IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 05/14/13

Guests: David Schultz; Mike Isafoff, Dan Rather

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Thank you very much and thanks to you at home for joining us this hour. New York City is the largest city in the United States. We all think of it as a sprawling metropolis. And, because it is so big, even while you are in New York City, it is very easy to forget that where you actually are is on an island in the North Atlantic. Manhattan is surrounded by water. Staten Island is, as the name implies, surrounded by water. All the New York City boroughs have coastlines. And, you know what? It is possible to do some very good fishing, some North Atlantic fishing in say Brooklyn, New York. I know this for a fact because I caught this fish in Brooklyn on Friday morning before I came to work. If I seemed unusually happy on Friday night`s show is because, look at the size of that striper that I caught in Brooklyn. You can fish in Brooklyn. There is good fishing in Brooklyn. And, there are a lot of people, who do it for fun and are people who do it commercially. And, on June 14, 1971, at a fish company in Brooklyn, a very strange thing happened. The previous day, "The New York Times" had started publishing the "Pentagon Papers" along four multivolume classified narrative history of the disastrous U.S. war in Vietnam. This thing was never supposed to be made public, but it was stolen from the government by a whistleblower, who thought the public should have access to the same information about the war that the government had. It was smuggled to "The New York Times" and The Times made a very difficult decision to publish the "Pentagon Papers" despite the fact that it was classified material. And, when The Times published the first installment on June 13, 1971, the paper must have just been waiting for the other shoe to drop. I mean they knew exactly what they were doing. They knew how big a storm this was going to cause. They were waiting. They must have just been waiting for what would be the inevitable super angry response from the government, right? The demand that they cease publication and all the rest. But, they published this thing on June 13th, and there was no response from the government. And, that is because it turns out that on June 14th, the day after they started publishing the "Pentagon Papers," there had been an angry, threatening telegram written by the attorney general to "The New York Times" that they cease publication of these documents, but the FBI accidentally sent the telegram to a fish company in Brooklyn instead of to "The New York Times." And, so what "The New York Times" heard the day they published the "Pentagon Papers" and the day after was nothing. And, this fish company in Brooklyn must have been very, very confused by the angry telegram they got from the attorney general. Eventually, the attorney general`s office and the FBI got it together and they sent the telegram onto the actual "The New York Times" demanding the return of the "Pentagon Papers" and demanding no further publication. The Times said, "No." The Times kept on publishing. They published on the 13th, and they published on the 14th, and they published on the 15th, and then the government finally got a temporary restraining order blocking them from publishing anything further. Pentagon Papers was the first time that the government had ever used the court to block the press from publishing something that the press wanted to publish based on National Security Grounds. And, that temporary restraining order that they got a couple of days in to the publication of the "Pentagon Papers" -- that temporary restraining order ended up becoming a major federal first amendment case. The newspapers involved in the case within a week had lost the district court level. They appealed to the circuit court level. And, by the end of that month, by June 30, 1971, the case had already gone all the way to the Supreme Court. They started publishing it on the 13th. By the 30th, they are already in the Supreme Court ruling. The Supreme Court ruling that the government could not block newspapers from publishing this stuff. And, the newspapers went ahead and hopefully the fish company in Brooklyn framed the telegram. Some government lost that effort to block the press from publishing something that the press wanted to publish, but the government said, "It would be dangerous to publish." The government lost at the Supreme Court. But, that does not mean that they got over it. You know how in Watergate, the Watergate burglars were called "The Plumbers?" They were not called the plumbers because they like dressed up like plumbers and that is the way they snuck into things. They were called "The Plumbers" because the reason they were breaking into all the various places they broke into was that they were plugging leaks. They were plumbers dealing with leaks. But, these were leaks of information. They were trying to find out who in government was providing classified or secret information to the news media, including the "Pentagon Papers." That was the whole origin of "The Plumbers" and the Watergate scandals, find the leaks, right? And, thereby stop the press from publishing something that the government does not want published. This is a foundational conflict in our country. It has been really important from the beginning of our constitutional republic. There is a reason that the freedom of the press is the first amendment to the constitution. It is because the founders knew how important it is to have the press telling as much of the truth as possible. And, they also knew the temptations, the constant temptations for people in power to try to stop the press from doing that, even though in the long-run we really need the press to be doing that. So, the founder said right off the bat, "Amendment one, we are taking sides of this fight. We know that this is a fight that is going to persist throughout the duration of this nation. We right here in the first amendment to the constitution are taking sides and we are taking the side of the press." The press housed the constitution`s protection clearly in these inevitable fights, and that is a fundamental part of what our country is. I take it as a sign of their wisdom in being so clear on the matter in the constitution that these fights are not actually seen as settled, right? They keep happening over and over again in every century, in every presidency just about. It turns out we need to constantly re-reference and re-read and demand the respect for the first amendment every year all the time, because this is an important fight. The important fights are the ones that don`t go away despite as a constant feature of a free press and a strong government in their inevitable collision force. At the end of 2005, during the presidency of George W. Bush, James Risen was one of "The New York Times" reporters, who broke the news that the government was wire tapping people without getting warrants to do that. They just decided that -- they even know that they always needed warrants before. They didn`t need them anymore. The response to the administration to the publication of that story was not just to deny the story or to express unhappiness with the fact that this government policy was known and they wanted to keep it secret. The response from the administration was instead to demand that that reporter be thrown in prison. That he be compelled by criminal law to reveal his sources, to reveal who had given him the secret information, that was so important to keep secret, but he made it public. They subpoenaed him to demand that he give up his sources. And, Jim Risen made clear in his filing with the court, when he was trying to say, no to that subpoena, to try to resist having to testify. He made it clear that the administration was really using everything it had to go after him, quote, "The first subpoena issued to me was the culmination of a prolonged campaign against me by the Bush administration and it`s supporters. President Bush called the disclosures about the likely illegal wire tapping program, `A shameful act in the administration.` And, its supporters thereafter publicly speculated about potential prosecutions of me for espionage." Shortly after that, an organized campaign of hate mail from right-wing groups with close ties where the White House was launched inundating me with personal threats. Meanwhile, protesters supporting the Bush administration picketed my office calling for me to be prosecuted. Right-wing pundits and bloggers supporting the bush administration took to T.V. and the internet to call for the White House and the justice department to prosecute me for espionage. Failing that, they called for the justice department to subpoena me in a leak investigation, which right-wing pundit said would have the same effect as prosecution since they can force me to go jail if I refuse to testify about my confidential sources." Going after reporters, using the full power of the federal government to stop reporters from publishing things, the government did not want published, or to punish reporters for doing that. That became kind of a -- on the right in the mid 2000s. I remember Congressman Pete Hoekstra, that year -- later that year, campaigning for his reelection in Michigan telling his local paper that James Risen and his co-author from "The New York Times" who reported that wire tapping story, quote, "They will be sitting in jail by the end of the year, unless they reveal their sources." Around the time that the right had the torches and pitch forks out, wanting to put all the reporters in jail, "ABC News" reported that the government was not just demanding that reporters reveal their confidential sources and threatening to put them in jail if they did not. They were also secretly going through journalist`s phone records to try to figure out journalist`s sources that way. According to a senior federal law enforcement official, journalist`s phone calls, the incoming and outgoing numbers were being monitored by the government as part of a widespread leak investigation. The title of that article was "Federal Source to ABC News, we know who you`re calling." It`s chilling, right? I mean you`re a reporter. You are trying to find out what the government is doing. But, if you find out too much about what the government is doing, "Hey, you might end up in jail." You certainly can`t tell your sources that you`ll keep their identity safe. You can`t tell your sources that they can trust you to keep their identities out of it. If you have to tell them is, "Yes, they are probably going to put me in prison until I tell them. This is chilling. This is chilling on purpose and those details reported by "ABC News" in 2006 to reporters to try to fair it out, who was leaking to these damn reporters, right? It appears to be exactly what the Obama Administration is doing now to fair it out, who is leaking to these damn reporters. It is exactly the same thing. In an investigation that appears to be related to AP reporting on the CIA busting up An Al-Qaeda bomb plot a few years ago. The justice department has notified the AP that at least 20 of their phone lines including the personal and celphone numbers of a number of their reporters were swept up in a drag nut by the justice department. Two months worth of these phone records were obtained by the FBI. And, it is over and done with. They only told the AP after it happened. When the AP published that story a year ago about the bomb plot being busted up by the CIA. The response on the right was kind of a mini version of the torches and pitch forks that came out against those "New York Times" reporters back in the mid 2000s. But, in this case, because it`s a democratic president, the outrage on the right was directed against not just the reporters -- No. No. It was against the government. Republicans alleging that the government was leaking to these reporters on purpose for the Obama administration`s own political gain. They were alleging that the administration doesn`t care enough about classified information being leaked. It helps them when it leaks. If they really cared about it, they would freaking investigate it, right? They would find out who is leaking information to these reporters. They would chase this thing down. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CLARENCE SAXBY CHAMBLISS, (R) GEORGIA SENATOR: What the president ought to be saying is that this is very damaging to the country. And, we are going to do everything we can to get to the bottom of it, whether it involves my White House or where ever in the intelligence community. (END VIDEO CLIP) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MITCH MCCONNELL, (R) KENTUCKY SENATOR: Well, we certainly need to have an investigation of what has happened. (END VIDEO CLIP) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) PAT TOOMEY, (R) PENNSYLVANIA SENATOR: The question though is do we really have an independent and aggressive investigation, because these leaks are very, very disturbing. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Republicans last June demanding a serious investigation into these dastardly leaks to these AP reporters. Well, they got their investigation and as part of that investigation, the attorney general, himself, was investigated as to whether maybe he was the leak to those AP reporters, or perhaps did he know who was the leak. And, because the attorney general, himself, was interviewed as part of the investigation, he could not himself head up the investigation. So, he refused himself in order to avoid a perceived conflict of interest. But, that month, June of last year, the IG appointed two U.S. attorneys to investigate the leaks. He appointed a deputy attorney general to oversee all of it. We now know as part of this investigation that we got this unprecedented tracking of 20 different phone lines from the associated press. We also know that the justice department just decided to do that on their own. It never had to get permission from a court. There had been a media shield law that would have said that if you want to wiretap reporters, if you want to access reporters phone records, you at least have to get a court to sign off on it. Prosecutors can`t just do that themselves on their own say so. But, that media shield law was defeated by a republican filibuster in the senate in 2007. So, that is why the justice department can`t just do this on their own say so. That is how we got to where we stand today. We got a few new details today. We got one additional name today in terms of AP reporters and editors, who were individually targeted by the subpoena of their phone records. We now know that it was outgoing phone calls from these AP reporters in these reporters` phones that were subpoenaed by the justice department, not necessarily the incoming numbers or the duration of those calls, which have not been cleared yesterday. The deputy attorney general, who was in charge for this investigation also said today, that supposedly, the content of these reporter`s calls was not monitored. It was just the fact that the call went out and what number it went to. Then we got the White House denying any involvement or even any knowledge that this was happening. We got the attorney general saying that none of this was his call. He was out of the loop. We got the AP today. If anything more livid -- more livid today than they were yesterday that this is happening as they get more information from the government about what their news bureaus and their reporters were subjected to, that they never found out about until after the fact. And, we`ve got all of this happening in the context of this great American fight. The inevitable prime and pressure of an aggressive free press reporting on what the government does whether or not the government wants it reported. The repeated familiar overreaching efforts of the government to stop the press from doing that. And, most importantly, the fact that the writers of our constitution knew that government would always be tempted to act this way. And, that is why they made it very, very clear that our constitution takes sides. This fight is inevitable, but in America, the winner of this fight is also inevitable. So, how is the AP going to win this fight? They are going to win. Joining us now is David Schultz. He is a media attorney for more than 30 years. He now represents the AP. Mr. Schultz, thank you for being with us tonight. DAVID SCHULTZ, MEDIA ATTORNEY: Thank you, Rachel. MADDOW: I`m sure that long exposition of the facts and my take on them does not exactly comport with yours, but in term of the AP`s role in all of this, I should just ask you if your factual understanding what happened thus far, was it all conflicted? SCHULTZ: I contrast that. I think you got it just right. MADDOW: OK. It is a constant balancing act in the United States. Freedom of the press versus National Security or anything the government doesn`t want disclosed. Is tit AP`s position that the justice department is within its rights to be investigating these leaks? It is just that they are doing it in a way that is too rushed. SCHULTZ: Sure. There is no question that the justice department has the right to investigate leaks. But, I think the key, which are handed on when you are setting this up, there is an inherent conflict between the government`s ability to keep secrets and the ability of people to oversee their government. That you have to have access to government information. You need confidential sources to give you that information or the only thing is you are going to know about the government is what they want to tell you. So, we have always had that throughout our history. The real problem here is that in the mess after Watergate to some of the circumstances you are just walking through, regulations were put in place to try to mediate that line. To set up rules that would help us not overreach one way or the other. To give the press a zone of protection that they could operate in knowing that they had some freedom from government interference. And, those were in the form of regulations that were imposed, adopted by the Department of Justice and they are forming provisions. One was that the government premaster was required under the regulation not to go after reporters information, unless it was critical to investigation, not just relevant or phishing. That was one. Number two, they could only go after it, if there were no alternative sources. They had to exhaust all of their alternative sources. And, then, number three, if they were going to go after it, they had to make it as narrow as possible, so that they weren`t interfering unnecessarily with the activities of the press. And, the fourth one, which is also a key is that they are supposed to negotiate with the press ahead of time. To go to the press and say we need this information from you. Here is why we need it and have a negotiation over how broad it is. So, that they don`t interfere with the press. What happens here is that those regulations were just ignored. You know, the justice department, they said we follow the regulation to the letter. But, this is really an unprecedented action in terms of its scope. You mentioned 20 lines. They weren`t just individual reporters. They were bureau lines. They were the Hartford Bureau, the New York Bureau, the Washington Bureau, the Bureau and house representatives. In those bureaus, 100 more AP reporters work and for a period of two months, the government got all the information about who were they calling relating to all their stories -- MADDOW: So, when we say phone lines, somebody who`s working -- like for example in my office, we got a number of people who work in my office, somebody calls them in line and you can get to any one of us. So, you are saying that hundreds of reporters were using these lines that had their outgoing numbers recorded? SCHULTZ: Hundreds -- My understanding is that there were hundred or more, around hundred in the bureaus that had their lines taken. So, the information seize -- MADDOW: So, anybody using their desktop. SCHULTZ: Could have been -- yes, not all the lines. There are certain lines, but some of them were general numbers. So, it wasn`t just targeted to specific individuals. So, that`s number one. The other thing that you highlighted that is really problematic here was the invading this requirement of prior notice. And, why is that important? Because if prior notice had been given, it`s not just negotiations, but it force the press an opportunity to go to a judge and say, "We think that they are going too far and they are interfering with our constitutional rights and you have an independent arbiter who can evaluate that." The government just chose not to do this. Now, they will say they are entitled to under the regs, but what the reg says is that they should only do it if it would undermine the integrity of the investigation. And, it`s really hard pressed. We would like an explanation from the department of justice. How notifying the AP that they need phone records with respect to a publicly disclosed investigation. This is not a secret investigation over facts that happened a year ago would undermine it. MADDOW: They have asserted that they are within the bounds of all of these justice department regulations in terms of it being a last resort. They said that they did more than 500 interviews. They reviewed tens of thousands of pages of documents before they decided that no, they really, really needed to look at these AP reporters phone records. Obviously, you don`t find that persuasive enough. Do you want more of an explanation or do you want some further kind of recourse beyond explanation? SCHULTZ: Well, there are two things. It is not necessarily that we don`t take them at their word that they did a lot, but a judge should be reviewing that. They should not be deciding for themselves when it is time to interfere with the new gathering activities -- MADDOW: Without a national media shield law, though that`s not the -- SCHULTZ: Under the regulations if they had been given notice to AP, AP could have gotten a judge to review it. That is what happened in other cases. There was a case involving a -- a "New York Times" reporter and Judy Miller in 2001, where there was an allegation that they had tipped off an Islamist group about a raid and they wanted to know how that happened. They went to the "New York Times" and said we need your phone records. They went to court and they got a court to review them. That whole process was short circuited here. And, that is what so troubling is the willingness the administration to just throw that all over board in SEAL to go after this week. MADDOW: When do you think the recourse will be here? SCHULTZ: First, we want information. We would like to know from the justice department what else they got from the AP reporters. You know, under the regs, they have to disclose if they subpoena telephone records. There is nothing in these regs. These regs were passed after Watergate to address the situation that existed. Nothing in the regulations requires the department of justice to disclose if they sought e-mail from their reporters. If they did other sorts of investigating on these reporters. So, there are a number of things we would like to know. And, once we have that then we can assess what our resource might be of course and we would also hope of a dialogue with the department of justice about the drastic needs of update and improve these regulations and to talk with them about the seriousness of the impact on the reporters. MADDOW: In the long run, and I don`t know how long the long run is, but in the long run in this country, your side wins these fights. And, so I don`t know how long it will take, but that is the way it ends. SCHULTZ: I hope you`re right. MADDOW: David Schultz, an attorney representing the associated press in this case. Thank you for helping us sift through this. I appreciate it. We`ll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Here`s what things are like now in the nation`s capitol. Here is how you know that we are in the middle of probably a crazy news cycle. This is what it looked like at 1:30 p.m. eastern time here on MSNBC. It seems like it`s too much news to cover. Not enough space on the T.V. screen. Check out the banner at the bottom of the screen. Left, dog briefing. Right, White House briefing. This is news overload. On the left, Attorney General Eric Holder just starting his press conference to answer questions about the justice department unprecedented seizure of AP phone records. While he was doing that, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney is trying to put out another fire entirely. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: If we`re seeing in some of these reports about specific targeting and actions taken by personnel within the IRS, it turns out to be true, then people should be held accountable. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Jay Carney there, referencing the other big D.C. scandal of the week besides the AP thing. If the scandal involving IRS. And, Friday, we first started getting reports of alleged wrong doing of the IRS, specifically wrong doing when it came to how agents at the IRS were evaluating different groups that were applying for tax exempt status. The initial apology from the IRS on Friday indicating that the agency had singled out conservative groups. Groups of the word Tea Party or the word Patriots on their name, flagging those conservative groups for special scrutiny on their on their applications. Well, since then, there has been some indication that the IRS official, who first apologized on Friday also had tried to fix this problem when she first learned about it last year. Also, the White House has denied any knowledge of what was going in the IRS -- at the IRS on this issue. The acting commissioner of the IRS appears to have been briefed on the problem before fielding questions about it from congress. But when members of congress asked him about it, he did not mentioned that he knew there was a problem even though the IRS as he had been brief on it. And, now, tonight, we finally get the inspector general`s report that purports to explain what happened. We are still combing through all the details, but one of the things this reports seems to address is the question of whose big idea this was any way. According to the report released tonight, quote, "Official stated that the criteria were not influenced by any organization outside the IRS. Within the last hour, President Obama has released a statement calling the report`s findings quote, "Intolerable and inexcusable." He said he has directed his treasury secretary to Jack Lou to hold those who are responsible for these failures accountable to make sure that each of the inspector general`s recommendations are implemented quickly, so that such conduct never happens again. President statements says the IRS must apply the law in a fair way and impartial way, that these employees must act with upmost integrity. This report shows that some of its employees failed that test. Joining us now is Michael Isakoff, NBC news investigative correspondent. He has been going though the report since it was just released tonight. Mike, thanks very much for being here. MIKE ISAKOFF, NBC NEWS INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: Hey, great to be with you again, Rachel. MADDOW: One of the things I wanted to ask you about is the report lays out this IRS criteria for who to target, how do target scrutiny for these applications using a BOLO, which is an acronym for be on the lookout. Can you explain that? ISAKOFF: Right. That was one of the most delicious parts of the report in reading it. I mean we have all heard of BOLOs when the FBI issues them for terrorists or bank robbers. I was not aware until this -- all these disclosures that the IRS issues its own BOLOs in this case for people whose names had -- organizations with names with the Tea Party in it. But, it`s pretty chilling to learn that the IRS would be issuing BOLOs, which really ultimately is a form of profiling in this case. They are saying that anybody who has that name in it, we got to look at it and give some special scrutiny. So, that was a bit troubling even if it was a little amusing. But, beyond that -- I mean the report, you cut through all the bureaucratic language and it`s pretty blistering. The people who did this in Cincinnati, the determinations unit, didn`t even understand what the rules were for tax exempt organizations. The report says that on multiple passages and these are the people making these decisions. The inappropriate criteria using the Tea Party, Tea Party-like names in it, lasts for 18 months. The high level officials become aware of this and try to change the criteria. They are being asked multiple questions by members of congress and they don`t reveal anything about the problems that are -- that were going on. And, I think that is where the first serious problem`s going to be. You are going to see congressional committees saying, "Hey, we wrote you multiple letters about this. We asked you questions about it." You wrote us back and there`s like three or four letter from the acting commissioner talking about the lengthy and pain staking process the IRS uses for evaluating these sort of applications and there`s not a whiff of a mention we`ve got a serious problem on our hands. MADDOW: Even though those officials answering those questions, we now know had been briefed on this problem happening at the lower level in the agency, right? ISAKOFF: Exactly. And, you highlighted the part that the White House is certainly going to see that, which is that they did this in Cincinnati on their own. But, the idea that government bureaucrats operate in a vacuum without knowledge of where the political winds are blowing is a myth. I mean we have seen in -- You know, you and I have thought on multiple occasions about the run off to the Iraq where war where the CIA was shaping intelligence to fit what the White House wanted to hear. Now, in this case, I`m not equating the two, but there is a parallel. Everybody who after citizens united, a lot of people were concerned about the abuse of 501c4s. And, the use of those sort of organizations to pump big money into electoral process, the president announced that leading democrats in congress that announced it. And, then a few months later after the 2010 election, these bureaucrats of the IRS in Cincinnati decide, they are going to target the Tea Party. Now, they targeted the wrong people. As we know, there were much bigger abusers of the 501c4 tax exempt abuse than the Tea Party, but it`s hard to divorce that from the larger political winds that were blowing at the time. MADDOW: Absolutely. And, had they -- had they themselves made a decision that was overtly nonpartisan and non-ideological and neutral on the ideological part of it, nobody would be peeping about this, really. But, the fact that they put this ideological spin on it themselves -- yes, this isn`t over. Michael Isakoff, NBC News Investigator Correspondent. Mike, thank you very much for helping us with this. ISAKOFF: Thank you, Rachel. MADDOW: I appreciate it. One of the things to watch for tomorrow on this -- Obviously, the big bottom line here is that none of these groups that got targeted by the IRS actually got their applications denied. But, one of the things that is in the IG report is that although they didn`t get denied, they may have been delayed, maybe unconscionably delayed by going though this process. Was this a way to keep people out of the political process in a way that they would have otherwise been able to be, how they gone through the process quicker. Watch for that tomorrow. We`ll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: The Obama Administration is having a terrifically terrible week. But, in the big picture, how does this rank among other presidents terrifically terrible weeks? Dan Rather is here tonight for the interview. That is next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: For as long as there has been a federal organization that collects taxes, there have been people claiming that organization is going after them for political reasons or personal reasons. Often, those people have been right, under JFK, it was the ideological organization project. Eighteen right wing organizations selected for special audits, although there was no evidence of tax violation. Under Richard Nixon, it was the special services staff set up to target the president`s enemies and groups on the left. The FBI in the 1960s using the IRS as a weapon to harass and try to discredit Martin Luther King JR and the southern Christian leadership conference. In the late 1960s, the CONINTELPRO program to disrupt and neutralize groups on the left, using the IRS as a weapon. Using the IRS as a weapon, the FBI directing the IRS to investigate individual activists on tax grounds. " Time" magazine today recounting how the FBI picked out one college professor in particular, who they told the IRS to audit 1968, explaining that the audit should be timed specifically to be a, quote, "distraction" during the critical period when he is engaged in meetings and plans for disruption of the democratic national convention that year in Chicago. As we talked about on last night`s show, the IRS under George W. Bush, went after at least one major liberal church threatening its tax status over excessive political activity while apparently ignoring the same or greater levels of political activity from conservative churches. Famously, in 2004, the NAACP saw its tax status threatened by the IRS explicitly on the basis of them criticizing the presidency of George W. Bush. Tonight, President Obama says he wants to treasury secretary to hold accountable those responsible for subjecting conservative groups to extra scrutiny in their applications to the IRS for tax exempt status. Is it appropriate to contextualize this current IRS. Amid the history, the long sorted dirty history of using that agency and others as a tool of clear political welfare or is this something else. Joining us now for the interview is Dan Rather. He is anchor and managing editor of Dan Rather Reports on AXS TV. His latest program is called "Operation Streamline" and it airs tonight at 11:00 p.m. Eastern. Mr. Rather, thank you for being here. DAN RATHER, ANCHOR AND MANAGING EDITOR OF DAN RATHER REPORTS: Always a pleasure to be here. MADDOW: What is your big picture perspective on how big a scandal this current IRS scandal is and how it relates to the other very overt uses of the IRS for political aim that we have seen from other presidencies? RATHER: Well, first of all, I want to be surprise as you laid out administrations have been doing this for many, many years, both republican and democratic administrations. But, not all cases are the same. In the case of the Richard Nixon administration, it was the president himself. It was proven. There is no doubt about it. It was the president, himself, who said, "Go after these people on their taxes." MADDOW: He is on tape saying it? RATHER: He is on tape saying it. Now, that is a far cry from where we are today. There is no proof that anybody at the White House, never mind the president himself, has been involved in this in the slightest. There is a great deal of difference. However, there needs to be and I have now think that there will be, a long investigation into this case. And, there are those who believe -- you know, somebody at the White House must have winked at somebody at the IRS. If, if, it reaches the level of even a mid level of the Obama Administration, it is serious trouble for him. It`s a benefit to the republicans because they can keep him on the defensive. It also helps republican office holders bond again with the Tea Party without difficulty doing that. But, I think in the overall picture, what we have right now is an embarrassment for President Obama and a warning to him, if you will. You know what? You`ve got to be really careful up and down the line because even seemingly small things such as this and make no mistake about it. It was no small thing in of itself to target one side of the political spectrum. Lets say we`re going to make things difficult for him particularly in this election year. Serious business, but is it a case of people down the line and only those people involved? Now, obviously, many republicans and some who are not republicans think, it had to be other people involved. What President Obama needs, he doesn`t need me to tell you, what he needs to do, but he needs to do -- he needs an immediate, really fast, but completely thorough investigation into this. And, however, bad the news is, put it out. MADDOW: What is the character of an investigation like that? Does he name somebody from outside the administration to come in at some sort of special investigator capacity? Does he count on as his remarks indicated? Tonight, directing the secretary Lew of the Treasury Department where the IRS is located to make sure to hold those responsible for these failures? Does he need to do -- does he need to direct that something else happened that might not otherwise happen in the normal course? RATHER: From my personal opinion, yes. There would be pressure for him to do that. MADDOW: Yes. RATHER: It is not a special prosecutor, some special investigator. But, there will be a pressure to have a special prosecutor for obvious reasons. But, you are making some of the right moves immediately now. But, he needs to stay on top of this. But, you know, one smile at this degree, the republicans are very good at this and that is not a criticism. They are the out party. If you remember when President Bill Clinton was reelected, they scrambled all over the Clinton Administration. And, I won`t say they ruined Bill Clinton`s second term. The president himself and his actions -- but, they expose it. They kept the pressure on. They are playing by that same playbook now. Benghazi is by that play book. This is by the play book. And, again, as long as there`s something to it, and there is a lot to this IRS thing that even if it turns out to be a few low level people, who didn`t do what they were supposed to do and he is limited to that, it is very serious. As you pointed out and then pointing out to the program. You have to have integrity with the tax operation. If you don`t have that integrity, then people lose trust in the government as a whole, not just to the administration. MADDOW: You have to act decisively to put a whole stop at the end of it. On the AP story, we were discussing earlier with the council from the associated press. I know that you have some experience of being gone after by an administration because of your reporting. Didn`t you get sort of Nixon burglarized during the Nixon presidency? RATHER: Yes, I did. Long story, but it turned out -- I didn`t know at the time our home was burglarized by people who turned out to be a part of the plumbers operation and notorious plumbers operation. I didn`t know it at the time. It was a long time figuring out who did it. There are those to this day said, "No, it wasn`t really that." But, it was and our home was broken into it. But, this became common during the Nixon administration. It was home who broken into doctor`s offices, were broken into it to get information, tapping telephone lines, tapping people`s telephone lines, very common. And, when people say, "Well, Watergate wasn`t that big a deal." Keep in mind, Watergate is shorthand for a widespread criminal conspiracy lead by the president of the United States himself, which more than 40 people eventually served hard time. So, people who don`t like the hard facts of history about the Nixon administration, every time some scandal happens, they say, "Well, this is Watergate." Quite honestly, they don`t know what they`re talking about. MADDOW: Dan Rather having you here is the best perspective that I get. Ever, whenever you are here. RATHER: Wow. Thanks. MADDOW: Thanks so much for being here. RATHER: Thanks for that. MADDOW: I appreciate it. RATHER: Thank you. MADDOW: I should tell you that Dan Rather`s latest program Dan Rather Reports on AXS TV again is called "Operation Streamline" and it airs tonight at 11:00 p.m. on AXS. All right, if you are counting at home, a very important number is now up to 12. Big news for Minnesota. Straight ahead. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: On December 9, 1974, Minnesota State Senator Allan Spear came out on the front page of the Minneapolis Star Tribune. The article read, Allan Spear is a 37-year-old freshman member of the Minnesota senate, a DFLOR, which is the Democratic Farm Labor Party in Minnesota. Allan Spear is an associated professor of history at the University of Minnesota. A respected specialist in Afro-American history. Allan Spear has a doctorate degree from Yale, and has written a book on the making of the Chicago Black Ghetto. Allan Spear has long been active in DFL, civil rights and peace causes, and has ranked as the most liberal state senator in Americans for democratic action survey. He is also a homosexual and as of today does not care who knows it. Allan Spear also is a homosexual. And, as of today, he does not care who knows it. Allan Spear made history that day, as one of the first ever openly gay elected officials in this country, that was 1974 that front page story. In the 28 years, he ended up serving in the state senate, partially through his leadership. Minnesota had a landmark achievements in gay rights including a sweeping anti-discrimination statute passed in 1993. Although, they did have some landmark achievements as a state, Minnesota never got around to recognizing marriage equality. Then in the mid term elections in 2010, it was the Republican Party that took control of both chambers of the Minnesota legislature for the first time in 40 years. And with their new found power, Minnesota republicans put on the ballot, a state constitutional amendment to doubly, triply ban gay marriage, once and forever in the state even though gay marriage wasn`t legal there anyway. But, republicans wanted a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, and they put it on the ballot, and then when it went for statewide vote last year in November, it lost. That had never happened before, ever. Thirty-one states had voted on amendments just like that one, and all 31 had voted against marriage equality, until that all changed this past November. Minnesotans made history in November when they voted no and they decided not to change their state constitution to ban equal marriage rights. And, at the same time, on the same Election Day, on the same ballot, Minnesota voted to return the control of both houses of their legislature to the Democratic Party, to the DFL. And, the democrats in Minnesota decided that, that vote where the state said, "No to banning equal rights, that vote deserved another vote." And, so beyond just not banning same-sex marriage, the state, they decided should legalize same-sex marriage. And, last Thursday, the Minnesota house took up the question. It passed by a surprisingly comfortable margin, even a handful of republicans voted yes. That sent it to the state senate, where yesterday with a packed rotunda for what everybody anticipated to be a historic day. The Minnesota state senate debated and then voted. And, the Minnesotans who supported equal marriage rights ended up doing much better than anybody expected. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) RON LATZ, (D) MINNESOTA SENATOR: Members, in my humble judgment, this is indeed the civil rights issue of our generation. We are on cusp of making historic decision about what civil rights we will live with, what kind of society we will live in. BRANDEN PETERSEN, (R) MINNESOTA SENATOR: I vote yes on the first and 14th amendment. I stand here quite honestly more uncertain of my future in this place than I have ever been. And, when I walk out of the chamber today -- but when I walk out of the chamber today, I am absolutely certain that I`m standing on the side of individual liberty. SCOTT DIBBLE, (D) MINNESOTA SENATOR: Members, please. Please vote yes. Vote yes for freedom. Vote yes for family, for commitment, for responsibility, for dignity. Vote yes for love. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: That was democratic state senator Scott Dibble, who is an openly gay member of legislature, and who is the man who now holds the same senate seat that was once held by Allan Spear. Senator Dibble offer the marriage equality legislature and throughout the whole debate, he wore Allan Spears campaign pin in tribute. It took four hours of debate and then the same sex marriage bill passed the state senate yesterday by a vote of 37-30. Lots of votes to spare, even some republicans. So, that makes Minnesota the 12th state in the country to recognize marriage equality and the third state to do so just this month. Minnesota`s democratic Governor Mark Dayton signed that bill into law this afternoon just a few hours ago on the steps of the state capital. A big historic day in Minnesota that was a long time in coming for whole group of Minnesotans who could not be married before wedding bells, they can start to ring on the state on August 1st. That is the first day of the new law goes into in effect. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: I have some breaking news tonight. One week ago you will remember that the lieutenant kernel who the U.S. Air Force had put in charge of the air force`s sexual assault prevention office was himself arrested and accused of sexual battery. Well, now a week later a second U.S. service member, who is assigned to military sexual assault prevention is being investigated for sexual misconduct. At this time, it is the army of the U.S. Army Sergeant First Class from Fort Hood, Texas, who is assigned as an equal opportunity adviser and sexual harassment assault response prevention coordinator. He is under investigation for pandering, abusive sexual contact, assault and maltreatment of subordinates. A defense official telling NBC News tonight that this sergeant first class is being investigated for forcing at least one subordinate soldier into prostitution and for sexual assaulting two other soldiers. That soldier has not yet been charged. The army has not releasing his identity, but that special agents from the U.S. army criminal investigation command are conducting this investigation. Again, this is just breaking tonight, but yet U.S. soldier in this case in a leadership position in sexual assault prevention himself under investigation tonight for sexual assault. Unbelievable. Do believe this week? Now, time for "THE LAST WORD" with Lawrence O`Donnell. Have a great night. THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END