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The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 5/13/2016

Guests: Steven Ginsberg

Show: THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW Date: May 13, 2016 Guest: Steven Ginsberg

CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC: All right. That does it from the Windy City. That is "ALL IN" for this evening.

THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts right now.

Good evening, Rachel.

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chris. Thanks, my friend. Happy weekend.

HAYES: You bet. Thank you.

MADDOW: And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour. Happy Friday.

I will say, this is going to be an interesting, kind of a fun, interesting/disturbing show. A lot of weird stuff has happened in the news. It`s been kind of an intense week. This is one of those Friday nights that felt like it took about 16 days to get to the end of the week, right? It feels like it`s the 45th of May at this point.

In the news business, it sometimes feels like that, when the news cycle gets stuck on one story. This week, the political news cycle got stuck on one news story about the Republican presidential primary. The story of whether or not the Republican Party was going to have a hard time accepting Donald Trump as their party`s new leader and as their party`s presidential nominee.

There`s been a lot of opinion expressed about this matter. There`s been a lot of speculation about it. We have on this show tried to stay focused on the data rather than just the opinion on this matter, because I think most of the data suggests that the Republican Party is not having that hard a time accepting Donald Trump as their nominee. After all, Mr. Trump received more votes in the Republican primary this year than any Republican presidential candidate has ever received before.

We`ve also been reporting that for all the beltway ink that`s been spilled over this idea that Republican elected officials and party leaders are having a hard time with Mr. Trump, there really just isn`t that much evidence of anybody saying no to him. We reported last night that we could find so few Republican members of Congress who were explicitly opposed to Donald Trump, we thought as of last night there were so few of them that you could actually fit all of them into a station wagon.

In the Senate, the three Republican U.S. senators known to be explicitly opposed to Mr. Trump are Lindsey Graham, Dean Heller, and Ben Sasse. That`s it.

In the House, we reported last night that the two Republican members of the house who are known to be explicitly opposed to Mr. Trump were Carlos Curbelo of Florida, Scott Rigell of Virginia. That brings us to a grand total of five members of Congress, three in the Senate, two in the House, right? That would imply not exactly a great rift in the party.

Since then, though, four more members of Congress have been in touch with us today to let us know that they would like to also be recognized as being crammed into that car. Oh, really? Yes, so behold, we happily correct the record.

Four additional confirmed members of Congress from the Republican Party who say explicitly on the record today they are opposed to Donald Trump. So, we`ve still got those three senators on the top row there -- Lindsey Graham, Ben Sasse, Dean Heller. In the House, we`ve got Carlos Curbelo, and Scott Rigell.

But now, we can add Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida. We can add Congressman Bob Dole of Illinois. We can add Congressman Richard Hanna of New York. And we can add Congressman Reid Ribble of Wisconsin.

We have spoken with all of their offices today. They have all confirmed that they should also be crammed into that mid-sized sedan or station wagon which was previously holding all of the Republican Party in Congress who is against Donald Trump.

Because there are now nine of them confirmed as being no to Trump Republicans, we are going to have to get them a bigger car. Turns out they would not all fit in the station wagon. They would all fit in a Chevy Tahoe if you got the one that was configured with a third seat in the back but that does crimp your cargo space.

So, as long as they`ve got no baggage, these nine members of Congress, this little Brady Bunch, in the proverbial Chevy Tahoe, that is the sum total of what we know so far, in terms of the split in the Republican Party over Donald Trump becoming that party`s presidential nominee. These updated numbers mean that the no to Donald Trump caucus is roughly 3 percent of congressional Republicans.

Oh, how will the party survive? This terrible schism.

I should say, if you are a Republican member of Congress or a Republican member of the Senate and you are explicitly opposed to Donald Trump being your party`s leader and being your party`s presidential nominee, if you will not vote for him, if you are encouraging other people to not vote for him as well, please let us know. We`ll get you guys a bigger proverbial car. We`ll get you a bus fit ever turns out there are that many Republican members of Congress who are actually opposed to him. But right now, all we know of is nine. We will update it every time we get another one, if we ever do.

I don`t know if we ever will though. I mean, all the momentum in the party seems to be going the other direction, seems to be going toward Mr. Trump. Nine committee chairmen from the House of Representatives today signed on with Mr. Trump. The House of Representatives, of course, is controlled by the Republicans so they control all the committees. The chairs of nine House committees all came out today and endorsed Mr. Trump.

And you know, it`s a real decision to do that if Mr. Trump is going to be a problem for Republican incumbents. I mean, those nine committee chairmen, like every other member of the house come November, they will all be up for re-election. Everybody in the House needs to run for re-election every two years. So, every Republican maybe except the very few who have said no to him, every Republican is going to be running to one degree or another alongside the leader of their party.

To a certain extent, every Republican in the country this year is going to be running on what Donald Trump stands for. And today the question of what Donald Trump stands for got very, very woolly. It might possibly have fallen apart altogether.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You said we got to stop Muslim immigration until we find out what the hell`s going on, you said. And then, you said -- you walked back the other day to say, listen, that was a suggestion, but you`ve got to put together a commission headed by Rudy Giuliani. Would you like to expand on that?

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Yes, it was a suggestion. Look, anything I say right now, I`m not the president. Everything`s a suggestion. No matter what you say, it`s a suggestion.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Speaker Ryan said after the meeting that there are clearly issues on which you two disagree. We know that one of those is on that ban of Muslims. He is not for it, you have said you are.

But in recent days, you`ve called it more of a suggestion than a proposal. I`d like you to clarify that for me because I think millions of people who voted for you across the country during the primary process felt as if you were actually proposing that. Are you softening your stance?

TRUMP: I`m not the president right now so anything I suggest is really a suggestion. I`m always flexible on issues. I am totally flexible on very, very many issues and I think you have to be that way.


MADDOW: Everything is just a suggestion. I am totally flexible.

Mr. Trump says now basically that he has no policy platform. He`s not overtly proposing to do anything particular as president. Everything he said that the country ought to do? It`s a suggestion. It`s totally flexible.

And it is remarkable to hear a major party presidential nominee admit that they don`t really stand for anything. That everything`s up for negotiation. They don`t really have any firm policy proposals that you can count on them for, that you can count on him to enact when he becomes president.

It`s remarkable to hear it. Reasonably speaking, it`s not an illogical way to run, right? If you think about it. I mean, it`s cynical but it`s not illogical.

The Trump campaign apparently has just moved into a part of the election where they say they do not want Mr. Trump to be judged on the basis of his policy proposals, all his policy proposals are subject to change. They don`t think that`s what`s important to voters about Mr. Trump. They`re basically saying what`s more important than any promise he could make on policy is that people should just trust Donald Trump to do a good job. To be a guy who would be good at being president.

Don`t vote for him because of something specific he says he`s going to, do vote for him because you think he would be good at the job, because you think he`s generally capable as a person. He vaguely wants the right things for the country. He`ll be good at handling stuff when it comes up. He`s the kind of guy you`d like to be president no matter what it is he exactly wants to do with the job.

It`s an unusual way to run for president but it`s not irrational. In fact, that`s probably the way that a lot of voters think about their choice in a presidential election. When people tell pollsters they vote for who they wanted to have a beer with, those voters know they`re never going to get to have a beer with the president. They`re basically telling pollsters they cast their votes for who they liked the best, who they thought was the best person, who they thought would be a better person in that job, regardless of their platform or promises or what they said they wanted to do.

Voting for the perceived capabilities of a politician as a person, rather than anything specific about their agenda, it does in a way make sense, unless your perception of your candidate`s capabilities is completely wrong for some reason. I mean, it`s one thing to vote for somebody who stands for nothing because you think they`d be a generally capable person. It`s another thing did vote for someone who stands for nothing who it turns out is a crank, or is fundamentally unstable. Or who is a con artist. Or who is prone to bizarre behavior.

This is the Bonwit Teller Building. It used to be the Bonwit Teller Building. It was built in 1928 on the corner of 56th Street and Fifth Avenue in New York City, a great example of art deco architecture.

Its big distinguishing feature on its facade were really big stone sculptures. It was interesting. They weren`t at the street level. They were way high up on the facade of the building. Each of them about 15 feet high. Really distinctively art deco.

And they were up on the building, this is an 11-story building. These sculptures were on the eighth and ninth floors, between the eighth and ninth floors of this 11-story building. Interesting design, right?

The building was designed by the same firm that built Grand Central terminal. In addition to those really notable sculptures, it also had a huge 20 foot by 30 foot intricate super-heavy metal sculpture thing. It was a grille, basically, on the front of the building, built into the main entrance, really striking. It was made of solid nickel. It was all interlocking geometric designs, super intricate, very distinctive, built in 1928-1929.

1980, that building was due to be demolished, because a developer wanted to put up a big glass tower in its place. The developer promised the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City that when the old building was demolished, the Met could have all that important art. They could have the giant grille work. They could have the bas-relief stone sculptures from the front of the building. That was the deal.

And then on a Thursday afternoon in June with no warning, the real estate developer instead had the stone statues jackhammered into pieces.

Quoting from "The New York Times" the next day, quote, "Two stone bas- relief sculptures high on the fa‡ade of the Bonwit Teller Bulding uner demolition on Fifth Avenue, pieces that had been sought with enthusiasm by the Metropolitan Museum of Art, were smashed by jackhammers yesterday on the orders of a real estate developer. The destruction of the art deco panels stunned some art appraisers and elicited expressions of surprise and disappointment from officials at the Met where they were to have been installed by the Department of 20th Century Art."

Everybody thought these sculptures and the grille thing were going to the Met. The Met thought they were going to the Met. The neighbors thought they were going to the Met. "The New York Times" interviewed a gallery owner who was across the street from the Bonwit Teller Building, "yesterday Mr. Miller said he was stunned when he looked out his window and saw workmen attack the sculptures with jack hammers. Quote, "They were just jackhammered in half and pulled down in such a way they shattered. It was just tragic."

You will have guessed by now the real estate developer in question who did that in 1980 was Donald Trump. What went up on that site after the Bonwit Teller Building came down in a heap was Trump tower. And when a significant portion of New York freaked out about him destroying this art that everybody thought was going to go to the Met from the old building, jam hammering it off the building with no explanation and no warning like they were Buddha sculptures in northern Afghanistan, a representative of the Trump Organization was made available to the press to explain the Trump organization`s side of this disturbing story.

Quote, "John Baron, a vice president of the Trump Organization, said after the demolition yesterday that the company had decided to not preserve the sculptures because, quote, `the merit of these stones was not great enough to justify the effort to save them.`"

Remember the Metropolitan Museum of Art was going to take them and put them up. But the Trump Organization decided they had no artistic merit.

As for the giant gilded nickel geometric grille work, again, the Art Museum, the Met thought they were getting that too. But the Trump organization`s explanation for that one was that they lost it. Quote, "`We don`t know what happened to it,` said John Baron, a vice president of the Trump Organization."

Now, looking back on this, as far as we can tell, there never was a John Baron, vice president of the Trump Organization. That was not a real person. We actually had it confirmed a decade later, that there was no John Baron.

That confirmation came in a court proceeding a decade later. In the course of a bunch of legal wrangling that happened over the fact that Mr. Trump used illegal immigrant laborers to tear down the Bonwit Teller Building and put up his Trump Tower.

Mr. Trump testified under oath in 1990 during a legal proceeding about his illegal immigrant labor that he and another one of his executives at his company sometimes used this alias, John Baron, in some of their business dealings when for whatever reason, they didn`t want to use their real names. They admitted to it, or he admitted to it under oath.

It actually created a minor media scandal around Mr. Trump in 1990. There are a bunch of headlines ran at the time about how he had been using this fake name, John Baron. It was described at the time as an open secret in the New York press, somebody named John Baron would call reporters to say things about Donald Trump. But the John Baron calling reporters to talk about Donald Trump was actually just Donald Trump himself.

But he admitted to that in a court proceeding in 1990. Got a bunch of headlines, people started making fun of him for that in 1990. So, in 1991, Mr. Trump apparently started using a different name, killed off John Baron, picked up a new name. And that is what led to the huge and truly freaking weird development in the presidential campaign today. And that`s next.



JOHN MILLER: How are you?

INTERVIEWER: Good. How are you? What`s your name again?

JOHN MILLER: John Miller.

INTERVIEWER: And you work with (INAUDIBLE)?

JOHN MILLER: Yes, that`s correct.

INTERVIEWER: John Miller. Can you sort of -- I guess we`re going to try and put a story together and we have a deadline of today.


MADDOW: This is a recording made in 1991 by a reporter from "People" magazine called Sue Carswell. She was calling Donald Trump`s office, she ended up speaking with somebody who sounded very much like Donald Trump but he said his name was John Miller. He said he was a publicist working for Donald Trump. And he said he was brand new to the organization. He had just started.

But even though he`d just started, brand new, he was eager to help this "people" magazine reporter with her queries about Donald Trump`s love life.

Now, for a man who was just a hired hand, who had just started at the organization, was brand new, he did seem to know a lot about Donald Trump`s love life and inner feelings.


INTERVIEWER: Is Marla trying to reconcile all this or is this --

JOHN MILLER: Marla wants to be back with him and he wants to be with her, but he just, he just feels it`s too soon.

I can tell you there was never any talk of marriage from Donald`s point of view. I can also say that Marla would like to get married but it was something he didn`t want to do. It`s just too soon. Hopefully he`ll maintain a good relationship with Marla.

INTERVIEWER: What about this Ivana thing? It says in the Newsday Trump also told friends that when he and Ivana met last week, she indicated that she would be interested in reconciliation?

JOHN MILLER: Ivana wants to get back with Donald, but she --

INTERVIEWER: Really? After saying on Barbara Walters that she never would?

JOHN MILLER: What is she going to say? What is she going to say? She`s going to say when he`s with somebody else and had other people lined up, is she going to say, "Yes, I want to get back. I want to get back." You know, she`s a pretty savvy woman and she`s not going to say -- I mean, he`s living with Marla and he`s got three other girlfriends, and then, and she`s not going to say, I really want to get back, you know?

She wants to get back, she`s told it to a lot of her friends and she`s told it to him, but it`s so highly unlikely. That`s off the record. He left. I mean, it was his choice to leave and he left.

INTERVIEWER: He left for Marla.

JOHN MILLER: No, he didn`t leave, no. See, that`s the biggest misconception of this whole thing. The second question I asked about after the ring was the biggest misconception is he left. He didn`t leave for Marla. He really left for himself.

He didn`t leave for Marla. He never left for Marla. He was going to leave anyway. Marla was there, but he was going to leave anyway. Whether there was a Marla or not, he was going to leave anyway.

So now he has somebody else named Carla who is beautiful and I guess you have something on her. I don`t know if you do or not.

He leaves for himself, he does things for himself. He, when he makes the decision, that will be a very lucky woman. But he`s not going to do that until he makes the decision. You know, when he makes the decision, he`s very capable of a total commitment when he makes the decision. But he felt it`s too soon. Off the record, he probably felt Marla wasn`t the right one, or whatever, but he just felt it was too soon.


MADDOW: For a PR guy who had just started, who was brand new at the Trump organization, boy, he really had very quickly tapped really deeply into his boss` psyche. When he makes the decision, he`s very capable of a total commitment but he felt it`s too soon, he probably felt Marla wasn`t the right one, he felt it was too soon. That PR guy is just tapped right in.

That happened in 1991. "People" magazine ran an article about it at the time that gave the game away. The top headline was the tabloid stuff, right? "Trump says goodbye Marla, hello Carla." The subtitle explained how they got this story, "Mysterious PR man who sounds just like Donald calls to spread the story."

If you think it is weird that somebody would impersonate another person, not just to give a quote under a fake name to "The New York Times" about some embarrassing business thing, right, to accomplish some other business goal. But simply -- not even for something like that, but instead to brag to "People" magazine how many people wanted to have sex with him, and what he really thought about his girlfriends, how much they all wanted to get back together with him, if you think it`s a weird thing to form an alias for yourself to do, "People" magazine at the time also thought it was a really weird thing to do.

This is their lead from that story they ran at the time. Quote, "There are interesting stories, there are moving stories, and there are funny stories. And there are stories that are simply bizarre. Last week, Donald Trump after years of edging ever closer seems finally to have landed squarely in that last category." Bizarre.

The reporter took the tape of that interview, played it for several people who knew Mr. Trump well, including his former fiance. The reporter says they all confirmed to her it definitely was Donald Trump pretending to be someone else on that phone call. Quote, "Said a former close associate who also I.D.`d the voice, is he whacked out or what?"

Two weeks later, "People" magazine ran a follow-up story including, and this is key, Donald Trump`s admission that actually, yes, it hadn`t been somebody named John Miller, it actually had been him on the phone. It also included his apology.

Quoting from "People" magazine, July 1991. Quote, "The John Miller fiasco he called a joke gone awry, `I`m very sorry,` says the newly humbled tycoon."

It`s a little strange as a business practice to use a fake name and pretend to be someone who you are not. It`s a little weird for a big business to invent a fake vice president, give them a fake name, have them give quotes, speaking on behalf of your business. That was a minor scandal when it was John Baron, Mr. Trump in 1990. Then he killed John Baron and he came back as John Miller the following year.

As John Miller, it was really strange. Even in celebrity tabloid culture, to pretend to be somebody you`re not in order to talk to gossip reporters to tell them about your love life. And how much women want you.

That was even seen as bizarre at the time by the tabloids. It earned him a slew of headlines about how strange this behavior was. And not incidentally, he admitted it. He apologized for it. And he played it off as a joke.

Well, now, "The Washington Post" obtained the tape of that conversation that he had with "People" magazine reporter, 1991. They posted it on their front page today. And now, today, now that he`s running for president and that tape is circulating, now Mr. Trump has a very different explanation for this and a different reaction to what he used to admit to.


TRUMP: It doesn`t sound like my voice at all. I have many, many people that are trying to imitate my voice. And you can imagine that. And this sounds like one of these scams, one of the many scams. It doesn`t sound like me.

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE, NBC NEWS: "The Post" says you acknowledged a couple of decades ago that in fact that was you but it was a joke.

TRUMP: I don`t think it was me. It doesn`t sound like me. I don`t know even what they`re talking about. I have no idea.

GUTHRIE: "The Post" says this is something you did rather routinely, that you would call reporters and plant stories and say you were John Miller or John Baron, but in fact, it was actually you on the phone. Is that something you did with any regularity?

TRUMP: No, and it was not me on the phone. It was not me on the phone. And it doesn`t sound like me on the phone, I will tell you that. And it was not me on the phone.


MADDOW: He used to admit that it was him on the phone, now he says it was definitely not him on the phone.

Well, today, "The Washington Post" followed up on this bizarre development and something interesting happened. Quote, "Friday afternoon," so this afternoon, "Washington Post reporters who were 44 minutes into a phone interview with Mr. Trump about his finances asked him a question about this John Miller situation. Did you ever employ someone named John Miller as a spokesperson? The phone went silent, then dead.

When the reporters called back and reached Trump`s secretary, she said, `I heard you got disconnected. He can`t take the call now. I don`t know what happened.`" That was today.

This was tonight on "NBC Nightly News. Cynthia McFadden interviewing Sue Carswell, reporter for "People" magazine back in the day who made that tape in the first place and who thought that was a settled issue.


CYNTHIA MCFADDEN, NBC NEWS: You published in 1991 that you believed this was Donald Trump pranking you, pretending to be a publicist.

SUE CARSWELL, PEOPLE: I didn`t believe it, I knew it to be true based on the fact that Cindy Adams and Marla Maples confirmed it.

MCFADDEN: Not just someone pretending to be Donald Trump?

CARSWELL: Not just someone pretending to be Donald Trump. Could he really prank Marla and Cindy Adams, too? Could he really punk Marla, his fiancee? Well, he said it wasn`t his fiancee, sorry.

MCFADDEN: So why does this matter?

CARSWELL: Why does this matter? Because this man is going to possibly be the leader of this country and is he going to punk people when he`s president? Say he`s John Doe calling?

MCFADDEN: At the time, when he told you he was sorry he`d done it. Tell us a little bit more about that.

CARSWELL: When he said he was sorry he`d done it. He asked if I would go out as a sort of apology with him and Marla. We went to one of the hot clubs at the time, I don`t remember the name.

He picked me up in his stretch limousine. We picked up a friend of mine who was the editor of the story. We went out and we went into this room. And he stayed for about 15 minutes and said, you know what, I don`t like to stay at parties, I don`t drink, and he left. And he and Marla both left. And we went home soon thereafter.

MCFADDEN: But he made it absolutely clear to you that -- he acknowledged, there`s no --

CARSWELL: There`s no doubt in my mind that he apologized to me and that he made it clear that he was the man on the tape. There`s just no doubt in my mind.

MCFADDEN: So why is this important?

CARSWELL: Well, it`s one thing to punk me about his love life. But to punk the nation is another thing. And I think that`s what he`s doing now, even today.

MCFADDEN: And beyond that I guess you would say that to lie about it in addition?

CARSWELL: He`s still lying about it, which is ridiculous. I woke up to all these e-mails about this conversation that everybody in my life knew had happened. And now he`s saying it didn`t happen. Why? And where did the tape come from, since I didn`t give it to "The Washington Post"?

MCFADDEN: If you could speak to Donald Trump, what would you like to say to Donald Trump?

CARSWELL: I`d say, Donald, please. You and me, come on. You did it, you know you did it.


MADDOW: It`s one thing to vote for somebody for president because you think they`ve got a great policy agenda. You like what they are proposing to do for our country. It`s another thing to vote for somebody for president because you don`t know anything about what they`re proposing for the country but you just think they`re great.

You just think they`d be really capable of handling the job well. You think they`re just a solid person who would do a good job, just because of who they are. And what you know about them. Which case does the Republican Party make for its nominee this year, Donald Trump?



TRUMP: It doesn`t sound like my voice at all. I have many, many people that are trying to imitate my voice. And you can imagine that. And this sounds like one of these scams, one of the many scams. It doesn`t sound like me.

GUTHRIE: "The Post" says you acknowledged a couple of decades ago that in fact that was you but it was a joke.

TRUMP: I don`t think it was me. It doesn`t sound like me. I don`t know even what they`re talking about. I have no idea.

GUTHRIE: "The Post" says this is something you did rather routinely, that you would call reporters and plant stories and say you were John Miller or John Baron, but in fact, it was actually you on the phone. Is that something you did with any regularity?

TRUMP: No, and it was not me on the phone. It was not me on the phone. And it doesn`t sound like me on the phone, I will tell you that. And it was not me on the phone.

"JOHN MIJLLER": When he makes the decision, that will be a very lucky woman. But he`s not going to do that until he makes the decision. When he makes the decision he`s very capable of a total commitment when he makes the decision. But he felt it`s too soon. Off the record he probably felt, well, it wasn`t the right one, or whatever. But he just felt it was too soon.


MADDOW: Joining us is Steven Ginsberg, who`s senior politics editor at "The Washington Post", which broke this story and published this tape today, which is one of the weirder turns thus far this year in what`s already been a weird campaign.

Mr. Ginsberg, thanks for being with us tonight.


MADDOW: So, Mr. Trump is saying this definitely wasn`t him on this tape. There is considerable evidence that contemporaneously in 1991, he admitted to the reporter who made the tape that it was him on the tape. He passed it off as a joke. He said it was a joke gone awry.

Do you at "The Washington Post" treat this as a settled matter, that it is him on the tape?

GINSBERG: Yes, we believe that it`s him on the tape. The progression here is "People" magazine wrote that first article in 1991. This sort of tease that they thought it was him a couple weeks later, he acknowledged that it was him. Then, this morning on the "Today" show, he said it wasn`t him.

Then we had him on the phone this afternoon about a different story and we asked about it and then the phone line went dead. You know, he`s claiming it`s not him. We believe it`s him. And I think it`s a question he`s going to have to continue to answer until he comes forth with it.

MADDOW: One of the things that happened in Cynthia McFadden`s interview with the "People" magazine reporter who originally made the tape which aired tonight on "Nightly News" is that she said that she did not give the tape to "The Washington Post." Obviously, I`m not going to ask you to give up your sources.

But she says she didn`t know that anybody else had a recording of it. She supposed on air tonight in this interview that Donald Trump himself supplied this tape to "The Washington Post." Again, I don`t want to pressure you to say anything about sourcing that you don`t want to say. But can I ask you if Mr. Trump himself gave you this tape?

GINSBERG: I`d rather not say anything about how we obtain our information.

MADDOW: Are you confident in the sort of chain of custody of this tape, that it hasn`t been doctored and it`s the real deal?

GINSBERG: Yes, we`re very confident. We published the story and we back it up completely and we`re confident in the facts in it.

MADDOW: The thing that is now emerging as the newly strange thing today for Donald Trump as a presidential candidate that is he would be so robustly denying something that he previously admitted to without too much trouble, calling it a joke, laughing it off, making it right with the woman who he called himself a different name while speaking to. That`s today`s scandal of this based on you publishing this report.

Is there anything else in the tape or anything else in this episode that you`ve now brought to light that itself is strange or concerning, or you think Mr. Trump should be answering questions about as a presidential candidate?

GINSBERG: Well, my interview is the tape itself is fascinating. What we aim to do in our reporter is reveal everything we can about the presidential candidates. And here we have 14 minutes of a phone conversation from 25 years ago where Donald Trump is posing as his own publicist and talking about intimate affairs in his own life.

He talks about how he didn`t mind bad press because it made it look like he had less money, but then once his divorce went through, then he didn`t mind that people said he had more money. And that`s a revealing moment to me.

He went on to talk about all the women who wanted to date him, Madonna and others on that tape. I just think it`s a fascinating moment and I`d encourage people to listen to the tape.

MADDOW: Oh, a lot of people have.

GINSBERG: Yes, they have.

MADDOW: Steven Ginsberg, senior politics editor at "The Washington Post," fascinating for obvious reasons and for reasons we didn`t expect even once you first published it. Thanks for helping us understand this reporting today, appreciate it.


MADDOW: It has been a really, really weird day. The news started off weird today. And it sewed seeds that grew into plants by the end of the day even weirder than the news that started it all. Stay with us. More to come.


MADDOW: There`s a lot of unexpected things happened in today`s news. The giant drug company Pfizer decided to cut off the last legal open-market source of lethal injection drugs today. We don`t know how states will ever legally lethally inject prisoners again in the future. That was unexpected.

Donald Trump impersonating a fake PR guy to hype his love life and then denying it was him even though he previously admitted it was him, that was unexpected.

Nine Republican House committee chairmen all endorsing Donald Trump all at once today, all joining hands and leaping off the same building today in those political terms.

So, a bunch of unexpected things happened. But there was one expected thing in today`s news and we knew to set our watches by it. It was noon today. The big deadline in the bridgegate scandal involving the current New Jersey governor and the man who Donald Trump has tapped to build his transition team when he inevitably gets elected president in November.

The bridgegate deadline was today at noon. You know what happened?

Stay with us.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ladies and gentlemen, here is "X"!



MADDOW: That is John Doe. That is John Doe. That`s when John Doe and Exene Cervenka led the amazing band "X." They were on "American Bandstand" way back in the early 1980s.

That was an impressionable time for me as a human being. And John Doe was the first famous person I ever patterned on as a cool person. The first super-cool person I recognized, I always wanted to be like John Doe.

My brother and I never agreed on anything, still don`t. The one thing we agreed on was loving the band "X" and loving John Doe and everything he`s done since then.

And I kid you not, after a lifetime of me being a John Doe fan, last year I ended up on a train trip, a long-haul train trip with my partner Susan and my parents, a little vacation. And it turned out John Doe was on our train. And my mom and John Doe, yes, that John Doe, sat together and played crazy 8s on the train, the card game.

They played crazy 8s and gin rummy, they were very competitive with each other, and it was amazing. That is John Doe who I`ve always worshipped. John Doe.

And John Doe is also what went wrong in the bridgegate story that was supposed to break wide open today. You may remember today was supposed to be a big deadline, right? Noon deadline for bridgegate -- the Chris Christie administration scandal in New Jersey where a manmade days-long traffic jam was created on purpose using the world`s busiest bridge, allegedly to punish a small-town mayor who wouldn`t endorse governor increase doctor for re-election.

Three Christie administration figures have been charged in that case. But today at noon the judge overseeing the case had ordered the release of the list of unindicted conspirators from bridgegate -- the list of people who prosecutors say were in on the scheme even though they themselves didn`t get indicted.

Now cut to the chase. Part of what everybody wants to know is if Chris Christie himself is on that list. He`s the sitting governor of New Jersey. He`s been tapped to oversee the White House transition for the Trump administration if Donald Trump is elected president. It would be, you know, awkward to say the least if Chris Christie is all of those things and also a named unindicted conspirator in a big ongoing federal criminal case.

So, today at noon was the deadline to release the list of unindicted conspirators. But then late last night, an 11th hour appeal. Somebody who was on the list filed an emergency motion saying if the list is made public, he will, quote, "suffer irreparable harm." Quote, "Once he is named as an unindicted key conspirator, the stigma that the government believes there`s evidence that he entered into an agreement to shut down the George Washington Bridge, that stigma can never be removed."

Who filed this motion to block the publication of the list, who says he is on the list and the list should be kept secret? John Doe. Not my John Doe. But John Doe, generic anymore for somebody who doesn`t want their name used.

Quoting from the motion, "Only by permitting John Doe to intervene anonymously and staying this action pending hearing can the court honor his right not to be labeled a criminal without due process of law."

So, nobody knows who this John Doe is who stopped the list from coming out today. I can tell you that the lawyer who filed John Doe`s motion used to work for Chris Christie in New Jersey when he was U.S. attorney there. But we have no idea if it`s him. We have no idea who this John Doe is at all.

I can confidently tell you it`s not this guy, don`t blame him. I can also tell you the next deadline for getting that list of unindicted conspirators is now Tuesday at noon but I wouldn`t hold my breath.

Think we`re going to get the list and find out who the unindicted conspirators are before Trump renounces his running mate, maybe?

Watch this space.


MADDOW: To be a local news reporter is to have a lot of skills that are hard to learn in other places and hard to apply to other jobs other than being a local news reporter. But there`s one really, really, really good local news reporter who`s suddenly breaking a nationally important story. And in order to do that, he had to develop skills that might make him really useful to, like, the FBI? In case, he ever needs another gig?

The FBI is definitely writing trashy detective novels sometime soon. Hold on, great local news report, nationally important, coming up. Stay with us.


MADDOW: So, we`ve been talking a lot recently about how the supposed split in the Republican Party over Donald Trump being the nominee is basically a made-up story. And also, how the idea that all Republican incumbents are going to be vulnerable this year, because Donald Trump`s at the top of the ticket. There`s also not much real evidence to support that.

But, it should also be said that having Donald Trump at the top of your ticket is not the only way that Republicans can screw up elections they might otherwise expect to win this year. The big thing that Democrats really want to try to do this year, other than hold on to the White House, is that the Democrats really, really, really want to try to win back the Senate. And the Democrats think it`s within their reach to win back the Senate.

Part of the reason why they think it`s within reach is that there`s only one Democratic incumbent who`s up for re-election this year who`s seen as being in any danger of losing his or her seat.

And that one potentially vulnerable Democratic incumbent is Michael Bennet in Colorado. Republicans want to take that seat, they want to flip that seat from blue to red more than any other seat in the country. Republicans think that might be their only shot at picking up a Senate seat this year.

But they kind of seem to be blowing this race in a way that at least, so far, has nothing to do with Donald Trump. First, they had trouble with finding a candidate, despite Michael Bennet`s supposed vulnerability, all the Republican party`s top choices passed on the opportunity to take him on.

And when Republicans in Colorado did find a candidate they liked, a state lawmaker named Jon Keyser, they had trouble getting him on the ballot. Jon Keyser came up 86 signatures shot when he filed his petitions to get on the ballot. Missed it be that much. Keyser had to go to court to persuade a judge to put him back on the ballot, which the judge ultimately did.

It was interesting. The judge`s argument was that the signature requirement wasn`t so hard and fast. It was really about stopping fraud. It wasn`t just about stopping mistakes. So, a few signatures short, legitimately by mistake, the judge decided, no biggie, we`ll let it slide.

But then, this week, thanks to intrepid reporting from a local reporter named Marshall Zelinger at 7 News Denver, we learned that there is another problem with the signatures that got Jon Keyser on to that all-important ballot in Colorado. And this one is a doozy.


MARSHALL ZELINGER, 7 NEWS DENVER: Someone who collected signatures for Jon Keyser turned in these petitions to help earn his spot in the race. And based on what I found, there`s now a question on whether or not he actually has enough valid signatures to stay on the ballot.

Did you sign that petition?


ZELINGER: Did you sign this petition?


ZELINGER: To be clear, did you sign that petition?


ZELINGER: Denver 7 has identified more voters who confirmed that they did not sign these petitions to help former State Representative Jon Keyser qualify for the crowded Republican U.S. Senate primary ballot, even though their names, addresses, and signatures appear on these documents.

Someone has forged your name.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So, first, I don`t curl my Rs like that. I don`t curl my Ms like that. There`s no Ls in the signature. And my name is actually spelled incorrectly.

ZELINGER: Rachel`s signature has two problems. The first, whoever printed her name spelled "Malcolm" incorrectly, which probably should have been caught and disqualified by the secretary of state`s office but wasn`t. The second problem, that`s not her handwriting.


ZELINGER: Someone has forged your signature?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s just clearly not the way I sign my name.

ZELINGER: Denver voter Dave Keene also did not sign Keyser`s petition. Compare his forged signature with this, to his actual signature. Six other voters who did not want to appear on camera also confirmed that these signatures are not theirs.


MADDOW: Marshal Zelinger, 7 News Denver, doing great, amazing shoe leather reporting there, right?

I mean, when a candidate collects signatures to get on a ballot, it`s not unusual for some of those signatures to be disqualified, but it is unusual to have actual people whose signatures were forged speaking out on the evening news. And now, 7 News has set up a handy tool so Colorado voters can search the petitions that were filed for Jon Keyser to get on the ballot, to find out if their signatures were forged too.

As of today, the Denver district attorney`s office says they are reviewing the petitions that Jon Keyser submitted to become a Senate candidate. When Jon Keyser showed up for a Republican forum yesterday, he was asked over and over about these forged signatures, and the reason he was asked over and over and over again about it is because he refused to answer question about it.

He just kept saying, quote, "Here`s the important thing, I`m on the ballot." That`s all he would say, over and over. During the forum and in a follow-up interview with Marshall Zelinger, he repeated that exact phrase, "I`m on the ballot," 13 times.

And it`s true. The first ballots are due to be sent out tomorrow and Jon Keyser`s name is on them. But, wow! This really is supposed to be the Republican`s best or maybe only shot at flipping a Senate seat in the whole country this year. And their best shot at it is a candidate who didn`t technically make it on to the ballot and who appears to have gotten there by some pretty blatant fraud and who cannot answer a question about it to save his life.

So, you don`t need Donald Trump at the top of your ballot to screw things up for you. In the right race, you can screw things up all on your own.


MADDOW: Weird news day, right? I mean, it`s not every day -- not every year -- when the Republican Party`s presidential candidate apparently turns up on tape pretending to be someone else and hangs up on reporters who ask about it.

No, it`s Friday the 13th and everything, I know, but seriously, wow! I mean, usually, you`d have to go to prison after a day like this. But because you`ve been so good, instead, go play "HARDBALL".