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The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 12/10/2015

Guests: Sherrod Brown, Dan Moynihan

Show: THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW Date: December 10, 2015 Guest: Sherrod Brown, Dan Moynihan RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour. Got a big show for you tonight. Before the Bridgegate scandal broke open in New Jersey, one of Governor Chris Christie`s top political staffers left New Jersey. He quit team Chris Christie to instead go take a job in the crucial early primary state of New Hampshire. This was a brilliant move by Chris Christie, right, in terms of positioning himself for his presidential run. He installed one of his own top guys as executive director of the state Republican Party in New Hampshire. If you`re going to run for president, particularly you`re going to run for president with a campaign focused on New Hampshire, that`s genius. Inside guy, right? Great move. And then the Bridgegate scandal happened. And it turned out that staffer who Chris Christie so brilliantly sent to go be his guy in New Hampshire, turns out that guy was right in the middle of all the controversy over Bridgegate. He ultimately got subpoenaed and was forced to testify in the investigation into Bridgegate. He got dragged right through the middle of it. So, just like that, presto, Chris Christie`s brilliant political move concerning the New Hampshire state Republican Party, became one of the most interesting mini scandals involving the New Hampshire Republican Party. Are New Hampshire Republicans unnerved by their executive director of their state party having to testify in the Bridgegate scandal? Interesting. Well, now that Chris Christie is at 3 percent, wa, wa, nationally, everything about him and his political scandals is pretty much an irrelevance in the presidential race. But it turns out the Republican Party of New Hampshire has a more interesting mini-controversy roiling its ranks as we get closer and closer to the New Hampshire primary. This is Jennifer Horn. She`s the state chair of the Republican Party. And this week when Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump put out his proposal that all Muslims should be banned from entering the United States the New Hampshire state Republican chair Jennifer Horn put out this statement in response. It says, quote, "While my position is certainly political, I am an American first. There should never be a day in the United States of America when people are excluded based solely on their race or religion. It is un-Republican. It is unconstitutional. And it is un-American." From a mainstream point of view, that statement you`d kind of expect, right? Somewhere between righteous and yeah, duh. Because there has been so much mainstream revulsion at this proposal by Donald Trump to ban all Muslims from entering this country, that kind of statement is sort of what you`re expecting from leaders at all levels who might feel compelled to respond. In Republican-ville, though, what Jennifer Horn just did with that statement, she stepped in it. And, boy, is she going to get in trouble for doing something like that? State legislators who support the Republican presidential front- runner, who support Donald Trump, have now started an effort to oust Jennifer Horn as the chair of the Republican Party in the state of New Hampshire because of that statement she put out objecting to Donald Trump`s position that Muslims should be banned from this country. It is true that here and there, there have been individual Republicans who have expressed some dismay or have expressed some criticism about Donald Trump proposing to ban all Muslims from the United States, but this idea that Republicans as a group have risen up in mutual condemnation of Donald Trump for doing this, that is absolute bullpucky. And in fact, criticizing Donald Trump may cost the chair of the New Hampshire Republican Party her job. Last night, we had these first polling results from Bloomberg in which they asked Republican voters whether they agreed or disagree with Donald Trump`s proposal to ban all Muslims from this country. Nearly 2/3 of Republican voters told Bloomberg in that poll that they agree with Donald Trump on that proposal. We now tonight have a more scientifically sound look at that question from the NBC/"Wall Street Journal" poll. There`s nothing wrong with the Bloomberg poll. It was just a snap poll taken only over the course of one day. It`s considered to be sort of better form in polling to poll people over a longer period of time. NBC/"Wall Street Journal" has now done that. And if you are as a person horrified by Donald Trump`s proposal to ban Muslims from this country, you`ll be heartened to see that Americans by and large, a majority of Americans don`t agree with Mr. Trump`s proposal. But when it comes to Republicans, Republicans are not so sure. They kind of like it. The new NBC/"Wall Street Journal" poll I stated out tonight says the portion of Republican voters who are against Donald Trump`s proposal to ban all Muslims from this country, Republicans against, that`s 36 percent. The proportion of Republicans who say they agree with Donald Trump, they like that proposal from him, is 42 percent. More Republicans like it than don`t, 22 percent have no opinion. So there is widespread mainstream upset. I think it`s fair to say in many cases even disgust for what Donald Trump has proposed. But Republicans do not feel that way. These remarks, this proposal has not hurt Donald Trump. And you can see that in the direct polling on that proposal. You can also see it in his overall numbers, which right now are going through the roof. "The New York Times"/CBS poll just came out. Polled Republican voters nationwide both before and after Donald Trump made his proposal to ban all Muslims in the country. So, this polling reflects both time before he made the proposal and time since, and overall bottom line his numbers are astonishing. He`s at 35 percent support, nationwide. That gives him a 19-point lead over his nearest competitor. He`s almost lapping the rest of that giant field. There`s this I think unintentionally hilarious reporting tonight from "The Washington Post" which says that Republican Party chairman Reince Priebus on Monday night this week convened a large group of Republican Party leaders to talk about the prospect of the Republican Party might have to decide on their nominee at their nominating convention this year. Attendees were reportedly sent home with homework that they should look into the circumstances surrounding the 1976 Republican presidential nominating convention because that was the last time the Republican Party went to their nominating convention without having a clear nominee. The reason I say this reporting is unintentionally hilarious is because, what do you mean no clear nominee? Look at the national polling. If there`s one thing the national polling and this early state polling shows right now, it`s there`s a clear nominee. Republicans at the upper echelons of the Republican Party may purport to have mixed feelings about Donald Trump. But Republican voters really don`t. They have less mixed feelings about him than they ever had. And despite all of this facile beltway noise about how disgusted Republicans supposedly are with Donald Trump`s proposals and what those proposals might say about the Republican Party and how much they want to distance themselves as a party from him and how much damage he`s doing, you know what? It has now been three days since Donald Trump made his written proposal that all Muslims should be banned from the United States. So far, no one in Republican leadership and nobody running against him for the Republican presidential nomination has said that as a result of what he has done, they will not support him if he ends up being the nominee of their party. Nobody has said that. And right now, he is on track to be the nominee of their party. And although it completely bewilders the Beltway press to realize that his increasing radicalism is putting more wind in his sails and not less, that is the situation. That is the particular gale that blew Donald Trump into Portsmouth, New Hampshire, tonight for an event at which he asked for and ultimately received the endorsement of the New England Police Benevolent Association. This was just supposed to be a meeting of Donald Trump and that police group. This is not supposed to be a public event. But there is so much energy around his candidacy right now that the public, those who love Donald Trump and those who really don`t, decided that if he was going to be there, they were going to turn out anyway. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have a problem. There are beliefs coming into this country that do not coincide with our constitutional rights, our amendments, our Bill of Rights. And if they cannot -- if their beliefs are complete opposite of what we believe in and how we function in this country, then it does not belong in this country. REPORTER: How do you think that would work? At the border, you know -- UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I want the wall up. I want the wall up on the southern border. I want the walls up on the northern border. This country, we have to protect it. We, the people. And I will support Mr. Trump when he becomes president. It`s we the people that will back him up and get this country back on its two feet and be a strong country, a strong nation, a nation of people that are wonderful. Excuse me. I`m sorry. Yes, I`m like -- REPORTER: What are your thoughts on the Republican Party in general? UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was a registered independent. I switched right over to the Republican Party. REPORTER: You`re not a total Trump diehard necessarily? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No. I support him and I`m supporting what I believe he meant when he said I`ll ban Muslim immigration. I don`t think he`s a racist. I think he was talking about that we need to step back and re-examine the vetting process and get it right. We`re getting it wrong. People are being killed in America and it`s going to get worse unless it gets better. Unless we stop what we`re doing wrong and start doing it right. REPORTER: So you think it`s Trump just being smart in this circumstance? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I do. I do. I don`t think he meant all -- you know, he wasn`t attacking one religion and saying banning an entire religion. I don`t think he meant that. (END VFIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: One Donald Trump supporter in New Hampshire speaking with NBC`s Katy Tur tonight saying that he does not believe that Donald Trump meant to ban everyone from an entire religion from this country. I have to say for the record that is in fact what Donald Trump is proposing. He is proposing banning all Muslim entry into this country, quoting from him directly. It was a written statement. He is -- and I`m quoting him. "Calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States." His supporters may not believe that`s what he meant, but that`s what he`s proposing. This event tonight in Portsmouth was, again, not supposed to be a public event, but Donald Trump`s supporters turned out in large numbers as did people who are not Donald Trump supporters. Again, this is just tonight in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Watch. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REPORTER: What brings you out here today? UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I`m here just to -- just to -- in solidarity with others who are very concerned about Donald Trump`s very racist and bigoted remarks about Muslims and about trying to deal with the problems of terrorism by banning everybody who has a certain religious belief. I think that`s un-American. It`s unconstitutional. And it`s stirring up hatred and anger. And it`s all about just trying to attract attention but to the detriment of all of us really, and our safety. REPORTER: Why is it important to get out here and be on the street with a sign and be visible rather than -- UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I guess I just feel that I need to be with people who stand for caring and love and the values that I believe in. And I want to -- I don`t want to be alone sitting in front of a TV watching this. I want to be part of a movement that`s standing up and saying we need to do something to speak the truth about what America is really about. It`s not about hatred. It`s not an American value. REPORTER: What brings you out here today? UNIDENTIFIED FEAMALE: Tired of listening to Donald Trump spout off hatred, anger, fear-mongering on people, ruining America. I just can`t stand listening to it anymore. My Muslim friends, my African-American friends, my Hispanic friends, it`s exhausting. It`s not OK. It wasn`t that long ago that the Irish people were pariahs? Who`s next? My family`s been in this town since the 1600s. If anyone should go, it should be him, not us. He needs to leave. If anything, he`s not welcome in my town. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Portsmouth, New Hampshire, tonight turning out for and against Donald Trump as he collected an important endorsement from the New England Police Benevolent Association. It wasn`t at all clear that he was going to get that endorsement when he went, but he got it. In New Hampshire right now, polls say that not only is Donald Trump set to win that state in the primary, he`s set to win that state by a lot. Same goes more or less for Mr. Trump in Iowa. Same goes definitely for Mr. Trump in South Carolina. Same goes definitely for Mr. Trump nationally. However impossible the beltway press would portray this to be, the Republican Party and its voters do unequivocally seem poised to choose as their presidential nominee this man who really is proposing to ban all Muslims from entering the United States and everything else about him. They said it couldn`t be done, but it`s time to stop pretending that this is an impossibility and start to recognize -- it`s time to recognize that this really is happening. Tick-tock. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) OFFICER JERRY FLYNN, RET., NEW ENGLAND PBA EXEC. DIRECTOR: We stand here united today to introduce our candidate for the next president of the United States, Donald J. Trump. (CHEERS AND APPLAUSE) DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I want to thank everybody. I`ll tell you what, Jerry, this is something that means something to me. A lot. That`s why I made this special trip tonight. I said this is only a five-minute speech. But it`s a really -- it`s a lifetime -- you know, I`d call it almost -- it`s called the lifetime improvement award. I`m improving with this award. (END VIDEO CLIP) (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: About 2:00 this afternoon this was the D.C. headquarters for CAIR, C-A-I-R, which is the Council on American Islamic Relations. The CAIR offices in D.C. were evacuated today after some sort of suspicious foreign substance was sent to that office by mail. It was described as a white powdery substance that was accompanied by a message that read, quote, "Die a painful death." The Council on American Islamic Relations offices in D.C. evacuated after they received that in the mail today, but we`re told that initial tests indicate the white powdery substance found in that package is not dangerous. So, that was about 2:00 Eastern Time this afternoon. Then about 90 minutes later, this was an office of the same organization, the Council on American Islamic Relations, this was their office in Santa Clara, California. And again, 90 minutes after the D.C. office evacuated, the Santa Clara offices were evacuated. Another envelope discovered at that office containing a suspicious white substance. The sender on that package reportedly used the name "infidel" on that package, according to NBC News. Several CAIR employees were taken to the hospital after that mailing was received to be checked out. We`re also told now that the FBI has been brought in on that investigation. Two offices for the Council on Islamic Relations, one in D.C., one in California evacuated today after receiving packages with suspicious substances within two hours of each other. We`ll keep you posted on any developments. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Frustrated about ISIS? Wish the U.S. government would do something more than we`re already doing to try to stop them, to try to shut them down, to try to reduce their international threat? Wish we`d really go like at the core of them, like go at their financing, get at their money, really find ways to shut them down systematically? Well, then here`s your guy. He`s name is Adam Szubin. We reported on him right before Thanksgiving. His career track is very bipartisan. He`s a professional guy, not a partisan guy. He worked for the George W. Bush Justice Department. For years, he`s been working for the Treasury Department. And his specialty is stopping money from getting to terrorist groups like al Qaeda and al Shabaab in Somalia and ISIS. He is our government`s go-to specialist when it comes to tracking and stopping terrorist financing. Back in April, he was nominated by President Obama to become our nation`s undersecretary of the treasury for terrorism and financial crimes, nominated in April. Since then it`s been, well, almost 250 days and, nothing. Zippo. They held a confirmation hearing on him in September at which point the Republican chair of the Banking Committee holding the confirmation hearing said he seemed like he was eminently qualified. But since then, nothing. Nothing. And yesterday, Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown apparently just had it. He took to the Senate floor to try to make the case why Adam Szubin needs to be confirmed to this job now. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. SHERROD BROWN (D), OHIO: Mr. Szubin heads what is in effect treasury`s economic war room, managing U.S. efforts to combat terrorist financing and fight financial crimes. He can do his job better if he`s not acting, but he`s in fact the confirmed nomination -- the confirmed nominee of the president of the United States. Nobody`s in a better position in our government, nobody, than Mr. Szubin, and I want him confirmed so that he can do his job better. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: This Senate is at a 30-year low in terms of confirming nominees. This particular committee, the Banking Committee, has confirmed zero nominees this year. But with all the talk about ISIS and doing something to fight ISIS, you`d think that maybe the guy to fight ISIS financing with a bipartisan pedigree and everybody thinks he`s eminently qualified and there are no substantive objections to him whatsoever, you`d think maybe that might be one. Democrats are trying to get this done right now before Congress leaves town for the holidays. Senator Sherrod Brown tried to push through a confirmation vote. When he did, Republicans said no. The chairman of the Banking Committee is Republican Senator Richard Shelby. He said when asked about this particular nomination, quote, "We are not going to vote now. We are going home for Christmas." Joining us now is Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown. Senator Brown, thank you very much for being here. I really appreciate your time tonight. BROWN: Thanks for doing this story. MADDOW: This feels to me like something on its merits that is utterly non-partisan, utterly non-controversial. I`ve heard no objections to Mr. Szubin either in terms of his biography or his past performance. Is there any substantive objection? If there isn`t, why isn`t this happening? BROWN: You said it exactly right, Rachel, eminently qualified according to Chairman Shelby. No objections to him personally that I`ve ever heard, started with the Bush administration. I don`t know which political party he is. Someone in the administration said I assume he`s a Republican, but again, he might not be after being blocked for almost 250 days by a partisan majority that won`t do much of anything. There are dozens of confirmations that have just been frozen. The banking committee it`s 0 for 137. We also have the Export Import Bank even though it`s now law again, can`t do big deals because they don`t have a quorum because the Banking Committee won`t move on a nominee that`s been out there for months and months and months. Same story. And the most amazing one, though, is Adam Szubin. This gentleman is qualified. He`s not partisan in any way. He`s the guy, as you say, that`s in the right position to choke off ISIS -- to choke off ISIS funding through using sanctions through the international banking system. He`s also the guy that is charged with making sure Iran, before any of the sanctions are lifted on Iran, to make sure they`re not cheating. His job is exactly what Republicans say President Obama should do. But in the end he was appointed by President Obama. So that apparently cancels out any of his qualifications and undermines any importance he might have for our country. It really is tragic. This committee has done 20 appointments, confirmations a year for the last 15 years. This year it`s done zero. It`s pretty tragic. MADDOW: Senator, forgive my ignorance on this. I know this is a knowable known. I just don`t know it. If Senator Shelby could be persuaded this was something important that the country really need, that this was something, for the particularly if penal who are freaked out about ISIS right now, this is a concrete thing that could be done to advance our country`s fight against ISIS. If he wanted to do it, how long would something like this take? How much time would it take to confirm it? BROWN: It could take two minutes. I`ve seen many committee action when`s there`s agreement, particularly confirmations. During a vote, we go off the floor of the Senate, 30 feet away into a room called the President`s Room. They just -- you go in and sign or put your hand up. You confirm. You move. We could do it in committee. Then it could be done by you see on the floor. In fact, yesterday, I went to the floor with a nomination for Mr. Szubin and a number of others, five others in different agencies. And I asked for unanimous consent to just move it out of committee, put it on the floor, confirm, right like that. Each time, Senator Shelby, Chairman Shelby stood up and said object. If he had not objected, if he had not been out there and objected, then the nominations would have been confirmed in a matter of -- I was on the floor maybe 11 or 12 minutes with six nominations. They all could have been done. So, this is by design. This is their effort. This is what they are doing. They don`t want President Obama to be able to accomplish much of anything. It`s ambassadors. It`s all kind of officials dealing with terrorism, dealing with foreign affairs, and dealing with domestic issues, the Export-Import Bank. Every time Senator Shelby objects, it costs Americans jobs, good- paying manufacturing jobs that will lead to exports and it`s just terrible policy. I guess they don`t want the president to get credit for anything. MADDOW: Senator Sherrod Brown, thank you for being here. One of the reasons I particularly appreciate you being here tonight is because of the very important news I was just informed of which is that your family has just reproduced in an important way. You have a new grandson named Milo Sherrod Molina. Is that right? Is he named after you? BROWN: We do. And Kaitlyn and Alejandro, the parents, Alejandro was actually a political refugee 30 years ago when he came to this country. His mother and father are from El Salvador. Their lives were threatened. She was a journalist, you will be glad to know. And they came here and he is a citizen of the United States and he gave us -- he and she gave us a new grandson today. And I`m going to Providence, Rhode Island, to see them tomorrow. So thank you. MADDOW: He is impossibly beautiful. Congratulations. BROWN: Thanks so much. MADDOW: Thank you, sir. We`ll be right back. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: On Monday, it will be three years since the elementary school massacre at Sandy Hook in Newtown, Connecticut. Twenty first-graders and six teachers and staff members all killed by one 20-year-old armed with a semi-automatic assault rifle that was fitted with extended magazines to hold extra bullets. Also a semi-automatic handgun. After that massacre, that mass shooting, Connecticut banned more than 100 kinds of military-style assault rifles and the state moved to limit the size of ammunition magazines to ones that only hold ten bullets or less. Well, now less than two weeks after the planned parenthood mass shooting in Colorado and just over a week since the mass shooting in San Bernardino, California, Connecticut is going to act again. Today, Connecticut`s Governor Dan Malloy announced he`s going to sign an executive order that will ban the sale of guns in his state to anyone who appears on a federal terrorism watch list. Right now, it`s totally legal for anyone on a terror watch list to buy all the guns they want. Even people who are on the no-fly list and aren`t allowed to board a commercial airliner in this country, they nevertheless are legally allowed to buy semi-automatic assault rifles and handguns in any number. Congress voted on but failed to close that terror watch list loophole last week but now, Connecticut`s governor says he`ll close it himself. Governor Malloy saying today, "If Congress will not act, we in the states will." At least he will. In terms of federal action on guns, there is also word tonight that President Obama himself may now be in the final stages of crafting a brand new executive action of some kind on guns. It`s reportedly an order that would close most of the loophole that lets some gun sales happen without any background check whatsoever. Now, it`s not clear what exactly the order will be. It`s not clear when the president will announce that executive action. But White House adviser Valerie Jarrett said last night that people should expect it soon. Watch this space. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Last week, the former host of "The Daily Show," Jon Stewart, joined 9/11 first responders as they went door to door in Congress trying to drum up support for legislation that helps the first responders who got sick after helping in the rescue and cleanup effort after 9/11. They visited lots of lawmakers` offices who have not yet backed that bill. Mr. Stewart said that instead of face-to-face meetings with lawmakers mostly what they got were business cards. One of those first responders doing that round by round of all the office that`s day says he took those business cards and threw them in the trash. Here`s part of how he explained why. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) (INAUDIBLE) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, geez. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What are we looking at here? What are these cards from? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All the guys who were killed -- I went to their services. So when you go to the service you would have a card of the guy that was killed. And these are all -- 12 guys from my firehouse were killed. And then the rest were in my battalion and guys I just -- I knew, I worked with, over the years. So these come with me wherever I go, those guys. You get stage 4 cancer, you don`t complain. I got 14 more years than my friends. They`re all here. I look at them to put realistic terms of what`s going on in life. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right. Perspective. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Perspective. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Meanwhile, we`re picking up business cards from these guys. (END VIDEO CLP) MADDOW: Meanwhile, we`re picking up business cards. What you saw there were the prayer cards that FDNY veteran Ray Pfeiffer has collected after attending the wakes of first responders who died, both on 9/11 and in the years since. At this point, he says he has about 50 of them and the stack keeps growing. Since this past 9/11 anniversary alone, 19 first responders have died from 9/11-related illnesses, 19 in the last three months. So, the 9/11 Health Care and Compensation Act was first passed in 2010 thanks in large part to Jon Stewart`s shaming members of Congress into supporting it. But much of that law expired in October. And the rest is going to expire next year unless Congress acts. So far, Congress has not acted. It was widely expected that the 9/11 bill would be included in this month`s transportation bill. But Senator Mitch McConnell stripped it out of that legislation. Now, there are rumblings that it could be included in a comprehensive spending bill that`s expected to come up next week. This is a bill that if they pass it, it would permanently extend these health benefits for first responders so they stop having to go to Capitol Hill begging every few years. Well, tonight we reached out to Speaker Paul Ryan`s office for confirmation as to whether or not this thing is ever going to get a freaking vote. A member of his office responded with this, quote, "Speaker Ryan has committed to reauthorize the program, and he will keep his word. We expect it will be included in one of the year-end legislative items. We have not stated what vehicle at this point, but it`ll get done." It`s not that this thing doesn`t have support. You need 218 votes to pass something in the House. This has 266 co-sponsors, 75 of whom are Republican. It only needs to get brought out for a vote. It just needs to be the leadership saying let`s vote on it. In the meantime, people like Ray Pfeiffer are still collecting prayer cards waiting for Congress to act. Joining us now is Dan Moynihan, 9/11 first responder. And along with others, he`s been trying to get this bill passed. Dan, thank you for coming tonight. DAN MOYNIHAN, 9/11 FIRST RESPONDER: Thank you for again for having me on. MADDOW: Yes. So, we got the statement from Paul Ryan saying it`ll happen, we give our word, we`ve committed to doing it, we`re not saying how we`re doing it yet. MOYNIHAN: Right. MADDOW: How does that make you feel? MOYNIHAN: The leadership has made promises to attach this bill to whatever is moving at the end of the year. I do take them at their word. I feel like they awe are very, very close. I do think that we`re going to get this done. I feel like we`re so super close, and I do think that Ryan and McConnell will inevitably get this done. The problem is, I do then get reports that there are staffers on one of the committees that they`re rewording things in a new bill that tries to take money out of the bill. Then there`s another staffer that rewords -- they`re putting another bill out that tries to get this -- remove the name of the hero police officer who died of World Trade Center related illnesses -- MADDOW: Take Zadroga off the name -- MOYNIHAN: Take James Zadroga -- Police Office James Zadroga off the name of the bill. MADDOW: Why would that be important? MOYNIHAN: God only knows, but this is the kind of stuff that is now being -- yes. MADDOW: Do you understand why they took it off the highway bill? They knew that they were going to pass the highway bill, which itself is a congressional miracle. They knew they were going to. It was part of that. MOYNIHAN: Right. It was supposedly on the transportation bill last Tuesday which was then voted on and signed into law by the president. MADDOW: And they took it out. MOYNIHAN: They took it off. MADDOW: Do we know why? MOYNIHAN: I am led to understand that it was because of Senator McConnell, that he took it out of the bill. MADDOW: So at this point you have confidence in the word from Speaker Ryan. You think it`s going to get done. It`s not done yet. MOYNIHAN: Speaker Ryan and Senator McConnell now said it will definitely be in the bill, in the omnibus bill or one of the other vehicles at the end of the year. MADDOW: Yes. MOYNIHAN: Here`s the thing. You know, we have 266 co-sponsors in the house. There should be 435 co-sponsors in the House. There are 67 co- sponsors in the Senate. There should be 100 co-sponsors in the Senate. There are word of, well, how -- you know, when we got taken out of the transportation bill, our pay-for got stolen. And everybody`s like what`s your pay for? There should be people falling over themselves to have a pay for, a new pay for. There should be a stand-alone up and down vote for this bill. People should be falling over themselves since this is people from 433 out of 435 congressional districts responded to this city -- it also covers people from the Pentagon and Shanksville, Pennsylvania -- to vote for this bill. And yet this is the stuff that we`re dealing with. And Ray Pfeiffer, who we saw in that video, I spoke with this afternoon. And you know, when we go through the metal detectors, we make all these -- people ask me how do you make all these meetings back and forth and go back and forth in D.C.? Ray Pfeiffer sets off every metal detector because when we go down there his cancer has metastasized to a hip, he had that replaced, metastasized to a shoulder, had that replaced be, metastasized to two ribs, and the guy is half metal now, he`s a bionic man. MADDOW: And he has to spend all his time fighting for this. MOYNIHAN: Right, and this is what happens. MADDOW: Dan Moynihan -- MOYNIHAN: And then on the other side we have phenomenal advocates like Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America who fight for us. And I know I mentioned him last time I was on the show but he`s back on the Hill now. He is recovering from cancer himself. But Congressman Mark Takai from the Hawaii 1st who`s made sure he`s back in the district now to vote for our bill when it comes to it. And these are the amazing people who do go and fight for us. So out of all the mess that`s down there we do have amazing people like yourself as well who make sure we get air time. Jon Stewart, who makes sure that we get air time to make sure this bill passed. MADDOW: It`s amazing the fight is this hard. Dan Moynihan, 9/11 first responder, hope to have you back soon as it passes. MOYNIHAN: Thank you. MADDOW: We`ll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: If you, like me, the statistical actuaries of the culture world, say you also like the NPR show "This American Life." One of the greatest cultural products of my generation, stunning in its consistent goodness, "This American Life" has also had some amazing spinoffs, including the most successful and influential podcast in the universe. It`s called "Serial." It`s an audio podcast. "Serial`s" first season was about an almost forgotten Baltimore murder case from 15 years ago. It was just a monster hit. "Serial" has been downloaded something like 100 million times. It won a Peabody Award. There was even another really successful podcast that was just people talking about the "Serial" podcast. "Serial`s" popularity may even have contributed to the convicted murder in that old case now getting a new hearing in that case. In the year since the first season of "Serial" ended, the question has been, how are they going to top that? How will "Serial" top 100 million downloads and a Peabody and changing the entire media landscape and changing that case and being not just popular but really, really great? How are we going to top that? Now, we know. Today at 6:00 a.m., with no fanfare and no warning "Serial" released the first episode of the second season of "Serial" which features for the first time ever Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl talking about his decision to abandon his post in Afghanistan in 2009 and how that led to his being kidnapped and held by the Taliban for almost five years. Check it out. (BEGIN AUDIO CLIP) BOWE BERGDAHL: You know what DUSTWUN is, right? MARK BOAL, SCREENWRITER: What is? BERGDAHL: DUSTWUN. The radio signal. SARAH KOENIGH, HOST: DUSTWUN stands for "duty status whereabouts unknown". It`s the army`s version of "man overboard". BERGDAHL: DUSTWUN is a radio signal put out over the radio when a soldier goes missing in the combat field. BOAL: OK. BERGDAHL: Or a soldier is taken captive. KOENIG: Slow-simmering and methodical, Bowe formulated a plan. He would create a crisis, a DUSTWUN, in order to call attention to another crisis. Bowe says he had serious concerns, concerns that began back in basic training and which persisted throughout his deployment in Afghanistan regarding bad leadership within his unit. BERGDAHL: And what I was seeing from my first unit all the way up into Afghanistan, alls I was seeing was basically leadership failure to the point that the lives of the guys standing next to me were literally, from what I could see, in danger of something seriously going wrong and somebody being killed. KOENIG: This is a big point of conflict, maybe the big point of conflict in Bowe`s story. The question generally of Bowe`s true motives for leaving his post, and specifically whether his description of what was happening around him is accurate or believable. (END AUDIO CLIP) MADDOW: They`ve got Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl telling his own very debated story himself, starting from his initial plan and his motivation to the moment that he found himself alone in the middle of the night in the open desert. Twenty minutes out he says, "I`m going, good grief, I`m in over my head." Bowe Bergdahl returned home last year to a debate over whether he deserved to be rescued. Republicans in Congress charging President Obama`s trade of five Taliban prisoners for Bowe Bergdahl was illegal. The Army still considering whether to court-martial him for desertion and possibly for endangering the troops who searched for him. His lawyer says he thinks that Bowe Bergdahl appearing in this podcast may help his case by allowing his client`s story to be heard. But this is the first time we have heard Bowe Bergdahl tell his own story in his own words. The folks at "Serial" say they have 25 hours of recorded conversations with him to build this on. So, the podcast you couldn`t escape last year is now playing on a whole new level. This is the part where I would usually tell you to watch this space, but in this case you have to listen to it. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Chinese capital city of Beijing this week issued their first ever red alert. The smog is so bad, the government closed schools for three days. Some of the worst particulate pollution was 40 times the level the world health organization says is safe. Air pollution is so bad now that sometimes the result -- it results in highway closures because you literally cannot see through the air well enough to drive safely at that speed. Air pollution is a visible problem in China in all its terrifying toxic awfulness. You can look at it. Not every environmental disaster comes billowing at you in ways you can see. But when it comes to reacting to disasters like that, then inspiring action, seeing it, sometimes helps. Last week, we reported on a giant ongoing pollution disaster, a huge mega-size gas leak in California. The San Fernando Valley in southern California. The leak is coming from a plant called the Aliso Canyon natural gas storage facility, a storage well more than 8,000 feet under ground went bad somehow in October. Ever since then, it`s been leaking natural gas, plus the additive they put in natural gas so you can smell it when it`s leaking. People nearby have been getting headaches and nausea and nosebleeds and respiratory problems. It`s bad enough that hundreds of homes in the town of Porter Ranch, California, have now been evacuated. The city of L.A. is suing the company that owns the well. And it`s way not over. The company says they don`t know how to stop this leak. They say it may take four months to drill a new rig basically, drill a new well in order to stop the leak in the old one. Four months. And in the meantime, the scale of this thing is nuts. State air quality regulators estimate the leak is releasing 50,000 kilograms of methane per hour, which basically makes this one leak account for 25 percent of California`s daily greenhouse gas emissions. This is like driving 160,000 cars for a year. What`s happening right now in Porter Ranch is hard to get your head around in part because big things are hard to get your head around. But it`s also hard because you can`t see it. Except now, you can see it because tonight, we have some remarkable new images from this disaster. An environmental group called Earth Works went out last week and got this image of Porter Ranch. No big deal. Beautiful day, looks nice, right? But now, look, here`s that same landscape as seen through an infrared camera. With the infrared camera, you can see the big billowing black cloud of methane gas. The activists say they went out on two separate days using a special forward-looking infrared camera so you can see what it looks like a mile away from the storage facility with your regular eyes, or you can see the large plum of gunk as captured by this special camera. These infrared cameras are on the cutting edge for detecting leaks at oil and gas facilities. They`re a state-approved method for monitoring storage tanks in some states. But now, they`re helping us see what the people in this California town have been smelling and getting royally sick from since October. Just tonight, lawyers for some of the homeowners in Porter Ranch released this exclusive footage -- we`re the only ones who got it -- this is in color. And this is what they say is the methane cloud. This is time lapse footage from an infrared camera sped up 60 times. It`s one thing to read about this kind of disaster in the papers. It`s another thing to watch it barreling down from the sky. And again, they say their best guest is that this keeps going for another four months, at best. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Eight months ago, the city of Baltimore was on fire after a young man named Freddie Gray died in police custody and the city rose up. The blockbuster trial in that case is now under way. Tomorrow night, the great Chris Hayes has some new reporting from Baltimore related to that case and otherwise. Look at what he`s done. This is pretty great. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Cell phone videos shows the moments after -- UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The 25-year-old can be seen on the ground -- UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The family`s lawyer says the man`s spine -- UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Freddie Gray would end up with a sever the spine. He would later die. CHRIS HAYES, ALL IN (voice-over): Residents of Baltimore took to the streets over the death of a man named Freddie Gray. But days of peaceful protest eventually gave way to destruction. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That`s it! No more. HAYES: The cameras came in, and America watched a city in chaos. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s crazy. I don`t have any words for it. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Stop the violence, please! HAYES: This is the story of what happened after the cameras left. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The majority of the people who are protesting are still in the same predicaments we were in. HAYES: We went back to Baltimore and spoke with residents assessing the damage. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We didn`t riot because it`s something we wanted to do. It`s just we`re just tired. HAYES: A police force under the gun. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think people are angry and it is not just with the police. HAYES: And a city in the midst of an enduring crisis. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Freddie Gray became an unwilling mark to make us hold up the mirror and look at ours. HAYES: Now, as the trials for the police officers charged in connection with Freddie Gray`s death begin, a city with a troubled past -- UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This has been going on way before Freddie Gray. HAYES: -- and an uncertain future finds itself at a cross roads. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are at a very significant point in the life of the city. HAYES: Tomorrow, "ALL IN" goes back to Baltimore. (END VIDEOTAPE) MADDOW: This is remarkable stuff that Chris Hayes has done. It`s going to be an "ALL IN" special report called "Back to Baltimore". It`s going to air tomorrow night right here on MSNBC at the familiar time of 9:00 p.m. That does it for us tonight. Now, it`s time for "THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL". Good evening, Lawrence.