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The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 07/28/14

Guests: David Nakamura, Rosalind Helderman

CHRIS HAYES, "ALL IN" HOST: THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts right now. Good evening, Rachel. RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: That was the best on-set debate I have seen on cable news for a really, really long time. That was awesome. HAYES: Thanks very much. MADDOW: Well done, good guests, good host. That was great. All right. Thanks to you at home as well for joining us for the next hour. If you or someone know drives a Jeep, especially if it`s a fancy new model Jeep Cherokee, the ones with the sort of fierce buck tooth front end that I really like -- there`s a pretty good chance if you know somebody who owns one of these sweet new Jeep Cherokees, there`s a good chance it was built here, at the Toledo assembly complex, which is on Chrysler Drive in Toledo, Ohio. This plant is more than 300 acres. That campus is 300 acres. The floor space is more than 3.5 million square feet. But you know what? If all of the things that you know and believe in the world are things you know and believe because you saw them in American political ads, that plant should not exist. That plant does exist. It`s doing great. They`re making Jeep Cherokees at that plant right now this very second. They`re making so many of them, they`re operating even with a third shift. So, they`re making them at night, they`re making them right now. But toward the end of the last presidential election campaign in this country, one of the signs things were getting desperate and weird in that campaign, when the Republican nominee for president, Mitt Romney, went to Ohio, he went to the football stadium at Defiance High School, about an hour outside Toledo, about an hour from that plant and he said something totally untrue about that plant and the Jeeps that were being made there. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MITT ROMNEY (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I saw a story today that one of the great manufacturers in this state, Jeep, now owned by the Italians, is thinking of moving all production to China. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: He`s an hour outside Toledo, where thousands of people are employed at this huge plant making Jeeps. And Mitt Romney gets up there right before the election and he says, you know what, all Jeep production is being shut down in the United States of America. We`re not going to make Jeeps in this country anymore. It`s all moving to China. What? And this is not some esoteric trade statement, right? Everybody understandably freaks out. I mean, thousands of people work for Chrysler in Ohio making Jeeps. There were probably people in the audience hearing him that night who worked at that plant and Mitt Romney gives this speech in Ohio, he says all the Jeep plants in America are shutting down. He shocks the Ohio press by saying this. He then makes a TV out of it when he doubles down on it. And the thing is, it was completely made up. I mean, the Ohio press, naturally, tried to follow up on this bombshell news from Mitt Romney, so they went and asked Chrysler, hey, Mitt Romney says you`re shutting down all Jeep production in the United States. You`re moving it all to china. Is that true? If so, why are we learning it from this guy, Mitt Romney, and not learning it from you? Here`s Chrysler`s response: "Jeep production will not be moved from the United States to China." And then, again, reiterating, quote, "Jeep has no intention of shifting production of its Jeep models out of North America to China." But Mitt Romney would not take it back. I mean, he gave this speech. He`s now running ads about it, reiterating the claim. Finally, Chrysler kind of loses its mind about the whole thing and has their spokesman tell the press, quote, "We have clearly entered some parallel universe. At this stage, we are looking at Hubbell telescope-like distances between campaign ads and reality." That Jeep plant in Ohio that Mitt Romney said was about to close down the Italians were going to shut it down and move it to China, that plant not only stayed open but this past march they added 1,000 more jobs. That all happened at a kind of weird time in the campaign. The stuff about the Jeep plant closing down, that wasn`t really closing down, that was at the same time the Romney campaign had sent out former Senator Norm Coleman to go tell people, tell audiences around the country that Mitt Romney had no interest in overturning Roe versus Wade. At the same time, Mitt Romney, himself, was telling people that if he had the chance to, he would be delighted to overturn Roe versus Wade. He actually used the word "delighted" which somehow made it a more awkward thing for a campaign surrogate to have to lie about. That was also the time in the campaign when the Romney folks started re-airing something from earlier in the campaign. Something that it sort of felt like first time around it had hurt them. It had been debunked and debunked and debunked a million times over to the point where it actually felt like this provably false thing they had earlier campaigned on was hurting them because it was so obviously untrue. It led to this narrative that the Romney campaign and Mr. Romney, himself, just couldn`t be trusted that they didn`t tell the truth. In the sort of desperation of the late summer of the presidential campaign, in August of the campaign year that year, the Romney campaign went back to their famously debunked ads about welfare. These first surfaced around the time that the political class was fixated in Washington on how badly Mitt Romney needed to win basically all white voters in the country. In August, the "National Journal`s" Ron Brownstein did the math on turnout and demographics and voter registration and he came up with this bombshell conclusion. He found that if white people were going to make up the same proportion of the electorate in 2012 as they had in the previous election, Mitt Romney was going to have to win 61 percent of the votes of all white people voting in the election, 61 percent. That means he would need to get a higher proportion of the white vote than John McCain did in 2008, higher proportion of the white vote than George W. Bush got in either 2004 or in 2000. Bob Dole did not win the election the year that he ran, but he did pretty well with white people. Mitt Romney would need to beat the bob dole share of the vote with white people by 15 points. He`d need to win more of the white vote than Poppy Bush did either time he ran when he lost or upon. He`d need a higher proportion of the white vote than any Republican candidate elected in the last 28 years -- 61 percent of all white people had to vote for Mitt Romney for him to win. This freaked out Washington basically and freaked out the Romney campaign. It turns out rightfully so. That analysis said that Mitt Romney would need to get 61 percent of the white vote in order to win the presidency. Ultimately, he didn`t get 61 percent. He got 59 percent of the white vote and he did lose the presidency. He lost the election. And two years ago in August, when this prescient analysis first came out, the Romney campaign responded by taking a sort of jarring turn toward race issues, toward the sort of coded racial campaign tactics that are awkward for anybody but were particularly awkward with them. It`s an awkward thing to try to juice white turnout because everybody can tell what you`re doing. That was the time in the campaign when Mitt Romney took a brief turn into making birther jokes. Do you remember that? Remember when Mitt Romney did that for a little while? This was him talking in Michigan in front of a mostly white crowd. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ROMNEY: I love being home in this place where Ann and I were raised, where both of us were born. Ann was born in Henry Ford Hospital. I was born at Harper Hospital. No one`s ever asked to see my birth certificate. They know this is the place we were born and raised. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Yes, yes. I get it. You definitely look like an American president, if you know what I mean. Nobody`s ever asked you for your birth certificate, huh? Says the man whose father was born in Mexico. Not an issue, though, for him, if you know what I mean. If you know why I mean. Yes. Not subtle. But if you are trying to get your share of the white vote up to 61 percent, sometimes you have to be unsubtle and sometimes you have to be awkward. And that was the same time when Mitt Romney first started running what became known at least around my office, in which I sit alone, as his aggrieved white worker ads. He and his campaign made up a particularly insidious lie about the Obama administration. And they hoped it would resonate with very specific voters for very obvious reasons. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) NARRATOR: In 1996, President Clinton and a bipartisan Congress helped end welfare as we know it, by requiring work for welfare. But on July 12th, President Obama quietly announced a plan to gut welfare reform by dropping work requirements. Under Obama`s plan, he wouldn`t have to work and wouldn`t have to train for a job. They just send you your welfare check. And welfare to work goes back to being plain old welfare. Mitt Romney will restore the work requirement because it works. ROMNEY: I`m Mitt Romney, and I approve this message. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: The aggrieved white worker ads. He`s Mitt Romney and these are the aggrieved white workers, featuring in the Romney ad about welfare. And that ad, the central allegation in that ad was not just wrong, it was the opposite of the truth. It was one of those moments in the campaign when everybody who looked at that ad and that central assertion in the ad agreed that what Mitt Romney was saying is something that didn`t happen. This allegation about taking away the work requirements from welfare, it`s just not true. The Obama administration had never dropped the work requirements from welfare. To the contrary, they said yes to a group of Republican governors and Democratic governors who had asked for flexibility in administering welfare funds at the state level. The White House agreed to give the states this leeway on the condition that the work requirement would not be weakened. That`s what they did. States could change up the welfare rules as long as they moved more people off of welfare and on to work, not fewer. So, the Romney campaign was running their aggrieved white worker ads, alleging the opposite of something that President Obama did, right? They`re saying President Obama doesn`t want you to work. He wants to send you a check. He`s a welfare president, not the work president. Are you working? President Obama wants to steal your money and give it to lazy welfare recipients. That`s the claim. Wow. The Romney campaign needed 61 percent of the white vote. And they loved that welfare ad. No matter how untrue it was. And that late August, they were running a dozen ads in total. Most of the ads they were running were on the welfare issue, which they made up. They were running more ads on that than health care, more than the economy, more than the single ad they ran introducing Paul Ryan as their vice presidential nominee. They did the welfare thing more than anything at that time. They loved this welfare ad though it was completely false. I mean, when Mitt Romney had been governor of Massachusetts, he had been one of the governors who signed on to the letter to the White House asking for that flexibility on welfare. He`d been one of the guys. I mean, when that letter came out, that turned the debunking on this thing up to stun. I mean, not only were they describing the opposite of what really happened, but Mitt Romney was personally involved in it. And there`s his signature in black and white. But they did not care. They tried it anyway. Sure, it was false, but maybe it would energize enough white people to get out and vote Republican anyway. It was an ugly time in the presidential campaign. And today, it`s back. In "USA Today", Republican House Speaker John Boehner has just run an op-ed explaining why he and House Republicans are filing a lawsuit against President Obama. The speaker says in his op-ed, "President Obama has overstepped his constitutional authority. I believe the president`s actions in a number of areas exceed his constitutional authority, including waiving the work requirements in welfare." He never waived the work requirements in welfare. Ever. He did the opposite. And what he did was at the request of Republican governors, anyway. This has been totally litigated, totally debunked. The Romney campaign tried it, didn`t work. But the Republicans are apparently going back to this stuff now. They`re going back to this stuff from the bad old days of national campaigning against President Obama when they were trying to maximize the aggrieved white vote, right? Trying to tap into, or this case make up things for white voters to be aggrieved about this president. That was the whole idea behind the welfare claim in the first place for Mitt Romney, that was the whole idea of Newt Gingrich`s main contribution to the presidential campaign that year against President Obama which was Newt Gingrich calling President Obama the food stamps president. That was subtle. There was the point in the campaign where we got Rick Santorum talking about bla people, remember that? Where Rick Santorum definitely was not talking about black people being given other people`s money, he was talking about bla people being given other people`s money. Remember? (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) RICK SANTORUM (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And I`ve looked at all the economic plans, but President Obama wants to do, his economic plan is to make more people dependent upon the government. I don`t want to make bla people`s lives better by giving them somebody else`s money. I want to give them the opportunity to go out and earn the money and provide for themselves and their families. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: These bla people sound terrible. Who are these moocher bla people, Rick Santorum? Who do you mean? (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SANTORUM: I`ve looked at that quote. In fact, I looked at the video, and I don`t -- in fact, I`m pretty confident I didn`t say black. What I think I started to say a word, and sort of blah, sort of mumbled it and changed my thought. But I don`t recall saying black. I was starting to say one word and I sort of came up with a different word and moved on, and it sounded like black. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Sounded like black, but -- the blah, the blah. Let me reiterate. The bla people. Those were the bad old days of Republicans trying to maximize the white vote against President Obama. Maximize white voters` grievances against President Obama. I have to say, in reality, those were -- I can say those were the bad old days, but that was just the latest round of that. Right? That was two years ago. They roll out stuff like this periodically whenever they`re strategizing against the president and think that white people are the key to how they can succeed. It is now happening again with them bringing back out the welfare lie to justify why they are suing President Obama. But suing President Obama is kind of the main thing on their plate right now. This is the House Republicans` work schedule from now until the election. You can see July is in the upper left hand corner there. This is the last week of July. This week they`re finishing up the only significant block of work they`re doing, not just between now and the election but between now and the end of the year. This month is the only time they`ve actually worked part of four consecutive weeks in one month. When they two home on Thursday of this week, this is their work plan for August. Look, there`s no work days in it. Then, the no working continues all the way through the first week of September. They work a grand total of 10 days in the entire month of September. Then in October, they work a grand total of two days. And then there`s nothing at all until after the lection. America, this is the best reason to run for Congress. This is the world`s greatest work schedule. So, they`re about to leave for a full month plus a week, plus a little bit more. And we`re going to talk this hour about what conceivably might get done in Congress before they leave this week for the whole rest of the summer. But we know from beltway reporting and from the House Republicans` own statements that the only thing they see as a must-pass bill before they leave is their bill to authorize suing the president, and historically unprecedented lawsuit, unprecedented lawsuit against the president. And maybe they will pass some other stuff, but apparently this is their only must-do. And honestly, big picture, there has been some stuff getting done in Washington over this summer. We spent a lot of time on the show earlier this summer and in the late spring talking about the oil trains that keep blowing up all over north America, these apparently unsafe rail cars shipping really volatile oil particularly from the North Dakota oil fields then derailing and crashing and blowing up all over the place. The Transportation Department did announce new rules including a timetable for getting the rail cars off the rails. It`s a timetable that`s even more aggressive than the plans Canada did after their terrible oil train explosion in Quebec last year. So, some things are happening. The thing about the new rail cars, that just happened. It`s in its public comment period now, but the Department of Transportation has acted aggressively. The U.S. Sentencing Commission which was created by Congress but is not Congress, they`re a nonpartisan sort of technocratic group that looks at sentencing policies. They`re getting something done. They voted unanimously to basically reset prison sentences for drug crimes. Federal prison sentences for drug crimes have already been changed for anybody who`s sentenced now, sentenced today. But the sentencing commission voted to apply those changes retroactively to people who are already in prison. It`s going to have a really big effect on federal prisons and frankly on issues of justice and fairness in this country. They voted unanimously to do that and unless Congress acts to screw that up, that will go into effect next year. So the oil trains things got done. The sentencing commission thing which is going to have a huge impact, that got done. President Obama also moved on his own to ban federal contractors from firing people on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. That discrimination protection applies to millions of people. The president was able to do that on his own. So, it`s not like nothing`s been going on this summer. Some big stuff, consequential big policy stuff has happened in Washington this summer, and it`s been happening in Washington over the past couple of weeks and months, and the problem is that none of it is happening in Congress. And Congress, as we tick tock, tick tock down to the last couple of days, they`re going to be there for the whole rest of the summer and the last sustained period of time that they`re going to be there at work for the whole rest of the year, as Congress finishes now, having done nothing, having done less than any other Congress in the modern history of Congress. They appear to mostly be motivated right now with their own efforts and their own desire to tell the president that he should stop doing stuff, too. And there`s their lawsuit. There was this rally outside the White House today. People who want immigration reform holding, in effect, a big cheerful rally telling the president to go big on immigration, telling the president to act unilaterally to reform the immigration system. As that was happening outside the White House today, Republican Senator Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III was insisting inside Congress that if Congress is going to do anything at all on immigration, on the spike at kids at the border, caring for those kids, money for border control, let alone immigration policy, he insisted if Congress is going to do anything at all, anything Congress passes, he says, must also include language prohibiting President Obama from issuing more executive actions on immigration laws. Quote, "No member, House or Senate, Democrat or Republican, should support any bill with respect to the border crisis that does not include language explicitly prohibiting the administration from taking such action. Congress must foreclose authority of these unlawful actions before congressional funding is granted." That`s what happened today in Congress on the border and immigration. We probably aren`t going to do anything, but if we do do something, it`s going to ensure that you do nothing, too. Ta-da! In a normal Congress, in a normal democracy, what the two sides are supposed to fight about, what the two sides are supposed to disagree about and then fight about through politics is policy. What we have right now instead is a Congress that is not actually proposing policy on immigration and lots of other issues. They don`t necessarily have policy that they want. What they are proposing is that President Obama can`t have one, either. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REP. STEVE SCALISE (R), LOUISIANA: Ultimately what we want to do is see the president follow the laws, but the president took an oath to faithfully execute the laws of this land, and he`s not. We`ve made it clear, we`re going to put options on the table to allow -- to allow the House to take legal action against the president when he overreaches his authority. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: When Eric Cantor, the number two House Republican, was beaten in his Republican primary earlier this summer, the number two, the number two was out, so the number three guy, Kevin McCarthy, moved up to replace Eric Cantor. Republican Congressman Steve Scalise is the new number three guy who moved in to replace Kevin McCarthy who moved up to replace Eric Cantor. And this weekend, it was Republican Congressman Steve Scalise`s job to talk about how House Republicans are to bring a historically unprecedented lawsuit against President Obama. Joining us now is David Nakamura. He`s White House reporter for "The Washington Post." Mr. Nakamura, thanks very much for being with us. I appreciate your time. DAVID NAKAMURA, THE WASHINGTON POST: Thanks, Rachel. MADDOW: So, what does Congress have to do legislatively in order for this House lawsuit to go ahead? Do they need to pass a bill to make it happen? NAKAMURA: They do. I think they`re voting on Thursday on this, and it looks very likely this is going to go forward very easily. As you have been saying, this is something that`s really galvanized Republicans and obviously excited conservatives and excited their base. But, you know, I covered the White House. And it`s something President Obama is talking about, himself. He brings it up when he goes and talks around the country where he`s talking to sort of ordinary residents and people and saying, why does the Congress want -- why do the House Republicans want to bring a lawsuit against me? It`s because of sort of acting where I can because they`re not helping. Why can`t they join me? So, I think the White House looking at this as something that`s going to backfire on Republicans, going to go too far, and the White House is OK to talk about it. They really think ordinary people around the country do not want to talk about this, do not want to talk about Benghazi. They want to talk about getting things done. They want to talk about pocketbook issues and the president is talking about even though they`re small scale, all those executive actions that he`s taking in. MADDOW: In terms of what`s going to happen between now and the end of this week, when Congress leaves for really a quite remarkable vacation, they`re going to be gone for a month plus a week, plus some more. It is interesting to me that they`re essentially treating the lawsuit bill, the bill to authorize the lawsuit, as must-pass legislation. Is there anything else of any substantive significance that really is must-pass? Not something they want to pass or they`ll try to get to, but they will definitely get done before they leave? NAKAMURA: That`s a big one. The one they`re going to put a lot of attention on. There is today a development, looks likely there might be some sort of agreement, bipartisan, bicameral, on the Veteran Administration, how to reform that. Obviously, the Republicans rightly so enacted a political price from President Obama who fired Eric Shinseki when it became public there were long delays for veteran care. There looks like now, there could be a plan, there`s a lot of confidence right now in Congress this actually could go forward on a veterans bill that would sort of spend $17 billion to speed up processing time, allow veterans to go outside the system if they don`t get care and allow those employees who don`t act properly to be fired more quickly, more accountability. That`s something I think Republicans are looking at. We need to support this. We`ve got that political price already. And this is thing that we can do to support veterans, which is going to play well certainly among their base. Other than that, though, the lawsuit is the biggest and most exciting for Republicans. Obviously, there`s a crisis on the border and Republicans are wrestling in their own caucus right now with how to address that. The president put the big plan out there. The Senate is having trouble getting Democrats on to the amount they want to spend. But the Republicans are really sort of -- they scaled way back on the amount they want to spend to just $1 billion, well under what President Obama said is need and they also want to change the 2008 law that provides more protection to these minors which has been very controversial among human rights group, immigrant advocates. The White House has sort of tacitly supported something like that, but they`re not out there aggressively doing so. And Democrats may not go along with it. I think that will be a big signal whether John Boehner can get that through the House this week and look like they`re attacking what everybody agrees is a humanitarian crisis of these kids. MADDOW: I know I should not ask you this because of what your job is. You can shut me down if I shouldn`t. But my sense is, from the way you have described it, is you don`t think it is likely they`ll be able to pass something on the border that will actually become law even if they could pass it through the House. Am I right in surmising that? NAKAMURA: You`re absolutely right. I`ve been focused a lot on this. It doesn`t look likely it`s going to happen before recess. In September, they`re going to have to deal with spending bills and it`s really unlikely they`re going to have enough time. That`s a big problem. I don`t know what the White House sort of plan "B" is. They`re running out of money at border patrol and ICE for internal enforcement and that could be a real problem as these kids continue to come and need services. MADDOW: David Nakamura, White House reporter for "The Washington Post." Very clarifying. Thanks very much. I appreciate it. NAKAMURA: Thanks, Rachel. MADDOW: We`re going to have much more on the issue he was just talking about in terms of a possible deal on the V.A. That`s coming up. Plus, day one of what is turning out to be an amazing criminal trial on the edge of politics in Virginia. Stay with us. Lots ahead. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: So, Friday night on this show, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont told us that despite reports of fighting within the conference committee, in charge of merging the House bill and Senate bill in order to pass something for the V.A., he told us that him and House Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Jeff Miller were planning to work through the weekend to try to reach a compromise. It turns out that bit of overtime may have paid off. Today, Senator Sanders and Congressman Jeff Miller announced that they have reached some sort of deal. The proposed $17 billion legislation contains many of the same provisions that were passed by both Houses of Congress six weeks ago, including a provision to allow veterans who live far from a V.A. facility, or can`t get a timely appointment at their local one, to go to a private doctor for care instead. The legislation would also let the V.A. hire more medical personnel. So, why didn`t this happen six weeks ago when the Senate passed their bill with 93 votes and everybody said it could two to the president`s desk basically in this form? Who knows? Six weeks` delay for the sake of six weeks` delay apparently. Tom Tarantino, chief policy officer of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, he said today about the deal, quote, "It`s about time they`re doing their jobs. Still, though, you don`t get a medal for doing your job." And to be clear, that job is nowhere near done yet. Congressman Jeff Miller says he expects members of the conference committee to sign off on this legislation tonight. But if that happens tonight, it still then has to be filed in the House because it still requires a full vote in both the House and in the Senate before it can go to the president`s desk. And all of that needs to happen before all of Congress skips town on Thursday. So, yes, progress, but still. Tick tock. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Aaron Burr was vice president of the United States. He was the third V.P. we ever had. The reason everybody remembers Aaron Burr is, of course, because of the duel. He was a former vice president and in a duel, he shot the former Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton. They both shot at each other but Burr`s was the shot that actually hit Hamilton and that`s how Alexander Hamilton died. That was 1804. Aaron Burr survived the duel, but then a couple years later, he was arrested for treason. They arrested him in Alabama. He was accused of plotting with Spain to take over some of the territory that Spain controlled here and then use it to create an independent republic, separate from the United States. In 1807, they hauled Aaron Burr up to Richmond, Virginia, to try him for treason on the creating the new country charges. They tried him in the U.S. circuit court in Richmond, Virginia. Ultimately, Aaron Burr was acquitted of treason but the proceedings took months. It was very dramatic. Aaron Burr would have been executed if he was convicted. It was a huge trial at the federal court in Richmond, Virginia. That was 1807. Sixty years after that, 1867, that same federal court in Richmond came up with another trial that was just as spectacular. It was the arraignment of the former president of the Confederate States of America, Jefferson Davis. They first tried to pin the assassination of President Lincoln on him but they settled for trying him for treason. The initial imprisonment and arraignment of Jefferson Davis on treason charges took place in Richmond, Virginia. And the jury in that trial was the very first racially integrated jury in Virginia history. Look at that -- seven black men and five white men. The first integrated jury in Virginia. Ultimately, that integrated jury never had to reach a verdict because the charges against Jefferson Davis were dropped. So, the federal court in Richmond, Virginia, has seen its share of drama, right? Of high-stakes, hive profile proceedings involving very high-profile politicians. But today, the Aaron Burr trial and the Jefferson Davis trial are being cited by the local press in Virginia in their crime news section as the relevant local precedence for the level of spectacle that people are expecting from the federal courthouse in Richmond today. From the new trial that began at that courthouse today. Former Governor Bob McDonnell of Virginia and his wife facing basically life in prison if they`re convicted on all the 14 felony counts they were charged with in January. It`s a big raft of charges, but basically the allegation is corruption, that they conspired to enrich themselves in exchange for committing official acts. The case concerns a Virginia businessman named Johnny Williams who was pushing a couple of tobacco-related supplements. While serving as governor of Virginia, the indictment says Bob McDonnell asked the state health secretary to meet with that businessman and discuss his products. That meeting then happened. Governor McDonnell also asked the state health secretary to arrange another meeting at the executive mansion with somebody from the state health department and that businessman, again, to discuss his products. At the governor`s mansion, Governor McDonnell hosted and spoke at a launch party for one of the businessman`s new products. At a dinner in Richmond, Governor McDonnell reportedly attended that dinner and it was aimed at persuading doctors to recommend another one of the businessman`s products. The governor spoke in favor of the product at the event and approved the company then using photos of him as governor speaking at their events. The governor`s wife spoke at at least four similar promotional events for the businessman and his supplements all around the country. At a meeting with one of his own cabinet secretaries, Governor McDonnell allegedly pulled a bottle of the businessman`s supplement out of his pocket and told that cabinet official he was meeting with that she should meet with the businessman and his company. Why did the governor and his wife do all that stuff for this one businessman and his wacky tobacky non-FDA approved supplements? Maybe it was out of the kindness of their hearts, maybe it was out of the development interests for the state of the Virginia, that this businessman somehow represented. Maybe it`s because the governor is a Pisces. I actually don`t know if he`s a Pisces. Maybe because the same businessman gave Governor McDonnell and his wife a catered chicken dinner for the governor`s daughter`s wedding, $10,000 for the wedding of the governor`s other daughter, round-trip air travel for the governor`s daughters for a bachelorette party, a four-day vacation to Cape Cod, including a chartered yacht, golf, private cottage at the resort, and private jet travel to and from, a three-day vacation at the multimillion lake house, including a boat rented for their use during the stay, and $190,000 white Ferrari for Governor McDonnell to drive while there and on his way home. Shopping sprees for the first lady in New York City, including one in April 2011, where the bill was allegedly $10,999 at the Oscar de la Renta store, $5,695 at Louis Vuitton, and over $2,600 at Bergdorf Goodman. Nice. More than $7,000 in golf. Greens fees. Golf equipment. Food and drink consumed on the golf course at an exclusive golf resort to which the governor and his sons did not belong, but where they played frequently and enjoyed themselves on the tab of that businessman. How about also a $6,500 Rolex watch for Mr. McDonnell inscribed, "The 71st governor of Virginia"? Also, I should not leave out a $50,000 check made out to Maureen McDonnell, first lady. Another $70,000 in checks made out to the real estate company that Bob McDonnell operated with his sister. Should I go on? So, there was definitely quid and definitely quo. The McDonnell defense is the two sides of the ledger are totally unrelated. There was no quid pro quo. But the trial started in Richmond today. They picked their jury all in one day. The list of exhibits the prosecution plans to offer is an amazing thing. Apparently, for example, we may at this trial get to see not just pictures of the Oscar de la Renta sweater, but also the actual sweater, also the actual golf clubs, also the actual famous engraved Rolex and, quote, "photos of Robert McDonnell driving Johnny Williams` Ferrari." Oh, please, it`s not quite Aaron Burr being tried for treason. But what got under way in Richmond, Virginia, today, is a spectacle. Ever since "The Washington Post" broke the story of this scandal last March, the revelations had never really stopped. Including today, when in their latest reporting on the start of the trial, "The Washington Post" broke new news, today, about how even while they were on their way out of office in Virginia, with this federal indictment coming down on them, the first lady of the great state of Virginia was still pushing her luck -- trying, reportedly, to take home with her several important small boxes of state property. I`ll have that for you in a moment. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: This is from "The Washington Post" today. This is amazing. "In their final days in the governor`s mansion, Governor McDonnell was consumed with completing his final budget, highlighting the accomplishments of his administration and girding for the indictment that by then seemed inevitable. Maureen McDonnell, though, was pressing to enjoy the final perks of office. According to several state employees familiar with her requests, she pushed to stay at the executive mansion as long as possible, even asking for access to the historic home after her husband ceded office to the new governor, Terry McAuliffe on January 11th. She reasoned that her husband hat been elected to a four-year term and had not taken office until January 16th, four years earlier. So they should be allowed to stay five more days. In the end, the couple departed the mansion only on the morning of Terry McAuliffe`s inauguration, breaking a recent tradition in which first families have vacated the premises days in advance to allow state employees time to prepare for the new occupants. And now, get this -- about a month before the McDonnells` exit, the first lady also stunned members of the mansion`s advisory council when she asked if she could have keepsakes, four shoeboxes full of Christmas ornaments, one from each year that the family occupied the mansion. That`s according to two people directly involved with the council. The Citizens Advisory Council for furnishing and interpreting the executive mansion had raised the money to buy the ornaments and had donated them to the mansion, making them state property. They offered to let her pay for them. She declined. Remarkable reporting from "The Washington Post," which, of course, is the paper that first broke the news of the Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell corruption scandal. They first broke that news last March. The governor and his wife were charged 10 days after the governor left office this past January, charged with a 14-count felony indictment. They`re facing decades if not life in prison if convicted, and their trial started in Richmond, Virginia. Joining us is Rosalind Helderman, who broke the story on "The Washington Post" more than a year ago, and has been covering it comprehensively ever since. Ms. Helderman, thank you very much for being with us. ROSALIND HELDERMAN, THE WASHINGTON POST: Thanks so much for having me. MADDOW: So, I know opening statements will probably begin tomorrow morning. They did jury selection today. But I have to ask you about this anecdote in "The Post`s" reporting and your reporting today about the last days of the McDonnell administration. She wanted to stay a few extra days and take some state property home with her? HELDERMAN: That`s exactly what our reporting shows. It`s really somewhat hard to believe given that in that timeframe, everyone knew that this reporting had been going on for months and months. Everyone knew that this was a problem for them, the desire to get free things, the desire to sort of get as much out of being first lady as possible. It`s kind of hard to believe that went on, but it did. MADDOW: The indictment says that on the day Governor McDonnell was driving the Ferrari, the day he got back from the lake house vacation that he didn`t pay for and drove Johnny Williams` Ferrari home, the indictment says that day the governor called the state health secretary and asked him to take a meeting with Johnny Williams. I mean, in terms of the defense here, it`s amazing to me that, the timing. Is the defense going to deny that that happened? Did they dispute that those are the facts or are they just going to maintain that the timing was a coincidence, that those two things are just not connected. HELDERMAN: You know, we don`t yet know what they`re going to say about the timing which does seem troublesome. We know one thing they`re going to say is that the things that the governor did for this man, Johnny Williams, were not official acts. They were basically normal political courtesies of the kinds that go on in politics all the time. He asked his health secretary to take a meeting. He didn`t say anything needed to come of the meeting. He didn`t say that state government needed to give the man`s company money of any kind. He hosted an event. He went to an event. They`re going to say this is the kind of stuff that goes on in politics with campaign donors, at least, all the time. You take a meeting from someone who`s been supportive as long as you don`t pressure your staff to actually do anything for the man. MADDOW: One of the things that seemed like it may complicate that part of the strategy is the allegation in the indictment that one of the things Governor McDonnell did was give explicit permission to this guy`s company that they could use pictures of Governor McDonnell speaking at one of their events. It was for a supplement that was an anti-smoking thing, something called CigRX. He went to their event in Virginia. He spoke at the event. It was designed to promote the product. He allowed the company to use the image of the governor promoting the product in their official materials. That -- that, to me, it seems like there`s -- I don`t understand if that is going to be construed as a political courtesy. It would seem like governors have to be pretty tightly controlling about the way their images are used. HELDERMAN: You know, that`s a really good point. We haven`t yet heard from the defense in any kind of court filing or in any other way about that particular incident that you cited. I think one thing they`re likely to do that the defense today submitted a list of exhibits that they`re going to put forward and a lot of them seem to be kind of pictures and press releases that he did at other times. I suspect they`re going to sort of say, look, a governor is supposed to promote business, and, you know, a lot of companies use the governor`s photo. He went to their event. He went to a ribbon cutting. They took his picture. They used it in business promotion, that that`s nothing unusual. MADDOW: I will say the exhibit list today on both sides, the defense and prosecution said, was fascinating reading. I`m telling you, if they`re going to unveil the Rolex, I`m going to be in the courtroom that day by hook or crook. Rosalind Helderman, "Washington Post" reporter covering the Bob McDonnell corruption scandal from day one -- thanks very much for being with us. Keep up the great work. HELDERMAN: Thank you. MADDOW: Thanks. All right. Much more drama coming this time from the great state of Kansas. That story`s next. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: This is not quite a ransom note, more like a message in a bottle, SOS. We found it on the Web site for this place in Kansas City, Kansas. It`s called Aid for Women. It`s a clinic that does abortions. It`s the only clinic that does abortions in Kansas City, Kansas. And a few months ago in their Web site, they posted this. "We`re being forced by Republicans to use our Web site resources to say untruthful things about the state`s pro-life Web site in hopes you will visit their Web site and change your mind away from having an abortion. We must have this signage or go to jail. Republicans also don`t believe that rape causes pregnancy, nor that there can ever be too many children. They are stupid. Let`s vote them out of office. However, here goes." As the state of Kansas newly requires all abortion clinics to do, Aid for Women on their website has to post this about the state`s official talk you out of an abortion Web site. They have to say this. "The Kansas Department of Health and Environment maintains a Web site containing objective nonjudgmental scientifically accurate information about the development of the unborn child, as well as video of sonogram images of the unborn child at various stages of development, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment`s Web site can be reached by clicking here." And the clinic has made clear as day in context that they think that is hooey. That they`ve had to put on their Web site, but by law, they have to put it there so they posted it basically saying, here`s a load of hooey that you shouldn`t believe, but they made us put it out. The Kansas law requiring that link took effect in May. That`s when Aid for Women have to adjust their website. Over this past weekend, Aid for Women had to adjust their Web site again. Posting this, quote, "We closed our doors July 26th, 2014, and are referring our abortion-seeking patients to the remaining abortion clinics. I`m sorry for the trouble this may cause you." We talked to the clinic manager today as he was packing stuff away. He said basically the fight had gone on so long and taken so much out of the clinic that they just couldn`t continue. He said they`ve spent years now dealing with endless protesters and also the state passing regulations designed to make it harder for them to stay open. He told us, quote, "We cannot seem to get some of these Gen Xers to take it seriously and vote. Why am I only one fighting this?" He told "The Associated Press" today this, "The generation of patients whom we have helped need to step up an carry the torch instead of assuming clinic workers will always fight their battle, the battle for the right to have safe, legal, easily accessible birth control and abortions and without having to travel to a few enlightened Democratic states" to get them. At this clinic, the doctor who practiced there is in 70s, and is reasonably ready to retire. They said they searched eight years for somebody to replace that doctor, but it`s hard to recruit a doctor to a job where simply going to work means facing down extremists and possibly risking your life. In 2009, a man named Scott Roeder shot and killed the doctor who practiced in Wichita, Kansas. The night before, Scott Roeder vandalized this particular clinic in Kansas City. He was caught in surveillance video putting superglue in the locks twice, the week before that murder including the night before he killed Dr. Tiller. He tried to close that clinic that way before he closed a different clinic by killing its doctor the next day. On the news that the clinic where he glued the locks had finally given up, the antiabortion group Operation Rescue which Scott Roeder was sort of linked to, they pronounced this as a great success in Kansas City. They think they won there. Of course, they`re not winning everywhere. We just got back from a production trip to New Orleans where we went to cover the antiabortion siege in that city this summer. We ended up getting a really up close and sort of harrowing view of some of the tactics being used by these groups now. We got this footage back from New Orleans today and brought it back into the offices and started going through it for our reporting, it sort of blew everybody`s minds here on the staff and that exclusive reporting and footage is coming up on tomorrow`s show and I think you will not want to miss it, so please plan to check that out. That does it for us tonight. We`re going to see you again tomorrow night. But now, it`s time for "THE LAST WORD." Ari Melber sitting in for Lawrence O`Donnell tonight. Good evening, Ari. THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END