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The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 02/27/15

Guests: Tony Messenger

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Ari. Thank you, my friend. Have a great evening. Thanks to you at home for joining us this hour. There is a lot going on right now. There`s a lot going on in the world. I know it`s late on a Friday night, but lots of things are happening right now that I swear will be different in the world by the time we get off the air with this show. There is a ton going on. It`s a very busy night. We`ve got a busy show planned. But the first live and as yet unresolved story we`ve got to cover tonight is what`s happening in Washington tonight, where Congress really does appears to have gone off the rails. We knew tonight is when funding would run out for the Homeland Security Department unless they figured out a way to keep homeland security funded. For much of the day, the House Republicans appeared to believe that they knew how to do that. They apparently were mistaken in that belief and they did not know how to do it. And so, it hasn`t happened. And now, unless something happens very, very soon, in less than three hours, at 12:01 a.m. Eastern Time, the Department of Homeland Security will be shutting down in the United States of America. This is the front page at Politico.com right now, huge headline, "Boehner fails again." This is the front page at "The Hill" tonight, "Chaos in the House, shut down nears." At "Talking Points Memo", I don`t think they have ever turned their top headline to red. But look, this is their front page right now, "Stunner, House GOP votes down own bill to avert shutdown." Apparently, they thought they had a plan. The Republicans thought they had a plan, they thought they had this under control. On the Senate side, they actually did get this done today. In the Senate side, they passed a bill to keep Homeland Security open and funded all the way through September. They did it in the Senate. In the House, they decided they didn`t want to fund it through September. They decided they would only try to fund Homeland Security for the next three weeks. So, yes, we could still be in this situation. We`d be back to shut down again three weeks from now, at least something change. But at least there wouldn`t be a shut down tonight. House Republicans decided they wanted to just fund Homeland Security for three weeks. That was their plan. That was their bill. So, the House Republicans called a recess to give themselves time to round up the votes, for their three-week plan. They delayed the vote this afternoon to make sure they have the votes. They voiced optimism to reporters that they were going to be able to pass their big idea, their bill, their three-week extension. You might remember, John Boehner, just hired, right, just got to work with them as the new whip in the Republican House, right? This new vote counter, Steve Scalise of Louisiana. And the great appeal of Steve Scalise fore the Republicans is that he was supposed to be able to count votes and round up votes specifically from the conservatives, who so often go rough on John Boehner. Steve Scalise is supposed to be able to handle situations like this. So, they recessed, they delayed, they counted votes, they had Steve Scalise whipped the votes, they did the math, they did the counting, and then, finally, they were ready. Voila! They put their own bill up there for a vote -- and it failed. Fifty-two Republicans gave a one finger salute to their own Republican leadership who they were about to pass this thing. But 52 defections on their own side, the Republicans` own bill did not pass. They cannot pass their own thing even after they spent all day today putting it together. Politico.com tonight calling it a stunning blow to House Republican leaders. Quote, "The latest and perhaps most stinging repudiation of Speaker John Boehner and his leadership team." In "The Washington Post" tonight, quote, "The outcome is a major defeat for House Speaker John Boehner who has struggled to govern even as Republicans hold unified control of Congress." In "The New York Times" tonight, quote, "a stunning and humiliating set back for Speaker John Boehner and his leadership team." Quote, "Republicans vowing to govern effectively as a congressional majority failed a fundamental test." And politically, that`s amazing, right? Substantively though, that means the Department of Homeland Security is going to be shutting down in less than three hours, right? We are told that the president, President Obama, is convening meetings in the Oval Office tonight. He is personally working the phones to try to get Congress to snap out of it somehow and not do this. But as of now, it is unclear as to whether or not they`re going to be able to do it. Just within the last hour, the Senate -- sort of without warning -- the Senate went back to work, even though they already did their part today, right? They`ve already funded Homeland Security. The Senate went back, sort of without warning tonight, just in the last hour, and passed a one week extension for funding for the Homeland Security Department. One week. They just did that in the Senate. And then they went home, they adjourned and went home and said, House, you get it together. And so, now, tonight, urgently, after the House Republicans own idea, their three-week extension failed because they couldn`t get their own votes for it. Now tonight, what`s on the table is a one-week extension that`s passed the Senate and has gone to the House. The Senate has gone home. Now, will John Boehner and the House get it together? Open question. Joining us now live from the Capitol is NBC News Capitol Hill producer Frank Thorp. Frank, thanks for being with us. FRANK THORP, NBC NEWS CAPITOL HILL PRODUCER: Thanks for having me. MADDOW: What is the latest? I feel like every time I read something, it`s out of date. What`s going on right now? THORP: Well, so, as you said, the Senate passed that one-week stopgap measure. That goes the House. It`s a kind of either pass it or funding expires. So, the House is going to pass it, or they`re going to consider it later today, or they`re going to consider it under a procedure where they can fast track it to the -- fast track it to a final vote, which is going to require two-thirds majority. But House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi just sent a letter to Democratic colleagues encouraging them to vote yes on this measure. They had -- she had encouraged all of her Democrats to vote no against the three-week stopgap measure because she didn`t think that that strategy was working and she got this -- so, now, she is now encouraging Democrats to pass this one week measure. But what I`m told is that, you know, Reid and McConnell spoke with Boehner and Pelosi, and that the plan now is that Boehner has agreed to go ahead with the vote on the clean bill next week. So, next week, what we have is the Senate will end up taking up this motion that the House has already passed that`s encouraging this House or Senate to conference between the two bills. That motion will go down because Democrats said they don`t want to negotiate between the House and Senate bills, and then Boehner will have to bring up the clean full year DHS funding bill sometime next week. MADDOW: So, OK, the Democrats in the House under Nancy Pelosi did not help John Boehner today, and John Boehner could not get his enough votes on the Republican side to pass his own bill, which was a three-week extension. That seems to be why that fell apart. Nancy Pelosi, however, is willing to let Democrats help John Boehner pass this one week extension sometime in the next, you know, few minutes, sometime over the next couple of hours. She will say that Democrats will help pass the one-week bill. That`s because next week, this is all over. The shut down threat is gone, they`re going to pass a clear bill, and this whole shenanigan is going to be done. That`s basically the deal? THORP: Basically, yes. So, Pelosi sent a letter to her Democratic colleagues saying, we need you to vote for this because this is part of the plan. They wanted to back Republicans into a corner. This whole situation completely sideswipe Republican leadership. They were truly expecting this three week CR to pass, and when it went down, you know, they had to recalculate. And this is what Pelosi had been trying to do the whole time. She wanted to prove that Democrats were going to be needed to pass anything. Just has been the case on the Senate side. I mean, this has really kind of worked into Democrats hands, and this CR vote that ended up going down earlier, this three-week CR vote, is going to be almost another shiny example of an issue with House Republican leadership in the House conference not being able to pass a bill it needs to pass. MADDOW: And not being able to pass their own bill. We had, as soon as this session started, we had the House leadership put forward their own bill on restricting abortion rights and then they yanked it, because of problems on their own side. They put forward a border security bill, their own bill, yanked it, because of problems on their own side. Now, they`ve just on it again with this three-week bill, it`s own their bill, they couldn`t pass it because of problems on their own side. It feels like Nancy Pelosi has more power than she has had at anytime since she was actually speaker, and it doesn`t much feel like John Boehner is the speaker. I mean, is anybody on the Republican side, or enough people on the Republican side, listening to John Boehner, that he effectively has control of what happens in the House. THORP: Well, and they also had an education bill this week that they were planning on voting on today, that they ended up having to poll as well. They argued that that was because of the consideration of the CR, but it was actually because they didn`t have enough votes to pass it themselves. This is -- I mean, it is a growing issue, and I think there is an argument to be made that if there is any indication or any expectation that tax reform or any of these bigger reforms were going to be passed during this Congress, it`s kind of going away this is. I mean, this is -- but the other reality here is that, you know, if you look at Boehner`s leadership here, it`s not necessarily a reflection of leadership, it`s so much just a reflection of the conference, because if you look at -- I mean, who could possibly take his place that would right this ship, that would change this so that this strategy would have worked -- that this Republican strategy would have worked. And it`s really kind of hard to find one specific person that could actually have gone down this road and actually been successful. So, I think it`s a reflection more of the conference, the Republican conference as a whole and less on actually the leadership structure. MADDOW: Frank Thorp, NBC News Capitol Hill producer, working late with a long night yet ahead of you -- Frank, thanks for being with us. We maybe checking in with you later on tonight. Thank you. THORP: Thanks. MADDOW: I want to bring in now, Chuck Todd, political director for NBC News, moderator of "Meet the Press". Chuck, it`s a very exciting night in American politics. CHUCK TODD, NBC NEWS POLITICAL DIRECTOR (via telephone): I guess, but I feel like we have seen this story over and over again. I mean, it`s the same story, and, you know, Boehner can`t pass anything, and McConnell has to come up and jam them again, to give them an out. And they`ve got the out. What is amazing here is look, and I agree with Frank on this, is that Speaker Boehner actually did that everything that was politically rational. The problem is they`re irrational -- MADDOW: Chuck, I`m going to interrupt you just for a second. I`m sorry, Nancy Pelosi just came to the microphone. If you could just hold on one second. REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), MINORITY LEADER: -- on the vote earlier today, or unity, the notes says, was a strong statement that the Department of Homeland Security must be fully funded. We are asking our member, it says, to help again advance passage of the Senate bill, long term funding of the Department of Homeland Security by voting for a seven-day patch that will be on suspension in the House tonight. That is coming over from the Senate. It`s already passed the Senate. It`s coming from the Senate. I say to them, further, your vote tonight will assure that we will vote for full funding of the Homeland Security next week, thank you for your leadership. I`m very proud of our members, the unity that we had, to show their commitment to full funding. We certainly want to protect the American people every minute of every day, 24/7, that includes today. And we believe that within the next seven days, hopefully five, we will have a bill that takes us to the end of the year, end of the fiscal year. (CROSSTALK) PELOSI: No questions. We`re not taking questions. MADDOW: Chuck, I`m sorry to interrupt you. Nancy Pelosi explaining that Democrats in the House will vote for what she called the seven-day patch because that will mean that there will be full funding next week. TODD: Right. I mean, that is the case where -- you know, Boehner can now go to these conservatives and say, OK, now they`re saying you`re stuck with full funding and, oh, by the way, you may be stuck with full funding before you find out whether the -- whether there`s going to be a state in the Fifth Circuit, having to do with the president -- whether the president can go on and begin implementing his executive action on immigration. The whole point -- what Boehner was doing was politically rational. Getting three weeks, buying time, so he could find out what the result of the lawsuit is and then see what, you know, how hard it would be to corral his conservatives that did not want to fund homeland security. This is what he is dealing with. He had -- this was a very, like I said, a rational political move he made, and yet, he still could not corral these 50 plus members. There is, I mean, as Frank, I think, goodbye tax reform, goodbye all of this stuff, none of this is getting done. MADDOW: Chuck, I`m just looking at John Boehner standing there with Steve Scalise. And, obviously, when Steve Scalise moved up in their leadership after the departure of Eric Cantor, there was a controversy about his past in Louisiana and having spoken to a white supremacist group, a long time in the past. And that become sort of the noise around Steve Scalise, and I think that`s what people mostly in the national level think of when they see him. But strategically, didn`t they hope in Republican politics, in the Republican leadership that Steve Scalise might be close enough to the sort of rabble-rousing, rebel conservatives in the House Republican conference that he`d be able to at least count them if he couldn`t corral them. Wasn`t that was he was supposed to be able to do? TODD: Exactly, he was the red state Republican. Remember before, when you had McCarthy, Boehner, and Cantor, they all actually came from blue states. A lot of concern that, hey, there`s no real southerner in the leadership, there`s no real red state conservative. So, that was supposed to be his role. But it is -- you know, look, I think on the issue of immigration, it is one of these issues that is just not -- you can`t have compromise on it. There is no such thing. When everything you do they just say, the a-word, amnesty. So I think that`s the problem that the House Republicans have, is they have this -- there is just no compromising on the issue itself, so therefore, they can`t even do something as simple like a three-week extension. MADDOW: Yes, and they can`t even execute on their own best strategies, let alone -- TODD: Which would have been politically smart for them. That`s what`s amazing her. I mean, they had actually had the law -- the lawsuit was an asset to them and they could not figure out how to use the lawsuit. They could have written a full funding measure that says it would have automatically suspended things if there was no stay. I mean, it could have gotten a lot more creative. They had something out there and they didn`t know how to use it. To me, that is a failure of leadership. Letting Boehner, McCarthy, they could have come up with a way to use the result of the halting of the executive order to their political benefit to get DHS funded. And they couldn`t even do that. So, there was a lack of creative thinking now on this. MADDOW: Chuck Todd, NBC News political director, moderator of "Meet of Press", Sunday mornings is going to be more fun than usual, Chuck. TODD: I was just going to say. I love Friday, that`s the best part of (INAUDIBLE) MADDOW: Thanks, Chuck. Good luck, man. All right. We are keeping an eye on Capitol Hill all night. I will say, to the point where we just had Chuck Todd here from "Meet the Press", thinking ahead to this Sunday, one thing that has been sort of -- people have been mulling tonight as the House Republicans have just absolutely collapsed, can`t pass their own thing, having Nancy Pelosi decide what does pass because they can`t figure out themselves -- they were so confident that they had this together they have booked the entire house Republican leadership team on all of the Sunday shows this weekend, because they were ready to brag about what they did and how they were confronting Barack Obama and how they were winning in the Congress. They booked their whole leadership team on all of the Sunday shows. It`s going to be a very different conversation than they expected when they made this bookings. All right. We got a lot ahead. Stay with us tonight. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: OK, we have just gotten some new advice about what to expect for tonight. Again, the headline tonight, is that at 12:01 a.m. Eastern, the entire Department of Homeland Security shuts down because it loses funding unless the House can act to keep it open between now and then. So, they`ve got between like two-and-a-half hours, they got to get it done. What we`re told now is that the House is going to reconvene at 9:30 Eastern. They`re going to reconvene in about 11 minutes. They`re going to come back into session and what they`re going to try to pass is a one-week extension. They`re calling it a seven-day patch to basically give themselves time to come back next week and -- according to the Democrats -- pass a clean bill to keep Homeland Security funded until September, as of next week. They`re going to come back into session at 9:30. They want that vote by 9:40. So, this is all going to happen, they say, within the next 20 to 30 minutes. This should be very exciting. Please stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Yesterday, in between a slew of official meetings at the White House, President Obama sat down with some local news fro local media markets in four different states. President Obama is not the first president to do this, but he has done it a lot. And, frankly, in terms of media strategy for president, it is a pretty smart thing to do, right? It`s a huge deal for those local media markets to get a presidential interview. It also gets the president sort of outside of the beltway ruts in the road, wherever every story gets channeled into the same away beltway narratives. In talking with local reporters directly to local media markets, the president not only reaches people in a different way, he also gets asked stuff that doesn`t necessarily matter to the Beltway press, but it does matter out in the world. So, it`s an interesting two-way street. And, you know, sometimes, what the president gets asked in these local interviews is something very local. Some special, local or regional concern that just isn`t going to resonate in other parts of the country, and that`s why it hasn`t surfaced in the national media. But every once in awhile, there is something more than that going on, and that`s what happened yesterday. President Obama did this four different local TV interviews yesterday. He did interviews with reporters from four different parts of the country. And weirdly, three of the four interviewers, three of the four reporters he talked to asked him the exact same really specific thing that never gets talked about in the beltway. Watch this. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REPORTER: You know how beautiful the Northwest is. You`ve been there. We love our scenery. The Columbia River Gorge is one of our gems. But we have seen our trains coming to our region, increase like 250 percent. After what we saw happened in West Virginia, a lot of people are worried that could happen in our region. How concerned are you about the danger that oil trains pose? And is there any way to speed up the process to strengthen those safeguards to protect our communities and our environment? REPORTER: You recently vetoed the Keystone pipeline, safety, environmental concerns. A lot of people in the state of Washington are really nervous and concerned about the oil trains. That this will mean more oil trains, that we can`t guarantee the safety. We had a near disaster in Seattle with the derailed train. Can you give some reassurance to the people who watch those trains rolling through their communities every single day? REPORTER: Rail safety is a huge issue in our area. We had an oil train derail and explode just to the west of Fargo and in other parts of the country as well. Is that high on your agenda? (END VIDEO CLIPS) MADDOW: Oil trains. The president did four interviews with local reporters, and three of the four asked about oil trains. I mean, these local reporters, they only got five minutes each with the president. They only had time for a couple of questions to ask the president. This is president is not a fast talker. Five minutes is not a long time. But even with those constraints, three of the four raised concerns about bomb trains that had been going off around the country. Interesting, right? Attention Beltway press, this is a thing people are concerned about. And President Obama did make some news about this in his answers to these repeated questions from these different reporters. He said, strengthening regulations around oil trains is a top priority for his administration. He said this is something that needs to be improved. He said the Transportation Department, quote, "feels great urgency about this." And the president making those sorts of comments about this issue, that is one way that oil disasters can become national politics. The way that oil disasters usually become national politics is usually more like this: New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is in California today. He was at the big CPAC conference in D.C. yesterday. Chris Christie is very obviously campaigning for president. But while Governor Christie is away on the not campaign trail, back home, "The New York Times" today broke a story about his administration and ExxonMobil, which is both a shocking story and a really strange story. It`s a story that races one really big as yet unanswered question. This is the Bayway Oil Refinery in Northern New Jersey. Pretty, right? For a long time, this refinery was owned and operated by the giant oil company ExxonMobil. Eleven years ago, when Jim McGreevy was governor of New Jersey, the state filed a lawsuit against Exxon over this site because of contamination that has occurred over decades on this, the 1,300 acres in the refinery and another 300 acres nearby. For all of that pollution and contamination, at that site, New Jersey sued Exxon, seeking $8.9 billion in damages. New Jersey filed the suit in 2004. It has been in the courts ever since. Four different governors have worked on it. And while that 11-year timeline might seem slow for lawsuits, it`s also pretty clear what has been happening over the course of this litigation. The courts have described the scale of the contamination in very stark terms. Look at this -- it was estimated in 1977 that at least some 7 million gallons of oil, ranging in thickness from 7 feet to 17 feet is contained in the soil and ground water underlying a portion of the refinery -- 17 feet of oil packed into the soil there. Wow. The court notes that, quote, "The documented level of contamination in the waters and sediment of the one of the canals nearby is so high that Exxon has recommended just permanently closing the canal and filling it in with an impermeable barrier. That is how bad the contamination is. And the courts have decided already that ExxonMobil did it, that Exxon is liable for having caused all these disgusting damage in New Jersey. When this case went to trial this past year before this judge in New Jersey, in Mount Holly, New Jersey, the only issue that was still to be settled was not whether or not Exxon did it, whether they were liable, there was not even a question about what Exxon did. When it went to trial last year, the only remaining question was, how much Exxon was going to have to pay for it, the dollar amount, that is what remained to be decided, that`s what this judge was due to decade. And, again, the state of New Jersey for the last 11 years has been seeking $8.9 billion in damages from Exxon. They wanted $2.5 billion to essentially repair damage of those sites, clean them up, and then they wanted another $6 billion to compensate the state for what Exxon had done to this huge swath of land. So, that trial to determine what Exxon owed, that trial lasted from January to September of last year. The last filings happened in November. And after the last filings came in, that judge had been expected to rule at any time. But, "The New York Times" reports in a bit of a bombshell that the Chris Christie administration just settled the case. Remember, the state officially had been seeking $8.9 billion, $8.9 billion. How much did they settle for? Not bad. Not even $1 billion. They settled for $250 million. How did New Jersey go from wanting $9 billion to being happy taking a quarter of $1 billion? The judge has been due to rule in this case in any day, but the attorney general`s office from the Chris Christie administration reportedly email and judge and said, wait, don`t issue your ruling, we`re in talks with Exxon, and then they e-mailed again two weeks later and emailed the judge again and said, no, no, please don`t rule, we`re still in talks with Exxon. And then, according to "The Times", last Friday, they wrote to the judge and said you don`t have to rule, we`re done. We worked out amongst ourselves. And the reported settlement that they worked out is roughly 3 percent of what the state had originally been demanding from Exxon. What`s that about? Why did this get settled right before that judge was about to rule? What was the judge going to decide? How much would the judge tell Exxon to pay? Did Exxon just get the deal of the century from the state of New Jersey? Is that an unusually small amount to settle for, for the people of New Jersey, given what the state had been asking for, for more than a decade? We`re trying to do some additional reporting to figure this out. This would seem to be an answerable question, right? As to whether or not the people of New Jersey got completely screwed or if they somehow got a square deal that we just can`t tell from here. I mean, the answer to that question has real life implications for people of New Jersey and also potential has big political implications for Chris Christie, if this turns out to be a scandal rather than just a story. We did reach out to the governor`s office today, and to the New Jersey state attorney general`s office and to ExxonMobil. So far, nobody is willing to answer any of our questions about this. This is an answerable question, and if the people of New Jersey just got screwed so Exxon could away without paying anything, this is not just a story, this is a scandal, with really big implications and we`re working on trying to figure it out. Watch this space. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: What? What are you looking at? I stand sometimes. It happens. What`s wrong? (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: The current governor of Missouri is a Democrat named Jay Nixon. Governor Nixon is in his second term, his final term. He can`t run again. With Jay Nixon leaving, Republicans see a real chance for a possible pick up of that governorship in Missouri. And so, the Republicans had been very excited of having a wide open and rambunctious primary for that seat already. Three declared candidates so far, maybe more on the way. One of the leading Republican candidates who jumped into that race for Missouri governor was the Missouri state auditor. His name is Tom Schweich. He just won reelection as auditor in November. He won with 73 percent of the vote to get a second term as Missouri state auditor. Right after he got reelected, this last month, Tom Schweich announced that he would be running for governor in 2016. Now, the primary is not until August of next year, but Republicans in Missouri are excited about this. It has already become a tough race. Last week, a group called Citizens for Fairness put out this rather brutal radio ad against Tom Schweich. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "CITIZENS FOR FAIRNESS" POLITICAL AD) ANNOUNCER: Elections have consequences. Tom Schweich, like him? No. Is he a weak candidate for governor? Absolutely, just look at him. He could be easily confused for the deputy sheriff of Mayberry. But, more importantly, he can be manipulated. Schweich is an obviously weaker opponent against Democrat Chris Koster. Once Schweich obtains the Republican nomination, we will quickly squash him like the little bug that he is, and put our candidate Chris Koster in the governor`s mansion. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: So, "House of Cards"-theme rather vicious ad, in what is already a rather vicious Republican primary for Missouri governor in 2016. Well, last weekend, the state Republican Party in Missouri held their annual confab. They called it Reagan Lincoln Days, Republican convention in the state. Tom Schweich came in second when they did a poll of party leaders for the governor`s race. At the Reagan Lincoln Days thing, they also tried to poll not just the leadership, but all of the attendees, the hundreds of party members who attended the event. They wanted to do sort of a straw poll for the governor`s race. Weirdly, for the straw poll, somebody stole the ballot box. Party leaders say the ballot box for the straw poll went missing overnight. When they found it the next day, it had been stuffed for one of the candidates, for a straw poll. Yes, so rough and tumble, strain times in Missouri Republican politics right now. That was already the case. And then yesterday, strange turned very, very tragic. Yesterday morning, 9:41 local time, the editorial page editor for "The St. Louis Dispatch" saw his phone light up. He`d been getting calls and text messages from Tom Schweich for days. Mr. Schweich was calling once again yesterday morning. The editor, it turns out, was busy at a speaking engagement. So, he let the call go to voice mail. This was the voicemail. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, TOM SCHWEICH VOICEMAIL) TOM SCHWEICH (R), MISSOURI STATE AUDITOR: Tony, it`s Tom Schweich calling. If you could have a reporter here at my house at 2:30, I`m willing to speak to both the Post-Dispatch and to the AP only about this matter. I will give a brief prepared statement, which we would videotape, and then I can answer questions from your reporter. This is only for your two and I hope you`ll not make it known that I`m doing this. But give me a call and let know if you can have somebody here at 2:30. To me, this is more of a religion story than a politics story, but it`s y8our choice on who the reporter is. Thanks, bye. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: So, Tom Schweich leaves that message on the phone of a local reporter who he knows and he trusts, saying, send a reporter to my house, I`ll see you 2:30 this afternoon, keep this to yourself right now, but I`m ready to talk, 2:30 this afternoon, be at my house. He left that message, at 9:41 a.m. And then, at 9:48, a 911 call was placed from Tom Schweich house, because right after leaving that voice mail message, apparently seven minutes after leaving that voicemail message, Tom Schweich took his own life. He died of a single gunshot wound to the head, to what police are describing as an apparent suicide. Why do you tell people you want to set up a meeting and then minutes later kill yourself? Why do you set something for the afternoon and then minutes later kill yourself? Why did he kill himself? What did he mean to say? The two reporters he reached out to that morning say that Tom Schweich had been talking to them about a rather intense allegation, specifically against the Missouri Republican Party chairman. They say that what Mr. Schweich was alleging was that the Missouri Republican Party chairman was basically engaged in a whisper campaign designed, allegedly, to undercut Mr. Schweich`s run for governor, by letting it be known that he had Jewish ancestry. Now, the idea of that kind of a whisper campaign is a serious and troubling charge, especially given what happened. The charge was answered this morning by the Missouri Republican Party chairman. He wrote an e-mail to members of the Republican state committee. He said, quote, "I would like to set the record straight once and for all. Until recently, I mistakenly believed that Tom Schweich was Jewish. While I do not recall doing so, it is possible that I mentioned Tom`s faith in passing during one of the many conversations I have each day. There was absolutely nothing malicious about my intent, and I certainly was not attempting to `inject religion` into the governor`s race, as some have suggested." Tom Schweich was not Jewish. He was an Episcopalian. He did have some Jewish ancestry in terms of one grandfather being Jewish. But what he alleges is that there was a whisper campaign against him in the state to hurt his chances of being the nomine of the Republican Party of Missouri governor or getting elected governor in that state with what he describes as a derogatory whisper campaign that he was a Jew. Meanwhile, what happened in this case with this apparent suicide has been so shocking and so unexpected and so mysterious, that the "St. Louis Post- Dispatch" editor who got that voicemail not only made the decision that he would release that recording publicly, that`s why we could play it for you tonight, but he also published a summary last night of what had been off the record conversations he had with Tom Schweich over the course of this next week. The editor writes, quote, "I have no idea why Tom Schweich killed himself," but he says, Mr. Schweich, quote, "made it clear that he wanted those allegations about the whisper campaign against him, he wanted those allegations made public." Joining us now is Tony Messenger. He is the editorial page editor of "The Post-Dispatch". He received that voicemail from Missouri auditor Tom Schweich, before Mr. Schweich apparently killed himself. Mr. Messenger, thank you very much for your time. I know this has been a very difficult 24 hours for you. TONY MESSENGER, ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, EDITORIAL PAGE EDITOR: Thanks, Rachel. Good to be here. MADDOW: Did I in summing up what`s happened, I know I didn`t touch every piece of it, but the parts that I did describe that I get them, did I get it right? Was I accurate at all? MESSENGER: No, you were very accurate. MADDOW: OK. MESSENGER: You described the events as I know them and how they have taken place since Thursday morning. MADDOW: You described Mr. Schweich as being, and other people as well, as being an intense person, a highly strong person. A person who had a personality that seemed, I`m paraphrasing -- was a guy who seemed amped and intense a lot of the time. If that was his baseline, hid he seem materially different over the course of this week? Did you see signs that he was really agitated? MESSENGE: He was definitely agitated. He was deeply offended by what he thought was the intent behind what the political consultant was doing, the chairman of the Republican Party, but not in a way that was out of character for Tom. I mean, he was a guy who opposed corruption, and I think that was one of the reasons why we bonded. Our -- his job as auditor and my job as editorial page editor found themselves frequently on the same page in terms of the types of things that we saw in Missouri government that we wanted to fix. So, he was angry and he was agitated, but not so much that it was out of character. I have listened today that voice mail probably 20 or 30 times now. And the first time I listened to it and most of the politicians in Missouri that I know have listened to it tell me it sounds like Tom Schweich. MADDOW: You described how he told you -- about how he talked to you about his concerns. He was concerned that the chairman of the Republican Party was telling people he was Jewish and that this was intended to hurt him politically, to prevent him from mounting an effective campaign for governor. With respect, was that -- in your view, was that a paranoid or I guess irrational fear? Or is there something to it? Is that a well-founded suspicion of his in terms of what the effect of that kind of information might be? MESSENGER: I believe that it wasn`t irrational, that there was a history of that sort of thing in Missouri politics. That if you look at the history of the Republican Party recently in Missouri, that it is not a party that is -- that has a very big tent. And Mr. Schweich operated in that party at the highest levels over the last six years. And he knew what he was talking about. He was quite confident that what was happening was intended to damage him in a Republican primary where a very specific tight of voter tends to be the most active voter as compared to a general election. MADDOW: Tony Messenger, the editorial page editor of "The Post-Dispatch", I mean, you have -- you took on a lot of public responsibility to right by this story and right by Mr. Schweich and bringing out this information that would have off the record. I`m sure that wasn`t an easy decision and this is an intense for you. Thanks for being with us to explain. I appreciate it. MESSENGER: No problem, thanks, Rachel. MADDOW: Thanks. I should tell you, right now, live, the House of Representatives is voting. They`re voting on a Homeland Security funding bill. What is going on right now is that this is just a seven-day patch to keep the Homeland Security Department from shutting down at midnight. The idea is if they get this seven-day patch, they will then pass a real extension that lasts until September for the Homeland Security Department next week. In terms of the numbers here, this is passing under a rule that means you can`t just pass it with a majority. Usually, the 252 votes there on the right, 157 yeses, 24 nos, 252 no votes, usually, you only need to get up to 217 votes, a majority to get this thing passed. They`re going to need to get a two thirds vote. They`re going to need to get up to 280 votes tonight in order to keep Homeland Security from shutting down. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CHARACTER: Hello, I`m Leonard Nimoy. The following tale of alien encounters is true, and by true, I mean false. LEONARD NIMOY: Science Officer Spock. Reporting as ordered, Captain. Our minds are merging. Our minds are one. Logical. Flawlessly logical. I have been, and always shall be your friend. One of the greatest things that happened to me and it happened to me more often than I probably deserve is people come and say these wonderful things like you have given us a lot of pleasure. Thank you, you know? That kind of thing and I am very touched by it. I feel a great honor to be given that opportunity to touch people`s lives in sort of positive way that they want to pour back. CHARACTER: My work is done here. CHARACTER: What do you mean your work is done, you didn`t do anything. CHARACTER: Didn`t I? (END VIDEO CLIP) (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: OK. It`s a very exciting Friday night in American politics. We have some breaking news to report on what has been our top story all this hour, and all tonight, which is that the house is now voting right this very second on a bill to fund the Department of Homeland Security for one week, for seven days. House Republicans failed earlier tonight to pass a longer extension, an extension of three weeks and they`re now take thing vote for just a one- week extension to avert a shutdown of the Department of Homeland Security at midnight tonight. This vote has been underway for about ten minutes now. They need more than a majority. They need a 2/3 majority to pass this, not just 50 percent plus one. This is the Republican controlled House, so anything could happen. They`re getting close to the threshold now. Joining us now live from the Capitol Hill is NBC News Capitol Hill producer Frank Thorp. Frank, so it looks like this thing is about to pass and it looks like lots of Democrats and Republicans are voting for it. THORP: Yes, I think both sides are ready to get this over with. They don`t want to go into the weekend with a shutdown, especially since the Senate has decided to leave. So, it looks like this is going to pass and we`ll go back to this next week. And just because nothing is ever easy in Congress, while Democratic leadership is saying they`ve been given assurances they`re going to get a vote on the clean full-year DHS funding bill next week, Boehner`s office is saying that Boehner has given no such assurances. MADDOW: Oh, wow. THORP: I mean, it`s a little bit of a back and forth. There`s probably a little bit -- you know, Boehner can`t say he`s going to cave, but at the same time, I mean, it`s a likely scenario we`ll see a vote on the clean bill next week. MADDOW: So, let me ask you about that, though, Frank. I mean, when Nancy Pelosi came out and distributed this letter, she seemed to be indicating to her members, without saying explicitly, that if they voted for this one- week patch, it was because they were assured that they were going to get this whole nonsense put aside next week, that they were going to get a funding bill that would take Homeland Security all the way to September. What you`re hearing from the speaker`s office tonight, does that mean that Nancy Pelosi might have been misled, that there might be two misunderstandings about what`s happening? THORP: Maybe not necessarily. I think what Pelosi was hinting at is the same thing that Democratic leadership aides were telling us on both sides of the Capitol. So, I think there was probably a conversation that leaned in that direction. I mean, I think they can`t necessarily go into next week knowing the whole playbook. We`ll probably see a couple of iterations of some votes. We have to see the Senate vote where Democrats will vote down the motion to go to conference due to negotiate the two bills. And it wouldn`t be surprising if conservatives tried to push another vote in the House. But in the end, I think that both sides agree, especially in leadership, that in the end, they`re going to have to pass this one year clean DHS bill. MADDOW: And so, it is -- I mean, the big picture here, we`re looking at the numbers here, and it very clearly has passed clearly, time has run out on bill and it`s got 325 yes votes right now. What we`re looking at, 173 Republicans, 154 Democrats. It`s -- they`ve clearly got the number they need. But there is, in this big picture sense, a real question as to when -- whether or not moving forward happens in any way that could meaningfully be described as Republican, right? So, this got passed because all the Democrats say, OK, John Boehner, we`ll help you out. That`s the Democrat`s decision whether or not to do that. If John Boehner can`t do anything without Democrats, really anything, is his position as leader in danger? I mean, are Republicans going to revolt against him in a way that`s overt in terms of him being the speaker? THORP: There have been a number of conservatives that have raised questions about whether or not a different leadership structure may be able to get different results. But I think that there is just kind of a general consensus that Speaker Boehner is probably the right man for this specific job, considering that you have -- I mean, you have the group on the left -- on the far right, and then you have the moderates, that he kind of sits in that middle ground and is able to wade in the middle there. And there`s not very many people that can do that. So, while I think he probably will have some questions raised about his leadership tactics by conservatives if they end up passing this clean DHS bill, as we`re expecting them to do, at the same time, there`s not enough of a groundswell of dissatisfaction within the conference to be able to up- end the leadership structure that`s in place right now. MADDOW: NBC News Capitol Hill producer Frank Thorp -- Frank, thank you. This has been a wild ride. It`s been nice to have you here. Thanks again. THORP: Thanks, again. MADDOW: All right. Let`s bring in NBC Capitol Hill correspondent Kelly O`Donnell, who has been live watching this unfold tonight. Kelly, obviously, this has just passed, with the 2/3 threshold it needed in the house. That means that the Department of Homeland Security has a seven-week -- a seven-day patch to keep it from shutting down for the next week. KELLY O`DONNELL, NBC NEWS CAPITOL HILL CORRESPONDENT: It was wishful thinking, Rachel. MADDOW: Yes, exactly. What do you make of how this came together tonight? Who was really calling the shots in terms of deciding what happened tonight? O`DONNELL: Well, we`re still waiting for the official gavel, so the numbers could shift a bit. But they are overwhelming in support of this. I think this is a case where you try what you think can pass and when it fails, there was a mad scramble to see what can be done to prevent the worst case scenario, which was shutting down the department. There were some critics who said even shutting down the department would not be as cataclysmic as some feared, because so many of the employees are required to show up at work and their paychecks would come at a future date. Not very satisfying. So, I think the sense that the governing that is required does mean they must keep the department opened. But as we talked about on many occasions, Congress has very few levers of power when trying to compel the president to do something or not do something. It almost always comes back to using the power of the purse, how to fund something or not fund something to drive policy. And so, for conservatives who have been very upset with the president`s actions on immigration, they believe it`s a constitutional breach and overreach. This was their best case at trying to stop that. And they did not have enough support among enough of the Congress to see that happen. It was the political will for that s not here when it comes to threatening this department and the times that we live in, when every other headline outside of the conversation we`re having is about concerns about ISIS other threats. MADDOW: Right. O`DONNELL: And to put all of this drama and real political ideological debate in a real world context made this a very difficult case for conservatives to make. MADDOW: Kelly -- O`DONNELL: We have another path with the courts which you`ve talked about as well. But tonight, it was about getting something done and saving face. MADDOW: Kelly, is it clear to you when this comes back up this next week, that we won`t be here until all hours of the night wondering whether or not there`s going to be another shutdown? Is it clear to you that they`ve got clear path next week? O`DONNELL: No, I think there`s an exhaustion factor tonight. I think there`s a deadline factor, and one week became the agreeable piece where Democrats were willing to let their members vote for this so that they could take some ownership as well. If Nancy Pelosi had not sort of released her Democrats and said, please vote for this, they would have shared some responsibility for a shutdown, too. They can blame the Republicans, but in the end, they needed to step up and they did that tonight. More Republicans voted for this tonight than we saw earlier in the day. So, I don`t think there`s a clear path. I think we will revisit a lot of these same issues, but people have had a chance to maybe measure how it played at home, maybe get a little rest, maybe give a little distance to sort of the discomfort of this day and try to figure it out. But there is no obvious next couple of steps that will resolve this. And that`s frustrating. MADDOW: NBC News Capitol Hill correspondent Kelly O`Donnell, thank you so much for your time tonight, Kelly. O`DONNELL: Good to be with you. MADDOW: All right. To recap, the House has passed a one-week extension, so Homeland Security isn`t shutting down in two hours. But we`ll be back at this next week. In the meantime, you`ll be in the crowbar hotel. THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END