Show: THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW Date: September 14, 2016 Guest: Karen Weaver
CHRIS HAYES, "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.
Today was a weird day in the news. It was -- today was a weird one. I searched out weird, I like weirdness in the news, a lot of days seem weird to me, today was really weird.
The Kurt Eichenwald story did come out in "Newsweek Magazine." It`s a sort of epic country by country review of Donald Trump`s business interests abroad -- business interest and financial linkages that could be a real toxic mess in terms of conflicts of interests if Donald Trump is elected president -- whether or not he severs himself formally from the business empire that is his name.
The Trump campaign said today that their current plan if Donald Trump is elected is that they`ll separate him from the company, but he`ll just hand the whole thing over to his children. That, of course, would not help with the conflicts of interest issue, right? I mean, if the Trump family is still operating the Trump organization, a President Trump could take actions as president that would finally benefit the Trump Organization and his children who would be running it, he could also take actions to financially benefit himself if he reattaches himself to the organization after his presidency.
So, yes, we were first to report last night the bare bones of this bombshell cover story from "Newsweek" magazine, it is now official out, and so, that`s a big deal. The main response from the Trump campaign so far is the line about how he`s only benefiting his children. It is not a conflict of interests. They have also taken a bunch of swipes at the reporter himself. But this story is a big one. It`s going to continue to resonate and we`re going to have more during the course of this hour. That happened today.
Also today, in pure political gossip terms, today, hackers released two years worth of personal e-mails from former secretary of state and former chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Colin Powell. And now we all know, in private correspondent, General Powell has unbelievably even profanely critical things to say about a lot of other bald faced names in politics, everybody from Donald Trump to Hillary Clinton, to Bill Clinton to Donald Rumsfeld, to Paul Wolfowitz, to what he described as the Benghazi witch hunters, to Trump advisor General Michael Flynn. Boy, does he have a thing about him.
He also goes on about not just Dick Cheney, but also Dick Cheney`s daughter Liz. Colin Powell in these hack and release emails, he calls Dick and Liz Cheney, quote, "idiots and a spent force." There are no ellipses there. I`m not combining two things. Those five words in a row.
"Idiots and a spent force." I mean, name-calling that potent is fun in any context, but when it is freaking Colin Powell, right, until recently, a perennial presidential contender, he remains one of most prominent and respected elder statesmen in the last 40 years in this country. I mean, when it`s Colin Powell who`s calling people and idiots and spent force, and calling people f-ing liars, and racist and sleazy and a disaster -- well, yes, that`s a weird news day.
Today also got even weirder when we had this remarkable moment in Flint, Michigan, this afternoon. Donald Trump flew into Flint for a photo-op as that city struggles through the lead poisoning crisis that was thrust about them through no fault of their own, through the actions of the state government. Although Flint`s mayor initially said that Donald Trump would be distracting city workers from their jobs, he would essentially in the way of the important work that needs to be done in Flint, Donald Trump did show up anyway, and he got a tour of the now shuttered water treatment plant at one point involved him awkwardly squeezing through a tight spot between that white pillar and that yellow railing. That was weird.
Mr. Donald Trump went on, thereafter to give remarks at a local church and there was just this moment. There`s Donald Trump, Republican nominee, speaking to a stonily silent, mostly empty room in Flint, at this Flint church that`s been one of the hubs for distributing water and healthy food and water filters in that community.
And Donald Trump is there, he`s basically trying to limp through his speech with this stone faced, silent, sparse audience, in the middle of that, the pastor of the church gets up on stage, puts up her hands and stops him. Stop right there. I watched this live when it happened. It`s just an incredible moment.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Hillary failed on the economy. Just like she`s failed on foreign policy, everything she touched didn`t work out. Nothing, now Hillary Clinton --
REV. FAITH GREEN TIMMONS: Mr. Trump, I invited you here to thank us for what we have done in Flint, not to give a political speech.
TRUMP: OK. OK. OK. That`s good.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: So that happened this afternoon in Flint, what happened right after that was even kind of more amazing. It`s interesting, Donald Trump being stopped in his tracks. We have actually got Flint`s mayor, who`s going to be a special guest tonight in just a few minutes to talk about that visit, to talk about how the Trump campaign basically snubbed her, we`ll talk about why his reception in Flint was a few degrees below frosty.
We`re also going to talk with the mayor about what`s going with the state of the ongoing lead poisoning disaster in Flint, which is still ongoing. So, that all is still ahead tonight. But it`s just been a crazy day, a fast moving day, a weird day of news.
We got news today, just for example, that a dead guy just won his election. A local Republican Party actually told voters that they preferred the dead guy to his living challenger and it was such a Republican district that those Republican leaders, the dead guy beat a live guy.
We also got news today that the DNC has gotten more of its documents hacked and released apparently by Russian government hackers. It`s just been a weird day. OK? And we`ll get into a lot of those stories over the course of this evening and this hour.
Because of how weird our presidential race is, specifically right now, even on a day with news that strange, news that outlandish and surprising, today was also the day when we had to learn that Virginia senator and Democratic vice presidential contender Tim Kaine, he`s got a cyst about like right here somewhere. I think right here.
It`s like two centimeters by four centimeters. I think it is in this general area, I was looking at the anatomical charts where they cut up people like cuts of meat and tell you what all the different medical areas. I think it`s here.
It`s a subcutaneous cyst, two centimeters by four centimeters. It`s apparently nothing to worry about. It`s not changing overtime. Tim Kaine, we also now know, he once broke his collarbone. He once dislocated his shoulder. He also had his wisdom teeth taken out.
Tim Kaine takes no medication, but his vitamin D is low. So, his doctor says that he should take some vitamin D.
The good news, Senator Kaine, is that vitamin D now comes in gummies. They`re delicious. I look forward to my vitamin D everyday. Honestly, it`s like a highlight of my day. Oh, it`s time for my vitamins.
And now, I feel closer to Time Kaine than I`ve ever had before. Now I know he used to have plantar fasciitis, but it`s now feeling better.
The reason we know all this disturbingly intimate detail is because today, we got a lot a release of medical information on Tim Kaine, turns out he`s fine. He`s a little bit husky, he`s 5`11" and 208 pounds. So, I mean, in the grand scheme of things, slightly on the stocky side, but honestly, nothing to worry about. Like I said, he`s fine.
In recent campaigns, we also got health status reports on Joe Biden and Paul Ryan, and Sarah Palin. We get this on vice presidential contenders now. We got that released today on Tim Kaine. We expect one soon on Mike Pence.
Today, we also got a second release of health information about Hillary Clinton`s health. The campaign says the letter they released from Hillary Clinton`s doctor last summer was intended to be an overview of her total health history and status. That letter paid special attention and gave specific detail about what the campaign described as the one significant health issue Hillary Clinton has had as an adult, which is that concussion she suffered in 2012.
The updated letter they released today, they described as basically an update on her health status since that last letter last summer. And although they still say the only significant health issue she has had as an adult is that concussion she had back in 2012, and that new release gave quite a lot of detail and chronology about that episode that she had this weekend that caused so much concern, when she fell ill at the 9/11 memorial service.
So, now, we know. And even though it`s just a two-page letter, we now -- it`s single spaced and it`s a lot of detail. It feels weird that we`re allowed to know this about another person, right, outside of ourselves or our immediate family members, but presidential candidates are the one category of persons that just doesn`t get the same privacy on these matters as every other American does.
We are allowed to know, and we expect to know, this is part of how we make our decision on who we feel comfortable voting for. And so, now, we know all this incredible detail. We now know in January of this year, Hillary Clinton got sinusitis, and she got an ear infection, left ear, antibiotics and steroids did not alleviate the problem. So, she got a little tube put in there and that apparently fixed it.
Two months later, in March, as a sort of follow up, they did a CT scan for sinuses and her head, her brain and everything. It showed that the sinusitis, the sinus infection this is mild, but it`s chronic, it`s not really going away. Other than that, all is well. Her brain is fine. No abnormalities of the brain. Good that we can all brag on the same feature.
Fast forward to this month, to the Friday before the 9/11 event, not two days before the 9/11 event, not that Friday but the previous week, some nine days before 9/11, she went to see her doctor again because she had a low grade fever, she was feeling fatigue, she had congestion. The doctor said it was an upper respiratory infection, quote, "in the setting of her seasonal allergies."
It should be noted, this was around the time I think that her campaign manager was hospitalized with an upper respiratory infection as well. But after that September 2nd visit to her daughter, she apparently took a short-term course of antibiotics which did not help, so she came back a week later, and not feeling any better, that`s when the doctor did a -- let me get this right -- noncontrast chest CT scan, which is apparently like one step up from a chest x-ray and it revealed, quote, "mild, noncontagious bacterial pneumonia."
The doctor says that Hillary Clinton at that point was advised to rest. We now know that she did not. We went back and just looked at our NBC coverage calendar, from that day that she was diagnosed with pneumonia, we know that that same day, Hillary Clinton did a fund-raiser in Manhattan, she held her big national security meeting which I think was a two-hour meeting. She held a press conference about that.
She did multiple media interviews, she did another fund-raiser, followed by another fund raiser and she went to another memorial service on Sunday and that was when she had that episode that freaked everybody out.
The doctor says she has evaluated Secretary Clinton since then several times, and she says Secretary Clinton continues to improve. She`s been off the campaign trail resting since Sunday, just doing an occasional phone interview. But she`s due back on the campaign trail as of tomorrow afternoon in North Carolina.
The new letter from Clinton`s doctor just release today concludes as follows, quote, "My overall impression that is that Mrs. Clinton has remained healthy and has not developed new medical conditions this year other than a sinus and ear infection, and her recently diagnosed pneumonia. She is recovering well with antibiotics and rest, and she continues to remain healthy and fit to serve as president of the United States.
Clinton campaign tells us tonight that they basically now consider this done. They have now released in their estimation much more detailed health information than other healthy presidential candidates did, people like Barack Obama or Mitt Romney. They say they are not planning what some people call a "full McCain", a universal release of hundreds if not thousands of pages, every health related document that`s ever been produced over the course of Hillary Clinton`s lifetime, they said that kind of release is not warranted, even though they`ve heard the calls that she should do that.
They say that`s not warranted, essentially because Hillary Clinton`s health history is nothing like John McCain`s health history, not least because of his multiple and recurring battles with cancer, which she has nothing near. So, as far as they`re concerned, they`re done.
On the other side, naturally it`s now utter and complete chaos. And the difficult part of this for me is that I think part of it might be my fault. And that`s next.
MADDOW: There`s so much going on in the news right now, there`s so much going on even just in the political campaign. But the Trump campaign has basically created a circus around the issue of their candidate`s health. And I`m sorry to say -- I don`t know if I`m sorry, but I feel like I should at least fess up to the fact that the first tent of that circus, the first ring of that three-ring circus may have been put up by me here on this show.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: So, Mr. Trump, personally, and your campaign, members of your campaign, have repeatedly now raised this concern of Secretary Clinton`s health. Now the only testimony we have of Mr. Trump`s health is this letter from his gastroenterologist saying that his lab results were astonishingly excellent. The letter ends by saying, "If elected, Mr. Trump I can state unequivocally will be the healthiest person ever elected to the presidency."
And that`s really funny, but as a doctor`s letter, it`s a little bit absurd. It`s a nonserious later, it`s full of typos, it`s hyperbolic, it`s unprofessional. A lot -- most of the letter has no medical meaning, it links to a website that doesn`t economist.
If he was elected, Donald Trump would be the oldest person ever to be sworn in as president. Whether or not he`s going to try to make Hillary`s health the issue, doesn`t he owe it to the American people to release an actual, an actual medical report, a more credible, more complete statement?
KELLYANNE CONWAY, TRUMP CAMPAIGN MANAGER: Perhaps. But I want to say something about Hillary Clinton`s health, it`s not an issue that I care to comment on, because I`m not a doctor, she`s not a patient. And I just tell you what I see with my own two eyes, which is, I don`t see someone who really enjoys campaigning the way he does.
MADDOW: But Hillary Clinton released a normal doctor statement, what we have got from Mr. Trump, that really is absurd. I mean, for one, why is -- a gastroenterologist is a digestive specialist. Why is Donald Trump seeing a gastroenterologist for 35 years?
CONWAY: Oh, that I don`t know for sure. There are certain things I just learn in the last week, Rachel, I promise.
MADDOW: As the campaign manager, can I please make a request of you? Could we get a more substantial medical --
CONWAY: I will pass on the request. And I assure you that he has doctors and physicians.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: He has doctors and physicians, both kinds. That was August 24th. The Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway is a very nice person telling me that, yes, perhaps, Donald Trump should release more complete medical information. That was August 24th.
Two days later, August 26th, NBC News snagged an interview with Dr. Donald Trump`s doctor, his gastroenterologist who did write that, in my words, absurd letter that Trump had circulated as the only statement about his health. And in that interview, on the 26th of August, Donald Trump`s gastroenterologist said that he wrote that letter in about five minutes while a car idled outside waiting for him to produce it. He also admitted that he had standard concerns about Donald Trump`s health that you would have for any 70-year-old man. He said some of the more over the top statements in that letter, at least one of them, the astonishingly healthy lab results, that was intended as a joke.
Two days after that, August 28th, Donald Trump tweeted that he agreed, he should release more detailed medical records. And then a week later, on September 5th, Donald Trump told ABC News that he would release further information on his health whether or not Hillary did as well.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: You`re 70, she`s 68. Do you think the American people deserve to know more about both of you in --
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: I would love to give specifics, as far as I`m concerned. And if she wants to go, I`ll do it 100 percent.
REPORTER: Why not go first?
TRUMP: I might do that, I might do that. In fact, now that you ask, I think I will do that.
REPORTER: You will?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Now that you ask.
By the end of that week, which is last week, we got this announcement from this daytime TV show, "The Dr. Oz Show", announcing that Donald Trump would be appearing on that daytime TV show with that TV doctor to talk about Mr. Donald Trump`s health.
Yesterday, the host of that daytime talk show, Dr. Oz, went on FOX News radio and said Trump would be actually handing over his medical records to Dr. Oz, to the host of that TV show live on TV. The medical records would be revealed on TV.
Then, interestingly, this morning, that was off. The Trump telling reporters they had basically changed their mind. They would not be handing over Trump`s medical records on the daytime TV show. In fact, frankly, that`s a ridiculous suggestion. Why would you even say we could consider that?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Now, John Roberts just reported a little while ago that he`s going to go on Dr. Oz today, but that he is not going to release the results of his physical, why is that?
CONWAY: On a TV show? I don`t think that --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That was the original plan, wasn`t it?
CONWAY: Uh, no.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Uh, yes.
The Trump campaign followed that up today, that appearance by the campaign manager this morning on FOX, no, that was never the plan, we were never going to do that, following up by insisting to reporters that, yes, in no uncertain terms that Trump was not going to release his medical records or his lab results, or the results of his physical on that TV talk show, no way, not happening.
And then, today, while taping the TV show, sure enough, Donald Trump went on that TV talk show, and surprise, with a flourish, he handed over what he said were his medical records, or at least the description of how he did at his recent physical. I don`t know. I don`t know what they were. We don`t know.
No reporters were at the taping, nothing has been released publicly, we`re told that what he handed over on TV is another one page medical summary from our old friend Dr. Bornstein. Who knows? I don`t know if the same caveats apply. I`m not sure if there are jokes in this one too.
We can report tonight that the host of the TV show, Dr. Mehmet Oz, had in fact never seen whatever that document was before Donald Trump showed it to him on the set of his TV show. So, it`s not like he did a big background check or a lot of reading about what he had found or anything.
The Clinton campaign told us tonight that in their view, the whole spectacle that Donald Trump has created around this whole issue is in that words "ridiculous".
According to the Clinton campaign, Donald Trump is, quote, "making a mockery" of this. And so, ultimately, bottom line, we have still got nothing. And maybe we shouldn`t care.
But the Donald Trump campaign remains the only presidential campaign in U.S. history to have made such a hash and such a bizarre spectacle out of what is usually a totally run of the mill part of the presidential campaign.
And, you know, there`s all these serious concerns swirling around the Trump Foundation and how truthful Trump and his campaign have been about that foundation and whose money that foundation is giving away anyway. And with this new damning report in "Newsweek" on Trump`s financial entanglements, through his business and whether those might be prohibitively conflicting for him and his family if her were elected president, unless he drastically served himself from his life`s work and his business interests, with all the serious stuff out there about Trump, with him even today just basically getting the hook and getting yanked off stage in Flint, Michigan, tonight by that pastor.
I mean, with all that stuff going, you know what, if you`re a real showman, if you`re good at being a showman, you can distract from all that and more with a little bread and circus, a real showman can convince people they have seen something even if they have not actually seen it.
There`s been no release of information about Donald Trump`s health. Nobody other than that guy on TV has seen anything new about Donald Trump`s health today, even though a lot of people have now convinced themselves that he`s made some new disclosure about his health.
A great showman can pick something, pick any one thing and be so ridiculous about it that everybody stops whatever else they were paying attention to before and pays attention to that ridiculous circus instead, and not only do we pay attention, we pay for the privilege of paying attention to it. That`s what showmanship is, it`s a con, but it`s very compelling.
This is a weird day in the news, but a lot of what happened in today`s news makes me feel like I need to wash.
We`ll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. MEHMET OZ, THE DR. OZ SHOW: Why not share your medical records? Why not --
TRUMP: Well, I have no real problem in doing it. I have it right here? I mean, should I do it? I don`t care.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OZ: If elected at age 70, you will be the oldest person to ever enter the Oval Office. Why do you think you have the stamina for the job?
TRUMP: Yes. Just about the same age as Ronald Reagan and Hillary`s a year behind me. I would say, just based on this stage of my life. I mean, I`ve had -- I actually, and I don`t know if this makes sense, I feel as good today as I did when I was 30.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Oh, well, that`s totally resolved then, done and dusted, how do you feel? I feel great. Really, how great do you feel?
Presidential candidate Donald Trump appeared on daytime TV show, earlier today. It was taped today. It`s due to air tomorrow. During that taping, Mr. Donald Trump handed over what he said were some kind of medical record prepared by his doctor who he says gave him a physical exam last week.
Joining us now is Dr. Natalie Azar. She`s NBC News medical contributor and she`s very kindly stayed up late even on TV all day, and working on this and other stories. Thank you for being here.
DR. NATALIE AZAR, NBC NEWS MEDICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Thanks for having me.
MADDOW: Did we actually learn any substantive medical information about Donald Trump today or are we sort of waiting for a document?
AZAR: Well, we`re still waiting to actually visualize the document that Dr. Oz himself saw today. What I still didn`t hear is a list of medical problems. I just -- it`s just -- we like to be systematic about these things, what we know are the medicines that he takes, and from that, you can infer what medical problems he has.
But what I think what was in the letter today were some results of previous EKGs, chest x-rays, colonoscopy, labs from last week, which were reportedly normal, apparently that he was examined and according I think to the impression from Dr. Oz, there was nothing, you know, untoward about his physical exam. We did hear about his weight and to paraphrase from Dr. Oz, that he was a little bit overweight. There was some discrepancy in the reporting about how much he weighed, so we can`t calculate a BMI, but nonetheless, it was slightly elevated.
So, in sum, we have -- we have more information. We do have what I would call some more legitimate communication about his health history, meaning in language that we can all understand.
MADDOW: In the sense that, if what`s in the document is what we think is in the document, it has been conveyed essentially doctor to doctor --
AZAR: In a doctor way.
MADDOW: -- in a way that made sense to the doctor who was reading it.
AZAR: Without the superlatives, without the, you know, hyperbole.
MADDOW: At least we think.
AZAR: We think, exactly.
It`s interesting, though, because you would think you would go from the letter eight months ago, or ten months ago that we all have now read multiple times.
MADDOW: I can quote it from memory.
AZAR: I and I`m sure a lot of doctors in this country can`t wait to get their eyes on this one, you know? But, you know, to give everybody the benefit of the doubt, based on what we heard from the interview with Oz today, he`s a relatively healthy man, we know that he`s on a statin. So, he`s being treated for hyperlipidemia, a high cholesterol level.
AZAR: And that he`s on aspirin, a baby aspirin, that`s also to reduce cardiovascular risk. So, I`m not suggesting that there`s a competition between cardiovascular risk profiles between the two candidates, but if you`re talking about presidential fitness and presidential health and who`s going to be the healthiest for the next eight years, we know cardiovascular disease is, of course, the number one killer in this country. I would say that Clinton is doing incredibly well. She`s not being treated for any of those conditions. And Donald Trump is being treated for those conditions, which is good, because that lowers his risk.
But, you know, on balance--
MADDOW: She`s healthier than he is cardiovascularly speaking.
AZAR: You said it.
MADDOW: OK. Well, we`ll see when we get this documentation tomorrow.
On the point of what we learned about Clinton`s health today, first, I want to ask you medically, I said that the type of scan that she got in which her pneumonia was being diagnosed is sort of one step up beyond a chest x- ray? Is that accurate to describe it that way?
AZAR: Yes, definitely, definitely, it`s more conclusive.
MADDOW: Was there anything in that letter from her doctor today that you found concerning or particularly interesting from a medical point of view?
AZAR: Actually, I found it reassuring, because when we found -- I wasn`t aware, I don`t know that we were all aware that a week before 9/11, she was already treated for an infection with an antibiotic, and then still develop pneumonia on top of it, which just tells me that she was really sick for a while, right, and still going out there and doing everything.
But it sounds like her doctor was on it. To get a CAT scan that night, right, you`re not wasting any time. It`s like, this isn`t good. You`re still not feeling well, you still have a cough, I want to rule out pneumonia. She obviously did, she ruled it in.
And they also did something called a calcium score on the CAT scan while they were at, which is a score that reviews. Yes, it`s to see how much calcium has built up in the coronary arteries and the heart ,which her score was zero.
So, again, listen, I have to tell you, I was hoping not to be prove on wrong from her talk on Monday night, but there was absolutely nothing that was revealed in the letter today that was at all unusual or shocking or novel, quite honestly. It was much adieu about nothing, quite obviously, the sinusitis and the infections, like I said on Monday, very ordinary. So, that`s good.
MADDOW: Dr. Natalie Azar, NBC News medical contributor, you have made lots of layman`s sense about this for us. Thank you for helping us. Really appreciate it.
AZAR: Thank you.
MADDOW: Al right. Lots more ahead tonight. Stay with us.
MADDOW: Did you know that LBJ, President Lyndon Baines Johnson, was a millionaire? He was a millionaire mostly because of his wife`s wise investments. But yes, he was a millionaire. And that fact, 50 years ago ended up writing the road map for the next big proverbial car crash we`re about to have in ethics and national politics. And that remarkable story is next.
MADDOW: In 1943, Lyndon Baines Johnson had been a congresswoman for about six years, when his wife Claudia, later more famously known as Lady Bird Johnson, she bought herself a radio station. She did it using $17,000 of her money, money she had inherited.
And then, nine years later, in 1952, she bought herself a television station, it was in Austin, it was called KTBC, it was the very first television station in central Texas.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: The tallest structure in central Texas, that`s the distinction of this tower of steel. But this structure is much more than cold steel, it`s music and laughter and tears and parades and sports and a thousand things. This is the magic wand that casts its spell through the air and unto the screen of your television set.
This is a transmitter tower of KTBC TV.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: News writing used to be better.
But that radio station and that TV station would go on to earn Lady Bird and Lyndon Johnson millions of dollars. Texas broadcasting gave the Johnson family their family fortune.
And when John F. Kennedy was assassinated, and LBJ became president unexpectedly in 1963, he and his wife changed their financial life because he was now president. They decided to put their Texas radio and television holdings into a blind trust to avoid any appearance of a conflict of interest. And that makes sense. They own and profited from assets that were regulated by the federal government while he was now running the federal government.
Ever since then, presidents have been setting up blind trusts with every few exceptions. Jimmy Carter did it. Ronald Reagan did it. Both Presidents Bush did it. Bill Clinton did it.
They all put their assets into blind trusts to avoid a potential conflict of interest upon assuming the presidency.
Last night on this show, we previewed a "Newsweek" story that was due to come out today, looking at Donald Trump`s myriad foreign assets and his business ties to people and multiple businesses in other foreign countries. "Newsweek" has since published that story. It`s a cover story.
It`s a lengthy examination of Trump`s business empire, how his foreign ties could be problematic if he should be elected president. You should read the story, it`s good, it`s well-written.
But the author Kurt Eichenwald`s bottom line is basically this, quote, "If Donald Trump win this is election and his company is not shut down or forever severed from the Trump family, the foreign policy of the United States of America would well be for sale."
It`s not because he`s a rich guy. We have had rich presidential nominees before. You might remember a lot of focus on Mitt Romney`s richness and his foreign investments and his blind trusts, four years ago, right? In the 2004 election, Dick Cheney was still answering questions about his ongoing ties to Halliburton, the oil services company where he served as CEO before becoming vice president, from which he deferred nearly $2 million in earnings during his time in the White House.
We have rich guys before, plenty of them, but we`ve never had a nominee like Donald Trump, with a sprawling, ongoing business empire, involving not just financial holdings but hotels and golf courses and licensing deals, and all of them tied together with ongoing relationships and ongoing deals and ongoing financial transactions.
The question of how Donald Trump would manage this problem, the potential conflicts of this problem, it did come up at one of the primary debates.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARIA BARTIROMO, DEBATE MODERATOR: Are you planning on putting your assets into a blind trust should you become president?
TRUMP: If I become president, I couldn`t care less about my company. It`s peanuts. I want to make -- I want to use that same up here, whatever it may be, to make America rich again and to make America great again. I have Ivanka, and Eric and Don sitting there, run the company, kids, have a good time. I`m going to do it for America. So, I would be willing to do it.
BARTIROMO: So, you would put your assets in a blind trust?
TRUMP: I would put it in a blind trust -- well, I don`t know if it`s a blind trust if Ivanka, Don and Eric run it. But is that a blind trust? I don`t know. But I would probably have my children run it with my executives, and I wouldn`t ever been involved because I wouldn`t care about anything but our country, anything.
BARTIROMO: Thank you, sir.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: It`s like a laugh line. Oh, I don`t know if it would be a blind trust if Ivanka and Don and Eric are running it. You tell me. I don`t know.
On that point, on that point, Donald Trump actually is in agreement with Kurt Eichenwald who just wrote this "Newsweek" cover story. Also, the White House chief ethics lawyer for President George W. Bush who tells "The Wall Street Journal", quote, "A blind trust would never work in Trump`s case because his assets are known and they`re not blind and children are not independent trustees."
You can see the problem here, right? I mean the problem here is that the Trump Organization -- the Trump Organization is an ongoing concern. The possibility that President Trump`s actions as president could benefit the Trump Organization, and thereby benefit him or his family, yes, blind trust won`t cut it and neither will his kids running it instead of him running it. I mean, all the conflicts would still be there, right? We all get that, right? Everybody on the same age about that, right?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
IVANKA TRUMP, DAUGHTER OF DONALD TRUMP: We can say, you know what, we`re going to do less deals, we`re not going to do that deal, even though it`s a fine deal, it`s economically reasonable because it could create a conflict of interest, and we`ll act incredibly responsibly, and my father already said that he would put the company into a blind trust and it would be run by us. So, he`s been very articulate on that fact and outspoken.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: It would be run by us. Problem solved, right? We`ll be incredibly responsible. Everybody good with that?
This actually is a really big one, and this one`s going to need a real answer.
MADDOW: Ready? Set? Run. Everybody run. Run. Run across the lawn of the Flint, Michigan water treatment plant.
The reason our poor camera crew is in such a hurry running across the lawn with all the other reporters and photographers is because Republican candidate Donald Trump was there today for a tour of the plant. The mayor of Flint, Michigan, last night tried to discourage Trump from visiting Flint.
She put out a statement last night that said this, quote, "Neither Donald Trump nor any staff members from the Trump campaign have reached out since the Flint water crisis was officially recognized as an emergency in December 2015." Quote, "The city of Flint employees are focused on dealing with the continued contamination in the drinking water and cannot afford the disruption of a last-minute visit."
Despite those essentially warnings from the mayor, there was Donald Trump today, surveying machinery at the Flint water plant, machinery that has not been in use since last fall because the plant isn`t either.
After that he headed to the Bethel United Methodist Church in Flint. Bethel United Methodist is one of the churches in Flint that has worked to get water and healthy food to the people of Flint since the town`s water was poisoned with lead more than two years ago now.
Ahead of Mr. Trump`s visit to the church today, Pastor Faith Green Timmons put out a statement explaining what this event with Trump was going to be and what it would not be.
Quote, "We pass out water and lead mitigating foot items in response to the Flint water crisis to assist area residents. This public event is open to all. And today, Donald Trump came to observe. Trump`s presence at Bethel United Methodist in no way represents an endorsement of his candidacy. What we pray is that it conveys a fine example of a faithful, intelligent, historically African-American congregation at work, serving and volunteering among the people of Flint as we work through this crisis of national impact."
I do not know whether Mr. Trump got that memo from Pastor Timmons ahead of his visit to her church, but I definitely think he got her message later on, mid-speech. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: You look at the trade deficit of $500 billion, Hillary failed on the economy, just like she`s failed on foreign policy. Everything she touched didn`t work out, nothing. Now, Hillary Clinton --
TIMMONS: Mr. Trump, I invited you here to thank us for what we have done, and not for you to make a political speech.
TRUMP: OK, OK, OK, that`s good.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: OK. That`s` good.
After Pastor Timmons got up and stopped him from what he was doing, got him back on track, Donald Trump ended up wrapping up his remarks in about 90 seconds thereafter. In that remaining time, the pastor also shut down some people who were by that point heckling Mr. Trump on this visit. And then, at the end, she basically ushered him off the stage, which may have been the day`s great mercy for him.
For all the Donald Trump putting himself in a position of speechifying people living through a disaster, he may have missed the news of the day concerning Flint. Today in federal court, Flint residents suing to try to get some relief. They pleaded to a federal judge today that they still need very, very basic relief. You still cannot drink from the tap in Flint after all this time. Flint residents involved in this federal lawsuit today in federal court asked the federal government to step in and start bringing water door to door to the people of that city, because I know you don`t believe that, but it`s still not happening, they`re still not bringing water door to door in Flint even now.
That said, U.S. Congress may finally be on the verge of doing something to help Flint replaced its ruin pipes. The Senate has been advancing this bill this week with almost no opposition. The final vote may happen as soon as tomorrow. The question then is whether the Republican controlled House could be persuaded to sign on to this water infrastructure bill.
Dan Kildee, the feisty Democratic congressman from Flint told "The Free Press" today that if Donald Trump really wants to help Flint, he could, quote, "pick up the phone and call Paul Ryan and tell him to do something about Flint."
If the Senate passed this thing, and if Paul Ryan could be persuaded that the House should pass it too, that really could be a big deal in the making for Flint. That could be millions of dollars for infrastructure in Flint and for the health care needs of kids who were poisoned in Flint through no fault of their own. Millions and millions and millions of dollars for Flint at stake.
Donald Trump does not appear to have mentioned that or even understood it was happening either in his photo op at the closed water plant today, or in his unintentionally abbreviated remarks at the church.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Hillary failed on the economy, just like she has failed on foreign policy. Everything she touched didn`t work out, nothing. Now Hillary Clinton --
TIMMONS: Mr. Trump, I invited you here to thank us for what we`ve done in Flint.
TRUMP: Oh, OK, OK, OK. That`s good.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Pretty incredible moment in Flint, Michigan, earlier today.
Joining us is the mayor of Flint, Karen Weaver.
Mayor Weaver, it`s really nice to see you. Thank you so much for being with us tonight.
MAYOR KAREN WEAVER (D), FLINT, MICHIGAN: Thank you. I`m glad to be here.
MADDOW: So, you`re getting a new burst of national attention in Flint for a few different reasons. Number one is, this federal lawsuit that`s going on right now. People testifying from Flint today in federal court. We`ve got the Senate bill, which hopefully will become the House bill if the Senate passes this thing.
On top of that, you had this visit from a presidential candidate today. That it seems like you were a little bit blindsided by him that you didn`t know this Trump visit was on its way.
WEAVER: That`s exactly right. We were blind side. We got the information.
I found out actually yesterday is when I was informed that he would be coming to the city of Flint and wanted to do different drive-bys to see what was going on at different locations. And so, that`s what we were talking about. We were saying it was little inconvenient not to be notified earlier about what he wanted to do and kind of thoughtless.
MADDOW: In terms of I guess the utility of national attention. You have talked in the past about, Europe, the spotlight being helpful, and it being something that does get things moving in Flint. How are you feeling right now about the prospects of national assistance, federal assistance?
Obviously, it`s moving right now in the Senate. It`s not a done deal. But it`s been moving. The House is something that seems like much more of an unknown quantity in terms of getting that federal help.
WEAVER: Right. But we`re very -- today was a very good day. It`s something we`ve been waiting for, for a long time. But we are making steps in the right direction. It was nice to come and meet with the Michigan delegation. They`ve been working tirelessly to get things moving for the city of Flint.
And we see that it`s happening in the Senate. So, really, what we need to have happen now is for things to move in Congress. That`s what we need. We need that federal assistance.
It means a lot to the people of the city of Flint when you look at what`s in there for infrastructure. And when you look at what is in there for health care and for loan forgiveness. That`s really, really vital to what we need in the city of Flint.
MADDOW: Congressman Kildee made an interesting comment to the free press. He said on this occasion of photo op, if Donald Trump wants to help with Flint, what he should do is one simple thing that is very doable. He should call Paul Ryan and tell Paul Ryan he should help.
WEAVER: That`s absolutely right.
MADDOW: You agree with that?
WEAVER: That`s absolutely right. That`s what we were talk. Help us that way. If you want to help Flint, if you care and you`re concerned about the citizens of Flint, then talk to your Republican colleagues in the House and get this passed there. That`s what we need to have happen.
MADDOW: I have a feeling actually that advice might not only apply to Donald Trump. That Paul Ryan may need to hear from a lot of people on this. Mayor Karen Weaver of Flint, Michigan -- I really appreciate your time tonight. Continued good luck to you ma`am. It`s nice to see you.
WEAVER: Thank you so much.
MADDOW: Thank you. All right. We`ll be right back. Stay with us.
MADDOW: The 2016 primary season is officially over. It was mostly over a couple of weeks ago. But last night, four states did go to the polls, including the great state of New York.
And interesting story, that state`s 133rd state assembly district, there was a Republican primary. Republican voters chose the incumbent in that race. He is also the state co-chair for the Donald Trump campaign. His name is Bill Nojay and he won his race last night, 61 percent to 39 percent.
That honestly should not have been much of a surprise except for an important detail is that Bill Nojay, the state representative from the Rochester area, the Trump co-chair for New York state, he is dead. Terrible story. He killed himself last week on Friday morning. And yet in a truly bizarre turn of events in this otherwise tragic story, local Republican leaders in New York urged voters in his district that they should still vote for the dead man, even though he is dead.
Mr. Nojay, the Trump co-chair, he did have a Republican challenger in that race yesterday. You would think that man would have had an advantage in the race given that his opponent died several days before Election Day. But the New York state Republican Party told voters to pick the dead man in that race rather than his live opponent. The voters obliged. The dead man won with 61 percent of the vote.
And now, now that the voters chose the dead guy over the live guy to be their representative, now the same party leaders who pushed for that choice now not incidentally they get to choose Mr. Nojay`s replacement on the early ballot. And early reports sound like they are not going to pick the live guy who actually ran. They`re not going to pick the runner-up.
Just a truly weird, macabre twist in a deeply Republican upstate New York district. We`ll let you know how it gets resolved. But the way it got here is scary enough.
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.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END