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The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 02/02/15

Guests: Ryan Grim, Johnny Isakson

CHRIS HAYES, "ALL IN" HOST: That is "ALL IN" for this evening. THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts right now. Good evening, Rachel. RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: I think it is a fair question whether or not you are sort of emotional reaction to that ad did make you want to buy panty liners more than before you saw that ad. HAYES: I hadn`t considered it until Mike asked me. So, I have to think on that. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I mortgaged my house. (LAUGHTER) UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No place to live. MADDOW: That`s right. It will all be water tight. All right. Thanks you, guys. Amazing. And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour. I should tell you, anyone who wants to send me personal congratulations on the Patriots winning the Super Bowl, because I`m convinced I did it somehow, you can send those congratulations to my e-mail address, Rachel@MSNBC.com. Also, I should tell you -- see how my finger looks like a funny shape. I have a giant band-aid on my finger because I was really excited watching the Super Bowl, watching the Patriots win the Super Bowl last night while I was simultaneously grating cheese. Exactly. So, that`s why I have the funny-shaped band-aid on my finger. OK. We`ll dispatch with that. At the height of the 2012 presidential campaign, the Republican candidate for president, Mitt Romney, he took a trip to London. This is the summer of 2012, and Mitt Romney`s 2012 trip to London went very poorly. This picture I always thought shows exactly how poorly it went. This is pretty much the best summary ever written about how that trip went. Don`t look at the -- what`s going on in this photo is that Mitt Romney is doing a joint appearance with the leader of the Labour Party at that time in Britain. His name is Ed Milliband. How do you think Ed Milliband feels about Mitt Romney`s visit with him at this exact moment? During this joint appearance, Mitt Romney appeared to forget Ed Milliband`s name. He described him in that appearance as "Mr. Leader", which sounds like a nice complimentary thing. That`s not a term used in Britain. Nobody knew what Mitt Romney was talking about. To the British press, it basically seemed like Mitt Romney might have thought this guy`s name was "Ed Leader" instead of Ed Milliband. So, it`s very insulting to his host, and very awkward. And that`s how he felt about it. On that same trip, Mr. Romney also did an interview in which he disparaged British preparations for the Summer Olympics. They`re about to host the Summer Olympics. Mitt Romney in an interview cited his own experience with the Salt Lake City Games and he said during his visit to London that he has seen in Britain, quote, "a few things that were disconcerting" about the British preparation for the Olympic Games that summer. That prompted this response from British Prime Minister David Cameron, quote, "We are holding the Olympic Games in one of the busiest active bustling cities in the world. Of course, it`s easier if you hold Olympic Games in the middle of nowhere." Or as we call can it, Utah. On that same trip, all in one trip, Mitt Romney also bragged publicly to British reporters that he had been given a security briefing by the head of MI6. Now, MI6 is roughly the equivalent in Britain to our CIA here, except MI6 is way more secret than our CIA is. The politicians are never supposed to say the name MI6 or even admit that MI6 exists. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MITT ROMNEY (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I appreciated the insights and perspectives of the leaders of the government here and opposition here, as well as the head of MI6, as we discussed Syria and the -- (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: That meeting, whether or not it`s with the head of MI6, it had not been on Mr. Romney`s public schedule while he was in London. It was supposed to be a secret. He definitely was not supposed to talk about it with reporters, and even if he had still found it too irresistible that he had to tell them he had the meeting, you are still not supposed to say it was with the head of MI6. Anonymous British officials who met with Mitt Romney on that trip told "The Daily Mail" that his trip was, quote, "a total car crash". They told the press that he was, quote, "worse than Sarah Palin", and that they said in meeting with him, they found him to be, quote, "apparently devoid of charm, warmth, humor or sincerity." Mitt Romney, in the summer of 2012 when he was running for president, he just had a terrible, terrible trip to London. "The Sun" tabloid newspaper summed up their take on him, thus, "Mitt the twit: Wannabe U.S. president." The headlines were just terrible. I mean, over there and over here, "Mitt Romney`s Olympics gaffe overshadows his visit to London." "Mitt Romney visits London while stumbling on almost every front." "Mitt Romney`s Olympic stumbles in London." "Mitt Romney trip begins in shambles." That trip actually inspired the hashtag #Romneyshambles which trended both in Britain and the United States while he was there. Hey, Americans, this Mitt person is some sort of American Borat, right? #Romneyshambles. Which is terrible -- terrible, terrible trip. But it might not have been his fault. It might just be something about the mix of London and American politicians. You may remember, just a few weeks ago, the American TV channel FOX News, they became a laughingstock all over Britain when they put somebody on the air who insisted that there were parts of England where only Muslims were allowed, including he said the entire major city of Birmingham. That led to a very funny, online response where British people tried to explain the this Birmingham allegation from the FOX News perspective. The hashtag on that meme was #FOXNewsfacts. And it resulted on things like this, "The city is now called birming because ham is not halal. FOXNewsfacts." "Birmingham has a chain of fast food restaurants called Birqa king. #FOXNewsfacts." This one was sort of a photo one, "Jam jars across Britain are becoming radicalized." See jam jars in tiny little burqas. It`s very funny. The British prime minister had to weigh in again, in this case saying about the FOX News terrorism expert who made these claims about Britain, quote, "Frankly, I choked on my porridge and I thought it must be April Fools Day. This guy is clearly an idiot." Now, you heard about this when it happened, FOX News within a couple of days, I think to a lot of people`s surprise, they profusely apologized on multiple FOX News shows using multiple FOX News hosts. They said over and over again that they were sorry for having made this allegation, they would never book that guy again. What he said was not true. They were very sorry for having propagated those false claims about their being for no-go zones for non-Muslims in Britain. So, it was news when FOX did it, and Britain all collectively pointed and laughed at FOX News. It was I think even bigger news when FOX took a rare step and profusely apologized for having done it. But then right after the FOX News apology, literally the day after FOX News started to apologizing for this, an American politician named Bobby Jindal, governor of Louisiana, man who wants to run for president in 2016, he went to London, danger, danger, danger, and he gave a speech what about he still believed to be these no-go zones for non-Muslims, even though it had been the funniest news story in Britain for a week by the time he got there. And even though the source of that false information, FOX News, had himself retracted the accusation and said they were sorry. Bobby Jindal apparently had his noise cancelling head phones on or something, he didn`t know it, and he went over there once the whole thing had been debunked, and gave a speech trying to revive it. London and American politicians not a good mix. Now, it has happened again, happened today. Honestly, the pattern here is bad. If you are an American politician who wants to be president, think of London as quick sand. I mean, feel free to go and look. Drink warm beer, enjoy yourself but don`t speak when you are there. It never goes well. Things started off a little bit okay, sort of, for New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. He went to a soccer match wearing a red and white scarf. That wasn`t too bad. There was also some rhyme and reason to his trip. New Jersey, that state, has always had a health care industry, drug manufacturers, medical device manufacturers. They have a good chunk of the New Jersey economy. So, it therefore made sense as part of this trade mission to attract international business interest in New Jersey, the state`s governor upon arriving in Britain would find a way to manufacture -- visit the manufacturer of a vaccine. He specifically went to the manufacturer of a flu vaccine. Plus, while he was touring the flu vaccine facility, he got to wear the safety glasses and the lab coat can. All made him look smart, right? So, you are trying to look presidential. This is good. It`s all going well, right? If you`re running for president, and you do a photo op at a place that makes vaccines, there are good things about this. But if you do that kind of a photo-op, at a place that makes vaccines, while the United States of America is undergoing a big serious epidemic of a disease that can be prevented by vaccines that people aren`t taking for some inexplicable reason, then even if it is in another country, where you`re doing this photo-op, you as a candidate for president are going to get asked about vaccines, and whether or not people should take vaccines. And so, you should probably have an answer ready for that inevitable question, Governor Christie. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REPORTER: Governor, this company makes vaccines. There`s debate going on right now in the United States, the measles outbreak caused in part by people not vaccinating their kids. Do you think Americans should vaccinate their kids? Is the measles vaccine safe? GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: All I can say is that we vaccinated ours. So, that`s the best expression I can give you my opinion. It is much more important I think what you think as a parent than what you think as a public official. And that`s what we do. But I also understand that parents need to have some measure of choice in things as well. So, that`s the balance the government has to decide. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Parents need to have a measure of choice in things as well. Christie may have wanted the story of his London trip to be about him looking presidential abroad, or him in a lab coat in safety glasses, drumming up business for New Jersey, looking smart, right. But ended up instead being about Chris Christie appearing to support the super dangerous new trend of American parents deciding that their kids shouldn`t be vaccinated against the measles. His office then had to go back later in the day and clarify his remarks saying, of course parents should vaccinate their kids against measles. He didn`t mean to suggest anything different than that. By then, this is a big story and not at all what Chris Christie wanted his trip to London to be all about. Apparently, though, it is dangerous when American politicians go to London. They say stuff that gets them in trouble. And this, in fact, today with Chris Christie became a big enough story over the course of the day, particularly with the follow up comments from his office disavowing his earlier remarks, that became a big enough story over the course of the day when Chris Christie was in London today, that the story actually spread across the pond, spread back to the United States and also seems to have infected Rand Paul, and maybe in a worse way. Once this Chris Christie story about him appearing to question vaccinations for measles, once this story took off today, you know, other would be 2016 contenders like Rand Paul again should have known that they would be asked about this thing. You ought to have an answer ready, Senator Paul. (BEGIN AUDIO CLIP) SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: I`m not anti-vaccine at all. Particularly most of them ought to be voluntary. I was annoyed when my kids were born that they wanted them to take hepatitis B in the neonatal area. And it`s like, that`s a sexually transmitted disease or blood born disease, and I didn`t like them getting 10 vaccines at once. So, I actually delayed my kids` vaccines and had them staggered over time. LAURA INGRAHAM: Smart. I should have done that before I got my kids vaccine. I should have talked to you. (END AUDIO CLIP) MADDOW: I should have talked to you because you are a doctor after all. Rand Paul is not that kind of doctor. Rand Paul for years was a member of a conspiracy theory-laden alternative doctor`s association called the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons. Sounds like a very straightforward group. Always pick names that make them sound upstanding. But this association is a group that says that HIV does not cause AIDS. They say that it is evil and immoral for doctors to participate in Medicare. And they say, yes, vaccines cause autism and therefore, you maybe shouldn`t vaccinate your kids. So this conspiracy theory group, called the American Association of Physicians and Surgeons. Here`s Rand Paul talking to them in 2009. This was posted online today by "BuzzFeed". (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) PAUL: Thank you very much for having me. Catherine neglected to mention one thing I`m not a newcomer to AAPS. I have been a member since 1990, I think. It could have been when with I was in medical school but at least since 1990. I used a lot of AAPS literature when I talk. In fact, I just met -- (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Rand Paul addressing the Association American Physicians and Surgeons, anti-vaccine, conspiracy theory laden doctor`s association, he`s addressing them here in 2009, telling them he had belonged to that group for years, for almost 20 years at that point and maybe longer. Today, as the CDC announced that we are up over 100 cases of measles in 14 states now because people are inexplicably afraid of the vaccine because they believe scientifically untrue conspiracy theories about that vaccine. Today, as Chris Christie had his whole London trip overshadowed by his own woolly and confused initial statements of whether kids should be vaccinated against measles, today, Rand Paul, who has a history of associating with far fringe conspiracy theorists on this issue, Rand Paul was asked first about vaccinating against measles on right wing talk radio. That was what you just heard there, and obviously, there`s going to be a follow up to that. So, h was asked about it again in a follow up on CNBC, and look what he said when he was asked to clarify on CNBC today. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) PAUL: I have heard of many tragic cases of walking, talking, normal children who wound up with profound mental disorders after vaccines. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky today really did say that on CNBC. And he wants you to think of him as a doctor as he is running for president. Senator Rand Paul until today was seen, I guess by some people as sort of a top tier presidential candidate. Honestly, with this thing he did today, he totally pulled a Michele Bachmann. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MICHELE BACHMANN (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: There`s a woman came up crying to me tonight after the debate. She said her daughter was given that vaccine. She told me her daughter suffered mental retardation as a result of that vaccine. There are very dangerous consequences. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: That is Michele Bachmann during the 2012 presidential campaign. The last she was heard of in that campaign. After she said that even the right, that loves Michele Bachmann, even when she says crazy stuff, even the right basically said that was a disqualifying ignorant and dangerous remark for somebody running for president of the United States. And the conservative magazine "The Weekly Standard," quote, "Bachmann seemed to go off the deep end." At the conservative blog, "Hot Air", it was, quote, "The most charitable analysis that can be offered in this case for Bachmann is that she got duped into repeating a vaccine scare urban legend on national television." Even on right wing talk radio, even on the Rush Limbaugh show, what Michelle Bachmann did back in 2012, that was too much too far. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: I will tell you, Michele Bachmann may have blown it today. She may have jumped the shark today. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: On that same radio show, Mr. Limbaugh went on to say, quote, "There is no evidence the vaccine causes mental retardation". That was the Rush Limbaugh show in 2011. This is not a partisan thing. It didn`t used to be a partisan thing at least. I mean, vaccinations, this hasn`t been like global warming, right, where is a scientific consensus and conservatives decided not to believe it or say they don`t believe it for political reasons. But is that now what we are getting on public health and specifically on vaccines? I mean, does it make sense in the internal logic of the right? I mean, if you think of their internal logic, right, if you deny the science on climate change, that at least gets you the Koch brothers, right? And the Koch brothers and other corporate interest who don`t want steps to be taken to fight climate change, they will give you money and give you support and praise you in return for you denying the science of climate change. But if you deny the science on measles, what does that get you? What does that get you on the right? It started off today with Chris Christie being the latest would-be presidential contender who had a very bad day in London and got very, very bad press in London. This crossed back to this side of the Atlantic. This has become now a bigger and worrying question about whether there is a whole, new and really important part of the scientific consensus that conservatives are going to stop believing in for some inexplicable political reason that makes sense only inside their world. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) PAUL: I`ve heard of many tragic cases of walking, talking, normal children who wound up with profound mental disorders after vaccines. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: In that same CNBC interview today when Rand Paul said that about vaccines, he also said this a couple of moments later. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) PAUL: The whole purpose of doing this is to bring money home. (CROSSTALK) KELLY EVANS: I`m sorry. Go ahead. PAUL: Quiet. Calm down a bit here, Kelly. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Calm down, Kelly. Hush. Calm down? She didn`t look hysterical. Rand Paul had a bad day in the press today. But it was a bad day in the press for a lot of reasons today and we have more on that ahead. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SAVANNAH GUTHRIE, NBC NEWS: Do you feel there should be a requirement that parents get their kids vaccinated? BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Measles is preventable. I understand that there are families that in some families are concerned about the effect of vaccinations. The science is, you know, pretty undisputable. We`ve looked at this again and again. There`s every reason to get vaccinated. There aren`t reasons to not get vaccinated. GUTHRIE: Are you telling parents, you should get your kids vaccinated? OBAMA: You should get your kids vaccinated. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: President Obama telling "The Today Show`s" Savannah Guthrie that parents should get their children vaccinated, that the science about that is clear. The president making remarks in his pre-Super Bowl interview this weekend. But that clarity from him, that direct message, get your kids vaccinated, that is a very different message than we`ve heard from Republican presidential hopefuls Chris Christie and Rand Paul today. Joining us now is Ryan Grim, Washington bureau chief for "The Huffington Post". Ryan, it`s nice to see you. Thanks for being here. RYAN GRIM, THE HUFFINGTON POST: Thanks for having me. MADDOW: So, when Governor Christie said today, parents should be able to choose whether or not to vaccinate their kids, who exactly is he appealing to or was this just a screw up? GRIM: I think what he was doing there is -- I think he flashed back immediately to his last public health intervention, a complete debacle during the Ebola freak out, where he basically detained this New Jersey nurse for a matter of several weeks saying like, look, you have been to Africa. We`re not letting you out of here. She is like, I don`t have Ebola. So, you know, he completely stripped her of all civil liberties. He then, you know, was completely embarrassed at the way that unfolded. So, now, I think he overreacted to his initial overreaction. He is thinking, OK, politically, how do I respond this time, and he started thinking about kind of the parent`s choice movement and these anti-vaxxers that are out there, and he wanted to throw them a little bone at the end there. He wasn`t prepared for the question. As you could tell, the way that his office came out a couple of hours later, and good for them, by the way, and came out and said that`s not what the governor meant. Everybody should get the measles vaccine. MADDOW: You reference parents choice groups and anti-vaccination activists. Are they significant enough number? Are they politically potent and I guess politically partisan enough that Republican politicians are running for president will be wanting to court those groups? GRIM: It`s a very diverse group. So, it would -- it would be hard if a politician actually sat down and made the disgustingly immoral calculations, OK, how am I going to win this small set of anti-vaccine people. Never mind it causes an outbreak. I think it actually is pretty difficult because the group of people -- their concerns don`t overlap a ton. A lot of them aren`t even voting in the Republican primary, for instance. You`ll find plenty of them either sitting it out completely because they don`t trust the government, period, or you`ll find them actually voting in Democratic primaries. So, you know, the only kind of overlap here is the kind of anti- authority, anti-government, and anti-science bent that you see among a lot of the climate change deniers. You know, that was very much generated and fuelled by the Koch brothers. MADDOW: So, if that`s the -- if that`s the story in terms of chasing any potential political upside here, there`s also the downside here. What Rand Paul said today was much closer to Michele Bachmann ala 2011 than it was even to what Chris Christie said today. He really went out there further. It turns out he had been a long time member of a conspiracy theory group that is anti-vaccination, that also thinks that HIV doesn`t cause AIDS. I mean, does that potentially play poorly for him inside mainstream Republican politics? Looking back at 2011, I was surprised how poorly it played even for Michele Bachmann. GRIM: It does. I think people are going to take, you know, politicians are going to take from today that they should probably stick to just climate change denialism. This gets much too complicated because everybody has -- not everybody but a lot of people have children. Everybody was a child at some point. Nobody wants to get measles, or mumps or rubella, things that we thought were completely gone, for absolutely no reason, or so that some kid can be on some bizarre organic diet that`s going to build up his immune system. And, you know, it plays to Rand Paul`s deeper weaknesses, which are that he has a consistent world view when it`s on the intellectual level. But the second it`s applied to reality, it starts causing a lot of problems for him. You know, 90 percent to 95 percent of parents are vaccinating their kids. So, this is a vanishingly small number but it`s a dangerous number because it`s gone beyond the 0.3 percent that would be protected by herd immunity. MADDOW: Ryan Grim, Washington bureau chief for "The Huffington Post" -- Ryan, thanks. Appreciate your being here. GRIM: Thank you. MADDOW: All right. Stay with us. We`ve got much more ahead tonight. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: On New Year`s Day, Senator Harry Reid was working out at home using a resistant band of some kind, when the darn thing snapped. It sent him hurdling across the room. He broke ribs. He broke a bunch of bones in his face. He`s seriously damaged his right eye. Well, just a few days ago, Senator Reid had surgery in part to try to save the sight in that damaged right eye. It`s still apparently inconclusive as to whether his vision has been saved. But nevertheless, look, there was Harry Reid back at work today on the Senate floor. Behold the eye patch. He got a big welcome from his colleagues. Big welcome back. The senator`s office tells NBC News tonight that Senator Reid is, quote, "seeing more than he was before the surgery, but his eyesight hasn`t fully returned," and that, quote, "it is still day to day whether or not he will be able to see." Apparently, either way it is not going to keep him from working as he fights back from that terrible injury. Continued best wishes for your recovery, Senator Reid. If you need a reason to feel hopeful about things that could be possible, I have something to be hopeful about. Our next guest can tell you a little bit of hope that I feel about Washington. A little -- our next guest can tell you that miracles can even happen for Washington, because our next guest for the interview tonight is a real live Republican elected official, a conservative elected official who agreed to be a guest on this show with absolutely no trickery on my part. I swear. A miracle, a living miracle is about to happen right here on this show, next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: We have caught a unicorn. We have found in the wild and captured tonight a thing that is not supposed to exist in nature anymore. We have found something in Washington that is absolutely, 100 percent totally nonpartisan. We found it in Congress. I know. I know you don`t believe me. But this is the most nonpartisan thing imaginable and it is about to happen. Yes, in our lifetimes. You might remember a few weeks ago, we had a couple of conservative Texas Republicans on the show. A mom and dad named Richard and Susan Selke. And we had them on the show because of a powerful appeal that they made to another conservative Republican, a senator, one senator, who was blocking the passage of a bill that was named after Richard Selke`s -- Richard and Susan Selke`s son. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) RICHARD SELKE, CLAY HUNT`S STEPFATHER: Dr. Coburn, my name is Richard Selke and this is my wife, Susan. Susan and I are conservative Republicans from the state of Texas. And what I would say to you is thank you for your vigilance over our budget. But this is an exception. If I had $22 million in the bank right now, I`d write that check. I don`t have it. You don`t have it. But what you do have is you have power. All you have to do is not say no. All you have to do is allow this bill to unanimously pass the Senate today or tomorrow, hopefully, by the end of the session. Would you please do that? Would you please do that for Susan and for me, for Clay, and for every other vet who`s passed on or is still with us. These are valuable, valuable, precious children of God and precious, precious members of our society. It`s on your back. This is personal. Please, please don`t say no. Thank you. I hope we have the opportunity to meet some day soon. God bless you. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Susan and Richard Selke made that powerful appeal to Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma. They appealed to him to stop blocking the Clay Hunt Veteran Suicide Prevention bill, which he was singlehandedly preventing from passing in the last Congress. Senator Coburn did not heed their call. He blocked the bill until the very end. And then when Clay Hunt`s mom and step dad came on the show to talk about that, you might remember I basically lost it on the air and got all vercleft (ph) and couldn`t properly finish the interview because I was moved by the loss of their son to suicide after he came home from Iraq in Afghanistan. The reason that was embarrassing for me, is because parents like the Selkes don`t need some TV host emoting about their story, right? That is not what they`re asking for. They`re asking for explanatory help in making their case. They are not asking for people to get upset. What they asked for and what Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America asked for and got from every other member of the United States Congress other than Tom Coburn was a short, sharp specific bill to plug up the gaps in the system that Clay Hunt fell through when he came home from Iraq and Afghanistan. He tried to get help for what he was going through after his deployments but he could not get the help he need. A bill to fix those gaps -- that`s what his parents asked for in their son`s name. And now that Tom Coburn is retired from the Senate, that bill is what the Selkes and Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans are finally getting, and it is the rarest of all political things. It is a 100 percent nonpartisan thing. Since the bill failed the first time, the Senate has changed to Republican control. You might think that would change the politics of something like this is considered, but you know what? On the veterans committee, this is how new Republican control sounds right now in that committee. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. JOHNNY ISAKSON (R-GA), VETERANS AFFAIRS CMTE. CHAIR: This is going to be the most bipartisan committee in the United States Senate. Certainly, when you got 80,000 veterans a year committing suicide, which is more veterans that have died in all of Iraq and all of Afghanistan since we have been fighting, then you have a serious problem and this is duplicative. This is emergency legislation that needs to help our veterans. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: That`s the new chairman of the Senate Veterans Committee talking about a bill that we thought would pass tonight. Now because of the East Coast snowstorm and few other things that will pass at noon tomorrow, noon Eastern Time tomorrow. And this small bill to try to fix the suicide prevention efforts for our veterans, this thing is going to pass tomorrow at noon and it will go to the president`s desk and it will be signed in to law without a partisan whisper anywhere near it. Senator Johnny Isakson of Georgia who has helmed this in the Senate from his new post heading the Veterans Committee since the Republicans took over in the Senate, Senator Isakson is as conservative as they come. Senator Isakson has sponsored legislation to abolish the IRS. He says climate change is not manmade. He put out a blistering statement condemning President Obama`s new budget as reckless, he says, and irresponsible. But on veterans issues, what you have got is a political unicorn. An apparently mythical beast that doesn`t have partisan colors on it even now, even in this Congress, even this year, in this Washington. And so, this thing is getting done for Clay Hunt and for his family and the for 22 veterans a day who are still falling to suicide. Joining us now for the interview to prove a miracle is at hand is conservative Republican Senator Johnny Isakson of Georgia, chairman of the Senate Veterans Committee. Senator Isakson, thank you so much for being here. ISAKSON: Thank you, Rachel. It`s good to be with you. MADDOW: So, the Senate vote on this bill looks like it is finally happening. We`re hearing noon tomorrow. I have to ask if you know if anybody sort of plans to pull a Tom Coburn here, block this bill at the last minute for any reason at all. Or do you think this will pass easily? ISAKSON: I think it will be unanimous. And to Tom`s credit, we found an answer to Tom`s problem on the 22 million. We found money within the existing agency budget to pay for the Clay Hunt bill. So, Tom Coburn is happy, our veterans are happy, and I (ph) is happy. We`re just happy that we`re addressing one of the single largest byproducts of the Afghanistan and Iraqi war, the tragedy of suicide among our veterans. MADDOW: Do you think that there have been substantive -- I mean Senator Coburn put this hold on it, and as you said you addressed some concerns that he had about paying for it. What I found remarkable is Senator Coburn in putting that hold didn`t convince anybody else to vote against this thing with him. Was there any objection to it in the Senate last Congress other than his objection? ISAKSON: Well, at that time I wasn`t chairman of the committee. So, I`m not sure I was aware of every objection but Tom was the most significant objection, which is why I took care of it, because I have a high regard for him and his commitment. MADDOW: You have said that this year, since taking over as chairman at the Veterans Committee in the Senate will be the most bipartisan committee in the U.S. Senate. As chairman, as the man with leadership responsibilities in that committee, what do you need to do to make sure that happens? ISAKSON: Make sure we understand our job is to see to it the people who voluntarily sacrifice and risk their lives so we could be what we`re doing what we`re doing today get absolutely every promise they have been made by the United States government for their health care, for their education and for their well being. I`m going to be committed to that, whether they are a Democratic veteran, Republican veteran, a libertarian veteran, or Rachel Maddow veteran, whatever it maybe. MADDOW: Do you think that spirit of a mission-driven bipartisanship, a part of policy where with being partisan just doesn`t smell right, doesn`t feel right to anybody involved in it -- could that extend to other areas the Senate is working on as well, or is this a veterans-only climate? ISAKSON: No, no, I don`t think it`s veterans-only. Certainly in terms of foreign policy and certainly our battle with ISIS and terror, there are a number of areas where we need to lock arms as Americans and get over our partisan differences and do what`s best for our country and our people. MADDOW: Pretty much everybody agrees the Clay Hunt bill is a start. I have been moved by the fact that Clay Hunt`s parents have been so articulate and so tireless in advocating specifically from the position of what their son went through and what he was trying to get and couldn`t get in terms of his V.A. care. It`s also been moved by the fact that Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America was integrally involved in creating what`s in this legislation but it is just a start. Is there a next piece on this agenda? If stuff can happen if the Veterans Committee that can`t happen anywhere else because of that spirit of bipartisanship, what`s the next step after this? ISAKSON: The next step is going to be the accountability that this bill calls for. So, we get reports from the outside auditors to look at what the V.A. is doing in terms of mental health care follow through and find out where we can improve it even more. This bill is about improving and hopefully perfecting the follow-through of mental health patients as they go through the V.A. One of the biggest problems about suicide is this, it is a stigmatize affliction. A lot of people don`t want to talk about it. They don`t want to share the fact they take their own life. We need professional psychiatrists and psychologists and people in the V.A. who can identify symptoms, can identify the people who are having trouble, and can follow them and track them along the way to help bring them back to good solid mental health. MADDOW: Senator Isakson, Republican of Georgia, chairman of the Senate Veterans Committee, it is really great to have you here, sir. Appreciate you being willing to do this. If you would tell other Republicans the Senate that it`s OK to talk to me, I`ll send you a big box of chocolates. ISAKSON: I`ll tell them you are the greatest. MADDOW: All right. Senator, appreciate you being here. It is a remarkable thing actually what Senator Isakson just said there about what needs to happen next. If you go back and look at the transcripts of Bernie Sanders being on the show when he was the chairman of Veterans when the Democrats were in control, they are talking about the same things. It is happening on veterans issues even if it can`t happen somewhere else, but there is a place for real bipartisan or totally nonpartisan policy and stuff can get done. And I hope it`s an inspiration for other areas of policy, the veterans groups have made this happen. They have changed politics in Washington. So stuff can happen. It is a credit to them. We`ll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: OK. There`s lots ahead on tonight show, including the spy novel action movie part of the show. We`ve also got some slightly disturbing but technically newsworthy information that involves ear biting. That`s the thing that bothers you and you don`t want to see it you may want to watch the next segment or two like this. That`s all ahead. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Stolen information, leaked information. Always give you the juiciest scoops, right? I mean, public announcements about stuff are rarely as exciting or newsworthy as something that was never supposed to get out but somehow nevertheless revealed. It`s the truth about journalism. It`s the truth about politics. It`s the truth about the news. The problem inherent, though, in that truth is that stolen information by definition is a single source thing, right? It can`t be corroborated. It can`t be confirmed. But the combination of the fact that something is juicy information, and that we know the powers that be didn`t want this information to be known, that can make us a little gullible when it comes to secret stuff. Secret documents and leaked documents, we are inclined to believe them, even when there is no way to check whether we really ought to. In the 1990s, the United States government secretly worked up a plan to take advantage of our natural inherent tendency to believe something specifically because it is a stolen piece of information. The CIA sometime in the `90s started to cook up this idea of using fake technical information as essentially a dangle. They cook up some fake technical information that would look on the surface like it would supposedly help in the process of building a nuclear bomb. But it would actually in real life do the opposite. They decided they cook up these flawed plans that look real, but an important flaw in them and they would shock these plans to Iran, as if they were real stolen nuclear plants. They had a fatal, technical flaw. So, if the Iranians did believe in these stolen supposedly documents and they did put them in effect, they put these plans into action, they would actually thereby set back their nuclear program in a way that would be really hard to fix. That was the idea. That was the CIA plan. So, the CIA had a Russian nuclear scientist secretly on their payroll. They drew up these fake plans that had the big secret flaw in them. They thought the Iranians wouldn`t spot the flaw, and in the year 2000, they sent this Russian intermediary to shop these supposedly stolen plans to Iran, and that`s where it all went horribly wrong, because the Russian scientist guy did give the Iranians these plans for their nuclear weapons but the Russian scientist guy also told the Iranians where the flaw was. Told the Iranians where the wrong part was. And so, this supposedly genius plan to set back Iran`s effort to build a nuclear bomb, it might have actually helped Iran progress further on the nuclear front, because once they knew to avoid that flaw that had been deliberately placed in the plans, that the Russian guy tipped them off to, well, once they worked around that flaw, the plans were actually helpful for building centrifuges, which is they needed for their nuclear program. It was a terrible intelligence phase plan. This too-clever-by-half plan cooked up over the course of years turned out to backfire, turned out to help the people that the U.S. was trying to hurt. So, OK, try again. That happened in 2000. In 2010, this time it wasn`t fatally flawed plans that they were going to try to shop to the Iranians, this time it was a piece of software. In 2010, the U.S. managed to get a computer worm into Iran`s nuclear program. It was basically a piece of software that Iran didn`t know had been introduced into their computer system. But what it did when that worm went to work is caused Iran`s nuclear centrifuges to spin out of control and break. The Iranians did not know why their centrifuges were spinning out of control and breaking. They didn`t know they were infected by this software worm thing. They just knew that something was very, very wrong. Something was so wrong that it was physically busting up their most sensitive nuclear technology. So, of the two plots, one of them worked, the virus one. One of them did not work, the almost good but secretly flawed centrifuge plans. All right. One worked. One didn`t. They are both amazing in terms of the spy novel drama of them, the gee whiz tech side of how these plans were designed. But ultimately, when each of those stories came to life, the biggest burst of drama around each of those CIA plots against Iran was, how come we know about this? How did these actions get Iran become public knowledge? In the Stuxnet case, that story about the computer worm that busted up the Iranian centrifuges, Iran eventually knew a computer virus was behind the damage, but it`s not clear whether the U.S. was still reaping rewards from Iran not knowing who was behind it. When it was revealed in this 2012 article in the "New York Times," was the U.S. still benefitting from it? "The Times" took tons of heat in Congress for publishing the story. On the Senate floor, John McCain said, "Our friends are not the only ones who with read the `New York Times.` Our enemies do, too." Senator John Kerry questioned whether the story served America`s interest and whether the public did have a right to know. A bipartisan group of House and Senate Intelligence Committee members called for a leak investigation. The other story, the one about the flawed supposedly stolen plans being shopped to Iran by the faceless Russian scientist, that story apparently had been spiked by "The New York Times" as early as 2003, before "New York Times" reporter James Risen decided to put his reporting on that plot in to his book "State of War." Last week, you may have seen headlines about a former CIA officer convicted of leaking classified information to a reporter. That was this case. Jeffrey Sterling, ex-CIA, convicted of leaking the flawed centrifuge plan story to James Risen, which he then published them in his book. Sterling could be facing decades in prison for that leak. So, these stories about our spy craft are as fascinating as spy novels are, right? They are incredibly controversial in terms of when and how we come about them and whether or not it hurts national security for these things to be made publicly known. But now, we got another one. This one happened in 2008. "Washington Post" publishing this scoop this weekend about how the CIA and Israel`s Mossad worked together to assassinate the leader of the Iranian-backed terrorist group Hezbollah. The story "The Post" got from several former intelligence officials is that the CIA and Mossad worked together to monitor this guy in Syria, in Damascus for months. The night of the planned assassination, they used facial recognition technology to confirm it was him. Then, as CIA agents monitored him on the ground, Mossad agents in Tel Aviv remotely detonated a bomb that had been hidden in the spare tire of an SUV. In order to make sure the bomb was big enough to kill him but small enough to avoid hurting anybody else. The CIA tried it in a facility in North Carolina, blowing up 25 test bombs in the process. And once again, these dramatic larger than life, I can`t believe this stuff really happens details about this plot fascinating, but also again, real, interesting questions about why we are learning this now. Who has told the "Washington Post" this happened? Is this somebody bragging, essentially telling a war story because they want the intelligence agencies involved to get credit for having done something that we wouldn`t otherwise know about? Is this being leaked for some strategic reason, especially as we are in the middle of this incredibly sensitive discussions with Iran? Is this a sign to help those talks with Iran or hurt those talks with Iran? "Washington Post" deserves credit for this incredible and incredibly dramatic spy novel style scoop. But the fact it is their scoop and it`s about super duper secret operation makes it impossible at this point for us to interrogate the basics of the story, and it also raises really interesting questions for us politically as a country about why this incredibly dramatic story is being made known now, and by whom, and why. What is the effect of telling us this thing we never knew before? Who does it serve? Who does it serve for this to be public? (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Happy, happy Groundhog Day. Naturally, this year, there is controversy. Punxsutawney Phil is our nation`s groundhog of record, 7:25 this morning in Pennsylvania, Phil came out, saw his shadow, thereby implicitly announced there will be six more weeks of winter. But also today, at around the same time, we`ve got the opposite news from Staten Island Chuck. He did not see his shadow. Nor did anyone drop him and kill him this year. But by not seeing his shadow, that means spring is on the way with. So, Chuck is not as famous as Phil, but today, the Staten Island groundhog delivered better news than Phil did. So which is it? Here`s the tie breaker. Watch carefully. This is Sun Prairie, Wisconsin`s Jimmy with the deciding (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MAYOR JONATHAN FREUND, SUN PRAIRIE, WISCONSIN: He suggest -- he says that -- CROWD: Ooh! (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Jimmy, Sun Prairie, Wisconsin groundhog bites the mayor really hard on ear, which I`ve checked the role book, means that winter is now, on principle. Also, tetanus shots all around. Now, it`s time for "THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL". Good evening, Lawrence. THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END