The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 4/14/2016
Show: THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW
Date: April 14, 2016
Guest: Steven Dettelbach, Muriel Bowser
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Happy Thursday night. Thanks for being
with us tonight.
The 1976 Republican national convention was contested, quite
dramatically contested. Gerald Ford was the president at that time. He
was seen as a very weak incumbent. Not only had President Gerald Ford not
been elected president, he`d never been elected vice president either.
Heading into that 1976 convention, the last presidential election
had, of course, been 1972, when Richard Nixon won reelection along with his
vice presidential running mate, Spiro Agnew.
But then shortly, basically right after they won that election and
were sworn in to start the second term in 1973, shortly thereafter, Vice
President Spiro Agnew came under investigation for bribery. Now, this was
before Watergate and all of that other mishegoss. But Nixon`s vice
president, Spiro Agnew, got investigating for bribery. He ended up getting
criminally charged. He had to resign from office. He had to resign the
We sort of forget this now because of the way the Nixon
administration ended. But even before Nixon himself became the great
scandal of the Nixon era, his vice president really did have to resign in
disgrace and face criminal charges. And, you know, the vice presidency may
not be the most crucial job in the federal government but there does have
to be somebody holding that position.
So, when Spiro Agnew had to go into that criminal cloud and leave the
vice presidency, President Nixon then had to choose someone to replace him
as vice president. And that is how a congressman from Michigan who had
never been elected by an electorate larger than his congressional district
back home nevertheless got himself into place to himself ascend to the
presidency, when Nixon had to resign himself because of Watergate.
That`s how we got incumbent President Gerald Ford, even though Gerald
Ford had never been nationally elected to anything. And that is how we got
the contested Republican national convention in 1976 when Gerald Ford
decided to run nationally to try to hold onto this position in Oval Office
that he arrived at through such unexpected and undemocratic means.
Because of that series of back doors that Gerald Ford took to the
presidency, Gerald Ford that year in 1976, he didn`t get the deference that
is typically afforded to an incumbent president. And although he was still
the front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination that year, he
was such a weak front-runner that an upstart conservative named Ronald
Reagan very nearly took the presidential nomination from President Ford at
the party`s 1976 convention in Kansas City.
That 1976 convention was a bit nuts. There was a lot of confusion on
the floor among the delegates. There were long and impossible fights over
seemingly arcane rules that ended up being crucial to how delegates would
vote and who they would pick. President Ford may have been weak front-
runner and an accidental president, but he was still president. For that
1976 convention he was not above using things like flights on Air Force One
and promised visits to the White House as bribes to get convention
delegates to support him.
So, 1976 was a little nutty. 1976 was the last time the Republican
Party had a contested national convention. That`s basically what everybody
is expecting to be replayed this summer, but worse when this year`s
Republican convention unfolds in Cleveland.
But back at the last contested convention in 1976, there are
basically two really important world changing outcomes that were the
results of that contested convention. And the first one was the obvious
one which is that Gerald Ford beat Ronald Reagan. He got the nomination
and that he went onto lose the general election to Jimmy Carter.
Second result of that convention though was that even though Ronald
Reagan didn`t succeed in knocking off Gerald Ford in `76, his effort to do
in `76, and how close he got to it in `76, that did play excellent
groundwork for Ronald Reagan four years later to take over leadership of
the Republican Party much more easily.
And in 1980, when Republicans convened for their next convention in
Detroit, that Republican convention in 1980 not only was that not a fight,
it was an absolute coronation. Reagan put his chief rival George Bush on
the ticket as a running mate. There was a little noise that maybe Reagan
was going to pick as southern segregationist like Jesse Helms as his
running mate. But that was only a little bit of noise. It was a pretty
smooth decision actually. And the vice presidency went to Poppy Bush,
which was a very tidy way, a very unifying way to end the competition from
the Republican primary that year.
They had also set up the rules at the 1980 convention so only one
name could be put in nomination. So, there was no drama over that.
Another Reagan challenger named John Anderson, he had fought hard
that year to get a speaking slot at the Republican convention but the
Republican Party and the Reagan campaign forces figured out way to box John
Anderson out of that so he didn`t get to speak. So, it was a no drama
occasion. `76 had been crazy. `80 was not crazy.
Ronald Reagan at the 1980 convention, he got 97 percent of the
delegate votes that year. It was as smooth as glass.
They cast their votes. They formally nominated him. He gave his
acceptance speech. The convention was seen as huge, smoothly run success
And the first thing that Ronald Reagan did thereafter, the first
thing he did after winning the nomination in that perfectly orchestrated,
micromanage, tightly scripted pageant, the first thing he did as the newly
minted Republican presidential nominee of 1980 was to go here, to go 800
miles south-southwest from that convention in Detroit to an out of way
place that`s hard to get to, that had no national political significance as
a location other than the one thing that town and that county were famous
Again, this was 1980. One of the things going on in president
politics that year was that 1980 was the first presidential election since
1960. First presidential election in 20 years in which Alabama`s
segregationist governor was not a candidate in one way or another or in the
general election. George Wallace had been running a segregationist
campaign for president for so many years. He ran in `64, he ran in `68, he
ran in `72, he ran in `76. 1980 was the first one in which George Wallace
wasn`t going to be a factor having run in the previous four presidential
And when Ronald Reagan became the nominee for president that year in
1980, he had to make a decision about where to start his general election
campaign. He made a decision that was widely seen, at the time, as
basically Ronald Reagan`s attempt to lock up any stray remaining George
Wallace votes that might still be out there in the country.
Ronald Reagan had run in `76 and again in `80 as basically an
insurgent conservative force within the Republican Party. He wasn`t a
Gerald Ford Republican. He wasn`t a Nelson Rockefeller Republican.
He was campaigning for president as somebody who was promising to not
just bring the country to the right, he was promising Republican Party
significantly to the right. Nobody knew if that kind of campaign would
work at national level, but if it was going to work, everybody knew that
Reagan would need every single conservative vote in the country.
And George Wallace voters had been a very specific kind of
conservative for the previous four presidential elections. And so, in 1980
with George Wallace finally and completely out of presidential running for
the first time in 20 years, there was a strategic decision made to try to
make sure the Republican nominee in 1980 would be able to mop up votes from
any of the people left in the country who had favored that segregationist
candidate, George Wallace, and all those previous elections in which you
had run, who might have felt in 1980 like they didn`t have candidate
anymore now that Wallace wasn`t running again for the first time in two
So, Ronald Reagan didn`t go campaign in his home state of California
after he won the nomination. He didn`t rush off to some obvious swing
state. Ronald Reagan`s first stop after the convention, the place he
started his general election campaign was Mississippi. Specifically, it
was Neshoba County, Mississippi, which was nationally famous, still today,
and was certainly nationally famous at the time for exactly one thing.
Neshoba County, Philadelphia, Mississippi, is where James Chaney, Michael
Schwerner and Michael Goodman were lynched by the Klan in 1964, and where
local law enforcement participated in their racist murders and then covered
I mean, the reason they make movies about that case, the reason
Chaney, Schwerner and Goodman are still household names today, the reason
that story is so – I mean, incredible and emotionally heartrending and
there`s such intense national storytelling about that triple murder is not
just because of the horror of that crime, it`s because of the critical and
dramatic fact that local law enforcements was fine with it. Local law
enforcement was in on it.
And it took the federal government to go down and force themselves in
to Neshoba County, Mississippi, in order to solve those murders, even just
to find the bodies, because under local authority in Neshoba County,
Mississippi, it was not otherwise going to happen.
On August 3rd, 1980, right after he was made the Republican nominee,
Neshoba County is where Ronald Reagan went. He went on a hot sweaty day in
August and he told a crowd of 30,000, wildly enthusiastic white
Mississippians quote, “I believe in states` rights.”
He stood in front of that all white, huge, screaming crowd of tens of
thousands in Mississippi and said that the federal government had too much
power, that if he became president he would reign in that federal overreach
and restore to the states and local communities those functions which
properly belong there. I believe in states rights.
Andrew Goodman lasted one day in that town before the Klan murdered
him, along with his fellow civil rights activists. Those three young men
were murdered in June 1964. The town did not cough up their bodies until
August. When Ronald Reagan stood up on that stage 16 years later in
August, at that time, some of the co-conspirators in that triple murder
were still being protected in that town.
As the newly minted Republican presidential nominee of 1980 went down
to that town, showed up at the country fair, spoke to an all white audience
and said not one word about the murders that town was nationally famous for
and instead that whipped that sea of 30,000 white faces into a frenzy and
preached states rights to them and told them that he was their candidate.
That was 1980. In 2008, in the presidential election that year, the
country elected our first African-American president. That election was
November 4th, 2008. On November 4th, 2008, that was a Tuesday. Election
is always on a Tuesday.
But that same day, four days later on Saturday of that week, a group
of teenagers from a county called Suffolk County in New York went out in
the very morning hours with a BB gun. Their plan was to try to find a
Hispanic immigrant in their town and shoot at that person with a BB gun.
They found a Hispanic man sitting on his porch not doing anything, not
bothering anybody and they shot him multiple times with that BB gun.
Later that day, that same day, the same group added a few more
friends and added again looking for Hispanic immigrants to attack. In the
town of Patchogue, they found a Hispanic man walking on the street, rolling
his bicycle along, teenagers got out of their car and started screaming
racist slurs at him. They circled him and they eventually started beating
and kicking him. They did not kill him. The man was able to get away.
The group was not done.
Later the same night, the same group went out, again looking for
another Hispanic immigrant to try to terrorize and attack. They found two
Hispanic men walking near the train station in this same time where they
had earlier beaten up the guy with the bike. And again, this group, they
surrounded these men who they found on the street who were doing nothing to
them, doing nothing wrong but they had the misfortune of being Hispanic.
They beat them. They called them racist names, attacked them and this
time, one of those two men they were attacking, they did kill him.
One of the men who they attacked, a 37-year-old man who worked at a
local dry cleaners, they stabbed him in the chest and killed him. The
national story at that point, that week, the week of November 4th, 2008,
what was beginning on in the country, we what were all thinking about in
terms of race and our country was, wow, we`re the country who just elected
a black president. But in New York, the local story was Suffolk County and
these racist attacks, these escalating racist attacks that had suddenly but
probably inevitably turned fatal.
In the wake of that murder, this hate-crime murder. This murder came
at the end of beating by seven teenagers, the local Hispanic population
started reporting that this was the culmination of what had been years of
these kinds of organized attacks unprovoked, racist predatory attacks.
A few months after the murder, “The New York Times” published ten
pages of racist unprovoked attacks on Hispanics in that town and
surrounding towns. People beaten badly enough to need surgery, people
beaten with baseball bats, beaten with belts and chains, all completely
unprovoked attacks. And again and again and again, each of these attacks,
the story of the police is the police just seemed not to care.
Eventually in 2009, the federal Department of Justice investigated
the local police for discriminatory policing, discouraging Latino victims
from filing complaints, failing to investigate crimes, failing to
investigate hate crimes against Latinos. The number of raw crimes against
Latinos in this county.
The Justice Department eventually entered into an agreement with the
county police department. The county police department agreed to
cooperate. That happened in place called Suffolk County, New York. The
epicenter of these hate crimes and these racist attacks, including the
police seeming to not care about these racist attacks, the epicenter was a
little town called Patchogue in Suffolk County. I mean, it`s a little
town. I mean 12,000 people.
It`s in kind of out of way place. It has no national political
significance whatsoever other than this thing from a few years ago if which
it`s sort of famous. What it`s famous for is the racist targeting of
Hispanic immigrants to the point of murder.
And today, that town, that little town of 12,000 people is where
Donald Trump decided to campaign. He didn`t just go to Suffolk County. He
didn`t just go to Patchogue. He decided to campaign today on the street
where 37-year-old Marcelo Lucero was beaten and then stabbed to death by
racist mob that attacked him because he was a Hispanic immigrant.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: The message from Hispanic advocate s clear is that Trump
shouldn`t appear on the same street where Lucero was killed in a headline-
making 2008 hate crime. Twenty-one-year Patchogue resident Maria Avacella
said she remembers when immigrants were beaten routinely here and she
worries that Trump`s visit will start the violence again.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I`m really afraid because I don`t want this bad
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Donald Trump is the front-runner. So, we welcome
him to Suffolk County.
REPORTER: The chairman of Suffolk`s Republican Party says he has no
plan to move or postpone the Trump appearance.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: The local news report from last night. Today, the Suffolk
County Republican Party went ahead with this invitation they extended to
Donald Trump to campaign on the same street as that fatal hate crime,
immediately adjacent to that fatal hate crime site, literally a couple
hundred yards from where that young man died.
Mr. Trump was introduced at that event by former Republican candidate
for New York governor, Carl Paladino. This is how he introduced them.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CARL PALADINO, TRUMP`S NY HONORARY CAMPAIGN CO-CHAIR: Anybody
chances anybody in this room know if we`re going to build a wall?
Are we going to build a wall?
Who`s going to pay for that wall?
Is that right?
New Yorkers are with Donald Trump all the way.
Because he speaks truth and because he doesn`t fear. We`re going to
build that wall?
Is Mexico going to pay for it?
One more time, who`s going to build that wall? Who`s going to pay
for that wall?
Thank you. God bless America and God bless Donald Trump for facing
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We`re going to have strong
voters. We`re going to have a wall. The wall is going to be built.
You, of course, know who`s paying for the wall, right? Who`s paying?
We`re going to build a wall. Who`s going to pay for that wall?
A hundred percent.
John is predicting this is going to be my single biggest margin
Suffolk, this whole area.
He better be right. He better be right.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Patchogue`s history of racist and fatal hate crimes against
Latino immigrants. It`s not necessarily a nationally famous story. But it
is a New York famous story.
Donald Trump has not yet won the Republican nomination. He`s still
trying to win the New York primary, but campaigning in Patchogue today on
the street where Marcelo Lucero was murdered, it means something specific
in New York. Local activists and local boards have been begging Suffolk
County Republicans and Donald Trump to please not do this.
“The New York Times” editorial board called it a disgraceful
provocation by Trump and local Republicans for inviting him, but he did it.
He was greeted by a very enthusiastic, screaming, almost entirely white
crowd inside. While a more diverse group of protesters outside expressed
themselves as well.
Tonight, Mr. Trump and other Republican candidates for president are
at the New York state Republican gala in midtown Manhattan where yet more
protesters are outside trying to be a counterpoint to what the candidates
You know, and protests are part of politicking. This nomination is
not yet sewn up by anyone. But in presidential politicking, symbolism is a
deliberate choice. And racial provocation is something with a deep and
resonant history. And it is one thing to do that as a small fry
politician. It is another thing to do it as a frontrunner for a major
party`s presidential nomination.
Being a presidential front-runner is a powerful thing. It can also
be a dangerous thing if you want it to be.
MADDOW: Lots of news tonight, including news of a standoff in the
making between Washington, D.C. and Republicans in Congress, and what this
giant history basic field of Republican contender has to say about the way
the current race can and cannot be run this year under penalty of law.
Stay with us.
MADDOW: So, last night on this show, I made an embarrassing but I
still think kind of funny mistake of showing Republican Congressman Peter
King of New York, lower left there, when I meant to be showing a picture of
Senator Angus King of Maine. I would like to thank everyone on Twitter who
kindly corrected me immediately. I would like to thank the people that
corrected me not kindly.
I get it. I screwed up. I`m sorry.
Now with that experience behind me, I`m going to try again. This, as
best as I can tell, is the entire Republican presidential field from 1876,
including the great Roscoe Conkling and unpronounceable John Hartranft and
good old Eli Washburne, God rest his soul. Also the guy who eventually won
the presidency that year, Rutherford B. Hayes, the governor of Ohio.
Rutherford Hayes was one of nine candidates for the Republican
nomination that year. The nomination was eventually decided at a contested
convention in Hayes` home state, Cincinnati, Ohio. Although Ohio governor
Hayes finished near the back of the pack, the convention ended up going to
seven ballots before they got a nominee. It was the hometown guy who won.
Now, in advance of that hotly contested convention of 1876 which was
held in Cincinnati, Ohio, the Ohio legislature had passed a new law to try
to avert shenanigans. They tried to prevent anybody from bribing their way
to a presidential nomination at that convention. They were worried about
that because that happened a lot at conventions in those days.
This is the “Cincinnati Enquirer” in 1874. Quote, “Purchases for
votes for money have been openly made in the hall where conventions are
held. A class of political bummers who have arisen, who become delegates
for no purpose in the world but to sell their votes to the highest bidder.”
Political bummers. Today, I learned political bummers, thank you 19
century Ohio. But that state law prohibiting political bummers forbidding
the bribing of delegates at political conventions in Ohio, that 1870s Ohio
law is still on the books.
This is the law. “No person shall before, during or after any
primary convention or election give, lend, offer or procure or promise to
give, lend, offer, or procure any money, office, position, employment,
influence or any other valuable consideration to or for a delegate, elector
or other person.
In other words, you can`t bribe delegates at a convention in Ohio.
It`s illegal. However else you`re supposed to win that crazy contested
Republican convention of 1876, Ohio law straight up banned the bribing of
Rutherford B. Hayes had to get there the hard way. But the fact of
that decision way back in the 1870s, that now matters all over again
because Republicans this year really do seem to be mud-wrestling their way
to another contested convention. And that law might be an important part
of how it`s decided.
Stay with us.
MADDOW: Under federal law, there basically are no rules when it
comes to what you can offer a delegate in exchange for his or her vote at a
contested Republican nominating convention.
Now, public officials aren`t supposed to take bribes as public
officials. But let`s say you`re a delegate who`s not a public official.
There`s nothing in the federal law that says you can`t sell your
allegiance, you can`t sell your vote as a delegate for a car or a suitcase
full of cash or anything.
Under federal law, arguably, a rich candidate like, say, Donald
Trump, could spend a few tens of millions of dollars of his personal wealth
buying a few hundred delegates new houses or new cars or just writing them
checks in other words to seal up the nomination for himself. Federal law
apparently would not stop that.
Here`s the wrinkle in the checkbook, though – this particular
Republican convention is going to take place in the great state of Ohio.
It turns out, weirdly, since the 1870s, Ohio has had a very specific law
that bans anyone from bribing the delegates at a political convention. So,
it may be fine under federal law, but under Ohio law it would be a fourth
degree felony prosecutable under the long arm of the law.
So, here`s my question – how long is that arm of the law? Does it
apply only to bribing delegates within the state of Ohio? What if the
bribe is offered in Indiana, and then the delegate travels to Ohio to vote
at the convention in Cleveland?
Or what about like those uncommitted delegates from the U.S. Virgin
Islands. What if they turn up in Cleveland in time to collect the keys to
their new Lake Tahoe timeshares that they have traded in exchange for their
votes, would they have to face trial in Ohio? Who would arrest them? How
does that work?
Joining us now is Steven Dettelbach. He`s a former U.S. attorney for
Mr. Dettelbach, it`s really nice to have your here tonight. Thanks
for being here.
STEVEN DETTELBACH, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY FOR NORTHERN OHIO: Great.
Thanks for having me.
MADDOW: Have I explained the Ohio law here? And am I asking the
right questions about it?
DETTELBACH: Yes. Well, I think you are. I`m in the sure I agree
it`s clear that even under federal law that you can`t pay a delegate for
their vote and be in some trouble. But we don`t have to get there.
As you said, in Ohio, of all places, there`s a specific law that
clearly covers delegates at conventions. Look, like all criminal laws,
they apply to conduct that ours in part or in whole in Ohio.
So, we talk about in the criminal law, a thing called venue,
jurisdiction. Where can something be done? Just as if you committed fraud
and part of the fraud occurred in Ohio and part of the fraud occurred in
Indiana or a crime of violence or rape or any horrible crime, you know, if
part of this crime occurs in Ohio, you`re going to have to face an
investigation and prosecution in Ohio.
MADDOW: In terms of, I don`t mean to get too technical, this terms
of “by taking place in Ohio,” how would that apply to a bribe consummated
in Cleveland, right? Let`s say someone in the U.S. Virgin Islands makes a
deal and accepts the crime and all they do in Cleveland is vote. Would
that still be –
DETTELBACH: That`s a pretty big thing to do. That`s what you`re
being bribed for is the vote.
One example is cases involving Congress people in the federal side,
where there`s a case involving former Congressman Dan Rostenkowski, right?
A lot of things of value, a lot of corrupt action happened in Illinois. He
was prosecuted in the district in the District of Columbia by then U.S.
Attorney Eric Holder.
It`s hard to imagine a situation where the convention happening in
the state of Ohio where there would be some sort of illegal conduct that
would not touch Ohio at all. And I guess now, as a private attorney, if a
client came to me and said, hey, you know, I`m going to do this thing
that`s clearly illegal, but I`m going to do around it by doing most of the
stuff outside of Ohio, I`d tell them to channel the Republican Party`s
Nancy Reagan and just say no, because that`s a very dangerous place to be.
Juries don`t like those arguments and judges don`t like those arguments.
And you don`t want to be making those arguments from some jail cell in some
MADDOW: Steven Dettelbach, former U.S. attorney – thank you for
helping us understand this. This is a strange aspect of the story, but
it`s good to be forewarned. Thank you, sir.
MADDOW: The prospect of Ohio prosecutors prowling the Cleveland
convention site when one of the contenders for the nomination is the Ohio
governor. They`re going to prosecute this under state law. I hope it
doesn`t come to that.
All right. Much more ahead. Stay with us.
MADDOW: Remember when Spam was just delicious canned meat? Remember
the original junk mail when it wasn`t an inbox folder on a screen. It was
shady printed material promising you`ve already been selected as a winner.
You`d not actually been selected as a winner, but if you got far enough
into reading the nonsense, suss that out, they probably already lured you
this enough to scam you out of something.
Well, it turns out that real old fashioned Spam has been updated.
Spam now comes in lots of delicious different flavors.
And it turns out that real old fashioned junk mail has been updated.
And now, it comes in political flavors designed to swindle your
grandparents for political purposes.
I`ll warn you, this is a fairly disgusting story. It involves the
National Republican Party. We first covered the story several weeks ago.
The story has broken wide open. We have that story ahead.
Bring your bucket.
MADDOW: Today`s April 14th, which means tomorrow is Tax Day or at
least it should be. Except this year, it`s not. Tax Day isn`t April 15th
this year. It`s April 18th. It`s Monday. And that is thanks to Abraham
Lincoln and Washington, D.C.
The Emancipation Proclamation freed more than 3 million slaves in
this country. It was issued January 1st, 1863. But about nine months
before that, President Lincoln issued a sort of mini-Emancipation
Proclamation or a geographic special one for Washington, D.C. more than
3,000 slaves held this D.C. was freed nine months before the Emancipation
Proclamation for the whole country.
D.C. celebrates Emancipation Day every year. So, this year for
Emancipation Day, there`s going to be a parade. They`re going to bring out
what the mayor says is her favorite thing about Emancipation Day. They
bring out the dump trucks and the snowplows and the fire trucks, all the
city trucks. So, all the D.C. kids can touch all the cool trucks, which is
There`s going to be fireworks for Emancipation Day, and because it`s
a holiday, everything in D.C. is going to be shut down tomorrow for the
holiday, for Emancipation Day. And that includes the IRS which is located
in Washington, D.C. That is why you get until Monday to turn in your taxes
While you are thanking D.C. for that, spare thought for what D.C.
also has to put up with because the federal government happens to be
situated there. Paul Ryan was the biggest story in Republican politics
when he had to hold a press conference to convince people he`s not running
for president. But the job he does hold is speaker of the house.
One of the lower profile things about Paul Ryan is that he seems like
he`s not going to be able to pass a federal budget this year. That is
embarrassing for him. It`s annoying to lots of people who depend on the
federal budget for important stuff.
But for D.C. specifically, it`s insane and dumb. Because when D.C.
comes up with its budget every year, it`s not like states. They can`t
debate and amend and pass a budget. The D.C. budget, even though it`s
their own money, their budget as a city has to go to the White House where
the president is asked to please include that budget request this his
federal budget request and it goes to Congress and Congress decides on it.
So, like members of Congress from Hawaii and Utah get to decide
whether or not the city of D.C. gets its budget or if it should be changed.
And that`s annoying enough when D.C. has to wade through the interference
and wait for the federal government to pass a budget for the country before
this one city gets to spend its own money.
But when somebody like Paul Ryan is in charge and so, we`re
apparently not going to be able to get a budget, D.C. ends up being in
limbo forever through new fault of their own. And, you know what? D.C.
right now as a city is doing pretty great.
D.C. not only has a population bigger than the state of Vermont and
the state of Wyoming. D.C. is doing so well right now, they are adding a
thousands people to their population every month. So many people are
moving into the district.
They`ve got a big budget surplus. D.C. is doing great. They are
just forced to put everything they want to do as a city, even with their
own money, through this totally dysfunctional, completely deadlocked,
insanely partisan, incompetent Congress. At least they have been until
now, because this year, D.C. has decided to celebrate Emancipation Day,
this awesome holiday that buys us extra three days to do our taxes, D.C.
has decided to celebrate Emancipation Day this year by not sending Congress
its budget and just proceeding on its terms to spend their money as they
D.C.`s mayor and city council passed an amendment that says they have
the right to do this. D.C. voters ratified it and said D.C. should be able
to do this. D.C. believes it`s on firm legal ground to act of its own and
finally leave Congress out of it for the first time since being founded in
Now, Congress, of course, on the other hand, Congress believes that
D.C. has no right to do this at all and everything has to go through
Congress. But D.C. this year, they`re going for it, which means, A, fight.
And B, Happy Emancipation Day.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAYOR MURIEL BOWSER, WASHINGTON, D.C.: As we celebrate emancipation
day, we honor the many champions who have fought for equality and civil
rights throughout our history. We also use this opportunity to continue to
fight for equality for all in our city as we renew our push for full
democracy and statehood in the District of Columbia.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Joining us now is the mayor of Washington, D.C., Muriel
Mayor Bowser, thank you so much for being here. It`s great to have
BOWSER: Thank you, Rachel. And Happy Emancipation Day.
MADDOW: I was going to ask if there`s a more appropriate greeting
than “Happy Emancipation Day”, but that`s just the way we say it, right?
BOWSER: No, I think it`s great. I think it`s great. I couldn`t be
more thrilled with the introduction you provided the nation to let people
know what`s happening in Washington, D.C.
MADDOW: So, you`re in this strange position where you`re the only
mayor in the country where you have to send your budget through Congress
every year. Am I right to say you`re stopping doing that for the first
time this year?
BOWSER: Well, you`re right to say. The budget autonomy allows us.
It was a measure passed by the council. And you`re right, it went to the
voters. It was overwhelmingly approved. And it`s been uphold in our
So, for the first time, I`m the first mayor in the history of
Washington, D.C. that will send our local budget will not go to the White
House and be a part of the federal budget. We will not be treated like a
federal agency. And we will send our local budget as we would send another
piece of legislation to the Congress. But we still have to send that part
of to the Congress.
What we`ve got to what the real fight is for us, how can we be
treated like every other American citizen and have full democracy in
statehood in Washington, D.C.
MADDOW: What are you expecting in terms of a backlash or blowback
from Congress, who`s been so aggressive and trying to sort of keep D.C.
BOWSER: Well, I think that we and so many people have been a part of
getting the vote from our voters, fighting the legal battle. Our council
in the District of Columbia has been involved.
I think the fact the courts have weighed in suggest to everybody that
sending our budget, our local dollars up through the process, not to the
White House, but directly to the Congress makes sense for everybody.
MADDOW: I`m going to paint this with a broad brush and you can
correct me if I`m wrong here, but it seems to me as an outsider that the
Democratic Party is sympathetic to D.C.`s autonomy and to D.C. becoming a
state, having a normal member of Congress and two senators, and Republicans
are against that broadly speaking. Why is this a partisan issue,
especially given that Republicans are for local control?
BOWSER: Well, it absolutely shouldn`t devolve into a partisan
discussion. Very fundamental to our rights as Americans is the idea that
every person in our nation should be represented in the Congress, and in
very practical ways this disadvantages the residents of Washington, D.C.
When senators and Congress people are considering matters of great
importance like the Affordable Care Act, we had no vote in the Congress
whatsoever and no voice in the Senate.
Just this week, senators from Maryland and Virginia were meeting
about the state of our region`s metro system and it was so stark that there
were two senators, one senator from Maryland and two senators from Virginia
and we had no voice at that table.
So, to the people of Washington, D.C. who pay taxes, who go to war,
to not have those votes in the Congress is a travesty.
MADDOW: D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, Madam Mayor, thank you so much for
being here tonight. I really appreciate it.
BOWSER: Thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: All right. We`ll be right back. Stay with us tonight.
MADDOW: So, this one has a happy ending. Last month, a viewer of
this show from California sent us this. Kind of makes your heart race a
little bit, right?
It`s an envelope with past due, right? “Notice of delinquency”
printed on the outside of it. Inside that scary envelope is a letter that
says its recipient has funds past due and that letter is from Reince
Priebus, chairman of the National Republican Party.
Now, it turns out, that is not actually a bill. Nothing is overdue.
What that is, is a fundraising mailer, but it`s one that is designed to
scare anybody who receives it into thinking that you actually owe somebody
money, and maybe a bill collector is going to come after you and your
credit is about to get screwed up.
So, this is the kind of sleazy tactic that elderly voters are
particularly susceptible to, right? We were the first national news
program to report that the Republican National Party was apparently sending
these things out to try to scare elderly people into sending them money.
This started showing up in mailboxes all over the country and it turns out
there caused there to be a lot of anxious and angry older voters around the
country who got these things.
And then, thank you heavenly heavens, that – those angry voters,
that caused there to be a lot of outraged local news teams who followed up
on their local viewers` behalf.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: It looks like a bill came in the mail, but Mary has reason
to be suspicious.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don`t owe anybody.
REPORTER: But retirees Mary and Bob see a warning stamped in bold
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Notice of delinquency.
REPORTER: And there`s more. The return address says office of
records and a membership activation form with a circled eye catcher.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Past due, $25, $50, $100, $250, $500.
REPORTER: Sent to the Republican national committee.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Very deceptive.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Good word. Definitely it`s a trick. It`s like
it wants to put a scare factor into you and then you`re afraid if I don`t
send this $25, maybe I won`t get to vote.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I brought it in from the mailbox and this is
where I opened it right here.
REPORTER: And in bright red letters notice of delinquency. So, your
heart starts pounding in this moment?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Absolutely. It`s not fair. It`s not right.
REPORTER: Is there any question in your mind this is predatory?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No question at all. I think they`re taking
advantage of people who might not know otherwise.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was very frightened at what bill did I miss
and my heart started racing and then when I opened it up, it was just my
heart started racing because I was angry.
Not only the mail carrier, whoever handled this from Washington, D.C.
to here, they`re thinking oh, boy, here`s another dead beat.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: So when are you going to kick in a few bucks to this person
you owe money to, which happens to be the Republican National Committee.
Here`s the thing, all of these local news teams across the country,
there are news reports from Nebraska and Virginia and North Carolina, all
of them have been pushing the RNC really hard on this. They`ve been
calling and e-mail their state parties too.
They even contacted the United States Postal Inspection Service, the
postal police, to find out if this mailer from the National Republican
Party violates federal law against mailing a solicitation in the form of an
invoice. One station reported that the postal cops were launching an
investigation of the National Republican Party over this.
But through all of this, the RNC itself never appears to have
answered any of these local reporters` questions, not even to confirm that
the mailer was actually from the National Republican Party. They wouldn`t
give these local reporters the time of day.
But now, today, I`m pleased to report that the RNC has given us an
answer. The Republican National Committee told us today that, yes, this
thing was their mailer and they told us it won`t happen again. Their exact
quote was, “This was a limited mailing and won`t be sent again.”
Nice. Good. Now all that`s needed is an apology to all those nice
old ladies and the millions of other Republican Party people who they sent
this to and then probably the next step would be sending back any of the
money they got off this sleazy nonsense because who knows how much of it
was sent by older people who thought they were sending money because they
had to, not because they wanted to.
Don`t mess with old people, Republican Party. And don`t mess with
the local news reporters all over the country who are watching out for
them. This story makes me so mad.
Anyway, that does it for us tonight. We`ll see you again tomorrow.
Now, Lawrence O`Donnell`s special look inside the stop Trump starts
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