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The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 08/08/13

Guests: Lulu Martinez, Howard Simon

RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour. This is the part where America turns its lonely eyes to Reese Witherspoon, to explain what might need to happen next in our country if we`re going to take the next big leap forward in American politics. Specifically, America must turn our lonely eyes to Reese Witherspoon`s character Elle Woods in the movie "Legally Blond 2." We now join our "Legally Blond" explainer as she`s talked out of being distraught by friends who see a way to make something happen in Congress even though the leadership in Congress does not want it to happen. Take it away. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REESE WITHERSPOON: I just don`t think I`m cut out for this. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, we have a plan. Two words for you: discharge petition. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: With a couple hundred signatures, we can spring Bruce`s (ph) bill from committee straight to the House floor for a vote. WITHERSPOON: I don`t know. That sounds really complicated. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You`ve come farther than any of us while maintaining your balance and sparkle. We never sparkle. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I mean, none of us ever thought one person could make a difference, until you came along. WITHERSPOON: If I remember correctly, isn`t that, like, 218 signatures? UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It`s not that hard. WITHERSPOON: Yes. Yeah. I guess I know women with more shoes than that. Wait, that`s me. (LAUGHTER) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Elle, it`s time to finish what you started. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: And it works. It works. At least I think it -- I can`t quite remember how the movie ends, but I think given how movies like this usually -- I think it works. I think it works. "Legally Blond 2" is not a movie about a real political thing. It is not a documentary, as you can probably tell from the shoes references and everything, but this key plot twist in the movie, "Legally Blond 2," the discharge petition, that is a real thing in our politics. There are 435 members in the House. So, 218 is a majority. And if you can get that majority, if you can get 218 members of the House to sign a discharge petition, then "Legally Blond 2" is right. You can send a bill straight to the floor for a vote even if the speaker of the House doesn`t want it to be voted on, even if it hasn`t gone through committee and all the rest. It is a weird and arcane, but real shortcut that you really can take with popular legislation that is otherwise not going to get a vote despite its popularity. It almost never happens. It happened once on a gun bill in 1986. It happened once on a campaign finance bill in 2002. It`s rare, but it is possible. And in the House right now, Republicans are in the majority, but it`s not that huge of a majority. And if all of the Democrats were in support of some popular bill, they would only need to get 17 Republicans to cross the aisle and vote with them to make something like this work. Seventeen out of 234 Republicans is all you`d need. On immigration reform, it is utterly conceivable that every Democrat in the House and some small number of Republicans wants it to pass. Some small number of Republicans in the House right now thinks that immigration reform is necessary and a good idea. If it did come to the floor, and the Dems hung together and just a handful of sane Republicans, maybe the ones with lots of Latinos in their districts, if they voted the way they know you want to vote, immigration reform absolutely could pass. But John Boehner won`t bring it to the floor. He`s sitting and doing nothing about it. And so, Nancy Pelosi is now talking publicly about the possibility of using a Reese Witherspoon, using the "Legally Blond 2" discharge position idea as a way of end running John Boehner and forcing the issue, bringing it to the floor even if the leadership does not want it there. Immigration reform already passed the Senate. It is stuck in the House right now. But maybe it will take something wacky like this to unstick it. It could happen, maybe -- or at least it is as likely as any other next step at this point. But meanwhile, alongside the increasingly abstract and arcane and occasionally wacky beltway wrangling over whether to move forward and how on this issue, alongside the Washington incessant nattering on this issue which right now feels like it is going nowhere, at the same time, a totally different, very emotional and at times daring series of actions and provocations and protests have been unfolding around the country and on the border on this issue, actions largely taken by young people. Like these kids who worked with the group called United We Dream to organize this effort that you see filmed here. These three kids, living here in the U.S., whose mothers had been deported. These three kids went to Nogales. The kids in Nogales, Arizona, on this side of the border, and their moms to Nogales, Mexico, on the other side of the border. They road tripped and agreed to meet at the fence. These kids who had not seen their moms in years got to see their mothers finally through the barrier of the border fence. Just very emotional, moving demonstration. This is not play acting. This is real. These are real people, real family, real kids and their moms. And this was accompanied by a very clear political message. This is what immigration reform looks like. Call your legislator pass immigration reform with family reunification. A similar human, moving case made by Jose Antonio Vargas. Jose was brought here from the Philippines as a kid when he was too young to know the difference. He did not even know he was here illegally until he tried to get a driver`s license in high school and found out the hard way. When he found out, he kept the secret. He coped the best he could and he hid that he was undocumented. As he went to college, he pursued a career, eventually by the time he came out on the cover of "The New York Times" Sunday magazine, as someone who is in this country without papers, by that time in his life he was a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, with a story to tell about why we need immigration reform in this country, a story to tell you just could not believe until you saw it through his personal, human, totally understandable story. This has all been going on outside of Washington. This is the outside game on this issue. As Congress and all the Beltway pressure groups and special interests fight out the inside game, this is what`s happening outside. But now in that outside game, there is a bit of a new frontier -- nine young people putting themselves on the line, literally putting themselves on the border line. These are kids who were born in Mexico but who came to the U.S. illegally when they were little kids with their parents. The nine of them in protest met in Mexico a few weeks ago, and then they came to the border on the Mexican side heading into the U.S. and at the border they asked to re-enter this country. At the pedestrian cross in Nogales. They call themselves the Dream Nine. This kind of dare, this kind of direct action and peaceful confrontation, it`s controversial, even among the staunchest advocates of immigration reform. Does this sort of confrontation help win the argument? And whether or not it helps win the immediate argument, does it help you win the long-term fight? And whether or not it helps achieve immigration reform, and more humane policies toward immigrant families in the future, even then, is it just too much risk for these individual young people to take for this cause? Even if it is of their own volition? Of the nine cap and gown dreamers, these kids who went to the border, six of them are people who are already in Mexico. They had left for Mexico or they had been deported there already, six of them. But three of them live here without papers. And by voluntarily leaving the country for this protest, they are courting the very real risk that they would never, ever get back in. And that even if they could get back in, by virtue of this protest, they will never, ever be able to get legal status here, even with a lifelong record of doing everything else right, this protest action risks it all for them. One of the ones risking it all is 23-year-old Lulu Martinez. She was born in Mexico but came to the United States at the tender age of 3. She has been here in the U.S. ever since, in Chicago, with her family, most of her life. Lulu is enrolled at college at the University of Illinois. She`s also undocumented, which means that to take this leap, to use herself and her own situation, her own body to make this political case, for her it is a huge risk. Lulu Martinez knew from the get-go that crossing the border into Mexico could mean that she would not be allowed back into the United States where she has lived her whole life. She also knew that she was running the risk of being held in a detention center, essentially a prison by any other name, maybe for months, even years. But she was willing to take that chance. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) LULU MARTINEZ, DREAM NINE ACTIVIST: My name is Lulu Martinez. I`m here in (INAUDIBLE) Mexico. I still can`t believe that I`m here, and -- pardon me? Really, really happy. I got to see where I was born. I got to see where my dad grew up. I got to see my cousins who are my age. And I`m really excited that we`re -- we know that we have a lot of support back home in the U.S. Mama, papa, I`m going to come home. I`m going to come home. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: That is video from the National Immigrant Youth Alliance, made while Lulu was in Mexico preparing to make the trip back to the border to try to come back to the U.S. to demonstrate, to make the case that as a lifelong American, she ought to be able to come home, and our country`s policies ought to be reformed to make that possible. When Lulu and the other eight did make their attempt to cross the border back into the United States where they had lived their whole lives, the reason they look so funny is because they`re wearing caps and gowns. It is not a graduation ceremony. They are wearing caps and gowns to show their desire to finish school in the U.S., also to call attention to the hundreds of thousands of people who have been deported during President Obama`s administration. Border officials, as expected, detained all nine of them when they got to the border and shipped them off to a detention facility in Arizona. Now, the Dream Nine, these activists, that they did this on purpose. This was a calculated risk that they took. And they have support. People knew they were going to do it. And they have support. They have support online. They have support in the flesh, too. And 33 members of Congress signed on to a letter to President Obama asking that the Dream Nine be brought home, that they be allowed to stay. They`re in the detention center in Arizona for two weeks. But the surprise ending, at least the surprise next step here, is that they are not still in detention and they are not back in Mexico. Lulu Martinez and the other members of the Dream Nine have been granted permission to apply for asylum which is a difficult thing to get, but a judge going to hear their case. They`ll get notices to appear in court to plead that case, and they meanwhile have been released to come back home. They made it back. Joining us now is Lulu Martinez, one of the Dream Nine activists released yesterday from the Eloy Detention Center in Arizona. Lulu Martinez, thank you very much for being with us tonight. It`s nice to have you here. MARTINEZ (via telephone): Thanks, Rachel. It`s nice to be on. MADDOW: First, I just want to ask, how are you doing after two weeks in the detention center? Are you doing OK? MARTINEZ: I`m doing OK. I`m really excited to be back outside the detention center. We -- me and another fellow Dream Nine woman were in solitary confinement for about eight days. So we had -- we didn`t have any communication with any of the other Dream Nine youth and it was really difficult having to readjust ourselves and finally be in conversation with them after eight days. MADDOW: Why were you in solitary confinement for eight days? MARTINEZ: We -- once we entered the Eloy Detention Center, the women that were in our pod were warned and intimidated by ICE officials and CCA staff not to speak with us because the cases were going to be a lot more difficult to handle. And so, we wanted to organize while we were in the detention center and at one point we were really frustrated and decided to pass out a free legal hotline and decided to chant and encourage the women to speak out against injustices that were happening in the detention center and to fight their cases. Many times, they`re told by ICE officials that there`s nothing they can do and that the best thing they should do is just sign a deportation order. So me and Maria, one of the Dream Nine women, ended up being charged with a group demonstration, even though we had tried to resolve the communication issue with a lot of CCA staff and ICE officials. We were placed in solitary confinement for, originally it was going to be 15 days, but we appealed it and were released a day before we left the Eloy Detention Center. MADDOW: Lulu, everybody who participated in this action was taking some degree of risk. Obviously, you all ended up at a minimum in this detention center for 15 days which, itself, was a cost to pay. But you in particular are putting a lot at risk by doing this in terms of your own immigration status and your own living status. Why is it worth it to you to take this risk, to do this kind of action? MARTINEZ: We understood that no one is safe from deportation. With a record number of over 1.7 million people who have been deported and separated from their families, we know that at any point we could easily be swept under the deportation machine and be deported back to countries that we haven`t been to in a really long time. So, essentially, we recognize that we were already running that risk and we have been in contact with a lot of youth and families who have -- who are wanting to come back into the United States. And there`s no other way for them, there`s no other way to come back into the United States or to apply to have legal status. And so, essentially it`s the same risk that already was present. MADDOW: Having been granted this first step in the asylum process, essentially having been given leave to apply for it, that`s a long process and nobody knows exactly how that will play out. But is it possible that the nine of you having been granted the opportunity to apply for asylum to be here while that process goes through, is that possible that that`s going to set a precedent that other people could now be able to use that channel as a way to try to ease their own way? MARTINEZ: We`re hoping so. That`s exactly what we`re trying to do. We hope that there`s going to be a more efficient way of having people be reunited with their families without having to be in detention for weeks at a time and having to endure the really horrible conditions within the detention center. So, we`re hoping that through our process of fighting our asylum cases that others will also be as excited to go through this process with us and with the support of the community and our families, so that they can finally come back home after being forced out of the U.S. and having been deported. MADDOW: Lulu Martinez, one of the Dream Nine activists, now back home. Lulu, thank you for being here with us. Good luck. And stay in touch with us, please. MARTINEZ: Thank you so much. MADDOW: Thank you. All right. Joining us now is Eugene Robinson, Pulitzer Prize winning columnist for the "Washington Post." Gene, it`s good to have you here. EUGENE ROBINSON, THE WASHINGTON POST: It`s great to be here, Rachel. MADDOW: As a student of Washington process and somebody who knows a lot about politics broadly, how does this very dramatic, very emotional, very sort of moving outside game being played by these radical kids who are willing to make these confrontational actions? How does that affect the policy debate in Washington? Is it -- are they totally separate channels? ROBINSON: Well, I think it can have some impact. I mean, this is the weirdest thing I`ve ever seen, actually, because immigration reform is something that some of the Republican leadership wants to do. Eric Cantor, for example, wants to do something like the DREAM Act. Democrats all want to do it. And yet, Congress is incapable of doing it. It is just a ridiculous situation. I think this highlights the absurdity of this impasse that we`ve reached. Does it move things along? Does it bring us closer to immigration reform? I`m not sure that it does, but we`ll see what the members hear when they go home. MADDOW: You know, I feel like the idea of this is the very broad and old idea of moral persuasion. You hope that you open people`s hearts. You know, you see them with their mom through the fence and you think this is going to have an emotional impact on people who are deciding what they think about this and maybe that emotional impact lets people change their arguments about it in some ways. I don`t know if that works on members of Congress. ROBINSON: Exactly. It works on people, but does it work on members of Congress? Does it work -- does it work on the Republican majority in the House? That`s a basic question. Look, John Boehner, I think, would love it if immigration reform would pass. The Republican establishment wants it to pass because of the party`s problem with Latino voters. But Boehner says he won`t bring up a bill that`s not supported by the majority of the majority. So, maybe he`s secretly rooting -- MADDOW: For Reese Witherspoon. ROBINSON: Exactly. For a discharge position that takes him off the hook basically and allows him to go forward and he doesn`t take the blame. It`s, frankly, unlikely that that`s going to happen, even if Boehner`s in the back room nudging it along. And, ultimately, I think he`s going to have to make a decision, and I don`t think it`s inconceivable that he will change his mind, that he will let some immigration bill come forward. I think it`s maybe unlikely, but it`s not inconceivable. MADDOW: I think that the impact of what kids like these are doing is -- it`s controversial even among people who support immigration reform. I think it is easily underestimated, though. ROBINSON: Yes. MADDOW: If the only impact they have is on strengthening the emotional connection to the issue of people who already want it to happen, particularly for the Latino community who wants it to happen, they are creating a lot more political inertia. ROBINSON: This is the way movements develop and grow. It`s with brave people taking risks, sometimes suffering the consequences. And, you know, there are always voices saying you`re going too far, this is too much. I remember hearing those voices about the gay marriage issue just a few years ago and look at where that issue is now, because people went there. And so, I think it is all to the good for advancement on this issue that they went for it. MADDOW: Yes. It`s -- I mean, they had to be brave even within their own movement to do it. It will be interesting to see how this asylum thing works out. That`s a technical issue as well. ROBINSON: Exactly. That`s a whole different legal theory. MADDOW: Fascinating. Eugene Robinson, Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for "The Washington Post" -- thank you for being here tonight. ROBINSON: So good to be here. MADDOW: Great to see you. I like your glasses. ROBINSON: Thanks. MADDOW: You`re welcome. All right. Regardless of what you do for a living, you do not want a staffer who says he is, quote, "holding his nose" in order to work for you. Yes, these are strange days for some very senior politicians right now. Hold on. That story`s coming up. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: 2010 was a very fun year to have a job that involved explaining things in American politics. And all hail the news gods, all of a sudden, it kind of looks like some of the best parts of 2010 are coming back. Republican Christine O`Donnell of Delaware says, I still am not a witch -- but she says she is thinking of running for senate again, despite how things turned out for her in 2010. Woo-hoo! Republican Ken Buck of Colorado, the guy who said voters should pick him because he doesn`t wear high heels, yes, Ken Buck has just said he is launching his own repeat bid for Senate. Also, Republican Joe Miller of Alaska last seen, by me, anyway, trying to explain as we tumbled down a series of escalators in Anchorage trying to explain gay marriage is a state issue which is why he supports a federal amendment against it. Yes, Joe Miller, that guy, also says he is going to run for senate again from Alaska. Because, hey, why not? In 2010, there were those three amazing characters. There was also Sharron Angle who said her supporters would turn to Second Amendment remedies if she didn`t win at the ballot box. Wow. There were those guys in 2010. Then, remember after Rand Paul announced on this show that he was running for Senate from Kentucky in 2010, he then came back on the show and refused to say whether or not he would have voted for the Civil Rights Act. Yes, the Republican class of 2010 was crazy. It was crazy to cover, at least. And, of course, all of those amazing characters lost in 2010, except for Rand Paul. Rand Paul won. He won that Senate seat in 2010, and in order to do so, he had to win his Kentucky primary that year which was essentially a death match against mainstream Mitch McConnell`s protege who Rand Paul was running against. The protege was a guy Senator McConnell had basically handpicked to become his junior senator in the job. Mitch McConnell expected to hand that junior Senate seat to whoever he wanted, but that did not happen because Rand Paul beat Mitch McConnell`s handpicked guy. And so, now, a senior senator, Mitch McConnell, is senior senator to junior Senator Rand Paul, even though Senator McConnell tried so publicly to keep the Senator Paul thing from ever happening in the first place. It`s kind of an awkward thing, right? Well, once Rand Paul won the seat, the uneasy resolution of the whole thing in Kentucky came when the campaign manager for Rand Paul in 2010 left the Rand Paul camp and went to work for the enemy. He went to work for Mitch McConnell. The campaign guy`s name is Jesse Benton. He is a longtime, lifelong Rand Paul/Ron Paul loyalist. Now, he`s supposed to seem like a Mitch McConnell loyalist? OK. Neat. It was such a bizarre kind of iron-on patch to this whole rift, trying to make it seem like there was a healing in the rift between these two competing wings of Republican Party. But it also made clear who won between those two competing factions, right? Mitch McConnell tried to beat the Ron Paul/Rand Paul wing of the party and he lost, because he knew he lost, he knew he would need that other side to come around to his side if he was ever going to survive his own re-election campaign this year. So, old mainstream Mitch McConnell hiring the Rand Paul operative kind of sort of solved problems for everybody. Sort of. The fit has always seemed a little unnatural. Well, today, though, there was an unexpected twist in an ongoing story we`ve been reporting all week out of Iowa -- the story about alleged bribery in Iowa Republican politics. A local Iowa Republican politician accused of demanding and getting payment, cash payments, from presidential campaigns in return for their endorsement. In a tape recording released yesterday by a conservative Web site called "The Iowa Republican," a conservative Republican state senator who allegedly demanded and allegedly got bribe money from the Ron Paul for president campaign for switching his allegiance from Michele Bachmann to Ron Paul, in the tape, he talks with another conservative activist in Iowa about whether Ron Paul, himself, knew that his campaign was bribing people for their endorsements or whether maybe it was just the campaign guys like Jesse Benton who knew about the bribery. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I understand Ron Paul came out and said nobody gave you -- the lying that`s going on is just incredible. It`s one thing to be smart politically and tough, you know, but, you know, Ron Paul out there lying. So -- UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You think he knows? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, actually, I think he doesn`t. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What do you think he knows? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All these guys are corrupt. Who do I think knows? Everybody you told. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you think the whole Ron Paul, like all of them know, the inside group? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sure. I`m sure Jesse Benton knows. He`s a scum. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I know Jesse knows. I know Jesse knows. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: That was the state senator who allegedly asked for and got the bribe money from the Ron Paul campaign for him to endorse them saying he knows the campaign chairman, Jesse Benton, knew about the bribe. Now, Jesse Benton denies that. The aftermath of the Iowa Republican cash for endorsement scandal remains to be seen in Iowa, right? The state senator who reportedly got the bribe from the Ron Paul campaign, he`s still a state senator in Iowa. Ron Paul, of course, is personally out of politics. He`s now cashing in on the speaking circuit. It is his son who`s running for president now. But Jesse Benton, Jesse Benton is the guy who moved on out of Paul- ville and into the mainstream. He`s now the campaign manager for Mitch McConnell in that re-election effort. And Mitch McConnell really is in the re-election fight of his life with not only a strong Democratic challenger, but also a strong Republican primary challenger who is hitting him from the right. And then today, another new twist in this story. Another tape released by the same guy who released the alleged bribery tape yesterday, except this time it isn`t just other people talking about Mitch McConnell`s campaign manager, this Jesse Benton guy. This time, it`s Mitch McConnell`s campaign manager, Jesse Benton, allegedly talking about Mitch McConnell. (BEGIN AUDIO CLIP) JESSE BENTON, MITCH MCCONNEL CAMPAIGN MANAGER: Between you and me, I`m sort of holding my nose for two years because what we`re doing here`s going to be a big benefit for Rand in `16. So, that`s my long vision. (END AUDIO CLIP) MADDOW: Holding my nose to work for Mitch McConnell? Still seems like the greater sin here is the alleged bribery. Paying Republican politicians to switch their endorsements? But pretending you`re committed to a candidate in public, being his public spokesman and in private saying you`re holding your nose about it and you`re in it just to help some other guy and it`s that other guy, ick. Late this afternoon, in an attempt to make fun out of his miserable turn, the McConnell campaign posted this picture of Jesse Benton holding his nose. See, it`s just all good Kentucky Republican fun. Seriously. Fun. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: You may be familiar with our virtual infrastructure project here at THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW that we call Debunktion Junction. Well, on Monday, at the junction, came a trolley full of Eric Cantor - - Eric Cantor being wrong. Wrong to the point where he even got the "you are wrong" noise. We did not know it at the time, but while we were busy debunking Eric Cantor, we achieved our first ever pre-bunking on the show. We were more right than even we knew. We were right before we knew we were right. It was spectacular. And he was even more wrong than we could have imagined. Hold on. That train`s a coming. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Say you are walking down the street and an FBI agent shoots you. Even say you`re not just walking down the street but maybe you`re committing a crime and an FBI agent shoots you. Either way, the bottom line is you have been shot by someone who works for the FBI. If the FBI shoots you, for whatever reason, the entity that looks into the fact that the FBI has just shot you is the FBI. The FBI, itself, examines the circumstances surrounding them shooting you. And if past is prologue, what happens when they look into those circumstances is that they determine that they were justified in shooting you. That is what has happened over and over and over again without exception for the last 20 years. That`s what Charlie Savage from the "The New York Times" turned up in his recent blockbuster front page reporting for "The New York Times" reviewing the last 150 FBI shootings going all the way back to 1993. The FBI looked at all of those shootings and determined them all to be justified --70 people fatally shot, 80 more people wounded, every single one of them ruled to be justified. Twenty years, 150 people shot, almost half of them killed, and the FBI was in the right every single time, the FBI batting a thousand, according to the FBI. And that`s all that ever matters because really nobody ever asks anybody else to look into it. Right now, this self-evidently super dodgy even laughably dodgy FBI internal review process is the only review process by which the bizarre shooting death of Ibragim Todashev is being checked out. Mr. Todashev was a friend of one of the Boston bombing suspects. He was killed during an interview with the FBI inside his Orlando condo. The way we found out he`d been killed is that the FBI put out a statement saying Mr. Todashev had been killed following a violent confrontation inside his condo. What kind of violent confrontation? Well, the FBI wouldn`t say officially but then the anonymous leaks started spewing. First, anonymous law enforcement sources said that he was armed with some kind of knife. Except then they said he was not. Then, anonymous leaking law enforcement sources said he was actually armed with some kind of pole or broom stick. And then anonymous law enforcement sources said, OK, no, maybe he wasn`t armed with either of those things, either. Then, they said, OK, no, no, no, they got it this time. The new line is he didn`t have anything, didn`t have a knife or blade or ceremonial sword or broom stick or pole or anything like he said before. Actually he lunged or something. Or he tried to throw over a piece of furniture maybe? Yes, in other words, whatever happened, whatever reason Ibragim Todashev was subjected to legal force during an FBI interview, nobody who knows the truth is telling the plain truth about it. How will we no what happened? Since then, Ibragim Todashev`s father has traveled from his home in Russia to Florida, to meet with groups like the ACLU of Florida, and the Florida Council on American Islamic Relations. For months now, CAIR and the ACLU in Florida and the ACLU in Massachusetts, also the "Boston Globe", also, even the "Boston Herald", pretty much everybody has taken a hard look a this has called for some kind of an independent investigation. For somebody to look into how and why this guy was killed other than the folks who killed him. It`s the only review we`ve been told we`re getting is the uniformly 100 percent self-exculpatory process that the FBI assures us is something we ought to trust in. The chances of an independent review have seemed slim. First of all, anybody outside the FBI reviewing an FBI shooting is pretty much unheard of. It has been known to happen maybe twice that we know of in modern history. It`s basically never. And then, late last night the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, they said they were declining to investigate the shooting. Then the medical examiner`s office in Florida said they were told by the FBI they couldn`t release Todashev`s autopsy report though they were finished with it. It seemed like it was going to end with the FBI investigating itself, alone, just like they always do using the process that always says the FBI was right. But then today there was an unexpected breakthrough. The top prosecutor in Orlando announced that he would conduct a, quote, "independent review of the circumstances surrounding the use of deadly force" in this case. However, there is no timetable as to when he will complete his review. There will be no further public comment regarding this matter until the state attorney`s review is completed. Todashev`s father is scheduled to speak publicly in Florida on Tuesday. He`s threatened to sue the FBI for killing his son. How big a deal is the fact we had an independent review announced of an FBI shooting? Is this likely to shed light on this case? And why did it happen? Joining us now is Howard Simon. He`s executive director of the ACLU in Florida. Mr. Simon, thank you very much for being with us. Appreciate your time. HOWARD SIMON, ACLU FLORIDA: Thank you. Good evening, Rachel. MADDOW: Did I describe this new development accurately in terms of what the state attorney`s office says they`re going to do here? This is going to be an independent review of the circumstances of the shooting? SIMON: Well, you`ve described it accurately using his words, but we don`t know w independent review means. And I think, you know, it`s crucially ambiguous, and I think you put your finger on the crucial point. Does independent review mean that there will be an independent set of eyes just reviewing the file sent to him by the FBI? Or will he actually conduct an independent review in the sense in which he`ll call in the Orlando police officers who are there, he`ll send out his investigators to interview the witnesses and the neighbors and so on. How independent will this be? And we don`t know. I mean, this is clearly a breakthrough, and very unusual that somebody has stepped up to say, well, maybe we should take a look at what the FBI has done here, but frankly, I don`t know what that means. MADDOW: Howard, when other people have declined to bring independent investigations in this case, they have said they don`t have jurisdiction to do it, that they don`t feel empowered to investigate a shooting that was perpetrated by an FBI agent in the pursuit of his or her job. Is it your view if this Orlando prosecutor wanted to do a real material investigation, looking at physical facts, looking at evidence, interviewing people visiting the scene and all those things -- is it your view the prosecutor is legally empowered to do that? SIMON: I don`t see why not. This is a shooting that took place in his jurisdiction. It`s a shooting and a killing that took place in the state of Florida. Frankly, you know, I don`t think all the various law enforcement agencies have been speaking with one voice. This has a kind of almost sometimes a Keystone Cops flavor to it. We wrote to the Florida department of law enforcement, the state police, who are legally charged with the responsibility of investigating the shooting death of anybody at the hands of law enforcement. They wrote back saying, this is a federal investigation, it would be inappropriate for us to interfere. Inappropriate for the state police, but apparently not inappropriate for the state`s attorney in Orange and Osceola County. People ought to get their story straight and their act together. This is a killing that took place in Orlando, and Orlando officials have the responsibility, and Florida officials have the responsibility to investigate it. Just as our sister affiliate in Massachusetts has said that since there were Massachusetts state troopers present there, Massachusetts officials have the responsibility to investigate what role they played in it as well. MADDOW: Howard, what else do you want from the FBI at this point? Obviously, you`re making the case that there a other authorities outside the FBI who have the authority to get involved here if they wanted to. Just like this prosecutor in Orlando has said that he would. In terms of what the FBI could disclose that they haven`t yet, what else do you want to hear from them? SIMON: Well, I think it`s premature to say what we want to hear from them. I think we`re really talking more a process, and I think you put your finger on it earlier. The principal thing I want out of this is with regard to the FBI, and I have to say, Rachel, with regard to any police law enforcement agency in the country, they shouldn`t be entitled to investigate themselves. MADDOW: Yes. SIMON: There`s got to be some oversight of what they did -- whether it`s by another law enforcement agency, whether it`s by a court, whether it`s by an independent agency. But we do not build confidence in our law enforcement agencies when we simply allow them to investigate themselves because what happens is what you just summarized from the Charlie Savage story. They will always be exonerated. MADDOW: Howard Simon, executive director of the ACLU of Florida. Keep us posted on your involvement here. I feel like this is moving now in unexpected directions. It`s turning into a very, very interesting case. Thank you, Howard. SIMON: Thank you. MADDOW: I have to say the Charlie Savage piece from a couple weeks ago in "The New York Times," you can never predict what`s going to be a huge story. But you just think on its face if you found out that the FBI only ever investigates itself when it shoots people, and 150 out of 150 times it has exonerated itself in shootings, wouldn`t you think that would be kind of a top of national political discussion? Never can tell. We`ll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Once upon a time, august was the month off from politics. It is not anymore, because Congress`s August recess time is now August recess town hall time, which is a whole new shouty season in American politics that we never had before 2009, because in August 2009, we got all of those shouty, shouty, super shouty town halls. (BGEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REP. KATHY CASTOR (D), FLORIDA: You got the health insurance, your private employer -- you all have the most to gain -- (CROSSTALK) (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Ahhhh so fun a shouting good time. What is important to remember about that screaming mess back in 2009 was that those seemingly spontaneous yelly grassroots town halls were not actually grassroots responses to health reform. They were a coordinated and organized effort by big money groups, like Koch brothers and Americans for Prosperity, right? Under grassrootsy sounding names like Patients United Now and Patients First. These pressure conservative groups produced August recess action kits. They distributed them around the country -- handy guides on how to do the town hall meetings into conservative spectacles. They came out with printed questions to ask. Look, dear friend of freedom, right, here is your step by step guide to disrupt the town hall meetings for your freedom-hating Congress person or senator at a location near you. For the logistically impaired, the kit even came with Google Maps of the upcoming town hall events. And it worked, people showed up and read the pre-printed questions and shouted down the discussion and silenced members of Congress with their conspiracy theories about death panels and tyrannical health care, and it was all very intimidating and very strategically deployed outrage. Republicans looked back on shouty, shouty August 2009 as kind of a high water mark. It may not have let them stop Obamacare, which passed anyway, but they always thought the big August of anger helped propel Republicans for their big wins in the election the next year. So, now, that we`re in the odd year, and it is August again the Republicans are trying to re-create that august magic, through the handy dandy, worked before, August recess planning kits, right? This is the planning kit the Republican Party sent to their House members, telling them what to do during the district`s month break, telling them to convene the emergency health care town halls, to engage constituents on the negative effects of Obamacare. Emergency! There are myriad bad effects of Obamacare for the people in your home district, happening right now, the people, you know, health providers, seniors, patients, medical students, emergency town hall, we still hate Obamacare. And the point of the planning kit is not just to organize your supporters to show up and be on message, it`s about controlling what the events are like, so they become campaign stops. You`re morphing legitimate interplay between citizens and their members of Congress in the kind of pageant of Obamacare hatred that ends up on YouTube. However, if you cannot actually script and cast it like a pageant and you do actually let real people in by some lapse in your organization, sometimes things go horribly off message, like this town hall with North Carolina Republican Congressman Pat McHenry, caught on tape yesterday by a liberal PAC. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REP. PATRICK MCHENRY (R), NORTH CAROLINA: Yes, sir. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`m Steve Edwards from East Ashville. I`m 63l. My wife is 63. And without Obamacare, we would have no health insurance. I would like to ask you and the Republican Party to answer the questions, why do I not have a moral right and access to health care? You want to defund Obamacare which is by low and policy going to save billions of dollars over the next 10 years? (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: It turns out there is nothing in the how to stoke fury during the August recess of an odd year better midterms guide to your town halls, there is nothing in that guide when somebody actually turns up who likes Obamacare. Despite all best efforts to make sure that they stuck to the script, the town hall was actually a town hall, it ended becoming a real exchange between the constituents and their congressional representatives. Local, responsive and unscripted, apparently making all involved very unsettled. And maybe that is a good thing. And now, conservative and liberal groups are putting out web casts to find out when they`re doing town halls near you. This August thing, you know, nobody likes giving up a season when we didn`t use to have politics for one where we do have politics now, but if the new August is the season in which we actually have -- people having unscripted conversations that unsettled everybody about real policy issues, that may not be so bad. We`ve got links to both the left and the right to town halls near you at We`ll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: "Debunktion Junction". All right, the deficit is shrinking - - shrinking at the fastest rate since World War II, seriously. In April, the government actually ran a budget surplus, and then it happened in June. And whether or not you think it is a good thing or bad thing that the deficit is shrinking faster than new jeans in a hot drier, the deficit is in fact shrinking, which means that this is the sound of a politician not telling the truth on television. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REP. ERIC CANTOR (R-VA), MAJORITY LEADER: Keeping our eyes focused on try8ing to deal with the ultimate problem, which is this growing deficit. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Growing deficit is not a thing. The deficit is not growing, it`s shrinking. And we learned it is shrinking faster than we previously thought. The Congressional Budget Office just announced that we`re going to have an even smaller deficit this year than they had originally forecast. So, in this show earlier this week when we previously debunked Eric Cantor for lying about there being a growing deficit, we were sort of wrong. With today`s revised numbers, it is actually going to be smaller than we said it was going to be. So this is the graph revised as of today, the graph we hope that you clip out, laminate, put on your wallet, put up on the fridge every time somebody tells you we have to do something very bad for ourselves because of our out of control spending. You know, when PolitiFact, the terrible fact-checking site from "The Tampa Bay Times" looked at the Eric Cantor statement, they noted he said the deficit was growing when in fact it was shrinking, they then noted Eric Cantor`s statement was half true. That`s another way you can actually know it was a false statement of his. PolitiFact is another way of learning the truth in American politics. That does it for us tonight. We`ll be back with you 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. END