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The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 06/17/13

Guests: Zoe Lofgren

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Thanks to you at home for joining us this hour. In 1952 presidential election, the Democratic Party nominated Adlai Stevenson as their presidential nominee. He was the governor of Illinois at the time. For his running mate, the Democrats that year picked John Sparkman, Alabama senator, a man who would probably earn you a lot of money if you ever got the opportunity to put his name in the form of a question on "Jeopardy." John Sparkman, yes, he was the vice presidential nominee of one of the two major parties in 1952 but he is now essentially totally lost to history. So, that was the Democratic side that year. On the Republican side that year, the presidential nominee was Ike. General Dwight David Eisenhower. And his running mate was this handsome fellow. It was a contentious choice to pick Richard Nixon as Ike`s running mate. There were lots of other Republicans who wanted on the ticket and big powerful factions of Republicans who wanted people other than Richard Nixon to get the nod, but Ike picked Nixon -- Senator Nixon who was known as an anti-corruption crusader at the time, which is hilarious. A couple months after Ike picked Nixon, vice presidential nominee Richard Nixon got himself into his own corruption scandal. This was the headline, right? "Secret rich men`s trust fund keeps Nixon in style far beyond his salary." "The New York Post" slaying Richard Nixon going right at what was supposed to be his strong suit, saying he was not some anti-corruption crusading man of the people, he was a puppet of a millionaire`s club that secretly paid not only for him but for his whole family`s lavish lifestyle. It just looked terrible for Ike and for Nixon. And people started protesting at his campaign events holding up sarcastic signs like, "Donate here to help poor Richard Nixon." In Eugene, Oregon, a sign directed at his wife. "Pat, what are you going to do with the bribe money?" "The Washington Post" and "New York Herald Tribune" both editorializing that Ike should dump Nixon, kick him off the ticket. But Richard Nixon did something that was genius. He could see this thing accelerating and getting a little out of control, the pressure building for him to get dropped as the vice presidential nominee. Rather than trying to endure it any longer, just trying to hope to survive it, Nixon decided to swing for the fences. It was an audacious move that totally worked. He stopped campaigning. He flew to L.A. He booked the El Capitan Theater in Hollywood apparently because it had very nice fighting, very flattering. He booked a half hour of primetime live television. September 23rd, 1952, it was a Tuesday night right after Texaco Star Theater featuring Milton Berle. And there was Dick Nixon on television, very well lit, speaking uninterrupted and live for half an hour direct to the camera, telling America that he would put his fate in your hands. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) RICHARD NIXON, THEN-VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I come before you tonight as a candidate for the vice presidency and as a man whose honesty and integrity has been questioned. The usual political thing to do when charges are made against you is to either ignore them or to deny them without giving details. I believe we`ve had enough of that in the United States, particularly with the present administration in Washington, D.C. To me, the Office of the Vice Presidency of the United States is a great office, and I feel that the people have got to have confidence in the integrity of the men who run for that office and who might obtain it. I have a theory, too, that the best and only answer to a smear or to an honest misunderstanding of the facts is to tell the truth. And that`s why I`m here tonight. I want to tell you my side of the case. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: And he lays out his case. He defends himself against these scurrilous charges. He says he has not done anything wrong. He says he`s a man of humble means. His wife wears a cloth coat. He owes his parents $3,500. He does an inventory of all the things he owns in the world so you can see his modest means and trust him, again, that these are lies. Scurrilous lies told against him just for political reasons. And, yes, he understands there are some people who want him not to be the vice presidential nominee anymore, but you at home watching this live, primetime, half hour of Richard Nixon talking to you on your TV, why don`t you express your opinion? Why don`t you write a telegram, right now to the Republican National Committee? If you think they should throw me off the ticket, that`s fine, just say so. But if you think they should keep me, if you think I should stay on the ticket, send that telegram right now, won`t you? Genius, genius. That speech is always called the Checker speech because at the height of his argument for how he`s done nothing wrong and nobody is bribing him and he`s not in anybody`s pocket, in the night of his argument he busts out the family dog, Checkers, who the Nixon children love. You want to take away my dog? Is that what you want to do? I`m not giving up that dog. He recasts his political accusers as people who would take a child`s puppy away. If you d not want the puppy taken away from the child who loves it, send a telegram saying Dick Nixon should be the Republican vice presidential nominee. Send it right now. It was genius. And he did not get dropped from the ticket and they won and he became vice president. And now, two generations down the road, with the word "Nixon" a synonym for corruption, and us having mostly forgotten that he even ever was vice president -- now, I think maybe it is time for Checkers 2, or it had better be. There needs to be some move of equally audacious political genius some time soon in Virginia politics, for what is happening there right now is not going to end well. Even them it might not end well. The only saving grace in the political calamity unfolding right now in Virginia Republican politics is that this calamity at one small part of the scandal does involve a very, very cute dog. Hi. She`s 14. She`s a Sheltie terrier mix and she is the first dog of the commonwealth of Virginia. The same way you saw that the wife of a male executive is the first lady. The governor`s family is the first family. This is the first dog of Virginia. And within a few months of getting elected governor of the great state of Virginia in 2009, governor ultrasound, conservative Republican Bob McDonnell started charging the taxpayers of Virginia for the dog`s vitamins. The dog needed vitamins. He decided the taxpayers should pay for it. He charged to the taxpayers dog vitamins, breath freshening strips, deodorant, body wash, energy drinks, dry cleaning for the McDonnell children`s clothing. As governor of the state you are entitled to have the taxpayers fund a lot of your normal living expenses but you know what? Not the dog vitamins. Not the little melty bad breath but it`s not gum things. Right? But because Bob McDonnell charged even that stuff to the state, rather than paying for it, himself, some poor government employee in Virginia, the mansion director for the governor`s mansion which is a public building in Virginia as well as the residence for the first family, some poor state employee from the division of selected agency support services had to write the most embarrassing letter ever, right? Imagine this. Dear, governor, sir. How would you put it? Dear governor, we need to talk about the dog vitamins and the body wash. Mr. Governor, sir, it`s time to talk about your deodorant. Quoting from the letter, "These expenses are personal ones that can not be covered by the state or mansion funds." The state employee has to express to the governor that while some basic living expenses are par for the course and everybody knows to expect that, body wash and pet food and pet treats and dry cleaning for people other than the governor and the first lady, these are the kinds of things that are not what the taxpayers are supposed to be paying for. The governor was asked to please pay back the state, specifically $317.27 for the breath strips and the dog vitamins and all the rest of it. That was six months into his time being governor. But as of today, as of new reporting from "The Washington Post" today, we now know that the humiliation of this whole incident is not just shared between that poor state employee who had to write that letter about dog vitamins to the governor and ask for the money back, it`s not just between that employee and the governor who presumably was a little embarrassed by having to receive that letter and pay the money back. No, now it`s not just between them. Now, we all get to share in the embarrassment because now we know that even after being confronted with that, even with being confronted with that and having to pay the state back for his personal hygiene items and dog things that he charged to the taxpayers of Virginia, even after that confrontation and having to cut a check back to the state, Bob McDonnell kept doing it. Vitamins for people, not just for dogs, nasal spray, more body wash even after they were specifically told the taxpayers will not pay for your body wash, Governor. Still, though, more body wash. And how about a digestive system detox cleanse? Charged to the taxpayers of the state of Virginia by Governor Bob McDonnell. You paid for that, for him. Do you want to know what a digestive system detox cleanse is? It`s exactly what you think it is. Just take a second. You paid for that for Bob McDonnell if you live in Virginia. And now we all have to know he does that. We all have to have this information about him and his family which everybody would prefer would be private, right? But this, of course, follows the federal grand jury and the FBI and a state prosecutor looking into the $15,000 wedding dinner paid for by a Bob McDonnell political donor who also loaned him a lakeside vacation villa and a private jet, many times, an a Ferrari. Three days before the daughter`s wedding with the free wedding paid for by the campaign donor, the mother of the bride flew to Florida to do an event touting the health benefits of that campaign donor`s magic tobacco pill. The federal grand jury and the FBI are investigating on the potential corruption and bribery side of that. Was there any quid pro quo? Was the governor doing favors in his capacity as governor in exchange for the cash and prizes he was collecting from that donor? The state prosecutor is looking into whether or not the governor violated the laws on the disclosure of gifts. Both of those probes follow accusations from the executive chef at the governor`s mansion. Accusations that the governor`s grown children were hauling off from the governor`s mansion kitchen with bottled water and cups and Gatorade and protein powder, flats of eggs, liquor for a private party taken out of the liquor cabinet at the governor`s mansion, also pots and pan, kitchen equipment, allegedly taken out of the governor`s mansion kitchen by the first lady and given to other people, given away. Take it. It`s yours, by which I mean it`s public, and therefore mine, and therefore -- Those allegations from the chef are just allegations. They`re asserted by the executive chef in legal proceedings. They have not been proven in court. But the chef has asked for records related to that alleged petty theft by the governor and his family, which if nothing else is a good reminder if you are elected governor of Virginia, you do get your own personal chef. I mean, you get to be governor which is cool enough, should be a good job, right? You also get a free mansion with free food, you get a free personal chef to cook it. You get free maids. You get one of the nation`s few state-funded butlers to serve you. But free Ferrari rides and dog vitamin, those aren`t part of the deal, too? Bob McDonnell sought to make those part of the deal. After he got the initial letter six months into his administration telling him that the state was not going to pay for the dog vitamins and the breath freshening strips and the body wash and all that stuff, the governor`s chief of staff fought back and demanded that the governor was going to get those free energy drinks. So they paid up on the dog vitamins but the energy drinks, they fought that one. They`re keeping those. They fought to make sure that the taxpayers kept paying for the governor`s energy drinks. So, maybe the Republican governor of Virginia can pull himself out of this. Maybe, he saves himself with a speech that leverages the, frankly, ostentatious cuteness of the first dog to defuse the paying for the vitamins part of the scandal, right? Maybe he could pull a Nixon here. But it does not feel like that. In far because we all just know too much, right? We know about the Ferrari and the pushing the magic tobacco pill that coincidentally is made by the guy who lent you the Ferrari. We know about the detox cleanse and I will pray daily that we never learn the brand or any more specific information. So far, all that Bob McDonnell has said on this subject is that he does not want to talk about it and he`s also said he believes he can still govern. Something else has to happen here. The fall of Bob McDonnell as a potential Republican national figure has been -- that fall is like, whatever the word is that means the opposite of meteoric, or maybe actually for once it means meteoric. If you think about it, a meteor is a thing that is falling, right? Anyway, while this amazing and petty process continues to play itself out, what is it doing to election year in his state which is all happening right alongside us? Joining us is Mark Seagraves. He`s a longtime host of Virginia`s "Ask the Governor" program on WTOP Radio. He`s now a reporter for the NBC affiliate in Washington, D.C. Mr. Seagraves, it`s nice to see you again. Thanks very much for being with us. MARK SEAGRAVES, NBC TV REPORTER: Thanks for having me back. MADDOW: So, there has been very little defense from Bob McDonnell about this problem that keeps getting worse. It seems like every week particularly in the "Washington Post," but sometimes in other outlets as well, we are getting new and very specific details that seem bad for him. Why is he not saying anything about this? SEAGRAVES: You know, this is somewhat uncharacteristic for the governor. You know, as you said, I had him on my show for years on WTOP Radio. He always showed up. He always took the tough questions. Even when we were, you know, grilling him about ultrasounds and all of that, he always came in and he took his medicine and he talked about everything. In this case, what we`ve seen is him, as you said, not talking about it, saying, well, in some cases there`s an open investigation and I can`t talk about it. In other cases, I think you showed him getting on the elevator, he told people he was at that event to talk about transportation and nothing else. And so, this is not a side of Bob McDonnell people in Virginia see. This has put him in an awkward position, for whatever reason he has chosen or being advised just no not talk about it. That`s why we`re not hearing anything directly from the governor about this. MADDOW: I think one of the reasons Bob McDonnell seemed like a national figure from the very beginning apart from the fact the Republican National Committee tried to elevate him that way, immediately. As soon as he got elected governor, they had him do the response to the State of the Union. He was very publicly floated as a potential vice presidential candidate. I`m wondering if, obviously if you dig through enough personal expense reports from enough politicians, you can probably make any of them look bad. But Bob McDonnell`s brand, I think the appeal of him, the idea of him as a national figure, really depended on this idea of him being so efficient, being about sound fiscal stewardship, being that kind of a conservative. Now, we see him charging taxpayers for dog vitamins, insisting that taxpayers should pay for his energy drinks. What does that do to the Bob McDonnell brand long term? SEAGRAVES: You`re right. Governor McDonnell has been seen as that squeaky clean politician. That you may disagree with him about policies and about issues and whatnot, but people never really question his integrity. And I think you even see in the recent polling data, while his approval rating is slipping to a two-year low, when you look at the numbers just about his ethics and his moral charter, he still gets high marks in Virginia for that. You know, his staff has been busy trying to explain that the energy drinks actually qualify as his breakfast and the governor and first lady are entitled to their breakfast and many of these receipts that "The Washington Post" got go back to 2011 and the gentleman who you spoke of who does actually all the bookkeeping acknowledged to "The Post" that he has this problem with every new governor when they come in. But the timing of this is just all wrong. For not just Bob McDonnell for Ken Cuccinelli and the Republican ticket as they head into November. MADDOW: Mark Seagraves, reporter for the NBC affiliate in Washington, D.C. -- Mark, thank you very much for helping us understand this tonight. I really appreciate your help. Thanks. SEAGRAVES: Thanks, Rachel. MADDOW: Still ahead, thousands of people mobbed the streets of Tehran last night, Tehran in Iran. And you know what, they mobbed the streets because they were happy and they seemed really psyched. That`s a different kind of footage of large masses of people in the street. Details on that, coming up. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Hey, this is what it looked like in Tehran over the weekend. The people in the streets here are singing a protest song popular during the Iranian revolution. This is a poetic and powerful protest song in Iran. Thanks to Farsi speaking producers here, I can tell you the song is about two classmates who are lifelong friends. Our names are forever etched on a chalkboard. The scars of injustice remain on our bodies. It`s a revolutionary song. The people singing the song in the streets of Tehran this weekend were not protesting, they were singing the song in celebration. What they were celebrating was the winner of the presidential election in Iran. The election was on Friday. Polls had to stay open five extra hours to accommodate the big turnout. Finally, on Saturday afternoon Tehran time, a man named Hassan Rowhani was declared the runner. He was only candidate in a crowded field who was running as a moderate. Throughout the campaign, he lamented Iran`s isolation in the world. He criticized Iran`s repression of personal freedoms in the country. He pushed for equal rights for women. Celebrations following his victory struck a jarringly stark contrast from the aftermath of Iran`s last presidential election four years ago when Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was declared president for the second time. Iranians protested for months in cities all around the country. They insisted the election had been rigged. That was the largest uprising against the Iranian government since Iran overthrew its government back in 1979. Iranian authorities responded in 2009 by rounding up political prisoners, by beating people and killing people in the streets. The reformist candidate in the election that year, the candidate who those protesters said should have won had the election not been rigged, he was a man named Mir Hossein Mousavi. He has been under house arrest since those protests broke out in his support four years ago. At one point during the celebrations this past weekend, people chanted the victory of the moderate candidate this year was a victory for the reformist candidate who was supposed to win last time but who is still now a prisoner instead. People this weekend in the streets of Tehran were yelling in the streets, Mousavi, we collected your vote. At his first press conference today, Iran`s new president-elect was heckled by someone, someone who was yelling for the release of Mr. Mousavi. The new president-elect did not respond to the heckler, but that heckler yelling that name out as the cameras were rolling at this press conference, that was apparently the first time since the protest back in 2009 that Mr. Mousavi`s name had ever been said on Iranian state television. So that was an interesting moment at that first press conference. Thanks to an intrepid NBC reporter Ali Arouzi, it was another interesting moment. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ALI AROUZI, NBC NEWS REPORTER: Mr. President, Ali Arouzi, NBC News. Congratulations on your victory. My question is the State Department has congratulated you and the Iranian people on the election results and they`ve said that they want to engage in direct dialogue. Would you be willing to engage in direct dialogue with the United States? HASSAN ROWHANI, IRANIAN PRESIDENT-ELECT: What a hard question he is asking. You see the issue of Iranian-American relations is a complicated thing. It is not a single thing. In any case, there is an old wound there, and we must think deeply on this matter, if the wound is to heal. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: The new president of Iran went on to say and continuing to answer that question that both of our countries should not be dwelling in the past but looking to a new future. If you`re more used to hearing the Iranian president say stuff like America has entrusted itself to the devil, that`s because the kind of thing we`ve been hearing for the past eight years from the guy whose presidential term will end in August. So, new guy now. Should the U.S. be optimistic about this new guy? Will Iran`s nuclear program stay the most sacred thing in Iranian politics? Will the U.S. ever get more than six words away from the word "devil" in official Iranian pronouncements? I don`t know and neither do you. But consider there were six candidates running for president this year in Iran, six candidates in the mix. Nobody thought that any one of those candidates was going to get to 50 percent. So there was going to have to be a runoff. But with six candidates running and only one of those six identifying a moderate and running his campaign as a moderate, the moderate not only won the election, he won by a mile. Hassan Rowhani got 51 percent of the vote. He got a clear majority. The guy in second place only got 17 percent if you round up, the establishment guy -- the hardliner who all the conservatives openly supported, he only got 11 percent of the vote. So, there`s no runoff. It`s done. No runoff. No question. It`s a clear result in terms of what the Iranian people want. They want change. They want moderation. That is what they voted for very clearly by huge overwhelming numbers. So, yes, if you`re after moderation in Iran, optimism is warranted, but cautious optimism. Running as a reformer and being a reformer are two different things. When if comes to the nuclear program, well, the Iranian president doesn`t control those decisions. He is the public face of those decisions but he doesn`t make them. So the fact a moderate won the election, that is a good sign in terms of what the Iranian people want. The real question, though, is whether Iran`s behind-the-scenes ruling establishment, whether they care what the people want. And what people have just said so loudly in this election. The real question is if they are going to actually let this reformist candidate reform anything. And if they do, then the singing in the streets all weekend long in Tehran, that might last. Then this election might turn out to be a very big, very consequential, very international deal. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: A big fight about policy has just gotten extremely personal in the state of Wisconsin. This is State Assemblywoman Mandy Wright speaking on the assembly floor in the middle of a big policy fight. Watch this. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ST. REP. MANDY WRIGHT (D), WISCONSIN: This is a story that my constituents don`t know. This is a story that my students don`t know. This is a story that most of my friends don`t know. And that story starts when I was a kid. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: When you hear this story in context, you will not soon forget it and that is next. It`s amazing. Stay tuned. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Last week, Republicans in Wisconsin passed a mandatory vaginal ultrasound bill. They rejected an amendment that said it does not have to be a vaginal ultrasound. It could be an external one. They also rejected an amendment, making clear that a woman can not be physically forced by the state to have the vaginal ultrasound. Republicans considered both of those amendments and said no to each of them. So, Wisconsin Republicans passed their legislation forcing women to have vaginal ultrasounds even if they do not want one or even if their doctor does not want to it. That`s the cost of getting an abortion in state of Wisconsin now. Everybody is waiting on Governor Scott Walker to sign it whereupon everybody will start calling him governor ultrasound, too. At the same time that Wisconsin Republicans passed the forced vaginal ultrasound bill, they also passed a bill to prevent not just abortion but also contraception from being covered by insurance. There is an exception in the case of incest or rape but the exception only applies if you report the rape or incest to the police. It`s in debating that provision that something remarkable happened in Wisconsin. An assemblywoman, a Democrat, stood up t explain how she knew a crime does not have to be reported formally in public in order for it to be real and a really big deal. Watch. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) WRIGHT: This is a story that my constituents don`t know. This is a story that my students don`t know. This is a story that most of my friends don`t know. And that story starts when I was a kid. I was 8 years old visiting the family farm, and my cousin raped me repeatedly, several times. The only reason it stopped is because my father found us. This has been kept private with my family for good reason. It was not reported. There`s a reason that only 19 percent of rapes are ever reported. I was 8. I didn`t know what was happening. My parents protected me and they made good decisions on my behalf. And I`m a whole person because of the love and care of my parents and my faith community and the counseling that I was able to receive individually and with my family, and that should have been kept private. But because of this bill, I need to tell this story. Because now I have three daughters, and I talked about them on the floor last week and they`re my pride and joy. And they`re beautiful. And God forbid they have the same thing happen to them that happened to me and they actually be of childbearing age. And now, I need to publicly reveal this to the entire community. And let`s make no mistake, I am a state representative. Things that go on the police log do not go undetected. You are talking about my kids here, that this would have to be made publicly known for them to receive the services that they need. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Wisconsin State Representative Mandy White explaining in very, very personal terms why she believes it is a terrible idea for the state legislature in Wisconsin to tell Wisconsin`s women that they will not believe you that it was rape it does not end up in a police report. And if it does not end up in a police report and you get pregnant, then the decision about what happens next is up to the Republicans in the state legislature. It is not up to you. That is what is happening in Wisconsin. Republicans saying essentially that women lie about being raped in order to get abortions they should not get so we need to get the police involved in that decision or it didn`t happen. And now, Republicans in Washington are doing the same thing for the whole country. The Trent Franks bill for a nationwide 20-week abortion ban is going to get a full vote on the House floor tomorrow. For that Republican national abortion ban moment in the sun vote tomorrow, they really tried to put a shine on it this time. First of all, they`ve taken the bill out of the hands of its sponsor, Trent Franks, after he started opining in committee last week about rape and the innocence of rape causing pregnancy, they decided it was a good idea to take it away from Trent Franks. So, they gave it to a woman Republican member of Congress to bring forward for him instead. They also added in exemptions for his ban for rape and incest, kind of, because just like in Wisconsin, in the new Republican bill, you have to prove it by going to the police or the Republicans will not believe you that it was really rape. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REP. JERROD NADLER (D), NEW YORK: There are many reasons why women don`t report abuse. Why force them to? The only reason we were given in the markup is that women lie. So, the authors of this bill apparently believe that women are too dishonest to be believed when they state they were raped or the victims of incest. That`s a heck of an insult. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Republicans control the House of Representatives. So, there will be a floor vote on this tomorrow. And unlike years past when they only applied to D.C., this ban, this year they`re trying to make it apply to the whole country. And presumably everybody Republican in the House just about will vote for it tomorrow and because they have a majority in the House, it will pass. The White House has already said that if by some miracle this thing ever reaches the president`s desk, of course, President Obama would veto it. Quote, "The administration strongly opposes HR-1797, which would unacceptably restrict women`s health and reproductive rights and is an assault on a woman`s right to choose. Women should be able to make their own choices about their bodies and their health care and government should not inject itself into decisions best made between a woman and her doctor. This bill is a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade and shows contempt for women`s health and rights for the role doctors play in their patients` health care decisions and for the Constitution." The Republicans` new national abortion ban will never become law. Not under this president, anyway. But this is what Republicans are doing with their majority in the House of Representatives. And it is what they are doing with their majority in the Wisconsin legislature, and the Ohio legislature, and the Texas legislature, with a special session Rick Perry called there in order to pass more antiabortion legislation. Everywhere Republicans are in charge, this is what they are working on. This is the top of the agenda. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REP. ZOE LOFGREN (D), CALIFORNIA: I just find it astonishing to hear a phrase repeated that the incidence of pregnancy from rape is low. That`s not -- I mean, there`s no scientific basis for that. And the idea that the Republican men on this committee think they can tell the women of America that they have to carry to term the product of a rape is outrageous. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: That was Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren of California reacting shortly after Congressman Trent Franks made his statement about the incidence of rape causing pregnancy. Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren joins us now. Congresswoman, thank you very much for being with us. Pleasure to have you here. LOFGREN: Glad to be here, Rachel. MADDOW: You said that Congressman Franks` statement was astonishing to you. How did your Republican colleagues on the committee respond when he said what he did? LOFGREN: Well, they didn`t say very much and I think they quickly realized he had a Todd Akin moment and certainly the chairman shortly thereafter recessed the committee hearing. So I think so they could figure out what to do next. And, of course, as we know, he tried to walk back the statement after the recess. But, I mean, he said what he said and I thought it was an absurd statement and not true but really an indication of a real problem on the other side of the aisle when it comes to respecting women. MADDOW: Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn is going to be handling this measure tomorrow for the floor vote instead of Congressman Franks. They`ve taken it out of his hands. Republican aides have told NBC News tonight we should expect a good showing a Republican women on the floor tomorrow arguing for the bill. They say that is by design. What do you think is going on there with Trent Franks sort of being, having this taken away from him and them branding it the way that they are on the other side? LOFGREN: Well, there aren`t very many women in the House, just 78 o of the 435. Three-quarters of the women are Democrats and almost all of them are pro-choice. Almost all of the Republican women are anti-choice. So the fact that there is a Republican woman arguing for this bill doesn`t mean that the bill isn`t anti-choice and disrespectful to the rights of American women. Congresswoman Blackburn has a long record of -- she`s a co-sponsor of the bill and, you know, she has the same view as Congressman Franks as to whether this bill should be passed. And we`ll have, I hope, a civilized discussion. Passage of the bill is wrong. It`s wrong policy for the freedom of American women. MADDOW: Why do you think that the House is moving forward on this when we have a clear and overt veto promise from the White House today? Nobody has any delusions that this might go anywhere in the Senate. This will never do anything more than pass the House. Why prioritize this? LOFGREN: That`s a very good question. I mean, there are a lot of things we need to be doing from top to bottom, immigration reform. Working on our economy so there are more jobs in America and why we would do a detour for this which is not only wrong policy, but never going to become law is a good question. I know that all around the country, Republicans are trying to pass bills like this one. I can only assume it`s trying to tee up a new case with the Supreme Court in the hopes that the rights of American women can be diminished. I can only gather, or guess, that this is really an attempt to appeal to a narrow base that is against rights for women in America. MADDOW: On the issue of the rape and incest exemption, that is not -- the was no rape or incest exemption when this went through the committee process. That was change by the Republicans I understand. LOFGREN: Sort of. MADDOW: By their own design on Friday, after they resisted that for a long time. That`s what led to Congressman Franks saying what he did about low incidence of rape-caused pregnancy. Seeing the fight over this, particularly in Wisconsin, where the opponents of the bill there were so eloquent in arguing about why you shouldn`t assume that women are lying about being raped. You shouldn`t make them assume that it`s a lie unless it`s reported to the police. That is the way this exemption is crafted now in the bill that`s going to go to the House floor tomorrow, do you expect that to become an issue? LOFGREN: Well, I planned to talk about it. I mean, we have every year 25,000 pregnancies in America that are caused by rape, but we only that only about 35 percent of sexual assaults are actually reported to the police. There are a lot of reasons why an assault might not be reported -- everything from fear to if it`s a young person, protecting them, in some cases, shame or anxiety in a community. And so to say that there`s got to be a report is really to say that women are going to lie about this. That`s absurd. That`s -- I hate to think that that`s really what the Republicans are saying, but that`s the only conclusion that can be reached. And as for the health exception, there really isn`t a health exception unless you`re going to die. Well, that`s something that is very difficult for a doctor to say with precision and, of course, if doctors guess wrong, they`re facing a five-year sentence in prison. So this is really a very wrongheaded approach putting the Republicans in the House in the place of women and their husbands and their doctors, I just don`t think that America`s clamoring for that. MADDOW: Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren of California, thank you very much for your time tonight. It`s nice to have you here. LOFGREN: Thank you. MADDOW: Thank you. All right. We have big developments today in at least one of the surviving vestiges of Dick Cheney`s America, specifically the part of Dick Cheney`s America that is not in America. That`s coming up. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: November 2009, Army psychiatrist Nidal Hasan walked into a part of the Ft. Hood Army Base where soldiers were making preparations to deploy, and he allegedly opened fire. Dozens of soldiers were wounded, 13 died. The alleged shooter, Major Hasan, was also shot. He was shot four times. He survived. He was taken into custody. The gunshot wounds he sustained that day paralyzed him from the waist down. So he now uses a wheelchair. And now, 3 1/2 years after that attack, Major Hasan is on trial in a military court-martial. He wants to conduct his own defense. And you know what? That really never works out well. Anybody who represents himself in court has a fool for a client, they always say, for good reason. The proceedings so far from the Fort Hood court-martial do not look promising for him and his defense strategy. His initial gambit was he planned to argue his attack on those soldiers at Fort Hood was justified. He said it was just because he was trying to protect Mullah Omar and the leadership of the Taliban. He said he wanted to protect the Taliban. The judge asked him to elaborate on what he meant by that. And then he asked for a recess to gather his thoughts. After the recess the judge again asked him to elaborate on his defense on exactly how he was going to argue, he was justified about those shootings. Major Hasan responded that actually, yeah, he didn`t know. He just didn`t want to stand there brainstorming in front of the court, he still needed some time to figure it out. So, the judge finally ruled on Friday that that strategy of his is not going to fly. It does not make legal sense for him to argue that he was protecting the Taliban, so he cannot enter that defense at his court- martial. The legitimacy of the war in Afghanistan is not on trial in that court-martial. He is. And although he`s trying to use his own case to prosecute that other case, it is not going to work. Meanwhile, the court-martial proceeds. And Major Hasan acting as his own lawyer does have one very practical consequence, which is that he will get to question some of the very same people who he shot and wounded at Fort Hood as well as some of the witnesses to his shooting. So, the Fort Hood court-martial has some circus-like elements to it and some weird elements to it. But it soldiers on. That`s the court-martial. Then, there`s the military tribunal in Cuba, the alleged 9/11 conspirators are back in the courtroom as of today at the tribunal we have set up at the prison that our country keeps in Cuba. That tribunal is still in process, but it too has basically been nuts. From time to time, the defendants occasionally refuse to participate, and instead kneel in prayer in the courtroom. They refuse to listen to the translations of the court proceedings. They sometimes ignore all the judge`s questions and read from magazines in the courtroom instead. But that tribunal goes on. Today, Khalid Sheik Mohamed was back in court with his dyed orange beard and he was wearing a white turban and a camouflage vest in a nice woodland pattern. Another one of his co-defendants wore a white scarf, and U.S. Navy desert camouflage, as if he is in the U.S. Navy or in the desert. But again, that is under way. People who commit crimes of violence for political reasons often want to use their trial to try to make some kind of political point, and so, there are fights at these trials about symbolic things like what they`re wearing, and there are theatrical rejections of the court`s authority and they make statements to try to embarrass the government and the military. Not all of the time but often. They do their darnedest to try to turn the whole thing into a circus. And you know what? Who cares? Khalid Sheik Mohammed wears something weird to court and tries to tell someone 9/11 was a great idea. OK, sure, that happened. He`s neither more guilty nor less guilty as a result. Major Nidal Hasan wants to be his own lawyer and pledge his protective love for one-eyed Mullah Omar in his court-martial? Knock yourself out, big guy. This kind of thing happens in court-martials. It happens at the military-run tribunals like Guantanamo as well. There is nothing magic about the military being in charge. There`s nothing that makes those military-controlled proceedings immune from terrorism suspects acting wacko in court. They do it in federal criminal court, too. They do it in court-martials. They do it in hoopty tribunals that we hold in Cuba, and it never matters. So why is Congress so afraid of one type of those proceedings but not the others? The House again just passed a bill that legislates that no prisoner at Guantanamo can ever be tried anywhere but Guantanamo. They cannot be transferred anywhere or tried anywhere else. They have to be there, permanently. Why? Because afraid. Why less afraid of having them there than anywhere else? Who knows? But it is five straight years now that Congress has done this. Today, President Obama named one of the two special envoys he says he will appoint to try to figure out a way to close Guantanamo and send the prisoners elsewhere. This weekend, the chief prosecutor there said almost nobody`s still at Guantanamo is even eligible for the kind of military tribunal that they do there anyway, so don`t expect too many more of them. And the Defense Department today responded to a lawsuit by the "Miami Herald`s" excellent reporter Carol Rosenberg, and it released the names of 48 prisoners, who the government said it doesn`t know what to do with at all. They`re not eligible for the tribunal system. There`s not evidence enough against them for a real trial. And there`s no plan that the Pentagon thinks is safe for releasing them either. So they sit. There are 166 men there. About 150 of them will never be charged with a crime, 86 of them are cleared to be transferred to their home countries. And Congress says nothing can change, it must stay like this forever. Of the 48 names on the new list that we just got today, the "we do not know what to do with these guys" list, of those 48 names only 46 of those guys are still at Guantanamo. The other two aren`t there anymore because they died. One had a heart attack, and one committed suicide by hanging himself with a bed sheet in a rec yard inside the prison. Waiting for more of these guys to just die is not actually a policy. But Congress is once again forcing President Obama to veto all funding for the U.S. military if he wants to even try to close Guantanamo. And that`s because Congress is terrified and they`re hoping enough men sent to that prison by George W. Bush will just die there of their own accord before Congress has to figure out what ought to be done with them, with this policy that they created and that they are forcing on the country now. They`re not scared of something that might happen in a courtroom in a trial, in a federal prison. What they`re scared of is the politics of their own vote to fix this problem that they created, because that would be hard. And they`re scared to do it. So we play this game every year. We play this game every year now. Five years running now. You play this game. You cannot fund the United States military without also an amendment that says funding the United States military also includes this provision to keep Guantanamo open even though the president campaigned for the presidency twice on his promise to close it. Congress says, no, we are afraid. And so we just do this every year. While Congress hopes that more men die so they don`t have to figure out a way out of the problem they built for themselves. Who is going to figure out how to short-circuit this thing? That does it for us tonight. We`ll see you again tomorrow. Now it`s 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. 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