The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 4/28/17
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.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have a letter here for the congressman signed by
1,000 of his constituents from the third congressional action group.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
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.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
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 FEMALE: Please do.
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 MALE: Will do.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK.
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: OK.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We need to take some out.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A little fun here.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yeah.
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 MALE: Of course.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you so much.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you. Take care.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
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
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
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
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.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
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
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
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.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
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
MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Let me say, hearing that
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.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
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
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.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PENCE: Let me say hearing that story today was the first I heard of it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
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?”
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
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.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
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.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
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?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
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.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There`s a chance that we
could end up having a major, major conflict with North Korea. Absolutely.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
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
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.
WENDY SHERMAN, CLINTON ADMIN. NORTH KOREA POLICY COORDINATOR: Good to be
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.
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
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.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
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.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
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.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
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.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
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
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
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-
Mr. Kara-Murza, thank you for being here.
VLADIMIR KARA-MURZA, “OPEN RUSSIA” VICE CHAIRMAN: Thank you for having me.
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
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
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: Carson.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Aghh!
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.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KAREN HANDEL (R-GA), CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: Taqueria tsunami, how they
do the skinny Rita, the all fruits that they smash up.
I wanted to bark at you the way I get barked at.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
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.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
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.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
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.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
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.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
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.
Now, it`s time for “THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL”.
Good evening, Lawrence.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
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Copyright 2017 ASC Services II Media, LLC. All materials herein are
protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced,
distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the
prior written permission of ASC Services II Media, LLC. You may not alter
or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the