The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 4/11/2016
Show: THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW
Date: April 11, 2016
Guest: Charlie Dent, Matea Gold
CHRIS HAYES, “ALL IN” HOST: That is “ALL IN” for this evening.
THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts with Steve Kornacki, in for Rachel.
Good evening, Steve.
STEVE KORNACKI, GUEST HOST: Good evening to you, Chris.
And thanks to you at home for joining us for the next hour. Rachel has the
This lovely spot is the town and county resort in San Diego, California.
This is where Ted Cruz moments from now is going to be holding a rally.
The Republican presidential candidate expected to take the stage sometime
in the next few minutes. This comes after a day of campaigning all around
southern California. He had a rally this afternoon in a city of Irvine.
And in one sense, you might say this is pretty unremarkable. A
presidential candidate is holding campaign events. He`s doing it in a
pretty big state. I guess that happens every day.
But then you consider the candidate and you consider the place. We`re
talking after all about the state of California. Now, when you look at the
delegate count in California, it`s a rich prize. There`s 172 delegates up
But also, this is a state that will not be holding the presidential primary
for two more months until June 7th. That is the very last day of the 2016
Republican primary race. That`s when California is going to vote.
There are not too many times when California which except for one time in
the last generation or so has held its primary on the very last day. There
are not too many times in modern history that California truly was able to
make a difference in a Republican presidential contest.
Then you consider Ted Cruz. He`s the ultra conservative candidate of
evangelical Christians and social conservatives. That`s who he has pitched
his message too. He`s competing hard to win the Golden State, a big blue
state in presidential elections, in general elections.
And also, Cruz might actually pull it off. Check out the latest poll in
California. So, Donald Trump is ahead with 39 percent of the vote. It
actually shows Kasich in second but it` it`s Cruz. But it`s Cruz,
according to this poll, Cruz is in second place with 32 percent of the vote
And if you look even closer at the numbers in California, if you look at
Los Angeles County, gigantic Los Angeles County with ten million people in
that county, if you look there, Ted Cruz is actually running ahead of
Donald Trump by 11 points in Los Angeles County.
Then, you think about how the delegates are given out in California. They
are given out by congressional district. Look at the number of
congressional districts that touched Los Angeles County. It`s about a
third of all the districts in the state.
Ted Cruz for every congressional district he wins in California, he gets
three delegates for that. Cruz could walk away from California with a
hefty number of delegates even if he loses statewide to the Donald Trump.
At least if the poll that we`re seeing there is accurate about where his
strength is. And that`s how the Cruz campaign in the entire stop Donald
Trump movement planned to prevent Trump from hitting the magic number, from
getting 1,237 delegates. That`s the magic number he needs to win the
Republican nomination on the first ballot in Cleveland and to avoid the
contested convention that his opponents desperately want to bring about.
In the week since Ted Cruz big win in Wisconsin, this has largely become
the accepted narrative, the idea that Cruz will succeed with this plan.
The stop Trump movement will succeed with this plan. That Donald Trump is
simply not going to be able to amass enough delegates that the Republicans
are heading to an open convention, an open convention where Cruz or even
John Kasich or maybe even Paul Ryan or someone else, where anyone besides
Donald Trump could be the Republican nominee.
That has become the conventional wisdom in the last week. But what if that
narrative is wrong? What if major assumption of Ted Cruz campaign, of the
stop Trump campaign, of the media`s coverage of this race, what if it`s
wrong? What if Donald Trump has a much better shot of getting to 1,237,
getting to that magic number during the primary season than everyone seems
We`re going to tell you as something that could come as a surprise to
Donald Trump`s opponents. But, first, let`s all agree there is plenty of
evidence that the Cruz campaign`s delegate jujitsu is working. First,
there was Louisiana. That`s where Trump beat Cruz by more than three
points in the state`s primary. But the Cruz campaign may have maneuvered
to ten more delegates from that state than Trump. Then, in North Dakota,
Cruz claimed to have earned the support of 18 of the state`s 25 delegates,
this personally lobbying name at their weekend convention in Fargo.
And then, there was this past weekend. There was a drama in the state of
Colorado. Like North Dakota, Colorado held no primary. It held no caucus
this year. All the delegates from Colorado to the Republican National
Convention were elected at a state convention and at congressional district
By all reports, the Trump operation was absolutely no match for the Cruz
campaign in Colorado. Quote, “Colorado backers passed out flyers at the
convention site, with an official campaign slate of 13 delegates and 13
alternates accompanied by their three-digit number position. Seven of the
names, however, directed people to the wrong number. One delegate`s name
was misspelled. Other candidates did not have errors on their slate.”
That was the Trump campaign`s organization or a lack of organization at
work in Colorado. And the result of that, well, it`s pretty much what
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: In Colorado, a knock out for Ted Cruz.
SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Together, we won all 21.
REPORTER: An experienced ground game paying off, sweeping all 21 delegates
at the Republican state convention.
CRUZ: And if we continue to stand united, we are going to win the general
election. We`re going to win the state of Colorado. We`re going to beat
Hillary Clinton and we are going to turn this country around.
REPORTER: In a race where every delegate counts, Cruz aggressively
courting support even in Whitfield, Virginia, today, just three delegates
up for grabs.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I want to vote for a conservative. And that`s what I`m
doing with Ted Cruz. And with Donald Trump, it`s a question mark.
REPORTER: Most strategists now predicting the race will come down to June
7th and the final state, California, a whooping 172 delegates up for grabs.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: And so, that is why, tonight, Ted Cruz is in San Diego
campaigning for a primary that still is two months away. He`s trying to
build up the support he will need at the congressional district level in
the state of California to deny Donald Trump as many of that state`s 172
delegates as he can, because after the Cruz campaign played their ace in
the hole this weekend, the state of Colorado, who he did there, he swept
every single delegate. After that, it looks more and more like every
single remaining contest in this race is going to count. And Ted Cruz may
have the upper hand, at least, when it comes to organizing for the delegate
And Donald Trump for his part is none too happy about this turn of events.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We`ve got a corrupt system.
It`s not right. We`re supposed to be a democracy. We`re supposed to be,
we`re supposed to be: you vote and the vote means something. All right?
You vote, and the vote means something.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: OK. That`s what happened in Colorado over the weekend. But if
Colorado was the Cruz campaign`s ace in the hole, if it was their secret
weapon, well, Donald Trump may have a secret weapon of his own.
Let`s take a look at what`s going on. We`re talking about unbound
delegates. They`re ultimately the free agents until the convention. Even
if they say they`re going to honor the will of the voters, even if Trump
wins big in their districts, these are people who will be free agents at
Let`s take you through what we`re talking about here. So, this is where
the Republican race stands right now in terms of delegates. Donald Trump
is in the lead. Ted Cruz is drawing closer, thanks to Colorado and a few
other places. Remember, the magic number, 1,237.
So, let`s take a look at what`s coming up. We know New York is next.
Donald Trump`s home state. There are 95 delegates up for grabs. There`s a
good chance Donald Trump is going to take the lions share of them.
What gets interesting is what happens after New York. A week after New
York, you have the Mid-Atlantic States. So, let`s say Donald Trump came
into the Mid-Atlantic States with 850 delegates, OK? He has an opportunity
in these states.
Delaware is a winner-take-all. Maryland, he could get more than 30.
Connecticut, he could get 20 or more, Rhode Island, he could take a bunch.
He has some opportunities here to add up a lot of delegates fast.
But where his ace in the hole could be, the secret weapon that nobody is
talk about right now, could be in the state of Pennsylvania. Now, if the
number looks a little confusing your screen, that`s the key to all of this.
That`s what we`re talking about here – 17.
Seventeen is the number of delegates you get if you win the state of
Pennsylvania. They`re going to have primary. The candidate who gets the
most votes in the state takes those 17.
But it`s those other 54, who are the wild card. Those 54 are unbound
delegates. That`s what we`re talking about. They will run as individual,
individual names on the ballot. Joe Smith, Susan Jones, whatever the name
is, they run on the ballot, they get elected to be delegates at the
The conventional wisdom on this, based on what happened in North Dakota,
based on what happened in Colorado is that this is trouble for Donald
Trump. Sure, he could win the 17 statewide delegates, but those 54 unbound
are the ones where the Cruz campaign and where the stop Trump forces could
have an advantage because of organizing and because of the Trump campaign`s
lack of organizing.
But we`re seeing something very interesting out of state of Pennsylvania.
So, consider this: there`s a newspaper there, “The Pittsburgh Tribune
Review”, they did a survey. They did a survey of all the candidates.
There`s almost 170 of them who are running to be unbound delegates in
They asked them, if you become a delegate to the convention, who will you
vote for? What will you do? This is what they said? The majority of them
at least who responded, 66 said they will vote for the candidate who gets
the most votes in their district. They will honor the will of the voters.
They won`t vote their on conscious. They will do what the voters do in
Another 18 them said, basically, they`re uncommitted, they`re undecided,
and of that 18, a number said they would factor in how their district
votes. If the district votes for candidate x in the primary, they would
factor that in of who they will vote for at the convention. Twenty of them
did say they were Cruz supporters. The same number said they were Trump
supporters. Also a bit of a wildcard there.
But add this together, 66, 84 is 84, 20 over the hundred of the delegates
who are surveyed here, remember, there`s only about 170 who are running.
Over 100 said they are for Trump or for the candidate who wins that
district or at least consider who wins the district.
Now consider this. Keep that in mind. That`s what the delegates are
saying. What are the polls saying in Pennsylvania right now? The polls
are saying, this is brand new poll in the last 24 hours.
The polls are saying Donald Trump has a huge advantage in Pennsylvania. He
is more than doubling up right now be second place candidate in
Pennsylvania, John Kasich. Cruz actually running this third place.
So, think about this for a minute. You`ve got delegates. You`ve got
people running for the unbound delegate slots in Pennsylvania. Some are
Republican leaders. You have members of Congress in Pennsylvania,
Republican members of Congress who are running in their districts to be
delegates at the convention.
They are telling, so many of them are telling the Republican voters in
their state, I will go to the convention this summer, and I will honor what
you do in the primary. Now, they are not locked in. They can say that
now, they make that commitment right now. They are unbound delegates.
They will remain unbound delegates until the convention.
So, theoretically, they could still join a stop Trump movement. They could
still vote for somebody else. But think about this, they are making
commitments to Republicans. In many cases to their constituents, their
Republican constituents in Pennsylvania that they will honor their will in
And if this poll is any indication, Donald Trump could be on his way to a
massive victory in the Pennsylvania primary. It`s possible, but it`s hard
to see. It gets hard to see if Donald Trump scores this kind of victory,
all those candidates for delegate who say they will honor the will of the
voters, it`s hard to see how in the face of a Trump landslide they would
back out of a commitment like that.
And so, this raises the possibility, so many people have been looking at
Pennsylvania and saying, sure, Trump could get those 17, but the real story
out of Pennsylvania is how many of those unbound, how many of those 54
unbound delegates is he going to lose?
But what we`re actually seeing, now that we`re starting to get read on the
psychology of the delegates, the unbound delegates in Pennsylvania, is if
Donald Trump can run up a big number in the primary on April 26th, he could
get the lion`s share of those unbound delegates. That changes the math
completely in this Republican race.
Think about what we just said there. If he gets the lion`s share out of
New York next week, it would bring him to 850. Without the unbound
delegates from Pennsylvania from the Mid-Atlantic States he could get up to
Now, take a look at this. If you add in, if he came out April 26th with
950 and then you add it in, say he got 50 of the unbound, now he is sitting
Where else could he pick them up? New Jersey is a winner take all state.
That could put him at 1,051. West Virginia looks like a big Trump state.
He could take most of those 34. Let`s say he got 30, he could be sitting
Indiana is a bit of a wild card. Let`s say he loses Indiana. Let`s say
Ted Cruz beats him in Indiana. Trump wins a couple of congressional
districts. That 1,081 could become 1,090. Let`s say Cruz wins these
states. Trump is shut out of those states.
He looks pretty good in New Mexico. That could put him, let`s say he gets
half those delegates, that could put him at 1,102. California, we`re just
talking about it, very, very tough to read California, obviously, a huge
wild card. Let`s say those polls are right that they have Trump winning
We don`t know how the congressional district breakdown goes. Let`s say,
though, he got 121 of those 172. Look at that, he`ll be sitting now at
1,223. But, 1,223. Again, 1,237 is the number, two more states left. If
he got just a handful of delegates from Washington and Oregon, that would
put him over the top.
That`s the difference to getting the unbound delegates from Pennsylvania
could make for Donald Trump. So, this is a huge wild card to think of as
we go forward. What will those unbound delegates who get elected in
Pennsylvania`s primary in 26th, what will they do?
They could be the difference between an open convention and Donald Trump
putting this thing away for good on June 7th. So, on paper, this could
with shaping up as Trump`s secret weapon, but is it?
Joining us now is Congressman Charlie Dent of Pennsylvania. He is
supporting John Kasich.
Congressman Dent, thanks for joining us.
So, let me just – let me ask you, if Donald Trump wins your state the way
this poll suggests he`s on course to do right now, do you expect that will
happen? The unbound delegates will say, “The people have spoken, we honor
that, we`re going to vote for Trump”?
REP. CHARLIE DENT (R-PA), SUPPORTING KASICH FOR PRESIDENT: Well, that`s a
mixed bag. I spoken to unbound delegates in my area, and not many seem to
be particularly sympathetic to Donald Trump. So, whether or not they will
respect what the voters say on that matter remains to be seen.
By the way, you mentioned 14 would be bound. You mentioned 17, three of
those, two of the national committee people. One is the state chairman.
One of the national committee people is already committed to Kasich, Bob
Asher. Just had a fundraiser for him.
So, I just want to – you know, the unbound delegates, anything can happen
there. I`m actually looking at the second ballot. I believe a lot of
those folks are going to end up wanting to vote for the candidate with the
best chance to win this presidential election.
KORNACKI: Isn`t there an argument to be made? What do you think of the
argument that, you know, hey, honor the will of the voters, at least on the
first ballot of the convention. If the voters of Pennsylvania, if the
voters in the districts of these unbound delegates are overwhelmingly for
Trump, is there an obligation to listen to that and to go along with it on
the first ballot?
DENT: No, they`re not obligated. I mean, they are free to exercise their
judgment however they choose to do it. I expect some will honor that vote.
Others, I suspect, will not, but again, where I live, many of the delegates
who are running, have not been very sympathetic to Donald Trump. I can see
that in my area.
By the way, you mentioned a number of polls, Steve. You – I`m not sure
which poll you just cited with Trump having a larger lead, but we have the
F&M poll –
KORNACKI: This is the FOX News poll that came out yesterday.
DENT: OK. Yes. And there was an F&M poll that showed it 33, 30, 20 with
Trump and Kasich. And then there was the Muhlenberg College just over the
weekend that was very good poll, by the way. They do good work, 38, 29, 28
So, it`s – I think Pennsylvania is very much in play. And Kasich, John
Kasich, Governor Kasich is going to do very well. In the collar counties
of Philadelphia, the Lehigh Valley, the capital region and suburban in
Pittsburg, the more people learn about him being a native son of McKees
Rocks, I think this is going to play well.
Plus, he has the right temperament. He`s the only Republican candidate
that is above water. Not under water in terms of favorability rating. I
think a lot of delegates are very smart political people and they want to
win. They see him as the only electable Republican in the field. I think
they will enter their thinking. I`m not sure if it will be on the first
ballot, but I`m sure it`s going to come into play in the second or third or
KORNACKI: I take your point. But just – look, there could be volatility
here. We`ll see where the polls shake out. Maybe this ends up a lot
closer. But what is the argument? If this is land slide, for anybody, if
Kasich wins this thing in the landslide, what is the argument for an
unbound delegate disregarding a landslide? His or her constituents saying,
we want candidate X, what`s the argument for not honoring that voice?
DENT: Well, I understand the delegates are going to be under tremendous
treasure to honor the vote of whatever the primary voters say. They will
be under pressure. But again, but many of these delegates understand, they
are political people, they want to beat Hilary Clinton. I think they do
know that Donald Trump, given his unfavorability rating, particular among
women and Hispanics, I mean, he has a very – it also seems he has no path
to winning a general election.
And these delegates, their job is to nominate the most electable, the most
electable Republican of good character. That`s going to be their job.
They`re going to take that very seriously when the time comes.
I agree with you, they`re going to be under tremendous pressure. They will
be under tremendous pressure to support whoever the voters overall decide.
And some might vote based on their congressional district. You know, maybe
Donald Trump were – if he were to win statewide, that doesn`t mean he`s
going to win every congressional district and I suspect some of those folks
will honor the vote of their particular congressional district.
KORNACKI: Charlie Dent, congressman from Pennsylvania –
DENT: There`s 54 –
KORNACKI: – supporter of John Kasich, thanks for the time. Appreciate
DENT: Thank you.
KORNACKI: All right. And coming up, when flattery doesn`t get you
anywhere but a little bribery does. That`s ahead.
KORNACKI: For weeks now, the lawyer in the D.C. madam case has been
promising a list of names that could upend the entire 2016 presidential
race. Well, tonight, we have a list, just not the one we expected. You do
not want to miss it.
Stay with us.
KORNACKI: It`s often forgotten, but before Ronald Reagan defeated
President Jimmy Carter in 1980, he first came up short in a bitter fight.
It was a fight over delegates and played out at the 1976 Republican
convention. Reagan challenging President Gerald Ford with a real chance of
knocking him off. Reagan came to the convention in Kansas City that summer
trailing Ford in the delegate count, but the margin was small. Meaning,
there was plenty of opportunity there for Reagan, if he could just pick off
a hand full of delegates. If we could do that, he could swing the
convention away from Ford, away from the sitting president and could walk
away with the Republican nomination.
All that power in the hands of those Republican convention delegates. It
made each one of them very, very important to both candidates.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: As soon as Reagan left his hotel this morning, he began running
into Ford supporters. It was obviously a coordinated campaign by some Ford
workers to harass Reagan as he begun visiting state delegation. Reagan
continued to visit state delegation, searching for new delegate delegates.
When he arrived at the Virginia delegation, he found that three of that
state`s four uncommitteds were at that moment meeting with President Ford.
A Ford spokesman said it was a coincidence but he said he wasn`t sorry.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There was a dirty trick report at the convention
yesterday. Ford supporters told Justice Department that a Reagan backer
had tried to bribe several delegates for their votes for sums as high as
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have the large majority of the uncommitted delegates
to the Republican convention and I`m at a table now of a group of people
from Virginia. I want to talk to two or three of them.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I`m going to wait until tomorrow night. I want to
talk with Mr. Reagan, which I did not get to yesterday.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You talked to the president, but you have not a chance
to talk to Reagan.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I went to the White House on a chartered plane and
talked to Mr. Ford up at the White House.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: Reagan may have had the movie star appeal going for him, but
President Ford won out in no small part because of the trappings he could
offer to all those delegates. Flights aboard Air Force One, cocktails at
the White House and even a state dinner with Britain`s Queen Elizabeth II
when the monarch was in town.
Now, Reagan`s ace card, well, tat was his Hollywood connections. He tried
to lure delegates with private meetings with stars like John Wayne and
Jimmy Stewart. It didn`t quite work out for him. Ford prevailed in the
end at that convention and lost to Jimmy Carter in fall.
And now, 40 years later, Donald Trump and his rivals could be set to plunge
into the exact same kind of delegate war, one governed by few rules about
what can be offered in exchange for the support of the uncommitted. On
Sunday, Trump`s new convention manager told Chuck Todd, the campaign will
do everything within legal and ethical bounds to win them over.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHUCK TODD, MEET THE PRESS: What is fair game in getting a delegate is
paying for their convention cost? Is it golf club memberships? What`s
fair and unfair in this? What`s ethical? What`s unethical?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There`s law and then there`s ethics, and then there`s
getting votes. I`m not going to get into what tactics used. I happen to
think the best way we`re going to get delegates is to have Donald Trump be
exposed to delegates.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: Advisors to Trump say they haven`t ruled out entertaining
delegates at one of Trump`s resorts or paying their travel cost to the
convention in Cleveland. But they say they are not offering seats on Trump
Force One, said one advisor, we can`t give them $100,000.
Which, of course, begs the question, what can you give them? How far can
you go to win support for a Republican delegate?
Taking a look at that issue in today`s “Washington Post”, Matea Gold
writes, under regulations established in the 1980s, delegates cannot take
money from corporations, labor unions, federal contractors or foreign
nationals. But an individual donor is permitted to give a delegate
unlimited sums to support his or her efforts to get selected to go to the
Joining us now is Matea Gold, national political reporter for “The
Matea, thanks for being here.
So, translate what I just read into layman`s term for me and for anyone
else who`s a little confused by all this. If you`re the Trump campaign and
you get to the end of the primary process and you`re 40 delegates short and
you need to win over some uncommitted delegates, where`s the line? What
can you do? What can you not do?
MATEA GOLD, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: Well, the
bottom line is, that there`s actually not been a lot of testing of the
rules since they were issued in the 1980s by the FEC. So, the campaign has
a lot of purview to pay delegate expenses. And there`s not really any
standard set for what is reasonable in that contest.
Several campaign finance attorneys I spoke with said they think it would be
perfectly fine under the rules to fly delegates for an all expense paid
weekend, say, to Mar-a-Lago to meet with senior staff members. So, there
is going to be a lot of testing of these rules which haven`t really gotten
scrutiny in 40 years now.
KORNACKI: That`s what I keep thinking of. The last primary is June 7th.
I`m thinking of the morning of June 8th. You know, a bunch of these
unbound delegates getting a phone call saying how would you like to come
down to Florida for a few days.
But what about the other side of it then? If you`re Cruz, if you`re
Kasich, if you`re anybody who wants to stop Donald Trump, any rumblings of
planning going on there of things they might do to entice delegates?
GOLD: Everyone is playing this very close to the vest and they don`t want
to give away their strategy. And I think also part of this is, the
attorneys are furiously setting up on the rules, because I found that a lot
of people weren`t familiar with the regulations that do exist.
One real wild card that I think could come into play in this campaign that
couldn`t have been a case, for example, in 1976, is that individual donors
can give unlimited sums to delegates and in some cases would never have to
report those contributions if they weren`t making them in connection with
the candidates campaign, or as an independent expenditure.
So, that actually leaves room for a lot of behind the scenes goodies being
thrown the way of delegates that we might not ever know about.
KORNACKI: Talk about a throw back. That`s something the laws, all of the
changes in procedure that throw so much into the open for everybody to see.
This really would be a throw back to a different era, what you`re
describing there. What about the issue, though, we use the term optics all
If you`re the Trump campaign, if you`re the Cruz campaign, if this is the
fight you`re in over the summer, these fights are supposed to be about
grand things, policy ideas, vision for the country, who has the better
agenda, this sort of thing. If it look likes a bidding war they are
getting into who can provide the most goodies to delegates, that`s not
going to reflect well on anyone, is it?
GOLD: And especially not in this year. You do not want to be caught
making a deal in a smoke-filled room handing delegates some kind of goodie
to get their vote. I mean, I think the backlash would be enormous.
I don`t think there`s any expectation of some sort of systematic effort to
woo delegates with cash or gifts. What we really see now, though, is the
potential for some bad actors to play in this game and try to influence
some delegates at the margins. And I think that the campaigns are very
well aware that if any kind of deal was made that would look unseemly and
that came to light, that could really have a lot of blow back for them.
So, I expect that we`ll see efforts to be fairly transparent about this and
not only that, the delegates we spoke with actually took a lot of umbrage
at the idea they could be bought off. So, I do think people will have to
be careful of the offers they are making these folks.
KORNACKI: I`d love to be one of these uncommitted delegates, just to see
what offers come in. I`d be very curious, not that I could ever be tempted
by something like that.
Matea Gold, national political reporter for “The Washington Post” – thanks
for the time.
GOLD: Of course.
KORNACKI: All right. And what do the FBI, the archdiocese of Washington,
D.C. and the embassy of Japan all have in common? It turns out they have a
pretty interesting connection to the D.C. madam scandal. Some new
reporting on that tonight.
Stay with us.
KORNACKI: All right. We have a big update tonight on a story we`ve been
following closely on this show. It concerns one of the great Washington
D.C. scandals of modern times. The D.C. madam case goes back ten years to
2006 to an escort agency with some very exclusive customers, including
notably high elected office holders, excuse me.
Now, the woman running the prostitution ring killed herself back in 2008.
But recently, her lawyer has been fighting to release previously unseen
phone records from the D.C. madam escort service. These are records that
he says could affect, get this, the 2016 presidential race. And today,
that lawyer, Montgomery Blair Sibley is his name, today, he gave us a
glimpse of what is in the sealed documents.
In court documents we obtained this morning, Mr. Sibley lists the name of
174 companies, government agencies and organizations from which phone calls
were placed to the escort service while it was in business. Now, the names
of the organizations are included as part of a new lawsuit that Mr. Sibley
has filed with Washington, D.C. District Court. He alleges that a court
gag order violates his First Amendment rights.
And the organizations listed in the latest filings are not accused
themselves of any wrongdoing. And right now, we have no indication as to
why people from these groups would be calling into the D.C. madam`s escort
But the list is nothing if not interesting. It includes tons of government
agencies, including the FBI, the IRS, the State Department, the U.S. Coast
Guard, the Postal Service. Even for whatever reason the U.S. Forest
Service. Other organizations include the archdiocese of Washington, the
embassy of Japan, Johns Hopkins University and several large companies and
Now, so far, none of the groups appear to have any obvious connections to
current presidential candidates.
As to the larger questions about the name of individual people on the list,
Mr. Sibley is still waiting to hear about an application he`s filed with
the U.S. Supreme Court. Chief Justice John Roberts denied his first
question but he`s resubmitted the application with Justice Clarence Thomas.
And even if the court doesn`t rule in his favor, even if it doesn`t remove
the gag order, it might only be a matter of time before he releases them on
He sent us an email this afternoon and he said, quote, “I`m not releasing
any individual names, dot, dot, dot yet.”
Watch this space.
KORNACKI: On a Saturday morning in January of 1994, a group of
policymakers and activists met in Washington, D.C., to discuss a $22
billion making its way through Congress. The crime bill it was called.
This was a very big deal back in 1994. It was plan to deal with to do
something about violent crime rates that were making Americans across the
political spectrum nervous. But not everyone liked where this was going.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Near Orlando, Florida, last night, authorities rushed a 30-year-
old shooting victim to the hospital. Today, they are making arrests for
Black leaders are calling such violence America`s number one civil rights
problem. But many said the problem is not in the crime bill`s call for
more police and prisons. Religious and political leaders agree today to
spend more time teaching respect for life and the dignity of others.
REP. KWEISI MFUME (D), MARYLAND: Is that going to stop the crime problem
next year? The answer is no. But will it, in fact, put us on a course to
bring about real and meaningful change on a long determine basis? The
answer is yes.
REPORTER: Housing Secretary Henry Cisneros said the administration is
trying to create more jobs but most said President Clinton hasn`t done
REV. AL SHARPTON, NATIONAL ACTION NETWORK: But I have not seen him propose
anything with the priority that he did NAFTA, with the priority that he did
balancing the deficit or dealing with the deficit this terms of urban
policy. So far, this administration resembles an old James Brown record,
talking loud and saying nothing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: Now, in theory, at least, those leaders were supposed to be on
board with the crime bill. At least that`s what the Clinton White House
wanted. A new poll that had just come out showing that the percentage of
African-Americans who listed crime and violence as the number one problem
facing the country spiked from 8 percent to over 28 percent. That just in
the course of a year back in 1994.
And this huge new $22 billion crime bill, well, it was supposed to be a
direct answer to that, to something that all Americans were nervous about
but something being felt particularly acutely in lower income, heavily
black inner cities. But what many black leaders saw were deal breakers
embedded in that bill, deal breakers like mandatory minimum prison
sentences, funding also for even more jails. This was some components in
Nevertheless, the crime bill made its way through Congress and in September
of 1994, president bill Clinton signed it into law. And to this day, many
blame that law for the rise and incarceration rates over the years since
then, particularly among minorities. And since then, the Clintons have
renounced parts of the law and it continues to haunt them politically.
Just last week, President Clinton was interrupted by Black Lives Matter
protesters over the 1994 crime law. He chose to defend some aspects of it.
And Bernie Sanders who also voted for that bill back in 1994, over the
weekend, he excoriated President Clinton during a campaign event at the
historic Apollo Theater in Harlem, called the former president`s defense of
the crime bill, quote, “unacceptable”.
Yesterday, Hillary Clinton tried to clarify her husband`s remarks on
television without us denouncing him outright. She and her husbands also
spent the weekend campaigning at churches in black communities throughout
New York City. Now, in terms of polling in New York, Hillary Clinton is
anywhere between 12 and 18 points ahead of Bernie Sanders, putting her in
prime position to take New York in next week`s primary.
But will this newly pronounced dust up over a decade`s old law stop her
momentum in this state. Is it enough to give Bernie Sanders an edge?
Joining us now is the Reverend Al Sharpton, host of “POLITICS NATION” on
MSNBC, Sundays at 8:00 a.m., also the president of the National Action
Reverend Al, thanks for being with us. Appreciate it.
SHARPTON: Thank you.
KORNACKI: Well, let me ask you this – we have you back in 1994 being
against this from the start. But in truth, among black political leaders
back then there was a divide. There were plenty of CBC members of Congress
who voted for this in 1994. Is it fair right now in a era where violent
crime is so low and there`s much more attention being paid to incarceration
to judge the Clintons politically on something from 22 years ago when the
crime rate was high?
SHARPTON: Well, I think it`s fair to raise the issue because of the high
incarceration rate and because many of us that were opposed and as you
correctly state, some were not, said that was the problem we had. Also you
have in that bill, that many of us who are very concerned about was the
death penalty which has always had the racial disproportion of more blacks
on death row.
I think that is a legitimate issue. What I think you raised in the lead in
is that but the reality is both candidates, Senator Sanders who was then in
Congress voted for it and the president and then first lady, Secretary
Clinton, pushed it.
So, in many ways, it`s a legitimate issue to raise but both candidates have
to say that they were in support of the bill that inadvertently led to some
of what we feared.
KORNACKI: You raised the issue of over-incarceration and we say that
President Clinton has renounced some of the bill. That`s the aspect he
talks about, the over incarceration. At the same time, you know, there`s
the fact that the violent crime rate has dropped so much over the last 20
Now, there`s rid off some of the other things that were in this bill, the
assault weapons ban that lasted for 20 years. There were mandatory state
sex offender registries, Violence Against Women Act that originated with
this bill. He had $14 billion in this bill to pay for 100,000 police
officers on the street.
Are we losing sight of the crime bill doing some good things to bring the
crime rate down?
SHARPTON: I don`t think anyone is questioning where there might have been
good aspects community policing was in. But what we are raising is that
the things that we were concerned about ended up being correct.
Many of us were attacked saying, how could you be against this, when we
were clearly part of the movement to say crack is a problem and fighting
crack. Now that you have had people`s lives disrupted wrongly, you`ve had
families torn apart and the president and the Attorney General Holder
behind him, Attorney General Loretta Lynch have instructed them to not go
nor long sentences on non-violent crimes and other things.
We – why aren`t we now talking about whoever is president? Mrs. Clinton
or Bernie Sanders if they are successful or even on the Republican side,
saying what are they going to do about it, because the bad sides of the
crime bill have led to some things that needed to be dealt with like Holder
and Lynch have begun dealing with. We`re not hearing that commitment.
So, I think that it is right to raise the question from `94, but raise it
in the context of, well, what are you going to do about the long standing
bad affects from the bill that now have a large incarceration rate and
families torn apart? And you can`t just walk by that. This is a major
concern today in our community.
Crime down, but you have incarcerated people for non-violent offenses. You
still have a lot of the elements in there that were negative. No one is
saying that we don`t want the see crime curbed and kept down because we`re
the victims of that. But we also don`t want to be the victims of mass
incarceration and people serving a long time.
You had under the Reagan years that came into this where people with crack
convictions getting mandatory long term sentences and people with loose
cocaine get little to nothing.
KORNACKI: And that`s – that`s the 1986 law that you`re talking about.
KORNACKI: They passed it a couple of months after Len Bias, the top NBA
draft pick died from a cocaine overdose. People point to that. They point
to the Rockefeller drug laws here in New York from the `70s.
SHARPTON: That`s correct.
KORNACKI: And they say, maybe the `90 – when it comes to over-
incarceration, the impact of the `94 crime bill is way overstated in these
things you`re talking about, they had a much bigger impact.
SHARPTON: And we fought all of them. That is why we were so sensitive in
`94 as you saw that debate. But I think again, we can go through the
debate of `94, and we should.
But then we need to deal with `16, is therefore, since the affects that we
feared and raised have now taken toll, and we`ve seen people unjustly
destroyed. We`re not saying let people walk away with nothing. We`re
talking about mandatory, long term sentences on non-violent offenses. What
are you going to do about it?
And with all that we have heard in the last few weeks and months about this
debate, we still don`t have candidates saying this is my commitment in
terms of who I would appoint as attorney general and what I would want to
see my Justice Department do. We need a substantive answer to real life
problem of mass incarceration.
KORNACKI: All right. The Reverend Al Sharpton, president of the National
Action Network, host of “POLITICS NATION” here on MSNBC – thanks for the
SHARPTON: Thank you.
KORNACKI: All right. And we`ll be right back.
KORNACKI: Generally, we think of writing in all the capital letters, all
caps, as screaming. But tonight, we have the story of a time when all caps
was the only choice. It is the story of an amazing misadventure and then a
rescue in all caps. Stay with us.
KORNACKI: I want to update a story Rachel told you about on Friday, about
the potential consequences for states that had been passing new laws that
explicitly allow discrimination against sexual minorities. In addition to
private companies taking their business out of states like North Carolina
and Mississippi, Bruce Springsteen last week canceled a show in North
Carolina and today, Bryan Adams canceled a show in Mississippi.
Federal agencies have been looking into whether these new laws violate
federal anti-discrimination rules. North Carolina`s new law has been under
review by several agencies. It could cost the state billions in federal
And Mississippi`s new law has also been under review to see if that state
is in violation of federal policy. We told you last week about the reviews
by HUD and the U.S. Department of Transportation. The “Washington Blade”
first reported those reviews and one by the health and Human Services
Tonight, though, we can add another agency to the list of federal
departments taking a look at Mississippi`s new discrimination law. The
U.S. Department of Education telling us tonight, “We`re aware of the
Mississippi law and we are reviewing it.” And so, that makes four separate
federal agencies now looking over the new law in Mississippi.
If these agencies find the law violates federal policy, it could result in
the loss of billions in federal dollars for that state. If we hear back
from any more agencies, we will let you know.
MADDOW: The other day just before Easter, a group of youngsters in the
U.K. were partaking in an Easter egg hunt when they found themselves
suddenly in the middle of a police chase. They spotted two men fleeing a
building. And in order to help a police helicopter overhead find the bad
guys, they formed this, a human arrow, pointing the chopper in the right
The burglars were caught. The stolen goods were recovered. And police
even landed in the field near the kids to thank them in person.
That story is a contender for the best version of getting help from above
that we have heard all year. But today, we actually got another one, an
incredible story. And it starts in Micronesia. That`s in the Western
Micronesia as a place spans nearly 3 million square miles of the Pacific
Ocean. It includes more than 2,000 islands, some of them home to as few as
50 people. Micronesia the region is home to several countries including
one called the Federated States of Micronesia.
And it is there inside the Federated States of Micronesia, in the vast,
vast, vastness of the Pacific Ocean that our second incredible story
The red dot you`re looking at there on your screen, that is where we think
the deserted island of Fanadik is located. It is so small it barely showed
up on maps. But on that small island of Fanadik a plane flying by spotted
this sign, “Help.”
On Monday night, three men boarded a small skiff, planning on taking that
boat to a plane to make their way home. But their boat capsized in the
night, forcing them to swim two miles in the dark to the nearest island.
And that was the deserted island of Fanadik.
When they didn`t show up for their flight, the Coast Guard was alerted.
The search began. The men cobbled together a smoke signal and they helped
to spell out the word “Help” on the beach with – they used palm fronds for
Searchers from above first saw the smoke signal then the plea for help from
the beach. After three days on the island, all three men are in good
health. They have returned to their families. And that right there, that
is why I do not like to go on planes, or boats, or even Easter egg hunts.
But if I`m ever lost on any of them, I will know to go ahead and write out
“help” all caps.
That does it for us tonight. Rachel`s going to be back tomorrow night. I
will see you tomorrow morning at 9:00 a.m.
And now, it`s over to Lawrence O`Donnell for “THE LAST WORD.”
Good evening to you, Lawrence.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed,
transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written
permission of CQ-Roll Call. You may not alter or remove any trademark,
copyright or other notice from copies of the content.>