The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 10/8/15
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: That is “ALL IN” for this evening.
THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts right now.
Good evening, Rachel.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chris. Thanks, my friend.
HAYES: You bet.
MADDOW: Thanks to you at home for staying with us for the next hour,
on what has been an absolutely wild news day.
To understand the absolute chaos that reigned today in American
politics, you have to start here. This very lovely Hilton Hotel in the
Richmond, Virginia area. What happened today, this sort of tidal wave of
chaos that flowed over Washington today, it started at that Virginia hotel
ballroom at this moment.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FORMER REP. ERIC CANTOR (R), VIRGINIA: When I sit here and I listen
to Mr. Brat speak, I hear the inaccuracies.
My family`s here – we are not a country of free speech. So
decency`s also part of this.
I hear the inaccuracies. My wife and two of my kids are here. My
mother and mother-in-law are here. They hear the falsehoods. But of
course I`m tempted to fight fire with fire.
But instead let me just leave you with some thoughts, to think over.
You know, first of all, it is easy to sit in the rarefied environs of
academia, in the ivory towers of a college campus with no accountability
and no consequence when you throw stones –
When you throw stones at those of us who are working every day to
make a difference.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That was Republican congressman at the time Eric Cantor of
Virginia. He was then the number two Republican in Congress, and he was
nearly getting booed out of the ballroom at that Richmond Hilton. That
took place in May of last year, and the people who were booing him, those
were his own constituents. They were Republicans in his own home district,
the very same people who had sent him to Congress for seven straight terms.
I mean, that was supposed to be a very friendly crowd for him.
Instead, it turned into something approaching a bit of a mob scene. And
within a month, Eric Cantor was out of a job. Sent packing.
This powerful, high-profile Republican on the rise within the
Republican Party, within American politics overall, Eric Cantor lost his
seat, lost his seat to a political nobody whose name was Brat – a local
college professor named Dave Brat who had never been involved in electoral
politics before, he beat Eric Cantor – this titan of Republican politics -
- in Eric Cantor`s home district. Kicked him out of Congress.
And that in a strange way is how we got to today. Because we now
know that had Eric Cantor won that election, had he been able to win over
those people in that ballroom, had he held on to his seat against that no-
name upstart college professor, today, Eric Cantor would be speaker of the
House. He`d be third in line to the presidency. He`d be the leader of
Congress. He`d be the second most powerful person in Washington after the
Had Eric Cantor not been primaried out of his seat, the next thing
that would have happened after Eric Cantor got re-elected to Congress that
year, had that happened, the next thing that would have happened is John
Boehner would have announced he was stepping down as speaker, that the time
had come to put Eric Cantor in that job. That is what was supposed to
happen last year. That is what as going to happen last year.
And Eric Cantor had by now, had that all happened. Eric Cantor, by
now, would be well into his first year as speaker of the House.
But fate and that chorus of booing in that hotel ballroom in
Richmond, Virginia, fate and political failure intervened. And because of
what happened to Eric Cantor in that one district in Virginia, John Boehner
had to change his plans and stay on the job. He was supposed to have
stepped down and let Eric Cantor take over at the end of last year. But
John Boehner stayed on because Dave Brat, who John Boehner then had to
officially swear in as a member of the House, that must have been a happy
Because this guy Dave Brat beat Eric Cantor, John Boehner was forced
to stay on the job. And he has been on the job all that time until this
happened. Cue the waterworks. See John Boehner there on the right side of
John Boehner crying in public because he is moved by something, it is
and always has been one of my favorite things about John Boehner. I find
it uncynically endearing and human about him. I empathize with him on it
because I too am an uncontrollable public cryer.
But in terms of how we got to today`s tidal wave of chaos in
Washington, John Boehner crying repeatedly and uncontrollably in the
presence of Pope Francis this month ends up being an important part of the
story. I mean, we`ll never know for sure. Mr. Boehner has given sort of
conflicting answers about it.
But John Boehner apparently was so moved by the visit of Pope Francis
to the Capitol this past month that he decided literally right as Pope
Francis was leaving Washington, D.C., he says he decided that if he was
ever going to get out of this freaking job, it was going to be right then.
No time like the present, right now. Let`s do it.
And so in fact the day after Pope Francis left Washington, D.C. and
John Boehner spent that entire day crying in public in the presence of the
pope, the very next day, John Boehner surprised everybody and he quit. He
quit one of the most powerful jobs in the world. He says he told the next
man in line for the job, Kevin McCarthy, he says he told him a grand total
of two minutes before he told everybody else. He told Kevin McCarthy he
was quitting while he was walking into a House Republican meeting and at
that meeting he stunned every Republican in Washington by announcing he was
John Boehner announced that he was quitting on a Friday afternoon
less than two weeks ago. For the whole weekend that followed, the whole
news and politics world was furiously Googling Kevin McCarthy, trying to
figure out who this guy is. Who is this shoo-in next in line guy to run
All the Beltway news was about how Kevin McCarthy was on such great
terms with all the other Republicans in Congress, how he had recruited many
of them to be in Congress in the first place, how he had all but locked up
the support he needed to become the next speaker, even if not too many
people knew who he was. That was the weekend.
So, we had John Boehner`s surprise – we had the pope leave
Washington on Thursday night. We had John Boehner resign on Friday. Over
the weekend we got Kevin McCarthy all but anointed.
And then the following Monday rolled around. Kevin McCarthy`s
scheduled to give a big foreign policy speech that Monday. At that point,
right? He`s not just a member of Congress giving a leadership speech.
He`s now the man poised to take one of the highest-profile and most
powerful political jobs in the entire world.
I mean, the spotlight had never burned brighter on Kevin McCarthy.
That Monday, the Monday after John Boehner quit. It`s the first huge
moment of national and even international importance for lucky, lucky Kevin
McCarthy. And it went very poorly.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R), CALIFORNIA: We don`t have the same as
difficult decision, but this White House is managing the decline in putting
us in tough decisions for the future. Unlike during the surge in Iraq when
Petraeus and Crocker had an effective politically strategy to match the
It defies belief that the president would allow the ban on Iranian
oil exports to be lifted and also stand by a Russia blackmails an entire
continent, all the while keeping the place of the band on America.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Stand by a Russia blackmails an entire continent, keeping
the place of the ban on peanut butter banana foo, foo, what?
That was Monday of last week. Then came Tuesday of last week when
the same Kevin McCarthy appeared on the FOX News Channel and said the thing
that Republicans are never supposed to admit in public, which is that they
created a multimillion-dollar taxpayer-funded investigation into the
Benghazi attack specifically for the purpose of bringing down Hillary
Clinton`s poll numbers as she runs for president. And he said proudly they
think it`s working.
Kevin McCarthy had only been a candidate for House speaker for two
business days at that point. But at that point with that serious self-
inflicted wound, it all of a sudden started to sort of change the weather
around Kevin McCarthy. It sort of became open season on this guy who just
moments before was supposed to be a shoo-in for the job.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JASON CHAFFETZ (R), UTAH: It`s an absolute inappropriate
statement. It is not how this started. It`s an absolute terrible
statement. I don`t think it`s a fair –
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: He should apologize?
CHAFFETZ: Yes. I think he should apologize. I think he should
MEGYN KELLY, FOX NEWS HOST: I imagine you feel very disappointed in
those comments, but you tell me.
REP. TREY GOWDY (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: Well, Kevin`s wrong.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Democrats are right to criticize him. I
would criticize him. I think he owes an apology to the families.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Those are not Democrats. Those were all guys from his own
side. Republicans in Congress all going on TV to say Kevin McCarthy`s
wrong, he needs to apologize.
And because Kevin McCarthy is Kevin McCarthy, this is what it sounded
like when he tried to take it back, or at least defend himself, or actually
know what he was trying to say here.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MCCARTHY: I do not want to make that harm Benghazi committee in any
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Nobody was trying to make that harm Benghazi committee in
any way. I don`t want to make – but that was the lead-up to today. Today
was the day House Republicans were set to nominate their candidate for
Kevin McCarthy, despite all of his screw-ups in the last few days, he
was expected to wrap this thing up today. Early this morning shows up at
work around 8:00 a.m. Reporters are gathered around. It`s the big day.
Kevin McCarthy, all smiles.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Good morning.
MCCARTHY: Good morning. How are you all today? Good morning.
REPORTER: How`s it going to go?
MCCARTHY: It`s going to go great.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: It`s going to go great. That was 8:00 this morning.
Kevin McCarthy is there with his family on Capitol Hill. He`s going
to meet with congressional Republicans. He goes and meets with
Republicans. He makes his final sales pitch to be speaker. All systems
And then very quickly for some reason, between then and about four
hours later, things just went off the rails. I mean, this was him in the
8:00 hour. This was him 8:00 a.m. this morning, definitely running, making
his pitch, all systems go. It`s going to go great, 8:00 a.m.
And then just four hours later, House Republicans gathered again
around noon to hold their actual vote. This was a foregone conclusion,
right? I mean, the media were gathered around waiting to hear the big
news, the inevitable announcement that Kevin McCarthy had been picked. I
mean, most of what they`re interested in I guess was waiting to hear the
actual vote total for him to see if that might be interesting.
But everybody knew bottom line how it was going to go. And then to
the surprise of everyone, Republicans pulled the silverware drawer out of
the kitchen cabinet and put it over their heads and shook it. It was just
stunning and amazing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANDREA MITCHELL, MSNBC ANCHOR: Luke, the report that we`ve
confirmed, Kevin McCarthy has taken himself out of the race?
LUKE RUSSERT, NBC NEWS: Andrea, this is a huge shock. This is a
bombshell that nobody saw coming. A few members of Congress just left the
A scrum of reporters went over there and said hey, guys, why are you
leaving so early? We thought this process was going to take over an hour,
hour and a half. They said that Kevin McCarthy stood up, announced that he
would not be running for speaker, and then the current speaker of the
House, Boehner, said, “As a result of Mr. McCarthy`s announcement we`re
going to be postponing the election.”
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That was it. Just like that. Everything we thought was
going to happen did not happen. I mean, House Republicans burst out of
that room like a house on fire. They said they were stunned. That`s the
word people used over and over and over again. Republican congressman Mark
Sanford from South Carolina used the word “mayhem” to describe what
happened inside that room. Mayhem.
He said a number of Republican members of Congress were crying inside
the meeting room. NPR reported that the crying, the sobbing of multiple
Republican members of Congress was audible to people who were there at the
Kevin McCarthy himself then addressed reporters, again, standing
alongside his family.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MCCARTHY: Come on over, guys. Come on up. Come on up.
All right. I think I shocked some of you, huh?
Listen, we`ve been going through this campaign talking to a lot of
members, but the one thing I`ve always said to earn this majority, we`re
servants. We should put this conference first.
And I think there`s something to be said for us to unite we probably
need a fresh face. I`ll stay on as majority leader. But the one thing I
found in talking to everybody, if we are going to unite and be strong, we
need a new face to help do that.
So, nothing more than that. I feel good about the decision. I feel
great to have my family here, my colleagues. I think we`re only going to
We fought hard to win this majority and turn this country around.
And this will be our best step foot – foot step –
REPORTER: You said at 8:00 a.m., you were going to run for the
speakership. Why change it at noon? What happened in those four hours?
MCCARTHY: You know, we had our conference, and there`s calls in to
the district. I don`t want to make voting for speaker a tough one. I
don`t want to go to the floor and win with 220 votes. I think the best
thing for our party right now is that you have 247 votes on the floor. If
we are going to be strong, we`ve got to be 100 percent united.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Kevin McCarthy now saying that he had dropped his bid for
speaker. I think I shocked some of you, huh?
Yes. Yes. You think?
The headlines today, “McCarthy shocks conference by dropping speaker
bid.” This was “Politico” today. “McCarthy drops out,” colon, or comma.
“House in chaos.”
“The Hill” went so far as foul out their big explanation point for
their headline. “Shock! McCarthy drops from speaker`s race.”
I can`t be entirely That may be the first time we`ve actually seen an
exclamation point in a Beltway headline.
But this was just a total Republican mess today. Who`s going to run
Congress? Nobody knows. Nobody knows.
Who`s going to be third in line to the presidency after the vice
president? The second most powerful person in Washington after the
president? Nobody knows.
Who runs the Republican Party? Nobody knows. Who gets to decide who
runs the Republican Party? Say it with me now. Nobody knows.
This entire process from the very beginning has been for the
Republicans surprise after disaster after surprise after disaster. But
that`s their process.
And this is also the same process that ultimately has to result in
somebody, somebody else, getting this really, really important job. And
there`s nothing about this process thus far that gives us any indication
whatsoever of what that person might be or who they might be chosen.
Could be Dave Brat for all we know. Or how about one of those angry
people who booed at Eric Cantor in that hotel room back in the spring last
year? I mean, any of those people booing at Eric Cantor, any of them need
a day job? Because there`s a really, really important one that`s vacant
right now. And given what has just transpired, anything is possible.
MADDOW: On this issue that`s been batted around today about whether
or not the Democrats might have to help Republicans pick a new speaker,
Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi today was asked about that and she made
clear beyond any reasonable doubt that that will not be happening.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
REPORTER: Tell me why you think nobody wants to be speaker.
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), DEMOCRATIC LEADER: You know what, you`re
just going to have to ask nobody.
REPORTER: Would you take it if it was offered to you?
PELOSI: We want to win it.
REPORTER: Is it a worse job for Republicans?
PELOSI: You know what? I think it`s a great job. It has great
opportunity. And I`m sure they`ll find somebody who is capable of
accepting the honor.
REPPORTER: You`re sure?
PELOSI: I hope.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MADDOW: I`m sure they`ll find somebody who`s capable of accepting
the honor. And while you`re at it, ask nobody.
Nancy Pelosi today basically saying whoever the Republicans decide to
try to go with, they`re going to have to do this on their own. She`s not
planning on helping. Good luck, you guys.
Joining us now is MSNBC political correspondent Steve Kornacki.
Steve, I`m so excited to talk to you about this right now that I
could pop. Thank you for being here.
STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Sure.
MADDOW: In all your days covering politics statewide and nationwide,
you`ve seen a lot of drama and surprises. Can you sort of rank this in
terms of how big a deal this is?
KORNACKI: Yes. The only thing that comes to mind that`s comparable
to this is at the height of the Bill Clinton impeachment drama in December
of 1998, when Republicans had a speaker in waiting, Bob Livingston from
Louisiana. He was all set to take the job. Then it turned out that he had
an extramarital affair, this as Republicans were trying to impeach Bill
Clinton over his extramarital affair.
He went to the floor of the House. Nobody saw this coming at the
moment. And he resigned on the spot. And there was just total chaos in
the House on top of impeachment playing out.
And the way that all sorted out in the end was you had this sort of
vacuum then. With Livingston gone, Newt Gingrich had just stepped down as
the speaker. So there was this big power vacuum on the Republican side.
That`s how Dennis Hastert became speaker at the time.
KORNACKI: At the time, nobody outside of Capitol Hill had heard of
Dennis Hastert but Republicans were really in a jam. The biggest names in
the party were off the table and Hastert was the only one they could find
who just had good personal relationships sort of across the Republican
He was not a loud guy. He was not known outside of D.C. But that`s
why they turned to him in that moment. And he was sort of an accidental
MADDOW: It`s a really important precedent at this point because we
look back at the Gingrich era. The whole reason Bob Livingston was going
to be speaker-elect is that Gingrich had sort of resigned in disgrace after
So, Gingrich is out, there`s this huge controversy over whether his
brand of ideological confrontational brand of Republican politics is going
to be the Republican way going forward or whether there`s going to be a
more conciliatory Republican Party. We see some of those same arguments
now. Livingston was going to be one very specific guy.
When they turned to Denny Hastert in obscurity and everybody had it
look him up without the benefit of Google at the time, when they picked
Hastert, were they picking somebody who had ideological specificity or no?
KORNACKI: No. But what he did have, the twist there was he was also
Tom DeLay`s guy. So, Tom DeLay was in the leadership back then and wanted
to be speaker but there was a recognition especially in the wake of the bad
mid-terms they had and the reasons Newt Gingrich was forced out as leader.
Tom DeLay was too radioactive to be speaker himself. But he had
formidable strength within the Republican caucus so he championed Hastert
on his way out the door. Gingrich told Republicans there`s one guy that
can unite us. They called him the coach. I mean, he`d been a wrestling
coach, we now know more about that. But the coach is the guy who can bring
us all together.
MADDOW: So, that is fascinating because that gets us right back to
today which is there was a guy named Tom DeLay there who could tell
Republicans what to do, wrangle votes, get enough votes together, to not
only get a nominee but to get the floor vote passed and to put somebody in
leadership. Even if it couldn`t be him himself he could control people.
Is there anybody in Republican politics who can control people?
KORNACKI: Well, the two names that come to mind. First of all,
Kevin McCarthy was supposed to be able to. The whole appeal of Kevin
McCarthy and the reason why the optimistic Republican would have said he`d
be different than John Boehner is all of those sort of House Freedom Caucus
types on the far right on the Republican side who didn`t like Boehner and
wanted him out, a lot of them were recruited to Congress by Kevin McCarthy
MADDOW: So, they at least owed him that.
KORNACKI: Right. And he did what Boehner didn`t do. Over the last
five years he met with them constantly. He called them constantly. He
cultivated personal relationships.
So, the thinking was one theory was the next time you come to a debt
ceiling showdown or whatever it is and he has to move them toward
compromise, they would give him the benefit of the doubt they never were
going to give John Boehner. That was the thinking.
MADDOW: At least listen to him, at least engage with him.
KORNACKI: Right. They believe he would be acting in good faith in a
way they never trusted John Boehner was acting in good faith because they
liked him personally. That was the theory at least. McCarthy, obviously,
that`s completely out the door now.
The other one who comes to mind now and the one the full court press
is on now, Paul Ryan. You have John Boehner telling Paul Ryan he has to
get in there. You have Kevin McCarthy telling him he`s got to get in
He does not want this job because he sees exactly what it leads to,
it leads to you ultimately will have to strike a deal with the White House
and the Democrats to keep the government open, to avoid the debt ceiling,
you have to do that.
He knows invariably when he gets to that point, no matter what he
does, no matter how many times he bows to the right they will call him a
traitor. And if he has political aspirations that extend beyond the House,
which I think he does he does not want to be branded the next John Boehner.
MADDOW: Yes, because Paul Ryan wants to be president and Paul Ryan
is getting lobbied really hard by Kevin McCarthy and John Boehner who are
both dying of political snake bytes right now and they are calling to him,
beckoning to him from inside the nest of vipers saying please hop on and
he`s saying, “No, I`m a young man and someday I`m going to be president
unless I get in there with you guys. Sorry, I`ve got to go wash my hair.”
Ah, this is such an amazing day.
Steve Kornacki, MSNBC political correspondent – thank you.
MADDOW: Really appreciate it.
MADDOW: That was a really complicated metaphor.
KORNACKI: I got it.
MADDOW: A house and hair washing.
KORNACKI: Sounds very inviting.
MADDOW: I`m a little overexcited. We`ll be right back.
MADDOW: Last night, we reported that this moving, supersized, minute
and a half-long TV commercial basically begging Vice President Joe Biden to
run for president, last night we reported this TV ad had been produced by a
group called Draft Biden and Draft Biden was planning on running this
minute and a half long ad on national cable TV channels. They said it was
going to be a six-figure ad buy.
We also reported last night that Vice President Biden himself is not
affiliated with this group, which is this group trying to recruit him into
the presidential race.
Well, now, tonight, we can report that Vice President Biden has
apparently asked that group to please not run that ad. Neither the vice
president himself nor his office is officially commenting on this directly.
But the “L.A. Times” spoke to a person “close to the vice president”
tonight who told the paper, “The vice president appreciates that they are
trying to help but he has seen the ad and thinks the ad treads on sacred
ground and he hopes they do not run it.”
The sacred ground that the ad treads on is presumably the ad`s focus
on vice president Biden`s two major family tragedies. His wife and
daughter being killed in a car accident soon after he was first elected to
the Senate in 1972 and his son Beau, his adult son Beau dying this year
from brain cancer.
Draft Biden turned tape of the vice president talking about those
personal losses into basically a political cri de coeur in this ad. But
Vice President Biden himself will not countenance that type of thing being
done either directly by him or by anyone else on his behalf.
Now, honestly, the fact that Vice President Biden is asking for this
ad not to be run, I think it should not be seen as a sign one way or the
other about whether he`s actually going to get into the race. But the
Beltway press absolutely will take this as an important sign. So, be
prepared for that.
Specifically, be prepared to ignore that as continued baseless
anonymous speculation, which is what it is and what it has been all these
weeks. Vice President Biden is entitled to his own decision p he will tell
us that he`s in or he`s not once he`s decided that he`s in or he`s not.
He gets to decide for himself. None of us get to decide.
Everybody`s speculating on it, is pushing him and speaking for him in a way
that he hasn`t allowed anybody to do. Let him speak for himself. Enough
said already. Leave him alone.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SUBTITLE: Today at the TRMS production meeting.
LAURA CONAWAY, TRMS SR. PRODUCER: Constitutionally, does the House
have to elect a speaker?
MADDOW: I believe. I think there always has to be a speaker.
STEVE BENEN, MADDOWBLOG PRODUCER: Yes, it`s a constitutional office,
CONAWAY: Under penalty of what?
BENEN: The body can`t – literally can`t function, can`t pass bills
unless there`s a speaker.
ISAAC-DAVY ARONSON, TRMS PRODUCER: Well, perfect!
SUBTITLE: But really, what happens if Congress can`t elect a
Hold that thought.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: John Boehner says he had a nightmare. John Boehner told
fellow Republicans in Congress last week that he had a terrible dream about
his job. And we now know that that dream was prophetic. Ooh-whoo-ooh.
Here`s why we know that – when Kevin McCarthy pulled out of the race
to be House speaker today, sure, it might have been for some other reason
that we don`t yet understand. But it pretty much seems like he pulled out
because he couldn`t win, he couldn`t get enough votes from his fellow
Republicans, couldn`t get 218 votes to win that top job. And that is sad
news for Kevin McCarthy.
But the sadder news for the Republican Party and the tremendously
freaking fascinating news for all of us is that it appears that it`s not
just Kevin McCarthy`s problem. It appears that no one can get the votes to
win that job. I mean, he`s not viable as speaker, it turns out. But so
far at least nobody else is either.
And if there`s no one viable, then there are precisely four things
that could happen next. Four.
Option one: someone could become viable. Yes, you, silhouette.
Somebody could become viable. The Republicans could reach deep into
their souls and find a kumbaya center they didn`t know they had, and they
could somehow therefore find someone from Congress who could get 218 votes
and, therefore, take Speaker Boehner`s job.
Maybe that`s Paul Ryan who reportedly got lobbied heavily today to do
it by both John Boehner and Kevin McCarthy himself but who keeps repeatedly
saying, no, he will not do it.
Maybe Paul Ryan changes his mind. Maybe it`s somebody else. But
that`s option one. They find some Republican in Congress who could do it,
even though right now there`s no one.
Or there`s option two. They could find somebody who could do, it who
could get 218 votes, but who is not a Republican member of the House.
Technically, that`s legal. Doesn`t have to be a member of Congress to be
speaker. So, it just could be anyone in the world.
Who, anyone in the world could a majority of Republicans come to an
agreement on? Out of anybody in the world.
First Lady Nancy Reagan. They could all agree on her, right?
Senator Ted Cruz. He has lots of friends in the House. Maybe that
guy from “Duck Dynasty.” They could all agree on a Chick-fil-A sandwich.
You could be speaker.
Or perhaps former Speaker Newt Gingrich, who just today, I am totally
not joking right now, Newt Gingrich just today said actually, he`d be happy
to do it if need be.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
SEAN HANNITY: My question is, maybe this is a time for Newt Gingrich
to come back with – with a flurry of ideas and a new contract that would
advance a conservative agenda to help the country solve these horrible
problems. Would you consider, if nominated, being the interim speaker?
NEWT GINGRICH (R), FORMER HOUSE SPEAKER: Look, I can`t quite imagine
a circumstance – McCarthy problem is not getting a majority of the
conference, it`s getting 218 votes. I mean, if you were to say to me 218
HANNITY: Why are you laughing at my idea? This is a serious
GINGRICH: Now, I`m not laughing at it. I`m saying to you – I`m
trying to be totally honest with you. If you`re going to say to me 218
guys have called you up and given you their pledge, obviously, no citizen
could ever turn down that kind of challenge. This is why George Washington
came out of retirement. There are moments you can`t avoid.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MADDOW: So there you have it. Option two. Newt Gingrich could
rescue House Republicans. Or any random person they found on the street
could rescue House Republicans if they could all agree on that random
person. That`s option two.
Or there`s option three. The ominous option. Which is that there
actually isn`t anybody, Nancy Reagan included, Newt Gingrich included, Paul
Ryan included, they can`t find anybody to agree on.
In that case, conceivably, there could be no speaker. John Boehner
retires, gets to spend more time with his golf game, but there`s nobody no
take over in his place and nobody runs Congress.
That would mean no votes, no convening, no offices, no nothing.
Nobody can do business. Congress just closes. Congress just kind of ends.
That`s the third of three options. And each of those three options right
now seems either impossible or impossibly catastrophic.
Which brings us to option four, which is honestly the most likely
thing to happen. Which is that John Boehner is not allowed to quit. Poor
guy. When he told his colleagues last week about this terrible work dream
he had, this nightmare, what he said was this, quote, “I had this terrible
nightmare last night that I was trying to get out and I couldn`t get out
and a hand came reaching, pulling me.”
Is that the most likely thing that`s going to happen? Because that
would be freaking amazing, right? Because, first of all, anytime you have
a dream about work, whether it`s a good dream or a bad dream, it`s a bad
dream because you shouldn`t be dreaming about work. That should be a
different part of your brain than the sleeping part.
But it would be truly a nightmare for this group of Republican hard-
liners who just claimed Kevin McCarthy`s scalp, who just killed Kevin
McCarthy`s chances of being speaker and they just killed John Boehner`s
tenure as speaker.
If the ultimate result of all of this is that John Boehner not only
can`t quit but he can`t be fired, they can`t get rid of him, that would be
a nightmare. Not just for John Boehner. That would be a nightmare for all
the right-wing hard-liners who have been thinking all along that they were
winning this thing.
Congratulations. You win. You win your worst nightmare from which
you can`t wake up because now it`s permanent.
Joining us now is Jay Newton-Small, Washington correspondent for
Jay, it`s great you have to here. I promise I will not make you
interact with any props.
JAY NEWTON-SMALL, TIME MAGAZINE: Thanks so much for having me on,
MADDOW: We have an overactive prop department, which is something
that we all do.
At this point, is the most likely outcome that John Boehner just has
to stay on even though he`s trying to quit?
NEWTON-SMALL: It is looking more and more likely that it is the most
likely outcome. And it`s exactly like you said, his nightmare. It`s the
worst thing that he wanted especially because he just thought – I mean,
literally he was so excited to leave.
When he announced he was resigning, he literally walked up to the
podium singing “zip-a-dee-doo-dah, zip-a-dee-ay.” And like it was the best
day of his life. I am not seeing him so happy in 15 years.
And now, he might actually have to stay. It`s sort of like he should
have expected it, right? Because every single thing he`s stride to do with
these guys has been completely like, you know, pulling teeth. And he`s
never been able to convince them of anything. Why did he actually think
that he would convince them of letting him go easily, quietly into the
night was going to be so easy? I don`t know.
MADDOW: Right, especially, when he tried to do it on his own terms,
it`s almost like the universe rose up and was like no, John Boehner, you
don`t get to do anything on your own terms, don`t you realize what this job
Well, in terms of the other options, obviously there`s all this
attention on Paul Ryan. He could not be more clear that he doesn`t want
it. We`ve heard that both John Boehner and Kevin McCarthy want him, they
don`t care he said no, they`re trying to do their best to push him into
Do you have any indication of what might happen in terms of that
lobbying effort with Paul Ryan?
NEWTON-SMALL: I mean, he announced today, or actually it was broken
today that he suspended doing fund-raisers for the next 48 hours, which a
lot of people took as a sign that he may be reading the tea leaves. These
are Biden-esque tea leaves at this point, that he might actually run, or
might actually become speaker.
Honestly, it`s not in his best interests.
NEWTON-SMALL: So if he ever wants to run for higher office, this a
part-time – this is not a part-time job. This is a very temporary job.
Whoever is the next speaker is not likely to last beyond the next 18 months
left of Boehner`s term because everything that`s left to do for this
legislative term is completely unpopular with their own conference.
I mean, you have to raise the debt ceiling by early November. You
have to increase transportation infrastructure spending. You have to
increase spending for the budget for the government. I mean, all passed on
the back of Democratic votes. Or you`re going to face a government
I mean, none of these things are things these guys want to do.
Reauthorize the Ex-Im Bank. Again, something they don`t want to do.
So, all of things, every single time the speaker pushes this through
on the back of Democratic votes, whomever he or she is, they`re going to
say, OK, motion to vacate the chair, you`re fired. Sort of like Donald
Trump`s Congress, you`re fired, you`re fired. Let`s have a new speaker
every other week.
And so, whoever this next speaker is, is not going to last very long
because there`s nothing he or she can do that`s going to make it very
popular to stay.
MADDOW: I will say, after all of the effort that we`ve put into
coming up with our four options including John Boehner sadly having to keep
doing this thing, you have just inspired me that we should have done a
fifth, which is House speaker on a chore wheel where everybody has to be
house speaker for three days and then it goes to somebody else and it ruins
their career for three days but everybody has to take a turn and it`s like
doing the compost in a hippie house. That`s amazing.
Jay Newton-Small, Washington correspondent for “Time” magazine,
really appreciate your time tonight. This is going to be fun to watch it
play out. Thank you.
NEWTON-SMALL: Thank you.
MADDOW: Thanks a lot.
All right. Programming note: if you are planning your later night TV
viewing for this evening, I should let you know that I`m going to be on
“The Daily Show” tonight with Trevor Noah.
We just taped it before this show. It was super fun. Also it was a
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TREVOR NOAH, THE DAILY SHOW: I would love to know one thing. I`d
love to know many things, but one thing from you.
If you had to vote for one of the Republican candidates – if you had
to vote –
If you had to vote, had to vote, if someone held a gun to your head
because Ben Carson said point it that way, who would you vote for? If you
had to vote for one of the 12.
MADDOW: For one of the ones who is running?
NOAH: One of the 12 – one of the main 12 on that debate stage.
MADDOW: The main 12.
NOAH: Yes, the main 12. I know it sounds ridiculous. Who would it
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Tonight on “The Daily Show” with Trevor Noah, you can see
how that ends. I will warn you, it ends very poorly. But that`s later
tonight on Comedy Central.
We`ll be right back.
MADDOW: Something to keep an eye on today. Senior defense officials
have told NBC News that four of the cruise missiles that Russia launched
yesterday from its ships in the Caspian Sea intended for targets in Syria,
U.S. military sources now telling NBC News that missiles, some of those
missiles did not hit Syria. They hit Iran instead, by accident.
We don`t have a lot of detail on this story. We don`t know how U.S.
officials supposedly know this. But they say four of the 20-something
cruise missiles that Russia tried to launch into Syria yesterday from their
ships 900 miles away, they say four of those 20-something missiles instead
landed in a remote and rural section of Iran.
The Russian defense ministry is disputing this. They say all the
missiles fired from their ships found their targets precisely.
U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter said yesterday that the Russian
strategy in Syria is flawed and the U.S. will not be cooperating with the
Russians in Syria as our two countries wage our own separate wars there.
That was yesterday.
Then today after these reports of Russia`s missiles straying into
Iran and landing there instead, today, Ash Carter called the conduct of
Russian military forces in Syria, quote, “increasingly unprofessional.”
But again, news tonight is that senior defense officials say four of
the Russian cruise missiles intended for Syria hit Iran instead. So far,
Iran`s not saying anything about this either. But we`ll let you know more
as we learn more.
Stay with us.
MADDOW: The last we heard from the state of Oklahoma, they had just
called off an execution at the very last minute because, surprise, turns
out they had the wrong drug. They were supposed to kill this man using
something called potassium chloride, but they instead discovered what they
had on hand was potassium acetate – oops, glad we noticed.
Officials in Oklahoma say they opened the box of drugs that they had
for that execution, and they discovered two hours before that lethal
injection was supposed to happen, they just discovered that in the box was
the wrong stuff. And so, a little bit of chaos.
Governor Mary Fallin called off that execution at the very last
minute. The prisoner himself was sitting in a holding cell wondering why
he was still alive. Now, the state has halted all executions while they
try to figure out why they had the wrong drug, what went wrong. That was
the unsettling news from Oklahoma last week.
Now, we have learned something even more unsettling. Turns out when
Oklahoma discovered, less than two hours before that execution that they
had the wrong drug, turns out they were actually lucky that time. Because
in January, we now know they actually went ahead and used the wrong drug to
kill someone else.
That information was just released today in that man`s autopsy
report. You can see here, this is from the autopsy report. The syringes
were labeled with the right drug, the syringes were labeled potassium
chloride, but the syringes were filled from vials containing the wrong
drug. They were filled from vials containing potassium acetate, the wrong
drug. And Oklahoma killed that prisoner that way in January.
As the execution began, witnesses say the man called out, “It feels
like acid and my body is on fire.” Even though witnesses and reporters and
the public didn`t know it at the time, the drug they said they were using
wasn`t really the drug they were using. Nobody knew that until today when
the autopsy report came out.
We don`t know if Oklahoma knew it all along and they were covering it
up, or maybe they just didn`t really notice and it turns out that Oklahoma
is blindly injecting people with whatever drug is at hand without noticing
What about the execution before that? The gruesomely botched lethal
injection last year when the man in Oklahoma writhed and gasped for 43
minutes and they tried to stop that execution and bring him back before he
finally died of a heart attack. His syringes were labeled with the right
drug. They say that`s what they used. They say they used the right drug
in that execution. But who knows now in Oklahoma.
This system, the way we carry out the death penalty, it`s been a mess
for a long time now, but in Oklahoma, it`s almost unbelievable what a mess
it is right now.
The Oklahoma attorney general says tonight his office is now
investigating the wrong drug execution that they called off last month.
They`re also now investigating the executions that happened before that,
where it is no longer at all clear how they killed those people or really
Oklahoma has shut down their entire process of killing prisoners
because they made such a hash of it. But the hash in Oklahoma inevitably
raises the question of whether this is happening in other places, too.
Watch this space.
MADDOW: The night of November 22nd, 1963, President John F. Kennedy
had just been assassinated hours earlier and Lyndon Johnson had been sworn
in as president as a big rush.
Nobody knew if that assassination was part of a larger plot. Nobody
knew if the new president, Johnson, might be in danger, too.
That night at Lyndon Johnson`s house, a Secret Service agent heard
footsteps in the dark. Quote, “Blaine picked up the Thompson submachine
gun and activated the bolt on top. The next instant, there was a face to
go with the footsteps. It was the new president of the United States
Lyndon Baines Johnson who had just rounded the country, and Officer Blaine
had the gun pointed directly at his chest.
A split second later, Blaine would have pulled the trigger. Fourteen
hours after losing one president, the nation came chillingly close to
losing another one.”
If that that had happened, if Lyndon Johnson had been accidentally
killed by that jumpy Secret Service agent at his house that night, then the
37th president of the United States would have been this man, speaker of
the House, John McCormack. And not only was John McCormack just one itchy
trigger away from the presidency that night, Speaker McCormack e apparently
did think he was president for just a moment on the day of JFK`s
He was in the House cafeteria when he was misinformed that both
President Kennedy and Vice President Johnson were dead. Quote, “The
possibility that he was at that moment president prompted a severe attack
of vertigo. McCormack almost collapsed in table cloth and silverware.”
Obviously, John McCormack he was not president nor did he ever have
to be, but he did go on to play a pivotal role in some of the most
consequential legislation ever passed in our country. The Civil Rights
Act, Voting Rights Act, Medicare.
On the Civil Rights Act of 1964, he rallied a bipartisan collation to
pull the veil out of the hands of a segregationist committee chairman who
bottled it up for years.
Nearly 50 years, when President Obama`s health reform law came to the
brink of death in Congress, it was the House Speaker Nancy Pelosi who saved
it. She whipped the Democrats to pass a bill many feared would cost them
their jobs. If you love Obamacare or hate Obamacare, you can blame or
thank Nancy Pelosi for it.
The speaker of the House really matters. It matters
constitutionally. It matters legislatively. Our lives are substantially
different than they might have been because of who has occupied that job at
And so, with this incredible chaos in Washington today, it is a
spectacle, it is exciting, it is fascinating to watch. But it is also
unbelievably consequential, unbelievably consequential American politics.
And how it gets resolved is one of the most important things that will
happen in our political lifetimes. And it is amazing to watch, but it is
also serious business.
And that does it for us tonight. We will see you again tomorrow.
Now, it`s time for “THE LAST WORD”. Ari Melber sitting in for
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