The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 07/24/14

Guests: Robin Konrad

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chris. Thanks. And thanks to you at home for joining us thus hour. In 1934, this man, Joseph Everett Thompson was sworn in as the sheriff of Daviess County in Kentucky. Daviess County is where Owensboro, Kentucky, is. And unfortunately for Sheriff Thompson, he died a little more than two years after he was sworn in as county sheriff. Now, to replace him, the county planned to hold an election to pick a new sheriff, but in the meantime, they need somebody interim. They needed somebody to fill the now suddenly vacant job of the county sheriff when the sheriff died. And a local judge decided that the most expedient thing to do would just to ask the dead sheriff`s widow if she would fill in for him after his death. Her name was Florence Shoemaker Thompson. She was asked if she would fill in and become the sheriff in her husband`s absence. She said yes. She was sworn in in Daviess County the day after her husband`s funeral. And as unusual as it was at the time, in the 1930s, to have a woman sheriff in the United States, the reason Florence Shoemaker Thompson became nationally famous as a local county sheriff in Kentucky at the time is because while she was sheriff of that county, she had to carry out a hanging. Just a few weeks after she was sworn in, an African-American man named Rainey Bethea was sentenced to die in Daviess County, Kentucky, after he was convicted of raping and murdering a local white woman. He did not protest his innocence, although he did fight his sentence. He tried to avoid the death sentence, but the county did convict him and they were determined to hang him and Sheriff Florence Shoemaker Thompson thereby became the first woman in the United States to be given the task of carrying out an execution. Hundreds of reporters and photographers from all over the country descended on Owensboro to cover the hanging, a hanging that`s going to be conducted by a woman, right? But Sheriff Thompson had secretly arranged to actually not hang the guy, herself. She had agreed with an ex-police officer, a male former police officer from Louisville, Kentucky, that unbeknownst to everybody who was turning up to see the hanging, he actually would be the one to pull the trigger to open the trap door to actually kill the guy. And they knew they were going to get a lot of people turning out for this execution. They moved it from the courthouse to an empty lot in town, 20,000 people showed up to watch that hanging. As did the cop who had agreed to serve as the executioner so the woman sheriff wouldn`t have to do it. But reports from the time indicate that that cop who agreed to actually be the one to pull the trigger there, he turned up too drunk to actually do the job. The convicted prisoner was prepared for the hanging. They had him up on the gallows. They reportedly screamed at the cop twice that it was time to do it, he should do it, he should pull the trigger, operate the trap door and kill the guy. But the cop from Louisville either wouldn`t do it or he couldn`t do it. He was maybe too drunk to be able to perform his duty and eventually somebody else crammed up there on the gallows triggered the trap door and the hanging was finally done. The photos and the articles and the headlines from that hanging ran all over the country. "The New York Daily News" ran this collage of pictures showing the huge crowd of 20,000 people. You can see the headline up there at the very top, "Dropped through trap to eternity provides populace with Roman holiday." That`s August 1936. You can tell from the tune of the coverage that it`s essentially chastising us as a country for treating an execution, even this one with scandalous truth of a woman sheriff and everything. Essentially, it`s sort of a chastising tone that we as a country were treating an execution as an entertainment, a Roman holiday, like the Romans turning out to see the Christians fed to the lions. But that hanging in Owensboro, Kentucky, in august 1936, that was the last legal public execution in the country -- the last legal execution that was held before a crowd in the public square. We never did it again like that after that time. Thereafter, when Americans did turn out in large groups to see people killed in public, we didn`t call it a formal execution. We didn`t call it a state hanging. People did turn out to see public executions after this but they weren`t official ones. They were lynch mobs. When the state does these things officially, we no longer conduct them out in an empty lot somewhere so tens of thousands of people can crowd in. We don`t put executions out in public the way we used to. It has been 75 years since we last did that when we last did it in Owensboro, Kentucky. But executions now still are public proceedings, right? They`re an act of government. Legally, they can`t be secret. The public has a right to know. There have to be witnesses. Theoretically, at least, it`s all a transparent process. You see that in really granular ways. So, like yesterday in Arizona, efforts of prison officials to kill a man at the Arizona state prison complex started to go wrong. Not long after they started the process of killing him. The expected 10 or 15 minutes, what everybody was expecting for the execution, it stretched on and on -- 20 minutes, 30 minutes, 40 minutes, 50 minutes. More than an hour after they had injected the guy, the guy still was not dead. He was still gasping. His stomach was reportedly visibly convulsing. He was making loud sucking sounds. More than an hour into their efforts to kill him, more than an hour and a half into their efforts to kill him. And in the middle of that, his lawyers called a federal judge to try to get this bungled execution stopped while the guy was lying there on the gurney sucking air more than an hour into his attempted execution. At one point, the lawyers got Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy on the phone. Justice Kennedy reportedly declined to stop the execution. They also got another federal judge, a federal district court judge from Arizona on the phone. And in that conversation, because this is a public matter, there was a court reporter on the phone writing down everything that happened in that conversation. This is a public proceeding. This is something being done with taxpayer money as a matter of public policy. We are supposed to know about it. And so even though that was just a phone call, it didn`t happen in any courtroom, we have the transcript today of that conversation between the lawyers and the judge from when the man was on the gurney and they were trying to kill him and it was more than an hour into him not dying. We have the transcript. So, the judge says to the man`s attorney, Robin Konrad, Ms. Konrad, she responds, "I just filed a motion for an emergency stay of execution. Mr. Woods` execution started at 1:52. He was being sedated at 1:57. Since that time he`s been gasping, snorting, unable to breathe and not dying. And we`re asking, our motion asks for you to issue an emergency stay and order the Department of Corrections to start life-saving techniques as required under their protocol." And then the judge responds on this phone call. "OK. I`ve been pulled out of a meeting. We will do everything we can to deal with the urgency it demands and I have a court reporter here. We are on the record." And then the judge says, "I want to make an attempt right now to obtain participation of an attorney for the state. Who would that be?" And the prisoner`s attorney suggests she might want to be talking to an attorney named Jeff Zick who works for the state. They have the discussion. "Do you have phone numbers for these people?" the judge says. "The reality is I`ll take anybody we can reach right now but we should start with the most appropriate person." The lawyer and the judge then discuss what might be the phone number for this attorney who works for the state of Arizona. The judge explains he doesn`t know how to do conference calling on his phone and then the lawyer for the man who`s strapped to the gurney gasping for breath says she knows how to do conference call on her phone so they can do it through her phone. Then, the judge says, "No, my staff here figured out to do the conference call." They put her on hold. They get the attorney for the state conferenced in. The attorney for the state then turns up in the transcript. He says, "Hello." The judge says, "Mr. Zick, this is Judge Wake calling." "Hi, Judge Wake." "I need to put you on a conference call with Robin Konrad." "I`m sorry," the lawyer says, "let me step out of my office." They deal with the logistics of which phone the lawyers on, where he can talk. Again, this is while this man is on the gurney gasping and not dying, more than and hour into them trying to kill him. And while that is happening, the judge explains, "Mr. Zick, Ms. Konrad advises me that Mr. Wood has not yet expired and this has been going on for, what, nearly and hour and a half." And they go back and forth in this conversation. We`ve got the transcript. They go back and forth about what`s happened thus far, how long the guy has been not dying on the gurney since they injected him. They talk about what the protocol is for the state if they have any procedures for trying to stop the execution to maybe try to bring him back. And who would make that decision? Would it be the governor? Would it be the warder? Would it be the director of corrections? Does anybody know how this works? And then the lawyer for the state, he`s assistant attorney general, he interjects with this information he had fed to him from the prison. He tells the judge, and again, we have the transcript. "I am told Mr. Wood is effectively brain dead and that this reaction you`re seeing, this is the type of reaction one gets if they`re taken off life support. The brain stem is working but there`s no brain activity." The judge responds, "Well, tell me briefly how it is? Is he? Do you have leads or probes necessary to determine his brain state?" "Repeat that, judge, I`m sorry?" "Do you have leads or probes connected to determine his brain state?" "I don`t believe there are leads connected on the head, but I`m not sure, but I know the individual who told me this information is medically trained." Then, the judge says, "What I`m wondering is what the basis is for the conclusion that he`s effectively brain dead." The lawyer responds, "It`s because of the medical training and all I know is that`s the information that was given to me. I can certainly find that out." And the judge says, "Well, if there are not monitors connected to him, if it`s a visual observation, that`s very concerning as not being adequate. Tell me, what is the current status and what is the anticipated course of action from this minute forward?" And they proceed. The lawyer for the state saying basically everything`s going fine here. There`s a medical professional overseeing this. He says, quote, "We`re pretty sure he`s" -- this is not a quote. He says basically we`re pretty sure he`s brain dead, I can`t tell you how we know that but basically we think he is and I trust the people on site who believe that he is. The judge basically seems like he`s not necessarily believing that, right? The judge says seeing it doesn`t sound like enough for me. The attorney for the man who`s lying on the gurney then says that they want the state to step in and stop what they`ve been doing now for more than an hour and a half, since what they`ve been doing doesn`t appear to be killing him and it`s been a long time. Ultimately, 13 minutes into this phone call, while the execution is going on, the judge explains, "I`m considering right now based on what`s presented to me whether the execution should be suspended." He says, "I do intend to resolve this matter with extreme urgency, in light of the nature of the matter, and the inability to deliberate at any length." And they argue about it, discuss the protocol, try to get more information. And then 26 minutes into this amazing call, there`s an interruption. "I just, I just, I`m sorry, Judge." And the judge says, "Go ahead." And the lawyer says, "I just learned that the IV team leader has confirmed Mr. Wood`s death." The judge says, "All right. Let me finish my thought. Because it`s my responsibility." And the judge, in the transcript continues to explain his final legal reasoning in this matter which obviously is now moot in this individual case. The now dead prisoner`s attorney thanks the judge for doing his best under the circumstances. The judge responds, "No, not at all. It`s my responsibility. I have attempted to deal with it as rapidly as humanly possible. Anything further, Mr. Zick?" "No, your honor." "All right, I`m going to have the court reporter type this up, type up this transcript and file it so it`s publicly available. Proceeding concluded." The confusion over who could have stopped the execution if they wanted to, what the method is for stopping an execution that`s already under way, how much of one drug the prisoner received, if it was within the law for him to receive more of the drug since the process already started. All of that confusion was basically totally unclear, right? During the nearly two-hour-long process of the execution, and it`s unclear during the half an hour that they were on the phone trying to decide what to do next. And that confusion is in part because killing prisoners may be an act of public policy carried out with taxpayer money by people working for the government, but killing prisoners is a bit of an ad hoc system in Arizona right now. Of the last three prisoners that Arizona has killed since October, all three of them were killed by three different sets of drugs. In October, they killed one guy with a one drug protocol. Two weeks later, they killed another guy with a three-drug combination. None of which involved the one drug they had just used on somebody else two weeks earlier. And now, yesterday was the third prisoner they`ve killed since October and it was yet another novel combination, this time two drugs, two drugs that Arizona had never used before. So in one state, there`s been three prisoners, three different ways of killing them. And that kind of chaos, which is not just in Arizona, but it is in Arizona, that kind of chaos is in part because of the availability of the drugs that states like to use or that states want to try to use to carry out these killings. As we have moved the process of killing people from the gallows in the square, right, as we have moved it to be an indoor thing, it has remained, constitutionally must remain a public process. But it`s not supposed to be a Roman holiday anymore, right? It`s not supposed to be for our mass entertainment in the streets anymore. It`s supposed to be a much more sober, quiet process. We keep trying to find quieter and quieter ways of killing people. So, instead of hanging, they went to the electric chair. Instead of the electric chair, they tried the gas chamber. Instead of the gas chamber, they tried the lethal injection idea. Move toward things that are painless, quiet, with lethal injection, maybe something that`s sort of medical, professional, and clean. And constitutionally, legally, we have to let people see this process. We will never be a country that carries out its executions in secret. Constitutionally, we can`t. But if people are going to see it, if we as Americans are allowed, at least through the media, to witness this stuff, we have gone through great lengths to make it not so much a spectacle anymore, not like it used to be in the bad old days. What we really are the only country in the whole world that tries to it this way. There`s very new countries left in the world that officially have legal killing of prisoners by the government. In all of Europe, there`s only one nation left. It`s the nation of Belarus, the former Soviet state, now dictatorship that`s sort of a satellite of Russia at this point. And in Belarus, it`s one place in Europe where they still do kill prisoners legally and their method of killing prisoners in Belarus is that they shoot them. They shoot them in the head. Interestingly, though, in Belarus when they do it, they do it completely in secret. In Belarus, of you`re convicted of a capital crime, you are not told the date on which you will be executed. It`s never publicly announced. Your family, your attorneys, nobody is ever told when or where exactly you are going to be killed. But then once they have killed you, they hide your body. They only notify the family, the lawyers, anybody else once the death sentence has already been carried out. Once you`re already dead. And then they secretly bury your body and they don`t tell anybody where it is. There`s some reports from Belarus that suggest that families, when they find out after the fact that their family member has been killed by the state, shot to death inside a prison, family members then drive around the capital city of Minsk in Belarus looking for fresh graves trying to figure out if they can find where their loved one has been secretly buried by the state because the state didn`t tell them. They didn`t know the execution was coming. That`s the only country left in Europe that still kills prisoners and that`s how they do it. Here, of course, it`s all public. And we don`t just shoot people anymore. But last night, after this two-hour-long gasping marathon process, the brother-in-law of one of the victims, one of the murder victims of this prisoner who was killed, was asked about the lethal injection yesterday in Arizona and how long it took and what he thought of the process. His response in part was this. "Why didn`t we give him a bullet? Why didn`t we give him some Drano?" In the legal wrangling over this case, before Arizona killed this man last night over this long process, one federal appeals judge in California made a similar argument in language that was almost as florid as that victim`s family member. Federal Judge Alex Kozinski wrote in the Ninth Circuit, "Whatever happens to this particular prisoner, Joseph Wood, the attacks will not stop and for a simple reason", he wrote, "The enterprise is flawed. Using drugs meant for individuals with medical needs to carry out executions is a misguided effort to mask the brutality of executions by making them look serene and peaceful, but executions are in fact nothing like that. They`re brutal, savage events and nothing the state tries to do can mask that reality nor should it. If we as a society want to carry out executions, we should be willing to face the fact the state is committing a horrendous brutality on our behalf. If some states wish to continue to carry out the death penalty, they must turn away from this misguided path and return to more primitive and foolproof methods of execution. The guillotine is probably best but seems inconsistent with our national ethos and electric chair, hanging and the gas chamber are each subject to occasional mishaps." "The firing squad," he writes, "strikes me as the most promising. Eight or 10 large caliber rifle bullets fired at close range can inflict massive damage causing instant death every time." "Sure, firing squads" he writes, this is amazing, "Firing squads can be messy", he writes. "Sure, firing squads can be messy, but if we`re willing to carry out executions, we should not shield ourselves from the reality that we`re shedding human blood. If we as a society cannot handle the splatter of execution carried out by a firing squad, we shouldn`t be carrying out executions at all." And no one else in the world does what we do. In Belarus, they do shoot people but they do it in secret. They go so far as to hide the bodies. We used to execute people publicly enjoying the splatter as a Roman holiday, a form basically of mass sport and entertainment. But we`re so embarrassed ourselves in the florid public enjoyment of that spectacle that we have since tried to hide it away over the last 75 years. We have invented this pseudo-medical disguise for what we`re doing. But the medical profession is no longer all that psyched to go along with their role in this disguise. I mean, if we want to keep doing this, there are few models around the world of other places that are still trying to do it. There`s no normal way to do it and we do it in a way that nobody else even tries. And our Constitution will not allow us to do it in secret, leaving families to hunt through fresh graves hoping one of those fresh graves might hold the secret dead, right? Our Constitution won`t let us do that. But if we can`t Belarus, the other examples around the world when they do it, they do it like we used to. They do it in the public square. They rent a stadium. They don`t call it something that it`s not. We have been congratulating ourselves for a long time on being less barbaric when the few countries left that cut off heads or hang people in the public square, in Saudi Arabia, or Iran, or Afghanistan under the Taliban. But yesterday in Arizona, they took two hours to kill the guy. Arizona today said they think it was fairly normal. They don`t think there was anything wrong with the process. Two hours. Is that really less barbaric than the gallows used to be in the public square? Is it really less barbaric now just because there were fewer people in the room in Arizona last night? (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: This is Gary Locke. He`s former governor of Washington state. He was our nation`s most recent ambassador to China before Max Baucus took over that job. Before he was ambassador to China, Gary Locke was the U.S. secretary of commerce. He had that job for most of president Obama`s first term. Right before Gary Locke stepped down as commerce secretary in order to go become ambassador to China, a commerce issue came up of some international delicacy. American states that liked using a particular drug to kill prisoners found that they couldn`t get that drug anymore. Sodium thiopental, it was used to kill prisoners for years but prisons started to run out. The U.S. manufacturer of the drug stopped making it in January 2011. The British government banned it from being exported to the United States from Britain because they knew what we were doing with it. An Indian company for a time was still willing to send it to the United States and they did send it to a few prisons. But that didn`t last for long. The Indian government figured out what was going on and they put a stop to that as well because of what we are using that drug for. The execution chambers were running dry so Gary Locke, U.S. secretary of commerce, called up the German secretary of commerce and asked his German counterpart for help. Hey, Germany, do you guys have any sodium thiopental you could help us with? You know what we use it for, right? Quote, "I noted the request and declined," the German minister said and then the German minister went further and actually banned any German and from sending this drug to the United States. And then by later that year, the whole European Union banned sending that drug to the United States for any purpose. Since everybody knew that the U.S. was using that drug to kill people. Since then, the manufacturers of a substitute drug called pentobarbital, they`ve also restricted the sale of that drug in the United States because they know what we are using it for. When Missouri announced plans to use another substitute for that substitute, a drug called Propofol. When Missouri said they were going to use Propofol to kill people, the manufacturers of that drug said if you do that, Missouri, we will ban our drug from being used anywhere in the United States for anything, and since that drug has other uses that are medically appropriate that aren`t just for killing people, Missouri backed off. They didn`t want to get the whole drug banned from the United States for all purposes, so they took it back. Then, the state of Indiana announced plans to use another substitute for the substitute. Indiana suggested they would use a drug called Brevital. They announced that this year. They`d used a drug called Brevital to kill people. The manufacturers of Brevital immediately then moved to ban the sale of that drug to any prison in the United States or to anyone who would resell it to any prison in the United States. And that has left another substitute for the substitute for the substitute for the substitute, a drug called Midazolam. It`s not an anesthetic. It`s just a sedative. It`s a sedative that has now been used in three consecutive executions that have received wide attention for being botched basically. Nobody likes that word, but three executions that took way longer than anybody expected -- the prisoner appearing to gasp and snort air and in some cases writhe and choke or start to try to speak, when they were supposed to be unconscious. There was one of those in January in Ohio. There was one of those in April in Oklahoma. There was one of those last night in Arizona. All of them Midazolam. There are two companies that manufacturer Midazolam. They`re both based in Illinois. One of those two companies says they do not want their drug, they do not want their Midazolam to be used by prisons to kill people, although it is not at all clear that the company is actually yet put in place real restrictions to stop that from happening. It`s possible to that. We`ve seen it happen with other drugs. They say don`t want it used. It`s not clear that they`ve actually stopped their drug from going into prisons. That`s one of the two. That`s company called Sagent. S-A-G-E-N-T. There`s a second company, also in Illinois. It`s called Akorn, and they`re fine with that drug used to kill people in experimental measures all over the country now, at least three of which have been botched to point of getting national headlines. This other company called Akorn, they appear to have no policy about the death penalty at all. The company is called Akorn, spelled with a K, A-K-O-R-N. They too are based in Illinois, and it was the drug that they manufacture that was used in the execution last night in Arizona that took nearly two hours to kill the man. Joining us is Robin Konrad. She`s one of Joseph Wood`s lawyers. Some of her words I was reading in the transcript in the frantic conversation with the judge while the execution was taking place. Robin Konrad, thank you for beings with us. ROBIN KONRAD, ATTORNEY: Thank you for having me. MADDOW: You were the attorney appealing last night. I know your client died before a ruling was rendered. What were you hoping to happen in that conversation? What did you want from that federal judge? What could he have done? KONRAD: We wanted the federal judge to stay the execution. We got word after an hour that Mr. Wood was gasping. The execution had not been completed. This was unusual. This was an experimental drug combination and we were concerned. So, we went to the federal court and asked for a stay of execution and asked that the Department of Corrections use life-saving measures. MADDOW: Obviously, the judge was in the process of turning you down on that request when the word came through that your client had died. I understand there was also an effort to contact the United States Supreme Court during the course of the execution. Can you explain what happened there? KONRAD: Yes, we actually went to every court possible. We contacted the Arizona Supreme Court and the United States Supreme Court and went to the federal district court judge who had heard Mr. Wood`s case when we asked for a preliminary injunction. And we were seeking a court that could hear the request for the stay as soon as possible. And the federal district judge was the court that heard the motion first. MADDOW: I know you are representing other prisoners on death row in Arizona right now. At least that`s my understanding. How do you anticipate that last night`s events may affect the cases of other prisoners who are looking at an execution date in Arizona? KONRAD: Well, it certainly will have an impact on the pending case, which is before the same district court judge, and that court indicated that the events that occurred during Mr. Wood`s bungled execution will have an impact and will need time in order to see how it will affect the case. MADDOW: I have to ask you, as somebody who`s doing death penalty litigation, I guess your personal opinion on these matters is not necessarily relevant to your role as an advocate, but is something materially unfixable about what`s going on in Arizona in terms of the way they are killing people or is what`s happening now basically a glitch in the system that Arizona is sort of between protocols, that they haven`t experimented enough to figure out the right way to kill people, but there is some right way to kill people that the state could do properly? How do you view this overall? KONRAD: I think the problem is we don`t know, and there needs to be transparency which has not happened in Arizona. So, we requested information about the drugs, about the choice of drugs that the Department of Corrections was using for the first time in Mr. Wood`s execution and we requested information about the qualifications of the IV team. None of that is provided to the public, and that is a huge concern in knowing if there is a way that an execution can be carried out humanely and consistent with the Constitution. MADDOW: And in our name, as a matter of public policy, done with taxpayer dollars. Robin Konrad, attorney for Joseph Wood -- I know that your client has died but this fight continues. Please keep us apprised. Thanks for being with us. KONRAD: Thank you. MADDOW: All right. There`s much more news to come. Just to close, one loop from last night`s coverage on this story, we reported there was some question as to whether or not the local medical examiner would take blood and tissue samples from that killed prisoner as a federal court had ordered. Those tissue samples and blood samples were taken from the man who was killed, but not within the timeframe that was suggested or actually ordered by the federal court. They took those samples this morning. Again, in a sort of pseudo-legal response to the court`s order. It is an ad hoc process and a chaotic one in Arizona as it is around the country now. More to come. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: We`ve just got in some new footage that you should see. Tonight, in the West Bank, there are huge protests. Thousands of Palestinians staging a rather massive protest of the Israeli invasion and bombardment of Gaza. Israeli border police and soldiers clashed with these protesters in the West Bank tonight. Reports tonight are that two Palestinian men were killed in these protests. Dozens of other protesters were injured. To be clear, this is not happening in Gaza. This is just north of Jerusalem. This is on the other side of Israel from Gaza in the West Bank. I think we`ve got a map that we can show for context. The West Bank as you can see here, we`ve got the two areas marked in red. The West Bank is physically discontinuous with Gaza where the war has been raging between Israel and Hamas for the past 17 days. These massive protests tonight are in the West Bank but they are about what`s going on in Gaza. Today at least 16 people were killed. Dozens of people were wounded by an apparent air strike on a school that was being used by the United Nations as a shelter for civilians who were trying to flee the violence in Gaza, looking for somewhere safe to stay. Sixteen killed and dozens wounded there including many children. U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said that attack took place while the U.N. was trying to arrange for a pause in the fighting, temporary truce -- in part because the U.N. wanted to evacuate them from the school and move them to somewhere safer. Secretary of State John Kerry is in Cairo tonight where he`s continuing his efforts to try and negotiate a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas. Mr. Kerry told reporters tonight that today, shelling of the U.N. shelter underscores the work he`s trying to do to get a cease-fire. It`s been a constant cycle of fighting between Israel and Hamas for the past several years in Gaza. 2009 was actually the last time the fighting in Gaza was as heavy as it is right now. And it`s an interesting historical parallel because that time the war went on for 22 days. Right now, we`re at 17 days in this round of fighting. Back in 2009, in that 22-day war, concerns not just about the huge loss of life, but about shortages of food and medicine and water and just horribly deteriorating conditions for the people who lived in Gaza, back in 2009, those concerns led Israel to agree in the middle of that war to establish what they called a humanitarian corridor. For three hours a day, most days, Israel and Hamas called a temporary humanitarian truce and the fighting would mostly stop, specifically so civilians who lived in the war zone for those three hours a day -- they could move around, they could get water, they could get food, they could try to get to shelter or do whatever else they need to try to save their own lives. Israel and Hamas agreed to that in 2009, and it was a meager excuse for a real cease-fire, but it was done on purely humanitarian grounds. And there is a history of them agreeing to that. Those temporary humanitarian daily three-hour truces, those did happen during the past fierce fighting between Israel and Hamas, and it probably did save lives. Could that happen again in the absence of a real cease-fire? I mean, there was noise yesterday from the Hamas side that Hamas might be willing to do something like that again in this round of fighting in order to evacuate wounded people and get basic relief supplies to civilians. They did not make a commitment toward that, but they did make some gestures in that direction. If the two sides were able to agree to do that again, to temporary daily humanitarian truces like they did back in 2009, like the U.N. attempted this round of fighting in order to evacuate wounded people and get basic relief supplies to civilians. They did not make a commitment toward that, but they did make some gestures in that direction. If the two sides were able to agree to do that again, to temporary daily humanitarian truces like they did back in 2009, like the U.N. attempted and failed to get today, that could be possible. That would be a step forward. And that is worth crossing your fingers over right now as the on conflict appears to be spreading. It`s worth hoping if that could be agreed to, this maybe could be a first tiny toehold toward a grander plan to stop the overall fighting to actually end this war. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Ever have that anxiety dream, you`re back in school? I have this anxiety dream like three times a week. You`re back in school. It`s the last day of school. You have not done any of the coursework. You`ve not done any of the reading. You`ve not, in fact, attended any of the classes and know nothing about the subject matter but finals are today and now naturally you will fail and you will not graduate. I have that dream three times a week, but that in real life is sort of happening right now in the U.S. Capitol. It`s finals week at the Capitol, and nobody has apparently done the work and the panic is starting and some of it happened on tape today, and that is next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: So, Congress does nothing anymore. Really, nothing. But sometimes every once in a while, something happens in Congress, on tape, on C-Span, that kind of makes you happy that they`re still there even if they`re doing nothing. And that happened today in everyone`s vote for the most boringly named committee in Congress, the House Committee on Rules. It`s like if you said you majored in homeroom or something. House Rules Committee. It`s the world`s most boring word salad. But that committee is really powerful. They`re the gatekeeper for every single piece of legislation that goes to the House floor. And because Republicans control the House, Republicans also make up the majority for that powerful but very boring sounding committee. And today, that committee met. They wanted to decide whether they should send a bill that would authorize the lawsuit that they want to file against President Obama and, of course, the Republicans decided, yes, we should vote on that, yes, we should totally be suing the president. And, of course, the Democrats don`t want that. But the Democrats are outnumbered. The Democrats knew they were going to lose this. But the Democrats decided today they were going to lose it in the most constructive and entertaining way possible. They decided to go amendment crazy and force Republicans to go on the record again, again, and again and again today in ways that the Republicans did not want to do. Here`s Democratic Congresswoman Louise Slaughter, the first amendment she offered. This explains it. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REP. LOUISE SLAUGHTER (D), NEW YORK: My amendment is very simple. I move the committee adopt my amendment number 1 which will require that every week the House general counsel discloses how much money has been spent on the lawsuit. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ms. Foxx, no. Mr. Bishop. Mr. Cole. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Cole, no. Mr. Woodall. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Woodall, no. Mr. Nugent? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Nugent, no. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Webster? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Webster, no. Ms. Ros-Lehtinen. Mr. Burgess? Mr. Burgess, no. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If the gentleman will please restate the vote. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Four yeas, seven nays. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you very much. The amendment is not agreed to. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: So, Democrats make the Republicans vote that the public will not get a weekly notice of how much taxpayer money the Republicans are spending on suing President Obama. No, no, no, no, no, no. All Republican nos. The taxpayer shouldn`t know that. OK. How about this one? Will Republicans agree that at least we shouldn`t spend taxpayer money for this lawsuit hiring law firms that employ lobbyists? Can we at least agree to that you guys? (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SLAUGHTER: I have an amendment number 2A. I move the committee adopt my amendment which would prohibit the hiring of any law firms or consultants who lobby Congress, because if they lobby Congress for a living, Congress should not also be paying them. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Those in favor of Slaughter amendment signify by saying aye. SLAUGHTER: Aye. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Those oppose no. CROWD: No. SLAUGHTER: Nos have it. Nos have it. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Republicans would not agree on the lobbyists amendment. So, your money will be paying law firms who employ lobbyists to sue President Obama. And you can`t know how much of your money it`s taking to do that. By this point, Louise Slaughter is obviously having fun. So, here is her next idea. Will Republicans agree that we shouldn`t pay law firms to sue the president if those law firms are making money from Obamacare? So, if the Republicans are going to use taxpayer money to sue President Obama over Obamacare, surely we can`t have law firms that themselves have a financial stake in the outcome being paid to do the work, right? We can`t rid of that you guys. Don`t you hate Obamacare? Can`t we agree to that? You guys want to get on the record on this one? (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SLAUGHTER: Cannot hire a firm, and this one is the most important part for me, we cannot hire a law firm with a financial stake in the implementation of the ACA. Surely, an amendment like that should go through here immediately like a hot knife through butter. It could be anything in the world to be objectionable in this amendment to anyone. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Clerk, report the total. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Four yeas, seven nays. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The amendment is not agreed to. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: The hot knife would not go through the butter. The amendment is not agreed to. So, to recap, Republicans unanimously voted not to tell you how much they`re spending to sue the president. To allow themselves to hire lawyers whose firms lobby them and to allow that those lawyers might make money from the thing they are suing the president over. And they did it for the record, on the record over and over again because the Democrats made them. Republicans decided themselves that they wanted to sue the president in an election year. But the people who seem to most love that the Republicans are suing President Obama in an election year are the Democrats. It`s the Democrats who want the Republicans to be talking about this all the time in great detail about how they`re spending taxpayer money on law firms to sue President Obama. Republicans came up with the idea and but now, Democrats are trying every day to make it front page news in Washington. It`s the Republicans who seem to be getting shyer and shyer about it all the time. Hold that thought. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Chair, I have an amendment at the desk, amendment number four. Requiring disclosure of where the taxpayer money paying for the lawsuit is coming from and which programs our office budgets are being reduced to pay for it. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Those in favor of the Polis amendment signify by saying aye. CROWD: Aye. CROWD: Nos. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The nos, the nos have it. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: The nos have it, the nos have it. And the Democrats could not appear to be more delighted to keep the Republicans talking and voting all day long about their lawsuit against President Obama. Why did the Democrats make the Republicans vote on this 11 different times today with their amendment circuits, and why did the Democrats appear to be the ones who are so happy about it? Joining us now is our friend David Corn, Washington bureau chief for "Mother Jones". David, it`s great to see you. Thanks for being here. DAVID CORN, MOTHER JONES: Great to be with you, Rachel. MADDOW: Am I imagining it, am I projecting when I see Democratic glee over the Republican decision to sue the president? CORN: Well, let me tell you about two e-mails I got tonight. The first one was from a guy named Joe Biden. And the headline was, "I need you". That came at 7:00 tonight. At 8:30, I got one from Nancy Pelosi. And her email was headlined was "never", in capital letters, "never in U.S. history." What was happening? These were e-mails from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee which traces money for the house Democratic candidates and they were hitting me up and lots of other people for money based on this lawsuit. In fact, when they first started doing this, when John Boehner first announced that he was going to sue the president, that was the biggest, most successful online fund-raising day in the history of the DCCC, or the D triple-C as we say in Washington. So nothing gets the base riled up more of the Democrats than talk of suing the president. The only thing better, Rachel, would be if they talked about impeachment. This stuff turns off those few voters left in the middle and it gets the base, which every Democrat is worried about being mobilized and motivated for 2014, really worked up because it reminds them that these guys are nothing -- they`re about nothing except blocking and destroying the presidency of Barack Obama. MADDOW: Well, do you think that Democrats actually are not just hoping that the Republicans are going to try to impeach President Obama, but they`re sort of trying to maneuver them into it? Is that sort of what they`re doing with the way they`re fighting the lawsuit? CORN: I`m not sure they`re going that far, though I`ve talked to people in the White House who have said nothing would make them happier than to hear of talk about impeachment from the House Republicans and a lot of people speculated that John Boehner`s doing a lawsuit to try to tamp down the impeachment fever on the right, or within his own Tea Party caucus. So, I don`t think they`re going to egg them on like dare them to impeach, although the president gets close. I mean, but, you know, your point at the beginning was right. There are a few days left here in the legislative calendar. This is what John Boehner is doing. The Republicans who hate frivolous lawsuits and Republicans who always say that government should be more flexible for business, are now suing the president for being flexible with business. MADDOW: And the most amazing thing to watch is to see if the Republicans cool to the idea when they realize how much money the Democrats are raising off of it and how excited it makes the Democrats in Congress and in the White House. David Corn, Washington bureau chief for "Mother Jones" -- thanks for staying up late with us, David. It`s great to see you. CORN: Good to be with you. MADDOW: Nice to see you. All right. That does it for us tonight. We`ll see you again tomorrow night. But now lucky you, it`s time for "THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL." Thanks for being with us tonight. THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END