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The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 07/28/15

Guests: Dafna Linzer

CHRIS HAYES, "ALL IN" HOST: That`s "ALL IN" for this morning. THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts now. Good evening, Rachel. RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: As we get closer and closer and closer to the start of the actual primary, the word Thunderdome gets used more and more often. HAYES: Yes, it`s a good model. MADDOW: Eventually, everybody is going to have a chainsaw, not just Rand Paul, and they`re all going to have them in the same room. Amazing. Thank you, Chris. HAYES: See you. MADDOW: Thanks to you at home as well for joining us this hour. OK, 1985, I was 12. 1985 was a big year. It was not because that`s the year the Falcon and Snowman came out, which was an amazing spy movie. For nonfiction reasons, for non-pop culture reasons, 1985 was called the year of the spy. On May 20th, 1985, a chief warrant officer in the U.S. Navy was arrested by the FBI after his wife basically narced him out to the U.S. government for spying for the Soviet Union. His name was John Anthony Walker. He had been stealing classified information from the Navy for years, selling it to the Soviet Union. He had been doing this for almost 20 years, by the time the FBI finally caught up to him and arrested him in May 1985. Walker had roped basically his whole immediate family into helping him with his spying efforts. He`d been paid a lot by the Soviets for doing it. But eventually, his wife turned him in. And when the John Anthony Walker spying arrest was disclosed that year in 1985, it was really shocking at the time. But it turned out that it was just the first of many, many such arrests and revelations that year. John Walker was arrested May, 1985. Fast forward a few months. In September that same year, it was Edward Lee Howard. Edward Lee Howard worked at the CIA. He had started selling U.S. intelligence to the Soviet Union in the previous year, 1984. The FBI was apparently tipped off that he might be a spy inside the CIA, stealing secret information. He might secretly be working for the Russians. The FBI was sort of on to him. They were set to potentially arrest him. But he got away. He defected to Russia. He got away in September 1985, and then he lived in Russia for the rest of his life until he died almost 20 years later. That was September. Then in November, that same year, November 21st, they arrested Jonathan Pollard, who was then a civilian research analyst working for U.S. Navy intelligence. They arrested him for selling U.S. classified information for Israel. Then, the day after they arrested Jonathan Pollard, November 22nd, the FBI arrested another CIA guy -- a long time CIA employee who was charged with selling classified information this time to China. Then, two days after that the FBI arrested a long-time employee of the NSA, Ronald Pelton. Ronald Pelton worked at the NSA 14 years. He sold very highly classified U.S. information from the NSA to the Soviet Union. I mean, those last throw arrests all happened within the same week. And the NSA guy, the Robert Pelton case, that was just an incredibly damaging case. Ronald Pelton had worked at the NSA for 14 years. He gave over very highly classified information to the USSR. He ended up getting sentenced to three life terms in prison plus ten years for how he sold out his country to Russia, three life times plus ten years is a long time. But when they arrested Pelton in 1985, and sentenced him in 1986, that was basically the last anybody heard of Robert Pelton. It turns out the test of time has proven that the guy who was arrested three days before Ronald Pelton, Jonathan Pollard, the guy who worked in naval intelligence spying for Israel, turns out of all of the traitors unmasked in the year of the spy, out of all of those Reagan era, Cold War, espionage cases this one, Jonathan Pollard, ended up being the one who has been a constant source of news and high level intrigue for going on 30 years now. Jonathan Pollard went by the name Jay. He was considered to be a smart guy. His dad had been a professor at Notre Dame. He went to Stanford. At one point, he applied for a job at the CIA, although he didn`t end up working at the CIA. He did get a job as a research analyst working for the naval intelligence command. And his remit, his area of focus as a research analyst for naval intelligence was supposed to be the Caribbean and North America. Some of his co-workers started to notice that he was going out of his way to access all sorts of classified information that didn`t have anything to do with the Caribbean and North America, particularly interested in top level information about the Middle East. So, there was some suspicions about his behavior at work among his co- workers. And that led his co-workers to alert the FBI that they were a little worried about that guy. In November of 1985, the FBI stopped Jay Pollard on his way out of work and they questioned him about how he was handling classified information. They ended up questioning him that night, it was a Monday. They questioned him that night and the following Tuesday and the following Wednesday. And he did apparently admit to the FBI he had been mishandling classified information, he had been taking classified documents and he had been handing them off to someone. He promised to keep talking. He promised to get more specific. He promised to even help the FBI find other people involved in this plot. So, the FBI apparently decided it was OK to keep sort of a loose leash on him, to keep him talking, to hope that they could learn even more from him, to hope that he could lead them to even bigger fish. They also allowed him during the course of their questioning, they allowed him to make a few different phone calls to his wife. He said he wanted to apparently let his wife know where he was, to keep her from worrying about him. So he asked several times to be excused to go make those calls to his wife. And one of the legendary things about the Jonathan Pollard case is that in each of those calls, he apparently found a way to bring the conversation around to the topic of -- cactuses. He told his wife to "Go see our friends and give them our cactus." Note to self. If you ever need a code word that you don`t want to sound suspicious, in case somebody is listening, pick something you might reasonably talk about on the phone and not something like cactus. It was more like a safe word, less like a code word if you know what I mean. In this guy`s case, he had worked out this code word, with his wife in advance. The word cactus may or may not have been an acronym for some secret weapons system or something else he had stolen information about. But in any case, he and his wife worked out this plan where he mentioned the cactus to her, she would know that would be a signal that she should go retrieve from their apartment, a giant suitcase he had stashed there full of classified U.S. intelligence documents. So, he gave the signal. He is being questioned by the FBI. They let him make a phone call. He says cactus to his wife on the phone. She knows she is to get the suitcase and get rid of it. So, the FBI has been tipped off this guy might be doing something fishy at work. They start questioning him. He basically confesses a little bit he has been handing over classified information. The FBI lets him tip off his wife to get rid of some of the damning evidence. But then because he says he was going to lead them to others involved in the plot, they let him go. They started questioning him Monday of that week, November 1985. They started questioning him on Monday. On Thursday of that week, November 21st, 1985, he got into his Ford Mustang. He grabbed his cat, Dusty. He grabbed his wife. And he and his wife and Dusty the cat they all drove to the Israeli embassy in Washington, D.C. and they knocked on the door and Jonathan Pollard asked at the Israeli embassy for them to take him and his family in. Take them in. He asked for asylum. And the Israeli embassy said, I`m sorry, who now? You want what? You are who? You want what? They turned him down, kept the door shut. And the FBI arrested him. And if people had not already been shocked by the John Walker Navy spying case and the CIA guy defecting to Moscow -- well, the Jonathan Pollard arrest sealed the deal the 1985 would be the year of the spy. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TOM BROKAW, NBC NEWS: Federal officials are saying tonight that Navy employee Jonathan Pollard has admitted that he was paid almost $50,000 for American military secrets he supplied to Israel. And Israel apparently was not his only customer. He was arrested outside the Israeli embassy in Washington. NBC`s Jim Miklaszewski reports tonight that he almost got away. JIM MIKLASZEWSKI, NBC REPORTER: Jonathan Pollard had top secret service at the Naval Intelligence Service since May 1984. That`s when he`s alleged to have started selling secrets to the Israelis for $2,500 a month, $45,000 total over a year and a half. The Navy is now frying to determine the extent of damage from this latest spy scandal. Sources tell NBC News that Pollard almost got away. The FBI had questioned him Wednesday, but after he offered to lead them to other possible suspects, let him go. Thursday, Pollard bolted and attempted to seek political asylum at the Israeli embassy in Washington. It was then he was arrested and charged with espionage. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Once Jonathan Pollard had been arrested it became clear that though he had been spying for about a year and a half, he`d only been stealing information for a year and a half, he had been doing it on an industrial scale. The amount of information that he had stolen, and handed over was just epic. It also turns out he was demanding top dollar for what he was handing over. Watch this. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MIKLASZEWSKI: The evidence showed that Pollard, who worked at this naval station as a civilian analyst, hauled out suitcases of classified documents as often as three times a week, and delivered them to Israeli embassy officials including a graduate student, a science counselor and secretary all working as intelligence agents. Court documents said several people took part in photocopying the documents at the home of an Israeli diplomat in Maryland. Pollard admitted he got $45,000 in cash, plus the first installment on a $300,000 bank account and diamond and sapphire ring. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: A diamond and sapphire ring. Now, the ring it turns out was an engagement ring. Aw. Apparently at one of his meetings where he was offering to sell the classified military information to Israel, he not only negotiated his cash payment, he also asked to be paid partly in jewelry. That meeting happened in Paris, which I`m sure itself was nice for him. But then an exchange for this classified military information he was handing over, he asked Israelis to buy that nice diamond and sapphire ring for him at a Parisian jewelry store which he then apparently used to propose to his wife, the one who he would eventually have the cactus code with, and yes, she ended up going to prison too. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REPORTER: Prosecutors say Pollard gave away more secrets than any other spy in American history. JOSEPH DIGENOVA, U.S. ATTORNEY: This case represents a serious -- and I underscore serious -- grave breach of national security secrets of this country. REPORTER: In a three-hour court hearing, Pollard said what he had done was wrong, that he expected to be punished but asked for mercy for his wife Ann Henderson Pollard, saying he had sacrificed her on an altar of political ideology selling secrets to Israel. Pollard was given life in prison. His wife sobbed as she was sentenced to five years for helping her husband. Led away to a holding cell, she could be heard screaming and pounding the walls. Prosecutors think any parole for Pollard is unlikely. DIGENOVA: Mr. Pollard I believe will not see the light of day. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Jonathan Pollard is one of the highest profile, and most lurid, and if you believe prosecutors, most damaging spying scandals of the past half century. But despite what prosecutors thought when they got him locked up for life 30 years ago, he is about to see the light of day. John Pollard was arrested in 1985, year of the spy, pled guilty in 1986, given a life sentence for espionage in 1987, but a life sentence for that kind of crime apparently means that you go before the parole board after 30 years. And today, the U.S. Parole Commission announced that they`re letting him out. They`re saying he is going to get out 30 years to the day from that night he was first arrested at the Israeli embassy with his wife and his cat asking for asylum. November 21st, they`re going to spring him. Now, this is not clemency or a pardon by President Obama. This is a parole board decision at the end of I guess what is effectively the 30-year minimum time served in order to qualify for parole on a life sentence. But the Obama Justice Department could have intervened with the patrol board could have asked them to keep him in prison for a decade or longer. The Justice Department decided not to do that. And that is a big reason why he is about to get out. And the Israelis over time have lobbied so hard for him to be released. It makes it a remarkable political thing he is getting out now. I mean, every American president since Reagan has come under such incredible pressure from the Israelis that the U.S. should release this guy specifically because he spied for Israel. It is a remarkable political thing it is finally happening, particularly because Jonathan Pollard has been seen as kind of the ultimate bargaining chip, in all sorts of different Middle East negotiations. Under George W. Bush, under President Obama, under Bill Clinton, under Poppy Bush, the release of Jonathan Pollard has been dangled, or negotiated, or at least floated, or demanded as a way to try to achieve otherwise unattainable Middle East deals. I mean, here`s -- this is not only one I`m going to show you. But take this is an example. Also, take this as an example because it is amazing Andrea Mitchell reporting from 1998. Bill Clinton trying to negotiate an Israeli- Palestinian deal. It`s the Wye River Accord, right? It`s this very difficult process, but it is going along, swimming upstream, inch by inch, by inch, trying how to get the deal done. Everybody thinks they know what is on the table at all sides. They`re deep into the deal. But this one ever loving spy case that never goes away, it gets thrown into the middle of the deal, unexpectedly. This happened again and again and again. Watch Andrea Mitchell here. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC NEWS: Like everything else in the Middle East, it was anything but easy. Nine nonstop days and nights including 90 hours involving the president and final push from Jordan`s ailing King Hussein. 7:00 a.m., the deal is done. Handshakes all around. Yasser Arafat leaves to get ready for the signing ceremony. Marine One gets ready to take the president back to the White House. Israeli officials even talk about how good a deal it is. DORE GOLD, ISRAELI U.N. AMBASSADOR: This takes Israelis and the Palestinians closer to achieving peace with security. MITCHELL: Suddenly 8:00 a.m., Netanyahu takes Clinton aside. U.S. officials say for the first time he says he won`t sign the deal unless the president first releases Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard, convicted of stealing U.S. military secrets for Israel. Aides say the president is shocked. He has twice denied clemency for Pollard. For six hours, they argue. Finally, Clinton says he will review the Pollard case. The summit deal is back on. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: That kind of thing happened again and again and again through every presidential administration since this guy was first arrested while Ronald Reagan was president. Every president since Reagan has reviewed this guy`s case, has had studies to see if he could be released, spent it off these appeals for clemency, pardon, parole. It has been this incredibly high stakes negotiating flash point for 30 years until today. Today, they said they will let him out. I mean, as recently as 2011, Benjamin Netanyahu was telling the Obama administration they had to let Jonathan Pollard out because he served 25 years. As recently as 2011, Vice President Joe Biden quoted saying at the time that would happen over my dead body. But now, Jonathan Pollard is being let out. How come? What is the U.S. getting for it if at all? How did this happen? Joining us now is Dafna Linzer, managing editor of MSNBC digital. Dafna has covered the Pollard case for years, ever since she was a correspondent for the "A.P." in Jerusalem. Dafna, it`s great to have you here. DAFNA LINZER, MSNBC DIGITAL: Thank you, Rachel. MADDOW: Did I get anything wrong? LINZER: No, you got everything exactly right. But you know what, even last year when Kerry was making this last-ditch effort again with the Israelis and Palestinians, the Pollard case was dangled out there. Would Obama release him early? Of course, it didn`t happen. MADDOW: Well, that`s part of my question. So, last year, they`re talking, they`re still, once again, talking about Jonathan Pollard. They got to get him, they got to him out, they got to get him out. They`re using this as part of a bigger negotiation. Last year also, he went up for parole. The parole board said no. This year, today, the parole board said yes. The Obama administration is saying that it`s like an inevitable thing about the course of the wheels of justice that he would have gotten out today. This is no politics here. It`s not part of any deal. It`s a standalone issue. It`s just inevitable because of the way the parole board works. That doesn`t make any sense to me since the parole board said no to him last year. LINZER: That`s right. And, you know what, even though it is his release date, which is this year, you know, as far as when his sentencing occurred. You know, they could still ask to keep him. I mean, it`s an extraordinary case. They could come up to the parole board and say we don`t believe that he should be released and make a case for keeping him longer. But I think this is really about politics and this is really about Obama`s legacy and being able to say, oh, I`m the president after all of the presidents who said, no, I`m the president who is not going to block this. I will be the president on whose watch Jonathan Pollard will be released. I think it`s really ironic and I think it is for the administration too after the crazy and very difficult and very upsetting relationship that the United States has had with Israel, it`s been very personal between Netanyahu and Obama for all sorts of reasons, but especially the Iran deal that now all of a sudden, the administration can say, oh, look we let him go. Look at that. MADDOW: This thing that you guys have been going after, in every possible way you can, at the most fraught moments for 30 years. I will give tight you. So, here`s my question. Over the years when all of these other presidents have reviewed this, the intelligence community has said, the American intelligence community has been the force saying no, loudly. Three former chiefs of naval intelligence, three navy admirals in the `90s, would set out writing op-eds about this sort of thing. George Tenet at one point said he would resign if Jonathan Pollard were released. The CIA and other aspects of American intelligence have said never let this guy out. Has that faded? Or is Obama picking a fight with them by doing this? LINZER: No, I don`t think so. I mean, it was unanimous always. It was FBI directors, attorneys general, heads of -- directors of central intelligence, they were unanimous. I think at this point with 30 years kind of passed the damage that Pollard can do anymore with intelligence he received I think has receded. And I think everyone agrees, let`s just let this go. Let`s not have Israel having this chip with us, constantly asking for this release. Let`s just kind of get it off of our plate now. MADDOW: Well if it, if it does flare up as a fight between the Obama administration and the intelligence -- LINZER: And there is one coming, sure, because hill he be allowed to go back to Israel or will he be forced to stay in the United States -- MADDOW: Right. Conditions of his parole say he has to stay here. They want President Obama to pardon him, essentially allow him to leave the country. There`ll be a fight over that next. LINZER: Right. MADDOW: This is amazing. I can`t believe they`re letting him out. Dafna Linzer, managing editor of MSNBC Digital, thank you so much. Great to have you here. LINZER: Thank you, Rachel. MADDOW: All right. Lots more ahead, including one candidate turning out to have a fairly awesome billionaire`s fan club. And it`s not who you think. Please stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I will smash your face into a car windshield and then take your mother Dorothy Mantooth out for a nice seafood dinner and never call her again! (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Threats like the Dorothy Mantooth seafood dinner threat are only supposed to be voiced by characters in movies like "Anchorman." They`re not supposed to happen in real live major party American politics. But today, they did. And it was spectacularly disgusting. And I`m sorry to say that story ahead. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Thirty-eight million dollars, $38 million. The Ted Cruz for president folks are due to report that super PACs supporting Ted Cruz have raised $38 million to support his run for the presidency. Now, Jeb Bush is the Republican candidate who raised the most PAC money, right? Jeb Bush has raised $100 million. But second place to Jeb in the money race is Ted Cruz of all people. And that is surprising because Ted Cruz is really not a Jeb Bush level candidate. In the polling particularly in the early states, Ted Cruz is down more in like Carly Fiorina territory, and Rick Perry, John Kasich, Chris Christie territory. He`s not in Jeb Bush territory. But that huge $38 million haul for his super PACs, that puts him in the top tier in terms of fund-raising. It`s interesting. And now we know the very interesting explanation for why that is true. To get to that $38 million haul, CNN now reports that $15 million of that came from two brothers in Texas, fracking billionaires, another $11 million from a hedge fund guy in New York, and another $10 million of that came from this congressman`s son. So, Randy Neugebauer son and a hedge fund guy and two fracking billionaire brothers have given Ted Cruz $10 million plus $11 million plus $15 million. So, do the math. Take out your shoes off if you need to. It turns out, those four guys have provided $36 million of the $38 million super PAC dollar that Ted Cruz has raised, $36 million of the $38 million, 95 percent of what Ted Cruz has raised is from four guys. Two of them are brothers. And none of that has been enough off to keep Ted Cruz out of Carly Fiorina territory in terms of his polling in the early states. But those four individual rich guys, those four individual giant donations are what make Ted Cruz appear to be a top level contender for the Republican nomination for president even as real live individual humans who are not able to write him $10 million checks seem considerably less susceptible to Ted Cruz`s charms. Thirty-six million dollars is a lot of money to raise. But four people are not a lot of people to raise it from, it must be nice to have that kind of rolodex. But that strange bit of Ted Cruz viability campaign math, that is not the weirdest set of numbers in today`s political news. The really weird numbers are about somebody who people do like as much as they don`t like Ted Cruz. And that story is next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: This is Bobby Tufts. Bobby Tufts became mayor of Dorset, Minnesota, when he was 3 years old, undoubtedly America`s cutest mayor. But after serving two terms as the mayor he was ousted by a local teenager who ran to replace him. Now, I use the term ran, I use the election idea here loosely because the process in Dorset, Minnesota, really just consists of picking a name out of a hat at a fair, the town of 25 people. But still, the ousted former mayor of Dorset, Minnesota, Bobby Tufts is throwing his support behind a new candidate for Dorset`s next mayoral election due this weekend. Turns out Bobby Tufts is endorsing his own little brother, James, who is also now 3 years old. Do you believe the nepotism? The vote will be held at the Taste of Dorset Food Festival this Sunday. When Bobby was asked why he was passing the torch to his little brother, James, the former mayor Bobby Tufts said, quote, "Because my mom said I have to, and I`m the oldest brother." The dynastic tyranny of the Tufts toddlers continues in Dorset, Minnesota. They are my favorite dynasty story in American politics ever, mostly because I don`t like American political dynasty stories. In the big picture, right, regardless of the day-to-day news of the campaign right now, it does remain one of the deeply unsettling things about this year`s presidential race that we are talking about the son and brother of former presidents, Jeb Bush, against wife of former President Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton. Those two as the most likely nominees from their parties, right? I mean, throw in a dash of son of Ron Paul for good measure. And the oogieness of the dynasty trend in politics that feeling -- eh. And it makes it all the more refreshing that today`s big news is about a candidate whose father did not run for president, whose brother has never been president, who`s never married to a president, not the next one up in a family dynasty. In fact, part of his political appeal has always been that he is the son of a mailman. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GOV. JOHN KASICH (R-OH), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: My dad carried mail on his back. They called him John the mailman. And they loved him because he looked out for everyone in those neighborhoods. I learned something from my father. Do your best to look out for other people. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: That`s an ad run by super PAC supporting Ohio Governor John Kasich. It`s been airing in support of his candidacy in New Hampshire. It`s been airing in New Hampshire right? Whenever you think about that ad, the choice run those ads in New Hampshire is an interesting strategic choice, because this year, Iowa and New Hampshire are not really being allowed to play their traditional role as the gatekeeper to the presidential primary field, right? In the -- on the Republican side this year, that role of deciding who gets to be a viable candidate, that role has instead been taken over by the FOX News Channel in New York City, which is only letting people into the first Republican primary debate based on their national polling numbers. And that decision has changed the strategic incentives around how to run for president this year. So, at least on some surface level it no longer makes sense for lower tier candidates to focus time and resources on places like Iowa and New Hampshire. It now makes more sense for them to be running basically on the FOX News Channel, in hopes of reaching Republican voters nationwide and thus helping their national polls. That`s why our friend across the street at FOX News have seen a nice big influx of ad dollars from the Marco Rubio of super PAC running ads on FOX News, and Rick Perry super PAC running ads on FOX News, Chris Christie super PAC on FOX News, Chris Christie campaign running ad on FOX News. FOX News set its rules for who is in and out of their debate, and now they are ka-ching, cashing in on it. But John Kasich, the governor of Ohio, isn`t doing that. He has been doggedly running his ads in New Hampshire as if this is a normal year. Forget FOX News and their stupid debate rules. But lo and behold, it`s working. John Kasich`s numbers are not only spiking in New Hampshire, which you can see in the two most recent polls. This is the Monmouth poll out today. You see him their tied for third place with Scott Walker. This next one, this is the Marist poll, the NBC News Marist poll which came out in Sunday, showing him in fourth place which, based on where he has been, that`s really, really well for him. That`s a surge. But whether it is the ads, or his, you know increasing popularity more broadly, or the good press bounce he got from his late announcement, his late entry into the race, John Kasich isn`t just going up in the early states, isn`t just going up in New Hampshire. He is going of enough in the national polls that he appears to be leaving what I look to think of Carly Fiorina territory. If trends hold, John Kasich is doing well enough in the national polls that he may be heading towards a spot on the first FOX News debate stage. At least according to our calculations using the most recent national polls which are our best guess of the opaque criteria by which FOX is going to decide to who`s allowed to debate for the Republican nomination. John Kasich may make it. John Kasich, having both defied the new FOX News dictated, FOX News enriching rules for this year`s Republican presidential campaign, and also, not having a blueprint from a family member`s previous presidential ground to use as his own. John Kasich is turning out to be interesting, doing it on sort of different terms than everybody else. You know, a lot of weird subplots in the presidential campaign, right? I mean, it`s weird enough that a lot of Republican campaigns are going to have their campaigns effectively ended next week by a cable news channel. This is turning out to be a year of unexpected story lines and hard to discern strategies. But the latest numbers for John Kasich suggest that he -- at least this point in the race -- might be the most unexpected one of them all. Joining us is MSNBC`s political correspondent Kasie Hunt. Kasie, it`s great to have you here. Thank you. KASIE HUNT, MSNBC POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: It`s great to see you, Rachel. MADDOW: Am I unnecessarily overly excited by John Kasich`s surge in the poll numbers? HUNT: No, I don`t actually think that you are. I am also in some ways excited about John Kasich`s poll numbers in part because I think that a lot of the other candidates, particularly the Jeb Bush camp, think that Kasich is for real. And I think when he announced, it was pretty interesting to see the traffic that came out privately from the Bush campaign. They paid a lot of attention to what John Kasich is doing. They are paying a lot of attention to what John Kasich is doing. And you`re right. He`s doing it the old-fashioned way on the air in New Hampshire. He`s going to do it the old-fashioned way on the ground in New Hampshire, too. And that`s a potential threat. And he is I think, from the perspective of people who are watching this, in the traditional way, a serious threat. MADDOW: In terms of John Kasich`s role in this very large group of candidates, one of the things that he has been able to leverage in terms of his, national appeal and I think certain extent power in Ohio he is well connected. He`s kind of like Mitch Daniels. He knows everybody else in his generation in politics. He doesn`t seem to have enemies in high level Republican politics. He knows people from Washington. He knows people on the party machine. He knows people in the Ohio machine, which is so important to Republican primary voters. Is -- does that mean that people are going to be reluctant to pick on him if he does end up being one of the guys to beat? HUNT: Well, look, he`s been around a long time. He`s fought the hard fights, the fiscal battles in Washington during the Clinton years in the 1990s. And you know what? He represents Ohio. And who ever is the nominee is going to need him to work on their behalf. That`s not to say he wouldn`t, regardless of how things went down. The one thing I will say about Kasich, you know, you were pointing out FOX News. Don`t forget, he hosted a show on FOX News. MADDOW: On FOX News, right. HUNT: For quite a long time -- "Heartland with John Kasich", and that is the center of his -- when he got up on that announcement stage, he was saying, I am going to bring the lessons of the heartland to the rest of America. And I think that`s something that in some ways is -- he is hitting notes that are missing from the rest of the Republican field. MADDOW: Is there anything else going on now in the Republican field? You being out there on the road, seeing a lot of the guys in person, seeing how people are reacting to them, is there anything you feel we should be watching for in terms of either a dark horse, candidate, somebody who`s underperforming or over-performing what they`re getting billed at in the national media? HUNT: I mean, look, I think at this particular stage, we`re heading into a debate next week. And as I am talking to, you know, my usual sources, they`re looking at how do I prepare my guy to stand on the stage with all of these people? And normally, you would have Iowa, you`d have New Hampshire, there are candidates who have to win in Iowa. There are candidates who have to win in New Hampshire. Normally, candidates would be saying, OK, Scott Walker is leading in Iowa. I need to go after Scott Walker if I`m going to make my mark. Jeb Bush is leading in New Hampshire. I got to go after him. Donald Trump ahs scrambled that entire formula. MADDOW: Right. HUNT: And there are people who have been in politics for decades, who literally have no idea what to do. They have no idea what to say. What to tell their candidate. I mean, in some ways, aside from Trump could be the most boring debate we have ever seen, because the rest of them are deciding look just going to have to take my four, five minutes and, sell my record while we listen to Donald Trump over here. I think the question is going to be, does anybody engage with him or do they all just kind of put their hands up and stand back? MADDOW: MSNBC political correspondent, Kasie Hunt, thank you for that. I can`t tell you how much I am looking forward to that. HUNT: You and me both. MADDOW: The fact it is the viable candidates who have to count on New Hampshire. And Donald Trump is leading by double digits in New Hampshire, and there is just take the silverware drawer out and shake it over your head. HUNT: The playbook out the window. Throw it out there. MADDOW: Thank you, Casey. All right. We`ll be right back. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: So, the candidate whose name has become a verb this year -- the guy who -- ha-ha, is a verb for what you can do to your cat to make it look like this. That guy and his entourage brought us to a whole new level I can not believe this is happening in American politics Tuesday. And on the way to that shocking new level of shocking, they left behind a really truly terrible factual error. And we are going to correct that here for them tonight. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: So, "The Daily Beast" posted the story late last night about the end of one of Donald Trump`s marriages. I do not want to talk about Donald Trump`s marriages. You are welcome to research them to your heart`s content to the extent that you feel they are newsworthy. What end up being important here is that in the course of doing this story about one of Mr. Trump`s marriages and its failings, "The Daily Beast" reached out to Donald Trump`s lawyer and campaign surrogate, a man named Michael Cohen to get his comment on their story. And then two things happened. The first is that Michael Cohen launched one of the longest, most involved, most movie scene unbelievable cascade of lurid threats at "The Daily Beast" reporter that I have ever heard in any context. Quote, "I will make sure you and I meet one day while we are in the courthouse. And I will take you for every penny you still don`t have. And I will come after your Daily Beast and everybody else that you possibly know. So I`m warning you, tread very bleeping lightly because what I am going to do to you is going to be bleeping disgusting. You understand me? I am going to mess your life up for as long as you are on this freaking planet. You are going to have judgments against you, so much money, you will never know how to get from underneath it." What I am going to do will not only destroy you it will disgust you in the way that I do it. Wow. That was cut from the Sopranos for being over the top. And now, please elect Mr. Trump to be president of the United States, right? Really? Here`s the thing, in the course of that tirade, which is being very widely reported for all the obvious reasons, what`s also getting wide coverage as part of the story is something else that Mr. Trump`s lawyer said in the middle of all of the F-bombs and the florid threats. He also in the same exchange told "The Daily Beast", quote, "Of course, understand, that by the very definition you can`t rape your spouse." "It`s true," he said, "you cannot rape your spouse. There is very clear case law." Donald Trump`s lawyer and surrogate for his presidential campaign tells a reporter it is not rape if the person you rape is someone to whom you are married. That is 100 percent, 1,000 percent not true. And propagating that as a lawyer is both astonishing and dangerous and wrong on a lot of different levels. There is no such thing as spousal rape, there is just rape. It`s still rape regardless of whether the victim is the spouse of the rapist. That is not only very clear, it`s very true. It`s true in all 50 states and in an unambiguous way, everywhere, Christ Almighty. So, now, thanks to Donald Trump being front runner for the presidential nomination, covering the presidential primary means having to clear up issues like that for the public because his campaign is conducted in such a way that we have to do that basically as public service. Aw. Donald Trump`s lawyer apologized for an inarticulate comment that he does not believe. He was not clear as to which part of his own comments he was referring to. We don`t know if he meant his threats about destroying the reporter in a way that the reporter will find F-ing disgusting, maybe he regretted that, or maybe he regretted his denial that spousal rape is still rape. Mr. Trump`s ex-wife Ivana Trump has come out defending her former husband today saying "The Daily Beast" story has no merit, Donald Trump has vehemently denied the story and has distanced himself from his lawyer. Donald Trump disagrees with those comments that his lawyer made about spousal rape. But now, covering Republican presidential politics really does mean clearing up issues like this because they otherwise wouldn`t be clear, because you think you have hit the bottom in American politics and the sewer has a whole another level that you never new things could descend to. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: So, this was the bombshell headline, quote, "Criminal inquiry sought in Hillary Clinton`s use of e-mail." When you look ate it looks like someone is seeking a criminal inquiry in to Hillary Clinton actions, to Hillary Clinton herself. Several hours after "The New York Times" published that super inflammatory headline and story, they quietly and without notice changed the first few sentences of the story. In the second iteration, there was no investigation into Hillary Clinton herself. It was an investigation into whether information was mishandled by someone but not her. A little while later, they started issuing the first in what would end up being a string of corrections. Quote, "An earlier version of this article and earl general headline using information from senior government officials misstated the nature of the referral to the Justice Department regarding Hillary Clinton`s personal e-mail account. The referral did not specifically request an investigation in to Mrs. Clinton." So, that was the first correction. Then the second correction, issued the following day. It was even more of a jaw hitting the floor discovery. It turns out that possible criminal investigation in to Hillary Clinton not only was it not a criminal investigation into Hillary Clinton, there was no criminal investigation, period. The senior government officials, whoever they are, they were wrong about that. There was no criminal referral. So, within a couple of days it goes from being how Hillary Clinton is the subject of a criminal inquiry by the Justice Department to Hillary Clinton is not the subject of any criminal inquiry to there is no criminal inquiry. "The Times" changes the headline, they change the lead, they publish not one but two corrections. And over the weekend, the "New York Times" public editor, which is sort of the reader`s advocate at the paper weighed in. Quote, "A Clinton story fraught with inaccuracies." And then after that, today we get this editor`s note about how the paper got a whole bunch of stuff wrong, how they mishandled even the corrections and still don`t now how it all happened. So, this was a big high-profile disaster for "The New York Times." It was also a reminder of the utterly bizarre relationship that the national media has with Hillary Clinton specifically. Basically in the national media, everything Hillary Clinton does is a scandal, right? Remember when she was super guilty in Whitewater. Hillary Clinton is covered as if she is a convicted felon, right, who has to prove her innocence every time she is accused of something. And even then, she is still guilty. She`s just got away with it. That`s basically the attitude of the whole national press with Hillary Clinton for this whole phase of her national political career. Talk about the liberal press, maybe they are liberal but they`re certainly not Democratic. I mean, this debacle with "The New York Times" is a reminder of also a very dark period in the very recent history of that specific paper of "The New York Times." (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JUDITH MILLER, FORMER NYT REPORTER: The intelligence sources we were talking to had never been wrong and they had never led me astray and I went back to them in this book and I said, what happened? How did you get it wrong? How did I get it wrong? (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Judith Miller is the reporter from "The New York Times," formerly from "The New York Times" whose coverage in the lead up to the Iraq War relied heavily on faulty, unreliable, high level unnamed sources in the Bush administration and the intelligence community, many of whom are unnamed, right? Many whom had an agenda, many of whom convinced "The New York Times" to print their wrong factually inaccurate case for war. "The New York Times" has published many journalism mea culpas over the years about how they crewed up their Iraq War coverage. But the explanation from the reporter at the center of it is she was only wrong because her sources were wrong. It wasn`t her. It was the people who were supposed to tell her true stuff about Iraq and weapons of mass destruction, but instead decided to tell her false stuff. "I was wrong because my sources were wrong." That was Judith Miller. Well, "The New York Times`" defense of this Hillary Clinton story this week, this fiasco that they`ve had with the Hillary Clinton e-mail story, their explanation on what they got wrong here, how it all went wrong, it sounds very, very similar, almost identical to the Judith Miller defense. They are saying, quote, "We got it wrong because our very good sources had it wrong." that`s according to a "New York Times" editor. The reporters and editors on the story are not at fault. Their sources were wrong. Those anonymous senior government officials who told "The Times" there was a criminal referral in to Hillary Clinton when there was none. "The Times" says they probably couldn`t have done anything differently. Not our fault, sources were wrong. What`s our responsibility for that? The senior government officials whose names we as readers cannot know, whose agendas we cannot evaluate, "The New York Times" is arguing their sources are to blame so they couldn`t have known. Except it is the job of a news organization to vet the accuracy and the authenticity of their sources, and you are to blame for the fake stuff that your sources get you to print. And no, this is not a matter of war and peace like last time with "The New York Times" and Judith Miller. This is just a matter of who maybe the next president of the United States. Yes, "The New York Times" is under a microscope and everything they do is scrutinized and analyzed unlike any other news organization in the country or maybe even the world. But that is because we need "The New York Times," unlike any other news organization in the country or in the world. They are the paper of record for a reason. They are screwing this up in the same way they have screwed up even more serious stuff in the past and they should have figured it out by now. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: All the attention is on the Republican side of the presidential nominating process for obvious reason, just because there are so many of those folks and there`s this weird thing whether they make the debate and the debate is a week away now, and it`s all that drama. I get it. On the Democratic side, though, there is something to watch tomorrow, tomorrow`s news. Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders has been drawing huge crowds wherever he goes, right, 11,000 people in Madison. This week in red state Louisiana, he drew more than 4,000 people in southern Louisiana. It`s huge crowds. Well, tomorrow, he is going to be in Cincinnati, Ohio. We have just found out that the Cincinnati, Ohio, town hall venue for Bernie Sanders tomorrow had just had to be moved to some sort of larger event hall so they can cram as many people in who with have RSVPed to see him. If you are planning to turn out to see Bernie Sanders tomorrow in Cincinnati, something tells me you ought to prepare for a long lineal may want to wear your comfy shoes. We`ll see. That does for us tonight. We`ll see you again tomorrow. Now, it`s time for "THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL." Good evening, Lawrence. THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END