The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 05/27/15

Guests: Jeremy Nordquist, Megan Rapinoe

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chris. Thank you, my friend. CHRIS HAYES, ALL IN: You bet. MADDOW: And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour. Huge show tonight. It`s been an amazing news day today. We`ve got really big, dramatic news coming tonight from a deep red state, a deep red state doing something that nobody expected from such a conservative place. For the interview later on tonight, we`ve got exactly the person you want to hear from live on the biggest news story in the world today. We`ve got a lot coming up this hour. I`m very excited about tonight`s show. But we start tonight with this -- because we started this as basically kind of a joke -- the Republican field of candidates and likely candidates for 2016. We started this as a graphic, this thing you see on your screen, basically as a joke to show how many people were running or were likely to run. It`s such a big field. It`s such a big field that there`s -- basically not enough room to get these guys names up there, along with their faces. And we figured when we first made kind of funny graphic -- well, yes, OK, we figured there are 22 Republican candidates or possible candidates for president this year, but it`s early days. We won`t be stuck with this graph for long, a lot of these guys will drop out very soon. We`ll have a much easier visual to work with soon enough. That`s what we thought would happen. That`s not at all how it has worked out. We started with 22 candidates and likely candidates. That was weeks ago. So far, we`ve only been able to poof three little Republican heads off that very crowded screen. The first one we were able to take off the list was Michigan Governor Rick Snyder. Poof. Second one we were able to take off the list was U.N. Ambassador John Bolton. Poof. And then it was Indiana Governor Mike Pence. Poof. Bye-bye. That was three of them. Bye-bye. Three of them saying they won`t run. But we still got 19 little Republican heads up there, and we are still at 19. And maybe we are not going to go down from that number at all. At least we`re not going to any time soon. I mean, we can add this, right? These people with little red boxes around them, they have formally confirmed that they are in. All of these people have formally declared they are running for the Republican nomination for president in 2016. But it`s very clear they`re not going to be the hole field, it`s not just that we`re going to add the obvious and famous people like Jeb Bush and Scott Walker to that list, and we will eventually have to add them. It`s now becoming clear that even the most obscure and anonymous remaining people on our potential list are not going to be poofed off this list either. They`re just not opting out. Nobody`s opting out any more. One after the other, they keep either announcing that they`re in or signaling that they`re going to be in. Like, for example, this guy, do you recognize this man? Could you pick this man out of a lineup? Could you pick him out of this specific lineup? I mean no offense by that -- I just mean to say, by virtue of his deep national obscurity, and honestly, his lack of any distinguishing political characteristics in this field, this guy was one of my personal top contenders for a guy who would take a look around and decide not to actually run. But alas and behold, "The Washington Post" reports today that he, Ohio Governor John Kasich, is in. Today, his long time friends and strategists close to him told "The Washington Post" that John Kasich will formally join the race for the Republican nomination for president sometime after June 30th. And it turns out John Kasich might be kind of a fun addition to the race. The last time he ran for president was the year 2,000. When George W. Bush chased John Kasich and everybody else out of the Republican field by just blowing everybody away in terms of early fundraising and early endorsements. John Kasich talking to "The Washington Post" about the fact that he`s going to -- he`s going to run this year again. He was asked about that experience in 2000, and he told "The Post", quote, "I didn`t get scared out in 2000, I got destroyed out. I had no money and no oxygen." That`s what happened to him in 2000 when he ran against George W. Bush. "The Post" then asked him about the prospect of doing it again, the prospect of running against another front running Bush brother who`s trying to push everybody out of the race with early showoffy fund-raising and all the rest. But check out what John Kasich had to say about running against Jeb Bush this year. This is from today`s article, Dan Balz and Robert Costa in "The Washington Post". Look, "Asked in this recent interview whether his message would be similar to Jeb Bush`s message, John Kasich said, `I don`t know anything about Bush`s theme. I really don`t. I`ve never listened to him. What`s Right to Rise? Getting up in the morning?`" Right to Rise is the name of Jeb Bush`s super PAC. So, Ohio Governor John Kasich, I mean, (a), even though he`s the governor of Ohio, sadly at least for now, he`s totally unrecognizable and indistinguishable from all of the other candidates in the field. At least he will be to most Americans looking at him in the midst of this giant field of contenders, (a). But, (b), he`s apparently going to run anyway. And (c), if his initial quotes about running are anything to go by, let alone his well-known tendency toward emotional outbursts in Ohio politics, John Kasich might end up being fun to watch, if we can just remember which one he is when it comes to putting a camera on a guy who think is John Kasich, is that him? But it`s not at all. In today`s news of this sort, though, because John Kasich`s leading competitor for the national Republican figure least likely to be recognized in a crowded room is this guy. OK, who is he? His name is -- I mean, do you know what his name is? I mean, hit pause, ask anybody near you. Does anyone in the room watching TV with you right now, know who this man is? Do you have any guesses as to who this man is? His name starts with a J sound. That`s helpful, John something maybe? Jim something maybe? Joe? No. His name is George -- now do you know who he is? Nope? Time`s up. His name is George Pataki. That`s him. George Pataki also apparently sees no reason not to run for president this year. We`re talking about George Pataki on television not because he is formally bowing out of the race for president. He is going to run. He`s going to make his official announcement tomorrow that he`s in the running for the Republican nomination for president of the United States. That feeling in your chest is your heartstrings thrumming. And then there`s the other big news today. More reaction to get to put another box on the list, we get another I`m in formal declaration from another Republican contender in today`s news. The announcement happened today in Butler County, Pennsylvania. And it was made by Rick Santorum. Rick Santorum is now the seventh candidate to make it official. And lots more still to come apparently. It is traditional for candidates to announce in their home state. So, Rick Santorum did that today. It`s a little awkward for Rick Santorum to announce in his home state of Pennsylvania because the last time Rick Santorum ran for office in Pennsylvania, he lost his incumbent U.S. Senate seat by 18 points to a man who makes George Pataki look like Mr. Charisma, Democratic U.S. Senator Bob Casey -- God bless him -- beat Rick Santorum in 2006. When Rick Santorum was the incumbent senator, Bob Casey beat him by 18 points, and Bob Casey today still holds that U.S. Senate seat. But true fact, when Rick Santorum bounced back after that devastating loss in his home state and decided that six years later in 2012, he would run for president, Rick Santorum actually did great in that race in 2012. Yes, it was Mitt Romney who ultimately won the nomination for the Republican Party in 2012. But the guy who very clearly came in second to Mitt Romney in the race for the nomination in 2012 was Rick Santorum. I mean you might remember in 2012, the Iowa caucuses were all screwed up that year, But when they finally did count the votes in the caucuses in 2012, it was Rick Santorum who won Iowa. Rick Santorum then went on to win 10 more states after Iowa, more states than anybody won against Mitt Romney. And that has set Rick Santorum up to make a compelling argument about why he ought to be seen as a top tier contender this time, if not the nominee in waiting for the Republican Party. Rick Santorum told the RNC spring meeting a couple of weeks ago this accurate truth about the modern history of the Republican Party choosing its nominees for president. He told the RNC a couple weeks ago, quote, "Since primaries and caucuses went into effect, every single Republican nominee has met one of three tests. One, they were vice president. Two, they were the son of a former president. Or three, they came in second place the last time and ran again." So, Rick Santorum is essentially saying, hey, look, Dick Cheney is not on the ballot. So, it`s either Jeb Bush, son of a president, or me, the guy who came in second last time. And if we`re going to go on the merits rather than nepotism, frankly, I came in second last time, so I am next in line to win the Republican nomination this time. It is an accurate historical argument, whether it`s a good case to be made for how people should think of his candidacy. Republican beltway types do not seem to think that Rick Santorum has a chance in 2016. But honestly, they`re not asking me? Honestly, though, Rick Santorum is the best natural speaker of all of the Republican candidates who are running or who have considered running this year, all 22 of them. Social conservative issues like being anti-gay or anti-abortion, if those are important issues to Republican voters again this year, which the beltway tends to underestimate but tends to be very important for Republican voters, if social conservative issues are important to Republican voters again this year, Rick Santorum has stronger bona fides on those issues than anybody else running, anybody. And strategically, what Rick Santorum has decided to foreground in his campaign this year, what he`s decided to run on is something that the beltway types hate, but real people tend to really like. This is the cover of his last book, "Blue Collar Conservatives". He`s trying to run as the blue collar Republican champion. He`s trying to run as a Republican economic populist, the guy who stands up for the little guy, and beltway types tend to dismiss economic populism as ridiculous, and they dismiss the prospect of the Republican populist as a fairy tale. And honestly, economic populism has absolutely nothing to do with how the Republican Party governs in Washington right now or any state in the country right now. But if Rick Santorum can do it, if he can define a Republican message for the country, that is about helping regular people and not the rich, if he can change the view of the Republican Party, they`re about regular people and not rich people, that is a bull`s eye for the American electorate if he can do it. So, you know, the beltway writes him off. Just like the beltway writes off Bernie Sanders, who is running on economic populism with an exclamation point. But that is because the beltway does not get and has never gotten economic populism. People really like it. Beltway doesn`t get it, so the punditocracy will rule these guys out on the basis of their ridiculous, old school, Marxist-sounding message. But you know what? People will like it if they get their message out. And Rick Santorum in particular is the best communicator of all the Republican candidates who are running or considering this year. So, if anybody can get the message out, he can. On this economic populist thing which the beltway does not get, both of these guys, both Bernie Sanders and Rick Santorum, will do better than they are expected to do. So, this is the field as it stands right now. Seven people officially in. It will be eight as of tomorrow when George -- sorry, George Pataki dives right in. But if guys like George Pataki and John Kasich and all the rest of them are seeing no reason to bow out, it is possible that we will have a field of 19 plus whoever we forgot to put on the list. And that field is incredibly flat. The front-runners, honestly, nothing personally, they all have deep flaws or in some cases lack important skills. And the supposed also-rans, the supposedly lower tier candidates, frankly, all have a pretty good story to tell. And if the 2012 Republican presidential primary, in 2012, if it was amazing to watch that year, because everybody in the primary was ridiculous at some level, the 2016 Republican primary this year is going to be amazing to watch because everybody has got a shot. Legitimately, this field is not ridiculous, this field is huge, but it`s refusing to un-crowd itself. This is going to be so, so much fun to cover. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Whether or not you are a soccer fan -- today, soccer was the biggest news story in the world for all kinds of terrible reasons. But here tonight for the interview is one of the stars of the U.S. national soccer team, for real, right here, live. Seriously. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Honestly, at the time, this might have qualified as the most obscure political event in the nation. It happened on April 15th, Tax Day, when people are distracted. That was this year. It was an obscure little group that held a press conference to announce that they were going to repeal the death penalty in a very conservative state. They said they were going to do it in Nebraska. Now, since the 1970s, lawmakers in Nebraska have voted over and over and over again to keep the death penalty. They rejected dozens of bills to shutdown death row in that state. But this new group in this low key press conference said they were going to get it done and they were going to get it done this year. The guy you see here is a national leader of that group. His name is Marc Hyden. He`s a veteran of conservative politics. Before he took this job, he worked for the NRA, and he`s not made an exit from conservative politics in order to take up this new cause. He said all along that he`s working on ending the death penalty as part of the conservative cause. He`s doing this as a conservative cause. And this obscure new thing that he was doing, that he was working on Nebraska, it did get some press locally, local paper noted that the new -- this year`s get rid of capital punishment law wasn`t just a Democratic joint. It had 13 cosponsors and nine of them were Republicans. The campaign also got some national press, the beloved lefty magazine, "Mother Jones" covered it, I think in part because this is it the kind of thing that liberals would be amazed to see happen in a conservative state. But "Mother Jones" in their coverage threw some cold water on any hopes about it. They said the bill is unlikely to become law. No chance, right? I mean, you can line up conservatives, Republicans to a certain extent, that doesn`t matter. In the end, the numbers were conservative Nebraska will not let go of the death penalty. But that group from the Tax Day event, Conservatives Concerned About the Death Penalty, they weren`t just talking smack, they also had a grounds game lined up. This guy, for instance, was their Nebraska coordinator. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MATT MALY, COORDINATOR: In favor of repealing the death penalty, it`s so expensive. It can cost as much as 10 times as much to execute someone as to keep them in prison for the rest of their life, and, you know, we`re an organization that cares about limited government and we can have a government that has the power to kill people or we can have a government that doesn`t have the power to kill people. And as a conservative and a kind of libertarian-leaning conservative, I always favor government with less power. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: I always favor government with less power. This conservative group with their surprising but cogent conservative cause, they started on Tax Day when conservatives are railing about the IRS and the size of government. They kicked off their campaign in earnest in Nebraska. They decided that in order to get this thing done, they would have to take on the well-financed, well-connected new Republican governor of Nebraska, his name is Pete Ricketts. He is a Republican. He used to run the online trading company Ameritrade. His father founded the company and now owns the Chicago Cubs. Pete Ricketts comes from money and power. And in January, he became the new governor of Nebraska. He won by 20 points to get the job. If great striding confidence could be distilled into human form, it would look a lot like Governor Pete Ricketts of Nebraska. But when that attempt began to repeal the death penalty in his home state, Governor Ricketts decided he was not going to be on the side of the conservative groups, he was going to stand up for the death penalty in his state. And Governor Ricketts did two things to try to stop the repeal effort and keep the death penalty system in place. First, he did this very bold thing and placed an orders for lethal injection drugs with a company in India. Like a bunch of death penalty states, like all death penalty states, Nebraska didn`t have a way to get lethal injection drugs any more. Pete Ricketts said he would get some, he`d buy them in India, and have them shipped to Nebraska. His office told us they expect to get the first shipment in June. I think Governor Ricketts meant that to be persuasive to Republicans who don`t mind the idea of the death penalty in principle but who were worried in a conservative good government way about the way it was working or not working in Nebraska. He meant this announcement about the new purchase of drugs to be persuasive that the death penalty could work in his state, that it was a working system and the governor had fixed it. And for some people, I think that was persuasive. The Omaha police union last week put out a statement saying that they didn`t want the death penalty to be repealed in part because the system was fixed, the lethal injection drugs would soon be on the way, Governor Ricketts had said so. One of the lawmakers who supported repealing the death penalty said, OK, he changed because of what Pete Ricketts said about the drugs being on their way. If the governor said the drugs were on their way, the system could be fixed, the state could get those drugs and maybe it was true, maybe the system could get work and there was no reason to object to it on good government grounds. Well, however persuasive it was to important stakeholders and legislators in this argument, it turns out that Governor Ricketts` plan to import those lethal injection drugs from India to Nebraska, it is a plan that is not going to work. If that`s how they`re planning on fixing the death penalty in that state, it`s not going to happen. And we know that from this statement that we have obtained from the FDA. The FDA tells us, quote, "With very limited exceptions which do not apply here, it is unlawful to import this drug. And FDA would refuse its admission into the United States." So, Governor Ricketts tried to hold on to the death penalty in part by saying, don`t worry, I`m getting the drugs, I fixed the system, he`s not fixed the system, he`s not getting those drugs. But that was not the only thing that Governor Ricketts did to try to stop this conservative uprising in his state. The governor also did an impressive full court press, more than two dozen media interviews in which he directly appealed to Republican legislators to change their vote. He appealed to the public to put pressure on Republican legislators to do that, and nobody knew if that would be enough. The legislature passed the bill last week. Governor Ricketts vetoed it, on Tuesday. Today, the sponsors of the bill were trying to override that veto. At the outset, the governor needed to flip three votes to make his veto stand. He had already flipped one with this thing he did about ordering the drugs from India. Could Governor Ricketts get two more votes today to keep the death penalty in place? The debate today in Nebraska was very long. It was sometimes personal. It was sometimes very difficult to listen to. It was so prickly. But in the end, when they counted the votes, the governor had lost by the narrowest possible means, the death penalty opponents had won. They repealed it. They had voted to repeal it before, he vetoed it, they overrode his veto with a single vote to spare, by the slimmest of margins, by no margin really. Nebraska today has done what a red state has not done for four decades. Nebraska today got out of the business of capital punishment and they did it with Republican votes against a very powerful and very well- resourced Republican governor. And that powerful governor went up against a group of conservatives who seemed to have no chance, and the group with seemingly no chance won this one. And you know what happens next? Today, the Conservatives Concerned about the Death Penalty issued their own statement of striding confidence. They say they weren`t surprised at all by what happened in Nebraska today. They said they are now moving on to talk to conservatives around the nation who will follow Nebraska`s example. And after the way this has played out in Nebraska with this remarkable and dramatic vote today, who`s to say they`re not right? Joining us now is Nebraska State Senator Jeremy Norquist. He`s a cosponsor of the bill to repeal the death penalty. Senator Nordquist, thanks for being here today. This is a very big day in your state. STATE SEN. JEREMY NORDQUIST, NEBRASKA: It`s so great to be with you. Truly, it is a historic day for Nebraska and the entire movement to repeal the death penalty. MADDOW: I said it was hard to watch some of the debate today in part because it was so prickly, and it was a difficult debate. And at times it was so personal, there was a lot of very personal religious reflection by a lot of legislators, a lot of interpersonal conflict among them. But part of it was just the drama of not knowing how it was going to turn out. Did you know how it was going to turn out today heading into this vote? NORDQUIST: Well, ever since the governor vetoed the bill, we`ve been having ongoing conversations with colleagues and it really came down to the last minute. And until the votes were set on the board, we were a little bit in doubt. And thank God that we were able to pull together 30 votes to repeal the death penalty, but the governor cashed in all of his political chips on this, and came up short. MADDOW: There is a unique system in Nebraska in which you have a single house in your legislature, there`s no House and Senate. It`s a unicameral legislature. And also, it`s a sensibly a nonpartisan body, although we know from Nebraska politics it`s a largely Republican institution, is what made the difference this year that phenomenon of conservatives lobbying conservatives on conservative terms. Obviously, there`s been a lot of interest in the issue over the years, but is that what put it over the line today? NORDQUIST: Well, you know, there`s been a committed block of us for a number of years who stand behind repealing the death penalty for moral reasons. And obviously, the data is on our side as far as public safety and it not being a deterrence to crime. But what really tipped it was this group of what I would call -- you know, they`re fiscally conservative individuals who just see the death penalty as a wasteful government program right now, that in our state is completely broken. It`s bordering on the ridiculous, as you mentioned in your intro, bordering on the ridiculous, the steps we`re taking to try to obtain the drugs to implement lethal injection, and we have failed and failed and failed. In 2009, my first year in the legislature, we fought hard to block the bill to replace the electric chair which had been ruled unconstitutional with lethal injection, and we couldn`t get 17 votes to block it. MADDOW: Wow! NORDQUIST: But now, we`ve been able to build a coalition with those moderate fiscal conservatives who see this as a wasteful program. They see it through pragmatic eyes rather than through dogmatic eyes. MADDOW: Nebraska State Senator Jeremy Nordquist, this story about what happened in Nebraska will be taught in political science classes in years ahead. Just a remarkable story. I know you`ve been a key part of this all along, sir. Thanks for helping us understand this tonight. Congratulations. NORDQUIST: Glad to be with you, Rachel. MADDOW: All right. Fascinating. One of the things to watch on this story in Nebraska is whether or not people who support the death penalty, including the governor, try to get it back through some sort of popular referendum. We saw this work through the legislature to get it repealed, including this incredible drama today with overriding the governor`s veto. It will be interesting if they put it to a vote. And what the organizers will be around that, and whether or not the same tactics will work. It`s a fascinating question and a very deep red state. Lots more ahead tonight. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: In November last year, the awesome New York City tabloid paper, "The New York Daily News" published this report about soccer. And it`s got all the great things that make tabloid reporting tabloid reporting. So, because they`re talking about a guy turning states evidence and helping the FBI, they call him in the headline, the Soccer Rat! And even though it`s not particularly relevant to the story, "The Daily News" goes out of their way to point out the guy in question is 450 pounds and when they want to call him corrupt, they call him corpulent and corrupt. They give juicy, slightly unnecessary details about how the FBI first picked the guy up on a Manhattan sidewalk, but also you get the pure tabloid ooze that at the time, he was riding a mobility scooter down that Manhattan sidewalk when the FBI nabbed him and he was riding that mobility scooter, quote, "to a pricey Manhattan restaurant." They also point out that he was a regular at Table 4 at a fancy restaurant called Elaine`s. And that he only live his lavish lifestyle at the Trump Tower apartments, but that he actually held down two Trump Tower apartments, one that cost $18,000 a month for himself, and one adjacent that cost $6,000 a month for his cats. His cats had their own apartment in the Trump Tower. I learned today in "The New York Times" that he also used to wear a live parrot around as an accessory. But months ahead of "The Times" teaching me that today, there was "The Daily News" last November with their scoop about the cat apartment and everything else you would want to know and more, about how the top soccer executive in the United States lived so large and by implication, how he live so large. "The Daily News" had the scope on him turning states evidence back in some kind of FBI investigation back in November. Well, today, we learned the results of that investigation as Attorney General Loretta Lynch and James Comey, the head of the FBI, announced a 47-count indictment against 14 different people involved at the highest levels of the world`s most popular sport. International soccer is a multibillion dollar affair. And today`s indictment says executives at the top of that sport figured out how to turn it into -- how to turn that multibillion dollar business into millions of dollars for themselves. Some of the evidence in the case was gleaned through the not terribly willing corporation of former U.S. soccer bigwig Chuck Blazer who walked right into the fed`s clutches or rolled right into the fed`s clutches when he refused to file income taxes or explain the source of his lavish lifestyle, cat apartment included. We learned today as part of the unveiling of this big case and international soccer that Chuck Blazer secretly pled guilty to 10 counts in November 2013 involving his taxes and lots else besides. The evidence he apparently secretly recorded on a secret key chain recorder, among his former colleague at the highest echelons of international soccer, and the other results of years long FBI investigation, turned into blunt allegations today that basically everything up and down the food chain of international soccer, everything from which countries get major matches and the World Cup, to who gets to run FIFA and thereby collect and channel all the bribe money, to who gets the marketing deals and the distribution rights to the games -- everything has for years been for sale. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) LORETTA LYNCH, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: In short, these individuals through these organizations engaged in bribery to decide who would televise games, where the games would be held and who would run the organization overseeing soccer worldwide. They did this over and over, year after year, tournament after tournament. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: It is a little bit of a weird irony to see the attorney general of the United States bring these charges, right, and to see all of these international soccer executives face arrest abroad, and then face extradition to the United States to face these charges. It`s a weird irony because, honestly, the U.S. is thought of as one of the only countries in the world, the only large country in the world that isn`t as in love with soccer as the rest of the world is. As evidenced by the fact that we call a whole different sport football. But this thing is a U.S. investigation, it`s U.S. charges. It may have been the U.S. cat apartment guy who`s saving his own skin evidence led to today`s 47-part indictment. So, if you are an American international soccer star, if you are a star on the American national soccer team, today has to be a truly bizarre and perhaps distracting day. One of those stars is here next for the interview. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: On May 10th, Mother`s Day, the U.S. national soccer team played an international match against Ireland in San Jose, California. And the U.S. women`s team beat Ireland 3-zip. The stadium they played in holds about 18,000 people, it was a sellout game. The next game was May 17th -- which is the previous -- last Sunday. They have another big international match against a tough opponent. It was the U.S. versus Mexico. They played at the stub hub center, which is a soccer arena in the L.A. area. The capacity of that arena is 27,000, that was also a sold out game. In that match on May 17th, the U.S. women beat Mexico 5-1. Now, this upcoming Sunday, May 30th, the U.S. women`s national team has a match against South Korea, another tough opponent. They`re going to play at the Red Bull Arena, that arena holds over 25,000 people and again that is expected to be a sold out game. I just checked online before we got on the air, there are still some tickets available. But by game time Sunday, all of those tickets are expected to be gone. These are their last three matches. This match on Sunday will be their final match before the start of the World Cup, which is being held in Canada this year. So, there`s kind of a lot of drama around the World Cup for the U.S. women`s national team, right, because -- I mean, yes, the World Cup is always a big deal, but there`s always these lingering worries that maybe Americans aren`t all that into soccer, the way that people are into soccer in other countries. Well, this year, all of the women`s teams send off matches, all of them are selling out. Last time they played the World Cup four years ago that wasn`t the case. This year they`re selling them all out. People are super pumped, that`s part of it. The other part of the legit drama around this World Cup, is the for some God forsaken reason, the women are being forced to play on artificial turf. The men don`t have to play on artificial turf. They get to play on grass. But for the women`s World Cup, all the practice fields and all of the game fields are artificial turf. And the players are mad about it. But the World Cup is forcing them to do that anyway. So, that`s not positive drama, that`s negative drama, it`s still dramatic. And then on top of all that, the charmers who are making the women play on artificial turf are an outfit you may have heard of called FIFA, which distinguished itself today by having its top tier of executives indicted by the U.S. Justice Department in a 47-count indictment, having them all extradited from all over the world to the United States, to face racketeering and corruption charges totaling more than $150 million in ill- gotten gains and rigged bids and bribes, allegedly. And if there`s already no love lost between the players, the people who actually do the work, right, and the organization that runs international competitive soccer which Attorney General Loretta Lynch today described as corrupt in a rampant, systemic and deep rooted way. There`s already no love lost between the players and the international governing body for their sport, which Dave Zirin described as having a level of graft and ostentatious excess that would make Caligula blush. If there was already a little frison (ph) between the FIFA and the players already, consider how they`ve treated the women players of this international sport. The president of FIFA has suggested that one way to make the women`s game more popular is to adjust what they wear. "Female players are pretty, if you excuse me for saying so, and they already have some different rules to men, such as playing with a lighter ball. That decision was taken to create a more female aesthetic. So, why not do it in fashion?" Quote, "Let the women play in more feminine clothes like they do in volleyball. They could have tighter shorts." He`s the international president of FIFA which saw lots of its other top executives indicted today, so they will be extradited to the United States for prosecution. He was not among those named in the indictment today. But if you are an international player who does this as your work, whose about to embark on an incredibly dramatic start to the top national competition in your field in the most popular sport in the world, this rattling of the golden cage today, this international haul them in, racketeering perp walk for the executives who have been sucking the integrity of the sport like vampire leeches, right, and making themselves rich off the blood and sweat of the players, and the people who love the game -- it`s got to be somewhere between distracting and delicious and bewildering to have all this happening right at the start of your World Cup trip. Joining us now for the interview is one of the stars of the U.S. women`s national team, Megan Rapinoe, who I was really looking forward to talking to today even before all of FIFA got arrested at a Zurich hotel this morning. Megan, thank you so much for being here. It`s great to see you. MEGAN RAPINOE, U.S. WOMEN`S SOCCER OLYMPIC GOLD MEDALIST: Thank you. Good to see you, too. MADDOW: I have to imagine as a professional athlete that most of what you are thinking about right now has got to be playing South Korea this weekend, right? RAPINOE: Right, the singular focus, of course. Everybody gets up and has their coffee and reads the paper in the morning. That was an interesting one to wake up to. MADDOW: Is this a huge distraction for you, guys? I mean, obviously, you`re doing your media day stuff, you`re getting people psyched for the World Cup. Everybody wants to talk about it, is it distracting? RAPINOE: I don`t think so. I mean, I don`t think it`s -- I think it`s a shock they`re being indicted. I don`t think it`s a big shock that people think they`ve taken bribes and they`ve had all this corruption. So, it doesn`t come as a shock in that way, but kind of just one more thing on the plate, and it`s OK, today was our media day. So, it was a good day for it all to hit. MADDOW: I guess that`s true. In one sense you get it all cleared. As the World Cup approaches, there has been this other drama about the turf issue in Canada, which again is not about how you play, not about how you prep, not about how you scout other teams and all that stuff, but sort of an externality. Is that a concern for you guys as you head in, do you feel like you`ve adjusted to it? How is that going to affect the World Cup this year? RAPINOE: I think we`ve adjusted as well as we can. I mean, there`s other things that you just -- it`s harder on your body. We have an extra game. There`s seven games hopefully to get to the final this year. So, I mean, we can do as much as we can. I`m not 22 any more. It will be a little harder. But, you know, we`ll file a lawsuit, and got a lot of press on it, I think what we have done, there won`t be another woman`s World Cup on turf, but unfortunately, we couldn`t get it done for this one. MADDOW: So, you`ll have to play this one, but you think it will never happen again? RAPINOE: I think so. I mean, I hope so, that would be a definite slap in the face if the next one was. MADDOW: Is the worry injury or is that more complicated than that? RAPINOE: I think it`s both. There definitely is an injury worry which is harder on your body, but I think just the quality of the game is just, you just -- the top games aren`t played on turf, and I think you know, people try to argue, all the teams are playing, and it`s the same surface for everyone, they would never blink at putting that for any kind of top level men`s game, and to have the biggest event something that is for something a once in a lifetime opportunity to have it on a second rate surface is disappointing and disrespectful. MADDOW: Watching the numbers -- the attendance numbers for you guys spike, especially in the lead-up to the World Cup has to be exciting. I wonder if you -- I mean, women have been so disrespected by FIFA. And continue to be including this issue with the turf and out loud, including by the president of FIFA, I wonder if you see that those numbers going up and the increasing popularity of the sport is something that`s going to give you guys more leverage in terms of getting your due, in terms of the way that the professional leagues are treated, the way that international competition is treated and how women factor into this sport in the world? RAPINOE: Yes, I think so. I mean, I think -- you know, while on the one hand FIFA can say that Blatter was quoted as saying he`s the godfather of women`s soccer. And he`s done so much. It`s like, you don`t get a congratulation for doing the right thing. These federations are being mandated to put more money in the women`s program, but we`re also making money now, we`re selling out stadiums. You know, I think we came and saw you after the last women`s World Cup, since then it`s grown tremendously, and I think we`re putting ourselves into that conversation where we`re making money now, and it`s not just about goodwill for the women and send them on their way and have them be thankful. I think that we`ve done a lot to put ourselves in this great spot and to grow our sport the way that we have. MADDOW: Yes, people don`t watch you as a favor, people watch you because they`re psyched for it. Are you worried about the toughness of the group you`re in? RAPINOE: Not worried. I`m excited about it. MADDOW: OK. RAPINOE: It is a tough group. It`s an interesting group, I think there`s -- we have Australia who`s a wild card and the young. I think the average age of their team is like 23, which is -- I don`t know if we have one 23-year-old on our team. But there`s kind of an interesting dynamic between all the teams. MADDOW: Young and naive, that`s how we think of them. Megan Rapinoe, Olympic gold medalist, member of the U.S. women`s national soccer team, good luck. It`s great to have you here. It`s great to see you. RAPINOE: Thank you. MADDOW: Thanks. All right. Much more ahead. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Do you need a best thing in the world today? You do? OK. Got one. Coming up. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Almost exactly a year ago, the Centers for Disease Control did something terrifying. Last summer, the CDC sent live anthrax bacteria to laboratories around the country by accident. They meant to deactivate those samples of anthrax before they ship them off, but they didn`t by mistake. And it was only through luck that nobody contracted anthrax out of that incident. Well, today, another part of our government has confirmed that they, too, accidentally sent live anthrax to labs. This is an actual A.P. headline today. Oops, military mailed live anthrax. The Pentagon was supposed to deactivate the anthrax, before they sent it out, but they didn`t. They sent it to something like 20 labs by mistake. And now, four civilian DOD lab workers are taking medicine just in case they were exposed to this live anthrax virus, which wasn`t supposed to be live. But you know who is in charge of investigating what went wrong at the Pentagon with this accidental shipping of the anthrax? It`s the CDC. So hopefully they`ve got their own accidental mailing anthrax problem under control because they`re now in charge of investigating the Pentagon`s accidental mailing of the anthrax problem. So, the snake at least eats its own tail. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Today was the preliminary rounds in this year`s Scripps National Spelling Bee. Today, 285 competitors got whittled down to 48. The finals are going to be tomorrow. Whether or not you are a good speller and however you feel about national pastimes, honestly, this event is unqualified greatness beginning to end. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CONTESTANT: Chastushka. C-h-a-s-t-u-s-h-k-a, chastushka. ANNOUNCER: Correct. (APPLAUSE) CONTESTANT: Angiitis. A-n-g-i-i-t-i-s. Angiitis. ANNOUNCER: Correct. CONTESTANT: Thanks. (APPLAUSE) (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: And they high five each other, even in -- even in -- they high five each other, they congratulate each other -- even in defeat these guys are gracious. There was a moment of real drama today when 13-year-old Jojo Viti (ph) of Laramie, Wyoming, took the stage. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CONTESTANT: Gamboge. G-a-m-b-a -- b-o -- may I start over? Gamboge, g-a-m-b-o-g-e. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Now, because he tripped over himself like that, the judges had to confer. This is them conferring. The conferring went on for a minute and a half. Poor Jojo just stood there waiting, wondering what they were going to do. Until finally, no! (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JUDGE: Gamboge is spelled g-a-m-b-o-g-e. CONTESTANT: Thank you. JUDGE: Thank you. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Apparently, Jojo was not allowed to start over the way he did when he said can I start over? You can`t. Now, my response at that point would have been are you kidding me followed by a tantrum, -- but Jojo was calm and polite. That is why I`m not a spelling bee champion and one of those awesome kids will be as of tomorrow. But you know what? The fact that this spelling bee thing is one of our national past times, the fact that this is happening when the biggest story in the world today is the corruption and terribleness of most countries` national pastime, the Scripps Spelling Bee arriving today in the midst of today`s terrible corruption news is honestly relief. And it is the best thing in the world today. Go, Spelling Bee kids. That does it for us tonight. We`ll 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