The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 4/17/2017
Show: The Rachel Maddow Show
Date: April 17, 2017
Guest: Tom Perez, Cristina Jiminez, David Sanger
CHRIS HAYES, “ALL IN” HOST: That is “ALL IN” for this evening.
THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts in with the one and only, Joy Reid, in for
Thank you, Joy, for your excellent work last week. I appreciate it.
JOY REID, MSNBC GUEST HOST: And good luck with the – I mean good luck
with – congratulations on the big launch to the book, man. That`s really
terrific. You don`t even need luck because you got skills.
HAYES: Thank you.
REID: Thank you. Appreciate it. All right. Thank you, Chris.
And thanks to you at home for at home for tuning in this hour. I`m Joy
Reid, in for Rachel tonight. Rachel will be back tomorrow.
So, happy almost Tax Day. Tax Day, of course, is tomorrow, the 18th. It`s
usually April 15th, but this year, the date fell on a Saturday.
This year, the occasion was marched by large gatherings in multiple cities
nationwide to protest the president`s refusal to release his tax returns.
Thousands turned out in marches in cities including Chicago, Sacramento,
Atlanta, D.C., New York, and West Palm Beach, near the president`s Mar-a-
Lago private club, as well as many other cities.
They were for the most part peaceful. Violence did break out at the Tax
Day protest in Berkeley, California, where 21 people were arrested as
protesters clashed with hundreds of Trump is not. But on the whole they
They were also well-attended. Maybe not the largest marches ever, not on
the scale of what we saw right after the inauguration, but a clear
demonstration that this movement has real staying power and that the issue
of Trump`s taxes is not going away.
Protesters were determined to make sure the tax issue remains part of the
political conversation. Saturday`s showing did just that.
What we saw over the weekend ensured the issue remains a live political
issue in the nation`s capital right now, an issue putting the White House
press secretary on the defensive.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Is the president going to release his 2016 tax returns?
SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I think people understand how
successful the president has been and how much he`s paid in taxes. So,
it`s the same – we`re in the same audit that existed so nothing has
REPORTER: Will the president authorize the IRS to confirm –
SPICER: I think the president`s view has been very clear from the
campaign, and the American people understood it when they elected him in
REPORTER: Is it time to say, once and for all, the president is never
going to release his tax returns?
SPICER: We`ll have to get back to you on that.
REPORTER: I mean, really?
REPORTER: So he may?
SPICER: I said I`d have to get back to you on that. He`s still under
audit and the statement still stands.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: Those hoping the president will release his tax returns anytime soon
are likely to be disappointed by today`s briefing, and in all likelihood,
he`s never going to release them.
But the political heat that the White House is facing over the issue also
seems unlikely to dissipate anytime soon either. That political heat will
keep coming as a direct result of activism on the ground. It`s just the
latest example of Democratic grassroots enthusiasm that we have continued
to see following the election – following the election. And immediately
after the inauguration, we saw those enormous record-setting crowds at
women`s marches all over the country.
There were also the spontaneous gatherings that broke out as a show of
defiance in response to the president`s Muslim ban. The enthusiasm has
been most visible at town hall meetings across the country where
constituents have showed up demanding answers from their senators and
members of Congress. Many members of Congress, particularly Republican
members of Congress, have begun avoiding meeting constituents all together
face to face. While those who do, like Senators Tom Cotton in Arkansas and
Dean Heller in Nevada are getting an earful.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`m wondering if you will take the initiative to have
him release those returns so we can see what kind of connections he has
with different countries around the world and what –
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
And what tax proposals would personally benefit him and his business.
SEN. TOM COTTON (R), ARKANSAS: As far as I`m aware, the president says he
is still under audit.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: Democratic enthusiasm on the ground is giving Republican members of
Congress heartburn and opposition to the president is translating into real
money. As “Politico” noted, the president has essentially become rocket
fuel for Democratic fundraising with small donors angered by what they see
they`ve seen plowing – what they`ve seen plowing huge money into
In the first three months of the year, Act Blue has seen million dollars in
contributions, more than four times the amount it`s on the same period last
year. Despite a daunting Senate map in 2018, several Senate Democrats up
for reelection in red or purple states like Virginia, Indiana, Missouri and
North Dakota are also posting strong fundraising numbers in the first
And while Democratic enthusiasm has manifested itself in many, many forms,
it seems largely put in one direction Donald Trump. Trump has had a hard
time convincing many Americans that his first few months in office have
been anything other than a failure. He stays setback after setback, from
Obamacare repeal and replace, to the Muslim ban to the wall that Mexico is
never going to pay for, and he`s yet to achieve a single legislative win.
Even Neil Gorsuch had to be forced onto the Supreme Court by Mitch
A new Gallup poll out today finds it only forty-five percent of Americans
thinks he think that he keeps his promises, down from sixty-two percent in
February, a 17 points slide.
Meanwhile, “The Times” reports that many Trump voters in Pennsylvania, in a
swing district, are wondering when the winning is going to start. “Just
like any other damn president”, sighed Theresa Remington, 44, a home care
worker and the mother of two active duty Marines, she had voted for Donald
Trump because she expected him to improve conditions for veterans and to
overhaul the health care system.
But now, political bluster, Remington said, she wondered aloud how Senator
Bernie Sanders from Vermont might have fared on the job instead.
So, tonight in Portland, Maine, Sanders and the new head of the DNC, Tom
Perez, are making the first stop on what will be a nine-state tour of red
and purple states in order to drum up support and they hope unity. The
tour will also take them to Kentucky, Florida, Texas, Nebraska, Utah,
Arizona, Nevada and Montana.
Democrats clearly have the enthusiasm. They`ve also clearly seen to be in
a better emotional place than they were post-election. The question is,
can they turn these games into something tangible that can translate into
winning? And can they pick up new supporters along the way?
Election results, thus far, have been encouraging. Last week in Illinois,
Democrats picked up a whole bunch of seats in small local races.
Meanwhile, the first congressional special election in Kansas last week,
Democrats fell short, but they were encouraged by a huge swing in their
direction. There, the Democratic candidate only lost by seven points in a
redder than red district that Donald Trump carried by 27 points.
And, yes, part of it is at midterm off-year elections are always hard on
the party in the White House, but no question momentum is on the Democrat
side. One of the good signs for Democrats in Kansas is that they appear to
be enticing new or infrequent voters to the polls. Prior to the Kansas
race, two Republican strategists familiar with the polling data in two of
the special election races told McClatchy, quote, “the main problem is not
the independents and moderate voters have swung en masse to Democrats. The
problem they say is the Democratic base is so energized that even voters
who rarely pay attention to politics are suddenly engaged. One GOP
operator familiar with the special election said the GOP realized there
might be a problem when polling found that even low propensity Democratic
voters were interested in the race.”
Democrats will look to make games in two special election in the coming
months, in South Carolina and Montana. But the biggest one is tomorrow.
It`s there in Georgia sixth congressional district that Democrat Jon Ossoff
is hoping to get fifty percent of the vote in a crowded field and avoid a
runoff for the seat previously held by HHS Secretary Tom Price and before
that, Newt Gingrich. This in a district that has not been represented by a
Democrat in 37 years.
And thanks to huge support and national interest Ossoff appears likely to
finish in one of the top two spots to make the runoff. But whether he can
secure enough votes to earn a pure majority and win the seat out rights is
in question. If Ossoff also failed to win outright tomorrow and with
Republicans likely uniting behind a single candidate, a FiveThirtyEight
analysis predicts that his chances look more like a 50/50 coin flip.
So, a lot is on the line tomorrow. The question is, can Democrats win in
Georgia and what would it mean going forward in the dozens of districts
that should be easier to flip from red to blue than Georgia sixth? How do
Democrats turn enthusiasm and better vibes, along with real anger at Donald
Trump, into the only thing that counts? Winning elections.
Joining us now is Tom Perez, chair of the Democratic National Committee,
and just a short time ago he kicked off a Democratic unity tour with
independent Senator Bernie Sanders.
Chairman Perez, great to have you with us tonight. Thanks for joining me.
TOM PEREZ, DNC CHAIRMAN: Good to be with you, Joy. From Portland, Maine.
REID: Yes, absolutely. So, you are on a tour with Bernie Sanders, which
begs a couple of questions. The first one is the fact that he is out on
the road with you, does that portend shift into formally into the
Democratic Party for Senator Sanders and we talked to him about that?
PEREZ: Well, I mean where were united and you look everywhere we go, you
see the unity in action whether it was opposing the Affordable Care Act
repealed, you see action out in the field. About a month ago, there was a
special election in Delaware four years earlier. That had been a jump
ball. This time, we won it by 16 points.
You saw Kansas where we should have lost by 30, we lost by seven. And
we`ve got the opportunity down in congressional sixth that you just talked
about in Georgia, that`s been in Republican hands for 37 years, including
Newt Gingrich, and notwithstanding that back you know we`ve got a fighting
chance. And so, we`re swinging a bat everywhere, Joy, whether it`s a bit -
REID: But I get your swing the bat, but you`re swinging, look, with two
people right now. So, it`s you and Senator Sanders.
The reason I asked about the shift, whether or not you think it`s important
that he actually formally joined the party in order to boost the party is
because one of the important things in joining the party would do would
give you access to his very valuable email list. Hillary Clinton has
turned over her email list to the DNC, but the party still does not have
when it considers to be the crown Jewel of the campaign, which is Bernie
Sanders list, on those fairly valuable list.
Is Sanders going to turn over the list to you? Do you think he`ll do that
have? And have you talked about to him about it?
PEREZ: Well, yes, and that`s a question for him. I didn`t ask either
Secretary Clinton or Senator Sanders about what they were going to do with
their list, simply because that`s a decision for them to make, and we do
have the list from Secretary Clinton.
And what we`re doing with secretary – with Senator Sanders is we`ve been
going around the country and today`s our first visit together will be in
eight states the six days, and I think what`s most important for us to be
doing right now is translating, Joy, this incredible energy out there into
I think the three things we have going for us – three of the things we
have gone for us, our unity, our energy, this grassroots energy out there,
and our values You hear tonight, we`re talking about – you know,
healthcare is a right, it`s not a privilege. Talking about how if you work
a full-time job, you shouldn`t have to live in poverty. Talking about the
importance of affordable higher education and in the state of Maine, the
Democrats have introduced a bill that mirrors the Republican platform.
And so, I think when we are doing this, I know there were a lot of folks
here tonight who, you know, were strong supporters and continue to be
strong supporters of Senator Sanders, and they`re also I think realizing
that, you know our values are aligned on just about everything and so
that`s what we got to keep doing.
REID: Well, reason that I`m source ticking on this is that part of, you
know, a party`s job is to build itself and make itself larger. So, are you
and it`s Senator Sanders out there registering Democratic voters? Because
isn`t the point to actually create Democrats or is the point to just corral
PEREZ: Sure. Well, I think what we have to do is lead with our values.
And I don`t think it`s necessarily the best strategy right now, Joy, to
walk into a room with a clipboard in hand and say, “Hi, I`m Tom Perez”, and
before I can talk to you, you know, sign up to be a Democrat.
I think what we have found to be very effective is when we are out there on
issues of important together, whether it was leading the opposition to the
Affordable Care Act, the Muslim ban, and I was a number of airports across
the country – there`s so many issues – climate change.
There`s so many issues where our values and our positions are totally
aligned and I think that is a more effective strategy because we`re trying
– we`re working together with folks in, you know, in legacy organizations
in organizations that have only been around a year or less and I think when
we work together and we talk about what we`re doing and when we coordinate
activities and when folks see that the Democratic Party is adding value,
helping move the ball down the field, I think that`s the best way to make
sure we attract Democrats for the long haul, earning that trust, and that`s
exactly what we`re doing.
REID: And are you guys going to win tomorrow? You want to hazard a
prediction? Is Ossoff going to win that race and get 50 percent?
PEREZ: Well, I`ll tell you one thing I learned, Joy, from 2016 is that the
folks who think they`re – the pundits who know everything and can predict
everything have been proven to need a little bit of help.
Here`s what I do know – you know, we haven`t controlled that seat in 37
years and the Republicans in Georgia gerrymandered the heck out of it, and
what I do know is that we have a tremendous amount of energy in not just
among Democrats but among independents and among Republicans.
I noticed that Donald Trump sent a robocall out and he said, “If you elect
Jon Ossoff to the Congress, it will result in the destruction of health
care.” I found that to be rather humorous –
PEREZ: – and ironic to say the least.
PEREZ: And so, you know, I think we`re the underdog in this and – but
we`ve got some real wind at our back in very real levels and I`ll tell you
– you know, we`re swinging the bat in the DNC, and we`re swinging the bat
elsewhere and not just in federal races, but, you know, Omaha mayor`s race,
we`ve already invested there.
And we`re going to continue to invest because the mission of the Democratic
Party, Joy, is no longer simply to elect the president United States. It
is to help elect good Democrats up and down the ticket from the school
board to the Senate.
REID: OK, well, good luck tomorrow. Tom Perez, chairman of the Democratic
National Committee –
PEREZ: Thank you.
REID: – thank you very much. Appreciate you being here.
PEREZ: Always a pleasure, Joy.
REID: Thank you.
A big show tonight, ahead. So, stay with us.
REID: This morning, when Donald Trump appeared on the balcony at the White
House Easter egg roll, flanked by his wife and son – look, they`re D.C.,
and, of course, the Easter bunny – nice glasses, sir.
One of the highlights of the event was attorney general – one of the
highlights of the event was Attorney General Jeff Sessions reading to
children. Jeff Sessions` book of choice was called “It`s Not Easy Being a
And after the president delivered some remark from the balcony, he was able
to finish the story. It`s the story of P.J.`s funny bunny, a bunny who
decides that he doesn`t want to be a bunny anymore. So, he leaves home to
live somewhere else, to try and be a different kind of animal.
He tried being a bear and a bird and all kinds of other animals, but he
discovered he doesn`t like being things other than a bunny and, well, you
can guess the moral of the story.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEFF SESSIONS, ATTORNEY GENERAL: So, P.J. said, “I don`t want to be a
bear, I don`t want to be a bird, or beaver or a pig or a moose or a possum
or a skunk. All I really want to be is – a bunny.
They decided he got straight on that. So, P.J. hurried home. The funny
bunnies who are very happy to see him, P.J. was very happy to come back
home to bunny land.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: Funny bunny. And you know what? It is a nice story, just what
about home and family being happy with who you are.
But Jeff Sessions is just back from the Mexican border where he was touring
and was touting the Trump administration`s get tough approach to
immigration. So, when he reads a story about this buddy who decides he
does not want to live somewhere else with those who are not like him, with
the moral being that it`s better to go back home to bunny land, I know, I
know, it`s just a story about a bunny, but it takes on a darker feel when
it`s in Jefferson Sessions reading it.
Because here was Attorney General Jefferson Sessions just a few days ago at
the border describing the people he thinks are leaving home to come here.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SESSIONS: International criminal organizations that turn cities and
suburbs into war zones, that rape and kill innocent civilians, and who
profit by smuggling poison and other human beings across our borders.
Depravity and violence are their calling cards, including brutal machete
attacks, even beheadings. They threaten the very integrity of our
nation`s, and our hemisphere.
It is here on this sliver of land on this border where the first – we
first take our stand.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: Now, Sessions prepared remarks actually read as you know by now,
quote, “where we first take our stand against this filth,” but he left that
pungent description out of his delivery.
“The Washington Post” reported this weekend that immigration arrests are up
sharply in the first week for the Trump administration and in particular
arrest of undocumented immigrants with no criminal record. Those have more
than doubled compared to last year.
Even though Donald Trump has said since the election that they would not be
targeted and even though Trump`s homeland security secretary said just this
– just yesterday –
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN KELLY, HOMELAND SECURITY SECREATARY: Just because you`re in the
United States illegally doesn`t necessarily get you targeted. It`s got to
be something else, and we`re operating more or less at the other end of the
spectrum, and that is criminals, multiple convictions.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: So, only criminals will be targeted, with multiple convictions. And
yet somehow, more than 5,400 undocumented immigrants with no criminal
records were arrested from January through mid-March.
Today, the Supreme Court declined to hear a case brought by detained
undocumented Central American mothers and children who were seeking court
review of their asylum claims. That means the Trump administration can
move forward with expedited deportation proceedings.
Sessions said he`s quickly hiring more immigration judges for the border,
so the detainees can be deported even faster. But however you feel about
Sessions apocalyptic warnings about who`s coming over the border, or about
whether the U.S. should be expediting the deportation of mothers and
children seeking asylum, it`s difficult to understand what purpose is
served by the arrest of Maribel Trujillo, the Ohio mother of four children,
all American citizens.
She has lived in the country for – in the U.S. for 15 years. She came
here after her father and brother were kidnapped by drug cartels in Mexico.
She was arrested on the street two weeks ago and she`s scheduled for
deportation on Wednesday. She has no criminal record.
Maribel Trujillo has a three-year-old daughter with special needs and her
family and supporters have been trying to get her daughter to her in
detention so that if and when she`s deported, her daughter who needs her
can be with her.
In Colorado, another mother of four is slated for deportation. She also
has no criminal record. She`s lived here for 15 years. But because she
crossed the border illegally twice before that ICE says that she is, quote,
“an egregious immigration violator”.
A lot of immigrants in the Trump administration`s crosshairs are people you
think would be at the bottom of anyone`s priority list unless the Trump
administration`s priorities are not what they seem.
Joining us now is Cristina Jimenez, executive director of United We Dream.
Cristina, nice to see you. Thank you for being here.
CRISTINA JIMENEZ, UNITED WE DREAM EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR: Great to be here
with you, Joy.
REID: So, one of the sort of features of all of these stories of
deportations of people with no criminal record moms, people on their way to
take kids to baseball practice, dad, is that they all happen to be from
Latin America, from Central America, even though we know that not all
undocumented immigrants in this country are brown people. Why do you
suppose that is?
JIMENEZ: Well, you know, let`s – I think that the report that you
mentioned Joy clearly show well we in immigrant communities and families
like mine have been experiencing. My parents are undocumented. My brother
is a doctor recipient and 11 million people who are undocumented are
fearful that they`re going to be targeted. Why? Because the executive
orders a truant fine earlier this year makes us all threats to national
security, which means that all of us, all immigrants, are a priority for
So, the administration wants us to believe that they are targeting the so-
called criminals, we can get caught up in that trap. The reality here is
that they are criminalizing immigrant communities and communities of color,
generally, what – by what Sessions is doing not only against immigrants
but broadly also black communities and other communities of color, it is
showing you the strategy that this administration has, which is turning the
Department of Justice and other laws against communities of color, against
immigrant communities, and that is the fear that we`re seeing.
No one is safe in our communities and we cannot fall in the trap that
they`re targeting criminals. The reality is that the executive orders
criminalize all of us and that makes us all vulnerable to deportations.
REID: And I think what a lot of people, you know, what sort of alarming
when you when you hear about these stories is that American-born children
are also getting caught up in it. Is it the case that if an undocumented
migrant with a minor child, with a toddler who`s born in United States,
who`s an American citizen, is deported, does that mean that the child has
to also go to the country of origin?
JIMENEZ: We have – right now, the way that immigration officers are
operating, with no accountability, out of control, is that we`re having
millions of families that are being separated. Children are staying here.
We`re having to do sessions across the schools in the country to talk to
parents and family members for how to prepare for when you`re not going to
be with your child. I mean, there`s there was a story also the father in
California who dropped off his daughters in school and then was detained,
and his daughters have not seen him since then. That`s over a month ago.
So, those are the stories that we`re seeing, which is why at United We
Dream, we are mobilizing people that are watching your show and immigrant
communities to say, we can`t allow this to happen, in addition to now you
see that Trump is asking for more money on his budget to build more camps,
more detention camps, to have more ICE officers on the streets targeting
And this is a time for us to be very clear with members of Congress and our
senators that we cannot allow this to happen. Not a dime for the wall.
Not a dime for more detention camps, not a dime for more ICE officers that
are executing this mass deportation machine on behalf of the Trump
REID: And what – if people want to support you, what should people be
doing? You know, there`s been talk – you know, I`ve had friends that if
it should we be thinking about, you know, taking the idea of shelter even
to the individual personal home level, to churches, what are – what are
people doing to help you?
JIMENEZ: Thanks for asking that question, Joy. Very easy – you can text
“here to stay” to 877877. That is SMS or text message system that we`re
using to mobilize all communities so that you can help us to stop
deportations of communities, help communities when they`re facing officers
at their doors or in schools, or even in raids that are happening all
across the country.
And that is one way in which to get involved. There is another way in
which to get involved, which is right now in all of the during the recess
and talking to your member of Congress because we have to follow the dots
here, Joy. There is also money behind us.
Just last week, it was reported that the Geo Group got a $100 million
contract to build the first detention camp under the Trump administration
in Texas, and just today, I heard from American Bridge that it was Geo
Group that donated half a million dollars to the Trump campaign and to the
So, there are also people profiting from the incarceration and the
detention of immigrants.
And we can get engaged by joining our network to protect people from
deportation but also holding your members of Congress accountable.
REID: Yes. I think we one of the things we learned in Ferguson is that
human beings can become dollar signs when governments wish them to.
Thank you very much, Cristina Jimenez, executive director of United We
Dream – thank you so much for being here.
JIMENEZ: Thanks for having me.
REID: Thank you.
And coming up, of course, we want the president to get along with other
world leaders. However, some relationships are more creepy than
comforting. That`s next.
REID: It was the middle of the summer, most of the world`s media was
focused on the U.S. election. When news broke out that a coup was underway
in Turkey, tanks had rolled into the capital city Ankara. The Turkish
government had essentially instituted a media blackout, making it difficult
to get a handle on what was happening.
And then in the midst of it all, the midst of all of that, the president of
Turkey addressed the nation via Facetime. President Tayyip Erdogan told
the world that he did not plan on backing down and within hours, just as
quickly as it began, Turkish intelligence was reporting that the coup was
over. Nearly 300 people had been killed, another fifteen hundred or so
injured, and in the coming months, thousands would be arrested for alleged
connections to those trying to unseat Erdogan and wrest control the
country, including people that the Erdogan government views is sympathetic
to a U.S. -based Turkish businessman, preacher and purveyor of charter
schools named Fethullah Gulen, who Erdogan accuses of fomenting the coup.
Since then, Erdogan has called for and extended a state of emergency in
Turkey, granting him expanded powers and marginalizing the parliament that
is technically supposed to be the center of governmental power. Critics
say he has used those powers to crack down on rivals and arrest political
opponents, including members of the press and even cartoonists who publish
the satirical pieces the government doesn`t like.
The crackdown has included the imprisonment of at least a hundred and
twenty journalists who face charges of propaganda and supporting terrorism.
Today, Turkey`s national security council voted to extend the state of
emergency for yet another three months. This decision comes after the
passing of a referendum that will give the president full control over
Turkey`s government. The vote was closed, a far slimmer margin than many
observers expected an opponent of the resolutions are crying foul, pointing
to instances of alleged voter fraud they say we`re caught on camera, like
this one where we allegedly see a man casting multiple ballots.
The new system of government eliminates the role of the prime minister,
transfers executive power to the president, allows the newly appointed
president to issue decrees appoint judges, launch inquiries into any of
Turkey civil servants and limits the tenure of the president to only 10
years only 10. And who knows, after that, maybe there`ll be options to
If you`re wondering where the White House is coming down on all of this,
about an hour ago, we got a readout of President Trump`s call with
President Erdogan. Quote, “President Donald J. Trump spoke today with
President Erdogan of Turkey to congratulate him on his recent referendum
He congratulated a president who currently has more than 130 journalists in
prison in his ignoring what appears to be video evidence of ballot
stuffing, on what appears to be the culmination of an authoritarian
crackdown. Excellent job, Donald. Excellent job.
Now, it`s a given that Turkey and the U.S. have a complicated relationship.
The U.S. has a military partnership with Turkey and they`re both members of
NATO, and they`re both important players in that vein in the global effort
to solve the Syrian refugee crisis. So, anything that happened in Turkey
affects the U.S., and we know the White House already has its share of
conflicts in the region, including a tower in Istanbul that bears the Trump
family name, business partnerships he reportedly name-dropped to Erdogan,
and a former national security adviser Michael Flynn who was being paid by
Turkey during Donald Trump`s campaign to stump for Turkeys interest, who
was allegedly a part of a meeting where he discussed whisking Fethullah
Gulen away from the U.S. in the dead of night to send him back to Turkey,
right into the arms of President Erdogan. And now, our president is
calling (INAUDIBLE) to say congrats on his recent acquisition of near
So, as you watch the political situation in Turkey unfold, remember, the
president and his administration are invested in Turkey in every sense of
REID: In 1969, the nuclear threat to the United States was seen as not
just coming from the Soviet Union, but also from communist China. The
worry was that those countries had the capability to launch nuclear
missiles that could reach the continental United States. To counter that
threat, the U.S. government invested billions of dollars on building anti-
ballistic missile systems to protect the U.S. We developed a missile
defense system called Sentinel. Take a look at how it worked.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: If any of the enemy missiles do get through, the smaller sprint
missiles are fired. The Sprint should intercept the enemy missiles at a
range of 25 miles and an altitude of between 50,000 and 100,000 feet. It
explodes within a half mile of the incoming missile, which again is
supposed to be rendered harmless.
Fallout from a Sprint explosion at 50,000 feet would not be a problem, but
the area immediately below would receive fire blast. But if Sprint made
its intercept just above the ground, the number of casualties from blast
fire and radiation would be great.
And even if Sentinel works perfectly, the Pentagon concedes the Chinese
nuclear attack would leave 1 million Americans dead. On the other hand,
says the Pentagon, without Sentinel, 15 million would die.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: So that was a missile system that the Pentagon developed to protect
the U.S. from a nuclear attacks from China or the Soviet Union. Note the
old-timey, amazing drawings used in that package to illustrate how the
defense system worked.
Now, over the years, much has changed and how we do graphics on TV, but
when it comes to actually protecting the country, the antiballistic missile
defense system, the system that we based our defense on for all these years
really hasn`t changed all that much. America`s interest in missile systems
which reach the peak with “Star Wars” when the Reagan administration was
obsessed with upping the ante with making things bigger and better by
having a defense system in space.
That kind of fizzled out when the Berlin Wall came down as they`re no
longer seem to be much of a reason to build “Star Wars”. But there were
other countries who had joined the nuclear arms race.
Decades after signing the armistice that paused the Korean War in the 1953,
the government of North Korea began to build its own nuclear deterrent
likely flush with memories of the U.S. nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and
Nagasaki less than 650 miles away in Japan in 1945, and the threat by the
government of President Dwight Eisenhower to do the same thing to North
Korea and China if they didn`t stand down and stop fighting to annex South
And as they started to make progress toward their nuclear goal, there soon
emerged a kind of backdoor arms race where we were not just worried about
China or the spin Soviets, but now, North Korea, too. In 2014, the Obama
administration realized that since the Eisenhower era, the U.S. has spent
more than three hundred billion dollars on anti-ballistic defense system
and we continue to spend on systems that were compared to hitting, quote,
“a bullet with a bullet”.
But we had not really made great strides in protecting the U.S. against
including from a threat from unstable and erratic North Korea. In 2014,
the Obama administration reportedly started investing resources in stepping
up the Pentagon`s cyber and electronic capabilities against North Korea`s
missile program, to invest in sabotaging their tests.
This weekend, in the middle of North Korea`s birthday celebrations for
their founder Kim Il-sung, they attempted to launch a ballistic missile.
The lunch failed within seconds.
And even though all signs pointed to North Korea taking a sixth stab at a
nuclear test this weekend, they didn`t do it. And why?
Well, we don`t exactly know, but since President Obama reportedly ordered
this shift in strategy to begin investing in cyber and electronic strikes
to scuttle North Korean missile launches, one particular North Korean inter
intermediate-range missile have had a failure rate of eighty-eight percent,
eighty-eight percent this past year, which raises the question: did the
U.S. have anything to do with this weekend`s failed missile launch? Did
the American cyber electronic program have anything to do with North
Korea`s decisions not to try another nuclear test? And does this new
strategic shift ensure a safer United States or does it carry its own risk?
Joining us now is David Sanger, national security correspondent for “The
New York Times”.
David, great to see you. Thank you for being here.
DAVID SANGER, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Thank you, Joy.
REID: So what can you tell us about the sort of status of the U.S. attempt
to use cyber technology to scuttle North Korean missile. Is it enough to
have maybe sabotage this test that they tried?
SANGER: Well, it may have been used to sabotage the test. It`s very hard
to tell, Joy, for any individual test because there are so many things that
can go wrong with a test you could have American sabotage. You could have
bad welding. You could have bad manufacturing.
You know, the North Koreans don`t exactly follow OSHA rules and they don`t
have the greatest quality control in the world. So, for any individual
tests, it`s very hard to know.
But as we spent the eight months investigating that led up to that story
that you showed up on the screen which ran last month in “The New York
Times”, we did find these highly increased failure rates after President
Obama ordered this increase in attacks. The statistics are hard to come by
in part because the program itself is so classified, but there`s an
unclassified part of the effort because the whole program is under a fairly
public Pentagon effort called left of launch. If you consider to left of
launch, anything that happens running up to the launch and right of launch
happening after, and those wonderful old pictures that you showed and
drawings – and, boy, those are real classics – those were classical right
of launch. In other words, after it`s launched, you try to go intercept
And we have spent three hundred billion dollars since the Eisenhower era
and at least for the long-range missiles, it just doesn`t work very well,
which is why the president ordered this effort for left of launch, trying
to sabotage the missiles prior to their liftoff.
REID: And in the piece that we showed under he wrote about this whole
program, you cited that it could be simple incompetence, that maybe the
North Koreans are just not that good at creating the technology that they
boast about. Do we put too much stock in the potential for them to attack
California and not enough focus on what they can do right on the Korean
peninsula, specifically that they really could attack Seoul.
SANGER: Right. So, they can attack Seoul with both nuclear and non-
nuclear assets, and this is the reason this problem hasn`t been solved in
the past 20 years. The distance between the northern end of the
demilitarized zone where you saw Mike Pence visiting earlier today, and
downtown Seoul, one of the most prosperous cities in Asia, is about the
distance between Baltimore and Washington.
SANGER: So, it wouldn`t take much for the North Koreans just with
conventional artillery to completely destroy Seoul. And it`s gotten worse
because Seoul like every other major city that you know has had urban
sprawl and when you land and Seoul these days, you notice that there are
suburban houses now being built right up near the North Korean border,
which is made it even easier for the North Koreans to –
SANGER: – to get into it hit some of this.
REID: And how smart is it in your view? It seems that the Trump
administration is outsourcing much of the solving of this problem to China.
Is that going to work?
SANGER: I suspect it probably won`t. They`re not the first administration
that believes that the Chinese are the key to it.
It depends on whether the Chinese are truly willing to cut off the two
things that keep North Korea alive. One is the financial transfers, and
the second and more important is an oil pipeline that runs from China into
North Korea that provides so much of their energy.
So, the Chinese interest here is in maintaining the status quo, Joy, it`s
not actually in solving the problem because they don`t want a collapsed
North Korea in which South Korea and its forces allied with us and maybe
our forces go right up to the border, they are not interested in seeing the
United States right up on the Chinese border and they`re not interested in
seeing North Korean refugees pour into the country.
SANGER: And that`s what would happen.
REID: The unsolvable problem of North Korea. David Sanger, national
security correspondent for “The New York Times” – thank you for your time
SANGER: Thank you.
REID: Thank you.
And more to come tonight. Stay with us.
REID: This is Prudhoe Bay, Alaska. It`s about 650 miles north of
Anchorage, right on the northern edge of the state. They`ve got a pretty
big oil field up there, about 25 million gallons. It`s a big hub for oil
and gas exploration.
And this is a government inbox in Washington, D.C., where you can find
public comments. Those comments come from industries, oil and gas
companies, steel manufacturers, chemical corporations is alike and they`re
all writing the federal government to tell them about regulation that they
do not like, that they say makes their job harder.
They`re doing this at the invitation of the president of the United States.
Right at the start of his term, Donald Trump asked, “Tell us what you don`t
like about the federal government. Specifically, what rules don`t you
like, and we may be what will change them.”
The president opened up that suggestion box and this weekend, “The
Washington Post” cracked the lid open. And what sitting in that box right
now is interesting and potentially really revealing about what the Trump
administration has planned.
“The Washington Post” reports that the administration got a flood of
recommendations on what federal rules should be tossed into the shredder.
Everything from nixing paid sick leave for government contractors, to
getting rid of electronic injury and illness records. Most of these
friendly tips target EPA regulation. They make up almost half the blips
sitting in that comment box right now.
“The Washington Post” flags one comment in particular from oil and gas
giant BP. BP, they of the infamous Deepwater Horizon oil spill disaster of
2010, is politely asking the federal government one shiny letterhead to
make it easier for them to drill for oil and gas in the Gulf of Mexico.
They want their government issued drilling leases to be longer so they
don`t have to renew them as frequently and fill out as much paperwork
please and thank you.
So, that`s the view from the government`s suggestion box in Washington.
Meanwhile, up in Alaska, BP, the same company that wants government
assistance to make it easier to drill for oil spent the weekend frantically
trying to plug a leak that had been spewing crude oil and natural gas at
their Prudhoe Bay drilling sites since Friday. How`s that for timing?
It took them more than two days to plug up that leak we still don`t know
how much spilled out or what caused the leak. BP has said. Nevertheless,
with one of their wells going haywire in Alaska, here`s BP asking the
government to make it easier for them to drill, baby, drill.
These industries – these for-profit outside stakeholders, they have the
president`s ear our way of these public comments. The question is: will
the president give them what they want?
REID: OK. Fair warning: we wore out our bleep, bleep, bleepity bleep
machine making this next clip for you. It is close to family friendly, but
it still does have what your mother might call language. And it has so
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALEX JONES, INFO WARS: I want to tell Congressman Schiff and all the rest
of them, hey, listen (EXPLETIVE DELETED), quit saying Roger and I – and
I`ll never use cussing in 22 years, but the gloves are off.
Listen you son of a (EXPLETIVE DELETED), what`s your (EXPLETIVE DELETED)
problem? You want to sit here and say I`m a (EXPLETIVE DELETED) (EXPLETIVE
You get in my face, I`ll beat (EXPLETIVE DELETED), you (EXPLETIVE DELETED).
You piece of (EXPLETIVE DELETED). You (EXPLETIVE DELETED). Listen,
(EXPLETIVE DELETED), kid, you (EXPLETIVE DELETED) crossed the line. Get
that through your (EXPLETIVE DELETED) (EXPLETIVE DELETED) head.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: So, when Alex Jones unleashed that tirade of bleepity, bleep, bleep,
bleep directed at Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff last month, the first
challenge was how to make it playable on basic cable. There was some talk
at the time that Jones might have broken the law with threatening members
of Congress with that rant. While it can be a challenge to take Alex Jones
seriously, in the Trump era, you almost kind of have to. After all, he
does have at least some access to the White House.
The same rather loud, often seemingly hysterically conspiracy theorists who
has said the Sandy Hook massacre was staged with actors playing the
victims, the same right wing bomb thrower who pushed the phony pizza-gate
story that led to a real gunman shooting up pizza place in Washington, that
Alex Jones scored a coveted interview with the president-elect back in
And while it`s still hard to take him seriously, we at least have to take
seriously the fact that someone who is basically an internet troll has
access to the White House. And now there is this – jury selection began
today in Travis County, Texas, to decide a child custody suit being brought
by the ex-wife of Alex Jones. She says, quote, “I`m concerned that he is
engaged in felonious behavior, threatening a member of Congress. He
broadcasts from home. The children are there watching him broadcast.”
The defense put up by Alex Jones` attorneys, the same one Jones himself has
made on air. Quote, “He is a playing a character. He is a performance
And maybe it is just the political equivalent of pro-wrestling where
performers put on the leotards, ramp up the over the top characters and
pretend to break each other`s bones. But is that really what Americans
want from their president? Really?
The Alex Jones trial is expected to last a couple of weeks in Austin,
Texas. I wonder if the president will weigh in. Watch his Twitter.
Well, that does it for us tonight. Rachel will be back tomorrow.
And I will see you next weekend on my show “A.M. Joy.”
And now, it is time for “THE LAST WORD” with the one and only Lawrence
Good evening, Lawrence.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
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