re using this as
part of a bigger negotiation. Last year also, he went up for parole. The
parole board said no.
This year, today, the parole board said yes. The Obama administration is
saying that it`s like an inevitable thing about the course of the wheels of
justice that he would have gotten out today. This is no politics here.
It`s not part of any deal. It`s a standalone issue. It`s just inevitable
because of the way the parole board works.
That doesn`t make any sense to me since the parole board said no to him
LINZER: That`s right. And, you know what, even though it is his release
date, which is this year, you know, as far as when his sentencing occurred.
You know, they could still ask to keep him. I mean, it`s an extraordinary
case. They could come up to the parole board and say we don`t believe that
he should be released and make a case for keeping him longer.
But I think this is really about politics and this is really about Obama`s
legacy and being able to say, oh, I`m the president after all of the
presidents who said, no, I`m the president who is not going to block this.
I will be the president on whose watch Jonathan Pollard will be released.
I think it`s really ironic and I think it is for the administration too
after the crazy and very difficult and very upsetting relationship that the
United States has had with Israel, it`s been very personal between
Netanyahu and Obama for all sorts of reasons, but especially the Iran deal
that now all of a sudden, the administration can say, oh, look we let him
go. Look at that.
MADDOW: This thing that you guys have been going after, in every possible
way you can, at the most fraught moments for 30 years. I will give tight
So, here`s my question. Over the years when all of these other presidents
have reviewed this, the intelligence community has said, the American
intelligence community has been the force saying no, loudly. Three former
chiefs of naval intelligence, three navy admirals in the `90s, would set
out writing op-eds about this sort of thing. George Tenet at one point
said he would resign if Jonathan Pollard were released. The CIA and other
aspects of American intelligence have said never let this guy out.
Has that faded? Or is Obama picking a fight with them by doing this?
LINZER: No, I don`t think so. I mean, it was unanimous always. It was
FBI directors, attorneys general, heads of – directors of central
intelligence, they were unanimous. I think at this point with 30 years
kind of passed the damage that Pollard can do anymore with intelligence he
received I think has receded.
And I think everyone agrees, let`s just let this go. Let`s not have Israel
having this chip with us, constantly asking for this release. Let`s just
kind of get it off of our plate now.
MADDOW: Well if it, if it does flare up as a fight between the Obama
administration and the intelligence –
LINZER: And there is one coming, sure, because hill he be allowed to go
back to Israel or will he be forced to stay in the United States –
MADDOW: Right. Conditions of his parole say he has to stay here. They
want President Obama to pardon him, essentially allow him to leave the
country. There`ll be a fight over that next.
MADDOW: This is amazing. I can`t believe they`re letting him out.
Dafna Linzer, managing editor of MSNBC Digital, thank you so much. Great
to have you here.
LINZER: Thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: All right. Lots more ahead, including one candidate turning out
to have a fairly awesome billionaire`s fan club. And it`s not who you
think. Please stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I will smash your face into a car windshield and then
take your mother Dorothy Mantooth out for a nice seafood dinner and never
call her again!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Threats like the Dorothy Mantooth seafood dinner threat are only
supposed to be voiced by characters in movies like “Anchorman.” They`re
not supposed to happen in real live major party American politics.
But today, they did. And it was spectacularly disgusting. And I`m sorry
to say that story ahead.
MADDOW: Thirty-eight million dollars, $38 million. The Ted Cruz for
president folks are due to report that super PACs supporting Ted Cruz have
raised $38 million to support his run for the presidency.
Now, Jeb Bush is the Republican candidate who raised the most PAC money,
right? Jeb Bush has raised $100 million.
But second place to Jeb in the money race is Ted Cruz of all people. And
that is surprising because Ted Cruz is really not a Jeb Bush level
candidate. In the polling particularly in the early states, Ted Cruz is
down more in like Carly Fiorina territory, and Rick Perry, John Kasich,
Chris Christie territory. He`s not in Jeb Bush territory.
But that huge $38 million haul for his super PACs, that puts him in the top
tier in terms of fund-raising. It`s interesting.
And now we know the very interesting explanation for why that is true. To
get to that $38 million haul, CNN now reports that $15 million of that came
from two brothers in Texas, fracking billionaires, another $11 million from
a hedge fund guy in New York, and another $10 million of that came from
this congressman`s son.
So, Randy Neugebauer son and a hedge fund guy and two fracking billionaire
brothers have given Ted Cruz $10 million plus $11 million plus $15 million.
So, do the math. Take out your shoes off if you need to.
It turns out, those four guys have provided $36 million of the $38 million
super PAC dollar that Ted Cruz has raised, $36 million of the $38 million,
95 percent of what Ted Cruz has raised is from four guys. Two of them are
And none of that has been enough off to keep Ted Cruz out of Carly Fiorina
territory in terms of his polling in the early states. But those four
individual rich guys, those four individual giant donations are what make
Ted Cruz appear to be a top level contender for the Republican nomination
for president even as real live individual humans who are not able to write
him $10 million checks seem considerably less susceptible to Ted Cruz`s
Thirty-six million dollars is a lot of money to raise. But four people are
not a lot of people to raise it from, it must be nice to have that kind of
rolodex. But that strange bit of Ted Cruz viability campaign math, that is
not the weirdest set of numbers in today`s political news. The really
weird numbers are about somebody who people do like as much as they don`t
like Ted Cruz. And that story is next.
MADDOW: This is Bobby Tufts. Bobby Tufts became mayor of Dorset,
Minnesota, when he was 3 years old, undoubtedly America`s cutest mayor.
But after serving two terms as the mayor he was ousted by a local teenager
who ran to replace him.
Now, I use the term ran, I use the election idea here loosely because the
process in Dorset, Minnesota, really just consists of picking a name out of
a hat at a fair, the town of 25 people. But still, the ousted former mayor
of Dorset, Minnesota, Bobby Tufts is throwing his support behind a new
candidate for Dorset`s next mayoral election due this weekend.
Turns out Bobby Tufts is endorsing his own little brother, James, who is
also now 3 years old. Do you believe the nepotism?
The vote will be held at the Taste of Dorset Food Festival this Sunday.
When Bobby was asked why he was passing the torch to his little brother,
James, the former mayor Bobby Tufts said, quote, “Because my mom said I
have to, and I`m the oldest brother.”
The dynastic tyranny of the Tufts toddlers continues in Dorset, Minnesota.
They are my favorite dynasty story in American politics ever, mostly
because I don`t like American political dynasty stories. In the big
picture, right, regardless of the day-to-day news of the campaign right
now, it does remain one of the deeply unsettling things about this year`s
presidential race that we are talking about the son and brother of former
presidents, Jeb Bush, against wife of former President Bill Clinton,
Hillary Clinton. Those two as the most likely nominees from their parties,
I mean, throw in a dash of son of Ron Paul for good measure. And the
oogieness of the dynasty trend in politics that feeling – eh.
And it makes it all the more refreshing that today`s big news is about a
candidate whose father did not run for president, whose brother has never
been president, who`s never married to a president, not the next one up in
a family dynasty. In fact, part of his political appeal has always been
that he is the son of a mailman.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. JOHN KASICH (R-OH), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: My dad carried mail on
his back. They called him John the mailman. And they loved him because he
looked out for everyone in those neighborhoods. I learned something from
my father. Do your best to look out for other people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That`s an ad run by super PAC supporting Ohio Governor John
Kasich. It`s been airing in support of his candidacy in New Hampshire.
It`s been airing in New Hampshire right?
Whenever you think about that ad, the choice run those ads in New Hampshire
is an interesting strategic choice, because this year, Iowa and New
Hampshire are not really being allowed to play their traditional role as
the gatekeeper to the presidential primary field, right? In the – on the
Republican side this year, that role of deciding who gets to be a viable
candidate, that role has instead been taken over by the FOX News Channel in
New York City, which is only letting people into the first Republican
primary debate based on their national polling numbers.
And that decision has changed the strategic incentives around how to run
for president this year. So, at least on some surface level it no longer
makes sense for lower tier candidates to focus time and resources on places
like Iowa and New Hampshire. It now makes more sense for them to be
running basically on the FOX News Channel, in hopes of reaching Republican
voters nationwide and thus helping their national polls.
That`s why our friend across the street at FOX News have seen a nice big
influx of ad dollars from the Marco Rubio of super PAC running ads on FOX
News, and Rick Perry super PAC running ads on FOX News, Chris Christie
super PAC on FOX News, Chris Christie campaign running ad on FOX News.
FOX News set its rules for who is in and out of their debate, and now they
are ka-ching, cashing in on it.
But John Kasich, the governor of Ohio, isn`t doing that. He has been
doggedly running his ads in New Hampshire as if this is a normal year.
Forget FOX News and their stupid debate rules.
But lo and behold, it`s working. John Kasich`s numbers are not only
spiking in New Hampshire, which you can see in the two most recent polls.
This is the Monmouth poll out today. You see him their tied for third
place with Scott Walker.
This next one, this is the Marist poll, the NBC News Marist poll which came
out in Sunday, showing him in fourth place which, based on where he has
been, that`s really, really well for him. That`s a surge.
But whether it is the ads, or his, you know increasing popularity more
broadly, or the good press bounce he got from his late announcement, his
late entry into the race, John Kasich isn`t just going up in the early
states, isn`t just going up in New Hampshire. He is going of enough in the
national polls that he appears to be leaving what I look to think of Carly
If trends hold, John Kasich is doing well enough in the national polls that
he may be heading towards a spot on the first FOX News debate stage. At
least according to our calculations using the most recent national polls
which are our best guess of the opaque criteria by which FOX is going to
decide to who`s allowed to debate for the Republican nomination.
John Kasich may make it. John Kasich, having both defied the new FOX News
dictated, FOX News enriching rules for this year`s Republican presidential
campaign, and also, not having a blueprint from a family member`s previous
presidential ground to use as his own. John Kasich is turning out to be
interesting, doing it on sort of different terms than everybody else.
You know, a lot of weird subplots in the presidential campaign, right? I
mean, it`s weird enough that a lot of Republican campaigns are going to
have their campaigns effectively ended next week by a cable news channel.
This is turning out to be a year of unexpected story lines and hard to
discern strategies. But the latest numbers for John Kasich suggest that he
– at least this point in the race – might be the most unexpected one of
Joining us is MSNBC`s political correspondent Kasie Hunt.
Kasie, it`s great to have you here. Thank you.
KASIE HUNT, MSNBC POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: It`s great to see you, Rachel.
MADDOW: Am I unnecessarily overly excited by John Kasich`s surge in the
HUNT: No, I don`t actually think that you are. I am also in some ways
excited about John Kasich`s poll numbers in part because I think that a lot
of the other candidates, particularly the Jeb Bush camp, think that Kasich
is for real. And I think when he announced, it was pretty interesting to
see the traffic that came out privately from the Bush campaign. They paid
a lot of attention to what John Kasich is doing. They are paying a lot of
attention to what John Kasich is doing.
And you`re right. He`s doing it the old-fashioned way on the air in New
Hampshire. He`s going to do it the old-fashioned way on the ground in New
Hampshire, too. And that`s a potential threat. And he is I think, from
the perspective of people who are watching this, in the traditional way, a
MADDOW: In terms of John Kasich`s role in this very large group of
candidates, one of the things that he has been able to leverage in terms of
his, national appeal and I think certain extent power in Ohio he is well
connected. He`s kind of like Mitch Daniels. He knows everybody else in
his generation in politics.
He doesn`t seem to have enemies in high level Republican politics. He
knows people from Washington. He knows people on the party machine. He
knows people in the Ohio machine, which is so important to Republican
Is – does that mean that people are going to be reluctant to pick on him
if he does end up being one of the guys to beat?
HUNT: Well, look, he`s been around a long time. He`s fought the hard
fights, the fiscal battles in Washington during the Clinton years in the
1990s. And you know what? He represents Ohio. And who ever is the
nominee is going to need him to work on their behalf. That`s not to say he
wouldn`t, regardless of how things went down.
The one thing I will say about Kasich, you know, you were pointing out FOX
News. Don`t forget, he hosted a show on FOX News.
MADDOW: On FOX News, right.
HUNT: For quite a long time – “Heartland with John Kasich”, and that is
the center of his – when he got up on that announcement stage, he was
saying, I am going to bring the lessons of the heartland to the rest of
America. And I think that`s something that in some ways is – he is
hitting notes that are missing from the rest of the Republican field.
MADDOW: Is there anything else going on now in the Republican field? You
being out there on the road, seeing a lot of the guys in person, seeing how
people are reacting to them, is there anything you feel we should be
watching for in terms of either a dark horse, candidate, somebody who`s
underperforming or over-performing what they`re getting billed at in the
HUNT: I mean, look, I think at this particular stage, we`re heading into a
debate next week. And as I am talking to, you know, my usual sources,
they`re looking at how do I prepare my guy to stand on the stage with all
of these people? And normally, you would have Iowa, you`d have New
Hampshire, there are candidates who have to win in Iowa. There are
candidates who have to win in New Hampshire.
Normally, candidates would be saying, OK, Scott Walker is leading in Iowa.
I need to go after Scott Walker if I`m going to make my mark. Jeb Bush is
leading in New Hampshire. I got to go after him.
Donald Trump ahs scrambled that entire formula.
HUNT: And there are people who have been in politics for decades, who
literally have no idea what to do. They have no idea what to say. What to
tell their candidate.
I mean, in some ways, aside from Trump could be the most boring debate we
have ever seen, because the rest of them are deciding look just going to
have to take my four, five minutes and, sell my record while we listen to
Donald Trump over here.
I think the question is going to be, does anybody engage with him or do
they all just kind of put their hands up and stand back?
MADDOW: MSNBC political correspondent, Kasie Hunt, thank you for that. I
can`t tell you how much I am looking forward to that.
HUNT: You and me both.
MADDOW: The fact it is the viable candidates who have to count on New
Hampshire. And Donald Trump is leading by double digits in New Hampshire,
and there is just take the silverware drawer out and shake it over your
HUNT: The playbook out the window. Throw it out there.
MADDOW: Thank you, Casey.
All right. We`ll be right back. Stay with us.
MADDOW: So, the candidate whose name has become a verb this year – the
guy who – ha-ha, is a verb for what you can do to your cat to make it look
like this. That guy and his entourage brought us to a whole new level I
can not believe this is happening in American politics Tuesday.
And on the way to that shocking new level of shocking, they left behind a
really truly terrible factual error. And we are going to correct that here
for them tonight.
Stay with us.
MADDOW: So, “The Daily Beast” posted the story late last night about the
end of one of Donald Trump`s marriages. I do not want to talk about Donald
Trump`s marriages. You are welcome to research them to your heart`s
content to the extent that you feel they are newsworthy.
What end up being important here is that in the course of doing this story
about one of Mr. Trump`s marriages and its failings, “The Daily Beast”
reached out to Donald Trump`s lawyer and campaign surrogate, a man named
Michael Cohen to get his comment on their story. And then two things
The first is that Michael Cohen launched one of the longest, most involved,
most movie scene unbelievable cascade of lurid threats at “The Daily Beast”
reporter that I have ever heard in any context.
Quote, “I will make sure you and I meet one day while we are in the
courthouse. And I will take you for every penny you still don`t have. And
I will come after your Daily Beast and everybody else that you possibly
know. So I`m warning you, tread very bleeping lightly because what I am
going to do to you is going to be bleeping disgusting. You understand me?
I am going to mess your life up for as long as you are on this freaking
planet. You are going to have judgments against you, so much money, you
will never know how to get from underneath it.”
What I am going to do will not only destroy you it will disgust you in the
way that I do it. Wow. That was cut from the Sopranos for being over the
And now, please elect Mr. Trump to be president of the United States,
Here`s the thing, in the course of that tirade, which is being very widely
reported for all the obvious reasons, what`s also getting wide coverage as
part of the story is something else that Mr. Trump`s lawyer said in the
middle of all of the F-bombs and the florid threats.
He also in the same exchange told “The Daily Beast”, quote, “Of course,
understand, that by the very definition you can`t rape your spouse.” “It`s
true,” he said, “you cannot rape your spouse. There is very clear case
Donald Trump`s lawyer and surrogate for his presidential campaign tells a
reporter it is not rape if the person you rape is someone to whom you are
married. That is 100 percent, 1,000 percent not true. And propagating
that as a lawyer is both astonishing and dangerous and wrong on a lot of
There is no such thing as spousal rape, there is just rape. It`s still
rape regardless of whether the victim is the spouse of the rapist. That is
not only very clear, it`s very true. It`s true in all 50 states and in an
unambiguous way, everywhere, Christ Almighty.
So, now, thanks to Donald Trump being front runner for the presidential
nomination, covering the presidential primary means having to clear up
issues like that for the public because his campaign is conducted in such a
way that we have to do that basically as public service. Aw.
Donald Trump`s lawyer apologized for an inarticulate comment that he does
not believe. He was not clear as to which part of his own comments he was
referring to. We don`t know if he meant his threats about destroying the
reporter in a way that the reporter will find F-ing disgusting, maybe he
regretted that, or maybe he regretted his denial that spousal rape is still
Mr. Trump`s ex-wife Ivana Trump has come out defending her former husband
today saying “The Daily Beast” story has no merit, Donald Trump has
vehemently denied the story and has distanced himself from his lawyer.
Donald Trump disagrees with those comments that his lawyer made about
But now, covering Republican presidential politics really does mean
clearing up issues like this because they otherwise wouldn`t be clear,
because you think you have hit the bottom in American politics and the
sewer has a whole another level that you never new things could descend to.
MADDOW: So, this was the bombshell headline, quote, “Criminal inquiry
sought in Hillary Clinton`s use of e-mail.” When you look ate it looks
like someone is seeking a criminal inquiry in to Hillary Clinton actions,
to Hillary Clinton herself.
Several hours after “The New York Times” published that super inflammatory
headline and story, they quietly and without notice changed the first few
sentences of the story. In the second iteration, there was no
investigation into Hillary Clinton herself. It was an investigation into
whether information was mishandled by someone but not her.
A little while later, they started issuing the first in what would end up
being a string of corrections. Quote, “An earlier version of this article
and earl general headline using information from senior government
officials misstated the nature of the referral to the Justice Department
regarding Hillary Clinton`s personal e-mail account. The referral did not
specifically request an investigation in to Mrs. Clinton.”
So, that was the first correction. Then the second correction, issued the
following day. It was even more of a jaw hitting the floor discovery. It
turns out that possible criminal investigation in to Hillary Clinton not
only was it not a criminal investigation into Hillary Clinton, there was no
criminal investigation, period.
The senior government officials, whoever they are, they were wrong about
that. There was no criminal referral.
So, within a couple of days it goes from being how Hillary Clinton is the
subject of a criminal inquiry by the Justice Department to Hillary Clinton
is not the subject of any criminal inquiry to there is no criminal inquiry.
“The Times” changes the headline, they change the lead, they publish not
one but two corrections.
And over the weekend, the “New York Times” public editor, which is sort of
the reader`s advocate at the paper weighed in. Quote, “A Clinton story
fraught with inaccuracies.” And then after that, today we get this
editor`s note about how the paper got a whole bunch of stuff wrong, how
they mishandled even the corrections and still don`t now how it all
So, this was a big high-profile disaster for “The New York Times.” It was
also a reminder of the utterly bizarre relationship that the national media
has with Hillary Clinton specifically.
Basically in the national media, everything Hillary Clinton does is a
scandal, right? Remember when she was super guilty in Whitewater. Hillary
Clinton is covered as if she is a convicted felon, right, who has to prove
her innocence every time she is accused of something.
And even then, she is still guilty. She`s just got away with it. That`s
basically the attitude of the whole national press with Hillary Clinton for
this whole phase of her national political career.
Talk about the liberal press, maybe they are liberal but they`re certainly
not Democratic. I mean, this debacle with “The New York Times” is a
reminder of also a very dark period in the very recent history of that
specific paper of “The New York Times.”
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JUDITH MILLER, FORMER NYT REPORTER: The intelligence sources we were
talking to had never been wrong and they had never led me astray and I went
back to them in this book and I said, what happened? How did you get it
wrong? How did I get it wrong?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Judith Miller is the reporter from “The New York Times,” formerly
from “The New York Times” whose coverage in the lead up to the Iraq War
relied heavily on faulty, unreliable, high level unnamed sources in the
Bush administration and the intelligence community, many of whom are
unnamed, right? Many whom had an agenda, many of whom convinced “The New
York Times” to print their wrong factually inaccurate case for war.
“The New York Times” has published many journalism mea culpas over the
years about how they crewed up their Iraq War coverage. But the
explanation from the reporter at the center of it is she was only wrong
because her sources were wrong. It wasn`t her. It was the people who were
supposed to tell her true stuff about Iraq and weapons of mass destruction,
but instead decided to tell her false stuff.
“I was wrong because my sources were wrong.” That was Judith Miller.
Well, “The New York Times`” defense of this Hillary Clinton story this
week, this fiasco that they`ve had with the Hillary Clinton e-mail story,
their explanation on what they got wrong here, how it all went wrong, it
sounds very, very similar, almost identical to the Judith Miller defense.
They are saying, quote, “We got it wrong because our very good sources had
it wrong.” that`s according to a “New York Times” editor.
The reporters and editors on the story are not at fault. Their sources
were wrong. Those anonymous senior government officials who told “The
Times” there was a criminal referral in to Hillary Clinton when there was
none. “The Times” says they probably couldn`t have done anything
differently. Not our fault, sources were wrong. What`s our responsibility
The senior government officials whose names we as readers cannot know,
whose agendas we cannot evaluate, “The New York Times” is arguing their
sources are to blame so they couldn`t have known. Except it is the job of
a news organization to vet the accuracy and the authenticity of their
sources, and you are to blame for the fake stuff that your sources get you
And no, this is not a matter of war and peace like last time with “The New
York Times” and Judith Miller. This is just a matter of who maybe the next
president of the United States.
Yes, “The New York Times” is under a microscope and everything they do is
scrutinized and analyzed unlike any other news organization in the country
or maybe even the world. But that is because we need “The New York Times,”
unlike any other news organization in the country or in the world. They
are the paper of record for a reason.
They are screwing this up in the same way they have screwed up even more
serious stuff in the past and they should have figured it out by now.
MADDOW: All the attention is on the Republican side of the presidential
nominating process for obvious reason, just because there are so many of
those folks and there`s this weird thing whether they make the debate and
the debate is a week away now, and it`s all that drama. I get it.
On the Democratic side, though, there is something to watch tomorrow,
tomorrow`s news. Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders has been
drawing huge crowds wherever he goes, right, 11,000 people in Madison.
This week in red state Louisiana, he drew more than 4,000 people in
southern Louisiana. It`s huge crowds.
Well, tomorrow, he is going to be in Cincinnati, Ohio. We have just found
out that the Cincinnati, Ohio, town hall venue for Bernie Sanders tomorrow
had just had to be moved to some sort of larger event hall so they can cram
as many people in who with have RSVPed to see him.
If you are planning to turn out to see Bernie Sanders tomorrow in
Cincinnati, something tells me you ought to prepare for a long lineal may
want to wear your comfy shoes. We`ll see.
That does for us tonight. We`ll see you again tomorrow.
Now, it`s time for “THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL.”
Good evening, Lawrence.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed,
transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written
permission of CQ-Roll Call. You may not alter or remove any trademark,
copyright or other notice from copies of the content.>