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The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 06/08/15

Guests: Jesse McKinley, Dave Helling

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour. I have a little frog in my throat today. I apologize. It should make the show slightly more suspenseful than usual -- than usual -- more suspenseful than usual, too. But if my voice drops out, we will go to a series of very dramatic, unplanned commercials and try to get back together with a cough drop or something. But we start in 2006, April 5th, 2006. This is central Louisiana. This is dash cam video from a police car. It says on the dash cam, you see that it was 113 degrees that day. I don`t think that`s right. It was a hot day, but I don`t think that`s right. It was a hot day, but I don`t think that hot. What`s happening is that the police officer there on the left has just been advised a couple of hours earlier that a nearby maximum security federal prison had had an escape. So this police officer in the video and every other police officer is looking for the escapee from the federal prison, and they come across this guy in the white tank top there, they come across him jogging along a railroad track. The guy is carrying no ID. He vaguely at least matches the physical description of the man who has just escaped from the federal prison nearby, and this encounter between the police officer and that man who was jogging by the railroad track, it lasts for ten minutes. You might think it`s stressful encounter, right, for the officer looking for the escapee and for this guy who he stopped. In this case, though, this interaction wasn`t stressful at all. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) POLICE: What is your address? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I do not have an address. I`m at a hotel. We`re working on housing and stuff like that, like roofing. POLICE: Roofing? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. POLICE: OK. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For my brother. POLICE: All right. What it is, we have an escapee. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh. (EXPLETIVE DELETED) Where from? POLICE: Prison. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There`s a prison here? POLICE: Does the suspect wear glasses? Nothing about glasses. Can you find out? I`m out with a white male on the tracks. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I guarantee you, I`m not -- POLICE: You know the bad thing about it? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What`s that? POLICE: You`re matching up to him. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That sucks, doesn`t it? POLICE: Yes. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Yes, that sucks. The guy that the police officer was speaking to was the escapee from the federal prison. The cop did stop him that day, the day of the escape, he did talk to him for about ten minutes. The guy did recognize the police officer -- the police officer did recognize that the guy matched the escape convict`s description, but they talked for about ten minutes and he let the guy go. That says something remarkable about the cop in that situation. But unless you think that the cop was, you know, the only one to blame here, it should be noted that the guy he was dealing with was really, really good at escaping all sorts of law enforcement situations. That guy who was jogging along the railroad tracks that day, he had escaped from federal prison that day. He escaped from maximum security federal prison. But that was the third time that he had escaped from prison or jail. The first time was in Minot, North Dakota, in 1988. He had been arrested on suspicion of murder. He was in a room with three detectives, they had handcuffed him to a chair, but he had a tube of lip balm in his pocket. He somehow, with his hands handcuffed and the three detectives in the room with him but not playing very close attention. He reached into his pocket, got the lip balm out, used it to grease up his wrists, slips out of the handcuffs and then run of the room with three detectives chasing him, and he got away. That was the first time. He ran five blocks. He stole a car. Drove until the car stalled out and hid in an apartment building in Minot, North Dakota. A long article in "The New Yorker" said that it was actually a reporter from "The Minot Daily News" who saw him sneaking into the apartment building after his escape that day. That reporter called the police, told them where the guy was. When the police got to the apartment, the guy climbed out of the window and landed in a tree. It was only because he could not hold on that he fell and they were able to take him back into custody. But he had escaped from that county jail. His next stop, and his next escape was from the North Dakota state prison. That happened in 1992. In that case he somehow got himself into a ventilation duct at the state prison in North Dakota. He wiggled his way free to the outside. In that case, they did not catch him right away. He was on the lam for 10 months before they found him again. But they did eventually find him. And then the next place he locked up from and then escaped was the federal prison in Pollock, Louisiana, the maximum security federal security prison. Having escaped from two other facilities already by the time that the feds had him, (a), they must have prepared to watch for him to be an escapee, and (b), he must have been casing the joint immediately. He must have been casing the joint the whole time before he figured out how he was going to get out of that federal prison, too. The way he escaped from that federal prison was intrepid. He got himself a job at one of the prison industries at that facility, which was repairing and sewing mail bags for the U.S. Postal Service. Somehow in the course of doing that prison job, he figured out a way to mail himself out of the prison. He sealed himself up in one of those mail bags and he basically got himself mailed to freedom. Got into a mail bag and mailed himself out of prison, to a nearby warehouse, then he busted out of the mail bag, got himself an energy drink somewhere and took off jogging down the railroad tracks on the way to his 10-minute-long hilarious encounter with Officer Barney Fife (ph). (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) POLICE: Put yourself in my position. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, yes, but I`m not -- POLICE: I know. I`m not throwing you against -- UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you think that I am a prison escapee? POLICE: Hey, you won`t believe when guys do. I mean, they`ve got years and years to think about how they`re going to do it. Now, when I crossed the track I saw you running and I said, well, how lucky can I be? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, nope. Nope. I`m not no prison escapee. POLICE: You would have done run by now. You know that yourself. You would have done run by now. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: No, he didn`t run. That would be too obvious. Instead, he stood there, speaking in an accent that was not at all his own, making small talk, friendly small talk with the cop for about ten minutes and the cop let him go, told him to be careful, warned him he might get stopped again. That was in 2006. That guy who escaped from all the facilities and that federal prison that day, his name is Richard Lee McNair. After he got away from Minot County Jail, and after he got away from North Dakota State Penitentiary and after he got from that federal maximum security prison from Louisiana, and after he got away from that cop detaining him by the railroad tracks, he did stay out for a while. He did live free for another year and a half after that dash cam video was shot. They eventually caught up to him 18 months after he broke out of the prison in Louisiana. They caught up with him 18 months later. He was in Canada. I have no idea how he got from Central Louisiana up to northern New Brunswick. But that`s where he caught him in 2007. They caught him because the homemade tint job he did on the windows of the vehicle that he had stolen, the stint job was so hoopty that that the New Brunswick cops thought that was reason enough to pull him over and check to see who this guy was in the hoopty paint job car. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REPORTER: Richard Lee McNair has a long history as an accomplished escape artist. He made his way out of a U.S. penitentiary last year by hiding himself inside a package of mailbags and mailing himself to freedom. He`s been on the run ever since until yesterday. Police here in Campbellton spotted a suspicious van driving around the city, and what tipped them off was the fact that all the windows on the van were tinted black. They asked the van to pull over. They asked the driver to step out. It turns out it was Richard Lee McNair. He escaped on foot and run for 400 meters before police caught up with him and the rest of him. (END VIDEO CLIP) HAYES: This guy was an amazing escape artist. Richard Lee McNair. I mean, terrible guy, right, convicted murder, but he escaped everywhere they locked him up. He got away 400 meters running from the Canadian cops in the end. He would escape and get caught. Escape and get caught. Escape and get caught. And that`s the thing here, though. No matter how good that you are at escaping, and no matter how amazing the escape, no matter how much skill or luck or audacity or violence goes into the escape, these guys that escape, they always get caught. In 2009, it was a prison in Michigan City, Indiana, three prisoners tunneled all the way out of cell block and underneath the prison yard. They got out. They lasted a few days before all three of them were recaptured. In 2008, it was in Curry County, New Mexico. Eight guys escaped all at once in Curry County. Eight of them, they shimmied up pipes inside the prison walls and popped out through the roof. Eight guys all at once and all of them upon eventually recaptured. In 1999, it was a rare escape from death row, four prisoners escaped from death row at the Louisiana state pen. They smuggled in hack saw blades and hacked through the bars of their doors and cells. Those guys didn`t make it off the prison grounds before recaptured. Even the amazing, famous daring helicopter rescues -- the helicopter escapes, those guys. Those guys get caught too. This one was a year ago today. Remember, this one in Quebec? Helicopter landed on the prison grounds, picked these guys up the prison yard and flew away. That was in Quebec a year ago today. Those guys got caught and within a couple of weeks they were back in the prison where they escaped using that helicopter. The last escape in New York state was in 2003 from a maximum security prison in Elmira, New York. Two convicted murderers from that prison and just an incredibly complex plot. They got sledge hammers and other tools to bust holes in the ceilings of their cells. Then, they made the amazing dummies. These realistic looking dummies and they propped the dummies in their bed, so it looked like they were sleeping in their bed when the correction officers came to check on them during the night. They shimmied up and out of the prison through the ventilation shaft in Elmira in 2003. They still had to get over the walls of the prison after they got out of the ventilation shaft, though. For that, they used torn bed sheets that they fashioned into a rope. But because of the makeup of that facility and because of what they had to do to get out, the rope they made with bed sheets was 61 feet long. That was amazing, right? That must have taken them months or years to plan that escape in Elmira, New York, in 2003. But even with all of that planning and complexity, and the success that they got out, they were both back in custody within two days. They get caught. As much thought and effort and cunning goes into your average maximum security prison escape, it seems like it`s not a long term victory. These guys get caught. But right now, we`re in that fraught interregnum between the time when two maximum security prisoners were discovered missing from their cells at 5:30 Saturday morning, we`re between that time and everybody expects is the news of their inevitable capture somewhere in upstate New York or maybe across the border in Canada. One of the two men that escaped is David Sweat. He`s 35 years old, serving life without parole for the 2002 killing of a deputy sheriff, a man who he shot 22 times and ran over, reportedly while the deputy was still alive. The other escapee is Richard Matt, that`s serving life for dismembering a man in Buffalo, New York. After that murder and before he was arrested, Richard Matt fled to Mexico. While he was in Mexico, he killed another man there. He was arrested in Mexico, served nine years in a Mexican prison for that killing before being extradited back to the U.S. to face trial for the earlier murder in Buffalo. But this guy, Richard Matt, he too has a history. Not just an incredibly violent criminal history, he has a history of fleeing before he could be arrested in that original murder trial. He also has a history of escaping custody. In 1986, the same guy, Richard Matt, he was in jail in Erie County, New York, on forgery charges. He escaped from that Erie County Jail. He got out of the cell when a guard mistakenly popped the electronic lock on his cell door. He then scaled a nine-foot-tall brick and metal wall that was topped with razor wire. And then he climbed an eight-foot tall wire gate. He got cut up in the process, but he got out. He spent five days at large before he was captured again. But now, he is out again. And now this massive manhunt is under way around the Clinton correctional facility 25 miles south of the Canadian border up in the Adirondacks. The focus is on figuring out how these two murderers were able to escape from Clinton and how they got power pools, which they use to saw through their cell walls and allowed them to get out of the cell block and into a steam pipe that led into a nearby neighborhood where they popped out in the middle of the street through a manhole cover. The focus in Dannemora now is figuring out how they got out. And there`s also the rather pressing question of whether or not they had help. There are some reports that a female employee who worked inside might have been involved somehow in the escape efforts. So, figuring out how they did it, figuring how it happened, figuring out how to stop it from happening again, whether there`s some a huge security breach on staff at that maximum security prison, that`s job one, right? Actually, no, that`s job two. Because tonight these two convicted murderers are still on the loose. They were discovered missing Saturday morning. They`re still out there now. So, job one is finding them. If past is prologue, they will be found, it`s just a question of when. Joining us now from just outside the Clinton Correctional Facility where these two prisoners escaped this weekend is Jesse McKinley. He`s a reporter with "The New York Times." Mr. McKinley, thank you very much for your time tonight. JESSE MCKINLEY, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Of course, thank you. MADDOW: What can you tell us about the status of the investigation and specifically the search -- how they`re trying to find these guys and how it`s going? MCKINLEY: Well, I mean it`s ongoing. There`s been rumors flying all day that places they have been seen, about a half an hour ago, in fact, just about a block from here. There`s a number of law enforcement agents that entered a house and a barn. There`s a helicopter in the air overhead. They don`t seem to have found anything. You know, it`s one of the situations where apparently the police have received over 300 leads. They`re trying to track these down. But, you know, that`s a pain-staking process and sorting the weed from the chaff I think is taking a little while. At the same time, there`s investigation ongoing inside of the prison behind me as to how exactly these guys did this. MADDOW: There have been some reports today that there`s at least the possibility that somebody who worked inside of the prison might have helped them in some way. Can you put any more meat on those bones in terms of whether or not that allegation seems credible? MCKINLEY: Yes, we were able -- at "The Times", we were able to confirm that today, that there is an investigation of a female employee who may have had a relationship, it`s not clear what kind of relationship, with one of the inmates, Richard Matt. Beyond that, there`s not a lot of details. There`s some talks that she may work in the laundry room of the facility. In a maximum security prison behind me, you`re talking several thousand prisoners. But you`re also talking about an enormous number of support staff. You know, you got people that do the laundry and janitorial services and vocational training, and all sorts of things that go into a prison of this size. So, there`s a lot of interaction between the prisoners and civilians. In this case, the investigators at least feel that perhaps one of these relationships went too far and that perhaps she may have facilitated the escape. MADDOW: In terms of the way that they got out, we have seen a lot of frankly up close pictures of the means by which they got out of their cells and the steam pipe that they went through. Is it clear to authorities right now what kinds of tools they needed and what kinds of tools they used and how they would have been able to get access to those kinds of tools from that cell block? MCKINLEY: If it`s clear, they`re not making it clear to us. In talking to people who know those cuts, interestingly enough, if you look at the photograph, you can see the way the cuts go along the wall, the cell block wall, as well as with the pipes that they crawled through, I talked to a couple of guys who said it was probably some sort of grinder, metal grinder which was used to kind of make those very precise cut. This was not a sloppy job. They knew what they were doing when they were making the cut. As to how they got the equipment, that`s a major ongoing point of the investigation. There is -- it`s a huge facility behind me, and there was a lot of construction going on in that facility at the time. There were construction crews, independent construction crews coming and going. So there`s some theory that perhaps one of these contractors was either in on it, or kind of haphazardly left a piece of equipment behind that was then used to cut these holes. MADDOW: Jesse McKinley, reporter with "The New York Times" outside the Clinton Correctional facility in Dannemora, New York -- thanks for helping us understand this. It`s really helpful to have you here. Thanks. MCKINLEY: Absolutely, thank you. MADDOW: It`s interesting. You know, yes, there have been maximum security escapes before, but there aren`t so many that that there`s a protocol as to what happened here, right? I mea, the town of Dannemora has a smaller population than the prisoner population at that very large, very old prison up there by the Adirondacks and up against the Canadian border. To see the scale of the mobilization to find these guys is just -- I mean, it`s an impressive response. Until they find them, it won`t be impressive enough. But again, if past is any prologue on these things, these guys will be found. We don`t know how long they have been on the lam, they`ll be out a couple of days, but they will be found if history is any guide here. All right. Lots more ahead tonight. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: A cardinal rule of presidential campaigning was violated this weekend. It`s a rule about not putting funny stuff on top of your head when you are running for president. If we have noted this rule once, we have noted this rule a million times. Don`t put stuff on your head. Don`t do this. Don`t do this. Don`t do this. Just don`t do it. It`s been a rule for a long time for a reason. It`s important. That rule was violated this weekend very badly. Details coming up. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: There`s one candidate in the presidential race this year who has held elected office as a Democrat, as an independent and as a Republican. There`s only one person in this race who has held office as all three of those things. He`s also the only candidate who has served the public as a mayor and as a governor and as a U.S. senator -- same guy. He is Lincoln Chafee, the first ever American presidential candidate from the great state of Rhode Island. He`s most recently the governor of Rhode Island. He`s running as a Democrat for president this year, and I am here to tell you, he is going to be my guest here tomorrow night for the interview. Very much looking forward to that conversation. I`m hoping for the chance to interview was many of the 2016 hopefuls as I can this year. On the Democratic side, that means Bernie Sanders, check. Linc Chafee, that`s tomorrow. Martin O`Malley, I have high hopes for getting him on the show sometime soon. As for former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, I once saw her in Washington and said hello, literally that`s all I said. Hello. But other than that, I`ve never spoken to any Clinton, Bill, Hillary, or Chelsea -- or Socks or Buddy or any of the other pets, but I live in hope. I think this could be the year. I live and hope that we`ll be able to get all the Democratic candidates on the show during this campaign this year. You`re all welcome. I`m notorious for not being interrupty unless you really deserve it. Please, come on. Come one. Come all. Happy to have you. On the Republican side, it`s going to be a tougher road to hoe to try to get all those candidates, in part because there`s so many freaking of them. The next formal -- right, there`s only so many shows in a year. The next formal announcement on the Republican side of the race is set to be a week from today. Jeb Bush is going to make the presidential announcement on Monday next week, followed by Donald Trump making his announcement Tuesday next week, followed by Bobby Jindal making his announcement the following Wednesday. We also got to add one new dotted line to the list of contenders and would-be contenders, as former Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker said that he would be making his announcement, quote, "early next month." He told ABC News that after the Wisconsin state budget is finished at the end of this month, his presidential announcement will come soon thereafter. So, at least we know to expect news from Scott Walker. This weekend, I had actually thought for a hot minute that maybe Scott Walker wouldn`t run for president, because Scott Walker this weekend flat out violated the "I`m running for president" rule about not putting funny-looking things on your head. Come on, Scott Walker. This is Scott Walker this weekend at an Iowa event. He apparently has his own motorcycle, but this was a rented one. He rented one for this Iowa event this weekend. He could have also rented a different kind of helmet, with a dark visor or something that didn`t make him look like a cross between Dukakis and a tank and Charlie Brown. But he didn`t. He went with the snow globe look. You know, Maybe Scott Walker`s OK here, maybe we`re in a new era where candidates in funny get-ups rule is broken beyond repair and it doesn`t apply anymore after New Jersey Governor Chris Christie wowed everyone last week at Yankee Stadium in his get-up. But still, you know, you guys, you don`t have to do this. Somebody loves you, right? Somebody in your lives, someone in your family, somebody on your campaign, somebody should tell you do not give the world the opportunity to take pictures of you like this, not when you are running for president. One more point though, on the Democratic side at the ledger, and it concerns Bernie Sanders, specifically the relationship between Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton. This was the scene in Keene, New Hampshire, on Saturday, where a crowd of almost a thousand people crammed into a tiny local rec hall to see -- to hear Bernie Sanders speak. The local newspaper, "The Sentinel" source said the crowd was loud and large and enthusiastic, with every seat filled, a folks standing in the aisle, thousand people turned out in Keene. This is not the first time this kind of thing has happened with Bernie Sanders. Over the past couple of weeks, Senator Sanders has attracted sold-out crowds in Vermont when he announced and in New Hampshire, and in Iowa, and in Minnesota, and with all of the positive press, those sold-out crowds are earning Senator Sanders, Hillary Clinton`s campaign is now showcasing its own enthusiastic crowds. Today, the Hillary Clinton campaign sent out this e-mail blast with a whole big, long series of photos from Hillary Clinton campaign events all over the country. Fayetteville, ArKansas, and Phoenix, Arizona, and Springfield, Missouri, and Salt Lake City, Utah. Hillary for president events happening all across the country. They want it to be known they`re running in all 50 states. They`re organizing in those states already. People are turning out to volunteer and get involved in her campaign in every state in the country. And yes, she`s running basically all alone in the national polls. She`s so far out ahead. She`s the prohibitive favorite to win the nomination on the Democratic side. But what`s going on with Bernie Sanders is also a real thing. I mean, there is Bernie Sanders at that packed event in Keene, New Hampshire, this weekend, telling the crowd that -- he told the crowd, I`ve got a secret. That secret is that we`re going win New Hampshire. He is saying that I am going to win the New Hampshire primary. There`s a headline out of this weekend and saying that Clinton ekes out a win in Wisconsin Democrats poll. Ekes out a win, what? Two hundred and fifty-two votes. What does that mean? Hillary Clinton 49 percent, Bernie Sanders, 41 percent, in the straw poll this weekend. Democratic Party delegates in Wisconsin. Listen, honestly, in the national polls, she`s ahead by dozens of points. Right? I`m sure the Clinton campaign still not at all worried about securing the Democratic nomination for the presidency. But Senator Bernie Sanders` role in the race is clearly going to be a lot more fun this year, than if he were just some peanut gallery candidate confined to the margins, right? He`s making the race on the Democratic side more fun than we thought it would be and less predictable than anybody thought it would be. And that frankly is good for everyone in the process, including Hillary Clinton, but particularly liberals in the Democratic Party. And now, let`s see what Linc Chafee can do in this show tomorrow. Woo-hoo! Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: The first ever cover of TV guide featured the child of Desi Arnaz and Lucille Ball, Desi Jr. Doesn`t it look like he`s floating in a sea of 1950`s margarine? Three decades later, the family owners of TV guide sold their publication for $3 billion, billion with a B. Today, the heir to that TV guide fortune, does this. Look. Osprey cam. And hummingbird cam. And African watering hole cam. And puffin cam. Last month, added, walrus cam, live from Alaska. I will warn you, if you start watching the walrus cam, you may eventually require an intervention. I did today. Alaska can be a strangely hypnotic place, but we have some truly, truly strange Alaska coming up. A double dose of it -- some good, some terrifying. Stay with us. It`s really good. That`s ahead. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Sometimes, the states get kooky and we have 50 of them, right? So, even just statistically speaking, it`s not that surprising that some states sometimes go a little nuts. So, for example, Louisiana legislators voted last year that they would keep on the books that states law against sodomy, right? It`s actually illegal to ban sodomy in the country and has been for a long time now. But Louisiana legislature, they like their sodomy laws, so they decided to keep it regardless of the Supreme Court and the Constitution and all that. Another example is a big long explanatory segment on the show about why it is that in Utah, in bars in Utah, they used to have to serve you your liquor in little tiny nip size bottles you had to open yourself like you were on an airplane instead of letting somebody to pour the booze for you. Utah doesn`t do that anymore, but they still have some amazingly arcane laws about who is allowed to touch liquor and who is allowed to see other people touching liquor. So, the states do weird things. The one we`ve been keeping an eye for the past few days is in North Carolina, where Republicans in the state are trying to pass a law that would let local officials go back to denying marriage licenses to interracial couples if they wanted to, like they used to. People who were actually denied a marriage license in North Carolina because they were a black-white couple, they`re been screaming bloody murder about North Carolina going back to that system where local officials got to decide who was allowed to get married or not, based on their own religious views. But despite that history, North Carolina Republicans seem dead set on passing this law. The legislature actually passed it already. The governor vetoed it. They`re now just one more vote away from overriding the governor`s veto and putting this thing into law. We have been watching over the past few days, and it was in the docket in the North Carolina legislature twice last week. It was on the docket again tonight. They did not take it up tonight before they gaveled the session closed, but it`s back on the docket tomorrow. Hard to believe that North Carolina might take this plunge, but they seem like they`re about to do it. So, North Carolina local officials will be able to say, no, I won`t marry you because you`re a Jew and your would- be husband is not a Jewish, and I think that`s against my religious beliefs. Or you`re black and you`re white, and I think that`s against my religious belief. Amazingly, that plan change in the law in North Carolina is still on deck. We`ll keep watching it. But even as we keep on watching that, there`s a new contender that at least catches North Carolina and maybe surpasses it. This is Kansas Governor Sam Brownback. He`s best known as Kansas governor for blowing up that state`s finances, creating a huge seemingly uncloseable budget deficit of hundreds of millions of dollars. The state keeps getting its credit rating downgraded. This weekend, they faced furloughing the state employees. School districts literally had to shut down early in Kansas this year because they ran out of money and couldn`t keep the public schools open through the end of the school year. In the midst of that crisis, that Sam Brownback created, which started as a fiscal crisis, has now devolved to become every kind of crisis in Kansas government. In the midst of all that, Republican Governor Sam Brownback of Kansas has still found time to be shocking and very ambitious in a whole new way. Sam Brownback just signed a law in Kansas that tells the judges in the Kansas state court system how he wants them to rule on a particular case. There`s a case before the Kansas courts, and this new bill Sam Brownback just signed said unless the courts rule the way he wants them to in that case, he will abolish the Kansas court system. He will completely defund the whole Kansas judiciary unless they rule the way he wants them to in this one case. Now, we mentioned this legislation in this show a couple of weeks ago, when the bill was just moving in the legislature. I was so shocked to hear that it existed. I mentioned it as part of our, outrage-o-meter segment, like, do you believe that some legislators somewhere is even considering something this outrageous. Never in my wild dreams would I think it would pass and become law. But it just passed and Sam Brownback freaking signed it. It`s law. It became law, because Kansas, I guess, because Sam Brownback. Amazing. If you rule this way on this court case, I will defund the entire court system. Enjoy your judicial independence. It`s amazing. Between that and the way that Kansas Republicans blew up their own state`s economy, the unlikely state of Kansas right now is in contention I believe to be the most radical state government in the country. But oh wait, there`s more. Because Sam Brownback took it one step further today. Now, Hillary Clinton last week made news when she said all states should follow Oregon`s lead. And just automatically register everybody to vote. People should be able to opt out if they don`t want to be registered to vote. But by default, as a citizen, everybody should just be registered. She also wants more early voting, at least 20 days of early voting in every state. And people like early voting, right? Automatic voter registration would be a much simpler system than what we got now. It would put millions more people on the rolls who are eligible legal voters. Republican presidential candidates including Scott Walker from Wisconsin and Rick Perry from Texas and John Kasich from Ohio, and Chris Christie from New Jersey, they have all since reacted to that news by saying it would be absurd to make voting that easy. Chris Christie told reporters, quote, "She just wants an opportunity to commit greater acts of voter fraud around the country." (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) INTERVIEWER: Hillary Clinton mentioned you and said you and other Republicans are trying to make it harder for people to vote. What`s your reaction to that? GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: She doesn`t know what she`s talking about. In New Jersey, we have early voting that are available to people. I don`t want to expand and increase the opportunities for fraud. Maybe that`s what Mrs. Clinton wants to do, I don`t know. But the fact is that folks in New Jersey have plenty opportunity to vote, maybe she took some questions in some places and learned some things, maybe she wouldn`t make such ridiculous statements. INTERVIEWER: She said it`s fear mongering, this idea there`s a lot of election fraud going on. CHRISTIE: She`s never been to New Jersey, I guess. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: You know, it`s true that Chris Christie`s New Jersey is known for having a ton of corruption among its politicians. New Jersey is not actually known for widespread voter fraud. No state is. One of the leading voices on the right who has been trying for years to create the impression that there is a ton of voter fraud is the secretary of state in Sam Brownback`s Kansas. His name is Chris Kobach. Chris Kobach has authored and promoted some of the strictest voting restrictions in the country, not just in Kansas but around the country, all based on the premise that there is massive voter fraud, that elections are being stolen all the time with huge amounts of voter fraud. His explanation of why our prisons are not full to bursting with voter impersonators and multiple voters, his explanation for that has been that local prosecutors just won`t prosecute people for voter fraud, even though there`s a ton of it, because they`re all in on the conspiracy or something. Chris Kobach in Kansas and around the country has championed voting restrictions because he says he knows that there`s tons and tons of voter fraud, he just can`t get local prosecutors to actually arrest people and charge them and put them on trial for the things he knows people are doing. Well, today, Kansas Governor Sam Brownback fixed that problem for him. Sam Brownback today signed a new Kansas law that will let the crusading secretary of state in Kansas just bring those prosecutions himself. Chris Kobach has not been able to persuade real prosecutors to bring these voter fraud cases, which he said he knows all about. So, now, Kansas Governor Sam Brownback said he can bring them himself. He can be the prosecutor. He can end the run-around that whole part of the judicial process, which would be the most radical thing being done in a U.S. state right now, if it weren`t for Sam Brownback threatening to eliminate his state`s whole judicial system unless Kansas judges rule the way he wants them to on one specific case. I mean, either way, Sam Brownback right now gets the record, but his only competition is himself. Joining us now is Dave Helling, political reporter for "The Kansas City Star". It`s nice to see you, Dave. Thanks very much for being here. DAVE HELLING, THE KANSAS CITY STAR: Great to be here, Rachel. MADDOW: So, I think that outsiders, or at least one outsider over here, kind of marvels at the changes under Governor Brownback. Both their ambition, but also really just their radicalness. How does it feel in Kansas, how is this being received in Kansas? HELLING: Well, many, many moderate Kansas Republicans are aghast, Rachel, at what`s going on in this state. You`re right, we may compete with North Carolina or South Carolina for the most conservative state in the country, maybe Louisiana. But there`s no question Kansas has moved the farthest from the center right, where it was for decades, to this very, very far right, very conservative posture led by Governor Brownback and Chris Kobach and others. You see that in the legislature, which is wrestling even as we speak with the tax and spending package. The bills the governor signed with the courts that you talked about, the election law, all reflect a very conservative tilt by this legislature. Remember, Kansas made national headlines for limiting welfare recipients to $25 a day at the ATM machine. Now, they`ve changed that because they realize it might violate federal law. It`s part of a pattern in this state to be very, very conservative and today was just the latest example of that. MADDOW: The thing that is striking to me, is that it`s not just that it`s conservative. It`s -- I mean, for lack of a better phrase, it`s whacky. I mean, this idea of defunding the whole judiciary, defunding the whole court system, unless the judges rule in a specific way on a specific case, I mean, I don`t -- maybe that`s conservative because it`s being done by conservative politicians. It does seem like just a very radical, even revolutionary take towards state government. HELLING: But it`s meant to send a signal. It`s not just about this particular case. The legislature is trying to send the Supreme Court a signal that it should not rule against the legislature, when it comes to the funding for the state`s schools. That`s at the crux of the budget crisis in the state of Kansas. The Supreme Court has been very, very aggressive in telling lawmakers, you have to spend more on schools in this state. The legislature doesn`t want to do that. This bill is a signal to say, if you want a constitutional crisis, we will give you that. The Kobach election bill is about sending a signal. It`s not about voter fraud, as you suggest. It`s about voter suppression, at least Democrats believe that. It`s about sending a signal to voters that if you think you might not be registered properly, you should stay away from the polls because you might get prosecuted by Chris Kobach, the guess here is that he`ll pick a couple of cases, send that message to the voters and we`ll see how it affects turn-out. It`s very much about message sending, Rachel. That`s very much a part of what the Republican Party has become, not only in Kansas, but across the country. But we`re seeing it play out here. MADDOW: Wow, it`s amazing. Kansas has a very deep history of radicalism, but in the 21st century and the 20th century, they were seen as a real pragmatic, if conservative place, now it`s something entirely different. It`s a radical transformation. Dave Helling, political reporter for "The Kansas City Star", it`s great to have you here tonight. Thank you. HELLING: You bet, you bet. MADDOW: All right. Ahead, we`ve got two visions of Alaska. One is adorable. The other, I think, is diabolical. Please stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Behold, suburban Alaska. OK. A moose and her two calves and a lawn sprinkler which makes them all very happy. The lady who taped this video in her suburban Anchorage, Alaska front yard told the local NBC affiliate in Anchorage that she saw the moose and the calves in the neighborhood. She thought they looked hot, so she turned on her sprinklers for them. And it looks like they really, really, really appreciated it. If you go to YouTube and you type in moose and sprinkler, you will find it wasn`t just that one lady. This happens a lot. Here`s a similar moose family enjoying a different sprinkler back in 2011. That`s my favorite kind too. This moose from 2007, not cavorting, just enjoying the water with stillness. Moose using technology. It`s like a moose bid day. Just adorable. But you know what, there`s another side to wildlife and water in Alaska, which is a horror movie, which is like a watch through your finger kind of thing, in the same way that a horror movie is something that is both terrible and something you can`t stop watching. It`s has just happened. We have pictures. That`s coming up. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: So this is just a quick update so that you know this happened today. It`s not getting a lot of attention because it`s being done behind closed doors and nobody`s allowed to cover it. But you should know this is going on. "The Washington Post" bureau chief for Tehran, Jason Rezaian, was put before an Iranian court again today. They arrested him last summer, basically accused him of being a spy because he`s a journalist. He`s being held in a notorious Iranian prison, ever since being arrested last summer. He`s now having some kind of trial, but the courtroom is closed to the public and to the press. His mother and his wife have gone to Tehran to try to see him, to try to attend the proceedings, but they will not let them into the courtroom. His first day in court was a reading of the charges against him, that was a few weeks ago. Today, all we know is that he was back in court. He was in court for three hours, apparently. One Iranian news outlet reported that he, quote, "defended himself in English" during the hearing and said that his remarks were translated for the judge, but that`s all we know. That`s all we`re allowed to know. Again, Jason Rezaian, again, "Washington Post" bureau chief in Iran having a nightmare trial behind closed doors in that country. No date set yet for his next hearing. No actual defense being mounted for him. No allowed press coverage, no information, no way to know whether it`s safe to hope that they`ll ever let him out of there. I wish I could tell you more about what`s going on this case, but all we know right now by design. Keep him in your thoughts. Watch this space. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: So, we gave you something lovely out of Alaska just a few minutes earlier ago in the show. A local moose family straight up frolicking in a sprinkler, frolicking, dancing, cavorting, having a good happy, moose family time. Baby moose playing in sprinklers. You`re welcome. Thus fortified however, let us consider another thing happening in Alaska right now. This is the Facebook page for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. It`s a great Alaska outdoors resource, for example, if you did not feel ready for the opening of the dip net salmon fishery. If you`re not sure what dip net fishing is, don`t worry, Alaska Fish and Game has got covered for a four-part series on the subject. They also have PSA`s. Make the right call, do not touch orphaned wildlife. Listen, bucko, there`s probably animal parents around that you don`t see, you don`t want to end up on the business end of a big wild mama something or rather defending her babies. Alaska Fish and Game is a wellspring of news you can use. Which is why this new information from them is so important: quote, "This past week the Alaska Department of Fish and Game in Fairbanks received called about Arctic lamprey found in strange locations. Do you have nightmares? I have nightmares. I have nightmares about Arctic lamprey. It`s like an eel, but not an eel. Grows to about 15 inches. They are born in fresh water and make their way to the ocean before returning to fresh water to spawn. And now, we have reports of these fish falling from the skies. It`s raining lampreys in Alaska. There of course four different confirmed occurrences so far, go outside, find a lamprey in your yard, sounds funny, not that big a deal, until you see their face. Aah! Until you see them up close. This is their face. This is what has been raining down from the skies in Alaska. This is the face of death from above. I would rather a thousand sharks fall from the sky than one of these oceanic, tapeworm, sucker heads splatting on your shirt collar from above while you`re mowing the lawn. Look at it. Apparently, it`s probably seagulls` fault. They pluck the lampreys out of the water and fly away. And the lamprey wriggles too much or maybe just turns around and looks at them with that terrified face and the gull, reasonably, drops it, on your lawn. That`s probably why Arctic lampreys have been turning up on people`s lawns. With a face like that, though, probably is not going to get it done. Pure nightmare fuel. Don`t look up little mooses. Don`t look up. Don`t look up. It`s raining lampreys. That does it for us tonight. We`ll see you again tomorrow. Sorry, you`ll be up all night between now and then. But we`ll see you again then. 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