The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 5/13/2016

Steven Ginsberg

Date: May 13, 2016
Guest: Steven Ginsberg

CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC: All right. That does it from the Windy City. That is
“ALL IN” for this evening.

THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts right now.

Good evening, Rachel.

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chris. Thanks, my friend. Happy

HAYES: You bet. Thank you.

MADDOW: And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour. Happy Friday.

I will say, this is going to be an interesting, kind of a fun,
interesting/disturbing show. A lot of weird stuff has happened in the
news. It`s been kind of an intense week. This is one of those Friday
nights that felt like it took about 16 days to get to the end of the week,
right? It feels like it`s the 45th of May at this point.

In the news business, it sometimes feels like that, when the news cycle
gets stuck on one story. This week, the political news cycle got stuck on
one news story about the Republican presidential primary. The story of
whether or not the Republican Party was going to have a hard time accepting
Donald Trump as their party`s new leader and as their party`s presidential

There`s been a lot of opinion expressed about this matter. There`s been a
lot of speculation about it. We have on this show tried to stay focused on
the data rather than just the opinion on this matter, because I think most
of the data suggests that the Republican Party is not having that hard a
time accepting Donald Trump as their nominee. After all, Mr. Trump
received more votes in the Republican primary this year than any Republican
presidential candidate has ever received before.

We`ve also been reporting that for all the beltway ink that`s been spilled
over this idea that Republican elected officials and party leaders are
having a hard time with Mr. Trump, there really just isn`t that much
evidence of anybody saying no to him. We reported last night that we could
find so few Republican members of Congress who were explicitly opposed to
Donald Trump, we thought as of last night there were so few of them that
you could actually fit all of them into a station wagon.

In the Senate, the three Republican U.S. senators known to be explicitly
opposed to Mr. Trump are Lindsey Graham, Dean Heller, and Ben Sasse.
That`s it.

In the House, we reported last night that the two Republican members of the
house who are known to be explicitly opposed to Mr. Trump were Carlos
Curbelo of Florida, Scott Rigell of Virginia. That brings us to a grand
total of five members of Congress, three in the Senate, two in the House,
right? That would imply not exactly a great rift in the party.

Since then, though, four more members of Congress have been in touch with
us today to let us know that they would like to also be recognized as being
crammed into that car. Oh, really? Yes, so behold, we happily correct the

Four additional confirmed members of Congress from the Republican Party who
say explicitly on the record today they are opposed to Donald Trump. So,
we`ve still got those three senators on the top row there – Lindsey
Graham, Ben Sasse, Dean Heller. In the House, we`ve got Carlos Curbelo,
and Scott Rigell.

But now, we can add Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida. We can add Congressman
Bob Dole of Illinois. We can add Congressman Richard Hanna of New York.
And we can add Congressman Reid Ribble of Wisconsin.

We have spoken with all of their offices today. They have all confirmed
that they should also be crammed into that mid-sized sedan or station wagon
which was previously holding all of the Republican Party in Congress who is
against Donald Trump.

Because there are now nine of them confirmed as being no to Trump
Republicans, we are going to have to get them a bigger car. Turns out they
would not all fit in the station wagon. They would all fit in a Chevy
Tahoe if you got the one that was configured with a third seat in the back
but that does crimp your cargo space.

So, as long as they`ve got no baggage, these nine members of Congress, this
little Brady Bunch, in the proverbial Chevy Tahoe, that is the sum total of
what we know so far, in terms of the split in the Republican Party over
Donald Trump becoming that party`s presidential nominee. These updated
numbers mean that the no to Donald Trump caucus is roughly 3 percent of
congressional Republicans.

Oh, how will the party survive? This terrible schism.

I should say, if you are a Republican member of Congress or a Republican
member of the Senate and you are explicitly opposed to Donald Trump being
your party`s leader and being your party`s presidential nominee, if you
will not vote for him, if you are encouraging other people to not vote for
him as well, please let us know. We`ll get you guys a bigger proverbial
car. We`ll get you a bus fit ever turns out there are that many Republican
members of Congress who are actually opposed to him. But right now, all we
know of is nine. We will update it every time we get another one, if we
ever do.

I don`t know if we ever will though. I mean, all the momentum in the party
seems to be going the other direction, seems to be going toward Mr. Trump.
Nine committee chairmen from the House of Representatives today signed on
with Mr. Trump. The House of Representatives, of course, is controlled by
the Republicans so they control all the committees. The chairs of nine
House committees all came out today and endorsed Mr. Trump.

And you know, it`s a real decision to do that if Mr. Trump is going to be a
problem for Republican incumbents. I mean, those nine committee chairmen,
like every other member of the house come November, they will all be up for
re-election. Everybody in the House needs to run for re-election every two
years. So, every Republican maybe except the very few who have said no to
him, every Republican is going to be running to one degree or another
alongside the leader of their party.

To a certain extent, every Republican in the country this year is going to
be running on what Donald Trump stands for. And today the question of what
Donald Trump stands for got very, very woolly. It might possibly have
fallen apart altogether.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You said we got to stop Muslim immigration until we
find out what the hell`s going on, you said. And then, you said – you
walked back the other day to say, listen, that was a suggestion, but you`ve
got to put together a commission headed by Rudy Giuliani. Would you like
to expand on that?

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Yes, it was a suggestion. Look,
anything I say right now, I`m not the president. Everything`s a
suggestion. No matter what you say, it`s a suggestion.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Speaker Ryan said after the meeting that there are
clearly issues on which you two disagree. We know that one of those is on
that ban of Muslims. He is not for it, you have said you are.

But in recent days, you`ve called it more of a suggestion than a proposal.
I`d like you to clarify that for me because I think millions of people who
voted for you across the country during the primary process felt as if you
were actually proposing that. Are you softening your stance?

TRUMP: I`m not the president right now so anything I suggest is really a
suggestion. I`m always flexible on issues. I am totally flexible on very,
very many issues and I think you have to be that way.


MADDOW: Everything is just a suggestion. I am totally flexible.

Mr. Trump says now basically that he has no policy platform. He`s not
overtly proposing to do anything particular as president. Everything he
said that the country ought to do? It`s a suggestion. It`s totally

And it is remarkable to hear a major party presidential nominee admit that
they don`t really stand for anything. That everything`s up for
negotiation. They don`t really have any firm policy proposals that you can
count on them for, that you can count on him to enact when he becomes

It`s remarkable to hear it. Reasonably speaking, it`s not an illogical way
to run, right? If you think about it. I mean, it`s cynical but it`s not

The Trump campaign apparently has just moved into a part of the election
where they say they do not want Mr. Trump to be judged on the basis of his
policy proposals, all his policy proposals are subject to change. They
don`t think that`s what`s important to voters about Mr. Trump. They`re
basically saying what`s more important than any promise he could make on
policy is that people should just trust Donald Trump to do a good job. To
be a guy who would be good at being president.

Don`t vote for him because of something specific he says he`s going to, do
vote for him because you think he would be good at the job, because you
think he`s generally capable as a person. He vaguely wants the right
things for the country. He`ll be good at handling stuff when it comes up.
He`s the kind of guy you`d like to be president no matter what it is he
exactly wants to do with the job.

It`s an unusual way to run for president but it`s not irrational. In fact,
that`s probably the way that a lot of voters think about their choice in a
presidential election. When people tell pollsters they vote for who they
wanted to have a beer with, those voters know they`re never going to get to
have a beer with the president. They`re basically telling pollsters they
cast their votes for who they liked the best, who they thought was the best
person, who they thought would be a better person in that job, regardless
of their platform or promises or what they said they wanted to do.

Voting for the perceived capabilities of a politician as a person, rather
than anything specific about their agenda, it does in a way make sense,
unless your perception of your candidate`s capabilities is completely wrong
for some reason. I mean, it`s one thing to vote for somebody who stands
for nothing because you think they`d be a generally capable person. It`s
another thing did vote for someone who stands for nothing who it turns out
is a crank, or is fundamentally unstable. Or who is a con artist. Or who
is prone to bizarre behavior.

This is the Bonwit Teller Building. It used to be the Bonwit Teller
Building. It was built in 1928 on the corner of 56th Street and Fifth
Avenue in New York City, a great example of art deco architecture.

Its big distinguishing feature on its facade were really big stone
sculptures. It was interesting. They weren`t at the street level. They
were way high up on the facade of the building. Each of them about 15 feet
high. Really distinctively art deco.

And they were up on the building, this is an 11-story building. These
sculptures were on the eighth and ninth floors, between the eighth and
ninth floors of this 11-story building. Interesting design, right?

The building was designed by the same firm that built Grand Central
terminal. In addition to those really notable sculptures, it also had a
huge 20 foot by 30 foot intricate super-heavy metal sculpture thing. It
was a grille, basically, on the front of the building, built into the main
entrance, really striking. It was made of solid nickel. It was all
interlocking geometric designs, super intricate, very distinctive, built in

1980, that building was due to be demolished, because a developer wanted to
put up a big glass tower in its place. The developer promised the
Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City that when the old building was
demolished, the Met could have all that important art. They could have the
giant grille work. They could have the bas-relief stone sculptures from
the front of the building. That was the deal.

And then on a Thursday afternoon in June with no warning, the real estate
developer instead had the stone statues jackhammered into pieces.

Quoting from “The New York Times” the next day, quote, “Two stone bas-
relief sculptures high on the fa‡ade of the Bonwit Teller Bulding uner
demolition on Fifth Avenue, pieces that had been sought with enthusiasm by
the Metropolitan Museum of Art, were smashed by jackhammers yesterday on
the orders of a real estate developer. The destruction of the art deco
panels stunned some art appraisers and elicited expressions of surprise and
disappointment from officials at the Met where they were to have been
installed by the Department of 20th Century Art.”

Everybody thought these sculptures and the grille thing were going to the
Met. The Met thought they were going to the Met. The neighbors thought
they were going to the Met. “The New York Times” interviewed a gallery
owner who was across the street from the Bonwit Teller Building, “yesterday
Mr. Miller said he was stunned when he looked out his window and saw
workmen attack the sculptures with jack hammers. Quote, “They were just
jackhammered in half and pulled down in such a way they shattered. It was
just tragic.”

You will have guessed by now the real estate developer in question who did
that in 1980 was Donald Trump. What went up on that site after the Bonwit
Teller Building came down in a heap was Trump tower. And when a
significant portion of New York freaked out about him destroying this art
that everybody thought was going to go to the Met from the old building,
jam hammering it off the building with no explanation and no warning like
they were Buddha sculptures in northern Afghanistan, a representative of
the Trump Organization was made available to the press to explain the Trump
organization`s side of this disturbing story.

Quote, “John Baron, a vice president of the Trump Organization, said after
the demolition yesterday that the company had decided to not preserve the
sculptures because, quote, `the merit of these stones was not great enough
to justify the effort to save them.`”

Remember the Metropolitan Museum of Art was going to take them and put them
up. But the Trump Organization decided they had no artistic merit.

As for the giant gilded nickel geometric grille work, again, the Art
Museum, the Met thought they were getting that too. But the Trump
organization`s explanation for that one was that they lost it. Quote, “`We
don`t know what happened to it,` said John Baron, a vice president of the
Trump Organization.”

Now, looking back on this, as far as we can tell, there never was a John
Baron, vice president of the Trump Organization. That was not a real
person. We actually had it confirmed a decade later, that there was no
John Baron.

That confirmation came in a court proceeding a decade later. In the course
of a bunch of legal wrangling that happened over the fact that Mr. Trump
used illegal immigrant laborers to tear down the Bonwit Teller Building and
put up his Trump Tower.

Mr. Trump testified under oath in 1990 during a legal proceeding about his
illegal immigrant labor that he and another one of his executives at his
company sometimes used this alias, John Baron, in some of their business
dealings when for whatever reason, they didn`t want to use their real
names. They admitted to it, or he admitted to it under oath.

It actually created a minor media scandal around Mr. Trump in 1990. There
are a bunch of headlines ran at the time about how he had been using this
fake name, John Baron. It was described at the time as an open secret in
the New York press, somebody named John Baron would call reporters to say
things about Donald Trump. But the John Baron calling reporters to talk
about Donald Trump was actually just Donald Trump himself.

But he admitted to that in a court proceeding in 1990. Got a bunch of
headlines, people started making fun of him for that in 1990. So, in 1991,
Mr. Trump apparently started using a different name, killed off John Baron,
picked up a new name. And that is what led to the huge and truly freaking
weird development in the presidential campaign today. And that`s next.



JOHN MILLER: How are you?

INTERVIEWER: Good. How are you? What`s your name again?

JOHN MILLER: John Miller.

INTERVIEWER: And you work with (INAUDIBLE)?

JOHN MILLER: Yes, that`s correct.

INTERVIEWER: John Miller. Can you sort of – I guess we`re going to try
and put a story together and we have a deadline of today.


MADDOW: This is a recording made in 1991 by a reporter from “People”
magazine called Sue Carswell. She was calling Donald Trump`s office, she
ended up speaking with somebody who sounded very much like Donald Trump but
he said his name was John Miller. He said he was a publicist working for
Donald Trump. And he said he was brand new to the organization. He had
just started.

But even though he`d just started, brand new, he was eager to help this
“people” magazine reporter with her queries about Donald Trump`s love life.

Now, for a man who was just a hired hand, who had just started at the
organization, was brand new, he did seem to know a lot about Donald Trump`s
love life and inner feelings.


INTERVIEWER: Is Marla trying to reconcile all this or is this –

JOHN MILLER: Marla wants to be back with him and he wants to be with her,
but he just, he just feels it`s too soon.

I can tell you there was never any talk of marriage from Donald`s point of
view. I can also say that Marla would like to get married but it was
something he didn`t want to do. It`s just too soon. Hopefully he`ll
maintain a good relationship with Marla.

INTERVIEWER: What about this Ivana thing? It says in the Newsday Trump
also told friends that when he and Ivana met last week, she indicated that
she would be interested in reconciliation?

JOHN MILLER: Ivana wants to get back with Donald, but she –

INTERVIEWER: Really? After saying on Barbara Walters that she never

JOHN MILLER: What is she going to say? What is she going to say? She`s
going to say when he`s with somebody else and had other people lined up, is
she going to say, “Yes, I want to get back. I want to get back.” You
know, she`s a pretty savvy woman and she`s not going to say – I mean, he`s
living with Marla and he`s got three other girlfriends, and then, and she`s
not going to say, I really want to get back, you know?

She wants to get back, she`s told it to a lot of her friends and she`s told
it to him, but it`s so highly unlikely. That`s off the record. He left.
I mean, it was his choice to leave and he left.

INTERVIEWER: He left for Marla.

JOHN MILLER: No, he didn`t leave, no. See, that`s the biggest
misconception of this whole thing. The second question I asked about after
the ring was the biggest misconception is he left. He didn`t leave for
Marla. He really left for himself.

He didn`t leave for Marla. He never left for Marla. He was going to leave
anyway. Marla was there, but he was going to leave anyway. Whether there
was a Marla or not, he was going to leave anyway.

So now he has somebody else named Carla who is beautiful and I guess you
have something on her. I don`t know if you do or not.

He leaves for himself, he does things for himself. He, when he makes the
decision, that will be a very lucky woman. But he`s not going to do that
until he makes the decision. You know, when he makes the decision, he`s
very capable of a total commitment when he makes the decision. But he felt
it`s too soon. Off the record, he probably felt Marla wasn`t the right
one, or whatever, but he just felt it was too soon.


MADDOW: For a PR guy who had just started, who was brand new at the Trump
organization, boy, he really had very quickly tapped really deeply into his
boss` psyche. When he makes the decision, he`s very capable of a total
commitment but he felt it`s too soon, he probably felt Marla wasn`t the
right one, he felt it was too soon. That PR guy is just tapped right in.

That happened in 1991. “People” magazine ran an article about it at the
time that gave the game away. The top headline was the tabloid stuff,
right? “Trump says goodbye Marla, hello Carla.” The subtitle explained
how they got this story, “Mysterious PR man who sounds just like Donald
calls to spread the story.”

If you think it is weird that somebody would impersonate another person,
not just to give a quote under a fake name to “The New York Times” about
some embarrassing business thing, right, to accomplish some other business
goal. But simply – not even for something like that, but instead to brag
to “People” magazine how many people wanted to have sex with him, and what
he really thought about his girlfriends, how much they all wanted to get
back together with him, if you think it`s a weird thing to form an alias
for yourself to do, “People” magazine at the time also thought it was a
really weird thing to do.

This is their lead from that story they ran at the time. Quote, “There are
interesting stories, there are moving stories, and there are funny stories.
And there are stories that are simply bizarre. Last week, Donald Trump
after years of edging ever closer seems finally to have landed squarely in
that last category.” Bizarre.

The reporter took the tape of that interview, played it for several people
who knew Mr. Trump well, including his former fiance. The reporter says
they all confirmed to her it definitely was Donald Trump pretending to be
someone else on that phone call. Quote, “Said a former close associate who
also I.D.`d the voice, is he whacked out or what?”

Two weeks later, “People” magazine ran a follow-up story including, and
this is key, Donald Trump`s admission that actually, yes, it hadn`t been
somebody named John Miller, it actually had been him on the phone. It also
included his apology.

Quoting from “People” magazine, July 1991. Quote, “The John Miller fiasco
he called a joke gone awry, `I`m very sorry,` says the newly humbled

It`s a little strange as a business practice to use a fake name and pretend
to be someone who you are not. It`s a little weird for a big business to
invent a fake vice president, give them a fake name, have them give quotes,
speaking on behalf of your business. That was a minor scandal when it was
John Baron, Mr. Trump in 1990. Then he killed John Baron and he came back
as John Miller the following year.

As John Miller, it was really strange. Even in celebrity tabloid culture,
to pretend to be somebody you`re not in order to talk to gossip reporters
to tell them about your love life. And how much women want you.

That was even seen as bizarre at the time by the tabloids. It earned him a
slew of headlines about how strange this behavior was. And not
incidentally, he admitted it. He apologized for it. And he played it off
as a joke.

Well, now, “The Washington Post” obtained the tape of that conversation
that he had with “People” magazine reporter, 1991. They posted it on their
front page today. And now, today, now that he`s running for president and
that tape is circulating, now Mr. Trump has a very different explanation
for this and a different reaction to what he used to admit to.


TRUMP: It doesn`t sound like my voice at all. I have many, many people
that are trying to imitate my voice. And you can imagine that. And this
sounds like one of these scams, one of the many scams. It doesn`t sound
like me.

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE, NBC NEWS: “The Post” says you acknowledged a couple of
decades ago that in fact that was you but it was a joke.

TRUMP: I don`t think it was me. It doesn`t sound like me. I don`t know
even what they`re talking about. I have no idea.

GUTHRIE: “The Post” says this is something you did rather routinely, that
you would call reporters and plant stories and say you were John Miller or
John Baron, but in fact, it was actually you on the phone. Is that
something you did with any regularity?

TRUMP: No, and it was not me on the phone. It was not me on the phone.
And it doesn`t sound like me on the phone, I will tell you that. And it
was not me on the phone.


MADDOW: He used to admit that it was him on the phone, now he says it was
definitely not him on the phone.

Well, today, “The Washington Post” followed up on this bizarre development
and something interesting happened. Quote, “Friday afternoon,” so this
afternoon, “Washington Post reporters who were 44 minutes into a phone
interview with Mr. Trump about his finances asked him a question about this
John Miller situation. Did you ever employ someone named John Miller as a
spokesperson? The phone went silent, then dead.

When the reporters called back and reached Trump`s secretary, she said, `I
heard you got disconnected. He can`t take the call now. I don`t know what
happened.`” That was today.

This was tonight on “NBC Nightly News. Cynthia McFadden interviewing Sue
Carswell, reporter for “People” magazine back in the day who made that tape
in the first place and who thought that was a settled issue.


CYNTHIA MCFADDEN, NBC NEWS: You published in 1991 that you believed this
was Donald Trump pranking you, pretending to be a publicist.

SUE CARSWELL, PEOPLE: I didn`t believe it, I knew it to be true based on
the fact that Cindy Adams and Marla Maples confirmed it.

MCFADDEN: Not just someone pretending to be Donald Trump?

CARSWELL: Not just someone pretending to be Donald Trump. Could he really
prank Marla and Cindy Adams, too? Could he really punk Marla, his fiancee?
Well, he said it wasn`t his fiancee, sorry.

MCFADDEN: So why does this matter?

CARSWELL: Why does this matter? Because this man is going to possibly be
the leader of this country and is he going to punk people when he`s
president? Say he`s John Doe calling?

MCFADDEN: At the time, when he told you he was sorry he`d done it. Tell
us a little bit more about that.

CARSWELL: When he said he was sorry he`d done it. He asked if I would go
out as a sort of apology with him and Marla. We went to one of the hot
clubs at the time, I don`t remember the name.

He picked me up in his stretch limousine. We picked up a friend of mine
who was the editor of the story. We went out and we went into this room.
And he stayed for about 15 minutes and said, you know what, I don`t like to
stay at parties, I don`t drink, and he left. And he and Marla both left.
And we went home soon thereafter.

MCFADDEN: But he made it absolutely clear to you that – he acknowledged,
there`s no –

CARSWELL: There`s no doubt in my mind that he apologized to me and that he
made it clear that he was the man on the tape. There`s just no doubt in my

MCFADDEN: So why is this important?

CARSWELL: Well, it`s one thing to punk me about his love life. But to
punk the nation is another thing. And I think that`s what he`s doing now,
even today.

MCFADDEN: And beyond that I guess you would say that to lie about it in

CARSWELL: He`s still lying about it, which is ridiculous. I woke up to
all these e-mails about this conversation that everybody in my life knew
had happened. And now he`s saying it didn`t happen. Why? And where did
the tape come from, since I didn`t give it to “The Washington Post”?

MCFADDEN: If you could speak to Donald Trump, what would you like to say
to Donald Trump?

CARSWELL: I`d say, Donald, please. You and me, come on. You did it, you
know you did it.


MADDOW: It`s one thing to vote for somebody for president because you
think they`ve got a great policy agenda. You like what they are proposing
to do for our country. It`s another thing to vote for somebody for
president because you don`t know anything about what they`re proposing for
the country but you just think they`re great.

You just think they`d be really capable of handling the job well. You
think they`re just a solid person who would do a good job, just because of
who they are. And what you know about them. Which case does the
Republican Party make for its nominee this year, Donald Trump?



TRUMP: It doesn`t sound like my voice at all. I have many, many people
that are trying to imitate my voice. And you can imagine that. And this
sounds like one of these scams, one of the many scams. It doesn`t sound
like me.

GUTHRIE: “The Post” says you acknowledged a couple of decades ago that in
fact that was you but it was a joke.

TRUMP: I don`t think it was me. It doesn`t sound like me. I don`t know
even what they`re talking about. I have no idea.

GUTHRIE: “The Post” says this is something you did rather routinely, that
you would call reporters and plant stories and say you were John Miller or
John Baron, but in fact, it was actually you on the phone. Is that
something you did with any regularity?

TRUMP: No, and it was not me on the phone. It was not me on the phone.
And it doesn`t sound like me on the phone, I will tell you that. And it
was not me on the phone.

“JOHN MIJLLER”: When he makes the decision, that will be a very lucky
woman. But he`s not going to do that until he makes the decision. When he
makes the decision he`s very capable of a total commitment when he makes
the decision. But he felt it`s too soon. Off the record he probably felt,
well, it wasn`t the right one, or whatever. But he just felt it was too


MADDOW: Joining us is Steven Ginsberg, who`s senior politics editor at
“The Washington Post”, which broke this story and published this tape
today, which is one of the weirder turns thus far this year in what`s
already been a weird campaign.

Mr. Ginsberg, thanks for being with us tonight.


MADDOW: So, Mr. Trump is saying this definitely wasn`t him on this tape.
There is considerable evidence that contemporaneously in 1991, he admitted
to the reporter who made the tape that it was him on the tape. He passed
it off as a joke. He said it was a joke gone awry.

Do you at “The Washington Post” treat this as a settled matter, that it is
him on the tape?

GINSBERG: Yes, we believe that it`s him on the tape. The progression here
is “People” magazine wrote that first article in 1991. This sort of tease
that they thought it was him a couple weeks later, he acknowledged that it
was him. Then, this morning on the “Today” show, he said it wasn`t him.

Then we had him on the phone this afternoon about a different story and we
asked about it and then the phone line went dead. You know, he`s claiming
it`s not him. We believe it`s him. And I think it`s a question he`s going
to have to continue to answer until he comes forth with it.

MADDOW: One of the things that happened in Cynthia McFadden`s interview
with the “People” magazine reporter who originally made the tape which
aired tonight on “Nightly News” is that she said that she did not give the
tape to “The Washington Post.” Obviously, I`m not going to ask you to give
up your sources.

But she says she didn`t know that anybody else had a recording of it. She
supposed on air tonight in this interview that Donald Trump himself
supplied this tape to “The Washington Post.” Again, I don`t want to
pressure you to say anything about sourcing that you don`t want to say.
But can I ask you if Mr. Trump himself gave you this tape?

GINSBERG: I`d rather not say anything about how we obtain our information.

MADDOW: Are you confident in the sort of chain of custody of this tape,
that it hasn`t been doctored and it`s the real deal?

GINSBERG: Yes, we`re very confident. We published the story and we back
it up completely and we`re confident in the facts in it.

MADDOW: The thing that is now emerging as the newly strange thing today
for Donald Trump as a presidential candidate that is he would be so
robustly denying something that he previously admitted to without too much
trouble, calling it a joke, laughing it off, making it right with the woman
who he called himself a different name while speaking to. That`s today`s
scandal of this based on you publishing this report.

Is there anything else in the tape or anything else in this episode that
you`ve now brought to light that itself is strange or concerning, or you
think Mr. Trump should be answering questions about as a presidential

GINSBERG: Well, my interview is the tape itself is fascinating. What we
aim to do in our reporter is reveal everything we can about the
presidential candidates. And here we have 14 minutes of a phone
conversation from 25 years ago where Donald Trump is posing as his own
publicist and talking about intimate affairs in his own life.

He talks about how he didn`t mind bad press because it made it look like he
had less money, but then once his divorce went through, then he didn`t mind
that people said he had more money. And that`s a revealing moment to me.

He went on to talk about all the women who wanted to date him, Madonna and
others on that tape. I just think it`s a fascinating moment and I`d
encourage people to listen to the tape.

MADDOW: Oh, a lot of people have.

GINSBERG: Yes, they have.

MADDOW: Steven Ginsberg, senior politics editor at “The Washington Post,”
fascinating for obvious reasons and for reasons we didn`t expect even once
you first published it. Thanks for helping us understand this reporting
today, appreciate it.


MADDOW: It has been a really, really weird day. The news started off
weird today. And it sewed seeds that grew into plants by the end of the
day even weirder than the news that started it all. Stay with us. More to


MADDOW: There`s a lot of unexpected things happened in today`s news. The
giant drug company Pfizer decided to cut off the last legal open-market
source of lethal injection drugs today. We don`t know how states will ever
legally lethally inject prisoners again in the future. That was

Donald Trump impersonating a fake PR guy to hype his love life and then
denying it was him even though he previously admitted it was him, that was

Nine Republican House committee chairmen all endorsing Donald Trump all at
once today, all joining hands and leaping off the same building today in
those political terms.

So, a bunch of unexpected things happened. But there was one expected
thing in today`s news and we knew to set our watches by it. It was noon
today. The big deadline in the bridgegate scandal involving the current
New Jersey governor and the man who Donald Trump has tapped to build his
transition team when he inevitably gets elected president in November.

The bridgegate deadline was today at noon. You know what happened?

Stay with us.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ladies and gentlemen, here is “X”!



MADDOW: That is John Doe. That is John Doe. That`s when John Doe and
Exene Cervenka led the amazing band “X.” They were on “American Bandstand”
way back in the early 1980s.

That was an impressionable time for me as a human being. And John Doe was
the first famous person I ever patterned on as a cool person. The first
super-cool person I recognized, I always wanted to be like John Doe.

My brother and I never agreed on anything, still don`t. The one thing we
agreed on was loving the band “X” and loving John Doe and everything he`s
done since then.

And I kid you not, after a lifetime of me being a John Doe fan, last year I
ended up on a train trip, a long-haul train trip with my partner Susan and
my parents, a little vacation. And it turned out John Doe was on our
train. And my mom and John Doe, yes, that John Doe, sat together and
played crazy 8s on the train, the card game.

They played crazy 8s and gin rummy, they were very competitive with each
other, and it was amazing. That is John Doe who I`ve always worshipped.
John Doe.

And John Doe is also what went wrong in the bridgegate story that was
supposed to break wide open today. You may remember today was supposed to
be a big deadline, right? Noon deadline for bridgegate – the Chris
Christie administration scandal in New Jersey where a manmade days-long
traffic jam was created on purpose using the world`s busiest bridge,
allegedly to punish a small-town mayor who wouldn`t endorse governor
increase doctor for re-election.

Three Christie administration figures have been charged in that case. But
today at noon the judge overseeing the case had ordered the release of the
list of unindicted conspirators from bridgegate – the list of people who
prosecutors say were in on the scheme even though they themselves didn`t
get indicted.

Now cut to the chase. Part of what everybody wants to know is if Chris
Christie himself is on that list. He`s the sitting governor of New Jersey.
He`s been tapped to oversee the White House transition for the Trump
administration if Donald Trump is elected president. It would be, you
know, awkward to say the least if Chris Christie is all of those things and
also a named unindicted conspirator in a big ongoing federal criminal case.

So, today at noon was the deadline to release the list of unindicted
conspirators. But then late last night, an 11th hour appeal. Somebody who
was on the list filed an emergency motion saying if the list is made
public, he will, quote, “suffer irreparable harm.” Quote, “Once he is
named as an unindicted key conspirator, the stigma that the government
believes there`s evidence that he entered into an agreement to shut down
the George Washington Bridge, that stigma can never be removed.”

Who filed this motion to block the publication of the list, who says he is
on the list and the list should be kept secret? John Doe. Not my John
Doe. But John Doe, generic anymore for somebody who doesn`t want their
name used.

Quoting from the motion, “Only by permitting John Doe to intervene
anonymously and staying this action pending hearing can the court honor his
right not to be labeled a criminal without due process of law.”

So, nobody knows who this John Doe is who stopped the list from coming out
today. I can tell you that the lawyer who filed John Doe`s motion used to
work for Chris Christie in New Jersey when he was U.S. attorney there. But
we have no idea if it`s him. We have no idea who this John Doe is at all.

I can confidently tell you it`s not this guy, don`t blame him. I can also
tell you the next deadline for getting that list of unindicted conspirators
is now Tuesday at noon but I wouldn`t hold my breath.

Think we`re going to get the list and find out who the unindicted
conspirators are before Trump renounces his running mate, maybe?

Watch this space.


MADDOW: To be a local news reporter is to have a lot of skills that are
hard to learn in other places and hard to apply to other jobs other than
being a local news reporter. But there`s one really, really, really good
local news reporter who`s suddenly breaking a nationally important story.
And in order to do that, he had to develop skills that might make him
really useful to, like, the FBI? In case, he ever needs another gig?

The FBI is definitely writing trashy detective novels sometime soon. Hold
on, great local news report, nationally important, coming up. Stay with


MADDOW: So, we`ve been talking a lot recently about how the supposed split
in the Republican Party over Donald Trump being the nominee is basically a
made-up story. And also, how the idea that all Republican incumbents are
going to be vulnerable this year, because Donald Trump`s at the top of the
ticket. There`s also not much real evidence to support that.

But, it should also be said that having Donald Trump at the top of your
ticket is not the only way that Republicans can screw up elections they
might otherwise expect to win this year. The big thing that Democrats
really want to try to do this year, other than hold on to the White House,
is that the Democrats really, really, really want to try to win back the
Senate. And the Democrats think it`s within their reach to win back the

Part of the reason why they think it`s within reach is that there`s only
one Democratic incumbent who`s up for re-election this year who`s seen as
being in any danger of losing his or her seat.

And that one potentially vulnerable Democratic incumbent is Michael Bennet
in Colorado. Republicans want to take that seat, they want to flip that
seat from blue to red more than any other seat in the country. Republicans
think that might be their only shot at picking up a Senate seat this year.

But they kind of seem to be blowing this race in a way that at least, so
far, has nothing to do with Donald Trump. First, they had trouble with
finding a candidate, despite Michael Bennet`s supposed vulnerability, all
the Republican party`s top choices passed on the opportunity to take him

And when Republicans in Colorado did find a candidate they liked, a state
lawmaker named Jon Keyser, they had trouble getting him on the ballot. Jon
Keyser came up 86 signatures shot when he filed his petitions to get on the
ballot. Missed it be that much. Keyser had to go to court to persuade a
judge to put him back on the ballot, which the judge ultimately did.

It was interesting. The judge`s argument was that the signature
requirement wasn`t so hard and fast. It was really about stopping fraud.
It wasn`t just about stopping mistakes. So, a few signatures short,
legitimately by mistake, the judge decided, no biggie, we`ll let it slide.

But then, this week, thanks to intrepid reporting from a local reporter
named Marshall Zelinger at 7 News Denver, we learned that there is another
problem with the signatures that got Jon Keyser on to that all-important
ballot in Colorado. And this one is a doozy.


MARSHALL ZELINGER, 7 NEWS DENVER: Someone who collected signatures for Jon
Keyser turned in these petitions to help earn his spot in the race. And
based on what I found, there`s now a question on whether or not he actually
has enough valid signatures to stay on the ballot.

Did you sign that petition?


ZELINGER: Did you sign this petition?


ZELINGER: To be clear, did you sign that petition?


ZELINGER: Denver 7 has identified more voters who confirmed that they did
not sign these petitions to help former State Representative Jon Keyser
qualify for the crowded Republican U.S. Senate primary ballot, even though
their names, addresses, and signatures appear on these documents.

Someone has forged your name.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So, first, I don`t curl my Rs like that. I don`t
curl my Ms like that. There`s no Ls in the signature. And my name is
actually spelled incorrectly.

ZELINGER: Rachel`s signature has two problems. The first, whoever printed
her name spelled “Malcolm” incorrectly, which probably should have been
caught and disqualified by the secretary of state`s office but wasn`t. The
second problem, that`s not her handwriting.


ZELINGER: Someone has forged your signature?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s just clearly not the way I sign my name.

ZELINGER: Denver voter Dave Keene also did not sign Keyser`s petition.
Compare his forged signature with this, to his actual signature. Six other
voters who did not want to appear on camera also confirmed that these
signatures are not theirs.


MADDOW: Marshal Zelinger, 7 News Denver, doing great, amazing shoe leather
reporting there, right?

I mean, when a candidate collects signatures to get on a ballot, it`s not
unusual for some of those signatures to be disqualified, but it is unusual
to have actual people whose signatures were forged speaking out on the
evening news. And now, 7 News has set up a handy tool so Colorado voters
can search the petitions that were filed for Jon Keyser to get on the
ballot, to find out if their signatures were forged too.

As of today, the Denver district attorney`s office says they are reviewing
the petitions that Jon Keyser submitted to become a Senate candidate. When
Jon Keyser showed up for a Republican forum yesterday, he was asked over
and over about these forged signatures, and the reason he was asked over
and over and over again about it is because he refused to answer question
about it.

He just kept saying, quote, “Here`s the important thing, I`m on the
ballot.” That`s all he would say, over and over. During the forum and in
a follow-up interview with Marshall Zelinger, he repeated that exact
phrase, “I`m on the ballot,” 13 times.

And it`s true. The first ballots are due to be sent out tomorrow and Jon
Keyser`s name is on them. But, wow! This really is supposed to be the
Republican`s best or maybe only shot at flipping a Senate seat in the whole
country this year. And their best shot at it is a candidate who didn`t
technically make it on to the ballot and who appears to have gotten there
by some pretty blatant fraud and who cannot answer a question about it to
save his life.

So, you don`t need Donald Trump at the top of your ballot to screw things
up for you. In the right race, you can screw things up all on your own.


MADDOW: Weird news day, right? I mean, it`s not every day – not every
year – when the Republican Party`s presidential candidate apparently turns
up on tape pretending to be someone else and hangs up on reporters who ask
about it.

No, it`s Friday the 13th and everything, I know, but seriously, wow! I
mean, usually, you`d have to go to prison after a day like this. But
because you`ve been so good, instead, go play “HARDBALL”.


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