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The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 07/15/15

Guests: Joe McQuaid, Ernest Moniz

CHRIS HAYES, "ALL IN" HOST: That is "ALL IN" for this evening. THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts right now. Good evening, Rachel. RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chris. Great work, man. Excellent shows. HAYES: Thank you. MADDOW: I`m loving this. "ALL IN" in America water stuff is just stunning. Anyway, all right. I want to thank you at home for joining us this hour. It`s nice to have you with us tonight. All right. Are you ready? Ted Cruz footage playing with Barbies, take one. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You were like my kid brother. You know? I think I must have done so many girly things, made you play my Barbies, made you dress up and do all the fun things that kids do. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Start the answer looking at him and then come look at me. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I just got to get your hair out of your face. We can`t see you in this camera. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Start the answer looking at him. Ted, maybe you can set her up again. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Start the answer and then turn and look at me. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK. OK. SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Why don`t you share what it was like growing up in our family? UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, Ted, growing up with you was unbelievable. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: So, that was Ted Cruz footage playing with Barbies, take one. Now, here`s take two after they reset the director interjects. She gets the instruction about the meaningful eye contact. They moved the hair, they positioned the hair slightly differently over the right shoulder. So, here`s take two, which ends up having kind of a different vibe. Also, it is weird that they`re not looking at each other. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He was my kid brother. You were the guy that I hung out with. My little side kick. And I made you play Barbies, I made you go out to the play ground with me. We did dress up together. And it was so much fun. I just think that -- CRUZ: You know, I still remember when I was probably 4 or 5, and you and Miriam and Roxana and my sisters dressed me up as a bald eagle -- UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We dressed you up like a bald eagle. CRUZ: -- on the Fourth of July, and stuck me on our dog jingles. I mean, I was your giant doll and you had me walking through the house dressed as a bald eagle on this golden lab. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Before you accuse me, this is not one of those bad lip reading videos where I have created a fake thing that Ted Cruz looks like he might be saying but I really actually invented the words and you`re saying something more predictable. No. This is -- this is real. This is unedited footage. This is one portion of several hours -- several hours of footage of Ted Cruz having conversations with people, mostly members of his family. This is Ted Cruz in conversation with his cousin and his aunt. There`s also Ted Cruz in conversation with some of his other cousins. There`s Ted Cruz in conversation with his wife. At one point, they have a long discussion, a long talk that Ted Cruz has with his nephew who he says works at a chocolate factually. His campaign has uploaded hours and hours and hours of footage of Ted Cruz having conversations like this, sometimes interrupted by the director, but mostly just talking. And they have uploaded this footage specifically at the request of the Ted Cruz super PAC. See, technically the super PACs and the campaigns are not allowed to coordinate. So the pro Ted Cruz super PAC today released a public press release calling out generically to the country to say that they believe the Ted Cruz campaign who they can`t talk to directly, they believe the Ted Cruz campaign really ought to upload to the Internet a, quote, "library of creative", which means they`re telling the Ted Cruz campaign to put online a bunch of footage of Ted Cruz that other people, like for example his super PAC, can use to make inspirational pro-Ted Cruz campaign ads, or web videos, or other things that promote Ted Cruz, even though they don`t come from the Ted Cruz campaign. I mean, if you`re not allowed to coordinate with Ted Cruz` campaign, you can`t just ask directly for some video of the candidate. You can`t just have them, you know, e-mail you the video. They have to put it online publicly wherever can get to it, and then you have to pretend like you just came across it, oh, look at this, hours of Ted Cruz talking to his cousin. I mean, the only downside of this strategy is that, of course, once you put it out publicly, the rest of us can all come across it, too, which mean if you for whatever reason have any need for Ted Cruz saying this, now you can have this for free as well. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CRUZ: I mean, I was your giant doll and you had me walking through house dressed as a bald eagle. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: If you need Ted Cruz saying that for any reason, personal, political, prurient, any reason that starts with P, I mean, you`ve got it. And you`ve got hours of this footage to choose from. And all of the campaigns will eventually do this, or something like this for their super PACs. Whether or not they make their super PACs go through the humiliating rigmarole of publicly asking for this or not, all of the campaign will basically end up doing this, they`ll be posting what they call B-roll of the candidates so the PACs can then use that B-roll to make ads. Now, most of the campaigns will be smart enough to not include the audio, but the Ted Cruz folks kept the audio in. I`m your giant doll. So, that means the revolutionary committee to avenge jingles will have access to all this stuff someday too. Oh, jingles. For the first time today, we got news of one of the candidates` super PACs doing something really smart actually that might conceivably helped their candidate in exactly the way that candidate needs help. It`s a group of super PACs that are all supporting Rick Perry. And those super PACs supporting Rick Perry, they announced today that because of the way the FOX News Channel has taken over the Republican process this year, the Rick Perry super PACs, they are completely changing the way they`re trying to campaign for Rick Perry. They`re getting smart about it. They`re getting focused on what they need to focus on. I mean, if Rick Perry is excluded from the Republican presidential debates, effectively, he`s not even running for president anymore, right? If he`s not in the debates, nobody is considering his nomination. If he is not being considered for the nomination, there`s no point right in having him tried to win New Hampshire or trying to win the Iowa caucuses. So, the Rick Perry super PAC today decided first things first -- instead of focusing on the early states like Iowa and New Hampshire and South Carolina like candidates always have in the past, today, they announced they would stop those efforts. They would start ignoring the early states and instead they`re going to put all their resources, all their money, hundreds of thousands of dollars, as fast as they can into ads for Rick Perry to run on the FOX News Channel, and on other national cable networks. Because FOX News has decided that they`re going to only allow ten Republican candidates to compete for the presidential nomination by being up there on that debate stage. The rest of the candidates will be excluded from the debate. The only way to make that top 10 is to do well in national polls. And so, the Rick Perry Super PACs are being rational. They`re putting all of their eggs into that basket, because they have to. I mean, Rick Perry`s national poll numbers are now really the only things that matters. Rick Perry`s national poll numbers are the existential determining factor for his run for the presidency. It`s the existential thing, which determines whether or not he really is running for president, only his national numbers matter. So, FOX News set that rule for the Republican primary, and now, FOX News gets to cash in on that role, by getting all of the Rick Perry super PAC money in the form of his national ads. It`s a nice racket, right? Only your national poll numbers matter, your national poll numbers among Republican primary viewers. What`s the media you want to advertise on if you`re targeting the national primary? But the candidates have no choice in the matter. They`ve really just got to play along. The Rick Perry folks started doing that today and they need to. Right now, by our calculations, Rick Perry has almost no chance of getting into the debate. And Ted Cruz only barely does. FOX has been really opaque about which national polls they`re going to use to decide who`s going to be allowed to debate and who`s not. But our calculations right now, of the ten slots available on stage, seven of them are pretty safe for these candidates you see here. Jeb Bush, Donald Trump, Scott Walker, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, Ben Carson, Mike Huckabee. The eighth slot is maybe going to Ted Cruz. It`s a little wobbly there. The other slots on stage, these nine candidates at least are fighting it out amongst themselves to try to get one of those last two spots on stage. And we have generously moved Ted Cruz up to the stage there. But he really is sort of on the bubble. I mean, his national poll numbers are within the margin of error on almost every national poll, and there are still a couple weeks to go in polling before this is all decided. So, Ted Cruz will need his super PAC to start pulling for him too the way that Rick Perry super PACs are pulling for him. Hence, the "you dress me up like a little doll" footage released today. Did I mention that there`s hours of that they posted online today? But the Ted Cruz campaign also today started just overtly organizing, campaigning basically to get FOX News to let their candidate into the debate. Or at least for FOX News to start explaining the exact rules by which they`re going to make these decisions so the candidates can strategize better about what they have to do in order to satisfy the FOX News Channel so that they`d be allowed on stage to debate. today reporting that the director of research and analytics for the Ted Cruz campaign has now written to at least some if not all of the other Republican presidential campaigns today to try to organize them to basically take on FOX News. They`re asking the other Republican candidates to consider joining with us in pressuring FOX about the standards for how they`re going to be letting people into the debate. The Cruz campaign is making a number of different suggestions that the only polls that count toward the debate ranking should be telephone polls and not online polls, that the only polls that count should have at least 1,000 interviews with Republican primary voters, even though apparently no polls conducted this year anywhere have included a sample size of Republican voters that large. Weirdly, this is very strange to me. The Ted Cruz campaign is also suggesting that the FOX debate cut-off polls should only be polls that are conducted Sunday through Thursday, only week night polls. Polls conducted on a Friday or Saturday are wholly inappropriate somehow and shouldn`t be allowed to influence who is allowed to run for president in the Republican Party. It is so weird that this is their process, that this is how we`re going to get who`s allowed to run for president in this country, but this is what the Cruz pain is now lobbying the other candidates on, to try to get them all together to pressure FOX News. Quote, "Once I hear back from you and the other campaigns, we will put together a joint letter to be sent to FOX." Senator Cruz also took the train from Washington today to New York City to try one other strategy to get himself into the debates. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you meeting with Ted Cruz today? If so, how did that come about? DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE (via telephone): Yes, Ted Cruz called me. And I don`t know why I`m meeting him, to be honest. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Donald Trump appearing on MSNBC this morning saying that Ted Cruz called him and asked him for, asked Donald Trump for a meeting. Donald Trump said yes. He`s taking that meeting, although he doesn`t know why. He said explicitly he has no idea what the meeting was about. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TRUMP: I like him. He called me. He wanted to meet and we are going to meet. What it is about, I have absolutely no idea. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: I know. I know what it is about. I know what it is about. In part because the existence of this meeting was leaked to the press before it happened today. Are you familiar with the concept of drafting? Not like drafting like riding or drafting like being drafted. I mean, like drafting behind something? It is a very dangerous thing to do, both on the highway behind a big truck or behind your fellow bike racers in the Tour de France. It is dangerous but people do it any way. Drafting is getting behind somebody who is doing better than you and hoping they will sweep you along in their wake. Under the FOX News criteria of who is allowed to compete for the Republican presidential nomination, Donald Trump is doing great. He is definitely, definitely, definitely going to make the debates. Ted Cruz -- he`s on the bubble. And so, Ted Cruz in this somewhat desperate effort with all the guys at the bottom of the polls are making, trying to get into the debates, Ted Cruz is essentially trying to draft off the popularity of Donald Trump. Yes, sure, Mr. Trump horrifies a lot of people in the Republican Party, but enough Republican voters like Donald Trump that he really is a safe bet for the debate stage in three weeks and Ted Cruz is not. So Ted Cruz is trying to get himself a little of that. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REPORTER: Senator Cruz, so on your meeting with Donald Trump today, he says that you called for the meeting. What do you plan to discuss? Why are you meeting with Donald Trump? CRUZ: Oh, I`m a big fan of Donald Trump`s. I`ve spent a lot of time meeting with all sorts of friends of mine. And I`ll say this -- I think Donald Trump is bringing a bold, brash voice to this presidential race. One of the reasons you`re seeing so many 2016 candidates go out of their way to smack Donald Trump is they don`t like a politician that speaks directly about the challenges of illegal immigration. I, for one, am grateful that Donald Trump is highlighting these issues. JOHN HARWOOD, CNBC: Donald Trump is one of the opponents that you have in this race. Do you see him as a plausible occupant of the Oval Office? Plausible president of the United States? Or are you simply defending him because you expect him to collapse and you want to inherit his votes? (LAUGHTER) CRUZ: Let`s be clear. I am running to win. I would like to inherit all their votes. So, at the end of the day, I will readily plead guilty to that. HARWOOD: OK. CRUZ: But I will also say I like Donald. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Ted Cruz is only slightly more likely to win the Republican presidential nomination than I am. Ted Cruz is -- he`s not going to win. I`m sure -- he`s not going to win. But Ted Cruz is not even going to be allowed to compete unless he can grab some of that Donald Trump national polling magic and use it to get himself unto the debate stage in the first place. So, that`s what he`s doing and that`s what FOX News has turned the Republican presidential campaign into this year. This is what these guys are doing now, instead of going on town halls and meeting people and going to local campaign events in New Hampshire and Iowa, which is what they would be doing in any other year. Iowa, and New Hampshire and South Carolina too, they are the states being cut out of the process in a way they really never have before. And they are vocally unhappy about it. It started in New Hampshire with dozens of prominent Republicans and party officials wrote to FOX News and the Republican Party asking them on please cut this out. Stop doing it this way, stop intervening in the presidential primary the way they are this year. Let it happen the way it usually does, let all the qualified candidates um to debate. Let the early state voters make the call about who is a real candidate and who`s not instead, of FOX News making that call on its own made up criteria that not incidentally benefits FOX News` bottom line. It was New Hampshire Republicans who started lobbying FOX and the Republican Party first to change what they`re planning to do this year. Then, it was Iowa Republicans. Iowa`s long time Republican governor, Terry Branstad, and lots of other Republican officials in Iowa asking FOX to please not do it this way, please change your plans. Then, it was South Carolina. More than 100 party officials and activists and prominent conservatives in South Carolina writing to FOX News, writing to the Republican Party saying please stop this, please stop killing the early states and our role in picking a presidential nominee which we satisfy very seriously. Don`t take this process away from us. Who the heck are you basically? Well, now, those complaints from the candidates who are in danger of being boxed out simply because the FOX News Channel says they`re not going to be allowed to compete based on FOX`s say-so. The complaints of those candidates and the complaints of those early states, they are coming together in a concrete plan to steal the thunder of the FOX News Channel and take process back. And the man who is spearheading that plan is our next guest. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: So, we have a lot more to come tonight, on what has been a very busy news day. And I`m excited to say that we`ve got an interview next with the man who has turned the entire Republican presidential nominating process upside down, with one announcement today. And tonight, here for the interview is real life member of President Obama`s cabinet who got a huge national shout-out from President Obama himself today. Lots still to come. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TRUMP: So the total is $8,737,540,000. Now, I`m not doing that -- I`m not doing that to brag because you know what? I don`t have to brag. I don`t have to, believe it or not. I`m doing that to say that that`s the kind of thinking our country needs. We need that thinking. We have the opposite thinking. We have losers. We have losers. We have people that don`t have it. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Donald Trump when he announced his run for the presidency said unprompted and unsolicited, nobody was asking but he said, while announcing that he was running for president that he was worth precisely $8,737,540,000. Maybe. He also said in the same speech, in the same paragraph of the same speech that he was probably worth more than that. Maybe. Even though he released that very precise number, he also said at the time that he was worth way more than that. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TRUMP: So, I have a total net worth and now with the increase, it will be well over $10 billion. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Donald Trump when he announced he was running for president said he was worth $8.754 billion. But also that he was worth more than $10 billion. Well, today, he says he released more information to the FEC documenting that he is worth more than $10 billion. I should be clear. He said that his net worth, if I`m going to quote here directly, "is in excess of TEN BILLION DOLLARS!" He said it in all capital letters. He spelled it out in all capital letters. It`s literally a printed press release that has a part where he screams. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One million dollars. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: The reason that Donald Trump is screaming in print about his net worth is more than just funny, is because as it has become clearer and clearer, the FOX News Channel is actively intervening in the process so they will choose which candidates are allowed to compete for the nomination by debating. They will pick ten candidates and the rest will not be allowed to debate. As that has become more clear that FOX is really intervening in the process by doing this, FOX News has understandably come under a lot of pressure from their friends, you know, from the Republican establishment, and the media in the early voting states in particular. And those early voting states are used to making those winnowing the field decisions for the country rather than having some cable news channel make those decisions. Since they`ve been getting that pressure, FOX, to my eye, has several times changed the rules about who gets into that debate and how the decision will be made. Now, they never say they are changing the rules. But it`s apparent that they have changed the rules several times. The first change is that they said in addition to the 10 people, they`re going to let into the debate, the other candidates who aren`t let into the debate, they`ll be allowed into a different event, a forum, a kiddie pool pseudo-consolation prize thing. They said they always intend that, but they announced it late into the process and that was apparently the first concession that they made to the pressure they`re under for taking over the Republican political process this way. The second concession they made is that they said they would require candidates to turn in their financial disclosures to the FEC before the first debate. Now, they had said all along that candidates had to meet all FEC requirements, but candidates had apparently not been under the impression that by saying that, FOX News was requiring them to get all their forms in. A lot of candidates had filed for extensions. They filed for extensions and didn`t seem to be on track to have their forms actually turned in before the FOX News debate. Well, now, FOX says they`ve got to get the forms in. Extensions won`t cut it. There`s been speculation on the Republican side that that new criteria from FOX was designed specifically to kick Donald Trump out of debate because many people believed that he would never actually file his personal financial details with the FEC. But now, Mr. Trump has done so -- $10 billion! The third concession that FOX is being pressured for now is from the candidates, led by the Ted Cruz campaign. They`re trying on get the networks to explain which polls they`re going to use, which polls they`re going to count when they`re coming up with their magic ten candidate cut- off number. But as this fight continues, inside Republican politics, the early voting states of Iowa and New Hampshire and South Carolina, they appear to basically just be over it, over this whole mess. "The New Hampshire Union Leader", the newspaper there in New Hampshire, had previously announced they would hold a competing event to participate in instead of the FOX News debate in August. They`ve now announced that their event will be held in New Hampshire but it will be three days in advance of the FOX News debate. It will be held August 3rd in New Hampshire and it will not be just a New Hampshire event. It will be a New Hampshire, Iowa, and South Carolina event, because it`s going to cosponsored by the "Post and Courier" newspaper in South Carolina, by "The Gazette" newspaper in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and by the New Hampshire Union Leader", which originally proposed this idea. So, FOX News thought they were going to be first. FOX News thought that they were going to be giving the country the first look at these Republican candidates for president. But now, with this new announcement, at least these candidates and ultimately probably all of them are going to be doing a different event first. A non-FOX debate, one for which there is not a magic ten cut off and which will put these early states, at least in a small way, back in some bit of control in a process that they`ve been used to running now for decades. Joining us now is the man who spearheaded, publisher of "The New Hampshire Union Leader", Joe McQuaid. Mr. McQuaid, it`s a real pleasure you have to here. Thanks very much for being here. JOE MCQUAID, NEW HAMPSHIRE UNION LEADER PUBLISHER: Oh, Rachel, you`re very welcome. You`ve been on the side of New Hampshire in the early states from the get-go. And I appreciate that. MADDOW: I still think that I can`t really believe that my friends at FOX wanted to intervene this overtly into the process, that they wanted to warp the process as much as they had by sticking with this criteria. I wonder if you feel like you`re still pressuring them. You`d like them on change what they`re planning or if it`s fully baked? MCQUAID: I was sort of hoping because I do have a day job. I was sort of hoping that FOX would listen to the entreaties from the Republicans in the various states and do a mixed up two 90-minute debates with top polling candidates, intermixed with some of the lower polling candidates. And frankly, other than they are now, I think they got their back up and their pride up. That would be a better show, don`t you think, to have two, either on the same night or different nights? MADDOW: And, you know, seeing, like Chris Christie is probably not going to make the mix, as he really fun guy to have in the debate. Carly Fiorina is the only woman in the mix in this giant field of male candidates. It would be really nice to see her in the mix, and it would be nice to see people like that mix it up. Not just with other people who aren`t being allowed to run but to see them mix it up with guys in the top tier. Do you think you`re going to be able to get some of that dynamic at your event that you`re holding three days ahead of FOX? MCQUAID: Yes. It`s funny. As of right now, we have ten candidates, which is the limit for FOX, it`s a nice base for us to grow on, and you mentioned a couple who are in the top ten. Dr. Carson is in the top ten. And I think the last time I looked, Ted Cruz was in the top ten as well. And I would be shocked if FOX didn`t find a way to have Carly Fiorina on that stage which may to go your question that what polls will be used and win. And I was listening to your run up to this and about the candidates and whether they had been here that much, because they have to concentrate on FOX. There were so many of them, it is hard to keep count how many times they are here. The impression that the voters get here and I think in the other states, that they`re all here all the time. They`re not. But they`re still here quite a bit. It is interesting what you say that a pack is now turning its focus to the national polls. But I guess when you think about it, not only are we in advance of FOX, but I would think that it would promote FOX`s event. And might also bump up some of these lower polling people into the top poll and really screw things up. MADDOW: Well, right now, it is less like wrench in the works than a firecracker in the works. But you in New Hampshire, and other folks in South Carolina and Iowa who are pushing relentlessly on this stuff, I still think you`re going to get your way and I think that proposal for two debates instead of one held with everybody together, I still think it makes so much sense that you will win because I believe in reason. Joe McQuaid, publisher of "The New Hampshire Union Leader" -- MCQUAID: Well, good luck. MADDOW: Thank you. I appreciate you being here, sir. That voter`s first forum will be held in New Hampshire on August 3rd, three days ahead of the FOX debate. All right. We got lots more ahead including a member of the president`s cabinet who is here live for the interview. Please stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: So, tonight at the end of the show, we`ve got one of the greatest public corruption stories of all time coming up. It involves taxidermy, Wyatt Earp, fossilized pine trees. It`s like nothing I`ve ever seen before. We`ve still got the interview ahead. We have a report on President Obama`s big testy press conference today. But the fossilized pine tree, Wyatt Earp stuff, wildlife corruption story is truly, honestly nuts. It has received no national attention and we`ve got that on deck, too. Please stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: July 15th, 1971, 44 years ago today, President Richard Nixon went on TV to make a genuinely startling, totally unexpected address to the American people. And for all the other stunning historical importance of what he announced that night, 44 years ago right now, it was probably also the last most consequential announcement in American history in which the American president referred to himself by name. Sort of by necessity, he had to talk about himself in third person as he made the announcement. Watch. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) RICHARD NIXON, FORMER PRESIDENT: Good evening. I have requested this television time tonight to announce a major development in our efforts to build a lasting peace in the world. There can be no stable and enduring peace without the participation of the People`s Republic of China and its 750 million people. The announcement I shall now read is being issued simultaneously in Peking and in the United States. Chou En-Lai, on behalf of the government of the People`s Republic of China, has extended an invitation to President Nixon to visit China as an appropriate date before May 1972. President Nixon has accepted the invitation with pleasure. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: President Nixon saying that he, President Nixon, personally would travel to China for direct talks with the Chinese government. And that was not just a surprise because no American president had ever been to China. It was a surprise because nobody thought that that particular American president would ever go to China. This was the middle of the Cold War. Richard Nixon was the coldest of Cold Warriors in terms of his anti-communist rhetoric and all the rest of it. Nobody thought Nixon of all people would extend a hand to China. His own party was absolutely furious with him about it. Conservatives called at this time liquidation of the anti-communist stance of the American government. They said this was the same thing as appeasing Adolf Hitler. And yes, of course, China is not Iran, right? China then is not Iran now. But if you hum a few bars, the way this diplomatic victory with Iran right now is being greeted here in the United States sounds a little bit like the way President Nixon`s own party greeted his overtures to China more than 40 years ago. Republicans in Congress now, Republicans running for president in particular, they immediately came out yesterday, calling the Iran deal, wait for it, appeasement. Just like Nixon, right. A disaster, delusional, dangerous, before it was humanly possible for anyone who have actually read the deal, Republicans were all over uniformly talking about how they knew they hated it and they didn`t to have read it to know. President Obama today gave a long press conference where he took questions on the deal, reporters asking him about criticism of the deal, about concerns about the deal. The president addressing those concerns as put forth by reporters, one after the other. Then at one point, I guess the president didn`t feel like the reporters` questions were hard enough or that they had lobbed enough of the range of possible critiques of the Iran deal at him. And I`ve never seen a president do this before in a press conference, but he actually took out a piece of paper from his pocket on which he had jotted down even more possible critiques of the Iran deal and then even though he hadn`t been asked about those critiques, he went to address the ones he got out of his pocket. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Have we exhausted Iran questions here? I think there`s a helicopter that`s coming, but I`m really enjoying this Iran debate. The -- well, topics that may not have been touched upon, criticism that`s you`ve heard that I did not answer. OK. I`m just going to look -- I made some notes about the argument that I`ve heard here. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Give me your talking points. I will knock down your talking points as you give them to me. If you don`t remember your talking points, I brought more. I brought more things that you might object to me about that I can knock down right there. I`ve got them in my pocket. I have never seen a president do that before. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) OBAMA: There are only two alternatives here. Either the issue of Iran obtaining a nuclear weapon is resolved diplomatically through a negotiation or it is resolved through force, through war. Those are the options. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: When pollsters asked the American people if we as Americans support our government trying negotiate a diplomatic solution to the Iranian nuclear issue, Americans say yes by very large margins. But the political response, especially from Republicans, has been this is terrible, the end of the world. Today, President Obama challenged critics of diplomacy. He challenged them to speak up, to explain their side. He basically said, if you`d rather resolve the issue of Iran through a war, rather than talking, then make your case that that`s what you want. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) OBAMA: I challenge those who are objecting to this agreement to explain specifically where it is that they think this agreement does not prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon. And why they`re right and people like Ernie Moniz, who`s an MIT nuclear physicist and an expert in these issues, is wrong. And if the alternative is that we should bring Iran to heel through military force, then those critics should say so. And that will be an honest debate. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: President Obama there giving a shout out to our nation`s energy secretary, Ernest Moniz, if you`re the president, you can call him Ernie. Secretary Moniz had the difficult job of nailing down the technical difficulties of this incredibly technical deal during these long and exhausting talks. He has spent many months, and just recently, the past 18 days working on this. And he`s our guest for the interview here next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) OBAMA: I challenge those who are objecting to this agreement, number one, to read the agreement before they comment on it. Number two, to explain specifically where it is that they think this agreement does not prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon. And why they`re right and people like Ernie Moniz, who`s an MIT nuclear physicist and an expert in these issues, is wrong. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Yes. Explain how MIT-trained nuclear physicist and U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz is wrong. Go ahead. That`s high praise from the president, also probably a lot of pressure if you are U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz. Let`s find out. He joins us now for the interview. Mr. Secretary, sir, thank you so much for your time tonight. I have a feeling you got to be pretty exhausted after what you`ve been through over the last past few weeks. ERNEST MONIZ, U.S. SECRETARY OF ENERGY: It`s been a grind but it`s a pleasure to be here, Rachel. MADDOW: How long was it before the deal was done that you actually had confidence that it would be? Were you an optimist? Did you believe that there always would be a final deal? Or did it seem shaky to you toward the end? MONIZ: Well, I think I thought we would get to a deal several days after I felt we would not get to a deal, and that was just a couple days before we finished. I did feel that come Sunday, we had a few issues to resolve. But I thought we would come out with a very good deal and I believe we have. MADDOW: Let me ask you about criticism that`s resonates with me. A lot of the criticisms of this deal seem to me to be things that people wrote and prepared and put in bumper sticker form before the deal came out. They were the kind of objections that were going to be raise no matter what was in the deal. But now that we`ve seen the deal, one of the ones that resonates with me is this 24-day window. If the West suspects that Iran is cheating, Iran has as far as I understand it, a 24-day window, a three and a half week window before international inspectors will be able to get access to a potential nuclear site to go check and see if cheating is happening. How -- where did that 24-day window come from? Is that a potential way that they could hide cheating from international detection? MONIZ: Well, first of all, let me emphasize that I have always said that it is anytime, anywhere in the sense of having a well-defined process and a well-defined time to go in and inspect anywhere that we have a suspicion of nuclear activity. So, that`s not new that we have a time window. It is new to have such a time because up until now, when the IAEA does these requests for inspections, frankly, it`s quite often dragged on and on and on. So, 24 days is the time that we have for the process to work out. Let me assure you that when it comes to nuclear materials activity, I am not concerned about the 24 days in terms of our ability or I should say, really, the IAEA`s ability to detect that material. MADDOW: You think that is not a long enough time that something could essentially both hidden and cleaned up in time for to it look innocent by the time the inspectors got there. It just seems like a long period. Obviously, I`m not a nuclear physicist and you are. It seem like that`s a long time to cover up the crime. MONIZ: Trying to -- trying to disguise the fact that you have dealt with nuclear materials is not simple. It is not exactly washing your dishes at home. And again, there are very, very sensitive techniques for detecting the use of such nuclear materials. MADDOW: Let me ask but a contentious exchange that the president had today during press conference with a reporter who questioned in provocative terms why American citizens who are being held in Iran were not exchanged as part of this deal. Major Garrett raised that with this issue of Americans being held there. Other people have raised other issues about Iran`s support for terrorism around the world and Iran`s treatment of its own people, other Iranian civil rights and national security issues. There are lots of things we still don`t like about Iran as a country. How do you explain to people? How do you square the sort of morality of this deal with its narrowness? With the fact that it is just about the nuclear program and it leaves all the other elements of our relationship with Iran still out there, even though we`re talking to them about this one thing. MONIZ: Well, I think it all starts with the fact that the president and I as well feel that if we can take nuclear weapon issue off the table, it makes it easier for us to deal with all the other issues. And there are many that we have at issue with Iran, specifically, with regard to the Americans unjustly held or in fact missing in Iran. The feeling was that making that a quid pro quo in this discussion would only put us at a disadvantage. But at every opportunity -- and I can assure you that Secretary Kerry right at the moment of the deal raised once again the issue of our resolving these issues about Americans that are held or missing in Iran. MADDOW: U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, thank you for explaining it to us. And you have earned your jet lag in an honest way, sir. MONIZ: Thank you. MADDOW: And I hope you get some rest now that you`re back. Thank you, sir. I appreciate it. MONIZ: Thank you. MADDOW: All right. I don`t really how to say it, this coming out of an interview with the United States secretary of energy. So, I`m just going to say it -- up next, we`ve got a stuffed coyote wrapped in plastic being held by a cop. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: OK. Visual cue. Ready? When you see this mesmerizing picture, see this picture, tell me you do not feel a burning desire to know more. To understand what`s going on in this picture, to -- what does this mean? Who is this man? How is -- what is going -- if you stick around for one of the most astonishing politician corruption stories I`ve ever seen in my life, all will be revealed including the mystery of that thing. Please stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: You have waited for it and you deserve it. This is one of the greatest public corruption stories I have heard. It is certainly the only public corruption story that ever made me have to learn that this is the state fossil of the state of Arizona. It is the petrified version of like a big pine tree or something. I know. It`s probably not actually a petrified pine tree. I`m sure it is much more nuanced and important than that. But honestly, I spent half of the day trying to figure out how to pronounce the thing. I will not even try. I spent a long time. I can`t do it. But, apparently this fossil, this petrified thing, while it is the state fossil of Arizona, you can buy one, it is not a protected thing. You can purchase one. The reason I know this is because the taxpayer dollars of the people of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania were used to buy one in 2001. In the year 2001, $277 were spent on a petrified pine tree. It was then dumped in a storage space in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, along with a chuck wagon dinner bell $75, and a 36-inch wide child`s bathtub from the West Cliff Ranch, that was $300. Also, rolled of old barbed wire from the Eastern Plains Company purchased with $56 in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, taxpayer dineros. Not everything was so cheap, though. There was $19,000 bronze cowboy on a bucking bronco. Also, a $14,000 suit of Spanish armor. Almost $15,000 spent on what purported to be a Ford`s theater billed from the night of the Lincoln assassination. Wow. Really? Who knows but that`s what the people of Harrisonburg paid for it whether it`s fake or not. They also paid $6,500 for a vampire hunting kit, which was definitely fake, because there is no such thing as a real vampire hunting kit. But there is a robust trade in fake ones that are gullible. All of these things, and thousands of other things, pistols, saddles, anchors, anvils, stage coach harnesses, cross bows, bowie knives, strong boxes from stagecoaches, sheriff`s badges. All of this stuff, apparently millions of dollars for this stuff was bought by the former mayor of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, with taxpayer money. The attorney general of Pennsylvania just unveiled a 499-count criminal indictment against Harrisburg`s former mayor, alleging that over 20 years, as the city of Harrisburg was brought to its financial knees as it became the first city in Pennsylvania history to be taken over by the state because it basically went bankrupt, as that was happening, perhaps not coincidentally, the city`s long-time mayor, Steve Reid, ran a scheme in which he would have the city take on huge loans for one civic purpose or another and then take some of the money involved for himself and he would use that money to do on Wild West memorabilia buying sprees. So, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, is now treated to this astonishing visual spectacle, can we drop the bug there? This astonishing visual spectacle of the search warrants executed on the places where their mayor stashed his stuff, where the mayor stashed their stuff actually since he -- look, since he bought it with public money. This thing, I think, is a taxidermied coyote. But I might be wrong. There`s a saddle. This is -- I don`t know what this is. I don`t know. So, the mayor has been arrested now. He says he`s done nothing wrong. He is vowing to fight the charges. But he has just been hit with a 499- count criminal indictment. If he is convicted of the 499 charges, he is looking at a maximum prison term of 2,439 years in prison. But, hey, whatever happens to him, at least the good people of Harrisburg get to decide what to do with their full suit of armor, their three butter churns, their ram school, their full body buffalo, also stuffed presumably, of course, their petrified pine tree. I mean, there`s public corruption trials and then there are public corruption trials. Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, just graduated to the big leagues with this one. Very impressive. That does it for us tonight. We will see you again tomorrow. Now, it`s time for "THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL." Good evening, Lawrence. THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END