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The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 03/03/15

Guests: Anne Gearan, Michael Schmidt

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chris. That`s our plan, that we sort of got one eye on that watching in terms of when that`s going to happen. We think it`s probably going to be within the next few minutes. Definitely within this hour, but we`ll have it. Thanks, man. Appreciate it. HAYES: All right. MADDOW: Thanks to you at home for staying with us for the next hour. As I was explaining to Chris there, what we`re keeping an eye on is this Emily`s List 30th anniversary gala in Washington tonight. And people who are supporters of Emily`s List, that itself I`m sure is newsworthy enough that you would want it covered live on cable news. The reason this event is at least partially going to be covered live on cable news tonight is because Hillary Clinton is expected to speak this hour at that event. And that, at this point, is a rare occasion. This is a rare public speech for Hillary Clinton at all at this point. She`s not giving very many public speeches, even though everybody expects her to be candidate for president very soon. So, that`s one point. It will only be her second public speech of the year. Also, as Chris was just mentioning earlier on last hour, this will be Hillary Clinton`s first speech since these very pointed questions were raised last night by "The New York Times" about her use of a private e-mail address while she was secretary of state. We do not know if Secretary Clinton will specifically be addressing that story, about the e-mails tonight, but we are going to keep an eye on her speech and this event, depending on when it gets started. We will try to bring it to you live, so definitely stay tuned for that. It`s part of what`s going on in the world. But we begin tonight in the middle of the country. We begin tonight in Kansas City. Kansas City spans two states, right? There`s Kansas City, Kansas, and there`s Kansas City, Missouri. The state line between those two states runs right through K.C. And in a suburb of the Kansas side of Kansas City, in a suburb called Overland Park last April, this guy, this neo-Nazi, anti-Semite, founder of branches of the Ku Klux Klan and something called the White Patriot Party, this older man who thought he was probably dying of emphysema and decided that before he left God`s green earth, he thought it would be his patriotic duty to go kill some Jews. This older guy in the Kansas City area went to the Jewish community center in this Kansas City suburb and he open fire. There he is. At that shooting, he ended up killing two people at the Jewish community center and he killed one person at a nearby Jewish retirement home. Yesterday, in a preliminary hearing, you can see that same guy there, his name is Frazier Glenn Cross. As he was being wheeled in for his capital murder case, he did his best, as you can see there, with his hand, to try to give the Hitler Nazi salute while he was wearing his handcuffs and they wheeled him into the courtroom. Police officers who responded to those shootings last April testified in court yesterday in this case that cross screamed "Heil Hitler" as they were taking him into custody after those shootings. The officers said in court yesterday, that he asked them once they were in the process of apprehending him, he asked the police officers how many Jews he had succeeded in killing. One officer says Frazier Glenn Cross tried to recruit him right then and there on the scene of those murders, tried to recruit him to the white power anti-Semitic cause. He asked the cop who was there to arrest him if by any chance the cop was German, because he wanted to make a Nazi case to him, to recruit him. Frazier Glenn Cross is an ex-con. He`s a known neo-Nazi. He`s been active in the neo-Nazi and white power movement for decades. Frazier Glenn Cross is charged now with capital murder, he is facing the death penalty if he is convicted. Frazier Glenn Cross also ran for office in the great state of Missouri. In 2006 and in 2010, he ran for Congress and then he ran for U.S. Senate on a platform of white power and hating the Jews. And, I`m happy to say, nobody voted for him, right? He got less than 50 votes in both elections combined. He was just this perennial candidate, anti- Semitic, crank protest candidate. But then within four years of his last crank U.S. Senate run, he had killed all those people in Kansas City. Heil Hitler, how many Jews did I kill? When Missouri Republican candidate for governor, Tom Schweich, killed himself last week, it was shock enough to learn that Tom Schweich had died. Tom Schweich had just announced a few weeks ago that he was running for governor in Missouri in 2016. Tom Schweich was just re-elected in November with more than 70 percent of the vote as Missouri state auditor. Missouri state auditor is a pretty high profile job in that state. That`s the job that U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill had before she got elected to the United States Senate. So, it was shocking enough to learn last week that Tom Schweich had killed himself, troubling and strange enough, right? A candidate for governor, just re-elected. It was strange enough to learn that he died in suicide. But then the shock of that was compounded when two reporters who Tom Schweich called just minutes before he took his own life. Those two reporters both went public about what he had been talking to them about, about what was on his mind. What he told them was troubling him. What he asked to speak to them about on the day he died, before he took his own life. On the left side of the screen here is the other top tier Republican candidate for governor in Missouri, who is running in the primary against Tom Schweich, her name Catherine Hanaway. On the right side is the newly elected chairman of the Republican Party in Missouri, his name is John Hancock, believe it or not. And John Hancock was working as a political consultant for Catherine Hanaway before he became chair of the party. That`s what Tom Schweich was up against in this primary, right? Chair of the party used to work for his chief rival for the nomination? It`s going to be uphill climb, right? Well, what Tom Schweich called to talk to those reporters about last week, just minutes before he killed himself was the fact that John Hancock, the chairman of the Republican Party of Missouri, had been telling Republican donors and Republican Party activists in Missouri that Tom Schweich was a Jew. Tom Schweich was not a Jew. One of his grandfathers was Jewish, but he was -- Tom Schweich was an Episcopalian. But he believed that the Republican Party of Missouri institutionally and in support of his campaign for governor, Tom Schweich believed that the chair of the party was spreading this false rumor that he was Jewish as a way of trying to hurt Tom Schweich`s chances of becoming governor, or becoming the Republican Party`s nominee for governor in Missouri. And as those incredible headlines started to bloom in the wake of Tom Schweich`s death, these incredible headlines that it was about an anti- Semitic whisper campaign, the Missouri Republican Party chairman e-mailed out a statement to members of the party saying that yes, he might have told people that Schweich was Jewish. He emailed out a statement, quote, "I would like to set the record straight once and for all. Until recently, I mistakenly believed that Tom Schweich was Jewish. But it was simply what I believed to be his biography. It is possible that I mentioned Tom`s faith, which was not his faith, in passing during one of the many conversations I have each day. There was absolutely nothing malicious about my intent." The chairman of the Missouri Republican Party later told reporters that if he told people in Missouri Republican politics that Tom Schweich was a Jew, he didn`t mean it in a bad way. He just meant it as, a description, quote, "similar to saying, I`m Presbyterian and somebody else is Catholic." When Tom Schweich killed himself and it emerged that the back story of his suicide was his upset over this false rumor being spread in Missouri Republican politics that he was Jewish when he was not, and his belief that that might affect his ability to win the Republican nomination for governor, when that emerged, the reporter who received that last phone message from Tom Schweich, he got a phone message about seven minutes before Tom Schweich killed himself last Thursday. That reporter wrote at "The St. Louis Post-Dispatch" that he, Tony Messenger, the reporter, he didn`t know why Tom Schweich killed himself, but that Mr. Schweich was about to go public with his accusation that the head of the Missouri Republican Party had led this whispering campaign about Tom Schweich being secretly Jewish. And when he told that story, he evoked in his first article for "The St. Louis Post-Dispatch" the recent history of Frazier Glenn Miller -- Frazier Glenn Cross, right? The raging racist who last year killed three people at a Jewish community center in Kansas City. He was saying, listen, it`s not completely nuts to think that anti- Semitism could have a politically salient effect here. So, this was already just a stunning and super intense story out of Missouri, right, and its Republican politics. It was already stunning and super intense before today`s funeral for Tom Schweich which attracted over 1,000 people in Missouri, and at which the man who`s widely viewed as elder statesman of Missouri politics, a man who Tom Schweich worked for as his chief of staff, former Republican Senator Jack Danforth -- John Danforth who also an Episcopal priest, John Danforth delivered the eulogy for Tom Schweich today and it scorched the political earth of that state. Watch this. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JOHN DANFORTH, FORMER SENATOR: And I spoke with Tom this past Tuesday afternoon, and he was indignant. He told me he was upset about two things. A radio commercial and a whispering campaign he said were being run against him. He said the commercial made fun of his physical appearance and wondered if he should respond with his own ad. But while the commercial hurt his feelings, his great complaint was about a whispering campaign that he was Jewish. And that subject took up 90 percent of a long phone call. This was more than an expression of personal hurt from the radio ad. This was righteous indignation against what he saw as a terrible wrong. And what he saw was wrong was anti- Semitism. Tom called this anti-Semitism, and, of course, it was. The only reason for going around saying that someone is Jewish is to make political profit from religious bigotry. Someone said there is no difference than saying the person is Presbyterian. Here`s to the test the credibility of that. When is the last time someone cycled up to you and whispered into your ear that such and such a person is a Presbyterian? The message for the rest of us reflects my own emotion after learning of Tom`s death, which has been overwhelming anger that politics has gone so hideously wrong. And that the death of Tom Schweich is the natural consequence of what politics has become. Since Thursday some good people have said, well, that`s just politics. And Tom should have been less sensitive. He should have been tougher. He should have been able to take it. Well, that is accepting politics in its present state. And that we cannot do. It amounts to blaming the victim and it creates a new normal where politics is only for the tough and the crude and the calloused. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Former Missouri Senator Jack Danforth today speaking in front of the governor of the state and both of the state`s U.S. senators and the rest of the political great and good in the state of Missouri. But he was not speaking, I should say, in front of the chairman of the state`s Republican Party who Senator Danforth basically there called out as an anti-Semitic bigot in this scorching eulogy and condemnation of Missouri politics and Missouri Republican politics, specifically. John Hancocks, the guy who Jack Danforth called out there in the eulogy. He didn`t show up for the funeral today for Tom Schweich. Just remarkable days in Missouri right now, after the suicide of this gubernatorial candidate, Tom Schweich, remarkable days in that state and it seems like there will be more news to come because after a day like this, the fallout from this cannot be over yet. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: So, this is the live scene right now in Washington where Hillary Clinton is expected to speak very soon for the first time since "The New York Times" reported last night that there was no systematic archiving of her e-mails in her entire tenure as secretary of state. So, we`ve got an eye on that live event under way right now in Washington. We`re expecting her remarks in not too long. Plus, we`ve good much more ahead. Please stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Today, Jeb Bush was in Las Vegas giving a speech for money, to the American Council of Life Insurers. This is what political celebrities and not yet candidates do, right? They give paid speeches to usually obscure groups for lots of money. Hillary Clinton has been doing these as well. At the end of January, Secretary Clinton spoke twice in Canada, first in Winnipeg and then in Saskatoon. She spoke at events paid for by a Canadian bank. What Secretary Clinton has not been doing a lot of this year, even as she has continued a pretty robust schedule of paid speeches to make money, what she has not been doing a lot of this year is campaigning for president -- and this is one of the really big differences between the Republicans and the Democrats right now, at the top tier of national politics. All of the Republican 2016 hopefuls, they have been de facto campaigning at events like, you know, CPAC, where they all gave speeches or did Q&A with conservative media celebrities. They`ve all been appearing at events like Steve King`s anti-immigration-palooza in Iowa a few weeks. They`ve been all turning up at Koch brothers meetings, speaking to all of the richest of all Republican donors. They`ve been making unfortunate foreign policy flubs at media events in London and screwing up how to pronounce Boko Haram at foreign policy speech in Chicago. They have been everywhere, right? The Republican candidates for president, there are a lot of them right now and they are frequently, every day, multiple times a day, fighting it out in public amongst themselves. They are campaigning for president out loud, in a way we can all see. On the Democratic side, not so much. On the Democratic side, it`s not the same kind of thing at all. That`s mostly because it`s really not the same kind of field. Right now, the Democratic field in terms of presidential candidates for 2016, well, there is this guy campaigning from inside of handsome shoe box somewhere in a spare room in the Jim Webb house in Virginia. Also, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont is being all that is Bernie Sanders out in his own righteous wing of the Democratic Party. It`s also Martin O`Malley, the former governor of Maryland, who says he will not run for Barbara Mikulski`s Senate seat when she retires. He`ll instead stay in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination opposite Hillary Clinton, even though she is polling in the 40 percent to 50 percent range, and he is ranging at 40 to 50 points less than that. So, on the Republican side, it`s like the Brady Bunch squared, right? I mean, it`s lots and lots of candidates fighting it out every day, lots of public events, lots of campaign speeches, lots of politicking in public. On the Democratic side, it`s Hillary Clinton -- who is very capable of getting into a political fight when she wants to. But right now, there is no one for her to punch. We haven`t really seen anything like this before in modern politics, so nobody really knows what`s going to happen. Nobody really knows how do you this, right, when you have the whole field to yourself, when you don`t really have primary opponents, how do you campaign for the presidential nomination? Well, it turns out we are learning the answer to that question is mostly you just don`t bother, other than the speeches she`s been giving to earn a living, these paid speeches that, by and large, are not open to the public or the press, Hillary Clinton has done a grand total of two public speeches in the entire year of 2015 so far. The first was a week ago at a women and tech event in Silicon Valley. The second one is tonight, which is why we`re paying so much attention, which is why this is a live feed of what`s going on at that event right there. You see Gabrielle Giffords and her husband, the astronaut Mark Kelly. The fact that Hillary Clinton is due to give this speech tonight at the Emily`s List 30th gala in Washington is notable and newsworthy by sheer dent of the fact that Secretary Clinton has not been doing political speeches. She hasn`t been doing political events. She hasn`t had to, right. But her giving a speech tonight effectively is the Democratic equivalent to all of the public campaigning that is happening among those candidates on the Republican side. Right now, if Hillary Clinton is speaking at a public political event in the United States, that is the Democratic presidential primary. That`s the way Democrats are campaigning for the presidency in 2016. That`s it. It`s very different from what`s going on on the Republican side. The other reason this expected speech tonight is a big deal is because in the absence of any formidable primary opponents, the way Hillary Clinton is being tested as a candidate right now, the way her record and her statements and her past are being probed for potential political fodder is not by primary rivals for the nomination but by the press, both the conservative press and the mainstream press. And last night, on the eve of what you saw there, getting ready for a rare political speech in Washington for Emily`s List, last night on the eve of this public appearance, last night, "The New York Times" broke this potentially difficult story for Secretary Clinton and her campaign. Now, it has been previously reported that Hillary Clinton used a personal e-mail account as secretary of state, a nongovernmental email account, to conduct at least some of the business she conducted as secretary of state during the Obama administration`s first term when she held that office. That has previously been reported. What was not reported before last night was that Secretary Clinton never had a government e-mail address at all while she served as secretary of state. She exclusively only used this personal address. And why we care is that decision effectively puts her in control of what is retained and archived and researchable for her time in office instead of that being the purview of the people who are in charge of public records, right? She`s got the choice of what gets released rather than the folks in charge of public records having those e-mails and being in charge of what gets released from them and who gets to make those decisions. And honestly, getting real here -- there`s two real things here besides all of the spin and Clinton media hysteria around this, right? There`s two real things. The first real thing to know here is that, say it with me now -- everybody does it. Everybody does it. Lots of public officials including governors and other cabinet officials, previous secretaries of state, Democratic and Republican, everybody does it. Lots of other public officials in similar situations have used their personal e-mail accounts to do official business. It happens. Everybody does it. So, when you see somebody like Jeb Bush jumping into the story with self-righteous concern trolling about how Hillary Clinton must release all of her e-mails, I mean, this is what Jeb Bush tweeted today about this story: "Transparency matters. Unclassified Hillary Clinton e-mails should be released. You can you see mine here, link." Honestly, just being real, that is freaking ridiculous. Everybody does it, right? Everybody does what she has done, including Jeb Bush. Jeb Bush bragged when he was Florida governor that he received 2.5 million e- mails on his government address. He also said he received another half million e-mails on his private personal Jeb Bush address while he was governor. So, that`s 3 million e-mails from when he was governor. What he`s bragging about here in terms of his transparency is that of those 3 million e-mails when he was governor, he hand-picked 250,000 of them to release. So, OK. He`s now demanding that she release all this stuff that he never released himself. So, at one level, the real politic here is stupid. It`s like hypocritical if hypocritical couldn`t even be spelled right because we couldn`t think that way to that many vowels. Stupid. The one level at which this is not stupid is the question of the rules and the law. The question of what the rules were, what the law was, at the time that this decision was made about Secretary Clinton`s e-mail addresses and how she would do her business as secretary of state. The question of whether as secretary of state e-mails to her personal account, which she used in the conducting of the business of that office, whether those e- mails should have been preserved officially in some way that they were not. I mean, there are biting allegations about that today from "The New York Times." There are vehement denials of that of any wrongdoing from the Clinton side of things. As a matter of the law and what rules applied to her and when and what exactly it takes to comply with those rules in terms of servers and who gets to make the decision on what gets hand over and who gets the call -- at this point, I`ve been spending -- I`ve spent most of the day today trying to figure out a clear way to explain it. The clearest thing I could say to you is that it`s not at all clear and it does need more attention. But that`s the other reason why this speech tonight is such an important thing. Hillary Clinton giving a public speech tonight, second time this year. This is effectively Hillary Clinton`s campaign for the presidency. She`s doing it at her own pace. Not pressured by anything going on and anything looking like a Democratic presidential primary. These rare political speeches she`s giving, only the second one this year, this one tonight comes the day after "The New York Times" land a blow to the chin on the personal e-mail story. So, does she address the controversy? Does she take a swipe at the reporting? Does she mount a defense? Does she make fun of Jeb Bush the way I did? I don`t know. I can`t wait to see though. Joining us now is Anne Gearan, national politics correspondent for "The Washington Post", who is covering Hillary Clinton. Anne, it`s great to see you. Thanks for joining us. ANNE GEARAN, THE WASHINGTON POST: Thank you. Happy to be here. MADDOW: You`re at a loud and happy event that is celebrating 30 years of Emily`s List. Obviously, the prospect of a Hillary Clinton presidential nomination, sort of a holy grail for this group -- I have to believe that means that the room there is hostile if anything about this story about Hillary Clinton`s e-mails at the State Department. GEARAN: Yes, I mean, this whole event has the feeling of a Hillary Clinton for president pep rally. It`s kind of the kickoff political event of what everyone expects will very soon be her political campaign. Around the edges of it, there are people here talking about a little bit of consternation about this e-mail story and what it says and means about the future of Hillary Clinton as a candidate. No one really thinks that this story has really long legs and will hang around for a long time. But a lot will depend on how Hillary handles it. She hasn`t directly addressed it yet. She may do so in sort of a joking way tonight, and if she is able to kind of tackle it head on and talk about what she was really obligated to do and maybe even turn over some of the e-mails, the expectation of Democrats here tonight is that the whole thing goes away fairly soon. MADDOW: Anne, one thing that is remarkable here is the contrast between what is happening on the Republican side in terms of their primaries -- their primary, the way their candidates are already fighting it out in public, and Hillary Clinton out is there alone with no real credible contenders for the nomination angling against her. She essentially gets to set her own pace. She`s doing very few public engagements, where we could see here in terms of gearing up for this campaign. Have you seen her speak publicly enough or do you know enough of about her strategy that we should have an expectation of the kind of stump speech she gives or the way she makes her case publicly? GEARAN: Yes, I mean, this kind of event tonight, she`s very good at. And I fully anticipate that she`ll give a good speech. She`s surrounded by people who want to hear her talk. That`s a pretty good venue. What she is really encountering now, though, is exactly what you identify -- the lack of a primary, the lack of any kind of a -- sort of, you know, contest that forces her to really think ahead and to kind of have to compare herself to any other Democrat, anyone else on her side of the fence. It allows her to call all of the shots which if you`re a candidate might be where you want to be. It might not necessarily make you a better candidate. And I`m hearing some of that from Democrats. They`re a little concerned about -- did you see the Republicans squaring off against one another and positioning themselves against one another and trying to figure out how to best present themselves. No one is doing that with and for Hillary Clinton. She has to do it herself. She gets hit by upside the head by a mini-scandal like the one involving the e-mails. And really, there`s no other recourse except for her to figure out herself how to answer it. That she`s going to get criticized almost no matter what she does. MADDOW: Right. Anne Gearan, national politics correspondent for "The Washington Post", live at this event we`re expecting Hillary Clinton`s remarks shortly. Anne, thanks very much. I really appreciate it. I`ve got to say, to Ann Gearan`s last point there, if you think about Hillary Clinton`s political trajectory, she has had to invent a new future, a new way of moving through the political ether. Every step of the way, right? Nobody else had ever been the kind of first lady that she was. Nobody else had ever been the kind of first lady to the United States Senate. Very few people had gone from being a single term senator to being a top tier presidential candidate. Becoming -- going from a top tier presidential candidate to the secretary of state in the administration of the guy who beat you, that`s also unique political future that she built for herself. And now, she is the effectively, inevitable Democratic nominee for president -- the first ever, likely, female major party nominee for president in either party, right? She`s had to invent a future that nobody else has ever tried, let alone achieve, over and over and over again over the course of her political career. So, yes, I think it`s a disadvantage on paper that you try to get a nomination without ever having a primary, without ever having other contenders, plausible contenders for the throne, challenging for you for it. But if anybody can make up a history where you get the nomination and go strong into a general even though you never had a primary to test you, she`s probably the one who could invent it, if only because she`s invented every other thing about her political life. All right. We`ll be right back. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: This week marks four months -- four months -- since President Obama nominated Loretta Lynch to be the next U.S. attorney general. We still have no idea when she`s going to get a vote. In the meantime, though, Eric Holder is still the attorney general and he`s been busy clearing off his desk, checking off the last items on his to-do list. One of the big things on that list was to finish the civil rights investigation into the shooting death of unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, last year. In September, the Justice Department opened a broad investigation into not only that specific shooting but also the patterns of the entire Ferguson PD. We have been hearing that the Justice Department is close to being done with that review. Well, today, Justice Department officials went to Ferguson to meet with city officials there. Those officials are now saying that the Justice Department has shared the findings of their review with them. And while we do not yet know all of the details, NBC News has learned that the DOJ review of the Ferguson Police Department has found a striking pattern of racial bias in policing in Ferguson -- a pattern that the Justice Department says routinely violates the Constitution and federal law. From what we can tell, the Justice Department`s review is damning. The official report is due out tomorrow afternoon. We`ll know significantly more when we see it. There`s lots more to come. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: If today had not been such a bonkers news day, if Congress wasn`t busy narrowly averting shutting down the Department of Homeland Security, if the prime minister of Israel and U.S. president weren`t busy dueling with each other from either end of Pennsylvania Avenue, if the Democratic Party`s likely 2016 presidential nominee wasn`t getting busy getting mired in one of her bigger scandals of her not-yet campaign -- if today hadn`t been such an absolutely bonkers news day, I think this would have been the story in the entire country tonight, the lead paragraph about it in "The New York Times" today. Quote, "David H. Petraeus, the best-known military commander of his generation, has reached a plea deal with the Justice Department and admitted providing his highly classified journals to a mistress when he was director of the CIA." Sometimes all you have to do is write the words down and they jump off the page themselves. Former CIA Director David Petraeus, probably the most well-known and highly regarded American general in the last 30 years, he has agreed to plead guilty in federal court and now faces the possibility of prison time. What he`s pleading to carries a maximum sentence of a year in prison and $100,000 fine. Before becoming the head of the CIA but after his time running the war in Iraq, while he was the top U.S. military commander in Afghanistan, General Petraeus maintained what federal prosecutors described as eight separate bound five by eight inch notebooks which contained his daily schedule and classified and unclassified notes. In terms of the classified stuff, the books contained some really, really classified materials. Among other things, quote, "The identities of covert officers, war strategy, intelligence capabilities and mechanisms, as well the details of David Petraeus` personal discussions with President Obama and the National Security Council." So the information this those black books is really highly classified information which David Petraeus had access to in his role as the top general in Afghanistan. But General Petraeus ultimately handed that information over to his biographer, who I should say he was also shtupping. After leaving the military in 2011, David Petraeus became director at the CIA. While he was at the CIA, he also carried on an extramarital affair with the woman who was writing a book about him. According to the stipulation of facts in this plea deal, General Petraeus` biographer in 2011 asked him if she could see what was in the black books that he had been keeping all that time. David Petraeus initially said no, he told her they contained some very highly classified information, but then he gave them to her. Quoting from the federal court filing, "On or about August 27, 2011, defendant David Howell Petraeus sent an e-mail to his biographer in which he agreed to provide the black books to his biographer." The next day, David Petraeus, quote, "delivered the black books to a private residence in Washington, D.C. where his biographer was staying." Again, those books contained really classified information, including the names of covert agents and code words. He let her keep them for apparently four days, from August 28th to September 1st. What David Petraeus has agreed to plead guilty to is unauthorized removal and retention of classified material. It`s a misdemeanor charge that carries a potential sentence of up to a year in prison. But federal prosecutors will reportedly recommend two years probation for him and $40,000 fine and no time in prison. The judge does not have to follow that recommendation but that`s what the prosecutors are asking for in this plea deal. "The New York Times" describes this plea deal today as the completion of, quote, "a spectacular fall for Mr. Petraeus. General David Petraeus was once thought of as a potential presidential candidate from either party. He`s now as of this news tonight facing the actual prospect of federal prison time, depending on what that judge decides. Joining us now is "New York Times" reporter Michael Schmidt, who has been covering this story for months. Mr. Schmidt, thank you for your time tonight. MICHAEL SCHMIDT, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Thanks for having me. MADDOW: One factual thing that I`m not clear on, is it possible that Paula Broadwell, the biographer, the woman to whom he delivered this information, that she is potentially also in legal jeopardy for having received this information improperly? SCHMIDT: I don`t know. That`s a good question. Was she operating as a journalist in this fashion? And if so, would they prosecute a journalist? I don`t think that Eric Holder would want to go out on that note. But I think on Ms. Broadwell`s case, she was actually cooperating with the government and they came in and said, look, we`re not going to prosecute but we need you to cooperate. Without Ms. Broadwell, there wouldn`t have been much of a case here. MADDOW: In terms of what General Petraeus did, is this the sort of thing that frankly other CIA directors and other top national security officers have been caught for in the past, which is the sense they mishandled classified information in a way that was potentially very dangerous and sort of had to be punished, but there wasn`t a real risk of serious home in the moment? Or is this is something where they think that this information was potentially dangerous, even just going as far as he let it get? SCHMIDT: Well, is this Sandy Berger and the documents in his socks that no one else saw besides him? Or is this something where, you know, stuff we deal with in the media, where we get information about a classified program and we write about it and the government says we really jeopardized national security? I think it`s probably more Sandy Berger than that. But at the same time, the things described in these documents today are very sensitive. And there are some critics out there who say, man, this Justice Department has really cracked down on a lot of leakers and a lot of people for mishandling similar information and a lot of those people are a lot lower level than Mr. Petraeus, but they are facing far more time than prison. So, is it a double standard? That`s the question. MADDOW: Well, you reported back in January that the FBI and Justice Department were pushing for felony charges against General Petraeus. This is for a misdemeanor, not a felony. Do you have any insight into what changed there and how they arrived at this agreement? SCHMIDT: Well, what we do know is Mr. Petraeus was represented by Williams & Connolly, which is the top law firm in Washington. And what was going to happen is that if this thing went to trial, it was going to be really ugly. There was going to be a lot of motions filed against the government. It was going to be a really tough fight for them. It was going to play out in public. There probably going to be some people sympathetic to Mr. Petraeus in this because he was a general, because he was a war hero. And I think what happened was that the Justice Department kind of looked at this and said, well, we can get a conviction here and we can say that we enforced the law and we, more or less, didn`t have a double standard. We held this person to account and we don`t have to go through with a trial. We can get a guaranteed plea here. So, I think that`s why we ended up where we did on this. MADDOW: Michael submitted, reporter for "The New York Times," a very busy man. Thanks for joining us tonight. I appreciate your help with this. SCHMIDT: Thanks for having me. MADDOW: All right. We got much more ahead tonight. Stay with us. Including, keeping an eye on the expected live speech from Hillary Clinton from Washington, only her second public speech this year as she mounts an anticipated run for the presidency. Al Franken is at the podium right now. We`re keeping an eye for the start of Secretary Clinton`s remarks. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Reince Priebus has a deal for you. Dear friend, by nature America is a nation of leaders, pioneers, and trailblazers. We`re not a nation that leads from behind. Blurs the lines or backs down from our principles. Quote, "That`s why we are bringing back the official Cheney cowboy hat." Friend, that`s right. For a donation of $72 to the National Republican Party, you can get the exclusive Vice President Dick Cheney cowboy hat, especially engraved with his signature and lined with the Republican seal. Order now. It sold out when they first put it out in December, but now it`s back. If you`re still trying to decide whether you want the official Republican Party Dick Cheney cowboy hat, you could see the real thing in action in fashion this week. Dick Cheney was at the U.S. Capitol yesterday wearing the aforementioned hat prepping Republicans for Israeli prime minister. Just in case you forgot what it was like to live in an era of Republican cowboy foreign policy, Dick Cheney brought the prop to the Capitol to make the remainder all more explicit. That story is next. Yee-haw! (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: This was September 2nd, 2002. So, it was a year and a day after the 9/11 attacks. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: Answered, with no question whatsoever that Saddam is seeking and is working and is advancing towards the development of nuclear weapons. No question whatsoever. Saddam is hell-bent on achieving atomic bombs -- atomic capabilities as soon as he can. I believe that even free and unfettered inspections will not uncover these portable manufacturing sites of mass death. REP. DAN BURTON (R), INDIANA: Your statement, which is very eloquent, boils down to one thing, and that is, do we react to another attack on America after hundreds of thousands or millions of lives have been lost, or do we preempt that kind of action from happening in the first place? (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Spoiler alert -- we preempt it. We invaded Iraq. And none of the nonsense you just heard that about Saddam Hussein turned out to be true. In 2002, when House Republicans invited Israel`s Benjamin Netanyahu to testify as an expert witness about Iraq, he was a former Israeli prime minister at the time. He was just there speaking as a private citizen. They just asked him there to give his expert opinion, an expert on why the U.S. had to start a preemptive war of choice against Saddam Hussein and Iraq, or as he explained, it would be the end of the world. That was 2002. Today, House Republicans asked him back to make the case again about the end of the world. This time, though, he sees it coming from Iran. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) NETANYAHU: That deal will not Iran from developing nuclear weapons, it would all but guarantee that Iran gets those weapons, lots of them. Iran could have the means to deliver that nuclear arsenal to the far reach corners of the earth, including to every part of the United States. The Middle East would soon be crisscrossed by nuclear trip wires. A region where small skirmishes contribute to big wars would turn into a nuclear tender box. We`ll face a much more dangerous Iran, a Middle East littered with nuclear bombs, and a countdown to a potential nuclear nightmare. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: So, this time, he`s in the United States as a serving Israeli prime minister. So, this time, he got to speak at the podium alone instead of at the witness table. Because Prime Minister Netanyahu is running for reelection in two weeks, President Obama did not meet with him in this trip to Washington. There`s a long-standing White House policy not to meet with political leaders right before those leaders face an election at home. But the sheer political spectacle of this speech in Congress today, of House Republicans inviting a foreign head of state to speak at the U.S. Capitol for the express purpose of undermining the president`s ability to carry out his foreign policy, the sheer spectacle of this unprecedented pledge of allegiance to a foreign head of state as a means of insulting and undermining our own president -- that has really never happened before. So, that made today a very big day in terms of Washington news. That also made today a great day in Washington to bury other news about Congress, news that on any other day would be screaming from its own headlines. But today, look at the teeny tiny little "AP" story is that crossed the wires just shortly before the big Netanyahu speech. Quote, "GOP says House to vote Tuesday on yearlong bill to fund homeland security additions." Oh, that happened. House Republicans threw a months-long tantrum saying they would force President Obama to bend to their will by holding hostage the Homeland Security Department. They would never agree to fund homeland security. President Obama would be forced to capitulate. That`s been going on for months. That collapsed today. And once again they had to turn to the Democrats to bail them out. Republicans are in chaos. Republicans are now running attack ads in each other`s districts over this. They`re threatening to unseat Speaker Boehner over this, the conservative media is apoplectic about this. But their own strategy collapsed. And Democrats had to come rescue John Boehner once again. And the Homeland Security Department, it turns out, is going to be fine because the Republicans in Congress really did collapse on this thing they`ve been raging about for months. But it happened on our once every 13 years what we need it or not Netanyahu/end-of-the-world speech day. So, the headlines ran for 30 seconds and then they got swallowed by this much bigger news cycle. John Boehner is having terrible trouble with his own Republicans in Congress. Today was a terrible failure for him in Congress. But his failure, at least, had great timing. And that can never be underestimated in politics. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Scheduling note. This is a big one. Tomorrow morning, the United States Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in the case that could dismantle all of health reform in one fell swoop. Depending on how the court eventually rules on this case, 6 million Americans could lose their health insurance in this case for which the oral arguments are tomorrow. The big case a couple years ago about the health reform law where John Roberts surprised everybody by upholding Obamacare`s constitutionality, the same litigants, the same oral arguers, the same lawyers will be there in the courtroom tomorrow arguing this part of the law. Those oral arguments start at 10:00 a.m. We`re going to be doing this show live tomorrow from the nation`s capital on what is going to be a very high stakes for the country -- very high stakes day for the country and for the biggest policy legacy of this president and his presidency, tomorrow a very high stakes day. That does it for us tonight. We will see you again tomorrow. 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