The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 6/22/17 Healthcare Bill & ADA
Show: THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW
Date: June 22, 2017
Guest: Chris Murphy
CHRIS HAYES, “ALL IN” HOST: That is “ALL IN” for this evening.
THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts right now.
Good evening, Rachel.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chris. Thanks, my friend.
HAYES: You bet.
MADDOW: And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour.
July 4th is a Tuesday this year, which means some people who have generous
bosses will get an extra, extra long weekend for Independence Day because
you`ll get the 4th of July off on Tuesday, but maybe depending on how your
boss feels about it, maybe you will also get the Monday off on July 3rd as
well. That said, even if you`ve got a good boss who is giving you July
3rd, unless you`ve got a particularly great boss, even if you get the 3rd
and the 4th off, you will probably be coming back to work on July 5th, on
That`s how that calendar shakes out this year, with July 4th on Tuesday.
And by numerological magic, that is also the way the calendar shook out in
1978. Calendar fell the same way that year. July 4th was on a Tuesday.
Lots of people got off the 3rd and the 4th. But pretty much everybody had
to come back to work after an extra long weekend for the 5th and the 6th.
Except in Denver, Colorado, that year. Right after the 4th of July in 1978
in Denver, Colorado, everybody tried to come back to work on the 5th, but
nobody could get to work, at least nobody could get there on time.
This was the headline from the “Rocky Mountain News” in Colorado on July
6th, 1978. The 6th was the day after everybody was supposed to get back to
work, right? After the long Independence Day weekend. You see the
headline there: Disabled, snarled traffic in protest.
Quoting from the article: About 25 disabled persons seized two buses during
Wednesday morning`s downtown rush hour snarling traffic and daring police
to make arrests. Quote: shortly after the 8:30 a.m. takeover, police
arrived admitting they were not sure what to do. As police commanders came
to assist on the scene, police officers decided not to arrest any of the
handicapped protesters because, as one sergeant said, quote, we don`t want
to be the fall guys on this.
Those protesters were from a group that had been negotiating with the city
of Denver for years at that point. Even brought lawsuits to try to advance
their cause but they were not getting anywhere through those other means.
And they had basically a very simple demand. They wanted to be able to
ride the bus in Denver just like everybody else, even though they used
wheelchairs. They wanted to be able to ride the bus in town, especially
because as taxpayers, they were paying for it.
And so, at 8:30 in the morning, on the first day back from a long weekend,
they really did shut down Denver traffic by putting themselves bodily in
front of and behind city public transit buses that were completely
inaccessible to them because they used wheelchairs. And these protesters
didn`t just do it for the first rush hour after the long weekend. They go
out there at 8:30 in the morning on Wednesday after the 4th of July, but
they didn`t leave. They stayed out there all day blocking the buses and
then they stayed there for the evening rush hour, too, and then they stayed
through that and they stayed overnight.
Look at this photo of people overnight sleeping in the street. This is
them out of their wheelchairs. You can see one of the wheelchairs with
nobody in it is on the right side of the picture. You can also they`ve got
their signs propped up under the windshield wipers of the bus. Taxation
without transportation. Right?
This group was not messing around. They stayed all night and all through
not just the 5th but all through the 6th. They completely missed with
And then you can see this headline from the late edition on Thursday, July
6th from “The Denver Post”. You can just sense the relief here in the
headline, quote, having made public aware, disabled end bus barricade.
The group that pulled off that militant protest in Denver in 1978, right
after the 4th of July weekend, they first called themselves the Colorado
Coalition of Disabled Citizens. Eventually, they changed their name to
And they were relentless in Denver. They kept at it. Those first protests
as I said were 1978. This is from 1981 from “The Denver Post”. The guy on
the right looks a little bit like Jerry Falwell. He`s the chairman of the
Denver Transit System. And you see, what he`s listening to there is this
guy on the left in the wheelchair, the other guy holding the mike for him.
The guy in the wheelchair is, you know, giving the transit director, what
for? I would like to be able to ride the bus, please. I`m a taxpayer.
I`m paying for a service that I cannot use. Make it so I can use it, not
letting this guy off of the hook.
That was in `81. `82, there`s another woman who uses a wheelchair getting
arrested at the transit system offices in Denver. You see all the cops
surrounding her there.
And the tactics they pioneered in Colorado started taking off in places
across the country as well. The week after that first protest in July 1978
in Denver, the very next week, same kind of protest happened in San
Again, this simple demand. Let us ride the freaking bus. We`re taxpayers.
We pay for it just like everybody else does. Make it accessible for us.
We are citizens.
We also saw similar protests in New York City. You saw similar protests in
Washington, D.C. You saw protesters in wheelchairs turn up at particularly
relevant national conventions, like the American Public Transit Association
Convention. Hey, meet your wheelchair using would be customers if you
would freaking make it possible for them to get on and off the bus.
These were militant tactics with a very simple, very understandable demand.
And police were oftentimes quite flummoxed with how to deal with this civil
disobedience by people with disabilities, particularly by people in
This is from 1984 at the Democratic National Convention which was held that
year in San Francisco.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: This city is pretty blase about demonstrations, but when 50
militant disabled people took to the streets in their wheelchairs demanding
their rights and sometimes disrupting traffic, it caught people by
They feel they`ve been isolated from society for too long. They want more
opportunity for education and jobs.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We`re hoping to accomplish access to the political
system so our needs can be dealt with and met.
REPORTER: There are a lot of disabled people, about 36 million in this
country, and they have a champion here for their cause.
TED KENNEDY, JR: We have come here to this convention to insist that we
have a lot to contribute to America. If only America will give us a chance
to make that contribution.
REPORTER: Eleven years ago, he lost a leg to cancer. Yesterday, his
father was on hand in the hall to hear his son Ted Kennedy Jr.
KENNEDY: Franklin Roosevelt was a great president. Not a great
REPORTE: David Burrington, NBC News, San Francisco.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That was 1984, the Democratic National Convention. You know, by
the year after that, by 1985, that protest movement that started in Denver,
Colorado, would pay off in Denver, Colorado, with Denver becoming the first
major city in the country to make its public transit system accessible to
people in wheelchairs. That was 1985.
By the end of that decade, those hard won gains wouldn`t just be in places
like Denver. They would be nationwide. In 1990, George H.W. Bush signed
the Americans with Disabilities Act. And among the many things the
Americans with Disabilities Act did, it did establish nationwide that
public transit, buses need to have wheelchair lifts. They need to be
accessible to people with disabilities.
That movement that they started in Denver, 1978, 1990 it paid off
nationwide. And you know what? Two years after that in 1992, the city of
Denver, which had been so freaking annoyed with the wheelchair activists,
the city of Denver which was ready to boil over in frustration after the
activists who had shut down rush hour after rush hour after rush hour
starting in the `70s, in 1992 city of Denver put up a freaking plaque for
them commemorating the achievements of their city`s activists on the
streets of their city, on the streets of Denver that really ended up change
the whole country.
That plaque is there today. And actually, they rededicated it, they put up
a fresh one in 2005, to commemorate the American Disability Act turning 15
They say that nobody is a hero in their hometown and that is usually true
in the moment. But sometimes if you wait a couple of decades, down the
road they say what you did at home that bugged them so much when you did it
turned out to be the right thing to do.
Adapt still exists. And from the very beginning, they do not mess around.
I will also say, though, as an activist group that is that pushy, they also
have had a pretty good sense of humor. At the Denver Public Library
website, they preserved this bumper stick from when ADAPT was pushing for
the Americans with Disabilities Act. That`s their logo on the left hand
Americans with Disabilities Act. You see the slogan below. To boldly go
where everybody else has gone before.
I love that because I love the slogan. I have to say, though, I also love
that you can find that at the Denver Public Library because Denver is so
proud of their activists now. They`re so proud of this part of the history
of their city that changed the country. And so, you can go to the Denver
Public Library to find a lot of this archival stuff.
And this is not just the history of people with disabilities in our
country. This is part of our history as a country. And on days like today
it ends up being very useful history to know in part because on days like
today, we get an opportunity to follow leadership like that in a way we
might not have expected if you didn`t know where those folks were coming
Do you know anybody who has ever had a baby? Have you ever had a baby? Do
you yourself or your partner or your wife ever want to have a baby? Are
you planning on having a baby? Heck, were you ever a baby? I hope so and
I bet you were adorable.
But you know, babies come into the world through a process that is – and I
don`t mean the whole process. I mean just the end part about the baby,
hello, baby. You`re here.
Babies come into the world with a process that is sometimes relatively
simple, relatively easy, but it can easily get more complex. Having a baby
can get to be very expensive, depends on how it goes. And you never know
exactly how it`s going to the go until it goes.
But there are like 10,000 babies born in the United States every single
day. And out of all of the births in the United States, and there are
10,000 of them a day, out of all of the births in the United States, there
is a single insurance provider that covers the cost of 49 percent of all
births in America. One health insurance provider provides the health
insurance that covers 49 percent of all births in this country, 10,000
births a day, half of them covered by one insurance provider.
And that insurance provider is busy with other things too. If you`re an
adult in America that has any kind of disability, I mean, theoretically,
having a disability doesn`t mean you have to have any one type of
insurance. You might theoretically have your health insurance from
But as it turns out, out of all adults who have disabilities in the United
States, again, there is one insurance provider who provides a huge amount
of those people`s health insurance. There`s a single health insurance
provider who provides the insurance for fully 30 percent of all American
adults who have disabilities.
If you`re a kid who has a disability in the United States, there`s one
insurance provider that provides the health insurance for 60 percent of all
kids in America who have a disability. It`s the same insurance provider
that that insurance 30 percent of adults. It`s the same insurance provider
that insures 49 percent of all births in America.
It is the same insurance provider, incidentally, for nearly 40 percent of
all kids in America. It`s the health insurance provider for more than 75
percent of kids whose families live under the poverty line. It`s the
single largest health care, health insurance provider in the United States
by a mile.
You think Medicare is big in terms of covering all of the old people in the
country? This is bigger.
If you want to get a sense of how many people have their health insurance
through this one provider in our country, it`s the population of Wyoming,
Vermont, Alaska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Delaware, Montana, Rhode
Island, Maine, New Hampshire, Hawaii, Idaho, West Virginia, Nebraska, New
Mexico, Kansas, Nevada, Arkansas, Mississippi, Utah, Iowa, Connecticut,
Oklahoma, Oregon, Kentucky, Louisiana, Alabama, South Carolina, Minnesota
and Colorado combined, plus some.
Seventy-five million Americans all have the same health insurance. And the
big health bill that the Republicans in the Senate unveiled today takes a
meat ax to that health insurer. More than anything else it does, if you
want to know one thing about it.
Let`s say you want to know one good thing and one bad thing. The good
thing for rich people is that it`s a huge tax cut for rich people. That`s
one really good thing. The bad thing is it takes, as I said, a meat ax to
that one health insurance provider, biggest health insurance provider in
the country. Singles it out above everything else related to health care
in this country, cuts more than $800 billion out of that health insurer.
That insures more than 75 million Americans in this country. And we don`t
know if the Republicans` bill is going to pass, without it even trying to
get a single Democratic vote for it. There`s drama that will be covering
tonight as to whether or not they can get enough of their own votes to pass
this thing. But today, they unveiled it and because of what it does to
Medicaid, the largest health insurance provider in the country by a mile,
this is part of what happened in response.
At around 11:30 a.m. today, about 60 people, a lot of them in wheelchairs,
turned up at the offices of the top Republican in the Senate, Mitch
McConnell`s office. They blocked the entrance to McConnell`s office. They
were chanting no cuts to Medicaid, save our liberty.
One of the protesters held a sign over the entrance to McConnell`s doorway,
capping Medicaid equals death for the disabled. A number of the protesters
got at of their wheelchairs and laid down on the floor in Senator
McConnell`s office in the hallway right outside. No cuts to Medicaid, save
Capitol police started getting their zip ties ready so they could start
their arrests, so they can start handcuffing people and taking them away.
You can see here one of the protesters who were lying on the floor in
Senator McConnell`s office was picked back up and placed back into a
wheelchair to be removed off the premises by Capitol Hill police. Other
protesters were literally picked up without their wheelchairs and carried
out while still chanting.
This one young woman who is seen here wearing a breathing tube, she was
also arrested by Capitol Hill police. You can see her being directed out
of the build by the police. Another activist was pushed down the hallway
in her wheelchair only to later be removed from it by law enforcement.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PROTESTER: No cuts to Medicaid! No cuts to Medicaid! No cuts to
Medicaid! No cuts to Medicaid! No cuts to Medicaid! No cuts to Medicaid!
No cuts to Medicaid! No cuts to Medicaid! No cuts to Medicaid. No cuts
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: We later got this picture of that same woman. We think this is a
disability rights activist named Stephanie Woodward. And here, what you`re
looking at here, as you can see if you look closely, that`s her in her
wheelchair obviously with her hands zip tied behind her back. Handcuffed.
She was later loaded on to what appears to be a police bus, as was this
other demonstrator seen raising her fist in protest even as she was being
loaded on to the police bus for processing.
The group that organized this protest posted this picture on social media,
with the caption: some are out of jail, still waiting on others. All in
all by the end of the morning, 43 people arrested in today`s demonstration
outside of Senator McConnell`s office. It was over early this afternoon.
So, the group that organized this protest today was ADAPT. That same group
founded way back in the day in Colorado who did this radical stuff back
starting in the `70s and who ended up changing everything about disability
rights in this country. And one of the things that ADAPT and other
disability rights groups fought for and chained themselves to police cars
for and snarled traffic for and door stopped their senators for, over all
of these years, one of the things that they have fought and fought and
fought for was for the right to not be locked up. Not to be confined for
their whole lives to nursing homes and other closed institutions for the
disabled just because of their disability and specifically for want of the
ability to afford help with certain things that could keep you living in
your own home.
Medicaid does a million things. Medicaid is literally the health insurance
that covers one out of every two births in this country. But is for people
with disabilities, it`s also the single largest source of funding, primary
source of funding for services that help people with disabilities stay in
their own homes so they do not have to live in freaking institutions. And
if they`re going to cut more than three quarters of a trillion dollars out
of Medicaid, so they can pay for this big tax cut they want to give the
richest people in the country, that is going to have a radical effect on
American`s access to health care on tens of millions of Americans` ability
to have health insurance coverage in this country.
But for people with disabilities, if this happens, this is going to be a
catapult hurdling them into a brutal past, into battle days which are not
that long ago, and which people remember. And so they made themselves the
tip of the spear today. That`s why they were saying save our liberty, save
our liberty, right? Think about your liberty if you`re talking about the
difference between having to live in an institution because you can`t pay
for a home health aide to come check on you or have somebody help you get
dressed to go to work in the morning.
I mean, think about that difference in your life. That`s what Medicaid
pays for millions of people in this country. And so, today, that`s what
this was about. And, you know, there`s – it`s this story obviously we`ve
sort of known this was coming. This is a wave we`ve seen building in terms
of what`s gong to happen.
And alongside health care, there`s a ton going on in American politics,
there is a ton that is bizarre and riveting about this new presidential
administration obviously. But one of the important things to know about
this administration for everything that`s gone on so far, is they have yet
to pass any substantive legislation at all. They have not passed any major
legislation. This stuff they have actually passed as a bill that`s gone
through both houses of Congress and signed by the president and became law
is like renaming post offices and stuff, like they really haven`t done
This is the first actual policy, the first legislation they`re going to try
to pass. And the politics of it are so horrendous that they`ve tried to
pass it very fast, and with zero public hearings and without saying
anything about what`s in it until today, but now it is out, and I`m not
sure they`ve quite appreciated the strength and the capacity and the
tenaciousness of the people who have every reason to fight them the hardest
Much more ahead. Stay with us.
MADDOW: In a normal political season built to overhaul the multitrillion
dollar American health care system would mean a ton of time spent in
hearing rooms, arguments over endless drafts, considering official
estimates of the costs and the benefits. You remember how this was when
they created Obamacare, right?
That`s not how this is going this year, to say the least. But what can be
done about that?
Well, as long as the Republicans have decided there will be no official
hearings on their overhaul of the health care system, as long as there are
not going to be official hearings in the actual Congress, our next guest
has decided that maybe he can try to do it for them. Next best thing
He`s going to hold what they`re calling an emergency field hearing tomorrow
with voters in his home state, which I guess is technically the next best
thing to real hearings being held about the bill in Congress. It`s at
least as close as you can get if you`re a Democratic U.S. senator.
Joining us now is Senator Chris Murphy. He`s a Democratic senator from
Connecticut. He`s a member of the Senate Health and Education Committee.
Senator Murphy, thank you for being here. I know this is – this is a
SEN. CHRIS MURPHY (D), CONNECTICUT: Yes, thanks for having me tonight.
MADDOW: What do you think is the practical consequence of the fact that
there are not going to be hearings, that the time period for considering
this is so compressed that even at this late date, which we`re told is less
than a week now before they will vote on it, there`s no actual language of
an actual bill. For people who don`t care about congressional procedure
and don`t know how these things are normally done, why is the way they`re
doing its so materially important here?
MURPHY: Well, I think there`s two answers to that question. The first is,
you know, there is actually a practical benefit that comes from having open
hearings. You hear from experts, you hear from people in the field. You
have the chance to bounce your ideas off of the public. And you get a
better product in the end.
I mean, one of the things that is so maddening about the bill that was
released today is that it is just intellectually and practically bankrupt.
It doesn`t work. It doesn`t solve a single problem that Republicans have
identified. The number of people without insurance will go up, premiums
will go up, costs will go up.
So, you know, the hearing process is a process that gets you a better
product. But for Republicans, this is really about a bet. A bet that if
they rush this through as quickly as possible, people won`t get to the
bottom of how truly evil this bill is.
They know this is an embarrassing product. They know this is going to hurt
millions of Americans and they hope that if they rush this thing through
people won`t have the time to figure it out. But they will. They already
They know that this is a big – bill that is essentially a cost shift from
all of those people that you just showed, the disabled, the poor, middle
class Americans who have gotten insurance through the Affordable Care Act
through drug companies and millions, $800 billion of cuts in health care to
pay for $600 billion dollars in tax cuts for people that don`t need it.
I don`t think they`re going to be able to pull this over on the American
public, but that`s what they`re trying to do by rushing this through.
MADDOW: You`re a senator from Connecticut. You`re a Democrat. You`re a
fellow senator from Connecticut, Richard Blumenthal, is also a Democrat.
You are both opposed to this bill.
I imagine at your emergency field hearing tomorrow with your Connecticut
constituents, you`re going to hear support for your position, public – I
say that statistically speaking because public polling on what the
Republicans have pulled together here is very, very poor. It`s very
But public opinion doesn`t necessarily drive things directly. It`s
individual senators that are going to have to make the decision on how
they`re going to vote on this. What do you think about the susceptibility
of your Republican colleagues to public opinions, to pressure, to their
constituents complaining, to protests and activism of the kind we saw
MURPHY: So, I don`t think that Mitch McConnell has the votes tonight. I
bet you he`s really close. But I think there are a handful of, you know,
the relative moderates in his caucus, people like Susan Collins and Lisa
Murkowski and Dean Heller who, you know, A, I think are legitimately
worried about the humanitarian catastrophe that this bill is going to
wrought on the nation. And, B, are worried that they`re going to lose
their seats over it.
There was a lot of kerfuffle today over the fact that Rand Paul and Ted
Cruz and Mike Lee said they weren`t ready to vote for it yet. Trust me –
those guys aren`t going to save the country from the disaster of the health
care bill. It`s going to be the folks that are to the sort of center of
And I think they`re listening right now. I think they`re listening to
their constituents. And to the extent that we can drag this process out
over the weekend, as long as we can next week, it will give their
constituents more time to tip the balance. I think he`s close to having 50
votes but I don`t think he`s there yet.
MADDOW: Is the time flexible here? Those of us looking from outside are
assuming that Senator McConnell wants to do this next week at the latest
because he wants it done and cooked before the senators go home for the
Fourth of July break and get an earful from their constituents, and face a
lot of protests if they try to do public events over the recess.
If he doesn`t have the votes by this time next week, do you think the thing
is over or do you think that they just push it and keep working it?
MURPHY: I think that`s a great question. I imagine that Senator McConnell
doesn`t think that he gets more votes over the 4th of July break, and he
would be right. I mean, if this thing is still out there stinking in the
American public over the course of the break, he`s not coming back with
more than he started with.
So, I imagine we`re having to vote one way or the other next week which
means that the next four or five days are mission critical. That if you
have any time to spare to try to influence these members, now is the time
to do it. I think we`re going to have a vote one way or the other.
We`ll try to extend that process as much as we can with amendments. But
he`s even telegraphed that he may shut down or ability to do that. He`s
going to give us two minutes of debate on every amendment. And, you know,
that will mean that the bill gets a vote sometime next week whether we like
it or not.
MADDOW: People focused on this. You know, this is no longer, as you`re
saying, an abstract thing. This is going to happen right now basically,
that this is the time that anybody has been strategizing about it. It`s
game time now, in very short order.
Senator Chris Murphy, member of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions
Committee in the Senate, senator from Connecticut – appreciate your time
MURPHY: All right. Thanks, Rachel.
MADDOW: All right. Thanks. Much more ahead tonight. Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: I suffer no illusions that this will
be an easy process. Once again, it will be hard. The cost of our health
care has weighed down our economy and our conscience long enough. So, let
there be no doubt: health care reform cannot wait, it must not wait and it
will not wait another year.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: President Obama, not one gray hair. Barely one month into office
as president. He said he understood the political perils but he would not
wait. His administration would push ahead and they did despite what they
knew would be political headwinds and what ended up being a huge boost to
an otherwise demoralized political right in this country.
They were so psyched for health reform because it gave them something
concrete to push back against from this popular new president who has
whooped them and the whole Republican Party in the 2008 election. When
President Obama and the Democrats pushed health reform, Republicans went
pretty nuts against it, and they grew a whole new variety of fired up
conservative activists in opposition to President Obama`s health reform.
Because of that, the Democrats knew that their efforts to pass health
reform were probably going to cost them at the polls. They knew there
would be an electoral cost to it, and they knew there would be an electoral
test of those efforts.
That first year of the Obama presidency, a series of tough special
elections. But in the three hardest fought special elections that happened
right at the start of Obama presidency, these are elections that happened
before the midterms in 2010, despite the prevailing political winds,
despite the conservative backlash to the Democrats trying to pass this big
health reform that Republicans were so mobilized against, even with all
that, in those first special elections, the first year of the Obama
presidency, Democrats won all three. And these were tossup districts, one
of which New York`s 23rd congressional district had been held by a
Republican dating back to the 19th century, dating back to the 1870s.
Three competitive special elections in the House and three victories for
Democrats. That was right after Obama was elected. If you were a
Democrat, you might have been forgiven for thinking, wow, maybe Democrats
are immune to the way the pendulum always swings back after big national
elections. Maybe they could pass this huge transformative health care bill
and maybe they won`t get punished for it. They might be awarded for their
Of course, seven months after the special elections, they learned they were
not immune. They were not rewarded for their bold agenda in passing health
care reform. They got absolutely crushed in the 2010 midterms.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
JOHN BOEHNER (R), FORMER HOUSE SPEAKER: Let me just say this: it`s clear
tonight who the winners really are and that`s the American people. While
our new majority will serve as your voice in the people`s house, we must
remember it`s the president who sets the agenda for our government. The
American people have sent an unmistakable message to him tonight and that
message is change course.
OBAMA: This is something that I think every president needs to go through.
Now, I`m not recommending for every president that they take a shellacking
like I did last night.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
MADDOW: Democrats got wiped out in the first midterm election of Obama`s
presidency. 2010 midterms, they got shellacked. They lost 63 House seats,
the biggest romp in over half a century. They gave up control of the House
to the Republicans. They lost six Senate seats too. They did in fact get
a shellacking. That is now a technical term.
And that is one of the things that can happen when you use up a ton of
political capital to pass huge legislation, particularly when it is
galvanizing to your opponents and to their base.
Well, now, a new administration and a new majority in Congress are trying
to make their own sweeping changes. So far, Republicans this year, like
Democrats in Obama`s first year, they`ve been holding on to their House
seats in these special elections. They`re 4 or 4 this year, despite
President Trump`s unpopularity and despite outcry over the Republican plans
to try to repeal Obamacare.
This administration thus far has passed and I don`t mean it in a mean way
but they have passed zero meaningful legislation. They`ve passed no
significant legislation at all. What they`re going for their first big
effort is a health care bill that is enormously, enormously unpopular right
now and one that they may nevertheless pass through the Senate within the
next few days.
What will happen then?
Joining us now NBC News presidential historian, Michael Beschloss.
Michael, it`s great to have you here in person. Thank you for being here.
MICHAEL BESCHLOSS, NBC NEWS PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Thank you. Great to
see you, Rachel.
MADDOW: Big legislation is something that we think of as having political
cost, big legislation particularly on the things that galvanize big
opposition. Is there any way from a historical perspective to weigh the
political winners and losers, the political benefit – cost-benefit of
pushing something really big? How does the president decide whether or not
it`s worth it?
BESCHLOSS: Well, you`d think that, you know, a president is moved to pass
big legislation, so it looks as though he`s doing something important.
But Lyndon Johnson, for instance, in 1965 passed this hugely important
Voting Rights Act allowing everyone to vote. You know, important
constitutional protections. And he probably paid for that big time in the
1966 midterms. He lost dozens of seats. It wasn`t quite as bad as 2010.
But after Election Day when they lost all of those seats, southern
governors came down to the LBJ ranch and they begged him saying, no more
civil rights legislation. We can`t stand any more of this, this is going
to make us lose. And to Johnson`s credit, he didn`t listen.
MADDOW: But Johnson knew that was coming, right?
MADDOW: Famously, he sort of he knew when he signed the civil rights
legislation, that it was going to have a devastating effect on him and his
party at the polls.
BESCHLOSS: He famously said when I sign these bills I`m giving the south
to the Republicans for a generation. He was wrong. It was a lot more than
MADDOW: In terms of the procedural stuff that`s going on here, one of the
things that is interesting, and that we`re – we don`t know what the
political impact will be, is how secretive the Republicans have been about
trying to do this very big thing.
MADDOW: I mean, in – back in 2009, back in 2010 when President Obama was
passing Obamacare, it was consuming. It went on for months and months and
months and months and months. And they had hearings after hearings after
hearings and they tried forever to bring these Republicans along, and
everybody knew what was in the bill and that`s part of why there was such a
big fight about it.
MADDOW: The Republicans are trying to do the exact opposite of that. Does
that change – is that likely to change the political impact of what
they`re trying to pass in.
BESCHLOSS: Well, I think it should, because, you know, going back to the
founders, the founders` idea was this country is not going to be England.
The decisions are not going to be made secretly and at the top and by the
king. They wanted as much transparency and as many fights in Congress as
possible because they thought that brought the best bills.
You know, I hate to say if the founders came back and saw this they would
cry. But if the founders came back and saw this, they would cry.
MADDOW: Speaking of the founders coming back and seeing things and crying,
could you stay here for a second because I have something to ask you about
BESCHLOSS: My pleasure. Can`t wait.
MADDOW: Presidential historian Michael Beschloss is our guest. We`ll be
right back with him right after this.
MADDOW: Question: Mr. Trump, did you ever tell him you were tape recording
conversations with him?
Trump: I`m not equipped to tape record. I may have said it once or twice
to him to just to – on the telephone because everything I said to him,
he`d write incorrectly. So, just to try and keep it honest. I don`t
remember that, but I may have said to him I want to tape this conversation.
Question: I want to tape or you were taping?
Trump: I think I might have said I want to tape. I`m not equipped to tape.
I`m not set up to tape-record conversations on telephones but I may have
said to him – I think I said I want to tape this conversation, as opposed
to – but I`m not sure that I did say it to him.
But I knew he was so sick, he was such a degenerate in the way he wrote.
And he`s just a very dishonest person. So, I figured the only way I could
have him write what I was actually saying is to have him at least think
that he was being tape-recorded. End quote.
That was Donald Trump a decade ago in 2007, when he was still just a New
York real estate guy. And at the time of that deposition, he was caught up
in a lawsuit that was going bad. He was suing his biographer because he
didn`t like what ended up in the biography.
And in the course of the lawsuit the biographer – incidentally reporter
Tim O`Brien who was a guest on our show two days ago – Tim O`Brien said
Donald Trump had told him in the course of their conversations for that
biography, he`d said over and over again that he was tape-recording their
So, then, in the course of this lawsuit, Trump gets asked about that under
oath, on the record, in an official deposition. Mr. Trump, you told Tim
O`Brien over and over again that you were tape recording your conversations
with him. Did you actually tape-record those conversations?
And despite all of the times that he had previously said it, when he had to
answer that question at risk of perjury if he lied, the future president
said, I just wanted him to think I was recording him. Of course, I didn`t
actually record him. Tapes? What tapes? I`m not equipped to tape
anybody. Who tapes people?
So, this is a thing he does. He has done this for years. There it is,
black and white in a court deposition.
That is why it was not totally out of left field when the president raised
the specter last month that there might be tape recordings from his one-on-
one meetings with James Comey at the White House. It`s right after a
report in “The New York Times” that the president had asked James Comey to
pledge his loyalty to the president in one of those one-on-one meetings.
For weeks, the president and the White House itself has been fueling
speculation about whether these tapes might exist.
The House Intelligence Committee sent a formal letter demanding that the
White House turn over those tapes over to the committee. They set a
deadline of tomorrow and so, now, today the president admitted that, no, of
course, there are no tapes.
This is, of course, not the first time a White House taping system has been
a point of interest, cause for drama in our national history. We`ve never
quite seen it play out like this.
Back with us again is the great Michael Beschloss, NBC News presidential
Michael, I have to – this is not history, but I just have to ask you.
When – he better hope there are not tapes thing, when that happened, did
you think there might be tapes?
BESCHLOSS: Not in a million years.
BESCHLOSS: Because I knew a little bit of what you`re talking about. And
also, it`s classic Donald Trump. He`s a bluffer.
You remember the way he claimed that he was sending these investigators out
to Hawaii to investigate, you know, Barack Obama`s birth and you wouldn`t
believe what these investigators were finding. There were no investigators
MADDOW: I`m going to make it public very soon. In a very short period of
BESCHLOSS: And the question is, is this the way the leader of a great
MADDOW: You had talked on the issue of taping, you talked about the fact
that while Nixon`s tapes were the most famous, a lot of presidents made
tapes. We were just talking about LBJ. There were some famous tapes of
LBJ in the White House that are fascinating.
BESCHLOSS: Yes. Absolutely.
MADDOW: Because he was an incredible talker and such an incredible
Nixon, of course, was the final act. The thing that really pushed him out
of office was the disclosure of the tapes where he all but admitted to
trying to obstruct justice in Watergate. After that, do we believe that
any president since then has had a taping system in the white Nixon of
course was the final act, the thing that really pushed him out of office
was the disclosure of the tapes where he all but admitted to trying to
obstruct justice in Watergate.
After that, do we believe that any president since then has tape – has had
a taping system in the White House?
BESCHLOSS: We think nothing as comprehensive as Nixon`s. There`s a
possibility that on rare occasions, there might be a call with a foreign
leader which is taken down in some way, but that has nothing to do with
Nixon`s system, which as you know, recorded absolutely everything. Nixon
was such a klutz, you know, his people had a switch that turned it on, and
it was voice activated because they figured he didn`t have the physical
dexterity to turn this thing on and off.
And so as a result, that smoking gun tape was made, and as it happens, it
was made 45 years ago today.
MADDOW: It was made 45 years ago today?
BESCHLOSS: Indeed, in which he said to Bob Haldeman, his chief of staff, I
want you to use the CIA to stop, block the FBI investigation of Watergate.
MADDOW: That was 45 years ago today?
BESCHLOSS: Everything old is new again.
MADDOW: It`s like you create historical reference points as a force field
around you, as you move through the world. You`re like, I`m going to be
here. I`ll arrange for something to have happened 45 years ago today
BESCHLOSS: See what I can do.
MADDOW: Michael, thank you very much.
BESCHLOSS: Thank you. Wonderful to see you.
MADDOW: Great to have you here.
All right. We`ll be right back. Stay with us.
MADDOW: We`ve got one more story coming up for you tonight. New details,
intriguing details on a new line of inquiry in the Trump/Russia
investigation. This is something that we were onto a little bit with last
night`s show. Today, that story broke open considerably more. We`ve got
that story coming up for you right at the end of the hour.
I do want to preview something, though, before we get to that, which is
that you might have heard that Paul Ryan has a very interesting new
challenger, a guy who`s running against him in his district in Wisconsin.
This guy has done the political ad that is being described as the best
political ad by any Democratic candidate in the last couple of years, and
he`s going to be Lawrence`s guest right after our show ends at the top of
So, that`s coming up but we`ve got one more story for you next. Stay with
MADDOW: On last night`s show, we reported on one of the biggest and bluest
counties in Texas, Dallas County, and how they got hit by Russian hackers
ahead of last year`s presidential election. Homeland Security had sent out
a list of suspicious IP addresses from which hacking attacks had been
launched against U.S. elections systems at the state and local level. The
Dallas County election administrator scanned her county`s system to see if
they`d been hit by any of those IP addresses. She found 17 matches, 17 of
those IP addresses had hit their system.
Federal authorities then told Dallas that at least some of those 17 IP
addresses that had hit them were definitely from computers in Russia.
Hacking doesn`t have to mess with the actual tabulation of votes to impact
an election, to have an effect on the results of an election, right? If a
hacker screws up the voter file, voter registrations, that too could have
an impact, particularly if it creates chaos on Election Day.
We talked about that on last night`s show. Today, “Time” magazine moved
the ball forward on that. They`re reporting that the hacking of state and
local elections databases was, quote, more extensive than previously
reported. They say there was, quote, at least one successful attempt to
alter voter information and the theft of thousands of voter records that
contained private information like partial Social Security numbers.
So, “Time” is sourcing this to current and former officials. They say in
one case, investigators found that there had been manipulation of voter
data at a county level. But the manipulations were discovered ahead of the
election, and they were rectified. That`s according to two sources who
they say are familiar with the matter.
Now, “Time” isn`t saying what was stolen. They don`t say what county this
data was stolen in. They say that investigators have not necessarily
identified if the hackers were Russian. But they do say the data was
stolen on the county level.
It`s unclear how many more instances of this there are given that there are
9,000 different election jurisdictions in this country. But now, both
“Time” magazine and CBS News are reporting that congressional investigators
have opened a new line of inquiry here, and they`re looking into whether
any stolen private information on voters made its way to the Trump campaign
during last year`s presidential election. New stuff every day. Watch this
That does it for us tonight. We will see you again tomorrow.
Now, it`s time for “THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL.”
Good evening, Lawrence.
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