The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 4/28/17

Wendy Sherman, Vladimir Kara-Murza


CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST:  As I mentioned earlier tonight, two Army Rangers

died in combat this week fighting in Afghanistan, the longest war in the

history of this country.  Twenty-two-year-old Sergeant Joshua Rodgers from

Bloomington, Illinois.  Twenty-three-year-old Sergeant Cameron Thomas from

Kettering, Ohio.  I just ask you, please keep their families in your

thoughts this weekend. 


THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts right now. 


Good evening, Rachel.


RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST:  Good evening, Chris.  Thank you, my friend.


HAYES:  You bet.


MADDOW:  And thanks to you at home for joining us for the next hour.  Nice

to have you here on a Friday night. 


Being a staffer for a member of Congress these days means sometimes

accepting things that you might just not want to accept.  It means

accepting physical things that you might not have room to accept. 




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  We have a letter here for the congressman signed by

1,000 of his constituents from the third congressional action group. 




MADDOW:  This was an office visit paid this week to the New Jersey office

of Congressman Tom MacArthur who wrote part of the new version of the

Republican`s bill to kill the Affordable Care Act.  His home district

constituents calculated that MacArthur`s revised version of the health care

bill would throw more than 30,000 people off of health insurance just in

that one congressional district.  And so, they came to Tom MacArthur`s

office to tell him what a terrible thing that would be to try to change his

mind on supporting that.


And they could not have been nicer when they did it, but they also gave his

congressional staffers stuff, physical stuff that the staffers definitely

did not want.  And that – I bet they had no idea what to do with once they

hauled it back into the back room. 




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  And we feel that it is a very, very poor

representation of the constituents in his district because we do not agree

with his actions. 


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  We will pass this on then. 




UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Give us all of this one.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  We`re going to give this all to you, 25 feet of

letter.  You can find a nice big file to put that in. 






UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  And we also have a gift of 36 balloons, and the 36

balloons, each balloon represents – you go it?  Each balloon represents a

thousand people that will lose coverage under the Affordable Care Act if

the MacArthur Amendment is enacted, and it`s filled with confetti, each

representing the people that will lose coverage.  So, we present this to





UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  We need to take some out. 


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  A little fun here. 




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Thank you so much. 


We also have postcards written by constituents asking you not to repeal



UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  OK.  We appreciate you guys coming out today and if you

have other comments feel free to call our office. 


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Thank you very much.


And you`ll let the congressman know we`re here?




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Thank you so much.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Thank you.  Take care.






MADDOW:  They couldn`t have been nicer, but think about it for a second. 

What do you do with unwanted balloons that are filled with confetti?  Think

about that for a second.  You can`t pop them, right?  I mean, what do you -

- here`s your 36 large balloons, each representing 1,000 of your

constituents that you`re going to throw off health care these tiny little

pieces of confetti those all represent people, careful with them. 


OK.  No, there`s more.  Wait, do you have – no, we have more, there`s more

coming.  No, here`s still some more.  We`ve got some more. 


Congressman Tom MacArthur also got marched on by his constituents today in

the third district in New Jersey.  His name, Tom MacArthur, and the

MacArthur Amendment, that`s actually the most identifiable name associated

with Republicans` latest effort to kill the Affordable Care Act and at home

in his district in New Jersey, his constituents just went nut against it. 


And then, last night, in the middle of the night, Republicans once again

had to yank that bill.  They want to repeal Obamacare.  They said they

could repeal Obamacare.  They tried and failed once already. 


They decided they wanted to do it again this week.  They would try again

this week.  They whipped Republican votes on it all week long and actually

all day long yesterday.  There are some reports that suggest that whipping

Republican votes on this thing and building Republican support for this

thing is the reason Mike Pence had to come home a day early from his

Pacific trip. 


Last night, they were still holding 11th hour meetings to try to twist

enough Republican arms to get this Obamacare repeal bill passed.  They

wanted it passed by the 100th day. 


Bloomberg News reports today that Republicans spent the whole week, quote,

“tinkering with their Obamacare plan, hoping to muster enough support to

give Trump a legislative win in his first 100 days.”  Republican

congressional leadership met late into Thursday night, but they ultimately

decided they still didn`t have enough support for a vote this week. 


And so, the Affordable Care Act lives, because people who want to save it

saved it again.  That activism worked.  Republicans have unified Republican

control of government.  They said they would repeal Obamacare on day one of

the Trump administration.  They will not even half repeal Obamacare by day

100 of the Trump administration. 


They can`t even get close enough to that to get their own members to vote

on it in one house where they`ve got one of the biggest majorities they`ve

had since the 1920s.  It`s just been a catastrophe for them.  And there`s

no way they can blame Democrats in Congress for it.  They can`t even get it

past with the numbers they`ve got in their own caucuses which should be



The administration has passed zero major legislation, none.  Their biggest

and only legislative achievement in the 100 days that this administration

has lived, their biggest and only legislative achievement of any substance

came today when they managed to avoid shutting down the government by a

matter of hours.  To avoid shutting down the government they did pass a

bill today that will fund the government for one week.  Ta-da! 


The government will not accidentally shut down at a minute after midnight

on the president`s 100th day in office.  That is the big reveal.  That`s

the big 100 days of accomplishment for our new era of unified Republican





REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE:  All right, everybody. 

Welcome to the dawn of a new unified Republican government.  It feels

really good to say that actually. 




MADDOW:  It may still feel good, but it did not work out so well, in terms

of Republicans actually doing anything with unified control of government

for these 100 days. 


At the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue, though, let`s also take a moment

to remark upon the significant number of administration people who didn`t

even make it to the first 100 days.  I mean, a lot of people have remarked

this week on how few nominations the new administration has made this far

into their time in office.  Not people who they got confirmed and there`s

questions about opposition or the validity of the nomination – literally

just putting names forward, just suggesting people for jobs. 


The George W. Bush administration, you might remember, they had an

unusually short transition before the start of the first George W. Bush

term in office.  That`s because the Supreme Court didn`t actually decide

the Bush V. Gore election until mid-December.  So, their transition was

wicked short and that`s why the George W. Bush administration held the

previous modern record for the fewest names put forward by this time in the

new administration. 


But the Trump folks have beaten that record for the fewest nominations made

by 100 days in.  I mean, the Bush folks had a great excuse to be last,

right, because they have less time than everybody else.  But even they came

up with more nominations than the Trump folks have so far.  And then beyond

that, there`s this huge raft of people who have been nominated by the Trump

administration, or who have been appointed positions in the new

administration, but they`re already gone.  They didn`t even make it to 100

days.  They`ve already withdrawn their name or they`ve quit or they`ve been



The nominee for army secretary, Vincent Viola, he pulled out.  The nominee

for labor secretary, Andy Puzder, he pulled out.  The nominee for navy

secretary, Philip Bilden, he pulled out.  Anthony Scaramucci was going to

be head of the Office of Public Liaison, then nope.  Jason Miller was going

to be White House communications director, then nope. 


The nominee for deputy secretary of commerce, Todd Ricketts, he with drew

his name just last week.  Monica Crowley from FOX News was going to be

deputy national security advisor, then nope.  Another person from FOX News,

K.T. McFarland, she did get to be deputy national security advisor for a

while but we`re told she`s soon to be out now as well. 


White House chief digital advisor, hello, we barely knew you.  Bye, bye. 

Boris, I have to say it has been a source of secret delight to me that the

White House has had on the communications staff, a Russian guy named Boris

during this whole controversy over the Trump campaign`s Russia connections

but Boris they let go last month. 


Even the deputy White House chief of staff, deputy White House chief of

staff is a huge job.  Katie Walsh is deputy White House chief of staff. 

She fled in March as well. 


And that`s not even all of them.  There are more.  “The Washington Post”

started this week with a rundown of the top 15 Trumpists who did not

survive the first 100 days. 


And throughout this week, since they published, even into tonight, there`s

more reporting on more people who might be on the way out from the new

administration.  It is an underappreciated fact about these first 100 days

that this administration sheds more than a cold weather dog on a hot muggy

summer day.  They just shed personnel. 


But I think all of those people who have quit or been fired or withdrawn

their names and there are a ton of them already, all of the washouts,

they`re all lucky to a certain extent, because you look at their faces

right now.  Any of those like seem particularly famous?  Not really, right? 


At least not famous for washing out.  None of them is ever going to be as

famous for getting shed from this administration as Mike Flynn will be.  As

long as the Mike Flynn saga continues to unspool, all of those other people

can have left the Trump administration in the first 100 days in relative



I mean, Mike Flynn is just another one of the people who has already gone

from this administration.  He only made it 24 days, but he`s the one who

continues to resonate because his story keeps getting bigger and bigger and

bigger, and NBC News has a scoop about him tonight. 


All right.  Here it is.  On Election Day, November 8th, “The Hill”

newspaper in Washington, D.C. ran kind of over the top op-ed with Michael

Flynn as the byline.  They published it on Election Day but it had nothing

to do with the U.S. election.  It was all about how the U.S. needed to

embrace the authoritarian and increasingly tyrannical government of Turkey

and we definitely need to extradite a Turkish guy who has legal residency

in the United States who the Turkish government blames for everything that

is going wrong in that country. 


Election night, they published that op-ed from soon to be national security

advisor Mike Flynn.  And that was really strange.  Within days though,

people had figured out what was behind that.  This is “The Daily Caller”

just days later.  Trump`s top military advisor is lobbying for obscure

company with ties to Turkish government. 


And then the story got picked up lots of places.  Trump advisor linked to

Turkish lobbying, a company tied to Erdogan`s government, hired retired

General Michael Flynn`s lobbying firm.  From that same article, quote,

“Michael Flynn ran a company that lobbied for foreign clients while he

received intelligence briefings.”  Quote, “The fact that Flynn was

overseeing a company that was lobbying on behalf of foreign clients at the

time he was attending classified briefings alongside Trump seems to

complicate the transition.”


Flynn`s lobbying work could potentially jeopardize his ability to get

cleared as national security advisor.  You would think, right?  I mean, you

would think.  I mean, you can`t be known to be on the payroll of a foreign

country and get named national security advisor, right? 


Well, in this case you can.  This has been one of the unexplained things,

one of the things that makes no sense about the Mike Flynn story.  Before

they named him national security advisor, there were all these reports

about him being paid to work on behalf of a foreign government, right?  We

also know that on November 18th, the Trump transition received a letter

from Congress alerting them to the fact that Mike Flynn was being paid to

work on behalf of a foreign government.  


We also know that once, no, twice Flynn`s own lawyers contacted the Trump

transition about the fact that he was being paid to work on behalf of a

foreign government.  And, in fact, they told the Trump transition that

Flynn might need to register as a foreign agent.  We know all this is true. 

This is all a matter of record. 


There were multiple high-profile open source reports, news reports on Mike

Flynn being paid to work for a foreign government.  That was reported in

the right wing news.  It was reported in the middle of the road news.  It

was reported in the beltway news.  It was reported even on dumb old cable

TV news. 


It was – it was widely publicly reported that Mike Flynn was being paid to

work for a foreign government.  We also now know that the transition was,

in addition to all that news about it, we also now know the transition was

notified by Congress about the fact.  We also know that the transition was

notified in private by Flynn`s lawyers about that fact. 


So, the transition definitely knew this thing about Mike Flynn working for

a foreign government.  But for some reason, the head of the Trump

transition denies he ever heard of it. 




BRET BAIER, FOX NEWS ANCHOR:  Michael Flynn has filed with the Department

of Justice as a foreign agent for making more than $500,000 as a lobbyist

essentially for Turkey.  Your reaction to that considering that, doesn`t

that mean, Mr. Vice President, that even if he didn`t lie to you about what

the Russian ambassador said or didn`t say, that you would have had to fire

him anyway? 



story today was the first I heard of it.  And I fully support the decision

the President Trump made to ask for General Flynn`s resignation. 


BAIER:  You`re disappointed by the story? 


PENCE:  The first I heard of it. 




MADDOW:  First I heard of it.  That was March.  That was March. 


I mean, Mike Pence ran the transition.  Mike Pence ran the transition when

all of those stories about Mike Flynn being on the Turkish government`s

payroll were breaking.  Mike Pence was the head of the transition when

Congress formally notified the head of the transition that Mike Flynn

appeared to be working for a foreign power.  Mike Pence was head of the

transition when Flynn`s own lawyers came and told the transition that Flynn

was working for a foreign power and he maybe needed to register as a

foreign agent. 


That all happened when Pence was running the transition in November and in

December, but they hired Mike Flynn anyway to be national security advisor. 


And then after he got fired as national security advisor, then the head of

the transition, Vice President Mike Pence says, you know, I never heard

anything about that. 




PENCE:  Let me say hearing that story today was the first I heard of it. 




MADDOW:  No, it`s not.  That is impossible.  And that has long been one of

the strange things that just doesn`t add up about the Mike Flynn story. 

Mike Pence claiming in March that he had no idea.  He ran the transition. 

They had no idea about Mike Flynn working for a foreign government. 


So, that`s – for a while, we`ve known that`s part of what doesn`t add up

about the Mike Flynn story and the idea that Mike Pence is some sort of,

you know, innocent victim of Mike Flynn`s duplicity.  It just doesn`t make

sense with the record and now, as of today, it`s not just Mike Pence

spinning a tale that cannot be true about Mike Flynn.  Now, it`s also the

attorney general of the United States. 


With yesterday`s big news that the Defense Department inspector general is

now investigating Flynn for not reporting his payments from foreign

governments, the attorney general did a round of interviews today where

everybody asked him a version of “oh, my God, how did someone who was on

the payroll of a foreign government get through to be national security

advisor?  Did you guys really not know about this?” 




JEFF SESSIONS, ATTORNEY GENERAL:  He`s been part of the White House advisor

on the national security issues.  So, we need to do a good job of vetting

that, but that`s a complex issue and I`m not sure anyone could be expected

to find that. 


INTERVIEWER:  Are you comfortable with the level of vetting that was done? 


SESSIONS:  Well, I`m comfortable that they`re working hard to do vetting,

but I`m – it`s obvious that often times, you don`t catch everything that

might be a problem. 


Well, they work hard on vetting.  They do the best they can.  It`s

impossible to know everything. 


These things are not easy to discover if it happened.  What happened, I`m

not sure it`s impropriety or not. 




MADDOW:  What?  These things are not easy to discover?  It`s impossible to

know everything.  You don`t catch everything. 


I`m not sure anybody could be expected, you know, to find that.  Nobody

could find that.  Not like it was on the news at the time.  And brief to

you officially in writing by Congress and told to you directly by his

lawyers.  Not once, but twice. 


First, the vice president and now the attorney general of the United States

are both telling a story about Mike Flynn about how the White House had no

idea about Mike Flynn, both of them are now telling a story about Flynn

that cannot be true. 


And now, Andrea Mitchell at NBC News tonight has the scoop that proves that

really, they are not telling the truth about this.  Here it is. 


NBC News has learned from sources close to the Trump-Russia investigation

that both the Trump transition and the White House did do a background

check on Flynn.  This is in addition to his already approved security

clearance.  They did a background check on Flynn specifically for him to

become national security advisor. 


NBC News reports that the vetting of Flynn was done, but sources close to

the investigation tell NBC that it was done very casually.  One person

involved tells NBC that the Trump transition was aware of Flynn`s business

ties to Turkey.  They became aware of that shortly after he wrote that

Election Day column about the Turkish government and its interests.  That,

of course, should have raised red flags, but they hired him anyway. 


They knew.  And they hired him anyway and then after they fired him they

said, “Oh, no, we had no idea.”


Why would they lie about that?  And why would the president himself and the

White House spokesman this week repeatedly insist that actually no, no, no,

they didn`t vet Mike Flynn at all. 




SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY:  Why would you rerun a background

check on someone who is the head of the Department of Defense Intelligence

Agency that had and did maintain a high level security clearance? 




MADDOW:  Why would we do that?  Their line on this is that they didn`t do a

background check on Flynn.  NBC News reports tonight that they did.  Why

lie about that?  Why say they didn`t know about Flynn being paid by a

foreign government when they did know about it? 


These four men, the White House spokesman, the attorney general of the

United States, the vice president of the United States, the president of

the United States, they are all telling a tale about Mike Flynn about what

they knew and when they knew it but they are all telling a tale about Flynn

that is not true.  Why is that? 


A hundred days or not, 100 days, 1,000 days, I don`t care.  We are going to

figure this damn thing out.  I swear we are. 




MADDOW:  The time change when you`re talking about East Asia can be hard to

wrap your head around, but at 4:30 Eastern Time today, that was 5:00 a.m.

local time tomorrow on the Korean Peninsula.  And that was the time, 4:30

p.m. Eastern today, just after 5:00 local time tomorrow over there, when

North Korea test fired yet another missile.  It was a short range ballistic

missile.  The test took place in an area that`s northeast of the North

Korean capital of Pyongyang. 


According to an American official, the administration did have a warning

ahead of time about the test.  They were watching it closely.  The missile

test was not successful.  It reportedly exploded shortly after launch. 


Had it – had that missile not exploded, U.S. officials say that they

believe this missile was capable of reaching Seoul, capable of reaching

Seoul, the massive, heavily populated capital of South Korea.  So, this is

a tense time when it comes to North Korea, right?  In particular, it`s an

incredibly tense time for countries closest to North Korea, for South Korea

and also for Japan. 


It is not at all alleviating to that tension that we have a U.S. president

who casually says things like this. 





could end up having a major, major conflict with North Korea.  Absolutely. 




MADDOW:  Chance?  South Korea and Japan right now are literally in the line

of fire.  They`re first in the line of fire should things escalate in that

part of the world.  And that is of grave concern to us in the United

States, because, of course, South Korea and Japan are some of our closest

allies on earth. 


And in the midst of that, this very unexpected thing has happened – a very

unexpected thing even for this administration, even for this president.  In

the midst of all this, the American president has come out and attacked

South Korea.  Huh? 


In that same “Reuters” interview in which he made those comments about,

yes, maybe we`re going to have a major conflict with North Korea, he also

unexpectedly started questioning why the U.S. is even bothering to pay for

the missile defense system in South Korea.  Quote, “I informed South Korea

it would be appropriate if they paid.  It`s a billion dollar system.  It`s

phenomenal.  It shoots missiles right out of the sky.”


It`s phenomenal, so phenomenal that I don`t – why are we paying for that? 

You should pay for it.  Oh and by the way, he also said we`re tearing up

our trade deal with South Korea.  What?


President Trump told “Reuters” that the free trade deal between the U.S.

and South Korea doesn`t cut it anymore.  He told them, quote, “It`s a

horrible deal and we are going to renegotiate that deal or terminate it.”


And then quoting “Reuters” here, asked when he would announce his intention

to renegotiate the deal Trump said, quote, “very soon.  I`m announcing it



Very soon.  Three, two, one.  Now! 


I am here by threatening South Korea in the same interview in which I`m

warning about a possible military conflict with North Korea.  Just covering

all my bases at once. 


I – I`m no expert on foreign policy.  I`m no expert on, you know, issues

with the Korean peninsula.  I`m no expert on this kind of brinksmanship,

but this to me is absolutely flabbergasting. 


I would like to speak to an expert on these matters.  Is this some kind of

three dimensional chest move that naive laymen idiots like me just don`t

get?  If it is that, if there`s an advanced strategy going on here, what is

that strategy? 


Why would you start to threaten your ally while you are warning about

conflict with a mutual enemy?  Why would you take a country and say you`re

going to potentially have a conflict with them, they`re right on the border

with one of our closest allies, why in that situation would you then start

threatening our closest ally like on trade and stuff?  How does this work? 

What`s the big thinking here? 


Joining us now is Wendy Sherman, former undersecretary of state for

political affairs in the Obama administration.  She served as the North

Korea policy coordinator under President Clinton as well. 


Madam Ambassador, really appreciate your time tonight.  Thank you very much

for being with us. 



with you, Rachel. 


MADDOW:  Is there a three dimensional chess advanced foreign policy

understanding that – advanced foreign policy approach that makes this make



SHERMAN:  Well, Rachel, you`re probably better than I am at reading Donald

Trump`s mind because you think about it all the time, but quite frankly, if

I try to think about this, perhaps he thinks that since South Korea has a

presidential election coming up May 9th, and the front runner doesn`t

exactly agree with Donald Trump`s North Korea policy, Mr. Moon believes

that there should be dialogue, he doesn`t think the missile defense system

should be deployed in South Korea and the South Koreans have gotten very,

very nervous about Donald Trump`s militarized language and really upping

the ante and escalating the situation. 


So, perhaps Trump thought I`ll show a few chips on the table here.  I`ll

tell them that they`ve got to pay for this THAAD missile defense system. 

I`ll tell them that we`re going to renegotiate the free trade agreement. 

And then if Moon wins the South Korean presidency, I`ll tell them like I

told China about trade, we can wipe that all off of the table if you`ll do

what I want to do on North Korea. 


Well, quite frankly, this is no way to treat allies, allies that are

hosting nearly 30,000 American troops.  And by the way, the THAAD missile

defense system is owned by the United States of America.  Our commanders

really are jealous of where the THAAD go. 


We have very few of them.  We don`t give it to the highest bidder.  We give

it because it helps protect our national security and the national security

of our allies. 


MADDOW:  I don`t know how to read the president`s mind very well.  I feel

like I can see political dynamics at work though and what I expect in terms

of how this is going to play in South Korea is that this is going to cause

among the South Korean presidential candidates a contest to see which of

them can denounce and take the hardest line against and incite the most

anti-American feeling among the electorate.  This is likely to turn South

Korean politics in a harshly anti-American direction, at least as far as I

can predict, and to me, just alone on the issue alone on the troops that

are there, that just – that seems to me kind of a scary and unpredictable

place to be. 


SHERMAN:  Absolutely.  I think it will have the opposite effect to what

President Trump may have been thinking he was doing here.  It will have

quite a counter-reaction. 


And we also have to remind ourselves that this is a very complicated part

of the world.  South Korea now has its number one trading relationship, its

business, economic ties are very much with China.  And they need to and

want to maintain that strong alliance.  They are going to end up being

another chip between us in our relationship with China as the president`s

trying to press China to do the right thing where North Korea is concerned.


And we heard in the meeting that Secretary Tillerson had with the U.N.

Security Council that foreign minister said all of this escalatory language

is not helpful.  We need to get back to dialog. 


MADDOW:  Wendy Sherman, thank you very much for being with us.  Former

secretary of state for political affairs in the Obama administration,

expert on North Korean matters, particularly from her time in serving in

the Clinton administration.  I hope that you don`t mind staying up late to

be on cable TV talking about these matters because I`d like to talk to you

about these matters a lot more in the future, ma`am. 


SHERMAN:  Be glad to.  Thank you, Rachel.


MADDOW:  Thank you.  All right.  Much more ahead.


Busy Friday night.  Stay with us.




MADDOW:  Golden ticket.  I know it looks like it`s on regular printer paper

but what I have here might be a proverbial golden ticket. 


We got this from an environmental lawyer.  He works for the nonprofit

called Waterkeeper Alliance, and if he is lucky enough to have his number

drawn, then he will be one of 150 people who get the privilege of listening

in by phone next week on a conference call.  Ooh, ooh, a conference call. 

I know. 


But this one is a doozy.  Because this new EPA, under this new

administration, they`re making a general call to the general public asking

which regulations that protect our water ought to be gotten rid of. 

Apparently every regulation is up for grabs.  Any of them might go.  They`d

like to hear your thoughts on that. 


And so, our friendly environmental lawyer at Waterkeeper, he is trying to

win a spot on that call.  If he gets like walk under ladders lucky, he will

not only be among the lucky 150 people who are allowed to listen in, he`ll

be part of the smaller group who get a minute or two to speak. 


So, good luck, Pete Harrison, environmental lawyer at Waterkeeper.  Golden

ticket.  Pulling for you. 


We have been tracking on this show the federal response to one of Trump`s

executive orders.  It`s the one where he told federal agencies to overhaul

regulations.  That`s the one you might remember where he gave the pen after

he signed it to the CEO of Dow Chemical who was standing there while he

signed it.  Personal thank you to the CEO of Dow Chemicals. 


As part of our reporting on this matter, we obtained internal memos from

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt calling for recommendations from his staff

on which regulations should go.  They`re supposed to report back by May

15th and that includes getting public comment, getting public comment from

anybody who thinks their water is too clean. 


As that May 15th deadline approaches, we`re starting to see how the agency

intends to get this potentially gargantuan nation-changing job done.  In

the case of EPA safeguards for water, for example, they have created a

message board where you can leave them a note.  Make sure you have your

supporting data and federal regulation codes handy. 


If you so happen to be a member of a certain state or a local water agency,

then you got a meeting with the EPA this week, or you could sign up for

this public listening session which is this conference call thing slated

for Tuesday, where perhaps 80 people nationwide will be able to speak for

one or maybe two minutes.  There`s also a web conference along with the

call which can fit 1,000 people.  You can also leave a written comment,

just have your federal register citation handy and hope you get in. 


The head of the EPA insists they want to hear from stakeholders as part of

this review.  The question is whether that means just the Dow Chemicals of

the world who are having their daily conversations with the White House and

getting their presidential pens and personal thank yous or is it anybody

else who has to take a number literally and hope they get lucky?  You know,

as long as they`ve been able to get a ticket. 


They`re thinking about scrapping all of the health and safety regulations

they can possibly justify scrapping.  They are working hand and fist with

industry to do it.  This is what they`re calling the public side of input

in that project.  This is how we`re making policy now.  It`s like the

saddest Willy Wonka remake of all time.




MADDOW: February 2003, Vladimir Putin had been president for about three

years.  He was nearing the end of his first term, and he decided to summon

a bunch of Russia`s richest men, the oligarchs.  He decided to summon them

for a big, big meeting.  The meeting surprisingly was open to the media. 


The wealthiest man in Russia at the time was this man, Mikhail

Khodorkovsky.  He was the head of Russia`s largest oil company, Yukos Oil. 

And he was planning for kind of a showdown with Putin at that meeting.  He

went to that meeting with a PowerPoint presentation in hand to talk about

corruption in Russia and how it cost the Russian economy more than $30

billion a year.  He made his criticisms.  He did so publicly with the

cameras rolling. 


You can imagine that that did not sit well with President Putin.  That was

February 2003.  By October of that year, Mikhail Khodorkovsky was arrested. 




UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  The richest man in Russia, one of the richest men in

the world, is behind bars tonight.  Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the head of

Russia`s largest oil company, was arrested by police when his jet stopped

in Siberia today.  He`s accused of fraud and tax evasion.  Khodorkovsky is

considered a political opponent of Russian President Vladimir Putin. 




MADDOW:  It did not stop there though with his arrest.  Mikhail

Khodorkovsky had started using his vast fortune to fund and lead an

opposition effort against Putin.  And so, not only did Putin have him

arrested again and thrown in jail, he also took his company. 




REPORTER:  With a blow of the gavel, a Russian auctioneer succeeded on

Sunday in dismembering Russia`s foremost private oil company, the auction

of Yukos Oil Corporation`s biggest subsidiary. 


Russian President Vladimir Putin has cracked down on freedom of the press

and eliminated many local elections.  And now was staring down some of the

country`s biggest private business.  Top of his list is Mikhail

Khodorkovsky, Russia`s richest man and the founder of Yukos.  He`s been in

jail for more than a year facing tax fraud charges and Yukos has been

slapped with its own $28 billion tax bill.  Analysts say the auction was

ordered to clip Khodorkovsky`s wings. 




MADDOW:  Putin arrested the billionaire who opposed him, seized his

company, gave it away for pennies to the Kremlin-owned oil company,

Rosneft.  Mikhail Khodorkovsky went on to spend a decade in jail.  He was

finally let out in 2013.  He now lives in exile. 


And that is one relatively famous story of what happens when you oppose

Vladimir Putin.


This is also an increasingly famous story of what happens when you oppose

Vladimir Putin.  This is Alexei Navalny.  He`s the highest profile

opposition politician in Russia right now.  He`s planning on challenging

Putin for the presidency next year and yesterday, someone attacked him with

some green chemical, an antiseptic chemical, outside of his offices in



He was hospitalized.  The attack was bad.  It got in his eye, look at his

eye there on the left side of your screen there.  His pupil and his cornea

are green, and this is not the first time he`s been attacked in this

specific way.  He was attacked with the same chemical back in March.  This

is the kind of thing that happens when you oppose Vladimir Putin. 


Here`s another example.  This is Vladimir Kara-Murza.  He`s a former

journalist, Kremlin critic, opposition party figure.  Two years ago in

2015, he was poisoned.  He very nearly died.  He got very ill.  He went

into a coma.  He suffered multiple organ failure.  He barely survived but

he survived.


And then it happened again in February.  He was back in Russia promoting a

documentary on one of his colleagues, another Putin critic when he was

gunned down, shot to death just outside Red Square.  And suddenly, Vladimir

Kara-Murza got ill, fell into a coma.  Doctors say he seemed to have

ingested what they`re calling an unidentified toxic substance.  He was in

and out of a coma but again, he made it. 


Vladimir Kara-Murza is now the vice chairman of Mikhail Khodorkovsky`s

Russian pro-democracy group which is called Open Russia, and this weekend,

they have big protests planned throughout Russia, democracy, pro-democracy,

anti-Putin protests.  They are calling for people to take to the streets

tomorrow en masse to, quote, “express their dissatisfaction with Putin`s



And not at all by coincidence, the Kremlin has decided to take action

against them this week.  On Wednesday, the Kremlin banned Open Russia as a

movement in that country claiming that their activities are destabilizing

to the Russian state.  Yesterday, their offices were raided by camouflage

clad police.  Officials arrested one of the group`s leaders.


But get this – Open Russia`s response to these threats and attacks?  This

has been their response.  Quote, “See you on April 29th.”  See you tomorrow

at those nationwide protests.  These folks are nothing if not brave. 


Joining us now here tonight for “The Interview” is Vladimir Kara-Murza. 

He`s vice chairman of Open Russia, which is an international Russian pro-

democracy movement. 


Mr. Kara-Murza, thank you for being here. 



It`s great to be here, and I really mean this when I say that. 


MADDOW:  Oh, well, yes, for your perspective, it`s great to be anywhere. 


Let me ask you, having apparently being poisoned twice, how is your health? 


KARA-MURZA:  Well, it`s getting on.  Last time, it took me more than a year

to get recovered after the first opening.  Now, it`s only been two and a

half months, so I`m expecting this to be a long road ahead and frankly, you

know, they`re not getting rid of us.  And I was the fortunate one. 


Of course, doctors estimated my chances of survival at about 5 percent. 

That`s what they told my wife when I was in coma, but I do have those 5

percent and I`m here.  I`m grateful for that. 


Many of our friends and many of our colleagues did not have the 5 percent

chance.  And Boris Nemtsov, the Russian opposition that you mentioned in

your report, did not have that chance they put five bullets in his back on

that bridge in front of Kremlin two years.  And many people, independent

journalists, whistleblowers, anti-corruption campaign, opposition activists

lost their lives in one way or another since Vladimir Putin came to power

17 years ago.


So, we have known for a long time that it`s dangerous location to be in

opposition to Mr. Putin`s regime, but this is our country, and we think it

deserves better.  And we think that we want change and I think we just have

to count on doing what we`re doing, and we will count on doing what we`re

doing.  Whatever the obstacles they put in our way, whatever the threats,

whatever the intimidation, whatever the arrests or the killings, it`s our

country, we`re not giving up. 


MADDOW:  How much of an act of bravery will it be tomorrow for ordinary

Russian citizens to come out and demonstrate in Moscow and in other cities

where these protests are planned? 


KARA-MURZA:  It will be very big I would say, because even though the

Russian constitution guarantees freedom of assembly and our country`s

international commitments guarantee freedom of assembly, or supposed to

guarantee, of course, all these political freedoms have been nice words

written on paper for many years under Vladimir Putin.  And for example, the

last time when a nationwide protest happened, which was just a few weeks

ago, the end of March, when tens of thousands of people went to the streets

across Russia in 84 different towns and cities, large and small, you know,

Vladimir (INAUDIBLE) 11 times to say no to Vladimir Putin and his

corruption and his authoritarianism, and just the sheer arrogance of that

one man who`s been in power for 17 years and does not have the intention of

going away. 


Well, last time it happened, more than 1,000 people, in fact, more than

1,500 people were arrested just in that one day.  And the last big wave of

protests before that which was after the rigged elections in 2011, there

are still people who are in jail today for going out to those to those

demonstrations beginning of 2012. 


So, it does take courage.  But again, it`s our country.  If we believe in

it, we have to do something about it, and I have no doubt that many of our

colleagues will be on the streets tomorrow.  It`s a nationwide campaign

organized by the Open Russia movement across the country in many regions. 


And it`s going to be just one message of that campaign.  And that message

is enough, because there is now an entire generation of Russians, just

think about it, who have no memory of any other government than Vladimir

Putin.  You have had four presidents in the last 17 years.  We`ve just had

that one guy. 


And we`ve not just had the guy, but we also had censorship in the media. 

We`ve had mammoth corruption.  We`ve had the absence of free and fair

elections and just the basic freedoms that people in other countries take

for granted. 


And increasingly, Russian, especially young Russians, especially the new

generation, the young generation is having enough of it.  And they`re

willing to come out to the streets and say no, because going to the streets

is the only way you can protest against the regime now because we don`t

have free elections so you can`t really vote against him or if you do your

votes will not be counted. 


There is no large scale independent media that you can voice your opinions

in.  All you can do is go out to the streets.  I think many, many people

will do just that tomorrow. 


MADDOW:  And what you`re talking thereby in terms of the – it`s not even

sustainability, but the viability of opposition, about the viability of any

potential alternative emerging to Putin.  Obviously, he has tried to create

and has explicitly basically charged that there is no alternative to him. 

And he has done everything possible to make that reality, whether it`s

turning the parliament into a rubber stamp, whether it`s getting rid of

media, whether it`s attacking and killing opposition protesters. 


I mean, even just the recent arrests that you were talking about, we saw

the offices of Alexei Navalny`s organization get ransack and have all their

computers and their paperwork and staff getting arrested.  Open Russia

getting banned this week.  The raid on your offices there this week. 


I mean, how – how do you maintain any sort of momentum, any sort of

organizing structure against that? 


KARA-MURZA:  Well, I mean, the other side, if you just look at it formally,

the other side does have a massive advantage.  They have all the so-called

law enforcement agencies.  They have the entire propaganda machine.  They

have the whole power of the state on their side. 


But what we have I think is something much more important, and that is the

truth.  And that increasing realization among the people, especially the

young people, again, this new generation, the people who we saw on the

streets of Russia the end of March and the people who we will see on the

streets again tomorrow are predominantly young people, college kids, high

school students in many cases – people who have not seen anything else

except Putin, who have watched the same face on that television screens for

their entire lives.  And they are fed up with it. 


And it happened so many times in Russian history.  You know, I`m old enough

to remember – unlike those people who are going to protest tomorrow, I`m

old enough to remember August `91.  The three days that ended the Soviet



Again, the other side, the people behind the coup d`etat attempt.  They had

everything.  They had the army, the police, the propaganda, the government

and party apparatus.  And they – of course, they have the tanks which they

sent into central Moscow to try to quash those freedoms that were beginning

to come about. 


And the people who said no to that coup, they had nothing.  All they had

was their own dignity and their determination to defend their freedom and

to prevent a return to the bad old days.  And they went into the streets

and they stood in front of the tanks in the tense and hundreds of

thousands, and the tanks stopped and turned away. 


So, it`s been done many times before.  I`m sure it can be done again. 


MADDOW:  Vladimir Kara-Murza is the vice-chairman of Open Russia, which is

an international Russian pro-democracy movement – we will be watching to

see what happens tomorrow.  Good luck to you. 


KARA-MURZA:  Thank you. 


MADDOW:  Thank you.


KARA-MURZA:  Thanks very much.


MADDOW:  Thanks very much.


All right.  We`ll be right back.




MADDOW:  Best new thing in the world.  We haven`t had one in so long. 


All right.  You ready?  Here we go.  We`re going to start with a shout out

to the thing that kept me sane during the 2016 election, which was bad lip





UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I wanted, you know, I just wanted regular potatoes. 

But guess what?  So did other people.  I wanted it the most so like I`m –


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  You just froze a baby.  You just froze a baby. 


Genital warts, you touched a genital wart.  You can`t touch it. 


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  This piece goes over here.  It`s part of the tree. 






UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I have a glass child they call the kid little bong-

bong.  But we have one in a cave and I peek at them because it`s not a real



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  You got to love Bernie boy.  He is crazy!  Haaa. 


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Help.  Mmm, I`m going barf. 


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I pretend I like you. 


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  You`re a creep. 


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I think you`re old like dirt. 


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  The guy is the boss, you know. 


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Just remember who brought you here. 


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Thank you, my prince. 




MADDOW:  A lot of work goes into bad lip reading.  Sometimes have to wait a

long while before the next one comes out.  Manna from heaven. 


There was a moment today when we thought we had discovered a new previously

unseen bad lip reading video.  We thought we had found it in the wild. 





do the skinny Rita, the all fruits that they smash up. 


I wanted to bark at you the way I get barked at. 




MADDOW:  Taqueria tsunami.  I get barked at skinny Rita. 


Other than the fact that we clearly don`t know who those people are, that

clearly is a bad lip reading classic, right?  You`d think.  But it`s not. 


It turns out that is video of Karen Handel, the Republican candidate in

Georgia`s special election for Congress.  Now, we`ve seen politicians do a

version of this before.  They record these violently awkward long videos of

themselves smiling or working or appearing to talk to people. 


And then they just leave the videos out there on the Internet so super PACs

can come along and grab up that footage and use it in commercials. 

Politicians do this now. 


But in the case of poor Karen Handel running against Jon Ossoff, in the

case of poor Karen Handel, they forgot to mute the sound. 




UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  OK.  One more time and look up and give me a big smile. 

You kind of fall off the smile.  And action.  And action.  Action. 


HANDEL:  I`m just trying to think what I want to order you to do. 


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  She puts the in my nose and they have to wait for to it

dry.  Hold steady.  Hold steady.  And then pow!  I felt like somebody had

slapped the back of my head. 


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Karen, sip your coffee please?  That`s it.


HANDEL:  Now I have to sip my coffee. 




MADDOW:  Now I have to sip my coffee. 


Honestly, now the world knows Karen Handel is talking about margaritas and

nose hair waxing, can a super PAC still make an ad using these videos? 

It`s like ruined knowing they`re talking about the fallen off the smile. 

Like, we don`t know.  Maybe – I don`t know. 


But I could watch this thing all day.  I actually did watch this all day. 

And I`m quite sure that Karen Handel`s B roll with the volume all the way

up, at least for those who cover politics all day, this was definitely the

best new thing in the world. 




HANDEL:  What are you doing?  It`s a good thing I didn`t go in the drawer

and get my gun, I might have shot the guy. 


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Then you have to drag him out of the house. 


HANDEL:  I realize that – is there audio? 


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Yes, yes, there is audio. 




MADDOW:  Yes.  Yes, there is audio for the whole long stretch of it.  It is

hard to drag the guy out of the house after you shoot him, right?  It`s the

most inconvenient thing.


That does it for us tonight.  We will see you again Monday. 




Good evening, Lawrence.








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