The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 5/10/2016
Show: THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW
Date: May 10, 2016
Guest: Andrea Bernstein
CHRIS HAYES, “ALL IN” HOST: That does it for us. MSNBC`s primary night
coverage continues with Rachel Maddow, as the polls close in Nebraska.
Good evening, Rachel.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chris. Thank you, my friend.
And polls are closing in Nebraska. Thank you at home for joining us this
hour. Happy Tuesday.
One of the things that happens if you run for president but you don`t win
is that when you come back to your old job, sometimes people clap for you.
That`s what happened after Marco Rubio dropped out of the race for
president, and returned to his seat in the Senate.
That is also what happened today to Ted Cruz who was spotted by a reporter
from “Roll Call” today, getting out of a car on Capitol Hill to go back to
his day job. The car incidentally was very, very, very badly parked.
Do we have that picture? We don`t have that picture.
But you know what – there you go, thank you. Can we drop that? So you
can see how the car is parked? Awesome.
He`s Ted Cruz, that`s how he rolls, that`s how he parks. He may not have
won his race for the Republican presidential nomination, but today, he came
back to his old job in the Senate. His staff did clap for him when he
finally went back into his office.
Before that nice moment, though, Senator Cruz made time this morning to do
an interview on right wing talk radio in which he kind of sort of did but
not really suggested that maybe he still is running for president. Maybe
he`ll get back in.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
PAT GRAY, HOST: Ted, are you leaving the door open to – if Nebraska were
to somehow –
GLENN BECK, HOST: That`s not going to happen.
GRAY: – miraculously choose you tonight –
BECK: Pat`s going for the Hail Mary.
GRAY: Is there – I mean, if that happened, would you consider getting
back in the race?
SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: Well, I am not holding my breath. My assumption
is that that will not happen.
But listen, let`s be very clear. If there is a path to victory – we
launched this campaign intending to win. The reason we suspended the race
last week, is with Indiana`s loss, I didn`t see a viable path to victory.
CRUZ: If that changes, we will certainly respond accordingly.
BECK: I don`t know about you, Nebraska, but I take that as a yes.
GRAY: I`d take that as a big yes.
BECK: Get to the polls now and vote for Ted Cruz.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MADDOW: You guys, Ted Cruz might unsuspend! He might get back into the
Actually, no. He`s definitely not. Polls are now closed all across the
great state of Nebraska. NBC News has projected that the winner of the
winner take all Nebraska Republican primary, no surprise, is Donald Trump -
- the last remaining Republican candidate in the Republican primary.
Nebraska has 36 delegates on the Republican side. This is a winner take
all contest. Donald Trump will get all of those delegates.
Earlier this evening, Donald Trump was projected to be the winner of the
West Virginia Republican primary. Again, no surprise. He is the last
remaining Republican in the Republican primary.
Interestingly, though, tonight, at the same time that NBC News was able to
project that win for Donald Trump in West Virginia, NBC was also able to
project this win for Bernie Sanders in the great state of West Virginia.
On the Democratic side of the race, there are more than – there are still
two candidates. There is more than one person still running. There is
still a race there.
We`re going to be talking about the implications of that West Virginia win
for Sanders and the rest of the race going forward in some detail tonight,
including with some very elaborate math. We`ve got that coming up in the
next few minutes here on this show.
But West Virginia, it`s interesting. West Virginia today, they voted on
both sides, Democratic and Republican side.
And West Virginia today had kind of a monster ballot. That`s in part
because you weren`t just voting for your presidential candidate in West
Virginia, you had to vote by name for individual delegates. You have to
pick a whole roster of presidential delegates in West Virginia. More than
200 people were running to be Republican convention delegates alone today.
But 22 of them will be picked. Most if not all of them will be pledged to
support Donald Trump.
And we`ll be watching these races tonight to get the final exact tally in
terms of the margin of victory. But even from this point, it`s fairly easy
to tell that Mr. Trump has just won these two states tonight by margins
that you would expect in a race that is over, because the Republican
presidential primary is over.
That little joking discussion by Ted Cruz that he might get back in the
race today, it was a joke. It`s over. The only open question in the
Republican primary, which absolutely may be settled tonight, is whether or
not Donald Trump is going to break the record for the most votes ever
received by anyone in a Republican presidential primary season.
Donald Trump has already easily surpassed every other recent Republican
presidential nominee in terms of the number of votes he has received this
year. He`s surpassed everybody including the last two Republican nominees,
Mitt Romney and John McCain. The only question tonight is whether
tonight`s going to be the night that Donald Trump beats the all-time record
for votes in a Republican primary. The all-time record is held by George
W. Bush from the Republican primary held in the year 2000.
Heading into tonight, Mr. Trump was a little under 200,000 votes shy of
George W. Bush`s all-time vote record. So, we`ll be watching the total
vote tallies in both Nebraska and West Virginia tonight. We`ll also be
watching the overall voter turnout to see what it`s like.
I mean, you expect voter turnout to drop once a race is effectively over,
once a person`s vote at the presidential level no longer helps decide some
competitive presidential contest. But it`s interesting. I mean, heading
into West Virginia in particular and less so in Nebraska, local officials
said today that they were still expecting a lot of people, if not a record
number of people, to turn out.
So, if turnout is sufficiently high, Donald Trump will become the new all-
time record holder in American history in terms of most votes ever cast for
anyone running for president in a Republican primary. But remember, the
beltway press still insists the Republican Party is not psyched at all
about Donald Trump as their nominee, right? The beltway narrative is that
Republicans don`t have enthusiasm for him, they are deeply conflicted the
possibility of him being their nominee. While meanwhile, in the real
world, he really is racking up more votes than any other Republican
candidate has ever had in a Republican primary ever.
The beltway narrative insists that the Trump nomination is causing a huge
division in that party. Beltway keeps insisting that there is an important
and influential cadre of noble if not heroic resistance to Mr. Trump
becoming the leader of that esteemed party.
Well, here`s today`s latest data on the supposedly principled resistance to
Donald Trump among influential Republicans. Take it away, Senator.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: Well, I`ve signed a pledge that said I`d
support the Republican nominee and I intend to continue to do that. I
intend to live up to the pledge that we made.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN: But it`s not just concerns that you`ve had about it.
You once said that you didn`t think – that you had concerns about the fact
– about the nuclear codes being in the hands of an erratic con man. That
was what you said.
RUBIO: So I`m not going to – here`s what I`m not going to do the next six
months is take shots at him. I stand by the things that I said, but I`m
not going to sit here now and become his chief critic over the next six
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: I stand by my assessment that he is an erratic con man who should
never be given access to the nuclear codes. And, I will also support him
for president. That is how the Republican Party is taking their principled
stand against Donald Trump.
I guess to be clear the principle at work here is, it`s better to give the
nuclear launch codes to an erratic con man than it is to not vote
Republican. Think about what they`re saying. You`re in a voting booth and
some sort of terrorist came in and said, vote for a Democrat or I will give
the nuclear launch codes to an erratic con man!
You would say, OK, give the nuclear launch codes to an erratic con man,
that`s better than voting for a Democrat. That`s the principled stance
that we`re getting from Republican leaders, including today Marco Rubio.
The last race on the Republican side will be June 7th when five states vote
in the Republican primary, including the biggest one, California. Last
night, the California secretary of state released list of delegates that
have been formally assigned to each campaign.
The Donald Trump list of delegates made headlines this afternoon when
“Mother Jones” was first to report the Trump named delegate slate, which
was officially approved by the Trump campaign, published by the California
secretary of state – the Trump delegate list includes this guy.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIPS)
WILLIAM JOHNSON, AMERICAN NATIONAL SUPER PAC: The American National Super
PAC makes this call to support Donald Trump. I am William Johnson, a
farmer and white nationalist. The white race is dying out in America and
Europe because we are afraid to be called racist. Few schools anymore have
beautiful white children as the majority, gradual genocide against the
Donald Trump is not a racist but Donald Trump is not afraid. Don`t vote
for a Cuban. Vote for Donald Trump.
The white race is being replaced by other peoples in America and in all
white countries. Donald Trump stands strong as a nationalist. The
American National Super PAC makes this call in support of Donald Trump. My
name is William Johnson. I am a farmer and a white nationalist.
(END AUDIO CLIPS)
MADDOW: And now, William Johnson, farmer and white nationalist, who has
run those white supremacist robocalls supporting Donald Trump in at least
seven states during the Republican primary, that guy who voices those ads,
who paid for those ads, gave out his cell phone number in those ads, the
self-proclaimed white nationalist who runs the American Freedom Party who`s
been working his white supremacist guts out for Donald Trump, he has just
been named an official delegate for the Donald Trump campaign in the great
state of California.
Josh Harkinson, “Mother Jones” reports today that Mr. Johnson submitted his
name to the Trump campaign several months ago for consideration to become a
delegate. Mr. Harkinson reports this guy submitted at least one of those
overtly racist robocalls as part of his application to be a delegate to the
Trump campaign. And the Trump campaign presumably reviewed all these
applications, and they picked him.
And we know that because when they decided to name him to their official
slate of delegates for the state, they sent him a congratulatory e-mail.
Directly from the Donald Trump campaign.
Josh Harkinson interviewed William Johnson about his enthusiasm for Trump,
and how the Trump campaign fits into his life`s work, which he sees as the
goal of his life is deporting all nonwhite people from this country, making
America an all-white pure Aryan nation. That`s the work of his life. And
William Johnson is now exalting publicly over how Donald Trump and Donald
Trump`s success in the Republican Party has made things so much better and
so much easier for professional racists and white supremacists like him.
Quote, “For many, many years when I would say these things, other white
people would call me names. Oh, you`re a hatemonger. You`re a Nazi.
You`re like Hitler. Now they come and say, oh, you`re like Donald Trump.”
After the Trump campaign congratulated William Johnson, farmer and white
nationalist, on being selected as an official Trump delegate, after the
California secretary of state published his name as an official Trump
delegate. After “Mother Jones” published this remarkable piece today
pointing out that Donald Trump just named as one of his delegates the white
nationalist robocall guy from the primaries – after all of that, late
today, the Trump campaign decided to rescind their offer to William
Johnson, farmer and white nationalist. They`re attributing the whole thing
to what they`re calling a database error.
But we do have the list from California of all of the official delegates
from all of the campaigns. Apparently, because of this database error,
William Johnson, the farmer and white nationalist, he will be taken off the
Trump slate of delegates.
Had he remained a Trump delegate, he would have been able to serve in that
capacity alongside this man who`s also on the list. His name you probably
recognize, because he is the number two Republican in Congress, under Paul
Ryan. Kevin McCarthy was briefly considered to be the next speaker after
John Boehner stepped down. The job ended up going to Paul Ryan instead.
Congressman Kevin McCarthy is second in command in the House of
Representatives for the Republican party, and heading into the California
primary he is now listed officially as a would-be convention delegate,
specifically for Donald Trump.
So, the Republican Party is not exactly being torn asunder by Donald Trump
being their nominee. There is no heroic resistance, despite what you`ve
been reading. Again, these are the results of tonight`s two Republican
contests, in the presidential race.
In West Virginia and in Nebraska, we`ve got Donald Trump as the projected
winner in both states. We`re going to have the Democratic results in more
detail coming up in just a moment. But you know what, these results on the
Republican side, these are also likely to be the results in all the
remaining Republican primary contests this the year, all the way through
June 7th. And the narrative will eventually wither and die that the
Republican party is somehow standing up to Mr. Trump or trying to stop him
from becoming the leader of their party in any meaningful way.
He is the leader of the Republican Party. Full stop. This is the face of
the Republican Party from here on out. And the rest of the country may be
very troubled by that.
But honestly, despite what you have been hearing from the beltway,
Republicans are not troubled by that. They do not seem to be.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think on the Democratic
side, let the process play itself out. You mention the delegate math. I
think everybody knows what that math is.
I think Senator Sanders has done an extraordinary job raising a whole range
of issues that are important to Democratic voters as well as the American
people generally. And I know that at some point, there`s going to be a
conversation between Secretary Clinton and Bernie Sanders about how we move
towards the convention.
The good news is that despite the fact that during the course of primaries
everybody started getting a little chippy, I`ve been through this, it`s
natural, sometimes even more with staffs and supporters than with the
candidates themselves. The good news is, is that there`s a pretty strong
consensus within the Democratic Party on the vast majority of issues.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: President Obama speaking last week about the Democratic
presidential primary, expressing some optimism basically about what he
called the chippy time, chippy time in the Democratic primary, everybody
gets a little chippy.
He was asked directly in that press conference if Senator Bernie Sanders
should get out of the Democratic primary, if he should get out of the race.
The president said, let the process play out. Then he also said, quote, “I
think everybody knows what that math is.” meaning the delegate math in the
So, that was President Obama speaking last week. Today, the vice
president, Joe Biden, was much more direct on the same subject.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I feel confident that
Hillary will be the nominee and I feel confident she`ll be the next
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Vice President Biden no longer beating around the Bush about the
state of the Democratic race. But that comment from the vice president
today, “I feel confident that Hillary will be the nominee,” that did come
from Vice President Biden today on the same day that senator Sanders has
notched another win over Secretary Clinton.
At poll closing in West Virginia, NBC News projected that Bernie Sanders
will win the West Virginia Democratic primary. NBC also projected that
Donald Trump will win the West Virginia Republican primary and Mr. Trump
will win the Nebraska Republican primary as well, which is not a surprise
given that the Republican presidential primary race is over and it only has
one guy left in it.
The Democratic race, though, is not over. Senator Sanders` win is real
news in West Virginia.
We`re going to Steve Kornacki at the big board in just a moment to talk
about the size of Senator Sanders` win in West Virginia, the significance
of that win, and whether or not there is any suspension left in the
Democratic race as it does steam quickly toward its end.
Stay with us.
MADDOW: An update for you on Senator Sanders` victory in the West Virginia
Democratic primary. NBC projected his victory right as the polls closed at
7:30 Eastern. Right now with 34 percent of the vote in, Senator Sanders
has 50 percent of the vote to Hillary Clinton`s 40 percent of the vote.
For Hillary Clinton, tonight`s contest in West Virginia marks a 180-degree
reversal from the last time she ran in this state. Eight years ago this
week, West Virginia handed Hillary Clinton one of her most lopsided
victories of the entire primary campaign that she ran that year against
At this time, eight years ago, she trailed in the delegate count overall.
She was facing calls to drop out of the race and make room for Barack Obama
to be the party`s nominee. But then she went to West Virginia in May 2008
and she beat Senator Barack Obama there by 41 freaking points. After that
she ended up staying in the race for nearly another month.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I am more determined than
ever to carry on this campaign until everyone has had a chance to make
their voices heard. I can win this nomination if you decide I should. And
I can lead this party to victory in the general election if you lead me to
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That was West Virginia then. This is the exact opposite. This
time around, Hillary Clinton is losing right now by double digits in West
Virginia, even though she is winning the overall Democratic primary race
also by a lot.
As much as the Clinton campaign palpably wants this primary race to be
over, it continues. Senator Sanders continues to draw massive crowds, over
16,000 people turned out to see him last night in Sacramento, California.
Another 6,000 people showed up today for an afternoon rally in Stockton,
Senator Sanders won in Indiana last week. He is heavily favored to win in
Oregon next week. Today, Senator Sanders repeated a claim he thinks he can
still win a majority of pledged delegates.
Despite all the things that are going his way right now, the prospect of
him winning a majority of pledged delegates continues to be a downright
herculean thing to imagine. Senator Sanders would need to win 65 percent
or more of the pledged delegates in every state remaining.
If you factor in the superdelegates, regardless of tonight`s results,
Secretary Clinton woke up this morning already with 93 percent of the total
delegates she needed to clinch the nomination, 93 percent. And when you`re
that close, presumably you want to end the race, right? You want to put
down any chance of a comeback. You want to put an end to your primary
opponent taking shots at you and running ads against you.
You probably just want to win more state so you can stick a fork in this
primary, call it done, move on to the general election.
Well, today Hillary Clinton campaigned in Kentucky which holds its primary
a week from today, next Tuesday. Senator Sanders is slightly favored to
win in Kentucky.
But Hillary Clinton is not just campaigning in Kentucky with three events
there today and tonight. She`s also now spending money in Kentucky. We
were first to report last night that the Clinton campaign might be
reconsidering its earlier decision to stop spending money on ads in the
Democratic primary at all.
Well, now that has come to pass. Clinton campaign has undecided to stop
spending money on ads in the primary. They have now booked $168,000 worth
of ads in Kentucky for that race next week against Bernie Sanders. That
presumably means that Kentucky is the next state on the calendar where the
Clinton campaign believes they might have a chance to put the Democratic
primary to bed.
Could they actually put the Democratic primary to bed if Hillary Clinton
beat Bernie Sanders in Kentucky? What are the feasible endings to the
Democratic primary right now, fantastical or not?
Steve Kornacki joins us here next.
MADDOW: So, there`s a couple of big questions coming off Senator Bernie
Sanders` big win in Virginia tonight. Could Hillary Clinton effectively
kill Senator Sanders off by winning a state like Kentucky next week? A
state where she has now decided to spend ad dollars. Clinton campaign
previously said they weren`t going to spend any more on advertising in the
Democratic race, they are now doing that in Kentucky.
If what they`re trying to do is win there, could a win for the Clinton
campaign in Kentucky be fatal to the Sanders campaign? Overall what are
the conceivable ends to the Democratic race from this point forward?
And in terms of what happened tonight in West Virginia, does anything about
who turned out to vote tonight in West Virginia or what we know about the
Democratic electorate tonight in this latest state to go for Sanders, does
it tell us anything that might help us answer any of those big important
questions about the Democratic race?
You may have noticed I`m standing and have awkward body language. That`s
because the big board is here along with its best friend, Steve Kornacki.
Steve, thank you very much for doing this.
STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Sure.
MADDOW: Can we start first of all with the overall state of the Democratic
race, how important tonight is and whether it changes anything?
KORNACKI: Right, so these are the states left. They`re shaded in here.
You see the pledged delegates up for grabs in each one of these states.
You`ve got West Virginia shaded in, going on tonight.
The bottom line is this for Bernie Sanders – he came in with a gap of 295
pledged delegates behind Hillary Clinton. The Sanders theory when you boil
it down is if they can erase that gap, they can go to those superdelegates,
they`re not being counted here, superdelegates, and say the will of the
people is Bernie Sanders. He should be the nominee. Therefore, you should
support him and not Hillary Clinton. That`s the theory.
So they need to make up an awful lot of ground in these few states that are
left. Now, he`s won West Virginia tonight, good news for him. Bad news is
we don`t have an official count on the delegates but it looks like – it`s
always proportional how they give out these delegates – looks like the
breakdown is going to be something like 16 to 13. It could change in
either direction a little bit but looks like it will be about that.
So, if Sanders gets that, he ends tonight, he gets the win, he gets the
headline. He ends tonight with another state off the board and that dent -
- only a very, very small dent in that lead.
MADDOW: And not to be too pedantic on this, but that would mean that
essentially with Hillary Clinton having won Guam this weekend and picked up
something in the vicinity of three delegates, him winning West Virginia
tonight, picking up netting something in the vicinity of three delegates,
basically no change even though this is a big high-profile win for him?
KORNACKI: It effectively cancels that. That`s problem with the
proportional system, you don`t have to just win states. You have to win
them big, if you`re going to make a movement in the delegate count.
MADDOW: OK. So, that`s tonight.
Now, the Clinton campaign made this interesting decision about Kentucky.
They had previously – hadn`t said it overtly but they indicated there was
not going to be any more ad spending throughout the races left in the
Democratic primary. They have now started spending ads in Kentucky.
Presumably they think Kentucky unless reach for them.
How important would it be if they win Kentucky?
KORNACKI: Well, I guess you have to separate. Psychologically, we`ve
looked at Kentucky, we`ve looked at it, you know, rural, large white
population. There is a sizable African-American population, though, like
in Louisville, for instance. But we`ve looked at it and said, this should
be a Sanders state.
So, psychologically, if she can put a win on the board there, when Bernie
Sanders is in a position where he needs to win everything and needs to win
it big, psychologically you`d say, well, that`s it, he has no chance now.
But basically the same math the Sanders people are pointing to now, the
math probably wouldn`t change that much. It`s really to put it mildly
daunting for him. I can take you through what that means.
KORNACKI: Let`s look at it this way. Less be optimistic for Bernie
Sanders standpoint. Let`s say he wins Kentucky. Say he gets a crushing
win in Kentucky and he nets 20 delegates out of that state, OK? So, that
292 would come down to 272.
MADDOW: Tell me what kind of percentage of the vote roughly that would be
in order to get 20.
KORNACKI: Sixty-five percent, 75 percent of the vote.
MADDOW: OK. So he`s winning 2-1 in Kentucky, it`s a massive landslide.
KORNACKI: Two-thirds of the delegates to be pulling something like off, 37
to 18 would be the split in delegates. Same day Oregon. Same thing, he`s
getting a massive number out of there. Let`s say he nets 20 out of Oregon.
It looks like it could be a Sanders state.
MADDOW: Possible, could be.
KORNACKI: Down to 252 now. OK, takes this.
Let`s look down here, we`ve got Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands. This
looks like Hillary Clinton territory. Let be fair to Sanders, say he
fights her to a tie here. They get the same number here. Take it off the
board. He fights here to a draw.
MADDOW: That would be a surprise.
KORNACKI: But being optimistic, we take it into June now. The last state
– it`s not a state, District of Columbia, heavy African-American
population. Looks like a recipe for disaster for Sanders. Again, let`s be
real optimistic from his standpoint, say he fights her to a draw in D.C.,
take it off the board.
Then you look at these states, this is June 7th. South Dakota looks like a
good Sanders state. North Dakota, Montana, New Mexico. Landslides for
Bernie Sanders in all these states, say he nets 40 delegates out of these
states. Huge landslides.
MADDOW: Huge landslides, like 2-1.
KORNACKI: He`s crushing it. So, that 252 now comes down to 212. Notice
there are two states left on the board.
Let`s start here in New Jersey, 126 delegates. Here`s the problem for
Sanders. There`s a poll out this week in New Jersey. Hillary Clinton`s
leading him by 28 points there, 60 to 32. When we say be optimistic?
Miracle of all miracles he erases a 28-point deficit in New Jersey and it`s
a tie. And they get the same number of delegates.
Now you`re down 212. This is so optimistic for Sanders. You`re down 212.
You have one state left. It`s the mother lode. This is the one.
You talk to Sanders people, they point to California. They say 475, if we
get a win big there, we can catch her.
So, based on these incredibly optimistic projections for Bernie Sanders, to
get that kind of margin out of California, he would need roughly 72 percent
of the vote in California. And that`s if everything went incredibly right
for him. If she got out of New Jersey the kind of number this poll`s
showing, he would need 77 percent out of California.
MADDOW: Wow, OK.
So the individual state by state fight continues to be of psychological
interest mostly, but the delegate math is as daunting as it`s ever been,
not getting any better. If he loses anything by any significant margin
it`s going to get considerably worse.
KORNACKI: The 77 could be over 80 if he`s not hitting all these numbers.
MADDOW: Steve Kornacki, you and this big board is a beautiful thing.
KORNACKI: It didn`t fail me this time.
It`s great, man. Thank you. Appreciate it.
We have Steve Kornacki and nobody else does. That`s why in the battle to
the death between us and all other news properties we`ll win in the end
because Steve will know the answer when it gets down to the final question
we are asked by whoever`s being the life and death arbiter between us. At
least that`s how I dream it every night.
We`ll be right back.
MADDOW: Get out the timpani. It`s primary night in America. It may just
be West Virginia and Nebraska, but hey, it`s West Virginia and Nebraska.
In West Virginia, NBC News projects that Bernie Sanders has won the state
Democratic primary. Also in West Virginia, NBC News projects that Donald
Trump will win the Republican primary there. No surprise since he`s the
only person left in the Republican race.
Oh, hey, and there`s Nebraska, Donald Trump also projected by NBC News to
be the winner of the Republican primary in Nebraska tonight by a margin of
Donald Trump has been the presumptive Republican nominee for one week now.
And already he`s created one job, for Chris Christie. Yesterday, Donald
Trump tapped the New Jersey governor and former Republican presidential
candidate to lead transition efforts for president-elect Trump if he wins
the general election in November. Christie will be in charge of staffing
up the Trump White House.
So, we got that news about Chris Christie hiring the Trump administration
staff yesterday. And that turned out to be incredible timing because today
we got news that the bridgegate scandal which tore apart Christie`s own
administration in New Jersey, the bridgegate scandal is roaring back to
life with a very interesting vengeance right now.
The bridgegate scandal, it`s been going on three years now since a few
Chris Christie political allies and staffers allegedly closed access lanes
onto the busiest bridge in the world as some sort of act of political
retribution. This fall a federal trial is scheduled to start in Newark,
New Jersey, involving two of those three former Christie allies. A third
one has already pled guilty and is cooperating with the U.S. attorney`s
office in this case.
And while Governor Christie did lose his presidential bid this year, he was
sort of able to sidestep this case in a way. I think in part because he
was never officially legally named in the case. He`s certainly not a
defendant in the case, right? It was only ever those three people, who all
lost their jobs before Chris Christie wiped his hands clean of the whole
Now, though, the looks of that may be about to change at least. When those
three former allies were in indicted last spring one of the weird things
about the indictment from the U.S. attorney`s office in New Jersey was that
it named a fourth party, basically a group of other people who the U.S.
attorney later described as unindicted co-conspirators, people who were in
on it but didn`t get indicted.
The U.S. attorney said the names of those people might be disclosed at some
point but not now. He said he would only seek to indict people who he felt
confident would be convicted at trial.
Well, it turns out the U.S. attorney, the prosecutor, kept a list of those
unindicted co-conspirators soars. The list was sent to the defendants and
the judge presiding over this case, in preparation for this upcoming trial.
But the list of unindicted conspirators was never made public.
In January, a group of media organizations including NBC Universal who
filed this legal brief on behalf of WNBC, which is the NBC station here in
New York, NBC Universal and about a dozen other media organizations
discovered the existence of this list of bridgegate unindicted conspirators
and they told the judge, hey, we want that list too. That list probably
involves some public figures.
So the public deserves to know who is on there, who the government believes
was in on this scandal even if they didn`t get indicted for it.
Now, the U.S. attorney, the prosecutor fought to keep the list under seal,
saying that the privacy of the people on that list outweighs the public`s
right to know.
But today, the judge told the U.S. attorney, told the prosecutor, no. The
judge in that case now says the list of unindicted conspirators should be
released to the public.
And because we know the judge has that list of unindicted conspirators, it
makes her ruling all that much more jaw-dropping to read.
Quote, “Individuals thus far identified as being involved in the lane
closings have been public employees and/or elected or appointed officials
and anyone named in the conspirator letter is likely to have held a similar
position. Although privacy for third parties is indeed important, this
court is satisfied the privacy interests of uncharged third parties are
insufficiently compelling to outweigh the public`s right of access.
Disclosure is appropriate and the media`s motion for access to the list of
unindicted conspirators is granted.”
Now, the ruling is kind of unusual for a couple of reasons. First, the
judge uses as precedent for her ruling a particular case in which a U.S.
attorney named Chris Christie put away Donald Trump`s son-in-law`s dad.
So, Donald Trump`s son-in-law and Chris Christie are the two people who are
supposed to be working together to put the Donald Trump transition team
into place in case Donald Trump gets elected president. That`s already a
little awkward because Chris Christie put that kid`s dad in prison, for tax
But now, that precedent is being cited as the reason to list – to release
the list of people who are unindicted conspirators in the bridgegate case.
So there`s that.
Also, in this ruling today, the judge never gives a deadline by which this
list of unindicted conspirators has to be released. It`s also unclear who
is supposed to release it. And there is still a chance the U.S. attorney
could appeal today`s ruling and ultimately no one will have to release it
But right now the prosecutor, the judge, and the defense all have this list
of unindicted conspirators. The judge says it should be released to the
media. The lawyer for the media companies is demanding its, quote,
In other words, it sort of feels like it`s only a matter of time before
this particular political cannonball hits the pool.
Joining us is Andrea Bernstein, senior editor for politics and policy at
WNYC. I should mention that WNYC is part of New York Public Radio, which
is one of the other media organizations involved in this lawsuit to release
Andrea, it`s great to have you here.
ANDREA BERNSTEIN, WNYC SENIOR POLITICAL EDITOR: Good evening.
MADDOW: Did I get any of that wrong?
BERNSTEIN: No, I don`t think so.
MADDOW: It`s a little complicated except for – the procedure of it is
complicated but the basics of it are that the government thinks there are
people who are in on bridgegate who they didn`t feel they could convict.
BERNSTEIN: Right. As a matter of fact, legal ruling said this isn`t just
people who the U.S. attorney thinks might have been involved in the
conspiracy. It`s people the U.S. attorney believes there is sufficient
evidence to believe they were a part of the conspiracy.
So, it`s not as speculative as all that. They`re just people who were not
charged but from the prosecutor`s point of view are equally – have equally
committed the crime of closing down the George Washington Bridge, the
world`s busiest, for political retribution against a mayor who did not
endorse Chris Christie in his re-election.
MADDOW: Do we know how big the list is?
BERNSTEIN: We don`t how big the list is. The judge seemed to imply it
wasn`t a huge list. I mean, I think what`s interesting about the list as
you mentioned, this is a man who has been named to select the staff of
potentially the next White House. The bridgegate defendants, the ones we
know so far, are three big failings in Christie`s staff appointments.
He has said he is not all that close to these people, that they were three
rogue employees. But if the list gets wider of people close to Governor
Christie and the judge has hinted they are public officials or public
employees, then that becomes further problematic in the storyline of he is
the best person to choose the next White House.
MADDOW: The last time he put a staff together, look what happened, yes.
BERNSTEIN: Some things did not work out so well.
MADDOW: Obviously one of the things everybody`s wondering is whether or
not Chris Christie himself is going to be on the list. Do you have any
informed supposition about that?
BERNSTEIN: We obviously don`t know if he is going to be on the list.
It`s also very clear that they have – from the judge`s point of view,
these individuals participated in a conspiracy. So, it`s not somebody who
may have known.
So, you may recall that sometime in the New Hampshire primary, Donald Trump
said he totally knew about it, referring to Governor Christie. That was a
moment when they were sparring with each other. And that seems to be a
popular sentiment. But there`s been no proof, there`s been no evidence,
there have been no documents certainly that have been in any way in the
public sphere that suggests Chris Christie was a participant in this scheme
and this list may or may not shed light on that.
But it will certainly widen the list of people around Chris Christie who
the government believes committed a federal crime.
MADDOW: Wow. You know, I never thought this thing was going to end at any
convenient time for this particular part of it to be breaking at this
particular time, the day after he`s named the transition staff.
BERNSTEIN: Yes. And that the – his son-in-law is partners with Chris
Christie is further stunning news, given their opposite relationship at a
time when Chris Christie was a crusading federal prosecutor himself trying
to bring public corruption to light.
MADDOW: Andrea Bernstein, senior editor for politics and policy at WNYC –
thank you very much. Please keep us apprised and keep us on this.
BERNSTEIN: Thanks. Always a pleasure.
MADDOW: All right. More to come this big political night. Stay with us.
MADDOW: It turns out they should have listened to the hippies. They wish
they had listened to the hippies.
A year ago, this was the port of Seattle. The active industrial port in
that city, and the hippies, I mean that as a term of endearment, the
activists, you see there in these brightly colored kayaks, they were there
to give Royal Dutch Shell, turns out to be good advice.
The reason they have all the little boats out, was to try to block a giant
drilling rig that Shell wanted to send to Alaska to start drilling the
Arctic. Shell has tried several times to drill the Arctic. They screwed
it up over and over again.
In so doing, they have basically proven that even the biggest, best
resourced, richest, most aggressive oil company on the planet has know idea
how to safely drill the Arctic. But they tried.
This time last year, maneuvering around all those zillions of protesters,
they did get their rig into Seattle for work at that port. A month later,
they managed to get that rig out of that same port, again, past another
flotilla of protesters, telling the company basically, don`t do it, don`t
try it. It is not worth it, you don`t know how to do it.
A month after that, it was the ice breaker for that Shell drilling trip
which only got out of Portland by the skin of its teeth as more protesters
dangled off a bridge and rode alongside it and tried to stop it. The
activists again, saying, “Don`t go. Don`t do it. Don`t try it. It`s not
You know, Shell put on a brave face. They still went. This was the CEO of
Shell at the time, vowing to press on with their plans to drill the arctic,
reassuring investors all was well. That the protesters didn`t know what
they were talking about. That was this time last year.
And then today, today, shell gave up. All the companies did exactly.
Royal Dutch Shell, ConocoPhillips, all of them.
The group Oceana got documents show that these companies that paid $2.5
billion for drilling rights in the U.S. Arctic, they have quietly
relinquished those claims, after Shell braved all those protesters to go
ahead with their nearly $8 billion mishap-marred quest for Arctic crude
last year, they`ve now just decided to eat that – to eat that expense. To
not try again, give up the Arctic drilling rights that they paid billions
for. Billions of dollars wasted, down the tubes, for Shell.
The Arctic isn`t going to be drilled. No oil company knows how to do it.
They wasted billions trying to and planning to, but now it`s off. Should
have listened to the hippies, you guys. Seriously. They were right. It
would have saved you a bundle.
MADDOW: At this hour, in West Virginia, NBC News has projected that Bernie
Sanders has won the West Virginia Democratic primary.
Also in West Virginia, NBC News has projected that Donald Trump has won the
Republican primary. NBC News has also projected that Donald Trump has won
the Republican primary in the state of Nebraska.
So, that all turned out the way we expected. But we have been tracking one
particular wild card out there in the race, and we`ve got the latest on
that in just a moment. Stay with us.
MADDOW: MSNBC`s coverage continues all night tonight. But for weeks now,
as part of our reporting on this race, we have been following some – let`s
call them murky legal proceedings. In particular, keeping tabs on the
Supreme Court docket for a specific reason.
We`ve been waiting for something that we`ve been told could have
implications for the 2016 race. Last week, as Donald Trump stampeded
through Indiana and locked up the Republican nomination, we noticed this
popped up on the Supreme Court website, saying the Supreme Court would not
lift a gag order which a lower court had put into effect years ago, a gag
order that blocks the release of phone records from the old D.C. madam
A bunch of government officials and elected officials were named years ago,
in phone records from the D.C. madam escort service. But the lawyer there
that case has been saying since the start of the year that some of the
unreleased records from that escort service are relevant to this year`s
presidential race. Because of that, because of that impending public
interest, once we see what`s in them, he`s asked to be released from this
gag order, which prevents him from releasing the record.
The lawyer`s name is Montgomery Blair Sibley. He`s told us if the Supreme
Court turns him down, he thinks those records are so important that he
would consider violating the gag order and releasing the records any way in
defiance of the law.
Well, now, the court has said no, and incidentally in the meantime, the
Republican primary part of the race has ended.
So, are these unreleased escort service phone records still relevant to the
2016 race now, if they ever were? And will the D.C. madam lawyer risk jail
time by violating the gag order and releasing them himself? We do not
But the Supreme Court I can tell you has now said, uh-uh, no way, gag order
still applies. What happens next, we have no idea.
But our coverage this primary night continues now with Lawrence O`Donnell.
Good evening, Lawrence.
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