Show: THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW Date: April 18, 2016 Guest: Suzanne Carlson
CHRIS HAYES, "ALL IN" HOST: This is a question. I think you should keep a list of all the never Trumpers, because I`m somewhat relishing crossing them off the list one by one as they`re up there handwringing endorsements of Donald Trump.
Rebecca Traister, Tara Dowdell, John Nichols, thanks so much for joining us tonight.
Well, that is ALL IN for this lovely, beautiful, balmy evening in New York City under the Brooklyn Bridge.
THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts right now.
Good evening, Rachel.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: You know, Chris, very near to where you sit right now, there are migrating small striped bass.
HAYES: That was not the sentence that I thought would greet me at the end of this show.
MADDOW: I know.
HAYES: But as always, as always with THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW, I have learned something new. I`ll look that up.
MADDOW: I`m just saying, while I have been listening to everything you said for the past hour, kind of all of I can think about is stripe bass behind you. But that`s just me. Thank you, my friend.
HAYES: Welcome to estuary talk.
MADDOW: That`s exactly right.
You know, those striped bass, they don`t love me back. You know, I try. I try to arrange a meeting, every year. They don`t love me back.
Anyway, thanks to you at home for staying with us for the next hour. Happy Monday. Happy spring striped bass migration in the Northeast.
There`s a lot going on in politics right now. There`s a lot going on in the news right now.
President Obama is sending 200 more U.S. troops and a bunch of Apache attack helicopters back into Iraq to go fight ISIS there. That 200 extra special operations forces, that will put the number of U.S. troops in Iraq right now at over 4,000. Those Apache attack helicopters and the mission of these new Special Forces that are going to be sent back into Iraq, not to mention the specific place where they are being sent in Iraq, all of these details leave no illusions about the fact that this new deployment is not some kind of support operation or something that`s going to put U.S. forces well behind front lines.
This is basically a combat deployment. As the U.S. involvement in Iraq, or I guess it`s now U.S. re-involvement in Iraq, does continue to escalate.
President Obama himself is also about to head off on an international trip that will have him visit some of our staunchest European allies. The president will be stopping in both Germany and in the U.K. But in addition, he will also be making a stop in Saudi Arabia, which is also a U.S. ally. But a more complicated one.
And this is kind of an amazing time for President Obama to be heading out there to go meet in person with the Saudi king. The Saudis right now are threatening to divest hundreds of billions of dollars from the United States in retaliation for a bill that`s wending its way through Congress that would try to address the Saudi government`s alleged role in 9/11.
On the other hand, we have just had a big diplomatic breakthrough with Saudi Arabia this weekend with the kingdom agreeing to take in nine prisoners who have been languishing at the prison at Guantanamo Bay for more than a decade. Now, that may sound like just another one of these deals to resettle prisoners but the U.S. government has been working since the George W. Bush administration to try to get Saudi Arabia to take a big chuck of prisoners from Guantanamo. This effort started in the Bush administration, it has finally paid off.
The transfer of these nine prisoners gets the total population of Guantanamo down to 80 men, 80. President Obama wants to close Guantanamo entirely and empty it out entirely by the time he leaves office. Nobody`s quite sure how he`s going to do that. If these nine prisoners that Saudi Arabia took this weekend, though, are a sign that the Saudis are willing to take even more Guantanamo prisoners, well, of course, that could be a huge deal, not just for relations between our countries, it could be a huge deal for one of President Obama`s most frustrating pieces of unfinished business. President Obama will be in Saudi Arabia the day after tomorrow, he gets there on Wednesday.
Here at home, another big piece of his legacy went through the wringer at the U.S. Supreme Court today. This strangely unbalanced even number of justices that we now have on the Supreme Court, today, they heard oral arguments on the president`s immigration policy. After Congress refused to pass any significant immigration reform, President Obama tried to roll back the system of mass deportations by himself without legislation going through Congress to enact that policy. But that action by the president has been tied up in courts ever since.
Today, the Supreme Court heard arguments on the issue. We won`t know the fate of the policy until they rule later this year. But the fact that there are only eight justices on the court may have a big piece to do with how the court eventually rules and what the impact is of that ruling.
So, all of that serious stuff coming today as the State Department confirms for the first time that at least one U.S. citizen is among those killed in the just massive earthquake that hit Ecuador this weekend -- at least one U.S. citizen among the dead. The dead toll for that quake is now officially up over 400. And that death toll is expected to rise.
So there`s a lot going on in news and in politics. It is a complicated and fraught time to hold the hardest job in the world. Today, the person who holds that job, of course, is President Obama. But the country is -- I think rightly fixated, rightly transfixed right now by the contest to try to replace him as president.
On the Democratic side of that contest, a huge new fight has erupted tonight between Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton. The Sanders campaign is accusing the Clinton campaign and the Democratic Party of colluding together in an illegal and corrupt campaign fund-raising scheme, which is a wild allegation and a serious one. We`re going to be talking about that in just a few minutes tonight.
On the Republican side, the process of picking that party`s nominee now features something close to a fistfight which we`ve got tape of to show you later on this hour. It also involves the cops being called in to break up a Republican Party meeting that ended poorly. That`s very exciting. It`s nuts but very exciting.
But on the political side of today`s news, everything going on is overshadowed by the seismic political event that`s going to happen tomorrow. Which is the gargantuan-sized New York state primary.
This time tomorrow night, polls will have just closed in New York state. New York state has 20 million people in it. New York state has a huge number of delegates to allocate on both sides of the presidential contest.
On the Democratic side, these are the last four polls all of which show Hillary Clinton leading in New York by anywhere from 6 to 17 points. Now, interestingly, Bernie Sanders has been intimating the Democratic polls are wrong and that he has information that indicates that he might win New York. OK, we shall see.
On the Republican side, less -- I don`t want to say less drama. On the Republican side, as usual, there`s tons of drama but there is little suspense on the Republican side in terms of tomorrow night`s outcome. These are the last five polls out on the Republican side of the race.
And as you can see, there is no suspense. Donald Trump leading anywhere from 29 to 35 points. That`s not the percentage of the vote he`s polling at, that`s the percentage of the vote by which he is leading his closest competitor. That`s nuts. Those are huge margins.
And among the Republican candidates, this could have some interesting consequences. This is a time when Ted Cruz is supposed to have all the momentum, right, Ted Cruz is supposed to be bringing Republicans together. Well, Ted Cruz is poised to not only get shellacked in New York tomorrow, he`s poised to come in not second, but third. He`s poised to lose to John Kasich tomorrow in this state of 20 million people if the polls are accurate.
For John Kasich, the prospect of coming in second must be very exciting. So far, the only state John Kasich has come in first is his home state of Ohio. The only states where he`s come in second are New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Vermont. But John Kasich, if the polls are right, he will likely be coming in second place in New York tomorrow, which will be, if you think about it, his best second-place finish so far, or at least his biggest one.
So what happens tomorrow in the Republican side of the race, it may shift things in terms of the dynamics between the three remaining Republican candidates. But honestly, the big story here is just the size of Donald Trump`s lead in New York. Just put up those poll numbers again. Look at the margins he`s leading by in the polling.
Even knowing New York is Donald Trump`s home state, it is probably still hard for the rest of the country to make sense of numbers like this, right? I mean, the rest of the country looks at New York and thinks of the state as a big state, a sophisticated state, a cosmopolitan state, and it is. But the way you can square that fact with Donald Trump having a 35-point lead in the state is not necessarily anything specific to Donald Trump himself.
It`s about New York Republicans. There`s the simple explanatory fact about tomorrow night`s race that it is a closed primary. No independents can vote in the primary on the Democratic side or the Republican side. So, In this Republican race there`s not going to be cross-over Democratic voters, there`s not going to be any independents -- it`s only registered Republicans in New York state who are going to be voting.
In New York state, I have to tell you, I don`t mean this in a bad way but you have to understand elsewhere in the country, New York state registered Republicans are kind of a weird bunch. Sorry.
Here`s what I mean: there are 20 million people in the state of New York. There are only 2.7 million registered Republicans. OK? It takes a special kind of New Yorker to be a registered Republican.
The New York Republican Party also isn`t what it used to be. It`s no long area Nelson Rockefeller kind of Republican Party. It`s no longer a George Pataki kind of Republican Party.
George Pataki made his endorsement this past week in the Republican presidential race this year. Did you hear what it was? No, you did not. Because nobody in New York Republican politics cares what George Pataki has to say about the current presidential race even though he`s the last Republican governor of this state. He himself competed in this presidential race last year and nobody noticed.
The Republican Party has moved on from, forgive me, normal Republicans. In the state of New York, it is not a normal Republican Party anymore. And now in the state of New York, when Republicans alone are asked in a closed primary about what kind of person they would like to represent them in high elective office, you have to understand that in New York right now, this is more the kind of guy they pick.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CARL PALADINO (R), FORMER NY GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: If we`ve learned anything tonight, it`s that New Yorkers are as mad as hell. And we`re not going to take it anymore.
Hi. I`m Carl Paladino and I`m mad as hell.
I`m mad as hell. And I`m not going to take it anymore.
They say I`m an angry man. And that`s true. We`re all angry. Not just because we woke up on the wrong side of the bed.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That`s who the New York Republican Party nominated to be their candidate for governor in 2010.
When New York got Andrew Cuomo as the state`s Democratic state governor, that happened in part because of Andrew Cuomo, but it`s also happened because this is who the Republicans picked to run against him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What do we do with all the people on welfare? Put them in prison. Well, that`s what New York gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino wants to do.
Good morning to you, Carl.
PALADINO: Good morning.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK, so unused prisons, turn them into dorms for poor people to do what?
REPORTER: On the New York City subway, most don`t even recognize Paladino, although that`s changing with daily headlines like the one today, revealing some of Paladino`s aides have criminal records. He readily admits he too has made mistakes in life.
Last year, he revealed to his wife of 40 years what his children already knew -- that he fathered a child with another woman. He sent around racist, sexist, and pornographic e-mails.
PALADINO: I didn`t mean to offend anybody. I sent it to a select group of friends. Those friends treated them privately, except for obviously one.
REPORTER: But Republicans are lining up behind him.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This week, you called Senator Kirsten Gillibrand Chuck Schumer`s little girl. Do you think that`s a sexist comment to make? Do you have any regrets about that?
PALADINO: No, I don`t.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So you don`t think it`s sexist?
PALADINO: Absolutely not.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A number of Republicans are telling us that due to your behavior --
PALADINO: Are we going to talk issues? Or am I leaving you right now?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, I think this is about issues, sir. I think some say that some of the comments you made say that you`re not capable of running the state --
PALADINO: Well, you have a nice, Christine, OK?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We`d like you to stay with us and talk about the issues facing voters in the North Country -- Carl Paladino, we`d like you to stay and talk about the issues -- all right.
Mr. Paladino has decided he does not want to stay and conduct the interview.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
MADDOW: No, Mr. Paladino did not want to stay and conduct the interview.
Carl Paladino was such an incredible candidate that at one point I honestly thought he was going to be unveiled as an art project. That some hipster performance artist was going to rip off the Carl Paladino mask and reveal some artistic experiment to see what people can really handle in major party politics. Apparently, Carl is a real person or the art project is much longer than anyone expected. The details of his candidacy, though, it was sometimes hard to remember that it was for real. Carl Paladino is the candidate who sent out a scratch and sniff mailer where if you scratched the mailer and sniffed it, if you smell what Carl Paladino wanted you to smell on it, it was scented to smell like rotting garbage.
Does that make you want to vote for him? Carl Paladino really did run on a campaign of sending poor people to prison. So, he said the state could give them instructions on things like personal hygiene and physical fitness. Which obviously poor people don`t know anything about, who could object to that?
The most amazing thing, though, about the Carl Paladino campaign which you saw alluded to there in that NBC News report, is what voters came to learn about a pretty big part of his public persona at home in Buffalo, where he was a successful lawyer and a real estate mogul and also a prolific mass e- mailer. For example, he sent out this picture. Under the subject line "White House ball." He sent out this video in an e-mail that he gave the subject line "Obama inauguration rehearsal."
He forwarded another e-mail which included a video of monkeys doing a little dance that kind of looked like an Irish step dance. It was titled "proof the Irish discovered Africa." The idea with that one was that the dance part of it seemed Irish and the Africa part is that it was -- that it`s (INAUDIBLE).
Carl Paladino sent this stuff to hundreds of people, to people in politics, in business, to people all over his sphere of Carl Paladino influence, a huge trove of this stuff published by western New York media. And I will not show you the rest of what western New York media published from their list of e-mails people had received from Carl Paladino, but a lot of it was really, really hard-core pornography. Not just like pictures of ladies with their tops off. Like hard-core, pornographic movies.
Carl Paladino would send around to his email list of videos of hard-core porn with little commentaries from Carl Paladino about whether this one was a "keeper", or what else he liked about this particular clip. There was one video he sent around that showed a person having sex with a horse. He gave the subject line, quote, "easy steady big fella xxxx."
Here`s the thing about Carl Paladino and New York Republicans. All of that stuff about Carl Paladino came out during the campaign, and knowing that about Carl Paladino, New York Republican voters picked him. They had other normal Republican candidates to choose. But New York Republican voters in a closed primary decided that was the guy they wanted.
These were his campaign lawn signs, "I`m mad too, Carl!" Just in case you needed a reminder the word mad has two meanings.
New York Republicans are poised to elect Donald Trump tomorrow night by what could be a 10, 20, 30-point margin. That will have consequences for the overall contest, to choose a replacement for President Barack Obama. That fact about what`s going to happen tomorrow in New York, that is inescapable.
But just keep in mind, it is also inescapable that New York Republicans right now are kind of nuts. Carl Paladino was chosen as the gubernatorial nominee of the Republican Party in the state of New York six years ago. He was not elected governor, obviously. He did end up getting elected to the Buffalo school board, though, where he still serves today, I think, alongside his duties as the New York co-chair for the presidential campaign of his friend Donald Trump.
Mr. Trump tonight held his final campaign rally before tomorrow`s primary in Carl Paladino`s hometown of buffalo, New York. He bragged to the media about how he arranged this event. Mr. Trump turned down an estimated 18,000 people in Buffalo tonight. And I am sure Carl Paladino`s buffalo will go huge for Donald Trump in tomorrow`s primary.
New York state is big. And it is not nuts overall. New York state Republican Party politics, though, have gone nuts. The only problem now is that now that`s everybody`s problem. We`ll be right back.
MADDOW: Tomorrow is the next big primary night. And here`s how you`re going to spend it. Special election coverage -- oh, there`s the music, thank you.
Special election kicks off with Chuck Todd, 5:00 Eastern. That`s "Meet the Press Daily." Then, at 6:00 Eastern, Steve Kornacki will take over. Then, at 7:00 Eastern, Chris Matthews will do a special edition of HARDBALL live from the Brooklyn Bridge, very near some migrating striped bass. That`s 7:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern.
At 8:00 p.m. Eastern I will be joined here by Brian Williams and Chris Matthews and the whole team for MSNBC`s live all-night coverage of the critical New York primary. Basically it starts as soon as you get home and kick off your shoes. And then it`s no sleep until Brooklyn.
That`s the problem. Tomorrow night, we`ll see you there.
MADDOW: Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders just wrapped up a really big campaign rally in Long Island City, which is right across the East River from Manhattan, great skyline views. This will be Senator Sanders` last big rally before New York votes in its presidential primary tomorrow.
Senator Sanders had the biggest rally he has had yet during the entire campaign yesterday in Brooklyn. His campaign says he got over 28,000 people in Prospect Park in Brooklyn yesterday. If that number is accurate, that means it would just pip his previous record crowd size which was in Portland, Oregon, way back in August.
A Sanders campaign wants you to know they`re getting their biggest crowd sizes now because they want you to think they`ve got the momentum in the Democratic primary overall right now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This is a campaign that has won eight out of the last nine caucuses and primaries. And with your help on Tuesday, we`re going to win right here in New York state.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: It was yesterday afternoon in Prospect Park. You know, it`s an unusual thing in terms of setting expectations for tomorrow`s primary. Campaigns and canceled dates usually try to tamp down expectations, right? So, if they do well, it`s that much more of a surprise. It gives them that much more momentum coming off a victory.
But the Sanders campaign is doing the opposite of that. Over and over and over again, the Sanders campaign has been saying, about New York -- basically, forget the polls, Sanders is going to win New York.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And you`re going to win New York?
SANDERS: We are going to win New York.
And with your help, we`re going to win the Democratic primary here in your state.
With your help on April 19th -- we`re going to win here in New York.
We will win a major victory here in New York on Tuesday.
I believe we`re going to win here in New York City. We`re going to win here in New York state.
With your help on Tuesday, we`re going to win right here in New York state.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tell me if I`m reading anything wrong. All the polling I`m seeing going into tomorrow`s primary here in New York has you at least 10 points down, up to 17 points down. You have information I don`t have?
SANDERS: Those are the public polls. But the bottom line is, let`s look at the real poll tomorrow. Generally speaking, polling has underestimated how we do with elections. We were 25 points down in Michigan, we ended up winning Michigan.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: This is interesting, right? Most campaigns try to tamp down expectations but Bernie Sanders and his campaign instead, they say they`re going to win New York tomorrow and the polls are wrong, just like the polls were wrong in Michigan when Hillary Clinton was predicted to win there and Senator Sanders won instead.
I don`t know why a candidate would say that unless he or she had good reason to say it, right? Strategically, there`s no reason to raise expectations that you`re going to win if you`re going to lose.
So, this strategic decision by the Sanders campaign to publicly and repeatedly predict a win tomorrow, it means more drama and more suspense than we might otherwise expect for tomorrow`s vote. If that`s not enough drama for you, today, the Sanders campaign launched a bombastic new salvo against both the Clinton campaign and the Democratic Party.
The Sanders campaign is now alleging, quote, "serious apparent violations of campaign finance laws" when it comes to how the Clinton campaign`s raising money for the Democratic Party and for down-ticket Democratic candidates.
This latest back and forth highlights a big point of substantive contention between Sanders and Clinton when it comes to progressive bona fides and who`s going to do the most for progressive causes and the Democratic Party.
The Clinton side has been boasting they have been raising money all along for the Democratic Party for months now. While the Sanders campaign only just started raising money for anybody other than himself and that was only for three hand-picked Sanders supporting congressional candidates.
Now into that mix the Sanders campaign is throwing this allegation there is something wrong, something illegal, about how the Clinton campaign and the Democratic Party have been raising money. The Clinton campaign is firing back against that saying Bernie Sanders is poisoning the well for Democratic candidates up and down the ticket, and he is, quote, "trying to convince the next generation of progressives that the Democratic Party is corrupt."
Democratic candidates on the night before voters head to the polls in a state with nearly 300 delegates at state, Democratic candidates fighting over the issue of loyalty to and support for the Democratic Party.
Joining us is Andrea Mitchell, NBC chief foreign affairs correspondent, host of "ANDREA MITCHELL REPORTS" here on MSNBC.
Andrea, thank you so much for being here.
ANDREW MITCHELL, NBC NEWS CHIEF FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: It`s great to be here. What could be more exciting than a New York primary? And two Democrats going at each other. It`s tough --
MADDOW: I mean, we saw the toughness of the tone at the Brooklyn debate.
MITCHELL: Boy, was it.
MADDOW: How substantive is this charge by the Sanders campaign against the Clinton campaign? What`s your assessment of what it is they`re alleging here?
MITCHELL: I`ve talked to as many experts as we could since this first evolved. PolitiFact says it is mostly wrong. Larry Noble, who had been general counsel at FEC and is an expert on this, says it`s not correct.
MADDOW: The allegation by senator Sanders?
MITCHELL: The allegation is not correct. That they may be pushing the envelope, but that there really is no underlying corrupt nature to this relationship.
I talked to the DNC and they say that this is a joint campaign Victory Fund that was also offered to Bernie Sanders, that the Sanders campaign, they claim, signed an agreement but never exercised it. So, they never engaged.
MADDOW: So, the Sanders campaign and the Clinton campaign both set up the same type of organization with the DNC.
MADDOW: Clinton has used hers, Sanders has not used his.
MITCHELL: And it is basically to raise money up to a certain limit, then the excess, above $2,700, which is the legal limit for their campaign, goes to the down-ballot candidates. The expenses incurred are apportioned directly according to how much money they raise for themselves.
So, there is a sliding scale. It is proportional of how the expenses of the fund-raising. And it`s all evolved because of the ginormous George Clooney Friday night lollapalooza fund-raiser, you know, $353,000 for top dollars, you`re going to sit at the table, spoon feed George and Amal, you`re going to rub shoulders --
MADDOW: Get in the Christmas card with them.
MADDOW: Is that basically -- do you think that is the timing, that`s the impetus for this happening now? Because this complaint, obviously, the Hillary Victory Fund, right --
MITCHELL: Going state by state for months.
MADDOW: It`s happened for months. She started raising money for this fund in 2015. "The Washington Post" reporting on this, which as far as I could tell, was the closest I could find in the public record closest to the Sanders allegations, that reporting came out in February. So, is this all timed to the Clooney fund-raiser?
MITCHELL: I think it`s timed to tomorrow night`s election -- to tomorrow`s election, I should say, and the fact of how important this is.
Bernie Sanders is absolutely energized and lifted by these crowds. And the crowds are record breaking, from Washington Square Park to what you saw tonight. And Hillary Clinton does not produce the passion, the enthusiasm in mass numbers that Bernie Sanders does.
He`s had a heck of a ride. He`s gone to see the pope. He`s really riding high. But there is, as you saw, spilling out on that stage in Brooklyn, so much anger between these two candidates. She`s feeling that he is really going after her and his commercials have been tougher and tougher. He saying they`re not negative commercials because they don`t mention her by name, they just mention that person who would give a speech for $225,000 to Goldman Sachs, that`s got to be a corrupt person.
I mean, that`s a characterization, but a caricature, but basically the intent and the impact. Tonight, we see that Jane Sanders on Sirius Radio talking to Julie Mason, accusing Hillary Clinton of undermining and trying to take down her husband, in a very personal, visceral way.
MADDOW: That`s a version what have she told me as well when I had my last interview with her.
MITCHELL: There`s a lot of hurt there on both sides.
MADDOW: Well, it will be interesting. No matter what happens tomorrow night in this race, at some point, these candidates are going to have to start to feel like they`re in the final quarter and to see if this tone is repairable.
MITCHELL: Well, just a reminder, we don`t know if these polls are correct and he`s absolutely right that Michigan, everybody was wrong about Michigan except the private polls of Clintons because they were not in Michigan on election night, they knew it was coming about to hit them in the head.
And she could, if the polls are correct, win by 10 points. And then we figured she would probably have a net plus of -- a pickup of 25 delegates. But if it`s closer than that, the Democratic race is proportional, unlike the Republican race, which is winner-take-all above a certain threshold by congressional district.
And so, he could come out of New York losing but having -- not narrowing the gap, but even if he loses, he could get a lot of delegates.
MADDOW: I mean, on down the calendar. There is no way to get a knockout blow in the Democratic primary in any individual state, no matter how big the delegate haul at this point -- at least not until the very end.
Andrea Mitchell, NBC News, chief foreign affairs correspondent, host of "ANDREA MITCHELL REPORTS", which is 12:00 noon here on MSNBC -- this is a difficult time for you to be on TV because you`re going to be on TV again in five minutes in the next day and I really appreciate you being here.
MITCHELL: It is great to be here. And tomorrow night, we`ll all be here.
MADDOW: Tomorrow night`s going to be a long night. It`s going to be fun.
MITCHELL: We`ll all be here and watching.
MADDOW: We`ll be right back. Stay with us.
MADDOW: The Republican presidential front-runner had a bad weekend. District and party and state conventions around the country, these are the places where delegates are selected for the Republican National Convention. Donald Trump had a bad weekend this weekend. Even in states that he won. Even in states that he won by a big margin.
In South Carolina where Donald Trump swept that primary back in February, in Florida where he swept that state as well last month, in Virginia, in North Carolina, in all of these places where on election night, he killed the competition. In all of those states this weekend, the delegates chosen by local Republicans don`t support him. They support Ted Cruz.
Even in Georgia, where Donald Trump won by over 14 points, his supporters were nevertheless vastly outnumbered at district conventions this weekend where they pick Ted delegates. In one of these local Georgia conventions this weekend, several Trump supporters were so frustrated by their delegates to losing out to Cruz supporters, some of them stormed out of local conventions, taking the American flag with them.
(VIDEO CLIP PLAYS)
MADDOW: One of the best quotes yet of the year, "Is he stealing a flag?"
For the record, there are reports that the flag in fact belonged to the gentleman who walk the out with it. He brought it so he gets to bring it home. We don`t necessarily believe he stole the flag. But still.
Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump had yet another bad weekend. In states where he thought he won, he turns out not to have won in the end.
You know what? For all the drama of those local conventions this weekend, for all the storms out with American flags and whatnot, there was one gathering of Republicans this weekend that was even nuttier to the point where the police had to get involved. And that story`s next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Touch me and I will have you arrested!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Out, turn, out.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Don`t touch me!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Take care.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I`ll file an ethical complaint with the bar association --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Off the premises.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Don`t plan on becoming a member of the bar --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Folks, maintain order.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: OK. So, this is incredible. The Virgin Islands, immaculate beaches, perfect temperatures. A low of 75 degrees Fahrenheit today. That was the low.
The U.S. Virgin Islands is a world apart. It`s the only place in the United States where you drive on the left. But this is also the Virgin Islands. Specifically, this is the Republican Party of the U.S. Virgin Islands on Saturday trying to have a meeting.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have new members, thank you very much --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No such resolution was passed --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, no, no, no --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s an honor to have --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The motion was moved and seconded and passed.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: The think you should know about the U.S. Virgin Islands that matters nationally now is that Republicans there are having what is by far the nastiest fight over delegates in this entire election. What`s going on there is bitter and acrimonious, it is vicious, and it potentially will play a role in who gets to run for president as the Republican nominee this year.
We first reported on this story last month and stirred up a little bit of a hornet`s nest just by asking questions. The chairman of the Virgin Island Republican Party told us, when we were talking to them about what was going on down there with delegates, he volunteered to us that the vice chairman of the Republican Party there is a Nazi and a felon.
For the record, we called the vice chair for comment and he says he objects only to the Nazi part. He says the felon part is true. But not the Nazi part.
And you know -- it is fine to squabble along in your Caribbean paradise calling each other Nazis, most of the time. But this year, the Virgin Island Republicans do have an important job. Pick delegates for the Republican National Convention. The Virgin Islands have nine Republican delegates to send to the convention in Cleveland. All nine are going to be unbound so they can vote for the candidate of their choice on every ballot. That makes each of them really important in a way that Virgin Island Republicans almost never are.
Now, on one side of the fight is the party chair who is backed by allies loyal to Ted Cruz. On the other side is an ex-Rand Paul guy and political strategist out of Michigan who moved down to the Virgin Islands late last year and appeared to get himself elected as a delegate until the chairman declared those results invalid. Since the Virgin Islands caucus in March, the two sides have been fighting it out with lawsuits and court appearances and weird negative radio ads.
The old Rand Paul guy from Michigan has called the chairman a dictator. The chairman has called the old Rand Paul guy a newcomer who`s gaming the system. Because this whole thing is not settled there are now two separate competing delegate slates from the Virgin Islands, both of them say they`re the real delegate slate and the other one is invalid, both of them accuse the other side of breaking party rules, both are asking the national Republican Party to rule in their favor.
There are two competing slates. Only one of these groups can be seated in Cleveland. Right now, it feels like they`re body going to show and up maybe have a fistfight to figure out who gets the chair. It was in month two of this war over delegates that party members held a meeting this weekend. They decided to hold that meeting at a gun range owned by the party chairman. Set a nice tone, you know.
A local paper says the vice chair, the guy who is not a Nazi but is a felon, he later described the chairman as, quote, "strutting around like a petty tyrant with a firearm on his belt while banging the table with a large ammunition cartridge being used as a gavel." That seems a bad thing to use as a gavel.
From the little bit of tape that we got from that meeting, it seems to have gone as well as you might think.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That is recording?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Touch me and I will have you arrested.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Out. Out.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Don`t touch me.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Take care.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I`ll file an ethical complaint with the bar association for obstruction. Conduct unbecoming a member of the bar.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Maintain order. Maintain order. We`re Republicans --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Maintain order. We`re Republicans. Swat to the camera!
"The Virgin Islands Daily News" reports that the meeting in an excellent headline, quote, "devolved into ruckus." One of the potential delegates reportedly grabbed another man`s cell phone and threw it at his head. Before that would-be delegate was herself allegedly, quote, "slammed against the wall and thrown to the floor."
The police were called in. Some members then left. And then they held a second meeting, a different meeting, at what the vice chair described as a safer location. Not the gun range.
The party chairman today declared that second meeting to be illegal with no legal basis under party rules.
Who knows if there really will be riots at the convention in Cleveland, as Donald Trump keeps darkly intimating. But I will tell you right now in paradise, they`re getting started.
Joining us now from the Virgin Islands is Suzanne Carlson. She`s a political reporter for "The Virgin Islands Daily News." She joins us via Skype because, hey, she`s in the Virgin Islands.
Ms. Carlson, thank you so much for being with us. It`s a real pleasure to have you here.
SUZANNE CARLSON, THE VIRGIN ISLANDS DAILY NEWS: Thanks for having me, Rachel. I appreciate it.
MADDOW: So, is the Republican Party of the Virgin Islands really on track to send two different slates of delegates to the convention in Cleveland?
CARLSON: You know, it really depends on who you ask. Like you said, both slates are absolutely convinced they`re going to be the ones that are going to the convention. So, it`s really anyone`s guess right now how this is going to play out.
MADDOW: Some of the conflict here has happened in a physical way. A lot has happened in lawsuits and competing court motions. With all of that mention, people calling it each other, you know, Nazis and felons and all of the rest and everything, was it the best idea to hold the meeting at a gun range?
CARLSON: You know, that`s something I asked the chairman about. It`s the chairman`s private business. He said he holds meetings there all the time. It`s just a nice, comfortable place to meet. And that`s how he viewed it.
So -- and he was very forthcoming with the fact that he was armed during the meeting. He said he had concealed carry. And he`s routinely armed. So, that`s nothing unusual. And he fully admitted to using a gavel that was a spent ammunition shell. So --
MADDOW: Well, I will admit to being relieved that it was a spent ammunition shell. Because banging those things around, I don`t know.
Let me just also ask you just for the broader picture here, we`re obviously all paying attention to what`s going on in the Virgin Islands because it has material consequence for this very important thing which is the Republican nominating process. Are Virgin Islands politics always this crazy? And we`re just noticing now because it`s really important? Or this is a real departure from the way things usually are there?
CARLSON: I think any time you have a small community like Virgin Islands where everyone knows each other very well, they`ve worked together for years, there`s always going to be some amount of infighting. This is a particularly extreme example, I`ll give you that. But I don`t think it was -- it`s not uncommon for people to have these kind of debates.
And, honestly, I mean, if there`s a positive takeaway from all this, it`s that people are very passionate about this process. And residents of the Virgin Islands are not allowed to vote for president. This is the only power that we have in the process. So, I think that that`s what you`re seeing, is people just really wanting to make sure their voice is heard.
MADDOW: Suzanne Carlson, political reporter for "The Virgin Islands Daily News" which lots of people in American political reporting are now subscribing to -- I want to thank you for your time. Thanks for keeping us apprised.
CARLSON: Thanks so much. Nice to be with you.
MADDOW: All right. We`ll be right back. Stay with us.
MADDOW: Here`s one we saw coming. The great state of Tennessee today decided not to go skipping down the same primrose path as the great states of North Carolina and Mississippi. North Carolina and Mississippi have recently been beset by boycotts and cancellations and travel bans, ever since Republican governors in those states signed bills that explicitly allowed discrimination against LBGT people.
Big companies like PayPal and Deutsche Bank called off expansion plans. Concerts were canceled. Conventions were moved to other states. Both states also stand to potentially lose billions of dollars in federal aid.
While that has been underway, lawmakers in Tennessee were debating their own similar discrimination bill. The Tennessee measure specifically goes after transgender students.
As news of the potential measure in Tennessee got around, corporations started lining up to express their displeasure with what Tennessee seemed poised to do. The attorney general of Tennessee warned lawmakers that they could cost the state $1 billion just in federal education funding alone.
Well, after they got warnings like those, lawmakers in Tennessee did start slow-walking the legislation and now today, Tennessee decided to put that bill into the deep freeze. The House sponsor of the discrimination bill says she will delay any action on it until next year so she can study the issue some more.
So who knows about next year, but for now, Tennessee is not going to join North Carolina and Mississippi in explicitly acting to make discrimination legal, all the while risking billions of dollars and national opprobrium for the sake of pleasing the national conservative base.
We`ll be right back.
MADDOW: The state government of Michigan, under the leadership of Michigan Governor Rick Snyder, the state government lead poisoned the city of Flint, Michigan. Flint residents still, today, can`t drink from the tap. They still don`t get clean water delivered to them, by anyone.
The state has been in no rush to replace the water pipes that they ruined in the city, that continue to pump out lead through people`s taps. But the governor, Rick Snyder, has lately been touting the fact that the water in Flint is now safe to drink, if it`s properly filtered.
Well, at a meeting about Flint`s water last week, the governor was told that people who live in Flint don`t trust him and don`t trust their water. And if he`s so sure about that filter thing, they would like Rick Snyder to please come to Flint and drink the water first.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: There was an invitation for you to come drink filtered water. Something you`ll do?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Something you`ll do, governor?
News on that. Hold that thought.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: There was an invitation for you to come drink filtered water. Something you`ll do?
GOV. RICK SYNDER (R), MICHIGAN: Yes. I mean, if someone -- I`m happy to look into that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: He looked into it. And today, Governor Rick Snyder of Michigan went to Flint, Michigan, and he drank the water.
And I have some news for him about that he may find unsettling. Governor Snyder today dropped by the Flint home of a woman named Cheryl. He sat down with her for a glass of filtered Flint tap water and then the governor promised to keep drinking Flint water for the next 30 days. He says he will drink Flint`s water at home and at work for 30 days. So, he didn`t just drink a glass of Cheryl`s tap water, he took a bunch of gallons of it home with him. That happened today.
Here`s the thing. As best we can tell, that house where Governor Snyder drank this water through the filter today, it`s been tested for lead, as far as we can tell, several times in recent months. The federal danger threshold for lead is 15 parts per billion.
Well, in January, this house tested at 3 parts per billion. In February, it was 4 parts per billion. Again, on March 2nd, it was 4 parts per billion. But then two weeks later, in the middle of March, it was 265 parts per billion -- way above the federal threshold, more than 10 times above the federal threshold.
Then at the end of the month, it was back down to 6 parts per billion, which is OK. But that one day, wow, 265 parts per billion, that`s terrible.
So careful, Governor. Hope it was a good lead day at that house today, when you filled up those jugs. You know the filters are only good up to 150 parts per billion, right? Technically.
That does it for us tonight. We`ll see you again tomorrow at 8:00 for tomorrow`s special coverage of the New York primary.
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