The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 2/11/2016
Show: THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW
Date: February 11, 2016
Guest: Joel Sawyer
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chris. Thanks, my friend.
CHRIS HAYES, “ALL IN” HOST: You bet.
MADDOW: And thanks to you at home for joining us in this hour.
In the – I should tell you, first, this is – we don`t do this very
often. We`re starting show with something we call a special report. We
did one of these late last year and it ended up driving our coverage for
This is basically our follow up to that special report. So, bear
with me here.
We`re going to start in the summer of 1996. An athlete named Gina
Gogean got really while traveling in Eastern European. Gina Gogean was a
gymnast, a world class gymnast. She was preparing for the Olympics that
year on the Romanian national team.
But in the summer of 1996, in the lead up to the Summer Olympics that
year, she got really, really sick. She was traveling by train and on board
the train, she got suddenly and violently and painfully ill.
And it was the kind of sickness that you have to do something about
right way. It`s the kind of thing where it can kill you if you don`t act
quickly. What happened to her on that train is that Gina Gogean, world
class gymnast, she got appendicitis. Her appendix was going to have to
come out. No ifs, ands or buts.
She needed surgery. She needed abdominal surgery on an emergency
basis right away. And this was a month before the Olympic Olympics.
So, like, career disaster, right? I mean, if your entire nation is
expecting you to do this kind of thing on a world stage then having to have
emergency abdominal surgery the month before, that`s a disaster.
But Gina Gogean got lucky, because by a stroke of that crazies luck,
that train that she was on when she was hit with this bout of critical
appendicitis, it wasn`t a train out in the boonies somewhere. It happened
to be a train that was already heading into her country`s capital city.
And in Bucharest, the hospitals were set up to do a high-tech surgery
that was going to be much easier for her than the kind of surgery she would
have had to have anywhere else in Romania. In the capital city in
Bucharest, the hospitals there could take out her appendix using something
called laparoscopic surgery, instead of regular surgery.
So, instead of making a giant abdominal incision, the surgeons could
make between one and three tiny little cuts and then use a camera to guide
them through taking out the appendix without ever making a large incision.
Laparoscopic surgery is not nothing. But it sure beats a four inch
long slice all the way through your abdominal wall, particularly if you`re
a world class athlete on her way to the Olympics.
So, Gian Gogean, summer of `96. She got on that train. She got in
acute bout of appendicitis on that train. She took the train into
Bucharest. She went to the hospital in Bucharest. She had the newfangled
laparoscopic surgery to take her appendix out at that hospital and she
returned to training in less than two weeks.
And then she went to the Olympics and she did this. Gina Gogean`s
team medaled. The Romanian team won the bronze in the team competition.
She won a silver medal in the all around. She won an individual bronze in
the vault. She won another bronze for the balance beam. She looked a
little bum at the time.
That`s her. We got the arrow pointing at her. Obviously gold would
have been better than silver or bronze. But really, it was kind of a
miracle. It was at least super lucky that she was able to compete at all.
The whole reason she got there is because she didn`t have to get the
old kind of surgery. She got the new kind. She got the laparoscopy.
And laparoscopy, small cuts instead of big ones, that saved her
Olympics that year in 1996, OK? OK.
Today, we went out to see another kind of laparoscopy. Not on
another person in operating room but on a city street. The work you are
seeing here, we shot this today. This used to require digging a giant
trench, tearing up the whole street and the whole front yard of a house and
making a huge mess, turning a residential treat into an unusable
construction site for a very long time.
Now, instead of doing that, they can do the same work by punching
these two little holes in the ground. What you see them doing here is
replacing one kind of old pipe with a newer, safer kind. This particular
city, in which we shot this today, this city has been working on this for
over a decade now. They replacing the old lead pipes in that city with
much safer copper pipes.
But they`ve been doing it using tools and techniques that they
invented for this purpose.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GENERAL MANAGER DICK PEFFLEY: We have a tool that we build in house
and what it does is it allows us to hook the copper pipe to the back end
and the cable we push through the old lead service, and it kind of cuts the
lead cable to make it easier to pull out.
There`s water main that runs down the street here and then it
services this entire street and there`s tap for each resident where right
now, that`s a lead pipe that runs from the water service in the road there,
to a shut off valve and then in the house.
So, what we`re doing is replacing that with copper. The way we do
that is we go to the water main here, cut it and then dig up the valve
here, cut it. We run a cable through. Hook it to the copper pipe, and
pull it through. The lead service comes out and the copper goes in. We do
the same thing from the customer shut off into their basement. The process
takes about four hours on a good day.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: About four hours to do this work. Two small holes. They
run the cable underground without having to dig the entire trench of where
everywhere the pipe is. They basically laparoscopy – use a laparoscopic
technique to get that cable in and out, four hours to do a house.
The city where this work has been going on, the city where they`re
almost done replacing all the lead pipe in the city is the capital city of
the state of Michigan. This is Lansing, Michigan. It`s about an hour away
from Flint, Michigan.
Lansing decided they want to replace the old pipes. They`ve been
able to do this replacement job in Lansing one house at a time on an
ongoing basis for years now. And they invented this easy new way and this
fast new way and this comparatively cheap new way to do it, that doesn`t
involve digging everything up. They dig two small holes. They get it done
in a fraction of the time and expense that it used to take to do this kind
of work. That`s in Lansing.
Down the road from Lansing, in Flint, however, they`re having a full
on lead pipe disaster.
And here`s an important point about this story, especially since it`s
gotten a lot of national attention. Yes, lots of places in the country
have lead pipes, and that`s not great. Cities and town replace their lead
pipes when they can.
In Flint, it`s something different. It`s a problem of a different
magnitude. In Flint, what the state government did is they sent through
all the pipes in Flint something that no one else in America puts through
their city`s pipes.
They put through their water system, through all of their pipes,
untreated water that was 19 times as corrosive as normal drinking water.
They did it for 18 months. And for 18 months, that aggressively usually
corrosive water stripped a whole range of contaminants out of every pipes
that it touched in Flint, including those damn lead pipes.
So, yes, lots of cities have lead pipes. Only Flint had this done to
it because of utterly disastrous decision making by the Rick Snyder
administration and his state government in Michigan.
So, what`s happened in Flint, I know a lot of people want to say
there`s a million Flints. No, you know what, what happened in Flint is
unique. This is not business as usual. It`s not even poor neglected
American city business as usual.
Flint is having a humanitarian crisis of international proportions
because of a single botched policy decision by the state that wrecked the
city`s lead pipes and lead poisoned the water and lead poisoned the town.
Now, it`s been four months since they switched Flint back to a normal
water supply but Flint`s pipes are so deeply corroded now that they are
still leeching lead into that good clean water. Flint still doesn`t have
safe water. There`s enough random lead floating around in their city water
system that a house can test at zero one day and test like a hazardous
waste dump the next day.
Flint is in trouble. It is not fixed. Bottled water is not a fix in
Flint. It`s necessary as long as people are still living in that town, but
it`s not a fix.
The new news is that now we know what the fix is. It is both amazing
and infuriating. So, check this out.
Flint`s indefatigable mayor, Karen Weaver, has now announced that she
wants the lead pipes out. She wants this fixed. She wants the old lead
pipes taken out and replaced with new safe pipes right away.
Mayor Karen Weaver announced her plan to swap out the pipes the same
way they did over in Lansing, right? She`s just announced this. This is
her plan. She wants to use the new basically laparoscopic technique that
is way faster and way cheaper.
You don`t need to dig a trench the whole length of every pipe in the
city and turn the entire city into an unusable construction zone. You can
use this other way of doing it. Two relatively small holes, four hours per
job, four hours per house – faster and cheaper than anybody had thought it
could be done before they saw the way they invented to do it in Lansing.
The mayor thinks they can basically start now right away and they
know where to start. Houses where they`ve got already got high lead
readings, OK, we`ll start there. Also, houses with kids under the age of
six or elderly people or women who are pregnant.
And when Mayor Karen Weaver made this announcement, the mayor of
Lansing and the water district manager from Lansing stood next to her when
she made the announcement. They stood by to show Flint not just that it
could be done, but how it could be done.
And then what happened is that Michigan Governor Rick Snyder said no.
His office told reporters that the state, didn`t want to do that. They
wanted to wait and see whether it would be wise to take out the pipes or
when that should be done. Governor Snyder said he was just not resisting
on his own. He was going on advice from nationally recognized experts like
Professor Mark Edwards of Virginia Tech.
And Professor Mark Edwards of Virginia Tech really has been a hero in
this Flint story. We met him, you might remember, at our town hall in
Flint. He and his team of grad students documented the really high levels
of lead in Flint water. They sounded the alarm and they forced the state
to admit there was a problem.
And Professor Edwards said at our town hall that he doesn`t support
any old plan to dig up and replace Flint`s pipes. He says if you rush into
a poorly thought plan to dig up pipes, you could make things worse. So, he
was preaching caution – but, and this is key. Turns out Professor Mark
Edwards goes way back with these geniuses in Lansing who invented this
faster, cheaper, laparoscopic way to take out the lead water lines.
Part of the reason Lansing even started its work taking out its lead
water lines is because of Professor Mark Edward`s research on lead pipes
and water systems. These guys know each other. They go way back.
Professor Edwards has said publicly that not every plan to rip out
lead pipe s a good plan, but this plan, this plan that Flint mayor has
cooked up with advice and support and this new technique from Lansing, that
particular plan to get rid of Flint`s lead pipe, that plan he likes.
We asked Professor Edwards about the Lansing model for how to do this
work. Professor Edwards told us this week about the Lansing team, quote,
“These guys know what they`re doing.” He said, quote, “Society needs to
decide if lead pipe replacements are a good investment. Personally, I
think so. I support this plan.”
I support this plan. Society needs to decide if lead pipe
replacements are a good investment but I support this plan.
So, the professor is saying if Flint wants to replace the pipes in
this new way, go. Do it. The only question is whether we as a public,
whether we as a society want to pay for it, or whether we wanted to just
hope that Flint fixes itself somehow or perhaps depopulated over time.
Look at this. Governor Rick Snyder has estimated the cost of fixing
the water system at north of $700 million. We`ve seen other estimates of
twice that. But the estimate for this whole portion of the problem, for
getting the lead pipes out the way it`s just been done in Lansing with this
new technique, that estimate for how much it would take to do the whole
city of Flint, all the lead lines in Flint, that estimate is $55 million.
Forgive me for saying so, but that`s totally doable in terms of scale
of this problem. And if so, digging those two little holes outside
everybody`s house to pull out the pipe, in an average of four hours per
home, basically, that can start now if they just say yes. If the state
just makes it happen.
Governor Snyder`s initial response to this plan was no. No, we
shouldn`t do that. People like Mark Edwards say we shouldn`t do that.
Well, actually, Governor, Mark Edwards says we should do this.
And it`s a little bit strange right now, because Governor Snyder
continues publicly to say wait and see. Wait and see. His public comments
have been hard to follow, including some public comments today.
But here`s the breakthrough, even though he has public comments are
sort of impossible to discern on this matter. Rick Snyder asked Michigan
state lawmakers yesterday for the money. For the money to start the
mayor`s plan. For the major to start replacing the lead pipes in Flint.
Of course, because Rick Snyder continues to stun at every turn in
this crisis, when I say he requested the money, I mean he requested
slightly less than half the money Flint needs to do this plan but still,
you know what? It`s enough Flint to start. It`s enough to start phase
one, and phase one is those highest priority houses, to get the highest
priority houses fixed, to get those highest priority houses fixed, to get
the lead pipes out of the houses that have got young kids and pregnant
women, just the Flint mayor said should happen. That can happen.
As soon as the money comes through, Michigan. No hurry now. That
can start. It can finally start.
And the governor`s new position is this statement that they just gave
us saying that the governor, quote, “intends to move quickly to remove lead
pipes from the high priority homes.” OK then. When that happens it will
be phase one.
And already, the tireless and aggressive Flint mayor is out there
drumming up support for phase two of her project, which is getting all the
lead pipes out of Flint homes.
So, it`s taken all this time and it is taking being told no a
thousands times. And frankly, it`s taken an invention of a new way to do
this work that makes it seem feasible enough that they will try to start to
But this is a breakthrough. We`re at the part where Flint is about
to get some new pipes, finally for Flint`s water. It will finally start to
get fixed, just as soon as the Michigan legislature votes aye.
Ready to go. Enough time wasted already. Tick tock.
MADDOW: Hey, speaking of good news and unimaginably terrible
problems, coincidentally, in addition to the breakthrough we`re reporting
in Flint with their lead poisoning disaster, coincidentally, tonight, we
are also able to report, for the first time since October, that there`s
some good news about that massive, massive, massive gas leak in southern
And the good news is that apparently they have fixed it. Maybe.
It`s stopped for the first time since October.
Southern California Gas Company announced tonight that a relief well
has finally intercepted the leaking well at Porter Ranch, California. The
interception apparently happened – the intersection happened a full mile
of and a half underground. Now that they`ve done that, officials are
pumping heavy fluids into the leaking well to essentially plug it and at
least for the time being, it is working.
The next step in the long term solution will be to pour cement into
that well in order to seal it permanently. That process could occur within
the next few days and it will take more days to know whether or not the
whole thing has actually worked. But tonight, at least that huge cloud of
methane that`s been billowing non-stop into the air since Porter Ranch, it
is no longer growing.
The largest gas leak in the history of the United States has tonight
been stopped after nearly four months. If it stays stopped, that means the
thousands of local residents who have been driven out of their homes by
this monster, they are one step closer to finally getting to return home.
Watch this space.
MADDOW: In the New Hampshire primary in 2004, John Kerry won. He
got 38 percent of the vote. Pretty good second in New Hampshire in 2004
was Howard Dean. People think about Howard Dean as having imploded in 2004
after he gave that scream, after the Iowa caucuses that year.
But it`s not actually the way it happens. Right after Iowa was New
Hampshire, and Howard Dean came in a pretty second place to John Kerry in
New Hampshire. Again, Kerry was at 38 and Howard Dean was at 26. So,
those two were at the top.
Way down the line, it was Wesley Clark and John Edwards who came in
around 12 percent in New Hampshire that year. Then, below them in single
digits it was Joe Lieberman. Joe Lieberman had 9 percent of the vote.
So, that was the result that night in New Hampshire in 2004 race.
And that`s history. We all understand that`s what happened. That`s in the
But so is the truly, inarguably thing about those results which is
what Joe Lieberman said about the results the night they happened.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE LIEBERMAN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: But based on the returns
that we have seen tonight, thanks to the people of New Hampshire, we are in
a three way split decision for third place.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That is among the funniest 12 second sound bites in the
history of 12-second sound bites, because Joe Lieberman did not come in
third place in New Hampshire. There was no three-way split decision for
third place, as awesome as that sounds. Joe Lieberman came in fifth place
in New Hampshire, fifth place.
Just like Marco Rubio did this year in New Hampshire.
Did you see how Marco Rubio talked about that result today?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R-FL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think we have to
have some perspective here. You know, Governor Bush spent a lot of money
in New Hampshire and finished tied with me and Ted Cruz.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Senator Rubio, Jeb Bush did not tie you and Ted Cruz this
New Hampshire. Ted Cruz and Jeb Bush came in third and fourth in New
Hampshire. They both beat you. You came in fifth. You came in fifth
place or as Joe Lieberman would call it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LIEBERMAN: A three-way split decision for third place.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Florida Senator Marco Rubio is having sort of an
unintentionally funny run for president this year. That`s usually not a
But Senator Rubio does have one big and surprisingly shady thing on
his side in his race for the presidency this year. And that story is next.
Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEB BUSH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: My little eyes opened up 63
years ago to this day in Midland, Texas, I looked up and I saw Barbara
Bush, not only am I part of the establishment, but I won the lottery.
I`m blessed. I`m totally blessed to be part of this family. It is
an incredible blessing. I`m so fortunate to say that my family is my
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Very happy birthday today to former Florida Governor Jeb
Bush. That was him campaigning today in South Carolina.
The Democratic campaign moves on from New Hampshire this week to
Nevada. But the Republican campaign moves from New Hampshire this week to
South Carolina. And as the Republicans head into South Carolina, seems to
me, there are two things to keep in mind about the contest.
And first one is that South Carolina may very well be wired for the
Bush family. You would not necessarily think that just by looking at South
Carolina`s politics in general or what South Carolina voters say is
important to them, but if you look at family history, both Jeb Bush`s
father and Jeb Bush`s brother won South Carolina presidential primaries
twice. And so, Jeb Bush is enthusiastically campaigning as being the
latest member of his own nuclear family to run for president in South
South Carolina is where Jeb Bush`s super PAC started running this TV
ad featuring straight to camera endorsement by his brother, former
President George W. Bush. His campaign is running radio version of that ad
in South Carolina.
So, whatever you think of Jeb Bush`s standing in the Republican
field, his virtues or shortcomings as a candidate, a lot of people in South
Carolina politics will say his chances in that state are better than you
might think because his last name is Bush. So, that`s one thing know about
South Carolina`s Republican primary.
Other thing to know about South Carolina and the Republican primary
in that state is that frequently it`s disgusting.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MATT LAUER, NBC NEWS: The charges or the allegations or the constant
comments you hear about Karl Rove is he was the guy behind the whisper
KARL ROVE, GOP STRATEGIST: In South Carolina.
LAUER: Right. That he was the guy with the push-poll question about
John McCain and suggesting impossible. How would you feel about John
McCain during the 2000 primaries if he whereby some chance to have fathered
an illegitimate black child? You said he had nothing to do with it.
ROVE: Nothing to do with it.
TIM RUSSERT, MEET THE PRESS: State Senator Mike Fair of Greenville
was on tape with C-Span last night and he said the Bush campaign hasn`t
even hit John McCain`s soft spots. And Bush, according to “A.P.”, said,
“I`m going to but I`m not going to do it on TV.”
GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT: Yes, I meant that by ads. I`m
going to talk about issues where we have differences. I think the question
was, was I going to run a bunch of scorching ads and the answer was no. I
RUSSERT: The suggestion being made by the McCain folks is you`re not
going to do it on the TV, but you`re going to do it on the telephone,
negative phone calls.
BUSH: Let me talk about this negative calls, it`s just ridicule. It
is unbelievable. There`s this thing about Bush`s push-polling. We`re not.
RUSSERT: But someone was making calls that people are hearing,
people come forward.
BUSH: One voter came forward.
RUSSERT: About three now.
And they`re saying they are saying bad things about John McCain.
BUSH: Well, we`re not doing that. And I don`t accept that.
RUSSERT: Who is it?
BUSH: I don`t know who is doing it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: In the Republican presidential primary in South Carolina in
2000, someone, can`t say who, someone started calling voters in South
Carolina and asking them this question. Would you be more or less likely
to vote for John McCain for president if you knew he fathered an
illegitimate black child?
John McCain also faced anonymous whispered accusations that he had
used prostitutes. That in fact he had used prostitutes so frequently that
he had contracted various venereal decides which he had passed onto his
wife. The rumor was spread against John McCain in his George W. Bush
primary race in 2000, that he`d been a traitor to his country when he was
held as a prisoner of war in Vietnam, that he`d been brainwashed to be kind
of a Manchurian candidate to come back to the United States and destroy it
from within. There were rumors spread in that race against George W. Bush
that John McCain`s wife had a terrible drug problem.
And those are some of the things that happened to John McCain that
year. And that race is the famous one, right, the George W. Bush/John
McCain race in 2000.
But all those dirty tricks, all that slime that was thrown at John
McCain, it worked. John McCain had won New Hampshire by 19 points. Then
he went to South Carolina where he was heavily favored and after he got hit
with that tide of toxic waste, in the end, George W. Bush beat him in South
Carolina, beat him by 11 points.
The reason South Carolina had such a reputation for dirty tricks is
that South Carolina has a lot of dirty tricks. The dirty tricks really
seem to work there in Republican politics.
In 2008, South Carolina Republicans received a fake Christmas card
that claims to be from Mitt Romney but that included lots of, the most
controversial out of context quotes from the Book of Mormon that were
designed to make him seem crazed cultist. In that same campaign, an
anonymous website about Fred Thompson calling him a pro-choice skirt
Two years later, in 2010, when Nikki Haley was running for governor,
there was a long, elaborate rumor campaign that she had extramarital
In 2012 in South Carolina, it was fake CNN breaking news alert that
was emailed far and wide in South Carolina saying that Newt Gingrich had
forced one of his wives to have an abortion against her will.
South Carolina Republican politics is nasty, nasty. Consistently
McKay Coppins from “BuzzFeed” had a really interesting piece of
reporting back in October, saying that one Republican presidential campaign
this year appeared to be locking up all the highest profile, best known
practitioners of South Carolina`s dirties dirty tricks.
The guy who ran that absolutely toxic George W. Bush campaign against
John McCain in the year 2000 in the South Carolina, and the guy who was
credited with the Nikki Haley had an affair rumor in 2010, and the guy
who`s credited with the anonymous anti-Fred Thompson skirt chaser, those
guys are working for the same candidate in this presidential campaign.
They are working either for the Marco Rubio campaign or the pro-Marco Rubio
So, knowing what we know about South Carolina, will Marco Rubio
exceed expectations in that state because he`s kind of cornered the market
in South Carolina in terms of their Republican political operatives who are
known to play on the dark side?
“The Post and Courier” website, “The Post and Courier” newspaper,
their website in South Carolina, they`ve already started web base
submission tool where South Carolinians can send in evidence that they see
of anonymous dirty tricks being played in the campaign. They`ve got a
public running tally on this website, where people are describing the push-
polls they`re getting and the robocalls they`re getting, and anonymous
signs and signs being stolen.
Just today, the Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio campaign started trading
charges about some anonymous anti-Rubio anti-Trump robocall that seems like
it`s coming from a consulting firm linked to Ted Cruz`s manager. But the
Ted Cruz is absolutely denying they have anything to do with that at all.
So, it`s already started. It`s already started in South Carolina.
The question is, how is it going to end?
Joining us is a long time South Carolina Republican politico, Joel
Sawyer. He was communications director for former South Carolina Governor
Mark Sanford, which is how we met. He`s also former executive director of
the state Republican Party. Now, he`s with a digital advertising firm
called Campaign Grid.
I should be clear: Joel is not currently supporting or endorsing any
campaign in this race.
Joel Sawyer, it`s great to see you. Thank you so much for being
JOEL SAWYER, SC REPUBLICAN PARTY FORMER EXEC. DIRECTOR: Thank you so
much. It`s good to be back. I feel like I need a shower after that intro,
though. But, you know, welcome to South Carolina.
MADDOW: Well, it`s weird, because you stack up all of those sort of
well known example or you dig them out of the sort of dirt mail that we
will keep for elections like this and I sort of get the sense that South
Carolina is a little embarrassed to be known like that. But more than
that, sort of proud, like I get the feeling that in South Carolina, there`s
a little pride in just how completely out there you guys are willing to be
in your Republican campaigns.
SAWYER: Yes. I mean, I think, you know, times have changed a little
bit. You know, you had this, you know, kind of generation of folks that
wanted to be the next Lee Atwater for some reason.
And so, for many years, you saw a lot of these high deniability, high
impact, low tech kind of tactics to spread rumors about candidates. In
some cases, they worked, in some cases, they didn`t. But in every case, I
mean, people were smart enough to not have their fingerprints on them.
MADDOW: Mostly because of this reporting from McKay Coppins at
“BuzzFeed”, there is an impression in the national political media that
Marco Rubio has sort of locked up an unusually large percentage of South
Carolina operatives who are still very happy to be known for dirty tricks.
Is that perception accurate?
SAWYER: I don`t think so. I know a lot of folks mention in that
article. Quite honestly, I think they are good guys. I know a lot of
people for a lot of campaigns. I think they are focused on helping their
candidates win with superior messaging, superior media plans, that kind of
In as much as there are dirty tricks in South Carolina this time
around, I think it`s probably going to be coming from independent operators
trying to make name for themselves.
MADDOW: We all know in politics that even good people do bad things.
Somebody has to do the bad things. The whole point is to have the high
deniability about them.
MADDOW: It`s interesting these two things we all learned about South
Carolina in recent campaigns, that we`ve learned this dirty trick and we`ve
seen this happened. But there`s also this threat of the Bush family doing
very well in South Carolina. I don`t know if those threads are connected
at all, or if those are two totally different phenomenon, but how do you
think Jeb is going to do this year in the state?
SAWYER: You know, I think there`s going to be kind of this –
everybody from every campaign is going to say that they want to finish
first or second. You know, realistically looking at poll trajectory,
there`s going to be the strong for third place as you were talking about in
the lead in, where I think Rubio, Kasich, Bush are going to be fighting
very hard to come in as a strong third with Cruz and Trump.
I think Bush has a decent shot. You know, I think historically his
family has done well here. But it was a time when they were a known
commodity, when you know, this idea of being a known commodity, being part
of, quote/unquote, “the establishment” was a good thing to the electorate.
And now, you know, by the rise of Donald Trump being a known
commodity, being someone with a proven record is almost a liability with
the GOP electorate. So, you know, we`ll see how it shakes out when it
comes to Jeb`s chances here.
MADDOW: Joel Sawyer, former executive director of the South Carolina
Republican Party, Joel, will you please promise to come back on with me
before the primary happens?
MADDOW: All right. I love to have you back. Thanks for being here,
my friend. I appreciate it.
SAWYER: All right. Thank you.
MADDOW: All right. We`ll be right back. Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: Some professor at Bob Jones
University is sending out emails saying I`m fathering illegitimate
children. This campaign has taken some interesting turns. But we`re not
bothered by that.
REPORTER: So, do you feel like you`re being victimized by all this?
MCCAIN: No, you can`t do that. We`re soldiering on. I feel like
Luke Skywalker and getting out of the Death Star. That`s what I feel like.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Today in Dallas, Texas, former Senator Jim Webb stepped to
the podium to make an announcement the world had been waiting for.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FORMER SEN. JIM WEBB (D), VIRGINIA: We are not able to put together
the kind of funding that would allow us to get on the ballots and run a
campaign that could seriously look at presidency. So, we`re not going to
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: So, no cause for alarm. Jim Webb, no threat to run as an
independent for president this year. Stand down.
If you are looking for cause for alarm, though, unfortunately, we do
have that, next.
MADDOW: Right before 9/11, right before 9/11 happened, a month
before, presidential daily briefing was given to then-President George W.
Bush and had a really ominous title. At least it seems really ominous in
retrospect at the time in the upper echelons of the Bush administration, it
apparently didn`t set off too many alarms.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICHARD BEN-VENISTE, 9/11 COMMISSION: Isn`t it a fact, Dr. Rice,
that the August 6th PDB warned against possible attacks in this country,
and I ask you whether you recall the title of that PDB?
CONDOLEEZZA RICE, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR: I believe the title was
“Bin Laden Determined to Attack Inside the United States.”
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Bin Laden determined to attack inside the United States.
That warning went to the president August 6th, 2001, barely a month before
Now, this week, actually on the day of the New Hampshire primaries,
so, it got zero political attention. Here is the word from the director of
national intelligence, James Clapper.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAMES CLAPPER, DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: ISIL`s estimated
strength exceeds that of al Qaeda. ISIL`s leaders are determined to strike
the U.S. homeland, beyond inspiring homegrown violent extremist attacks.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: There was no director of national intelligence as a job
before 9/11. They created the job after 9/11 to make sure someone was in
charge of connecting the dots that didn`t get connected in this country
before al Qaeda pulled off the attacks in 2001.
And now, the guy holding that new job, the director of national
intelligence, is publicly giving the exact same warning about ISIS now that
the intelligence community was telling President George W. Bush right
before 9/11. “ISIL`s leaders are determined to strike the U.S. homeland
beyond inspiring home grown violent extremist attacks”, like one we saw in
If, God forbid, there`s another huge attack on the U.S. ala 9/11, or
ala the Paris attacks last year, does anybody know how we would react as a
NBC`s chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel has written a barn
burner of a book. It`s about his exploits moving to Cairo without so much
as speaking the language when he was straight out of college. His exploits
in Egypt with the Muslim Brotherhood which apparently loved him, perhaps
because they didn`t know about his secret whiskey and high dollar blackjack
habit at the time.
He covers some very serious stuff including his time as war
correspondent in multiple theaters of war, covers his kidnapping in Syria,
describes the way Saddam Hussein looked at him in Baghdad and the way it
made him want to back up a few steps.
It`s a 20-year look at his time in the Middle East before and after
9/11, before and after the disastrous Iraq war.
His life as an American correspondent who mostly lived in the Middle
East as the Middle East has been blowing up. It`s a look through Richard`s
eyes at what he calls a volatile and religious region of rich governments
and poor people.
It`s really good book. It`s really good. It`s short. It goes
really fast. It`s written really well and it`s great.
And Richard`s book comes out just as the intelligence agencies are
warning that ISIS is determined to strike in the United States, just as
they warned the exact same thing about al Qaeda right before 9/11, and it
comes out literally tonight as we are getting late word for the first time
since the civil war started in Syria in 2011, there`s an agreement for the
first time for a cessation of hostilities, a mini cease-fire.
What does that mean?
There`s nobody I would rather ask than my friend Richard Engel,
joining us now as NBC News chief foreign correspondent, Richard Engel,
author of “And Then All Hell Broke Loose: Two Decades in the Middle East.”
Richard, it`s great to see you. Congratulations.
RICHARD ENGEL, NBC NEWS CHIEF FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT: Well, thank you
very much. It`s so good to be here and thank you for having me on.
ENGEL: It`s always fun to be here and talking about this new book.
MADDOW: It`s sickening because you`re good at your job but you`re a
really good writer. It`s really annoying. It`s a really good read.
I hope you enjoyed writing it as much as I enjoyed reading it. It`s
ENGEL: The hardest part was coming up with the thesis. What is the
principal? It`s been 20 years in the Middle East. I watched a lot of
things come, and a lot of happy moments and sad moments. So, how do you
digest that down into the thesis?
MADDOW: A thesis, yes.
ENGEL: And eventually, I thought, OK, I got a model, I have an idea.
I have way of digesting what I have seen and sort of maybe guessing at
what`s to come and then the rest was filling in all the color and the
people I`ve met and all the proof of why I think what I know.
MADDOW: You show how you learned it, how you came to hold this
thesis in the Middle East and America`s role in it over two administration.
But we see it happen through your eyes as you learn it by living it,
which is really useful. I feel like this is actually sort of prescriptive
in terms of the United States and Middle East. You`re not saying anything
is easy but you`re describing what we`ve done wrong.
ENGEL: Well, the basic premise is the status quo and the status quo
existed for decades. And the status quo wasn`t great. The Middle East
muddled along. And it was corrupt and the leaders were brutal. And there
was a lot of internal anguish, conflicts that were below the surface,
Sunni-Shia, Arab/Persian, Turkish/Kurd. But they were all held in place,
locked in place.
And through eight years of military action by the Bush
administration, we broke that status quo. And then through almost eight
years of really inconsistent action from the Obama administration, that
status quo was destroyed and all those pent up issues became unleashed.
And we`re living in that chaos. And then chaos was really represented by
And I think it is very chilling to hear senior intelligence officials
say that ISIS is coming to attack the U.S. If you remember when ISIS first
came out, the same intelligence briefings were that ISIS is just a local
group, it doesn`t have international ambitions.
ENGEL: That`s never been the case, by the way. ISIS has always had
So, the concept is, we had a status quo through 16 years of somewhat
misguided direct action and then misguided inaction or certainly
inconsistent action we`re living in this horrible period, and we have to
think about what`s going to come next. And I think what`s going to come
next is a series of strongmen, a series of dictators. I think we`re going
to return to a new status quo. And I think we`re already starting to see
ISIS is going to die out. ISIS is not going to live forever. It
doesn`t have a winning strategy. But it may do some horrible acts in this
country and it already has in other countries before it does.
MADDOW: The book is called “And Then All Hell Broke Loose: Two
Decades in the Middle East”, just out, from NBC`s chief foreign
correspondent Richard Engel.
Richard, again, congratulations. Thanks.
ENGEL: Thank you.
MADDOW: Really glad you`re here.
We`ll be right back. Stay with us.
MADDOW: We`re back with NBC`s chief correspondent Richard Engel.
Richard, we got this late breaking news tonight that it`s not a cease
fire, but a cessation of hostilities that they`re calling for in Syria.
What do you make of this?
ENGEL: In principle, it could work. It`s – everyone has a vested
interest in calming things down. The U.S. is now talking to Iran which
means the U.S. indirectly is talking to the Syrian regime, which means the
U.S. is also indirectly talking to the Russians.
Everyone has an interest, including the Turks, everyone, in calming
things down because the refuge crisis is getting worse, the bloodshed is
So, in principle, yes, after the Iran deal, there has always been
room to talk about calming things down in Syria.
MADDOW: I was surprised to hear that Russia might want thing to stop
right now, because it seems like Russia and Syria are about to retake the
second largest city in Syria, like it seems like things are going their
ENGEL: So, in principle, yes, it could and should word. I would
have signed this deal if I was at the table. Yes, sign it. There are a
lot of practical reasons why it might not work because the Russians and
Syrians seem to be right on the doorstep of retaking Aleppo. So, this
could be a tactic by them to buy some time.
Also, the two main militant groups, the Nusra Front and ISIS, two
very, very aggressive actors, aren`t part of this deal.
So, I think we have a situation where in principle, it makes a lot of
sense. In practice, it`s going to be very, very difficult to implement.
MADDOW: If it does work, it will be a one week cessation of
hostilities, during which time humanitarian aid is delivered. That itself
if they can get any aid into the country –
ENGEL: The idea is maybe it can build traction and you can build on
ENGEL: Every reason it should work, but it probably an 85 percent
chance that it won`t.
MADDOW: Glimmer of hope.
Richard, thank you. Again, Richard`s new book is called “And Then
All Hell Broke Loose: Two Decades in the Middle East.”
We`ll be right back.
ENGEL: But there`s still 15 percent.
MADDOW: Fifteen percent.
ENGEL: Let`s hope. It`s better than nothing.
MADDOW: Yes. We`ll be right back.
MADDOW: So, this is really funny.
Say you`re a member of the Republican establishment who up until
recently you`ve been saying you could never support Donald Trump and don`t
worry he`s never going to be the nominee anyway. Right about now you`re
looking at the New Hampshire results and the states coming up in the next
couple of weeks, and you`re realizing that is now the opposite of
inconceivable that Donald Trump will be the Republican presidential
That can be awkward. At least it was awkward today here on MSNBC
with Steve Kornacki. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC: What about your role in all this? I saw you
over the summer when Donald Trump made some comments about Megyn Kelly.
You seemed to say that would rule out Donald Trump for you. Is that still
REP. MARK SANFORD (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: I like every other procast –
what`s the word I`m looking for? Anyway, I couldn`t – he has broken every
single mold, every single piece of political convention out there. I`ve
given up guessing on what would or wouldn`t be his demise. I would have
thought that would have been it. That`s not proved to be the case.
KORNACKI: What I`m asking you is, could you see yourself supporting
SANFORD: I don`t think so. Again, I`m going to leave it to voters
to decide. I`m staying out of this race. I`m watching and I`m spectating.
You know, I think that I can`t emphasize enough who I hear at the
grassroots level with regard with the frustration with the status quo. I
will say this, though, I think the field is going to narrow. I think in
some ways Cruz and Trump are going after the same real estate in the
upstate, and you`re going to have outsider versus insider. I don`t know
who gets the insider lane whether it`s Rubio or Jeb, but I think you`re
going to see a three way jump ball at the end of the day in South Carolina
knock the lead the you see right now with Trump.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: What is the word you were spending so much time looked for
there, Mark Sanford? Maybe a three way tie in South Carolina and I would
have to figure out how to support Donald Trump. Or maybe the voters in
your party really want him to your presidential nominee. We`re going to
find out soon.
It`s very an exciting time to be covering politics. That does it for
us tonight. We will see you tomorrow.
Now, it`s a time for Lawrence O`Donnell`s special look at the year of
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