The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 11/11/15
CHRIS HAYES, “ALL IN” HOST: Before we go, a programming note. Be
sure to tune into Comedy Central later tonight. I`ll be a guest on “The
Daily Show” with Trevor Noah. It was a lot of fun.
That is “ALL IN” for this evening.
THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts right now.
Good evening, Rachel.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: I heard that went great. Did that in
fact go great when you`re with him?
HAYES: You know, a live audience is fun. Like you make a joke, some
people laugh, when we`re not in our weird, hermetically sealed studio,
where you think you had a funny line, when you say to the camera, it`s just
MADDOW: That`s why I keep the nodding bobble head next to me, just
off-camera throughout my entire show. Thank you, Chris. Congratulations
HAYES: You bet.
MADDOW: And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour.
OK, so, it`s happening again. We are having another one of those
momentums when most people in the country think we`re all having the same
conversation about what`s going on in politics. Sort of feels like
everybody`s in on the conversation, we have a stimulated set of facts, we
all have a general set of impressions about what`s going on.
The problem is that on the political right, American conservatives
are having a completely different and unrelated conversation. This does
not happen all the time. It very occasionally happens with the American
But when this does happen on the American right, in particular, it
always sets up the mainstream for a real radical shot somewhere down the
line, when they finally realize that the political right in this country
hasn`t been taking part in the mainstream political conversation. They`ve
got their own thing going on, their own perceptions of what`s important and
where things are going.
Every once in a while, two political worlds just diverge in this
country. And usually, it`s the right that goes off into its own space and
nobody knows what they`re talking about if they`re not in on that
We, right now, are having one of those moments. And in the modern
Republican Party, in the modern conservative movement, frequently, when
these moments do come up, they involve, in one way or another, the Bush
family. And that`s what`s happening right now.
Last week, there was a slight political tizzy when reporters first
got their hands on the new biography of George H.W. Bush, published by
historian Jon Meacham. Even as his second son, Jeb Bush, is running for
president, George Bush Sr. is quoted in this new biography, talking some
pretty serious smack about the presidency of his oldest son, George W.
His substantive criticism of things that went wrong or things that
were done poorly during his son`s presidential administration, particularly
because he issued those criticisms while his other son is running for
president this year. Those criticisms do, I think, count as newsworthy and
as fairly surprising.
What was not surprising, though, was that when George Bush Sr. looked
at what was wrong with the president of George W. Bush, what was not
surprising is that when he looked at that presidency and found that there
were things wrong – it is not surprising that he blamed those things
mostly on Donald Rumsfeld.
That is not surprising, because Poppy Bush and Donald Rumsfeld have
hated each other for decades. Their mutual antipathy and scheming against
each other, it goes back to the Gerald Ford era. It even goes back before
that. When Donald Rumsfeld was Gerald Ford`s chief of staff, George Bush
long suspected that the reason he got tapped to go off into the
intelligence community wilderness and go run the CIA was so he would not be
anywhere near the White House. He literally would not physically be
around, when Gerald Ford started looking around for a vice presidential
running mate in 1976.
Donald Rumsfeld thought the running mate was going to be him. And he
didn`t want Poppy Bush around and in the way when the next vice president
of the United States was getting chosen. In the end, though, in 1976,
Gerald Ford did look around and he decided not to pick Poppy Bush and he
also decided not to pick Don Rumsfeld. He instead picked a guy named Bob
Dole to be his vice presidential running mate in 1976.
And if you really want to talk about bad blood and long-standing
knives-out political rivalries, yes, it was bad between George Bush and Don
Rumsfeld for a very long time. But the only man in Washington who had an
even worse relationship with George Bush and even pricklier decades-long
rivalry, it ended up being Bob Dole. Bob Dole and George H.W. Bush hated
each other for decades in an active way that drove their political
In 1971, Richard Nixon had picked Bob Dole to head the Republican
Party. Then he very quickly decided he didn`t actually like Bob Dole in
that job and he replaced him the very next year with George Bush as the
head of the Republican Party. Then, when Nixon was gone, thank you,
Watergate, and Ford became president, it was Bob Dole who got the running
mate gig for the 1976 election, but Gerald Ford and Bob Dole got beat in
And when it came time for the Republican Party to run somebody else
for president in 1980, both Bob Dole and George Bush decided they were
going to go for it. And so Bob Dole, again, he`d been the running mate
from the previous election. He thought he might have a good leg up on the
1980 Republican primary. Much to the shock and chagrin of both him and
George Bush, though, they both ended up getting walloped in 1980 by a guy
named Ronald Reagan.
Not before, though, there was some particularly vicious out loud and
on-camera fighting between the two of them, including that famous moment in
Nashua, New Hampshire, in 1980, when Ronald Reagan shoved his way through a
debate format that he had just blown up by saying he had paid for that
microphone and he would do with it what he wanted.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TV ANCHOR: It is only three days the now before the voters go to the
polls in the crucial New Hampshire primary. And the Republican candidates
seem to have gone – well, let`s just say things did not go tonight the way
they were supposed to go. We had thought earlier this evening that we`d be
covering a serious showdown debate between the leading Republican
contenders, Ronald Reagan and George Bush. They`re slugging it out toe-to-
toe in the debate, head to head if you will. But then things got out of
Here to report live from New Hampshire are NBC News correspondents
Don Oliver and Garrick Utley.
Garrick, what happened up there tonight?
GARRICK UTLEY, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Tom, it was something
that we haven`t seen so far during this political season. Tonight, there
was personal animosity, there was personal bitterness. About 2,000 people
filled the high school gymnasium.
At one end of the hall were three tables for George Bush, Ronald
Reagan, and the moderator. But since this afternoon, Reagan had been
trying to enlarge the debate to include all the Republican candidates. The
sponsor of the encounter, “The Nashua Telegraph”, refused.
Reagan claimed said that since he had paid for the confrontation, he
had the right to change the ground rules.
A quarter hour after the debate was supposed to start, George Bush
entered the hall.
A moment later, a very angry Ronald Reagan strolled on to the
platform. He didn`t come alone. He brought four other candidates with him
on to the stage.
Then the moderator, John Green, an editor of the paper, set the rules
for the debate. When Ronald Reagan tried to protest, Green attempted to
have his microphone cut off.
MODERATOR: The first 40 minutes of the program, approximately, will
be a – would the sound man, please turn Mr. Reagan`s mic off?
RONALD REAGAN, THEN-RESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Mr. Green –
MODERATOR: Can you turn that microphone off, please?
REAGAN: I am paying for this microphone!
UTLEY: With that, Reagan accompanied the four candidates to the edge
of the stage as they left, a gesture of protest against the newspaper and
When they left the gymnasium, the candidates were not happy.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`ll never understand George Bush`s attitude, as
long as I live. They stiffed us. That`s what they did. They stiffed us
and said you can`t come, and they had the help of the paper. No doubt in
my mind, Bush and the “National Telegraph” are in this together.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: People say, like, I can`t believe how nasty politics is now.
Come on! Meow! That was a very nasty fight in 1980. And in the end,
though, which is remarkable, looking back on it, Ronald Reagan did pick
George Bush to be his vice presidential running mate that year. And vice
president under Reagan is the job that George Bush had for the next eight
And then in 1988, it was time once again for the Republicans to pick
another presidential nominee. And again in 1988, both George Bush and his
nemesis, Bob Dole, decided they would go for it.
And in that year, in 1988 in Iowa, first contest is Iowa, right? In
Iowa in 1988, Bob Dole won huge. Poppy Bush didn`t just come in second in
Iowa that year, he lost to both Bob Dole and to a televangelist. He came
in third in Iowa.
After Iowa was on to New Hampshire, where George H.W. Bush just
blanketed the state of New Hampshire with really, really negative ads
against Bob Dole, Bob Dole had kicked Bush`s butt in Iowa. Bush ended up
kicking Bob Dole`s butt in New Hampshire. And there was just miserable
antipathy between them.
In the new John Meacham book about George Bush, he quotes diary
entries in which George Bush calls Bob Dole a no good son of a – thing
that rhymes with witch. Quoting from George Bush`s diary during the
Republican primary in 1988, Bob Dole, “He`s a desperate, mean man and
people see it. I`ll try and be gracious, but he has been a no-good son of
a bleep about me, hitting me at every turn, bitter, jealous, and class-
And it`s not like these two guys, you know, kept their feelings about
each other confined to their diaries. They were happy to talk about it in
person and occasionally on camera.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TOM BROKAW, NBC NEWS: Mr. Vice President, if you look right down at
that monitor, you`ll see the man that you beat tonight. That`s Senator Bob
Dole who is standing by in his headquarters.
Anything you`d like to say to him at this point?
GEORGE H.W. BUSH, THEN-VICE PRESIDENT: No, just wish him well and
meet him in the South.
BROKAW: And, Senator Dole, anything that you would like to say to
the vice president?
BOB DOLE (R), FORMER SENATOR: Yes, stop lying about my record.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Anything else you would like to say?
The fight between Bob Dole and George Bush that year in 1988 was, in
fact, so ugly that it led NBC News to do kind of a strange thing. It was
kind of a strange, self-conscious scolding political special in 1988. They
aired a special broadcast that year all about how terrible American
politics had become. It`s kind of amazing looking back at it. It was the
soul-searching thing about American politics, all of a sudden getting so
ugly and so disgusting that maybe something was really wrong with us as a
people and as a country.
Just watch this for a second. It`s strange. Up to and including the
weirdest TV political animation I have ever seen used in any context
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BROKAW: As this long campaign staggers to an end, more and more
Americans are asking, is this any way to elect a president?
ANNOUNCER: From the NBC News election center in New York, NBC News
continues its coverage of the 1988 presidential campaign.
Tonight, a special edition of “Campaign Countdown.” Is this any way
to elect the president?
Here in New York is NBC News correspondent, Tom Brokaw.
BROKAW: Good evening. And I`m here with the entire NBC News
election night team, Garrick Utley, John Chancellor and Connie Chung.
And the question is, is this any way to elect a president? Can you
remember a presidential election when so many people were turned off, fed
up, outraged by what they saw and heard? Two-thirds of the people who were
polled by us this week think this is the worst campaign they can remember.
This year, none of the above had a real crack at winning. It`s easy
to blame the candidates and their handlers, especially when up to 60
percent of the people that we polled, in many of our surveys, said they
would rather have another choice.
But we`re all at fault here – the politicians, the press, the
public. We have tolerated a presidential selection process that goes on
too long, one that celebrates the trivial and rewards the manipulative. If
we`re not happy with the choices, who do we have to blame, besides
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: It`s kind of helpful to see, right? I mean, every year we
lament how terrible and stupid our election season has become. But we
really do ask that same question every election year. I mean, every year,
it feels like it`s never been worse. I don`t know if it`s comforting or
terrifying to see this, but that was from 1988, when that year`s soul-
searching lament about terrible American politics was sparked in part by
the visceral, nasty decades-long public hate-fest between George H.W. Bush
and Bob Dole.
And that is what makes this a really, really interesting turn of
events in today`s news.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Who are you going to endorse in the presidential race?
DOLE: Well, I endorsed Jeb Bush today at this Veterans Day.
REPORTER: Oh, Jeb Bush? Any reason why or –
DOLE: Well, I have – I think he`s the most qualified. And we need
somebody with experience.
REPORTER: Senator Dole endorsed you, what do you think of that?
JEB BUSH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He`s a great American, a great
patriot. I`m a huge Bob Dole fan.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Jeb Bush, the second of George H.W. Bush`s sons to run for
president, he had a not-particularly remarkable debate night last night,
but he is still in the race. There`s no sign he`s getting out.
In many ways, honestly, he still is the establishment choice for the
Republican presidential nomination this year. And today, Jeb Bush got
maybe the ultimate establishment endorsement from somebody outside his own
family, when he got this endorsement from Bob Dole, even if he did have to
dig a really, really, really, really deep pit in which to bury the old
family hatchet, in order to be able to accept that endorsement.
But for Jeb Bush, and also for John Kasich, I think, there is an
interesting gulf between how they are seen in mainstream political
analysis, mainstream political discussion, and how they`re seen on the
right. I think it`s sometimes hard to see with Jeb Bush, because he
carries so much family baggage, that the relevant contextual grudges for
understanding what`s going on with him on any given day, frequently,
they`re two generations old. You have to, like, read old books to figure
out what`s going on with Jeb Bush.
I mean, John Kasich has been around for a long time. He briefly ran
for president against Jeb`s big brother George W. in the year 2000. John
Kasich has been around a long time as well. But because he`s lesser known,
he doesn`t have the Bush family baggage, I think John Kasich is sometimes
easier to see as a case study of Republican versus mainstream political
So last night, for example, John Kasich spoke longer than almost
anybody else on stage. He got more speaking time last night than anybody
else, other than old, loquacious Ted Cruz. And the impression that John
Kasich gave, the impression that he made, which was pretty wildly raised in
the mainstream press today and the beltway media was that he did himself
some good last night.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. JOHN KASICH (R-OH), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The people think
that we are going to ship 11 million people who are law-abiding, who are in
this country, and somehow pick them up at their house and ship them out of
Mexico – to Mexico? Think about families. Think about the children.
Come on, folks. We all know you can`t pick them up and ship them
across – back across the border. It`s a silly argument! It`s not an
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: John Kasich getting some applause in the room. John Kasich
and also Jeb Bush last night, they staked out more moderate position on
issues like immigration, which definitely earned them attention and
mainstream praise for their debate performances last night. But this is
just one of those days when you shouldn`t confuse the mainstream discussion
with what is going on the American political right.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO HOST: Kasich starts talking about – think
about the families! Think about the families! Come on, folks! Come on!
Who are we? Come on! Think about the families – we`re not going to
send 11 million, 12 million people home! Come on! What am I doing here?
You people are all idiots.
And, Jeb – I just don`t get it. Well, I – no, I don`t! I mean, I
do. I understand what they`re – they`re running against the will of the
people, trying to establish themselves with much bigger hearts and much
more – they`re running as Democrats!
Jeb and Kasich may as well have been espousing the Democrat Party
position last night, during the Republican debate. And they`re wondering
why things aren`t working out.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That was conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh on his radio
And this was the conservative focus group pollster guy, Frank Luntz,
last night on FOX News.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FRANK LUNTZ, POLLSTER: Who had a negative reaction to John Kasich
tonight? Really? I need a word or phrase to describe John Kasich?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Boring.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tiring.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Irritating.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Finished.
LUNTZ: Hold on. Finished?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He doesn`t belong on the stage.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: From the outside looking in, conservative candidates are
trying to position themselves as pragmatic and realistic and problem
solving experienced executives, which sort of seems like an effective
attempted message for somebody who wants to be president, particularly in a
big, crowded field.
But inside the political right, deep inside Republicanville, what
guys like John Kasich and Jeb Bush are doing right now is seen as them
committing political suicide.
And we`ve got Steve Kornacki here tonight to tell us if there is an
escape hatch for any of these guys. But if there is not, mark my words,
within a few weeks, there`s going to be a great, you know, beltway,
mainstream political awakening. The shock realization that the internal
Republican anger and antipathy against these guys is as fatal for their
prospects of ever getting the Republican nomination is as it is
inexplicable to the rest of us – inexplicable to mainstream observers and
non-Republicans watching guys like that trying to make just a relatively
MADDOW: So, Steve Kornacki is here in just a second. But first, I
have one quick note we just got in about the last governor`s race that`s
taking place this year. It`s the governor`s race that`s happening next
weekend in Louisiana. It`s a runoff election for governor.
The Republican candidate is U.S. Senator David Vitter. He`s facing a
Democratic state lawmaker named John Bel Edwards.
Well, what`s interesting about this race is that, obviously,
Louisiana is a red state. They`re trying to succeed Bobby Jindal. But the
Democrat in this race has been leading in the polls by healthy double
Well, consider this. Tonight, the “Baton Rouge Advocate” reports
that John Edwards is also leading the money race by 10 to 1. Since this
runoff campaign started, which was November 2nd, John Bel Edwards has now
reportedly raised $1.5 million in contributions. In contrast, David Vitter
in the same time period has raised $130,000. So, $1.5 million to $130,000.
Nobody knows until they count the votes and Louisiana still looks
like a red state, but this governor`s race is so far not going the way
people expected it to.
Watch this space.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Why would you then
bail out rich Wall Street banks, but not Main Street, not Mom and Pop, not
KASICH: I wouldn`t. I wouldn`t.
CRUZ: But you just said an executive –
KASICH: No. No, I didn`t say that.
CRUZ: – knows to step in and bail out a bank.
KASICH: They were – they were talking about what you would do with
depositors. Would you let these banks shut down?
My argument is, going forward, the banks have to reserve the capital,
so that the capital – so that the people who own the capital start
pressuring the banks to not take these risky approaches, Ted.
But at the end of the day –
CRUZ: So you said you`d abandon philosophy and abandon principle –
KASICH: – I`m going to tell you this. Let me tell you this. If
during – if during –
CRUZ: – but what would you do if the bank was failing?
KASICH: – because if during – well, I`ll tell you what”?
CRUZ: What would you do if the bank was failing?
KASICH: I would not let the people who put their money in there all
CRUZ: So you – you would bail them out.
KASICH: As an executive – no.
As an executive, I would figure out how to separate those people who
can afford it versus those people, or the hard-working folks who put those
money in those institutions –
KASICH: Let me – no, no. Let me say another thing. Here`s what I
mean by that. Here`s what I mean by that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: When you have to say “here`s what I mean by that,” and then
you have to say it again, and you have to do it over the booing coming from
the crowd, that`s a sign things aren`t going well. But why weren`t things
Joining me now is my friend, MSNBC host and political correspondent
Steve, thank you very much for being here.
STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Sure.
MADDOW: What happened to John Kasich last night on that stage and
does the right see it differently than everybody else?
KORNACKI: That is the perfect clip to play, I think, because the
subject there is the bailout. And the bailout gets to the bigger evolution
or revolution that`s taken place in the Republican Party really over the
last generation. And it has to do – you mentioned that John Kasich
briefly ran in 2000 against George W. Bush.
So, I think that`s the most consequential moment to talk about in
Republican politics. Because the case for George W. Bush, the reason he
beat John Kasich and all the other candidates for the Republican nomination
in 2000, was this was how the conservative movement of 2000 decided to
respond to the Bill Clinton years, decided to respond to losing two
straight elections, `92, `96, to losing on impeachment, to losing on the
government shutdowns with Bill Clinton, and they said, OK, Clinton keeps
beating us, we need our own Bill Clinton.
That was the appeal of George W. Bush. That`s the term compassionate
conservatism that George W. Bush ran on. I`m going to be conservative, but
they`re not going to be able to call me heartless, like they called Newt
Gingrich heartless, like they called Bob Dole heartless. I`ll be the
compassionate one who believes the government does have some role here.
So, conservatives got onboard with that in 2000 in a big way and
George W. Bush became president. By the end of the George W. Bush years,
eight years later, conservatives looked around and said government`s bigger
than it was before. There is a new federal agency right now. We just
bailed out Wall Street.
And what did we get in terms of an electoral bounty for this? We
lost the House, we lost the Senate, and they just elected Barack Obama
presidency. Not only did this guy give conservatism a bad name, we didn`t
win anything for it.
And so, that`s where the modern right of the last eight years comes
from. It was partly a reaction to Barack Obama. There`s a Democrat. We
want to fight him. We want to oppose him.
It was a reaction to the decision to be pragmatic in 2000 and to go
with George W. Bush in compassion conservatism and say, we`re never going
down that road again.
MADDOW: It`s such a good illustration, too. It`s an example of how
the whole country is giving George W. Bush terrible approval ratings, sees
his presidency as totally failed. Dick Cheney is unpopular than herpes by
the time they left office. I mean, it`s a bad situation.
And the country is looking at them and saying, boy, that right wing
experiment was a terrible right-wing idea. The conservative movement
looked at them and said the reason they failed is because they weren`t
KORNACKI: Right, it wasn`t a real right-wing government. They`re
saying, this was, we sold out –
MADDOW: So how does John Kasich fit into that?
KORNACKI: Kasich represents, if you went back to that time before
2000, a really end to the 2000 campaign, Kasich was one of the stars of the
right. He was –
MADDOW: The hard right.
KORNACKI: Well, Kasich was in the 1990s was roughly what Paul Ryan
is today. He came out of the House. He was a Midwesterner in the House
who was the point man on budget issues, on fiscal issues.
When Bill Clinton became president in `93, Bill Clinton`s budget was
raise taxes and later in the decade, a lot of people say, one of the
reasons you had surpluses by the end of the decade was the `93 budget. The
`93 budget, the Republicans universally opposed it in the House and they
stood behind an alternative that was authored by John Kasich.
John Kasich was their guy. And that`s where his 2000 presidential
campaign came at it. He was hot on the right in the `90s. He thought he
parlayed into the presidency. Unfortunately for him, the party was decided
on George W. Bush. But it wasn`t a rejection of John Kasich. It was just,
hey, Bush is our guy.
Now, you fast forward 15, 16 years later, I don`t think John Kasich
has moved appreciably to the left or to the middle in the 15 years since
then, but he represents, I think to the conservative base, something very
different right now. The Republicans who are the mainstream of
conservatives in the 1990s now represent an establishment that sold them
out, to the base.
MADDOW: Amazing. And so he needs to prove – he keeps trying to
prove himself by talking about the fights that he won back in the day, the
things he was able to get done back in the days, and those things are
defined as failures and as bad ideas and as squishiness by the modernt
KORNACKI: Yes, the party has changed in 20 years.
MADDOW: MSNBC host, political correspondent Steve Kornacki, you are
very smart. It`s great talking to you. Appreciate it.
All right. Oh, I should also ask you, do you want to see once more
the crazy little donkey elephant dance animation from the 1988 NBC News
KORNACKI: You have no idea how much time late at night I will spend
on YouTube digging up old news – I love `80s and `70s news animations.
MADDOW: I will leave you with this animation. Roll it! Roll it!
MADDOW: Last night, late last night, as the Republican debate and
the spin room stuff is all wrapping up, a sheaf of court documents dropped
at basically one minute to midnight last night. That document drop got
basically zero beltway press attention, mostly, I think, because the debate
took up everybody`s attention.
But these documents that dropped last night are going to be
absolutely critical to one of the candidates that concern his
administration and they are unexpectedly juicy and unexpectedly redacted.
And that story is next.
Stay with us.
MADDOW: This time four years ago, Mitt Romney was trading the lead
in the Republican presidential primary with 999 businessman Herman Cain and
with former speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich.
And Mr. Romney, of course, would go on to win the Republican Party`s
nomination for president that year. But right around this time in that
race, four years ago, “The Boston Globe” broke one of my all-time favorite
stories about Mitt Romney. And it never became a huge issue in the
election. I`m not sure why. I think if he were running this year, maybe
it would be a bigger story because of Hillary Clinton`s e-mail drama from
her time as secretary of state.
But at the time, in the race, basically four years ago exactly, “The
Boston globe” broke what I continue to believe is an astonishing story
about Mitt Romney, even though it did sort of disappear after they broke
This is the story, look at the headlines. “Before leaving office,
Romney staff wiped records. Ex-governor`s aides say they did nothing
Here`s the story, “Just before Mitt Romney left the Massachusetts`
governor`s office and first ran for president, 11 of his top aides
purchased their state-issued computer hard drives and took them home. A
spokeswoman for the Romney campaign says the governor`s aides did nothing
wrong. Some employees exercised the option to purchase computer equipment
when they left. They did so openly with personal checks.”
Quote, “All told, 11 Romney administrative officials bought 17 hard
drives from the governor`s office, paying $65 for each one, according to
copies of the canceled checks they wrote. Many of the aides wrote
`equipment` or `hard drives` in the memo space on their checks.”
Think about this, when Romney left to run for president, he left
behind zero electronic records of anything he did in his time as governor
of Massachusetts. His staff not only wiped all of the e-mail servers, they
replaced computers in the governor`s office and beyond that, they literally
had individual staffers who worked for him write personal checks for $65
each to justify them popping their hard drives out of their computers and
taking them home, like they were favorite desk chairs or keepsakes or
I always thought that was one of the most amazing and dramatic things
we learned about how Mitt Romney ran things as governor to try to get ready
for running for president.
And now, we get the Chris Christie version of this story. Because
last night, at midnight, we got the first filings from the defense lawyers
working for Christie administration officials, who have been criminally
charged in the bridgegate scandal.
And right off the bat, right on the first narrative page in these new
court filings, from the first narrative page, from the first Christie
administration appointee, who`s going on trial in that scandal, page one,
we get this.
Quote, “When David Wildstein left the Port Authority in December
2013, he stole Bill Baroni`s Port Authority hard drive. While he did so,
that hard drive was subject to a subpoena from the New Jersey legislature,
as well as a request for information from the Port Authority`s office of
the inspector general.
Rather than turn the hard drive over, David Wildstein stole it, he
kept it, and at some unspecified point in time later, he gave it to the
government. At present, there are approximately 87,000 documents on the
stolen hard drive. Wow!
So that`s the first thing. Right off the bat, one Christie
appointee, who has also been charged in the bridgegate case and has pled
guilty, he allegedly stole the hard drive from one of the other Christie
appointees charged in the case, around the time that the two of them were
both losing their jobs in this scandal.
That seems like a dramatic new piece of information this case. Tell
Well, it also appears that defendant Bill Baroni – the guy who had
his hard drive stolen – it also appears that he`s going to mount a defense
with a real flair for the dramatic. Right below that bombshell about the
other Christie appointee stealing his hard drive, this is what comes next
in the Bill Baroni court filings that were filed last night at midnight.
Quote, “The indictment strongly implies that Mr. Baroni was the
impetus for starting the lane closures on the first day of school in Ft.
Lee. However, as the government knows – redacted, redacted, redacted,
Then, after that one line is redacted, it says this, “Once again, an
act is inappropriately laid at Mr. Baroni`s feet.”
That`s kind of amazing, right? Can we put that back up there again
for a second on screen? I mean, this is – put it back – this is a really
dramatic place to put a big black line. That`s basically saying, hey, you
know the indictment says Bill Baroni came up with the idea for bridgegate,
but you guys know he didn`t start it. You guys know he wasn`t the impetus
for bridgegate. You guys – look, the government knows that it was beep!
That`s page one of the narrative of the bridgegate defense filings
that went in at midnight last night. And as Governor Christie`s
presidential campaign is hoping that this trial is going to clear the air
and settle this matter and get this cloud cleared from his presidential
campaign. Well, provocative redactions like are not going to help from
Bill Baroni`s defense.
Nor filings like this from Bridget Anne Kelly. This is exhibit A
from her filing to the court last night. There we go. It`s exhibit A.
Redacted, redacted, redacted, redacted, redacted, redacted – you kind of
get the point.
The case is supposed to go to trial in April, but now we know that
the way that Chris Christie`s deputy chief of staff and his appointee, top
appointee at the port authority, now we know the way they`re going to try
to keep themselves out of prison is claiming that way more information
needs to be produced about bridgegate. Look at all this stuff, it`s all
They`re also claiming that a lot of stuff still needs to be produced
from Governor Chris Christie`s individual work e-mail accounts. They say
nobody has yet seen Governor Christie`s work e-mails from him as governor,
talking about the bridgegate scandal.
They also say they want more names named. Bridget Anne Kelly`s
defense lawyers are calling on prosecutors to neighbor everybody else who
was involved in the bridgegate scandal, but who wasn`t indicted. They want
all of the unindicted co-conspirators named.
So, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is still campaigning for
president. He was consigned to the kids` table last night at the fourth
Republican debate, but he shows no signs of quitting. He`s still running
hard. This is him running today in Iowa.
But if he is still in the presidential race come spring, these
bridgegate criminal trials from his administration are going to get
underway in New Jersey. And now as of these new filings that dropped at
midnight last night, now we know that the defense lawyers in those criminal
trials, they are not steering clear of drama, and they are not steering
clear of Chris Christie himself, in their efforts to keep these Christie
administration staffers and appointees from going to prison.
MADDOW: Joining us now tonight in studio is Shawn Boburg. He`s a
senior writer at “The Record” newspaper in northern New Hampshire.
He is also, you may recall, the reporter who was first to report,
first to alert everyone to an e-mail that included the phrase, “Time for
some traffic problems in Ft. Lee.” That was the e-mail that established
the George Washington bridge lane closures as a big political scandal and
not just an inexplicable traffic jam.
Shawn Boburg, it`s great to have you here. Thanks for being here.
SHAWN BOBURG, BERGEN RECORD REPORTER: Great to be here again.
MADDOW: So, we got the first defense filings for the criminal trial
in this case last night. I just laid out some of what I think was at least
striking about these filings.
What struck you? What seemed important about them to you?
BOBURG: Well, obviously, the revelation about Wildstein taking the
hard drive mirrors close to comedy. But it`s also significant and what it
shows is that the defense is going to try to chip away at his credibility.
MADDOW: He pled guilty. He`s expected to be sort of a star witness
against these other two Christie administration officials.
BOBURG: Right. And in these court filings, you have a defense
attorney portraying him as a thief. I`m sure Wildstein would portray that,
the taking of the hard drives differently. But the big picture is that
they are going to attack Wildstein. And they`re also looking for any
documents that the government has, that would shed light on who else may
have been involved in this, the unindicted co-conspirator.
MADDOW: So the unindicted co-conspirator is part of it. That`s
spelled out clearly in the Bridget Anne Kelly defense documents that were
released last night. Is that sort of a boilerplate thing that defense
attorneys do? Do they always ask for the unindicted co-conspirators to be
named? That they want names of everybody else involved?
Or is that – should we see that as a sign that more names will be
BOBURG: Well, I think certainly there will be more names. It`s not
always the case there are unindicted co-conspirators. Prosecutors in this
case have made clear that there are others who were involved in the alleged
scheme, but weren`t charged for whatever reason.
And eventually, it`s expected that those names will come out. And
that could cause all sorts of reverberations, politically, for Christie and
for the state of New Jersey.
MADDOW: In terms of the way that Governor Christie himself surfaces
in these filings. Again, that was right up at the front, presented as
headline information in terms of what they want from prosecutors, before
going to trial. They want his individual e-mails from his government e-
mail account concerning bridgegate.
Did we know that those haven`t been produced yet? Is this – it
seems – it surprised me, for them to be alleging that those just have
never been turned over.
BOBURG: Yes, the issue is raising a question of whether everything
the governor had in his possession and the governor`s office has in its
possession has been turned over. Basically, what the defense attorney said
is we`ve looked through all of the documents that have been provided to
prosecutors. We found a handful of documents from a personal e-mail
address that were redacted. We can`t even read most of them. And we`ve
seen nothing from his work e-mail address.
So, they`re raising the question, is it conceivable that as this
scandal was blowing up, that the governor never used his work e-mail
address to communicate about this?
MADDOW: And in fact, they say, it seems inconceivable that there
would be no e-mails from him on this subject from that particular address.
When do you think we`re going to learn more here that`s going to be
of material significance?
BOBURG: Well, I think, certainly, in the coming months, you might
see the government, that is the prosecution, turn over a list of unindicted
BOBURG: You`ll see a response from the government on whether they
can compel third parties like the law firm that represented the governor`s
office to produce more documents that the defense needs to present a robust
defense. So I think there will be a lot in the coming weeks and months
that we digest.
MADDOW: Shawn Boburg, senior record at “The Bergen” – thank you
very much. Good to have you here, Shawn.
BOBURG: Thank you.
MADDOW: Thank you. We`ll be right back. Stay with us.
MADDOW: Since this morning, since 1:20 a.m. today, there`s been six
earthquakes in Oklahoma.
The Oklahoma Geological Survey monitors all the seismic activity in
that state, and so far today, Oklahoma has had a couple of 3.4 earthquakes,
a couple of 2.9 magnitude earthquakes.
And that`s pretty normal now. This is pretty much what it looks like
all day every day in Oklahoma. Now they just have earthquakes all day
long. Earthquakes are now so frequent in Oklahoma that it`s not uncommon
for local weathermen to report the day`s seismic activity right along with
So when you`re feeling down on yourself, when you`re feeling like
human kind just can`t get out of our own way, we can`t make progress
anymore, take heart. At least in Oklahoma, we have proven that we really
can change the world. We can make manmade earthquakes now, by the
thousands because of fracking.
And today, Oklahoma officials announced that as best they can tell,
their state is now the world`s leader in earthquakes. No place on the
entire planet has more earthquakes now than the great state of Oklahoma. A
spokesperson for the state agency that`s been studying this phenomenon said
today, in rather understated terms, quote, “Oklahoma has an earthquake
issue.” Yes, it does.
State officials have been cracking down on injection well operations
across the state, in an effort to try to cut down on the number of quakes,
but this is the new reality in Oklahoma.
I mean, Donald Trump may say America doesn`t have any victories
anymore, but you know what, we`re number one on this. USA, USA.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARIA BARTIROMO, FBN MODERATOR: Energy production in America has
boomed. Is it possible to continue this boom and move toward energy self-
sufficiency, while at the same time pursuing a meaningful climate change
SEN. RAND PAUL (R-KY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The first thing I
would do as president is repeal the regulations that are hampering our
energy that the president has put in place.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Senator Rand Paul last night answering a question about
America`s booming energy production by saying he would repeal all the
terrible regulations that have kept us from having that boom in energy
I know he got applause, but it`s kind of a strange moment, right?
It`s like complimenting somebody on a nice new tie he`s wearing and he
responds by telling you he`s a nudist. This is like – it`s really weird.
But on that same subject, not about nudism, but about America`s
energy boom, there is one remarkable story that`s not really in the news
yet anywhere. But I think it ought to be. It happened this weekend. It
was Saturday morning, just before 9:00 a.m. local time on Saturday.
And a freight train barreling right along the Mississippi River broke
loose from its tracks. Here`s the video of that scene. This is what it
looked like in Alma, Wisconsin, on Saturday morning. That`s a mighty
Mississippi River and that is derailed freight train that`s toppled over
into the might, mighty Mississippi.
Twenty-five cars flew off the tracks. That train was transporting
ethanol at the time and nearly 20,000 gallons of ethanol were released into
the Mississippi River. Two nearby highways had to be shut down. Residents
in the area were evacuated. There was a voluntary evacuation order. That
was Saturday morning in Wisconsin.
Then on Sunday, it happened again, also in Wisconsin. This time it
was 110-car oil train that was hauling crude oil from North Dakota. That
train jumped the tracks and it derailed in Watertown, Wisconsin, which is
outside Milwaukee. Thirteen tanker cars from this oil train derailed,
hundreds of gallons of crude oil were spilled, and that oil train
derailment forced the evacuation of 35 homes in the immediate area there
just outside of Milwaukee.
So, two days, Saturday, Sunday, two separate big train derailments in
Wisconsin. And thank god, nothing exploded in these latest derailments
over the weekend. There were no apocalyptic fire balls like we`re used to
But here`s one little piece of this to tuck under your pillow when
you go to sleep tonight. Just sleep on this tonight. That oil train that
derailed this weekend in Watertown, Wisconsin, the second derailment of the
weekend in Wisconsin, that train originated in a place called Newtown,
Newtown is in northwest North Dakota. It`s where a lot of Bakken
crude oil comes from now. That train left Newtown, North Dakota, and it
headed east towards Wisconsin which is where it ultimately derailed and
spilled all its oil, even if mercifully it did not blow up.
But here`s Newtown, North Dakota, over on the left. This oil train
started there and headed to the right on this map. It headed east.
But just consider for a second what that train went through on its
path. All of the little red and green and yellow dots you see on this map
along its way, right along the path of the railroad tracks, all of those
little dots are nuclear missile silos. And not defunct ones from the old
Cold War days, and we don`t use them anymore. Those are live ones. Live
nuclear missile silos fitted with live, armed nuclear missiles operated by
the good folks at Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota.
We mentioned this on the show earlier this year. That particular
section of North Dakota where all these oil trains are coming from, that is
nuclear missile country. It`s home to dozens of nuclear weapons buried in
the ground, in some cases in very, very, very close proximity to the
railroad tracks, which are carrying all of these oil trains now.
In that latest accident this weekend, that oil train rumbled past all
those nuclear missile sites with no problem before ultimately having a
problem and derailing in Wisconsin. In many cases when an oil train like
that full of light, volatility crude, in many cases, when a train like that
goes off the rails, it produces this kind of explosion and fires that can`t
be put out for days.
In this case in Wisconsin this weekend, there were 13 oil cars went
off the tracks and a local evacuation and a big spill, but mercifully,
there was no fire ball. Not this time. And mercifully this time, the
train waited until it was a little ways past all those live nuclear weapons
before it took its leap off the tracks. Lucky, lucky, lucky us.
And I`m sure we`ll keep being that lucky forever, right? Right after
we repeal all those terrible, unnecessary onerous safety regulations that
are holding us back. Gulp.
That does it for us tonight. We will see you again tomorrow.
Now, it`s time for “THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL”.
Good evening, Lawrence. I`m sorry to be going to you nine seconds
early, but I scared myself and talked too fast.
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