Show: THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW Date: May 11, 2016 Guest: Ben Ray Lujan, Debo Adegbile
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC: The "Rachel Maddow Show" starts right now.
Good evening, Rachel.
RACHEL MADDOW, HOST, THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW: Good evening, Chris. Thanks, my friend.
CHRIS: And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour.
Congratulations, Republican Party. You now, as of today, have a new all- time fan favorite when it comes to leaders of the Republican Party, because ta-da, it turns out, he did break the record.
This time last night, we were not sure whether or not he would break the record, but now I can tell you with confidence that he broke the record. We`ve got the vote tallies in from West Virginia and Nebraska last night, and now we can officially say that no Republican candidate for president has ever received as many votes in the Republican primary as this year`s nominee, the new leader of the Republican Party, Donald J. Trump.
The previous record for most votes ever received in a Republican primary was set by George W. Bush in the year 2000. Donald Trump blew through that record last night, and there are still six more states to go on the Republican primary calendar for him to just add to his record vote total.
You hear all this -- all this beltway noise and grumbling about how Donald Trump is not a real Republican. Well, no one has ever received more Republican votes in a presidential primary than he has, so that`s getting to be kind of a hard argument to make that he somehow doesn`t fit or the Republican Party somehow doesn`t like him.
But on day one, today, as the Republican party`s new record holder for most total votes received in a primary, some specific things happened today concerning Donald Trump and his appeal to the voters. Some specific things about Donald Trump and the way he has appealed to voters thus far started to change.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESUMPTIVE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: I`m self-funding my campaign. I`m putting up my own money. OK? I mean it`s nice to be able to do.
So I`m self-funding. I`m putting up my own money, folks. OK? I`m not -- nobody`s going to tell me what to do. Nobody`s going to tell us what to do. I have turned down so much money.
You know, I`m self-funding my campaign, and all these other guys are getting a lot of money. But I`m self-funding my campaign.
MADDOW: That was Friday, right, that last one there. Donald Trump as recently as this past week bragging on the campaign trail about how he is self-funding his campaign.
And, you know, during the Republican primary, that really was one of his first points of appeal, one of the first ways he distinguished himself from the rest of the giant field. And a lot of Donald Trump supporters really latched on to that as one of the things that set him apart from all the other campaigns, all the other candidates. He was paying for it all himself.
That ended up becoming really resonant. It`s the kind of thing that Trump supporters would volunteer about Mr. Trump when you asked why they liked him. I mean it`s the kind of thing that Trump supporters would bring it up, even in the middle of, say, a contentious exchange on the street with one of the people who was running against him.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You are the problem.
SEN. TED CRUZ (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Can I ask you something?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No.
CRUZ: Can I ask you something?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No. You are the problem.
CRUZ: Of all the candidates, name one who had a million-dollar judgment against him for hiring (inaudible).
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Name one that is self-funded.
CRUZ: Donald Trump is the --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That`s right. Not you.
CRUZ: OK. So you like rich people?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not you. Where`s your gold? Where`s your gold?
MADDOW: Name one that is self-funded. That`s right. That`s right. Not you.
I mean Ted Cruz was not talking about that gentleman about the subject of campaign donations, but the Trump supporter brought it up. Name one who`s self-funding. That`s right. Not you.
Self-funding is really one of the things that Donald Trump supporters have liked about him. Well, if that was one of the things that you liked about Donald Trump in the Republican primary, you should know that now that the primary is over, that part of his appeal is over, too, because the Trump campaign announced today that Mr. Trump will be holding his first campaign fundraiser next week in California.
It will be hosted by the man who bought Michael Jackson`s Neverland ranch. Remember when Michael Jackson had a big ranch called Neverland? I don`t believe the fundraiser is going to be held at the Neverland ranch, but the guy who bought it off Michael Jackson post-foreclosure, he is the guy who is going to host Donald Trump`s first fundraiser next week.
So this is kind of an awkward transition point for Donald Trump supporters. Right? If what you liked about Donald Trump was him not having to do fundraisers, him not ever bothering to solicit donations from rich people with all the sullying and corruption that implied, if you liked that he did not have to deal with that kind of stuff, well, Donald Trump is now doing fundraisers and soliciting donations from rich people.
That said, maybe that`s not what you liked about Mr. Trump. Maybe what you really liked about Donald Trump is one of the other things that truly set him apart from his primary campaign rivals.
TRUMP: We put out a statement a little while ago, and these people are going crazy. They won`t report it probably. Shall I read you the statement?
Donald J. Trump is calling for -- now, listen. You`ve got to listen to this one, because this is pretty heavy stuff. Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.
MADDOW: That was in December. Mr. Trump`s campaign did put out a written statement, and then he delighted in reading the statement out loud on the campaign trail thereafter.
Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States. That is how he put it when he first announced it. That`s how he put it in writing. That is how he`s described it ever since.
TRUMP: We have to have a temporary ban on Muslims coming into this country. I`m sorry. I`m sorry.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Donald Trump calls it radical Islamic terrorism. That`s why he`s calling for a temporary shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.
LESTER HOLT, ANCHOR, NBC NEWS: Do you stand, for example, by the idea of a -- of a ban against foreign Muslims coming in?
TRUMP: I do. We have to be vigilant.
MADDOW: Donald Trump calls for a ban on Muslims entering the United States. Donald Trump says we have to have a ban on Muslims entering the United States. His ads say he`s calling for a ban on Muslims entering the United States.
Are you sure, sir? Are you sure you are standing by this call on a ban on Muslims? Yes, I am standing by my call for a ban on Muslims entering the United States. It has been very, very, very clear up until now. There`s been no ambiguity about this before today.
TRUMP: It`s a temporary ban. It hasn`t been called for yet. Nobody`s done it. This is just a suggestion.
MADDOW: Now it`s just a suggestion.
That was Donald Trump speaking this morning on conservative talk radio about his Muslim suggestion. Now he says the Muslim ban he has proposed, this thing he has called for, he now says nobody`s calling for it. It`s just a suggestion.
This comes after London elected its first Muslim mayor. The new London mayor was actually with the major of Paris today at a train station in Britain when a reporter asked them about Mr. Trump`s proposed Muslim ban and his -- the prospect that the mayor of London would maybe require some sort of exception. The mayor of London maybe could somehow not be banned from the United States under that policy. Maybe Mr. Trump would make an exception for him.
The new London mayor, Sadiq Khan, was with the mayor of Paris today when a reporter asked about them about the proposed Muslim ban and Mr. Trump`s suggestion that the London mayor could be an exception to it. The London mayor actually deferred to his Parisian counterpart to answer the reporter on this matter. She was succinct in her response.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE, REPORTER: I`ll ask you about Donald Trump says that obviously he would ban Muslims, but he says that he`d make an exception for Sadiq Khan. Is that OK?
ANNE HIDALGO, MAYOR OF PARIS: Trump is stupid. It`s very stupid.
MADDOW: That`s to the point. Do you have anything else to add to this assessment, Paris mayor, Anne Hidalgo? Anything else you`d like to say?
HIDALGO: And Mr. Trump, he`s so stupid. My god. My god.
MADDOW: Donald Trump`s nomination so far not earning rave reviews from the leaders of Europe`s great cities, but he`s not running there.
And you know what? Maybe it was not Donald Trump`s plan to self-finance. That was what you liked about him in the primary. Maybe it was not his proposed/suggested Muslim ban.
Maybe what you liked about Donald Trump in the primary was his great business success, his personal wealth. That, after all, has been a major part, if not the major part, of his appeal to Republican primary voters. Well, today there was an interesting change on that as well, and you actually need little a Nixon to explain this one.
At the end of 1973, Richard Nixon was up to -- up to his neck in Watergate. It wasn`t just the "Washington Post," and Woodward and Bernstein that were all over him. By then, it was the whole press corps.
The secret taping system in the White House had been revealed to the public earlier that year. In October 1973, the attorney general of the United States and the deputy attorney general both resigned in protest when Nixon told them that they needed to fire the prosecutor who had subpoenaed the tapes from the secret White House taping system.
By mid-November 1973, Nixon went before the press for a long rambling press conference that he hoped would clear the air. But it just made everything worse, including his uttering one of the greatest/worst presidential one-liners of all time.
RICHARD NIXON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: People have got to know whether or not their president is a crook. Well, I`m not a crook.
MADDOW: That was November 1973, just as Watergate was kicking into very high gear. But what president Nixon was awkwardly defending there with then "I`m not a crook" thing, it actually wasn`t anything directly related to Watergate itself.
When he said, "I`m not a crook," what he was talking about was his income, his personal finances. I mean all we ever replay now is the, "I`m not a crook" line, but even just a tiny bit more context there about why he said that, about what he was talking about when he said it, it makes clear what he was talking about with "I`m not a crook" was about money.
NIXON: Let me just say this. And I want to say this to the television audience. I made my mistakes, but in all of my years of public life, I have never profited, never profited from public service. I`ve earned every cent.
I welcome this kind of examination, because people have got to know whether or not their president is a crook. Well, I`m not a crook. I`ve earned everything I`ve got.
MADDOW: I`ve earned everything I`ve got.
In the dying days of 1973, in addition to everything else he was facing, Richard Nixon was also dealing with allegations that there was something hinky in his finances or something hinky in his taxes.
On December 8th, 1973, he had to write this sad and ultimately precedent- setting letter to Congress in which he explained the basics of his income over the past several years, what he paid taxes on, what kind of deductions he`d taken. And he took this step of publicly releasing his tax returns along with that letter, because after all, like he said, he welcomed the examination. He wanted everybody to know I am not a crook.
And maybe that`s what he thought he would prove when he released his taxes, when he took this remarkable step of publicly releasing his tax returns. But what he actually proved himself to be when he publicly released his tax returns in 1973, what he actually revealed himself to be was maybe not a crook, but a pretty big tax cheat.
In 1970, 1971 and 1972 Richard Nixon made $790,000 in income. On the $790,000 income, he paid a total of $6,000 in taxes in all three years combined. And so yes, that caused a little bit of an uproar when Richard Nixon released those tax returns.
But here`s the thing about him releasing them. He released these records to Congress in 1973. He released them to the public, because he was facing these acute questions from the press about what was in his finances, what was in his taxes. But the other thing that was going on at the time was that he was at that moment actively being audited by the IRS.
Think about that for a second. The IRS had the cojones to audit the sitting President of the United States. And if you think something`s a little weird about paying six grand in taxes on $800,000 in income, if you think there`s something hinky about a president paying a grand total of, what`s that, like eight percent in taxes on more than three quarters of a million dollars in income, you`re right in thinking that seems wrong.
And the IRS agrees with you that that seems wrong. And the IRS audited the sitting freaking president. And they slammed Nixon for having paid almost nothing over those three years. They told him actually what he owed was more like a half million dollars in taxes.
And in so doing, the IRS demanded that money, and Nixon agreed to pay it. And the IRS wiped this sitting president`s personal wealth basically in half. It`s just a humiliating and very expensive exercise for that president while he was in the process of his presidency going up in flames anyway.
That was Nixon `73. By `74, Nixon was gone, and Gerald Ford became the president. And in an effort to be more transparent and to reassure the people that their new president was quite a different guy than the old one had been, Gerald Ford started the modern tradition of presidents and candidates for president voluntarily releasing their taxes whether or not they were pressured to do so.
That was how we learned that there was nothing scandalous in Gerry Ford`s taxes. That`s also how we learned that he basically never had any money in his wallet. He wrote checks for everything.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE, REPORTER: A little while ago, you gave us an idea of how you balance your family budget. You kite checks.
GERALD FORD, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Oh, no, I don`t. I don`t. I have never been overdrawn, young lady.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE, REPORTER: The question is then, how is it that you are able to live on from $5 to $13 a week in cash, as has been reported.
MADDOW: Five to 13? We never had detail like this on a president or a vice president`s life before, right? But Gerald Ford and his whole family apparently did live on $5 cash a week for the whole family. Because his tax returns were now public going back for years, President Ford got to explain to a very amused press corps exactly why that was.
FORD: Those are the facts of life. I write checks.
MADDOW: $5 cash a week for the whole family.
Ever since the debacle of Richard Nixon`s finances -- I said I minute ago that he was paying like eight percent taxes. I meant he was paying 0.8 percent taxes.
Ever since the debacle of that and the decision by Gerald Ford thereafter to try to clean up Nixon`s mess, to be totally transparent about his own financial history down to the fact where he wrote checks for everything short of $5 a week for his entire family, ever since then, presidents and candidates for president have all released some amount of their current and past tax returns.
Well, today, as Donald Trump announced his first fundraiser, today, as Donald Trump decided his promised ban on Muslims was actually just a suggestion and nobody was calling for that, today, there`s also been a lot of very interesting reporting about whether Donald Trump`s campaign is also going to break the precedent of presidential candidates releasing their taxes. That would not only be a break with history going back to Gerald Ford. It would defy what Mr. Trump said he would do about his own taxes during the primary.
JOHN DICKERSON, ANCHOR, FACE THE NATION: Your tax returns, when are we going to see them?
TRUMP: I`d say over the next three, four months. We`re working on them very hard, and they`ll be very good.
MADDOW: That was Donald Trump in February saying in three or four months, so by May or June he would release his tax returns. Today, Mr. Trump told the AP he wouldn`t release his tax returns before his current IRS audit is complete.
When they asked him what would happen if that audit isn`t concluded by November, Mr. Trump indicated that the AP, that that would mean his returns wouldn`t come out before November.
His campaign defended that most of the day. They`re now trying to portray it as a noncontroversial decision. They`ve been trying to say that Mr. Trump somehow wouldn`t be allowed to release his taxes because he was being audited.
The IRS has clarified quite explicitly, though, that it doesn`t matter if you`re being audited. Everybody`s free to do whatever they want to do with their own financial information, including their tax returns. He shouldn`t feel constrained by the IRS at all.
And we know from past precedent that even a sitting president who is currently being audited can releases his or her taxes to the public if he or she wants to. President Nixon was being audited by the IRS while he was the sitting president, and he released his current tax returns during that audit.
Ever since then, ever since Nixon, candidates have all released their taxes. And sometimes they`re slow about it or stingy about it. Sometimes they`re forthcoming.
This year, if you so desire, you can read many, many, many, many, many years of Hillary Clinton`s tax returns in full, because they`re all posted online for the public to see. It was a minor skirmish in the Democratic primary between Clinton and Senator Sanders this year over the amount of tax information that the Senator had put out.
Sometimes with other candidates, their taxes have become not just a minor skirmish but a major issue, especially when a candidate has an interesting or controversial or just plain enormous fortune that would be detailed in those taxes. In the last election, 2012, Mitt Romney came under a lot of pressure from Democrats for months until he finally reluctantly released a summary of one year of his taxes in January of 2012.
But he didn`t just get pressured by Democrats on that. He also got pressured by this guy, who told Fox News at the time, quote, "I think Mitt was hurt really very badly by this whole thing with the income tax returns." But, like I say, that was then, and this is now.
Mr. Trump has said he would release his tax returns, that he would follow the precedent of every presidential nominee since Gerald Ford of 1976 in releasing his tax returns. He`s criticized other Republican candidates for not being forthcoming enough with their tax returns, but now that he`s the de facto nominee and it`s coming time to release his tax returns, now not so much. Remember he said when he announced his presidential campaign that he was worth $10 billion. Remember he put out his own one-page financial statement saying he was worth 10 billion. That`s been a big part of his appeal as the Republican presidential candidate, that he`s worth so much money. Well, now that the primaries are over and it`s time for him to actually run for president in the general election, if he doesn`t release his taxes, we`ll never actually know how much he`s worth.
So congratulations, Republican primary voters, you guys really did pick this man to be your party`s leader and your candidate for president in bigger numbers than you have ever picked anyone before in U.S. history. But now that he`s got that title, whether it`s the Muslim ban or the self- funding thing or his proof that he`s a super-rich guy, whatever it was that you liked about him may now be subject to change.
We`ll be right back.
NIXON: You know what my net worth was? Forty-seven thousand dollars total after 14 years of government service and a 1958 Oldsmobile that needed an overhaul.
MADDOW: And the deadline shall be Friday at noon. Make a note of it.
Last night, we reported on this potential bombshell news for the man who has just been tapped by Donald Trump to lead the presidential transition for president-elect Trump if he, in fact, wins the general election in November. New Jersey governor Chris Christie has been given this very important job of staffing up the new would-be Trump administration.
But just as he was given that job, a judge in New Jersey issued what must be a very worrying order for Governor Christie concerning Bridgegate, the scandal by which some of Christie`s staffers and appointees allegedly closed access lanes leading out of the world`s busiest bridge in order to cause a major, epic, days-long, on-purpose traffic jam as punishment for a small-town mayor who had refused to endorse Chris Christie for re-election.
Two of the three Christie administrations figures who`ve been criminally charged in that case are slated for trial this fall. A third official has pled guilty and is cooperating with prosecutors.
But prosecutors say there are also unindicted co-conspirators in this case, people who prosecutors believe were involved in the Bridgegate scheme. But even though prosecutors have some evidence of that, they have decided not to bring criminal charges against these folks for whatever reason.
News organizations, including NBC news, have sued to get access to the list of unindicted co-conspirators in the Bridgegate case. And yesterday, we were able to report that a federal judge ordered the prosecutor to release the names of the unindicted co-conspirators in this case.
What we didn`t know last night was the deadline. When is that list going to come out? Today we learned that. Friday at noon.
Absent further legal wrangling over this, we are about to get all the names of people in the Christie administration who allegedly played a role in that scandal. We`re due to get that noon on Friday.
Governor Christie got asked today whether he believes if is one of the people who will be named on that list as an unindicted co-conspirator. This was his answer.
GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE, NEW JERSEY: No. Everything about my role in Bridgegate has been well documented by three different investigations. So no, I don`t think so.
MADDOW: No, I don`t think so. You can take his word for it, or you can check out the list yourself Friday at noon. Let me know if you`re going to sleep any time between now and then, because I`m definitely not.
MADDOW: OK, this is awesome. This is a diagram of a trick shot in pool. This particular one is called the six ball butterfly shot. And if you`re friends with any pool sharks down at your local pool hall, ask them about this. They may know what it is, the six ball butterfly shot.
Here is that same trick shot in action. What?
Honestly, I could watch pool trick shots all day. I`m not kidding. There`s something just mesmerizing and deeply satisfying in the soul about watching this stuff, right? And also knowing the hours of work and the super human patience that must go into figuring out how to do this stuff like this just right.
Lots of people billed this ridiculous one as the best trick shot ever, as ludicrous and silly as it is impressive. It`s not multiple balls in this one but multiple dominos, zillions of dominos. Even when you get right down to it, oh, it turns out there`s multiple pool tables and balls rolling along pool cues to arrive at adjacent tables. And that is the kind of trick shot that exists in nature.
But that`s the kind of shot that was proposed today in American politics, because that is the equivalent of the next plan from the Never Trump movement. It`s kind of a quintuple bank shot involving a flaming hoop and also a dancing girl and a potato cannon, and then lightening has to strike just at the right spot a just the right time, and it`s perfect.
Their latest plan comes from the Republican strategist Liz Mair. She`s the founder of the anti-Trump Super PAC called Make America Awesome. She says she`s been talking with other anti-Trump conservatives about what they see as their one backup option left to stop him from becoming the Republican presidential nominee.
It`s essentially a favorite son strategy where a different hometown favorite conservative will run for president in the general election but just in his or her own home state. So Mitt Romney could launch a single- state independent run in Utah, and Governor Scott Walker could run just in Wisconsin, and Rick Perry or even Ted Cruz could run in Texas.
It`s this overarching Rube Goldberg scheme, and the way it works, the underlying logic is that if you get enough one-off wins in enough states by all these different independent candidates, that could be enough to prevent either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump from getting a majority in the electoral college, from getting to 270 votes in the electoral college. And if neither candidate gets to 270 votes in the electoral college, then the next president gets decided, you guys, by the House of Representatives, Paul Ryan.
Paul Ryan, The House of Representatives is controlled by the Republicans, so if everything goes right where they could get Paul Ryan as president without ever actually running Paul Ryan for president. See how simple? See how it works if you just line up everything perfectly, right?
It`s fool proof. Just like the six ball butterfly shot. This is what they`re down to. This is their last idea, which means it`s probably time to stop paying attention to the Never Trump movement in the Republican Party and start paying attention to what the election is going to be like with him at the top of the Republican ticket, because that`s going to be what happens.
Some Republicans and a lot of the political press are still fantasizing about that somehow not being the case, but that`s the case. Any other idea at this point is bunkers. He`s the nominee, and we have no idea how other Republican candidates down-ticket are going to deal with that.
But I`m also starting to get very curious as to how Democratic candidates down-ticket are going to deal with that. How do Democrats plan to use or not use the Trump nomination on the Republican side in all the other Democrat versus Republican races this year?
How much do Democratic members of Congress or would-be Democratic members of Congress -- how much do they all get to run against Donald Trump this year? There`s an answer to that. And the person who is best positioned to know it joins us next.
TRUMP: She ate like a pig.
I`d look her right in that fat, ugly face of hers.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He once sent her a picture of herself with the words "the face of a dog" written on it.
MADDOW: It`s an ad by Conner Eldridge, who`s running for the Senate in Arkansas against John Boozman, part of his ad that he`s running in his Senate race in Arkansas.
So far, we are seeing in Arkansas, in Arizona, in New Hampshire, we`re seeing Democratic senate candidates running ads as if that Democratic senate candidate is effectively running against Donald Trump, or at least tying Donald Trump to the Republican senator that Democratic candidate is trying to unseat.
That strategy we are seeing happen in the Senate right now. Is that strategy also going to be used by House candidates as well? That is an answerable question. The man who is in the best position to know in the whole country is Congressman Ben Ray Lujan of New Mexico. He`s the chairman of the Democratic congressional campaign committee, which has the job of electing Democrats to the House.
Mr. Chairman, thanks very much for your time tonight. It`s nice to have you here.
REP. BEN RAY LUJAN, NM: Rachel, it`s always great to be with you. Thanks for having me.
MADDOW: Is there a different dynamic for candidates running for the House than what we have seen for candidates running for the Senate from the Democratic Party, where we`ve seen so many Senate candidates basically run themselves against Donald Trump? Should we see that same -- we expect to see that same thing in House races across the country?
LUJAN: Rachel, already in states across the country and in districts across the country, you`re seeing ads run, including Donald Trump, in our bid to be able to win House seats as well as Senate seats across the country. And I think we can expect to see a lot more of that.
MADDOW: In terms of the overall prospects of the Democrats winning back the House, a lot of people who are optimistic about Democratic chances broadly running against a Republican ticket that`s topped by Donald Trump, they speak pretty confidently about the Democrats taking back the Senate from the Republicans.
Nobody is as confident in your job in the prospects of Democrats taking over the House. How big is your challenge? On a scale of 1 to 10, what`s the likelihood that you`ll get to your goal?
LUJAN: Well, Rachel, I was always raised to take everyone very seriously. And that`s the approach that we`re taking at the Democratic congressional campaign committee into all of these elections.
But I`ll tell you what. Democrats are on offense, and I`m just real excited about the seats that we`ll be picking up this year. And it`s clear that we`re going to be doing better because of Donald Trump.
MADDOW: In what parts of the country do you think that`s particularly true, where Donald Trump at the top of the ticket helps Democrats chances the most for the kinds of races that you`re thinking about for Congress?
LUJAN: In districts all over the country that we`re targeting, they`re in suburban areas, they`re in areas where we have a lot of women, Millennials, Latinos, African Americans, diverse communities. And in each and every one of those districts, it just turns out they`re all over America, and it`s in those districts that Donald Trump will help us.
So whether we`re talking about New York, Florida, Colorado, even in Utah, Donald Trump`s going to help us be able to pick up more House seats and defeat Republicans across America this year.
MADDOW: Are there also some places, though, where you expect that Donald Trump is going to do really well? Where you may have candidates who try to localize their race or who try to distance themselves even from the Democratic candidate?
Obviously, if you`re going to try to win big, if you`re going to try to pick up the 30 seats you need to get this majority, you`re going to have to win in some unexpected places. Is everybody going to run against Trump? Or are there some cases where that will not be the -- not be the strategy?
LUJAN: Look, Rachel, Donald Trump has been able to appeal to a piece of the Republican base. But all across the country, Donald Trump has turned off so many people across the country. He`s upside down with women, with Latinos, African Americans, Millennials.
And I`m real confident that we`ll do well across the country, in part because House Republicans are inseparably tied to Donald Trump. And here`s the case, Rachel. All across the country, we as Democrats have a lot of supporters. And there`s a lot of voters out there that are turned off by Donald Trump. We`ll be reaching out to those voters, and when they`re given a positive alternative to Donald Trump, we`ll win them over as well.
MADDOW: Congressman Ben Ray Lujan, the chairman of the Democratic congressional campaign committee, thanks for helping us understand your strategy, sir. Nice to have you here.
LUJAN: Thanks for the work you`re doing, Rachel. I look forward to working with you.
MADDOW: Well, I`ll be -- you keep doing the work. I`ll keep talking about it.
MADDOW: Well done, sir. thank you.
All right, we`ve got lots more ground to cover tonight. We`ll be right back. Stay with us.
MADDOW: Say you were in Los Angeles and you needed to get to San Francisco. What you do is you catch the Amtrack, the Coast Starlight. Pick it up at Union Station. Coast Starlight travels daily between Los Angeles and Seattle, so you get off in the Bay area. You get off in Emeryville in the East Bay.
It is a totally spectacular train ride. A lot of it goes right along the Pacific coast and then through beautiful farm country. I highly recommend it.
But it does take some time. It takes about 11 hours to get to the Bay area from L.A. if you go by train. But one day in the far off realm known as the future, you might be able to make the trip like this, by traveling down a vacuum tube underground at 750 miles an hour.
The Hyperloop, which sounds like Star Trek I know, but the Hyperloop took a big step today toward reality. Really this isn`t some weird "Rachel Maddow Show" political metaphor. This is a real thing, or it might be someday soon.
The company that wants to make this thing tested the Hyperloop`s propulsion technology today. They sent a test vehicle down a rail track. It turns out they were able to get to zero to 60 in 1.1 seconds. Wow.
Their goal is to get to 400 miles per hour in two seconds. That`s really is what they are trying to do, and god bless them. But in the meantime, around here, our old school train goes from 0 to 60 in yawn, stretch, I don`t know, and that train is just pulling in now to Debunktion Junction. That is straight ahead tonight. Stay with us.
MADDOW: Libs, pinkos, commies, or on the other hand, RTAs, short for right thinking Americans. There was a time in this country when the United States Department of Justice evaluated attorneys, specifically attorneys for the civil rights division of the Justice Department according to whether they were considered to be libs and pinkos and commies or right thinking Americans.
This was a time when the Justice Department ignored complaints about states illegally intimidating black voters while they enthusiastically launched investigations into alleged discrimination against white voters. It was a time when the civil rights division closed investigations into alleged civil rights violations and documents mysteriously disappeared. When the civil rights division endorsed new racially-charged voting restrictions in Southern states.
If all this sounds like something out of your grandparents` time or your great grandparents` time, it was not. The stories and the new events I was just describing were not from the McCarthy era or the Jim Crow era. They were from the George W. Bush administration era, just a single presidency removed from where we are now.
Under George W. Bush, the politicization of the civil rights division at the Justice Department was so bad, the deviation of that division`s mission was so extreme, that most of the career civil rights lawyer who had staffed the division quit. They had signed up to pursue civil rights violations, and between 2003 and 2007, 70 percent of them quit.
And so one of the top priorities that incoming President Barack Obama set for his new attorney general when he took office was rebuilding that part of the Justice Department, rebuilding the civil rights division. Under the Obama administration, that team has pulled as hard as possible in the opposite direction from the Bush era, and they`ve taken a number of land mark actions along the way.
They prosecuted the first murder case under the federal hate crimes law that was signed by President Obama. They have sued states that made voting harder after the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act.
This week, they`ve been taking on North Carolina over that state`s new LGBT discrimination law. This week attorney general Loretta Lynch stood with the head of the civil rights division, Vanita Gupta, in announcing that the federal government would be suing North Carolina over that law. And she spoke directly and personally about it.
LORETTA LYNCH, UNITED STATES ATTORNEY GENERAL: No matter how isolated, no matter how afraid and no matter how alone you may feel today, know this, that the Department of Justice and, indeed, the entire Obama administration want you to know that we see you. We stand with you, and we will do everything we can to protect you going forward.
MADDOW: The message from the attorney general that she said she directed directly to the transgender community.
One piece of the eight-year long aftermath of the George W. Bush administration has been this part of justice, right, has been the Obama administration rebuilding this crucial, important part of the Justice Department, the civil rights division. And they have made up some real ground, but they have not made it without real resistance.
A few months after the Supreme Court took a carving knife to the Voting Rights Act, President Obama nominated a young, very esteemed lawyer named Dabo Adegbile head the civil rights division. Not only did Dabo Adegbile have a disguised civil -- a distinguished record as a civil rights lawyer. He argued that the voting rights case to the Supreme Court that ultimately lost.
But over the course of his career, at one point he had also served as one of the defense lawyers for an appeal filed by Mumia Abu-Jamal. He was a man convicted of killing a Philadelphia police officer in 1981.
Even though everybody obviously has the right to legal representation in this country, that defense work for Mumia Abu-Jamal basically politically sank Dabo Adegbile`s chances of running the civil rights division, and the Senate rejected his nomination two years ago in 2014.
But now, get this. Today, 2016, the civil rights division, even after all this difficult work the Obama administration has done to rebuild the civil rights division back to something back to what it was before the George W. Bush administration basically levelled it, even today after all that, the civil rights division still doesn`t have somebody permanently running it. President Obama hasn`t nominated anybody since the Senate rejected Dabo Adegbile.
As for the Dabo Adegbile himself, since the Senate rejected his nomination, he has remained totally out of the public eye until now. He joins us tonight for the interview. Stay with us.
MADDOW: Joining us now for the interview, I`m very happy to say, is Dabo Adegbile. He was President Obama`s nominee to lead the civil rights division at the Justice Department. He`s really not been in the public eye at all since his nomination was withdrawn two years ago. He`s currently a lawyer in private practice.
Mr. Adegbile, it`s really great to have you with us this evening. Thank you for being here.
DEBO ADEGBILE, FROMER DOJ CIVIL RIGHTS DIVISION NOMINEE: It`s good to be back, Rachel.
MADDOW: First, let me ask you. After these long many months, more than a year now, of really not putting yourself in the public eye after you weren`t confirmed for this critical position, why are you willing to talk publicly now?
ADEGBILE: Well, Rachel, I think the issues of the day are very important. I`ve dedicated a fair amount of my life to trying to create pathways for opportunity for a range of people in our nation.
I`ve benefitted personally from the efforts of my predecessors who created pathways for me, pathways for me to go to school, pathways for my parents who hailed from different continents and came to carve a life for themselves in New York, to have me and for me to be treated with dignity and opportunity. I`ve gone to good schools, and I`ve had good jobs.
And so America, as much as anything else, is an idea, and it`s an aspirational place. And so I want to come to speak to you tonight to talk a little bit about how we need to set our values toward those aspirations and not away from them.
MADDOW: You would, obviously, have led the civil rights division of the Justice Department if President Obama had had his way. Politics intervenes in the Senate on that. But what is your assessment on the health and strength of civil rights enforcement in Obama era in this last year of the Obama administration, especially given what they did have to dig out from with the previous president?
ADEGBILE: Well, I think the state of the civil rights division is very strong, Rachel. And, of course, it`s disappointing not to have the shot to participate in it, but what I knew even on that day was that our history of civil rights is not about any individual. It`s about a quest facilitated by a number of people, some who are known, some who will never be known, to try and narrow the space between our promises, the high promises in our Constitution and some of the low and venal practices that sometimes hold us back.
And so I`m delighted to say that the civil rights division, under wonderful leadership both from the attorney general and Vanita Gupta and all of the brave and talented line lawyers that sacrifice to do that important work in difficult circumstances, the civil rights division is strong, and it`s doing important work.
MADDOW: Debo, one of the reasons that I really wanted to speak to you tonight is because I was legitimately surprised on Monday. I wasn`t surprised that the Justice Department decided to sue North Carolina over this discriminatory law they`ve got, this LGBT discrimination law.
I was surprised by the passion and the public comments, the forceful and moving public comments by the attorney general when she announced that lawsuit and when she said, you know, I want to speak to the people of North Carolina and she had a speech for the people of North Carolina, and I want to speak to the transgendered community, really putting a lot of passion and sort of words for public consumption alongside that legal action.
I wonder if you could tell me how you calculate something like that, in other words, how important it is to make a public case alongside the technocratic legal work.
ADEGBILE: I think it`s very important and as does the attorney general. And she spoke so eloquently and passionately and from the heart.
The attorney general and the people in the Justice Department, they have a couple of tools at their disposal. They have a few, I should say.
Certainly, they have policy statements. They can have policy statements and pronouncements. They have litigation, which is the primary tool that they use to advance the work of the Justice Department and the civil rights division. But they also have a platform, and that platform needs to be used in the context of those other things to articulate the underlying values. And they are values that the Congress and that our nation has embraced over a period of time and after walking a very long and hard road.
So for the attorney general to come to that mic and express heart felt values and to talk about the impact that discrimination can have for individuals, it was a moment that I think will be remembered and that she will be remembered for.
MADDOW: Debo Adegbile, it`s really, really nice to have you here tonight, and I hope we see a lot more of you in future days. This election is going to have a lot of interesting potential consequences that I`d love to talk to you more about as time goes on. Thanks for being with us tonight.
ADEGBILE: Thanks so much, Rachel.
MADDOW: All right, stand by for a quick trip to Debunktion Junction, next.
MADDOW: Debunktion Junction, what`s my function? It`s a special Democratic primary edition.
Last night, Senator Bernie Sanders scored a sizable victory in the West Virginia primary. He won by 15 points. Wow. And today, here was the front page of the "New York Post." "Stop The Coronation!" Bernie wins another primary.
This was the "New York Times," "Bernie Sanders Wins West Virginia, Prolonging The Race With Hillary Clinton." So hold on, everybody. Bernie Sanders won West Virginia. That means this race is on.
Is that true or false? Senator Sanders` victory in West Virginia means new day for him, new hope for getting the Democratic nomination. Is that true, or is that false?
Here`s why. Heading into West Virginia last night, if Senator Sanders wanted to overtake Hillary Clinton in pledged delegates, to win the nomination, he needed to get 65 percent of the remaining pledged delegates. Even though he won last night handily, he fell short of that 65-percent mark, which means the percent of delegates remaining he needs to win from here on out has grown because of last night.
Even though he won there last night, he need a landslide to even just keep his prospects the same as they were yesterday morning. Now his prospects are worse than they were.
Winning West Virginia felt great. I am sure. And a win feels better than a loss any day, but Senator Sanders` herculean task has only gotten more herculean. He has run a very impressive campaign. Last night was an impressive win by Senator Sanders, but the numbers overall for him in terms of his shot at winning the nation -- winning the nomination, those numbers last night got worse for him, not better.
Don`t be mad. It`s not me being mean, it`s just math.
Okay, you`re going to be mad anyway, I can`t talk you out of it. Rachel@msnbc.com, that`s where you send your mail.
Now it`s time for LAST WORD with Lawrence O`Donnell.
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