The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 1/22/2016

Guests:
Lindsey Smith, Linda Lee
Transcript:

Show: THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW
Date: January 22, 2016
Guest: Lindsey Smith, Linda Lee

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: And thanks to you at home for joining with us
this hour. Happy weekend. Happy Friday.

OK, this goes in an unexpected place but trust me, you`re going to enjoy
the ride.

In May 2008, John McCain had all but wrapped up the Republican presidential
nomination. At that point, it was basically just a march to the convention
for him.

But sometimes candidates hit obstacles in their campaigns that weren`t put
there by their opponents. It`s not because one of their rivals for the
nomination or a candidate from another party has hit them with something
particularly hard. Sometimes, candidates just make their own unforced
errors.

And John McCain did that in the spring of 2008 when he momentarily hopped
into bed with a sort of high-profile guy who it turned out had very, very
strong and strongly stated beliefs about among other things the Catholic
Church.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN HAGEE, TEXAS PASTOR: This is the great whore of Revelations 17. This
is the antichrist system. This is the apostate church. God says the day
is going to come when I`m going to cause this beast to devour this apostate
system.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: That man`s name is John Hagee, a Texas pastor who preaches that
the Catholic Church is the whore of Babylon that will be devoured by the
antichrist. He also claimed that the great whore, aka the Catholic Church,
drinks the blood of the Jewish people.

John Hagee in the spring of 2008 endorsed Senator John McCain for
president. And John McCain initially was psyched. He appeared with Pastor
Hagee to accept his endorsement in person. He thanked him in person for
the endorsement. He basically campaigned on that endorsement.

But if the Catholic Church being the whore of Babylon wasn`t enough to sour
that blossoming political alliance, eventually this part of John Hagee`s
public life made the whole thing slightly untenable for Senator McCain.

Do we have this clip from John Hagee? Oh, I think we`ll have it in just a
second. This is – well, OK. Go ahead. Go for it. Roll it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HAGEE: God sent a hunter. A hunter is someone who comes with a gun. And
he forces you.

Hitler was a hunter. How did it happen? Because God allowed it to happen.
Why did it happen? Because God said my top priority for the Jewish people
is to get them to come back to the land of Israel.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: God sent Hitler. God sent Hitler.

Well, John McCain could apparently endure some of the other things that
Pastor John Hagee was known to have said about the Catholic Church and
other topics. Pastor Hagee, for example, also blamed Hurricane Katrina on
New Orleans having once hosted a gay pride parade. God sent the hurricane
to New Orleans to punish them for gay people existing in public in that
city.

But when John Hagee said that the Nazis were doing God`s work, that Hitler
was sent by God to kill the Jews, that was kind of a harder sell.

And so, in May of 2008 John McCain, having accepted the endorsement and
campaigned on the endorsement from John Hagee, he had to retroactively
reject John Hagee`s endorsement and endure a few days worth of headlines
like these, “McCain rejects Hagee backing as not (INAUDIBLE)”

So, that was one bump on the road to John McCain being nominated as the
Republican Party`s candidate in 2008. And honestly, you know what,
candidates cannot be held responsible for everything said and done and
believed by people who like them and endorse them and vote for them, right?

But that`s why the Hagee debacle was such an unforced error on the part of
John McCain. It would be one thing if John Hagee had just endorsed John
McCain and John McCain had nothing to do with him, then he wouldn`t be
responsible for vetting Pastor John Hagee and make sure that he didn`t, for
example, think Hitler was doing God`s work.

John McCain`s screw-up in 2008 was that he overtly welcomed the
endorsement. And appeared with the guy and campaigned on the endorsement.
And once you do that, you kind of own it, which somebody should explain
sometime very soon to Texas Senator Ted Cruz.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

MIKE BICKLKE, INTERNATIONAL HOUSE OF PRAYER FOUNDER: Let me tell you,
these 20 – less than 20 million Jews worldwide. God is going to bring
them all back.

The Lord says I`m going to offer two strategies to Israel, to these 20
million. He says, first I`m going to offer them grace. I`m going to send
the fisherman.

Do you know how a fisherman lures? I mean, do you know how a fisherman
does their thing? They have the bait in front, luring the fish. It`s a
picture of grace.

The hunters are opposite. Instead of luring them in front, hunters drive
with fear from behind.

The Lord says, I`m going to give all 20 million of them the chance to
respond to the fisherman. I`m going to give them grace. I`m going to give
them grace. And he says that if they don`t respond to grace, I`m going to
raise up the hunters.

And the most famous hunter in recent history is a man named Adolf Hitler.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

MADDOW: Here we are again. God sent Hitler to chase the Jews.

Now, that is not the guy who famously had to be renounced by John McCain in
2008. That wasn`t John Hagee who you just heard there. That`s a different
guy. His name is Mike Bickle.

And the Ted Cruz campaign just put out an excited statement proclaiming the
Ted Cruz endorsement from Pastor Mike Bickle. Look, presidential candidate
Ted Cruz announced the endorsement of Mike Bickle, founder and director of
the International House of Prayer of Kansas City.

Quote, “Heidi and I,” this is in Ted Cruz`s voice, “Heidi, my wife and I
are grateful to have Mike`s prayers and supports. With the support of Mike
and many people of faith, we will fight the good fight, finish the course,
and keep the faith.”

Part of what Mike Bickle teaches at his version of IHOP, the international
house of not pancakes but prayer, is that God sent Hitler to chase the
Jews, the Nazis were doing God`s work.

Mike Bickle also famously says he can see in the United States today
harbingers of the antichrist. Things that tell you the antichrist is
coming. And you`d never believe who he thinks is the most nefarious one.
Spoiler alert: It`s not President Obama.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BICKLE: The harlot of Babylon is preparing the nations to receive the
antichrist. The harlot of Babylon will be the religion of affirmation,
toleration, no absolutes, a counterfeit justice movement. They will be
sincere, many of them, but their sincerity will not in any way lessen the
impact of their deception. The fact that they are sincere does not make
their deception less damaging. I believe that one of the main pastors as a
forerunner to the harlot movement, it`s not a movement yet, is Oprah.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: Who? Oprah. Oprah Winfrey, harbinger of the antichrist.

Seems unlikely, right? But that`s the whole point. Seems so unlikely.
That`s how she does it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BICKLE: Oprah. She is winsome. She is kind. She is reasonable. She is
utterly deceived. Utterly deceived.

A classy woman. A cool woman. A charming woman. But has a spirit of
deception. And she`s one of the clear pastors, forerunners to the harlot
movement.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: That is who just gave a presidential endorsement to Ted Cruz. And
that is the guy who Ted Cruz put out the official campaign statement
proclaiming the endorsement thanking Pastor Mike Bickle for the
endorsement.

Ted Cruz is now campaigning on his support from this guy who says that
Oprah is the harbinger of the antichrist, first reported by people for the
American Way.

And it will be interesting to see if the Republican Party has changed
enough since 2008, right? Even though John McCain couldn`t endure holding
on to this endorsement in 2008 from a guy who said that God sent Hitler to
come hunt the Jews. That was not sustainable in Republican Party politics
in 2008.

It will be interesting to see if eight years later in 2016, Ted Cruz can
stand to proclaim and welcome and be proud of the endorsement of a guy who
said the exact same thing, that God sent Hitler to hunt the Jews, it was
God`s will.

That will be interesting to watch. Even just over this weekend. To see if
Ted Cruz has to walk back his excited statement of support from the guy who
says that Hitler was God`s Jew hunter.

Whether or not that happens, though, this endorsement from Mike Bickle of
Ted Cruz and his proclaiming of it, it also offers an interesting new angle
on the fast escalating fight between Ted Cruz and Donald Trump on the
campaign trail because it turns out one weird front of battle between Ted
Cruz and Donald Trump is Oprah Winfrey.

And you think I`m kidding, I know. But I`m not, because it`s very clear.
Here`s Ted Cruz`s guy whose endorsement Ted Cruz is now campaigning on.
Here`s what he thinks about Oprah.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BICKLE: One of the main pastors as a forerunner to the harlot movement.
It`s not the harlot movement yet. It`s Oprah.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: Oprah. How you know the antichrist is on his way. That`s Ted
Cruz`s guy. That`s how Oprah functions in the Ted Cruz for president
campaign. Here is how Oprah functions in the Donald Trump for president
campaign.

Here`s how Oprah functions in the Donald Trump for president campaign.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MATT LAUER, TODAY SHOW: Running mate. If you decide to go with this, who
would be the ideal running mate for Donald Trump?

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Oh, I think Oprah would be
great.

LAUER: Seriously.

TRUMP: I think that – probably that would be serious, actually.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: That was Donald Trump the first time he flirted with running for
president in the 2000 presidential campaign. He volunteered apropos of
nothing that he was considering Oprah Winfrey to be his vice presidential
running mate that year if he in fact mounted a bid for the presidency which
he didn`t.

That was the only name he ever floated as a possible vice president in the
2000 campaign. That wasn`t like people were asking him, “Hey, everybody
likes Oprah, you`re friendly with Oprah, shouldn`t Oprah be your running
mate?” No, he just brought it up. Vice president Oprah.

That was a long time ago. That would have been the presidential campaign
in the year 2000. But apparently, he is still thinking along those lines
this time around.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

INTERVIEWER: Back in 1999 when you were thinking as the reform party
candidate you told Larry King that you`d consider Oprah for vice president.

TRUMP: I like Oprah. What can I tell you?

INTERVIEWER: Still on your short list?

TRUMP: She`s great. She`s talented. She`s a friend of mine. She`s a
good person. I`ve been on her show. In fact I was on her show the last
week. She said, could I be on her show with the whole family. I like
Oprah. Is that supposed to be a bad thing?

INTERVIEWER: No. The kind of people you`re going to run –

TRUMP: Oprah would be great. I`d like to have Oprah. I think we`d win
easily actually.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: In what is turning out to be kind of a Donald Trump-Ted Cruz death
match at this stage in the 2016 presidential race one of the fronts of
battle turns out to be Oprah Winfrey. It`s a pretty clear distinction,
right? Harbinger of the antichrist or possible running mate. Choose.

Ted Cruz and Donald Trump today also both broke new ground in their
campaigns by unveiling straight up attack ads against each other. In terms
of my assessment of these ads, I think they`re both about the same caliber,
same quality, will have the same effect. I will say the anti-Trump ad by
Ted Cruz does have one laugh out loud moment that I think you`re not
supposed to laugh at.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)

TRUMP: I`m Donald Trump, and I approve this message.

BRET BAIER, FOX NEWS: It sounded like you wanted the bill to pass.

SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Of course, I wanted the bill
to pass – my amendment to pass. What my amendment did –

BAIER: You said the bill.

CRUZ: – is take citizenship off the table. But it doesn`t mean – what
it doesn`t mean that I supported the other aspects of the bill.

I want immigration reform to pass. And it allows those who are here
illegally to come in out of the shadows.

BAIER: The amendment would have allowed undocumented immigrants to remain
in the U.S. permanently and obtain legal status. So, how do you square
this circle?

CRUZ: Actually, Bret, it wouldn`t have.

TRUMP: People want to take back their country. We want to do it in a
humane way, but we have to have a country.

We don`t have a country right now. We have people pouring in. They`re
pouring in. And they`re doing tremendous damage.

If you look at the crime, if you look at the economy, we want to have
borders. To have a country you have to have borders. We don`t have
borders right now.

AD NARRATOR: Eminent domain – fancy term for politicians seizing private
property to enrich the fat cats who bankroll them. Like Trump.

TRUMP: I think eminent domain is wonderful.

AD NARRATOR: It made him rich. Like when Trump colluded with Atlantic
City insiders to bulldoze the home of an elderly widow for a limousine
parking lot at his casino.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He doesn`t have a heart.

AD NARRATOR: Trump won`t change the system. He`s what`s wrong with it.

CRUZ: I`m Ted Cruz, and I approve this message.

(END VIDEO CLIPS)

MADDOW: Donald Trump and Ted Cruz both unveiling direct old school nasty
style attack ads against each other today, ten days out from the Iowa
caucuses.

Neither of these candidates has spent very much money at all on
advertisements thus far. They are both sitting on basically infinite
funds. So, if Ted Cruz and Donald Trump decide to spend all of their
infinite funds, throwing stuff like that at each other, the people of Iowa
over these next ten days are going to be treating their TVs like a hazmat
site, like not only are people not going to watch TV anymore, they`re going
to throw blankets over their TVs just in case they wake themselves up and
accidentally start showing that stuff and scaring the kids.

Tonight, just as we were going to art FOX News Channel released their
latest poll in the Republican presidential race. This is a national poll
of Republican voters. What it shows is a very clear stratifying of the
race.

So, just look. This is a pretty good snapshot actually for this time of
year. We`ll start at the bottom.

At 1 percent, you`ve got Jim Gilmore and Carly Fiorina. Remember when
Carly Fiorina was going to be a contender? Yes.

At 2 percent, that`s Mike Huckabee and Rand Paul, utterly unsustainable for
those candidates. Rand Paul`s dad even did an interview with a
conservative website this week in which he told the interviewer he`s pretty
sure Donald Trump is going to beat his son and win the nomination. That
could not have helped, dear old dad. Dad!

That said, Ron Paul is expected to be out on the campaign trail with his
Mr. 2 Percent Son. It will be Ron campaigning with Rand for the first time
this year, first time this season. They`ll start this weekend.

Up at 3 percent, it`s Chris Christie who just left the campaign trail in
New Hampshire this afternoon to head back to New Jersey in the face of the
oncoming blizzard.

Tied for 4 percent nationwide it is John Kasich and Jeb Bush. The main
difference between these two candidates right now is John Kasich has spent
a total of about $11 million to get to 4 percent in the national polls and
Jeb Bush has spent $59 million to get to 4 percent in the national polls.
Unless Jeb Bush somehow pulls this out miraculously, he is going to be one
of the most spectacularly expensive political failures of all time.

So, that`s the lowest tier of candidates right now in national polling,
according to this new FOX News polling that`s out tonight. Second tier has
two candidates in it. Ben Carson is at 8 percent which is still low, but
it`s double Jeb Bush. Marco Rubio is also in the second tier. He`s at 11
percent.

On top of them, it`s the clear top tier of the Republican race indisputably
now. Donald Trump is still way out ahead. He`s definitely the front-
runner. He`s got 34 percent of the vote. The only guy up there with him
at all anywhere near him is Ted Cruz with 20 percent.

And so, it`s really starting to look like the race for the Republican
nomination is a race between Donald Trump and just Ted Cruz.

And frankly, if it comes down to that, I think we should let Oprah pick.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW: What are you doing Wednesday night? If you don`t have plans
already, don`t make them. If you do have plans for Wednesday night
already, how firm are they?

We`ve got an announcement coming up in just a moment. We`re doing
something on this show on Wednesday night. It`s something we have never
done before. It`s kind of a big deal for us.

That announcement is straight ahead. Please stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW: So, the federal government, the EPA, has now issued an 18-page
emergency order to the state of Michigan and it`s pretty stern and it`s
pretty dire. Quote, “EPA does not have information that would provide any
assurance that contamination in Flint`s water system has been controlled.”

And then in this order, they order the Rick Snyder administration to get on
it, fast. They give the state of Michigan a series of really short
deadlines. Within five days, the Snyder administration has to create a
website where it has to post all its water testing results, all its testing
plans, all its weekly status reports.

Within ten days, the Snyder administration has to finally answer all the
questions it never answered the last time the EPA asked the state for
information about the lead in Flint`s water, which was back in November.

And if you`re wondering how many questions the EPA had back then, yes.
Look. It was a lot.

And the Snyder administration has not been able to answer those questions
for two months. Now, they`re under an emergency order that they`ve got to
produce those answers in ten days.

Also within ten days, the Snyder administration has to submit water quality
measurements from Flint including ph, alkalinity, orthophosphates,
chloride, turbidity, iron, calcium, temperature conductivity – they have
to measure all of those things at ten sites every week and hand over the
results. Also within ten days, the Snyder administration has to hand in
all their lead testing results for Flint from the past three years.

And within three days, the Snyder administration has to give the EPA a list
of the zip codes in Flint where the highest blood levels have been found.

It`s going to be a busy few days responding to this, right? Oh, but wait,
there`s more. Because also in that ten-day window the Snyder
administration is now ordered to hand over an inventory of homes in Flint,
houses in Flint that are connected to the city water lines with service
lines that are made out of lead.

And they need to hand over that lead pipe inventory in a very specific way.
They have to hand it over, quote, “in Excel spreadsheet or a similar
format.”

And I know you might be thinking, OK, so Michigan has to hand over a lot of
data to the EPA, it`s not that big a deal, they can just send over their
spreadsheets with all of that information.

Here`s the thing, though – consider just one of the things the EPA is
asking for, this spreadsheet. Excel or similar, right? A spreadsheet
listing all of the homes in Flint that get their water through lead service
lines.

It`s important to know where they lead service lines are because then you
know where you most need to test the water for lead, and you have to know
it because those are the lines that are going to have to be dug up and
replaced now that the untreated Flint River water has corroded them so
badly that they will constantly leach lead into the water no matter how
clean the water is that`s getting pumped through them. These again are the
service lines that connect people`s houses to the water mains in the
street.

Back in November when the state finally started taking Flint`s lead
poisoning crisis seriously, the state asked the city of Flint for this
information. Where are all the lead service lines in the city? The city
could not answer that question back in November.

And when the folks at Michigan radio went to the Flint records office
themselves to try to get the information themselves, they found out why the
city couldn`t answer. And it`s amazing. Because it turns out these are
Flint`s records of its water lines – filing cabinets full of disorganized
handwritten index cards from the last 100 years along with a couple of old
torn-up maps, more than 40,000 handwritten index cards. This is it.

Flint has been in the process of trying to organize these records with the
help of the University of Michigan, but you can see why if the EPA said we
need a spreadsheet with all your lead service lines on it, we need it
within 10 days, you can see why that might be a problem. And we`re now
finding out this evening that might not be the only problem – at least
according to the Snyder administration.

The EPA did tell us tonight that Michigan has stated that it is committed
to complying with this order, it is committed to implementing these
measures, these things the EPA is asking for, but we have now also learned
that the head of Michigan`s environmental agency has written to the EPA to
say that the state, the Snyder administration, is questioning the legality
of this federal order, questioning whether the EPA has the authority to
order the state to take all these steps.

Two sides are promising to try to talk this out, but right now, it looks
like this could turn into a standoff between Michigan and the EPA, which is
just what Flint needs.

Hold that thought.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW: So, yesterday, the EPA, the federal government sent the Rick
Snyder administration in Michigan an 18-page emergency order giving the
state a list of things they have to do very quickly to start addressing the
lead poisoning crisis in Flint. As we just mentioned, we have learned
tonight that the Snyder administration is challenging the legality of that
order from the federal government.

One of the things the state is being ordered to do by the federal
government is hand over a spreadsheet listing lead pipe service lines in
the city of Flint. Michigan radio was first to report that – do we have
this picture? That this is the existing data information system in Flint
for where those lead pipes are. It`s tens of thousands of handwritten
index cards.

Joining us now is Lindsey Smith. She`s reporter for Michigan Radio. She
and her colleagues there have been doing great work on this story.

Lindsey, it`s really nice to have you here. Your reporting really has been
indispensable.

LINDSEY SMITH, MICHIGAN RADIO REPORTER: My pleasure.

MADDOW: What do you make of this letter we`re just learn about from the
head of the state environmental agency saying we`ve spent all this money,
we`ve done what you asked, and we don`t think you have the legal authority
to order us to do anything.

Is that just the expected response when something like this happens?

SMITH: I – you know, I think the letter said there are some facts and
omissions that the EPA they`re saying is maybe not clear about in their
response that they have done so far. I think the thing to note is the
state has really in the last two weeks changed some major direction in how
they`ve tried to handle this crisis, bringing in the National Guard,
bringing in the state police, switching from just having water distribution
sites to going door to door.

So, I assume they will try to make the case that they have been trying to
do everything they can to adequately protect public health, which is what
the EPA`s order, this emergency order, says that they have not been able to
do so far.

MADDOW: In terms of what the EPA is asking for or telling the Snyder
administration they need to do, from what you`ve reported about how
information is managed in Flint and what`s known about the systems there,
thinking specifically about this deadline where they have to tell them
where all the lead service lines are in all of the – for all of the homes
in Flint, does it seem conceivable to you that the state could get that
information together in electronic spreadsheet form within ten days?

SMITH: They – I know they`re working on it. I`ll give you that. We
really – I think this came to light in the course of this crisis because
you do have to test for homes with lead service lines, at least 50 percent
of your sampling pool is supposed to be from these homes because those are
really the worst case scenario. That`s where the lead is going to show up
first if you`re not treating the water properly, which is what happened in
Flint.

And when we realized that the records weren`t really in good order, we
approached the state with that information, myself and other reporters, and
said, you know, you dropped these two high lead samples for technical
reasons, but you didn`t really look at the overall sample pool to make sure
that the city of Flint was getting samples that they were supposed to from
houses with lead service lines.

And they – it was very shortly after some of those reports started coming
out that the state sent the letter to Flint that you mentioned earlier
saying, hey, you need to give us this information. Even before then the
University of Michigan`s Flint campus had announced that they would be
working with the city of Flint to try to make an electronic database as
best they could.

But talking to water officials in Flint, a lot of that is in their – a lot
of the records or a lot of the things they know about the water system and
not everything. I`m not trying to over-exaggerate this. But the guy told
me a lot of this is in my memory, it`s in my head. We`ve worked here for a
long time, so we know these things.

So, they`re going to have to take these different databases they have, the
index cards, the maps, and arguably what`s in the guys` heads and try to
come up with a way to map the city as best they can. In November, they
wanted to get that done by early February was the earliest they had told us
they were going to be able to get that done. But I think once the state
stepped in and said you need to get this to us there was a pedal to the
metal push.

So, I don`t know if they`re going to be able to pull it off or not. I
think that`s some of the things we`re asking right now.

MADDOW: And the federal government pressure certainly is going to add to
the pressure. But it remains to be seen what their capacity is.

Lindsey Smith, reporter for Michigan Radio, really appreciate your time
tonight in helping us with this story. And again, Michigan Radio has done
seminal work on this story so far. It`s been indispensable for us trying
to follow it at the national level. So, thank you.

SMITH: My pleasure.

MADDOW: Thank you.

I should also tell you, if we can go back there for a second. Thank you
very much. I should also tell you that Michigan Radio`s documentary on
this disaster in Flint is going to be airing on public radio stations
across the country this weekend.

You should check your public radio station listings for this. The
documentary is called “Not Safe to Drink.” Again, check your local
listings. They`re really, really good on this story. You owe it to
yourself to hear this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW: For the first seven-plus years that I had this show I could not
get a Clinton on this show to save my life. I asked in the context of the
2008 campaign. I asked in the context of Hillary Clinton`s time as
secretary of state. I asked in the context of her stepping down as
secretary of state. I asked in a whole bunch of circumstances for an
interview with former President Bill Clinton.

I said I would travel, I said I would pretape, I`d do it live, anything.
No dice. No Clintons for more than seven years.

But then, tick, tick, tick, tick, ding. Something happened. A bell went
off somewhere that allowed the circumstance to change. And now, during
this presidential campaign over the last few weeks, I have had several
opportunities to interview Secretary Clinton, which has been super helpful
for our ability to cover this race. It`s been great.

But in the first interview that I had with Secretary Clinton we had never
met before after seven years of me asking for an interview.

There was one question in that first interview that led to a little flurry
of right-wing criticism at the time. And now today that issue is back.
But in a very unexpected way. Here was the exchange I`m talking about.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: One policy question that I think the Republicans are raising,
they`re talking about amongst themselves – hasn`t really burst into a
general election conversation yet, but I`m genuinely shocked by it. Which
is it`s becoming sort of fashionable in Republican circles to talk about
abolishing the V.A., privatizing the V.A., getting rid of it.

HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Right.

MADDOW: Throwing veterans onto the mercies of the for profit health care
system.

The reason they`re able to propose something that radical is because the
problems at the V.A. seem so intractable. If I had been running a
Republican campaign against President Obama last year, I would have run it
entirely on the V.A. A bureaucracy, a bloated big government program that
can`t be fixed and let`s do right by our veterans.

CLINTON: Mm-hmm.

MADDOW: Do you – do you have any new ideas for trying to fix it? You
can`t find a person in politics who doesn`t say we shouldn`t do right by
our veterans. But for some reason, this can`t get fixed fast enough.

CLINTON: Yes. And I don`t understand that. You know, I don`t understand
why we have such a problem, because there have been a number of surveys of
veterans. And overall, veterans who do get treated are satisfied with
their treatment –

MADDOW: Much more so than people in the regular system.

CLINTON: That`s exactly right. No one would believe that from the
coverage you see and the constant berating of the V.A. that comes from
Republicans, in part in pursuit of this ideological agenda –

MADDOW: Well, in part because there has been real scandal.

CLINTON: There has been. But it`s not been as widespread as it has been
made out to be.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: It has not been as widespread as it has been made out to be.
Secretary Clinton went on to say that the V.A. needed to be reformed, she
had specific things that she wanted to see changed to improve the V.A.

But that comment, that part of her response about how widespread the
problems were, that turned into like red alert, all caps, get out your fax
machine hysteria on the right for about five minutes. Republicans
professed to be very upset with that specific way that she characterized
the problems at the V.A. despite everything else she said. Clearly, they
said she was underplaying the terribleness of the V.A., she was apologizing
for the V.A. when they implied the only right thing to say about the V.A.
is that it should be condemned wholesale.

And that little revolt on the right after that interview, that turned out
to be a really instructive moment because there has been something quietly
brewing on the right in the Republican Party, mostly under the radar but it
bubbled up in that moment with Hillary Clinton in that interview, and it is
coming up again right now for a completely backwards, opposite reason. And
that story`s next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW: One of the weird things about presidential politics this year is
that almost to a person, the entire Republican presidential field this year
is totally on board with abolishing the V.A., getting rid of the V.A. or at
least privatizing huge swaths of it, telling veterans they`re not going to
be provided medical care anymore, they can go get it themselves.

So, when veterans get off the plane and come home from war, just set them
loose into the private health insurance market to fend for themselves.
Thanks for your service, good luck with that, here`s a coupon.

This used to be a very radical idea. When Mitt Romney dipped his toe into
the “privatize the V.A.” pool back in 2012, he got it chomped off so fast
that he abandoned the idea immediately and basically never spoke of it
again.

But this year hasn`t been that long, only four years later, and this year
almost the entire Republican field is in favor of abolishing or privatizing
the V.A. in some way. And that didn`t just happen overnight, even though
it happened fast.

Candidates this year were led in that direction, in part by this group.
This is a group called Concerned Veterans for America, a fairly new
conservative veterans group. They have been quietly courting the
Republican presidential candidates over the past year, and singing to them
the virtues of getting rid of the V.A.

They`ve held a series of town hall events with this year`s presidential
candidates in the early primary states and one by one, the Republican
candidates have dutifully said that, yes, they see the light, they too want
to radically change the way veterans in this country get their care, in
some cases to turn veterans over to the private health insurance market
even though veterans themselves say they very much do not want that.

Concerned Veterans for America has been led for a long time by this guy,
seen here in his other job as a FOX News Channel host. Naturally. His
name is Pete Hegseth. He`s a veteran himself.

And about a year and a half ago, Mr. Hegseth let out a little secret about
Concerned Veterans for America. He kind of spilled the beans on a thing
that had long been suspected but was never actually verified until he said
it out-loud. Which is that this ostensibly grassroots veterans group, this
group that has been single-mindedly focused on trying to kill the V.A.,
turns out they`re not so grassrootsy after all.

In fact, the “kill the V.A.” conservative veterans group didn`t arise
organically out of the veterans community. It was a deliberate creation of
the billionaire conservative activist brothers Charles and David Koch. And
the reason we know that the Koch brothers donor network supposedly created
the grassroots veterans group is because the head of that group, Pete
Hegseth himself, admitted it while speaking at a Koch donor conference
about a year and a half ago.

This is audio of those remarks. It was obtained by an online outfit called
“The Undercurrent”, was published by “The Nation”, although MSNBC has not
independently verified it.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

PETE HEGSETH, CONCERNED VETERANS FOR AMERICA: Concerned Veterans for
America is an organization this network literally created. Now, unless
you`ve been living under a rock for the last couple of months, you know
about the crisis at the Department of Veterans Affairs. What you probably
don`t know is the central role that Concerned Veterans for America played
in exposing and driving this crisis from the very beginning. I thank
Charles and David, Marc Short, Kevin Gentry, everyone that puts in the
sweat equity that makes this possible. And I want to thank you for your
courage for standing up and being here.

KEVIN GENTRY, VICE PRESIDENT, CHARLES KOCH FOUNDATION: Concerned Vets is
something that came out of this network, and you all as investors are the
ones who made this happen.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

MADDOW: That is reportedly the Koch brothers guy at the end there saying,
“You all as Koch network investors, you all are the ones who made this
group happened, you created Concerned Veterans.”

We reached out to the Koch donor network to see if they could tell us how
much they have given this group and if they share this policy goal of
killing the V.A. We haven`t yet heard back.

But it`s kind of one of the sleeper issues of this campaign, that the
Republican candidates have basically been captured by this Koch brothers-
created, this Koch brothers-funded movement to kill the Veterans
Administration. And now, in the midst of that effort with Iowa a week from
Monday, with just a few months to go before the general election when
presumably this issue is going to pop like you can`t believe it in the
general election.

I mean, imagine the fights about this at the general election debates.
Right when all this kill the V.A. Koch brothers-funded organizing is about
to blow up as an issue, the guy who has led that group, the guy who`s been
at the forefront of this abolish the va movement since it started, he has
just all of a sudden poofed.

He`s just disappeared. He quit. He is no longer the head of Concerned
Veterans for America, and nobody seems to know why. Hmm.

Officially both sides are saying this was a mutual decision, we reached out
to Concerned Veterans this week, they declined to provide any more details
about what happened. Pete Hegseth told us himself he left over a, quote,
“difference of opinion over the future of the organization.” And that`s
basically all he would say.

But regardless of the circumstances of his departure, what happens now?
Because this is weird, right? This one group has been the driving force
behind all of these Republican candidates getting on board with this
incredibly radical idea of killing the V.A., making veterans fend for
themselves in the private health insurance market to get their coverage,
which brings a huge, totally hot button issue into the general election
because, obviously, no Democratic candidate is going to stand for that and
almost all of the Republicans want to do it.

But now, the group that has turned this radical idea into mainstream
Republican policy, they appear to be in the midst of maybe melting down
themselves. This policy position on privatizing the V.A. or getting rid of
it is now basically part of the Republican Party platform. It`s
conservative orthodoxy now that the V.A. has to be burned to the ground and
never rebuilt, good luck, vets. And if you disagree with that you have to
be called out as a V.A. apologist.

It was this Koch brothers-created group that helped push the Republican
Party to that radical position. Now, their top guy has poofed right at the
start of the election with no explanation whatsoever.

So, what happens next here? And does that mean that the most radical plan
to deal with veterans` issues in our country that we have seen in
generations poofs with him?

Watch this space.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW: I mentioned earlier that there was a big announcement coming.
Here it is.

On Wednesday, this show is going to be traveling to Flint, Michigan. We`re
going to have a live town hall event in Flint. We`re going to be joined by
some of the people who have been working day and night inside Flint to
sound the alarm about the mass lead poisoning in that city. We`re going to
be talking with the locals who are fighting to protect kids and families
there, the doctor who exposed the danger of Flint`s water, the new mayor
who`s been desperately trying to get any help for her city any way she
could think of.

This is going to be Wednesday night, next week, 9:00 p.m. Eastern, live
from Flint – what happened, how it happened and I think what`s going to be
some surprising, if not shocking news, about what`s going to have to happen
next in that city.

So, be with us. This bat channel, this bat time Wednesday night from Flint
with the people of Flint.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW: It doesn`t sound like a snowplow. It`s not! It`s the Friday
night news dump. Yay.

Wendy McNeal, who is today`s lucky player?

WENDY MCNEAL, TRMS PRODUCER: Yay! Tonight, Rachel, we have ms. Linda Lee
from Lincoln, Nebraska.

Ms. Linda is a retired medical transcriptionist. She`s originally from New
York and she rescues animals.

Rachel, please meet Linda.

MADDOW: Hi, Linda. I`m so happy to meet you.

LINDA LEE, LINCOLN, NEBRASKA: Hi, Rachel, I`m happier.

MADDOW: Who is that with you? I can see little tufty ears.

LEE: That`s Petey. My little pom that just got a hair cut.

MADDOW: How often does Petey get a hair cut?

LEE: Probably six to eight weeks.

MADDOW: You know, I know somebody else who`s in that bank.

(LAUGHTER)

LEE: I can`t see you. I don`t have a picture of you.

MADDOW: I basically look middle aged pot belly lesbian wearing a black
vest that like I always do.

LEE: No, Rachel.

(LAUGHTER)

LEE: You`re perfect.

MADDOW: You`re perfect, too, as is Petey.

LEE: OK.

MADDOEW: You probably know how this works. Three multiple choice
questions about this week`s news. You get two of them right, you will get
this piece of junk.

Wendy, please show everybody.

MCNEAL: Ms. Linda, you can get your cocktail shake on with THE RACHEL
MADDOW SHOW cocktail shaker.

MADDOW: A branded teeny, tiny Pomeranian-sized cocktail shaker.

And for extra credit, we`ve got something truly random that we found in the
office today. Wendy, can you describe the random office swag?

MCNEAL: Yes, the random office swag is actually really cool. This is
found in your office, Rachel. The trout of North America. It`s a
calendar, 2015, really gorgeous pictures of trout from North America.

MADDOW: It is outdated. It`s the 2015 calander, but it is only gently
used. But it is my personal trout calendar. So there you go, Linda,
that`s what you`re playing for.

LEE: OK, cutting out a little bit.

MADDOW: Can you still hear me now?

LEE: Yes, I`m having to play with the speaker a little bit. But we`re OK.

MADDOW: OK. Well, just real quick say hi to Steve from Maddow Blog. He`s
going to determine if you have the right answer.

Hi, Steve.

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

MADDOW: Good evening.

LEE: Hi, Steve.

MADDOW: Here we go, Linda. First question: Tuesday, we reported on
Tuesday that New Jersey Chris Christie vetoed a New Jersey bill that wasn`t
just bipartisan, it was actually unanimously passed in both the House and
the Senate. Of course, Chris Christie is not just governor, he wants to be
president.

This bill is about guns. So, he killed it. What popular thing would that
bill have done. Would it require, A, background checks for all gun sales,
B, would it have banned fully automatic machine guns, C, would it have
banned convicted carjackers from owning guns, or D, would it have banned
presidential candidates from vetoing unanimously passed consensus gun
legislation?

LEE: Well, I believe it was item C.

MADDOW: On the carjackers.

LEE: The carjackers.

MADDOW: Steve, did Linda get that one right, Steve?

BENEN: Let`s check Tuesday`s show.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: Nobody was opposed to the bill, except for Chris Christie because,
of course, he`s presumably expecting a big endorsement from the carjackers
league of New Hampshire, or something. It`s just amazing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BENEN: It is just amazing. The answer is CNN and Linda is 1-1.

MADDOW: Excellent start. Question two, Linda, is from Wednesday.

Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush has been spending some of the
mountains of money that was raised to try to elect him president. In
addition to a glossy 47-page full color magazine all about Jeb Bush, his
campaign this week also spent money FedExing out an expensive looking item
to a bunch of early-state voterers.

Which of the following is a real Jeb Bush campaign expenditure from this
week? Was it A, a scientific calculator that displayed a message
disparaging Ted Cruz? Was it B, a video player preloaded with a movie
about Jeb Bush? Was it C, a free set of snow tires? Or D, an I`m with Jeb
leather motorcycle jacket?

LEE: Well, I believe it was item B, a player.

MADDOW: The video player.

Steve, what`s the right answer?

BENEN: Let`s check Wednesday`s segment.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: What Jeb Bush FedExed out to voters in New Hampshire is a video
player which automatically starts showing his Jeb Bush movie as soon as you
open it up.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BENEN: Yes, the correct answer is a surprisingly nice and expensive-
looking video player. And Linda is 2-2.

MADDOW: All right, Linda, you are totally on a roll. And for this last
one, here`s your curveball. You have a choice for your last question. Do
you want a Donald Trump question or do you want a non-Donald Trump
question?

LEE: Aye yai yai, what a choice. Let`s go non-Donald Trump.

MADDOW: All right. The answer to the Donald Trump question was Oklahoma.

But the non Donald Trump question was this. On last night`s show, we
showed the homecoming of a former marine and a dual Iranian-American
citizen who had been held in an Iranian prison for more than four years.
His name is Amir Hekmati.

And he arrived in his hometown last night, which happens to be a city that
has been in the news for other reasons lately.

Where is Amir Hekmati`s hometown? Is it A, Ferguson, Missouri? B, Porter
Ranch, California? C, Burns, Oregon? Or D, Flint, Michigan?

LEE: Well, I do believe that`s Flint. I just hope he`s not going to drink
the water.

MADDOW: I think lots of people are giving him that advice. Steve, do you
have the answer for us?

BENEN: Let`s check last night`s show

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

AMIR HEKMATI: It`s great to be back in Flint, my hometown. I love this
city. I love its people.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BENEN: The correct answer is the great city of Flint, Michigan. And Linda
is right once again.

MADDOW: Linda, you are perfect in every way.

Wendy, did she win everything?

MCNEAL: Yes, Ms. Linda, great job. You won everything. You are now the
owner of the trout calendar and the cocktail shaker.

MADDOW: Again, out of date trout calendar, but I`ll sign it or put
something else in there, I swear.

Linda, it`s been great to have you here and it`s really nice to meet your
pom, meet your little guy.

LEE: Well, Rachel, the pleasure is all mine. I can`t tell you how excited
I was.

MADDOW: Well, thanks for being here. Congratulations.

LEE: Thank you, dear.

MADDOW: Thank you.

And if you want to play the most awesome game in basic cable news, also the
only, send us an e-mail Rachel@MSNBC.com.

And now, I have to tell you, you are due to go to prison for one minute.
But before you do that, you really should pay attention to some big weather
news.

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
BE UPDATED.
END

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