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The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 01/06/15

Guests: Carol Rosenberg, Mike Valerio

RACHEL MADDOW, THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW, HOST: Thanks, too, at home for joining us this hour. So, the first day of school is always awkward. Always. In 8th grade, I regret to say, I decided to start the year with a perm. What could possibly go wrong? There`s always something wrong with the first day of school. But, today, in Washington, the first day of school was truly one of the strangest day ones I have ever seen or heard of, and I`ve had some weird (ph) ones. There were things that happened today that were -- that were shocking, visually shocking. There were things that happened today that were historically unprecedented. There were also things that happened today that we`re not totally new. You could have predicted them at least formerly. You could have seen them coming, but somehow, today, when they happened, they were just way more than anyone expected. I`ve got to say, I thought this show was going to be a totally different show today when I came to work until I saw what happened today in Washington and then we threw the whole run (ph) out the window because days like this are why people who love politics love politics. Today was amazing in Washington. All right. Just to start off, let`s take Joe Biden. Vice President Joe Biden served for something like 35 years in the United States. He loves the United States Senate. But, as vice president now, he has an important official role on the first day of any new Senate because the vice president is also, technically, the president of the senate, and so it is Joe Biden`s job now to swear in all of the senators on the first day of school. Vice president Joe Biden loves this day. Vice President Joe Biden, perhaps, lives for this day. But if you`re a senator waiting to get sworn in to a new Senate, it`s Joe Biden`s world and you are just visiting. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JOSEPH BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Hi, good to see. Nice to meet you. Dick? RICHARD DURBIN, SENATOR OF THE UNITED STATES: Vice President? BIDEN: How are you, pal (ph)? R. DURBIN: Thanks for swearing at me. BIDEN: I tell you what, easy to swear at you. R. DURBIN: This is my sister-in-law, Lorraine Durbin (ph). LORRAINE DURBIN, SISTER-IN-LAW OF RICHARD DURBIN: Hi. Glad to meet you. BIDEN: Hello, Lorraine. How are you? DURBIN: Mother of 10. BIDEN: Good to see you. L. DUBIN: I`m a mother of 10. That`s right. BIDEN: My mother would say no purgatory for you dear (ph), straight to heaven. (LAUGHTER) BIDEN. straight to heaven. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Straight to heaven. It was basically that -- times of thousand for Joe Biden today. Here for example was Joe Biden greeting the incoming Senate Majority leader, Mitch McConnell, as well as his family. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ADDISON MITCHELL MCCONNELL, SENATOR OF THE UNITED STATES: My daughter, Elly. BIDEN: Elly, how are you? It`s pleasant to see you. M. MCCONNELL: My daughter, Porter. PORTER MCCONNELL: Porter. BIDEN: Porter, how are you? P. MCCONNELL: Fine. M. MCCONNELL: My son, (inaudible). BIDEN: Hey, Thom (ph), how are you? Who`s this? THOM (ph): My son. BIDEN: How are you? You`re doing OK? UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don`t know. BIDEN: He said, "Grandpa, can I talk to a Democrat?" (LAUGHTER) (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Not just the senators and their families though. It was also the Senate staffers who were treated to the full Biden today. Watch this. This was Joe Biden greeting Republican Senator Lindsey Graham and a few of his staff members. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. Vice President, Caroline O`Neil (ph). BIDEN: Hi, Caroline O`Neil (ph). I`m Jean Kennedy`s (ph) son. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hello. Good to see you. BIDEN: How are you? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I knew this would happen. BIDEN: All right. I tell you man, I`m in the (inaudible). (CROSSTALK) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No you`re not sleeping (ph). (END VIDEO CLIP) (LAUGHTER) MADDOW: Can you see? Next one, this next one was amazing. This was Joe Biden today greeting -- oh this is amazing -- greeting incoming Republican Senator Joni Ernst of Iowa. You have heard of her, right? It was big deal but she won an eye (ph) with us here. Her name is Joni Ernst. Watch. (END VIDEO CLIP) BIDEN: Oh, Gail. JONI ERNST, SENATOR OF THE UNITED STATES: Mr. Vice President, Joni. My husband is Gail BIDEN: Joni. Hey, Gail. J. ERNST: Yeah. (CROSSTALK) BIDEN: I mean Joni. G. ERNST: Hi. BIDEN: It`s getting late. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Gail, I mean, Joni. OK, Joni. Senator, woman, Gail. The Senator`s husband, man. It`s getting late. Now, watch this next one very closely. Specifically, watch the vice president`s mouth very closely. This is Joe Biden approaching the next group of people for the next swearing in and did you see that little white thing? That was -- wait do we have it? Yes. That was his mint popping out of -- wait, here we go. Ready? Oh, yeah, slo-mo. That was his mint popping out of his mouth. Watch it in real-time. Listen. Feast yourself. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BIDEN: Hi, Ken (ph). UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you so much. BIDEN: Thank you. Oh, my mint. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Oh, my mint. There is nothing, you know, nefarious about any of this or nothing cynical or bad about this. This is just pure, unbridled, unscripted politician joy from a politician who was very happy to be where he was doing what he was supposed to be doing. This was Vice President Joe Biden unplugged. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BIDEN: We, Irish (ph), have an expression. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. BIDEN: A son`s a son until he gets a wife. A daughter is a daughter for the rest of her life. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: True. BIDEN: Hi, Ken (ph). Hey man. Good to see you, Jess (ph). (CROSSTALK) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Inaudible) BIDEN: How are you? UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh. BIDEN: Oh, you got some eyes, kid. You know what they say about granddaughters? You know, one night, around 12-1/2, you tuck this beautiful little butterfly in bed and then the next morning, there`s a snake in bed. (LAUGHTER) Oh, man, this is boring, boring, boring and is boring, boring, boring. How are you doing? How are you doing? UNIDENTIFIED KID: Thank you. BIDEN: Good. Are you happy? Good. Can I borrow your hat? You need somebody to negotiate big (inaudible) when you call me on the (inaudible). UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think no. (LAUGHTER) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know, man. (CROSSTALK) BIDEN: Good to see man. OK. What a great family (ph). I know. (CROSSTALK) UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: oh. BIDEN: I like kids better than people (ph). (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: I like kids better than people. What was the -- you tuck your daughter into bed, a little beautiful butterfly, the next morning, there`s a snake in the bed? I have no idea. I have no idea. Vice President Joe Biden today, proving that loving politics is in part about loving our country and loving governance and loving the good fight over governance especially when it is well fought. You know, it`s also -- loving politics is about all those noble things. But part of loving politics is just about loving that politics is a pageant that is often acted out by some truly, truly excellent characters that you enjoy watching interact with other people in the world. Vice President Joe Biden having the time of his life today swearing in the new Senate, the White House even put out a mini-video of him today explaining just how much he does love days like this. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BIDEN: The single most important legislative body in the world. And it is an enormous honor. I served there for a long time. And I consider it -- I consider myself a senate man and so it`s good to be going back and it`s good to be able to perform this function. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: That was put out by the White House today after Joe Biden`s most joyous day ever on Capitol Hill. Now because this was the weirdest first day of school maybe ever, you might have noticed one thing was missing from Capitol Hill today on very, very big day as Republicans took over control of the Senate from the Democrats. What was missing on this big day was one of the main players here, maybe one of the top two main players. The one who was missing was the leader of the Democrats. Harry Reid was nowhere to be seen today and that`s because Harry Reid, now, looks like this. Check that out. (VIDEO CLIP PLAYING) MADDOW: He is seriously banged up. Senator Reid was apparently working out over the holiday break using a resistance band and the resistance band snapped while he was using it. It broke bones in his face and his ribs, really banged him up and so because of those injuries, Harry Reid was not back at the Senate for the first day of school today on doctor`s orders but because this was the weirdest first day of school, look at this. Look. Harry Reid released a video of himself looking like a train wreck, with a bandaged eye and everything speaking from home in his little pilly sweater at his -- a right bloody eye, bloody face, bloody swollen hands. Harry Reid, cheerily explaining in this visually shocking video today why he had to be absent and how sorry he was to miss day one of the new Congress. Get well soon, Senate Minority leader, Harry Reid. Seriously, get well soon. You look like you need to. That`s kind of just what today was like. And that was just on -- on the Senate side. On the House side, if possible today was even weirder and more amazing and heading into today, people kind of knew that -- that something was brewing particularly on the political right. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You tell your congressman, you vote for Louie Gohmert, I`m done with the Republican Party. Not a dime. Not a phone call. Not a vote. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you vote for. (CROSSTALK) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you got to vote -- yeah, if you -- no, if you vote for. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Boehner. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: . Boehner, you`re done. I want you to vote for Louie Gohmert, but you make it very clear, you vote for Boehner, I`m done with you. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yeah. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Shut the switch board down. Tell everybody you know in the Freedom Movement. Everybody you know. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Especially the new guys. UNIDENTIFIED MALE:, Louie Gohmert. Call them now. Call them, call them, call them, call them, call them. Tell the DOP you`re done with them. You`re done with them. If they leave Boehner in. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: That was yesterday on Conservative Talk Radio. The right (ph) making the case that Boehner should be deposed as speaker and the man to save the Republican Party after John Boehner is thrown out on his ear will be Louie Gohmert. That`s who they want to deposed Louie -- yes, you are thinking of the same Louie Gohmert that I am. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) LOUIE GOHMERT, REPUBLICAN U.S. REPRESENTATIVE: We`re gonna borrow more money from the Chinese to possibly give them money back to create habitats for wild dogs and cats that are rare. There`s no assurance that if we did that, that was -- we wouldn`t end up with moo-goo dog pan or moo-goo cat pan. The attorney general failed to answer my question. (CROSSTALK) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Gentleman with this pan. GOHMERT: . about what was. (CROSSTALK) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: .. Gentleman -- gentleman. (CROSSTALK) GOHMERT: . that has. (CROSSTALK) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Chairman. GOHMERT: . exposures (ph) on my asparagus. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: On my asparagus that is the Republican (inaudible) was putting forth to topple the Republican House speaker John Boehner when John Boehner had to be formally elected on the first day of class today in Washington and yes, because today was that kind of day, it wasn`t just something that existed purely on Talk Radio. The Republicans actually did go through the process of running Louie Gohmert against John Boehner for speaker today which involved at one point, a very difficult process of figuring out exactly how to pronounce Louie Gohmert -- Louie Gohmert -- go on, you can try, try. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are there additional nominations? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Madam Clerk, I have a nomination. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You may proceed. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I present for the election of Office of Speaker of the House of Representatives for the 114th Congress, the name of Judge Louie Gohmert, a representative from the Great State of Texas. Madam Clerk Judge Gohmert -- Judge Gohmert proudly serves the First District of Texas. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Judge Gohmert -- Judge Gohmert nominate Louie -- Louie -- Louie Gohmert nominated today by his fellow Republican to oust speaker John Boehner, as were Congressman Ted Yoho of Florida. One Republican nominated Colin Powell to be the new speaker of the House. One Republican nominated Senator Rand Paul to be speaker of the House. Congressman Jim Jordan got a nomination. Congressman Daniel Webster got a nomination. One Republican member of Congress voted present, rather than vote for anyone, others just didn`t show up. In the end, the last time this many members of Congress voted against the major party`s nominee to be speaker was the year 1816. John Boehner`s opponent in his own pockets needed 30 votes against them to topple him as speaker today. They got 25. And so yeah, they didn`t -- they didn`t make it. This was -- this was insult rather than injury. But, still, the most decent against the speaker since before the Civil War but that`s -- that`s just the kind of day it was. And, meanwhile, turning in the back ground while this historic revolt was mounted against the speaker of the House, there`s the fact that there has been no revolt whatsoever, not a single Republican member of Congress putting their name to a single objection to this member of Congress ascending to the leadership of the House. The congressman in question, Steve Scalise is the one on the left here. The one on the right is ex-Ku Klux Klan leader in neo-Nazi, David Duke, who`s white -- rights organization. Congressman Scalise now admits to speaking before in 2002 when he was an elected Louisiana Republican State rep. The reason a leadership job has opened up at the top in the Republican Congress is because Eric Cantor, former House Majority leader for the Republicans, he was ousted by his own party in a primary this past year. Eric Cantor is the highest ranking Jewish Republican ever in Congress, and when he was forced out, he was the only Jewish Republican in either the House or the Senate. But Eric Cantor was forced out of Congress which is what opened up a spot in the leadership which the Republicans have now decided to fill with a guy who is now only now starting to apologize for his past association with a virulently anti-Semitic neo-Nazi household name called David Duke. But even as there was this revolt against John Boehner today for speaker, there has not been there has not been a peep of revolt among Republicans against Steve Scalise holding their number 3 leadership job. Democratic Congressman John Lewis, the legendary Civil Rights leader is calling for Steven Scalise to at least apologize to Congress as he assumes this leadership job after the David Duke stuff, but Republicans are apparently just hoping that they keep quiet about it for long enough, they will blow over. Happy first day of school. Meanwhile, David Duke himself, the former Klan leader is continuing to say that he will name names of other members of Congress who have also suck (ph) him out in the past. We did get a call back from David Duke after our queries to him yesterday when we queried him about who else in Congress might be on his list. We are now following up on some leads. I`m sure other news organizations are as well to make for a nice start to the new Congress after a fittingly bizarre first day. Substantively (ph), the new Republican Congress at its first order of business would be to pass a bill forcing the construction of the Keystone oil pipeline. On that matter, the White House today on day one of the new Congress and President Obama will veto that bill if they pass it. So, the Republicans first declared efforts will be futile, and they`ll know it before they even start. Their second announced priority is to change an ObamaCare rule about how many hours constitute a full-time work week. That`s their second announced priority after Keystone, but right now says they are against the Republican Party, political right, now says they`re against the Republicans trying to do that bill, as well. So, all systems go. I guess their number one priority will be vetoed. Their number two, they maybe don`t want anymore. The right wing media wants the aspersions on my asparagus guy more than they want their own leadership. They are fine with the David Duke guy being in their leadership. Harry Reid is making videos that are not safe for children cheerfully explaining his broken ribs and terrible injuries and, honestly, I`ve got to say, I mean, it all kind, it feels OK. Oh, my mint. At least feels OK, today, if what you like is a little surprise in every box. Politics is always a little bit fun. Politics is rarely as much fun as it was today. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: You know how in cheesy legal TV dramas, there`s always a big dramatic moment where the courtroom door swings open and there`s a big gasp inside the courtroom because somebody walks in who nobody expected to be there? There was a real life moment kind of like that today during the sentencing of former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell on multiple felony corruption charges today. The one person who no one expected to be there turned up for that sentencing and that story is next. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: This is W.T. Sampson High School. The mascot? The pirates. It`s and a smaller elementary school nearby -- mascot, the sharks. Those two schools make up the Sampson`s School System which has been around since 1931. These two school buildings were built in the 1970s and 1980s. And as you might expect, they are now a little worse for wear. They need new air conditioning systems and electrical upgrades and emergency system upgrades. They need an updated kitchen, new bathrooms, insulation. They need retrofitting for standards that have changed a bit in the past four decades. Instead of doing all that though, the Sampson School System has decided to build one big new school to replace both W.T. Sampson High and the elementary. This new school houses up to 275 students and is expected to cost $65 million. Wait? $65 million for 275 kids? That`s kind of nuts, right? That`s like a quarter million dollars per kid. That`s more than five times per kid what it costs to build a typical school. Why would it be so expensive in this school district? Well, for one thing, all the materials have to be purchased outside the country where the W.T. Sampson High School is located. All the materials for this have to be brought in by barge as do the people who will construct the school. Those workers have to stay there for the duration of the construction so they have to be housed and fed and entertained and all the rest of it. Oh, and all of this has to be done through government contracts that have to be approved by Congress because W.T. Sampson High School and its replacements slated for completion in 2018 is located in Guantanamo Bay Naval Station in Cuba. Just down the road from Sampson High is Guantanamo Bay and its detention facility. And as military personnel and civilian contractors continue cycling through that naval base and sending their kids to the Sampson school system, the number of people held at the Guantanamo Detention Center, meanwhile, is dropping fast. In the past two months alone, over 20 prisoners were transferred to other countries from Guantanamo bringing the 2014 total to nearly 30. That leaves 127 prisoners at Guantanamo with the Pentagon now saying it`s going to release more in coming weeks. As the number of prisoners falls, and now, seems to be falling rapidly, the cost per prisoner at keeping Guantanamo open is rising fast. By the end of last year, it was costing about $3 million per prisoner per year at Guantanamo. Today, the New York Times reported what they say is the Obama administration`s big plan for what to do with Guantanamo before President Obama leaves office. Congress may not let President Obama close that prison. But apparently, the administration has figured out some way to ship out another 40 to 60 prisoners between now and the time President Obama leaves office. That would get the prisoner down to a total of 60 to 80 guys that would bring the per-prisoner to per-year cost to something like $5.5 million per guy per year forever or at least as long as the Congress insists that those prisoners have to be held at that one specific super expensive decrepit prison that we maintain for dubious legal reasons on the island of Cuba, which does not want it there. There are a couple of weird things going on here though which still defy any easy explanation and that I`m sort of surprised aren`t getting more attention. First of all, there`s this guy. This is Cliff Sloan who President Obama put at the State Department to expedite the process of getting prisoners out of Guantanamo. He is the guidance overseeing this huge hurry up in prisoners being shipped out of the prison. Until a few days ago, that is, when he left. One thing that remains a total mystery is why he`s leaving now, now that the pace of prisoners leaving is faster than ever and now that the administration is planning on sending dozens more prisoners home and apparently pretty soon. Why is he leaving now? He just published this op-ed in the New York Times saying, "The road to closing Guantanamo is clear and well-lit." But he is leaving his job of trying to close it. With -- as yet, no real explanation of why and with no one in place to replace him in the administration. What`s going on there? I mean to have this huge policy change, moving really fast all of a sudden and to have the man in charge of it leaving right where it all starts happening, I don`t understand. The other weird thing going on here though concerns these guys, Congress. As the -- I`m just pointing at nothing. Imagine, Congress. As the pace of prisoners being sent home from Guantanamo has really picked up and there have been all of these dozens of transfers all of a sudden, Congress hasn`t really made much of a peep at all. Congress hasn`t been complaining about all of these prisoners who have rapidly been sent out of Guantanamo in recent weeks. Has Congress just not noticed that it`s happening? Do they -- do they not know what to say about this issue that they used to crow about so much. Are they softening their resistance to emptying Guantanamo out and closing it? And even if they had been quiet so far about this, now, the new reporting says the administration is about to start freeing dozens more prisoners from there, in pretty short order. Is Congress going to pipe up about that or not? Also, if you work at Guantanamo or if you`re one of the dozens of men serving indefinite time there, what`s it like there now -- now that lots and lots of people are finally starting to get out all of a sudden after all of these years of nothing. Joining us now is Carol Rosenberg, reporter for the Miami Herald. She has been covering Guantanamo in a heroic effort since January 2002. Our colleagues in the press have given her the title of Dean of the Guantanamo Press Corps. She`s basically our nation`s institutional memory of that facility. Carol, it`s great to see you. Thank you very much for being here. CAROL ROSENBERG, REPORTER MIAMI HERALD: Thank you, Rachel. MADDOW: I have to ask -- first of all, if I said anything that you can either correct or the things that doesn`t comport with your understanding of what`s going on with these releases and the politics around them right now? ROSENBERG: Well, I know that Guantanamo reporters shouldn`t be saying these things, but I don`t know why Cliff Sloan is leaving. It came as a surprise to me. I. MADDOW: In terms of -- sorry. Go ahead finish. ROSENBERG: I think that it`s a hard job and I any he`s coming to the end of his surge. I think there`s one or two more transfers and if one were to bow out, this might be the time. MADDOW: In terms of those expected transfers, one of the things that Cliff Sloan explained in this op-ed is that it hasn`t been as hard as people might think to find other countries and the world who are willing to take Guantanamo prisoners. He`s basically saying that if you push on those diplomatic doors, you will find them to be open. Do you have any expectation about how many people are sort of in the pipeline to go sometime soon or what the list of countries is that`s willing to take them? ROSENBERG: Well, we know Estonia is going the take one. They said they would back in November. And there`s one other country, and I`m not sure that I know which one is e it is, and I don`t think it`s going to be a large scale transfer. MADDOW: When the New York Times reported today that the administration`s goal is to get down to a total of 60 to 80 prisoners that would still mean getting dozens of them out of there. I mean part of the question that I have about that is, you know, what are going to be the logistics of that? What`s going to be the timing? Is there going to be an American political backlash about that? We also have to wonder how that resonates at Guantanamo among, not just the prisoners there, but the people who work there and people who are involved in the legal defense there and the military commissions to imagine this institution shrinking so fast if that really is the plan in coming weeks and months. I wonder what kind of impact that is. ROSENBERG: Well, I think that attorneys for the Yemenis who are predominantly the people who are cleared to go are hopeful that they will find countries for them. I think there`s an understanding that the Yemenis are not going home. And I think in terms of the guard force, the detention center shrinks in terms of detainees, but the job stays the same. You know, they don`t shrink, Rachel. There are still about 2,000 staff down there, mostly U.S. soldiers but also contractors. MADDOW: Well, that goes to this -- the financial issue and therefore the political situation. I mean if the Obama administration is planning to get the prisoner numbers a lot lower, that means the ratio, the per prisoner cost will keep going higher and higher and higher. I mean if you`ve got down to 60 people in that prison and you still got 2,000 U.S. service members and contractors down there servicing them and a facility that`s getting increasingly decrepit as Congress won`t fund any upgrades to it, I mean -- I guess, does that logistically become such a concern that there has to be a political solution to it? ROSENBERG: Congress doesn`t seem to mind to pay the bill. It is huge numbers in terms of the per prisoner cost, but it`s still a small prison. And in terms of the need for 2,000 guards and soldiers, I`m just not sure. They`ve never been able to justify those numbers. They`ve never been able to explain why they have to have such a large staff down there. MADDOW: Carol Rosenberg, a reporter for the Miami Herald covering Guantanamo for many years. Carol, thank you as always for your reporting. I have told you this before, but I`ll tell you again. It is a great service to our country and thanks for being here tonight. It`s nice to see you. ROSENBERG: Thank you. MADDOW: All right. We`ll be right back. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: When Rob Blagojevich went to prison in 2011 for trying to auction off Barack Obama`s old U.S. Senate seat to the highest bidder, the sentencing guideline in his corruption case said he should get 30 years to life in prison. Rob Blagojevich actually got a sentence of 14 years. When William Jefferson got busted for the blocks of cash wrapped up in aluminum foil that he had in his freezer and all those corruption charges in 2009, the sentencing guideline said that he should get 27 to 33 years in prison. He actually got 13 years. When Ray Nagin, the mayor of New Orleans, got done for corruption last year, the sentencing guidelines in his case said he should get 20 years in prison. At least Ray Nagin actually got 10 years. When Congressman Rick Renzi got convicted on multiple corruption charges in 2013, his sentencing guidelines said Rick Renzi should do eight to 10 years. Rick Renzi actually got three years and so he`ll be out pretty soon. So it`s not like politicians usually get the book thrown at them. Judges have discretion on how to sentence people and how much to deviate from the guidelines. And in the case of public corruption, honestly judges, at least from recent history, tend to pretty go -- tend pretty much to go low, to go on the low side or even lower than anybody`s expecting. Still, though, despite that recent history, it was still a bit of a shock in the courtroom today when Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell was sentenced in a Richmond, Virginia, courtroom to two years in prison. There are no cameras in the courtroom but the federal prosecutor who brought the case and who had argued for Bob McDonnell to get 10 to 12 and a half years in prison for his crimes, that prosecutor was described by one reporter as leaving the courtroom, quote, "with his face twisted in anger." That 10 to 12 and a half year recommendation was what the Federal Probation Office had said Bob McDonnell should get in this case. The judge, today, widely respected appointee of President Ronald Reagan. He reduced those sentencing guidelines at today`s sentencing hearing to be just six to eight years. And then when it came time to hand down the sentence, he undercut even that range. He sent Bob McDonnell off for just 24 months in the federal pen. The public downfall of Bob McDonnell started in March 2013 with this bombshell article in the "Washington Post." It`s a weird article explaining just who had mysteriously paid for the governor`s daughter`s wedding. That story led to one revelation after another. Most of which were first printed in the "Washington Post." And those revelations ultimately led to Governor McDonnell and his wife being indicted on multiple felonies this past January. Just 10 days after he left office as governor of Virginia. At a time now when many people thought Bob McDonnell would be prepping his 2016 presidential campaign, Governor McDonnell will instead be reporting to federal custody to be booked into federal prison. He`s due there on February 9th. A week and a half after that, his wife, Maureen, will face sentencing for her multiple felony convictions in this case, as well. Joining us now is Mike Valerio. He`s a political reporter with NBC 12 in Richmond, Virginia. He has been covering the McDonnell proceedings since they began nearly a year ago. Mike, thanks very much for joining us today. It`s good to have you here. MIKE VALERIO, NBC 12 POLITICAL REPORTER: Thanks for having me, Rachel. MADDOW: Can you just tell us broadly your impressions of what it was like in the courtroom today both before and after the sentence was handed down? VALERIO: Rachel, I have to tell you, it was a complete 180 from what we saw in September when Governor McDonnell was stunned that he was convicted on 11 counts of corruption in that federal courtroom. Today quite the opposite. I`d have to tell you, the most dramatic moment happened when Governor Doug Wilder, former Governor Doug Wilder took the stand as a character witness. This is the first black governor ever elected in the United States and he crosses a generational line as well as party lines to say that, "Governor McDonnell is one of the most honorable people I have ever met. Judge, do not throw the book at him. Please give him community service or a sentence around three or four years." At that point, the prosecution comes back on the stand and with cross- examination says, well, Governor Wilder, isn`t it true that when you`re governor, that does not give you the license to take bribes. Governor Wilder says, yes, that`s certainly true. And the prosecution fires back and says, and it`s certainly true that there needs to be justice in this case for all of Virginia. The fireworks fly when Governor Wilder shoots back and shoots down the government saying, what justice is there in this case when your star witness, Johnny Williams, who`s accused of starting these bribes, is at home in Florida? Essentially with zero jail time under the terms of the sweetheart deal. He`s not going to prison. There will be no justice in this case. MADDOW: At that point what I had read happened, again there`s no cameras in the courtroom, although you re-enacting it is pretty close to -- pretty great in terms of understanding it. But what I read happened at that moment is that supporters of Governor McDonnell in the courtroom at that point where he says, yes, basically the bribee, the guy offering the bribes, he ought to be the one going to jail, that the courtroom burst out in applause. VALERIO: It was nothing like I had ever seen before. A multitude of people try to rise up out of their seats and cheer for the former governor because you remember back in September this was a huge blow to him and his family. He had his hand on his face saying oh, my goodness, I can`t believe this as soon as he was convicted on those 11 counts. To have the tide of this case or sentencing proceeding turn in his favor at that moment was something really extraordinary. MADDOW: Mike, let me also ask you about this moment that happens before the judge handed the sentence and before all of those character witnesses took the stand today on behalf of Governor McDonnell asking for leniency in his behalf. And it was the surprise moment when Governor McDonnell`s wife, Maureen, arrived at the courtroom, the one thing everybody agreed on, all observers agreed on heading into today is that she would not be seen. She would not be here. They had been known to not be living together. His defense was essentially to blame her and to say that their marriage was irremovably broken. It must have been a big surprise when she arrived today. VALERIO: Huge surprise. You could hear a pin drop in that courtroom as soon as Maureen McDonnell made her appearance, flanked by her sons, Bobby and Sean. Both now at graduate school. It was a surprise to see them as well. But the whole family united. Even their oldest daughter, Jeannine, was there who, in her letter to the judge, accused a mother of being mentally unstable. This is no question, Rachel, a fractured family. But to see them together, making the statement after the "throw Maureen McDonnell under the bus" strategy that seemed to backfire with this jury back in the fall, it was unbelievable to see Maureen McDonnell make an appearance. And then after the sentence comes down of just two years for Governor McDonnell in a federal prison, he turns around and gives his wife a quick peck on the cheek. That is something that we never saw during trial. If anything he gave her a cold reception if there ever was one. MADDOW: Wow. VALERIO: Just a day before the verdict was handed down. MADDOW: Wow. VALERIO: We`re all extremely shocked to see that happen. MADDOW: Amazing. And of course the final act in this will be her sentencing just a week and a half after he`s due to report to federal prison. VALERIO: Absolutely. Yes. MADDOW: Mike Valerio, political reporter, NBC 12, at Richmond, Virginia. Mike, thanks very much for being here. Appreciate it. VALERIO: Thanks, Rachel. MADDOW: All right, speaking of excellent local journalism, there`s some further local journalism of the heroic variety coming up in our next story. This is a story that will make you very proud of our nation`s First Amendment. But it should also make you want to buy a beer for the next great local reporter you meet down at your local pub. Please stay with us. This is a good one. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: We have some breaking news tonight out of El Paso, Texas. At about 5:00 Eastern today we got in the first initial reports of an active shooter situation at an army hospital and veteran`s clinic at Fort Bliss in El Paso, Texas. That facility went on lockdown today for about an hour while authorities search for this reported shooter. Well, just minutes ago, the commanding general at Fort Bliss confirmed that there was an active shooter situation. It is now resolved. There was one casualty at the medical center, one person was killed. In addition to the shooter who committed suicide. Now in terms of understanding the larger circumstances of what happened here or potentially any motive, Major General Stephen Twitty says that the FBI is taking the lead in this investigation. Again, this is a developing story. But what we`re told is one dead in addition to the shooter killing himself at Fort Bliss. We`ll update you as we learn more. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: I`m very sorry. I have a correction tonight from our opening segment. At the start of the show I reported that in today`s mini revolt against Republican John Boehner being re-elected as speaker, the votes not for Boehner included from a Republican member of Congress who voted instead for Colin Powell. One of our viewers who happens to be a Republican staffer -- hey, I see you out there -- pointed out that it was not a Republican member of Congress but a Democrat who actually cast that vote for Colin Powell today. I totally missed that. But it was Democratic Congressman Jim Cooper of Tennessee who says he wanted Colin Powell to be the speaker of the House. I regret that error very much. I stand corrected and I thank you and I know you, Republicans, are watching. I know you are. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: This is such a doozy. I`ll tell you how it ends. The moral of the story is that you can`t keep a lid on it. As much as you might not want people to hear the bad news, if they have a right to hear the bad news, they`re going to hear the bad news. And you trying to keep it under wraps is only going to make it worse for you. OK? Case in point. Behold Kirby Delauter. Kirby Delauter is a county commissioner in Frederick County, Maryland. That`s an elected position, he is an elected public official. Recently the local paper, the "Frederick News Post," posted this fairly innocuous little article about how county commissioners were adjusting to some changes being made in county government. In a one-sentence aside, the paper noted that Commissioner Kirby Delauter had reportedly complained that the county commissioners no longer had enough reserved parking spaces. That reference in that article apparently made Kirby Delauter a very angry man. And you don`t want to see Kirby Delauter when he`s angry. This weekend, he posted this online attacking the local reporter who wrote that piece for the "Frederick News Post." Look at this, shame on Bethany Rodgers for an unauthorized use of my name and my reference in her article. She contacted me by phone yesterday. I did not return her call and did not authorize any use of my name in her article. "Bethany, please understand, you need to know who you`re dealing with. You could have earned my respect. Instead you`ve shown that you will sell your soul for the liberal agenda at the `Frederick News Post.` Let me be clear, do not contact me and do not use my name or reference me in any unauthorized form in the future." This is from an elected official who as far as I know has not trademarked his name. But he is furious that a reporter reported on him as an elected official and used his name without his expressed permission. To her credit, the reporter responded to this elected official directly, quoting here, "Wow. Well, just to answer a few of these accusations, first of all, there`s no requirement to get a person`s authorization in order to mention them in the paper, particularly if that person is an elected official. It`s not just our right but our responsibility to report on people like you who occupy positions of trust in our government and I make no apologies for doing that." She goes on in this vein. The guy then immediately responds, "Use my name again unauthorized and you`ll be paying for an Attorney," with a capital A. "Your rights stop where mine start." So to be clear, this is an elected official in the state of Maryland threatening to sue the local paper for reporting on his actions as an elected official. Unless he expressly authorizes the use of his name. Like he`s the "Happy Birthday Song" or something. Naturally, the local paper responded in the only way they could possibly respond, they published this editorial about this local official, Kirby Delauter, forbidding the paper from using his name. The headline of the editorial as you can see is "Kirby Delauter, Kirby Delauter, Kirby Delauter, Kirby Delauter." (LAUGHTER) And then they go out of their way in the editorial to print his name 27 different times. None of them with authorization. And that`s not counting the fictitious footnote which also was his name. The paper is also now reporting on this local official threatening to sue them for covering him as an elected official which has given their managing editor the opportunity to say things like this in paper, in the paper, quote, "Kirby Delauter can certainly decline to comment on any story, but to threaten to sue a reporter for publishing his name is so ridiculously stupid that I`m speechless." And now naturally because of all this, there`s a fake Kirby Delauter Twitter account raging about how the liberal media shouldn`t be allowed to use conservatives` names without permission. And now basically this guy is a national laughingstock with his un-trademarked name all over the news. Even outside the Frederick, Maryland, news, this guy is now the guy who says that as an elected official, he has the right to decide whether or not his name is used in the news. It`s amazing. Something similar, though, happened today in Portland, Maine, where the always fearless "Portland Press Herald" decided that they were going to flip a one-finger First Amendment salute to somebody else who was trying to shut down news coverage of something that people have a right to know about. In Portland, it concerns the case of a prominent local attorney who was facing multiple felony charges stemming from a domestic violence case. The court proceedings were not that remarkable. The man entered a plea in conjunction with one of the charges which resulted in some of the other charges being dismissed. But here`s the thing. Here`s why this is now a big story. The guy who was on trial somehow convinced the judge in his case that his court case should be treated as a secret. He somehow persuaded the judge to direct members of the media who were covering the story that they would not be allowed to report on what was happening at the trial. This is from the "Press Herald." Quote, "Judge Jeffrey Muskowitz told members of the media as the hearing began what they could and could not report. A reporter from the `Press Herald` protested the order and asked for a time to contact legal counsel. The judge denied the request and said the hearing would proceed without delay." After consulting with their own attorney, the "Portland Press Herald" decided to not comply with the order from the judge. And so the "Portland Press Herald" published what actually happened in that courtroom because you know what, it wasn`t some matter of national security, this guy`s case. It wasn`t, you know, secret trip movements or something. It wasn`t something involving a child or some other sensitive case around which there might be case law saying you have the right not to be exposed in the press. This was embarrassment. This was a normal criminal case in open court that somebody decided to turn into a state secret because they found it embarrassing. And in so doing, they turned what should have been a very low key case into a much bigger story, because honestly, you can`t keep a lid on it. Not with a brave press in this country. And thank God we have a brave press. If people have a right to know, people are going to know. And if you try to keep them from knowing, it is only going to make it 10 times worse and it`s going to make the story 10 times bigger and it`s going to make heroes out of the folks who call your bluff like the "Frederick News Post" in Maryland and the "Portland Press Herald" in Maine. And that same principle is also now making heroes, I`m telling you, out of a bunch of employees at your local mall who right now are having a epic and visible and rather heroic fit of rage and defiance and blowing the whistle. And that story is amazing. And it`s coming up on tomorrow`s show. THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END