IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 3/25/2016

Guests: Jennifer Roberts

Show: THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW

Date: March 25, 2016 Guest: Jennifer Roberts

CHRIS HAYES, "ALL IN" HOST: That is "ALL IN" for this evening.

THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts right now, live from San Francisco.

Good evening, Rachel.

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chris. Thank you, my friend.

HAYES: You bet.

MADDOW: Happy Friday.

HAYES: You too.

MADDOW: Thanks to you at home for joining us this hour.

Today was the day in the American presidential race where we descended from the Republican presidential front-runner insulting the wife of another Republican presidential candidate -- we descended from that to the "National Enquirer" publishing lurid sexual allegations about the candidate whose wife the front-runner just insulted. That candidate is denying the "National Enquirer" story, but bleeh.

That is apparently how the Republicans are trying to decide on their presidential nominee this year. So, that story`s ahead -- or at least as much of that as we can stomach is ahead this hour.

We`ve also got news this hour that is totally outside the political realm, but it`s potentially a very big deal in national security news. That`s ahead this hour.

We`ve also got news this hour which has not been reported anywhere else in the national media about something that the Republican National Committee just did, which is so sleazy I actually feel personal anger about it.

That does not happen to me with all that many news stories and especially with all that many partisan politics stories, but this is so gross I almost cannot believe they are doing it. And I hope they will stop. We`ve got that story ahead tonight.

I hereby predict that that story will gross you out. I hereby guess that today`s story of this alleged Republican sex scandal already has grossed you out.

And so, because I want us to be friends, because it`s Friday, because I`m in a nice place, San Francisco, as a little palate cleanser, as a little digestive relief before we get into those uglier stories. Tonight, let`s do ourselves a little favor and just start with something adorable.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I grew up in a family without a lot of money. My parents never went to college. I want every kid in Oregon and Washington and Vermont to understand that if he or she does their schoolwork seriously, does well, takes school -- what? Oh.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

Now, you see, this little bird doesn`t know it. Oh, my --

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

I think -- I think there may be some symbolism here.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

I know it doesn`t look like it, but that bird is really a dove asking us for world peace. No more wars.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: Senator Bernie Sanders today, manifestly delighted by a little bird. I`m guessing a sparrow maybe? I don`t know. I`m not great with birds.

But oh, my God, did the crowd go nuts for that little birdie. Even before the bird landed on the podium, when it was just on the stage the crowd was going nuts for that little bird.

And it`s kind of amazing for a few different reasons. Number one, it`s not that weird that there was a bird in that venue. That venue is the Moda Center in Portland, Oregon, which is a huge arena. Over 11,000 people showed up to that event. But if you`re in a building that big, a building big enough to have that big a crowd, it`s not that weird that a bird might get in. You know? Like in airports it`s not that weird to see a bird flying around the airports. It`s a big place. I mean, any room that large, yes, you know, a sparrow might squeak in.

But still, my God. Portland loved that bird today. And, of course, the other reason this is so amazing is because god bless Portland and the whole idea of putting a bird on it in Portland specifically. I mean, this is like a liberal TV dream come true. Almost literally this is a liberal TV dream come true.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hi. I`m Bryce Shivers (ph).

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi. I`m Lisa Eversmith (ph).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE & FEMALE: And we put birds on things.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Today, we`re to go to a store on Mississippi Avenue. Nothing has birds on it. But you know what we`re going to do? We`re going to put birds on things.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Spruce it up. Make it pretty.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Put a bird on it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`m putting a bird on this teapot. It`s a bird. I bet you it`s flying all over the beach.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What a sad little tote bag. I know. I`ll put a bird on it. Did you see this bag before I? Didn`t. Now there`s a bird. It`s flying. It`s free.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`m going to put this bird right on this card.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It`s pretty.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You like, that ma`am?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Fantastic.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I`m putting a bird on toast.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Put a bird on it!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: Put a bird on it is one of the jokes from "Portlandia," from the excellent TV show that is all about making fun of Portland for being so Portland.

And then today, in Portland, in front of a crowd of more than 11,000 absolutely thrilled Portland supporters, Bernie Sanders literally did put a bird on it. I mean, I can only imagine the amount of eye-rolling that this causes in the Hillary Clinton campaign when something like this happens.

But you know what? Happy Friday. For whatever it`s worth whether or not you think that was literally a sign of world peace from the heavens, it did put a giant smile on Bernie Sanders`s face, let alone everybody else in that room. And that is a rare treat in this political world. So absorb that. That is a thing that happened today. And it happened in Portland, Oregon, today in front of this huge crowd.

It`s interesting, though. Logistically Oregon is not actually due to vote in the Democratic presidential race until mid-May. So bird or not, this was a very interesting side trip that senator Sanders took today to Portland to do that really, really big rally, bird and all. He was actually on his way into the Northwest to do what`s expected to be possibly an even bigger rally tonight in Seattle, Washington, because Washington will be voting tomorrow morning on the Democratic side of the presidential race.

And it`s interesting. Washington has a little bit of an unusual political history when it comes to presidential primaries and caucuses. In 1988, when Washington state was holding their presidential caucus on the Republican side, Washington shocked everybody including most of the Republican establishment in the state when they didn`t pick the favorite that year. They didn`t pick the sitting vice president, George H.W. Bush. Instead, they picked Pat Robertson.

Pat Robertson. Yes. Pat Robertson did not win many states in 1988 against Poppy Bush. But he did win the caucuses in Washington state of all places, which kind of freaked out the Republican Party in Washington at the time. Freaked them out enough that they basically stopped using the caucus system.

They`ve still got the caucuses on the books, but on the Republican side they don`t really use those caucuses anymore. They instead pick their choice for the Republican nominee at a primary in late May.

On the Democratic side, it`s basically the mirror image. Democrats in Washington will technically also have a primary in late May. But where Democrats are really going to pick their choice for presidential nominee is at their caucuses tomorrow morning.

So, the parties have differed in Washington state as to how they do these things. Even on the Democratic side, though, Washington is a little bit strange in terms of the way they do their caucuses. One of the things you can generally say about states that hold caucuses instead of primaries is that caucuses ask a little bit more of your average voter.

Usually with caucuses, the bottom line is you actually physically have to show up at the date and time that the caucus is happening in order to participate in it. That`s a little bit more onerous than just being able to vote anytime on Election Day or mail in your earlier absentee ballot like you do for a primary. That`s why caucus turnout is often lower than primaries.

In Washington state, though, even though they are going to have a caucus tomorrow, here`s the thing. More than 30,000 Washington Democrats are planning on participating in those caucuses without actually turning up for them. More than 30,000 Washington Democrats have filled out something called a surrogate affidavit, which essentially lets you participate in the caucuses by mail without ever having to show up while the caucus is happening.

This is something according to the "Seattle Times" that a few hundred people used to do in the Democratic caucuses when they held them every four years. But both the Sanders campaign and the Clinton campaign have been encouraging people to do that year -- do that this year in order to basically bank those votes. So, tens of thousands of Democrats have decided to caucus that way already. They won`t physically show up tomorrow but they`ve already submitted their votes.

Given the numbers of how many people have done that, how many people have turned in these surrogate affidavits, they`re expecting a really big overall turnout in tomorrow`s Washington caucuses. Now, you might remember that this past week in Idaho, which is right next door to Washington state, the Democrats actually broke the all-time record for turnout in their caucus there.

Bernie Sanders won Idaho by a mile. He won with 78 percent of the votes. He won in 43 out of the 44 counties in the state. And he did get huge turnout. Record-breaking turnout in Idaho, which is a big deal at any time. It`s particularly a big deal when in general Democratic turnout has been down from 2008 in almost every state that has voted so far this year.

Bernie Sanders and his campaign appear to have basically a knack for the caucus system this year, particularly in smaller states. There have been nine states that have voted thus far with caucuses instead of primaries.

Bernie Sanders has won seven of the nine caucus states. The only two he didn`t win were Iowa, which was so close, less than half a percentage point between Sanders and Clinton in Iowa, and he also did not win the caucuses in Nevada. Other than that Bernie Sanders has won all of the caucuses.

And Washington state, which is going to vote tomorrow in a caucus, it does appear to be wired for Bernie Sanders in that way and in lots of other ways as well. In some places, for example, the word "socialist" next to Bernie Sanders`s name is seen as an insurmountable barrier for a lot of voters.

In Washington`s largest city, Seattle, they were quite happy to elect a self-declared socialist to the city council in 2013. Also, Seattle per capita has raised more money for Bernie Sanders than any other large city in the United States. Overall in Seattle, Bernie Sanders has twice as many individual campaign donors in that city as Hillary Clinton does.

That said, Seattle and Washington more broadly, they`re not likely to be a totally lost cause for Hillary Clinton. She has endorsements, for example, from the state`s governor, Jay Inslee. She has endorsements from both of the state`s U.S. senators, Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray. She has endorsements from all six of the Democrats who Washington state sends to Congress. They have all endorsed Hillary Clinton.

That not only means she will benefit from the power of their endorsement. It also means that she`s locked up the support of nine of the state`s 17 super delegates with those endorsements. No matter how she does in tomorrow`s popular vote in the Washington state caucus.

Seattle I should mention also has an excellent alternative weekly newspaper called, "The Stranger." and they both sort of teased their own readership and also made an interesting political point when "The Stranger" this week distributed these two different editions of their paper. Apparently, they sent out we endorse Sanders editions of the paper to neighborhoods in Seattle they think will endorse Bernie Sanders, and they sent out we endorse Clinton editions of the same paper to neighborhoods that they think will go for Clinton.

So they were sort of trying to trick people, sort of trying to bamboozle their readers a little bit. But most of all, I think they were just trying to make a point which they spelled out on their editorial page as this, quote, "Don`t be an idiot. Vote for the Democratic nominee this November," regardless of whether or not it is Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders.

So, we will see what happens tomorrow in Washington. There`s a lot of delegates at stake in addition to those 17 super delegates, there are 101 pledged delegates. Because of who Seattle-s because of who Washington, because it`s a caucus, there are a lot of reasons that both campaigns are pretty confident that Bernie Sanders will win a big victory in that state, he`ll win a lion`s share of those delegates. If nothing else, he should also consider the history here.

In 1992, when Bill Clinton was running in Washington state in the Democratic caucuses that year, he came in fourth in Washington. When Bill Clinton ran there, first place was Paul Tsongas. Second place was uncommitted. And third place was Jerry Brown. Fourth place was Bill Clinton.

So, it`s hard to see Washington state as Clinton country. But we shall see. That will be a fun one to watch in tomorrow`s political news.

Also tomorrow, there will be Democratic caucuses in Hawaii and in Alaska. In Hawaii, I think Bernie Sanders would also be favored in that state regardless. But this year in particular, you have to think he`ll be helped by his high-profile endorsement from Democratic congresswoman and Iraq war vet, Tulsi Gabbard. She`s not only done a lot of media appearances and campaign appearances on his behalf, she`s also cut Hawaii-specific ads urging people to caucus for him in that state tomorrow.

The third state where there`s a Democratic caucus tomorrow is Alaska. And again, this is the third out of three taking place tomorrow where it`s both a caucus and a state that`s more generally thought to favor Sanders over Clinton in terms of the Democratic electorate.

That advantage, though, is being pressed in Alaska by the Sanders campaign, taking absolutely nothing for granted. I mean, on the Clinton side, no Clinton family members or campaign surrogates let alone the candidate herself have made their way up to Alaska to campaign for tomorrow`s caucuses.

But Bernie Sanders`s wife, Jane, arrived in Anchorage, Alaska, yesterday, did a campaign event there yesterday. She stayed overnight. She`s doing campaign events all day today in Alaska. She`s staying overnight again and she`s doing more campaign events in Alaska tomorrow in advance of the Democrats in that state heading to their caucuses.

Three straight days in Alaska from the candidate`s wife. Obviously, that is a big investment in her time and in campaign resources.

So, the Sanders campaign and the Clinton campaign in the big picture they`ve got to be looking ahead to some of the big states that are coming up in the calendar like Wisconsin and a few other states. But this weekend, tomorrow, both sides expect it to be Sanders, Sanders, Sanders, in Washington and Hawaii and in Alaska.

Now, the Republicans this weekend are sitting it out basically. The Republicans don`t have any contests this weekend but they also have no contests all next week. It`s this weird hole in the Republican calendar.

But in Alaska, something weird just happened today on the Republican side. Republicans voted in their caucus in Alaska on March 1st. They held a caucus. It was won by Ted Cruz.

These were the results in Alaska: Ted Cruz 36 percent, Donald Trump 34 percent, Marco Rubio just at the 15 percent threshold that you needed to be able to get any delegates below that threshold. You had Ben Carson in fourth place and John Kasich a distant fifth.

So, looking at those results, there were three candidates who looked like they were going to get delegates out of Alaska on the Republican side. Ted Cruz and Donald Trump who are both still in the race, and also Marco Rubio, who has since dropped out.

Now, the rules of the Alaska Republican party say if a candidate gets delegates at those caucuses but then drops out of the race within a certain time frame, that dropout will get his or her delegates reallocated among the surviving candidates. The Alaska Republican Party has just gone through that reallocation process for giving away Marco Rubio`s delegates now that he`s quit. And now it no longer looks like Ted Cruz won Alaska.

With the new allocations of delegates in Alaska, even though Ted Cruz came in first place when they caucused a few weeks ago, the new delegate allocation shows Alaska to be a tie, 14 delegates each for Ted Cruz and Donald Trump.

And in any normal year, in any other year in recent decades, that would be an uninteresting campaign footnote that had no real consequences in terms of the overall project of running for president. But this year, that math about who gets one delegate here and one delegate there, this year that`s everything. That part of the race to the Republican nomination, the piecing together of individual delegates here and there, that is how this race is going to be won or lost.

And it, yes, has something to do with winning states, winning primaries and caucuses on these big election nights. But that`s not the end of the story when it comes to delegates.

"The Wall Street Journal," Politico.com, NBC News, lots of big national media organizations are now devoting reporting resources to follow the delegate trail in all of these individual states to see which candidates are actually putting together delegates who will do the concrete nuts and bolts of voting that will actually pick the Republican nominee at the end of the day at the national convention this summer.

And just as we suspected, it turns out the fight for those delegates is under way already. It`s hard to follow. It`s going to be a big shock when it`s all revealed at the national convention in Cleveland because it`s not going to look anything like who purportedly won all these states.

For example, in Georgia there`s good evidence now that although Donald Trump won Georgia on what we thought was its election night, Georgia`s delegates may not support Donald Trump at all. Georgia delegates have effectively been organized by the Ted Cruz campaign.

Same deal in Louisiana. Where on election night in Louisiana, it looked like Donald Trump won the state but the delegates slates that are being put together, particularly the delegates that are taking over decision-making bodies like rules committees and credentialing committees, those are folks who are not in support of Donald Trump even though he technically won the state. It turns out those delegates have been organized again by Ted Cruz.

In South Dakota, voters at large have not even had a chance to vote yet for who they like in South Dakota. But when it comes to sending delegates to the Republican convention, the delegate operation in South Dakota again appears to be already wired by Ted Cruz.

In the Virgin Islands, which we have been having a really good time covering ever since the Republican Party chairman in the Virgin Islands told us that he believes the party vice chairman is a neo Nazi or a Nazi sympathizer and a felon, it`s been fun to cover the Virgin Islands Republican party. In the Virgin Islands their delegate slate in terms of who they`re sending to the national convention, that`s now being hashed out in court. There`s already legal battles over this stuff.

So, on the Democratic side, it looks like it`s what you think it is. The Democrats will pick their nominee on election days, on days like tomorrow, when Democrats will turn out to caucus in Alaska and Hawaii and Washington.

On the Republican side, though, those election days we keep covering, those primaries and caucuses, they are entertaining, they are interesting. They are a snapshot of the race. But it`s starting to feel like the real fight, the real decision-making, the real determinative work about who`s going to be the nominee isn`t happening on those nights. It`s happening in these much harder to see, harder to follow, harder to report quieter, and in some cases closed-door events in these precinct and county and district and state conventions all over the country with almost no connection to the primary and caucus calendar after all.

And, you know, we keep talking about the big fight that`s probably going to happen at the Republican convention this July in Cleveland. What is still sort of harder to see, harder to focus on but unavoidably true is that that fight for that convention is already under way right now. It is admittedly hard to see. It is admittedly hard to cover.

On days like this, it is extra hard to see and extra hard to cover because it gets overshadowed by the slime and the mire of how ugly and personal the Republican contest has just become, including the "National Enquirer" of it all.

That story and the difficulty of covering the real consequential fight while all of this other slime is flying around in that race, that`s ahead tonight.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW: Things have been getting u-g-l-y ain`t got no alibi ugly between the top two Republican presidential candidates for a while now. But, today, their ugliness veered into new territory. Territory so ugly I am almost not allowed to go there on TV. We will buckle our seat belts and try to go there without getting me fired, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: She doesn`t have the strength. She doesn`t have the stamina to be president.

Hillary Clinton does not have the stamina, doesn`t have the energy. She doesn`t have it.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: You recently said she has low energy, very low energy, doesn`t have the stamina to be president. You`re roughly the same age as Hillary Clinton. Now, why do you say that?

TRUMP: I think she doesn`t have the stamina. You watch her life, you watch how she`ll go away for three, four days. She`ll come back. She`ll go -- I just don`t think she has the stamina.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: Watch how she`ll go away for three or four days. She doesn`t have the stamina to keep up the campaign.

Let me note for the record that Donald Trump`s last campaign appearance was this past Monday. It`s now Friday. He has not scheduled another campaign appearance until next Tuesday. That`s eight straight days without a campaign event, which in an eye for an eye world would presumably raise issues of his stamina and his strength.

But this isn`t an eye for an eye world or an eye for an eye campaign. Turns out this one is a more complex bazaar of body parts. And so, Donald Trump`s eight days off the campaign trail has instead led to a call from one of his rivals for a psych eval.

The Ted Cruz campaign manager today said, "Missing, sleazy Donald. Why no events in the past four days? None planned for eight. Ever had a psychological evaluation? What`s hiding in your medical records? Release them."

See, this is nice. See, Donald Trump and his campaign call Ted Cruz "Lyin` Ted" and now Ted Cruz and his campaign call Donald Trump "Sleazy Donald".

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: With this pattern he should not be surprised to see people calling him sleazy Donald.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: Can you imagine if the Democratic race were like this too? The whole country would jump off a cliff.

Fortunately, it`s nothing like this on the Democratic side at all. But it is becoming more and more and more like this on the Republican side every day now to the point where it`s actually becoming almost hard to report some of this stuff without breaking our own news division rules about what is OK and not OK to put on television.

Let`s talk about just the last few days. Monday was the last day we saw Donald Trump on the campaign trail. Then, Tuesday he posted a response online to this anti-Donald Trump ad which had been run on Facebook in Utah apparently by an anti-Trump super PAC. The ad encourages people to vote for Ted Cruz instead of Donald frump because Mr. Trump`s wife had done photo shoots like this in her modeling career and therefore she would be a bad first lady or something?

Mr. Trump on Tuesday tweeted this threat, that he would "spill the beans" about Ted Cruz`s wife in response to that super PAC ad that had the picture of his wife. Senator Cruz responded to that threat from Mr. Trump by calling Mr. Trump a coward. Then Mr. Cruz decided to up the adjective quotient in this war by calling Mr. Trump not just a coward but a sniveling coward!

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CRUZ: Donald, you`re a sniveling coward.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: Meanwhile, the Trump campaign followed through on their threat to spill the proverbial beans that they had threatened to spill concerning Senator Cruz`s wife. They were not necessarily the Trumpiest beans in the world.

A Trump campaign spokeswoman told Steve Kornacki today that the aforementioned beans concerning Senator Cruz`s wife include the fact she worked for the Bush administration, she supported NAFTA, she was a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and she worked for Goldman Sachs.

Those are the beans? Those are the subheadings on her Wikipedia entry. How could that be what`s causing all the fist shaking and threatening and Ted Cruz using the word "sniveling" and Donald Trump going into hiding for a week? What`s going on here in this depressing and increasingly stupid contest?

Well, we still don`t know, because we still don`t know where this is going to end. But after that mess of a week thus far, this is the wall the Republican presidential nominating contest veered into at speed today. A tabloid "National Enquirer" story alleging that Senator Ted Cruz has had lots of extramarital affairs.

Senator Cruz today vehemently denied that story. He also accused Donald Trump of being behind that story.

Donald Trump for his part says he had nothing to do with the sorry and he sure hopes it isn`t true, but in the same statement, he went out of his way to reference other salacious allegations the "National Enquirer" has made in the past about other people, which were things that did turn out to be true.

So this is how the Republican Party is picking its presidential nominee this year. Lyin` Ted or Sleazy Donald. Or John Kasich, I guess, even though nobody has yet bothered to bestow upon him a kindergarten-variety nickname, which presumably means he`s not really in the running.

And you and I have the luxury of being able to shower and think nice thoughts in order to cleanse ourselves of stories like this. Our next guest does not, sadly. That`s next.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CRUZ: Let me be clear: this "National Enquirer" story is garbage. It is complete and utter lies. It is a tabloid smear. And it is a smear that has come from Donald Trump and his henchmen.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: Ted Cruz today speaking in Wisconsin. The very nice person I know who has done nothing wrong but who is nevertheless saddled with the daily responsibility of covering not only Mr. Trump but also his henchmen if he does in fact have any is my friend MSNBC political correspondent Katy Tur.

Katy, thank you for being here. And I`m sorry in advance.

KATY TUR, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: For the record, I shower, Rachel. I shower on a daily basis.

MADDOW: Yes. I know. But you can never get clean, because you know what you have to go back and cover the next day.

TUR: I`m like the Shakespeare play. Anyway, go on.

MADDOW: This is getting Shakespearean but it`s also becoming almost vaudevillian. It`s becoming like hard to follow in a way that -- simply because it seems ridiculous. I mean, should we see this campaign as having just veered suddenly off a cliff? Or from your daily coverage of the stuff, do you feel like it`s been heading here for a while now? We should have sort of seen this coming.

TUR: It`s been heading here for a while. I think we should have seen this as a nap progression in this entire campaign season. This is a campaign that started off calling some Mexicans crossing the border rapists and criminals. That was the tone set from day one.

Donald Trump himself by the establishment was called the clown. He was called the side show, P.T. Barnum, a number of other things. So the name calling was there from the very beginning.

Donald Trump went on with that, called John McCain not a war hero, has been calling people losers throughout this entire campaign season, nicknaming the other candidates. There`s Lyin` Ted, as you mentioned. There`s baby Rubio, sweaty Rubio, and a host of other things.

So, certainly, the tone in this campaign season is far below what it normally is for a presidential campaign season. That certainly is because of Donald Trump`s presence. He has brought it to that level. So the idea that suddenly we`re in the muck talking about a "National Enquirer" story that is circulating wild speculation and rumors about alleged affairs should not come as a surprise for anyone who`s been following this campaign as closely as somebody like me.

MADDOW: Well, let`s be -- let`s be straightforward about this "Enquirer" story. As far as I can tell and as far as I can see, it`s not only poorly sourced, it`s not sourced at all. They present no evidence at all. The Cruz campaign and at least two of the five women implicated in the "Enquirer" story say it`s absolutely not true, not a word of it.

Do we have any idea of the likelihood that this was planted by the Trump campaign? Should we just see this as a tabloid story and sort of blame the "National Enquirer" or are there any Trump fingerprints on this?

TUR: We don`t know for sure. But we can say that Roger Stone is the first quote and Roger Stone was an operative for Donald Trump for some time. Has not been one, though, since early on in this campaign season. He certainly has not worked for Donald Trump, on the books at least for quite some time.

Also, there`s a number of things. Donald Trump has a close relationship with the "National Enquirer." He wrote an article for them. They endorsed them. He`s friends with the "Enquirer`s" founder. So there seem to be deep ties when it comes to his relationship with that tabloid. But that`s about as far as it goes.

When it comes to the Donald Trump campaign, they haven`t done oppo. Not like the other campaigns have done. Certainly not like the Rubio campaign or the Jeb Bush campaign or the Ted Cruz campaign. There isn`t an oppo guy or gal that works on their campaign and is sneakily putting things out into the press for their benefit that hurts other candidates.

Donald Trump himself is the oppo guy, the opposition person for that campaign. He tweets out the negative stories that he wants out there. And even if he tweets out something that isn`t necessarily based in fact, that he doesn`t necessarily know about, what he does, and we saw it with this as well, is say, "I`m not sure if it`s true, I`m just hearing this, I hope it`s not true, this is what the rumors are saying. People are talking about this."

And in that way, he`s able to cast doubt on a candidate. He certainly did that when it came to Ben Carson. He did that with Marco Rubio. He did that with Jeb Bush.

He`s done that throughout this entire campaign season. He`s trying to do that with Ted Cruz. Remember he tried to cast doubt when it came to his Canadian birth.

We haven`t heard that in quite some time. And now instead of talking about that sort of thing we`re now talking about sex scandals. So, when Donald Trump is seeing the news cycle move away from them, he`s trying to get it back towards him. I think that`s what we saw in this case.

Brussels was happening. The news cycle was not talking about Donald Trump. Suddenly, there`s a tweet out there that nobody knew about. An anti-Trump super PAC ad that nobody knew about with Melania with a "GQ" cover talking about is this who you want as your first lady essentially in Utah, and now, the news cycle is back on Donald Trump. The headlines are back on Donald Trump, instead of being on somebody like Ted Cruz talking about patrolling Muslim neighborhoods.

MADDOW: MSNBC political correspondent Katy Tur, I did not mean to cast aspersions on your hygiene. I just have lots of sympathy for what you have to do every day. And I`m grateful for you being willing to talk to me about it. Thank you, my friend.

TUR: Thanks, Rachel.

MADDOW: Thank you, Katy.

All right. We got some much needed news today that has nothing to do with what we were just talking about. It`s actually a big and important national security story. That`s ahead.

Plus, the thing that made me legitimately angry that was just done by the National Republican Party. And I hope they will stop doing it.

That`s all ahead. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW: The city of Charlotte, North Carolina, has gone way out of its way to make itself very, very friendly to business, businesses large and small. Most famously, Charlotte, North Carolina is the home of Bank of America. It`s also the second largest hub for American airlines.

PayPal just announced plans for a new operations center in Charlotte. Apple has a data center and also big solar farms in the area. Facebook has a data center in nearby forest city.

The home improvement chain Lowe`s is based in the Charlotte suburbs. The NBA is set to host its all-star game in Charlotte next year. ESPN has been looking at the Charlotte Motor Speedway for its Summer X Games.

And all these major companies with operations in and around Charlotte, North Carolina, they are all now freaking out about what the state of North Carolina has just done. Because as part of its overall civic ethos and part of its effort to keep attracting world-class businesses, the city of Charlotte recently passed an anti-discrimination ordinance. It`s a simple anti-discrimination ordinance. It says in Charlotte you can`t discriminate against someone for being gay or lesbian or transgender.

That was such a source of outrage to North Carolina Republicans that this week they called the North Carolina general assembly, the legislature, back early for an emergency session. Lawmakers cut short their vacations. They rushed back to the state capitol to get rid of that anti-discrimination ordinance and to make it illegal for any city in North Carolina to ever pass an anti-discrimination ordinance again.

The Republicans in the legislature did this all in the space of 12 hours, with such a small amount of debate-w so little transparency that the Democrats in the legislature simply walked out in protest before the vote was even taken. And North Carolina`s Republican Governor Pat McCrory ended up sitting in his office waiting for the Republicans in the legislature to send him this bill late on the night that it passed so that he could sign it as soon as possible.

And Governor Pat McCrory and Republican state legislators may be super psyched about the fact that they got this done. And they may be super psyched about the fact North Carolina cities are now not allowed to prevent discrimination against gay and transgender people.

But Pat McCrory now has hundreds of protesters outside his house and all these big global businesses needing to attract both customers and people who are willing to go to North Carolina to work there. They are full-scale freaking out about what has just happened in the Tar Heel State.

One person I do not envy right now right in the middle of all this is the mayor of the great city of Charlotte, North Carolina. Mayor Jennifer Roberts joins us now.

Mayor Roberts, thank you for your time. I know this is an incredibly busy time for you. I really appreciate you being here.

MAYOR JENNIFER ROBERTS (D), CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA: Well, I appreciate your having me on this evening.

MADDOW: What is the state of this fight right now? Do you have any options left as a city? What`s going to happen next?

ROBERTS: Well, I tell you, Rachel. As you mentioned, the speed and the secrecy with which this came down have us still trying to figure out what this law actually means for Charlotte and for businesses and for the way we operate our own facilities because we`ve had, you know, our arena and our convention center have been inclusive and equal for many years. And now, we`re trying to figure out, you know, what it actually means for how we go forward.

And we`re hearing a lot from our business community. We`re hearing from a lot of folks around the country in support of what Charlotte did in terms of being inclusive. And we`re trying to figure out if we can overturn this.

MADDOW: Were you surprised by the ferociousness of the statewide Republican response to this anti-discrimination ordinance you that passed? Did you know this sort of backlash -- I don`t even want to call it backlash. This sort of response would come from the state`s Republicans?

ROBERTS: I was frankly appalled at the speed and the as you said special session called for emergency needs to allow people to discriminate. Because really when the state came back and put in its own anti- discrimination, which included race, religion, national origin, left out sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression, what they did was sanction discrimination against our LGBT community.

And I am appalled. The fact that someone can walk out of their business and find a sign in front of a restaurant that says "no gays welcome here" and that will be perfectly legal.

MADDOW: The mayor -- or excuse me, the governor of Georgia is considering now whether to sign similar legislation in Georgia. We went through something sort of related to this in Indiana about a year or so ago.

And in both cases, in Indiana looking ahead in Georgia, and what you`re experiencing right now in Charlotte and more broadly in North Carolina, is the prospect of major companies and sports leagues and all sorts of considerable employers being palpably appalled by this policy decision and threatening to take their business elsewhere because they think they may get -- that it not only violates their own ethics as a company but it may ensure some backlash from their own customer base and their own employees if they continue to do business with Charlotte, with North Carolina, with these other places that have considered it.

How are you trying to mitigate that as a mayor? What kind of conversations are you having with big employers in your city?

ROBERTS: Well, I have spent a lot of time on the phone with our major employers. And they know that to attract the best talent they have been welcoming and inclusive for years. Many of them actually have support teams who help teams transition if they`re transgender. Help them through that process. And so, you know, they understand that talent comes in all forms and shapes and they need to be inclusive and welcoming, as does Charlotte.

And we are in conversations with our business leaders, our faith leaders, our community leaders to talk about, you know, the values that we have in Charlotte. Our values are to be inclusive. We do not discriminate.

And Charlotte did the right thing in standing up and supporting equality and equal rights. We want to work with our companies to send that message and to make sure that people understand those are not Charlotte values, those are not North Carolina values. I think that our values have been hijacked by some political moves, by some extremists at a certain point who went much broader than they needed to. And we`re going to continue to have conversations and see what we can do to let people know Charlotte is still a wonderful place and we want to continue to have that voice heard.

MADDOW: Jennifer Roberts, the mayor of Charlotte, North Carolina, one of the great cities in the American South -- thank you very much for talking with us about this tonight. Please keep us surprised as this fight goes on. I really appreciate talking to you.

ROBERTS: Thank you so much.

MADDOW: All right. We`ll be right back. Stay with us tonight.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW: Not that long ago on this show, we set up sendittorachel.com. It`s very simply a means by which you can see us something. If you come across something in your daily life that seems important, particularly if it`s related to politics, but really anything. If you come across something important, you think it`s news, you don`t already see it in the news -- well, send it to us, sendtoitrachel.com.

Through the magic of send it to Rachel.com, we`ve learned that voters throughout the country have been seeing this. Kind of makes your heart race a little bit when you see this, right? That big red lettering. It`s an absolute with "past due", right, in bold red letters. Notice of delinquency. It`s designed to look like a bill that is delinquent in being paid.

Inside that scary looking envelope is a letter which says the recipient is in delinquency. The recipient has funds that are past due, circled in red. That letter is from Reince Priebus, chairman of the National Republican Party.

Now, this is not actually a bill, over due or otherwise. This is a fund raising mailer. It is aimed to scare anyone into thinking that you owe someone money. And so, you know, maybe a bill collector is going to come after you and maybe your credit is about to get screwed up.

This is the kind of sleazy tactic obviously that elderly voters especially are susceptible to, especially if you maybe can`t read the fine right, or, you know?

There`s an extra hot place in hell for someone who tries to scam the elderly, let alone scare them, even if not for a B.S. political reason. This is for a B.S. political reason though. This is my opinion but I think it`s disgusting and think the Republican National Committee should stop doing this.

And when you see stuff like this, trying to scare old people into thinking they`ve got overdue bills, and they need to send Reince Priebus money in order to take care of that threat, you see stuff like this, let us know. This is news. This is also disgusting, but in this case, it`s news. Sendittorachel.com.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW: Heads up for tonight. Ahead of tomorrow`s Democratic caucuses in Hawaii, and Alaska and Washington state, the Bernie Sanders campaign is gearing up for what`s expected a truly mammoth event in Seattle.

These are some shots that people lining up to get into the venue. It`s apparently taking a long time for people to get in because of security.

But keep in mind, even in more conservative parts of Washington state, the Sanders` campaign has turned out 8,000, and 9,000 person rallies this past week in places like Vancouver, Washington and Spokane. But this one in Seattle tonight, this one is expected to be truly big.

You`ll want to stay tuned after the show tonight as we`ll have continuing live coverage of tonight`s political events, with my friend Ari Melber, including what is expected to be a very, very big rally in Seattle.

We`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW: Sometimes it`s hard to keep the names straight. Sometimes it`s hard to keep the fake names straight, even if you know the real names. But every once in a while they get one that`s a big enough deal that you can tell who he is, you can tell how important he is. You can appreciate how hard it was to get them and based simply on the dollar amount they put on his head.

The rewards for justice program pays for tips to find international terrorists. They pay out reward money for people who led U.S. forces, for example, to each of Saddam Hussein`s son, Uday and Qusay.

They paid out reward money to whoever ratted out Ramsey Yousef, who planned the World Center bombing in 1993.

The biggest reward that was ever offered by had rewards for justice program was for a tip leading to Osama bin Laden. Since they got him the, they moved that $25 million reward they had on him over to the guy that replaced him, to Ayman al-Zawahiri.

So, Zawahiri is kind of the top of the food chain in terms of terrorists wanted by the U.S., there`s one guy, the head of al Qaeda, $25 million.

And then, for the whole Middle East, there are three guys at the next level down. It`s a $10 million reward for the top al Qaeda facilitator in Iran, also for the head of the Haqqani Network, and also for the head of ISIS. They`re all $10 million rewards.

And one level below that, look at this -- there`s just these two guys. There`s a $7 million reward for either the head Boko Haram in Nigeria or there`s the same reward for the guy they just got.

I know it`s hard to keep these guys straight but there are only two guys in the whole world for whom the U.S. is offering a $7 million reward for a tip leading to their capture. The head of Boko Haram and this guy who they say they just got from the top leadership in ISIS.

I mean, as far as the U.S. rewards for justice program goes, the only ISIS leader more valuable as a target is the head of ISIS, the guy who`s declared himself the caliph, right, al Baghdadi.

And I don`t know if anyone`s going to get the $7 million reward for this guy they just got, with the 12 aliases and the huge $7 million dead or alive reward on his head. But apparently, the way they got him was U.S. Special Forces dropping out of helicopters to intercept the vehicle he was traveling in, in Iraq, and now, they say he`s dead.

ISIS, obviously, is capable of carrying out complex and devastating attacks in the West when they send their fighters and their trainees to places like Brussels and Paris. But for whatever it`s worth, they do seem to be under duress at home in Iraq and Syria, with them now losing territory that held in Ramadi land around Mosul and in Palmyra, and in Sinjar, and now, their highest profile leadership getting checked off this very short American list of the most wanted men in the world.

Thanks to Congress, this is an unauthorized and undeclared war that the U.S. military is fighting against ISIS, but today is the day where that war got a big win.

That does it for us tonight.

My friend Ari Melber is here now to pick up our live we`re coverage, including tonight`s Bernie Sanders`s rally in Seattle.

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END