IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 06/02/15

Guests: Bernie Sanders

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chris. Thanks, my friend. HAYES: You bet. MADDOW: And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour. Vermont senator and Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders is here for the interview tonight. He`s going to be here with us live in just a moment. I`m very excited about that. We`ve got a big show tonight. Tonight, the front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination, the woman who is such a front-runner in many people`s eyes, she is the party`s presumptive nominee, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, she is on her way to Texas for a two-day Texas trip that starts tomorrow. Yes, I said Texas. Texas is not -- you know, changing their rules to vote early this year along with Iowa and New Hampshire and those other early states. Texas isn`t an early state. Texas is still as yet a very red state. So even if Texas does matter towards the nomination this year on the Republican side, there`s really no reason that Texas will be an important state to win on the Democratic side. Hillary Clinton, though, going two days to Texas this week. And the reason Secretary Clinton is visiting Texas of all places, at a time when there are all these other -- you know, really high pressured demands on her time, when she is otherwise trying to spend every available minute in the early primary and caucus states at this important time in her campaign, the reason Hillary Clinton is leaving the well beaten campaign trail instead of spending two days in Texas this week is, I think, money. No matter the electoral calendar, big time candidates who are trying to raise big time money, they must find time on the campaign to follow the rich people home to wherever the rich people live. And so, sometimes in places like Texas, that means you find an occasional Democratic front running presidential nominee. And so, the secretary of state -- former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is going to Texas tomorrow for a fund-raising trip. That trip, though, does have one happy political side effect which is that her two-day swing through Texas will also put her in Texas for Rick Perry`s big announcement. Former Texas Governor Rick Perry has scheduled his major announcement for the day after tomorrow in Dallas. If, as expected, he announces that he is in the race, he will be the first candidate in any major party to declare a run for the presidency while he is also under criminal indictment on corruption charges. He will become, in addition to that history-making glass ceiling breaker, he will also become the 10th candidate to formally enter the presidential race on the Republican side this year so far. He will be number ten. And presumably, there`s lots more still to go. Once Governor Perry gets in on Thursday, while Hillary Clinton awkwardly enough is in Texas on a fund-raising trip at the same time. While he gets in on Thursday, we will still be waiting on inevitable announcement from guys like Jeb Bush and Scott Walker, Chris Christie and Bobby Jindal. John Kasich, the governor of Ohio says he may yet get in. Peter King, congressman from New York, we`re waiting on him. Two of my favorites, former Maryland Governor Bob Ehrlich and former Virginia Governor Jim Gilmore, because of where they are on our candidates chart, I sort of think of them as twins now. I`m kind of hoping they will announce together or at least on the same day. And then, of course, there is this guy on the right-hand side there, who is next up in terms of a scheduled announcement after Rick Perry goes on Thursday this week. That guy on the right side of your screen, third row down, he is due to be in New Hampshire the day after his planned announcement on June 16th. He`s due to make two appearances in Iowa this week. And in advance of that Iowa visit this week, that could be Republican presidential candidate shared some pearls of would-be presidential wisdom with the "Des Moines Register." (BEGIN AUDIO CLIP) DONALD TRUMP, BUSINESSMAN: Nobody has ever been more successful than me. I`m the most successful person ever to run. The American Dream is dead. It`s dead. Dead as a door nail. But I`m going to bring it back stronger than ever before. The problem with politics, if I tell you right now, everyone else is going to say, "What a great idea." You are going to have 10 candidates going, who are going to forget where it came from, which is me. But, no, I have an absolute way of defeating ISIS, and it would be decisive and quick and very, very -- it`d be very beautiful. (END AUDIO CLIP) MADDOW: It would be very -- it would be very beautiful. I can see it. It would be beautiful. I mentioned just a moment ago that we`ve got Senator Bernie Sanders here tonight for the interview. Senator Bernie Sanders has just made a formal request to the chair of the Democratic Party, that might actually offer the Republican Party a way out of the mess they have gotten themselves into in terms of how to handle issues like Donald Trump and how to handle the managerial consequences of their own historically unprecedented ginormous Republican presidential field. I mean, the field is not set yet on either side. There`s going to be a new formal entry into the Democratic race tomorrow, Lincoln Chafee, former Republican senator, former independent Rhode Island governor, he`ll announce that he is now going to seek the 2016 Democratic Party nomination for the presidency. That`s going to happen tomorrow. And even with Linc Chafee getting in though, tomorrow, in contrast with the Republicans, the Democratic field will still be really small. Even with Linc Chafee getting in tomorrow, the Democratic field will still be small enough to fit inside a midsized sedan, with room left over for someone else to drive provided somebody will sit in the middle seat in the back. That`s the Democratic field, even with Linc Chafee getting in tomorrow. On the Republican side, the field is so big that we are now starting to get a look at the strategically perverse decisions that the Republican Party has set itself up to make in terms of their debate. Specifically, I mean, if they are still planning to only let in the top 10 contenders as measured in national polls, which is what they say the criteria will be for their first big Republican primary debate, well, the new national ABC News/"Washington Post" poll described today would exclude not only Rick Perry, but it would also exclude the other prominent Republican who announced this week, Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina. The latest CNN national poll that`s out today would, again, exclude Lindsey Graham. It would even exclude Rick Santorum who came in second to Mitt Romney for the Republican presidential nomination in 2012. Both of those polls, even as they exclude the other guys, both of those polls would include Donald Trump. They would both include Donald Trump on the debate stage because sure, why not? I mean, honestly, if you ran Ted Nugent in a national poll or if you ran a Chick-fil-A sandwich, they would stand a chance of cracking to the top 10, too. In the national poll of Republican voters this far out from the election, with two dozen names to choose from, you`re talking about cracking the top 10, Chick-fil-A sandwich could do it. Donald Trump has done it. Why not put all of them in the debate? But that`s a problem for the Republican Party in terms of actually presenting your voters, actually presenting the early voting states in particular with a conceivably viable slate of candidates, and making sure that everybody who is conceivably viable gets a shot at making their case to the voters. It`s -- whether or not you`re a Republican, whether or not you want a Republican to ultimately win, that is a strategic conundrum for the Republican Party there in trouble. But Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders has a way to fix this. He has now written a formal request to the Democratic Party chair, Debbie Wasserman Schultz. And in this formal request, he asks for more debates to be scheduled in the primary process. And yes, that makes sense. In a candidacy like his running against a strong front-runner, you want a lot of debates, right? Debates are probably your best shot for making the biggest national splash with your campaign. So, that`s one. He wants more debates. He also asks for the debates to start basically now. Start them sooner. And there`s a reasonable case to be made for that request, as well. The last time Democrats were competing for an open seat in the White House was the 2008 election, so the campaign started in 2007 heading into 2008. At this point in the campaign process, that year, the first debate had already happened more than a month ago. The first debate was in April 2007 for the 2008 election. So, Bernie Sanders is saying, listen, look at what we`ve done in the past. That worked pretty well for us. Let`s get started. Let`s get these under way. He also makes the case that the debate should be all over the country, including in states that don`t traditionally get a lot of Democrat attention. He says holds debates in places like Texas, hold debates in places like Mississippi or Utah and Wyoming, places that aren`t used to seeing Democrats to those places can hear what the Democratic Party has to offer. All interesting. None of it is that crazy, right? But all interesting. None of it is that far off the field in terms of what other people have proposed from time to time. But then there`s the big great idea. Then, there`s the big great idea that could make it all so much more fun for all of us, honestly. But that could also essentially rescue the Republican Party from their huge mess that they`ve got with their huge field f candidates this year. Because in addition to that other stuff about the debate, Senator Sanders is now proposing that we throw the overall debate scheme out the window for the 2016 election. The overall plan, right, where Republicans all debate amongst themselves a handful of times -- however they`re going to do that with 30 million candidates, right? And the Democrats all debate amongst themselves a handful of times, too. And then after those two-party processes are done inside the party where the nominees or potential nominees from each party debate amongst themselves, then, only then, they debate somebody from the other party. That`s the basic scheme under which we operate, right? Bernie Sanders proposes, instead, why not, during the primary process, have Democrats and Republicans mix it up? Have Democrats and Republicans in some combination start debating each other. Not as the official nominees of their party, but as people who want to be the nominees of their party and who want to make the case that they ought to be that nominee in part by showing off what they can do to guys on the other side of the aisle. All right? Pick me, Democratic Party. Pick me to be your nominee because this is what you`ll get if you put me up against the Republicans. Watch me debate the Republicans if you like what I see. If you like what you see in me, consider me for your nominee. Same goes on the Republican side. Hey, Republican Party, pick me as the nominee. Watch how I take apart these Democrats in the debate. It makes sense, right? I mean, it makes sense if you`re running to win the nomination and win the presidency. It also really makes sense if you`re running to win the argument. If you`re run to go win the argument for the long run in part of the whole country, and in the process get people to care about politics in a way they manifestly do not right now. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ANDREA MITCHELL, MSNBC HOST: One of the other things you`ve just done is written a letter suggesting the Democratic National Party have bipartisan debates as early as July, which brings to mind, just how would you decide who among these Republicans would be in such a debate? How would you have a big enough stage for everybody? SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D), PRESIDNETIAL CANDIDATE: You know, I think it can be done in an ad hoc way and it`s something we have to work up. But here is the point, Andrea -- there is no secret that millions of Americans are giving up on our political system. And that is a sad state of affair. Yes, I want Republican toes be involved early on, because I think once we can get into the room with Republicans, we can expose their reactionary agenda of huge tax breaks for millionaires, throwing millions of people off of health insurance, cuts in Medicare, Medicaid, education, environmental protection, education. I do not believe that`s the agenda that the American people support, and I think when we get them in a room together and have those debates, we can expose them. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: When we get them in a room together and have those debates. Democrats and Republicans together, we can suppose that. Senator Bernie Sanders is not just running a different kind of presidential campaign. He`s exposing that the whole process of the presidential campaign be done in a different way and for a different purpose, to not just win the fight, but to win the argument, too, and to start that part of the substantive debate by the politics of this country, to start it now. That would be fun. Vermont senator and Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders joins us live, next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: "Late Night with Seth Meyers" last night. Watch. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SETH MEYERS, LAST NIGHT WITH SETH MEYERS: You describe yourself as a Democratic socialist. And that is, some would say, a dangerous thing politically to describe yourself as. We have a president right now who does not consider himself as a socialist but people call him a socialist as an insult. So, are you worried about framing yourself as this that so many people have a negative connotation? SANDERS: Not if we have an opportunity to describe what Democratic socialism means. That means you have countries like Denmark, Sweden, Norway, other European countries who have social democratic governments and labor governments. And the result of that is, in those countries, health care is a right of all people. I don`t see that as a great problem. (APPLAUSE) At a time when so many of our young people can`t afford to go to college, tuition is free in many of those countries. (APPLAUSE) Excellent -- they have excellent child care, strong retirement benefits, they are often strongly pro-environment, taking on climate change. So, I think when people understand that in those countries governments are working for the middle class rather than the billionaire class, I think we can get our message across. MEYERS: I agree. And I -- (APPLAUSE) And as someone who just came back from Sweden, I can also tell you they speak Swedish there. (LAUGHTER) (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Joining us now for "The Interview" is that self-proclaimed Democratic socialist, independent Vermont senator, and Democratic presidential candidate, Bernie Sanders, who right now is on something of a roll. Senator, it`s great to see you. Thanks for being here. SANDERS: Good to be with you, Rachel. MADDOW: How is it going now versus how you thought it would be going by now? I will preface this by saying it seems to me that things are going very well for you right now in your campaign. SANDERS: They are going very well. We had a wonderful kick off in Burlington, Vermont, with over 5,000 people, tremendous turnout in New Hampshire, great overflow crowds in Iowa. Then we were in Minneapolis on Sunday morning, and we put this meeting together only with a few days advanced notice. We have 4,000 people coming out. So, I think the message is resonating. People are tired of establishment politics and economics. They want to be part of the movement which stands up to the billionaire class and says, enough is enough. Our country, our government belong to all of us, in just a few. So, I think things are going well so far. MADDOW: You had, as you mentioned, that very large turnouts in Minneapolis on very short notice, thousands of people turning out to see you. More people that can fit -- than could fit in the venue. "The New York Times" also described your event last Thursday in Davenport, Iowa, as the largest turnout any candidate from either party has been able to turn out in Iowa so far this year. When you first declared, one of the things that we talked about was whether or not you felt like you were able to upscale the infrastructure of your campaign to take advantage of all that enthusiasm. Is that -- is that under way? SANDERS: It is, Rachel. It`s tough stuff. We are going to be very clearly be outspent by our opponents. I don`t have the super PAC. Millionaires are not going to contribute to my campaign. But as of now, we have had contributions at from 130,000 Americans with an average contribution of about $40. We have had a lot more people sign up and want to help out in the campaign. So, what we`re trying to do now is build the infrastructure, put more people on the ground in Iowa and in New Hampshire and elsewhere and we`re scaling up literally as we speak. MADDOW: You`ve also made a dramatic and creative proposal, I think in terms of how the debate schedule ought to be changed. And you`ve made a bunch of suggestions to the Democratic Party in terms of the things you`d like, ways you think could be done differently and more creatively. But why specifically are you proposing that Democrats and Republicans should start debating each other now before the two parties have their nominees? SANDERS: I will tell you why, Rachel. In a sense, the Republicans get away with murder. They have an absolutely reactionary agenda. You know, they may vary a little bit from this candidate to the other. But basically, what these guys are about are huge tax breaks for billionaires, massive cuts in Medicare, Medicaid, education, nutrition, environmental programs. And also clearly, some of the Republican candidates like Jeb Bush and Chris Christie have talked about, they want to cut Social Security. Now, they get away with that stuff because a lot of people don`t know what they are talking about. And I think we -- if we can confront them, honestly, and say to their face when so many seniors are struggling right now, how in God`s name are you talking about cutting Social Security when we should expand it? When kids can`t afford to go to college now, why are you talking about cutting Pell grants by $90 billion? Why are you on the payroll of the Koch brothers and other billionaires rather than addressing the needs of other working families? If we can confront them and debate issues rather than allow the media to get into political gossip and polling and fund-raising, but talk about the issues, I think their agenda does not reflect more than 15 percent or 20 percent of the American people. MADDOW: When I think about the Republican candidates and their motivations, what they might want to be do, it`s hard for me to imagine strategically that a lot of them would want to start debating with the Democratic side for I think some of the reasons that you just described. But in a smaller sense, a lot of them are really up against it in terms of not making it into their party`s formal debates. Because of that, because there may be some desperation among credible Republican candidates, are you thinking about going outside the system and trying to ad hoc organize these things with the Republican candidates? SANDERS: I think -- look, Rachel, in the last elections, 63 percent of the American people didn`t vote, 80 percent of young people didn`t vote. It is no great secret that political consciousness in this country is not terribly high, which is not an accident. That`s what the big money people really want. So, I think in any way we can -- that we can create serious debates on serious issues. How can the Republican Party ignore science in terms of climate change? With so much massive income and wealth inequality, why do they want to raise taxes on working families? So, I think the more we have that clash of ideas, I think we win. I think people become more engaged in the political process. I think it`s a good thing for progressives. I think it`s a good thing for American democracy. MADDOW: Senator Bernie Sanders, candidate for the Democratic nomination for president of the United States -- sir, it`s always great to see you. Thank you very much for being with us. SANDERS: Thank you, Rachel. MADDOW: Thanks. You know, I will say, I know that neither party would want that to happen, and I know that both parties think they made their most strategic decision about organize the debate. If some of the candidates decided to go rogue -- forgive the phrase -- and organize this outside the party structure because the party structure doesn`t serve them, I would at least attend that debate. In fact, I`d probably get there several hours early so I could be up front. I hope this whole debate system they have planned this year blows up. It`s not serving either party. And the idea that Bernie Sanders is a better one than anyone else has put forward. We`ll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Inside the U.S. Capitol building in Washington, D.C., there is a portrait that looks like there. And as you can see, there`s a portrait on the left-hand side, it bears a striking resemblance -- right there under the tie to the gentleman in the middle between Nancy Pelosi and John Boehner. That is Republican House Speaker Denny Hastert. This photo is from 2009 when Nancy Pelosi and John Boehner held a grand unveiling of the Denny Hastert portrait at the U.S. capitol. That`s the kind of day in Washington that nobody feels weird about at all until the guy in the portrait gets indicted. House Republicans say the fate of that Denny Hastert portrait has not yet been decided. Denny Hastert has just been indicted. He`s not stood trial yet. They`re not taking down his portrait at the capitol just yet. But the story of the indictment of the former speaker of the House, and what led to that indictment took another strange return today. And the reporter who broke the latest strange piece of it is going to join us shortly. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: January 6th, 1959, Richard Loving and his wife, Mildred, were sentenced to a year in prison after they pled guilty to committing a felony in the state of Virginia. Their crime was that they were married to each other. They had gotten married in Washington, D.C. and driven back home to Virginia and state law in Virginia said not only could a mixed race couple not get married in Virginia, but if a mixed race couple got married anywhere else and then tried to come live in Virginia as a mixed race married couple, that couple would have to go to prison. One to five years in prison for the felony of a mixed race marriage in Virginia. And on January 6th, 1959, Mildred and Richard pled guilty. They were each sentenced to a year in prison. The judge told them they would not actually have to serve that sentence, they would not actually have to go to prison, the sentence would be suspended if they agreed to leave the state and get out of Virginia. And they did. The Virginia trial judge who sentenced them said this in his ruling. He said, "Almighty God created the races, white, black, yellow, malay and red, and he placed them on separate continents and but for the interference with his arrangement, there would be no cause for such marriage. The fact that he separated the races shows that he did not intend for the races to mix."\ That was in the judge`s ruling and that is how Mildred and Richard Loving faced either prison or banishment from the state. In all of the political arguing and kitchen table debating, even the courtroom litigation around the issue of same-sex marriage, the case of Richard and Mildred loving and the legality of their marriage comes up over and over and over again. People use it as a civil rights analogy to explain how the laws around marriage haven`t been static for all time in the relatively recent past, certain kinds of marriage that we now accept as totally legitimate were banned by law in some parts of this country. The Supreme Court case in Loving versus Virginia which overturned that state law, which banned their marriage, that Supreme Court case and the eloquent ruling in that case written by Chief Justice Earl Warren for a unanimous Supreme Court, that ruling has been cited over and over again as both an analogy and as precedent for the courts now striking down state laws that ban same-sex couples from getting married, just in the same way that Mildred and Richard were banned from getting married because of their race. But tonight in the state of North Carolina, Republicans in the state legislature there are about to pass an anti-gay marriage law that does not just remind people of the Loving versus Virginia case, it doesn`t just invoke Richard and Mildred Loving as an analogy, as a reminder of when Southern states would not marry mixed race couples, either -- what North Carolina is about to do would not just remind about banning interracial marriage, it would actually allow for that again. This North Carolina bill also passed the legislature, was actually vetoed by the state`s governor, but the Republican-led legislature in North Carolina is in the process of overriding that veto and putting this thing into law anyway. The Senate has overridden the veto. The House looks like it`s about to override the veto, and that will make it law. This bill was written as an anti-gay bill. Federal courts have ruled that same-sex marriage is legal in North Carolina. The state has to recognize the marriages of same-sex couples. But this bill would allow the state of North Carolina to refuse to grant those marriage licenses, anyway. Right? So, the idea is sure, technically, same-sex marriage is legal here. The federal court is telling North Carolina what it has to do in terms of the Constitution, but this legislation would let individual public employees who are the gatekeepers to letting people actually access that right, it would let those public employees opt out of doing so. It would let those public employees opt out of allowing people to access their constitutional rights in North Carolina if that public employee as an individual just didn`t want to do it. Under this new law in North Carolina, public employees in charge of handing out marriage licenses could refuse to do so to any would-be married couple that the employee objected to on the basis of their own personal religious or moral beliefs. So, in other states what Republicans have pushed legislation like this, there has been at least been some nod in the legislation towards the state still having to uphold the law and meet its constitutional responsibilities. But in North Carolina, this new law is a blanket change. It puts no restrictions on what a person is allowed to express their religious objection to. So, depending on where you live in North Carolina, your local magistrate may only agree to give marriage licenses to straight couples. Next county over, the magistrate may believe it`s her moral duty to only give marriage licenses to couples who are the same religion. A Jew and a Catholic? Are you kidding me? I`m not going to allow you to do that. That`s against my religious or moral beliefs. Sure, it`s constitutionally protected, but my religious and moral beliefs trump that. Under this new law that the North Carolina legislature is about to enact over the Republican governor`s veto, any county magistrate may turn away any couple who applies for a marriage license on any grounds, as long as the magistrate says the reason they`re objecting is in some way related to their religious faith. And I don`t know if there are county magistrates in North Carolina who agree with that Virginia judge, and the Richard and Mildred Loving case, right, that God put the races on different continents for a reason, and if we hadn`t screwed it up, we`d never have a need for these anti-race mixing laws. Who knows if there`s a county magistrate somewhere in North Carolina who believes that interracial marriage is sinful and not what God intended and it`s against their religion? But North Carolina Republicans are about to pass a law that would tell such a county magistrate that that is an acceptable basis on which a marriage license can be denied in North Carolina. Constitution and Supreme Court be damned. They were aiming at gay people, they hit everybody. Again, that bill passed the House and the Senate already in North Carolina. It was vetoed by the state`s Republican governor, Pat McCrory. The House last night overrode the governor`s veto and the House in North Carolina is poised to do the same which will make this thing law. And North Carolina, once again, will be way out on a limb in terms of the arc of history bending one way and North Carolina banging at that arc with an iron bar hoping it breaks off. Amazing. Watch this space. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: What you`re looking at right here is what people in the news business, somewhat melodramatically call a stake out, like we`re all cops or private eyes or something. But this is a media stakeout. This is a shot at the media stakeout and it is in Plano, Illinois, just outside of Chicago. This video was shot yesterday as NBC News and a few other news outlets were at a stakeout, trying to get a glimpse of the inhabitants of that home in Plano, Illinois, because this is the home of former House Speaker Denny Hastert who was indicted a few days ago and who has not been seen since he was indicted. News organizations staked out his home all day yesterday to see if he was there, to see if we can see him. What we can tell you on the basis of that all-day stake out is that it was a sunny day in Plano. It looks like there was a slight breeze, some birds chirping. In fact, the most excitement on this all-day stakeout feed comes at this point. Watch this. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CAMERA CREW: Dog. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: That`s exactly how I would react if I was that dog. You call that a stakeout? There`s no steak. So, we`ve seen a dog that could be connected to former Speaker of the House Denny Hastert. We have not seen Mr. Hastert himself, though, since he was indicted last week. Nobody has seen him. Nobody has seen him publicly. Since this indictment was unsealed last week, it alleges that he agreed to pay an individual more than $3 million in order to compensate for and conceal -- it was described in the indictment as Mr. Hastert`s prior misconduct towards that individual. Now, not according to indictment, but according to law enforcement sources, that prior misconduct stems from Denny Hastert`s time as a high school teacher and a coach in Yorkville, Illinois, before he ever went to Congress. Since the indictment was unsealed, federal officials have told NBC News that the alleged misconduct was sexual in nature and that it involved a student at the high school where Denny Hastert taught and coached. Again, these are all just allegations at this point. But if all of this is true, if the indictment is true, how about the payments, if the underlying misconduct, specifically sexual misconduct is true, it then raises hard to answer questions about not just Denny Hastert and his behavior, and that will be litigated soon fluff, but also about everybody around him, right? Because of the position that he was at in American politics, how did nobody know, considering that he became speaker of the House at a time when sexual misconduct was essentially everywhere in politics. It was like a bad flu season. Everybody seemed to be coming down with the case of it. I mean, from President Bill Clinton and his extramarital affair while he was in office, to Newt Gingrich leading the impeachment effort against Bill Clinton for his extramarital while he, too, was secretly carrying on one of his own. Then there was the other congressman who was supposed to replace Newt Gingrich as speaker during the impeachment, but he couldn`t because it turned out that he, too, had been having extramarital affairs. I mean, given is how Denny Hastert got tapped in obscurity to become speaker of the House, to become the most powerful man in Congress, it seems inconceivable that nobody at the time in Congress, nobody around him in his eight years as speaker, would have heard anything about this alleged scandal in his past. Well, today, "The Huffington Post" dropped a big -- and it should be noted -- totally anonymous bombshell that perhaps somebody in Congress did know. Sam Stein of "The Huffington Post" reports today that, quote, "At least one member in Congress was likely aware that former House Speaker Dennis Hastert allegedly sexually molested a former male student prior to his time in Congress." A single unanimous source telling Sam Stein at "The Huffington Post" that then Congressman Mel Watts, a Democrats from North Carolina, was approached with news about the alleged abuse, relatively early on in Denny Hastert`s time as speaker of the House. Quote, "According to the source, the person who approached Mel Watt was an intermediary for the family of the abuse victim and knew the North Carolina congressman informally." Now, we should make clear that NBC News has not independently confirmed this reporting. It is, as Sam says, a single source speaking anonymously with Sam Stein at "Huffington Post". Mel Watt is still around. He`s no longer serving in Congress. He now heads up a federal agency called the Federal Housing Finance Agency. This is how Sam at "The Huffington Post" says it went when "The Post" first reached out to Mel Watt for comment. Quote, when reached on the phone and told what the specific issue was, Watt`s spokeswoman responded that she had anticipated that that was the subject of the inquiry. Hmmm. Officially, though, Mr. Watt`s office is offering no comment on the story. At least they were offering no comment at first. We contacted Mel Watt today about that reporting in "The Huffington Post" and he provided us with the following statement, which he then subsequently gave to other news outlets. Quote, "Over 15 years ago, I heard an unseemly rumor from someone who, contrary to what has been report, was not an intermediary or advocate for the alleged victim`s family. It would not be the first nor last time that I as a member of Congress would hear rumors or innuendos about colleagues. I had no direct knowledge of any abuse by former Speaker Hastert and, therefore, I took no action." So, former Congressman Mel Watt, absolutely unlikely personage in this story, right? Former Congressman Mel Watt confirming tonight that he did hear something about Denny Hastert more than 15 years ago but that he believed it to be, quote, "an unseemly rumor", an unseemly rumor shop to him by somebody that he says was not an intermediary for the alleged victim`s family, contrary to that reporting today by "The Huffington Post". This makes me want to ask Sam Stein about that reporting in "The Huffington Post". Joining us now is Sam Stein, MSNBC contributor, senior political editor at "Huffington", who first reported that Representative Watt had been made aware of these allegations against Dennis Hastert. Sam, thanks very much for being here. It`s great to have you. SAM STEIN, THE HUFFINGTON POST: Thanks, Rachel. Appreciate it. MADDOW: So in the way that I summarized that and now what Mel Watt has said, now that your reporting has come -- is that pretty much the lay of the land? Did I explain what you`ve got? STEIN: Perfectly, yes. MADDOW: OK. What can you tell us if anything about if person who you say told Congressman Watt about these allegations about Denny Hastert? Obviously, Congressman Watt says it wasn`t an intermediary and it was somebody who he believes was shopping him a scurrilous rumor. What can you tell us about that? STEIN: Well, my source stands by the description of the conversation as an intermediary, someone who knew the victim of the alleged abuse, having then gone to Speaker Hastert with an account of what had happened -- to Mr. Watt, obviously. Now, I don`t know if the Watt office is quibbling with the word "intermediary," but it seems to me like anyone who had have knowledge of this alleged abuse would have to be relatively close to the alleged victim. So, maybe they are quibbling with the definition of word "intermediary." But I have reached out to the Watt office again for clarification on who it was that approached him and they once again have been fairly cagey with me and have not responded. MADDOW: Sam, I`m sensitive here that you have a source here that you need to protect and I don`t want you to pressure in any regard in that way. STEIN: Sure. MADDOW: So, just tell me if you can`t answer. But is it your impression that this was an attempted -- an attempt to blow the whistle? An attempt to get Denny Hastert in trouble, an effort to start some sort of investigation or at least the make it publicly known? STEIN: I`m going to do something rare. I`m going to say I just don`t know. I don`t know at this point and I need to do more digging on that ground. The person who came to me was sort of echoing a conversation that took place a long time ago. And so, to say that I have any direct understanding of why the first outreach was made would be to essentially lie to you. So, I can`t answer that question. MADDOW: Do we know of any direct connection between Denny Hastert and Mel Watt at the aside from the fact that they were both in congress? STEIN: No. What I`ve been told is that the reason Mel Watt was chosen was not because of any connection to Dennis Hastert, but because the person who approached him had an informal connection. It was someone who knew him sort of ether tangentially or not as a close associate, but happened to have a connection with him and had no one else to reach out to. So, that was why the outreach was made. MADDOW: Sam, the one thing that we know logistically in terms of what`s going to happen next is that the arraignment for Denny Hastert is moved to next week. It was expected to be on Thursday of this week. It`s now going to by next week. Nobody has seen him. There`s been no statement released on his behalf. There`s not any direct information about who might be representing him. STEIN: Yes. MADDOW: As you`re reporting this out, do you have any sense that anyone else is going to happen before that arraignment, that anybody else is going to come forward or that there might be any other flushing out of the story until that court date? STEIN: Well, part of the reason I got into this is because I was surprised genuinely that no one had says that they had an inkling of this. I mean, maybe there were some rumors going around, but every reaction to the story after it broke was one of surprise. MADDOW: Yes. STEIN: And that seemed very odd to me. MADDOW: Yes. STEIN: And so the fact that we now know that at least one member of Congress knew about this 15 years ago suggests that perhaps maybe more people will now come forward and say yes, they heard things or they were told things. But the one defining feature of this story you`ve noted in your broadcast has been how quiet everything has been, which is very rare, it seems like, for these types of things. So I don`t anticipate necessarily all that much happening between now and the arraignment. MADDOW: Sam Stein, MSNBC contributor, political reporter for "The Huffington Post", with this group tonight, Sam, thanks for helping us understand. I appreciate it. STEIN: Thanks, Rachel. I appreciate it. MADDOW: You know, it will be interesting. Obviously, Mel Watt, I should reiterate, is saying that he has no knowledge of any misbehavior by Denny Hastert. He thought this was a rumor. He was being shot. He`s saying now in retrospect there`s nothing he believed at the time. That is why he took no action. It is possible conceivably that other members of Congress heard something similar and didn`t believe for all the same reasons, corroborating information that more than one person knew. Even if neither of them believed it would give us a better understanding about what was going on at the time, because at this point, this is such a black box for someone that powerful and connected in American politics, it honestly makes no sense. All right. Much more ahead tonight. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Hillary Clinton going to Texas tomorrow. Rick Perry announcing his run for the presidency in Texas the day after that. Bernie Sanders tonight proposing Democratic national debates or maybe bipartisan presidential debates in Texas. And now to complete the theme, we`ve got a message from Texas today. We`ve got a message from the government of the great state of Texas to us. And it is a message that solves a mystery we have been working on for months now. And that story is next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: The state of Texas plans to execute another prisoner tomorrow, barring a last-minute surprise. That man appears to have exhausted his appeals. If Texas kills him tomorrow, then after him, the state has scheduled four more prisoners to be killed. If those executions all go as planned, they`ll join seven prisoners killed already in Texas this year, making it 12 people in all for this year -- 12 people is a lot of people to kill in any circumstances. It is a particularly large number, though, when you are killing those people with lethal injections and the drugs for lethal injections have become almost impossible to get. Because those drugs are impossible to get, states that want to kill their prisoners this way have started turning to special compounding pharmacies to make up, to hand make small batches of drugs that they can`t buy from drug companies. In March, though, two different pharmaceutical groups in the U.S. told their members to stop compounding drugs for prisons. Compounding pharmacies should not do that any more. We`ve reported on this show that Texas in particular was nearly out of drugs despite all the people they want to kill in their prisoner. This spring, a local paper reported that the state had just two doses on hand. As recently as April 27th, a local press reported that Texas was confirming that they were nearly out of their death penalty drug, they had one more execution planned and then the state would be down to its last dose. Right, poor Texas, they`re running out of drugs. The state reportedly said that on April 27th. We`ve now learned what happened the very next day. Texas prison system told us tonight, quote, "The Texas Department of Criminal Justice obtained a supply of pentobarbital on April 28th which will allow the agency to carry out all the executions that are currently scheduled," meaning at least five more doses. So, we`ve asked whether Texas is buying the drugs from a U.S. company, going against the advice of all the pharmaceutical associations to stop selling those drugs. We`ve asked whether Texas is shopping around overseas the way Nebraska has tried to do. Texas tells us on that issue, quote, "The drugs were purchased from a licensed pharmacy that has the ability to compound. We continue to explore all options, including the continued use of pentobarbital or alternate drugs to use in the lethal injection process. We have no additional comments beyond this statement." So, Texas -- Texas has enough drugs on hand to last them through the killings they have planned through at least October and maybe longer. We don`t know. They won`t say where they are getting these drugs or even what country they are buying these drugs from. And Texas says they`re exploring all options for this public business. They just don`t want to talk about it and I think they expect us to stop asking. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Today, we learned about the memorial services that would be held for Vice President Joe Biden`s late son. Beau Biden died on Saturday at the age of 46 from brain cancer. He was a major in the Delaware National Guard who spent two terms as attorney general of Delaware. Services for him will be in his home state of Delaware on Thursday. Beau Biden will lie in honor at the state capital on Friday afternoon. There will be a viewing at St. Anthony of Padua Roman Catholic Church in Wilmington, Delaware. Then, there`s going to be a funeral mass on Saturday morning. All these events from Thursday afternoon to Saturday morning, they`re all going to be open to the public, even as the Biden family continues to mourn in private. One of the things that Beau Biden`s father, the vice president, has been known for over the years is his ability to give very moving, memorable eulogies at memorials for colleagues and friends. Today, the vice president`s office announced that the person who will perform that service for Beau Biden will be President Barack Obama. Again, the mass for Beau Biden will take place at 10:30 a.m. Saturday in Wilmington, Delaware. The funeral will be open to the public and the eulogy will be given by the president of the United States. 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. Welcome back. THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END