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The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 08/13/13

Guests: Bill Burton, Barry Cohen

RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: Thanks to you at home for staying with us for the next hour. Polls are closed now in the primary election for New Jersey`s U.S. Senate seat. After U.S. Senator Frank Lautenberg died in June, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie appointed a replacement senator to keep that seat essentially occupied until New Jersey voters could choose who they wanted to take that seat for the remainder of Mr. Lautenberg`s term. Well, as of tonight, we now know that the two candidates in that election to take Frank Lautenberg`s U.S. Senate seat will be for the Democratic Party the mayor of New Jersey`s largest city, Cory Booker. The Republican Party, the former mayor of New Jersey`s 280th largest city, a place called Bogota. It looks like Bogota but say it Bogota. Republican Steve Lonegan is the former mayor of Bogota. He would be Cory Booker`s opponent for the U.S. Senate seat from New Jersey. If you want to get a little flavor of what this race might be like, Cory Booker versus Steve Lonegan, Mr. Lonegan`s previous pre-election effort as mayor of Bogota was the subject spectacular documentary called "Any Town USA." (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) STEVE LONEGAN (R), NEW JERSEY SENATORIAL CANDIDATE: I think it is necessary to run election like you`re behind all the time. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Steve Lonegan is an outright liar. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He means well. And he has been doing that. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I hate Lonegan. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You could put a monkey up against him and I think the monkey would win. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have no intention of losing this election. FRED PESCE, THE DEMOCRATIC CHALLENGER: I`m in it. I`m in it and we`re going to win it. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Fred`s a good guy and I think he is an honest person. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I know Fred, and I happen to like Fred. Fred`s not a smart guy. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You`re probably the only politician in the nation running against two legally blind candidates. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They can do the job just as well, no, they can`t. I can do a better job but they can do a good job, too. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, I`m actually running for mayor of Bogota. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, yes, so I`m going to vote for you so that`s fine. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Really? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, what a joke. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Independents don`t usually win. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He is splitting the anti-Lonegan vote. We need to be united by anti-Lonegan. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A large of angry protesters marched to city hall calling for the mayor`s head. CROWD: Lonegan must go! UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have a voter who is in Estonia. There`s no like secret way of sending an e-mail? Can he fax in the ballot application? (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: That`s the trailer for "Any Town USA" which is absolutely worth your while. And that same guy, who we saw there at the end, can I get this guy -- is that? That same guy, Republican Steve Lonegan is officially, as of tonight, the Republican running against Democrat Cory Booker for the United States Senate seat in New Jersey. Wow. And if that is not hard enough to believe, consider also that the election for that Senate seat is going to be held in October? On a Wednesday. Here in America, we generally hold big statewide, big federal elections on Tuesdays in November. Wednesday in October? And, in fact, New Jersey already has a previously scheduled big statewide election on a Tuesday this November -- a big normal election on a big no election day. Tuesday in November. But the U.S. Senate seat election between Cory Booker and the former mayor of Bogota is going to be held on a totally different day, even different day of the week. It`s going to be held three weeks before the normal Election Day on a Wednesday. Why? Because on that Tuesday in November, real election day, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, is on the ballot. He`s running for re- election as New Jersey governor, and as he is making the state of New Jersey spend an extra $12 million to hold a whole separate election for this Senate seat, less than three weeks before there`s going to be an election anyway. Amazing. Presumably he is going this because he does not want to be on the same ballot with a Democrat as popular as Cory Booker. There is basically no one in politics who thinks that Chris Christie is at any risk of not being re-elected in November. He`s really popular. He`s not only way out ahead in polling in the governor`s race for November, he`s doing better than great in the national polling right now, too. The last Quinnipiac poll on favorability ratings of all the best-known politicians in the country showed that Chris Christie was really popular. The top three most favorably viewed politicians in the country are Elizabeth Warren, Hillary Clinton and Chris Christie. And Chris Christie is first. His favorables right now are even higher than Hillary Clinton`s are. But apparently he`s still scared, and so we have to have this primary today so we can have a Senate election in October on a Wednesday so that Chris Christie can have his own private election with no pesky nationally popular Democrat elsewhere on the ballot harshing on his very, very insecure mellow. Wow. It is a $12 million chicken move and a weird one for the state of New Jersey, but that is what Chris Christie did. And meanwhile, as governor of New Jersey, Chris Christie has this issue staring him right in the face right now or at least waiting for him at his desk. This is -- I want to show you this for comparison purposes. This is the size of a -- do we have this up here? Yes. This is the size of a .22 caliber bullet and next to it you see the size of the kind of bullet fired by an AR-15 assault rifles. AR-15s can be chambered for a couple different kinds of bullets, but this is one of them. This is a .322 Remington round. We put those there for size comparison. If you have a gun commonly referred to as a .45, this is a .45 caliber round. This is what you shoot with a .357 magnum. If you shoot a .38 special, this kind of bullet here. If you`ve got a .9 millimeter handgun like the popular Glock .9 millimeters, right? Here`s the round that`s shot by that gun. There are many different kinds of guns out there, and many different kinds of bullets. But in terms of the universe of civilian owned firearms and ammo, this is kind of a representative sample of popular ammunition. Now, check this out. One of these kids are not like the other. This is the round fired by a .50 caliber sniper rifle. Oh, it`s like a freaking carrot. The round for a .50 caliber sniper rifle is so big there`s a whole cottage industry of people making other things out of the giant shell casings. Things like pens. There are a million people making pens out of .50 caliber shells or making bottle openers out of them. Just enough heft to give you leverage on the hard to open bottle. Actually, it`s good for any kind of liquor. A .50 caliber bullet is not a garden variety bullet. A .50 caliber sniper rifle is not a garden variety gun. It is a military weapon used by military snipers to kill from over a mile away. It`s said to have a range of 2,000 yards. From closer ranges, it is an effective military weapon against even some armored vehicles. A few years back, "60 Minutes" showed .50 caliber rifles making short work of steel plate armor at several hundred yards. Early brochures for the .50 caliber sniper rifle marketed its specific military uses. Look at this -- the Model 82 A1 is the most cost effective means of disabling or destroying some of the most sophisticated threats that face your forces. It has the ability to engage the enemy at ranges far beyond those at which small arms can return fire. Oh, and by the way, it`s good for shooting down planes. And I quote, "The compressor sections of jet engines or the transmissions of helicopters are likely targets for the weapon, making it capable of destroying multimillion dollar aircraft with a single hit delivered to a vital area. The cost effectiveness of the Model 82 A1 cannot be overemphasized, when a round of ammunition purchased for less than $10 U.S. dollars can be used to destroy or disable a modern jet aircraft," so said the early brochures for some of the first .50 caliber sniper rifles marketed to the defense industry. And right now, it is legal for any 18-year-old in New Jersey to buy one, which is kind of amazing. At least the New Jersey legislature thinks so. Earlier this summer, the New Jersey legislature voted overwhelmingly in both the assembly and the Senate that the .50 caliber sniper rifle should not be legal for civilian use in New Jersey. That bill now sits on New Jersey Governor Chris Christie`s desk and he has to decide what to do about it. Last week, he did sign 10 new gun-related reforms, most of them just upping the penalties for various gun-related offenses that were already considered to be crimes in New Jersey. But he also signed a bill that would ban you from buying a gun in New Jersey if you were on the federal terrorism watch list because that did not use to be illegal. I mean, so say you go to the airport in Newark, you get up to security and they turn you around and say, no, sorry, you`re on the terrorism watch list. You`re on the no-fly list. We can`t let you board an airplane. But then you, no-fly list guy, could turn around, leave the airport, get on the turnpike, pull off to go to the first gun shop you see and legally buy as many .50 caliber sniper rifles as you want or handguns or anything else legal in the state. That terrorist watch list loophole was only closed in New Jersey last week when Governor Chris Christie signed that one and nine other measures that he called common sense gun reforms at the time that he signed them. But he left five other gun-related bills still sitting on his desk without him making a decision about them. And they include the one about whether or not it should be legal for this military weapon to be sold to civilians including 18-year-olds in New Jersey, because it is legal to have those guns in New Jersey now -- even though New Jersey, the most densely populated state in the nation, has a pretty progressive history on guns overall. New Jersey was the first state in the country to enact an assault weapons ban back in 1990. Well, now, two former New Jersey governors, one Democratic former governor, one Republican former governor, Christie Todd Whitman, are urging Chris Christie to go ahead and sign the remaining five gun reform bills as well saying, quote, "regardless of politics and party, New Jersey residents have always shown unwavering support for common sense gun laws and these remaining bills are common sense bills." Editorials in the "Newark Star Ledger" and "Times of Trenton" are both urging him to sign the bills as well, saying for the greater good and safety of all New Jerseyans, Governor Christie should take this opportunity to ban .50 caliber rifles, the most powerful weapon available to civilians -- these five-foot-long sniper rifles with their four-inch armor piercing bullets. Captain Mark Kelly, the astronaut and combat veteran, and gun owner, who`s the husband of Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, he also just wrote an editorial in the "Star Ledger" focusing on the bill for universal background checks for gun purchases which Chris Christie has also not decided to do about. Captain Kelly says, quote, "Polls show that 96 percent of New Jerseyans, 95 percent of gun owning households in the state, support expanding background checks to keep guns away from those who should not have them." He says, "I was raised in West Orange, near the governor`s hometown of Livingston and don`t think I`ve ever seen 96 percent of people in New Jersey supporting everything except Bon Jovi and Bruce Springsteen." I see what you did there, Mark Kelly, appealing to Bruce Springsteen to help make your case to his number one fan. But even without having to invoke the truly heavy emotional firepower that is the Boss in New Jersey, it is true that even 95 percent of gun owning households in the state of New Jersey think that you should have to pass a background check in order to buy a gun in that state. And it is true that the Republican base that`s going to pick that party`s next presidential candidate probably really hates that idea. The background check bill is on Chris Christie`s desk right now, as is the bill about the gun that shoots bullets the size of carrots. Chris Christie has got to decide what to do here. Do you do what Jersey wants? Or do you do what`s best for you? Is this a tough call? Joining us now is Bill Burton. He`s executive vice president and managing director at the somewhat Orwellian-sounding Global Strategy Group, a former deputy press secretary for the Obama administration. Mr. Burton, thank you for being here. BILL BURTON, GLOBAL STRATEGY GROUP: Thanks for having me. MADDOW: Scale of 1 to 10, how tough a call is this? And should it be for Chris Christie? BURTON: Well, the word in there that matters is "tough." right? Because Chris Christie builds his brand on the notion that he`s this strong, tough guy, straight-talking, larger than life character who can take on anybody. And when you consider that he`s got this bill on his desk, he has three bills on his desk he could sign and he could actually make people safer in New Jersey, and be a model for the rest of the country, but he`s scared of Rand Paul in Iowa, and he`s scared of Marco Rubio in South Carolina, it really undercuts his brand. Now, I think the danger here is that should Chris Christie not veto these bills and actually sign the into law, I think the Democrats actually should worry about a guy like Chris Christie because he does cut this jib - - he does cut this jib of being this guy who can come to Washington, shake things up, maybe change how things get done. MADDOW: Highest favorables in the nation. BURTON: Highest favorables in the nation, right. But he does have this primary problem. At the end of the day when -- way I look at this gun issue is, in every nursery school across the country where kids who are, like, 2, 3, 4, 5 years old, after Sandy Hook, every single one of them changed the way they did something. And Chris Christie is the governor of the state of New Jersey has the power to change something big that could stop another one of those from happening and doesn`t have the courage to do that because he`s worried about Rand Paul in Iowa? I think it really undercuts the brand he`s trying to build. MADDOW: What is going to happen, though, within the Republican primary process between the distance -- regarding the distance between what the Republican base demands in the primaries, and what is a popular general election position. I mean, 95 percent of gun owning households in New Jersey say that Chris Christie should sign this background check bill. I mean, New Jersey, yes, is a blue state but they elected Chris Christie. And those kinds of poll numbers are a lot closer to the norm in the United States, particularly the voting public norm in the United States than the gun rights orthodoxy that`s demanded in the primary. What bridges that distance? BURTON: Well, it`s certainly true in the general election, but in the primary, you do have this group of voters who are so different from the American mainstream overall. And that`s why if you look at Christie, people consider him to be a moderate. That`s in large part why his favorables are so high. But the truth is he`s anti-choice. He`s anti-equality. You talked about the fact this special election cost $12 million. He personally vetoed $7.5 million out of family planning in the state of New Jersey. His budget looks like that of Scott Walker or John Kasich. He`s for the Ryan budget. This guy is as right wing as the rest of the crowd. He just doesn`t sound like it. MADDOW: Right. Right. BURTON: And that`s the thing that he`s doing to try to still be able to be competitive and win this primary. But, you know, the gun problem is a big problem for him. MADDOW: If you were still an Obama-not, if you were still in the Obama administration and President Obama had the opportunity to run for a third term, is Chris Christie the Republican you`d be most worried about putting him up against? BURTON: What I think is Rand Paul is going to be his nominee. MADDOW: You really? BURTON: I do. I think that he starts with these huge advantages on fund-raising, on fields. And I think that if it`s Hillary Clinton, if it`s any other Democrat, it`s going to be a generational type landslide election because Rand Paul is obviously a lunatic. MADDOW: I don`t think Rand Paul is going to get the nomination. I don`t -- I think that politically -- it`s kind of like Rick Perry in 20 -- we`re talking about 2016. This is bad. But in 2012, it`s like Rick Perry, he on paper looked like the guy, but like Rick Perry, Rand Paul doesn`t know what he`s talking about, even when he`s talking about supposedly his wheelhouse issues. That gets exposed early on when people are exposed to the rigors of the campaign process. BURTON: I think he does a better job than Rick Perry did. MADDOW: I don`t think so. Did you hear him talk about Milton Friedman like he was alive? BURTON: Right. But keep in mind who we`re talking about here. It`s not like all the facts are connected up top. I will make a bet with you that Rand Paul is going it be the nominee, though. I don`t know what that bet is. I`ll bet you a coffee cup or something like that. MADDOW: That`s my coffee cup. OK? BURTON: OK. Perfect. (LAUGHTER) BURTON: But Chris Christie is -- I`m not one of these guys who says, you know, Chris Christie is a jerk and he`ll overheat and that will be the end of his campaign. I do think Democrats would have to worry about Chris Christie particularly if he does not veto these bills. But at a time when people see Washington as completely broken, he`s one of the people who I think folks can look at and say, he could fix it. And the last thing that I`ll say about him is that the reason that Barack Obama, I believe, is president of the United States, is because he figured out how to run the same election -- the same campaign in the primary as he did in the general election. MADDOW: Yes. BURTON: And if you look at the Republicans, there`s not one of them who I think can do that except probably for Chris Christie. If that works and if he can get through the primary, I think it could be very dangerous. MADDOW: I would just -- it`s like seeing Cory Booker steaming toward the Senate with winning this primary today, seeing what Elizabeth Warren has, I think, cemented since being in the Senate in the way she`s conducted herself since then, you`re starting to see the development of the Democratic bench in the Obama era. Seeing the Republicans figure out what to do on issues like the .50 caliber gun bill in New Jersey, it is still a wide open question there. Bill Burton, thank you so much for being here. It`s nice to see you. BURTON: Thank you. MADDOW: I`m sorry I called you Orwellian again. BURTON: It`s OK. I`m used to it. MADDOW: I`ll be right back. Thanks. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: So, in political science terms, the basic requirements for staging a comeback are, number one: people have to have missed you while you were gone. And number two: at least some people have to be glad to see you back. Well, a certain well-known someone in today`s news is trying to attempt his comeback today with neither of those things going for him. It`s going very, very poorly and that story is next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: So today in "The Oregonian" newspaper, there was a guest columnist. The column was this: "Tackle tax breaks with a blank slate approach, guest opinion." Quote, "Pundits continue to speculate that my successor in the U.S. Senate, Ron --" who is writing this opinion piece? Could it -- no, it could not -- oh, my, who`s he, what`s he? Yes, it is. It`s Bob Packwood, former Republican senator, Bob Packwood. Does that name ring a bell? Quick, Wikipedia him. Got it? Right. OK. From the guest column today, it is clear that Bob Packwood thinks of himself as someone who you will remember as an accomplished legislator. In his words, "As someone who knows a thing or two about tax reform honestly, if you or anyone remembers anything about Bob Packwood, it is not tax reform." November, 1992, right after Senator Packwood wins re-election, "The Washington Post" publishes an article featuring interviews with 10, count them, 10 women who accuse the Bob Packwood of sexual harassment. The harassment they said was sometimes very physical and it went on for decades. Stuff like Bob Packwood grabbing them in parking lots and in offices, kissing them forcefully against their will, trying to pull off their clothes as they squirmed and scrambled and tried to get away from him. When the story came out in "The Washington Post," Mr. Packwood ran off to rehab in Minnesota, hoping maybe for a cure? At least hoping that the scandal would die down, but, of course, it didn`t. And within a few months, 13 more women had come forward for a grand total of 23. By then, the Senate was forced to hold hearings on these sort of nightmarish accusations against Bob Packwood. Come time for those hearings, it was up to 29 women who were willing to testify against him. Twenty-nine, wow, busy guy. A Senate Ethics Committee voted unanimously to expel Bob Packwood from the United States Senate. The next day, about three years after "The Post" first broke the story of grabby, harassy Bob Packwood, he finally had to announce his resignation. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REPORTER: Senator Bob Packwood left the Capitol after ending 27 years of service with a rambling resignation speech on Senate floor. FORMER SEN. BOB PACKWOOD (R), OREGON: It is my duty to resign. It is the honorable thing to do for this country, for this Senate. REPORTER: He was one of the most powerful politicians in Washington, brought down by 10,000 pages of Ethics Committee documents supporting allegations of improper sexual advances to women and trying to use his influence to get his former wife a job. UNIDENTIFIED FEMLALE: By any standard, in any workplace in the United States of America, he would have been fired and I voted to fire Senator Packwood. SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: Let us not congratulate nor celebrate a thing today. This is a moment for grieving. REPORTER: The governor of Oregon now must call a special election to fill Packwood`s seat, but for Senate`s Republican leadership, replacing Packwood will be tougher to do. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Senate Republicans did not replace Mr. Packwood. It was Democrat Ron Wyden who was elected to Bob Packwood`s seat. And Ron Wyden has been there ever since. And now, nearly 20 years later, Bob Packwood is apparently writing columns, offering his successor in the Senate vaguely threatening and cocky advice on tax reform because he, Bob Packwood, thinks he is remembered for his legacy in the field of tax reform. Dear Bob, no matter how you think of yourself, when other people hear the name Bob Packwood, they do not think of the tax code. Back in 1995, the person who led the effort to investigate Bob Packwood in the Senate was then-freshman Senator Barbara Boxer, the newly elected Democrat from California. Now, 20 years later, she is having to pull the same old playbook off the shelf. Bob Filner, the Democratic mayor of San Diego, the former Democratic congressman from San Diego has been accused of sexual harassment by 14 women and presumably and counting. Fourteen women have come forward just in the past few weeks, and the San Diego sheriff has three people manning a full-time hotline in the city to take down details of further allegations against Bob Filner as they come in. So far, Mayor Filner is accused by these 14 women of making aggressive repeated, unwanted advances, trying to kiss them, in fact, kissing them against their will, grabbing their bodies, propositioning them in workplace, all taking place in the context of professional offices and events and meetings. The most recent of the 14 women who has thus far come forward did so last week in a radio interview. Two of the mayor`s alleged victims were, and he knew this at the time, victims of sexual assault. That`s the context in which he met them. He was meeting with victims of sexual assaults and he allegedly harassed them. Like Bob Packwood before him, Bob Filner o far has tried to escape the attention by checking himself into rehab, after initially saying he would be there until later this month. He checked himself in early and said he finished early. He is now reportedly back in San Diego, although nobody has seen him. If he did decide to show his face downtown, he yesterday could have seen a not welcome back rally held in his honor, calling on him to leave office and resign immediately. Also for reasons that are still not entirely clear, he would have found that the locks on his office have been changed. And if he`s opening the mail or reading the news, he would find that Barbara Boxer, his old friend from the California congressional delegation, his longtime progressive ally who also had to help lever Bob Packwood out of the Senate, Barbara Boxer has written an open letter not telling Bob Filner to resign but scorching him in the process. Quote, "Bob, you must resign because you have betrayed the trust of women you have victimized, the San Diagens you represent, and the people you have worked with throughout your decades in public life. The latest allegations regarding your behavior toward women recovering from sexual assaults, women who desperately need our help have shaken me to my core. Bob, you have already hurt so many people. To avoid hurting your victims and people of San Diego more than you already have, step down immediately. Sincerely, Barbara." You know, it`s three years that passed between the publications of the first accusations between Bob Packwood and his actual resignation. How long is it going to take Bob Filner? Today, he put out a statement making no reference at all to the allegations against him. Talking about all -- talking all about how he is moving forward for the city of San Diego, looking forward to moving forward. You`re not moving forward, Mr. Mayor. You really aren`t, ever. How long are you going to drag this out? (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: This blockbuster "New York Times" story that was published on A1 back in June would have been hard to believe if it did not come with 2,200 pages of proof that were published on "The New York Times" Web site to accompany the story. Two thousand pages of FBI records showing that in the last 20 years, the FBI`s internal investigations of itself have found that no FBI agent has ever made a mistake when they shot someone. In every single episode of an FBI agent shooting someone, either wounding them or killing them, the FBI internal review process over the last couple of decades has found that every single one of them was justified, 150 shootings reviewed. All 150 shootings found to be justified. "The New York Times" had to sue to get access to those internal FBI records. The records show that in most of these cases where an FBI agent shot and killed somebody, the only inquiry into what happened, into what led to that person being shot and killed by an FBI agent, the only entity to investigate what happened, was the FBI, itself. And surprise, the FBI has found for the last two decades that every single time one of its agents shot and killed somebody, it was a justified shooting. They never make a mistake. It`s amazing, right? It`s incredible -- incredible in the sense of not being credible. Given that perfect record of exonerating themselves every single time they ever shoot someone, if the FBI asked you to meet with them, if you had a choice, would you go? The father of a young man recently killed by FBI has come to the United States from Russia this week to investigate his son`s death. His son is Ibragim Todashev. He was shot and killed inside his home in Orlando in May when being questioned by FBI agents and law enforcement officials about -- well, we don`t know exactly. He was apparently at least an acquaintance, if not a friend of one of the Boston bombing suspects. So presumably that was part of the questioning, but really we do not know because Ibragim Todashev is dead and FBI will not speak on the record about how or why they killed him. At a press conference today, lawyers for Mr. Todashev`s father revealed that the FBI asked to meet with him also. The FBI asked to meet with the father, and the father said no. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ERIC LUDIN, TODASHEV FAMILY ATTORNEY: The FBI did attempt to question Mr. Todashev, but he did not speak to them because he didn`t have any attorneys present at the time. HASSAN SHIBLY: I think if anything, what happened, unfortunately, with his son, taught a very important reminder for all of us you should never meet with law enforcement without an attorney present. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: The father refused to meet with the FBI without an attorney present. And can you really blame him? Mr. Todashev was silent for most of the press conference today. He said he didn`t want to answer questions because it was hard for him to talk about his dead son. He did, however, make a short statement through a translator. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ABDULBAKI TODASHEV, FATHER OF IBRAGIM TODASHEV (through translator): He was a very good boy, and he wanted to live. I came to America to rely on American legal system. But I will be able to pursue and achieve the justice for my son. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: There were a lot of reporters at this press conference in Florida today asking questions, which I have to say is nice to see given how terrible some of the press has been about just writing down and not challenging at all the contradictory claims by anonymous law enforcement sources about this case -- including the totally contradictory reports that the dead man was brandishing a weapon when he was killed, was definitely a knife or a blade of some kind. No, it was a ceremonial sword -- no, it wasn`t a ceremonial sword, it was a broom -- no, it wasn`t a broomstick, it was a pole. No, actually, maybe it was nothing? It was nothing, he was unarmed. But who knows? They`ve all been reported as facts, citing anonymous self- congratulatory law enforcement sources, usually without any reference at all to the fact that other anonymous leaks in this case made totally different claims. Mr. Todashev`s brand new lawyers today were asked about those conflicting reports. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REPORTER: There`s been some reports that he was armed but you`re saying that absolutely is not the case, was not the case, correct? SHIBLY: Our sources have said that he was unarmed during the incident. LUDIN: Based on everything that we`ve learned, we have absolutely no reason to think there was any kind of a deadly weapon in the possession of our client -- our client`s son. REPORTER: We`ve heard knives, swords -- LUDIN: That`s right. REPORTER: -- was there anything like that? I guess we don`t know. LUDIN: I`ve heard that from you, from the media, but I have no reason, in fact, to believe that`s true. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: One of the most interesting things about what happened today was about the most inflammatory of all the anonymous law enforcement leaks about this case. In the wake of this mysterious and unexplained death at the hands of the FBI, it was not long before anonymous law enforcement officials started telling the press that the man they killed, the dead man, was on the verge of confessing to a gruesome triple murder that had stunned the Boston suburb of Waltham back in 2011. They said Mr. Todashev was about to confess or maybe he had already started to confess to that unsolved triple murder just moments before the FBI had to shoot and kill him. At the press conference today, lawyers for Mr. Todashev`s father said what Ibragim Todashev`s friends and relatives have been saying for some time now, which is he talked to his friends and relatives extensively about his conversations with the FBI but he never once mentioned that the FBI was talking to him at all about those Waltham murders. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REPORTER: There was mention he might have been a suspect in a triple murder. LUDIN: Yes, we`ve heard that rumor as well. REPORTER: Well, but that`s another reason -- SHIBLY: That had never been mentioned to him or his friends with him during the questioning before that. So, the first that came out was after the shooting after he was killed. LUDIN: You should know, I want to make this point clear as well, the FBI reached to Mr. Todashev`s son and spoke to him and asked to speak to him again. Mr. Todashev`s son already had a plane ticket to leave the United States and go back to Russia to visit with his family. He was assured by the FBI that this would be the last time they wanted to speak to him and he delayed his trip home to meet with the FBI because of apparently an effort to want to be cooperative. And he didn`t survive that second questioning. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Which leads to really obvious and interesting question, right? If you knew you were the suspect of a murder investigation, and you had a ticket to leave the United States, why wouldn`t you use that ticket? Why would you stay in the country? He had a ticket to leave the U.S. and go home to Russia. If the FBI was pressuring him as a suspect in a triple murder, why wouldn`t he use the ticket and leave the country? Why would he stay here to hang out with the FBI more? Joining us is Barry Cohen. He`s lead counsel for the Todashev family. Mr. Cohen, thank you for joining us tonight. It`s nice to have you here. BARRY COHEN, LEAD COUNSEL OF TODASHEV FAMILY: Thank you. Nice to be with you. MADDOW: It has been leaked to the media by anonymous law enforcement sources that Ibragim Todashev was perhaps on the verge of confessing to a triple murder that happened back in Boston, 2011. Can you share information publicly about his potential involvement in that murder, any potential confession? COHEN: I don`t -- I have not learned that there`s any merit to that kind of an accusation. I think it`s pretty typical to try to paint this young man with a black brush, to make him appear something that he`s not. There`s no evidence that I am even close to being aware of that would support that. I think, and even if it were true, which I have no reason to believe it is, that doesn`t give the FBI the right to assassinate this young man. Gives them the right to investigate it and do what they need to do, have a right to do. But as far as we`re concerned, that`s untenable, unsupportable. And the kind of propaganda that you`d expect to come out of the FBI knowing there`s going to be an investigation into what happened. So, this is typical. This is nothing new and nothing surprising. MADDOW: We did not know until recently that there was going to be any sort of investigation, any official investigation into this death other than the FBI`s own troubling internal review process. But now, it`s a state attorney in Orange County, Florida, who says that he also will review independently what happened here. Is that enough of an external independent investigation? What are your expectations of that? COHEN: Well, actually my expectations are different than they usually are in these situations. I have no confidence in the integrity of the law enforcement community investigating their own because they protect their own. And I understand that. They work together. They fight crime together. There`s a certain amount of loyalty. And they willfully close their eyes to the truth when these investigations take place. But this particular investigator, this particular state attorney, campaigned on his dislike for the way police investigations were conducted when they investigated their own. And I have reason to believe that this investigator, this particular state attorney, Jeff Ashton, is not the usual kind of police investigator where they`re concerned about being re-elected or concerned about getting the police benevolent league at election time. I have a feeling, based on what I know, I`ve heard, have reason to believe, that Mr. Ashton is taking this case seriously and he`s not going to sweep facts under the rug. He`s not going to consciously avoid the truth. He`s going to make these people who may have a proclivity to spin and tell the truth -- you know, when a clerk banishes the oath in a courtroom, they say tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. There`s a difference between the truth and the whole truth. That`s why they give that sort of swearing in oath. But I believe that this state attorney brings something new to the table. And I think that he`s going to be serious about his investigation, and I think he`s going to likely -- more likely than not -- indict this FBI agent. Then, we`re going to have a lot of interesting dynamics because this FBI agent is going to use Florida`s stand your ground rule/law, as a defense in his case. And it`s going it be an interesting dynamic how we`ve heard so much about stand your ground in Florida, and if this FBI agent is indicted, I can almost assure you that his lawyer will advance the stand your ground defense, which may be a reason that they -- that he may not be indicted because of the availability of that defense in Florida. But my interest is going to be in protecting this family, to make sure that justice is done. We`re going to look very hard at the facts and we`re going to hold the FBI agent who should be held accountable in this case, we`re going to hold him accountable. We`re going to hold the United States of America accountable for conduct as a result of an FBI agent`s conduct. And we`re going to see that justice is done. MADDOW: Barry Cohen, lead counsel for the Todashev family. Mr. Cohen, it`s been hard to get anybody associated with this case on any side of it to talk to us. I appreciate you being here tonight. I hope you`ll stay in touch. COHEN: Thank you. MADDOW: Thank you very much. COHEN: Bye-bye. MADDOW: All right. Now I`m going to try to buy a disgraced governor`s watch. Please hold on. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: The Republican candidate for governor in Virginia is the state`s attorney general now. His name is Ken Cuccinelli. And Ken Cuccinelli`s office, we just learned, is under state investigation for allegedly providing free legal advice to oil and gas companies allegedly involved in a legal dispute. Of course, the politics in Virginia have been thoroughly dominated recently by the scandal surrounding the current governor, Bob McDonnell. But this new investigation -- this is a whole new, a whole new thing that Ken Cuccinelli really does not want to talk about. Watch. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REPORTER: Can we ask another question -- KEN CUCCINELLI (R), VIRGINIA ATTORNEY GENERAL: No, I`m going to leave these guys today. REPORTER: The inspector general -- CUCCINELLI: No, no, I`m sorry. Let me say one thing, you guys, and by that, I don`t mean anybody here particularly, but I`ve been (INAUDIBLE) press who complains about negative campaigning. And I`m just going to leave us with the subject of the day, which is important to every person in Virginia, and that`s education. So, if you have other topics, today, you`ve got to ask those of people like Richard. REPORTER: Well, your folks want to ask tough questions of Terry McAuliffe. I mean, shouldn`t we be able to do the same with you? CUCCINELLI: Well, you have. Call tomorrow and we`ll talk about something other than education. REPORTER: OK. That`s not going to turn out well. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: That`s not going to turn out well. We shall see. In the meantime, let`s try to buy Governor Bob McDonnell`s Rolex, maybe Ken Cuccinelli will talk about that next. That story is next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: On a Saturday night, May 1962, 15,000 men and women filled Madison Square Garden here in New York City and it was not for a sports event. It was this. Marilyn Monroe serenading President John F. Kennedy on the upcoming occasion of his 45th birthday. What Jimi Hendrix would become to guitar versions of national anthem, Marilyn Monroe would become to almost obscenely breathy version of happy birthday to you. And she did in a dress, of course, that she had to be sewn into. On that memorable night, Marilyn Monroe arrived not just with a song in mind but also with a gift in hand, with a gold Rolex watch, that was inscribed on the back, Jack, with love, as always, from Marilyn, May 29th, 1962. Marilyn Monroe allegedly gave the watch to a presidential aide who then passed the watch to the president himself. And when the president himself saw the watch, he reportedly told the aide to, quote, "Get rid of it" -- which the aide presumably did. But decades later, just a few years ago, that Rolex that Marilyn Monroe reportedly gifted to JFK with that lovely engraving turned up at auction and sold for 120 grand. And now the worm turns. Today, we have Governor Bob McDonnell of Virginia, and his gifted engraved Rolex. I think this is it there, on his left wrist there. In this case, though, there is no breathy movie star involved. His fully functional hood ornament for your wrist was gifted to him by a rich businessman, a donor and a used to be a friend of his, named Johnny Williams. The story goes as reported in "The Washington Post" that the first lady of Virginia, Maureen McDonnell, admired John Williams` own Rolex and suggested he buy a similar one to give to her husband, the governor. And this all happened at exactly the same time that the governor and his wife were arranging for Mr. Williams to have meetings with health officials so they could lobby for him to use his products made by his company for state use. Mr. Williams did buy the Rolex watch for the governor. It was inscribed "71st governor of Virginia", nobody saying apparently, though, and Governor Bob McDonnell didn`t tell anyone to get rid of it. He started wearing it. And the engraved Rolex became one of the most memorable items of an embarrassingly long list of cash and prices that governor ultrasound Bob McDonnell and his family took from Johnny Williams over the past couple of years. Over $140,000 in cash, a $15,000 shopping strip to New York City, a loaned Ferrari, a lakeside vacation home, right? After the scandal broke, the governor apologized and said he paid back all the cash to Johnny Williams. But what about the prizes -- what about the shopping spree at Bergdorf Goodman`s, the suede jacket, the designer gown, the handbags, the shoes, the loaner Ferrari, what about the engraved Rolex? It has not been cleared before today what became of all of that. Today, as he was being whisked away on a state airplane to the next stop on his weird two-week Commonwealth of Opportunity, can we please stop talking about my scandal tour, Governor McDonnell turned to the reporters and said, quote, "At this point, I have been advised by my attorney that all the tangibles have been returned." The tangible -- in other words, he told somebody to get rid of it. There has been no itemized list of the returns but we were able to do a little reporting (ph) on this matter. There are still plenty of pictures of the governor`s wrist on public record. He certainly still wears a watch. It`s not clear from a distance what watch he is wearing now exactly. But if you compare the watch now to the one seen months ago, it does seem clear that he maybe is wearing something new. But what do you do with the watch that was engraved to you? Do you pawn it? You put it on eBay. Without being able to get physically to the pawn shops of the commonwealth, we looked online. We found this one, except this watch here is engraved with the Masonic emblem. It`s also a bit older and gold. We found this one, which is silver, kind of looked similar, except this one was engraved with the General Motor`s logo on the back. As far as we can tell, Governor McDonnell`s ex-Rolex or a comparable model is not available on eBay yet. What`s going to happen to it? Johnny Williams presumably did not return it to the Rolex store, to have the back ground off of it to take the engraving out. The bottom line is we don`t know the exact whereabouts of the governor`s former Rolex or any of these gifts, we`re taking his word for it. When do we stop doing that? That does it for us tonight. 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