The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 5/5/17
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: And thanks to you at home for joining us this
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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?
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
MADDOW: I`m never going to get another Friday night off in my life. I`m
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
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
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
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
Stay with us.
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.
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,
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
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
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
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
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
(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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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,
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
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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