The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 4/14/2017
Show: The Rachel Maddow Show
Date: April 14, 2017
Guest: Sue Mi Terry, Scott Braden, Dan Rather
JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: That is “ALL IN” for this evening, and, of course,
you can catch me again tomorrow morning on my show, “A.M. JOY” at 10:00
THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts right now.
Good evening, Rachel. And, you know, it used to be that I could look
forward to a Friday of you making cocktail. That used to be the thing we
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Yes.
REID: Now, it`s nuclear war.
MADDOW: Now, it`s like nuclear war and me trying to persuade people don`t
drink. Take care of yourself, take vitamins, exercise, your country needs
REID: I love you but I`m gonna go get a cocktail.
MADDOW: I understand.
Thank you, my dear. Thank you, Joy. Have a great weekend.
REID: You too.
MADDOW: And thanks to at home for joining us this hour.
You know, even though the weekend is coming up, Joy`s is starting right
now. Even though the weekend is coming up, even though it is a holiday
weekend for many people because of Easter, it is still likely to be a bit
of a very busy few days in the news coming up even through the weekend and
into the beginning of next week. This sort of an unusually forward-looking
Friday night, usually at a time like this would be looking back at what
happened over the past week.
Right now, we sort of on the precipice of a whole bunch of news that`s
about to happen. Tomorrow in Washington, D.C., as Joy and other people
have been reporting tonight, in D.C. and in dozens of cities around the
country, there are going to be tax marches tomorrow Tax Day protests, April
15th protests basically against to the new president, Donald Trump. The
tax marches specifically will be demanding that he should release his tax
returns. He, of course, remains the only president in the modern era who
has refused to do that.
Now, in terms of expectations we don`t expect those marches tomorrow to be
as big as the marches that took place right after the inauguration, the
women`s marches. I don`t know that any American protests will ever be fed
big ever again. But still, what happens tomorrow might be the biggest
anti-Trump protests that have happened since the women`s marches.
So, we shall see keep an eye out for that tomorrow in D.C. and in cities
across the country. Also, expect over the course of this weekend, an
increasing pace of legal pressure and media attention and political
pressure maybe protests as well focusing on the state of Arkansas, because
on Monday night, Arkansas is due to start this remarkable series of
doubleheader executions, right? We talked about this last night. You`ve
probably heard about this in the news.
Arkansas has scheduled eight executions. They plan to kill eight prisoners
over the course of 10 days. Their plan is to kill two men a night on four
different nights over a ten-day period starting on Monday. So far, the
courts have blocked two of the eight planned killings, including one of the
executions that was planned to be on Monday night.
This is a very unusual plan from Arkansas. No state has done a mass
execution like this since capital punishment was reinstated in the 1970s.
Arkansas has not executed anybody at all in 12 years. Arkansas has never
executed anybody ever with one of the drugs that they are trying to rush to
kill all these guys with.
I mean, the idea of a doubleheader execution even just one doubleheader
execution, let alone four of them in a week and a half, that is something
that other states with more experience of capital punishment, they have
warned against doing that. They say trying to do two in one night makes it
much, much harder on the execution staff and on the medical teams
particularly if they are inexperienced. But again, that execution spree in
Arkansas is supposed to start on Monday night. You will likely see a bunch
of headlines about it late tonight, tomorrow and through the weekend.
Just tonight, just as I was coming down to the makeup room and then into
the studio, just within the last few minutes, a court put in place a
temporary restraining order that blocks the use of one of the three drugs
the state was planning to use for these lethal injections and the court or
that the court has just blocked this drug, that is not even the most
controversial of the three drugs that they were planning on using.
So, that ruling was just tonight – just happened within the last hour, the
state says they are apparently going to appeal that ruling so we`ll see
right now it`s a temporary restraining order that says the state can`t use
for any of those executions, one of the drugs it was planning on. Expect
the legal wrangling and the appeals and the political pressure and the
media attention to stay heavy and to increase over the course of the
Again, Arkansas wanted to start killing those guys on Monday. Right now,
it`s not clear they`ll be allowed to kill any of them.
On top of all that, there`s also gonna be a lot of electoral politics news
over the next few days, because on Tuesday of next week, there`s that big
congressional election in Georgia where Democrats are trying their darndest
to take a congressional seat that has been red for decades. This is Health
Secretary Tom Price`s old seat. Democrats have coalesced around a young
Georgia Democrat named Jon Ossoff. They`re trying to turn the 6th district
in Georgia into a blue seat.
Democrats think they`ve got a shot at winning this seat. Republicans say
the Democrats have no chance. We will find out soon though. Early voting
in that race ended today an election day itself will be on Tuesday. We
should expect a lot of attention toward that over the weekend.
So, this has already been a very busy week in the news. Early next week is
stacked up with a bunch of really big things in the news.
But before we even get to that stuff early next week, we do have to make it
through tonight and this weekend, and part of the new uncertainty around
that, the reason lots of people in the news business canceled plans for
this weekend and everybody`s on call at least is because this weekend is
the birthday of Kim Il-sung who`s the founding president of North Korea
and, of course, it`s a birthday it happens every year. But this year, it
is happening while we too in our country have a new president and our new
president has just had a particularly bomby week, bomby as in bombs away,
not balmy as in nice weather in Mar-a-Lago this weekend.
Last week, Thursday night, the new president abandoned his long-held public
emphatic insistence that the United States should not launch attacks on
Syria, even if Syria use chemical weapons. Last week, he threw that long-
standing public throughout that long-standing public position what we
believed to be the policy of the United States of America since he had
campaigned on it and he`s commander-in-chief, he threw that policy on the
window changed tack 180 degrees and a week ago last night launched 59
Tomahawk missiles at a Syrian air base.
Now, this did not represent apparently some sort of deliberate change in
U.S. policy towards Syria. It now seems clear that that missile strike was
– if anything – an abandonment of what had been stated us policy in
Syria. Part of the way you can tell that is that that missile strike has
been followed by a week of confused, contradictory, all over the map
statements from the administration about what that missile strike was for,
why the United States did it, what it means about what we`re trying to get
done in Syria in the larger sense that we now have started shooting
missiles at their air bases.
I will say from a White House perspective, it seems that they are less
concerned about the criticism of their incoherence on this matter and more
just excited about how that missile strike got the president the first good
round of press he has had in his entire presidency.
I mean, they do remain these niggling questions like what was that for?
What is the United States trying to do in Syria? What are a thousand U.S.
service members risking their lives for tonight in Syria? What is the U.S.
mission in Syria? And does that missile strike help or hurt that mission?
Those questions remain.
There also remains an interesting question of how the decision was made to
launch that strike. The administration released, of course, this makeshift
Situation Room photo from the night the strike was launched for a big
change in course military decision, there are some unexpected staffers in
the Situation Room who are apparently participating in that decision.
I mean, there`s the chief economic advisor to the president. There`s the
Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, Goldman Sachs guy, what`s he doing there.
There`s Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross sitting right next to the president.
The president`s 36-year-old son-in-law was there.
Also, Spicy`s they`re back in the corner, White House spokesman, why is he
there? The guy from Breitbart is there, yes.
We do not see in this photo the Director of National Intelligence or the
CIA director or any military personnel other than the one uniform gentlemen
who is standing at the door.
Tonight, a former CIA official tells us that the reason the Director of
Central Intelligence Mike Pompeo was not there in that room, in fact, he
wasn`t in on the decision to launch that missile strike Syria is because he
was giving a speech that night to a private equity group so he didn`t
participate in the decision. So, the Central Intelligence Agency director
wasn`t in on this, didn`t participate in it, but meanwhile don`t worry,
Steve Mnuchin was there helping make the decision to bomb Syria. So, the
banking world got to have its cake and eat it too.
That was the start of this literally explosive week for this young
presidency. Then yesterday, it was bombs away again. The new president
has yet to talk about Afghanistan since he has been president. He has yet
to articulate any policy or even general inclination toward that 15-year-
The basic idea at least in terms of what most Americans think we`re doing
there is that thousands of U.S. troops are still in Afghanistan because the
U.S. military is trying to create a security environment in which the
Afghan government can stand up their U.S. troops are there in support of
the Afghan government and Afghan security forces so that country doesn`t
fall again to the Taliban like they did before 9/11.
I mean, I think that`s the basic idea we all have as Americans as to what
we are doing in Afghanistan, but into the middle of that fight yesterday,
the new administration decided to roll out a gigantic super bomb that had
never been used before in combat. The United States has had these mega
bomb GBU-43Bs. They`ve had these bombs, the mother of all bombs. They`ve
had them for about 14 years. They cost about $16 million each.
No other commander-in-chief has ever seen the need to use one before now,
but yesterday, they decided to roll one out and Afghanistan. Why not?
For context here, the United States does not have an ambassador in
Afghanistan. The president has not spoken on Afghanistan. He has not said
what he wants to do in that country, but militarily, he`s just done
something that`s never been done before there or anywhere. For some
reason, he just used the most unimaginably giant bomb the United States
military has got short of a nuclear weapon, and he is it to kill reportedly
about 36 ISIS affiliated fighters, about a half million dollars per guy.
Here`s a very strange development on that story that has just broken
tonight. Last night, on that story, “The Hill” newspaper published a story
about that bomb, the use of that bomb, the decision to use that bomb and in
their story, “The Hill” published a number of quotes from somebody who they
described as a CentCom spokesman. And the quotes were attributed to an
unnamed but apparently official CentCom spokesman. CentCom, of course, is
the military Central Command, which means it`s the part of the U.S.
military for which their area of responsibility is the Middle East. And
so, they`re quoting this CentCom, spokesman military spokesman but the
quotes are a little weird for a military spokesman.
I`ll show you what I mean. I`m asked by “The Hill” about what else was in
the area that was hit by that giant bomb other than these ISIS fighters,
the spokesman has told “The Hill” this, quote, “I can guarantee there`s
nothing in the area. It`s pure enemy.”
It`s pure enemy. Military spokesman in the United States don`t talk like
this. But then there`s this, asked about why they use this giant bomb that
the U.S. has never used before, the spokesman said this, quote, “We mean
business.” President Trump said prior that once he gets in, he`s going to
kick that beep out of the enemy, that was his promise and that`s exactly
what we`re doing.
This is a mil – this is a U.S. military spokesman, seriously? Actually,
no. It turns out not. CentCom just tonight put out a follow-up press
release. Look at this. This is actually from CentCom and it`s got a named
person on it.
For immediate release, U.S. Central Command media advisory.
Subject: statements attributed to unauthorized CentCom spokesman.
Statements published on April 13th attributed to a U.S. CentCom were made
by an individual unauthorized to speak on behalf of the United States
Central Command and those statements do not reflect the professionalism of
CentCom, said Major Josh Jacques here today.
These statements fail to portray the values more than 80,000 service
members of the U.S. military currently serving in the CentCom area of
responsibility, says Major Jacques CentCom media division chief. Quote,
“Our media engagement mission is to provide accurate impartial information
to the public and their media representatives worldwide. Those
inappropriate statements do not reflect the official views of CentCom or
The name spokesman added that the unofficial statements undermine the
confidence of the public who expect more responsible and thoughtful
Wow. Who`s the fake spokesman? Who was telling “The Hill” newspaper that
they were CentCom spokesman and they spoke on behalf of CentCom and they
gave all these quotes, and it wasn`t actually a CentCom spokesman?
How – is this – is this something we have to worry about now, fake
So, I mean, in terms of real take it to the bank information here, we
really don`t know much about why they use that giant bomb in Afghanistan.
But when a supposed it military spokesman says it was because Donald Trump
wants to kick the bleep out of the enemy turns out that was it a military
spokesman and CentCom has now apologized.
That itself is very strange. There`s that. So, no one`s quite sure how or
why the call to use that particular weapon was made. We`re not sure who to
trust when we get an explanation about it.
But regardless of all that, one thing – the use of that bomb definitely
did here at home was it produced another day of very excited slightly
confused but nevertheless overwhelmingly positive good press for only the
second time in this young presidency. First time was the missile strike.
Second time was the mother of all bombs.
So, he`s had two full days of good press and both of them were for this
young president, this new president deciding unilaterally to blow some
stuff up, arguably without much consideration for how doing that would
strategically fit into any larger American interest or any larger American
So, that is the week that we are just coming out of, and now, we have a
Today, Air China cancelled their regularly scheduled three times a week
round-trip flights between Beijing and Pyongyang in North Korea. Air China
has been a little vague as to why they canceled these flights, but it`s not
the first time they have called those flights off. Whether this was done
for commercial reasons or political reasons or security reasons, we cannot
say for sure.
But what it means in practical terms is that the Beijing to Pyongyang air
route as of tonight is now only served by one air carrier. It is served
only by Air Koryo. And among other things, Air Koryo is internationally
famous for its food. There`s one foodstuff you are served as a passenger
on Air Koryo. Famously, you only have one choice. Your choice is do you
want it or don`t you?
But the only thing they offer you is their burger. It arrives at your seat
wrapped up in a little cartoony wrapper. It says hamburg on it. A little
character sliding something very small into something that looks like Nilla
wafers, I don`t know.
Now, it`s kind of cute. It arrives in a little wrapper. It turns out it
is not served in that wrapper to keep it warm. The burger is reportedly
served ice cold, and when you unfold it`s a little cartoony wrapper, what
you find is – tada! Behold, that is the burger.
We have a number of pictures of the burger because it seems like anybody
who has ever flown on Air Koryo, anybody who has ever been able to evade
the no pictures rule and sneak a picture of the food, it seems like
everybody has managed to take a picture of the burger and post this picture
online. Feast your eyes on that. That is the food. That`s the – that`s
the burger. That`s Air Koryo.
Air Koryo is the official government-run and only airline of North Korea.
They fly from Pyongyang to a few different places inside North Korea, I
think it`s a little hard to tell. This is their website, it`s been down
today so I haven`t been able to check it.
They are the reported to have a handful of international routes. They fly
to Beijing and to two other cities in China. They also fly to Vladivostok
Oh, right, communism. North Korea remains one of the last communist
countries on Earth. They were an ally in good standing of the old
communist Soviet Union and follow the through line, Air Koryo flies Soviet-
made planes. I don`t mean former Soviet Union now Russian-made planes. I
mean they fly Soviet-made planes, made by the Soviet Union when it was
still the Soviet Union. That`s their air fleet.
And it`s interesting, North Korea is now trying at least a little bit to
attract international airplane geek tourism from people who want to fly the
friendly North Korean skies in planes that have cockpits that look like
this, where they serve you ice cold mystery beige burgers that leak thin
red watery sauce that doesn`t seem like blood, but nobody can quite place
Incidentally, my favorite detail about Air Koryo is that when they where
they chill the burgers where they keep them so cold is in refrigerators
that look like this, that they tuck into the galley on these old Soviet
North Korea is the preserved in amber in a lot of ways. They`re
economically and ideologically constrained to by their government in a way
that makes them unlike any other place on Earth.
We`ve all seen the pictures of the Korean peninsula from space, where north
of demilitarized zone, North Korea looks like it might just be the sea. It
looks like it`s the ocean because there`s there are no lights. They have
so little electricity.
But North Korea, they do have Air Koryo. They do have an internationally
well-regarded core of military hackers. Remember the Sony hack by the
North Koreans. North Korea may not have done much for its people, but they
do have nuclear weapons and they do have a million-man army and they do
have an increasingly full range of ballistic missiles, and they do have a
huge amount of powerful conventional artillery that they have put along
their southern border, pointing at South Korea, pointing in the direction
of Seoul we`re about million people live.
And this weekend is Kim Il-sung birthday, which is often occasion for the
North Korean government to show off new weapons technology. This year,
first of all, what`s that likely to be and when will we know? But also, do
we expect our own new president to make excellent, well-thought out
decisions for all the right reasons, working from all the best information,
with a full appreciation of the delicate strategic sensibilities
surrounding this paranoid, slightly insane armed to the teeth country?
Whether or not it makes you feel better or worse about that prospect, I
should tell you our new president spent today at his resort in South
Florida apparently golfing, meanwhile what appears to be a massive North
Korean military parade appears to be taking shape.
I`ll be right back. Stay with us.
MADDOW: It is evening on the East Coast of the United States. It is
morning now on the Korean peninsula and specifically in North Korea, it is
the morning of the birthday of Kim Il-sung, who is the founding president
of North Korea and that means Pyongyang looks like this right now. These
are live images actually. These are the first images we are getting in of
what appears to be a very large commemoration. We`re expecting this
probably to be a large military parade that they will hold in Pyongyang to
celebrate that birthday.
They do something along these lines, at least something big every year on
Kim Il-sung`s birthday. But this year, North Korea is also reportedly been
on the brink of possibly testing some new weapon, maybe a new nuclear
device, may be a new long-range missile that could conceivably transport a
nuclear device far around the globe.
The United States has sent what the president described as a, quote,
“armada” to the waters off the Korean peninsula. I`m not sure that`s the
word he meant, but there is an aircraft carrier group there, and this is a
new American president who has been getting a lot of good press for
shooting bombs and missiles places with not much notice over the last week
or so. It could be quite a weekend.
Joining us now is Sue Mi Terry. She`s a former senior analyst on Korean
issues at the CIA.
Dr. Terry, it`s really good to have you here. Thank you.
SUE MI TERRY, FORMER CIA SENIOR ANALYST ON KOREAN ISSUES: Pleasure.
MADDOW: Those images that we just saw from Pyongyang is that sort of
typical in terms of the way this holiday this is commemorated every year.
TERRY: And they would have a big parade um and we see me there was
showcase all their missiles and whatever they want to showcase this
MADDOW: Is that an important – in terms of those parades? Obviously,
they`re putting on display what they want to put on display. Are they
conveying implicit threats with those phrases? Did they roll out new
things that we didn`t know they had at those parades?
TERRY: Sure. So, for example, they can roll out an ICBM to show us show
the world that it has an intercontinental ballistic missile that can reach
MADDOW: In terms of their missile capacity already, they have two and
three stage ICBMs as they say already developed.
MADDOW: What`s the state of the sort of us view of that missile capacity?
Do we believe they`ve got actually operational ICBM capacity?
TERRY: Because they have not tested the ICBM that could reach the mainland
United States successively tested, so we don`t know that. But I think they
are very close to testing it.
Already, our territories in the Pacific, including Guam and Hawaii – Guam
– or in Japan and South Korea or under threat. But they have not yet
tested ICBM that could reach mainland United States.
MADDOW: In terms of this weekend this holiday this parade which seems to
be taking shape right now in Pyongyang, and the previous reporting that
we`ve had that there was unusual activity viewed by satellite around some
of their launch test facilities, as somebody who worked at the CIA on these
issues, what do you think they are planning on doing? How much of an
escalation if any do you expect from them?
TERRY: Well, they are preparing for sixth nuclear test, although because
the whole world is now expecting sixth nuclear test, they might not decide
to test it this weekend. North Korea likes to appease – it be the one
that surprises the rest of the world and so, they were – and they said
they were test when they want to test. And there are other holidays coming
up like Korean people`s army anniversary late this month on the twenty-
So, they don`t have to test the sixth nuclear weapon this particular
weekend. But there are other things they can do. They can do normal
missile tests they`ve been doing before. They can showcase an ICBM. There
are other things they can do.
MADDOW: There is an aircraft carrier that has been directed, U.S. aircraft
carrier that has been directed there. We have seen we have a new president
who we don`t fully understand either. He has gotten, I mean it`s weird to
bring this up, but I think it`s a factor here he`s gotten the first sort of
two days of good press of his new presidency by doing military – taking
military action against the Syrian government for the first time, taking
military action in Afghanistan using a weapon that has never been used
If this president is weighing for whatever reason some type of novel newly
aggressive military action toward North Korea, what are the options and
what are the likely consequences?
TERRY: He could weigh an option of intercepting a missile or he could be
weighing an option of striking a nuclear test site. But I honestly don`t
think he`s going to follow through with this.
And this is a problem with the brinkmanship policy, because you`re you
putting yourself in a bind either, you have to back down or you have to
sort of lose your credibility, or you have to now you`re stuck on a ledge
in risk a military option which is very, very risky.
North Korea is not Syria. It`s not Afghanistan. It`s going to have
devastating consequences. North Korea will retaliate to any kind of
MADDOW: And they`ll retaliate against South Korea.
TERRY: Absolutely retaliate against South Korea. North Korea has some
seventy percent of its ground forces and some fifty percent of his air and
naval forces are deployed within 100 kilometers from the DMZ, demilitarized
zone, that are separating the two Koreas. That`s miles, and you said
there`s 20 million people in Seoul. There`s 20,500 American soldiers in
Korea. There`s some 150,000 U.S. expats in Seoul.
This is us – this is this is why I just don`t think this kind of
brinksmanship policy is – it`s not a smart idea. It`s gross
MADDOW: Even without a novel missile capacity, even without nuclear
weapons, there are millions of people who are soft targets, who are in
within easy reach of the North Korean military if they choose to take that
Sue Mi Terry, who`s a former senior analyst on Korean issues at the CIA –
Dr. Terry, it`s very good to have you here. Thank you.
TERRY: Pleasure. Thank you.
MADDOW: Appreciate it.
All right. Up next, I mentioned a little bit about this at the top but we
do have another breaking news story that we are covering tonight. It seems
like Friday night stuff happens late into the evening. God doesn`t want
anybody to have Fridays off this year.
We`ll have more on that breaking news story straight ahead. Stay with us.
MADDOW: So late this evening, just as we are getting on the air, we got
this breaking news. An Arkansas judge tonight has blocked the state of
Arkansas from using one of the lethal injection drugs that the state was
planning to use in its record execution spree that was due to start on
Monday night. This is the Arkansas situation where that state wants to
kill two men a night on four separate nights for a total of eight
executions in the span of days. Nothing like that has happened since
capital punishment was reinstated by the Supreme Court in the 1970s. We`re
not used to mass executions in this country.
Well, that was controversial enough but then as of this afternoon two of
the eight executions had already gotten themselves blocked by the courts,
and now tonight, a judge has just issued a temporary restraining order that
apparently will block Arkansas from using one of the three drugs they were
planning on using to kill these men, will block them from using a drug
that`s called vecuronium bromide.
The company that makes vecuronium bromide has asked the court to step in.
The company is basically not consenting to the use of their drug for this
purpose, for these executions. The company said when they realized what
the state was planning to do with their drug, they objected, they asked for
their drug back. They say the state told them they would get the drug
back. The drug would be returned to the company, but then apparently they
reneged, and Arkansas still planned on using their vecuronium bromide.
And so, the company has gone to the courts and tonight the court has issued
a restraining order in their favor. It remains to be seen what will happen
in Arkansas that execution spree Arkansas was supposed to start Monday
night. Tonight, those killings remain in question given this last-minute
ruling tonight from this Arkansas judge and the two prisoners cases that
have been ruled on separately and blocked as executions in separate cases.
Joining us now over the phone is Scott Braden. He`s the attorney for one
of the eight men in Arkansas who was slated for execution over the next two
weeks. His client was actually granted a stay by the courts tonight.
Mr. Braden, thanks very much for joining us. I know it`s a short notice
booking for you thanks for being here.
SCOTT BRADEN, ATTORNEY (via telephone): Thank you.
MADDOW: So, let me just make sure I`ve got this right to court rulings
tonight there`s this restraining order apparently blocking all the
executions by blocking the use of one of the drugs. But before that,
tonight, there was a separate order that blocked the execution of your
client Bruce Ward.
Do I have that right in terms of the separate cases here?
BRADEN: Yes, that`s correct the Arkansas Supreme Court granted an
emergency stay of execution tonight so that we can – so that they can
ensure that there`s full briefing and the full consideration by the court
of the important constitutional issue in Mr. Ward`s case, and that is
whether he`s competent to be executed under the Eighth Amendment.
MADDOW: So, that emergency stay of execution, what sort of time does that
buy you in terms of litigating that issue of concern for your client? How
long do you expect this stay to be in effect?
BRADEN: Well, I expect the Arkansas Supreme Court will consider this
matter with the gravity that they do and these issues, and that they`ve
always done. And I suspect that the stay that they`ve entered here is to
allow full consideration this issue, which would contemplate days worth of
briefing at least and probably an oral argument.
So, I think it`s a meant to do otherwise they would have set a schedule out
in the open in the order they issued this afternoon.
MADDOW: OK, can I also ask you what your understanding is of the legal
fight right now over the use of these specific drugs the state is planning
on using a three-drug protocol. One of those drugs, Midazolam, seems to
have been the thing that led to this rushed scheduled by the state. They
apparently wanted to line up all these executions so quickly because their
Midazolam was due to expire.
But as far as I understand it, the drug that was the subject of this
restraining orders tonight was actually not that the Midazolam. It was
another one of these drugs. The drug company is essentially saying that
they do not consent to it being used in this way. They wanted it back from
Can you give us any of your understanding in terms of the legal fight over
the drugs themselves?
BRADEN: Well, honestly, I don`t know much more about it than you do. I
don`t represent any the parties in that action and we`re not involved in
that. But I think that`s right. I think that the arguments that they`ve
But I do know that we spent four days in federal court this week putting on
a case showing that Midazolam is certainly going to cause a problematic and
painful execution and will violate the Eighth Amendment.
MADDOW: Scott Braden, attorney for one of the eight men in Arkansas, Bruce
Ward, who was slated for execution on Monday. Mr. Braden was able to get
his client an emergency stay of execution tonight in the Arkansas state
Mr. Braden, I know this is an incredibly intense time for you and for your
client. Thanks for letting us know what`s going on. Please stay in touch
with us over the course the weekend as this continues unfold.
BRADEN: Thank you for your interest in this.
MADDOW: Thank you. Appreciate it.
Again, Arkansas has made a remarkable decision to try to do what is in
effect a mass execution. They want to kill eight men in days. We now know
that two of those executions are off because of the individual
circumstances of those cases. But it looks like because of this ruling
tonight that all of those executions may be off, at least temporarily, if
the state is not able to successfully appeal this restraining order on the
use of one of these drugs that they`re planning to use to kill all of these
Fascinating and bizarre story out of Arkansas.
Stay with us.
MADDOW: Do you worry? Do you have anxiety about the world maybe late at
night? Do the words Syria, Russia, North or Korea keep you up at night?
My friends, it`s time to stop being afraid.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Whatever you look at it`s got problems so many problems and
ultimately I believe that we are going to get rid of most of those
problems, and there won`t be fear of anybody.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: We`re gonna get rid of the problems, OK?
The president was inaugurated with the speech about American carnage, you
will remember. But now, not only will most of the problems be gotten rid
of, they`re also, quote, “won`t be fear of anybody any more”.
After promising multiple times during the campaign that he would label
China a currency manipulator on day one, this week, the new president told
“The Wall Street Journal”, quote, “They`re not currency manipulators.”
After saying during the campaign that he did not think the Import-Export
Bank was necessary, this week he told “The Wall Street Journal”, quote,
“Actually. it`s a very good thing.”
During the campaign, the president said, quote, “The problem with NATO:
it`s obsolete.” This week, the president said, “NATO is no longer
After the health care debacle last month, the president said he was moving
on, leaving health reform behind moving on to tax reform. He said tax
reform, quote, “that will be next.” Then this week, nope, we`re going to
have a phenomenal tax reform, but I have to do health care first.
Also this week, it became time to bomb Syria because they used chemical
weapons, despite the president insisting for years that under no
circumstances should the U.S. bomb Syria, particularly if they used
Inside the beltway, these many reversals are being read I think hopefully
is some kind of reboot. But in the words of the great Dan Rather today,
quote, “There is a big difference between evolution and confusion.” And
Dan Rather joins us on that next.
Stay with us
MADDOW: Joining us now for the interview tonight is Dan Rather. He`s the
host of “The Big Interview with Dan Rather” on AXS TV.
Mr. Rather, it`s great to have you here. Thank you for –
DAN RATHER, AXS TV: Always good to be with you.
MADDOW: It`s really good to see you.
I want to talk to you about Donald Trump and the new presidency and these
sort of abandonments of previous policies but everybody`s sort of calling
flip flops and U-turns here.
But I also actually want to talk to a little bit about some of this news
that we`ve – that`s been breaking tonight since we`ve been on the air.
MADDOW: This remarkable story out of Arkansas. They`re planning on
executing eight men in for double header executions over the course of ten
days. It seems to be falling apart now. Two of the eight have now had
stays, and maybe all of them have been stayed by this court blocking the
use of one of these drugs.
I have to ask – I`m out of all the years you spent covering capital
punishment. All the politics around this is and everything, have you ever
seen anything like this?
RATHER: No, had never seen anything quite like this. But I think it
speaks to his – my understanding, Arkansas has not had an execution in a
very long time.
MADDOW: Not 12 years.
RATHER: So, they had nobody who`s experienced with this. And remember, I
come from Texas where they have a lot of electrocutions, other death
penalties, probably lead the nation you not only they still do probably do.
But in Texas, there are a lot of people who`ve been associated with it a
lot of people actually done a deeds, either been on the phone this putter.
But in a place like Arkansas where they haven`t done it a long time, it`s a
very interesting story. I`ll be interested to see how many if any of these
death penalty situations actually result in it being done.
MADDOW: And if it does get blocked or if some of them do go through the
legal basis on which that will happen – I mean, they`re fighting about the
technocratic parts of it. You know, whether this drug can be used, whether
the drug company gets a say in whether or not it`s used, whether the
protocols for having a contingency planner in place and everything. It`s a
But the main thing I wanted to talk to you about tonight, Dan, is what
we`re seeing from the new administration in terms of them abandoning
previously held policies. You describe that as the there being a big
difference between evolution and confusion. Do you feel like people are
misreading these flip-flops as evolution?
RATHER: Well, I think some people maybe misreading it. But, look, Donald
Trump sold himself one reason got elected was he presenting himself as a
person. He doesn`t back down. He doesn`t back up he doesn`t turn around.
Well, since he`s been in office, that`s practically the main thing he has
done. Back up, back down, turnaround everything from Chinese money
manipulation to his opinion of NATO and the Federal Reserve – I mean, you
read part of the list but the list is longer than my arm, OK? You know
he`s jumping around like grease on a hot skillet.
Now, unpredictability can be an important part of leadership but being
erratic and coming across as confused and not knowing not only what you
believe, but where you want to go. For example, it`s one thing to drop all
these Tomahawks – 59 Tomahawks on Syria.
Well, to what purpose? What is the strategy? What is the overarching
strategy in Syria?
MADDOW: And does that missile launch make achieving the strategic goals
easier or harder, (INAUDIBLE) ourselves or help ourselves there.
RATHER: What exactly in North Korea which I think the last time, we
talked, we talked about the danger North Korea. This is a powder keg with
a short fuse and the fuse is burning. I think it`s just now beginning to
sink into the American people as a whole. We`re already talking about the
possibility of war.
Now, there`s a only a slight difference between brinksmanship and
appeasement, and as I understand it, Donald Trump is trying to go that line
with North Korea. But the North Korean regime is unstable. Their leader
is unstable and feeling vulnerable, and we know the history of what happens
when you have that kind of situation, leaders sometimes wants to engage a
foreign power in a showdown, maybe even a war in order to keep himself in
But one can only pray that Donald Trump is reading up quickly on the Korean
war of the 1950s, maybe David Halberstam`s book, “The Coldest Winter” would
be good reading for him, because many of us are the steps that were going
to now of brinkmanship, getting right up close and saying, OK, we`re going
to engage and we`re going to engage in strength has echoes of what happened
in Korea in the 1950s.
Let me bring those two strands of thought together too because, obviously,
the most influential nation on North Korea is China. You know, the third
of their economy is – third of their cash comes from selling coal to
China. They`re their biggest trading partner, a cultural partner by far.
And so, whatever happened to North Korea is going to have to go through
China in some way. Then you look at the way that China is viewing Donald
Trump right now. They did just have this visit by President Xi.
But in terms of Trump stance on China, he said he`s going to label him a
currency manipulator on day one. Not only did he not do that, now, he`s
not going to do that at all.
He also said the One China policy, “Well, I don`t think we should abide by
that unless we get trade concessions from them”, and then a few weeks
later, OK, we`re going to abide by that One China policy, and I don`t need
anything for it.
The Chinese headlines about Donald Trump are humiliating. They`re talking
about him being a paper tiger. Him being a laughingstock – I mean, and,
you know, with the Chinese government controlled press when those headlines
come out, you know, that`s what the Chinese government thinks of him.
How do those things play together with China seeing him as somebody they
don`t need too much worried about and also us needing China on North Korea?
RATHER: Well, this – there are no good solution to our U.S. position in
North Korea. And this is one of the reasons that the Chinese – they could
end the situation in North Korea, I wouldn`t say overnight but very shortly
if they chose to do so. They haven`t chosen to do so. They didn`t do it
with President Bush. They didn`t do it with the President Obama. We`ll
see where they do with President Trump.
But here`s the situation, you know, Putin loves this, what`s happened with
us in North Korea. I mean, he is smiling like a deacon with four aces.
This is exactly what we would like us – overstretched, possibility of land
war an Asia, possibility of a land war in Asia?
MADDOW: Impossible brinkmanship, where there`s no way out that was not
look good, let alone safe.
RATHER: And the Chinese have to like where they are, because President
Trump himself is saying I need you so badly I`ll give you something with a
trade side –
RATHER: You think there`s some help, and the Chinese said, well, we`ll be
in touch it about that. And they`ve made a couple of moves with.
But here, you know, what concerns me and I think concerns a lot of people,
Rachel, is that by these two bombings, the Syria of Tomahawks and the
Afghanistan bombings, let me make clear, as one off military operations I
have no argument with that.
But with those, you – they – what I`ll call the beltway class at
Washington, and some other people on the country are cheering the
president`s military posturing, you might want to call it positioning.
Now, we know that it`s a fact that President Trump, more than some
residents at least – he bask in adoration. That raises the question,
since these meetings in pretty good press about dropping these bombs in
And a concern that he obeys his decision to war and peace decisions about
North Korean other places on the fact that you know what I`ve been getting
pretty good press the last week attending.
MADDOW: That`s the first time in my presidency.
Dan Rather, thank you so much for being here. Dan is the anchor and
managing editor of “Dan Rather Reports” on AXS TV. It`s great to see you.
RATHER: Rachel, it`s always great to see you.
MADDOW: It`s always an honor to have you here, my friend. Thank you.
All right. We`ll be right back. Stay with us.
MADDOW: Your taxes are not due tomorrow because Tax Day calls on – falls
on a weekend this year, your taxes are due at the beginning of next week,
Monday or Tuesday, depending on what state you live in. But Tax Day, April
15th is still tomorrow.
And tomorrow here on MSNBC, we will be covering the Tax Day marches that
are going to be happening in Washington, D.C. and around the country, and
indeed around the globe at least a little bit. Marches to try to convince
the new president of the United States that he should release his tax
Those are going to happen tomorrow again, D.C. and around the country.
That does it for us tonight. We will see you again next week.
Now, it`s time for “THE LAST WORD” with Ari Melber filling in for Lawrence
Good evening, Ari.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
Copy: Content and programming copyright 2017 MSNBC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
Copyright 2017 ASC Services II Media, LLC. All materials herein are
protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced,
distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the
prior written permission of ASC Services II Media, LLC. You may not alter
or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the