The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 1/13/2016
Show: THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW
Date: January 13, 2016
Guest: Mona Hanna-Attisha
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOSt, “ALL IN”: And the test was this morning. They
did and they did.
HOOMAN MAJD, NBC NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: And also, the Iranians have come
through with every promise they have made on the nuclear deal, too. So
that was another indication we should trust them on this.
HAYES: All right. Hooman Majd, thank you very much.
That is “ALL IN” for this evening.
“THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW” starts now. Good evening, Rachel.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Good morning, Chris. Thanks, my friend.
HAYES: You bet.
MADDOW: And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour.
I basically still have not slept since the State of the Union. Such an
exciting time of year. That particular secular holiday rolls around. I
was – I was too wired after the State of the Union last night to sleep at
all. Which basically means this show tonight – this hour will be
hilarious if only because I shouldn`t be trusted to drive a car or cross
the street alone right now, let alone, hold a TV show for an hour. What
could possibly go wrong?
But anyway, let`s go. September of this past year, conservatives in
Washington decided to hold a rally at the U.S. Capitol to oppose the
impending nuclear deal with Iran. They were very excited for the speakers
at this rally in September, because for one, they got out of hiding.
Former Republican Party vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin, she – sort
of hadn`t been seen in months. But there she was in the flesh at the anti-
Iran rally. They also got one of the biggest TV stars in the Republican
Party`s cultural firmament to turn out for that rally.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PHIL ROBERTSON, DUCK DYNASTY: We are anti perversion, for crying out loud!
And we are pro God Almighty. We are pro gun. We`re pro get your tail out
there and go to work. Therefore, I love you all. God loves you.
I think that America, they always say the same thing. That Robertson guy
is just too religious. You know what I say? I say America ain`t religious
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: And that was the anti-Iran rally.
That man`s name is Phil Robertson. He is the star of the “Duck Dynasty” TV
show. He`s a very influential conservative media figure and Republican
Party figure these days.
And today, Mr. Robertson showcases his personal Republican presidential
endorsement for 2016 in an ad. The new ad that`s just out in the
presidential race that I believe might be the most effective Republican ad
of this whole political cycle so far. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERTSON: My qualifications for president of the United States are rather
narrow. Is he or she godly? Does he or she love us? Can he or she do the
job? And finally, would they kill a duck and put them in a pot and make a
good duck gumbo?
I`ve looked at the candidates. Ted Cruz is my man. He fits the bill.
He`s godly. He loves us. He`s the man for the job. And he will go duck
hunting, because today we`re going.
Ted Cruz is my man. I`m voting for him.
Cruz, the reason we`re going to vote for you, all of us, is because you`re
one of us, my man.
SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you.
ROBERTSON: That`s why we`re voting for you. It`s now or never.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: I have not seen a better Republican presidential campaign ad this
year. Whatever you think of Phil Robertson or of Ted Cruz, or of Ted
Cruz`s shooting at ducks technique, I think it is not hard to imagine that
this will be a very effective political ad for the Ted Cruz campaign,
particularly in states with lots of culturally conservative, evangelical
voters. Like, say, for example, Iowa.
Actually, Ted Cruz needs a little boost right now, because he has now been
running far enough ahead in Iowa that he has created the expectation that
he`s going to win that state. He has been leading in that state pretty
consistently over the last couple of weeks. And that`s great for him, as
long as he does win Iowa. It would be devastating for him if he didn`t.
And new polling out today in Iowa shows his lead there in that state is
shrinking. Iowa has become a must-win state for Ted Cruz. This “Duck
Dynasty” ad may be just the boost he needs in that state. We don`t know.
This new ad also comes on a day that has been a tough news day for a lot of
other competing Republican campaigns. Jeb Bush, for example, continues to
pull terrible polling numbers in the early states and national polling.
Here`s where Jeb Bus appears in some of the polls that have come out just
in the last couple of days. “The Des Moines Register” poll in Iowa
tonight puts him at 4 percent in Iowa. The PPP poll that came out
yesterday in Iowa puts him at 6 percent in Iowa. The CBS/”New York Times”
poll that is a national poll that came out last night, that puts him at 6
Jeb Bush`s numbers just continue to smell. Whatever he`s doing to try to
turn around his campaign, it`s not working. And on top of that, he got
this very depressing headline today at politico.com, which was first to
report on the closing of one Jeb Bush supporting super PAC. The super PAC
called Vamos for Jeb 2016.
Founders of the PAC explained to “Politico” that they were a super PAC
designed to showcase Hispanic support for Jeb Bush. Quote, “When Jeb Bush
first announced he was going to run, we thought he was going to be the
president to go for it and unite Hispanics with Americans.” Obviously,
that is slightly awkward phrasing, but I think we know what she means
there, maybe. But then obviously Donald Trump came in the picture and
changed everything, completely changed everything.”
And so therefore, Vamos for Jeb 2016 has shut itself down. They wrote a
letter to the FEC explaining they neither raised nor disbursed any funds
and would like the FEC to, quote, “terminate and be discontinued.”
So, that`s not good news for Jeb Bush. That said. They didn`t raise any
funds or disburse any funds and so Jeb Bush probably wasn`t counting on
them. And given that, you probably would rather be Jeb Bush today than,
say, Chris Christie today – because yes, Jeb Bush had a bad day. But the
news for Chris Christie is not only bad today, it is potentially really
going to be bad in coming weeks.
You`ll recall that two Chris Christie associates, his deputy chief of staff
you see on the right there and his top appointee to one important state
agency, they`re both going on criminal trial this spring in April, because
they are both accused of a criminal political conspiracy, a conspiracy to
shut down access lanes on to the world`s busiest bridge as a political
vendetta of some sort designed to punish other political figures in New
Jersey who did not support Chris Christie`s re-election effort when he was
running for a second term as governor.
Three people in all were criminally charged in the bridgegate case. One of
them pled guilty. He was due to be sentenced this week, but his sentencing
has been delayed. You`ll remember that he is cooperating with the
prosecution in the other two cases.
The other two cases, they haven`t pled guilty. They pled not guilty and
are due to go on trial in April. But in that April case, in the case of
the two who have not pled guilty, a filing was just made with the court
today by several news organizations.
And I should tell you that NBC Universal is one of those news organizations
which filed this legal brief on behalf of WNBC, which is the NBC affiliate
in New York City. But it`s NBC Universal and a bunch of other news
organizations, and their joint legal brief asks for public disclosure of
some potentially very explosive information from that bridgegate trial.
Apparently this week in that trial, federal prosecutors filed with the
court a list of unindicted co-conspirators. People who were not criminally
charged in this case, at least not at this point, but they are people who
the government believes played a role in this criminal conspiracy.
News organizations have filed a brief, telling the court that that list –
those names, those unindicted co-conspirators, they ought to be disclosed
publicly, because the brief argues, it is almost a foregone conclusion that
that list of unindicted co-conspirators includes public employees and
public officials. And therefore, the country has a right to know.
Specifically, the legal brief filed with the court name-checks Chris
Christie, part of the legal argument being made for why the unindicted co-
conspirators in bridgegate should be exposed is because, depending on who
is on that list, it could, quote, “impact the presidential campaign of New
Jersey`s governor, Chris Christie, within who`s administration the
circumstances underlying these charges arose.”
Nobody knows exactly when the court is going to rule on this motion. But
the Iowa caucuses are less than three weeks away. So, this was not just a
terrible headline today in the New Jersey press for Chris Christie. This
affords the prospect of a lot more, much more terrible headlines to come,
depending on what the court decides and who the unindicted co conspirators
And then, there`s Rand Paul. The next Republican presidential debate is
tomorrow night, South Carolina. It`s being hosted by Fox Business. As we
have been reporting for a few days now, Rand Paul doesn`t have polling
numbers good enough to qualify him to be in that debate. He is not going
to make it on to the main stage.
He has been offered a seat at the kids` table instead. He has said he will
not take that seat at the kids` table. He insists he should be on the main
stage, even though under the rules of the debate, he didn`t qualify to be
You will recall that Rand Paul also did not qualify to be on the main stage
it at the last Republican debate, which was hosted by CNN. But after
apparently being pressured by the Rand Paul campaign, CNN in that debate
decided they would break their own rules and let him on to the debate stage
anyway. They said, in the spirit of inclusiveness, they would break their
rules and not let the other kids` table people on to the main stage.
They`d just break their rules for Rand Paul.
Well, Rand Paul – you know, you do that for somebody once, they`re going
to keep expecting it. And Rand Paul is now engaged in a full-court press,
doing tons of media all day long today, making this public case, lobbying
publicly that once again, the rules should be broken for him. Once again,
he says even though he didn`t qualify to be at this debate either, he
should be allowed on the debate stage anyway. Again.
And in making that public case today, he has decided to call in the big
guns. The big, super crazy, don`t let them take your guns.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. RAND PAUL (R-KY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE (via telephone): We are
still jockeying and saying absolutely count all the polls, and get us in
there, because we deserve to be in the debate.
ALEX JONES, INFOWARS: What does my audience do to get you in that at any
PAUL: You know, I think the best thing would be to call the Republican
National Committee and tell Reince Priebus that they need to allow all
voices to be heard in the debate and that it`s not fair to exclude me from
JONES: We`re going to get that number and bring it up after the break.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Senator Rand Paul today calling on Internet conspiracy theorist
radio host Alex Jones and his many amazing followers, calling on them to
call Reince Priebus. Call the Republican Party chairman and lobby for Rand
Paul to be given special treatment once again. To get into a debate for
which he is not qualified.
Alex Jones, just as a refresher, he`s the guy who says the killing of first
graders at Sandy Hook Elementary School was all faked. It didn`t really
happen. Also, the Boston marathon bombing was faked, also 9/11 was faked,
also the San Bernardino shooting was faked.
None of those things were real, according to Alex Jones. If you believe in
those things, you`re a patsy being set up by the government, because those
things were all conspiracies mounted by the federal government so they can
come in and try to take your guns or put you in a camp or fluorinate your
water or broadcast evil messages to your dental fillings or something, I
don`t – I don`t know exactly.
But that`s Alex Jones. And Alex Jones is Rand Paul`s emergency escape
hatch? His plan C?
That`s what he`s doing to try to get into the Republican debate tomorrow
night. Enlist the army of Alex Jones conspiracy theorists. We`ll see if
Reince Priebus, you might want to check the caller ID before you pick up
So, this day after the State of the Union, it has been a difficult day for
a lot of Republican presidential campaigns. The day has basically been
great, though, for the man who was obliquely referenced in a critical way
by President Obama a couple of times in his State of the Union speech, and
a man who was directly referenced in a negative way in the official
Republican response to that speech.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MATT LAUER, TODAY: I just want to be clear here. That when you were
talking about those loudest voices, those angriest voices, in that context,
you were referring to Donald Trump, correct?
GOV. NIKKI HALEY (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: He was one of them, yes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That was Nikki Haley, who gave the initial Republican response to
the State of the Union address last night, confirming that when she made
critical remarks about the loudest, noisiest voices in the room who should
be ignored, she was, in fact, talking about Donald Trump.
Mr. Trump responded to that exactly the way you think he`d respond.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE (via telephone): Well, what I
would say to here I`m leading in South Carolina by a lot in all of the
polls and people agree with me. I`m very strong on illegal immigration.
She`s weak on illegal immigration. I mean, she is very, very weak on it
and it`s a problem. She`s big on amnesty but very weak on illegal
immigration, and so, therefore, we have a disagreement.
I mean, she comes up to my office when she wants campaign contributions and
I`ve given her tremendous contributions over the years. But I guess now
that I`m running, she doesn`t like me quite as much. She liked me better
when I was a giver of contributions than she does when I`m not.
THOMAS ROBERTS, MSNBC ANCHOR: What do you think her motives are for going
after you so publicly and so strongly?
TRUMP: Well, she probably figures maybe it`s good for her, maybe it`s not
good for her. Maybe it will turn out to be very bad for her. Because
people know where I stand, and, you know, you see the numbers.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That`s one level on which this is happening. The day after the
State of the Union. And that`s interesting, you know, kinetic fighting
among Republican figures, kind of a punch and Judy show. One person
saying, I don`t like you, you`re bad for the country. The other person
saying, well, you don`t like me because you`re a terrible person and you`re
bad for the country. I mean, that`s fairly typical at this point, even if
it does involve Mr. Trump. And so, there is always a little element of oh,
my God, who is going to say what next.
What is not at all it typical here, and, in fact, is way more interesting
here and sort of suspenseful here, is that this wasn`t just one Republican
figure criticizing another Republican political figure. This was one
Republican who happens to be the Republican presidential frontrunner being
criticized not just by another politician, but being criticized in the
official Republican Party response to the president`s State of the Union
And yes, Governor Nikki Haley, sure, is speaking for herself. But she also
confirmed today that her remarks were cleared in advance by Republican
Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, and by Senate Majority Leader Mitch
McConnell. They were praised overtly by Reince Priebus. She is speaking
for the Republican Party. This is a Republican Party-approved message,
attacking Donald Trump directly, their party`s presidential front runner.
And remember, Donald Trump has been saying over and over and over again
over a period of months that if the Republican Party does not treat him
fairly, he will leave the party and he will run as an independent instead.
Does this count as the Republican Party not treating him fairly?
It`s the official State of the Union response, from their party being
substantially about what a terrible candidate he is, what a terrible person
he is, and how terrible he would be for the country. Is that the way a
party treats its front runner fairly?
There`s no sign so far that Mr. Trump is going to bolt the party. His lead
among Republican Party voters appears, frankly, insurmountable basically
everywhere except Iowa, and ask Ted Cruz in Iowa, Donald Trump`s numbers
are going up.
Mainstream media and a lot of Democrats might have liked what Nikki Haley
had to say, but conservative talk radio all day today, and conservative
media online all day today was basically 100 percent anti-Nikki Haley and
And as thousands of people turned out tonight to see Donald Trump speak in
Pensacola, Florida, he was at a venue that can seat more than 10,000 people
in Pensacola tonight and he appears to have done a good job filling it up,
it is starting to feel like the Republican Party taking this basically
official stance against their own presidential front runner, not only might
not work, but it might more than not work.
There is one former high-ranking official in that party whose crystal ball
on this subject has been particularly clear, who called this in advance and
who says he knows what`s going to happen next because of this.
He joins us next. Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HALEY: During anxious times, it can be tempting to follow the siren call
of the angriest voices. We must resist that temptation. No one who is
willing to work hard, abide by our laws and love our traditions should ever
feel unwelcome in this country. At the same time –
MICHAEL STEELE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: My prediction is, given what
happened tonight, given the affront to the Trump campaign from both the
president and the GOP establishment, by Friday, Trump`s numbers will be
closer to 45 percent.
MADDOW: Wow. So you see the Haley response in particular with its direct
shot at Donald Trump – you see that as jet fuel for the Trump campaign?
STEELE: Oh, yes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That seemed a little bit crazy last night when Michael Steele said
it. But already today it feels like that is what`s going to happen.
Mr. Crystal Ball joining us now as former chairman of the RNC, Michael
Michael, it`s great to see you again so soon. Thanks for coming back.
STEELE: Absolutely, absolutely.
MADDOW: Do you stand by your prediction?
STEELE: I do. I do. And I think you`re showing polls tonight that show
the upward movement in places like Iowa. You`re seeing the gap widen in
national polls from across the country.
And I think, again, the problem that the establishment types have in this
town is that they continually overplay their hand, because they don`t fully
understand nor appreciate exactly what Donald Trump is representing more
and more every day to Americans. And that is this sense of he`s got this.
I`m the leader who is actually going to go fight for you. I`m not going to
cut a side deal. I`m not going to bait and switch. I`m not going to tell
you one thing and do something else. We`re going to do these things that I
say, and we`re going to do them in a big way. And you`re going to be a
part of it.
And that sense of connection to a lot of – for a lot of Republicans is
important when they look back on what some have described to me as
milquetoast leadership on a good day, and a treacherous one on most days.
So, there`s animosity there.
MADDOW: Sorry to interrupt you there. I didn`t mean to. But let me just
clarify what you`re saying here.
It sounds to me like, doesn`t necessarily mean that the Republican Party
doesn`t – and the Republican establishment doesn`t have an interest in
going after Donald Trump. But given that that`s his appeal, the absolute
wrong way to criticize him is by saying he`s intemperate or an he`s
inappropriate personality for this sort of thing. That will help him.
That won`t hurt him, because that`s part of what people like about him.
STEELE: That`s part of what people like about him. But then not just
saying what you said, but taking the actions, as we – as you reported
several weeks ago, a few – actually, last month in December, the secret
meeting in Washington between the leadership and McConnell and others
talking about what to do about Donald Trump.
Well, the answer to that is nothing. Let the primary voters work this out
on their own. They haven`t cast a vote yet. So, we still don`t know
exactly whether the numbers we`re saying right now, Rachel, will translate
into turnout, into votes and caucuses, et cetera. That`s to come.
But every day there`s more and more attempts by those who don`t want Trump
in the lead here to take him out. It just locks him in. And they need to
be careful about that.
MADDOW: So, as a former RNC chairman – and I think the really important
thing here about the Nikki Haley comments last night were not just that
Nikki Haley said this thing, but that she said it in that venue, it was
approved text, approved by Paul Ryan, approved by Mitch McConnell, praised
by Reince Priebus, presumably approved in advance by Reince Priebus. So it
really is an official stance.
Do you think this was basically malpractice? Whether or not you agree with
the aim of trying to derail Donald Trump, do you think that they`re
basically being bad at their jobs in the way they`re trying to do it?
STEELE: I do. I would not have used that speech to go after the leading
candidate for the nomination of the party. I just wouldn`t.
You`ve seen the backlash. You`ve heard it on talk radio from Laura
Ingraham to Rush Limbaugh to Levin. There are a whole host of folks out
there, not just the talking heads and media, but grassroots activists.
I`ve been on the phone today, I was at events last night before and after
this speech in which there was consternation. There was anger. How dare
they? You know, what are they trying to do? Let us make this choice.
Those are the words that I hear over and over again. And it`s very clear,
Rachel, that the heavy-handedness is not winning the day for the candidates
that they think are going to rise in place of Donald Trump.
And Donald Trump is finding ways every day – and if you notice, he`s
getting more presidential, if you will. He`s using notes. He`s really
beginning to drill down on the mechanics of closing the deal with these
voters. And that`s what`s scaring the establishment types so much.
MADDOW: Michael Steele, MSNBC political analyst, former chairman of the
Republican Party – I like talking to you about these things. I don`t do
it enough. I`m really glad you were able to come back.
STEELE: Any time.
MADDOW: Thank you, sir. Good to see you.
STEELE: All righty.
MADDOW: You know, I think the point Michael made at the top, is the most
important one. It is fine to have whatever political aim you have against
whatever candidate. But if you are trying to take a candidate down a
notch, you have to understand why they`ve got those notches in the first
place. What it is that is appealing to voters about them if you want to
try to undo that. And bring them back down to earth.
And when you take aim at Donald Trump for being intemperate, Republican
voters see that as a badge of honor with this guy. There`s got to be some
other attack on him that Republican leaders are going to come up with if
they`re going to want one that works. What they tried last night I think
is going to be an absolute disaster.
We`ll be right back. Stay with us.
MADDOW: In 1986, then-President Ronald Reagan was scheduled to deliver his
State of the Union Address. It`s his sixth. It was January 28th, 1986.
But then that day, the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded. And President
Reagan postponed that State of the Union. He instead delivered just a
short speech from the Oval Office, emotionally praising the seven crew
members who died in that explosion.
Just three years ago, President Obama began his State of the Union as a
nine-day manhunt was coming to close in California for Christopher Dorner.
Remember that case? He was an ex-police officer who went on a long
shooting rampage and killed four people. Officers had cornered Mr. Dorner
in a burning cabin, just as President Obama entered the house chamber to
start giving the State of the Union. Oh, and also, North Korea just
conducted a nuclear test that morning.
The news doesn`t always stop for a State of the Union address. Last night
was no exception. The big breaking news story that was unfolding as
President Obama spoke last night, we still don`t really understand it. But
it is going to probably affect our politics if not our international
relations for a long, long time, and there is one piece of it that is
really unforgivably strange.
And that`s next.
MADDOW: The previous president of Iran was a furious little guy named
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. He has not been president since 2013. But his
lasting visual image in the world, his lasting visual image in the world at
least is his trademark look.
Even to this day, if you see someone for some reason who is wearing a
button down slim fit light cotton shirt and a shapeless slightly rumpled
suit but definitely, definitely, definitely no tie ever, that is the
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad look, particularly if you`re a little short guy.
That trademark looking so identified with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was part of
what made these visuals so unsettling back in 2007. This was April 4th,
2007, the day that 15 British marines were finally freed by Ahmadinejad`s
government in Iran after Iran held those marines in captivity for 13
They had picked up these marines when they were inspecting a merchant
vessel that they suspected of some kind of smuggling. It became a huge
international incident. Iran held the one female marine and 14 male
marines for nearly two weeks.
When they let them go, they dressed all the guys up like Ahmadinejad. They
dressed them up in Ahmadinejad suits, and is made a big show of them all
meeting with the president and being given those suits and also some
Persian carpets as parting gifts.
It was kind of funny on the surface, but it was awful and gut-wrenching in
context, given that they were prisoners.
That was eight and a half years ago. This time, this week, it was ten
American sailors – nine men and one woman who were taken by the Iranians
yesterday. This time, thankfully, the sailors were freed much more
quickly. It wasn`t two weeks. They were freed this morning. They were
held just one night by Iran.
And the quick release of the sailors should be seen as I think a rebuke to
the Republicans, including Republican presidential candidates who said
President Obama should have pounded his chest last night about these
sailors. In his State of the Union Address, he should have turned those
sailors into domestic political theater here in the United States.
The president did not do that. He did not risk doing that. And the
sailors were back at a U.S. Navy base before Washington woke up this
morning with the president having not fouled it up by making it into a
giant public incident.
But that doesn`t mean that Iran avoided using those sailors for its own
political theatre. Geneva Conventions say that prisoners of war shouldn`t
be paraded basically. They should be protected from insults and public
curiosity. It`s generally interpreted to mean that images and videos of
prisoners shouldn`t be broadcast by the government that`s holding them.
Now, we are not at war with Iran and these Americans therefore are not
prisoners of war, but the principle still holds and it is unnerving to see
these American sailors with their boots off and with parts of their
uniforms off. It is unnerving to see their passports being flipped in
front of the camera.
It is particularly unnerving to see them surrendering. Hands up.
Kneeling. And then Iranian military personnel pawing over their guns and
their ammunition and presumably everything else that was on board. Those
two small U.S. Navy boats that the Iranians had for the last 24 hours while
they were holding these American service members against their will.
Iranian state TV also broadcast this out of context apology.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
U.S. SAILORS COMMANDER: It was a mistake. That was our fault. And we
apologize for our mistake.
The Iranian behavior was fantastic while we were here. We thank you very
much for your hospitality, and your assistance.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: We do not know if that sailor was apologizing under duress, nor do
we know what he was apologizing for.
The Iranian Revolutionary Guard put out a statement today saying they
determined that the Americans, quote, “illegal entry into Iranian water was
not the result of a purposeful act.” OK. If so, then what is this guy`s
purported out of context apology all about? If there was nothing purposely
done wrong? We don`t know.
But now that this thing is over, there are three things here.
Number one, obviously the most important, is the good news that these ten
U.S. sailors are back and they are safe. The administration says they
basically were able to get them freed so fast, because there are direct
lines of communication now between our diplomats and Iran`s diplomats. And
that`s because of all the negotiating on the nuclear deal. And so, that
indeed is very positive. That is a very concrete consequence of those open
lines of communication, right?
So, that`s first. The sailors are safe. That is the most important.
The second point, unavoidably, is that the Iranians parading Americans like
this, American prisoners like this, on videotape. This is disgusting.
This is stomach-turning. But that`s what they did. That`s the second
And the third point, which I will leave you with, I think is more
controversial. Which is how on earth did this happen?
First, the explanation was from the U.S. government, from the Pentagon, was
that the – the boats – these two boats had had mechanical trouble that
caused them to drift into Iranian waters. OK. Both of them did?
Then, we get a defense official in Washington telling “The Associated
Press” that the Navy has actually ruled that out. They have, quote, “ruled
out engine or propulsion failure as the reason the boats entered Iranian
And honestly, you know, since the sailors were released this morning by
putting them back on those very same boats and letting them sail away in
those boats, that would imply there was nothing mechanically wrong with the
boats, right? Unless the Iranians spent all night doing engine repairs for
Then, “The Washington Post” gets word that maybe the sailors ran out of
gas. Again, really? And also, both of them? Both boats?
And again, if it was them running out of gas, were they able to leave on
those same boats this morning, because the Iranians filled it up for them,
loaned them a gas can?
None of the explanations that we have been given for what happened here
make any sense. I do not know what those little U.S. Navy boats were doing
out there in the open ocean all alone. And I don`t know why they were
where they were, and we don`t know why they got caught by the Iranians.
That they are safe now is the most important thing. But what we are being
sold here about what happened to them and why, at least so far, it is a
pile of bull.
MADDOW: We have breaking news tonight from Michigan, where there has been
another development concerning the city of Flint.
As difficult as it has been to talk about the long-term damage to Flint
kids from the lead in the water in it that city and the life-long
challenges of everything from skin rashes to points shaved off their IQs to
behavioral problems, the news tonight is not about that. Because tonight,
in addition to all that, Governor Snyder and state health officials have
now had to report something new – a deadly spike in something called
Legionnaires` disease in Flint. Which has also happened there since the
city switched its water source.
This Legionnaires` outbreak has resulted in the deaths of ten people – ten
people dead in two separate outbreaks of Legionnaires` disease since the
city started drinking from the Flint River.
Now, we do get outbreaks sometimes of Legionnaires` disease in this
country. Last year, there were outbreaks in the state of Illinois and in
the state of New York. Legionnaires` disease happens. It`s caused by a
bacteria, basically gives you pneumonia. Pneumonia, which can kill you.
The bacteria that causes it is commonly found in water. Health officials
in Michigan tonight say they do not yet know whether this, again, fatal
outbreak is directly related to the change in Flint`s drinking water, but
they are considering that possibility, and you can see why.
Flint switched to drinking local river water in April 2014. It was two
months later in June that the first outbreak began. All told, 87 people
have gotten sick. And of the 87, 10 of them have died.
Is this sudden rise in Legionnaires` related to Flint`s drinking water, the
same corrosion problem that lead-poisoned the whole town, or is this a
whole other thing? We don`t yet know. The renown drinking water expert
from Virginia Tech who is testing Flint`s water proved it was high in lead,
even when the state was maintaining otherwise.
Professor Mark Edwards tonight says the same corrosion that chewed up the
pipes and put the lead in the water, yes, theoretically, at least, that
same corrosion could have also killed off the chlorine that is supposed to
keep Legionnaires at bay. And potentially could have given rise to this
outbreak of Legionnaires disease. No one knows for sure.
Tonight, what they have in Flint is this new information from the governor
about this fatal outbreak, on top of the lead poisoning of that city.
We`ve got news from the governor about this outbreak. We`ve got news that
a new investigation is under way, and we`ve got questions. So many
God bless Flint, Michigan, and what the state did to their blessed water.
MADDOW: After weeks of covering the astonishing lack of action to deal
with lead poisoning disaster in Flint, Michigan, now all of a sudden in the
past week, a lot of things are happening. Or at least a lot of things are
Last week, Governor Rick Snyder declared a state of emergency for the city
and county. On Saturday, he announced that fire stations in Flint would
start handing out bottled water and water filters. On Sunday, he announced
the state would start deploying teams of troopers to distribute water and
filters door to door.
Then on Monday, the governor, miracle of all miracles, actually went
personally to Flint and took questions from the press. Then, yesterday in
the middle of the State of the Union Address last night, Governor Snyder
announced he would call up the National Guard to help with the response in
And then today as we just reported today, there was this chilling, very
worrying press conference, suggesting that what we have in Flint may not be
a mass lead poisoning of an American city. The same mistakes concerning
Flint`s water supply made by the state, those same mistakes may also have
caused a fatal outbreak of Legionnaires` disease that so far has killed ten
The pace of developments in Flint is just radically different from what it
used to be. And some of that is satisfying to see, right, to feel that the
response is at least cognizant of, if not exactly tracking the scale of the
problem. But even as things have picked up, there have also been these
moments when it becomes clear that something is still wrong with how this
is being handled.
For example, on Monday, just two days after Governor Snyder announced that
five Flint firehouses would be water resource sites, local NBC reporter
found three of those five firehouses were already either low on or
completely out of water and filters. After the governor`s office announced
that state personnel would be going door to door distributing water and
filters, we learned that the entire effort for the whole city consisted of
20 people – 20 people going door to door in a city of 100,000 people and
roughly 30,000 households – 20 people.
And then there was Governor Snyder`s big press conference in Flint to
formally announce the state`s new beefed-up response. Standing behind the
governor, you see there on the left in this shot, was one of the true
heroes of this disaster. The local pediatrician, who you may remember, she
took it upon herself with no funding but with nothing but resistance from
the state, to start testing not the lead in the water, but the lead in
Flint`s kids, because of the lead in the water.
And her results – that doctor`s results were scary and stunning and they
basically blew this whole thing open. Turns out, she found that the
proportion of kids with elevated lead in their blood was nearly double what
it had been before the town switched its water source. In some
neighborhoods, the danger tripled, not doubled.
And at the time, the Snyder administration basically told people not to
believe her. They said her results were spliced and diced. State
officials basically continued to say that everything was fine, despite this
alarming data that she had turned in.
But the doctor, Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha known locally as Dr. Mona, she
really was right and the state eventually had to admit it. And at his big
Flint press conference this week announcing his emergency action plan for
Flint, Rick Snyder and his senior administration officials had Dr. Mona
standing right up there with them, like part of their team.
And the governor talked about how excited he was to work with her,
specifically, how thankful he is for her work, he name-checked her several
That said, Dr. Mona did not speak at that event. She just stood there.
And there was this one – intriguing moment when other people were talking,
but she stood there, shaking her head.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NICK LYON, DIR. OF MICHIGAN DEPT. OF HEALTH & HUMAN SERVICES: Our most
recent data indicates that 43 of 2,182 adults and children tested had
elevated blood lead levels since October 1st. This includes 23 children
under the able of 6, seven children age 6 to 17, and 13 adults.
As part of this, once a child had an elevated blood level result, the
Michigan Department of Health and Human Services responded and is working
with the Genesee County Health Department to provide follow up case
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: This is not subtle, right? This is not Sam Alito going not true.
This is the director of the Michigan Health Department talking about how
many cases they found of elevated blood lead levels, and Dr. Mona is right
there, shaking her head, no, no, no, no, no.
And we saw that, we wanted to know, what`s the problem there? What is she
reacting to so strongly on this day when supposedly everybody is at least
supposed to look like they`re on the same page?
Joining us now is Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha. She`s a pediatrician with Hurley
Children`s Hospital in Flint.
Dr. Hanna Attisha, thank you again for being with us tonight. I hope I`m
not getting you in trouble by asking you to explain this. But I couldn`t
help myself. I`ve got to ask.
DR. MONA HANNA-ATTISHA, PEDIATRICIAN IN FLINT, MI: Thanks for having me,
Well, I`ve always had trouble keeping a poker face. And when we heard them
mentioning that there was only 43 people with elevated lead levels, you
know, I couldn`t keep my expressions to myself, I guess. Really, this is
an entire population exposure. The entire population from child to adult
who drank or cooked with this water from April 2014 until end date not set
yet, because the water is not safe, was exposed.
So, when we hear numbers like, oh, only 43 people with elevated levels
since October, it minimizes the problem because really this is a
population-wide problem. And it`s not just that small amount of people.
MADDOW: If it is a population-wide problem, why are they talking about
numbers that low? Why aren`t more people who they`re testing showing
elevated blood lead levels?
HANNA-ATTISHA: Right. That`s a great question.
So, lead lasts in your blood just a short period of time. So the half life
of lead is only about 20 to 30 days and then it`s gone. So, a child could
have had a peak lead level at three months, or four months, of five months.
And we were screening children at the ages of 1 to 2 as recommended.
We could have missed their peak and when we screen at 1 or 2, that level
was no longer elevated. So, all of the testing that has happened really
since the release of our press conference in late September only reflects
recent exposure. And by and large, the majority of people have been
alerted to the water not being safe since late September.
So, the testing now is recent exposure. It does not mean – it doesn`t
tell you what your lead level was a year ago or six months ago when this
was at its worst.
MADDOW: Am I right that there`s no easy way to test overall exposure? If
you`re showing a low elevated blood lead level, but you were exposed, your
kids were exposed a long time ago, is there no easy way to test to show
that long-term exposure?
HANNA-ATTISHA: Right, you could do a bone biopsy, but nobody`s really
signed up for that. So no, there`s not great ways to tests that past
exposure. So, that is why we`re under the assumption that the entire
population was exposed and thus the entire population needs to benefit from
interventions to mitigate that long-term exposure.
MADDOW: We also got news about this Legionnaires` disease outbreak. Do
you have information about whether that`s related to this or how serious
that is to Flint?
HANNA-ATTISHA: Yes. So, I`m not really – Legionnaires is very much of an
adult disease, and I`m a kids doctor. But according to Dr. Edwards and
others, it does seem this corrosive water could be implicated.
MADDOW: Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, pediatrician with Hurley Children`s
Hospital in Flint, Michigan, one of the things we`re going to be talking
about in upcoming days is this new initiative that you`re part of,
including part it, which is publicly funded, people asking for do nations
to support a fund and a task force for Flint kids in the long run. We`re
going to talk about that in days ahead.
Dr. Mona, thanks for being with us tonight. We appreciate it.
HANNA-ATTISHA: Thanks for having me. Thank you.
MADDOW: True hero.
We`ll be right back.
MADDOW: When we last heard from my friend, Maine Governor Paul LePage, she
was trying to explain away his comments about, quote, “guys named D-Money
impregnating white girls”. Governor LePage said that he was not talking
about race at all. Of course not.
Well, this week, Governor LePage faces an effort to impeach him in the
Maine legislature. He`s facing impeachment charges related to abuse of
power. Looks like Maine lawmakers are going to start voting on whether to
pursue that starting tomorrow.
So, Maine Governor LePage is having a rough couple of weeks. In
consequence, he`s cancelling his State of the Union. Governor LePage
scheduled to give his State of the State speech next week, but he tells a
local radio show it would be silly for him to address an audience of people
who are trying to impeach him. Instead, Governor LePage says, quote, “I`ll
send them a letter and call it a day.”
So, Maine state of the state speech usually takes place around the end of
January or February. It`s usually a speech. In this case, I would say
watch this space, but more likely watch your inbox.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: President Sanders has been a
pretty reliable vote of the gun lobby.
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: To say that I`m kind
of a supporter of the gun lobby is unfair, mean-spirited and inaccurate
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Unfair, inaccurate, and mean-spirited.
The Democratic race for the president sounds different than it used to all
of a sudden. It might have something to do with polling. The latest “New
York Times”/CBS poll out last night has Hillary Clinton leading Bernie
Sanders nationally by seven points. Generally, you would think that would
be good news for the Clinton campaign except for the fact that that 7-point
lead is down from her having a 20-point lead in the same poll just a month
Senator Sanders is also leading in the most recent Iowa out from
Quinnipiac. He`s up by five in Iowa. And in the most recent New Hampshire
just out from Monmouth, he`s leading there as well, in that case by 14
The Democratic race is really heating up, which is very exciting, no matter
who you like for president.
But tomorrow, I`m very excited to say, former Secretary of State Hillary
Clinton will be here on this show. Please do not miss this. This bat
time, this bat channel. I will see you then.
Now, it`s time for “THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL”.
Good evening, Lawrence.
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