The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 9/29/2016

Marc Caputo, Peter Kiernan

Date: September 29, 2016
Guest: Marc Caputo, Peter Kiernan

CHRIS HAYES, “ALL IN” HOST: 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.

HAYES: You bet.

MADDOW: Thanks to you at home for joining us at home this hour. Happy

Texas used to be a swing state. It was. I swear I`m not kidding. For a
long time, Texas was a swing state.

Eisenhower, of course, was a Republican, Eisenhower won Texas narrowly the
first time, then he won it comfortably the second time. Then starting in
1960, it was the Kennedy/Johnson years and Texas swung to the Democrats.

Eight years later, 1968, Texas was an absolute toss-up. The state split
three ways between the Democrat and the Republican and segregationist
George Wallace. Texas that year did go Democrat but just by a hair.

Four years later 1972, Texas went Republican. So, heading into the 1976
election, Texas was seen as a true swing state, an unpredictable swing
state. That was truly up for grabs, not just because of its history of
swinging back and forth between the two parties but also because of the
candidates in 1976.

I mean, here was Jimmy Carter, an outsider, a newcomer, a Southerner
running for the Democratic Party. And then there was the Republican
candidate, technically an incumbent president but more literally, he was
sort of the inheritor of the Nixon presidency. As a Michigander, he had no
innate appeal to Texas voters.

As Election Day was getting closer and closer, the polls were really tight
that year. The swing states were very hard to call, including big ones
like Texas with all those electoral votes. And then less than one month
before Election Day, on October 6th, 1976, President Ford stepped on a
rake. It happened at the debate that night, October 6, 1976, and you can
tell that something went wrong here just by watching the reaction from the


GERALD FORD, FORMER PRESIDENT: There is no Soviet domination of Eastern
Europe and there never will be under a Ford administration.


MAX FRANKEL, CO-MODERATOR: I`m sorry. Could I just follow – did I
understand you to say, sir, that the Russians are not using Eastern Europe
as their own sphere of influence and occupying most of the countries there
and making sure with their troops that it`s a communist zone?


MADDOW: That`s Max Frankel from “The New York Times.” You heard in the
distance there sort of the background one of the other moderators actually
tries at that moment, after Ford stops talking, tries to hand that over the
Jimmy Carter to respond, but Max Frankel can`t hold himself back. He has
to jump in with, I`m sorry, what now? I`m sorry, what did you say, sir?

I mean, Americans at the time could read you chapter and verse about the
soviet domination of Eastern Europe, about Soviet tanks rolling through the
streets of Eastern Europe and crushing the resistance, right? I mean, it
was a very central part of the way that Americans knew the world worked. I
mean, saying there was no Soviet domination of Eastern Europe, that would
be the equivalent now to a president getting up on stage and saying, oh,
yeah, you know what, North Korea seems nice, right?

It`s like an American president getting up and saying you know what we need
to worry about, the greatest geopolitical threat that we face and the
greatest danger to the world? It`s the Canadians. Those Canadians,
they`re vicious. They`re a threat to the world. It was just bizarre.

And it came at a really bad time for Gerald Ford. It was less than a month
before the election. It was on a really bad subject for him to have a big
flub like that. I mean, there had been no expectation that there would be
televised debates that year. There hadn`t been any televised presidential
debates since 1960, 16 years at that point.

Part of the reason Ford wanted to debate Jimmy Carter, and in particular,
he wanted this second debate based on foreign policy was so he could show
off on foreign policy, so he could showcase his international experience,
right? He negotiated with foreign leaders as an incumbent president and
he`s running against this never heard of him one-time Georgia governor who
people are not supposed to take seriously particularly on that issue.

But then, Ford volunteers that bizarre statement. There`s no Soviet
domination of Eastern Europe. And he never really recovered.

I mean, in a general sense, honestly, I don`t mean this in a mean way, but
it made him look dumb. Gerald Ford was definitely not dumb, but that
became a caricature that he never really escaped.

Specifically, though, beyond that general problem that created for him in
the swing states that year and among some very specific constituents in the
swing states, it didn`t just make them think less of President Ford`s
intellect, it made them angry at President Ford.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Last night, the president made a statement so startling
to his listeners that some even thought it must be a slip of the tongue.
He said, quote, “There is no Soviet domination of Eastern Europe and never
will be in a Ford administration.”

The reaction has been generally critical, particularly in parts of this
country having numerous people of East European descent.

REPORTER: Cleveland has the largest Hungarian community in the country,
80,000 people. Many of them said they were shocked by what the president

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In effect, he denied that there is any Soviet
domination in Eastern countries. I don`t know how would he explain then
why 200,000 people fled Hungary in `56, and in `68, the Czechoslovak

LEZLO BOJTOS: It`s shocking to us that the president of the United States
makes a statement that Eastern European nations are not under Russian hand.
Russian soldiers are by the hundreds of thousands present in Eastern

REPORTER: The leaders of the Hungarian community say President Ford`s
comments may lose him votes among their people.

REPORTER: Chicago has as many poles as Warsaw, more than a million. After
last night`s debate, the president of the Illinois polish American Congress
got a call from one of Mr. Ford`s assistants.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I told the special assistant that this will hurt Ford
in the Polish American community, as well as in other Slavic and European

REPORTER: The people who live in the community were upset.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`m a Republican. I like Mr. Ford, but he was very,
very wrong.

REPORTER: The ethnic groups of Rosenberg, Texas, run all the way back to
the plains of Bohemia. Czech immigrants settle this community in the late
1800s. Their descendants are still here.

The local radio station`s morning disk jockey is Joe Gravnorovich (ph), who
broadcast news of the debate in Moravian, a Czech dialect.

And at the Chamber of Commerce luncheon today, many disagreed with the
president`s remarks. Voters here tend to be anti-communist conservative
Democrats who believe that Eastern European countries are still captive

IRVIN HURTA: It`s not what`s going on over there. There is dominance in
Eastern Europe. And unless he does admit his mistake, it is going to cost
him some votes.

HOE HUBENAK: I would have a tendency to believe that he made a mistake and
he`s going to have to face up to the American people and just say, that`s
not what I really meant to say.

REPORTER: What if it was what he meant to say?

HUBENAK: I think he`s going to have his penalty to pay on November 2nd.

REPORTER: Most of the people here felt the president`s remarks were a
mistake, a slip of the tongue. But they`re upset about it. So, unless the
president issues a retraction or some clarification, they`re likely to
remain upset all the way to the ballot box.

Arthur Lord, NBC News, Rosenberg, Texas.


MADDOW: Rosenberg, Texas. And in fact on November 2nd that year on
Election Day in Texas, Gerald Ford did pay some kind of penalty. On
November 2nd that year, Gerald Ford lost Texas, lost Texas to Jimmy Carter.

He also lost Ohio to Jimmy Carter. He did pull off a squeaker in Illinois
even if NBC had trouble finding angry Polish Americans who were angry at
Ford forever for what he said in the debate. He did narrowly win Illinois
that year.

But he lost overall. All those swing state races were close. Eastern
Europeans, Hungarians, Poles, Czechs, and Romanians, and all the rest, they
were sub-groups of Americans who a candidate couldn`t afford to lose in
those tight races, on those up for grabs swing states and that hard-fought
election year. So, that flub in that debate, yes, he`d probably be
remembered for that anyway, that`s a pretty bad one.

But the way it affected him electorally, a lot of sleepless nights over
that in the Ford campaign and for good reason. In general, big picture,
it`s hard to know how individual flubs, you know, bad debate moments, bad
campaign moments, how they shift a candidate`s overall electoral prospects.
It is a little bit easier to gain those things out when a candidate`s
offense doesn`t hit everyone equally. It particularly offends and upsets
an important interest group from whom that candidate needs votes in a
specific particularly important swing state. And so behold, Florida.

Hillary Clinton used to have a big lead in Florida after the conventions
this summer, but it has tightened up there significantly. Some polls now
show her ahead, some polls now show Trump ahead. But polling averages
right now, which is probably the safest way to look at it basically show
that Florida`s a tie.

The most populous county in Florida is Miami-Dade. Miami-Dade County also
has the largest number of Republicans in any county in the state of
Florida. There are more than 350,000 registered Republicans in Miami-Dade
County. And what is unique about that population and, therefore, what is
unique about what it means to campaign for the Republican vote in the swing
state of Florida is that in Miami-Dade County, of those 350 plus thousand
Republican votes, 72 percent of those voters are Hispanic. And the vast
majority of those Hispanic Republicans are Cuban American.

Now, this year the latest poll of the Cuban American vote in Miami shows
that Donald Trump is leading with those voters but not by a lot. His lead
there as of last month with those voters was about four points. He`s going
to need to get that number up significantly if he has any hope of winning

Republicans have to run the table with Cuban Americans in Florida in order
to win that state. And, you know, the Trump campaign, for all its
willingness to throw tradition out of the window, for all their proud
indifference to political traditional and norms, the Trump campaign appears
to absolutely realize that they`ve got to do what you usually need to do
with Cuban Americans in Florida. They appear to recognize that there`s no
way for their candidate to win in Florida without that critical Cuban
American Republican vote.

And so, like every other Republican candidate known in modern history, like
Mike Huckabee and like John McCain and like Newt Gingrich and like Michele
Bachmann, even Herman Cain, remember him, like all Republicans before him,
there was Donald Trump this week at the exact same coffee shop they all go
to in Little Havana in Miami, a cafe called Cafe Versailles.

There was Donald Trump this week doing what they all do. He has famously
bragged that in addition to not smoking and not drinking, he`s never had a
sip of coffee in his life. If that`s true, I don`t know what`s in his
little cup there, but maybe they made him a teeny, tiny tea?

But, you know, even if you`re Donald Trump, all Republicans agree they must
go through the motions and try to goose their numbers with Cuban American
Republicans in Florida and that`s the only known path to victory for
Republicans in Florida.

And today, into that tiny delicious capacito cup at Cafe Versailles plopped
this from “Newsweek” magazine. We were first to release advance excerpts
from this story last night from investigative reporter Kurt Eichenwald. It
is now out. It`s called the “Castro Connection”, how Donald Trump`s
company violated the U.S. embargo against Cuba.

Kurt Eichenwald`s allegation in this piece is that Donald Trump`s company
in 1998 violated the U.S. embargo on American individuals or companies
spending money in Cuba. For political effect, Donald Trump has repeatedly
praised that embargo in Cuba. He has bragged about how he never violate
it, he would never spend money in Cuba, that would be a terrible thing.

But Kurt Eichenwald in “Newsweek” magazine today said that Donald Trump`s
company did exactly that. And now Donald Trump is denying all of it.

Here was Mr. Trump tonight in New Hampshire being questioned about it by a
reporter from WMUR.


REPORTER: How do you respond to a report that`s out today that says in the
late `90s, you violated the embargo by doing business in Cuba?

never been in Cuba. I never did business with Cuba.

REPORTER: So that`s –

TRUMP: Well, there`s nothing else to say. I never did business in Cuba.
I would tell you very openly if I did. I was never involved in doing
business in Cuba.


MADDOW: After Donald Trump made those comments to WMUR in New Hampshire
tonight, Kurt Eichenwald responded on Twitter by saying, and I quote,
“proof time”. Here`s the full tweet from Kurt Eichenwald, “Trump just
denied his company paid for Cuba trip during embargo. Proof time.” Then
he says, “Names not in story removed, which is explaining what`s the
redactions in this thing that he posted.”

To that tweet, Kurt Eichenwald appended an image of what appears to be an
invoice from a consultant company called Seven Arrows Investment and
Development Corporation. It`s addressed to an executive at Trump`s company
at the time.

“Dear Mr. Burke, enclosed please find expenses that were incurred on behalf
of Trump Hotels and Casino Resorts during calendar 1998. The expenses fall
into the following categories. Number one is something involved in a
Florida gaming project. Number two is expenses incurred prior to and
including a trip to Cuba on behalf of Trump Hotels and Casino Resorts.”
And the billing amount, you see there, $68,551.88.

There`s then a follow-up note underneath that list of expenses explaining
helpfully right there on the invoice that a trip to Cuba like that would
have to be sanctioned by the U.S. government, and even if it were
sanctioned, it would also have to be technically on behalf of a charity.
But it says right there in black and white that the trip was on behalf of
Trump hotels and casino resorts.

This was an invoice billing Trump`s company for these expenses. The
expenses of this Cuba trip on behalf of Trump`s company. The financial
executives at Trump`s company to whom this invoice was addressed reportedly
testified in a lawsuit that this bill was in fact paid in full by Donald
Trump`s company. If that is true, that means that Donald Trump`s company
appears to have violated the Cuba embargo.

Trump`s campaign manager said today on Twitter that Donald Trump did no
business in Cuba and respected the embargo. That said, on the daytime TV
show “The View” today, that same campaign manager also said – her words I
think exactly are “they paid money, as I understand it, in 1998.”


starts out with the screaming headlines, as it usually does, that he did
business in Cuba. It turns out that he decided not to invest there, as you
read the entire story.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you denying that his company spent any money in

CONWAY: I think they paid money as I understand from the story in 1998.
We`re not supposed to talk about years ago when it comes to the Clintons –



MADDOW: Whether or not we`re supposed to talk about things that happened
in the `90s, that`s Donald Trump`s campaign manager Kellyanne Conway on
“The View” of all places trying to say that Trump didn`t violate the
embargo because he chose not to invest in the country but he did spend
money there in 1998.

If he did spend money there in 1998, that`s a violation of the embargo.
Don`t concede that.

So they appear to be kind of up a creek with only a really, really terrible
paddle on this. Since this reporting went live today at “Newsweek,” also
Mark Caputo, veteran Florida political reporter who now works at, Mark Caputo also bolstered these reports of Trump doing
business in Cuba at the time.

Mark Caputo spoke with the president of the U.S.-Cuba trade and economic
council today who told Mark Caputo that in the mid to late 1990s, quote,
“We were approached by a Trump organization senior executive who visited my
office, and we have the correspondence in our file where the organization,
meaning the Trump Organization, was interested in exploring potential
opportunities in Cuba.”

So, not everybody in the country is going to care whether Donald Trump did
business in Cuba, but Cuban-American Republican voters in Florida are
probably going to care not just about the question of whether Donald Trump
did it but whether he directly lie to their faces about it when he went to
South Florida in 1999, the first time he was thinking of running for
president, and when he went there this week, both times to talk about how
hard line he is on Cuba and how much he always respected that embargo above
and beyond his own bottom line because the cause of the Cuban embargo is so
close to his.

This new scandal for the Trump campaign will not matter everywhere in the
country, but it might matter a lot somewhere where it really, really counts
and could make the difference as to whether or not he gets elected
president. Stay with us on this.



TRUMP: Investing money in Cuba right now doesn`t go to the people of Cuba.
It goes into the pockets of Fidel Castro.


He`s a murderer. He`s a killer. He`s a bad guy in every respect, and
frankly, the embargo against Cuba must stand if for no other reason than if
it does stand, he will come down.


MADDOW: Donald Trump in 1999 when he was starting his own short-lived
campaign for the Reform Party nomination for president that year. New
reporting out today alleges that even then, as he was bragging to a Cuban-
American audience in South Florida that he would never break the Cuba
embargo because he would not want to prop up Castro`s Cuba, new reporting
out today suggests that his company at that time was illegally spending
money in Cuba and violating the embargo.

The Trump campaign is denying it today, but Kurt Eichenwald of “Newsweek”
tonight has published an invoice that he says proves that the Trump
campaign did violate the embargo. If that`s true, they not only violated
the embargo, they lie to Cuban Americans while running for president the
first time.

How will that news affect his current presidential campaign particularly in
Florida where the Cuban-American Republican vote is still absolutely key?

Joining me now is Marc Caputo. He`s a senior writer for “Politico”. He`s
based in Miami, Florida, and who`s our sort of authority on all things
deep, dark and political in modern Florida history.

Marc, thanks for being here.

MARC CAPUTO, POLITICO: Thanks for having me.

MADDOW: Let me ask you about the piece that you added to our understanding
in this today. You spoke with president of the U.S.-Cuba trade and
economic council who told you that he was also approached by the Trump
organization in the `90s about possibly doing business in Cuba?

CAPUTO: Right. John Kovoilich (ph). He didn`t actually have the
paperwork in front of him because John was in Havana when I called in, but
he said, sometime in the mid or late `90s, he had an emissary from the
Trump Organization come to him and say, look, we want to explore business
opportunities on the island. Now, exactly when that was, he wasn`t sure,
but he`s sure that it happened. On a parallel track around the time that
Richard Fields, who is the character at the center of Kurt Eichenwald`s
“Newsweek” piece, had traveled down the Cuba on Trump`s behalf.

We know from a Bloomberg report that around 2012, 2013, or maybe 2011-2012,
there were other emissaries of the Trump Organization looking to develop
golf courses in Cuba. So, I have at least three cases where Trump over the
years, over the decades has explored business chances, opportunities in

One thing I`d like to point out, there`s a possibility that Donald Trump is
telling the truth about him not doing business in Cuba. Understand that he
reimbursed a consultant that went down there. However, Trump, if all the
facts that we know right now are true, might have still been complicit in
violating the U.S. Cuba embargo because this consultant, Richard Fields,
appeared to fly under false colors down there and use a charity as a phony
excuse for going down.

Because under the embargo, you can go down to Cuba and not need a license
as long as you are fully hosted is what they call it by a non-U.S. entity,
sometimes a charity. So, it looked like from the documents that Kurt
Eichenwald found that Fields had gone down there, used this charity as kind
of a fig leaf for going down there, and then explored business
opportunities. The ridiculous or weird thing is they actually put this in
writing saying we`re going to lie about this. That`s what I don`t

MADDOW: Looking at the invoice that says travel on behalf of the Trump
Casino and Hotel Organization.

You mentioned that Bloomberg report, Bloomberg reported, as you said in
2012, 2013 other representatives of Trump`s business organization were in
Cuba apparently in their descriptions scouting for golf course
opportunities for Trump`s organization. That was reported by Bloomberg
earlier this summer.

Was there any particular reaction to that among Cuban-American Republicans
in Florida at the time?

CAPUTO: You know, I heard a little, and then with this report, you know,
this just happened this morning. It`s kind of moving through the
community. I don`t think it`s going to affect Republicans who planned to
vote for Trump no matter what and who love him. But I have spoken to a
number of people – in fact, I was on a radio show this morning where a
caller called in and we were talking about how families and friendships
have been split apart by this political season, who said he`s Cuban
American and his brother who is a Trump voter has not spoken to him in like
a year.


CAPUTO: He finally called him this morning having seen the “Newsweek”
report and told him that this is the last straw. He couldn`t support
Trump. I know that`s one anecdote but I do think it`s instructive.

One of the fellows that drove me over here is a Cuban-American that came
over nine years ago, he expressed serious misgivings about this and he said
his fellow Cuban-Americans also have. This could cost him a good measure
of support. You see the Republicans who are Cuban-American who vote
regularly in elections in Miami are general the only or really if you look
at the polling are the only demographic that supports the hard line on the
Cuba embargo which is basically embraced by nobody else.

So, it looks like you`re actively playing both sides or playing on one
side, supporting it on the other side trying to violate it and get around
the embargo. This is just not going to play well.

This is up to the Clinton campaign to make a big deal out of it. So, we`ll
have to see how it shakes out. Hillary Clinton this morning or this
evening took the opportunity to really take a shot at Donald Trump over
this. I don`t think this is the last we`ve heard from her over this.

MADDOW: Marc Caputo, senior writer for “Politico”, longtime Florida
political authority – Marc, it`s good to have you here on this. Thanks
very much for being here.

CAPUTO: Thanks for having me. Appreciate it.

MADDOW: It`s just one of these key issues that this is a narrowly focused
issue but there`s a subgroup of the population that`s very, very important
for specific swing state reasons every four years in these elections and
it`s more important to them than almost anything else.

Presidential politics are always intense. This is an acutely intense issue
for an acutely important interest group. I don`t know where this one`s
going to go.

We`ll be right back.


MADDOW: OK, running tally now, “The Dallas Morning News” has not endorsed
a Democrat since World War I, 1916. Lat week, they endorsed Hillary
Clinton. “Arizona Republic” had never endorsed a Democrat in its entire
126-year history as a paper. Yesterday, they endorsed Hillary Clinton.

As of last night that was the running tally of conservative and Republican
publications breaking their own long-held traditions. Then, we got another
one. “The Detroit News” was founded even in 1873, it was founded even
before the “Arizona Republic”, and the entire time they`ve existed they`ve
never endorsed anyone other than the Republican nominee for president. But
now for the first time ever they`re not endorsing the Republican nominee
for president.

“The Detroit News” says they still can`t bring themselves to endorse a
Democrat, so they instead this year are endorsing the off beat beyond shot
libertarian candidate named Gary Johnson. But oh, wait, there`s more.

The editorial board at “USA Today,” they`ve never, ever in their whole
history as a paper taken sides in a presidential race. But this year, “USA
Today” is taking a side.

Sort of like “The Detroit News”. They say they cannot reach a consensus
among their editorial board that they should tell their readers to vote for
Hillary Clinton, but nor can they come up with a consensus that they should
tell their readers to vote for anyone else either. What they have reached
consensus on is that their readers should not vote for Donald Trump.

For the first time in their history as a paper, “USA Today” is taking sides
in a presidential election and the side they`re taking is not Trump. They
list eight different reasons they think Donald Trump is unfit for the
presidency. They sum it up with this, by all means vote, just not for
Donald Trump. Anything, anyone, but not Trump.

They`re effectively saying, go out and vote, America, vote against Donald

For the record, Donald Trump remains tonight the only major party
presidential nominee in modern history to have racked up precisely zero
endorsements in the general election from major newspapers. He`s got zero,

Strange times. Memorable time, I hope, but strange.



the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right.
There are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government,
who believe that they are victims, who believe that government has a
responsibility to care for them, who believe that they`re entitled to
health care, to food, to housing, to you name it.


MADDOW: Forty-seven percent tape was disaster for Mitt Romney, right?
He`s a multi-multi-multimillionaire explaining to his donors that what`s up
against is the half of the country who are useless parasites who won`t vote
for him because they`re so entitled. That`s what we remember from that
tape, right?

But on that same tape on that same night, Romney had other warnings for his
donors including a curious one about the riskiness of daytime TV.


ROMNEY: “The View” is high risk because of the five women on it only one
is conservative, four are sharp-tongued and not conservative. Whoopi
Goldberg in particular.


MADDOW: Whoopi Goldberg in particular.

Mitt Romney in 2012 telling his donors to watch out for Whoopi.

After that video leaked, Mitt Romney canceled his next scheduled appearance
on “The View.” Campaign said at the time it was a scheduling issue. Sure,
sure, sure, tough guy.

Probably a wise decision in the end, at least that`s how it looked today.
And that`s next. Stay with us.


MADDOW: Behold, the power of the one question interview – demonstrated
for us today by Whoopi Goldberg and Donald Trump`s campaign manager. Watch


WHOOPI GOLDBERG, THE VIEW: Where are his damn tax returns and why don`t we
know what he`s spent? Where is it?


I know what size Hillary Clinton`s bra cup is. I know how much she spent
on her bra. The transparency is insane. Where is his –

CONWAY: That is not true.

GOLDBERG: I`m sorry –

CONWAY: I don`t want to know that about her. I want to know what she was
hiding in 33,000 e-mails she deleted.

GOLDBERG: What is Donald Trump hiding by not releasing –

CONWAY: So there`s a 104-page financial disclosure.


GOLDBERG: She has never been hacked. She`s never been hacked. I want to
know since every other president has had to do it, where are the tax
returns? That`s what I want to know.


CONWAY: It`s under audit by an –

GOLDBERG: It`s bull. That`s bull.


CONWAY: First of all, America wants to know what it will look like under
President Trump and President Hillary Clinton – he`s not hiding anything.

GOLDBERG: I think he is.


MADDOW: It is hard to argue with Whoopi Goldberg. I mean, just
technically, it is hard to argue with Whoopi Goldberg.

Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway found that out the hard way today.

You would think they`d have an answer for this question now, right?
There`s no escaping it. He`s the first major presidential party nominee
since Nixon to not release his taxes. It`s a total break from what we
expect from presidential candidates, even those who haven`t made a career
in business.

It`s a total break from what Trump himself said he would do if he ever to
run for president. This is a thing that`s obviously going to dog their
campaign. They have to come up with an answer for it. At the debate they
had to have known that Trump was going to get hit on it at the debate.

But when Hillary Clinton unloaded on him on it in a way that was
uninterrupted and comprehensive and brutal during the debate, it was really
weird. Trump had no response. I mean, he did have one interrupting
rejoinder to it but that was one that only made it worse.


American people, all of you watching tonight, to know that he`s paid
nothing in federal tacks because the only years that anybody`s ever seen
were a couple of years when he had to turn them over to state authorities
when he was trying to get a casino license and they showed he didn`t pay
any federal income tax.

TRUMP: That makes me smart.

CLINTON: So, if he`s paid zero, that means zero for troops, zero for vets,
zero for schools or health, and I think probably he`s not all that
enthusiastic about having the rest of our country see what the real reasons
are because it must be something really important, even terrible, that he`s
trying to hide.


MADDOW: Donald Trump interjecting there, that makes me smart, paying no
taxes. That makes me smart.

Hillary Clinton was out campaigning on that the very next day. And the
campaign ads have been writing themselves ever since.


CLINTON: When I confronted him with the reasons why he won`t release his
tax returns, and I got to that point where I said, well, maybe he`s paid
zero. He said that makes him smart. Now, if not paying taxes makes him
smart, what does that make all the rest of us? He didn`t pay any federal
income tax.

TRUMP: That makes me smart.

CLINTON: That means zero for troops, for vets, for schools or health.

TRUMP: My whole life I`ve been really, really, I`ve grabbed all the money
I could get. I`m so greedy.


MADDOW: This is something the Trump campaign knew was coming. But boy,
have they handled it badly.

I mean, Donald Trump has tried to undo the “that makes me smart” thing. He
started in the spin room immediately after the debate. The Clinton debate
even turned that into an ad.


REPORTER: You admitted that you haven`t paid federal taxes and that that
was smart, is that what you meant to say?

TRUMP: I didn`t say that at all.

CLINTON: He didn`t pay any federal income tax.

TRUMP: That makes me smart.


MADDOW: Last night on the FOX News Channel, Donald Trump made a new
attempt to take back his “that makes me smart” line. He said on Fox last
night that what he actually said in the debate was that if he paid no
federal income taxes, that would make him smart. Though it`s not really
clear how putting the assertion in the subjunctive makes things better for
him. And besides, that`s really not what he said.


MADDOW: He didn`t pay any federal income tax.

TRUMP: That makes me smart.


MADDOW: In their new poll that`s out officially today, TPP asked voters
nationwide, who do you think pays more in federal income taxes, you or
Donald Trump? This is not like whose tax rate do you think is higher.
This is the question: who do you think pays more in federal income taxes
you personally or this supposed billionaire running for president?

By a ten-point margin, people nationwide think Donald Trump pays less in
taxes than they do. A plurality of average voters think they personally
have a higher tax bill than this billionaire businessman man guy.

On the question whether Trump should release his tax return, 62 percent of
voters say he should, only 27 percent say he shouldn`t.

Trump and his campaign have failed badly on this as a known political
liability for their candidate. This is something they knew they would take
heat on. They have failed to come up with any explanation, any counter-
argument, anything to say in response to it that doesn`t just make it

So, now, they`re getting all this pressure, not just from the Clinton
campaign but from journalists, from voters, even from “The View”, that he`s
got to release these tax returns.

And now, on top of all that, there`s another very specific, very acute,
very politically salient form of pressure being applied on this
specifically. They haven`t responded to it yet at all. And that is next.


MADDOW: Peter Kiernan is a highly decorated marine special operator who
served in Afghanistan. You may recognize his face here because you saw him
on this show earlier this month after our commander in chief forum. We had
Kiernan here to talk about being a young Afghanistan vet in the midst of
the fourth straight U.S. presidential election in which we have been in
that war as a country even if the two candidates and the two parties don`t
particularly like to fight about much anymore.

Turns out Marine Peter Kiernan has taken this interest in this election in
another very specific direction. About three weeks ago, he started a crowd
funding project to try to persuade Republican candidate Donald Trump that
he should release his tax returns.

And, honestly, Peter Kiernan is being very persuasive about this. He set
up this crowdpac site that people can pledge money that will go to ten
different veterans organizations. Here`s the catch, though: you don`t
actually have to make good on your pledge. You don`t have to pay out that
money unless and until Donald Trump releases his tax returns. Donald Trump
doesn`t get the money. The vets do.

Peter Kiernan`s original goal was to raise $25,000 for veterans charities
if Trump released his taxes, but then the billionaire co-founder of
LinkedIn, a man named Reid Hoffman, he upped the stakes enormously saying
he would match everybody`s pledges 5-1. He`d pledge $5 for every dollar
pledged by everybody else. He`s quintuple it up to $5 million.

So, that means if Peter Kiernan can get a million in pledge donations, Reid
Hoffman will pledge 5 million all to go to veterans charities. All Trump
has to do to make that happen is release his taxes and the veterans will
get all of that money.

With that announcement about the 5-1 match, the project took off. They
raised 100 grand in 24 hours. As of tonight, donors from 50 states have
pledged a total of $400,000, but do the math. With Reid Hoffman`s
quintupling pledge, that means if Trump released his tax returns right now,
Peter Kiernan would have nearly $2.5 million to donate to these ten
veterans groups.

Their deadline for the veterans to get their money, for Trump to release
his taxes the day of the third and final presidential debate, October 19th.
By then, there may be a pot of $6 million cash ready to be donated to these
veterans groups if only Donald Trump releases those returns.

None of this money out of his pocket, $6 million to vets. I told you it
was pretty persuasive.

Joining us now is Peter Kiernan. He served as a marine special operator in
Afghanistan. He`s now at Columbia University where he`s a founder of the
Ivy League Veterans Council.

Mr. Kiernan, thank you for your time tonight. I`m really glad to have you

Thanks for having me again.

MADDOW: Let me ask first of all if I got that right, if I explained your
persuasive scheme accurately.

KIERNAN: Yes, no, you hit the nail on the head. Ever since Reid`s joined
in, it`s been very successful. We`ve raised an average of $25,000 a day.
I would hope that Donald would consider releasing his tax returns to help

MADDOW: How is being a veteran driving this interest for you? What`s the
connection between your status as a veteran, your interest in veteran
issues and Trump`s taxes?

KIERNAN: Well, I think it has a lot to do with Trump`s claim about, you
know, paying no taxes is a smart thing to do. You know, when I was in
Afghanistan, taxes paid for my body armor. Taxes paid for my weapons and
ammunition. Taxes paid for the emergency life flight that my buddies got
flown out on when they lost their legs.

Taxes paid for gold star families, for the 14 children I know today without
fathers. And more than that, they support cops and firefighters. You know,
every public service that this nation offers.

And where I come from, leaders are meant to lead by example. And you
inspire those to follow you. And I think that if Trump`s free riding on
the political process and the system, I think that`s a dangerous precedent
as a leader.

MADDOW: Has the Trump campaign or anybody from the Trump campaign
responded to you at all? Do you expect them to respond to you at all on

KIERNAN: Nobody`s responded to us directly, but I think the message is
pretty clear. I`m not looking for a personal response. This isn`t about
me. We just want to see Trump`s tax returns.

MADDOW: Peter Kiernan, decorated he`ll be graduating from Columbia
University next May, creator of this crowd funding campaign to get Trump to
release his tax returns. Peter, thank you for keeping us up to date on
this tonight, creative approach. Really appreciate you being here.

KIERNAN: Thanks, Rachel. Appreciate it.

MADDOW: All right. Up next, we have late-breaking news from a “Washington
Post” reporter who`s on a hot streak right now. Stay with us.


MADDOW: “Washington Post” reporter, David Fahrenthold, is going to be on
“THE LAST WORD” with Lawrence O`Donnell tonight. That is particularly
important tonight, because he has just broken this new news. Trump
Foundation lacks the certification required for charities that solicit

Fahrenthold has been a terrier on this story of Donald Trump`s financial
dealings through his foundation. He`s uncovered the latest detail on this
that nobody else has been able to turn up. He`s going to be on with
Lawrence tonight, right after this.

Stay with us.


MADDOW: This photo was taken on May 13, 1880 on a makeshift railroad track
set up in the farmlands of New Jersey. This was the first test of Thomas
Edison`s electric railway, which started its journey outside Edison`s lab
in New Jersey. It ended only about a third of a mile later.

At the time it was taken, locomotives in this country were run on steam.
And Edison predicted that electricity could replace steam as a power source
for trains. Most people thought he was nut. But 50 years later in 1930,
just a few months before his death, there was Thomas Edison actually
driving the first electrified train on the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western
railroad. That`s him in the middle of the front there.

That electric train`s maiden voyage that day originated in Hoboken, New
Jersey. The Hoboken train terminal has been around a long time. It`s over
a century old. It has original Tiffany-manufactured stained glass
ceilings. It`s seen a lot in its day, including some of the worst damage
inflicted on the state of New Jersey during Hurricane Sandy.

Fifty thousand commuters rush through it day in and day out. They chased
their way on six different commuter rail lines, a ton of bus lines, light
rail, Hudson River ferries, Port Authority PATH trains into New York City.

So, that was the train terminal in Hoboken, New Jersey, today where we had
one of the worse commuter train crashes we`ve seen in a long time. One
person killed, hundred and eight people injured, after a commuter train, a
New Jersey transit train crashed through concrete and steel barriers and
into a wall.

It`s still too soon to know exactly how this accident happened. The NTSB
says they`re interviewing the engineer. He`s been injured in the crash but
released from the hospital.

The NTSB also says they`re also looking into past train crashes, including
one that happened five years ago at the same terminal. In May 2011, more
than people were hospitalized when a train failed to break, and rammed
through the bumpers at the end of the line in Hoboken. NTSB said in that
crash, it was the engineer`s fault for failing to hit the brakes. But,
quote, “contributing was the lack of a system that would have intervened to
stop the train and prevent the collision.”

That lack of a system they`re referring to is an actual thing. It`s called
PTC, Positive Train Control. It monitors speed limits and track signals
electronically. So, if an engineer fails to stop a train because of
illness or human error or whatever, that positive train control system
would automatically kick in to slow the train down or stop it in time.

Congress passed a law years ago to force all railroads to install that
system, it was after an engineer missed a signal and crashed into a freight
train. That was a terrible accident in L.A. that killed 25 people. After
that, railroads across the country were all supposed to have a positive
train control system installed and up and running. The deadline in the law
says those things have to be up and running all over the country by the end
of the 2018, two years from now. So far, barely a fifth of the country`s
railroads have it in place.

In addition to that (AUDIO GAP) crash in (AUDIO GAP), the lack of a
positive train control system was also cited last spring in that Amtrak
derailment in Philly that killed eight people and injured more than 200.
It was also cited as a contributing factor in a Metro North crash in 2013
that injured 60 people and killed four people, including one of our
colleagues here at MSNBC.

Today`s train in Hoboken, New Jersey, also lacked positive train control.
It`s still too soon to tell whether that system would have prevented the
crash today. The NTSB will be looking into all of it. In the meantime,
they`re hoping the train`s black box recorder will tell them how fast the
train was going this morning and whether the engineer did try to hit the

We`ll keep you posted as we learn more.

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


Good evening, Lawrence.


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