The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 5/5/17

Guests:
Sean Patrick Maloney
Transcript:

 

 

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST:  And thanks to you at home for joining us this

hour. 

 

It`s happening again.  Almost the exact same thing that happened in our

presidential election last year, starting first in July and then again in

October.  A mirror image of that exact attack that was carried out on our

election to try to hurt Hillary Clinton and throw the election to Donald

Trump, that attack that U.S. intelligence agencies now say definitively was

carried out by the Russian government, Russian intelligent services and the

Russian military intelligence unit, that same exact attack is happening

again tonight and this time, it is happening in France on the eve of their

incredibly consequential presidential election which happens this weekend

on Sunday. 

 

Now, we`re going to talk in just a second about what the attack is, about

why it looks like it`s not even just Russia all over again but the exact

same Russian government hackers who attacked the U.S. election.  We`ve got

all those details already as this attack has unfolded over the course of

this evening and that is fascinating.  We will get to that. 

 

But focus here first on the timing because the timing is crucial even just

for the ability of this story to be reported tonight.  In France, for a

variety of reasons for decades now, there has been a law that imposes a

news blackout on anything related to the election for a full day before

voting starts.  So, we don`t have anything like this in our country, but

it`s pretty simple. 

 

Basically, the rule in France and it is a legally enforced thing and you

can go to jail if you violate it.  Basically, the rule is, as of midnight

tonight local time in France, from midnight tonight, Friday night, until

the polls close there on Sunday evening, legally there can be no reporting,

no publication of any information that has anything to do with the

election, that could have any influence on anybody in terms of their choice

between the candidates, their choice whether or not to vote. 

 

So what I am able to report here tonight on American news, it can`t be

reported there tonight where it`s happening because it`s after midnight

local time there.  I mean, as if this election was not dramatic enough.  A

couple weeks ago we had the first round of this election.  You`ll remember

us covering it here on the show, got international attention and deserved

it.  The first round was a couple weeks ago. 

 

This weekend, this Sunday, it`s the runoff.  So, this is actually the

definitive final contest to see who will be the next president of France. 

It`s either going to be the essential terrorist, young, Obama-esque and

Obama endorsed mainstream campaign Emmanuel Macron, or it will be someone

before this year would be unimaginable of a major Western nation.  If it`s

not Emmanuel Macron, it`s going to be Marine Le Pen, who is the leader of

what has essentially been the French fascist party for decades. 

 

 

Her campaign has been funded by bank loans from the Kremlin.  She has

promised to pull France out of NATO.  She is likely to pull France out of

the E.U.  She is rabidly, openly anti-immigrant.  She doesn`t just want to

stop illegal immigration into that country.  She wants to stop all

immigration into that country. 

 

She inherited the leadership of this far right party, the Front National

from her charming father who is a Holocaust denier. 

 

So, this contest to see whose going to be the next president of France, it

was dramatic enough already because of these two being the candidates.  And

because Russia has a clear preference in this election, we, of course, have

seen evidence of what we now recognize as Russian information operation

designed to try to influence French voters in their choice in that

election.  We`ve seen Russia cyber warfare playing out already in this

election. 

 

There have been reports of hacking efforts.  There`s been a ton of Russian-

generated and Russian-amplified fake news about Macron in particular which

Marine Le Pen and her party and supporters have tried to spend themselves

and capitalize on just like the Trump campaign did when it came to Russia

generated fake news about Hillary Clinton. 

 

But that – we`ve been watching that unfold over the course of this French

campaign, through the first primary and into this – as we headed toward

this runoff this weekend, but then, I mean, I didn`t have much of an

intention of talking much about the French election tonight, but then late

this afternoon, our time, late, late tonight their time, this story just

took a very serious turn.  It was just before the blackout deadline

arrived, right? 

 

The blackout deadline arrives at midnight local time.  Just before that

blackout deadline arrived, which shuts down all election related news and

discussion in the French media.  Just before that midnight local time

deadline tonight, the Macron campaign suffered a huge cyber attack.  All of

their internal stuff got posted online, their internal documents, internal

e-mails, things like contracts, accounting documents, strategy documents,

all apparently hacked off their campaign servers, all posted online at

Paste Bin, which is one of these places where you can post stuff

anonymously. 

 

It`s apparently about nine gigabytes worth of data.  The campaign says that

most of it is, in fact, legitimate material that is authentic that was

definitely stolen off their servers.  But they say, whoever posted it mixed

in fake documentation as well as, alongside the real stuff which is a

hallmark of a well-run weaponized hacking attack. 

 

Now, in terms of who dun it?  It doesn`t seem like the people who did it

tried very hard to cover up their tracks.  Analysts thus far say the

evidence pretty clearly points to a hacking group that`s called APT 28. 

 

APT 28 appears to be the perpetrator of this attack.  They`re a hacking

group associated with Russian military intelligence.  You may remember the

name – the more memorable name that they also used to describe them which

is Fancy Bear, remember that from the intelligence documents about the

attack on our election?  Fancy Bear, APT 28, they are one of the groups

named by U.S. intelligence agencies have carried out a similar attack on

the Clinton campaign last year and on the servers of the Democratic Party. 

All that stuff that was posted on DC Leaks and then WikiLeaks.  In France,

they`ve posted it on Paste Bin, but again, internal documents posted online

for maximum political damage. 

 

Now again, this has just happened tonight.  They apparently posted all of

this hacked material, both the real stuff and the fake stuff.  They posted

it right before the blackout deadline in the French media.  That deadline

went into effect at midnight local time, which means French media can`t

report on this.  They can`t talk about it.  They can`t discuss its

existence. 

 

Get this, at four minutes to midnight local time, four minutes before the

deadline, the Macron campaign put out their statement explaining what had

happened to them and I`m quoting from our NBC News translation here, “En

Marche”, which is the name of Macron`s political party, “En Marche was the

victim of a massive and coordinated piracy action this evening, causing the

dissemination of internal information of various kinds, e-mails, accounting

documents, contracts, et cetera.  Those who were circulating these

documents added false documents to many original documents in order to sow

doubt and misinformation.  Taking place in the last hour of the official

campaign, this operation is obviously a democratic destabilization as has

already been seen in the United States during the last presidential

campaign.”

 

Quote, “We call on the media who want to report on this operation to be

responsible.  It is not a simple piracy operation but an attempt to

destabilize the French presidential election.  It is therefore important to

take into account the nature of the leaked documents, the fact that a large

part of them are pure and simply false.”

 

“I plead with the media to consider,” quote, “the desirability of echoing

this destabilization operation.”

 

You can hear the Clinton campaign in that play, right?  And however far

this plea is going to go in France, there is a whole different factor there

that they have to contend with that we didn`t.  I mean, this is plea from

the Macron campaign only circulated for four minutes before nobody could

say anything in the French media about these documents anymore because the

blackout is in effect. 

 

In fact, shortly thereafter, shortly after the blackout went into effect,

at 1:15 a.m. local time, the minister of the interior put out this

statement to news organization, quote, “We ask press not to distribute

these documents and remind them that distributing false information could

bring legal consequences.”  Quote, “We have entered the period of reserve

from midnight Friday,” meaning we are in a blackout.  Do not say beep about

this stuff. 

 

But is that a good thing or bad thing, though, right?  I mean, the stuff is

out there.  It`s not like people are not allowed to go on the internet. 

 

However much they tell people in the media and in the campaigns, even

individual voters not to talk about this stuff, not to make any sort of

public pronouncements about the election, this happened and the stuff is

out there.  Thanks Putin.  If you are in the – fur in the Macron campaign

or if you are in the news business in France and it`s your job to explain

what`s going on and debunk stuff that`s fake and to give people context to

understand things they may come across this online but you have to treat it

as if it`s a secret, which must be incredibly mind-bendingly frustrated if

you are French.

 

That said, I`m not French.  Ready?

 

(SPEAKING FRENCH)

 

(LAUGHTER)

 

My poor high school French teacher`s like ba-boom. 

 

In other words, nice to have you here French friends.  I am sorry I cannot

do this in French.  I have a feeling more of you are watching than might

otherwise be at a time like this. 

 

I mean, despite what appears to be a massive Russian attack at the last

minute, the French election is obviously still going to happen on Sunday. 

Now, the polls say that Emmanuel Macron is expected to beat Marine Le Pen

by a lot, by like 25 points.  With that said after Brexit and the U.K.,

after Donald Trump won the presidency in the United States, you will be

forgiven if you do not trust polls in a contest like this any more. 

 

For what it`s worth, though, I got to tell you the French polls did seem to

be precisely accurate in predicting the outcome two weeks ago.  As for this

second definitive round on Sunday, though, there may be no reason to

distrust the French polls, but we also have absolutely no idea what the

effect is going to be of this last second massive Russian attack. 

 

Joining us now live from Paris is NBC chief foreign correspondent Richard

Engel. 

 

Richard, thank you for being with us tonight to cover this very strange

story.  I appreciate you staying up for us. 

 

RICHARD ENGEL, NBC NEWS CHIEF FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT:  Well, it`s strange

but it is not entirely unexpected.  I was waiting for something like this

for the other shoe to drop.  I thought maybe it was going to be a terrorist

attack or some sort of document leak. 

 

There was an expectation that outside forces would try and put their hands

on the scale to influence this election and, frankly, that`s why I`m here. 

 

The opinion polls have put Macron way ahead, so if you just believe the

polls, there`s no story here.  He`s going to win.  But these are unusual

times.

 

And there have already been these reports going back weeks and a few months

that Russian backed groups have been trying to influence the election. 

There have been numerous terrorist incidents including one right on the eve

of the first round of the presidential elections.  So, basically, we`re

here because this kind of thing could happen.  It was expected that

something like this could happen or at least we expect it. 

 

MADDOW:  And, Richard, in terms of the attribution for the attack, we have

been reading reports, although it`s interesting, we can no longer read

French media reports about this because – we`re now within the blackout

period, but we`ve been reading reports that this suggests that this is APT

28, this is Fancy Bear, this appears to be the work of the same Russian

hacking groups that attacked the U.S. election. 

 

What credence do you place in those reports? 

 

ENGEL:  Well, we`ve spoken directly to the investigators and we – like I

said, we thought this kind of thing would happen.  There`s a group called

Trend Micro.  Trend Micro is a big cybersecurity firm.  They have been

following Russian-backed groups for a long time. 

 

Starting on March 15th, this group detected that the Macron campaign was

under attack, that it was getting what are called phishing e-mails.  These

are e-mails like the name suggests where they are probing for information

and these aren`t the simple kind of phishing e-mails that you get on your

BlackBerry or iPhone that says click here and you can win a cruise in the

Caribbean.  These were highly sophisticated come on kinds of e-mails that

looked like internal campaign documents and prompted people to put in their

passwords. 

 

So, they were spoofed documents that were being sent to key individuals

within the Macron campaign.  This lasted for about a month, so from mid-

March to mid-April.  Then they apparently stopped and the Macron campaign

at the time said it didn`t think that any documents were taken off of their

servers but they knew they were under attack.  This same company said that

it has no doubt that the company – that the attackers that were trying to

extract this information was APT 28, also known as fancy bear, the same

group that was associated with the attack on the DNC and also associated

with attacks on other institutions across Europe. 

 

So, whether that was the group that ultimately pulled the information, this

nine gigabytes of information from the campaign and released it tonight,

that we`re not sure.  But we know that the campaign was under attack for

about a month starting in mid-March and apparently ending a month after

that by this Russian backed group. 

 

MADDOW:  And we know the campaign saying tonight in their statement that

these documents that have been dumped tonight that have been posted line

appear to have been stolen several weeks ago so that would fit that time

frame. 

 

ENGEL:  They said several weeks ago.  The time frame fits perfectly and

also throughout this time frame, starting even somewhat before the phishing

attacks, there has been a media campaign against Macron primarily by

Russian-backed websites, casting dispersions for his personal life, that he

has unusual relationship with his wife in casting doubts that he`s not the

man that is – that should lead France. 

 

So, there`s been a media campaign as well in the background to this fishing

attack and then this leak, this document dump.  What`s significant is and

you pointed it out, the Macron campaign had to deal with this, had to put

out a statement, a fairly long statement fairly detailed and release it

four minutes to midnight because they didn`t want to go over it seems that

midnight boundary and then get themselves in trouble with the law. 

 

And there were several media organizations in this country that started to

talk about it and then the interior ministry sent out this warning saying,

don`t forget, there`s a media blackout in place.  Be responsible. 

 

MADDOW:  Wow, it`s just – the strategy here is remarkable.  The audacity

is remarkable, and we`ll see what the impact is.  NBC News chief foreign

correspondent Richard Engel in Paris past 3:00 in the morning for us

tonight, Richard, thank you so much.  I appreciate it, my friend. 

 

ENGEL:  Absolutely. 

 

MADDOW:  You know, it is – the parallels with what happened to our

election are remarkable, right?  You get the media campaigned run by the

Russian state-run media outlets and also the bots that traced back to

Russia, certainly get all that fake news stuff. 

 

Then you get the hacked documents that are strategically released at just

the right time, right?  Put online in these anonymous posting sites.  It`s

exactly the same thing.  We appear to have the same perpetrators here. 

 

But remember when the Russians were doing it to us, by all indications,

they thought Hillary Clinton was going to win.  They didn`t think it would

work.  They didn`t think they`d throw the election to Trump. 

 

Their intention for doing it, even very late, very right up to the end was

not necessarily because they were convinced they could help Trump win. 

They thought, even if Clinton won which was likely, this stuff would hurt

her and delegitimize her as president once she took the presidency and that

would be valuable to them in terms of dealing with a weakened United States

because these attacks that they took part in during the election. 

 

In this case, Macron is absolutely, absolutely, favored to win on Sunday. 

If he does, the Russians will still have caused to see this as, you know,

reason for celebration that they`ll be able to use this against him as

president and hopefully undermine his presidency even if he does go ahead

and win this.  Just remarkable.

 

All right.  Big night.  There`s actually more breaking news coming up from

the Trump administration. 

 

Stay with us.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

MADDOW:  I`m never going to get another Friday night off in my life.  I`m

telling you. 

 

Friday nights are very news heavy in the Trump administration.  Friday

nights is supposed to be a time when you`re like, take it easy, have a

panel.  You know, do a weekend review because you expect that most of the

news makers in the world are out on dates or seeing their families or

something other than being at work making news, but nope. 

 

Maybe I should get like – start asking for like Wednesdays off.  I don`t

know. 

 

In the Trump administration for whatever reason, Friday nights tend to be

the busiest night of the week in terms of news and it`s for two separate

reasons.  One is that they like Friday night news dumps at the Trump

administration just like all administrations do.  The Trump administration

does it may be more than most but all administrations do this. 

 

Like, for example, this past Friday night, you might remember, they waited

until after 10:00 p.m. Eastern to announce that the EPA was pulling all of

its climate data off of the EPA`s website.  That was a classy Friday night

news dump last week. 

 

We actually got two more EPA Friday night news dumps tonight that we`re

going to be getting to later on in this show. 

 

But in addition to the Friday night news dumps where they just hide stuff

late on a Friday thinking no one will notice it, the other thing that

happens with the Trump administration on Friday and this I think has to be

a coincidence, this is just God hates me, it`s that news about them tends

to break on Friday night as well and that is the case tonight in “The

Washington Post” and “The Associated Press”. 

 

“The Washington Post” was first.  They front-paged this exclusive story

about fired national security adviser Mike Flynn, and all the pattern

warnings he was given about his contact with Russian government officials

during the transition.  So, between the election and when President Trump

was actually sworn in. 

 

According to tonight`s front page scoop in the “The Washington Post,” Mike

Flynn was warned explicitly that his conversations with Russian officials

were, quote, “undoubtedly being monitored by the FBI and by the NSA.” 

Transition officials tell “The Washington Post” they also prepared a

briefing document for Flynn, specifically a profile of the Russian

ambassador who he liked to talk with and meet with so much. 

 

Officials say that despite the fact that they prepared a profile on the

Russian ambassador for Flynn, they are unsure as to whether or not Mike

Flynn ever bothered to read it.  So, interesting reporting from “The

Washington Post.”

 

After “The Washington Post” posted theirs, “The Associated Press” also went

live with their scoop tonight on Mike Flynn.  They`re reporting that the

Obama administration was so concerned about what they could see of these

ties between Mike Flynn and the Russian government that they decided to

delay telling the Trump transition about the Obama`s administration plans

to levy new sanctions against Russia as punishment for them messing with

our election. 

 

The Obama folks delayed telling the Trump transition what they were going

to do in response to that election hack reportedly because the Obama

administration was concerned enough about what they were seeing about the

transitions contacts with Russians officials that they believed it was

possible that someone in the Trump transition might tip off the Russian

government about what was about to happen.  That they might give the

Russians enough time, enough lead time to clear information out of the two

Russian compounds that the U.S. was closing down in retaliation for the

Russians attacking or election. 

 

Now, NBC can add a little bit that tonight.  NBC further reports tonight

that in terms of that advance warning that the Obama administration gave to

the Trump transition about these Russian sanctions, NBC News reports

tonight that that advanced warning was a matter of hours, not days.  Even

though they knew they were going to shut down these Russians compounds for

days, they didn`t tell the Trump folks until hours before they announced

it, so the Trump folks wouldn`t have too much opportunity to give the

Russians a head`s up to clean out those compounds – just in case the Trump

transition folks were so inclined to do that. 

 

So, obviously, there are a lot of questions that remain unanswered about

how on earth the White House decided to hire Mike Flynn has national

security advisor despite what they must have come to know about his

contacts with foreign governments and his contacts with the Russian

government in particular.  NBC News reported several days ago that the

Trump transition even knew about Mike Flynn`s payments from foreign

governments and they hired him anyway. 

 

This goes some distance to explaining people who were in contact with him

and what they knew at the time that made that inexplicable decision that

gave him that high ranking sensitive national security post.

 

I mean, reading between the lines, though, it also seems clear that people

who want to remain government officials, people who don`t want to have

their careers blown up by any association with Michael Flynn and whatever`s

about to come next in the investigations of him, those people appear to be

sort of getting out ahead of any further Michael Flynn reporting.  This

continues the pattern we have seen around him, Republican officials

involved in investigations that get close to what Flynn did and what is

known about his actions they`ve all been fleeing from those investigation. 

 

Devin Nunes got himself taken off the house intelligence investigation. 

Jason Chaffetz took himself out of Congress entirely.  Attorney General

Jeff Sessions recused himself from any Flynn related investigations. 

 

And now, we`ve got named Trump transition officials saying basically in the

press, hey, we tried to warn him.  We noticed something was weird here.  We

tried to send up flags.  We knew what Mike Flynn was doing with Russia was

wrong and risky. 

 

I don`t know where any of these investigations are going with Mike Flynn,

but the way that other people in Republican politics are treating him, is

like they`re grease and he`s a drop of dish soap.  So, new Mike Flynn news

tonight in the “The Washington Post” and “The Associated Press”, but also

brings us to tonight`s news dump from the administration and that story is

next. 

 

Stay with us.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

MADDOW:  So, tonight, we are following this new breaking news from “The

Washington Post” and from the “Associated Press” about fired national

security advisor Mike Flynn.  New reports that Trump transition officials

and outgoing Obama administration officials were aware of Mike Flynn`s

frequent communications with the Russian government and that it raised

alarms both within the Trump transition and in the outgoing administration. 

 

This, of course, raises yet more questions about why the Trump folks went

ahead with hiring him then as national security advisor where he lasted all

of three and a half weeks before he got fired. 

 

After Mike Flynn did get fired, one of the interesting things that happened

that I think maybe should have been a little bit of a warning sign for

those us watching this administration is that the White House had a really

remarkably difficult time replacing him. 

 

U.S. Army General Ray Odierno, they apparently wanted for the job.  He took

himself out of the running. 

 

Controversial General David Petraeus, they apparently wanted him for the

job, too, but he took himself out of the running.  Vice Admiral Robert

Harwood, they wanted for the job, they apparently offered him the job and

after they offered him the job, he said no.  He would not take the job.

 

Eventually, they found H.R. McMaster who was not a retired admiral or a

retired general.  He is a sitting active duty general.  And you know what,

they`re not actually allowed to say no when asked to do something by the

commander in chief.  So, now, he is our new national security advisor. 

 

But it`s not just the national security adviser position that proved hard

to fill, that`s generally been true of their big national security jobs. 

For example, look at the Armed Forces.  The Trump administration nominated

a New York billionaire to be army secretary, a guy who had made his fortune

as a high frequency trader.  One of the things the White House did not

notice about him when they vetted him for the job was the police report

that had been filed on him not that long ago after he punched a guy out at

an expensive horse auction in Upstate New York.  Between his complicated

business ties and the horse auction fistfight, Vincent Viola ended up

pulling his name from consideration as army secretary.

 

Then the next nomination they pulled was for the navy secretary.  A guy

named Phillip Bilden, another finance guy was nominated to be navy

secretary.  Bilden pulled his name as nominee to be navy secretary in

February.  In February, the administration still has not nominated anybody

else for that job.  There is no nominee to be secretary of the navy. 

 

After they lost their first nominee to be secretary of the army, the punch-

out of the horse auction guy, they did pick a replacement nominee for that

job, but now tonight, he has pulled his name from consideration as well. 

His name is Mark Green. 

 

 

Until recently, he was a Republican candidate for governor in Tennessee. 

He dropped out of that race because of this better gig that he got offered

by the Trump administration, secretary of the army.  Well, now that that

nomination has been pulled multiple Pentagon officials are going out of

their way tonight to remind reporters that this really was a White House

pick.  Don`t blame this on the Pentagon.

 

Unnamed Defense Department officials insisting to reporters tonight that it

was the White House who wanted this guy, it was the White House who vetted

this guy, it was the White House who missed this stuff about this guy. 

That was after all out in the public domain about him and findable by

anybody with a Google. 

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

STATE SEN. MARK GREEN (R), TENNESSEE:  Now, you poll the psychiatrists,

they`re going to tell you that transgender is a disease.  No, we`re not

going to issue marriage licenses to gay people because our state voted

differently.  OK, Supreme Court.  You said it, I don`t care. 

 

School districts you want to have a bathroom that`s separate for all of the

– you know, guys or gals with question marks.  You set up your own

bathroom and AFL-CIO`s going to sue you – well, I got your back. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MADDOW:  AFL-CIO`s going to sue you?

 

When he says AFL-CIO, I will bet you $11 that he means ACLU.  Oh, but come

on.  It`s not like military guys ever need to know acronyms.  The AFL-CIO`s

going to sue you?  They aren`t going to sue you. 

 

Anyway, so that`s the bright light that the White House tried to put in

charge of the United States Army.  And there are reams and reams and reams

of this stuff from him and the public domain.  He`s been a public figure

for a long time.  He`s a serving state senator in Tennessee.  He was

running for governor.

 

But apparently, the White House never noticed any of this stuff before they

put him up as they`re second nominee to run the United States Army.  One by

one, members of the Senate Armed Services Committee started coming out

against Mark Green as his record became more and more clear.  As of a few

days ago, his critics on the Senate Armed Services Committee including that

committee`s chairman, John McCain.  Once the chairman of the committee is

against you, you`re not going to go far. 

 

He also faced criticism from Illinois Senator Tammy Duckworth, who is an

Army Black Hawk pilot who lost both her legs in combat in Iraq.  She came

out quite strongly against Mark Green to be secretary of the army. 

 

We actually learned this afternoon here at MSNBC that as of last night, the

White House had given up on Mark Green and had started interviewing

potential replacement nominees.  I was all set to report that tonight when

news dropped right before we went on the air, news dropped late this

afternoon that Mark Green, in fact, is gone.  He`s pulled his name. 

 

And the fact that Mark Green was ever nominated for this job in the first

place, the fact that he`s now the second nominee to try and fail to become

army secretary, is itself ridiculous, right?  I mean, it`s just a

ridiculous process.  It`s ridiculous for him to have been a candidate given

what`s available on him in the public record.  It is ridiculous for the

White House that they put him forward without apparently doing any vetting. 

Their vetting process for national security positions, even for really

important national security positions appears to be about as difficult as

the application process to get into Trump University. 

 

But because these are national security jobs, it isn`t just ridiculous it`s

also stomach churning, right?  I mean, this guy was nominated to be

secretary of the army.  Within the last week a U.S. Navy SEAL was killed in

Somalia fighting under combat restrictions that the Trump administration

just loosened there.  It`s the first U.S. combat casualty in Somalia since

1993, since Black Hawk Down.  He was killed yesterday. 

 

Also within the past week, two Army Rangers were killed in fighting eastern

Afghanistan.  Also within the past week, an Army paratrooper was killed on

Patrol outside Mosul, where the Trump administration has quietly and

without announcement been sending more and more and more U.S. troops. 

 

Next week, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan is going to ask for

thousands more U.S. troops to be sent into Afghanistan, once again, and

whether or not you look at this new president and you think, that`s a

capable commander in chief, I trust him to be making wise decisions about

the men and women American armed forces, whether or not you look at him and

think that, there is precisely one Senate confirmed nominee in the entire

Pentagon, secretary of defense, that`s it.

 

There`s like 58 Senate confirmable positions in the Pentagon, they haven`t

filled 57 of them.  And it`s not that they`re putting forward nominees and

their nominees are getting blocked.  They haven`t made nominations for

almost any of these jobs, for any of the open senior defense and national

security jobs in the entire government, and the nominees they do put

forward are literally guys like this who think the greatest danger to the

United States is the AFL-CIO, because he doesn`t know that that`s a union. 

 

So, happy Friday night news dump.  Mark Green is out as the second nominee

to be secretary of the army.  We could sort of see this one coming as a

mile off.  But as of tonight, there isn`t a replacement nominee in sight. 

When they finally do make one, it will be their third attempt at finding

someone to fill that job.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

MADDOW:  So conservative media must be taken a serious victory lap, right? 

After the big health care vote in the house right, kill the Affordable Care

Act?  The House Republican vote.

 

I mean, conservatives have been trying to get rid of Obamacare for years,

so that conservative media must be absolutely crowing over this right now,

right? 

 

You`d think, but look at this.  This was the FOX News home page last night

after the house Republicans voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act.  Now,

let`s see, where is that massive Republican win?  Where is it?  Oh, there

it is, down there on the bottom next to the story about the football

player.

 

Surely at Breitbart, they must be pounding their chest about this big win. 

Nope, that`s Jeff Sessions there.  It was a tiny headline in the corner

about Trump celebrating just above a headline about a Republican senator

trashing the bill. 

 

How about “The National Review”?  They`ve been railing against Obama for

years.  No, “The National Review” home page barely mentioned the health

care vote after it happened at all. 

 

So, that was an interesting reaction on the right, right?  Obamacare

repeal?  What Obamacare repeal. 

 

The reaction on the left the other hand?  Holy cow!  I mean, you usually

expect the side that won to be all over it, and the side that didn`t win to

be playing it down – total opposite this time.  Swing Left is one of these

new groups working to defeat House Republicans in the 2018 midterms, they

tell us they raised over $1 million in the last 48 hours, including

$150,000 they that raised instantly within the one hour after the health

care vote. 

 

And the liberal blog Daily Kos, they`re the ones who raised all that early

money for Jon Ossoff, who`s the Democrat running in that special House

election in Georgia, they also have raised over a million dollars over the

course of 30 hours, over a million bucks specifically targeting 24

congressional Republicans who voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act, who

represent districts where Trump didn`t get 50 percent of the vote. 

 

“Daily Kos” political director David Nir tells NBC News they have never

seen anything like this before.  Quote, “To put things in perspective, it

took us a week to raise $400,000 for John Ossoff.  It took us a year to do

so for Elizabeth Warren.  We raised that amount of money in the first five

hours yesterday for this slate after the health care vote.”

 

So, at least in terms of fund-raising, the left saw a huge surge of support

to try to turf out Republican members of Congress, after the house voted to

repeal Obamacare yesterday. 

 

Monies not everything, though.  In terms of the on-the-ground response, the

group Indivisible, they put out a very interesting statement about it last

night, pointing that the next 11 days of congressional recess are crucial

in terms of holding members of Congress accountable, quote, “on their home

turf.”  We`re already seeing signs of that playing out.  In Kansas today,

people held a die in outside Congressman John Yoder`s office.  Yoder voted

yes to kill Obamacare yesterday.  This is tactic of the AIDS activist

movement.  It`s now been appropriated by folks who are fighting for health

reform.

 

In Florida, folks gathered outside Brian Mast`s office with a giant sign

that says, “Clueless”.  Other signs saying, “Repeal and replace Brian

Mast”.  “Shame on you, Brian Mast.” 

 

Republican Congressman Raul Labrador held a lively town hall in Lewis in

Idaho today, lots of anger about his vote to repeal the Affordable Care

Act. 

 

(BEGINVIDEO CLIP)

 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  You`re mandating people on Medicaid except dying. 

You are making a mandate –

 

REP. RAUL LABRADOR (R), IDAHO:  No one wants anybody to die.  That line is

so indefensible.  Nobody dies because they don`t have access to health

care. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MADDOW:  Nobody dies because they don`t have access to health care.  They

die for all sorts of other reasons but nobody dies because they don`t have

access to health care. 

 

That was in Lewiston, Idaho, this afternoon.  Expect that one to follow

Raul Labrador around for the rest of his political life.

 

And there will be a lot more where that came from.  Over this weekend and

into next week, because there is an 11-day recess that starts today. 

 

And part of what we`re now watching in terms of what`s coming up over the

next few days is one congressman who may be trying to take on the burden

for another neighboring congressman who apparently can`t take the heat

himself.  This is a very weird, very interesting story and one of the key

players involved in it is with us next.  

 

Stay with us.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

MADDOW:  Last night, we had here on the show, a woman who lives in

Republican Congressman John Faso`s district in New York state.  She was a

guest on our show here.  Her name is Andrea Mitchell, not that Andrea

Mitchell.

 

But we have this remarkable footage from a couple of months ago of Ms.

Mitchell explaining to her congressman, to John Faso, that she had a brain

tumor, and she was worried about losing her health insurance because of her

preexisting condition.  Congressman Faso hugged her and promised her he

would never let that happen. 

 

Congressman Faso then yesterday voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act. 

If what the House voted for yesterday is made law, it will have the effect

of decimating access to health insurance for people with preexisting

conditions. 

 

Almost immediately after he announced that he would cast that vote,

Congressman Faso`s office was apparently inundated with angry phone calls. 

And that led to a tweet from another member of Congress from New York,

actually from a neighboring district, from Democratic Congressman Sean

Patrick Maloney. 

 

This was his tweet, quote, “Hey, John Faso, could you turn your phones on? 

Your constituents are calling my office.”

 

Apparently, Congressman Faso is really hard to get ahold of.  He has held

only one town hall since taking office.  That was last night.  The local

Invisible group has invited him to join their town hall.  They have

scheduled in their district for this Monday. 

 

But now, Congressman Maloney has issued John Faso another challenge.  

Quote, “John Faso, these folks deserve answer.  If you won`t explain your

vote for Trumpcare, I will.”

 

Joining us now is New York Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney. 

 

Thank you for being here, sir.  It`s nice to see you. 

 

REP. SEAN PATRICK MALONEY (D), NEW YORK:  Nice to be with you. 

 

MADDOW:  Are you trying to take the heat off him?  Are you trying to do him

a favor here?  Are you trying to help his constituents? 

 

MALONEY:  Look, it`s really simple.  I mean, if you listen to a woman like

Andrea, what I was struck by is she felt naive that when her congressman

told her, promised her that he would not do this to her, I mean, this is a

woman with a brain tumor who is not playing some political game.  She was

desperate in that video and he promised her he wouldn`t. 

 

And she came on your show last night and she said, I felt maybe I was naive

when he promised me, I thought he wouldn`t do it. 

 

And I have to tell you, I felt like saying to her, Andrea, if you`re

listening, you`re not naive because I believed him too.  And I`ll tell you

what, there are members of Congress who will look you in the eye and who

will not lie to you about something that serious.  And if this guy won`t

stand up and explain to it you and the people he represents, my neighbors

in the Hudson Valley – well, I`m going to do it. 

 

I think – I think every Republican who voted for this thing ought to have

to stand in front of their voters and explain it.  And if it takes a

Democrat to go in and do it for them for a while, I`ll explain what is in

this bill.  And if he doesn`t like it, he should stand up and explain it

himself. 

 

I mean, I think we ought to get on offense on this.  And maybe a Democrat

ought to go into every district where a Republican who supported Trumpcare

won`t hold a town hall meeting and do it for them.  You know, sit in that

chair and say I`ll stand here and answer your questions until your own

congressman starts doing his job. 

 

MADDOW:  Did his constituents really start calling your office trying to

reach him? 

 

MALONEY:  Yes, yes.  And after a few dozen phone calls, we started to

wonder what was up.  And they just couldn`t get through. 

 

And I want to tell you, I spoke to Congressman Faso before I came on the

show.  I said, “John, I`m going the light you up.  I hope we can still work

on Lyme disease together and veterans issues because I spent a lot of time

working across the aisle.”  I`m one of the most bipartisan members in

Congress, and I mean tht.

 

But I said, I just I feel too strongly about this.  And he was upset that

we had that tweet.  I don`t want to relay a private conversation.  But I

said people were calling our office.  And they weren`t getting through to

yours. 

 

And, you know, we`re being a little tongue-in-cheek.  But it`s a serious

issue.  And my goodness, these guys have got to stand up and defend this

vote. 

 

If you notice, a lot of them won`t want to.  They`re saying things like oh,

the Senate will fix it, or we`re just having a beer party at the White

House and we wanted to have a win or to the president. 

 

And that doesn`t cut it.  I mean, there are 65,000 people in Congress

Faso`s district who are going to lose insurance under this bill.  There are

400,000 people in that district and in mine who are getting insurance

through their employers, and now because of a totally unspoken about

provision in this bill, employers can forum shop any state that gets a

waiver and use the lower standards of that state with their employees, even

in a state like New York. 

 

So, the 400,000 people in most congressional districts who get employer-

based insurance right now, who have a heart condition, who have, you know,

HIV, they are at risk of being driven down to that lower state`s standards,

like Wisconsin, where the governor said today he would consider getting a

waiver. 

 

So, look, this is not a game.  And I think my goodness, if a Congress

person can`t stand in front of their voters and answer questions about

their vote, then something is wrong. 

 

MADDOW:  And they may, if they follow your example, start getting other

districts` members of Congress answer questions for them. 

 

MALONEY:  Well, maybe we should do it.  Start adopting a district.  We`ll

adopt a district.  I`m adopting New York 19.  There is a bunch more.  All

my friends in the Democratic caucus.  You can adopt your own district. 

 

MADDOW:  The congressman for the 18th and now sort of the 19th district,

too. 

 

MALONEY:  Until further notice. 

 

MADDOW:  All right.  Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney, thank you, sir. 

It`s good to have you here, man.

 

MALONEY:  Great to be with you. 

 

MADDOW:  Thanks. 

 

MALONEY:  All right.  It`s Friday night.  Yet more stuff to talk about

because the news never stops on Friday nights anymore.  That`s next. 

 

Stay with us.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

MADDOW:  Because no one is allowed to cheat on the length of the workweek,

no matter how much we might want to, we have some additional breaking news

tonight.  Last week, you might remember after close of business on Friday,

the EPA announce they`d were take do you think their climate data off their

website.  This week, tonight, now it`s about EPA Administrator Scott

Pruitt. 

 

You might remember he was picked to head the same federal agency that he

tried to sue into oblivion when he was the attorney general of the state of

Oklahoma.  He sued EPA multiple times or participated in suits filed by

other states over clean air, clean water, methane emission, mercury, you

name it. 

 

When he was asked whether he would take part in defending the agency he now

runs from these lawsuits he filed against it, he wouldn`t say during his

confirmation process.  During his confirmation hearing in the Senate, he

promise head would recuse himself from taking any actions regarding those

lawsuits if ethics officials told him he had to, but he wouldn`t say one

way or the other for sure. 

 

Well, tonight E&E news, which covers energy and environmental policy, they

got hold of a memo signed by Scott Pruitt, it is dated yesterday.  And it

says it, quote, “addresses all of my ethics obligations.”  E&E reports that

this memo basically indicates that Scott Pruitt will now recuse himself

from a dozen pending cases involving EPA, including the clean power plan,

include in cases in both federal appeals and district courts over the clean

water rule. 

 

So, if this is what it appears to be, that means we know what those ethics

officials told administrator Scott Pruitt he had to do.  But it appears he

waited until the very last second to let anybody know that he is actually

doing it.  Watch this space. 

 

That does it for us tonight.  We`ll see you again here on Monday. 

 

But now, it`s time for “THE LAST WORD.”  Ari Melber sitting in for Lawrence

tonight.

 

Hello, Ari.

 

 

END

 

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