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The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 06/03/13

Guests: Emanuel Cleaver, Elizabeth Goitein

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST, THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW: Good evening, Chris. Thank you. CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST, ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES: Thank you. MADDOW: And Thanks to you at home for staying with us on a busy news day. The White House announced late today that President Obama is about to pick a whole bunch of new judges. Three nominees for the very influential and high profile D.C. circuit court. If are a sense of how big of a deal, the D.C. circuit court is, consider that of the nine justices currently on the Supreme Court, four of the nine came from the D.C. circuit. There are a ton vacant seats on that court right now. Republicans in the Senate say they want to keep them all vacant so President Obama cannot get his nominees on a court that important. But President Obama, we are told today, will be nominating three judges for that court tomorrow in a ceremony that will be held in the most unsubtle place in the world, the Rose Garden. At the Supreme Court today, a divided decision handed down about DNA. The court ruling that if you are arrested for a serious crime, the police can force you to give a DNA sample even if you don`t want to. It was a 5-4 decision, but it was not the usual conservative-liberal 5-4 split. The minority opinion today was written by conservative justice Antonin Scalia, but he was joined in his position by the more liberal justices begins Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor. That is a foursome that doesn`t usually exist in nature. Today in Afghanistan, an attack apparently aimed at U.S. forces in the eastern part of the country, in Paktio (ph) province claimed the lives of two American soldier and an Afghan policeman and also at least nine kids. The bomb was set off by a suicide bomber on a motorcycle that was just outside a boy`s school in the province. Today`s attack following an earlier attack today which killed seven members of the same family. Today, the interior department approved three giant energy projects on public lands, two solar and one geothermal. Together, these are expected to generate enough electricity to power 200,000 homes. The two solar projects are in Nevada and Arizona. The geothermal one is in a place that is called New York Kenyan which sounds very east coasty, but it is in Nevada as well. Today, in Colorado, the gun lobby turned in more than enough signatures to force a recall election against the Democratic president of the Colorado state Senate in his leadership in passing gun reforms in that state. Also today, the Boston fire chief resigned as well as a no confidence vote by the city`s 13 deputy fire chiefs, the deputy chief have accused the chiefs of inappropriately refusing to assume command on scene in the aftermath of the Boston bombing. They also accuse him of taking a selfy photo of himself from a roof top of a burning building in the background instead of taking command at that scene as well. The chief was on the job for less than two years in Boston. We are now told that he would be out by Friday. So, there is a lot going on in today`s news. But we begin with Doonesbury. Doonesbury, the comicster (ph), written by Gary Trudeau reliably excellent genius political commentary and jokes since the 1970s. Doonesbury is mostly a large cast of fictional characters who you get to love, even the creepy ones, if you follow the trip. But Doonesbury also has always mixed in real political figures which are often characterized in visual means that have many meanings. For example, Newt Gingrich was a little floating bomb with a lip fuse as if it might pop at any moment. George W. Bush after the 2000 Bush v. Gore recount, he just became a walking talking asterisk sometimes wearing a hat. There is a news man character that is very clearly Sam Donaldson who is called the (INAUDIBLE) in Doonesbury. And there is also a character called Lacey Davenport. Lacey Davenport was quite transparently based on an actual but now largely forgotten American political figure. The character lives on in the script, right, but the basis of the Lacey Davenport character has pretty much been forgotten in real life. The basis of the Lacey Davenport character in Doonesbury, in real life, was a Republican congresswoman from New Jersey named Millicent Fenwick. Millicent Hammond Fenwick to be precise. She was a Republican member of Congress from New Jersey. People say that politicians like Mitt Romney and George H. W. Bush had a patrician problem. They seemed a little thirst in Henley. They seems a little too aristocratic, too hoity toity to relate to the regular people. Well, Mitt Romney and George H. W. Bush had nothing on Millicent Hammond Fenwick. Here she is smoking a pipe. Millicent Fenwick was the platonic form of patrician. And after serving in Congress for eight years, she decided in 1982 that she would try to move up to the House of Lords by which I mean the Senate. Because one of New Jersey`s two senate seats was all of sudden unexpectedly an open seat and that`s why she decided to make the trial. The reason New Jersey had an open seat that year was because of abs scam. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The abs investigation, videotapes of Congressmen committing crimes. It started four years ago with the house in Washington where FBI agents posed as representatives of rich Arabs looking for favors and apparently succeed in bribing a half dozen congressmen and one senator, most of them sentenced to three years in prison. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: The congressman and senator. That one senator was a New Jersey senator, New Jersey Democratic senator named Harrison Williams. And he gave up his senate seat when he was convicted of bribery and conjunction with t with the abs scam disaster. The governor of New Jersey at the time was a Republican. He had to appoint somebody to fill that seats until an election could be held. And the governor at the time did, what seems to be the decent thing, he appointed somebody who is just a place holder who is not meant to hold the seat in any long term capacity so that people of New Jersey could in that election choose the true successor for the guy who was now in jail. But then for the November 1982 election, when Republicans had to pick who they wanted to run for the seat, they picked for real, Millicent Fenwick. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: This year congressional campaign includes a familiar code of house members who are trying to enlarge their political careers by moving up through the Senate. There are eight of them this year, but none with a national reputation except one. This is the face and profile of an American aristocrat. It is also the face of the Republican Party Senate candidate in New Jersey, Millicent Hammond Fenwick. Indeed, everything about the 72-year-old Fenwick exceeds upper class breeding, barring and wealth. The Channel style suits and heavy jewelry. The studied indifference to the nitty-gritty of politics. The venality of her small talk with those of lesser station. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I love to see productive land. UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: The feisty refusing to give up her famous pipe. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You know that pipe, I was almost going to give it up and I thought if I hear more time pipe smoking grandmother, I`m going have to give it up. I can`t give up grandchildren, but I have to give up the pipe. I couldn`t stand it. You know that I don`t like that sort of thing at all. But then, I thought, I am not going to be bullied and told. UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: And while she is now the favorite in the Senate race, her election is not a given. She has not done well in the campaign debates. Her party is outnumbered, 3-2 in New Jersey. She doesn`t have the endorsement of organized women or labor . And despite her claim of black support. She was not allowed to speak at a recent NAACP in her neighboring county until after the TV cameras have left. But everybody takes her seriously as a candidate, especially her democratic opponent, Frank Lautenberg. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s no longer Frank who. They say Frank when. UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: Lautenberg is running as if he was not 12-15 points behind the polls behind in the polls. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Millicent Fenwick was heavily favored to win that amazing race in 1982. She had all of the money in the world. She was running for a seat that had become open because of a Democrat who held the seat before was convicted of bribery and abs scam when she was the Republican. Republicans should have won that seat. Everyone thought Millicent Fenwick was going to win that seat. But, an underdog named Frank Lautenberg beat her. He won that seat in the senate. And when Frank Lautenberg died this morning at the age of 89 at home in New Jersey, he was remembered as the last World War II veteran to ever served in the United States senate. He was remembered as a father and a businessman and unusually consequential United States senator who has a lot of very high profile legislation and policy changes associated with his name and his tenure in public life. But Frank Lautenberg was also remembered as a man whose political career always seem to pivot unkind of amazing circumstances. I mean, his career started with the abs scam created vacancy and then the race against Millicent Fenwick and her pipe and the out of the blue underdog victory in the race. He served for 18 years then until the year 2000 when he retired from Senate, on his owned term, saying he did not feel like fund-raising to run again. But then, as soon as he retired, literally at the press conference where he announce that he was retiring, he then turned to the friend and said he was making a mistake. He immediately regretted it as soon as he announced he was stepping down. And he wanted to be back in the senate and he let everybody knows that he wanted to be back in the senate even though he just quit. MADDOW: And then. less than two years later when another senator from New Jersey, another Democrat, this one named Bob Torricelli, the Torch, when he went up in flame in a big embarrassing want on bribery scandal of his own, that happened in the middle of Bob Torricelli running for reelection. But the scandal did not totally blow up and he did not quit the race until just a month before the election. He is already on the ballot. Now, he quits. What`s going to happen now? Well, there is old retired Frank Lautenberg saying pick me. Pick me. I will run. I am desperate to get back to the Senate. He had to go to the Supreme Court of the state of New Jersey to decide whether or not Mr. Lautenberg could be allowed to switcheroo onto the ballot with the very end of the campaign without having to win a primary or do anything else to earn the spot. But the state Supreme Court let him on the ballot and so Torricelli ran for reelection in the middle of the scandal, finally had to quit, they swapped in Lautenberg`s name at the last second and Frank Lautenberg ended up back in the Senate after he previously left. Frank Lautenberg`s whole political career has been amazing. It did not start until late in life. He had already served in World War II, he came back, he got his degree on GI bill. He became a very, very, very, very successful, very rich businessman. Do you get paid by payroll service? Does it say ADP somewhere on your payroll stub? That`s Frank Lautenberg. Once Frank Lautenberg got into politics, every time he ran, a, he won and b, there was some amazing story or amazing circumstances surrounding that election. And it is therefore in keeping with the circumstances of Frank Lautenberg`s amazing life that his passing today has brought about another one-of-a-kind drama in New Jersey politics. To understand the drama, you have to know about a little bit about Frank Lautenberg`s legacy and what he did with his time in the Senate. The thing he is probably most famous for was the fight that he led and won in 1989 in the Senate. That was the first time around. He had been a two- pack a day smoker at one point in his life, but he quit smoking and then he made a change in the country for everyone which made it so airplanes no longer need to have exhaust pipes that come out of the passenger compartment. We just have the exhaust pipes for the engines now. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The new prohibition would take effect three months after the president signs the legislation. After that the only domestic flights for smokers could still light up would be just 12 daily flights from inland U.S. cities to Hawaii, flight to which take longer than six hours and one Chicago to Alaska flight, also more than six hours. At Los Angeles international airport today, plane show the characteristics smudge mark where cigarette smoke is vented from the passenger cabin. Traveler, Peter McMartin (ph), an ex-smoker is all for the extended ban. PETER MCMARTIN (ph), TRAVELER: I think it is the best thing that ever happened. It should have happened years ago. UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: But Laura Carpentry (ph) said six hours is a long time to go without a cigarette. LAURA CARPENTRY (ph), TRAVELER: I think everybody should have the right to do whatever they want to do. If they want to smoke on an airplane, they should be able to smoke. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Loving anarchist sentiments like that aside, America eventually told (INAUDIBLE) on Frank Lautenberg`s idea that really, nobody should be able to do whatever they want on an airplane including smoking cigarette cigarettes. In 1984 when he was a freshman senator in the minority party, Frank Lautenberg led the fight to establish a national drinking age of 21. Before that, some states let you drink as young as 18. In 2000, he led the way for nation standards for drunk driving laws. Frank Lautenberg supported the environmental cleanup of super fun sights. He loved to fight for the funding of Amtrak and the family and medical leave act and the Ryan White care act for aids. Frank Lautenberg is a major reason why if you are convicted of domestic violence, you have a hard time legally getting a gun in this country. Having benefitted after GI bill himself, after World War II, Frank Lautenberg was a leading fighter for the new post 9-11 GI bill during the administration of George W. Bush. In the Obama administration his health was not great, for some of it. He announced in February that he would not run for reelection next year. But at 89 this year, significantly sick in a wheelchair because of it, Frank Lautenberg nevertheless came back to the capitol in April to cast votes in favor of gun reform laws that he had long championed, including background checks and an assault weapons ban. And now, with Frank Lautenberg dying this morning at the age of 89, the governor of New Jersey who is probably the highest profile Republican in the country, Chris Christie is now, as of today, left with a whole bunch of impossible decisions that have been left now to him from this proud liberal Democratic senator who was just as pugnacious like Chris Christie and his loud ideological nemesis for the entire time Chris Christie has been in office in New Jersey. The first thing Governor Christie has to decide is what to do with a bunch of gun bills that are sitting on his desk. Frank Lautenberg was a champion of reformat the federal level. At the state level Democrats and Republicans in the New Jersey state legislature have just passed a number of bipartisan gun reform measures and Chris Christie has been sitting on his desk right now and has to decide whether or not he is going to sign, the clock is ticking. That way, common wisdom, of course, on guns, it`s still that any Republican with national ambitions should not sign anything related to gun reformat all. But, would the legislature in New Jersey send Chris Christie is really, really low-hanging fruit. And it would be a big deal in New Jersey if he vetoed this stuff. It is stuff like the terrorism watch list. Should you really be allowed to buy explosives and guns if you are on the no-fly list? How about 50 caliber weapons that maybe can shoot aircraft out of the skies and they are taking off the landing? Does that seem like a useful thing in New Jersey? The governor Christie has to decide on is among all the possible gun reform in the country, it is low hanging fruit particularly the terrorism watch list thing. And if Chris Christie cannot sign bills like that, then honestly, no Republican can sign any gun legislation anywhere in the country. But Governor Christie has got to decide if he wants to defy bipartisan legislation and New Jersey overwhelming public opinion on easy bills like this because of his national ambitions. And on top of that, now, he has to decide what to do about Frank Lautenberg`s Senate seat. Because governor Chris Christie does clearly has the power and the responsibility to appoint somebody to fill the seat in the Senate, but New Jersey state law is not just unclear, but actually contradictory on the question of whether or not the person, governor Christie gets to appoint to the seat will hold the seat until Frank Lautenberg`s term is up next November 2014 or whether that appointee actually has to be on the ballot right away this November, along sides a man named Chris Christie who is running for reelection as governor. Complicated, right? New Jersey is a Democratic state. New Jersey likes Chris Christie and he is a Republican, but it is a Democrat state. And a Democrat is likely to win the senate. Chris Christie could hurt his own reelection chances. He could at least hurt the margin by which he is expected to win reelection if he decides that that senate seat with a likely Democratic winner is going to be voted on at the same time has his own reelection. If he said the election should not be held until next November, well then, he looks scared and that`s against his brand. Should he appoint a place holder who is not going to run for the seat in the long run. New Jersey is such a democratic state that would effectively be setting up whatever Democrat to win when the special election finally rolls around. Should Chris Christie appoint a hard core red blooded conservative Republican to the seat. He can pick anybody he wants. Should he pick somebody like that to shore up his national standing in his own party which thinks of him as a bit of a squish, an ideological squish. That would, of course, would help him in, if he want to run for president in terms of scouring the nomination and won`t help him win the general election and won`t help him in New Jersey where he is the only Republican anybody likes state-wide. And then the question of Cory Booker. The mayor of Newark, a Democrat who everybody thinks he is going to win this senate seat one way or the other whenever he has to win it. Chris Christie and Cory Booker, a, get along, b, seem to respect each other, c, are not running against each other for governor because Cory Booker decided not to challenge him. Thank you, Cory Booker. And d, the two of them in this circumstance present the most delicious complicated Frank Lautenberg could not have invented it himself ideological weird election circumstance in New Jersey ever for Chris Christie. If Chris Christie appoints Cory Booker, Democrat Cory Booker to that Senate seat, he would be appointing a guy who New Jersey probably wants anyway. He would be infuriating his own party, of course, and making himself look like the most bipartisan, practical, technocratic across the aisle kind of guy you can possibly imagine which would make Democrats absolutely terrified of him as a 2016 presidential candidate. I have no idea what`s going to happen, but it will happen fast. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: It`s no mystery that senator Lautenberg and I didn`t always agree. In fact, it probably is more honest to say we very often didn`t agree. And we had some pretty good fights between us overtime. Battles on philosophy and the role of government. But never was senator Lautenberg to be under estimated for the causes he believed in and as an adversary in the political world. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, probably the highest profile Republican in the country this morning eulogizing his state senior senator Frank Lautenberg. Governor Christie now has to decide when to replace the late senator and who to replace him and the decision is fraud in a million different directions. Joining us now is Steve Kornacki. He is the host of "Up with Steve Kornacki" with is here won MSNBC on weekend mornings. Steve is also a senior writer at salon. And don`t you have a long sorted history as a New Jersey political reporter? STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC HOST, UP WITH STEVE KORNACKI: Anybody who has done politics in New Jersey is ordinarily thwarted, I think, but I did three years there. And the (INAUDIBLE). I love that you put that out there, by the way. MADDOW: It is, I mean, it is -- you do have to take the context on New Jersey seriously. Noting that, you know, the first time that seat became open, it was because of abs scam, the second time that seat became open, it was because of the (INAUDIBLE) bribery scandal. I mean, it`s rich anyway. But, am I right in thinking Chris Christie and Frank Lautenberg were really at each other`s throats for most of the time there both in office? KORNACKI: No. They did, you know, Frank Lautenberg has sort of second incarnation as a senator. So, he left in 2000. He came back in 2002 when you have the Torricelli situation. This was the guy who sort of freed from a lot of the sort of limits he felt when he first return. He was worried about reelection every six years and this sort of thing. In the last decade, Frank Lautenberg was a lot more outspoken. He crave to say a lot more strident at the height of the Iraq war. He took the call in Dick Cheney (ph) and the Republicans chicken hawks. He has had chicken hawks doll made. And so, a conservatives really -- they never liked Lautenberg that much to begin with, but they really came to really irritated them in the last decade and Christie gave voice to that I think in the last couple of years. So, it is interesting to see him making that statement today. MADDOW: Do you think that history affects the kind of person who Chris Christie picks for this seat? I mean, conceivably, whatsoever Chris Christie picks could be there until a year from November or depending on how they interpret the law and the state and how he decides to move forward, it could be until this November. Which direction do you think it will go? KORNACKI: So, I think I talked to a number of people today and I got a little bit in the Christie`s orbit I think. And I think basically, the kind of person you pick is dependent on when the election takes place. The first question that has to be addressed here is when. Is this -- he is going to appoint somebody, the question is, is it somebody who is going to run first in November of 2014 or as somebody who is going to run in November 2013? MADDOW: Does he get to decide when? KORNACKI: Well, this would be -- the courts will probably decide. Christie`s preference would be November 2014. He thinks he is in great shape for reelection this year. He doesn`t want to muck it up. Cory Booker, the like Democratic candidate, he doesn`t want to be running for reelection with Cory Booker`s name in the Democratic columns. He wants it 2014. The question is, twofold, to Christie. One, can he justify in the court of public relation saying you know what, voters are likely Democrat. I`m a Republican and I`m going to bypass an opportunity to put that Republican before the voters now and waive here. Can you get away with that in the court of public opinion. And two, can he get away with in the real system because Democrats badly want this election in 2013 and they will sue if says where can we can due 2014. The issue for Democrats is they are looking right now at Barbara Bono, their gubernatorial candidate is likely to lose by a healthy margin this fall. That jeopardizes the entire Democratic machine in New Jersey because all of these Democrats in municipal and county level have to run with her. And if the Democrats can get Cory Booker at the top of the ticket this fall, that may not help Barbara Bono, but that is going to helps a lot of Democrats up and down the ballot. So, they badly were not to be this November. So, the question is when in terms of how it affects who this will be. If it`s November 2014, what I am hearing today is Christie is much more likely than to appoint a conservative to the seat. Because then, he is thinking more in terms of 2016, Malpine (ph) national Republicans and if it`s November 2013, he is picking his running mate in a blue state. You know, so it is much more likely to go with a moderate, if somebody from this fall. MADDOW: I am picking a cross party choice at that point. I think that would be the big Chris Christie patented, you know, one finger salute to the political system he is so known for. And I don`t know. I think we should for that as well. Steve Kornacki, host of MSNBC`s weekend morning show, "UP WITH STEVE KORNAKI" letting you keep up late. Thanks a lot, Steve. KORNACKI: Sure. MADDOW: Good to have you here. MADDOW: All right, the most bizarre congressional trip abroad maybe of all me. The leaked case of the century and a preview of what will happen all summer is coming up. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: "Above the Law." He has been hard to kill. He has been under siege part one and party two. But now Steven Seagal is in Russia with a delegation of Congress people? We have the tape. There is dancing. That`s coming up. He`s a punk. Get him, man. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Six years ago in July 2007, American helicopter pilots fired on a group of Iraqis in a Baghdad suburb. Twelve people were killed including two men working for the Reuters news agency. Driver and a photographer. The military defended itself saying all proper protocols were followed. They said there was no question that coalition forces were clearly engaged in combat operations against a hostile force. But there was some dispute about just how hostile the situation really was and so Reuters asked the military if they could see any video that the troops in the helicopter might have taken of the incident. The military said no. Reuters then filed the Freedom of Information Act request. Still no. Nearly three years went by but then in April 2010, all of the sudden the video of that airstrike which killed that Reuters driver and photographer and 10 other people, that video got posted online. It was video taken from the perspective of the gun sight on the helicopter. After requesting any such video and having the military tell them no, Reuters was able to see it and the world was able to see it for the first time three years down the road because it was posted online by WikiLeaks. There`s a short version and a 40-minute long version of the video. WikiLeaks added subtitles to it, they added their own written narration describing what they believe was happening in the video. They called the killings unprovoked even though some of the men seen in the video seemed to have weapons. The AK-47s and a rocket-propelled grenade launcher. WikiLeaks said at the time and still says that they`ve got the video from a source but they would not name who it was. The video was released April 2010, about a month later the Army`s Criminal Investigation Division arrested a 22-year-old Army intelligence analyst who was on active duty in Iraq. Private 1st Class Bradley Manning was suspected of leaking not just the Apache helicopter video, but also hundreds of thousands of classified documents including more videos and State Department cables and internal military reports. Over the course of that year with Private Manning sitting in a confinement camp in Kuwait and then a military prison at Quantico, that trove of information that he now admits he sent to Wikileaks, those hundreds of thousands of files made a lot of news. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: They documents revealed that even as Pakistan accepted billions in U.S. aide, Pakistani intelligence officials allegedly conspired with Taliban leaders to attack American forces in Afghanistan. In May 2007, the Taliban shot down a U.S. helicopter with a shoulder-fired missile, killing seven soldiers. But NATO commanders concealed that fact. In one five-year period, more than 66,000 Iraqi civilians were killed even though the Pentagon have repeatedly claimed they never kept such statistics. U.S. Intelligence officials also estimate that the names of more than 300 Iraqi informants working with the Americans appear in the documents. According to documents posted by WikiLeaks this weekend the U.S. military knew of at least several dozen incidents involving security contractors. This is the third and by far the biggest release of U.S. secrets by WikiLeaks. Friends like French President Sarkozy described as thin-skinned and an emperor with no clothes. Foes like Iranian president Adhmadinejad called Hitler. Libya`s Moammar Gadhafi strange and always accompanied by a voluptuous blond Ukrainian nurse. And North Korean dictator Kim Jung-Il, a flabby old chap. One cable in January says Yemen`s President Saleh told General David Petraeus, "We`ll continue saying the bombs are ours, not yours." Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Condoleezza Rice before her, ordered U.S. embassies and intelligence services to gather private information on U.N. leaders and diplomats, including computer passwords, even DNA and fingerprints. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Bradley Manning is accused of leaking classified documents that made public things that were things like insulting names that American officials used to describe the French president and that they thought Kim Jung-Il was flabby. But also so much more consequential stuff. Military cover-ups of attacks on U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan. An official death count of civilians in Iraq. The names of hundreds of informants. The government of Yemen signing off on the United States secret drone problem and agreeing to help cover it up. Spying on U.N. officials and on representatives from countries on the U.N. national security. Earlier this year, Bradley Manning plead guilty to 10 of the 22 charges against him. As of today he is being court marshaled for the remaining charges including the charge of aiding the enemy. Prosecutors are not seeking the death penalty, but if he`s convicted of these remaining charges, he could be looking at life. Does the question of whether or not he gets life depend on what the Court Marshal proves in terms of his motive? Is the point now to figure out if he leaked the documents for good reasons or bad reasons? And how is the judge going to decide that? Joining us now is Elizabeth Goitein. She`s the co-director of the Liberty and National Security Program at the Brennan Center for Justice. Miss Goitein, thank you very much for being with us tonight. ELIZABETH GOITEIN, BRENNAN CENTER FOR JUSTICE: Thank you. MADDOW: Is the issue of Bradley Manning`s intent or motive at passing on these documents, is that the center of this case now and how serious it is against him? GOITEIN: Strangely enough it`s really not. I mean, that`s what you read about in the newspapers, is what was the intent? Is he a hero? Is he a traitor? But the judge in this case has already ruled that his subjective motive isn`t relevant to the charges that were brought against him under the Espionage Act. So the only thing that matters under those charges is whether a reasonable person would have had reason to believe that the disclosures could harm national security. It`s a little more complicated under the -- aiding the enemy charge. He did under that charge have to have some kind of evil intent is what they call it. He had to know and really set up to be giving intelligence to the enemy, to al Qaeda and associated forces. So the answer is yes and no, depending on the charges. MADDOW: So the people who support Bradley Manning, both from the sort of social movement supporters outside the case and also his defense, his formal defense, during the court Marshall, is essentially that they`re calling him a whistleblower. And that`s -- GOITEIN: That`s right. MADDOW: Not just a term that sounds good. It`s sort of a legal term of art. What does that mean for him legally? GOITEIN: Well, there`s a statute called the Whistleblower Protection Act that defines a whistleblower as someone who has reason to believe that the information they`re disclosing shows serious government abuse, fraud, or waste. Now that`s not actually not at issue in this case because if that - - if that is what he showed through these disclosures, it`s not a defense to the changes that were brought against him under the Espionage Act, under the charge of aiding the enemy. So whether you think he`s a whistleblower or whether you think he`s a traitor, it`s not really relevant to the charges against him. MADDOW: Then why do you think that is the basis of the defense, both in the court of public opinion and in the actual court martial? GOITEIN: Right. Well, I mean, I think the defense is bringing it up to try to help show that he wasn`t intentionally passing information on to the enemy. I think in the court of public opinion, it`s really about our understanding of national security leaks and how they should be treated in cases where the leaker does not intend to harm the national security. Now Bradley Manning is somebody who, you know, downloaded 750,000 documents and passed them along. I personally don`t think of him as a classic whistleblower because I don`t think he could have read all those documents. I mean, I`ve done the math. If you give him 30 seconds per document and 12 hours a day to do nothing but read documents, it would still take him longer than the entire time he was in Iraq. But he also had no intent to harm the United States. So really should the Espionage Act which is used to prosecute enemies of the state be used in the situation? As the Obama administration has done in many instances. MADDOW: Elizabeth Goitein, co-director of the Liberty and National Security Program at the Brennan Center for Justice. Thank you very much for your time tonight. Thanks for helping us -- (CROSSTALK) GOITEIN: Thank you. MADDOW: It`s going to be about 12 weeks, they say at the outside, in terms of how long this case is going to go on. There`s going to be more than 100 witnesses called on both sides. Court martials do not go exactly the same way civilian trials, but the Bradley Manning case is now moving out of the realm of great interest to his supporters to now once again being of great national interest. You`re going to hear a lot about it all summer long. We`ll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Mystery solved. When the head of the Tea Party caucus, former presidential candidate Michele Bachmann announced her resignation from Congress last week when she announced she would not run for reelection, one of the many interesting things about that resignation was that she did it by video and then she was unavailable for comment. And her staff would not say where she was. So she is effectively phoning in her resignation statement and then she is nowhere to be found? It`s kind of a strange way to do it, but we now know where she was. She was with this guy. This is the 1990s action movie hero, Steven Seagal, seen here dancing in Russia. If you do not -- recognize him from the dancing, that is because he no longer looks very much like the way he looked when he was a famous action movie hero fighting with Gary Busey in this pot boiler. Get it? But it`s the same guy. This is him. This is him in Chechnya recently. I think we`ve got him, yes. This is Chechnya on the right of your screen. That`s Steven Seagal. On the left side of your screen is what traditional, formal Chechen dancing looks like which Mr. Seagal is emulating. He`s given it a whirl himself. You never know how American celebrity of various kinds translates abroad. So every once in a while you do get something like, you know, Dennis Rodman being welcome to North Korea as a national hero. In Russia it turns our Vladimir Putin loves him some Steven Seagal. Even late models Steven Seagal. And that Vladimir Putin affection has extended to Mr. Seagal getting a welcome like a head of state from the Putin-supported regime in Chechnya, and that is where Michele Bachmann comes in. Michele Bachmann and Congressman Steve King and Congressman Dana Rohrabacher and Steve Cohen and Bill Keating and Paul Cook all went to Russia last week to investigate the Boston bombing suspects from Chechnya and they went with Steven Seagal. They had a press conference with him at the embassy and everything where he wore those wacky glasses. The members of Congress said that Mr. Seagal set up a whole bunch of meetings for them with the FSB. Which of course is what the KGB became. They also wanted to go to Chechnya itself. Mr. Seagal wanted them to go meet his friends, the president of Chechnya who is accused of widespread kidnappings, murder and torture of his political opponents. Somewhere between those accusations and House of Representatives` rules about accepting a free flight on Steven Seagal`s private plane to go to Chechnya, that part of the trip fell through. Back home in Washington today, House Republicans decided that their contribution to American`s foreign policy responsibilities would be to introduce legislation banning President Obama from closing the prison in Guantanamo. The Republicans ban is folded into the language of the overall bill funding the whole Defense Department which includes hundreds of millions of dollars to keep Guantanamo going and to shore it up for years to come. That huge funding bill for the whole Pentagon gets a vote this week and the Republicans are apparently going to make the president veto all funding for the entire U.S. military if he wants to try to close Guantanamo. There is a lot going on in the world right now. Turkey is now swaying under four straight days of increasingly massive street protests against what previously seemed to be a stable government there. Mostly young people, but increasingly all kinds of people calling the government there authoritarian and anti-democratic and taking to the streets in protest. The ongoing war in Syria is the on-going war in Syria, with increasingly complex international dynamics and politics surrounding that conflict, encompassing Russia and the EU and Israel, and Lebanon, and Jordan, and Iraq, and Turkey as well. There`s a war on in Afghanistan with two U.S. soldiers and a policeman and nine kids killed in the eastern part of the country today, and a suicide bomb attack outside a school. The war we left in our wake in Iraq has heated back up again with the U.N. saying this weekend that the death toll just last month from bombings and assassinations and other attacks in Iraq was over 1,000 people killed. It is a big, complicated world out there right now with a lot of particularly difficult foreign policy problems confronting our country. And six sitting members of Congress decided to go meet with the KGB on a trip arranged by Steven Seagal, the action movie guy from the `90s. And now with the Chechen dancing. Four of those six members of Congress who went with him are on the Intelligence Committee or the Foreign Relations Committee in Congress, including Michele Bachmann. What do other countries think of us when a congressional delegation like this shows up in their country? (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Six current and former IRS agents testified from behind screens. Their voices distorted to protect their identity. They said they`re afraid of the IRS, too, calling it vindictive, arrogant, and merciless to taxpayers who owe money. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are told to go out there and collect in 30 days or shut them down. UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: But are IRS abuses really any worse than they used to be? UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They`ve gotten much worse over the past several years. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. The problems are worse. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Absolutely, it`s much worse. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I agree with my colleagues, much worse. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I concur that it`s much worse. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Congress can be a weird place, but that has got to be one of the weirdest moments in Congress ever. Altered voices. That happened in September, 1997 when the U.S. Senate held hearings into the IRS. The hearings were designed as a study in melodrama, with horror stories, and the accusations, and the altered voices and the screens. Those hearings back then were the work of Senator William Roth, Republican of Delaware. The first round of Roth hearings were such a hit that he did them the next year as well in 1998. And that was the year that Godwin`s law just broke down and wept. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CODY MAYO, ATTORNEY: One of my clients put a .357 to his head and blew his brains out just four days before his tax code case going to trial. Because he couldn`t take the stress any longer. WILLIAM MONCRIEF, WITNESS: I`m one of the few taxpayers blessed with the resources to fight back against IRS abuse and Gestapo-like tactics. SEN. FRANK MURKOWSKI (R), ALASKA: They accumulated this Gestapo-like effort. Such Gestapo-like actions are uncalled for. LEROY WARREN, WITNESS: The people out in the field refer to the criminal investigation division as another state sanctioned terrorist group, the Gestapo from Germany, you know, western Europe probably in World War II. That`s the office that you would think the Gestapo ran it, not Americans run that office. JOHN COLAPRETE, WITNESS: I used to believe that such things could only happen in a communist blocked country or police state. I don`t believe that any more. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: The thing about lining up witnesses like that and having them testify to the Gestapo evils of the IRS is that the IRS is pretty much constrained by law from defending itself. Any taxpayer can tell the Senate anything they like about the unfairness of their treatment by the IRS, but unless that taxpayer gives the IRS personal permission to discuss his or her case publicly, the IRS cannot say anything in its own defense, even to rebut false charges, so it`s essentially a free play, you can say anything you want. You can`t be rebutted unless you allow yourself to be rebutted, and why would you allow that. And if you liked that sort of thing the first time around in the 1990s, well, welcome to the sequel this summer. This year, it is Senator Tom Coburn saying his constituents have said they were targeted by the IRS because they gave money to Mitt Romney campaign. Michele Bachmann says to FOX News that the IRS uses your political ideology to deny you doctor`s appointments. The newspaper owner/strip club mogul tells -- says that he was targeted by the IRS not because of anything else about him but because he likes the Tea Party. Then there was this St. Louis TV reporter who says the IRS started hammering him after he challenged President Obama`s economic policies in an interview. That reporter later got fired and then admitted that his, quote, "issues with the IRS preceded that interview by several years." As a taxpayer, that guy or anybody is free to tell whatever story you like about the IRS. Unless you give the IRS permission to, the IRS by law cannot respond. It`s a neat trick, right? Well, today on Capitol Hill, Congress asked the new acting IRS commissioner about an Iowa anti-abortion group, which says the IRS made them pledge not to protest Planned Parenthood, Congress Hal Rogers. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REP. HAL ROGERS (R), KENTUCKY: That is completely unacceptable. Do you agree with that? DANIEL WERFEL, ACTING IRS COMMISSIONER: Let me start by saying I think your question enters into a particular taxpayer, and then therefore I`m restricted by (INAUDIBLE) from commenting on that particular, but yes, as a broader matter, those types of question are -- from my vantage point, and I know I`m early in the job, inexcusable. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Day one of the hearings this week in Congress about the IRS. But there will be more. The acting commissioner saying totally agree that that kind of thing shouldn`t happen, but also I can`t defend, describe, or even address what this agency did or did not do in that particular case, the law says I can`t. Tomorrow, that same Iowa anti-abortion group will testify before a different House committee at which the IRS will still not be able to defend itself. The committee announced the hearing as being with, quote, organizations targeted by the IRS for their personal beliefs. Just in case you were wondering what the foregone conclusion of that hearing might be, it`s right there in the title. As a matter of governance, the IRS does have to explain itself and is having to explain itself on this policy matter of what key words were used to single out applications for tax-exempt status for getting more scrutiny. If the IRS got that wrong and there was targeting that was unfairly hinged on ideology, they will have to figure out how to make that right. Everybody agrees. But does that mean that the IRS is auditing all these Republican guys who Tom Coburn knows in Oklahoma and they`re only getting audited specifically because they`re Republicans and they gave money to Mitt Romney and then what do you know, audit? Who knows, who can say. But it sounds great. And conveniently the IRS is precluded by law from being able to refute any of it. So it sounds even better when you just keep repeating it. And that means happy subpoena summer. It`s the hog wild anti-Clinton `90s all over again, and we are about to have a whole summer of quite possibly nonsense, unanswered, unproven assertions in all caps, italics, three-inch headlines all summer long. It is going to be a long, hot, stupid summer. We have done this all before, but at least this time we know how it all ends. Now it`s time for "THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL." Thanks for being with us tonight. THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END