The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 4/13/2016

Guests:
Jeff Merkley, Chris Murphy
Transcript:

Show: THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW
Date: April 13, 2016
Guest: Jeff Merkley, Chris Murphy


RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Not only do I want you to run for president,
Chris, but I want to live in the country that would elect you.

(LAUGHTER)

CHRIS HAYES, “ALL IN” HOST: That country is called my household navy.
Possibly.

MADDOW: On a good day, with everybody in a good mood.

You and I live in that same country, just in my world, it`s my house. Yes.
Thank you, sir.

And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour. On August 8th, 1974,
President Richard Nixon resigned. He had been elected in 1968. He`d been
re-elected in 1972, but in 1974 because of Watergate and everything that
came out after Watergate, it was caput.

We all have in mind that image of Nixon getting on the helicopter and
flying away from the White House, right, the big wave as Gerald Ford became
president, right?

But one of the other things he did on his last day which we do not see
nearly as much tape of was the remarkable farewell speech that Nixon gave
that day. It was not directed to the American people directly, although
they did let press cameras in to see it. No, it was the remarkable speech
he gave inside the White House to the White House staff. And he was
absolutely covered in sweat as he gave this speech. He cried pretty much
throughout the speech or at least on and off throughout the speech he
cried.

And this was obviously, a terrible moment for Richard Nixon. This was a
terrible occasion for him. But even knowing that, this speech that he gave
to the White House staff as he was leaving that day, as he was quitting the
presidency, oh my God was that speech dark.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RICHARD NIXON, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: Look around here and I see so many
in this staff that you know, I should have been by your offices and shaken
hands and I`d love to have talked to you and found out how to run the
world. Everybody wants to tell the president what to do. And, boy, he
needs to be told many times.

Nobody will ever write a book probably about my mother. Well, I guess all
of you would say this about your mother. My mother was a saint. And I
think of her two boys dying of tuberculosis, nursing four others in order
that she could take care of my older brother for three years in Arizona and
seeing each of them die and when they died, it was like one of her own.

Yes, she will have no books written about her. But she was a saint.
Always remember others may hate you. Those who hate you don`t win unless
you hate them. Then you destroy yourself.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: I think there`s a reason we don`t see a lot of that tape. That
speech doesn`t circulate. It`s not top of mind.

And even knowing what we know about why Nixon had to leave office, right,
even understanding how this fits into American history and the history of
American political accountability, there`s still something a little
distressing just as an American citizen about seeing an American president
in such extremis, right, in so dark place and sobbing his way through that
address.

At one point in the speech, he made some references to Teddy Roosevelt. He
had referenced Teddy Roosevelt in his resignation speech the night before.
He referenced Teddy Roosevelt again, read a long quote from Teddy Roosevelt
in that speech to the White House staff the next day.

And it turns out there was a back story as why he kept quoting Teddy
Roosevelt, both in the formal speech to the country and in the strange dark
farewell address to the White House staff. And the backstory is that he
had asked one of his relatives the night before his resignation to go find
some works by Teddy Roosevelt in the White House library.

And it`s one of the striking things about the way he said good-bye, right.
The staging when he was at the White House and saying good-bye at the White
House the next day. He had his whole family with him, throughout on his
last day as he was quitting. You could see him there on the platform when
he was talking to the White House staff, giving a tearful dark speech.

But he wasn`t there alone. He was there with his wife, Pat Nixon. He was
there with his daughter Trisha Nixon in the yellow dress.

But it`s interesting, the relative who he had asked to go get him the Teddy
Roosevelt book, that`s that man that we spot-shadowed there. That was
Richard Nixon`s son-in-law. In 1971, so three years before the
resignation, during Richard Nixon`s first term in office, the Nixon family
held this remarkable lavish outdoor wedding at the White House in the Rose
Garden. The Nixon`s daughter Trisha at the wedding, at the Rose Garden,
married a 24-year-old handsome law student that`s sort of an ideological
background given the fact he was marrying into the Nixon family. Compared
to them, he is sort of a more liberal bent, at least he had worked with
Ralph Nader. He was considered to be one of the original Naders raiders.

But in this extraordinary extravagant over-the-top White House wedding that
was covered like a royal wedding, in fact, it looked like a royal wedding,
then 24-year-old Edward Cox, he married Trisha Nixon at the White House, he
married into the Nixon family while Richard Nixon was president. And
Edward Cox was soon, you know, part of every day family matters at the
White House, up to and including his involvement at the very end, helping
his father-in-law craft his good-bye, craft his resignation, standing there
on stage as President Nixon sweated and wept his way through his White
House good-byes.

That young man who married Trisha Nixon at the White House, who married
into the family at this extraordinary time, again, his name is Edward Cox.
And today, Edward Cox is alive and well. He`s a Republican in good
standing.

In New York state, he`s not just a Republican in good standing, he`s
actually today the chairman of the New York state Republican Party. And as
someone with that sort of troubled Republican royalty pedigree, as somebody
who is no stranger to gala high-profiled events, tomorrow night in New York
City, Edward Cox, Dick Nixon`s son-in-law, is going to be hosting an
exclusive sold-out huge black tie gala event. Tickets to attend are
reportedly a minimum of $1,000 each. The event is going to happen in one
of these huge midtown hotel ballrooms at the Grand Hyatt on 42nd Street in
the heart of New York City.

At this event tomorrow night, they`re going to raise a gazillion dollars
for the Republican Party of New York state. Mr. Cox as chairman at this
event, he will be hosting all three Republican presidential candidates in
person, at this event tomorrow night.

And we can now report that Edward Cox will also have several hundred, if
not several thousand severely unwanted guests at the same New York City
black tie gala tomorrow night.

Over the past year, hundreds of U.S. cities have had protests and noisy
marches and loud rallies by low wage employees fighting to raise the
minimum wage to 15 bucks an hour in this country. This campaign has been
creative and aggressive and did I mention, it has been loud?

And over this past year, it has also had some remarkable success. I mean,
15 bucks an hour at the start of the campaign seemed pie in the sky. But
just in the last few days, New York state and California governors have
signed laws that will phase in a $15 minimum wage over time.

Certain cities around the country have also signed on to a 15 buck an hour
minimum wage. Some big companies have signed on to not paying their
employees less than $15 an hour. Some whole industries and some parts of
the country have signed on to $15 an hour.

But even places and industries that are heading to a $15 minimum, in most
places, we are not there yet. And the movement, the sort of incredible,
scrappy, loud movement for 15 bucks an hour as the minimum wage, you know,
they`ve come this far, thanks to this year-plus of organizing, this noisy
direct action that they have organized, it has worked for them thus far and
they are sticking with it and they are continuing to press.

And tomorrow, they are kicking it up a notch with planned protest in 300
more American cities, including one big march that will be the largest of
the all the 300 cities that are going to have these demonstrations
tomorrow. The biggest one will be the one at the start of the giant
McDonald`s in Times Square in New York City and they`re going to march from
the McDonald`s right down 42nd Street to go see Edward Cox. They`re going
to go from McDonald`s to Edward F. Cox`s thousand dollar a plate Republican
gala, raising money for the New York state Republican Party and featuring
in person all three Republican presidential candidates.

Republican presidential candidates, New York state Republican Party,
Richard Nixon`s son-in-law, meet $15 minimum wage protesters at your gala.
That should be something fairly amazing to see tomorrow.

And on the Republican side of the presidential race, we are at an
interesting moment right now. Donald Trump, the New York City billionaire,
is the front runner for the Republican nomination. He continues to pull at
over 50 percent in one poll, 60 percent in another poll in the New York
state primary. That primary is due to happen in six days.

One of the things we`re going to talk about later in the show is this
prospect that has been raised that Donald Trump`s lead is so huge in New
York right now that he might conceivably be able to basically sweep all the
delegates in New York or at least most of them.

Also, given how strongly he`s favored in the whole round of states that`s
due to vote right after New York, if he sweeps New York or gets close to
it, that could be absolutely devastating to Donald Trump`s competition for
the Republican nomination. We`ll talk about that later on.

That said, Mr. Trump`s campaign is actually one that looks like it`s in a
little bit of organizational disarray right now. Mr. Trump has just made a
major change to his campaign. He`s just hired this man to be the new
national political director of his presidential campaign.

Now, you may not recognize him by site even with that notable facial hair
decision. But his name is Rick Wiley. And even if you don`t recognize him
by sight, you will recognize his resume. He most recently was the campaign
manager for the failed and deeply indebted presidential run of Wisconsin
Governor Scott Walker. Before that, Rick Wiley was the deputy national
political director for the failed and very deeply indebted presidential run
of Rudolph Giuliani.

Before that, he ran the George W. Bush re-election efforts in the state of
Wisconsin in 2004. You might remember George W. Bush lost the state of
Wisconsin in his re-election effort in 2004.

So, lose Wisconsin, lose Rudy Giuliani spectacularly, lose Scott Walker
spectacularly and set huge amounts of money on fire in both of those failed
races. You know what? In this business, what that kind of track record
gets you is promoted. There is no way to fail up as well as being in
national political campaigns. Boy, do they fail up.

I mean, when Scott Walkers campaign blew up so fast and so expensively this
past year, it actually felt for a second his campaign manager might be
immune from this feature of the political operative world, right, where
people who do badly the last time around get bigger jobs the next time
around.

It felt like maybe the Scott Walker campaign might be exempt from that. Do
you remember what Scott Walker`s campaign manager said when Walker quit? I
mean, the quote he gave the press as soon as Scott Walker quit about Scott
Walker and what happened there, that should have made it so that he never
got another job at this level of presidential politics, at least if it was
a normal industry, that would be true.

But apparently, this was fine. Do you remember this? Right when Scott
Walker quit, the day after Scott Walker quit, Rick Wiley, his campaign
manager, told Politico.com on the record this about Scott Walker. Quote,
“We built the machine we need in order to get a governor in phenomenal
state to take a stage in a presidential debate. I think sometimes it`s
lost on people the largeness of the job. I think people just look at it
and say, wow, yeah, you know, it`s like, he`s a governor and he was in a
recall and blah, blah, blah, he`s ready. It`s not like that. It`s really,
really difficult. I`m just saying, you know, it`s like an f-ing, rhymes
with ditch, man, it really is.”

After your guy quits, you don`t immediately one to the press and say on the
record, my God, it was so hard to make him sound like he knew what he was
talking about. Do you know how hard it was to make this guy sound like he
was ready to be on a national stage? Oh, my God, people think it was easy,
it was terrible. It was the hardest thing in the world. It was – you
don`t do that while the guy`s body is still warm.

But that`s what Rick Wiley did when the Scott Walker campaign that he ran
blew up like a closed drier with a cinder block in it. But now, Rick Wiley
has been promoted, has been picked up for the Republican front runner for
the Donald Trump campaign.

The Republican side of the presidential campaign is still dramatically
influx in an interesting way.

On the Democratic side of the presidential race, we had stunning visuals
today, that showed how on the Democratic side of the race, it`s basically,
the exact opposite right now of the party crashing we are expecting
tomorrow night from the minimum wage protesters at the New York state black
tie thousand dollar a plate Republican gala. It is opposite land to that
in the Democratic Party right now.

And that`s next. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: In behalf
of every worker in America, who`s facing the same kind of pressure, thank
you for what you`re doing. We`re going to win this thing! Thank you.

HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think workers and employees
need more support (INAUDIBLE) to get raises (INAUDIBLE). Here I am.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: Today on the Democratic side of the presidential race, both
candidates went out of their way to show up, to talk to and express support
for workers out on the picket line. More than 36,000 people who work at
Verizon went out on strike today. Verizon workers are striking from all
the way up in New England to Virginia.

It`s actually the largest strike of any kind in the country in the last
five years. And it`s happening in the middle of the presidential race. So
both Bernie Sanders, senator from Vermont, and Hillary Clinton, the former
secretary of state, they both got out on the street with workers on the
picket line today. They both also put out statements of support, basically
trying to push Verizon to give their employees a better deal.

The Democratic Party has gone through a lot of soul-searching in recent
years about whether or not it`s capable of getting back to its roots as the
party that is supposed to stand up for people who worked for a living.
There`s a lot of consternation on the populist left in the Democratic Party
that the Democrats have shifted to become too friendly to big business.
While the people who work for big businesses increasingly get screwed in
this economy and feel like nobody in politics is there to help them.
Nobody in politics, neither party is there to serve the interest of average
working people.

Well, today is one of those days that the argument in Democratic politics
became concrete. It`s one of those days when frankly, if you are on the
populist left of the Democratic Party, you probably thought it was really
nice today that there is a competitive Democratic presidential primary this
year, because the Democratic candidates in this primary spent today trying
to outdo each other supporting working people, with trying to prove that
they mean it. The Sanders campaign and the Clinton campaign both today
touted dueling endorsements from big local unions in New York, even as both
campaigns sent their candidates out to join workers on the picket line.

This is also a week in Washington where a whole bunch of liberal groups
have come together for a week of big splashy demonstrations and mass
arrests at the U.S. capital. They`re calling it democracy spring. They
started the first week of April when a core group of people started to
march from Philadelphia to Washington D.C. But it`s culminating this week
with daily rallies at the capital.

They rally at Union Station, which is the big train station in Washington.
Every day they hold big rallies that are permanent and march to the U.S.
capitol and then at the U.S. capitol, on the steps of the capitol building,
a lot of people have been arrested every day this week.

It`s peaceful but tons of arrests. On Monday, it was more than 400 people
that got arrested. Yesterday, the capitol police told us it was 85
arrests. Today, it was another 90. We`re expecting more mass arrest
tomorrow and the next day.

These are liberal groups protesting in a dignified, orderly, actually sort
of logistically very well organized way. They`re basically dramatizing the
frustration of the left with how broken our political system is.

Protesters, this democracy spring effort, they are not endorsing a
presidential candidate but it is telling and it tells you something about
where we are in Democratic politics right now, that at least one of the two
Democratic presidential candidates is endorsing them. Senator Bernie
Sanders expressed his support and solidarity with that democracy spring
movement that`s had so many arrested this week already in D.C.

So, this is kind of an exciting time in electoral politics and in partisan
politics. I mean, in the Republican presidential race, the excitement is
real close to the surface, right? It`s very obvious. Nobody knows what`s
going to happen with their frontrunner. Donald Trump in these forthcoming
states is expected to do really, really well at the exact time that the
Republican Party seems to be rejecting him like a failed organ transplant.

I mean, on the Republican side, the drama is right in your face. On the
Democratic side, it`s deeper. On the Democratic side, it`s an exciting
part of that race right now, particularly for people who do or don`t
identify with the Democratic Party but who see themselves on the left side
of American politics, because we`re at this very visible moment in the race
where the Democratic candidates are competing hand over fist to be seen as
being on the side of working people – and particularly people who do not
get paid very much money and people who are standing up to their big
business employers to try to improve their lot in life, to try to improve
their pay and their benefits and their working conditions.

If you are an economic populist, if you want to see the Democratic Party,
go back to standing up for people who work for a living – this is the kind
of competition among Democrats that you want to see, right. This is how
candidates ought to compete to try to become a standard bearer of the
Democratic Party nationwide.

That fight also produced an interesting new development on the Sanders side
of the presidential race today. Since the beginning of the Democratic
primary, Hillary Clinton has raised millions of dollars not just for her
own campaign but also for the Democratic Party and for state Democratic
parties.

She`s been trying to not build up only her own effort in terms of her
fundraising, but she`s been trying to build up the Democratic Party`s
strength overall. She`s raised money again. National Democratic Party and
more than 30 Democratic state parties. That`s Hillary Clinton.

Bernie Sanders, on the other side, he has raised a gazillion dollars for
his own campaign. He`s raised over 100 million in 2016 alone for his own
campaign. But before today, he had not raised money for the Democratic
Party, let alone Democratic state parties, let alone for any other
Democratic candidate other than himself, at least not through this primary
process.

Today, that changed. Today, Sanders picked three House candidates who are
running in New York and Nevada and Washington. Today, Bernie Sanders told
his supporters that they should split their donations, half and half,
between him and those down-ticket candidates, those handpicked Sanders-
supporting House candidates.

What he is doing here is totally different from what Hillary Clinton is
doing, in terms of trying to raise money for the Democratic Party, but it
is spreading the wealth, spreading a little bit of the wealth, finally, on
the Sanders side of the Democratic presidential primary, and that is new
today.

These are exciting days in politics. I mean, today was exciting in
politics. Tomorrow, particularly tomorrow night looks like it will be more
exciting in politics. This is a very good time to be in this business and
we`ve got some great guests here tonight to talk about it.

We`ll be right back. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW: I want to show you something that`s been happening tonight in New
York City and continues to be happening right now. Take a look at this.
This is Bernie Sanders rally in New York City tonight. The scrum there you
see is around candidate Sanders himself.

Now, on last night`s show, you might remember we gave you a heads up about
this particular event last night, because this is Washington Square Park in
Greenwich Village in Lower Manhattan and we haven`t gotten a confirmed
number from the police yet from any independent authority in terms of how
many people turned out at this event.

But we had an inkling it`s going to be big. They had 17,000 RSVPs for this
event as of last night. Now, tonight, that the event is just wrapping up,
the Sanders campaign said the people that turned up tonight, Greenwich
Village, Washington Square Park, they estimate it was 27,000 people.

Twenty-seven thousand – if they are right about that, that would make this
event tonight for the Sanders campaign bigger than the landmark rally that
Barack Obama held at that same park in the 2008 campaign when he turned out
24,000 people and everybody thought it was the most unimaginably large
thing that could possibly happen in electoral politics.

I think the Sanders campaign knew the visuals would be amazing. As you can
tell, they were right. There`s a huge turnout tonight in New York City for
Bernie Sanders.

We`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW: These are all of the people who hold U.S. Senate seats right now
who are members of the Democratic Party, or who caucused with the
Democratic Party. And before today, of all of these members of the –
actually, we only showed four people there, but that was weird.

Anyway, there are 45 of them. Before today, these were the five U.S.
senators in that category who has not yet made an endorsement in the
Democratic presidential primary. Before today, the only Democratic
senators who had not made an endorsement between Bernie Sanders and Hillary
Clinton were these five.

Senator Elizabeth Warren, hers, of course, is probably the most hotly
anticipated endorsement of all in the Democratic race. She`s the only
Democratic female senator who has not endorsed.

Also, Senator Bob Menendez. I should say Senator Menendez, his is not a
hotly anticipated endorsement this year because frankly, no one wants your
endorsement when you`re under indictment. Sorry, Senator, it`s true.

There`s also John Tester of Montana. I`m not sure why he`s not endorsed
yet. There`s also Senator Angus King. That said, Senator King is
technically an independent. Maybe it makes since he hasn`t endorsed yet.

Before today, there was one other senator who either is a Democrat or
caucuses with the Democratic Party who did not make an endorsement in the
presidential race. That was Senator Jeff Merkley, the iconoclastic liberal
senator from the great state of Oregon.

Before today, these were the only senators who were Democrats who haven`t
endorsed between Sanders and Clinton.

And before today, of all the rest of them, every single other one of the 40
Democratic senators who have made an endorsement in the primary that 40
senators have endorsed. Before today, every single Democratic senator who
had made an endorsement had endorsed Hillary Clinton. Before today, she
was 40 for 40 among Senate Democratic endorsements.

But today, that iconic liberal Oregon senator, Jeff Merkley, today, he
decided to jump in and declare his allegiance and he decided that he would
endorse Bernie Sanders. This is the first U.S. Senate endorsement for
Bernie Sanders from a United States senator not named Bernie Sanders.

Senator Jeff Merkley, thanks for being here to talk about this. I really
appreciate your time.

SEN. JEFF MERKLEY (D), OREGON: Oh, you bet, Rachel. Great to be with you.

MADDOW: So, I noted in the op-ed that you wrote for “The New York Times”
and in a letter that you sent out about this endorsement, you didn`t make
the case against Hillary Clinton. You essentially made the case for Bernie
Sanders and said kind things about Secretary Clinton and I also note that
it took you a long time to make the endorsement compared to a lot of your
colleagues.

Should I read into that that this was a hard call for you?

MERKLEY: Well, we are completely blessed on the Democratic side to have
two individuals of such experience, good minds, good hearts, good records,
and so, we can really be proud of this conversation, this dialogue about
where your country needs to go. Taking all that into account, what I found
is on the biggest issues facing America, it`s Bernie Sanders who I felt has
been the clearest, the most fierce and the most bold in laying out the
vision for where we need go to go.

And that`s in key areas such as tackling global warming, taking on campaign
finances and creating living wage jobs across America. Those three things
are top concerns and I feel like Bernie is laid out a vision that will
really take us to the right place.

MADDOW: Oregon hasn`t voted yet in terms of Democratic primaries. Your
constituents, I don`t know exactly what your constituents are going to do.
Do you feel like the timing was driven for you trying to influence how your
state is going to vote?

MERKLEY: Yes, absolutely. Vote by mail in Oregon, the ballots go out on
April 28. So, we`re roughly two weeks, a little more than two weeks out
before people start voting. They`ll have the voter ballots for two and a
half weeks. They`ll be sitting at their kitchen table. They`ll be talking
with their children. They`ll be talking with their neighbors and they`ll
be filling them out.

And so, this is the moment when Oregon really starts paying attention and
this shows the moment to make the endorsement.

MADDOW: When I described you as an iconoclastic liberal, I meant that in
the nicest possibly way.

MERKLEY: I hope so. I hope so.

MADDOW: Yes. Iconoclastic and kind of a lot of different ways, at a lot
of different levels.

But I guess because of that, because I think you have shown you`re willing
to go your own way and come up with your own policy positions and cast the
political winds wherever they are, I wonder why it is you think you are
alone on this. Why have none of your Senate colleagues endorsed Bernie
Sanders alongside you?

MERKLEY: Well, one of the factors was many of my colleagues endorsed very
early on, at which point, folks didn`t think that Bernie Sanders would be
able to wage a viable campaign, that he`d be able to raise money, that he
would be move crowds. And, of course, as time has passed, it`s proved he
can raise the money certainly and he can certainly move crowds and build a
grassroots movement. He`s done it in a different way that anyone`s ever
seen.

Maybe it`s a little bit fortunate that I wanted to wait until closer to the
Oregon election that I could see that he really had a competitive ability.
Now, he has an upward hill climb to make in this campaign and it`s really
important that when the dust clears, not so many weeks from now, that the
person who wins and the person who loses come together, reach out to each
other, lock arms and create a united front going into November.

But I want people to pay attention to what Bernie has done. When it comes
to global warming, he was there to say early on that the Keystone Pipeline
is wrong. He was there early to say drilling in the Arctic is wrong.

He was there early on to say that if we`re going to tackle global warming,
we have to leave 80 percent of the fossil fuels in the world in the ground,
to keep on the ground movement. He was there willing to say that and
willing to say that the fossil fuels you and I own as citizens have to be
left in the ground. We should quit doing leases what you and I and the
rest of our citizens own there`s a contract to let people take coal and oil
and gas out of the ground three, four, five decades into the future. We
cannot be doing that.

So, he`s been fierce. He`s been clear on this huge issue affecting our
planet. It`s a moral issue and he`s been equally clear and fierce on the
fact that when we have trade agreements with countries where people pay
less than $1 an hour, our factors are going to move to those countries, and
it doesn`t just hurt the folks who lose the jobs, it hurts all the rest of
the workers because their leverage is slipped.

When they say, we want a fair share of the wealth we create, they`re told,
well, too bad because if you press hard, we`ll move your jobs overseas like
so many others.

And so, I appreciate that he understands that fact, that it has eviscerated
the middle class for the last four decades. In four decades, the number is
very close to 100 percent of the new income having gone to the top 10
percent in America. That means nine out of 10 Americans have been left out
in the cold. And they don`t know what`s going wrong. They`re looking for
answers, but certainly, this is one piece of the puzzle and Bernie has been
clear about taking it on.

MADDOW: Senator Jeff Merkley, Democrat of Oregon, your timing on this and
your willingness to stand alone have made a lot of people want to talk to
you today. I really appreciate you`re making time to talk with us, sir.

MERKLEY: You`re so welcome. Thank you so much, Rachel.

MADDOW: Thanks, Senator.

So, Bernie Sanders now has one sitting U.S. senator that has endorsed him.
I should reiterate that Secretary Clinton has 40 senators who have endorsed
her, and one of them joins us next from a state that`s shaping up to be a
surprisingly close race this year.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW: So, there was one time on this show where we confused Indiana and
Illinois. That was good.

There was another time we called the Atlantic Ocean the Indian Ocean.

But, tonight, I think we did just – I think this is maybe our best visual
screw up ever not involving some iteration of the word India. Because
apparently when I was just talking about Senator Angus King of Maine who is
this person, apparently, we instead just showed a picture of bottom left
there, see Senator King, not the same guy.

That`s Congressman Peter King of New York, who not only is not Senator
Angus King. He`s not a senator, he`s not an independent. He`s not from
Maine and he`s not a person who caucuses with the Democrats and he`s just
nothing – I mean, white man. That`s the only way I can get there
visually, that`s it.

I regret the error sincerely. Senator King, Congressman King, I sincerely
regret the error. I will also admit to finding it a little bit hilarious.
I`m sorry. Very sorry.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW: There`s so much polling of this year`s presidential race that can
be shocking to discover – something, anything that hasn`t been polled.
But even though the presidential primary in the great state of Connecticut
is less than two weeks away, before yesterday, the last time anybody asked
that state about their presidential preferences was before Thanksgiving.

And in that long time since, something that`s now sort of familiar has
happened in the Democratic race. Something that Senator Jeff Merkley was
just eluding to.

When the Emerson College poll was taken in Connecticut five months ago,
Hillary Clinton at the time had a really big lead, 19 points over Bernie
Sanders. That was November. But that same poll a couple of days ago now
finds that it`s much closer. Senator Sanders closing the gap to almost
within the margin of error. The margin error in this poll is 5.2 percent.
Hillary Clinton leading in that poll by 6 percent.

Connecticut`s two U.S. senators are both Democrats. They both endorsed
Hillary Clinton for president all the way back in June when she was leading
national polls by as much as 60 points. A lot has changed in the
Democratic race since then.

We just heard from Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon who today made big news
by becoming the first sitting U.S. senator to endorse Bernie Sanders. So,
Jeff Merkley is the first one now for Sanders.

Meanwhile, 40 Democratic senators have endorsed Hillary Clinton including
our next guest, Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut.

Senator, it`s great to have you here tonight. Thank you so much for being
here.

SEN. CHRIS MURPHY (D), CONNECTICUT: Yes, no problem.

I imagine you might have been able to hear my conversation there with Jeff
Merkley. One of the things notable about his news-making endorsement today
is that he is very positive about the Democratic field. He told us that
Democrats are spoiled for choice. They`re both two great candidates.

Do you feel that same way about this race?

MURPHY: Yes, I wholeheartedly agree. I mean, Jeff`s spot on. You know,
I`m a Hillary Clinton supporter but I count Bernie as a good friend. I
think he`s a great progressive, a great senator and I`d be proud if he was
our president.

But for many of us that are supporting Hillary Clinton, we`re doing it for
our own reasons, for me. You know, I really don`t buy the idea there`s a
gulf between the valleys of the two candidates. I think both of them are
going to bring to the White House a concern for restoring the balance
between those who have and those who have not. They`re going to both care
about trying to attack global warming.

To me, the issue is that Hillary Clinton has displayed a seriousness about
putting proposals on the table that are detailed, that are real, are
meaningful, and she`s got a history of being able to make change happen.

You know, of course, in Connecticut, it`s a very personal decision for a
lot of us. The extent that there`s one issue that really matters to me in
a psychological way, it`s the issue of gun violence and I want a president
who on day one fighting against the gun lobby. I`m pretty convinced
there`s only one candidate in the race right now who I`m sure is going to
make the issue a top priority.

But, listen, I think Jeff is right. We`re lucky to have two great
candidates and I will say this, I think Bernie`s entrance into the race has
been a good thing for the Democratic Party, a good thing for the country
and ultimately, a good thing for Hillary Clinton. It will make her a
stronger general election candidate.

MADDOW: You mentioned the issue of guns. Obviously, that`s been a point
of real contention between the two Democratic candidates this year. You
have been outspoken in criticizing Senator Sanders record and some of his
more resent comments during the campaign on guns. We heard Senator Merkley
a moment ago single out climate change and income inequality as two of the
things that really motivated him in terms of making this endorsement for
Senator Sanders.

One of the reasons I want today talk to you tonight, sir, is you`ve been so
forward about trying to define a progressive foreign policy and a
progressive national security agenda on the Democratic side. Is that also
key to your endorsement decision here?

MURPHY: So, it is. I mentioned the issue of gun violence is personal to
me. But, you know, I certainly am trying to paint a path forward in which
the Democratic Party can be internationalist, that we can see the United
States as a force for good in the world without being overly
interventionalist. And I`m often this skunk in the garden party within the
establishment in both the Democratic Party and Republican Party in
Washington because of the skepticism about some of the plans we make for
using military weight to create political change in the Middle East.

You know, Hillary Clinton is the inventor of the concept of smart power, of
economic diplomacy. And I value the fact that I think as president, she`s
going to leverage the ways in which the United States can be a force for
good through nonmilitary means.

I think Bernie gets that as well. I just know in her work as secretary of
state, Hillary Clinton was pioneering in some of these ideas how you use
softer power rather than harder power to influence world events.

MADDOW: Do you think you have a bead on how your state is going to vote?
The Connecticut primary is not far off. There has not been much polling.
But we have seen the polling tighten in Connecticut like it has in so many
states over the course of this race.

And if Senator Sanders ends up pulling out a win in Connecticut, is that
going to be awkward for you and your constituents?

MURPHY: So, I think Hillary is going to win in Connecticut, in part
because I do think this issue of distinction on the passion with which each
candidate is going to go in the Oval Office on the issue of guns is going
to matter. But, you know, Connecticut has been a contrarian state when it
comes to primaries, going all the way back to 1992 when Jerry Brown pulled
a win out of the hat in Connecticut over Senator Clinton`s husband.

So, I don`t think anybody should be surprised that the race is close, and I
think people shouldn`t be surprised that it`s narrowed. That`s what tends
to happen in many of these races. I`m certainly going to be expecting that
she`ll pull out a win, but I don`t think it will be a landslide.

MADDOW: Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut, I really appreciate you being
here, sir. I know that internecine Democratic conflict is most people`s
non-favorite point of discussion, especially on TV, but you and Senator
Merkley are both – you go your own way. You`re both such principled
progressives. I really appreciated the chance to have you here tonight.
Thank you.

MURPHY: Thanks a lot.

MADDOW: Thanks.

All right. So, we`ve got news tonight on one of the stranger and more
intriguing stories from this election cycle, a police department is the one
that`s being called on to settle this matter. That tells you how weird it
is as a political story, but that story is ahead tonight. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW: OK. This is something to keep an eye on tonight. I want to tell
you at the outset that NBC News has not confirmed this reporting. But this
is out there tonight and you should keep a watch out for this.

You may remember last month, Donald Trump`s campaign manager, a man named
Corey Lewandowski was charged with a misdemeanor count of simple battery
following some sort of run-in with a reporter at a Trump event in Jupiter,
Florida. Mr. Trump`s campaign manager vehemently denied he ever did
anything to the reporter. All along, even after the charge was laid by the
local police department, Mr. Trump has stood by his campaign manager in
this dispute.

Well, now, tonight, politico.com is reporting that a Florida prosecutor has
decided to not prosecute Corey Lewandowski for battery in this case.
Politico.com is reporting that the prosecutor is going to make an
announcement about it tomorrow, but they think they have advanced word.

Again, NBC News has not independently verified any of this reporting, but
keep an eye out for the news out tomorrow from Florida. “Politico” may
have a scoop tonight, but we`ll know for sure when we hear from that
prosecutor tomorrow.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW: We have yet more news tonight, this time on a story we`ve been
following more closely than sometimes feels comfortable. It`s about the
D.C. madam case from about a decade ago in the fight by one lawyer involved
in that case to release what he says are previously unseen phone records
from the D.C. madam escort service at the center of that scandal.

Now, the lawyer who was involved in that case who has these records. He`s
a man named Montgomery Blair Sibley. He`s got a very colorful
controversial record as a lawyer. He says these undisclosed records from
the escort service are newly newsworthy and they should be released to the
public because he says they specifically are relevant to the 2016
presidential race and no, we don`t know what he means by that.

But this week, Mr. Sibley made public some court documents from that case,
which contained the names of 174 organizations, companies, government
agencies, organizations of other kinds, that allegedly dialed the escort
service for one reason or another while it was in business.

Now, what he wants to release, despite a federal court gag order that
prohibits him from doing so, is not a list of companies and organizations
that called the service, he wants to release a list of names of individual
people who called the escort service.

Mr. Sibley has taken the request to be released from the gag order to a
number of federal courts in recent weeks, including most recently the
United States Supreme Court. As we reported here on the show, Chief
Justice John Roberts denied his first request for the court to hear his
motion on this issue.

After getting rejected by one justice, though, you do get one more bite at
the apple and as we reported last week, Mr. Sibley decided that the justice
to whom he would resubmit his request after the chief told him no, his
second choose justice would be Justice Clarence Thomas.

And that brings us to today`s news. The justice didn`t say no. He didn`t
say no in the same way that Chief Justice Roberts did. Justice Thomas
decided to distribute the application for conference, which means that on
April 29th, the eight Supreme Court justices will gather for their next
discussion of cases and at that meeting, they could potentially review Mr.
Sibley application – his application that he wants to be released from the
gag order in the D.C. madam case so he can release to the public these
unseen phone records of people doing business with the escort agency. And
again, he says those records will have a direct bearing on the 2016
presidential election. We don`t know if it`s true, but that`s what he
says.

Now, even if the Supreme Court doesn`t take up his request, which honestly
it seems about 99 percent likely they will not take it up, it still may be
a matter of time before Mr. Sibley releases these records on his own,
despite the gag order that still applies to him, he has still threatened to
release the records publicly if the court turns him down.

So far though, tonight`s news is that the court isn`t actually turning him
down. Not yet. Watch this space.

That does it for us tonight. We will see you again for tomorrow.

Now, it`s time for “THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL”.

Good evening, Lawrence.



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

Copyright 2016 CQ-Roll Call, Inc. All materials herein are protected by
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.>