CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: As I mentioned earlier tonight, two Army Rangers died in combat this week fighting in Afghanistan, the longest war in the history of this country. Twenty-two-year-old Sergeant Joshua Rodgers from Bloomington, Illinois. Twenty-three-year-old Sergeant Cameron Thomas from Kettering, Ohio. I just ask you, please keep their families in your thoughts this weekend.
THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts right now.
Good evening, Rachel.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chris. Thank you, my friend.
HAYES: You bet.
MADDOW: And thanks to you at home for joining us for the next hour. Nice to have you here on a Friday night.
Being a staffer for a member of Congress these days means sometimes accepting things that you might just not want to accept. It means accepting physical things that you might not have room to accept.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have a letter here for the congressman signed by 1,000 of his constituents from the third congressional action group.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: This was an office visit paid this week to the New Jersey office of Congressman Tom MacArthur who wrote part of the new version of the Republican`s bill to kill the Affordable Care Act. His home district constituents calculated that MacArthur`s revised version of the health care bill would throw more than 30,000 people off of health insurance just in that one congressional district. And so, they came to Tom MacArthur`s office to tell him what a terrible thing that would be to try to change his mind on supporting that.
And they could not have been nicer when they did it, but they also gave his congressional staffers stuff, physical stuff that the staffers definitely did not want. And that -- I bet they had no idea what to do with once they hauled it back into the back room.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And we feel that it is a very, very poor representation of the constituents in his district because we do not agree with his actions.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We will pass this on then.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Please do.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Give us all of this one.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We`re going to give this all to you, 25 feet of letter. You can find a nice big file to put that in.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Will do.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And we also have a gift of 36 balloons, and the 36 balloons, each balloon represents -- you go it? Each balloon represents a thousand people that will lose coverage under the Affordable Care Act if the MacArthur Amendment is enacted, and it`s filled with confetti, each representing the people that will lose coverage. So, we present this to you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We need to take some out.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A little fun here.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yeah.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you so much.
We also have postcards written by constituents asking you not to repeal Obamacare.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. We appreciate you guys coming out today and if you have other comments feel free to call our office.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you very much.
And you`ll let the congressman know we`re here?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Of course.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you so much.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you. Take care.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: They couldn`t have been nicer, but think about it for a second. What do you do with unwanted balloons that are filled with confetti? Think about that for a second. You can`t pop them, right? I mean, what do you - - here`s your 36 large balloons, each representing 1,000 of your constituents that you`re going to throw off health care these tiny little pieces of confetti those all represent people, careful with them.
OK. No, there`s more. Wait, do you have -- no, we have more, there`s more coming. No, here`s still some more. We`ve got some more.
Congressman Tom MacArthur also got marched on by his constituents today in the third district in New Jersey. His name, Tom MacArthur, and the MacArthur Amendment, that`s actually the most identifiable name associated with Republicans` latest effort to kill the Affordable Care Act and at home in his district in New Jersey, his constituents just went nut against it.
And then, last night, in the middle of the night, Republicans once again had to yank that bill. They want to repeal Obamacare. They said they could repeal Obamacare. They tried and failed once already.
They decided they wanted to do it again this week. They would try again this week. They whipped Republican votes on it all week long and actually all day long yesterday. There are some reports that suggest that whipping Republican votes on this thing and building Republican support for this thing is the reason Mike Pence had to come home a day early from his Pacific trip.
Last night, they were still holding 11th hour meetings to try to twist enough Republican arms to get this Obamacare repeal bill passed. They wanted it passed by the 100th day.
Bloomberg News reports today that Republicans spent the whole week, quote, "tinkering with their Obamacare plan, hoping to muster enough support to give Trump a legislative win in his first 100 days." Republican congressional leadership met late into Thursday night, but they ultimately decided they still didn`t have enough support for a vote this week.
And so, the Affordable Care Act lives, because people who want to save it saved it again. That activism worked. Republicans have unified Republican control of government. They said they would repeal Obamacare on day one of the Trump administration. They will not even half repeal Obamacare by day 100 of the Trump administration.
They can`t even get close enough to that to get their own members to vote on it in one house where they`ve got one of the biggest majorities they`ve had since the 1920s. It`s just been a catastrophe for them. And there`s no way they can blame Democrats in Congress for it. They can`t even get it past with the numbers they`ve got in their own caucuses which should be fine.
The administration has passed zero major legislation, none. Their biggest and only legislative achievement in the 100 days that this administration has lived, their biggest and only legislative achievement of any substance came today when they managed to avoid shutting down the government by a matter of hours. To avoid shutting down the government they did pass a bill today that will fund the government for one week. Ta-da!
The government will not accidentally shut down at a minute after midnight on the president`s 100th day in office. That is the big reveal. That`s the big 100 days of accomplishment for our new era of unified Republican government.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: All right, everybody. Welcome to the dawn of a new unified Republican government. It feels really good to say that actually.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: It may still feel good, but it did not work out so well, in terms of Republicans actually doing anything with unified control of government for these 100 days.
At the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue, though, let`s also take a moment to remark upon the significant number of administration people who didn`t even make it to the first 100 days. I mean, a lot of people have remarked this week on how few nominations the new administration has made this far into their time in office. Not people who they got confirmed and there`s questions about opposition or the validity of the nomination -- literally just putting names forward, just suggesting people for jobs.
The George W. Bush administration, you might remember, they had an unusually short transition before the start of the first George W. Bush term in office. That`s because the Supreme Court didn`t actually decide the Bush V. Gore election until mid-December. So, their transition was wicked short and that`s why the George W. Bush administration held the previous modern record for the fewest names put forward by this time in the new administration.
But the Trump folks have beaten that record for the fewest nominations made by 100 days in. I mean, the Bush folks had a great excuse to be last, right, because they have less time than everybody else. But even they came up with more nominations than the Trump folks have so far. And then beyond that, there`s this huge raft of people who have been nominated by the Trump administration, or who have been appointed positions in the new administration, but they`re already gone. They didn`t even make it to 100 days. They`ve already withdrawn their name or they`ve quit or they`ve been fired.
The nominee for army secretary, Vincent Viola, he pulled out. The nominee for labor secretary, Andy Puzder, he pulled out. The nominee for navy secretary, Philip Bilden, he pulled out. Anthony Scaramucci was going to be head of the Office of Public Liaison, then nope. Jason Miller was going to be White House communications director, then nope.
The nominee for deputy secretary of commerce, Todd Ricketts, he with drew his name just last week. Monica Crowley from FOX News was going to be deputy national security advisor, then nope. Another person from FOX News, K.T. McFarland, she did get to be deputy national security advisor for a while but we`re told she`s soon to be out now as well.
White House chief digital advisor, hello, we barely knew you. Bye, bye. Boris, I have to say it has been a source of secret delight to me that the White House has had on the communications staff, a Russian guy named Boris during this whole controversy over the Trump campaign`s Russia connections but Boris they let go last month.
Even the deputy White House chief of staff, deputy White House chief of staff is a huge job. Katie Walsh is deputy White House chief of staff. She fled in March as well.
And that`s not even all of them. There are more. "The Washington Post" started this week with a rundown of the top 15 Trumpists who did not survive the first 100 days.
And throughout this week, since they published, even into tonight, there`s more reporting on more people who might be on the way out from the new administration. It is an underappreciated fact about these first 100 days that this administration sheds more than a cold weather dog on a hot muggy summer day. They just shed personnel.
But I think all of those people who have quit or been fired or withdrawn their names and there are a ton of them already, all of the washouts, they`re all lucky to a certain extent, because you look at their faces right now. Any of those like seem particularly famous? Not really, right?
At least not famous for washing out. None of them is ever going to be as famous for getting shed from this administration as Mike Flynn will be. As long as the Mike Flynn saga continues to unspool, all of those other people can have left the Trump administration in the first 100 days in relative obscurity.
I mean, Mike Flynn is just another one of the people who has already gone from this administration. He only made it 24 days, but he`s the one who continues to resonate because his story keeps getting bigger and bigger and bigger, and NBC News has a scoop about him tonight.
All right. Here it is. On Election Day, November 8th, "The Hill" newspaper in Washington, D.C. ran kind of over the top op-ed with Michael Flynn as the byline. They published it on Election Day but it had nothing to do with the U.S. election. It was all about how the U.S. needed to embrace the authoritarian and increasingly tyrannical government of Turkey and we definitely need to extradite a Turkish guy who has legal residency in the United States who the Turkish government blames for everything that is going wrong in that country.
Election night, they published that op-ed from soon to be national security advisor Mike Flynn. And that was really strange. Within days though, people had figured out what was behind that. This is "The Daily Caller" just days later. Trump`s top military advisor is lobbying for obscure company with ties to Turkish government.
And then the story got picked up lots of places. Trump advisor linked to Turkish lobbying, a company tied to Erdogan`s government, hired retired General Michael Flynn`s lobbying firm. From that same article, quote, "Michael Flynn ran a company that lobbied for foreign clients while he received intelligence briefings." Quote, "The fact that Flynn was overseeing a company that was lobbying on behalf of foreign clients at the time he was attending classified briefings alongside Trump seems to complicate the transition."
Flynn`s lobbying work could potentially jeopardize his ability to get cleared as national security advisor. You would think, right? I mean, you would think. I mean, you can`t be known to be on the payroll of a foreign country and get named national security advisor, right?
Well, in this case you can. This has been one of the unexplained things, one of the things that makes no sense about the Mike Flynn story. Before they named him national security advisor, there were all these reports about him being paid to work on behalf of a foreign government, right? We also know that on November 18th, the Trump transition received a letter from Congress alerting them to the fact that Mike Flynn was being paid to work on behalf of a foreign government.
We also know that once, no, twice Flynn`s own lawyers contacted the Trump transition about the fact that he was being paid to work on behalf of a foreign government. And, in fact, they told the Trump transition that Flynn might need to register as a foreign agent. We know all this is true. This is all a matter of record.
There were multiple high-profile open source reports, news reports on Mike Flynn being paid to work for a foreign government. That was reported in the right wing news. It was reported in the middle of the road news. It was reported in the beltway news. It was reported even on dumb old cable TV news.
It was -- it was widely publicly reported that Mike Flynn was being paid to work for a foreign government. We also now know that the transition was, in addition to all that news about it, we also now know the transition was notified by Congress about the fact. We also know that the transition was notified in private by Flynn`s lawyers about that fact.
So, the transition definitely knew this thing about Mike Flynn working for a foreign government. But for some reason, the head of the Trump transition denies he ever heard of it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRET BAIER, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: Michael Flynn has filed with the Department of Justice as a foreign agent for making more than $500,000 as a lobbyist essentially for Turkey. Your reaction to that considering that, doesn`t that mean, Mr. Vice President, that even if he didn`t lie to you about what the Russian ambassador said or didn`t say, that you would have had to fire him anyway?
MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Let me say, hearing that story today was the first I heard of it. And I fully support the decision the President Trump made to ask for General Flynn`s resignation.
BAIER: You`re disappointed by the story?
PENCE: The first I heard of it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: First I heard of it. That was March. That was March.
I mean, Mike Pence ran the transition. Mike Pence ran the transition when all of those stories about Mike Flynn being on the Turkish government`s payroll were breaking. Mike Pence was the head of the transition when Congress formally notified the head of the transition that Mike Flynn appeared to be working for a foreign power. Mike Pence was head of the transition when Flynn`s own lawyers came and told the transition that Flynn was working for a foreign power and he maybe needed to register as a foreign agent.
That all happened when Pence was running the transition in November and in December, but they hired Mike Flynn anyway to be national security advisor.
And then after he got fired as national security advisor, then the head of the transition, Vice President Mike Pence says, you know, I never heard anything about that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PENCE: Let me say hearing that story today was the first I heard of it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: No, it`s not. That is impossible. And that has long been one of the strange things that just doesn`t add up about the Mike Flynn story. Mike Pence claiming in March that he had no idea. He ran the transition. They had no idea about Mike Flynn working for a foreign government.
So, that`s -- for a while, we`ve known that`s part of what doesn`t add up about the Mike Flynn story and the idea that Mike Pence is some sort of, you know, innocent victim of Mike Flynn`s duplicity. It just doesn`t make sense with the record and now, as of today, it`s not just Mike Pence spinning a tale that cannot be true about Mike Flynn. Now, it`s also the attorney general of the United States.
With yesterday`s big news that the Defense Department inspector general is now investigating Flynn for not reporting his payments from foreign governments, the attorney general did a round of interviews today where everybody asked him a version of "oh, my God, how did someone who was on the payroll of a foreign government get through to be national security advisor? Did you guys really not know about this?"
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
JEFF SESSIONS, ATTORNEY GENERAL: He`s been part of the White House advisor on the national security issues. So, we need to do a good job of vetting that, but that`s a complex issue and I`m not sure anyone could be expected to find that.
INTERVIEWER: Are you comfortable with the level of vetting that was done?
SESSIONS: Well, I`m comfortable that they`re working hard to do vetting, but I`m -- it`s obvious that often times, you don`t catch everything that might be a problem.
Well, they work hard on vetting. They do the best they can. It`s impossible to know everything.
These things are not easy to discover if it happened. What happened, I`m not sure it`s impropriety or not.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
MADDOW: What? These things are not easy to discover? It`s impossible to know everything. You don`t catch everything.
I`m not sure anybody could be expected, you know, to find that. Nobody could find that. Not like it was on the news at the time. And brief to you officially in writing by Congress and told to you directly by his lawyers. Not once, but twice.
First, the vice president and now the attorney general of the United States are both telling a story about Mike Flynn about how the White House had no idea about Mike Flynn, both of them are now telling a story about Flynn that cannot be true.
And now, Andrea Mitchell at NBC News tonight has the scoop that proves that really, they are not telling the truth about this. Here it is.
NBC News has learned from sources close to the Trump-Russia investigation that both the Trump transition and the White House did do a background check on Flynn. This is in addition to his already approved security clearance. They did a background check on Flynn specifically for him to become national security advisor.
NBC News reports that the vetting of Flynn was done, but sources close to the investigation tell NBC that it was done very casually. One person involved tells NBC that the Trump transition was aware of Flynn`s business ties to Turkey. They became aware of that shortly after he wrote that Election Day column about the Turkish government and its interests. That, of course, should have raised red flags, but they hired him anyway.
They knew. And they hired him anyway and then after they fired him they said, "Oh, no, we had no idea."
Why would they lie about that? And why would the president himself and the White House spokesman this week repeatedly insist that actually no, no, no, they didn`t vet Mike Flynn at all.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Why would you rerun a background check on someone who is the head of the Department of Defense Intelligence Agency that had and did maintain a high level security clearance?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Why would we do that? Their line on this is that they didn`t do a background check on Flynn. NBC News reports tonight that they did. Why lie about that? Why say they didn`t know about Flynn being paid by a foreign government when they did know about it?
These four men, the White House spokesman, the attorney general of the United States, the vice president of the United States, the president of the United States, they are all telling a tale about Mike Flynn about what they knew and when they knew it but they are all telling a tale about Flynn that is not true. Why is that?
A hundred days or not, 100 days, 1,000 days, I don`t care. We are going to figure this damn thing out. I swear we are.
MADDOW: The time change when you`re talking about East Asia can be hard to wrap your head around, but at 4:30 Eastern Time today, that was 5:00 a.m. local time tomorrow on the Korean Peninsula. And that was the time, 4:30 p.m. Eastern today, just after 5:00 local time tomorrow over there, when North Korea test fired yet another missile. It was a short range ballistic missile. The test took place in an area that`s northeast of the North Korean capital of Pyongyang.
According to an American official, the administration did have a warning ahead of time about the test. They were watching it closely. The missile test was not successful. It reportedly exploded shortly after launch.
Had it -- had that missile not exploded, U.S. officials say that they believe this missile was capable of reaching Seoul, capable of reaching Seoul, the massive, heavily populated capital of South Korea. So, this is a tense time when it comes to North Korea, right? In particular, it`s an incredibly tense time for countries closest to North Korea, for South Korea and also for Japan.
It is not at all alleviating to that tension that we have a U.S. president who casually says things like this.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There`s a chance that we could end up having a major, major conflict with North Korea. Absolutely.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MADDOW: Chance? South Korea and Japan right now are literally in the line of fire. They`re first in the line of fire should things escalate in that part of the world. And that is of grave concern to us in the United States, because, of course, South Korea and Japan are some of our closest allies on earth.
And in the midst of that, this very unexpected thing has happened -- a very unexpected thing even for this administration, even for this president. In the midst of all this, the American president has come out and attacked South Korea. Huh?
In that same "Reuters" interview in which he made those comments about, yes, maybe we`re going to have a major conflict with North Korea, he also unexpectedly started questioning why the U.S. is even bothering to pay for the missile defense system in South Korea. Quote, "I informed South Korea it would be appropriate if they paid. It`s a billion dollar system. It`s phenomenal. It shoots missiles right out of the sky."
It`s phenomenal, so phenomenal that I don`t -- why are we paying for that? You should pay for it. Oh and by the way, he also said we`re tearing up our trade deal with South Korea. What?
President Trump told "Reuters" that the free trade deal between the U.S. and South Korea doesn`t cut it anymore. He told them, quote, "It`s a horrible deal and we are going to renegotiate that deal or terminate it."
And then quoting "Reuters" here, asked when he would announce his intention to renegotiate the deal Trump said, quote, "very soon. I`m announcing it now."
Very soon. Three, two, one. Now!
I am here by threatening South Korea in the same interview in which I`m warning about a possible military conflict with North Korea. Just covering all my bases at once.
I -- I`m no expert on foreign policy. I`m no expert on, you know, issues with the Korean peninsula. I`m no expert on this kind of brinksmanship, but this to me is absolutely flabbergasting.
I would like to speak to an expert on these matters. Is this some kind of three dimensional chest move that naive laymen idiots like me just don`t get? If it is that, if there`s an advanced strategy going on here, what is that strategy?
Why would you start to threaten your ally while you are warning about conflict with a mutual enemy? Why would you take a country and say you`re going to potentially have a conflict with them, they`re right on the border with one of our closest allies, why in that situation would you then start threatening our closest ally like on trade and stuff? How does this work? What`s the big thinking here?
Joining us now is Wendy Sherman, former undersecretary of state for political affairs in the Obama administration. She served as the North Korea policy coordinator under President Clinton as well.
Madam Ambassador, really appreciate your time tonight. Thank you very much for being with us.
WENDY SHERMAN, CLINTON ADMIN. NORTH KOREA POLICY COORDINATOR: Good to be with you, Rachel.
MADDOW: Is there a three dimensional chess advanced foreign policy understanding that -- advanced foreign policy approach that makes this make sense?
SHERMAN: Well, Rachel, you`re probably better than I am at reading Donald Trump`s mind because you think about it all the time, but quite frankly, if I try to think about this, perhaps he thinks that since South Korea has a presidential election coming up May 9th, and the front runner doesn`t exactly agree with Donald Trump`s North Korea policy, Mr. Moon believes that there should be dialogue, he doesn`t think the missile defense system should be deployed in South Korea and the South Koreans have gotten very, very nervous about Donald Trump`s militarized language and really upping the ante and escalating the situation.
So, perhaps Trump thought I`ll show a few chips on the table here. I`ll tell them that they`ve got to pay for this THAAD missile defense system. I`ll tell them that we`re going to renegotiate the free trade agreement. And then if Moon wins the South Korean presidency, I`ll tell them like I told China about trade, we can wipe that all off of the table if you`ll do what I want to do on North Korea.
Well, quite frankly, this is no way to treat allies, allies that are hosting nearly 30,000 American troops. And by the way, the THAAD missile defense system is owned by the United States of America. Our commanders really are jealous of where the THAAD go.
We have very few of them. We don`t give it to the highest bidder. We give it because it helps protect our national security and the national security of our allies.
MADDOW: I don`t know how to read the president`s mind very well. I feel like I can see political dynamics at work though and what I expect in terms of how this is going to play in South Korea is that this is going to cause among the South Korean presidential candidates a contest to see which of them can denounce and take the hardest line against and incite the most anti-American feeling among the electorate. This is likely to turn South Korean politics in a harshly anti-American direction, at least as far as I can predict, and to me, just alone on the issue alone on the troops that are there, that just -- that seems to me kind of a scary and unpredictable place to be.
SHERMAN: Absolutely. I think it will have the opposite effect to what President Trump may have been thinking he was doing here. It will have quite a counter-reaction.
And we also have to remind ourselves that this is a very complicated part of the world. South Korea now has its number one trading relationship, its business, economic ties are very much with China. And they need to and want to maintain that strong alliance. They are going to end up being another chip between us in our relationship with China as the president`s trying to press China to do the right thing where North Korea is concerned.
And we heard in the meeting that Secretary Tillerson had with the U.N. Security Council that foreign minister said all of this escalatory language is not helpful. We need to get back to dialog.
MADDOW: Wendy Sherman, thank you very much for being with us. Former secretary of state for political affairs in the Obama administration, expert on North Korean matters, particularly from her time in serving in the Clinton administration. I hope that you don`t mind staying up late to be on cable TV talking about these matters because I`d like to talk to you about these matters a lot more in the future, ma`am.
SHERMAN: Be glad to. Thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: Thank you. All right. Much more ahead.
Busy Friday night. Stay with us.
MADDOW: Golden ticket. I know it looks like it`s on regular printer paper but what I have here might be a proverbial golden ticket.
We got this from an environmental lawyer. He works for the nonprofit called Waterkeeper Alliance, and if he is lucky enough to have his number drawn, then he will be one of 150 people who get the privilege of listening in by phone next week on a conference call. Ooh, ooh, a conference call. I know.
But this one is a doozy. Because this new EPA, under this new administration, they`re making a general call to the general public asking which regulations that protect our water ought to be gotten rid of. Apparently every regulation is up for grabs. Any of them might go. They`d like to hear your thoughts on that.
And so, our friendly environmental lawyer at Waterkeeper, he is trying to win a spot on that call. If he gets like walk under ladders lucky, he will not only be among the lucky 150 people who are allowed to listen in, he`ll be part of the smaller group who get a minute or two to speak.
So, good luck, Pete Harrison, environmental lawyer at Waterkeeper. Golden ticket. Pulling for you.
We have been tracking on this show the federal response to one of Trump`s executive orders. It`s the one where he told federal agencies to overhaul regulations. That`s the one you might remember where he gave the pen after he signed it to the CEO of Dow Chemical who was standing there while he signed it. Personal thank you to the CEO of Dow Chemicals.
As part of our reporting on this matter, we obtained internal memos from EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt calling for recommendations from his staff on which regulations should go. They`re supposed to report back by May 15th and that includes getting public comment, getting public comment from anybody who thinks their water is too clean.
As that May 15th deadline approaches, we`re starting to see how the agency intends to get this potentially gargantuan nation-changing job done. In the case of EPA safeguards for water, for example, they have created a message board where you can leave them a note. Make sure you have your supporting data and federal regulation codes handy.
If you so happen to be a member of a certain state or a local water agency, then you got a meeting with the EPA this week, or you could sign up for this public listening session which is this conference call thing slated for Tuesday, where perhaps 80 people nationwide will be able to speak for one or maybe two minutes. There`s also a web conference along with the call which can fit 1,000 people. You can also leave a written comment, just have your federal register citation handy and hope you get in.
The head of the EPA insists they want to hear from stakeholders as part of this review. The question is whether that means just the Dow Chemicals of the world who are having their daily conversations with the White House and getting their presidential pens and personal thank yous or is it anybody else who has to take a number literally and hope they get lucky? You know, as long as they`ve been able to get a ticket.
They`re thinking about scrapping all of the health and safety regulations they can possibly justify scrapping. They are working hand and fist with industry to do it. This is what they`re calling the public side of input in that project. This is how we`re making policy now. It`s like the saddest Willy Wonka remake of all time.
MADDOW: February 2003, Vladimir Putin had been president for about three years. He was nearing the end of his first term, and he decided to summon a bunch of Russia`s richest men, the oligarchs. He decided to summon them for a big, big meeting. The meeting surprisingly was open to the media.
The wealthiest man in Russia at the time was this man, Mikhail Khodorkovsky. He was the head of Russia`s largest oil company, Yukos Oil. And he was planning for kind of a showdown with Putin at that meeting. He went to that meeting with a PowerPoint presentation in hand to talk about corruption in Russia and how it cost the Russian economy more than $30 billion a year. He made his criticisms. He did so publicly with the cameras rolling.
You can imagine that that did not sit well with President Putin. That was February 2003. By October of that year, Mikhail Khodorkovsky was arrested.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The richest man in Russia, one of the richest men in the world, is behind bars tonight. Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the head of Russia`s largest oil company, was arrested by police when his jet stopped in Siberia today. He`s accused of fraud and tax evasion. Khodorkovsky is considered a political opponent of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: It did not stop there though with his arrest. Mikhail Khodorkovsky had started using his vast fortune to fund and lead an opposition effort against Putin. And so, not only did Putin have him arrested again and thrown in jail, he also took his company.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: With a blow of the gavel, a Russian auctioneer succeeded on Sunday in dismembering Russia`s foremost private oil company, the auction of Yukos Oil Corporation`s biggest subsidiary.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has cracked down on freedom of the press and eliminated many local elections. And now was staring down some of the country`s biggest private business. Top of his list is Mikhail Khodorkovsky, Russia`s richest man and the founder of Yukos. He`s been in jail for more than a year facing tax fraud charges and Yukos has been slapped with its own $28 billion tax bill. Analysts say the auction was ordered to clip Khodorkovsky`s wings.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Putin arrested the billionaire who opposed him, seized his company, gave it away for pennies to the Kremlin-owned oil company, Rosneft. Mikhail Khodorkovsky went on to spend a decade in jail. He was finally let out in 2013. He now lives in exile.
And that is one relatively famous story of what happens when you oppose Vladimir Putin.
This is also an increasingly famous story of what happens when you oppose Vladimir Putin. This is Alexei Navalny. He`s the highest profile opposition politician in Russia right now. He`s planning on challenging Putin for the presidency next year and yesterday, someone attacked him with some green chemical, an antiseptic chemical, outside of his offices in Moscow.
He was hospitalized. The attack was bad. It got in his eye, look at his eye there on the left side of your screen there. His pupil and his cornea are green, and this is not the first time he`s been attacked in this specific way. He was attacked with the same chemical back in March. This is the kind of thing that happens when you oppose Vladimir Putin.
Here`s another example. This is Vladimir Kara-Murza. He`s a former journalist, Kremlin critic, opposition party figure. Two years ago in 2015, he was poisoned. He very nearly died. He got very ill. He went into a coma. He suffered multiple organ failure. He barely survived but he survived.
And then it happened again in February. He was back in Russia promoting a documentary on one of his colleagues, another Putin critic when he was gunned down, shot to death just outside Red Square. And suddenly, Vladimir Kara-Murza got ill, fell into a coma. Doctors say he seemed to have ingested what they`re calling an unidentified toxic substance. He was in and out of a coma but again, he made it.
Vladimir Kara-Murza is now the vice chairman of Mikhail Khodorkovsky`s Russian pro-democracy group which is called Open Russia, and this weekend, they have big protests planned throughout Russia, democracy, pro-democracy, anti-Putin protests. They are calling for people to take to the streets tomorrow en masse to, quote, "express their dissatisfaction with Putin`s Russia".
And not at all by coincidence, the Kremlin has decided to take action against them this week. On Wednesday, the Kremlin banned Open Russia as a movement in that country claiming that their activities are destabilizing to the Russian state. Yesterday, their offices were raided by camouflage clad police. Officials arrested one of the group`s leaders.
But get this -- Open Russia`s response to these threats and attacks? This has been their response. Quote, "See you on April 29th." See you tomorrow at those nationwide protests. These folks are nothing if not brave.
Joining us now here tonight for "The Interview" is Vladimir Kara-Murza. He`s vice chairman of Open Russia, which is an international Russian pro- democracy movement.
Mr. Kara-Murza, thank you for being here.
VLADIMIR KARA-MURZA, "OPEN RUSSIA" VICE CHAIRMAN: Thank you for having me. It`s great to be here, and I really mean this when I say that.
MADDOW: Oh, well, yes, for your perspective, it`s great to be anywhere.
Let me ask you, having apparently being poisoned twice, how is your health?
KARA-MURZA: Well, it`s getting on. Last time, it took me more than a year to get recovered after the first opening. Now, it`s only been two and a half months, so I`m expecting this to be a long road ahead and frankly, you know, they`re not getting rid of us. And I was the fortunate one.
Of course, doctors estimated my chances of survival at about 5 percent. That`s what they told my wife when I was in coma, but I do have those 5 percent and I`m here. I`m grateful for that.
Many of our friends and many of our colleagues did not have the 5 percent chance. And Boris Nemtsov, the Russian opposition that you mentioned in your report, did not have that chance they put five bullets in his back on that bridge in front of Kremlin two years. And many people, independent journalists, whistleblowers, anti-corruption campaign, opposition activists lost their lives in one way or another since Vladimir Putin came to power 17 years ago.
So, we have known for a long time that it`s dangerous location to be in opposition to Mr. Putin`s regime, but this is our country, and we think it deserves better. And we think that we want change and I think we just have to count on doing what we`re doing, and we will count on doing what we`re doing. Whatever the obstacles they put in our way, whatever the threats, whatever the intimidation, whatever the arrests or the killings, it`s our country, we`re not giving up.
MADDOW: How much of an act of bravery will it be tomorrow for ordinary Russian citizens to come out and demonstrate in Moscow and in other cities where these protests are planned?
KARA-MURZA: It will be very big I would say, because even though the Russian constitution guarantees freedom of assembly and our country`s international commitments guarantee freedom of assembly, or supposed to guarantee, of course, all these political freedoms have been nice words written on paper for many years under Vladimir Putin. And for example, the last time when a nationwide protest happened, which was just a few weeks ago, the end of March, when tens of thousands of people went to the streets across Russia in 84 different towns and cities, large and small, you know, Vladimir (INAUDIBLE) 11 times to say no to Vladimir Putin and his corruption and his authoritarianism, and just the sheer arrogance of that one man who`s been in power for 17 years and does not have the intention of going away.
Well, last time it happened, more than 1,000 people, in fact, more than 1,500 people were arrested just in that one day. And the last big wave of protests before that which was after the rigged elections in 2011, there are still people who are in jail today for going out to those to those demonstrations beginning of 2012.
So, it does take courage. But again, it`s our country. If we believe in it, we have to do something about it, and I have no doubt that many of our colleagues will be on the streets tomorrow. It`s a nationwide campaign organized by the Open Russia movement across the country in many regions.
And it`s going to be just one message of that campaign. And that message is enough, because there is now an entire generation of Russians, just think about it, who have no memory of any other government than Vladimir Putin. You have had four presidents in the last 17 years. We`ve just had that one guy.
And we`ve not just had the guy, but we also had censorship in the media. We`ve had mammoth corruption. We`ve had the absence of free and fair elections and just the basic freedoms that people in other countries take for granted.
And increasingly, Russian, especially young Russians, especially the new generation, the young generation is having enough of it. And they`re willing to come out to the streets and say no, because going to the streets is the only way you can protest against the regime now because we don`t have free elections so you can`t really vote against him or if you do your votes will not be counted.
There is no large scale independent media that you can voice your opinions in. All you can do is go out to the streets. I think many, many people will do just that tomorrow.
MADDOW: And what you`re talking thereby in terms of the -- it`s not even sustainability, but the viability of opposition, about the viability of any potential alternative emerging to Putin. Obviously, he has tried to create and has explicitly basically charged that there is no alternative to him. And he has done everything possible to make that reality, whether it`s turning the parliament into a rubber stamp, whether it`s getting rid of media, whether it`s attacking and killing opposition protesters.
I mean, even just the recent arrests that you were talking about, we saw the offices of Alexei Navalny`s organization get ransack and have all their computers and their paperwork and staff getting arrested. Open Russia getting banned this week. The raid on your offices there this week.
I mean, how -- how do you maintain any sort of momentum, any sort of organizing structure against that?
KARA-MURZA: Well, I mean, the other side, if you just look at it formally, the other side does have a massive advantage. They have all the so-called law enforcement agencies. They have the entire propaganda machine. They have the whole power of the state on their side.
But what we have I think is something much more important, and that is the truth. And that increasing realization among the people, especially the young people, again, this new generation, the people who we saw on the streets of Russia the end of March and the people who we will see on the streets again tomorrow are predominantly young people, college kids, high school students in many cases -- people who have not seen anything else except Putin, who have watched the same face on that television screens for their entire lives. And they are fed up with it.
And it happened so many times in Russian history. You know, I`m old enough to remember -- unlike those people who are going to protest tomorrow, I`m old enough to remember August `91. The three days that ended the Soviet regime.
Again, the other side, the people behind the coup d`etat attempt. They had everything. They had the army, the police, the propaganda, the government and party apparatus. And they -- of course, they have the tanks which they sent into central Moscow to try to quash those freedoms that were beginning to come about.
And the people who said no to that coup, they had nothing. All they had was their own dignity and their determination to defend their freedom and to prevent a return to the bad old days. And they went into the streets and they stood in front of the tanks in the tense and hundreds of thousands, and the tanks stopped and turned away.
So, it`s been done many times before. I`m sure it can be done again.
MADDOW: Vladimir Kara-Murza is the vice-chairman of Open Russia, which is an international Russian pro-democracy movement -- we will be watching to see what happens tomorrow. Good luck to you.
KARA-MURZA: Thank you.
MADDOW: Thank you.
KARA-MURZA: Thanks very much.
MADDOW: Thanks very much.
All right. We`ll be right back.
MADDOW: Best new thing in the world. We haven`t had one in so long.
All right. You ready? Here we go. We`re going to start with a shout out to the thing that kept me sane during the 2016 election, which was bad lip reading.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I wanted, you know, I just wanted regular potatoes. But guess what? So did other people. I wanted it the most so like I`m --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You just froze a baby. You just froze a baby.
Genital warts, you touched a genital wart. You can`t touch it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This piece goes over here. It`s part of the tree.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Carson.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Aghh!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have a glass child they call the kid little bong- bong. But we have one in a cave and I peek at them because it`s not a real one.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You got to love Bernie boy. He is crazy! Haaa.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Help. Mmm, I`m going barf.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I pretend I like you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You`re a creep.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think you`re old like dirt.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The guy is the boss, you know.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just remember who brought you here.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you, my prince.
MADDOW: A lot of work goes into bad lip reading. Sometimes have to wait a long while before the next one comes out. Manna from heaven.
There was a moment today when we thought we had discovered a new previously unseen bad lip reading video. We thought we had found it in the wild.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KAREN HANDEL (R-GA), CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: Taqueria tsunami, how they do the skinny Rita, the all fruits that they smash up.
I wanted to bark at you the way I get barked at.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Taqueria tsunami. I get barked at skinny Rita.
Other than the fact that we clearly don`t know who those people are, that clearly is a bad lip reading classic, right? You`d think. But it`s not.
It turns out that is video of Karen Handel, the Republican candidate in Georgia`s special election for Congress. Now, we`ve seen politicians do a version of this before. They record these violently awkward long videos of themselves smiling or working or appearing to talk to people.
And then they just leave the videos out there on the Internet so super PACs can come along and grab up that footage and use it in commercials. Politicians do this now.
But in the case of poor Karen Handel running against Jon Ossoff, in the case of poor Karen Handel, they forgot to mute the sound.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. One more time and look up and give me a big smile. You kind of fall off the smile. And action. And action. Action.
HANDEL: I`m just trying to think what I want to order you to do.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She puts the in my nose and they have to wait for to it dry. Hold steady. Hold steady. And then pow! I felt like somebody had slapped the back of my head.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Karen, sip your coffee please? That`s it.
HANDEL: Now I have to sip my coffee.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Now I have to sip my coffee.
Honestly, now the world knows Karen Handel is talking about margaritas and nose hair waxing, can a super PAC still make an ad using these videos? It`s like ruined knowing they`re talking about the fallen off the smile. Like, we don`t know. Maybe -- I don`t know.
But I could watch this thing all day. I actually did watch this all day. And I`m quite sure that Karen Handel`s B roll with the volume all the way up, at least for those who cover politics all day, this was definitely the best new thing in the world.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HANDEL: What are you doing? It`s a good thing I didn`t go in the drawer and get my gun, I might have shot the guy.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Then you have to drag him out of the house.
HANDEL: I realize that -- is there audio?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, yes, there is audio.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Yes. Yes, there is audio for the whole long stretch of it. It is hard to drag the guy out of the house after you shoot him, right? It`s the most inconvenient thing.
That does it for us tonight. We will see you again Monday.
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