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The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 04/28/14

Guests: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chris. Thanks, man. And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour. Happy Monday. OK, example number one, football. This is Tom Udall. He`s a Democratic United States senator from the great state of New Mexico. His dad, his father was secretary of the interior under JFK. John F. Kennedy won the presidency and the election in 1960. He went to Washington and was sworn in as president in January, 1961. But the other big new thing that happened in Washington, D.C., in 1961 in addition to the new presidential administration was this -- this brand new, beautiful, state-of-the-art football stadium. 1961, D.C. Stadium it was called. It was paid for by the taxpayers, it cost $24 million to build it. It was publicly owned. It sat on federal land. And so, technically that put this new professional football stadium in Washington, D.C., under the purview of Tom Udall`s dad because he was secretary of the interior. And in February, 1961, the month after the brand new president was sworn in, Interior Secretary Stewart Udall, new in the job, wrote President Kennedy a memo about this big, new stadium in D.C. and a big problem related to that new stadium. This is amazing. Thomas G. Smith dug this up for a book called "Showdown" which was about this big fight that they had related to the stadium in Washington, D.C. in the Kennedy administration. And this is just amazing. This is the memo that Udall wrote to President Kennedy. It says this, quote, "George Marshall, the owner of the Washington Redskins, is the only segregationist holdout in professional football. He refuses to hire Negro players, even though Dallas and Houston, Texas, have already broken the color bar. The Interior Department owns the ground on which the new Washington stadium is constructed, and we are investigating to ascertain whether a no discrimination provision could be inserted in Mr. Marshall`s lease." At the time the Redskins moved to Washington, that made them the southernmost team in the National Football League. Even though Washington, D.C., is not all that far South, the owner of the team made a strategic decision to try to market the Redskins as the team of the South, as the team of the old Confederacy. The band used to play "Dixie" before Redskins games. And the Redskins owner, George Preston Marshall, he really did refuse to hire any black players for his team, 15 years after the rest of the league integrated. And he wasn`t embarrassed about it, he was proud about it. He said his team would, quote, "start signing Negroes when the Harlem Globetrotters start signing whites." But he was now playing a publicly owned stadium on federal land and Stewart Udall did crank up the leverage on him from the point of view of the federal government. Civil rights groups like the NAACP and CORE ended up picketing not only the racist team owner`s house, they also picketed outside all the home games in the Redskins opening season in Washington, D.C. President Kennedy himself was supposed to attending the inaugural game in the public stadium in Washington, but he ended up turning down the invitation because of the controversy. There ended up being counter-protests by the Ku Klux Klan and by the American Nazi Party. They held up banners outside the stadium in D.C. that said, "Keep Redskins white." Let that sink in for a second. "Keep Redskins white." But ultimately, the interior secretary, Stewart Udall, he won in this fight with the racist owner of the Redskins. In 1962, the Redskins did finally consent to draft their first black player, and that was a decade and a half after the rest of the NFL got over that particular hump. George Preston Marshall did not go willingly to his integrated Washington Redskins. He never really got over it. When he died in 1969, his will stated that all of his money should go to the Redskins foundation and that not a single dollar of his money should be directed by the Redskins foundation toward, quote, "any purpose which supports or employs the principle of racial integration in any form." Dave Zirin and Michael Tomasky have both written really well about the history of the Redskins which is so freaking unbelievably racist, you almost can`t believe it even if you know it. But we`ve posted some links to their articles about it at Maddow Blog tonight if you want to check it out. But the example of that team and that owner and that history, that is one way to handle this particular problem. I mean, in the case of this football problem, the league basically never really handled it. I mean there were external forces in the form of this liberal activist new federal government that got involved because of a quirk in the ownership of the stadium that allowed them to exert leverage. That is how they broke the worst of it. But the league basically let George Preston Marshall run the Redskins as a Confederate team in the National Football League. And all these years later, there`s still the leftover stink, with everybody now debating as if we`re in some sort of ahistorical vacuum about whether George Preston Marshall meant it when a racist way when he called that team the Redskins in the first place. I wonder if we should keep the name. Who came up with the name? What was the context? That was example one, football. Example two, baseball. Go to any Major League Baseball stadium in the United States, unless you`re a Red Sox fan, it`s not that hard to get a seat. My God but stadiums are empty these days. Anyway, though, if you go to any of these mostly empty stadiums where they play Major League Baseball now, you can get yourself at every one of the stadiums where they play baseball, you can get yourself the traditional baseball watching meal of a hot dog. The average price for a Major League Baseball stadium hot dog is $4.32. But that`s the average. The most expensive hot dog in the league is at the Mets Stadium. The Mets frequently completely empty stadium which is called Citi Field. Go to Citi Field, (a), you`ll be lonely. But, (b), a hot dog will run you $6.25. On the other end of the spectrum, if you go to the Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati, home of the Cincinnati Reds, you will find there that a hot dog at that stadium will set you back exactly $1. And that is not an accident. And even though it`s Cincinnati, it`s not the obscure economic product of normally low local sausage prices or something. The reason prices are that low, the reason that hot dogs have been $1 at the Cincinnati Reds ballpark for decades is because of the insistence of the team`s long-time owner. This is the quote: "I want families to come to reds games. We are still the lowest price ticket in the Major Leagues and we have hot dogs that cost only a dollar. People say you sell hot dogs for a dollar? I can`t believe it! But how else could families afford a day at the ballpark?" That`s nice, right? That Cincinnati Reds owner is one of the most famous baseball team owners of all time, and not for a good reason. In 1984, Marge Schott acquired the Cincinnati Reds. She was the first woman to ever be a Major League Baseball team owner other than inheriting it from some other family member. So, that fact made her a high-profile baseball team owner anyway. She was also an outspoken populist. She not only kept the hot dog prices low, she kept the ticket prices low for the Cincinnati Reds games too. She was a beloved figure in Cincinnati. When the team was doing well, when the team was doing poorly, everybody loved Marge Schott. And Marge Schott, it turns out, loved Hitler. Seriously. That was part of the Marge Schott problem. I`m not speaking hyperbolically, I never do about Hitler. In 1991 a front office employee at the Reds sued Marge Schott for wrongful termination. He said he was fired because he opposed what he said was her policy of not hiring black people. When they started taking depositions in that lawsuit, that`s when all heck broke loose. Another Reds employee said in his sworn deposition that Marge Schott referred to her own team`s black players using the "N" word and then there was the thing about her Nazi memorabilia. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REPORTER: In a sworn statement released last week, Schott acknowledged using the word (AUDIO DELETED), admitted she might be talked about money grubbing Jews and keeping a swastika arm band in her home as a souvenir. Eric Davis was a star outfielder for Cincinnati, so was Dave Parker. A former Schott employee said Schott once referred to them as her million dollar (AUDIO DELETED). Schott denies saying this. DAVE PARKER, FORMER REDS PLAYER: I felt a need to come forward when I first heard her portray myself and Eric Davis as her main (AUDIO DELETED) as if we should have been up on the podium spinning around stark naked and having people bid on us. REPORTER: A former employee of the Oakland A`s, Sharon Jones, said she once heard Schott making racist remarks on a conference call with other team owners four years ago. SHARON JONES: Marge Schott, chief executive officer of the Cincinnati reds, said that she would never hire, quote, "another (AUDIO DELETED)," end quote, and she would never have a -- she would rather have a, quote, "trained monkey", end quote, working for her than a (AUDIO DELETED) REPORTER: Schott denies this too. MARGE SCHOTT, FORMER CINCINNATI REDS OWNER: I am not racist. Never have been, never will be. I`m a minority too and I -- you know, I`ve been in the little old boys world long enough. REPORTER: Black and Jewish leaders have called for Schott`s suspension but it`s up to the four-member committee to decide what action, if any, will be taken. Gary Matsumoto, NBC News, Cincinnati. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Cincinnati Reds owner Marge Schott did maintain that she was not a racist, as she put it, a racist, but she also unhelpfully explained the swastika arm band to "The New York Times" as being somehow related to her belief that Hitler initially was good for Germany. The owners of Major League teams that year did appoint a four-member commission, so four other team owners, to investigate what Marge Schott had said and done. They decided after they looked into the matter that they would suspend her for a year for her racially and ethnically offensive language. That was in 1993, so she was gone for a year. She was back by 1994. Didn`t take long, though, because it turns out she wasn`t kidding about the Hitler thing and all the rest of it. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TOM BROKAW, NBC NEWS: Even if you`re not a baseball fan, you`ve probably heard of Marge Schott. The woman who owns the Cincinnati Reds and a set of opinions so outrageous she has other baseball owners wondering whether she can stay in the game. However, as NBC`S Bob Pah (ph) discovered when he went in search of Ms. Schott, she also has her fans and the confidence of a woman who answers only to her pet dogs. REPORTER: She is legendary for pampering her dog Schotzie more than her players and for shooting off her mouth. In "Sports Illustrated", she ridiculed Asian-Americans and the Japanese. SCHOTT: When he came in, he was good. REPORTER: On ESPN, she lauds (ph) how Hitler was not all bad. MICHAEL RAPP: (INAUDIBLE) destroyed, and it`s regrettable. REPORTER: True, no one charges less for tickets or hot dogs, but the antics of this world class tight wad who calls everyone honey, watch closely now, have made her a laughing stock. What do you expect, says former slugger Dave Parker. She once called my million dollar (AUDIO DELETED). PARKER: She`s set in her beliefs and I don`t think there`s a whole lot that can change that. REPORTER: Three years ago, Major League Baseball suspended and fined her for her remarks and made her go to sensitivity class. Homerun king Hank Aaron says baseball should crack down even harder this time. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s an embarrassment to baseball, it`s an embarrassment to the city of Cincinnati. It`s just an embarrassment for mankind, you know, for her to continue to make these racist jokes. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: The 1996 round of Marge Schott praising Hitler as not all bad, cartoonishly mocking Japanese people with racist accents, using the "N" word -- that round of Marge Schott being Marge Schott resulted in another year-long suspension from Major League Baseball. She did come back again after her second year-long suspension, but then ultimately she lost the team. The league forced her to sell the Cincinnati Reds after a final scandal, weirdly involving her buying up cars from her own dealership, putting them in the names of her players and her other employees so as to lie to G.M. about how many Chevys she was selling. All that and the swastika arm band, too. Marge Schott was the George Preston Marshall of her day, right? George Preston Marshall for the Redskins, Marge Schott for the Cincinnati Reds. But Major League Baseball did kick Marge Schott out. And in so doing, the Cincinnati Reds got their dignity back. Cincinnati decided the one thing they would keep of hers was the $1 hot dogs and those they still have, but the Marge Schott legacy is done and has a very finite ending. So, that`s example two. That`s baseball. When a league does step in and deal with a problem, that`s how it looks like. And now, today, we are living out example number three, which is basketball. The National Basketball Association dealing with one of their own, I guess, basketball variants of the George Preston Marshall, Marge Schott scale of professional sports team ownership. After audio tapes of uncertain origin surfaced this weekend on the TMZ Sports Web site, apparently capturing L.A. Clippers owner Donald Sterling making derogatory remarks about black people, apparently telling his mistress that he did not want her to advertise on social media that she spent time with black people nor did he want her to bring black people to his team`s basketball games. The NBA has announced that they are investigating the matter. They`re obviously weighing their options. The team`s sponsors appearing to be voting with their feet already. All of these companies either ending or at least suspending their sponsorship of the Clippers in protest of the remarks. The commissioner of basketball is this man, Adam Silver. He does have some leeway to take action unilaterally as commissioner under the constitution of the National Basketball Association. And, yes, there is such a thing. That same constitution affords the other owners in the league the right to strip Donald Sterling of his ownership of the Clippers if a super majority of the other owners vote to do so. But the context in which those decisions are now being considered is sort of in three layers. The first one, of course, is whether or not he actually made the remarks in question. NBC News has not independently verified that that is Donald Sterling`s voice on the recordings. Mr. Sterling for his part has put out a statement through the L.A. Clippers organization in which he has apologized for how he has been represented here, but he`s not confirming that that is his voice on the recording. The Clippers in that statement also made a suggestion that these audio tapes might have been altered in some way. So that`s one element of very immediate context. The second element of context is that this is not the first time an American big-time professional sports that a league has had to deal with allegations of an outrageously racist owner. And we`ve seen the examples of what happens when you let it slide because it`s an owner, right? And we`ve seen what happens when you confront it. But the third element of context here is the sort of middle element and it may be the one that is most vexing to the people who are closest to this story. The last element of context here is Mr. Sterling`s own personal history. The way that he`s made all of his money is from being a property owner and a landlord on a very large scale in southern California. In 2003 and again in 2006, Mr. Sterling paid huge settlements in two large- scale discrimination cases brought against him on the basis of his property business. The 2003 lawsuit accused him of maintaining racial preferences for his tenants. He allegedly said, quote, "black tenants smell and attract vermin." That`s how he explained not renting to black tenants. The 2006 case was settled on behalf of not only black tenants but also Latino tenants and families with children. The fine that Mr. Sterling agreed to in that discrimination case was the largest fine ever obtained by the Justice Department in a housing discrimination case of that kind. In both of those incidents, Mr. Sterling settled the cases, he did not admit wrongdoing. When NBA great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, a former league MVP who actually coached under Sterling at the Clippers back in the year 2000, he`s now written a blistering essay today for "Time" magazine in part addressing that history. Quote, "What bothers me," he says, "about this whole Donald Sterling affair is not just his racism. I`m bothered that everyone acts as if it`s a huge surprise. This ridiculous conversation with his girlfriend is what puts you over the edge? That`s the smoking gun? He was discriminating against black and Hispanic families for years, preventing them from getting housing. It was public record. We did nothing." "Suddenly," he says, "he doesn`t want his girlfriend posing with Magic Johnson on Instagram and we bring out the torches and the rope? Shouldn`t we have all called for his resignation back then?" Kareem Abdul-Jabbar continues, "The big question is what should be done next? I hope Sterling loses his franchise. I hope whoever made this illegal tape is sent to prison. I hope the Clippers continue to be unconditionally supported by their fans. I hope the Clippers realize that the ramblings of an 80-year-old man jealous of his young girlfriend don`t define who they are as individual players or as a team. They aren`t playing for Sterling, they`re playing for themselves, for the fans, for showing the world that neither basketball nor our American ideals are defined by a few pathetic men or women," so says NBA great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar today, and he joins us next. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ADAM SILVER, NBA COMMISSIONER: While I understand anger that would be naturally expressed over hearing a tape like this, I also believe that ultimately the players and the rest of the NBA family has confidence that we`ll deal with it appropriately. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: NBA Commissioner Adam Silver today assuring the country that the NBA will deal with the controversy surrounding L.A. Clippers owner Donald Sterling, in his words, appropriately. Joining us now is Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, former NBA player and MVP, former coach of the L.A. Clippers at one time. He wrote in "Time" magazine today, "Welcome to the finger-wagging Olympics. It`s time to look at ourselves and our collective moral outrage in the mirror." Mr. Abdul-Jabbar, it`s a real honor to have you here today. Thanks for your time tonight. KAREEM ABDUL-JABBAR, FORMER NBA PLAYER: It`s a pleasure to talk to you, Rachel. MADDOW: So, you wrote today that you`re basically as bothered by Mr. Sterling`s evident racism in this tape as you are by everybody acting like it was a huge surprise. Why do you think -- why do you think that happened? Why do you think that is? ABDUL-JABBAR: Well, I think it has a lot to do with the fact that Mr. Sterling is very wealthy. He employs lawyers and PR people to help make him look good. People feel very uneasy calling him on things because he has the means, especially financially, to make their lives miserable. MADDOW: You wrote that it bothers you that this conversation was taped under circumstances that we don`t totally know. We can`t even ascertain the veracity of the tapes. Certainly, we know what they sound like but we don`t know for sure where they came from and what the motivations were of the person who taped them and Mr. Sterling isn`t admitting that they are him. Those murky circumstances give this a real salacious gloss even above what`s actually happening on the tapes. Is it frustrating to you that that`s how this has come to light? ABDUL-JABBAR: It kind of adds to the stench, you know, because this seems like everybody was working against each other. You know, both sides of this issue between Mr. Sterling and his -- this lady, Ms. Stiviano. So, it`s very hard to figure out what exactly is going on here. MADDOW: Do you think that there should have been some sort of, I guess, greater move toward accountability outside the courtroom? Greater move toward accountability within basketball when there were those big discrimination suits that Mr. Sterling settled? You referenced those in your piece today in "Time" magazine saying that`s what we should have been mad about, that`s what we should have acted about. What do you think basketball should have done? ABDUL-JABBAR: I think at that point basketball should have tried to do something about Mr. Sterling at that point, because those are pretty despicable things. They have nothing to do with basketball, but it gives you the indication of someone`s character and their purpose in life. And we should have been more aware of that and acted earlier. MADDOW: If the league completes this investigation in a way that satisfies, I guess, everybody, as the commissioner put it, in the NBA family and everybody can agree that what seems to have happened is what happened and they come to agreement on the facts, what do you think the league should consider in terms of its options? Do you think they should strip him of the franchise? ABDUL-JABBAR: There`s a whole lot at stake here, Rachel. Look at how many different communities were affected. For example, you want to know how the black community is affected, go to the Black people have supported this game ever since it was segregated and have been happy to become a part of the NBA. It`s reached into so many communities. The Hispanic community, Mr. Sterling discriminated against them. It`s very obvious that this guy has been a bad actor for a long time and he`s just -- it`s just now reached this point of saturation that people are saying, hey, we`ve got to do something. I think it`s -- they`re about 10 years too late. MADDOW: You heard at the top of the segment, you heard the commissioner say I also believe that the players and the rest of the NBA family has confidence that we -- meaning we the league -- will deal with it appropriately. Do you think he`s right? Do you think people have confidence in the league doing right by this revelation? ABDUL-JABBAR: I think they should have confidence in the NBA. My first experience with the NBA, I played for the Milwaukee bucks. They hired the first general manager of a team that was African-American. That was a big step. And they have continually reinforced that with opening more doors for minorities, women and, you know, other people of color. I think the NBA has been exemplary. Great athletes from around the world want to come to America and play in the NBA. I think that says something for its inclusiveness and the open door that it tries to show the world that this is what we believe in. This is America. It`s Ameritocracy, come one, come all, just be on your game. That`s a wonderful message. I think the NBA should enforce that and I hope Commissioner Silver has the means and the support from the owners and everybody to get that done. MADDOW: All eyes on the league right now as they handle this, both needing to be responsible here, but also accountable in a way, and I think your optimism about the league being capable of handling it in the way that you just described there I think goes a long way because you`ve earned the respect of not only basketball fans but all of us for so long, sir. Thank you for being here. ABDUL-JABBAR: My pleasure. Great talking with you, Rachel. MADDOW: Thank you. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, of course, former MVP of the NBA and a former NBA coach, as well as a long-time player, and one of my heroes when I was growing up as a kid. I lost focus (ph). We`ll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Today was a big day. Today, two Republican congressmen did not resign. And in both cases, it was important enough to make news. The first one, Vance McAllister was only been in Congress since November. He was last seen on videotape making out with his then staffer who was not his wife. Mr. McAllister today announced that he will not resign his seat, but he will also not run for re-election in November. Also today, the Justice Department unsealed its felony charges against another Republican congressman, Michael Grimm of New York. Mr. Grimm also says that he will not resign but he, in fact, says he will run for re- election, while he`s under indictment on 20 federal charges. The really sticky wicket with him is the Republican Party may not be able to get their indicted congressman off the ballot in November even if they want to try to. And what is most amazing about this story is who the Republicans might put up against him for that seat. Seriously, this is unbelievable, and that story is coming up. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Early this morning, President Obama was in Manila in the Philippines giving a press conference and the FOX News Channel got in the last question for the president and they got a rise out of the president in so doing. Watch. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ED HENRY, FOX NEWS WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: As you end this trip, I don`t think I have to remind you there have been a lot of unflattering portraits of your foreign policy right now. Rather than get into the all the details of red lines, et cetera, I`d like to give you a chance to lay out what your vision is more than five years into office, what you think the Obama doctrine is in terms of what your guiding principle is on all of these crises and how you answer those critics who say they think the doctrine is weakness? BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, Ed, I would -- I doubt that I`m going to have time to lay out my entire foreign policy doctrine, and there were actually some complimentary pieces as well about my foreign policy, but I`m not sure you ran them. Typically, criticism of our foreign policy has been directed at the failure to use military force. And the question I think I would have is why is it that everybody is so eager to use military force after we`ve just gone through a decade of war at enormous costs to our troops and to our budget. What is it exactly that these critics think would have been accomplished? The point is that for some reason, many who were proponents of what I considered to be a disastrous decision to go into Iraq haven`t really learned the lesson of the last decade. And they keep on just playing the same note over and over again. Why? I don`t know. But my job as commander-in-chief is to look at what is it that is going to advance our security interests over the long term. To keep our military in reserve for where we absolutely need it, and that may not always be sexy. That may not always attract a lot of attention and it doesn`t make for good argument on Sunday morning shows. But it avoids errors. You hit singles, you hit doubles. Every once in a while, we may be able to hit a home run, but we steadily advance the interests of the American people and our partnership with folks around the world. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: President Obama today making some of the most extensive off-the- cuff remarks he has ever made about his approach to American power and the rest of the world. Why not war is generally preferable to war, especially if you can get what`s in America`s interests by means other than force. The president making those remarks today in the Philippines as his administration announced yet more sanctions against Russia for what the White House described as Russia`s continued illegal intervention and provocative actions in Ukraine. This is the third escalation of not war tactics, sanctions against Russia over the issue of Ukraine. Among the seven Russian officials targeted today is this guy, the man here in close quarters with President Vladimir Putin, a former deputy prime minister to Mr. Putin, and he now heads up the Russian state-owned oil company, Rosneft, the biggest oil company in the world. If President Obama does ramp up sanctions even further, the most aggressive option that he`s got is to take actions not just against individuals, but against the whole Russian oil and gas sector, which accounts for more than half of that country`s economy. So far President Obama has not done that, but as of today he has targeted that guy. He has targeted the head of Russia`s oil company. He`s targeted him personally as an individual. Even while the American company Exxon continues to announce yet further partnerships with that same Russian company, whose chief executive has just been hit with White House sanctions, this headline out today. How long can Western oil companies keep doing stuff like that? And are these escalating but not war tactics working against Russia? And how would we know if they were? Joining us now is Michael McFaul. Until earlier this year, he was America`s ambassador to Russia. He`s now a professor of political science at Stanford. Professor McFaul, thanks for being here. AMB. MICHAEL MCFAUL, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO RUSSIA: Great to be here. MADDOW: How does -- how does it work to be sanctioning essentially the CEO of the company but not the company? How does that -- how does that affect American firms making decisions about doing business in Russia? MCFAUL: Well, it means that they continue to do business and can continue to do business with the company Rosneft. It just means that Igor Sechin can`t travel to the United States anymore. By the way, he hadn`t traveled to the United States very much until he became the head of this oil company. But it also, I think, signals that there`s more to come. I think that`s what the administration was trying to do. They`re trying to say we are serious about this. If you escalate violence in eastern Ukraine, we`re going to go after not just Mr. Sechin, but perhaps the banking sector, the energy sector in Russia. MADDOW: I recognize that the strategy here is to leave further room to grow. Essentially to do these things incrementally so that you have somewhere else to crank to if Russia does something else. But is the basic idea here, I don`t know if this exists in diplomatic speak, but is the basic idea here that there`s only one person who is the target of sanctions, that all decisions that matter are President Putin`s decisions, and so only sanctions that bother him have a chance of a policy impact? MCFAUL: Yes and no. I would say there are two kinds of sanctions that have already been done and are being threatened. So, the ones you see so far, they`re to punish Putin`s inner circle. If you look at the list today, it`s clearly designed to punish those people. And I don`t think anybody has any illusions that because we`ve done this, Putin is going to change his mind. But the prospect, the specter of these sectoral sanctions, that`s to raise the costs in Putin`s mind about going into eastern Ukraine and annexation. That`s different. That is going to affect the long-term economic health of Russia. So, that wouldn`t be about him precisely. And that`s why it has to be preemptive, right, because once he goes in, then you`re going to be forced to do sanctions and then you`re in a game of lock-in. You`re not in a game of trying to change his calculus. Right now, they`re trying to change his calculus about further military intervention in Eastern Europe -- eastern Ukraine, excuse me. MADDOW: How is the U.S. doing in terms of lining up the rest of the world, lining up the E.U. and other countries that matter to Russia in terms of its economic interactions around this strategy? Where have they succeeded and where have they not succeeded? MCFAUL: Well, they`re working hard as best I can tell, and President Obama just yesterday, I believe, said we don`t want to get ahead of the Europeans, we want to be in concert. And I think that`s right, because if not, then they can pick and choose who they work with. But we have different economic interests. We`re less exposed than the Europeans are. It reminds me when I was in the government about the debate we had with our European allies about Iran, where they had more business, they had more banking relationships with Iran. We had nothing to lose so it was easy for us to be tough. It`s a bit like that. And, you know, there`s push and shove. I think it was striking, for instance, that the head of Gazprom, Mr. Miller, was not on the list today. MADDOW: So we have the Russian essentially state-owned oil company is on the list but the state-owned gas company not on the list. MCFAUL: Correct. And I don`t know why. If I`m guessing, maybe because of Europe`s exposure to gas, that might have been a reason. MADDOW: Europe needs Russian gas more than they need Russian oil so that`s a bigger jump for them? MCFAUL: Correct. MADDOW: In terms of what happens next here, the president today -- the reason I played those remarks sort of at length, and he went on for even longer than that. MCFAUL: Striking to me. MADDOW: First of all, he`s very confident in the way that he`s talking about these. He`s obviously put thought into it and he`s obviously very bothered by the criticism that was put to him by that FOX News reporter saying you`re weak and the president reads that as, you`re telling me I`m weak because I`m not bombing anybody. That`s not the way that my strength should be measured. MCFAUL: Right. MADDOW: Is that an animating dynamic inside the White House and inside this administration and the state department more broadly when they`re making foreign policy decisions, the fear of being called weak, the need to defend nonmilitary action as actions of strength? MCFAUL: Not for President Obama. I mean, I worked for him for three years at the White House, and the last thing he`s thinking about is whether Ed Henry is calling him weak or not. You heard a bit of that flippancy in his answer. He wants to achieve results, within the constraints and his foreign policy philosophy that he thinks the American people have elected him to execute. So, on Ukraine, there`s not a military option. There`s no military option available. Instead what you see, I think, is a very aggressive administration using nonmilitary means. Let`s be clear, tell me the last time Russian government officials have been sanctioned by a president of the United States? Didn`t happen under Ronald Reagan. Didn`t happen under Dwight D. Eisenhower when we were rolling back communism in Eastern Europe, which is to say we`re not going to use military force -- by the way, neither did Reagan and neither did George W. Bush or President Eisenhower -- but they are trying to inflict I think a rather aggressive policy to try to stop Putin from further aggression in Ukraine. MADDOW: I believe that had this been George W. Bush taking these actions, the left would be paying them a lot more attention because I think the left would be very worried that they were too aggressive and the right would be praising him as Reagan, but because it`s President Obama doing it, its right is defining as -- the right is defining it essentially as weakness, and the left isn`t paying attention to that. MCFAUL: George W. Bush faced Russian intervention into Georgia. Not a single Russian government official was sanctioned by the Republicans. MADDOW: Yes, but he swaggered when he didn`t do it. Michael McFaul, former ambassador to Russia, it`s really helpful to have you to talk to about these things. Thank you. MCFAUL: Thanks for having me. MADDOW: Thanks. We`ll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: News right now in terms of this storm system that has been so devastating over the past few days. It`s now 9:45 p.m., 9:49 p.m. here on the East Coast and we are tracking another round of significant tornados across a huge swath of the South, from Jackson, Mississippi into Knoxville, Tennessee, and into West Virginia. Separately, separate system, a tornado watch is also in effect for parts of the Midwest, from St. Louis, Missouri, to Des Moines, Iowa. Earlier today tornadoes began to form in Mississippi and Alabama and Tennessee, touching down in Louisville, Alabama and in Tupelo, Mississippi. Late today, I want to show you this. This was the scene at our NBC affiliate in Tupelo, WTVA, when the weatherman on camera live was told to take his own advice and move to shelter, move into the basement shelter at the station as the tornado crossed them. There are no reports of fatalities in Tupelo, Mississippi but widespread damage, serious injuries are being recorded. Mississippi and Alabama have both declared a state of emergency tonight. In Alabama, two fatalities have been confirmed in the Athens area tonight where extensive damage is being reported as the storm continues to move through the area. This is the second consecutive day that multiple tornadoes, damaging winds and hail have just pummeled parts of the Midwest and the South. A tornado first touched down at 7:00 p.m. Sunday night, just west of Little Rock, Arkansas. Storms carved a half-mile-wide path running almost 100 miles through the center of that state and moving Northeast. It took two hours to blow through the whole state. It claimed the lives of 14 people and injured more than 100. Another person was killed yesterday by a separate storm north of Tulsa, Oklahoma. Another death attributed to severe weather was reported in Iowa. By the end of the day Sunday, 31 tornadoes are known to have hit ground in the middle of the country. Severe damage is being reported in the suburbs of Jackson, Mississippi, where the latest tornado has touched down. Again, we`re also watching tornadoes forming in the Birmingham area of Alabama. Again, for the next 24 hours, there is a tornado watch throughout Mississippi, Alabama, and western Tennessee. The potentially affected area is vast, and it covers territory where tens of millions of Americans are living. We will bring you more as we have it. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: 2008 Super Bowl was the game they won when that New York Giants receiver caught the ball with his head. Then they scored a touchdown with seconds left to play. A few months later, the Giants made their ritual journey to the White House where they were celebrated by President George W. Bush. Look at Eli Manning. He`s like a little kid at this point. They`re having so much fun, the president and the players. And also it turns out the home state congressional delegation, this Republican congressman, for instance, Vito Fossella, the pride of Staten Island, New York. Vito Fossella celebrated all night that night, right until the police pulled him over in the condition technically known as seeing three of everything drunk. Congressman Fossella was blotto when they pulled him over. His blood alcohol registered more than twice the legal limit. An arrest for drunk driving is bad news for anyone. Particularly bad news for any politician. But the trouble got worse for Vito Fossella when he would not say where it was that he was so drunkenly trying to get to. Reporters soon discovered that the pride of Staten Island had been picked up from jail not by his wife but by a nice single mom who lived near the spot where he was arrested. A week later, Vito Fossella admitted that nice single mom who fetched him from the hoosegow was not just his old friend like he said. She was his sweetheart on the side. And the toddler she lived with was theirs, together. Congressman Fossella, conservative, married, law and order Republican politician, had started a secret second family. The tale of Congressman Vito Fossella is one of the more salacious political unravelings we have seen in Washington in recent years. When Congressman Fossella decided not to run for re-election, his seat left Republican hands and instead went to a Democrat, went to a Democrat named Michael McMahon, who swept into office on President Obama`s coattails in 2008. Congressman McMahon, though, held that seat for only one term before Staten Island got a new new guy. A new Republican who was able to wrest that seat back for the GOP in 2010. And Republicans must have been delighted to have that seat again after "congressman driving while drunk and keeping a secret family" fumbled that seat away. Republicans must not have believed their luck in 2010 when they got a Republican to win back Vito Fossella`s seat. That said, the new Republican they got to retake Vito Fossella`s seat was a guy named Michael Grimm. And look how he turned out. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REPORTER: Can we ask you about the charges? REPORTER: Congressman, very simply, are you a crook? REP. MICHAEL GRIMM (R), NEW YORK: No. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: No, I`m not a crook. Congressman Grimm, Michael Grimm, showed up in federal court today so he could plead not guilty to 20 separate federal criminal charges. The indictment today includes charges of obstructing and impeding the IRS. Also, conspiracy to defraud the United States. Also, health care fraud. Also, wire fraud. Wire fraud. Wire fraud. More wire fraud. Five counts of that. Not to be confused with the five counts of mail fraud or the two counts of perjury or the count of obstruction of an official proceeding or the count of unlawful employment of aliens. The charges all stem from his ownership of a restaurant before he went to Congress. Prosecutors say he kept two sets of books for the rest and he paid his employees partly in cash to avoid the payroll taxes and they say he lied about it under oath. Twenty federal charges is a lot of federal charges. But Michael Grimm says he`s not going anywhere. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GRIMM: We`re going to fight tooth and nail until I am fully exonerated. So let me be perfectly clear: I will not abandon my post, or the wonderful people who entrusted me to represent them. I have their backs and I know that they have mine. I will get right back to work, as I always have, with honor and distinction I will serve. And then, on top of all that, I have an election to win. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: I have an election to win? He does, actually, because it appears that Republicans are stuck with Michael Grimm on the ballot in November as their candidate for congress. He`s stuck on the ballot now because the deadlines have passed. He`s stuck on the ballot unless they can convince him to move out of the district or unless he gets convicted between now and November. Or maybe the Republicans can put him up for a judgeship. Literally, that`s one way they can get him off the ballot, name him a judge. What do you think the odds are of that? But my favorite part of the story is what happens if Republicans somehow shake loose of Michael Grimm. "Roll Call" pointed out that waiting in the wings itching for the part, ready for his second chance, is Vito Fossella, the drunk driving former congressman with Staten Island`s previous entry for most salacious political ending. Mr. Fossella has been saying that Republicans nosing around about whether or not he would be willing to take on Michael Grimm. So, the congressman who once threatened to throw a reporter off a balcony and break him like a little boy is now facing 20 federal felony counts, has a willing replacement in the guy who would not call a cab and did not hold his count of families to one. God bless you, Staten Island, for whatever you`ve done wrong in your life. You never did anything to deserve congressional representation like this. I`m sorry. That does it for us tonight. Now, it`s time for "THE LAST WORD." Thanks for being with us. THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END