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The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 12/9/2015

Guests: Dan Rather, Vicki Cowart

Show: THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW Date: December 9, 2015 Guest: Dan Rather, Vicki Cowart CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC: That is "ALL IN" for this evening. THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts now. Good evening, Rachel. RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Modernity is individualism and oil. Wow. I want to make a child`s coloring book of that. (LAUGHTER) MADDOW: That`s amazing interview. Thank you, my friend. Amazing interview. Thank you. And thanks to you at home as well for joining us this hour. Boy, is there a lot going on in the news right now. We got a big show tonight. One of the stories we`re covering this hour is out of Colorado. Five days before the San Bernardino mass shooting there, of course, was another mass shooting. The Friday after Thanksgiving at the Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Police to this day have still said nothing about the motive for that shooter who killed three people, including a police officer -- and wounded nine other people at that Planned Parenthood. But today, the shooter had his first day in court and while he was in court, he screamed out his motive, repeatedly in that courtroom on tape. So, we`ve got that story ahead tonight, including a live response tonight from the head of that Planned Parenthood. She`ll be joining us here live in the second half of the show. Also, we`ve got Dan Rather here in person tonight for the interview. And, my thesis about Trump may be trying to get himself kicked out of the Republican Party just got a bunch more support from Mr. Trump himself, including in the past hour. And that tape is coming up. So -- as I say, big show tonight. I am really looking forward to this hour. But we start -- we start with new news hot off the presses about how the Republican Party is reacting, how they are handling their presidential front-runner crossing a pretty major Rubicon this week with his proposal to ban all Muslims from entering the United States. And I know it sounds like I am oversimplifying when I put it that way but that`s really what he has called for. This was the statement he put out at 4:15 on Monday afternoon, calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States. If I make it sound simple, that`s because it`s simple. That statement was put out by the Donald Trump campaign at 4:15 p.m. on Monday. Mr. Trump spent all day yesterday standing up for that proposal and reiterating that proposal. The only clarification he has issued since he put out that statement is that Muslims he says who are U.S. citizens should be allowed in this country. Oh, thank you. But that`s it. No tourists, no visitors, no students, no immigrants, for any short- term or long-term reason, presumably no diplomats, no visiting foreign heads of state. If you are a Muslim, you are not allowed in. This proposal from Mr. Trump has generated the latest round of mainstream hand wringing about how surely Donald Trump has gone too far this time. Surely now, he`s made himself poisonous in his months` long reign at the top of the Republican polls will surely now come to an end. That may be the mainstream perspective on this proposal by the Republican presidential front-runner. But it is not the perspective of Republican voters who will ultimately choose that party`s nominee for president. Tonight, we have two new polls that are very different polls but they show how Donald Trump`s remarks about banning all Muslims from the United States, how those remarks are being received by Republican primary voters. The first poll is from Bloomberg and what they did is admittedly a slightly unusual way to do a poll. They did an online snap poll which basically means they just took their poll over the course of one single day and it asks likely Republican voters one simple question. Quote, "This week, Donald Trump called for a temporary ban on all Muslims who are citizens of foreign countries from entering the United States. Do you favor or oppose this proposal?" Among likely Republican primary voters, the answer is -- they favor this proposal by a huge amount. Nearly two-thirds of Republican likely primary voters say they agree with Donald Trump that all Muslims should be banned from the United States, 65 percent support among Republican voters. Now again, the methodology on this polling is not ideal, it is an online poll taken only over the course of one day. And as a general matter, no matter what you are polling on, it is always better to poll over a longer period of time and not do it on just one day. But this was a one- day poll. If you are very interested in the answer to this question, though, among Republicans, I think a lot of people are interested in this, I should tell you also that the NBC/"Wall Street Journal" poll is due out tomorrow and we are expecting an answer from that poll on this same question and that`s not going to be just a one-day snap poll. That will be a multiple day poll that includes people being called on their phones, not just being polled online. So, when that poll comes out tomorrow afternoon sometime, 5:30, 6:00 Eastern Time, we should expect to get another look at that number from a slightly broader angle. It will be fascinating to see if this holds up because if this is real, if 65 percent of Republican voters in the United States think it is a great idea to ban all Muslims from this country? Then we live in a different country than I thought we did. I said though that we got two polls on this subject tonight and the second one I think is even more remarkable than the one I just showed you. The second one is a FOX News poll. It was just released tonight out of South Carolina. Bottom line of this South Carolina Republican poll from FOX News, bottom line is pretty amazing. It`s not actually the most important thing here. Bottom line of the poll is that Donald Trump is absolutely killing it in South Carolina. He`s ahead by 20 points in that state. He`s at 35 percent of the vote. His nearest rival is 20 points behind him, Ben Carson at 15 percent. For reference here, no person who`s last name if Bush has ever lost a Republican presidential primary in the state of South Carolina. But right now, Jeb Bush is only at 5 percent in that state. His name is supposed to make him a shoo-in in South Carolina. But he`s right now 30 points behind the leader. And that`s the bottom line result which itself is amazing. Here is the more amazing result from this new poll. FOX News hopefully spells it out in terms of talking about their methodology. Here`s how they explained it. This poll is being released tonight, Wednesday night, but in terms of whether they collected this data from voters, the poll was conducted Saturday through Tuesday. Now think about that -- those dates for a second. Because remember that Donald Trump announced he wanted to ban all Muslims from the United States on Monday afternoon. So, that means that proposal comes out Monday afternoon. In terms of this poll, that means Monday night polling and Tuesday and Tuesday night polling, that polling is going to reflect voters knowing that Donald Trump has just proposed that policy. The earlier polling, the polling that happened Saturday and Sunday, that`s before he said it, so that doesn`t reflect the impact of that proposal. So, this FOX News/South Carolina poll ends up being really interesting, basically controlled experiment in South Carolina as to what Republican voters in that state think about Donald Trump wanting to ban Muslims from United States. And that controlled experiment gives us this result in FOX`s words, quote, "It looks like the comments help him in South Carolina." Support for Mr. Trump increased eight points after his statement. So the first two nights in South Carolina, he was at 30 percent. The last two nights of polling in South Carolina after he said ban all Muslims from this country, he wasn`t at 30 percent anymore. He popped up to 38 percent. So, Republican voters love it, apparently. The mainstream is recoiling in disgust and dismay. But Republican primary voters, they are a different breed of cat. They like it, a lot. When the Republican presidential field this year first started taking shape, really looked like there was a lot of depth to their field this year. I mean, yes, there were this handful of political amateurs, Donald Trump and Carly Fiorina and Ben Carson. But then out of the 17 people who were declared presidential candidates on the Republican side, you know, honestly a majority of them had been governors, eight of the 17 had been governors. Five of them had been or currently are senators. And of the governors who are running, obviously Jeb Bush has the family dynasty on his side, so he`s I guess the dynastic favorite in that sense, but Scott Walker of Wisconsin was really seen for a very long time as the governor who have the best prospects of going all the way. Famously in late April, David Koch of the Koch brothers told big money Republican donors at the a fund-raising event in New York City, quote, "When the primaries are over and Scott Walker gets the nomination," leading to a big roar of approval and applause from that big money crowd in New York City. Scott Walker was the guy who was going to win. Scott Walker then became one of the very first people to drop out of the race. Scott Walker only ran for president for 70 days, then he dropped out on September 21st. And when he dropped out, that was obviously a sad occasion for the Wisconsin governor. But he did say in his quitting announcement, he did say one very forward-looking thing. It was kind of his leadership moment embedded in his "I`m quitting" announcement. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GOV. SCOTT WALKER (R), WISCONSIN: Today, I believe that I am being called to lead by helping to clear the field in this race so that a positive conservative message can rise to the top of the field. With this in mind, I will suspend my campaign immediately. I encourage other Republican presidential candidates to consider doing the same so that the voters can focus on limited number of candidates who can offer a positive conservative alternative to the current front-runner. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: So the voters can focus on a limited number of candidates. When Scott Walker quit the race on September 21st, he was obviously quitting because he thought he couldn`t win, but he was also quitting, in his own words, to try to encourage other candidates to quit as well so the field would shrink, so Donald Trump would have less of a chance of winning. I mean, this has long been the mainstream theory of the case, right? That all the normal candidates, all the mainstream candidates, all the senators and governors and stuff, they`re dividing support amongst themselves. They`re dividing all of the support of Republican voters who want a normal candidate, and that gives nobody a clear shot at toppling the non-normal candidates, Donald Trump. As long as there are still a zillion Republicans running, no one will beat him. That`s in the mainstream theory. Since Scott Walker made that dramatic decision to get out of race, and he made that dramatic call to action on September 21st that he and other candidates should get out of the race for the good of the party and the good of the country, to make sure Donald Trump didn`t get the nomination, since that call, precisely one of this fellow candidates has heeded that call, Bobby Jindal, that`s it, that`s the only who`s dropped out since. For the record, Bobby Jindal, he too said that other candidates should drop out on the occasion of him quitting. So the field could be narrowed to better focus on beating Donald Trump. Apparently nobody`s listening to Bobby Jindal on this score either because nobody`s quit since him. Well, today, Scott Walker in Wisconsin reiterated that call. He told a Wisconsin TV station today that, quote, "If you have a small field, more people will focus toward the majority opinion." He told WIS-TV, quote, "I hope others do what I did," which is suspend their campaigns. Frankly, Donald Trump is so far ahead of the rest of the field I don`t know if a smaller number of opponents for him really would result in his numbers coming down all that much. I don`t know if that would result in him not getting the nomination. But nobody listened to Scott Walker about it, the first time. We`ll see if anybody listens to him about it the second time. Nobody listen to Bobby Jindal about it in the meantime. I mean, the best funded mainstream hope of beating Mr. Trump has always been Jeb Bush, just because his super PAC raised more than $100 million on Jeb`s behalf in the first half of this year. But really does not look like he`s going to do it. Today, "The Washington Post" reports of that $100 million war chest, Jeb Bush has already spent half of it. His campaign has already spent nearly $50 million and for what? All that money has bought him nothing. He`s down to 4 percent in the latest national poll and he`s been stuck at roughly that level or even worse for weeks now, $50 million. Some people in mainstream Republican politics talk about Marco Rubio as another potentially, quote/unquote, "mainstream" savior for the party. Maybe he`s the one who could potentially beat Donald Trump. Whatever Marco Rubio has going for him in terms of mainstream media support and billionaire hedge fund donors funding him, he doesn`t seem to be putting it to work on his actual campaign. He doesn`t seem to be putting his campaign to work at actually trying to win in the crucial early states of Iowa and New Hampshire and South Carolina. It was late October when the state newspaper in South Carolina was reporting, with worry, that Marco Rubio`s campaign had yet to even open an office in that state. Last week, "The Boston Globe" reported that Senator Rubio also had almost no campaign effort evident on the ground in the state of New Hampshire. Today, "The National Review", that conservative magazine, quotes multiple Iowa Republican activists saying that Marco Rubio isn`t really campaigning in Iowa either. Quote, "Rubio`s weak ground game angers Iowa Republicans." The state`s caucus-goers are interested in Rubio but his infrequent appearances and his paltry field operations leave lingering doubts as to whether he is interested in them. If there is anyone to beat Mr. Trump for the Republican nomination, particularly now that his "ban all Muslims" plan has caused everyone to freak out in the Republican establishment if not among Republican voters, if there is anyone the polls right now make it look like the only other candidate who has a chance of clipping Donald Trump`s wings might be Ted Cruz. Here`s the thing though, and I`m not sure this is being widely appreciated yet. But if that`s the case, that shouldn`t necessarily be comfort for the Republican establishment, because picking somebody like Ted Cruz instead of Donald Trump is not what you`d call a clean repudiation of Donald Trump`s proposal to ban Muslims in the United States. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REPORTER: Is that damaging for you this time around? Does it seem pretty outrageous or do you think it could be an asset for you in not stepping up? SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, listen with be certainly in the media there`s been no shortage of criticism for Donald Trump. And I do not believe the world needs my voice added to that chorus of critics. And, listen, I commend Donald Trump for standing up and focusing America`s attention on the need to secure our borders. REPORTER: Senator, would you still pledge to support Donald Trump if he was an independent? CRUZ: I will absolutely support the Republican nominee. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: If the Republican Party is looking for somebody else to nominate, to make a clean break with Trumpism, to show that the Republican Party rejects Donald Trump and his ideas, Ted Cruz does not exactly embody that clean break. Frankly, the rest of the Republican Party doesn`t either. The reaction to Mr. Trump`s proposal is generally described as widespread condemnation, even from those in his own party. And that sounds great, but that`s note really what has been happening when people in the conservative movement, in conservative media, in Republican elected officialdom and among his fellow candidates, it`s not what has been happening when people have been asked what they think. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REPORTER: Given what you`ve said to start off this news conference, would you still be supporting Donald Trump if he were your party`s nominee for president? SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, I`m certainly going to support the Republican nominee for president. I think that wouldn`t surprise anyone. REPORTER: In your role as speaker, you presided with the first convention, if Trump was the nominee -- REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: I`m going to support whoever Republican nominee is. STEPHEN K. BANNON, BREITBART NEWS: Real briefly, do you support what Trump said last night about banning all Muslims at least temporarily until we get sorted out what we got and what we don`t? Yes or no? RICK SANTORUM (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, what I`ve said is we have to look at our -- I proposed actual concrete things in an immigration law that would have not the effect of banning all Muslims but on a lot of them. We can do it in a more practical way than the way Trump is suggesting. JACK HEATH, NEW HAMPSHIRE TODAY: Go and get your reaction, Donald Trump doubling down, if you will, post San Bernardino in terms of California, calling for a moratorium on Muslims entering the U.S. SEN. RAND PAUL (R-KY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think it is a mistake to base immigration or moratoriums based on religion. But I`ve called for something similar which is a moratorium based on high risk. I`ve actually introduced legislation and got a vote on it. I had a vote on it just last week which is kind of interesting, all the hoopla, because people don`t seem to understand that a similar concept is already been voted on. REPORTER: Can we start with Donald Trump saying that Muslims should not be allowed to enter this country? What`s your reaction to that? NEWT GINGRICH (R), FORMER HOUSE SPEAKER: Well, my reaction is that you have Trump on one extreme and Obama on the other. REPORTER: I find it kind of fascinating that the first thing out of your mouth when we asked about Trump wasn`t about how horrible what he said was. Is he a huge threat to the Republican Party? GINGRICH: No. REPORTER: Why not? GINGRICH: Well, why would you think he`s a threat to the Republican Party? First of all, he articulates with millions of people what they believe. RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO HOST: Now folks, the conventional wisdom is that Trump is scum, that Trump is a reprobate, that Trump is dangerous, that Trump is obscene, Trump`s insane, Trump`s a lunatic, Trump`s dangerous, Trump`s got to go. Why join that phrase? Why join that crowd? MARK LEVIN, RADIO HOST: In fact, when you look at Supreme Court precedent, as I have now, it is quite likely that Trump`s idea is totally constitutional. What the Republicans should have said, not that Trump is unhinged or he`s outrageous or just piling on, piling on, piling on. What these career politicians should have said is, it`s time to have a national discussion about a term that Obama won`t even use -- radical Islam. LAURA INGRAHAM, RADIO HOST: I think the overreaction to Trump`s pause on immigration tells you more about the critics than it does about him. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: So, we`re in new territory, right? Before now, no leading presidential candidate from 1 of the 2 major political parties had ever proposed something as extreme as banning entry into the United States on the basis of religion. It`s kind of awkward because of the whole like pilgrims thing, you know? But the common wisdom about what the response to this radical proposal is already wrong in two separate aspects. First of all, let`s be clear: Donald Trump is not being condemned in all parties, by all of his Republican rivals for having made this proposal. That would be kind of awesome if that was happening. That is not what is happening. People on the Republican side are still saying they`ll support him. His rival Republican presidential candidates are not roundly denouncing him for making this proposal. Not all of them. Some of them are hopping on board and describing how their proposals are just like what Donald Trump has said. Theirs are just more practical or more likely to get enacted, but they want basically the same thing. So, that`s one level at which this common wisdom is wrong. The Republican Party establishment and his fellow candidates and the conservative media, they are not against him on this. The other part of the common wisdom on this that`s wrong is what the reaction was going to be to this among Republican voters. We are going to have more data tomorrow in that NBC News/"Wall Street Journal" poll comes in and we will have the most important data of all in February 1st when Iowa voters go to the caucuses and actually cast votes for the first time in this nominating process. But right now, there is, tonight, real initial data on the response to Republican voters to Donald Trump, making the proposal this far beyond what is ever coming before in modern American politics. And so far, it`s clear -- Republican voters love what he is offering. They are buying what he is selling. He wants to ban all Muslims from coming in to the United States. That makes them like him more than ever. And the person who has a long enough view on these things to understand what might be going on here, the person who I most want to ask about this phenomenon is Dan Rather and he`s here next in the studio. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Today, the man who shot 12 people at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado the day after Thanksgiving, today, the man got his day in court. And he screamed out in court why he did it. We`re going to have that and a response from the head of Planned Parenthood in that region straight ahead tonight. Plus, the great Dan Rather joins us live in studio next. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Would you consider running as a third party candidate? DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, let me tell you, first of all, I don`t want to do that. I`m leading in the poll not a little bit, like by 20, 21 points. The poll just came out. I`m leading in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, Nevada, Texas. I`m leading in Florida against two people, one was a governor, one was a senator. I`m leading every single poll. And nationwide, I`m leading in every one of them. So, obviously, I`m very happy where I am. The people of Republican Party has been -- the people have been phenomenal. The party, it`ll let you know about that. If I don`t get treated fairly, I would certainly consider that. BILL O`REILLY, FOX NEWS: So, if they deny nomination to you which is very, very possible, are you going to run on a third party ticket, thereby handing the election to Hillary Clinton? TRUMP: I think that I will get the delegates. I`m winning in Iowa big. I`m winning in South Carolina. I`m winning in New Hampshire big. O`REILLY: If you don`t, if you don`t. TRUMP: OK, if I`m treated fairly, I would never do it. If I`m not treated fairly, I might very well do it. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: I might very well do it. Mr. Trump leading the door wide open for a potential third party presidential run. That`s on tonight on FOX News and this morning on ABC. If he is not treated fairly -- the Republican Party has not exactly fallen all over itself condemning Mr. Trump after his call this week for all Muslims to be banned from the United States. But Mr. Trump is apparently taking measure of that reaction and warning that if it is not to his liking and he finds it unfair, he will leave. He will leave the Republican Party and run for president instead as an independent which would of course all but guarantee that not only he, but whoever gets the Republican nomination would be relieved of any threat that they might ever one day be expected to occupy the White House. Joining us now for the interview is Dan Rather, former "CBS Evening News" anchor, now the president of News and Guts Media. Mr. Rather, pleasure to have you here. DAN RATHER, NEWS AND GUTS MEDIA PRESIDENT: Always a pleasure to be here. MADDOW: I have -- we have talked about Donald Trump in the past. I have to ask with this proposal from him about banning Muslims from the United States. Is this unprecedented in modern American politics? RATHER: Yes. I think the answer is yes, unprecedented. He`s related to the candidacy of the late George Wallace. Barry Goldwater, if you will. Huey Long, he`s in that line. But we`ve not been as a people, as a country, as a society, we`ve not been in this territory before -- someone saying we should limit immigration into the country based on religion. This is something unique and new. MADDOW: The radicalness of his proposal has been greeted by I think with some astonishment and some, oh, there he goes again, because I think he has as part of the M.O. of his campaign constantly pushed the envelope in terms of what`s too outrageous for a Main Street political candidate to get away with. Has he thereby made all forms of radicalism possible in the campaign? RATHER: The short answer to that is yes. By the way, I think it should be noted that each time he goes up and crosses what some people consider to be a line, it has to do with his poll numbers. Before he issued this declaration on immigration, his poll numbers were softening up in Iowa. So, I think it`s no accident, seeing those poll numbers softened up just a little, he`s still leading but softened up, he comes up with another what many call outrageous proposal. But I do think, Rachel, we see clearly what`s happening here. That Donald Trump, Ted Cruz and the like, they are confusing the bully pulpit with the B.S. pulpit and they believe -- I`m convinced that both Trump, Ted Cruz and not limited to them in the Republican Party believe that if you can`t convince people with substance, then you blind them with B.S. And with Trump, it`s worked fairly well. Trump right now is absolutely obliterating the other candidates in the primary and caucus nomination process. He`s Gulliver among the little fusions. I do think he says what he means and means what he says about running as an independent. And as many people don`t want to see it, you`re going to see Donald Trump at the Republican nominating convention this summer, or -- and/or, you`re going to see him at the debates, presidential debates next fall. As I said to you in August, always point out to you when I`m right, not when I`m wrong, but I said in August, don`t underestimate this guy, he`s going to be around for a long time and he`s going to be around for rest of his campaign process if his health holds out. I don`t see any indication his health is doing anything but holding. Part of his appeal is he appeals to fears. He`s playing on people`s fears. There are real fears in this country about what`s happening in terms much terrorism. These are real, not limited to Republicans or Democrats or independents. It`s across the board. Now, what he is in the process of doing is he`s showing passion and strength. If you notice, one of the common threads about the criticism of President Obama`s speech last Sunday was he didn`t show passion and didn`t convey strength. I`m not saying I agree with that assessment, but there was a strong strain that ran through the party, he should show some passion. Well, Trump, like him or not like him, he shows passion and he communicates strength and that is part of his appeal. MADDOW: On that point -- this is sort of a sensitive question -- I tried to address it last night on my show with some historical analogies so as to try to take it out of epithet territory, take it out of insult territory and ground it in basically political science. But fascism is a real thing. Fascism is a political construct that has given rise to real political movements that have both run countries and that have tried to run countries and that have been substantive movements even in countries that we think of as being a lot like ours, France, Britain, since World War II. One of the hall marks of fascism is that the party leader is the great leader who can do things by sheer force of energetic will. It`s characterized by willing in es to toy with violence even in political settings, chauvinism, obviously, xenophobia, different forms of racism or anti-Semitism. Is it unfair to invoke a concept that inflammatory and that weighted for this current political situation we`ve got with the front-runner on the Republican side? RATHER: For me, the answer to that is yes. I don`t think Trump has reached that point yet. Don`t misunderstand me -- I`m going to be very clear. What he said about immigration and limiting immigrants, this is the best propaganda tool that ISIS has had in a very long time. It`s also good news to the Democrats and Hillary Clinton. But directly answering your question -- no, I don`t think he`s at that point yet. I think it is unfair to call him a fascist. MADDOW: In terms of the Republican response to him, I feel like the Republican Party`s got a lot of credit for trying to shut him off and condemning him. More credit than they deserve because I don`t feel like they`ve been very -- I don`t feel like they`ve had that strong a response to what he has proposed. Is there a model that we should look to in terms of an appropriate way to deal within their party? RATHER: Well, the appropriate way is straight on, and deal with passion and strength in response to it. You are quite right, by the way. You mentioned this in the opening segment of the program. That it isn`t true that the Republican Party and its leader have repudiated Donald Trump. They`re walking on eggshells to use the cliche. MADDOW: Yes. RATHER: And, frankly, they don`t know what to do. They don`t know whether to howl at the moon or check their e-mails. They just simply don`t know what to do about it. But it isn`t true that the party as a whole and the majority of the party has repudiated him. That`s not the case. If you want to see somebody who`s really fearful, number one, look to the very top leadership of the Republican Party organization. They fear a third party run, an independent run by Donald Trump. The other place to look for fear is Republican candidates who are up for Senate or up congressional seats. If you look at what they`re saying, they`re very, very careful about what they say about Trump. On one hand, they fear the hard right of the party which they have got to win to win re- election. On the other hand, they`re a little afraid of not saying anything. So, it`s interesting. It`s not amusing but it is interesting to see them do what used to be called in Texas politics, the old side shuffle. MADDOW: Dan Rather, former "CBS Evening News" anchor, president now of News and Guts Media, it`s always great to have you here, sir. Thank you. RATHER: Great to be here. Thank you for having me. Thank you very much. MADDOW: It`s an honor to have you here every time you`re here. RATHER: Thanks. MADDOW: We`ll be right back. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: So, we have news tonight from Colorado Springs where a gunman attacked a Planned Parenthood clinic last month, killed three people, injured nine others. That suspect hold up in that clinic for more than five years in the ordeal. In the days that followed, various political figures weighed in on what might have motivated the gunman. For example, this was senator and presidential candidate Ted Cruz. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REPORTER: Do you think the rhetoric involved in the Planned Parenthood videos in this race had any impact or effect on the (INAUDIBLE)? CRUZ: Well, I think there has been some vicious rhetoric on the left blaming those who are pro-life. I`ll tell you, I am a proud to be unambiguously pro-life, to support protecting every human life from the moment of conception to the moment of actual death. I think every human life is a gift from God. This murder that occurred in Colorado was tragic. It is a criminal act. We don`t fully know the motivations of this deranged individual. We know that he was a man who registered to vote as a woman, and the media promptly wants to blame him on the pro-life movement when at this point, there`s very little evidence to indicate that. REPORTER: What about this report where he said, "no more baby parts"? CRUZ: Well, it`s also reported that he was registered as an independent and as a woman and a transgender leftist activist, if that`s what he is. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: No evidence to blame this on the pro-life movement. He was a transgender leftist activist. Today, the suspect appeared in court in Colorado. So, he could be formally charged in the Planned Parenthood killings. He was charged with 179 separate counts including first degree murder. He what`s not asked to enter a plea today but he did say in open court today, quote, "I am guilty. There`s no trial. I am a warrior for the babies." And that was just the beginning of this hearing. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This court has a duty to protect the constitutionality of this proceeding. ROBERT DEAR, PLANNED PARENTHOOD SHOOTING SUSPECT: Protect the babies. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That`s something that can be released. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. I`m going to give it out as is. DEAR: Could you add to the babies that were supposed to be aborted that day? Could you add that to the list? Conceal the truth, huh? Kill the babies. That`s what Planned Parenthood does. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is difficult for myself and any other counsel on behalf of any members of the press or the public to meaningfully respond to pleadings that we have not been given access to. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I understand that. Thank you. DEAR: You`ll never know what I saw in that clinic. Atrocities. That`s what they want to seal, the babies. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The prosecution has not turned over one piece of discovery to us yet. Not one page of paper and yet they want to set a preliminary hearing within 30 days? DEAR: They want the truth out. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is unreasonable, judge. DEAR: This is unheard of that the prosecution is trying to help get the truth out and you`re trying to stop the truth. You`re trying to make me -- UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think the problem is obvious. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: At this hearing today, it went on and on and on. The attorney for the suspect questioned whether his client is mentally competent to stand trial. But with this court appearance today, the suspect did seem to remove any doubt about his motive, at least in his own words. We do not have and may not have for a long time yet a formal official verdict in this case or even a decision about whether the suspect is mentally fit enough for trial but it is very much looking like the shooting deaths at that Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood the day after Thanksgiving are now the latest murders and attempted murders in the very latest series of murders and attempted murders carried out by people motivated by antiabortion beliefs. The head of Colorado Planned Parenthood in Colorado joins us next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Today, the suspected shooter at the Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs, Colorado, had his first day in court. He screamed in court repeatedly and said a bunch of things about his motive in that shooting. It was chilling to say the least. There is going to be a couple of incidents of live response tonight on MSNBC. First, I should tell that you Cecile Richards is the national president of Planned Parenthood. She`s going to be Lawrence O`Donnell`s guest tonight on "THE LAST WORD". That`s right after the show, coming up next hour here in MSNBC. But coming up here next on this show, we`re going to have the president of Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains, who`s head of Planned Parenthood for that specific clinic and she joins us live here next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This court has a duty to protect the constitutionality of this proceeding. DEAR: Protect the babies. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: That was one of several outbursts in court today by the suspect in the Planned Parenthood shooting from the day after Thanksgiving. He also said at the outset of today`s hearing, quote, "I am a warrior for the babies." He also said, "I`m guilty, there is no trial." That would seem to remove whatever doubts people may have had about the suspect`s motive at least in the shooting, which left three people dead, including a police officer and nine other people in the hospital. Joining us now is Vicki Cowart. She`s president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains. Ms. Cowart, thanks very much for joining us. I know this is a hard time. I appreciate your time. VICKI COWART, PLANNED PARENTHOOD ROCKY MOUNTAINS PRESIDENT: It has been. MADDOW: Let me just ask your response to hearing those outbursts, those I mean -- I guess explanations from the suspect in this case today. COWART: This has been a very hard time and hearing these has not helped. We`ve been hit hard and we`re really focused on recovery and healing. That`s going to take some time just as this case is going to go on for some time. Our people need to recover, as you know, families have lost loved ones, families are taking care of injured, and our on staff need to get back on their feet after gone through this. And that`s really been our focus today. But hearing these comments does not help. MADDOW: In terms of the way that you have tried to be resilient in the face of this attack and so many people being killed and hurt, has your organization been able to continue to see patients, have your employees been able to continue to work -- those of whom who aren`t obviously directly affected by the violence there? COWART: Yes. Our focus remains on our patients. Again, Planned Parenthood places the wellbeing and the health of our patients and the wellbeing and safety of our employees at the very top. We were open the very next day in all of our other health centers. We are operating on a regular schedule across the state, across the Rocky Mountain region and, frankly, across the country because we are caretakers and we place that work first. The folks that were in the building, they all got home that night. They were safe. As did all of our patients who were with us there you this horrific incident all got home that evening. But still, their recovery is going to take some time. We`re paying attention, helping them and giving them some time to do that healing, as it the whole community. MADDOW: I know you`ve said it has not helped today to hear these remarks from the alleged shooter in this case. I wonder though if it does give you some sense of closure or at least clarity, if it sort of clears away any of the noise that had been surrounding public discourse on this subject as to whether or not this was somebody who was motivated by his opposition to abortion rights. COWART: Rachel, what this makes me believe strongly is that the political rhetoric in this country, no matter what direction it is coming from, no matter where you are on the political spectrum, needs to be focused on ensuring that something like this does not happen again. Again, we`re going to take some time to recover. Rebuilding will take some time. I`m fearful that there will be another shooting before we`ve even gotten our building open again. At a school, at a shopping center. We don`t know where it is going to be next. And I think all of us should be focused on how do we keep that from happening again? Words matter. And people need to think about matter. People need to think about the impact of their words. MADDOW: Vicki Cowart, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains -- again, I really appreciate your time tonight on a night that I`m sure did you not feel like talking in public. I appreciate you choosing to do that and being here with us. Thank you. COWART: Thank you. MADDOW: Good luck. We`ll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: I want you to take a moment and imagine yourself receiving an award from the president, the president of the country. You`re getting this big award. You`re standing next to the president. It`s a really big moment. Now, I want you to imagine the most embarrassing thing that could happen to you in that moment. Dropping the award maybe, passing gas audibly, maybe fainting from excitement, falling down, right? Whatever it is for you, just imagine that. The most embarrassing thing that could happen you to while you were in the act of receiving award from the president. You got it? Good. Now, allow me to introduce you to Ivan Cicak. Ivan Cicak heads up one of the leading human rights groups in the nation of Croatia. He was receiving an award yesterday from Croatia`s president when tragedy struck. Relative tragedy, at least. He was getting this big award. He was standing next to the president when -- his pants gave up. Now, to her credit, the Croatian president was unflappable. She artfully lowered the large award ever so slightly in order to protect Mr. Cicak`s - little Mr. Cicak from public view. There went the pants. Woo-hoo! Amazing. And yet, that is not even our pants top related story of the night. It`s not even in the top, two actually. I wish I was joking but I`m not. Pants or the lack thereof are in the news tonight concerning two different high ranking officials in our country. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: About ten blocks away from the White House in downtown D.C., there is a nice hotel called the Renaissance. It`s one of those hotels where if you look out your window, depending on where you are on the hotel, you can see into nearby buildings because they`re all bunched together in that one spot. One morning on July 2008, a group of school teachers going to a conference that hotel, they looked out, they looked across the way and into the building next door and what they saw -- I don`t quite know how to say this, was a man having a good time alone with himself. They saw a man in a conference room, they say, across the way, in various stages of undress engaged in what ought to have been a private moment. They saw that Monday morning, again Tuesday morning, again Wednesday morning, the same man in the glass conference room across the alley carrying on with himself. Well, that building that those teachers were looking into, that happens to be a government office building. It`s offices for the Department of Veterans Affairs. The man in the conference room who was allegedly behaving like that in the window was discovered to be a top V.A. official at the time. He was the agency`s deputy inspector general. Based on CCTV and interviews with those teachers, federal investigators reportedly determined that this was the naked guy in the conference room. I say reportedly because this new information comes from a federal government report that was obtained by "The Daily Caller" Web site. We have verified with the agencies involved that this report exists. But "The Daily Caller`s" headline tells you everything you need to know even the parts I won`t say. According to the report necessity say they obtained, although surveillance video lead investigators to that specific V.A. official, the man vehemently denied any wrongdoing at the time he said witnesses in the hotel were mistaken. That said, he did ultimately retire when confronted by the investigators. This was the deputy inspector general of the V.A. during the George W. Bush administration. The V.A. inspector general`s office told us to day that although this investigation occurred more than seven years ago, current leadership at the agency only recently became aware of the matter, which means the Bush administration did a heck of a job keeping that story out of the public domain for all these years after that guy lost that job for that particularly pantless reason, which is stunning. However, the George W. Bush era V.A. is apparently not to be outdone in this department by today`s Department of Defense, which just announced that has officially reprimanded a two star Navy admiral for -- here`s the headline, "Admiral reprimand for drunken naked escapade at Florida hotel." This incident was just reported now, reportedly happened in April. The admiral in question was attending a conference with naturally defense contractors in Florida when he, quote, "became so intoxicated that an upscale beach front resort that he struck his head on a bar stool, wet his pants and needed an escort back to his hotel room." Oh, but wait, there`s more. "After striking his head on the bar stool and wetting his pants and being helped back to his room," quote, "a few hours later still in a haze, the admiral re-emerged from his room without any clothes on as his door automatically locked behind him. As the admiral stumbled around the grounds of the resort looking for a towel to wrap around his waist, he was spotted by two alarm female guest who reported him to hotel security. Tada! At least this time the report on the incident didn`t get buried for seven years. The Navy announced this week that this two star admiral has been transferred back to the Pentagon for some righteous desk duty. When it comes to covering the news, things that come in threes are usually better than things that come in twos. But between the drunken wetting his pants and the naked Navy admiral and the ousted exhibitionist naked V.A. official in the office window, here`s one set of two of stories where I`m really hoping there is no third. 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