The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 4/18/2016
Show: THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW
Date: April 18, 2016
Guest: Suzanne Carlson
CHRIS HAYES, “ALL IN” HOST: This is a question. I think you should keep a
list of all the never Trumpers, because I`m somewhat relishing crossing
them off the list one by one as they`re up there handwringing endorsements
of Donald Trump.
Rebecca Traister, Tara Dowdell, John Nichols, thanks so much for joining us
Well, that is ALL IN for this lovely, beautiful, balmy evening in New York
City under the Brooklyn Bridge.
THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts right now.
Good evening, Rachel.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: You know, Chris, very near to where you sit
right now, there are migrating small striped bass.
HAYES: That was not the sentence that I thought would greet me at the end
of this show.
MADDOW: I know.
HAYES: But as always, as always with THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW, I have
learned something new. I`ll look that up.
MADDOW: I`m just saying, while I have been listening to everything you
said for the past hour, kind of all of I can think about is stripe bass
behind you. But that`s just me. Thank you, my friend.
HAYES: Welcome to estuary talk.
MADDOW: That`s exactly right.
You know, those striped bass, they don`t love me back. You know, I try. I
try to arrange a meeting, every year. They don`t love me back.
Anyway, thanks to you at home for staying with us for the next hour. Happy
Monday. Happy spring striped bass migration in the Northeast.
There`s a lot going on in politics right now. There`s a lot going on in
the news right now.
President Obama is sending 200 more U.S. troops and a bunch of Apache
attack helicopters back into Iraq to go fight ISIS there. That 200 extra
special operations forces, that will put the number of U.S. troops in Iraq
right now at over 4,000. Those Apache attack helicopters and the mission
of these new Special Forces that are going to be sent back into Iraq, not
to mention the specific place where they are being sent in Iraq, all of
these details leave no illusions about the fact that this new deployment is
not some kind of support operation or something that`s going to put U.S.
forces well behind front lines.
This is basically a combat deployment. As the U.S. involvement in Iraq, or
I guess it`s now U.S. re-involvement in Iraq, does continue to escalate.
President Obama himself is also about to head off on an international trip
that will have him visit some of our staunchest European allies. The
president will be stopping in both Germany and in the U.K. But in
addition, he will also be making a stop in Saudi Arabia, which is also a
U.S. ally. But a more complicated one.
And this is kind of an amazing time for President Obama to be heading out
there to go meet in person with the Saudi king. The Saudis right now are
threatening to divest hundreds of billions of dollars from the United
States in retaliation for a bill that`s wending its way through Congress
that would try to address the Saudi government`s alleged role in 9/11.
On the other hand, we have just had a big diplomatic breakthrough with
Saudi Arabia this weekend with the kingdom agreeing to take in nine
prisoners who have been languishing at the prison at Guantanamo Bay for
more than a decade. Now, that may sound like just another one of these
deals to resettle prisoners but the U.S. government has been working since
the George W. Bush administration to try to get Saudi Arabia to take a big
chuck of prisoners from Guantanamo. This effort started in the Bush
administration, it has finally paid off.
The transfer of these nine prisoners gets the total population of
Guantanamo down to 80 men, 80. President Obama wants to close Guantanamo
entirely and empty it out entirely by the time he leaves office. Nobody`s
quite sure how he`s going to do that. If these nine prisoners that Saudi
Arabia took this weekend, though, are a sign that the Saudis are willing to
take even more Guantanamo prisoners, well, of course, that could be a huge
deal, not just for relations between our countries, it could be a huge deal
for one of President Obama`s most frustrating pieces of unfinished
business. President Obama will be in Saudi Arabia the day after tomorrow,
he gets there on Wednesday.
Here at home, another big piece of his legacy went through the wringer at
the U.S. Supreme Court today. This strangely unbalanced even number of
justices that we now have on the Supreme Court, today, they heard oral
arguments on the president`s immigration policy. After Congress refused to
pass any significant immigration reform, President Obama tried to roll back
the system of mass deportations by himself without legislation going
through Congress to enact that policy. But that action by the president
has been tied up in courts ever since.
Today, the Supreme Court heard arguments on the issue. We won`t know the
fate of the policy until they rule later this year. But the fact that
there are only eight justices on the court may have a big piece to do with
how the court eventually rules and what the impact is of that ruling.
So, all of that serious stuff coming today as the State Department confirms
for the first time that at least one U.S. citizen is among those killed in
the just massive earthquake that hit Ecuador this weekend – at least one
U.S. citizen among the dead. The dead toll for that quake is now
officially up over 400. And that death toll is expected to rise.
So there`s a lot going on in news and in politics. It is a complicated and
fraught time to hold the hardest job in the world. Today, the person who
holds that job, of course, is President Obama. But the country is – I
think rightly fixated, rightly transfixed right now by the contest to try
to replace him as president.
On the Democratic side of that contest, a huge new fight has erupted
tonight between Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton. The Sanders campaign
is accusing the Clinton campaign and the Democratic Party of colluding
together in an illegal and corrupt campaign fund-raising scheme, which is a
wild allegation and a serious one. We`re going to be talking about that in
just a few minutes tonight.
On the Republican side, the process of picking that party`s nominee now
features something close to a fistfight which we`ve got tape of to show you
later on this hour. It also involves the cops being called in to break up
a Republican Party meeting that ended poorly. That`s very exciting. It`s
nuts but very exciting.
But on the political side of today`s news, everything going on is
overshadowed by the seismic political event that`s going to happen
tomorrow. Which is the gargantuan-sized New York state primary.
This time tomorrow night, polls will have just closed in New York state.
New York state has 20 million people in it. New York state has a huge
number of delegates to allocate on both sides of the presidential contest.
On the Democratic side, these are the last four polls all of which show
Hillary Clinton leading in New York by anywhere from 6 to 17 points. Now,
interestingly, Bernie Sanders has been intimating the Democratic polls are
wrong and that he has information that indicates that he might win New
York. OK, we shall see.
On the Republican side, less – I don`t want to say less drama. On the
Republican side, as usual, there`s tons of drama but there is little
suspense on the Republican side in terms of tomorrow night`s outcome.
These are the last five polls out on the Republican side of the race.
And as you can see, there is no suspense. Donald Trump leading anywhere
from 29 to 35 points. That`s not the percentage of the vote he`s polling
at, that`s the percentage of the vote by which he is leading his closest
competitor. That`s nuts. Those are huge margins.
And among the Republican candidates, this could have some interesting
consequences. This is a time when Ted Cruz is supposed to have all the
momentum, right, Ted Cruz is supposed to be bringing Republicans together.
Well, Ted Cruz is poised to not only get shellacked in New York tomorrow,
he`s poised to come in not second, but third. He`s poised to lose to John
Kasich tomorrow in this state of 20 million people if the polls are
For John Kasich, the prospect of coming in second must be very exciting.
So far, the only state John Kasich has come in first is his home state of
Ohio. The only states where he`s come in second are New Hampshire,
Massachusetts, and Vermont. But John Kasich, if the polls are right, he
will likely be coming in second place in New York tomorrow, which will be,
if you think about it, his best second-place finish so far, or at least his
So what happens tomorrow in the Republican side of the race, it may shift
things in terms of the dynamics between the three remaining Republican
candidates. But honestly, the big story here is just the size of Donald
Trump`s lead in New York. Just put up those poll numbers again. Look at
the margins he`s leading by in the polling.
Even knowing New York is Donald Trump`s home state, it is probably still
hard for the rest of the country to make sense of numbers like this, right?
I mean, the rest of the country looks at New York and thinks of the state
as a big state, a sophisticated state, a cosmopolitan state, and it is.
But the way you can square that fact with Donald Trump having a 35-point
lead in the state is not necessarily anything specific to Donald Trump
It`s about New York Republicans. There`s the simple explanatory fact about
tomorrow night`s race that it is a closed primary. No independents can
vote in the primary on the Democratic side or the Republican side. So, In
this Republican race there`s not going to be cross-over Democratic voters,
there`s not going to be any independents – it`s only registered
Republicans in New York state who are going to be voting.
In New York state, I have to tell you, I don`t mean this in a bad way but
you have to understand elsewhere in the country, New York state registered
Republicans are kind of a weird bunch. Sorry.
Here`s what I mean: there are 20 million people in the state of New York.
There are only 2.7 million registered Republicans. OK? It takes a special
kind of New Yorker to be a registered Republican.
The New York Republican Party also isn`t what it used to be. It`s no long
area Nelson Rockefeller kind of Republican Party. It`s no longer a George
Pataki kind of Republican Party.
George Pataki made his endorsement this past week in the Republican
presidential race this year. Did you hear what it was? No, you did not.
Because nobody in New York Republican politics cares what George Pataki has
to say about the current presidential race even though he`s the last
Republican governor of this state. He himself competed in this
presidential race last year and nobody noticed.
The Republican Party has moved on from, forgive me, normal Republicans. In
the state of New York, it is not a normal Republican Party anymore. And
now in the state of New York, when Republicans alone are asked in a closed
primary about what kind of person they would like to represent them in high
elective office, you have to understand that in New York right now, this is
more the kind of guy they pick.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CARL PALADINO (R), FORMER NY GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: If we`ve learned
anything tonight, it`s that New Yorkers are as mad as hell. And we`re not
going to take it anymore.
Hi. I`m Carl Paladino and I`m mad as hell.
I`m mad as hell. And I`m not going to take it anymore.
They say I`m an angry man. And that`s true. We`re all angry. Not just
because we woke up on the wrong side of the bed.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That`s who the New York Republican Party nominated to be their
candidate for governor in 2010.
When New York got Andrew Cuomo as the state`s Democratic state governor,
that happened in part because of Andrew Cuomo, but it`s also happened
because this is who the Republicans picked to run against him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What do we do with all the people on welfare? Put them
in prison. Well, that`s what New York gubernatorial candidate Carl
Paladino wants to do.
Good morning to you, Carl.
PALADINO: Good morning.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK, so unused prisons, turn them into dorms for poor
people to do what?
REPORTER: On the New York City subway, most don`t even recognize Paladino,
although that`s changing with daily headlines like the one today, revealing
some of Paladino`s aides have criminal records. He readily admits he too
has made mistakes in life.
Last year, he revealed to his wife of 40 years what his children already
knew – that he fathered a child with another woman. He sent around
racist, sexist, and pornographic e-mails.
PALADINO: I didn`t mean to offend anybody. I sent it to a select group of
friends. Those friends treated them privately, except for obviously one.
REPORTER: But Republicans are lining up behind him.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This week, you called Senator Kirsten Gillibrand
Chuck Schumer`s little girl. Do you think that`s a sexist comment to make?
Do you have any regrets about that?
PALADINO: No, I don`t.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So you don`t think it`s sexist?
PALADINO: Absolutely not.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A number of Republicans are telling us that due to
your behavior –
PALADINO: Are we going to talk issues? Or am I leaving you right now?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, I think this is about issues, sir. I think
some say that some of the comments you made say that you`re not capable of
running the state –
PALADINO: Well, you have a nice, Christine, OK?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We`d like you to stay with us and talk about the
issues facing voters in the North Country – Carl Paladino, we`d like you
to stay and talk about the issues – all right.
Mr. Paladino has decided he does not want to stay and conduct the
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
MADDOW: No, Mr. Paladino did not want to stay and conduct the interview.
Carl Paladino was such an incredible candidate that at one point I honestly
thought he was going to be unveiled as an art project. That some hipster
performance artist was going to rip off the Carl Paladino mask and reveal
some artistic experiment to see what people can really handle in major
party politics. Apparently, Carl is a real person or the art project is
much longer than anyone expected. The details of his candidacy, though, it
was sometimes hard to remember that it was for real. Carl Paladino is the
candidate who sent out a scratch and sniff mailer where if you scratched
the mailer and sniffed it, if you smell what Carl Paladino wanted you to
smell on it, it was scented to smell like rotting garbage.
Does that make you want to vote for him? Carl Paladino really did run on a
campaign of sending poor people to prison. So, he said the state could
give them instructions on things like personal hygiene and physical
fitness. Which obviously poor people don`t know anything about, who could
object to that?
The most amazing thing, though, about the Carl Paladino campaign which you
saw alluded to there in that NBC News report, is what voters came to learn
about a pretty big part of his public persona at home in Buffalo, where he
was a successful lawyer and a real estate mogul and also a prolific mass e-
mailer. For example, he sent out this picture. Under the subject line
“White House ball.” He sent out this video in an e-mail that he gave the
subject line “Obama inauguration rehearsal.”
He forwarded another e-mail which included a video of monkeys doing a
little dance that kind of looked like an Irish step dance. It was titled
“proof the Irish discovered Africa.” The idea with that one was that the
dance part of it seemed Irish and the Africa part is that it was – that
Carl Paladino sent this stuff to hundreds of people, to people in politics,
in business, to people all over his sphere of Carl Paladino influence, a
huge trove of this stuff published by western New York media. And I will
not show you the rest of what western New York media published from their
list of e-mails people had received from Carl Paladino, but a lot of it was
really, really hard-core pornography. Not just like pictures of ladies
with their tops off. Like hard-core, pornographic movies.
Carl Paladino would send around to his email list of videos of hard-core
porn with little commentaries from Carl Paladino about whether this one was
a “keeper”, or what else he liked about this particular clip. There was
one video he sent around that showed a person having sex with a horse. He
gave the subject line, quote, “easy steady big fella xxxx.”
Here`s the thing about Carl Paladino and New York Republicans. All of that
stuff about Carl Paladino came out during the campaign, and knowing that
about Carl Paladino, New York Republican voters picked him. They had other
normal Republican candidates to choose. But New York Republican voters in
a closed primary decided that was the guy they wanted.
These were his campaign lawn signs, “I`m mad too, Carl!” Just in case you
needed a reminder the word mad has two meanings.
New York Republicans are poised to elect Donald Trump tomorrow night by
what could be a 10, 20, 30-point margin. That will have consequences for
the overall contest, to choose a replacement for President Barack Obama.
That fact about what`s going to happen tomorrow in New York, that is
But just keep in mind, it is also inescapable that New York Republicans
right now are kind of nuts. Carl Paladino was chosen as the gubernatorial
nominee of the Republican Party in the state of New York six years ago. He
was not elected governor, obviously. He did end up getting elected to the
Buffalo school board, though, where he still serves today, I think,
alongside his duties as the New York co-chair for the presidential campaign
of his friend Donald Trump.
Mr. Trump tonight held his final campaign rally before tomorrow`s primary
in Carl Paladino`s hometown of buffalo, New York. He bragged to the media
about how he arranged this event. Mr. Trump turned down an estimated
18,000 people in Buffalo tonight. And I am sure Carl Paladino`s buffalo
will go huge for Donald Trump in tomorrow`s primary.
New York state is big. And it is not nuts overall. New York state
Republican Party politics, though, have gone nuts. The only problem now is
that now that`s everybody`s problem. We`ll be right back.
MADDOW: Tomorrow is the next big primary night. And here`s how you`re
going to spend it. Special election coverage – oh, there`s the music,
Special election kicks off with Chuck Todd, 5:00 Eastern. That`s “Meet the
Press Daily.” Then, at 6:00 Eastern, Steve Kornacki will take over. Then,
at 7:00 Eastern, Chris Matthews will do a special edition of HARDBALL live
from the Brooklyn Bridge, very near some migrating striped bass. That`s
7:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern.
At 8:00 p.m. Eastern I will be joined here by Brian Williams and Chris
Matthews and the whole team for MSNBC`s live all-night coverage of the
critical New York primary. Basically it starts as soon as you get home and
kick off your shoes. And then it`s no sleep until Brooklyn.
That`s the problem. Tomorrow night, we`ll see you there.
MADDOW: Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders just wrapped up a
really big campaign rally in Long Island City, which is right across the
East River from Manhattan, great skyline views. This will be Senator
Sanders` last big rally before New York votes in its presidential primary
Senator Sanders had the biggest rally he has had yet during the entire
campaign yesterday in Brooklyn. His campaign says he got over 28,000
people in Prospect Park in Brooklyn yesterday. If that number is accurate,
that means it would just pip his previous record crowd size which was in
Portland, Oregon, way back in August.
A Sanders campaign wants you to know they`re getting their biggest crowd
sizes now because they want you to think they`ve got the momentum in the
Democratic primary overall right now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This is a
campaign that has won eight out of the last nine caucuses and primaries.
And with your help on Tuesday, we`re going to win right here in New York
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: It was yesterday afternoon in Prospect Park. You know, it`s an
unusual thing in terms of setting expectations for tomorrow`s primary.
Campaigns and canceled dates usually try to tamp down expectations, right?
So, if they do well, it`s that much more of a surprise. It gives them that
much more momentum coming off a victory.
But the Sanders campaign is doing the opposite of that. Over and over and
over again, the Sanders campaign has been saying, about New York –
basically, forget the polls, Sanders is going to win New York.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And you`re going to win New York?
SANDERS: We are going to win New York.
And with your help, we`re going to win the Democratic primary here in your
With your help on April 19th – we`re going to win here in New York.
We will win a major victory here in New York on Tuesday.
I believe we`re going to win here in New York City. We`re going to win
here in New York state.
With your help on Tuesday, we`re going to win right here in New York state.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tell me if I`m reading anything wrong. All the polling
I`m seeing going into tomorrow`s primary here in New York has you at least
10 points down, up to 17 points down. You have information I don`t have?
SANDERS: Those are the public polls. But the bottom line is, let`s look
at the real poll tomorrow. Generally speaking, polling has underestimated
how we do with elections. We were 25 points down in Michigan, we ended up
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: This is interesting, right? Most campaigns try to tamp down
expectations but Bernie Sanders and his campaign instead, they say they`re
going to win New York tomorrow and the polls are wrong, just like the polls
were wrong in Michigan when Hillary Clinton was predicted to win there and
Senator Sanders won instead.
I don`t know why a candidate would say that unless he or she had good
reason to say it, right? Strategically, there`s no reason to raise
expectations that you`re going to win if you`re going to lose.
So, this strategic decision by the Sanders campaign to publicly and
repeatedly predict a win tomorrow, it means more drama and more suspense
than we might otherwise expect for tomorrow`s vote. If that`s not enough
drama for you, today, the Sanders campaign launched a bombastic new salvo
against both the Clinton campaign and the Democratic Party.
The Sanders campaign is now alleging, quote, “serious apparent violations
of campaign finance laws” when it comes to how the Clinton campaign`s
raising money for the Democratic Party and for down-ticket Democratic
This latest back and forth highlights a big point of substantive contention
between Sanders and Clinton when it comes to progressive bona fides and
who`s going to do the most for progressive causes and the Democratic Party.
The Clinton side has been boasting they have been raising money all along
for the Democratic Party for months now. While the Sanders campaign only
just started raising money for anybody other than himself and that was only
for three hand-picked Sanders supporting congressional candidates.
Now into that mix the Sanders campaign is throwing this allegation there is
something wrong, something illegal, about how the Clinton campaign and the
Democratic Party have been raising money. The Clinton campaign is firing
back against that saying Bernie Sanders is poisoning the well for
Democratic candidates up and down the ticket, and he is, quote, “trying to
convince the next generation of progressives that the Democratic Party is
Democratic candidates on the night before voters head to the polls in a
state with nearly 300 delegates at state, Democratic candidates fighting
over the issue of loyalty to and support for the Democratic Party.
Joining us is Andrea Mitchell, NBC chief foreign affairs correspondent,
host of “ANDREA MITCHELL REPORTS” here on MSNBC.
Andrea, thank you so much for being here.
ANDREW MITCHELL, NBC NEWS CHIEF FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: It`s great
to be here. What could be more exciting than a New York primary? And two
Democrats going at each other. It`s tough –
MADDOW: I mean, we saw the toughness of the tone at the Brooklyn debate.
MITCHELL: Boy, was it.
MADDOW: How substantive is this charge by the Sanders campaign against the
Clinton campaign? What`s your assessment of what it is they`re alleging
MITCHELL: I`ve talked to as many experts as we could since this first
evolved. PolitiFact says it is mostly wrong. Larry Noble, who had been
general counsel at FEC and is an expert on this, says it`s not correct.
MADDOW: The allegation by senator Sanders?
MITCHELL: The allegation is not correct. That they may be pushing the
envelope, but that there really is no underlying corrupt nature to this
I talked to the DNC and they say that this is a joint campaign Victory Fund
that was also offered to Bernie Sanders, that the Sanders campaign, they
claim, signed an agreement but never exercised it. So, they never engaged.
MADDOW: So, the Sanders campaign and the Clinton campaign both set up the
same type of organization with the DNC.
MADDOW: Clinton has used hers, Sanders has not used his.
MITCHELL: And it is basically to raise money up to a certain limit, then
the excess, above $2,700, which is the legal limit for their campaign, goes
to the down-ballot candidates. The expenses incurred are apportioned
directly according to how much money they raise for themselves.
So, there is a sliding scale. It is proportional of how the expenses of
the fund-raising. And it`s all evolved because of the ginormous George
Clooney Friday night lollapalooza fund-raiser, you know, $353,000 for top
dollars, you`re going to sit at the table, spoon feed George and Amal,
you`re going to rub shoulders –
MADDOW: Get in the Christmas card with them.
MADDOW: Is that basically – do you think that is the timing, that`s the
impetus for this happening now? Because this complaint, obviously, the
Hillary Victory Fund, right –
MITCHELL: Going state by state for months.
MADDOW: It`s happened for months. She started raising money for this fund
in 2015. “The Washington Post” reporting on this, which as far as I could
tell, was the closest I could find in the public record closest to the
Sanders allegations, that reporting came out in February. So, is this all
timed to the Clooney fund-raiser?
MITCHELL: I think it`s timed to tomorrow night`s election – to tomorrow`s
election, I should say, and the fact of how important this is.
Bernie Sanders is absolutely energized and lifted by these crowds. And the
crowds are record breaking, from Washington Square Park to what you saw
tonight. And Hillary Clinton does not produce the passion, the enthusiasm
in mass numbers that Bernie Sanders does.
He`s had a heck of a ride. He`s gone to see the pope. He`s really riding
high. But there is, as you saw, spilling out on that stage in Brooklyn, so
much anger between these two candidates. She`s feeling that he is really
going after her and his commercials have been tougher and tougher. He
saying they`re not negative commercials because they don`t mention her by
name, they just mention that person who would give a speech for $225,000 to
Goldman Sachs, that`s got to be a corrupt person.
I mean, that`s a characterization, but a caricature, but basically the
intent and the impact. Tonight, we see that Jane Sanders on Sirius Radio
talking to Julie Mason, accusing Hillary Clinton of undermining and trying
to take down her husband, in a very personal, visceral way.
MADDOW: That`s a version what have she told me as well when I had my last
interview with her.
MITCHELL: There`s a lot of hurt there on both sides.
MADDOW: Well, it will be interesting. No matter what happens tomorrow
night in this race, at some point, these candidates are going to have to
start to feel like they`re in the final quarter and to see if this tone is
MITCHELL: Well, just a reminder, we don`t know if these polls are correct
and he`s absolutely right that Michigan, everybody was wrong about Michigan
except the private polls of Clintons because they were not in Michigan on
election night, they knew it was coming about to hit them in the head.
And she could, if the polls are correct, win by 10 points. And then we
figured she would probably have a net plus of – a pickup of 25 delegates.
But if it`s closer than that, the Democratic race is proportional, unlike
the Republican race, which is winner-take-all above a certain threshold by
And so, he could come out of New York losing but having – not narrowing
the gap, but even if he loses, he could get a lot of delegates.
MADDOW: I mean, on down the calendar. There is no way to get a knockout
blow in the Democratic primary in any individual state, no matter how big
the delegate haul at this point – at least not until the very end.
Andrea Mitchell, NBC News, chief foreign affairs correspondent, host of
“ANDREA MITCHELL REPORTS”, which is 12:00 noon here on MSNBC – this is a
difficult time for you to be on TV because you`re going to be on TV again
in five minutes in the next day and I really appreciate you being here.
MITCHELL: It is great to be here. And tomorrow night, we`ll all be here.
MADDOW: Tomorrow night`s going to be a long night. It`s going to be fun.
MITCHELL: We`ll all be here and watching.
MADDOW: We`ll be right back. Stay with us.
MADDOW: The Republican presidential front-runner had a bad weekend.
District and party and state conventions around the country, these are the
places where delegates are selected for the Republican National Convention.
Donald Trump had a bad weekend this weekend. Even in states that he won.
Even in states that he won by a big margin.
In South Carolina where Donald Trump swept that primary back in February,
in Florida where he swept that state as well last month, in Virginia, in
North Carolina, in all of these places where on election night, he killed
the competition. In all of those states this weekend, the delegates chosen
by local Republicans don`t support him. They support Ted Cruz.
Even in Georgia, where Donald Trump won by over 14 points, his supporters
were nevertheless vastly outnumbered at district conventions this weekend
where they pick Ted delegates. In one of these local Georgia conventions
this weekend, several Trump supporters were so frustrated by their
delegates to losing out to Cruz supporters, some of them stormed out of
local conventions, taking the American flag with them.
(VIDEO CLIP PLAYS)
MADDOW: One of the best quotes yet of the year, “Is he stealing a flag?”
For the record, there are reports that the flag in fact belonged to the
gentleman who walk the out with it. He brought it so he gets to bring it
home. We don`t necessarily believe he stole the flag. But still.
Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump had yet another bad
weekend. In states where he thought he won, he turns out not to have won
in the end.
You know what? For all the drama of those local conventions this weekend,
for all the storms out with American flags and whatnot, there was one
gathering of Republicans this weekend that was even nuttier to the point
where the police had to get involved. And that story`s next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Touch me and I will have you arrested!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Out, turn, out.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Don`t touch me!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Take care.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I`ll file an ethical complaint with the bar
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Off the premises.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Don`t plan on becoming a member of the bar –
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Folks, maintain order.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: OK. So, this is incredible. The Virgin Islands, immaculate
beaches, perfect temperatures. A low of 75 degrees Fahrenheit today. That
was the low.
The U.S. Virgin Islands is a world apart. It`s the only place in the
United States where you drive on the left. But this is also the Virgin
Islands. Specifically, this is the Republican Party of the U.S. Virgin
Islands on Saturday trying to have a meeting.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have new members, thank you very much –
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No such resolution was passed –
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, no, no, no –
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s an honor to have –
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The motion was moved and seconded and passed.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: The think you should know about the U.S. Virgin Islands that
matters nationally now is that Republicans there are having what is by far
the nastiest fight over delegates in this entire election. What`s going on
there is bitter and acrimonious, it is vicious, and it potentially will
play a role in who gets to run for president as the Republican nominee this
We first reported on this story last month and stirred up a little bit of a
hornet`s nest just by asking questions. The chairman of the Virgin Island
Republican Party told us, when we were talking to them about what was going
on down there with delegates, he volunteered to us that the vice chairman
of the Republican Party there is a Nazi and a felon.
For the record, we called the vice chair for comment and he says he objects
only to the Nazi part. He says the felon part is true. But not the Nazi
And you know – it is fine to squabble along in your Caribbean paradise
calling each other Nazis, most of the time. But this year, the Virgin
Island Republicans do have an important job. Pick delegates for the
Republican National Convention. The Virgin Islands have nine Republican
delegates to send to the convention in Cleveland. All nine are going to be
unbound so they can vote for the candidate of their choice on every ballot.
That makes each of them really important in a way that Virgin Island
Republicans almost never are.
Now, on one side of the fight is the party chair who is backed by allies
loyal to Ted Cruz. On the other side is an ex-Rand Paul guy and political
strategist out of Michigan who moved down to the Virgin Islands late last
year and appeared to get himself elected as a delegate until the chairman
declared those results invalid. Since the Virgin Islands caucus in March,
the two sides have been fighting it out with lawsuits and court appearances
and weird negative radio ads.
The old Rand Paul guy from Michigan has called the chairman a dictator.
The chairman has called the old Rand Paul guy a newcomer who`s gaming the
system. Because this whole thing is not settled there are now two separate
competing delegate slates from the Virgin Islands, both of them say they`re
the real delegate slate and the other one is invalid, both of them accuse
the other side of breaking party rules, both are asking the national
Republican Party to rule in their favor.
There are two competing slates. Only one of these groups can be seated in
Cleveland. Right now, it feels like they`re body going to show and up
maybe have a fistfight to figure out who gets the chair. It was in month
two of this war over delegates that party members held a meeting this
weekend. They decided to hold that meeting at a gun range owned by the
party chairman. Set a nice tone, you know.
A local paper says the vice chair, the guy who is not a Nazi but is a
felon, he later described the chairman as, quote, “strutting around like a
petty tyrant with a firearm on his belt while banging the table with a
large ammunition cartridge being used as a gavel.” That seems a bad thing
to use as a gavel.
From the little bit of tape that we got from that meeting, it seems to have
gone as well as you might think.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That is recording?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Touch me and I will have you arrested.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Out. Out.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Don`t touch me.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Take care.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I`ll file an ethical complaint with the bar
association for obstruction. Conduct unbecoming a member of the bar.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Maintain order. Maintain order. We`re Republicans –
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Maintain order. We`re Republicans. Swat to the camera!
“The Virgin Islands Daily News” reports that the meeting in an excellent
headline, quote, “devolved into ruckus.” One of the potential delegates
reportedly grabbed another man`s cell phone and threw it at his head.
Before that would-be delegate was herself allegedly, quote, “slammed
against the wall and thrown to the floor.”
The police were called in. Some members then left. And then they held a
second meeting, a different meeting, at what the vice chair described as a
safer location. Not the gun range.
The party chairman today declared that second meeting to be illegal with no
legal basis under party rules.
Who knows if there really will be riots at the convention in Cleveland, as
Donald Trump keeps darkly intimating. But I will tell you right now in
paradise, they`re getting started.
Joining us now from the Virgin Islands is Suzanne Carlson. She`s a
political reporter for “The Virgin Islands Daily News.” She joins us via
Skype because, hey, she`s in the Virgin Islands.
Ms. Carlson, thank you so much for being with us. It`s a real pleasure to
have you here.
SUZANNE CARLSON, THE VIRGIN ISLANDS DAILY NEWS: Thanks for having me,
Rachel. I appreciate it.
MADDOW: So, is the Republican Party of the Virgin Islands really on track
to send two different slates of delegates to the convention in Cleveland?
CARLSON: You know, it really depends on who you ask. Like you said, both
slates are absolutely convinced they`re going to be the ones that are going
to the convention. So, it`s really anyone`s guess right now how this is
going to play out.
MADDOW: Some of the conflict here has happened in a physical way. A lot
has happened in lawsuits and competing court motions. With all of that
mention, people calling it each other, you know, Nazis and felons and all
of the rest and everything, was it the best idea to hold the meeting at a
CARLSON: You know, that`s something I asked the chairman about. It`s the
chairman`s private business. He said he holds meetings there all the time.
It`s just a nice, comfortable place to meet. And that`s how he viewed it.
So – and he was very forthcoming with the fact that he was armed during
the meeting. He said he had concealed carry. And he`s routinely armed.
So, that`s nothing unusual. And he fully admitted to using a gavel that
was a spent ammunition shell. So –
MADDOW: Well, I will admit to being relieved that it was a spent
ammunition shell. Because banging those things around, I don`t know.
Let me just also ask you just for the broader picture here, we`re obviously
all paying attention to what`s going on in the Virgin Islands because it
has material consequence for this very important thing which is the
Republican nominating process. Are Virgin Islands politics always this
crazy? And we`re just noticing now because it`s really important? Or this
is a real departure from the way things usually are there?
CARLSON: I think any time you have a small community like Virgin Islands
where everyone knows each other very well, they`ve worked together for
years, there`s always going to be some amount of infighting. This is a
particularly extreme example, I`ll give you that. But I don`t think it was
– it`s not uncommon for people to have these kind of debates.
And, honestly, I mean, if there`s a positive takeaway from all this, it`s
that people are very passionate about this process. And residents of the
Virgin Islands are not allowed to vote for president. This is the only
power that we have in the process. So, I think that that`s what you`re
seeing, is people just really wanting to make sure their voice is heard.
MADDOW: Suzanne Carlson, political reporter for “The Virgin Islands Daily
News” which lots of people in American political reporting are now
subscribing to – I want to thank you for your time. Thanks for keeping us
CARLSON: Thanks so much. Nice to be with you.
MADDOW: All right. We`ll be right back. Stay with us.
MADDOW: Here`s one we saw coming. The great state of Tennessee today
decided not to go skipping down the same primrose path as the great states
of North Carolina and Mississippi. North Carolina and Mississippi have
recently been beset by boycotts and cancellations and travel bans, ever
since Republican governors in those states signed bills that explicitly
allowed discrimination against LBGT people.
Big companies like PayPal and Deutsche Bank called off expansion plans.
Concerts were canceled. Conventions were moved to other states. Both
states also stand to potentially lose billions of dollars in federal aid.
While that has been underway, lawmakers in Tennessee were debating their
own similar discrimination bill. The Tennessee measure specifically goes
after transgender students.
As news of the potential measure in Tennessee got around, corporations
started lining up to express their displeasure with what Tennessee seemed
poised to do. The attorney general of Tennessee warned lawmakers that they
could cost the state $1 billion just in federal education funding alone.
Well, after they got warnings like those, lawmakers in Tennessee did start
slow-walking the legislation and now today, Tennessee decided to put that
bill into the deep freeze. The House sponsor of the discrimination bill
says she will delay any action on it until next year so she can study the
issue some more.
So who knows about next year, but for now, Tennessee is not going to join
North Carolina and Mississippi in explicitly acting to make discrimination
legal, all the while risking billions of dollars and national opprobrium
for the sake of pleasing the national conservative base.
We`ll be right back.
MADDOW: The state government of Michigan, under the leadership of Michigan
Governor Rick Snyder, the state government lead poisoned the city of Flint,
Michigan. Flint residents still, today, can`t drink from the tap. They
still don`t get clean water delivered to them, by anyone.
The state has been in no rush to replace the water pipes that they ruined
in the city, that continue to pump out lead through people`s taps. But the
governor, Rick Snyder, has lately been touting the fact that the water in
Flint is now safe to drink, if it`s properly filtered.
Well, at a meeting about Flint`s water last week, the governor was told
that people who live in Flint don`t trust him and don`t trust their water.
And if he`s so sure about that filter thing, they would like Rick Snyder to
please come to Flint and drink the water first.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: There was an invitation for you to come drink filtered water.
Something you`ll do?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Something you`ll do, governor?
News on that. Hold that thought.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: There was an invitation for you to come drink filtered water.
Something you`ll do?
GOV. RICK SYNDER (R), MICHIGAN: Yes. I mean, if someone – I`m happy to
look into that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: He looked into it. And today, Governor Rick Snyder of Michigan
went to Flint, Michigan, and he drank the water.
And I have some news for him about that he may find unsettling. Governor
Snyder today dropped by the Flint home of a woman named Cheryl. He sat
down with her for a glass of filtered Flint tap water and then the governor
promised to keep drinking Flint water for the next 30 days. He says he
will drink Flint`s water at home and at work for 30 days. So, he didn`t
just drink a glass of Cheryl`s tap water, he took a bunch of gallons of it
home with him. That happened today.
Here`s the thing. As best we can tell, that house where Governor Snyder
drank this water through the filter today, it`s been tested for lead, as
far as we can tell, several times in recent months. The federal danger
threshold for lead is 15 parts per billion.
Well, in January, this house tested at 3 parts per billion. In February,
it was 4 parts per billion. Again, on March 2nd, it was 4 parts per
billion. But then two weeks later, in the middle of March, it was 265
parts per billion – way above the federal threshold, more than 10 times
above the federal threshold.
Then at the end of the month, it was back down to 6 parts per billion,
which is OK. But that one day, wow, 265 parts per billion, that`s
So careful, Governor. Hope it was a good lead day at that house today,
when you filled up those jugs. You know the filters are only good up to
150 parts per billion, right? Technically.
That does it for us tonight. We`ll see you again tomorrow at 8:00 for
tomorrow`s special coverage of the New York primary.
Now, it`s time for “THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL.”
Good evening, Lawrence.
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