The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 12/18/2015

Mona Hanna-Attisha, Jesse Lewis

Date: December 18, 2015
Guest: Mona Hanna-Attisha, Jesse Lewis

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Alex. Thanks a lot.

And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour. Happy Friday night.

What a weird political news day today has been with all this drama in the
Democratic Party for once – with the Bernie Sanders campaign suing the
Democratic Party as we speak, like right now, and the Hillary Clinton
campaign accusing the Sanders campaign of criminal theft. It`s this big
fight over data in the Democratic Party. A data breach.

It is a strange fight. It is ongoing right now as I speak. We`re going to
have the latest on that in just a moment tonight.

But we are going to begin our show not with that story. We are beginning
our show with a bit of a special report.

We cover a lot of crazy stuff on the show. And there has been a lot of
this show. We just had our seventh birthday this year, which means that in
cable news years this show is basically like a 340-year-old dog now.

But in all of the craziness we have covered over all of these years, there
is one thing that has happened in one American state which stands out to me
above all others. And it stands out to me because I maintain that it
really is the single most radical policy, the single most radical piece of
legislation put into law by any state in the country in our modern American
political history. Even if you know nothing else about how the United
States of America is governed, you know that we`re a representative
democracy, right?

We elect our leaders at the federal level, at the state level, at the local
level. We hold elections. The people who win those elections because they
win the most votes, those people get put in charge of government. That`s
the way it works.

Except in the one place where they decided to not do it that way anymore,
and that place is in Michigan.

Republican Governor Rick Snyder at the start of his first term as governor,
he signed legislation that lets him overturn elections basically wherever
he wants to. Yes, you can still vote for your mayor or your school board
member, whatever, but if Rick Snyder doesn`t like what you and your
neighbors decided in your little election, then he has the power to step

The state can step in and effectively void local election results. They
can take your elected mayor or your elected city council or your elected
school board and strip them of their power and instead install someone of
the governor`s choosing to run things solo, by fiat, answering to no one
other than the governor.

It`s kind of a remarkable idea, right? I mean, this idea that if your town
needs fixing somehow, something`s wrong in your town, democracy is not
going to be part of the solution, it`s not going to be the way you solve
that problem. Democracy is the problem.

Democracy has to be gotten rid of if we`re going to fix things in Michigan
towns and cities. Governor Rick Snyder knows best. So, he will sweep away
your elected officials and instead install someone to run your town, to fix
it without pesky democracy and voters electing people or getting in the

It`s such a radical idea. Just – it`s a radical idea let alone a thing to
go through with and do. I still almost can`t believe it`s real, all these
years after we started covering it.

But very quietly this is the very radical thing that Michigan has started
doing. It`s been going on for a few years now. Rick Snyder`s in his
second term as governor now. It`s been going on long enough that we can
see how it works.

It turns out with a few exceptions towns or school boards that get put
under this emergency management state oversight, turns out in most cases
they never really come out of it again.

I mean, in theory the idea is to hit pause on democracy so real work can
get done fixing places and then democracy can unpause and start up again in
those places once those big problems have been fixed. That`s the
theoretical idea. That has mostly not been the way it has worked.

The places under emergency management seem to just stay under emergency
management. They just stay broken. And therefore, the democratic form of
government just doesn`t get switched back on in those places. That`s
mostly how it works.

And turns out we can now say, having one non-elected overseer making
basically autocratic solo personal decisions by fiat. We now know that
that is a form of governance that leads to, in Michigan`s case, some
notorious consequences. Like for example, when the emergency manager of
the school district in Detroit moves to close down that city`s only school
specifically for pregnant girls and young mothers. And when the pregnant
girls and young mothers protested, police ended up dragging them bodily
from the building.

Or when the emergency manager in Pontiac, Michigan, sold the Silverdome for
pennies on the dollar to a company that then let the roof cave in. Or when
the emergency manager for the city of Detroit shut off the water to
thousands of inhabited homes.

The outrage and outcry and flat out desperation over denying people
drinking water, that got so loud that the people of Detroit were heard by
the United Nations. Special rapporteur`s from the U.N. were dispatched to
Detroit to study the situation as a world-class international human rights

Well, now here`s another one. And this one is just astonishing. And you
know what? It is not a local story. It is a story about truly
unbelievably reckless radicalism in our country – a story about which it
is starting to become inconceivable that nobody has gone to jail or been
impeached or been recalled from office.

This is the subject of our special report tonight, and this is how it
starts. This is another one of these orders by an emergency manager.
You`ll see this one is dated June 2013. See right up at the top there. By
the emergency manager. Hire an engineering firm to get the town ready for
using, quote, “The Flint River as a primary drinking water source.”

At the time, the state appointed one man government for Flint, Michigan.
The state-appoint emergency manager was trying to carry out a plan that the
city counsel hello voted for back in the day, which was to try to save
money by having Flint buy its drinking water from Detroit. They`d always
bought water from Detroit, but it was expensive and they decided Flint was
broke, they needed to save money, they needed to get a better deal for
Flint so, they wanted to use a new water system, be part of a new water
system that was still under construction.

In the meantime, while that new water system was still under construction,
the city of Flint had a choice to make. They could make some sort of kind
of short-term deal with Detroit, which the emergency manager said was
really too expensive, or they could MacGyver some kind of solution for
where they would get their water now that they were quitting Detroit but
the new system wasn`t ready. They need someday bridge between getting out
of Detroit and getting out of the new system.

Flint`s emergency manager decided not to try to work something out with
Detroit but instead they went with option B. They decided to MacGyver it.

He signed that order, that June 2013 order to – for Flint to get ready to
use it as the primary drinking water source for at least a couple of years.
A few years after that, April 2014, with Flint now being run by yet another
emergency manager, Flint unhooked itself from Detroit`s water and started
drinking from the mighty, mighty Flint River.

The following month, that new emergency manager in Flint decided to sell
the pipe between Flint and Detroit. So, if anything went wrong with this
new MacGyver solution of getting the water from the river – well, now
there was no going back.

The emergency manager sold off literally the pipe that would let them go
back to Detroit water if for any reason they need to. He basically sold
the escape hatch, right? He sold the eject button. So, Flint was
committed to drinking from the river, this idea they`d come up with.

The Detroit water, the water they used to be on, that was water from the
Great Lakes. The water they were switching to was river water from the
Flint River. And if you talked to people who know about this stuff, they
will tell you that you do not switch from drinking lake water to drinking
river water, as Flint did, without taking certain precautions.

River water has a different chemical balance, which basically boils down to
rivers being saltier than big lakes, and that makes river water more
corrosive. So, you have to take steps to keep river water from basically
eating the old pipes, which are held together with lead soldering. If you
let the untreated, corroded salty river water eat the pipes, the lead
leaches out of those pipes and gets into the water. And lead in the water
makes people really, really sick.

There`s no level of lead in water that is considered safe. But if you take
in way too much lead, it`s rashes and skin lesions and hair loss and also
permanent neurological damage, particularly if you`re exposed as a kid. It
can lead to lower IQ, emotional problems, behavioral problems, the works.

It`s not the issue that you should never use river water for drinking
water. Plenty of places do. You just have to do this one thing. You just
have to do it safely. You have to treat the water first so it doesn`t
corrode the pipes.

We now know that the state of Michigan, the Snyder administration, told
Flint it was OK to switch to that new water source without the anti-
corrosion treatment. And so they did. They just made the switch.

And first came reports that the new water smelled bad. It stung in the
shower. And some homes, when you poured it in the tap it came out rusty
colored or it came out looking like maybe it was light beer.

Next came news that a local General Motors plant had a problem with the new
water, it was corroding the engine parts built at that factory. GM started
bringing in semi trucks full of water to use at that plant. They knew they
had to get Flint`s terrible new water away from their car parts.

Meanwhile, the state, the Rick Snyder administration, the state
environmental agency started to get in test results showing that the level
of lead in Flint water was rising. It started at 6 parts per billion.
Within six months that had nearly doubled to 11 parts per billion.

Around the same time, somebody leaked a copy of an EPA memo warning that
some very, very high lead levels were showing up in Flint water samples.
When that EPA memo started making headlines the state of Michigan denounced
the EPA worker who were it as a, quote, “rogue employee.” So, the Snyder
administration knows that lead levels are rising. That EPA report shows
very high, very worrying lead levels, in some samples from some Flint

The Rick Snyder administration at the time had an answer for an
increasingly worried public who was looking at this stuff going on and
starting to realize that there might really be a problem. And the Snyder
administration`s message to an increasingly worried public was relax.
Relax, people. Geez.


here. Anyone who is concerned about lead in the drinking water in Flint
can relax. There is no broad problem right now that we`ve seen with lead
in the drinking water in Flint.


MADDOW: So that was the word from the Rick Snyder administration in July.
Literally. Relax. There`s no broad problem that we have seen with lead in
the drinking water in Flint.

Turns out there was a broad problem with the drinking water in Flint. And
the Snyder administration so obviously not caring about it spurred other
people to action when they saw that the state did not care.

A MacArthur genius award-winning drinking water expert drove 15 straight
hours from Virginia Tech to start testing Flint`s water. When he got the
results, he went back to Flint and held a press conference on the lawn in
front of city hall to show Flint`s water eating through an iron nail. He
told the people of Flint, do not drink this water.

A local doctor started studying blood samples from kids in Flint. Her
results were scary and stunning. The proportion of kids with elevated lead
in their blood was nearly double what it had been before the town switched
its water source. Just in a matter of a few months.

In some neighborhoods, the danger had tripled, not doubled. The first guy,
the professor, says the Snyder administration dismissed him as basically a
huckster when he presented the results of his testing. The state described
him as a magician who pulls the same rabbit out of a hat wherever he goes.

The Flint doctor who tried to tell them that Flint kids were getting lead
poisoning, the Snyder administration told people not to believe her. They
said that doctor`s results were spliced and diced. And in think case, the
Snyder administration said those results were, quote, “not related to the
water supply.” So relax, people. Drink your water. Six glasses a day,
they say.

The Snyder administration held that line in public until finally they could
not hold that line anymore. And then finally, after Flint kids had been
drinking this poisonous water for 17 months, in late September, Governor
Rick Snyder conceded that maybe possibly lead might be a problem in Flint.
Saying for the first time, quote, “It appears that water lead levels could
be higher or have increased since the town switched to river water.” There
are, quote, “probably things that weren`t fully understood when the switch
was made.”

You think? You think maybe some things went a long cockeyed here and now
the kids who grew up in Flint are going to have to deal with it the rest of
their lives, with points irreversibly shaved off their IQs and learning
disabilities and behavioral problems irreversibly for their whole lives?
You think somebody didn`t think this thing through, it appears?

On Monday this week, the mayor of Flint, Michigan, just personally declared
a state of emergency. A state of manmade emergency, she called it, in
Flint. Basically just declaring herself as mayor, saying even now that the
governor is acknowledging finally that what these emergency managers
decided and what his state agencies did, now that he`s acknowledging that
that might be a problem here, the fixing of this problem is a matter that
needs more help than anybody wants to count on Rick Snyder to be able to

If you want to know where things stand now, reporters asked Governor Snyder
again yesterday whether his administration is ready to help the kids who
quite literally have been poisoned because of his administration in Flint.

Watch this. This is just amazing.


REPORTER: Representative Dan Kildee has called saying looking down the
road we`re going to be needing more state resources and more federal
resources to be able to help the children who might have been affected by
this. Do you agree that the state will have to kick in some kind of money
somewhere down the line?

GOV. RICK SNYDER (R), MICHIGAN: Well, again, we`ve already made major
contributions. Let`s get the facts. Let`s keep working this. And let`s
remember, water isn`t the only source of lead. And so we need to make sure
we`re encouraging people to look at other place that could create a threat.


MADDOW: Let`s make sure we encourage people to look at anything that is
not the giant catastrophe that just happened on my watch in Flint,

Governor, the water of Flint, Michigan, has been poisoned. And this isn`t
like – let me just say here for a second. I think the resistance to this
being seen as a national story is because people think of lead as being
like a long-term infrastructure problem like things went bad in that old
city that needs work. This is like, if you want to make an analogy to
personal health, this is not like something finally coming due after you`ve
had a bad diet and no exercise for 20 years.

This is the personal health equivalent of having been shot. This is not
something that went bad over a long period of time. This is they flipped a
switch to turn off one spigot last April and turn on a different spigot.
And the spigot they turned on poisoned the kids.

The kids of Flint, Michigan, have been poisoned by a policy decision, all
at once. The town has been poisoned. Under your watch, Governor, through
the actions and inactions of people who report to you and the people who
you appointed.

The emergency manager who signed that initial order to get ready for
drinking from the river, he reported directly to Governor Snyder and to no
one else. The emergency manager who sold the pipeline that should have
been the escape hatch, he reported directly to Governor Snyder and no one
else. The agency that did not tell Flint how to do this safely and that
ignored the fast-rising lead levels in Flint`s water and that disparage the
first – first, the EPA whistleblower and then the professor and then the
local doctor who all tried to help, that agency reported to and continues
to report only to Rick Snyder, the governor of Michigan.

And now, Governor Snyder is like, well, I guess we could try to do a little
bit more to help you but you know, we`ve done a lot. Let`s not get ahead
of ourselves.

How about a task force? How about I appoint someone with a lot of
experience in PR? Which Governor Snyder did this week as part of his
response to this crisis. He appointed a brand new state-paid
communications professional to handle this.

This month in Lansing, a local pastor tried to get a petition approved for
recalling Governor Snyder from office because of this manmade disaster.
And look at this. This is the petition. Just look closely at it. It`s a
handwritten thing.

Twice now, he has tried with a handwritten petition to recall the governor
for decisions made by him and his appointees and his administration related
to this scandal. His petition has been rejected on technical grounds.

For instance, Governor Snyder`s private attorney argues that the recall
petition is not timely because Flint switched to the river water that
poisoned the town back in the governor`s first term, and now, it`s the
governor`s second term, and so basically got to let those bygones be
bygones. Can`t recall him for that.

According to Rick Snyder`s lawyers, what`s done is done, settled. Nobody
is accountable. Certainly nobody in the governor`s office and certainly
not the governor.

Mr. Snyder did manage to cobble together enough money to switch Flint back
onto Detroit water for now, even though they sold the pipe.

In Flint, though, remember what this problem is technically, right?
Corrosion by that river water that came through, right? The pipes are
still in Flint all scoured out from the untreated river water. Who knows
how long they`re going to keep leaching lead?

Is Flint habitable anymore? Really?

Michigan made a decision with Rick Snyder a few years ago to do something
very, very radical to the way we govern ourselves as Americans, something
that nobody else has done. Now we`re getting in the first results of what
they have done. I did not expect those would have to be blood test results
from kids, but that`s what they are. That`s what Rick Snyder did.


MADDOW: We`ve got the latest news ahead on what tonight is still an
ongoing giant fight inside the Democratic Party between the Bernie Sanders
campaign and the Hillary Clinton campaign and the DNC over this strange
data breach which we just learned about today. That story is ongoing
tonight. And we`ve got the latest details ahead.

Plus, I`m still sweating from the A block. If the special report we just
did about Flint bummed you out, I have the closest thing we`ve got to a
cure for that feeling, coming up.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don`t know how it`s clean if it tastes bad.

REPORTER: Flint resident Senegal Williams can`t even remember the city`s
water tasting this bad. Now he`s turning to bottled water and avoiding the

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s not proper for people to be drinking, man. If I
can smell it, this is not a big debate. This is nothing that nobody can
figure out.


MADDOW: That guy was right. There was something very wrong with the
water, even though the Rick Snyder administration in Michigan and local
officials kept saying everything was OK, even after some of them knew it
wasn`t OK.

One local doctor in Flint decided that if there was trouble in the water in
Flint, if there was lead in the water in Flint, then someone should test
the lead levels of the bloodstreams of the kids in Flint. That local
doctor in September released a study showing that since Flint had switched
to drinking water from the local river kids in town were two and three
times more likely to have elevated levels of lead in their blood.

The state of Michigan tried to dismiss her study, but that doctor was
right. And forgive my saying so, but if you are looking for a hero in this
story, she is a hero in this story, and she joins us now for the interview.

Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha of Hurley Children`s Hospital in Flint – thank you
for being here.

me, Rachel.

MADDOW: First of all, I have to ask you I did a big long rant and
summation of this. Did I get any of that wrong?

HANNA-ATTISHA: I think that was pretty accurate.

MADDOW: What made you decide to start doing the testing?

HANNA-ATTISHA: Well, I was at my house for a dinner party and I was having
a glass of wine. So, all good things start with a glass of wine. And my
good friend Elan, who`s a water expert, and she was at my house. She`s a
former EPA employee.

She`s like Mona, I`ve been hearing all these reports about corrosion and
lack of corrosion control in the water in Flint. And you know, this can
leach lead out. This is going to happen. I can`t believe nobody`s thought
about this.

She`s like, you know, you work up there and you`re in charge of stuff up
there. Have you guys looked at the blood lead levels?

And when pediatricians hear about the possibility of lead anywhere, we
absolutely freak out because lead is – we know lead. Lead is the most
potent neurotoxin you can think of. So that was pretty much my call to

MADDOW: Lead is a concern for pediatricians because kids are exposed to
lead through lead paint, through – there are other sources. And so when
you started doing your testing it`s not like you expected there to be no
lead evident in kids in Flint.

HANNA-ATTISHA: Right. So kids do have lead. But for the last 30 years
the public health world has done a great job. We got lead out of paint,
got lead out of gasoline, we`ve got these great home abatement levels. So,
lead levels every year have been going down in children.

MADDOW: For decades.

HANNA-ATTISHA: For decades. And in the city of Flint, they`ve been going
down every single year. But after this water switch happened they spiked

MADDOW: And when you saw that, how many samples roughly were you looking
at before you realized you had a statistically significant result? Are we
talking about a handful of samples or dozens?

HANNA-ATTISHA: The first time we did our research was just at our clinic,
the Hurley Children`s clinic is our primary teaching clinic. We see the
most Medicaid, publicly insured kids in the county. And we saw this
drastic increase in that population.

But our sample size was too small, so I couldn`t go screaming from the
rooftops. So then, we had the idea of looking at all the laps that are
processed through our children`s hospital. We`re the only children`s
hospital in the area. And our sample size more than quadrupled and we saw
the same findings.

And they were statistically significant. We had over 1,700 samples. Equal
number before the water switch happened compared to after the water switch
happened. And that`s where we saw this dramatic increase.

MADDOW: And when you went public with that increase, my understanding from
looking at a lot of the good local reporting on the subject is that the
state, the Snyder administration essentially tried to discredit you and
tried to discredit your work. Is that true?

HANNA-ATTISHA: Yes. So we as a researcher you are paranoid. And we check
and we double-check and we triple-check our work because this was a
politically hot issue. But when the state tells you, you`re wrong you
second guess yourself. You`re like am I wrong?

But the numbers didn`t lie. And even if you have a sliver of doubt, when
it`s lead you`re talking about you need to go public and you need to raise
the alarms.

MADDOW: The kids who have been affected in Flint, and it`s a lot of them.

HANNA-ATTISHA: It`s every single kid who drank this water or cooked with
this water.

MADDOW: You have to tell their families the lead exposure, the harm it
causes in these kids is irreversible.

HANNA-ATTISHA: That is true. Lead is an irreversible neurotoxin that
causes problems with your cognition, your IQ, your behavior. But we need
to do something now. So, our story is not done. Yes, they got this
irreversible exposure. But. if we bring in resources to these kids now, we
can mitigate this exposure.

So, we are fighting for early intervention services, education services,
great nutrition. All of these things can buffer the impact of this
exposure. Our whole community`s been traumatized. They are
psychologically traumatized from this exposure.

MADDOW: And physically damaged.

HANNA-ATTISHA: And physically damaged. It`s like PTSD. It is a toxic
stress. But we have to give them hope. We have to have the state of
emergency to bring in additional resources which our city and county cannot
bring in on our own to mitigate this exposure.

MADDOW: Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha of Children`s Hospital in Flint, Michigan.
You`ve been through hell and high water to get this done but had you not
done this I don`t think we`d be talking about this story and nobody would
be trying to fix it. So, thank you.

HANNA-ATTISHA: Thank you. Thanks for having me.

MADDOW: We`ll be right back.


MADDOW: So, this started a very weird day in Democratic Party politics.
This was published early this morning by “The Washington Post”: “DNC
penalizes Sanders campaign for improper access of Clinton voter data.
Officials with the Democratic National Committee have accuse the Sanders
campaign of improperly accessing confidential voters information gathered
by the rival campaign of Hillary Clinton. The discovery sparked alarm at
the DNC, which promptly shut off the Sanders campaign`s access to the
strategically crucial list of likely Democratic voters.”

Here`s the basic context here. The fight here is about a database of
detailed Democratic voter information that the Democratic Party owns and
that it rents out to individual Democratic campaigns like for example
President Obama`s re-election campaign or Senator Elizabeth Warren`s Senate
campaign, or in this case, the Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders campaigns
for president.

Democratic Party hired a firm to basically manage that voter information
database. The name of the firm is an impossible to remember acronym,
NGPVAN. All right.

In addition to housing this huge database of Democratic Party voters from
the DNC, each campaign gathers and uses their own proprietary data gathered
painstakingly by their own staff and volunteers. And even though each of
the campaigns has access to the DNC stuff, obviously the campaigns are not
supposed to be able to access each other`s information, right? There are
firewalls to prevent them getting access to each other`s proprietary
information, even though they can both see what the DNC provides them.

Well, on Wednesday, two days ago, apparently those firewalls that make sure
campaigns can`t see each other`s crucial voter information, those firewalls
went down in this system maintained by the DNC and its contractor. They
went down for about 40 minutes. That left all the campaigns` voter
information exposed to the other side.

Now, the DNC says during that 40 minutes, four staffers with the Bernie
Sanders campaign accessed important data from the Clinton campaign. They
conducted searches of Clinton campaign data, likely Clinton supporters, and
more than ten early voting states. These are the logs of those searches
which are now been obtained by NBC News.

The Bernie Sanders staffers appear to have saved some of that Clinton data
to personal folders before the firewalls went back up. The DNC says it
remains unclear whether the Sanders folks still have that Clinton data
either in electronic form or hard copy form. Once the Democratic Party
figured out what had happened they gave the story to the press, weirdly.
And then, they revoked the Sanders campaign`s access to the database.


the period of time in which there was an opening in which our campaigns
could see one another`s proprietary data, the Sanders campaign staff chose
to view, download, export and download that data that did not belong to
them. And we asked for that information from them once we learned of it on
Wednesday, we asked for them to tell us who accessed it, what they had, and
for them to demonstrate that they had destroyed it and no longer had access
to it. And we are still waiting for that.

So, I had to take the extraordinary step of calling Senator Sanders, and I
informed him myself for the first time that this breach had occurred. His
own staff had not told him.

Senator Sanders is a man of integrity. I have tremendous admiration for
him. I think he`s run a remarkable campaign. But, you know, unfortunately
his campaign staff have not served him well.


MADDOW: National Democratic Party Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz
speaking on this network tonight, explaining that until they know for sure
that the Sanders campaign doesn`t still have Clinton campaign information,
well, then they can`t have anything. They can`t have access to the big
voter information system, at all. Without voter information on their
supporters and on persuadable voters in places like Iowa and New Hampshire
the Sanders campaign is basically hamstrung. That`s how they do their

Well, now by all accounts, the reason those firewalls came down in the
first place was not the Sanders campaign fault at all. It was the firm
that hosts the data for the DNC that screwed up. The firewalls went down
because of some bug in their system which allowed the Bernie Sanders
staffers to search through the Clinton campaign`s voter information. The
Sanders campaign fired the staffer who apparently did this.

But the Sanders campaign is also enraged. They are enraged that the DNC`s
contractor who made this error to bring the firewalls down and expose all
this proprietary information.

They`re also enraged at the DNC, so enraged that tonight they are suing the


negotiate with them for days over what information they wanted after we
provided this information to them. I said if this is not satisfactory,
what else do you need? And we got nothing back.

Now, the truth of the matter is it took the lawsuit. Now that we have
filed the lawsuit they are coming running now to try to fix this problem.

Using legal discovery, we will get access to all of the internal
communications of the DNC where we can demonstrate what I think most people
think is going on, which is that there are some people in there who are
clearly trying to help the Clinton campaign. Certainly, this debate
schedule has been widely discussed, very few debates, many on nights when a
lot of people aren`t going to be watching.

Now, we see certainly there was a problem. The DNC`s firewall failed
miserably. I mean, this is the equivalent of Debbie Wasserman Schultz
walking by the desks of my staffers and throwing files of Clinton materials
on their desk.

Now, they should not have opened them and looked at them. That is
absolutely the case. That does not meet our high standards. And certainly
we have fired one staffer. We are looking at some others. But let`s be
clear. We had a few 20-year-olds who looked at files that were provided to
them by the DNC –


MADDOW: Today, the Bernie Sanders for president campaign filed a lawsuit
against the Democratic Party over what they are calling a breach of
contract. The fired Bernie Sanders staffer who accessed the Clinton
information in the first place says he only searched through the Clinton
campaign`s voter information to gauge how badly the Sanders campaign was
exposed from this terrible data breach.

The Clinton campaign, for their part, they`re also enraged. They`re
calling this theft. They`re saying the Sanders campaign might have broken
the law when they accessed their confidential information.

Tonight, they put out a statement calling for swift action in resolving
this matter. Quote, “We hope that the court will resolve this matter
tonight and the Sanders campaign will have access to their voter files
right away with adequate protections of our proprietary information, which
we understand could be completed in short order. As we stated earlier
today, we also want a full, independent accounting of the Sanders
campaign`s actions as well as assurance that`s no data or strategic insight
from this act of intrusion will be used by this campaign. This was an
egregious breach of data and ethics.”

And that`s where we are. So, right now, here`s the picture. Going into
tomorrow night`s Democratic debate we have one candidate being accused of
stealing confidential information from a front-runner. We`ve got that
candidate`s campaign essentially being hog-tied and arrested by the
Democratic Party in the midst of an investigation into what they did. And
we`ve got that candidate suing the Democratic Party for hog-tying and
arresting their campaign.

I don`t know if the DNC secretly wants nobody to watch the Democratic
debates this year, but tomorrow night`s Saturday night before Christmas
debate did just get a whole lot more interesting, at least in theory. A
completely bizarre turn of events in the presidential race. I have no idea
how this is going to resolve.

Watch this space.


MADDOW: That guy who`s winning got himself another record-high poll number
today. In the new FOX News poll out this evening, Donald Trump is at 39
percent nationwide. This is the best any candidate has done in FOX
national polling all year. He`s up 11 points in that poll from a month

Tuesday night`s Republican debate does not seem to have done anything to
change the dynamics in the Republican race or to knock Mr. Trump off his
massive lead in that race. That means it`s increasingly desperation time
for his rivals.

Today, Jeb Bush, for example, rolled out his brother, former president
George W. Bush, to do a conference call with donors. On that call, former
President Bush reportedly said, “Jeb is a candidate who is peaking at the
right time.”

Just to be clear, in that FOX News poll this evening, Jeb Bush is at 3
percent, which is his worst number in that poll ever. These are his poll
numbers over the last six months. His are the ones in green. Perhaps
President Bush was looking at this chart upside down.

Or maybe it was a homonym issue. People on the call thought he said
peaking but maybe he says peeking like P-E-E – like he`s peeking around
the corner or peeking up at the front-runners from the basement where he
lives. Or maybe he meant piquing with a Q, as he`s having a fit of pique,
he`s getting mad at the right time.

There must be some other explanation, because if George W. Bush said his
brother is peaking right now, I don`t think that means what he thinks it


MADDOW: We still have a lot to cover tonight, believe it or not, including
some not good, not great, but incredibly good and great news, which has
been long overdue. If you need good news in your life, that story is
ahead. Plus, I`m going to give away a pair of my pants. What more could
you possibly want? Stay with us.


MADDOW: Busy day. Before heading west today to start his Christmas
vacation, President Obama commuted the sentences of 95 federal prisoners.
He granted two pardons. He also held his final news conference of the
year, which he bragged a little bit about this year`s accomplishments in
his eyes, especially bragged on the climate deal, just agreed to by the
whole world in Paris.

The president promised to sprint to the finish line of his presidency. He
said he would, quote, “leave it all on the field” in 2016. For now,
though, President Obama is off to San Bernardino tonight, and then he`s off
to Hawaii.

And it`s one of the very last things he did before leaving the White House
today, the president signed the ginormous spending bill that will keep the
government running.

And if you were looking for a little silver lining to wrap around life`s
occasional clouds, that big bill the president signed today does in fact
include the 9/11 first responders bill, the Zadroga bill for the 9/11 first
responders who got sick from working at Ground Zero. That program now has
a lifetime extension. Done. Did it. Finally.

This week, we reported on an advocacy campaign the New York City mayor`s
office started to try to get Zadroga over the finish line. It was
basically a series of photo showing first responders and other 9/11
responders holding numbers. Like this boy and his mom holding the number
4,166. That`s the number of 9/11 rescue and recovery workers who`ve been
diagnosed with a 9/11-related cancer.

Each of the numbers represented a similar jarring 9/11 statistic. The
number of lives lost. The number of miles walked lobbying for this

Well, today the mayor`s office released an update to that campaign. A new
set of photos showing those same people, each of those people photographed
but trading in their numbers this time for “thank you” signs, every single
one of them. They no longer need to advocate on behalf of this
legislation. It`s now done. It`s now law. So thank you.


MADDOW: Wait for it. Wait. Wait. Wait, wait. I said wait.

Friday night news dump time. Happy Friday.

Producer Nick Tuths, who is today`s lucky player?

NICK TUTHS, PRODUCER: Today, we`re being joined by Jesse Lewis Jr. from
Elizabeth, New Jersey, works for an AIDS advocacy group, used to work in
financial services. Proud grandfather of two.

Rachel, meet Jesse.

MADDOW: Jesse, Mr. Lewis, it`s very nice to meet you. Thank you for being
on the program.

JESSE LEWIS, JR., ELIZABETH, NJ: Hi, Rachel. It`s exciting. I`m honored.
I`m thrilled.

MADDOW: Well, it is mutual. I have to ask, because frankly, Nick brought
it up. How old are your grand kids?

LEWIS: One is 2, one is 6 months.

MADDOW: I was told we have a picture and they`re stunningly adorable.

We don`t have a picture.

LEWIS: They`re adorable and I`m proud.

MADDOW: I don`t think we have a picture of your grandchildren.

We just have these little angels who appeared on the screen. It must be

All right. Here`s how the game works. You get three multiple choice
questions about this week`s news. If you get two right, you will win a
little bit of junk I`m a little ashamed of.

Nick, please show everyone.

TUTHS: A Rachel Maddow cocktail shaker.

MADDOW: A junky cocktail shaker. If you get all the questions right, we
do have something random for you that until tonight has been cluttering up
our office.

Nick, what is random office swag tonight?

TUTHS: These very fetching pajama bottoms. In 2008, when you – rather,
when Sarah Palin was talking about bloggers blogging from their mom`s
basement in pajama bottoms, and you wore these in solidarity.

MADDOW: I did. Jesse, I can tell you in all safety bet, I wore them over
my other pants, so it`s almost like they`re never worn.

LEWIS: All right. Slightly worn with.

MADDOW: And they`re held up by the binder clips from my desk.


MADDOW: All right. We also need to bring in the disembodied voice of
Steve Benen from Maddow Blog. He is the man who will determine whether or
not you get the right answer.

Jesse, Steve. Steve, Jesse.

STEVE BENEN, MADDOW BLOG: Good evening to you both.

MADDOW: Good evening.


MADDOW: Here we go.

First question: this is from Monday`s show, Jesse. On Monday`s show, we
reported on a crazy looking new stealth U.S. Navy destroyer called the
Zumwalt. On the maiden voyage of the Zumwalt off the coast of Maine, the
Zumwalt, it had an unscheduled adventure.

What was that unscheduled adventure? Was it A, it was sent to deliver the
mail to a nearby island when the local postal boat developed some kind of
trouble? Was it B, the Zumwalt helped in an emergency coast guard mission
to rescue a sick fisherman? C, the Zumwalt became a mobile power plant
when all of Portland harbor had its electricity knocked out because of an
accident? Or D, the Zumwalt was asked to hold in port until same rare eggs
that laid onboard the ship had time to hatch?

LEWIS: I would have to say, it was B, rescued a fisherman.

MADDOW: Steve, did Jesse get that right?

BENEN: Let`s check Monday`s segment.


MADDOW: The 600-foot-long Navy destroyer that weighs 15,000 tons and cost
$4 billion, yes, it turns out that offers a pretty good platform, a pretty
commodious platform for collecting the fisherman.


BENEN: Yes, the correct answer is B, and Jesse is one for one.

MADDOW: Woo-hoo!


MADDOW: And now extra challenge. We`re going to go to question two, but
I`m going to give you a choice. You can choose a question that is about
politics or one that is not about politics. Which one would you choose?

LEWIS: Well, I`m all about politics. So let`s go to politic fps.

MADDOW: The answer to the not politics one was NASA.


MADDOW: But the politics one is this. On Monday`s show, we reported on
the greatest document concerning presidential health and fitness since LBJ
explained his need for an extra long in seam to the man who made his pants.

In this week`s even more amazing document about presidential health and
finance, Donald Trump`s personal physician effusively praised Donald
Trump`s health. Which of the following phrases was not part of Donald
Trump`s doctor`s letter? A, To whom my concern. B, His lab test results
were astonishingly excellent. C, I can unequivocally state Mr. Trump is
more healthy than the current president. Or D, Mr. Trump, I can say
equivocally will be the healthiest individual ever elected to the

Which was one of those was not in the letter?

LEWIS: See, I know A was in the letter. D was in the letter. C was in
the better. So I`m going to say B again.

MADDOW: Steve, what`s the right answer here?

BENEN: I couldn`t quite hear what he said.

MADDOW: He said it was B, the lab test results were astonishingly
excellent. That was not in the letter.

BENEN: Let`s check the very funny video.



MADDOW: To whom my concern. If elected, Mr. Trump, I can state
unequivocally will be the healthiest individual ever elected to the


BENEN: I`m sorry to say that “astonishingly excellent” was in the letter
and Jesse was not correct.

MADDOW: That was a very difficult one because each of those potential
answers was equally ridiculous. But, Jesse, you still have a chance to
redeem yourself and get all the loot with your last question.

Ready for question three?

LEWIS: I am ready.

MADDOW: OK. This one is from Wednesday night show. At this week`s
Republican presidential debate in Las Vegas, Chris Christie said this,
quote, “When I sand across from King Hussein in Jordan, I will say you have
a friend again, sir.”

On Wednesday night show, we reported on one serious problem with that
statement. What was the problem? Was it, A, Jordan doesn`t have a king.
B, King Hussein is the king of Morroco, not the king of Jordan. C, the
king of Jordan`s name is Hassan, not Hussein. Or D, King Hussein of Jordan
has been dead since the 1990s.

LEWIS: Governor Christie says a few things that are a little crazy. I
know it was D because King Hussein has been dead for 16 years.

MADDOW: Steve, do you have the answer for us.

BENEN: I do. King Hussein`s been for many years and Jesse is correct.

MADDOW: We`ve got to do the math now.

Nick, did Jesse win the prize?

TUTHS: He did.

MADDOW: Win the prize.

And, Jesse, we`re going to throw in the plants anyway, just because,
because I can tell you really want them.

LEWIS: Oh, yes. I will wear them with pride and honor.

MADDOW: As an AIDS activist, a man after my own heart, I thank you for
your work. I thank you for playing. It`s been great to meet you. Thank
you, sir.

LEWIS: Nice meeting you. Have a great night.

MADDOW: You, too, thank you.

And if you want to play the most awesome game in basic cable news, even
though the plants are already gone now, all you have to do is send us an e-
mail, just tell us who you are, where you`re from and why
you want to play with us and our friendly little news dump. We would love
to have you, right after you get out on parole, because right now, you have
to go to prison.


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