Greg Orman challenged Roberts. TRANSCRIPT: 10/31/2018, The Rachel Maddow Show.
Show: THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW
Date: October 31, 2018
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: And thanks to you at home for joining us this
hour. Happy to have you with us.
Senator Pat Roberts of Kansas has been a senator for over 20 years. He was
first elected to the U.S. Senate in 1996. He`s right now serving his
fourth term in the Senate.
Kansas, of course, is a sort of beet red state right now, and has been for
some time. And Republican Senator Pat Roberts, for the most part, has sat
pretty comfortably in his U.S. Senate seat. So comfortably that he`s even
faced some questions over time about whether he still really lives in
Kansas, or whether he really just now chooses to reside full-time at his
home closer to work in Washington, D.C.
During a radio interview a few years ago, Senator Roberts slipped up and
told the guy interviewing him, quote, every time I get an opponent, I mean,
every time I get a chance, I`m home. Meaning, I`m only home when I have to
be in order to save my Senate seat. Oops, not supposed to admit that.
But that same year, in 2014, Senator Roberts had a new reason to be home.
First, he did have a tough primary challenge that year, which he survived
only by single digits. And then, when he got to the general election,
Senator Pat Roberts was, again, faced with a challenge from not one but two
other candidates. He was running against a Democrat, but he was also
running against an independent named Greg Orman.
A bit of an outsider. He was a rich guy who entered the race late in the
game that year. He ended up doing really well really early. At one point,
he was polling ten points ahead of this incumbent Republican senator, Pat
And with that upstart independent candidate doing great in that Kansas
Senate race, it`s interesting. The Democrat in that three-way race decided
to drop out, which left Greg Orman, this independent, a clear shot at
winning this race. It was him against Pat Roberts. He had a clear shot at
unseating longtime Republican Senator Pat Roberts. He could have done it.
He might have done it. He definitely had a chance to do it. He did not do
Greg Orman, this independent, he was head-to-head with Pat Roberts in the
end, but he lost to Pat Roberts by ten points on Election Day. And that,
in fact, helped the National Republican Party win a new majority in the
U.S. Senate for 2014.
Well, now, this year, in 2018, Greg Orman is back, and he`s in another
three-way race. This time it`s for governor in that state. This year, the
Republican candidate for governor of Kansas is the Kansas Secretary of
State Kris Kobach, who is way, way, way out there on the right. And he
would not mind saying so, so I don`t mean that to cast aspersions. He just
is. The Democratic candidate is a well-known moderate, longtime state
senator, named Laura Kelly.
Now, between Kris Kobach and Laura Kelly, the two of them, the race is
excruciatingly close. The latest polling from Emerson shows Kris Kobach
ahead in that governor`s race by one point.
A new poll from Ipsos shows the Democrat Laura Kelly up by two points, in
Kansas. I mean, you basically can`t fit a penny between the two candidates
of the two major parties. But that race has been a little crowded, because
that guy, Greg Orman, is also running for governor of Kansas as an
independent. In those same polls that show a one or two-point race between
the Democrat and the Republican, there`s Greg Orman, polling at eight or
Greg Orman from eight or nine points in the polls, he appears to have no
chance at all to win or to get anywhere close to winning. But he`s
definitely polling more than enough votes to change the outcome of this
race. And honestly, because Greg Orman is running as a moderate, the
candidate Orman seems to be pulling votes from is the other moderate in the
race, Democrat Laura Kelly. And to win in Kansas, she will need every last
vote she can wrangle.
Now, Greg Orman says he has no intention of bowing out of this governor`s
race, even though he`s only polling at 8 or 9 percent, he has no intention
of quitting. But now, someone on his campaign definitely thinks he should.
Yesterday, the treasurer of the Greg Orman campaign, who himself is a
Republican former state senator from Kansas, the treasurer of Orman`s
campaign resigned so he could endorse the Democratic candidate, Laura
He said in a statement released by Kelly`s gubernatorial campaign, quote,
Laura Kelly is the only viable candidate for governor who can win and bring
people together. I`ve been a friend and colleague to Greg Orman for
several years. I supported his run for Senate in 2014. And until today, I
supported his run for governor.
However, this is a critical election for Kansas. We cannot risk the future
of our state. Quote, electing Kris Kobach governor is one of the worst
things that could happen to our state.
That`s the campaign treasurer for the potential spoiler independent
candidate in Kansas, he himself a former – a Republican and former state
senator. He`s saying he has no choice but to drop out for the independent
candidate and switch instead to the Democrat. He says it`s the only way to
stop Kris Kobach from taking office, which again he says would be one of
the worst things that could happen to our state.
So, we`re going to be talking with the great Steve Kornacki in just a
moment about that governor`s race in Kansas, and a whole bunch of others
where the polling might surprise you. What is happening in Kansas right
now in the governor`s race and the polls is basically tied in Kansas.
That is not a solo, like, a – that`s not like a standalone, weird result
right now. It turns out there`s a whole bunch of states that we think of
as red states or strongly red-leaning states where Democrats right now
stand more than a good chance of winning the governorship. If you haven`t
been following governor`s races closely, you`ll be surprised how well
Democrats are looking in the polls in governor`s races, even in pretty
conservative states. So, we`re going to bring in Steve Kornacki about that
in just a second.
But first, before we do that, I want you to meet someone. I want you to
meet my new favorite student council president.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRMS PRODUCER: How old are you?
ALEJANDRO RANGEL-LOPEZ, DODGE CITY HIGH SCHOOL STUDENT: I`m 18 years old
as of today.
TRMS PRODUCER: Happy birthday.
RANGEL-LOPEZ: Thank you.
TRMS PRODUCER: How does that feel?
RANGEL-LOPEZ: It`s exhilarating, kind of. I called last week to ask about
my voter registration, to make sure it`s going to go through before this
whole thing started, and they said it`s going to be on hold until today.
So, hopefully, it went through today.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Alejandro Rangel-Lopez, he`s a senior in high school. He`s a busy
kid. He is student council president on his high school, which is awesome.
He`s also on the debate team. He`s also active in local politics. In his
case, he`s a Democrat. He`s active with the local Democratic Party.
Alejandro just turned 18 this week. He works two part-time jobs right now
to pay for his braces. See he`s got braces? Paying for those himself with
two jobs in addition to being student council president and on the debate
He turned 18 the day that we actually went to his hometown to meet him this
week. For his birthday, Alejandro told us what he would very much like as
his birthday present is for his town to make it easier for people to vote,
because that`s what you wish for, for your birthday, if you live where he
does this year.
Alejandro Rangel-Lopez lives in Dodge City, Kansas. Dodge City is a town
that grew up along the historic Santa Fe railroad. You probably already
know iconic pop culture Dodge City. Remember the TV western “Gunsmoke”?
“Gunsmoke” was set in Dodge City.
When the bad guys would show up and Marshal Matt Dillon wanted the bad guys
to hit the road, he would say it like this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARSHAL MATT DILLON: Jacqueline, you take him and you take the rest of
your men and you get out of Dodge!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: You get out of dodge. That saying comes from a real place, comes
from Dodge City, Kansas. It`s about 2 1/2 hours west of Wichita.
Nowadays, the people of Dodge City, they are happy to tell you that they
would love for you to come back. Dodge City welcomes you. Don`t go, don`t
get out of Dodge, don`t go, come back.
Over the past few decades, Dodge City, Kansas, has changed dramatically, in
large part because of the opening of two big meat packing plants right in
town. Those plants and their steady jobs became a magnet for Hispanic
workers in particular, and today, 60 percent of the people who live in
Dodge City are Hispanic.
Dodge City is one of the few places in Kansas where the population is
majority minority, when white people are not the majority population in the
town. Alejandro`s family is one of those families that moved to Dodge City
for work. He was born and raised in Dodge City. And now, he`s old enough
to have a say in who represents Dodge City in our democracy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RANGEL-LOPEZ: As a son of immigrants, and the son of two people from
Mexico, came here in the `90s. They always instilled in me that voting is
one of the most important rights you earn from being born here and becoming
a U.S. citizen. And when my dad became a U.S. citizen in 2004, he`s voted
in every midterm and every presidential election. So, that was always an
integral part of him being an American citizen.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: For all of Alejandro`s life, 18 years and a couple days now,
there`s been one place in Dodge City where you can cast your ballot, only
one. The Dodge City Civic Center. Dodge City Civic Center, that polling
location, that one location serves ten times the number of voters assigned
to the average polling place in Kansas. On average, Kansas polling places
serve about 1,200 people. This one in Dodge City serves 13,000 registered
Alejandro told us this week that he`s used to his dad having to wait in
line for an hour or two every single time he votes in every election,
because everybody else has the same plan every election, to get off work at
end of shift and rush to the one polling place the town has to cast your
vote. So, it`s always big, long lines.
The situation for voting in Dodge City, Kansas, has not necessarily been
easy, right? Thirteen thousand registered voters all turning up for a
single polling place. But this year, for Alejandro`s first time voting,
they have taken that one polling place for all of Dodge City and they had
moved it out of town, outside the city.
The county clerk explained that because of construction at the civic
center, where everybody used to vote, this year instead, that polling place
would not be used and she would move the polling place, the single polling
place for all of Dodge City to another location, one that is completely
outside the city.
Now, to the everlasting frustration of local officials, the decision to
tell Dodge City residents that to vote they had to literally get out of
Dodge, that decision hasn`t gone over well in the local community and in
the local media. And to be honest, it has not come off as a purely
logistical decision. The Ford County clerk announced in late September
that she was moving the polling location out of Dodge City. Within days,
the ACLU of Kansas called her up to say, basically, hey, this is a problem.
They offered immediately to work with her in order to try to fix it, to
open more polling locations in Dodge City that would be more able to
accommodate Dodge City voters.
Then it emerged that the county clerk had given out the wrong address for
the new polling place to hundreds of people who had newly registered to
vote for the first time in the county this year. Really? On top of
Amid all of this wrangling and all these things going wrong in what
appeared to be a cascade of bad faith when it comes to running the election
for Dodge City, Kansas, the ACLU tried one last time. They reached out to
the county clerk to ask, okay, given these changes, given the confusion,
given you handing out the wrong address, can you at least publicize our
special voter helpline ahead of the election, can you at least do that
since you`re apparently not going to fix this problem or the polling
The “Wichita Eagle” then reported when the ACLU of Kansas reached out that
way to the Ford County clerk, asking her to publicize this voter help line
for any voters who were confused, the Ford County clerk didn`t even respond
to the ACLU, she instead forwarded that e-mail to the Kansas secretary of
state`s office saying, this is what I got today from the ACLU, LOL.
That`s the top elections official in Ford County, Kansas, which is
administering this election in Dodge City. LOL about that voter help line,
am I right? And, wonder of wonders, the Republican secretary of state in
Kansas, Kris Kobach, who`s also the Republican nominee for governor, so
he`s at the top of the ticket in the elections in that state this year,
he`s running for governor after building his career on making it more
difficult for people to vote in his state.
And even in the country more broadly, he`s the one who worked with
President Trump to try to make it harder to vote nationwide. Even Kris
Kobach, when asked about that situation in Dodge City, he now says, yes,
maybe they should have another polling place, then, for Dodge City. Even
he says that. But he also says that this decision this year to have the
single polling place for 13,000 voters fully outside the city limits, he
says that has nothing to do with him or his office.
He says he in his office are not involved in that at all. This was just
the county acting on its own, talk to them. It turns out we have now
determined that is bullpucky, because when we first called the county about
this story, the story is now the focus of national attention. We first
called the county to talk to them about this story, Kris Kobach`s office is
saying, well, it`s not us. This had been decided at the county.
We called the county, the office of the county clerk refused to talk to us
and instead told us that we should call Kris Kobach. Oh, so that is who is
responsible for this. OK. So we called Kris Kobach, and at first his
office was more than happy to defend the decision to move the polling place
outside of town.
But, of course, as this has become a national news story and it has stuck,
they stopped defending it. Kris Kobach is now saying, oh, maybe, sure,
there should be a second location. And now they`re insisting, oh,
actually, we have nothing to do with this, Kris Kobach is not involved in
with at all, that`s not us. After a few days of talking about the story on
this show, trying to get people to explain to us over the phone what is
going on, a producer from our show, Julia Nutter (ph), went to Dodge City
this week to see what it`s like with this new location for voting.
In the press, the county clerk`s office, and used to be Kris Kobach`s
office, they were defending this as no big deal, no big change, nothing
that will change the access to the polls in Dodge City at all, no reason to
worry. We wanted to see for ourselves. So, producer Julia went and found
what used to be the polling location in Dodge City, and she found what is
the new one that they have just moved to.
Now, we`re showing you what it takes to get from the relatively convenient
old place where they used to vote to get to the new one where they had
moved it to this year. We have had to speed up this video, as you can see
for time, but yes, the new polling location is literally outside the city
limits, it`s also about a mile from the nearest bus stop. It`s at a place
where there are no sidewalks and it is in a place where there lots of big,
rattling trucks coming to and from the meat packing plants. Good luck
crossing the street.
And remember, the reason the county clerk said they had to move to this
totally out of the way, off the end of the earth, moonscape place that you
can`t really get to is because that old city center location – sorry, it`s
just a disaster, there`s construction, you can`t use it, it`s completely
inaccessible this year. We keep hearing, we keep seeing national reporting
on this, that there`s construction at that site that has made the old site
inaccessible, the county`s hands are tied, there had to be some new polling
That`s been the reason given for why Dodge City can`t vote this year in
Dodge City, where they`ve always voted.
You want to see that site? You want to see that site as of this week, as
of two days ago? Here it is. Does it look inaccessible to you? Is it
completely blocked off by construction?
And that`s the parking area outside. Do you think that looks completely
inaccessible to pedestrian and potential voters? We got there this week,
it was totally no big deal to drive up and park anywhere in the civic
center parking lot, to walk right up to the civic center doors. It`s right
in the center of town, easy to get to. They said it would be all blocked
off by construction.
The civic center even became sort of home base for our producer on the
ground. Hey, everybody, this place is easy to get to, let`s meet at the
civic center. And, you know, there is some construction happening across
the street, you can see it in the distance there. But they`re not blocking
access – that construction is not blocking access to the civic center at
There`s tons of events happening right here at the civic center between now
and the election day, and even events that are already planned for after
election day. There`s a big recycling event for example happening on
Saturday, this week, a private event scheduled there on Sunday, Sunday
before the election. There`s a teacher appreciation dinner scheduled for
two days after the election and a big ho, ho, holiday expo scheduled for
two weeks from now, all still on as scheduled.
Not only is it fine at the civic center right now, but even after election
day, it`s still going to be fine for the ho, ho, holiday expo, right?
Because otherwise, why would the “Dodge City Daily Globe” be planning its
big holiday gift expo if the civic center is going to be so inaccessible?
I mean, call me an optimist, but I`m not expecting hard hats to be required
at the ho, ho, holiday expo. I`m just saying.
Our producer, Julia Nutter (ph), she did stop by the county clerk`s office
to see if we could get any more information in person and we could get on
the phone about moving the polling place, first of all, and, second of all,
moving it way out of town. The county clerk has rejected the idea of
having people vote in local schools in Dodge City, for example. We wanted
to know more about why that was, since everybody can get to their local
We`ve been trying to get answers for days, calling in from our offices
across the country. But when we dispatch somebody go do it in person, when
our producer got to the clerk`s office in Dodge City, the county clerk
staff told our producer that the clerk wasn`t there and actually no one was
there who would answer any questions.
They did give us the name of the county clerk`s new lawyer that they have
just hired for this fight over their balloting. I should tell you that we
reached out to him and he didn`t respond.
I`ll tell you also that late last week, the ACLU of Kansas took the county
to court saying this change with the polling places has made it harder for
people in Dodge City to vote, especially Hispanic voters, who are less
likely to have access to a vehicle to drive themselves to this new site
that you can`t get to without one. The ACLU is asking the clerk to please
open another polling place for Dodge City, in Dodge City.
The named plaintiff in the ACLU`s case is Alejandro. Alejandro Rangel-
Lopez, a high school senior who just turned 18 this week and who is psyched
to vote this year for the first time ever.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RANGEL-LOPEZ: My family is immigrants. My friends are immigrants. This
community is made up of immigrants. And many of those are undocumented, or
DACA recipients or are Dreamers. And they don`t have the right to vote or
have any other rights that citizens like myself have.
And as (INAUDIBLE), it`s very important that people who have the
opportunity to vote exercise that right to vote. And do anything possible
to make it easier or to make their voice heard about issues that are
important to them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Alejandro tells us that after college, he plans to return back
home with a law degree, to practice immigration law and to help people in
the city. But this year, Alejandro, welcome to voting, the way we do it
now in 2018, with tens of thousands of voter registrations on ice in
Georgia, decades-old voting machines in Texas that appear to be switching
votes on people, and your polling place that is not where you live, and is
actually nowhere near where you live for no discernible reason, and no one
will own up to doing it. And the only thing that anybody can plainly see
when you go to this place is how hard this change will make it to vote this
year in what happens to be a mostly Hispanic town, when the Republican
secretary of state, who is running this election, happens to be on the
ballot for governor in what turns out to be a spectacularly close race.
As the headlines have piled up, Dodge City officials have scrambled to set
up and publicize bus rides to the polls, so you can call and reserve a seat
on a bus like this one, or a transit van like this one, for early voting in
town or for Election Day voting at that polling place out of town. And the
county clerk now says she`s now planning to offer a second polling place
for Dodge City, which is news. She`s planning to add that maybe in 2020,
or maybe, maybe, even by next year. But definitely not for this year, not
this year, not while Kris Kobach is on the ballot, no way, LOL.
The 2018 Election Day is less than a week away now. The hearing on the
matter in Dodge City has been scheduled for tomorrow. In the meantime,
we`re hoping maybe the Ford County clerk will start returning our calls.
You have our number.
We`ll be right back.
MADDOW: When you think of red states in which Democrats might be
competitive this year, you think of Georgia, right? Maybe Arizona. You
don`t think of Kansas, or Oklahoma, or South Dakota? Yes. Yes, actually.
In those three red states this year, Democratic candidates for governor are
definitely within striking distance of pulling off upsets. In South
Dakota, that bastion of liberalism, the most recent poll shows that the
Democrat and Republican in the race for governor are tied. In Oklahoma and
Kansas, the governor`s races in both of those states are considered toss-
ups right now.
Last night, the great Steve Kornacki was here live with us on set to talk
about the chances that Democrats might win control of the House of
Representatives next week. Tonight, I`ve asked Steve to come back to give
us a look at who`s looking good in the governor`s races for next week.
Joining us now is MSNBC national political correspondent Steve Kornacki.
Mr. Kornacki, thank you for being here.
STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Thanks, Rachel.
And, yes, and let`s take a look at one particular region. We can find
interesting races around the country, but I want to focus on the region
that made Donald Trump president.
Remember election night, two years ago, Pennsylvania had gone for Obama,
went for Trump. Ohio had gone Obama, went for Trump. Michigan, Wisconsin,
Iowa, all through the Rust Belt, the Great Lake states, the Midwest,
whatever you wanted to call it, all of these Obama-Trump voters, all of
these Obama Trump states, the reason Donald Trump became president.
So, take a look, two years later, statewide races in just about all these
states, governor`s races, what are we seeing there? Take a look at the
polling. Pennsylvania, remember, Donald Trump, the first Republican to win
this state since 1988, wins it in 2016. Two years later, the Democratic
governor is coasting to re-election there in Pennsylvania.
Ohio, this one didn`t just swing to Trump, it swung hard to Trump. He won
Ohio by eight points in 2016. You can see it there. Now, you got a neck
and neck governor`s race. In fact, Richard Cordray, the Democrat there, he
may be slightly ahead in that race, a close one, a chance for Democrats to
Michigan, obviously, Trump needed Michigan, barely got Michigan. 2018, the
governor`s race, almost a double-digit lead in the average poll for the
How about Wisconsin? Again, one of those, 1984, which is the last time a
Republican won Wisconsin before Trump, he got it in 2016. Now, Scott
Walker, new poll out today, dead even with Tony Evers, the Democrat running
against him. There`s been other polls, in fact, that had Evers ahead in
this race. Democrats had a shot to take out Scott Walker in the state that
won it for Trump two years ago.
Iowa, this went to Trump by almost ten points. Remember, Obama won Iowa
twice, Trump by almost ten points. Now, the Republican acting governor in
that state actually behind in a recent poll in Iowa.
We can say Minnesota, not a Trump state, almost a Trump state, we got
within a point of Hillary Clinton here. But again, two years later, the
governor`s race, Tim Walz, the congressman running as the Democrat, he
enjoys a healthy lead in the polls there.
So, you could see, Rachel, all of those states that flipped from Obama to
Trump, two years later, there is a chance that Democrats could run the
table out there in governor races.
MADDOW: Steve, that is fascinating. Thank you for that.
Especially striking to see it when you talk about incumbent Republicans who
are still having trouble in some of those states. Great stuff, my friend.
Thank you very much. Much appreciated.
MSNBC national political correspondent Steve Kornacki, you`re going to be
seeing a lot of him over the next week. Lucky you.
All right. Much more to get to tonight. Stay with us.
MADDOW: One of the things that`s a little different about this time in the
news right now, about this last few days of the run-up to this year`s
congressional elections is that, I don`t know if you noticed or not, but
Robert Mueller has stopped indicting people. At least he stopped indicting
Americans associated with President Trump. I mean, there was that recent
Justice Department indictment of a Russian who allegedly has been working
as the accountant for Russia`s efforts, not just in 2016, but also this
year in 2018 to sway our elections.
They`re a big, well-organized, multimillion dollar Russian interference
effort to freak Americans out and shift our political debate and our
candidate preferences in ways that the Putin administration would prefer.
There was that indictment, right? So Mueller and the Justice Department
are still indicting Russians.
And, of course, before this election season, Mueller had already indicted a
whole bunch of Americans associated with President Trump. I mean, when is
the last time we headed into a congressional election midway through the
first term of a new president while that new president`s campaign chair,
his deputy campaign chair, his national security adviser and his longtime
personal lawyer were all awaiting sentencing on federal felony charges?
All of them convicted and/or pled guilty, all of them looking at possible
prison time. All of them cooperating with Robert Mueller and the special
counsel`s office in their ongoing criminal and counterintelligence
investigation of the president and his campaign and the crucial question of
whether or not it was kosher how he got this job in the first place.
But even still, though, right, I mean, the Russians still being indicted,
that one may have been timed to let us all know that the Russians were
caught working to mess with this election too, just like they did with the
last one. The Russians are still being indicted, OK, and a bunch of the
president`s men already indicted and convicted and awaiting sentencing from
before. But, still, in the immediate lead-up to this election, you know,
there`s lots of interesting reporting, lots of public speculation about
what the special counsel`s office and Robert Mueller might be up to right
But in the immediate lead-up to this election, as we sort of expected might
happen, Mueller`s publicly observable activity has come to a complete halt.
And because of Justice Department rules and practice around this thing, we
sort of expected that might happen in the immediate lead-up to this
election. It`s kind of weird, though, right? Feels like an eerie,
unsettling calm in the middle of the storm. Ooh, happy Halloween.
Well, tonight, fittingly enough on Halloween, we appear to have just taken
a big step forward as a country toward understanding what we can expect
from Mueller as soon as the election is over. Newly unsealed documents
today, new revelations about what we can reasonably expect from Mueller as
soon as next week`s election is over. That story is next.
MADDOW: Behold, the Dictabelt. Don`t laugh. Honey, I can hear you
laughing from here. Don`t laugh.
This is a real thing. This is a magazine ad for the Dictabelt from 1953.
Not a health product, it turns out, despite the illustration.
Quote, brilliant new Dictabelt makes dictation easier for you and clearer
for your secretary. Quote, it`s said and done. Neat.
The way it worked is, you would take pinkish, red, circular tape-looking
thing, the belt in Dictabelt, and you would run it through the machine
part, through the dictaphone. It was a slightly tweaked design for an old
school analog tape recorder, instead of cassette tapes, the audio got
recorded on the belt, on the Dictabelt. That`s basically the tape in this
style of tape recorder.
And it gave this thing the sort of Don Draper treatment for its ads. They
made it into something in the ads that wasn`t just a new tape recorder
design. It was something that would change your life. The Dictabelt
record collects your thoughts and turns them into action.
Dictabelt is a mailable, fileable, permanent record that cannot be erased
or changed. The Dictabelt.
That ad campaign was a little over the top for sure. But you know what?
Just today, we found out how permanent Dictabelt tape could turn out to be.
Look. Page ten, footnote 5.2, quote, Dictabelt recording of the
president`s recollections of March 21st, 1973, and transcript thereof.
That footnote is part of this document, which was just unsealed for the
first time. It`s from 1974, the year that Richard Nixon resigned the
presidency. And this document, which we the people are just seeing for the
first time ever today, this document is basically the reason why Nixon
resigned the presidency.
And so, the release of this document for the first time, this is a big deal
for historians. It`s a big deal for anybody interested in Watergate. This
is something we`ve been waiting 44 1/2 years to see.
But this was also released right now for a reason, and with implications
that are absolutely, positively, 100 percent not about Richard Nixon, and
that old scandal that ended his presidency. This turns out to be an
important new piece of information about the current president, and the
question of whether scandal will end his time in office, as well.
Let me show you what I mean. All right. As you know, 45 years ago this
past week was the Saturday night massacre, October, 1973. That`s when
Nixon fired the special prosecutor who is investigating Watergate. That
was this guy, Archibald Cox. Nixon fired his way through the upper
echelons of the Justice Department until someone would finally obey his
order to fire the Watergate special prosecutor.
But there was such an outcry that soon enough, another special prosecutor
was appointed to take his place. His name was Leon Jaworski. Now, first
under Archibald Cox, and then Leon Jaworski, there were tons of people who
were indicted in the Watergate scandal, dozens of them. Nearly 50
government officials indicted for felony crimes by a grand jury, and then
convicted. And a lot of them went to prison.
But when it came to President Nixon, there was an issue. The grand jury
that indicted all those other government officials in Watergate, turns out
they heard a lot of evidence about President Nixon`s criminal behavior, as
But could you bring an indictment against a sitting president the way you
could for other government officials? Could you bring criminal charges
against a president?
I know half of you at home are saying, yes, of course you can, the
president isn`t above the law. Right. But how would that work?
You bring criminal charges against the president. He`s arraigned. What if
the president is not granted bail after he`s charged?
What if he`s seen as a flight risk? Would he still be president from jail
while awaiting trial? Would he still be president while he was on trial?
If he was convicted at that trial, and he didn`t resign, would he still be
president of the United States as a convict serving a sentence in federal
When grand juries collect evidence, that information is secret. Testimony
they hear, the documents they receive, it`s secret and it`s designed to
stay secret forever.
Now, that information is collected for a reason. It`s used to determine
whether or not a person gets charged with a crime. If and when a person
does get charged with a crime, all the stuff the grand jury did, all the
evidence they saw, the testimony they took, that gets handed over to
prosecutors. But then prosecutors have to prove the crimes in open court.
The secrecy of what happens before the grand jury itself, that is sacred
and it is supposed to be permanent. It`s an integral part of the process.
It`s sacred, as a general matter.
But when it comes to the president, it`s a different situation. The grand
jury who heard all of that evidence about Nixon and his apparent crimes,
they weren`t sure if they could do anything with the evidence of crimes
committed by the president, because what a grand jury does is indict
people, and can a president be indicted, right?
So, this is a difficult thing. The way it was resolved in 1974 was
elegant. The grand jury collated all that evidence, enough for an
indictment for sure, they made clear, but because it was the president,
what happened was the judge overseeing the grand jury proceedings ruled
that the secrecy of the grand jury proceeding in terms of all that
testimony they collected, all that evidence they collected about Nixon`s
crimes, the secrecy of that process could be broken in one very specific
way for this one very specific case.
Per judge`s orders, they were cleared, the grand jury was cleared to
collate all the evidence they had collected that might otherwise be used to
bring an indictment against the president. They were allowed to put that
evidence together in a sealed, confidential report. And instead of
creating an indictment, they were cleared by the judge to send that
document over to the Judiciary Committee in the House for them to do with
as they saw fit, to start the process of impeaching the president to remove
him from office.
Basically, here, from the grand jury, use this information, not to put the
president on trial in a courtroom, use it to put on an impeachment trial
against him in the Congress. The grand jury is allowed to break its
secrecy to provide that evidence to the only court in which that president
will be tried, which is impeachment proceedings in Congress to potentially
remove him. That`s what they did. That`s what happened.
And what they sent over to the Judiciary Committee, from the grand jury,
that`s ultimately why Nixon quit. He knew he was going to be impeached,
and he quit.
Well, now, today, we`ve got that report, we`ve got what the grand jury sent
over to Congress. You can see the handwritten note at the top, filed under
seal, March 1st, 1974, and you see the title, in re report and
recommendation of grand jury concerning transmission of evidence to the
House of Representatives.
Quote: The grand jury has heard evidence that it regards as having a
material bearing on matters that are within the primary jurisdiction of the
House of Representatives committee and its present investigation to
determine whether sufficient grounds exist for the House of Representatives
to exercise its constitutional power to impeach Richard M. Nixon, president
of the United States. It`s the belief of this grand jury that it should
presently defer to the House of Representatives and allow the House to
determine what action may be warranted at this time by this evidence.
And then it just lays out all the evidence, in the simplest possible terms.
This is, like, a 50, 60-page document. You can read it in – you can read
it on a coffee break. This lays it out with no narrative.
Page one of the evidence, Watergate burglar communicates to the White House
that he wants $120,000. He says he has done, quote, some seamy things for
White House and that if he is not paid soon, he will have to, quote, review
his options. That`s page one.
Page two, that message is relayed to the White House counsel, John Dean.
Page three, the White House counsel tells the top aide to the president,
who says, oh, we better tell the attorney general about this. Page four,
the attorney general is told about this.
Page five, the next day, the president convenes a big meeting to talk about
this matter, to talk about how much money the Watergate burglar wants to
stay quiet about the burglary, and the amount of money that would
ultimately be required to keep him and other Watergate defendants silent.
That`s the content of that meeting involving the president. How do we know
that? Well, check the footnotes. That`s where we get the footnote
referencing the president`s Dictabelt recording. Turns out those things
Page seven, they authorize the hush money payment to the burglar. He asks
for $120,000, he`s going to get $75,000. Page ten, the hush money payment
gets dropped off, quote, on the late evening of March 21st, 1973. Fred
LaRue caused $75,000 in cash funds to be placed in the mailbox at the
residence of the burglar`s attorney.
Page 11, the next morning, the attorney general tells the White House
counsel, White House chief of staff, Nixon`s top aide, that the burglar was
no longer a problem. Page 12, later that day, another meeting with the
president, handily taped by the White House taping system, according to the
footnotes, were at that meeting and discussed what they just did and
prepared a written report for the president so he can deny any involvement
in case this becomes known.
It`s all just there, step by step by step, everything the grand jury
learned about the president`s criminal acts – a ready-made road map to the
evidence on which you would base impeachment proceedings against the
president. They didn`t indict them. They give this to the Congress so the
Congress would impeach him.
This thing has been called the road map, colloquially in legal circles for
years. We are just getting to see it for the first time ever today. But
the reason I say this is not just about Nixon, is in part because of the
reason we`re seeing this today. The group that sued to release this, to
unseal this today, they`re calling this a road map not just for Watergate,
not just for then, but for now.
They`re calling this a road map for the Mueller investigation, for how the
factual findings of the Mueller investigation that pertain to the president
and potentially to the vice president, how those things should be reported
to Congress and to what end. Quote, the road map is critical historical
precedent for ensuring that the facts uncovered in special counsel
Mueller`s investigation become public and serve as the basis for whatever
accountability is necessary. Our democracy depends on it.
It is, of course, possible that the Mueller investigation and the grand
jury he`s working with, it`s totally possible they will find no wrongdoing
whatsoever that redounds to the president or the vice president. If they
do, though, of course, Mueller could try to bring indictments. He could
test that possibility. Or Mueller could do a report, maybe a Ken Starr-
style, you know, potboiler report that might be made public. Or Mueller
could deliver the findings of the grand jury to Congress, to form the basis
of impeachment proceedings against the president or vice president if the
findings of the grand jury, the evidence uncovered by the grand jury,
And now, as of today, for the first time in U.S. history we can see what
the historical precedent would be for Mueller doing just that. If Mueller
followed this road map from the Watergate era and made this kind of report
to Congress, obviously with the Republican Congress, presumably, we`d never
see the report again.
But with a Democratic Congress, whole different ball game. Elections in
MADDOW: Joining us now is Chuck Rosenberg, former U.S. attorney, former
senior FBI official,
Chuck, thank you for being here tonight. Much appreciated.
CHUCK ROSENBERG, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: My pleasure, Rachel.
MADDOW: Unsealed today, first time in 44 years, is the evidence against
Nixon that was obtained by the grand jury who was working under the
Watergate special prosecutor. They handed that evidence over to Congress,
and we`re seeing it today for the first time. So, obviously, this is a
great day for history buffs.
But is this also legally important? Is this an important legal precedent
we`re seeing for the first time today?
ROSENBERG: It`s at least an important factual legal precedent, Rachel.
You earlier used the word elegant, and it is elegant. It`s also incredibly
powerful in its simplicity. It`s nothing more than fact and then the
evidence that proves the fact.
If Bob Mueller is looking for a way to present the information to Congress,
he really only has two options. The Starr report which was fulsome but
also argumentative and conclusory, what the Watergate special prosecutor
Leon Jaworski did, which is what you described earlier.
MADDOW: Is Robert Mueller seeing this document for the first time today
the same way that we are or this the sort of thing that senior Justice
Department officials and FBI officials would have had access to even though
we the public didn`t?
ROSENBERG: If it was under seal, it was under seal. I mean, I always like
feel Bob Mueller is ten steps ahead of everybody, but on this, we may have
seen at the same time, Rachel. And it would be important to him. It
doesn`t necessarily mean he has to follow it. But if he`s trying to think
about a way to frame the evidence for the Congress, this is a compelling
way to do it.
MADDOW: The people who sued to release this document seemed to be making a
public case that the unsealing of this document essentially establishes
this precedent, so that Mueller, when he gets to the end of his
investigation or gets to the appropriate point, he will be able to cite
this document that we can all see, that we can all read as precedent in
order to make the case for how he wants to release information.
It`s – we`re not used to seeing things in the news and seeing the
unsealing of things in that way, but do you think it`s a fair argument?
ROSENBERG: I do think it`s a fair argument. There`s also an important
legal precedent here. You spoke earlier about grand jury secrecy. As a
former federal prosecutor, that`s obviously something we take very, very
seriously. But in this case the federal judge in the District of Columbia
said those grand jury secrecy rules give way to really essentially the
Congress` need to know, the Congress` need to have this information as a
road map to a possible impeachment proceeding, in this case, against
And so that also for Bob Mueller is an important precedent. Why? Because
it`s going to be in the same federal court that Richard Nixon`s case ended
up in, in the district court for the District of Columbia. So, a factual
road map and a legal precedent.
MADDOW: Chuck Rosenberg, former senior FBI official and Justice Department
official, really appreciate your time tonight, Chuck. Thank you very much.
ROSENBERG: My pleasure.
MADDOW: We`ll be right back. Stay with us.
MADDOW: Do you like my costume? Same one I wear every year. Middle-aged
cable news lesbian TV host. Come on, nailed it again. Admit it.
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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