The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 3/31/2016
Show: THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW
Date: March 31, 2016
Guest: Ben Ginsberg, John Archibald
CHRIS HAYES, “ALL IN” HOST: That is “ALL IN” for this evening.
THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts right now. Good evening, Rachel.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chris. Thanks, my friend.
HAYES: You bet.
MADDOW: And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour.
The airport in Peoria, Illinois, is not what you call a big airport.
It`s the General Wayne A. Downing Peoria International Airport, which is a
lot of words and it sounds big. But that airport is only served by four
I can`t tell what the international flights are. I`m sorry. I know
there must be some, but I couldn`t find them.
Still, though, if you live near Peoria, Illinois, there`s a chance
this lovely piece of infrastructure is your local airport. And today, it
shut down. It wasn`t like a temporary weather shut down or something
routine like that. No, they actually stopped all flights into the airport
and out of the airport, and then, they evacuated the entire airport. They
made all human beings leave.
They pushed everybody all the way out. There was a big long line of
cars on the parkway leading into the airport which was stopped for so long,
people ended up getting out of their cars. They were just stuck there
hanging out. They couldn`t get in or out. Couldn`t leave or arrive. That
lasted for hours today.
The reason for the shut down was in part, really, super shady
national politics. The other part of it was suspicious dog toys.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Continuing coverage now. The story we first
broke this morning. Here`s what we know about what transpired this morning
at Peoria International Airport.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The airport was evacuated after authorities
found what they called a suspicious package at TSA. That was at 6:30 this
morning. Here`s a look at the x-ray of the device as it went through TSA
in a bag.
This has been released from the Peoria County sheriff`s office.
According to Sheriff Mike McCoy, a TSA officer handled the package and
after opening it, discovered two bottles containing liquid, a timing
device, wires and sticks that were labeled dynamite. It turns out, those
sticks actually were dog toys.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Sticks that were labeled dynamite, turns out they were dog
toys. The dog toys, which shut down Peoria International Airport this
morning for hours were apparently meant to be ostentatiously fake looking
sticks of dynamite. Since they were dog toy, I`m guessing they squeaked or
something else about them that was going to be fun for your dog to play
with, but they really did cause quite a mess. The county sheriff later
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It looked like three sticks of dynamite in there.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, three sticks of dynamite with the jar of
liquid. So, that`s what it looked like.
REPORTER: All it`s missing is acme dynamite company on there.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I wish I had some other pictures. A detective
had a picture. There`s red sticks and on the side of them and it said
dynamite. So, I mean – you know –
REPORTER: You can`t get much clearer –
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, I can`t get any clearer.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Now, we don`t know exactly what the dog toys looked like.
All we have seen are the pictures from the x-ray, and that doesn`t help.
But based on the description from the sheriff there, we are guessing it was
something like one of these, which you can get at all sorts of dog stores,
along side other hilarious dark humor dog toys that look like grenades or
bombs or even severed feet, for the schnauzer in your life who has an
inappropriate sense of humor.
This airport security incident though, which shut down this airport
today for hours, this was not a joke. It was not a frank. It turns out it
wasn`t even dog related, even though it was dog todys that shut down the
The reason this happened is because of the politics of abortion.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The airport was evacuated. And authorities
isolated a woman in connection to the package. She`s being detained.
There`s no word on charges right now.
She was headed to Washington, D.C., connecting in Dallas. She`s
described as a white woman in her 30s. We don`t know her name at this
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Authorities say the woman say the package is a
training device for abortion clinics.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Training device.
Peoria County government released statement explaining what happened
here, explaining specifically that no charges are going to be filed against
this woman who had this device. It turns out she is an employee of the
National Abortion Federation. She travels the country. It`s part of her
job working with abortion providers to train them on how to identify
suspicious items, things like bombs which people might try to smuggle into
a clinic or target an abortion clinic doctor or other clinic personnel.
The National Abortion Federation says this training device, this
supposed bomb is so obviously fake, including the squeaky vinyl dog toy
sticks of dynamite that say dynamite on the side of them in big white
letters. They say it`s so ostentatiously obviously fake that they have
routinely traveled with this training device all over the country and they
never really had a problem.
But in Peoria, Illinois, today, at TSA, they spotted this thing in
check baggage and the whole airport had to be evacuated for hours. And the
reason this sort of thing happens in the United States is because somebody
really does have to go around the country training abortion doctors and
abortion clinic staff on how to spot bombs, how to protect themselves from
assassination attempts, because abortion providers and abortion clinic
personnel do get targeted by anti-abortion activists in this cancer on a
scarily regular basis.
I mean, when these things have happened, they`re not random,
unconnected attacks. One of the uglier features of the extreme anti-
abortion movement in this country is they have spawned support networks for
people who have shot abortion providers. Others radical anti-abortion
activists will visit those folks in prison and create online tributes to
them and organize legal support efforts on behalf of this particular
variety of murderer.
For example, in 2003, Florida executed a double murderer, this man,
who had assassinated an abortion doctor in Pensacola, Florida, as well as
the security guard he had with him at the time. The head of a group called
Operation Rescue put out statement when the state of Florida carried out
the execution of this murderer. The Operation Rescue statement said it was
no justice because the man who had shot and killed the abortion doctor and
security guard, he wasn`t allowed to prevent a legal defense because it was
justifiable defensive action.
Operation Rescue said when he was executed by the state of Florida,
that the man never should have faced execution because he wasn`t allowed to
present his defense, quote, “that claimed the killing of the abortionist
was necessary – necessary to save the lives of pre-born babies.”
Lots of people are murdered in this country for all sorts of
difference reasons. But as far as I know there`s only one group of people
in this country that gets targeted for murder by an organized American
movement that says it`s not only justified but it should be legal to kill
those people because of what they do for a living and anybody who does
murder one of those people should be supported and indeed legally excused
for their action because it`s necessary to kill these people. Only
abortion providers face that in this country in an organized and ongoing
And, so, employees of the National Abortion Federation have to travel
around the country teaching people who work at clinics the best practices
for how to avoid getting murdered by anti-abortion extremists. That`s why
nobody could fly into or out of Peoria, Illinois, today.
The guy who wrote that statement in 2003, saying it was justifiable
homicide to murder an abortion doctor and the guy who murdered the abortion
doctor therefore shouldn`t be executed, that`s him there. His name is Troy
Newman. He`s from Operation Rescue.
He also over the years put out statements praising the Lord and
thanking God when other abortion doctors have died from natural causes,
including this doctor he praised for dying of leukemia. He also once
claimed in a book that the only just punishment for any doctor who does an
abortion in the United States should be execution. Any doctor who does an
abortion in the U.S. should be treated like a convicted murderer and
executed. He made the case in a book called “Their Blood Cries Out”, which
I learned about from Ted Cruz.
The head of Operation Rescue who has argued it`s justifiable homicide
to kill abortion doctors, who said any doctor who does an abortion in this
country should be executed for it, the man who has praised the cancer
deaths of abortion providers. He is the co-chair of Pro-Life for Cruz.
Ted Cruz put out a press release bragging about the Operation Rescue
guy coming aboard his campaign, published a little biography of him on the
Ted Cruz official campaign website, bragging about this guy who is on team
Cruz, Pro-Life for Cruz, he had authored this interesting book, “Their
Blood Cries Out”, which is the book that calls for the execution of doctors
who do abortion in this country. It`s also a book that says women who have
abortions in this country are murderers and contract killers and should be
treated that way in the United States.
Any woman who has an abortion is a murderer and a contract killer
says the co-chair for Pro-Life for Cruz.
Ted Cruz has a lot of these sort of affinity groups, these coalition
groups supporting his campaign. It`s a big part of how he organizes around
the country. He`s also, for example, touted a group of faith leaders for
Cruz, which includes a famous radical anti-abortion activist who
incidentally has been found guilty of stalking an abortion provider,
including distributing wanted posters of several doctors, which listed
their names and home addresses. Go get them.
Distributing pictures and names and addresses of abortion doctors is
one of the ways the abortion movement, anti-abortion movement has
continually contributed to the intimidation of and violence against
abortion doctors and clinic personnel in this country. Ted Cruz`s pro-life
co-chair Troy Newman to this day maintains a website that includes
addresses and photos of individual abortion providers.
Radical anti-abortionists like this tend to get convicted now when
they put wanted dead or alive on these posters and these websites. So,
they have toned that part of it down these days, but they do happily still
distribute individual doctors, photos and addresses. Go get them.
So, we`re in this moment of really profound hypocrisy in the
Republican presidential race and professed ignorance in national media
coverage of the Republican presidential race. And I don`t know if the
beltway media sort of doesn`t get this yet or if they don`t feel like
reporting on it or if it`s uncomfortable or if it earns you too many
enemies from people you want to be sources and friends in the future. But
what we`re having right now in terms of the focus of the Republican
presidential race and the national media coverage is a farce, because
what`s going on is not that hard to understand, and it`s really different
from the way this is being described this most national media.
Here`s what I mean: Just look at a snapshot in time of yesterday.
Midday, simultaneously, yesterday, there was Ted Cruz doing an event this
Wisconsin. It`s one of these coalition events. In this case, it wasn`t
pro-lifers for Cruz or faith leaders for Cruz.
Yesterday, midday, he did a women for Cruz event. He had his wife
there. He had his mother there. Also Carly Fiorina was there. He was
touting all the support he gets from women. It`s one of these support
groups, coalition groups, affinity groups for Ted Cruz. That was happening
At the same time Donald Trump was also in Wisconsin taping his now
infamous town hall with my friend Chris Matthews. And Chris was fairly
masterfully pinning down Donald Trump on how exactly it`s going to work
when as president, self-proclaimed pro-life Donald Trump will make abortion
Chris pinned him down. Who will you enforce that? What will be the
consequences? Who will be punished for that? How will women be punished
if they seek an abortion once you`re president and you figured out how to
make abortion illegal?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: You say you want to ban it. What does
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I would – I am against –
I am pro-life, yes.
MATTHEWS: What is ban – how do you ban abortion? How do you
actually do it?
TRUMP: Well, you know, you will go back to a position like they had
where people will perhaps go to illegal places.
TRUMP: But you have to ban it.
MATTHEWS: You banning –
Do you believe in punishment for abortion, yes or no as a principle?
TRUMP: The answer is that there has to be some form of punishment.
MATTHEWS: For the woman?
TRUMP: Yes, there has to be some form.
MATTHEWS: Ten cents? Ten years? What?
TRUMP: Let me just tell you – I don`t know. That I don`t know.
That I don`t know.
MATTHEWS: Why not?
TRUMP: I don`t know.
MATTHEWS: You take positions on everything else.
TRUMP: Because I don`t want to – I frankly, I do take positions on
everything else. It`s a very complicated position.
MATTHEWS: You tell me what the law should be.
TRUMP: I have – I have not determined…
MATTHEWS: Just tell me what the law should be. You say you`re pro-
TRUMP: I am pro-life.
MATTHEWS: What does that mean?
TRUMP: With exceptions. I am pro-life.
I have not determined what the punishment would be.
MATTHEWS: Why not?
TRUMP: Because I haven`t determined it.
MATTHEWS: By saying you`re pro-life, you mean you want to ban
abortion. How do you ban abortion without some kind of sanction? Then you
get in that very tricky question of a sanction, a fine on human life which
you call murder?
TRUMP: It will have to be determined.
MATTHEWS: A fine, imprisonment for a young woman who finds herself
TRUMP: It will have to be determined.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Donald Trump, several hours later, tried to take that back.
He put out a statement saying he didn`t mean that women should be punished
for getting an abortion even though that`s what he said. He now said he
wants doctors to be punished, not women themselves who seek abortions.
Now, Ted Cruz, the guy whose got the convicted abortion doctor
stalker on his faith leaders for Cruz list, and he`s got the guy who says
that women who have abortion are murderers and contract killers and should
be treated as such, he`s got him as a co-chair of his pro-life for Cruz
group. Ted Cruz, that candidate, wasted no time in criticizing Donald
Trump for Mr. Trump`s remarks to Chris Matthews yesterday.
Ted Cruz, after those remarks, put out a statement saying this,
quote, “Of course, we shouldn`t be talking about punishing women. We
should affirm their dignity and the incredible gift they have to bring life
into the world.”
Of course, we shouldn`t be talking about punishing women. We
shouldn`t be talking about that. Ted Cruz is right that the anti-abortion
movement in general has learned to stop talking about that. They don`t
like the talk about that. They like toy say they`ll never talk about that.
But it is, if we`re being honest here, an unavoidable consequence of
what it would mean if they get their way. What it would mean if they get
their way, which means what it would mean if they make abortion illegal.
That is what the anti-abortion movement wants to do. And, yes, the
anti-abortion movement has mostly learned to stop talking about punishing
women, mostly. Not all of them have.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PAT ROBERTSON, TELEVANGELIST: It was interesting what Trump says.
It shocks people, but the same time, the old adage was that abortion was
illegal, that it was murder and consequently, if it`s illegal, it`s murder,
then there had to be some penalty attached to it.
If somebody says abortion is murder, then what do you do to somebody
who commits murder? I mean, it`s a dilemma that people had been wrestling
with and I`m sure they`re not going to get into it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Too late. You just got into it. The political narrative
and media narrative that come up in the last 24 hours in response to what
Donald Trump said yesterday about abortion and what it means to be anti-
abortion, what it means to want to ban abortion in this country, it is so
out of touch and so facile right now it`s mind-bending. I mean, reporting
on what the anti-abortion movement is, reporting on that movement`s aims,
reporting on what it means to be a pro-life politician doesn`t just mean
writing down what you want to say about them.
You don`t have to use the antiseptic language and chosen phrases they
choose to use themselves when they describe their own perception. You
don`t have to talk about them only the way they like to be talked about.
When you talk about them in terms of their actual policy goals in an
objective way, you very quickly realize what Donald Trump did, yesterday,
it may be viewed as a gaffe, but it wasn`t a gaffe, right? He just used
blunter language than the anti-abortion likes the use in public.
Let`s just get real about this for a second. If you are pro-life,
that means you don`t think a woman has a right to have an abortion if she
wants one. If you`re pro-life, you mean that – that means you think there
isn`t a right to get an abortion. It means you`re anti-abortion.
Anti-abortion doesn`t mean you don`t get an abortion in your own
life. It means you believe nobody else should be able to get an abortion
When a politician says he or she is pro-life and will govern as such,
what that means is that they would like abortion do be outlawed. It means
they want the United States of America to be a country in which getting an
abortion is a crime. If getting an abortion is a crime, that means anybody
who gets an abortion is a criminal. Follow me here.
That`s what Chris Matthews was getting at with Donald Trump. And
this is what he admitted to that has so upset everything that he said it
out loud. But it`s true. If we become a pro-life country that abortion is
illegal, then every time any woman becomes pregnant in the United States,
she will face a government mandate that says she must bring that pregnancy
to term and she must give birth by order of the government.
The government will use the criminal law to monitor every pregnancy
in this country and to force every woman in America who gets pregnant to
take that pregnancy to term and give birth if it`s against her will.
That`s what it means in brass tacks.
It means if you are a woman in America and we become a pro-life
country, because the anti-abortion side wins, that means your pregnancy
tests is potentially criminal evidence. If you have a miscarriage, God
forbid, every physical aspect of your miscarriage is potentially criminal
evidence. The sight of your miscarriage is potentially going to be treated
and investigated as a crime scene.
In a pro-life country, if the government knows you to be pregnant,
and you do not give birth nine months later, that will be a matter for the
police to investigate. Donald Trump says he`s pro-life. The Republican
Party has generally viewed him as a squish on the subject, is not hard line
As an example of how he`s not hard line enough, in contrast, Ted Cruz
is not only anti-abortion, he`s anti-abortion in every instance. Under
President Ted Cruz, he would go further than Donald Trump and impose the
same criminal regime not just on women broadly, but on specifically women
who became pregnant because they were raped or because they were the victim
So, some – God forbid, right, some 13-year-old girl somewhere in
America gets raped by her evil uncle and gets impregnated. Under a Ted
Cruz presidency, if he gets his way, that 13-year-old girl`s pregnancy
would become a matter for the state, the government to monitor and the
criminal law would be used to force the 13-year-old girl to bring the
pregnancy to term and it would force her to give birth to her rapist child
against her will under penalty of criminal law.
So, it sort of feels like a parallel universe, right, in which the
comments by Donald Trump yesterday are seen as somehow outrageous while Ted
Cruz is the reasonable one.
Penalty of criminal law. So, it sort of feels like a parallel
universe in which the comments by Donald Trump is seen as outrageous while
Ted Cruz is the reasonable one.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: There has to be some form of punishment.
MATTHEWS: For the woman?
TRUMP: Yes. There has to be some form.
MATTHEWS: Ten cents, ten years?
TRUMP: I don`t know. That I don`t know.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: The anti-abortion movement of this country does not like to
talk about that part of what their agenda would mean for our country. The
anti-abortion movement in this country does not like any public reminders
of the lengths between their movement and the part of their movement that
shoots doctors and says it`s justified to do so.
But presidential candidate Ted Cruz has not been diligent about
keeping a bright line between his own anti-abortion politics, his own anti-
abortion campaign and the radical violent anti-abortion politics that have
brought us the Operation Save America and Operation Rescues of this world.
His opponent, Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump, he`s
not been particularly good at keeping a bright line between what he wants
to be seen as mainstream anti-abortion Republican politics and the
politically awkward but true fact of what it would mean for American women
if Republicans get their way, the anti-abortion movement gets their way,
and they succeed in making abortion a crime and every American woman who
seeks one into a criminal.
So, just a note to the national media and to the beltway media on the
subject – I know everybody is all over Donald Trump on this, what will it
mean for his campaign? But covering a story like this does not mean just
writing down what people want you to say about them in the terms they want
you to use. And the idea there`s any distance at all between what Donald
Trump said yesterday on this subject, and the aims of the antiabortion
movement in this country, that is a fallacy and one that no responsible
person should repeat.
MADDOW: We got word early today that Republican presidential front-
runner Donald Trump was having a surprise meeting at Republican Party
headquarters in Washington. Now that mainstream Republicans are pretty
openly talking about how they might use Republican Party rules to try to
stop Mr. Trump from getting the party`s nomination at their convention this
summer, this means it`s news if Donald Trump turns up at Republican Party
So, the D.C. press corps went down to watch Donald Trump go in and
wait for him to leave.
But then, eagle eye reporters got another glimpse of another person
leaving Republican headquarters around that time. And that someone – that
someone happens to be the singular elections rules genius who`s not only
seen as the nation`s foremost expert on the sort of dark political art that
could potentially be used to block a Trump nomination at the convention.
He`s actually the guy who wrote the convention rules that might make it
possible, and he was there today simultaneously at RNC headquarters while
Donald Trump was there having his surprise secret meeting.
Maybe they even said hello in halls. I don`t know. But we`ll all
know in a minute, because that intriguing person joins us here next.
MADDOW: If you are a Bernie Sanders supporter or anywhere near a
critical mess of Bernie Sanders supporters today, you may have felt an
unusual cold breeze today, a ripple of concern and worry. That`s because
for a time today, it looked like Bernie Sanders was not going to have his
name on the primary ballot in Washington, D.C.
Even though the Sanders campaign paid the fee and did everything they
were supposed to do, turns out the D.C. Democratic Party screwed up. They
submitted the paper a day late but that put his appearance on the ballot in
jeopardy, hence the ripple of concern, hence the cold breeze.
Here is how the Hillary Clinton campaign reacted. Quote, “An
administrative error should not keep a candidate off the ballot. Let`s get
Bernie Sanders on the ballot in D.C.” That`s from Hillary Clinton campaign
And lo and behold the Democratic race has nice endings sometimes.
Problem resolved. D.C. Democrats called the situation all a big
misunderstanding. It`s like an episode of “Three`s Company”. They`re
going to resolve the issues with Jack Tripper and Chrissy next week.
Bernie Sanders will be on the ballot. No problem. Everybody played
nice. Issue resolved. Hooray.
Now, on the Republican side, it`s not like that. The Republican
side, take the ballot, for example, in Montana. In Montana, Ted Cruz
really is trying to get John Kasich kicked off the ballot in that state.
Ted Cruz supporters are questioning the validity of signatures submitted by
John Kasich`s campaign. They`re trying to make it where he can`t compete.
Really Ted Cruz? Are you sure you really need to get all out to get
John Kasich off the ballot in Montana? Montana is really so important?
Actually, yes. And the reason is a potential magic key that could
unlock the nomination at the Republican convention this summer if you use
it right. It`s called rule 40B. It was authored by Mitt Romney super
lawyer, former RNC general counsel Ben Ginsberg in 2012. It was basically
designed to stop Ron Paul.
And it states, in part, that, quote, “Each candidate for nomination
for president of the United States and vice president of the United States
shall demonstrate the support for the majority of delegates from each of
eight or more states, prior to the presentation of the name of that
candidate for nomination.”
So, in plain English, you need to have gotten a majority of eight
states. Majority in eight states or your name can`t be put forward as a
possible nominee at the Republican Convention. That rule was basically
designed to stop Ron Paul fans from nominating him and embarrassing Mitt
Romney in 2012.
Before that rule, the rules had just required a simple plurality of
delegates in five states. They upped the number to eight and said you have
to have a majority in eight. That was the Romney`s team way of essentially
denying Ron Paul the opportunity to have his name placed in nomination.
And if that sounds complicated, I`ll make it really simple. You can
see it play out from a clip that I`m about to show you from the 2012
This is kind of amazing. This is Minnesota. Their delegation
announcing their delegate preferences. What they had decided on Minnesota,
what they wanted to be recorded by the RNC. So, watch them announce their
preferences and then watch the official tally.
This is rule 40B in action. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Minnesota, where we are very proud of our state
Republican Party which runs a fair convention with integrity, cast 33 votes
for Ron Paul. One vote for Senator Rick Santorum and six votes for
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Minnesota, six, Romney.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That`s it, 33 votes for Ron Paul, what. One vote, what.
It`s like just take the Romney ones, because Ron Paul, let along Rick
Santorum, they hadn`t crossed this eight-state majority threshold in rule
40B. So, it`s like they didn`t exist. That`s why Ted Cruz is challenging
John Kasich`s appearance on the ballot in Montana, as pitiful as that may
Ted Cruz has currently won a majority of delegates in six states.
Under rule 40B, he needs two more by the end of the primary process to be
eligible to be nominated for president by the Republican Party. And that
should be doable. He only needs two more states.
But Montana is one of the states that Ted Cruz really plans on
getting. It would be a little easier if John Kasich wasn`t even there,
right? Now that Ted Cruz seems likely to cross that eight-state threshold,
the Ted Cruz campaign thinks that Rule 40b is the best thing since sliced
Ted Cruz said today on talk radio, that it will be a terrible idea
for the Washington power brokers to change the rules and get rid of rule
40B. Keeping Rule 40B on the books would likely end John Kasich`s effort
to get the nomination. It will likely end his campaign.
He was asked about Rule 40B in Pennsylvania, he said, quote, “As it
applies to the rules of convention, there are no rules.”
In way, John Kasich is right. Forty B like all other rules, it is a
temporary rule. Those rules can be changed. There`s the suspicion out
there that Ted Cruz is being used like a mule to get the Republican Party
into an open convention at which Donald Trump can be denied the nomination.
And right now, many members of the establishment are coalescing
around Ted Cruz or pretending to coalesce around him because they think
that`s the best way to keep Trump from getting the nomination. But the
idea is, that once they get to the convention and they can pick anything
they want, they`re not going to pick Ted Cruz. There`s the suspicion
that`s what`s going on in Republican politics right now.
That is not possible if Ted Cruz can manipulate the rules-making
process so that he holds onto rule 40B, in which case only he and Donald
Trump can be possible nominees even with an open convention. Right? Isn`t
that the way it works?
Joining us is the best person in the world to fact check me on this,
Ben Ginsberg, former RNC general counsel, the author of Rule 40.
Mr. Ginsberg, it`s great to have you here. Thank you so much.
BEN GINSBERG, FORMER RNC GENERAL COUNSEL: Nice to be here. You give
me far too much credit. We probably do have some things to unpack here.
MADDOW: All right. Well, tell me what I got wrong.
GINSBERG: Well, so the rules of the convention have to be passed by
each convention. So, unless the 2016 delegates voter rule, it doesn`t
exist. That`s true of all the procedural rules, including our favorite
So, that as of now, there is not a rule in place for the 2016
convention until the delegates, who are not yet chosen, for the most part,
decide in Cleveland what the rules should be and number of states should
MADDOW: OK, let me ask you right there just to clarify. So, that
does that mean that every – this is rule 40, which means there are at
least 39 others. Does that mean they all get wiped off the map? They`re
starting with a clean slate, none of the rules get carried over from 2012?
GINSBERG: No. There`s the proceedings of the convention rules that
start with rule 26, the little noticed and misunderstood Rule 26, and
carries to Rule 42. They`re the proceedings of the convention. Those are
the ones that must be passed by each convention.
MADDOW: OK. There are some rules that carry over. There are some
rules that have to be passed by each convention?
MADDOW: Is there a sense among Republican Party convention bigwigs.
I don`t know a more technical than that.
GINSBERG: Who are those?
MADDOW: I know. Exactly. I know, as a lawyer, I know you can
unpack that pretty quickly.
But is there a sense that Rule 40 only applied to 2012, and won`t be
expected to be part of the rule making process in 2016. It`s now matter of
political debate, for example, between Ted Cruz and John Kasich.
GINSBERG: Well, every convention has to pass a rule on what it takes
to nominate a candidate for the presidency and vice presidency. It was
actually in 2008 where they changed plurality to majority, because after
all, if you`re trying to get a number of signatures on a petition, how do
you know what a plurality is until it may be too late.
So, majority in 2008 became the standard. Those rules are supposed
to be passed to deal with the conditions that apply to each convention.
So, for 2012, you sort of accurately describe the Ron Paul scenario,
and that`s why it was moved up to eight. It was five in 2008 with a
So, the rule is changed over time, really for the conditions of each
convention. That`s going to happen this time too. That`s what the rules
MADDOW: Does the RNC institutionally have any preference or is it
purely down to the delegates?
GINSBERG: The RNC and the rules committee submits a working draft
that becomes the foundation for what the convention rules committee and the
convention do. In that sense, they do. Once you get to the convention
rules committee those delegates are chosen by each delegation after that
delegation is chosen in the individual states.
MADDOW: Ben, can I ask you one last request which I`m completely
convinced you will not answer?
MADDOW: What were you doing at RNC headquarters today and did it
have anything to do with Donald Trump surprise meeting there?
GINSBERG: I`m glad you asked. I will answer it. It had nothing to
do with Donald Trump`s meeting there. I had a meeting with my friends and
clients at the National Republican Congressional Committee two floors down.
The only thing I knew about the Trump meeting was I couldn`t get in
the door because it was locked as he was arriving.
MADDOW: Ben Ginsberg, former RNC general counsel and the subject of
so many baseless conspiracy theories – I`m sure you stopped counting them.
Thank you, sir.
GINSBERG: Very flattering.
MADDOW: I know. It is a form of flattery. Thank you, Ben.
MADDOW: All right. We got much more to come on this very busy news
night. Stay with us.
MADDOW: In politics, the visuals matter. They are usually carefully
constructed by political operatives at the highest level, particularly when
you`re dealing with a high profile politician.
But sometimes even very high profile photo ops go wrong like for
example the time when Governor Sarah Palin of Alaska pardoned a
Thanksgiving turkey and then conducted a lengthy media interview while a
mass turkey slaughter took place in the meat grinder right over her
Then there was Jon Huntsman who kicked off his announcement in front
of statue of liberty. There was no pretty photo op, just a circle line
tour boat that set there dissecting his head while he talked about his
vision for the future of the country.
Then, there was the time that Connecticut senator held a press
conference about commuter rail sift only to narrowly avoid getting hit
while standing next to a commute r train that was close to him.
Sometimes photo-ops go horribly wrong. But none of those are nearly
as wrong as to what happened to one high profile politician in trouble who
today apparently accidentally went to prison.
MADDOW: This is stunning.
All right. Let`s say you are a politician in trouble. Let`s say
you`ve had to deliver a contrite apology to your state and the people of
your state do not seem to be accepting it. They`re not only impeachment
proceedings but 90 percent of people responding to surveys say you should
quit. There are reports now that the state ethnics commission and the
state attorney general, and department of justice are investigating you for
criminal misbehavior. If you`re that guy, you probably have to think
carefully about whether you want to make any public appearances at until
things cool down or you have a better explanation for what you`ve just
done, especially when the last explanation doesn`t seem to be working on
If you are going to appear in public, if you decide that you even
will, you then need to think really specifically about the message you`re
spending explicitly and implicitly about why you`re out in public, about
where you`re going, why you`re there and what message it`s sending.
So, if you are a politician who is reportedly under criminal
investigation, facing not only the possibility of getting thrown out of
office but maybe the possibility of getting thrown into prison, if you`re
that guy, don`t go do prison. Don`t let photographers, AP, wire service
photographers stage paragraphs of you between you and the photographers,
there`s a set of bars because you`re at a prison. Don`t let them show you
on what appears to be your first visit to the prison commissary where
you`re picking your Fritos and your sugar packets.
I mean, you might have to do some prison related business as a
governor, but, A, don`t go. B, don`t go and make it your photo-op when
people are thinking you ought to go to prison. I mean, now, in case
Alabama was having any trouble imagining their deacon, family values super
conservative, pious Republican governor going to jail, that governor has
just made it a lot easy to imagine him going to jail because he`s literally
shown us what it would like for him to go to jail during an official visit
he took today to an Alabama state prison.
Governor Bentley, what are you thinking? Did you just lose your top
political advisor who might have told you not to do this? Things are not
getting better for Alabama`s Governor Robert Bentley, they are getting
The big news is that his top political advisor no longer works for
him. She was also his alleged mistress. She`s out. She`s resigned her
position saying she planned to spend more time with her family.
It`s a little bit weird, right? She has to resign, but as far as we
know, she hasn`t committed any official misconduct. She`s technically not
even an Alabama state official. Part of the issue here is that nobody who
knows who has been paying her salary all this time, right? That is
So, she`s out. He`s staying. There`s continuing reports there`s a
criminal investigation at the state level and federal level.
As to the potential of impeaching Governor Bentley, that is now
getting a lot of attention. Articles of impeachment have been filed by a
member of the legislature in Alabama.
But quick note to our friends in the national media who are just
picking up this Alabama governor story, there`s really good reason to be
skeptical that Governor Bentley will be impeached by the legislature and
that`s because the speaker of the House in Alabama is the guy who would
have to organize an impeachment vote and the speaker of the House is facing
more than 20 felony corruption charges, and Robert Bentley, the governor,
is likely to be a witness in that felony corruption trial for the speaker
So, the speaker of the House needs Robert Bentley to be a friendly
witness and he`s likely to lead impeachment procedures.
I know you`re all just catching up to the story now, but just read
the second and third paragraphs of the headlines you`ve been looking.
The local press has been amazing on this from the very, very
beginning, even if the national press is just walking up the story. Check
out “The Birmingham News” today, breaking yet another almost unbelievably
provocative detail in the story. Look at the headline, Governor Bentley
bought multiple disposable burner cell phones at Tuscaloosa Best Buy.
Burner cell phones now, really?
The governor, at that miraculously ill-staged prison photo op today
did say he`s still not even considering resigning, but with each passing
day the story gets bigger and not smaller and the fact the national media
has now caught up to it is probably not going to help his case.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. ROBERT BENTLEY (R), ALABAMA: I just want the people of Alabama
to know there is nothing there, there`s nothing illegal, there`s nothing
that`s ever been done that would affect the people of Alabama and effect my
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Joining us now from Alabama is John Archibald. He`s a
columnist for the “Birmingham News”.
Mr. Archibald, thanks very much for being here. It`s nice to see you
JOHN ARCHIBALD, BIRMINGHAM NEWS: Thank you.
MADDOW: Why did the governor`s alleged mistress resign, his senior
political adviser while the governor says he won`t consider resigning
himself? Did she do something worse than he did?
ARCHIBALD: Well, she took the bullet for him. It was the inevitable
first step if he`s going to try to keep this job and she took the first
step. Whether she`s really out of the picture remains to be seen.
MADDOW: “The Birmingham News”, your paper, broke some intriguing,
even puzzling news today that had a lurid headline. The news reported
today that Governor Bentley bought a bunch of burner cell phones at a Best
Buy in Tuscaloosa. Did we know that that is connected to this other
scandal swirling around and is there any explanation from the governor
ARCHIBALD: I`ve requested the text messages in the past and have
been frustrated with it and have been told that he has several – he
changes his cell phone numbers very often, his private ones. So, whether
that`s a burner phone or not, but it`s another one of those images. Nobody
wants the governor wandering into the Best Buy to pick up burners so yet
another one of those image problems.
MADDOW: Your – this story which you had such a role in breaking
here is now getting a lot of national attention, national TVs and national
newspapers. I feel like people have grabbed on to the idea that the
governor might be impeached. It`s my reading from out here that
impeachment is actually an unlikely sanction for him. What`s your
perspective on that?
ARCHIBALD: I think it`s unlikely for the reasons you stated earlier.
You never know. If it comes up it requires a majority in the House. It
could happen. The Democrats who have not really played a role in the last,
what, eight years could be the deciding factor there.
It`s conceivable that it happened. I wouldn`t bet it though.
MADDOW: John Archibald, columnist for “The Birmingham News”, thanks
for helping us keep up to date as this story keeps getting weirder. I
appreciate your time tonight.
ARCHIBALD: Thank you.
MADDOW: Thanks. We`ll be right back. Stay with us.
MADDOW: So, we`ve thrown out what was supposed to be the back half
of the show because there`s a thing I didn`t expect to have to do tonight.
We have apparently ended up in a fairly serious dispute with the front-
runner for the presidential nomination. He`s just made an allegation about
this network which is a serious one which I will refute next.
Stay with us.
MADDOW: So we have some breaking news tonight and it has to do with
the comments Donald Trump made during his town hall with Chris Matthews
yesterday in which he said women should be punished for having an abortion.
Mr. Trump has clarified that what he meant is that doctors should be
But, tonight, Mr. Trump went on the FOX News Channel and gave a new
explanation for how his remarks came out this way. Watch this. This is
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now we know you`ve since clarified your point in
written statements, but we want to hear it from you.
TRUMP (via telephone): You really had to hear the whole thing. I
mean, this was a long convoluted question. This was a long discussion and
they just cut it out and frankly it was extremely – it was really
convoluted and if in fact abortion was outlawed, the person performing the
abortion, the doctor, whoever it may be, that`s really doing the act is
responsible for the act, not the woman is responsible.
So, that`s the way I`ve always felt. I`ve had the same stance
exactly as Ronald Reagan. I`ve had it and I`ve had it from the beginning.
So, my stance is the exact same as Ronald Reagan.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So a lot of people are making a lot of hay out of
this. I`m trying to figure, was it, did you misspeak or did you
misunderstand the question?
TRUMP: Well, it could be that I misspoke, but this was a long,
convoluted question. We talked about Catholicism and his religion and, you
know, Chris went back and forth about that and this was a very long
convoluted discussion which frankly they don`t run on television because
it`s too long.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: “This was a long convoluted discussion which frankly they
didn`t run on television because it was a long. This was a long discussion
and they just cut it out.”
I don`t know who they are, but that appears to be Mr. Trump making an
allegation about this network and the allegation that he`s making there is
false. MSNBC did not cut his conversation with Chris Matthews at all.
That town hall was taped as a live event, which is not to say we aired it
live as it happened, but it was taped and aired in its complete form.
Everything that happened, with Chris Matthews, Donald Trump town
hall, all of it went to air. The network did not clip it, did not cut it,
certainly did not shorten Mr. Trump`s answers.
The official statement from MSNBC reads on Donald Trump`s claim
tonight reads as follows, quote, “The town hall interview with Donald Trump
was taped in advance and then aired in its entirety. Absolutely no part of
the exchange between Trump and Chris Matthews was edited out.”
We know that and Mr. Trump knows that too and any allegation
otherwise is provably untrue. Seriously. I mean even trying to sell this
to a competing network, that is ridiculous.
That does it for us tonight. We`ll see you again tomorrow.
Now, it`s time for “THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL”.
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