Iceland holds memorial for extinct glacier. TRANSCRIPT: 8/19/19, The Rachel Maddow Show.
CAROL ANDERSON, PROFESSOR, EMORY UNIVERSITY: Without figuring out, OK, so
what happened in Oakland? What happened in Chicago?
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Right.
ANDERSON: What happened in New York?
And by not having that kind history, then we have so many Americans walking
through wanting this very, believing in this very kind of nice pat
sanitized narrative that then doesn`t get at the kind of structural issues.
HAYES: Yes. And people just don`t know a lot of it. Just at the basic
factual level, it`s amazing to me how little people know about this.
Nikole Hannah-Jones, Carol Anderson, thank you both.
That is ALL IN this evening.
“THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW” starts right now.
Good evening, Rachel. I`m sorry, I`m 30 seconds late.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: It`s OK. I`m not going to keep you longer,
because I don`t need to ask you whether or not you had a good vacation. I
can tell you did.
HAYES: Because of my Instagram photos and my wife sporting the Rachel
MADDOW: Well, that obviously just means that you are a very nice family.
HAYES: We`re always promoting everywhere we go.
MADDOW: That was very nice, Kate. Thank you very much.
I can tell you had a great vacation, I can tell are you firing at all your
cylinders. But I have to ask you about this live show thing that you`re
going to do.
MADDOW: I mean, are you – like you`re going to do live audience.
MADDOW: Live taping. No.
MADDOW: Are you nervous? Are you psych?
HAYES: I`m mostly psych. Yes, I think it will be fun. I like theater. I
like crowds, I like people. I like warm rooms, you know, human bodies
there, their heart beats. You can hear them. You can hear when they
laugh. I like all that.
MADDOW: It takes all kind to do this work. I want you to figure out what
you are like, your Pontiac keys are under the seat, Oprah moment is going
to be, like there has, if you will do this as a regular thing, I will
donate swag, I`m just saying.
HAYES: Well, you are invited.
MADDOW: All right. Thank you, my friend. Thanks a lot.
And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour. Happy to have you
here. Happy Monday.
The Department of Defense has just released this slow motion video showing
the launching of a cruise missile. A tomahawk missile from a portable
See how it`s on a trailer? You can actually see the wheels on the trailer
from the thing it`s being launched from. This was a missile that was shot
off by the U.S. military yesterday at 2:30 p.m. local time off the coast in
California. From an island called San Nicolas Island.
San Nicolas Island is the most far flung of all the channel islands. I
think it`s about 60 miles off the coast down by Long Beach, California. We
do not know exactly where this tomahawk missile was aimed, I mean, west
presumably, right, out into the Pacific.
But we do have a written assurance today from the Defense Department that
the missile, quote, accurately impacted its target after more than 500
kilometers of flight. And that more than 500 kilometers bit, that
specification in the Defense Department announcement about this missile,
that is very, very news worthy, because until about like five minutes ago,
a missile going just over 500 kilometers was not allowed, a cruise missile
capable of hitting a target just over 500 kilometers away until very
recently, that is a missile that was banned in this country and the United
States said we did not have and would not use.
The reason for that is because of this moment. Ronald Reagan and Mikhail
Gorbachev in 1987 signing a treaty that banned both them and us from having
missiles that are what they call intermediate range. The treaty was signed
in 1987 and, thereafter, the U.S. and the Soviet Union together took off
line more than 2,500 missiles with this intermediate range, missiles
designed to fly between 500 kilometers and 5,500 kilometers, more than 2500
of them were taken offline.
Well, that treaty had been in effect since Reagan and Gorbachev signed it
in 1987, back when the Soviet Union still existed. It was President Donald
Trump who decided to pull the U.S. out of that treaty this month on August
2nd and us pulling out of that treaty is how we got this missile launch
yesterday, 60 miles off the coast of Long Beach, California.
Just two-and-a-half weeks after we pulled out of that treaty, we are
already showing off that we`ve got these missiles back online and they are
ready to go. Never mind we haven`t supposed to, we haven`t had them in our
arsenal, we haven`t supposed to have had them since 1987. We got them and
they`re working perfectly. Thanks.
I mean, if you had one space on your bingo card for 2019 that you think you
could be pretty confident wouldn`t get filled in this year, right, that
might be the bingo card space that says no new nuclear arms race with
former Soviet Union, right? Who would have thought that`s what we will be
doing in 2019, but that is apparently what we are doing in 2019. That`s a
part what the U.S. military is doing is showing off this tomahawk missile
launch yesterday afternoon.
Whatever is going on with this new arms race appears to be the backdrop to
what happened in Russia a week and a half ago, with this mysterious nuclear
accident on the White Sea in the northwest corner of Russia. We still
really do not know exactly what happened there and the Russian government`s
explanations and misdirections and complicated obscuring phrases about this
thing have made things worse fought better.
“The Wall Street Journal” has now just reported what seems like an
important if you development in this story, which is that it would appear
that the Russian government shut down monitoring stations nearby the blast
site that are monitoring stations that test for radiation. “Wall Street
Journal” reporter Michael Gordon, long-time national security reporter, he
had this scoop this weekend that the two monitoring stations nearest to the
blast site went dark and stopped transmitting radiation shortly after that
mysterious blast. That was the initial scoop by Michael Gordon this
Then, today, Michael Gordon has new reporting that a few days later, a few
days after the two monitoring stations closest to the blast site were shut
down mysteriously, the Russian government appears to have shut down another
two monitoring stations that were further away a few days later, which
suggests they thought they had successfully covered up the problem when
they stopped reporting radiation data close to the site of the nuclear
accident. Within a few days, though, if they realize they had to shut down
further radiation monitoring sites further away from the blast site,
hundreds of kilometers away from where they thought they were sort of safe
– well, that suggests maybe the problem is proving too large for their
initial cover-up. So the cover-up, itself, is having to expand its
geographical reach as well.
We are also getting the first models of the potential radiation plume from
the site of the blast, which is not comforting. We will talk with “Wall
Street Journal” reporter Michael Gordon about that and more coming up in
just a few minutes. But as you can feel in your gut right now, that is not
That said, there is a lot to get to tonight. There is a lot going on.
This was actually an awesome site to behold this weekend in Hong Kong,
awesome in the sense of large and awe inspiring. Look at that.
Drop that – can you guys drop that lower third chyron there, thank you
very much. The overall population of Hong Kong is just under 7.5 million
people. What you are looking at here is nearly one-quart the entire
population of Hong Kong turning out in the streets this weekend for pro-
democracy protests. And they were doing so in the face of absolutely
torrential rain storms.
I mean, on a per capita basis, this would be like if over 4.5 million New
Yorkers turned out for a single protest. If you compare the New York
metropolitan area with its population and the population of Hong Kong, can
you imagine 4.5 million workers at a single protest? I mean, it`s just
absolutely massive numbers of people. Again, almost a quarter of the
population of the city.
And it`s interesting – well, while protesters have used umbrellas to great
effect for all sorts of reasons and their earlier rallies and marches, this
time, it was just really helpful for everybody to have an umbrella because
of the rain. Protesters also used their umbrellas not only to keep
themselves dry, but also, look, just to help out random reporters who they
happened upon on scene while they were doing live shots of the
demonstrations. Those are people hang by these reporters that needed some
If organizers are all right that there was 1.7 million people in the
streets of Hong Kong yesterday, that would make this the largest protest in
Hong Kong since the initial huge protest in June that resulted in the
dropping of a new law that would have basically brought Hong Kong under
Chinese control when it comes to the criminal law. That`s the extradition
bill that started all of these protests in Hong Kong. But even though that
bill is dead, as you can see, the protests are not stopping and not
And as of this weekend, China is still doing big show-offy, intimidating
military exercises, just immediately over the border from Hong Kong –
hint, hint. But this weekend at least, it appears they did not try to club
and tear gas their way through this absolute sea of humanity that turned
out to protest for democratic freedom. So, if this is a turning point. We
There were also protests this weekend in all 50 U.S. states. This is a
shock from St. Louis, Missouri. Gun reform groups met at state capitals
and local landmarks and town squares all over the country this weekend to
try to press for new federal policies regulating guns and ammunition and
gun accessories. And they really were all over the country, all 50 states.
Just – these shots here, Baltimore, Maryland, Columbus, Ohio, San
Francisco, California, Boston, Massachusetts. They were everywhere.
In terms of the prospects for reform in Washington, the Democratic-
controlled House has already passed legislation that would very simply
require a background check for all gun purchases in the United States,
something that huge majorities of the public, including huge majorities of
Democrats and Republicans and gun owners all say they want. Democrats are
coming back early from their summer recess to work on yet more gun reform
But that background check thing has already passed. And that is one of the
most popular policies on any subject in this country and it has already
passed the House. It`s done. It could be taken up by the Senate at any
moment if Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell deigned it to allow it
to come up.
Now, in terms of the practical politics here, there had been some I think
mild-tempered hopes that if the White House strongly supported this
universal background checks thing, if there were strong support for such a
measure from President Trump and he actually put his shoulder into it a
little bit, that might be enough to persuade Mitch McConnell to actually
bring that thing up for a vote. That might be enough to persuade enough
Republicans to say yes to it given how popular that policy is.
Well, President Trump did initially come out and say he was strongly in
support of universal back checks and now he has already flip-flopped on
that. Now he has taken aback and signaling that he might not support that
at all, despite what he said just a couple weeks ago.
Looking around at all these rallies around the country, looking at the
polling on this issue, even among Republican voters. I mean, Democrats
continue to believe that Democrats at all levels can and should run on this
issue. Democrats running for president, for Senate, for Congress,
everything else, all over the country. Democrats continue to believe that
Republican intransigence on this issue, even specifically on background
checks to buy a gun, Democrats think the Republicans are so out of step
with public opinion that they will pay an electoral cost for it if they
stick with this position.
Republicans apparently do not share that view. They are apparently as dug
in as ever. And now, we know whoever is whispering in the president`s ear
about this turned him around on this back check issue so hard and so fast,
it was like he was on a three-inch leash. I mean, literally, two weeks
ago, he was talking about how much he`s in favor of intelligent, strong,
universal background checks. It will be the best background checks ever.
Now, he`s not for background checks. So again, we shall see. But the
people matter on this, right? The public sentiment and public pressure on
this are not going anywhere. And thus far, Republicans are refusing to
engage with even the most moderate, the most popular reforms, eventually,
this is going to break.
Like I said, lots going on tonight. But here`s a story that just broke
this afternoon that I think is likely to have pretty profound consequences
all over the country. And one of the reasons we know that or at least we
have reason to suspect that is because we`ve already seen a few little case
studies about how exactly this is going to go wrong. Because there are a
few states that sort of beat the rest of the country to the punch line on
this one. I will show what you I mean.
Here is a deeply, deeply, unhappy press release that was set out by the New
Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services in January, 2017. You
see the headline there, a press release. New Hampshire is experiencing an
outbreak of gonorrhea. Oh.
Dateline: Concord, New Hampshire. New Hampshire is experiencing an
outbreak of gonorrhea. Gonorrhea is a reportable sexual disease, and a
number of cases in New Hampshire has been increasing over the last year.
Between 2007 and 2013, the number of cases per year of gonorrhea reported
in New Hampshire was approximately 130. However, the state has received
report of 465 cases of gonorrhea just in the year 2016, which represents a
more than 250 percent increase over the previous baseline.
So like if you work for state government in New Hampshire, that`s not like
red letter day. That`s not banner day, right? The day you have to send
out the press release about the state experiencing a horrific outbreak of
It turns out the gonorrhea press release was good practice, because within
five months, New Hampshire had to put out another press release with the
same cherry tone, just a little bit of a difference in the details.
Dateline: Concord, New Hampshire.
New Hampshire is also experiencing an outbreak of syphilis as the number of
reported cases New Hampshire for 2017 is about double that of previous
years. So again, these are not happy press releases, right? This is not
something the state relishes having happened or I`m sure they do not relish
having to announce this.
But putting out these press releases about the state having an outbreak of
syphilis and outbreak of gonorrhea, those press releases did the trick.
Lots of local coverage of the various STD outbreaks spiking in the state of
New Hampshire. State medical associations were on it in terms of helping
out, and raising awareness and trying to promote best practices for
identifying and treating these cases.
But as the state of New Hampshire has been coping with this difficult
problem, with this spike in sexually transmitted diseases, there has been a
major complication that is believed to have worsened this outbreak. Here`s
the “Concord Monitor Newspaper” from just a few days ago.
Quote: The trend lines are clear. A 17 percent increase in Chlamydia rates
in New Hampshire, 103 percent surge in syphilis rate, a 352 percent
explosion of gonorrhea. New Hampshire has had a disconcerting swell,
swell, of STDs in recent years.
As these infections remain prevalent, New Hampshire health care providers
say the absence of a budget this summer is hurting their ability to combat
them. Quote: A decision by the Trump administration to add new
restrictions to federal funding for healthcare clinics that provide
abortions, most notably Planned Parenthood, has taken a bite out of other
An attempt by New Hampshire lawmakers to alleviate that lost of funds via
state money has also been put on ice after a budget veto by Republican
Governor Chris Sununu. Without federal funding or state backup money,
Planned Parenthood has seen a 25 percent hit to its operating budget. One
casualty of that funding crunch providers say, has been STD testing.
Efforts to help Granite Staters diagnose these conditions and treat them
are facing significant reductions.
Yes, nothing like cutting all the funding for STD testing in the state that
is having a huge outbreak of multiple STDs. I wonder what the outcome of
that will be?
The Trump administration knew funding restriction referenced here by the
paper in Concord, it`s sort of kicking New Hampshire where it hurts at
exactly the wrong time. This is a new federal policy from the Trump
administration that is set to go into effect tonight. It`s effectively a
gag order for clinics that do STD screening, and cancer screening and
There is a longstanding federal program that spends about $260 million a
year. It pushes about $260 million a year to health clinics all over the
country, supports specifically those kind of services. Under this new plan
that goes into effect today, thanks, to President Trump, any clinic
anywhere in the country that gets that money is banned from ever mentioning
to its patients the existence of abortion services.
The new gag rules that are you not allowed to refer a patient to a place
where they could get an abortion if they wanted one. There are no federal
funds that are expended right now on abortion services at all. That`s not
what this is. This is about speech. You`re not allowed to describe that
abortions are legal and available and tell somebody where they can get one.
Healthcare providers are ban from saying that if they take any of this
federal funding from this particular program that supports STD screenings,
contraception services, cancer screenings, et cetera.
It appears to be a calculated way, I think in particular, to try to put
Planned Parenthood clinics out of business, let alone any other service
provider that does abortions or has links to other entities that do.
Now a bunch of states have decided they`re not going to go along with there
change in policy. Bunch of clinics, including clinics in New Hampshire
have already opted out of taking these particular federal funds while this
rule change has been pending, so as to avoid potentially running afoul of
this rule change and letting that put a bulls eye on those clinics so the
Trump administration can try to come shut them down. I mean, there is, of
course, active consideration to try to block this gag rule.
But now, as of today, as the rule nevertheless is slated to go into effect
tonight, Planned Parenthood has announced nationwide that all of its
clinics will withdraw from that federal funding program, which again is
$260 million that goes to health clinics every year.
Now, Planned Parenthood is not closing its doors. But they are no longer
going to have access to this major, long standing stream of funding for STD
screenings, cancer screenings, family planning, contraception, education
services, which is stuff they provide all over the country, which is stuff
a lot of places need. Ahem, New Hampshire, ahem.
I mean, there are more than 100 counties across the country where planned
parenthood is the only provider of comprehensive contraceptive services.
And the federal funding that supports those things for millions of American
women is now being essentially cut off from Planned Parenthood as a way to
try to box them in on abortion politics.
Now, obviously, Planned Parenthood and other providers want to beat this
thing in court. They want the policy to go away. But policy does go into
effect tonight. What is this decision by Planned Parenthood in this
confrontation with the Trump administration likely to do in those
communities where Planned Parenthood is really the only provider? What is
this likely to do nationwide as this new rule goes into effect tonight?
Joining us now is Alexis McGill Johnson. She`s the acting president and
CEO of Planned Parenthood.
Thanks very much for joining us. It`s nice to have you here.
ALEXIS MCGILL JOHNSON, PLANNED PARENTHOOD ACTING PRESIDENT & CEO: Thank
you for having me.
MADDOW: So I know this is a complex policy and it`s effects, particularly
the effect of what Planned Parenthood has decided today will likely be
heterogeneous and different all over the country, but did I basically
correctly sum up the overall problem here?
JOHNSON: No, you nailed it. I mean, essentially what happened today is
that Trump forced us out of Title X, which is a program as you know and
your listeners know is a program that helps Americans, low income Americans
gain access to affordable birth control, to affordable STD testing and
treatment, to cancer screenings. And by imposing this unethical gag rule
on our providers by saying they had to withhold information about abortion
care, they put us in an untenable situation and forced us out of a program
because we just refuse to be bullied into providing substandard care.
MADDOW: I know that the degree to which individual clinics, individual
Planned Parenthood facilities depend on this stream of federal funding, it
varies state to state and facility to facility. Without this particular
federal funding stream, are you actually expecting to have to close any
JOHNSON: Look, you`re right, it will vary state by state and our doors are
committed to staying open. We`ve been working with our affiliates across
the country to, you know, to help to support with some emergency affiliate
funds, but, you know, and while some states are able to offer some
backfill, you know, the reality is, you know, funding health care should
not be, you know, on the backs of a – of a nonprofit organization. You
shouldn`t have your health care dictated by your zip code.
And in some areas, ironically the areas where Title X was intended to fill
gaps, like rural areas, it may be possible that we see some health centers
close and we`re incredibly concerned about that because we`ve seen exactly
what happens, not just in the STI rise and the spike that you talked about
in states like New Hampshire, but we`ve also seen it in access to other
reproductive health care services like abortion. When women have to travel
hundreds of miles just to gain access to reproductive health care, they may
delay, they may not make it into – into a clinic, into a center.
So, you know, all of this is going to have the kind of intended chaos that
the Trump administration is really putting – putting on us.
MADDOW: Obviously this – where this comes from in the Trump
administration is out of a deep-seated hostility to abortion rights in
particular. It seems to family planning and even contraceptive planning
possibly as well. And certainly, there`s been active hostility and threats
against Planned Parenthood, specifically from the president and from other
people in the administration.
I mean, to see them actually take this bite out of your hide, to see them
actually effectively deny this funding to Planned Parenthood clinics and to
other health clinics around the country in a way that it doesn`t seem like
there is an easy off-ramp from feels like a real escalation, feels like
this is more real than any of their previous threats.
I wonder if you guys had anticipated this, if you`ve done long-term
planning to try to work around the hostility of this administration and
their efforts to shut you down?
JOHNSON: Look, I mean, we have been obviously planning, scenario planning
around any number of things because we are very concerned about this
administration, the Trump administration, again, has focused on targeting
not just Title X but also the number of anti-choice judges going all the
way up to the Supreme Court. So, you know, there`s long-term planning that
has to happen in a number of areas.
You know, with respect to Title X, you know, we`re hoping that people, that
our supporters, that people who depend on Title X will call their Congress
members. There is a House bill out that has passed spending to restore it.
We`re hoping that the Senate will be able to do the same thing and that we
will be able to come to some conversation or at least come to some
conversation in conference that helps protect it.
But we really need Congress to act at this point because you`re right. It
is a complete all-out assault on reproductive health care.
MADDOW: And, of course, it starts with a program that particularly serves
low-income women, because that`s always the softest target at this point.
JOHNSON: Absolutely. Low income women, yes, and women of color, right?
Yes, I`m sorry. Low-income women and women of color – let`s be clear,
they`re absolutely targeting, you know, who their targets are here.
MADDOW: Let me ask you one last question about Planned Parenthood itself.
We`ve seen leadership changes and some upheaval at the – at Planned
Parenthood after Cecile Richards` departure. There was another president,
Lena Wen, who was a guest on our show several times. She left after what
seemed like difficult circumstances after a short term in leadership.
You`re now the acting president and CEO of Planned Parenthood. Can I ask
if that means you`re going to be the president of Planned Parenthood here
on out? Do you know what your long-term plans or the organization`s long-
term plans are in terms of your leadership?
JOHNSON: I`m committed to stay until December 2020. I`ve been a long-term
board member, almost a decade I`ve spent supporting this organization and
working with the staff and the team. And so, I consider this an extension
of my service. I believe in the mission of the organization. I believe in
the people and the patients that we serve, and so I will be, you know,
fighting this fight along – right alongside them on the front lines until
2020 and I`m looking forward to, you know, supporting the organization
through this leadership transition.
MADDOW: Alexis McGill Johnson, acting president and CEO of Planned
Parenthood, thank you for helping us understand. I really appreciate you
being here tonight.
JOHNSON: Thanks for having me.
MADDOW: All right. Much more to get to tonight. Stay with us.
MADDOW: This is Okjokull. Forgive me if I am pronouncing it wrong. I
have been working on it all day. But come one now.
Okjokull, I think. Ok is the name of an Icelandic volcano. Jokull means
glacier, so Okjokull means Ok`s glacier.
And this is what Ok`s glacier looked like in 1986. This is a big slate of
ice stretched over more than a square mile.
This is what it looks like today. About five years ago, an Icelandic
geologist declared it`s no longer a glacier, declaring that it no longer
has the scientific qualities of a glacier. It had essentially gone
So, that meant the area could no longer be called Ok`s glacier. It
couldn`t be Okjokull anymore. Now, it`s just Ok.
Climate change looks different all over the world. But in Iceland, this is
how it is showing up. It`s the first lost glacier.
Iceland is called the land of fire and ice because of its volcanoes and its
glaciers. Glaciers cover about 11 percent of the country but as global
temperatures keep rising, scientists say that the country`s glaciers are
going to keep going the way that Ok did over the next few decades and
within a few hundred years, Iceland will have precisely zero glacier.
It`s not Iceland`s fault at all. Nearly 100 percent of Iceland`s
electricity comes from renewable sources. But the rest of the world isn`t
going that way, and so, Iceland will be one of the places that quite
acutely pays the costs.
This weekend, 100 people including Iceland`s prime minister hiked up to the
top of what used to be Ok`s glacier to hold what was basically a funeral
for the glacier, a memorial. The geologist who had declared the glacier
extinct even brought a death certificate.
The final act of remembrance was the placement of a plaque on the stone at
the top of this used to be glacier. It has the months and year.
Here`s what it says. It says at the top: A letter to the future. Ok is
the first Icelandic glacier to lose its status as a glacier. In the next
200 years, all our glaciers are expected to follow the same path.
This monument is to acknowledge we know what is happening and what needs to
be done. Only you know if we did it.
And it signs off with a date August 2019 and the carbon dioxide levels in
the atmosphere as of the last three days 415 parts per million.
The two-party American political system has somehow produced one major
political party where nearly every single elected member of one of our two
parties has decided that this is something that is just not happening. Or
if it is, who cares?
How we will explain that in the future as the richest and most powerful
country on earth at the time this was happening, how we explain that in the
future will probably not fit on a plaque.
MADDOW: OK. So, 19 years ago, August the year 2000, just a few months
after his inauguration as his country`s brand-new president and this young
man, Vladimir Putin, experienced his first serious political crisis at
home. It was the Kursk nuclear submarine disaster.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: The pride of Russia`s nuclear submarine fleet, the massive
14,000 ton Kursk is dead in the water tonight. Its crew running short on
air and time. Sunday, part of a Russian northern fleet exercise designed
to counter American warships, the Kursk radios for permission to fair
torpedoes, then silence.
The Kursk fails to report in. Since then, a massive search and rescue
operation, including a dozen ships, the sub is located an estimated 480-
feet deep on the sea floor. According to Russian naval spokesman, its crew
videotaped in port this May could still be alive. The head of the Russian
navy tonight saying oxygen will run out Friday, situation critical.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Vladimir Putin`s government waited a full day-and-a-half before
publicly acknowledging that anything at all had happened to that Russian
nuclear submarine or 180 sailors who are sure to suffocate on board. Putin
refused all offers of foreign help, and there were many. He actually spent
the first few days overseeing the response of that disaster from his
vacation, which he did not return from, from a few days.
Russian people very quickly directed their anger over that horrifying
disaster right at him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: The Russians are furious, public criticism of the Navy and a
president on vacation this week unprecedented. Newspaper headlines, the
Kursk has sunk, and so has people`s fate that government can protect them
from danger. Today, the navy finally releases a list of the sailors aboard
Anger inside Russia at a boiling point, an unsuccessful rescue, a four-day
delay in calling if outside help, a president who until today was on
REPORTER: Today, more relatives of the sailors arrived here, only to hear
at the end of a long journey that hope is all but gone.
Authorities try to consol them the anger is clear. Many relatives don`t
accept the explanation for the accident and have little faith in a rescue
effort. They hoped a new generation of Russian leaders would be more
opened than the communists. They especially expected more from President
It`s a shame for the whole nation, he says. I think people will stop
REPORTER: I`m still holding out hope my husband will come back alive, she
says. If the government had asked for help the first say, they would all
have been saved.
Today, Russia`s president criticized for doing nothing, made his most
impassioned remarks yet about the disaster saying he has pain in his heart
and tears in his eyes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: August of the year 2000, Vladimir Putin`s first year as Russian
president. A horrifying tragedy in human terms, right.
In political terms, an early and important lesson for how their new leader
would govern in the face of a crisis he did not want to talk about. Well,
now, almost 20 years on, Vladimir Putin is still president and there seems
to be no plan for Russia ever having another one after him.
But now, this summer something quite reminiscent of that Kursk disaster
appears to have happened again, twice. The first time was last month,
another nuclear submarine disaster, 14 Russian sailors killed and deja vu,
that accident was not announced until 24 hours after it occurred. It took
three whole days for Vladimir Putin to admit that a fire had taken place on
board a nuclear powered sub.
Still, next to no information has been released about the condition of the
nuclear reactor on board that sub. That was in July. That was just last
Then a week and a half ago, we learned of another incident, this time some
sort of an explosion at a missile test site. Russia`s military initially
said nothing about it being an incident with any nuclear implications.
They just described the thing that blew up as a liquid fueled rocket. They
said, there was no release of anything toxic or any elevated radiation
That was not true. Officials later admitted that radiation levels had
risen to 16 times their normal level in one nearby city and the state
nuclear energy agency, excuse me, the state nuclear agency would ultimately
admit that five of its nuclear scientists were killed in the blast.
Today at a joint press conference alongside the French president, Vladimir
Putin told reporters there was no risk of increased radiation levels after
the blast. Radiation didn`t go up at all. Nobody should worry, everything
is up to date control.
Which would be great, it would be easier to believe after worrying reports
from the “Wall Street Journal” about nuclear monitoring stations, literally
radiation detecting monitoring stations in Russia that appeared to have
been shut off right after the explosion.
That story and the reporter who broke it joins us next.
MADDOW: So, first, we got news of a mysterious blast, some sort of an
explosion a week and a half ago in this corner of northwest Russia. We now
know the explosion involved something nuclear. We know the official
response to it in Russia has been marked locally by local and at the
national level, national secrecy.
The Russian government has not been forthcoming about what exactly happened
at that missile testing site that killed, first, they said two people, then
they made it seven people.
Over the weekend, national security correspondent Michael Gordon at the
“Wall Street Journal” reported that two Russian monitoring stakes that
measure radiation, the two of those stations closest to the blast site shut
down mysteriously 48 hours after that explosion. These are monitoring
stations that are designed to detect nuclear radiation, radioactivity in
the atmosphere and for some reason, they went silent at exactly the moment
you might want to ping them to find out if they were detecting radiation in
the air after this nuclear accident.
Because this story gets creepier by the hour, today, Michael Gordon updated
that report, because it turns out, after those initial two monitoring
stations nearest the blast site went dark, a few days later, three days
later, two more monitors went silent. The first pair went dark 48 hours
after the explosion. The next pair went dark three days later. That next
pair a little farther away than the first two that went dark.
Now, who knows why? Maybe they are really having some technical
difficulties, which is what the Russian government says. Based on what we
can see from other monitors around the world, analysts project the
radioactive plume from that explosion might have billowed out like this,
moving west and south and east day-by-day sprawling out of the Russia and
As Michael Gordon reports today, it`s possible that Russia is trying to
minimize publicity about the plume and the radioactive elements it
contains. But does Russia get to hide all of what happened? How much does
the world get to know? And what is in that plume?
Joining us now is Michael Gordon, national security correspondent with “The
Wall Street Journal”.
Sir, thank you very much for your time tonight. I appreciate you being
MICHAEL GORDON, NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL:
Yes, glad to be here.
MADDOW: Let me ask a little bit of meta question first. I have been
covering this the best I can over the last few days since we learned about
it. I feel like it`s been very, very hard to get information, let alone
information you can cross check and get different sources on.
Has this been difficult to report?
GORDON: Well, the actual episode is still a little bit of a mystery. I
mean, President Trump has said the system that was being tested was a
nuclear powered cruise missile and that seems to be the case. But the
Russian government has not been transparent and most of what`s known about
this is really in U.S. intelligence channels. So, it hasn`t been easy to
get in all of this.
MADDOW: In terms of these monitoring stations that you`ve got the scoop
about, that they – two of them went dark right away, another couple of
them went dark soon thereafter. I wonder if the types of monitoring that`s
done at these stations, could they, could that data, if those monitoring
stations were still live and still reporting the kind of data they usually
do, could that shed light on exactly what it was that blew up, on exactly
what it was that went wrong and the type of device that seems to have
caused this disaster?
GORDON: Well, the Russian government seems to think so. Rachel, what
there are, there are hundreds of monitoring stations around the world to
monitor a treaty, a comprehensive nuclear test ban treaty that`s been
negotiated, signed by a lot of countries but never taken effect legally,
but monitoring exists and a good number of them are in Russia.
And so, what happened was just two days after this accident, this
explosion, the two sites that monitor radioactive particles in the air that
were the closest to the accident site mysteriously stopped reporting to the
organization that collates all this data, which was a very weird
coincidence and the Russians haven`t provided a good explanation for it and
then just a couple days later, two more went offline.
MADDOW: Is it possible that more than four are offline? Do we understand
the full universe of data here?
GORDON: Well, the American government has its own intelligence information
about this. But this data is fed into an organization which is supposed to
monitor and support this nuclear test ban treaty and they`re located in
Vienna. So, they get these continuous streams of information and then all
of a sudden, poof, there is an incident report, that two stations are
offline and then another two.
And I`ve interacted with the head of that organization and they`ve gotten
to the Russians for an explanation object what`s going on when these
stations are going to come back online and the Russians haven`t provided
one. Nor did they provide one to the “Wall Street Journal” when they
MADDOW: And in terms of the importance of this data, if these monitoring
stations do go down, I mean, who knows if they`re still operating as normal
and they just are not being allowed to report their data to Vienna, who
knows if the stations themselves have been shut down. If the stations have
been shut down for a period of days or weeks, when they`re finally back up
and running, will that time lapse make it impossible to get accurate –
accurate I guess retrospective readings? If there is a delay while these
stations aren`t reporting, will we ever be able to use them as sources of
information to try to figure out what just happened?
GORDON: Well, I think the U.S. government has other sources other than –
these are Russian stations in Russia.
GORDON: Manned by Russians.
But I think what`s really going on here is, first, this is a high-profile
program. President Putin himself touted this program in a state of the
nation address he gave in March of 2018. And he – it was a nuclear
nuclear-powered cruise missile that was going to circumvent national
ballistic missile defense that the U.S. doesn`t actually have. So, it was
a high-prestige program. Scientists were present.
So, one, I think there is a natural Russian tendency to try to cover up
embarrassing episodes, but also as you pointed out, he`s assured his
country there aren`t any radioactive elements floating around. What his
own monitoring stations are likely to show is that to some extent, this
material and the plume from this accident is spreading around Russia –
first, western Russia, then southern Russia then moving east.
That`s, you know, his posture is nothing to see here. He doesn`t want that
MADDOW: Michael Gordon, national security correspondent with “The Wall
Street Journal” – thank you for making time for us tonight. Please keep
us apprise. I`d love to you have back as you continue to report this up.
GORDON: All right. Thank you.
MADDOW: Thanks very much.
All right. Stay with us. More ahead tonight.
MADDOW: Gregory Craig, President Obama`s first White House counsel, was
back in court today for his federal trial in D.C. He`s the only person
from a Democratic administration to be indicted as a result of the Mueller
investigation for work he did alongside Trump`s campaign chairman, Paul
The Craig trial continues apace. Josh Gerstein reports at Politico.com
tonight that the judge at one point lit into Flynn`s defense – into
Gregory Craig`s defense team for talking about stuff she had told them to
leave alone in court. According to Gerstein`s reporting tonight, there was
much huffing and puffing in the courtroom, even throwing around stacks of
paper. Very exciting. The Greg Craig trial will continue to unfold over
the course of this week.
But elsewhere and continuing Mueller-related proceedings, we`re still
awaiting sentencing for Trump national security adviser Mike Flynn.
General Flynn has already pled guilty to lying about his contacts with the
Russian government. While he has been awaiting sentencing for that, Flynn
last week asked permission to go to this conference, to go to a conference
in Atlanta in early September. Something called the Digital Soldiers
At that event, his lawyer said he would be fund-raising for his legal
defense fund alongside another convicted Trump campaign adviser, George
Papadopoulos, also convicted in a prosecution that derived from the Mueller
investigation. Nice group of guys.
On Friday, the judge in Mike Flynn`s case, District Court Judge Emmet
Sullivan said, yes, gave Mike Flynn permission to go to that event. But
meanwhile, reporters at “Mother Jones” pointed out that isn`t, sort of, a
typical fund-raiser, even for multiple Mueller investigation felons. It`s
a fund-raiser organized by a prominent supporter of the QAnon conspiracy
theory, which is a far right, very engaging conspiracy theory based on the
belief that there is a global ring of satanic pedophile that Donald Trump
and Robert Mueller are working together take down. Uh-huh.
So, Dan Friedman and Ali Breland at “Mother Jones” noticed that the main
sponsor of this Michael Flynn Digital Soldiers fundraiser thing was big
promoter of the QAnon conspiracy. And, in fact, the logo for the
conference is an American flag with a big Q on it. So, it wasn`t that
The organizer for the record denied that the Q on the flag had anything to
do with the Q conspiracy theory. But he also said he totally believes that
theory which he believes is, quote, good for America.
So, we got Flynn asking permission. We got the reporting on what exactly
he`s asking permission to go do. We got the judge saying he could go, but
by Saturday morning, Mike Flynn was out of the lineup for the Digital
Soldier conspiracy theory fund-raiser. Flynn`s lawyer announced the change
of plans on Twitter condemning what the conspiracy organizer said to
“Mother Jones”, and also condemning the “Mother Jones” reporters who
reported on it. There`s a status conference next week in Flynn`s case
where we will find out whether prosecutors are finally ready to try to
sentence him one more time. But it`s getting weird in the meantime.
Watch this space.
MADDOW: That`s going to do it for us tonight. See you again tomorrow.
Now, it`s time for “THE LAST WORD” with the great Lawrence O`Donnell.
Good evening, Lawrence.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
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Copyright 2019 ASC Services II Media, LLC. All materials herein are
protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced,
distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the
prior written permission of ASC Services II Media, LLC. You may not alter
or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the