The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 5/1/17

Guests: Chris Murphy, Gina McCarthy

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST:  And thanks to you at home joining us this hour.

When the Republican Party chose its presidential nominee last year, the contest really was not all that close.  Donald Trump not only won the Republican primary, he won it by a lot.  The last guy standing against him were Ted Cruz and John Kasich, both Ted Cruz and Kasich dropped out of the race by the first week in May.  Ted Cruz was out I think on May 3rd.  Kasich out on May 4th. 

And at that point, there were still a lot of primaries and caucuses left.  Everything from Indiana and Nebraska and West Virginia to New Jersey and California, Oregon, Washington. 

When a primary campaign ends early like that, when somebody basically runs away with it, it`s an interesting strategic question how the presumptive nominee, how the last candidate standing treats those remaining contests, right?  Once you vanquished all your rivals, do you keep running in those remaining states?  Do you make a show of competing for those contests when you really are the only one left? 

I think oftentimes, the answer to that depends on whether the candidate thinks that he or she has a chance at winning those states in the general election, too.  So even once the primary is settled, if there are competitive states, swing states that are still left on the primary calendar, that`s, you know, great reason for them to get additional candidate visits, get additional political attention. 

On the other hand, states that are never going to be in contention, states that are firmly red or firmly blue for the general election, eh, they won`t get as much attention.  They won`t expect as much. 

So, a state like Washington state could not have expected too much in terms of political attention or a hard fought contest on the Republican side of the race.  I mean, John Kasich quit the race May 4th.  Washington state held its primary 20 days later on May 24th. 

So, Trump was essentially standing alone in the Washington presidential primary.  He obviously won the primary by a mile but that was no surprise because he was the only candidate left in the race. 

In the general election though, Washington is a really blue state.  In the general election, he lost there by something like 15 points, as expected. 

So, Washington state, lovely place.  Always interesting.  But it was basically totally off the board in terms of presidential political relevance on the Republican side in 2016.  That said, for the Trump campaign chairman in Washington state, everything worked out awesome for him. 

"Huffington Post" recently retrieved FEC filings from that part of the campaign and found that -- for that totally besides the point, basically extraneous political effort on the Republican side in Washington state, the Washington state Trump campaign chairman billed the national campaign over $130,000 for his time, and for his son`s time, and for his wife`s time, and for the services of a local Washington state company he hired on the campaign`s behalf that happens to be a company owned and operated by him. 

In just a few months` time, he in a totally besides the point contest, he took home over $135,000.  And then when Trump won the presidency, he naturally wanted to reward his loyalists, right, reward the people who had worked on his campaign, reward even the far-flung local staffers and campaign chairmen from all corners of the country where there was no competition, even the ones who appear to have bilked the campaign for tons of money.  He apparently wanted to reward all of them and bring them to Washington and give them big federal government jobs. 

And so, he brought his Washington state campaign chairman to Washington, D.C.  He brought him into the administration.  And the first job he gave him was a high ranking job at the EPA. 

And the local press at home in Washington state absolutely could not believe that this guy from Washington state has been brought to D.C. to work at the EPA.  This was the headline in "The Seattle Times".  Quote, "Trump`s EPA pick bumbles from Washington state onto national stage."  Calling its, quote, "an incredible tale of failing up."  "In an incredible tale of failing up, this former Washington state senator is now off to help President Trump oversee the nation`s 15,000 employee environmental agency.  What could possibly go wrong?"

Calling the appointment a, quote, "textbook case of party patronage cronyism."  Columnist Danny Westneat at "The Seattle Times" says, quote, "What`s shocking at this isn`t Don Benton`s anti-green views, given that he`s going to work at the EPA, what`s shocking about this is that Don Benton has an almost perfect track record of failure and interpersonal conflict often resulting in legal or disciplinary action at every public position he has ever he held." 

Quote, "As state Republican Party chairman, Benton lasted only eighth months.  His first action was the changing the locks at party headquarters to bar the staff that he had just fired."  Quote, "As a state senator, he got into juvenile belligerent scraps." 

As a serving state senator, he filed a workplace complaint against a fellow Republican senator.  Over the course of his conflict with her, he called her, quote, "a trashy, trampy mouthed little girl."  One time, he followed her around on the Senate floor as she was trying to get away from him saying, quote, "You are weird and weird.  Weird, weird, weird.  Just so weird."

Now, he`s in a position of influence over a federal agency with 15,000 employees.  What could go wrong?

That was "The Seattle Times" when the Washington state campaign chairman got brought from Washington state to Washington, D.C. to take that job at the EPA.  It turns out that EPA job didn`t work out great.  He was installed as one of these political minders that the White House had placed at every agency. 

"The Washington Post" soon reported that good old Don Benton was so annoying at the EPA at policy meetings, he offered so much unsolicited advice so often that the senior staff of the EPA just stopped allowing him to come to any meetings. 

Now, because they are not exactly swimming in top tier talent because they are not, you know, drowning in capable contenders for top posts in the new administration, the Trump administration apparently decided that they couldn`t spare him, despite the way he washed out at the EPA.  They couldn`t simply send him home after he proved dramatically unsuited for that no work job at the EPA.  So, instead, what they decided to do with him is to fail him up once again.  They decided to put him in charge of his own agency. 

They named Don Benton director of the Selective Service, which means he`s the one who runs the military draft for the United States of America.  He`s the first director in the history of the Selective Service who has never himself served in the military.  He has no relevant subject matter expertise whatsoever.  He`s apparently never run anything larger than the homegrown business he used to apparently bilked the Trump campaign while he was also billing for his wife`s time and his son`s time in addition to his own time running the Trump campaign in Washington.  But now, he is in charge of 124 employees at the Selective Service and nearly a $25 million budget and the nation`s military draft. 

At home in the Washington state press, this time in "The News Tribune" out of Tacoma, they absolutely cannot believe it.  Quote, "The Evergreen State is nothing if not generous.  Look at the gift we just gave to the other Washington.  None other than former State Senator Don Benton, our best and brightest.  His political career reads like the story of Scuffy the Tugboat`s heroic and misunderstood evil twin."

And so, happy Monday.  I mean, nobody really thinks they`re going to bring back the draft, at least not anytime soon.  But if they do bring back the draft, the effort will be led and coordinated by Scuffy the Tugboat`s misunderstood evil twin. 

And that may end up being kind of an important microcosm for what`s going on in the administration in American politics right now with this new White House, with this new administration.  That`s just one personnel story. 

But it turns out to be kind of the personnel story of what they`re doing.  On Friday night, with just hours to spare, Congress agreed on a bill to fund the government for one week, thus avoiding a potential shutdown of the federal government Friday night a minute past midnight. 

The last time the federal government shut down was in 2013.  Hundreds of thousands of federal employees got furloughed, more than a million people had to work without knowing if or when they would get paid.  It lasted for 16 days I think in the fall of 2013.  It was really dumb.  It was a huge hit to the U.S. economy. 

It had no political consequences, no politically purpose whatsoever.  Nothing changed in terms of policy because of it.  And although nothing was irrevocably lost in terms of the government`s ability to do its work, it did just meaninglessly throw sand in the machine, throw grit and everything, grit everything up.  It made normal ongoing functions have to pointlessly stop and start up back again or just made them harder to get done without the federal government continuing to play its normal, everyday role. 

And there was one side bar story that happened in the states when the federal government shutdown happened.  One of the weirder things that happened out in the country when the federal government shutdown happened, is that in one state, just one state out of 50, which makes no sense at all, in one state during the federal government shutdown, that one state inexplicably stopped what`s called the Women, Infants and Children nutrition program.  This is WIC program.  It`s literally, you know, milk and food for the poorest moms and kids in the country.

And it is not one of the things that was stopped by the federal government shutdown.  You can tell that because in 49 of 50 states, the federal government shutdown did not result in the WIC program getting stopped.  In 49 of 50 states, it kept going, as it was supposed to.  But in North Carolina, inexplicably, they just stopped that program.  They were not supposed to.  There was nothing about the federal shutdown that made them have to do that.  But apparently in North Carolina, at the state level, they got confused and the consequence of that was that they shut down this necessary thing for no reason. 

Now, at the time, the agency in North Carolina that oversaw that program, the Health and Human Services agency in North Carolina, it was overseen by a wealthy Republican campaign donor named Aldona Wos.  Under Aldona Wos` tenure, North Carolina inexplicably was the only state in the country that stopped WIC benefits during the federal government shutdown with no explanation as to why they did that. 

Aldona Wos was ostensibly put in place at this large agency in North Carolina to oversee major Health and Human Services cuts in that state.  But even as they were trying to do major cuts to Health and Human Services in that state, she nevertheless found space in the budget for a lot of stuff that later proved hard to explain and that led to federal investigations. 

While Governor Pat McCrory was telling state agencies in North Carolina that they needed to freeze the salaries of all their workers, Aldona Wos at Health and Human Services, she gave a 24-year-old kid who had worked on the Pat McCrory campaign a $23,000 raise.  She gave another more than $20,000 raise to another 24-year-old kid who also worked McCrory campaign.  Somehow, he ended making over $87,000 a year working in Aldona Wos` agency as a, quote, "senior policy planner in Health and Human Services."

As noted by WRIL in North Carolina at the time, this 24-year-old making nearly 90 grand a year for that senior policy job, he had, quote, "no educational background or experience in health policy whatsoever."  But they not only wanted him for that 90 grand a year job, they wanted it bad enough that they gave him a more than $20,000 a year raise once he took it. 

And that wasn`t even the best part.  She also hired another guy to do what they called strategic planning for her department.  She hired him in late January.  He worked through December.  And for that 11-ish month period, she had the state of North Carolina pay him north of $300,000.  Wow. 

The man turns out to have been an employee of her husband`s company, and after an 11-month hiatus from her husband`s company, raking it in thanks to the taxpayers in North Carolina, then he went back to working for Aldona Wos` husband in December of that year.  WRIL later reported there was, quote, "little documentary evidence" left behind after he was done as to what he actually did for any of that money.  Again, got paid more than $300,000 for less than a year`s work.  Nobody quite knows what he did. 

By the summer of 2015, grand jury subpoenas had been issued to look into what the heck she was doing with the taxpayer money, with all of these otherwise inexplicable contracts.  At the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, grand jury subpoenas went out in July.  The following month in August, she resigned, she announced her resignation from the North Carolina state government at a weird press conference where she and the governor cried.  The governor gave her an award even as she was leaving and they were crying together. 

And then the following month, the grand jury subpoenas were made public.  She apparently got to keep the award.  And ultimately by late last year, the FBI had decided to close that federal investigation. 

And now, she`s coming to Washington to work for all of us, where she will be helping to run the White House Fellowship Program, which is very prestigious and an important thing. 

Do you know any politically connected 24-year-old with relevant experience?  Do you know anybody who works for her husband?  Where do they find these folks? 

At the hundred day mark, there`s a lot of attention warranted I think in terms of the Trump administration`s difficulty in finding people, finding anyone to name to senior positions.  This is new administration is lagging behind any other modern presidency in terms of picking people for jobs, just putting forward people`s names for significant jobs in the federal government. 

But that problem, not being able to find anyone, not even nominating people for big, senior jobs, that`s not their only personnel problem.  There`s a lot of jobs they haven`t even named anybody for.  But there`s a lot of jobs where they have picked people and holy mackerel, check their home state press. 

And this may be the proverbial missing link why they`re not getting anything done and don`t have prospects of getting anything done even in the acute, immediate future.  And that`s next.  

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW:  There is reporting coming out tonight that Republicans in Washington are trying yet again right now for a third time to pass an Obamacare repeal bill.  This is important most of all because health care is very, very important. 

This is important to the Trump administration, specifically because they just passed the hundred days in office point without passing any legislation at all.  And so, they would please like to do that, particularly since Republicans control the White House, the House, and the Senate.  As far as political possibility is concerned for passing legislation, for them, no time like the present.  If they can`t pass something now, when can they pass something?

So, all day today and into tonight, people have been calling their legislators to try to save Obamacare.  People have been calling and advocating against the Obamacare repeal bill the way people have been doing right from the very beginning of this administration. 

On the Republican side, Republican congressional leadership is desperately whipping votes to try to save this Obamacare repeal bill from failing for a third time in a row just with members of their own party.  So, that`s what`s been happening today and into tonight on the congressional side of this.

On the administration side of this though, the efforts to repeal Obamacare have not been helped by the fact that the administration seems confused about what they`re trying to do.  The president himself doesn`t seem to understand the concept of what is trying -- what the Republicans are trying to do with Obamacare repeal in Congress. 

Over the weekend, the president talked about how the Republican plan to repeal Obamacare will cover preexisting conditions.  It does not cover preexisting conditions.  He talked about how the Republican plan will reduce premiums.  It will increase premiums. 

I mean, the administration right up to and including the White House and president himself just don`t seem to understand the basics of even the big stuff they`re working on when it comes to legislation.  So, you say they weren`t able to pass any major legislation, it may matter toward getting to that point.  It may matter toward getting to that realization that they don`t even understand what`s being worked on. 

I mean, that government shutdown that would have happened on midnight on Friday night, that was averted by a one-week funding bill that was passed on Friday with just hours to spare.  Well, over the weekend, news emerged they`ve also agreed in Congress on a five-month spending bill that will put off the threat of another government shutdown until December. 

Now, where does the administration come in on this?  Do they understand this?  Well, the administration had said they would force Democrats to pay for Trump`s border wall on the spending bill.  They said they would risk a government shutdown or they would threaten health insurance subsidies to force the Democrats to pay for the wall.  You know, the health insurance subsidies are still in the bill, there`s not going to be a shutdown and there`s no funding for the wall. 

The administration, the president himself said they were going to defund sanctuary cities.  They did not defund sanctuary cities.  They said they were going to kill all federal funding for Planned Parenthood.  They did not kill federal funding for Planned Parenthood.  They said they were going to kill the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities, they did not kill either of those things. 

They said they were going to lock 30 percent off the EPA budget.  They locked 1 percent of the EPA budget.  They said they were going to the cut a billion dollars off the National Institutes of Health, the bill actually adds $2 billion to the National Institutes of Health. 

And all that is exciting news, particularly if you like things like the National Institutes of Health, right?  But this political question for why the administration can`t do anything, why they can`t accomplish anything they want to do, even with Republican unified control of government.  It is an underappreciated thing, particularly in the beltway press which loves to focus on the personality of individual leaders, you know, as a substitute for other forms of political effectiveness, right? 

It is -- it is an underappreciated thing that the federal government has a bunch of people in it.  It`s big, it`s complex.  It`s filled with lots of important consequential jobs where it matters who`s in those jobs. 

And under the Trump administration, we`ve got some weird people in relatively big positions.  I mean, we`ve got weird, weird, weird, Don Benton, Scuffy the Tugboat`s evil twin running the Selective Service.  Whether or not you think we are likely to bring back the draft, or you think it`s important we maintain that, why is that guy running that agency? 

We have promoted to senior positions people who have flunked out of even midlevel positions in Republican state government.  And it matters when you put people in charge of things that they don`t believe in. 

For example, the administration is now announced they`ve hired as the new deputy assistant secretary for population affairs at Health and Human Services, this is the part of Health and Human Services that oversees Title X, which oversees federal family planning efforts.  They`ve hired somebody for that job for what is essentially the one contraception job in the entire federal government, they have hired for that job a person who does not believe in contraception. 

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

TERESA WAGNER:  Of course, contraception doesn`t work.  Its efficacy is very low. 

(END AUDIO CLIP)

MADDOW:  That`s Teresa Manning.  Her name was Teresa Wagner at the time.  She`s just been named deputy assistant secretary for population affairs at the Department of Health and Human Services.  She believes contraception, of course, doesn`t work. 

And that`s fine.  Believe what you want, but that means the one job you are inherently not qualified for in the federal government or anywhere else is overseeing contraception programs. 

So, I mean, I don`t believe in zombie, which is fine, unless there was a federal job in charge of fighting zombies or facilitating zombies.  In which case, me not believing in zombies would make me unqualified for the zombie job.  You know what I`m saying? 

But, of course, contraception doesn`t work, that`s who they put in charge of contraception programs in the federal government.  She also incidentally claims that the link between abortion and breast cancer is quote, "undisputed."  In real life, there`s no link between abortion and breast cancer. 

That same contention, though, has also been made by the new nominee for an even bigger job at HHS.  The new nominee to be the assistant secretary for public affairs at the Department of Health and Human Services.  This appointment has made a little more noise because Charmaine Yoest, the nominee, is a relatively well-known hard line anti-abortion activist.  And it is weird to think that the spokesperson for Health and Human Services in the United States of America is now going to be somebody who adamantly insists that abortion causes breast cancer when abortion doesn`t cause breast cancer. 

Let it also be noted that she`s going to be the top communications person, the public affairs person for Health and Human Services in the U.S. government.  Since she has been named to that position, Charmaine Yoest has apparently been busy scrubbing as fast as she can her own public profile and past statements off the Internet machine. 

Her name is Charmaine Yoest, as I said.  She runs a website that is imaginatively called charmaineyoest.com.  The Electronic Frontier Foundation was first to notice on Friday afternoon when she was announced for this big job, they were first to notice that posts from her website were disappearing at an alarming clip. 

Russ Kick who we`ve talked about on this show before, he`s the brilliant online archivist and investor who runs thememoryhole2.org, Russ Kick then started saving the stuff that Charmaine Yoest had been yanking down off her website and it is hall of fame stuff, man. 

For the person who`s about to be the top public affairs person at Health and Human Services, quote, "Half of rape allegations are false."  "Buying a McDonald`s hamburger promotes the homosexual lifestyle."  "I don`t know if Obama is a demon or an Orji."  I think it`s supposed to Uygur, but it`s Orji. 

How about this one?  "Homosexuals advance breakup of childless families."  I don`t even know what that means but it doesn`t sound good.

She accuses Walmart of homosexualist activitism.  Homosexualist?  That`s not a word I was previously aware of, but I fully embrace it. 

Writing about marriage between two women, she jokes, quote, "I was wrong to suggest that large farm animals were a part of the festivities."

Charmaine Yoest will now be the top spokesperson and assistant secretary for public affairs at the nation`s Department of Health and Human Services.  She`s trying to pull that off her website but she`s not succeeding, thanks to investigators like Russ Kick. 

Part of what`s going on with this new administration cannot be divined from reading Donald Trump`s tweets about the civil war or, you know, reading his musings or listening to his interviews where he talks about himself and what he things about his big Electoral College win this week.  I mean, part of what is important and needs to be divined about this administration cannot be divined from thinking about his personality or watching him in action.  A lot of what`s going on is about the government as an entity, as about the government as not just one person. 

It`s about the fact that this is somewhere below the "B" team that the Trump administration is bringing to Washington.  And everybody says personnel is policy.  That is true.  You can see the policy thinking behind some of these appointments. 

But personnel is also basic competence, and that`s where we`re running into some trouble.

More ahead tonight.  Stay with us. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW:  Fantastic field this year in the finalists for photography in the Pulitzer Prizes.  Pulitzer Prize`s photography entries are always amazing.  This year was particularly incredible. 

"The Associated Press" was a runner up this year for their series in life and combat in Iraq right now.  Another runner up was this stunning famous image, this instantly iconic image that was taken in Baton Rouge this year. 

The winner this year in the Pulitzer Prize in photography was a riveting photo series that I have to tell you, it almost cannot appear on television, almost none of it can.  I will show you what we can from it, but I will warn you even these ones that we can show on TV, they themselves are still graphic. 

Daniel Berehulak is the photographer.  He took home the prize this year for these images that ran in the "New York Times."  He documented the killing of people, thousands of people in the Philippines, people who are suspected of being part of the drug trade there, in what amounts to an extrajudicial but government-led crackdown on the drug trade. 

People in the Philippines have been killed on the street in enormous numbers without trial, just summarily executed.  The title of the series was what he was told by one person in the Philippines when he was shooting the series.  Quote, "They are slaughtering us like animals."

That killing campaign began in earnest last year in the Philippines with the election of the president there, Rodrigo Duterte.  He ran on a promise to not only be tough on crime, he ran on a promise to eradicate crime.  He promised to kill 100,000 criminals if he was elected. 

Since he took office, human rights groups say he`s ultimately responsible for the deaths of thousands of drug suspects, thousands of people in the Philippines.  He himself has bragged about personally killing criminals himself in his time before being president. 

And this weekend, the White House says that our president, Donald Trump, had a quote, very friendly discussion with Rodrigo Duterte, the president of the Philippines.  Before they hung up the phone, president Trump told Duterte that he should come by the White House next timing he`s in D.C. so they can discuss the importance of the U.S./Philippines alliance which now heading in a now positive direction. 

The president extending an invitation to the same foreign leader incidentally who called President Obama a "son of a whore" last year, right before they were supposed to meet.  It seemed Obama might ask about the quasi official killing spree in the Philippines.  The Obama administration swiftly canceled that meeting and it did not happen. 

But apparently, in this new administration, relations already very friendly and the White House door is wide open.  The State Department and the National Security Council reportedly had no idea this invitation was coming from the White House. 

Backlash outside the administration has been a little more overt.  Human rights organizations say this invitation basically puts blood on Donald Trump`s hands, makes him morally complicit in future killings in the Philippines. 

Democratic Senator Chris Murphy is on the Foreign Relations Committee, said this in response.  Quote, "We are watching in real-time as the American human rights bully pulpit disintegrates into ash."

Joining us now is Senator Chris Murphy.  He`s a member of the Foreign Relations Committee. 

Senator Murphy, it`s really nice to have you back with us tonight.  Thank you for being here? 

SEN. CHRIS MURPHY (D-CT), FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE:  Sure.  Thanks for having me. 

MADDOW:  How valuable is the American bully pulpit on human rights issues?  If you`re saying it`s been squandered now, how much was it worth before we squandered it? 

MURPHY:  Well, if the United States isn`t speaking out against people who are imprisoned for trying to engage in political action, if we aren`t speaking out against leaders who are brutalizing their own civilian populations if we`re not speaking out against presidents and prime ministers who engage in the repression of the free press, then who will? 

The United States historically has led the world in trying to stand up relatively new and sometimes unstable democracies.  We have a very checkered history on this matter.  Clearly, we have supported, and to this day, support some very brutal dictators. 

But this walk-back from our historical leadership position on human rights is pretty stunning.  It runs the gamut from these complimentary comments about President Duterte who reports say has potentially endorsed the killing of 9,000 civilians without trial, to his support for the president of Egypt who has jailed maybe 40,000 political opponents, all of this makes us sort of shrink as a nation from a position of moral leadership. 

But it also, you know, ultimately endangers us because we are seen as complicit in these killings, as we are seen backing up brutal dictators in Muslim countries, the folks that are organizing against us, they use this to try to recruit, and that puts us ultimately at risk. 

MADDOW:  In terms of the influence of the United States on other countries, particularly on autocratic, dictatorial, or, you know, military hundred at a junta leaders like al-Sisi in Egypt, I have -- part of what I struggle with on this subject, I don`t have any issue in terms of how odious it is that we got the American president basically endorsing and being friendly with and excusing the behavior of these guys.  What I wonder is if they are constrained at all by the United States having a different stance toward them. 

The criticism that the American government, that the American president will have blood on his hands with future killings in the Philippines, it`s hard for me to see from this perspective whether these guys adjust their course depending on the kind of support they feel like they have or don`t have from the U.S.

MURPHY:  So, I think that`s a good point.  Rachel, as you know, I mean, I`ve been a critic of American hubris in the Middle East and all over the world.  I sometimes think foreign policy establishment here in Washington likes to come up with American-led solutions for virtually every problem in the world.  And so, no, we shouldn`t expect that the United States ultimately can pull strings in some far off country and be able to turn a very bad guy into a good guy. 

But it clearly is true that when we endorse explicitly the brutality of these dictators, that it ultimately leads to the situation getting worse, not better.  Remember, this isn`t just a case of looking the other way on Duterte or Putin.  This is about an American president showing specific appreciation for their brutality, right? 

He -- Trump talked about how he sort of likes the way that Putin went after his political opponents.  He has drawn -- he has drawn parallels between himself and the way in which Duterte has ruled.  So, in that way, we are making the situation worse, not better. 

You`re right that we can`t solve all these problems, but we are certainly in these situations are making it worse and we are giving license to other democratically elected officials who want to sort of get on this slippery slope to autocracy, to get on board, because you`re not going to have to worry about the United States speaking out against you if you do so. 

MADDOW:  Yes.  And the president`s admiration for that type of leadership, for those type of leaders, for those type of actions also does give us kind of a disturbing window into the directions he might like to head himself if he`s able to. 

Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut -- thank you, sir.  Appreciate you being with us tonight.

MURPHY:  Thanks a lot. 

MADDOW:  Thanks.

All right.  Much more ahead tonight.  Stay with us.  

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW:  This is a science lab. 

(LAUGHTER)

MADDOW:  If you think about it, it`s actually a mobile science lab. 

Good girl.  Who`s a good girl? 

This one is I guess a nod to the National Park Service.  Smokey Bear next to a sign that says, "Only you can prevent forest fires.  Seriously, we`ve been defunded.  It`s just you now."

Here`s another.  I was told to bring a sine.  Get it?  Sine?  Cosine?  Sine.

Then, there`s "I`m a pro-tons of science."  Pro-tons, protons.

One more.  This one`s very blunt.  One more, come on.  Yes.  "Got polio?  Me neither.  Thanks, Science."

Those are all from the March for Science, which was last weekend.  Ten thousand people took part in D.C. alone.  There are marches in more than 600 other cities around the country and around the world. 

And this, of course, comes after the giant post-inaugural protest, right?  The women`s marches and the Tax Day marches, and big town halls and the rallies to serve health care and the big airport protest against the Muslim ban and the big climate marches that happened this weekend.

I mean, part of the first hundred days of the new administration was that there have been a lot of big demonstrations of civic engagement since Donald Trump got sworn in as president.  But, you know, I highlight those signs from the science march as opposed to the other marches and demonstrations we have seen in the Trump era because the science march has roots.  It has a past, because of this which happened in 1969. 

1969, there was a horrible oil spill on the coast in Santa Barbara, California, one of the biggest oil spills ever in U.S. history.  The Deepwater Horizon and Exxon Valdez would go on to be bigger in later years, but at the time, we had never seen anything like this as a country.  And certainly not in that pristine sensitive beach front in Santa Barbara, California.

Santa Barbara, California oil spill, 1969, a true national disaster, blown out well they couldn`t shut down for ten days.  Huge spill, national attention, a huge reaction particularly in California.  And that Santa Barbara disaster helped give rise to the environmental movement in this country.  In the short term, it led the following year, the year after the spill in 1970 to something they called Earth Day. 

I`ve always thought that was a funny name, right?  All of our days are Earth Days.  You know, a Jupiter day last ten hours.  A Venus day last 116 Earth Days. 

But all of our days are Earth Days, and Earth Day has happened every year in somewhere or another since 1970 after the Santa Barbara oil spill.  This year, the weekend roughly of Earth Day was the science march.  Fitting.  Who`s a good dog? 

The Trump administration decided to celebrate earth day and the science march this year by firing one of the most visible faces of science in our government by firing the nation`s surgeon general.  Less than 24 hours before the science march, Dr. Vivek Murthy, the surgeon general, was told he needed to resign.  He refused to resign.  He made them fire him which apparently they were happy to do.  Happy Earth Day. 

The surgeon general served for four year terms.  Vivek Murthy was only two years into his four-year term but they canned him anyway.  And then the science march happened the next day. 

How many years do you think we`ve got until there`s no ice in the Arctic Ocean in the summer?  What century does that happen in do you think? 

According to the Arctic Council which is a group of eight Arctic interested countries, if you have a kid next year, the Arctic Ocean will be ice-free in the summer when your kid is in college, by 2040, within our lifetime. 

Just days after that announcement came out from the Arctic Council, we got another executive order from President Trump.  The order that he signed opens up drilling in protected parts of the Arctic.  It also opens up for drilling on the Atlantic coast of the United States.  It also opens up California. 

California is not named specifically in this executive order that Trump signed on Friday, but the executive order says that parts of the Pacific Ocean could also be open to drilling. 

California lawmakers, the California coast, the California lawmakers are already vowing to challenge this because obviously this is going to be part of the country where this whole idea would go over great, right? 

So, consult your actuarial table on today`s news, right?  Maybe we won`t be killed by climate change but we`ll die in the war that the Trump administration is about to start with California if he really goes through with this and starts to try to drill off the California coast for the first time since this happened. 

Is this a done deal?  Could public pressure change the plan?  Hold that thought. 

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MADDOW:  This hot, sweaty weekend in D.C. as the Trump administration hit the 100-day mark, tens of thousands of people marched up Pennsylvania Avenue in what they call the People`s Climate March, sending a message to the White House: Climate change is happening.  What are you going to do about it? 

Part of the answer came late Friday night from the administration.  Late Friday night, the EPA started taking down its climate data from the agency`s website.  Key pages and information about climate change have been moved or marginalized or just gone. 

For example, this is the old climate change page on the EPA`s website.  And this is new page.  This page is being updated.  I bet.  Can`t wait for the substantive updates. 

Joining us now is the Obama administration`s EPA Chief Gina McCarthy. 

Ms. McCarthy, thank you very much for being here.  Really appreciate your time tonight. 

GINA MCCARTHY, FORMER EPA ADMINISTRATOR:  It`s good to be with you, Rachel.  Thanks. 

MADDOW:  A lot of people sort of saw this coming and tried to preserve what they could in terms of public facing data on climate and other EPA data, worried that the administration might do this. 

What`s your reaction to them dropping this data off their public facing website? 

MCCARTHY:  I have to say that it`s pretty disturbing, Rachel, because it really isn`t just about updating some policy perspective.  This is a wholesale wiping out of historical record of what this agency has been doing with public dollars for decades, not just the past eight years.  This is unprecedented in terms of the scope of information that`s been taken down, information that`s public information.  People have a right to be able to access it.  And no president has ever done this before. 

You know, it is simply denying that the agency has been working on climate for decades, the science that we have developed and the actions we have taken and why we took them.  You can disagree with many of those actions.  But what you can`t do is simply deny history and make that information unavailable to the public who paid for it and deserve to have ready access to it. 

So, it`s disturbing not just in its content and the breadth of what they did, but also in its timing.  You know, it clearly was designed to become part of the narrative around our ability to be able to speak as Americans and march in the streets about what this administration is doing to actually -- to dismantle the very fabric of environmental protections that we have relied on to keep our kids safe. 

That`s what Saturday was about -- standing up talking, not just about climate, but about clean air and clean water, and healthy land.  That`s what they tried to undermine by taking the information off the table, for people to be able to access that day. 

But the one thing they have to realize is that we`re not going forget about it.  We know what the science says.  We know what we need to do to protect ourselves and our kids.  And clean air and clean water in this country is a core value.  And just because it`s not reflected on EPA`s website doesn`t mean that that core values are going to change. 

We just have to get more diligent about making sure that we`re speaking up and we`re doing everything we can to protect our kids. 

MADDOW:  We`ve been following what to me feels like kind of a strange, slightly incoherent process.  At least it`s hard to follow from the outside, in which it looks like the administration, the EPA, the new EPA and this administration, rather than holding individual public comment periods, like individual regulations or individual things they want to change, they appear to be starting as of tomorrow, a public process to consider scrapping or modifying all regulations, all environmental regulations, all at once, with the very limited public comment period that most people can`t get in on. 

Do you have any insight into what they`re doing there or what their aims are? 

MCCARTHY:  Well, I certainly know what they`re intending to do is to take broad public comment in a lottery process with just a few people to see whether or not there are specific regulations that people would like to reconsider.  But those are very different processes than are required under law to actually change rules. 

So, while this is an attempt for them to say they`re opening up to public comment, we all know that industries have already been to the White House to make their wishes known.  But the good thing is that the law requires really broad public process, real hearings, real comment processes to be opened up before any rule can be changed. 

And it requires that rule to be proposed.  It requires the public comment process.  And it requires a finalization that is done in a transparent way. 

So, while they may be opening up ideas for what do you want to see changed, I`m hoping that what they`re going to hear from many people is what we don`t want changed.  And that is the fundamental protections that we have relied on. 

Now, why they think this is a healthy public process?  I don`t know.  But it would be really nice if they really sat down and thoughtfully looked at what rules could be updated, what rules are essential, and whether or not just the costs but the benefits they provide to all of us. 

That seems to be a word they don`t often use when they talk about regulation.  They just say let`s get rid of the rules because they`re expensive.  And let`s forget about who they benefit, which is you and I -- normal human beings. 

MADDOW:  Gina McCarthy, former EPA administrator in the Obama administration -- really appreciate your time tonight, ma`am.  Thank you. 

MCCARTHY:  Thanks, Rachel. 

MADDOW:  All right.  We`ll be right back.  Stay with us.  

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW:  Shocker congressional race poll we just obtained exclusively.  This is the red hot race in what`s supposed to be a red district in Georgia to replace Congressman Tom Price.  This race is next month.  This is the first poll we`ve seen since the primary two week ago. 

This is a poll from Anzalone Liszt Grove Research, a Democratic polling firm hired by the Ossoff campaign.  But they`ve got an accurate track record.  And look at the poll.  Ossoff up by one, among likely voters. 

The poll finds Ossoff leading Republican Karen Handel by a single point, 48 to 47.  Republicans, of course, have poured millions of dollars into this race in the last two weeks to try to keep this seat in Republican hands.  But look at that -- Ossoff up by one.  Oh really?  Watch this space. 

That does it for us tonight.  We will see you again tomorrow. 

Now, it`s time for "THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL."

Good evening, Lawrence. 

 

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