Show: THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW Date: June 15, 2016 Guest: Guy Cecil, Richard Blumenthal
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC`S "ALL IN" HOST: 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.
HAYES: You bet.
MADDOW: And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour on what has turned out to be a very, very busy news day.
It started with the unexpected filibuster on gun reform that was mounted by Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy and then other Democrats on the Senate floor today. That filibuster started in the 11 a.m. hour today. As of this hour, it is still going on in the Senate. So we are like ten hours into this at this point and counting.
Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid`s office says the Democrats will drop this filibuster if Republicans agree to schedule a vote on expanded background checks for gun purchases, as well as a bill blocking gun sales to people who are on the terrorist watch lists. So, we`ll have the latest on this ongoing filibuster, including a live interview with one of the Democratic senators who has been in on this fight today.
That`s coming up in just a moment. Nobody knew this was coming. It`s been a big surprise today. And again, it continues into this evening as we speak.
Gun politics also got briefly confusing today when Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump said he would meet with the NRA to talk with them about people on the terrorist watch lists being able to buy guns.
Now, there`s no indication that this indicates any real breakthrough in terms of Republican government opposition to reforms like that one, but it is an interesting and indeed unexpected development on a day that had a lot of those.
We also just got in some brand new polling, which you have not seen anywhere. We`re going to break it exclusively here tonight. It sheds a little bit of light on the Hillary Clinton versus Donald Trump presidential race. It sheds even more light, though, on the issue of gun reform.
And specifically this new polling out tonight, which we`ve got exclusively, it shows how strongly even Republicans want there to be some basic lowest common denominator gun reforms now after the Orlando massacre. Again, we got that new polling data, swing state data here exclusively tonight. That is coming up in just a few minutes.
But, oh wait, there`s more, because there`s also new and unexpected presidential primary news today from each party. On the Republican side, it concerns Marco Rubio. When Florida Senator Marco Rubio declared he was running for president for 2016, one of the ways he tried to convey the seriousness of his presidential bid is that he also announced at the time that he would be all in in the presidential race. He would not simultaneously run for reelection in the Senate, even though he`s up this year. He`s up in 2016.
He announced he was running for president and it was basically president or bust. That led to a big open hurly-burley Senate primary in Florida with lots of different politicians vying to get into that race to replace Marco Rubio in the Senate now that his seat will be open. Now, perhaps inevitably, having lost the presidential primary to Donald Trump, Marco Rubio indicated today that at this late date, he`s maybe rethinking this whole decision about not running to stay in the Senate. Senator Rubio indicating to reporters today that he might run for reelection for his Senate seat after all. He says he`s going to spend the weekend talking with his family about it and then, inevitably next week, we will hear from Senator Rubio that he has decided to run to hold on to his seat in the Senate after all.
On the Democratic side of the presidential primary, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders of course had their big personal summit last night at the Washington, D.C. Hilton. The Democratic primary now is over now that D.C. has voted. Secretary Clinton has unequivocally clinched the Democratic nomination and won by a pretty considerable margin.
But Senator Bernie Sanders did not drop out of the race last night after their one-on-one meeting at the hotel in D.C. And we got today some surprising news of how Senator Sanders is going to get out of the race and what is expected from the big video summit that Bernie Sanders is planning for tomorrow night, with Bernie Sanders supporters all over the country. So, we`ve got that news coming up as well tonight. I told you there`s a lot going on.
And all of those stories breaking and developing tonight, of course, alongside what continues to be the biggest and most important story in the country, which is how the country is still reeling and still reacting to the largest mass shooting in U.S. history. This weekend in Orlando, the attack that killed 49 people on Latino night in a gay night club in Orlando, we now know this was the worst terrorist attack on U.S. soil since 9/11.
In terms of the investigation into that crime today, there`s news to the that law enforcement authorities are questioning the killer`s wife as to whether she had any advanced notice that he was going to attack that club. Also, they are asking whether she may have lied to investigators about what she knew once the attack had happened.
So, there`s a lot going on. But in the midst of all that ongoing and breaking news today and into tonight, a political and international bomb shell dropped tonight thanks apparently to a band of Russian hackers. "The Washington Post" had the first part of this story yesterday morning, and it was intriguing enough then. "The Washington Post" yesterday, quote, "Russian government hackers penetrated the computer network of the Democratic National Committee, they so thoroughly compromised the system they were able to read all e-mail and chat traffic. Some of the hackers had access to the DNC`s network for about a year.
A security group at the DNC apparently called it a deal with the hack, decided that there were two different Russian hacker groups that accessed the DNC`s network, the first one they called Cozy Bear. Cozy Bear apparently gained access to the DNC`s computers last summer and they were somehow monitoring and capturing e-mail traffic and messaging traffic inside the DNC. So, Cozy Bear was one group.
The second group they decided to call Fancy Bear. I don`t know. Cybersecurity is weird. But the security firm believes that the group Fancy Bear works for the GRU, which is the Russian military service. And that hacker group reportedly broke in to the Democratic Party`s network recently. They broke in in late April and specifically targeted the DNC`s opposition research files on Donald Trump. Hmm. Late April.
So when Donald Trump was locking up the Republican nomination in April, when he was winning New York and then Connecticut and then Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, when he was putting the Republican presidential nomination out of reach for any of his competitors, Russia`s military intelligence service apparently decided at that time that they would break in to the Democratic Party servers and check in on what the Democratic Party had in its files on this guy, Donald Trump, who is apparently going to be the Republican nominee for president.
This is interesting, right? I mean, whether or not you watch "The Americans," the idea of the Russian government sending spies to steal that kind of stuff in in America, that is intriguing, cloak and dagger, binge watch it kind of stuff. We do know this is not the first time stuff like this has happened.
In the 2008 presidential campaign, it was hackers backed by the Chinese government who broke into computers from the John McCain campaign. They also apparently broke into computers from the Barack Obama presidential campaign in 2008. There were reports in 2012 that Chinese government hackers tried again with the Romney and Obama campaigns in 2012.
You know, on the one hand, it`s a little scary that foreign governments like China and Russia are able to do this, right? Think about the consequences of this. If they`re able through this kind of hacking to obtain some truly damning and truly secret information about a candidate by breaking into computer files this way, then presumably if that candidate ended up becoming president, the Chinese or Russian government could then be in a position to use that information against the American government. I mean, conceivably they could use it to try to blackmail the sitting U.S. president. That is scary.
Also on the other hand, it`s a little flattering to know how interested these other countries are in our elections. If the American public cared half as much about our elections as the Russian and Chinese apparently do, we would probably triple our voter turnout in this country.
So, in terms of trying to get this in perspective, we do know that this has happened before. We know that the campaigns at least, if not the parties, have been targeted by foreign hackers sponsored by foreign governments in previous presidential elections. What is different here and now is that we know from "The Washington Post" reporting that apparently what they were after inside the Democratic Party was the Democratic Party`s opposition research on Donald Trump. That`s what they were after.
And the other thing that is different this year is that right now, we are in the Donald Trump era of Republican politics. And that makes a story like this even stranger and spookier this your than if it involved some normal American politician in some normal political year, because these hackers that broke into the Democratic Party servers, they`re Russian government hackers. At least according to the security firm that the DNC hired to protect it when they realized this breach had happened, they believe these hackers were dispatched by the Russian government, by Vladimir Putin.
And this year, Vladimir Putin has a very strange role to play in Republican politics because Donald Trump is the Republican nominee of the Republican Party and Donald Trump has some strange ideas about Vladimir Putin.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESUMPTIVE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Putin. He said Donald Trump is a genius and he`s the real leader over in that country. And these people I`m negotiating with all the time, these people on the stage with me, they said, you should disavow what Putin of Russia said.
I said, I`m not disavowing that he called me a genius. Are you crazy? Don`t worry, I can`t be seduced.
He called me a genius. He said Donald Trump is a genius and he`s going to be the leader of the party and he`s going to be the leader of the world or something. He said some good stuff about me and these characters that I`m one running against said, we want to you disavow that statement.
I said, what, he called me a genius, I`m going to disavow it? Are you crazy? Can you believe it? How stupid are they?
We want you to disavow the statement. I`m not going to disavow. And besides that, wouldn`t it be good if we actually got along with countries? Wouldn`t it be a positive thing, right? Do we have to always fight? I think I`d have a good relationship with Putin.
Well, actually, Putin did call me a genius and he said I`m the future of the Republican Party. So he`s off to a good start.
I will say -- I will say he`s off to a good start. Right, folks? And, by the way, I`m not a friend of Putin, I don`t know Putin, I`ve never met Putin, I respect Putin. He`s a strong leader, I can tell you that, unlike what we have. We have a pathetic leader. Pathetic.
Then Putin said Donald Trump is a genius, he`s going to be the next great leader of the United States. No, no, think of it. So, they wanted me to disavow what he said. How dare you called me a genius? How dare you called me a genius, Vladimir? Never say a thing -- wouldn`t it be nice if we actually got along with Russia? Wouldn`t that be good? I mean, is that a bad thing?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: I know what you call it when a person never forgets an insult, right? If somebody never forgets to sleight, you know, you say to a person who holds a grudge, right?
What do you call someone who never another gets a compliment. I mean, Putin says one flattering thing about Donald Trump and the press, Donald Trump decides that is enough to make Russia great ally of the United States. That makes Putin a great leader, a strong leader, somebody who the United States of America could work with. He said this nice thing about me.
I mean, look, they`re already on a first-name basis. Vladimir he calls him. Vladimir, he has said nice things about Donald Trump. And Donald Trump in return had said such nice things about Vladimir Putin that it`s actually becoming a political liability for him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESUMPTIVE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: He said if he were grading Vladimir Putin as a leader, he`d give him an A. Now, I will leave it to the psychiatrists to explain his affection for tyrants.
I just wonder how anybody could be so wrong about who America`s real friends are, because it matters. If you don`t know exactly who you`re dealing with, men like Putin will eat your lunch.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has criticized Donald and Vladimir sitting in a tree.
But their admiration really is mutual. I mean, look at this headline, "Putin praises Trump. He`s brilliant and talented person." "Putin praises bright and talented Trump." "Vladimir Putin praises outstanding and talented Trump."
There was some controversy over how to exactly translate Putin`s remarks, but Putin took care to flatter Donald Trump publicly, exactly the way Donald Trump likes to be flattered, and that`s apparently enough for Donald Trump, that`s all he needs to hear, that`s all he needs to know, to tell him, how great Vladimir Putin is. Putin likes Trump, he must be smart, must be great.
So, that is the very, very unusual context here, that you have a Republican presidential nominee who is very, very susceptible to flattery. It`s the most powerful thing in the world to him. If you compliment him, he will never forget it and that`s kind of all he needs to know about you.
And it`s one thing for the Russian government and the Chinese government to hack into a political party to get their opposition research on a candidate for president, right? But when the Republican candidate for president is Donald Trump and when Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin are so in love with each other, then when the Russian government breaks into the Democratic Party`s headquarters and gets their oppo file on Trump, it sort of has a different caste, right? I mean, it sort of raises the prospect of Russia and Vladimir Putin rooting for Donald Trump to win the U.S. presidential election.
I mean, that prospect is made even spookier by the fact that Trump`s campaign manager, Paul Manafort, has longstanding business ties to Russia, and pro-Putin dictators from whom he and his firm have taken millions of dollars. I mean, in a typical year with a typical presidential candidate, you wouldn`t look at the Russian government obtaining this oppo research file and you would think that their primary aim, you think that biggest risk to America would be that they use that opposition material against that candidate if he or she was ever elected president. They`d use it against the United States of America.
But when we learned about this hack at the DNC yesterday in "The Washington Post", this indication that Russia is actually rooting for Trump to become president, well, that raised the provocative prospect that Russia wouldn`t take that oppo file and use it against Donald Trump. Russia would take that oppo file and provide it to Donald Trump. They give it to him! Share it, leak it. So, nothing in that file could be used against him, right? Or at least he could defend everything in that final file because he`d know everything the DNC had to throw at him.
And then lo and behold, one day after "The Washington Post" story, one day after we learned that the Russian government had broken in and gotten hold of the Democratic Party`s opposition research file on Donald Trump, one day later, sure enough, the Smoking Gun and Gawker obtained and then published the file.
What appears to be the whole Donald Trump oppo file from the Democratic Party`s headquarters. They published it. It`s now in the public domain.
Donald Trump`s campaign and everybody has access to this whole 200-plus page document. It does appear to be the Democratic Party`s working oppo file, everything they had to throw against Donald Trump, at least everything they`ve been able to throw against him since mid December, which is when the document is dated.
So, I mean, I know how you say "mission accomplished" in Russian. Google translates says this is how you say you`re welcome in Russian.
MADDOW: Good. Play that one more time.
MADDOW: You`re welcome, right?
I mean, thanks for publishing everything they have in their arsenal against Donald Trump for this election year.
The DNC says tonight, quote, "We believe that today`s release and the claims around it may be a part of a disinformation campaign by the Russians." The Russians leaked the oppo file so it`s all public domain.
And so, now we have some interesting questions, right? Number one, what does is mean if the Russian government truly is trying to help the Donald Trump presidential campaign? How are we supposed to respond to that information in the country?
Number two, why was the DNC susceptible to this? "The Washington Post" said these hackers were rummaging around in the Democratic Party servers for a full year before they noticed and kicked them out.
But the biggest question here, and this may be the most crass question as well, but it`s pressing, the last question I have about this is, is this really all the Democrats have got? Because now, for whatever reason, we got thanks to the Russians, we`ve got access 200-page file labeled confidential, Donald Trump report, Democratic National Committee, December 19, 2015, and it has an elaborate table of contents. You go through all the different lines of arguments that the DNC apparently planned to use against his Trump.
He`s a liar, he`s loyal only to himself, he`s divisive, he`s a bad businessman, he`s an uninformed and reckless in terms of his policies. He`s demeaning and offensive to women. He sees women primarily as sex objects. He`s a rich guy who only wants to help himself and other rich people. He has a scandalous personal history, including with his ex-wives and girl friends.
And granted, it`s true, this -- going through this document, this 200-page document, it`s a very unflattering portrait of Donald Trump. But it is basically just a collection of news articles. There`s no individually -- individually researched stories here. There`s no original detective here, at least as far as can I tell.
It`s news stories that have been reorganized, categorized and formed into thematic argument by Donald Trump. But it`s all just public data. It`s all stuff you can get by Googling. Is this really all they`ve got?
In high level electoral politics, is this what a real opposition research treasure trove looks like? Is it damaging to the Democratic Party`s planned campaign against Donald Trump that this information is now out there for everybody to see, including the Trump campaign seeing it itself.
And belatedly, this document appears to be specifically from the Democratic National Committee, from the Democratic Party. It`s not from the Clinton campaign. Should we expect that even if this is all the Democratic Party has, should we expect that the Clinton campaign itself has some better dirt, has more original work? If not the Clinton campaign, should we expect that from the super PACs that are working for Hillary Clinton? Should we expect that they`d have something better, because this stuff is - -
In addition to the opposition research, there were a few other documents that were leaked online today, including donor information and policy notes from both Hillary Clinton and the DNC. But Donald Trump opposition research package is the surprise here, as is the very unsettling prospect that we are now living through the Russian government and Vladimir Putin playing their own role in our American presidential election. Eek.
MADDOW: In response to the news today that the Democratic National Committee has been hacked by Russian government hackers and as a result of that hacking the Democratic Party`s lengthy opposition research file on Donald Trump has been posted online. In response to that almost unbelievable news, the Trump campaign tonight has put out this statement, "This is all information that has been out there for many years. Much of it is false and/or entirely inaccurate. We believe it was the DNC that did the hacking as a way to distract from the many issues facing their deeply flawed candidate and failed party leader."
Now, I should tell you that NBC News has asked the Trump campaign when they said the DNC, quote, "did the hacking." They hacked themselves? I don`t know what they mean but we`ll let you know if we get that information.
Joining us now is Guy Cecil. He is the chief strategist for the pro- Hillary Clinton super PAC, Priorities USA.
Mr. Cecil, thank you very much for your time tonight. It`s nice to have you here.
GUY CECIL, PRIORITIES USA CO-CHAIR & CHIEF STRATEGIST: Thanks for having me.
MADDOW: So, this is a weird story. I don`t expect you direct information about this because you can`t coordinate directly with the Clinton campaign or with DNC. Does it seem feasible that Russian government hackers got into the DNC found this as the actual oppo ressearch file and published the file to help the Trump campaign?
CECIL: Well, I certainly think it`s more like that that happened that Fancy Bear and Cozy Bear and Fuzzy Bear were in a basement with Debbie Wasserman Schultz planning to release this as a way to distract from something or other. So I guess in this election, anything is possible.
MADDOW: You do opposition research for Mr. Trump presumably as part of your work on the super PAC. Is the document released today is that what opposition research files look like?
CECIL: Honestly, it`s phase one of what opposition research documents look like. A lot of times the very first thing that researchers will do is take a look at the public record, exactly what you pointed out. They`ll take a look at what`s been written, what`s been covered.
But that really is just the launching point to dig deeper into a candidate, especially someone like Donald Trump. You know, he`s not -- I know this is an understatement, Rachel -- a typical candidate. I mean, in a lot of ways. But he`s not one especially because he doesn`t have a legislative record, a policy record, a record as a governor.
And so, it`s really important we take a look at his business record, about things he has said about others because it`s a pretty good signal for what he would be like as president. So, I would note that, as you said, it was done in December and that my best guess is that it was simply a launching point for other research they were preparing to do.
MADDOW: Do you think it will strategically help the Trump campaign to have this document, even if it is an early document, even if it`s phase one of a multi-phase campaign. If you have something like that that the Republican Party had put together on Hillary Clinton, would you take it? Would it help you?
CECIL: Well, I think, certainly, you would take it. You`d rather have it than not. But most of the stuff in that report is pretty easily accessible through public records. The other fact of the matter is, is you could ignore everything in that report and just focus on what Donald Trump has said this week and it might be enough for most opposition research books to run a campaign against someone for president.
I mean, this week he used the murder of 49 people to congratulate himself and to retweet an article that suggested that Hillary Clinton had seen a briefing saying that Barack Obama was supporting ISIS. So, while it`s important to have this information, the fact is that Donald Trump has given us an enormous amount of material to work with just since he has announced for president.
MADDOW: Let me ask you one question, Guy, which is a little bit off the wall and you can take it exactly the way I mean it, which is literally. Donald Trump`s campaign manager, Paul Manafort, does have business ties to Vladimir Putin and dictators in other countries who have supported Vladimir Putin in the past. Are you actually worried or is it a potential line of attack or concern for you in your role in the super PAC that Trump has these ties to Putin and Russian interests?
CECIL: Look, I think there`s such an endless amount that concerns me about Donald Trump and certainly the work history of the people that are working for him, the ties that they have to other countries, the relationship that Donald himself has been trying to build by pointing out the, quote/unquote, "strength" of people like Vladimir Putin or Kim Jong-un, or the communist regime in China. You know, I`m looking forward to November, not only because I think Hillary will be elected, but because I`ll have to stop thinking about all the terrible ways that Donald Trump would destroy our country.
So, yes, of course, it worries me, but it worries me as much as a lot of the things he has said in the past week, the past month, the past six months, since he has run for president.
MADDOW: Guy Cecil, chief strategist for the pro-Clinton Priorities USA super PAC, thanks for helping us understand the story. Thanks for giving us a window into how you`re thinking about it. Appreciate it.
CECIL: Thanks, Rachel.
MADDOW: All right. So we know now what Bernie Sanders is doing tomorrow. We also know what he`s not doing tomorrow. It`s a bit of surprising piece of news from the Sanders campaign today. That`s ahead. Stay with us.
MADDOW: So nobody knew this was coming today, nobody had a tipoff even that this was happening until it was happening, but the Democrats in Washington are filibustering in the Senate for gun reform. It started about 11:30 Eastern Time this morning. It`s still going on right now. It`s being led by this man, Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy.
Before he was in the Senate, he represented Newtown, Connecticut, in the House. He says he can no longer look into the faces of the Connecticut families from Sandy Hook Elementary School and tell them that the country has done nothing to make things any better since Newtown, since though 20 first graders were killed in Connecticut going on four years ago now.
This filibuster again he launched today before the noon hour. We`re in hour ten and counting of this dramatic event today. Already, this filibuster today seems to have shaken loose some talk on possible compromise legislation in Congress.
We`ve got that story ahead. Stay with us.
MADDOW: In April, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders threw his support behind a congressional candidate from Nevada. He asked his supporters on his huge Bernie Sanders mailing list to please donate to her campaign as well. His supporters responded and helped Lucy Flores raise more than $600,000 in donations in the wake of that Bernie Sanders endorsement.
Well, yesterday in Nevada, Democratic primary voters went to the polls and they did not select Lucy Flores to be their candidate in the 4th district in Nevada. She lost that race by 14 points. Now, incidentally, she did lose to another progressive Latino candidate, but the Sanders candidate did not win.
And that`s tough news for team Sanders today, in what has otherwise honestly been a tough week for them. After last night`s meeting between Senator Sanders and Hillary Clinton, we also got word that the Sanders campaign was planning a big event for tomorrow night, a video address, sort of a telephone town hall that Bernie Sanders was planning for his supporters tomorrow night at 8:30 p.m. Eastern.
That planned address to what is likely to be hundreds of thousands of Sanders supporters tomorrow night and the fact that the press is invited to listen in on that, that led to pretty widespread speculation that tomorrow night might be the occasion on which Bernie Sanders officially bows out of the Democratic race and endorses Secretary Clinton. There`s a lot of speculation about that, but apparently, we now know tomorrow was not going to be the day that happens.
The Sanders campaign spokesman, Michael Briggs, has now told "Reuters" about tomorrow night`s planned event, quote, "No, he`s not ending it."
So, Bernie Sanders staff layoffs have been widely reported over the past week, he has stopped holding public rallies and events, but he is being very vocal about some of his political demands, including his desire to replace the leadership of the Democratic Party, he wants to change the way the Democratic Party runs its primaries. And maybe those demands are what tomorrow`s speech will be about, maybe they`ll be about some organizing effort for how to keep the Sanders campaign energy together now that the Democratic primary is over.
But the Democratic primary is over. Senator Sanders ran a strong campaign, he came in second. Even so, he is as of right now still in with no firm plans for when he will get out.
What`s next for him? Maybe we`ll find out that tomorrow night. Watch this space.
MADDOW: Despite mountains of evidence to the contrary, about this time every year, Congress likes to show Americans that people in Washington really can work together as a group, outdoors.
Behold the bipartisan bliss of the annual congressional picnic on the South Lawn of the White House. Republicans and Democrats and Bruno Mars and Yoyo Ma all hanging out unifier. That happened last night.
And tonight, it was the congressional women`s soft ball game where the most powerful women on earth put aside their differences and put on matching shorts to work together a common enemy, the journalists who cover them every day. It`s congressional women, Democrats and Republicans together, versus the women of the congressional press corp.
Andrea Mitchell always calls the game. The politicians usually win. But tonight, the journalists did.
So, politics is a fight, and these barbecue and ball games are usually displays are as far as politicians go toward even pretending to stand each other, let along enjoy working together. But I like those little pageants of bipartisanship, even if they are mostly made up. And every once in a while, those things don`t look so crazy. Tonight, a spirit of cooperation may be finding its way to Capitol Hill on something real, a matter of real work. And that remarkable story is next.
MADDOW: I said at the top of the show we`ve got some new exclusive data tonight. We do. This comes out of the battlefield state of Virginia, hot off the presses. We are first to get this tonight. It`s new data from Public Policy Polling.
And the top line result from this poll in Virginia, swing state Virginia, is that Hillary Clinton is beating Donald Trump there. She beats him by 3 points in Virginia if you include minor party candidates Gary Johnson and Jill Stein, she also beats him by 3 points in Virginia, if you just take Hillary Clinton versus Donald Trump head to head.
So that`s a good result for Democrats. Hillary Clinton beating Donald Trump in this new Virginia poll.
But here is what is more interesting than that. This poll was conducted after the Orlando shooting this weekend and they asked questions in this poll about gun laws. And check this out. On support for universal background checks, look at these numbers. This is among Virginia registered voters, universal background checks supported by 93 percent of Democrats, by 87 percent of independents, by 83 percent of Republicans. Even Republicans favor universal background checks, 83 percent of Republicans.
PPP also polled support for stopping people on an FBI terror watchlist from buying guns and that support is also overwhelming, 89 percent of Democrats support banning people on the terror watchlist from purchasing a firearm, 89 percent of Democrats, 84 percent of independents, 85 percent of Republicans. Eighty-five percent of Republicans. That`s in Virginia, swing state Virginia, anything that popular should be politically possible -- you`d think.
These are live pictures of the Senate floor right now where Democrats for ten hours and counting have been staging a filibuster, a surprise filibuster to get Congress to act on the issue of gun violence. This surprised filibuster started at 11:21 Eastern Time this morning led by Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy. Senator Murphy represented Newtown Connecticut as a congressman before he went into the Senate.
Senator Murphy has had help over the course of the day from at least 30 other Democratic senators, including the senior senator from Connecticut, Richard Blumenthal. But Murphy has been there all this time, and at this point, it`s unclear how long this is going to ill go into tonight.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. CHRIS MURPHY (D), CONNECTICUT: This isn`t new to me, but I`m at my wit`s end. I`ve had enough. I`ve had enough of the ongoing slaughter of innocents, and I`ve had enough of inaction in this body.
There is a panoply of measures that we need to consider. We have suggested starting with the two that are the least controversial. Start with the two that have the broad support of the American public. Start with an expansion of background checks to gun shows and internet sales and the inclusion of people on the terrorist watchlists of those that are prohibited to buy guns. Those are the two that there`s no controversy outside of this body on. So, it would be a nice start and then we can get to the other measures that will truly understand with substantial change, the change in reality of people who live with this epidemic every day.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: In addition to the 30 Democratic senators who have joined Chris Murphy on the floor today, two Republican senators, Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse and Pennsylvania Senator Pat Toomey also went to the floor today, mainly to ask questions and voiced concerns about due process rights for Americans who may inadvertently end up on a terrorist watchlist.
But Senator Murphy started this conversation today. Pat Toomey, among several other Republicans, has said in addition to everything else he said today that there must be some sort of compromise way forward on this, that there must be some way to get something to pass.
And just to keep things interesting, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump tweeted this early today, quote, "I will be meeting with the NRA, who has endorsed me, about not allowing people on the terrorist watch lit or the no-fly list to buy guns."
Now, the NRA has already responded by saying they`re happy to meet with Mr. Trump but they also said they`re not budging on this issue. The question is, has Chris Murphy and has Orlando, have they shaken something loose here? Might there be room to move on this issue somehow, finally? And how late is this filibuster going to go into the night tonight?
Joining us now is one of the senators who has been involved in this today, Connecticut Senior Senator Richard Blumenthal.
Senator Blumenthal, I know it`s been a very big and tiring day. Thank you for being with us tonight.
SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D), CONNECTICUT: Thank you.
It`s been a long day on the floor. Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey and I have been with Chris Murphy, our senator -- my colleague from Connecticut, for the day. And it`s been enormously inspiring to see more than 35 of my Democratic colleagues come to the floor, very eloquently and powerfully to talk about their support for these two very modest measures, a start as Chris Murphy has stated so eloquently.
MADDOW: What do you think you`re shaking loose? Democrats are basically united at least on those kinds of gun control measures you`re talking about there, the terrorist watchlist and background check loophole. But do you think you`re shaking loose anything from Republicans?
BLUMENTHAL: Shaking loose, maybe. But what is truly shaking loose the gridlock is I think Orlando and the tipping point that it may reflect. We have been feeling mounting frustration and outrage, 30,000 deaths a year, as you well know because you`ve covered it so well, this kind of carnage and slaughter is not just the mass killings.
It`s the one by one on the streets of Hartford or Washington, D.C. And so, what we have said this week is, yes, we`ll consider this appropriations bill for commerce, justice and science, a routine kind of measure, important, but no more business as usual. Enough is enough. There is this national consensus. The poll you`ve just cited reflects a countrywide support for stopping terrorists` access to guns.
If somebody is suspected based on evidence of aiding or preparing or engaging in terrorist activity, shouldn`t that person be stopped from buying a gun and shouldn`t there be expanded background checks to make sure that law and other prohibitions against dangerous felons or dangerous people buying guns be enforced as well ? And I think shaking loose is the logic of these positions and the frustrations of the American people and their consensus.
MADDOW: Senator Blumenthal, how late do you think this filibuster is going to go? How long do you think this will be? We`ve got a -- we had a clock up over the course of this program. You`re about 10 1/2 hours right now. How late will this go into this evening?
BLUMENTHAL: Well, I`ll let you know when I get back. There`s been a long day but we want there to be votes on these two proposals. We think the American people deserve action. Words are fine but actions speak louder than words and we want there to be votes on amendments that will say the attorney general can bar someone from buying guns based on evidence of engagement and terrorism or related activities or support from say, ISIS, who can be against that proposal, and expanded background checks.
Now, it`s a start. There also ought to be an elimination of immunity from any kind of accountability or responsibility legally that only the gun industry enjoys. There ought to be more protection for survivors and victims. There ought to be a ban on illegal trafficking and straw purchasing, mental health initiatives, school safety.
This one is just a start. These votes are just a start in a continuing battle.
MADDOW: Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal, I have a feeling it`s going to still be a long night ahead. Thanks for taking the time to tell us what`s going on, sir. Good luck.
BLUMENTHAL: Thank you.
MADDOW: Thank you.
All right. We`ll be right back.
MADDOW: Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is known for hyperbole. But there is a thing about him that if he becomes president will be legitimately record breaking. First time in U.S. history, and I am not sure I heard him brag about this particular thing, but maybe he will start after this next story. I kind of hope so. That`s next.
MADDOW: Ronald Reagan`s first presidential inauguration in 1981 was an inauguration that made history. Reagan was the first president sworn in on the west front of the capitol, which is how we`ve done it ever since. And Ronald Reagan also made history that day as the oldest person even sworn in as president.
In January, 1981, Ronald Reagan was 69 years old, our oldest president ever. And he retains that distinction, still holds that record.
That record is now at risk, because yesterday, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump turned 70, which means that if he wins the presidency, Donald Trump would be the oldest person to ever ascend to the White House. Now, perhaps anticipating a little shpilkes about this, in December, Mr. Trump released an usual letter from his physician attesting to his health.
It was unusual not because it was a doctor`s letter because of the way it was written. Quote, Mr. Trump has had a recent complete examination that showed only positive results. Quote, "Actually," the word "actually" is in there, "Actually, his blood pressure, 110 over 65 and lab test results were astonishingly excellent. His physical strength and stamina are extraordinary. If elected, Mr. Trump I can state unequivocally will be the healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency."
Healthiest president ever, unequivocally. So, happy 70th birthday this week to the man who would be the oldest penalty in U.S. history. Happy birthday, Mr. Trump, unequivocally.
Now, this week also marks the one year anniversary of Mr. Trump announcing that he would run for president this year. It`s ended up being a very successful run obviously. He dispatched 16 other competitors and secured the nomination with relative ease. But because of how unlikely Donald Trump has been as a candidate, let alone, nominee, a lot of people have wondered if Donald Trump had any idea at the outset, at the beginning, that he would go this far? That he would win?
Well, that is actually something that we have evidence about. It is this. On this one-year anniversary of Donald Trump coming down the escalator, and announcing what ended up being this bewildering run for the presidency, it is worth remembering that at the start of his campaign, on the day he announced at Trump Tower, he reportedly had to pay people to be there to pretend to be his supporters.
Now, Donald Trump obviously went on to have plenty of support among Republican voters. But at the beginning, on day one, he had to do a casting call, pay people $50 a pop, to come to Trump Tower to pretend they supported him. Quote, "New York-based Extra Mile sent an email last Friday to its client list of background actors, meaning extras, seeking extras to beef up attendance at Trump`s event. In partnership with Gotham Government Relations and Communications, which is a New York-based political consulting work that`s worked with Trump in the past," this firm Extra Mile sent this email out as their casting call.
It starts, "Hi there," there is misspelling and grammar here, but this is the gist of it. "We are working, helping one of our associates out at Gotham Government Relations with a big event happening Tuesday, June 16th. This is an event in support of Donald Trump, and upcoming exciting announcement he`ll be making at this event. The event will be televised. We are looking to cast people to wear t-shirts, and carry signs and help cheer him in support of his announcement. We understand this is not a traditional background job," meaning a traditional job for extras, "but we believe that acting comes in all forms and this is inclusive of that school of thought. The happening live and will be from 8:45 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.," that is, all caps, "less than three hours."
"The rate for this is $50 cash, at the end of the event. We would love to book you if you`re interested and still available. Please let us know. We`ll get back to you with confirmation."
Exactly one year ago, actors were preparing to pretend to support Donald Trump in exchange for money, as he made his announcement at Trump Tower that he was running for president, he had to stack the room with paid extras. But then he got up to the microphone, and started talking and said, Mexican immigrants are rapists and criminals, then lo and behold, he didn`t need paid extras anymore. The real Republican voters started flocking to him, and made him that party`s presidential nominee.
The phrase you are looking for is fake it until you make it, because that really is what he did, one year ago this week. Happy birthday.
That does it for us tonight. We will see you again tomorrow.
Now, it`s time for "THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL".
Good evening, Lawrence.
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