Show: THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW Date: November 1, 2018 Guest: James LaPorta, Tim Purdon
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: And I was like, stop -- everybody, stop what you`re doing. Look at that. That was just so incredible. Well done.
And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour. Happy to have you with us.
If you are sensing a little tension, a little drama, a little frissant (ph) of excitement about the election, as we`re just about five days out now from election, if you get the sense that things are a little tense right now, closely fought in terms of how the elections are going to be decided, that is not just you projecting from your own internal levels of anxiety and stress. What you are sensing is a true thing that is measurable in the world, never more so than it is pleasurable tonight.
Look at this. This is a new poll just released tonight in one of the most fascinating and important races that is going to happen in the country. This is the Georgia governor`s race between Republican secretary of state, ultra conservative Republican Brian Kemp and the former Democratic leader of the state legislature in Georgia, Stacey Abrams.
All right. New poll from the "Atlanta Journal Constitution", as you see in the headline, it says they are deadlocked. That`s not hyperbole.
Look, quote: The poll, conducted by the University of Georgia School of Public and International Affairs has Stacey Abrams at 46.9 percent and Brian Kemp at 46.7 percent. That is incredible. Five days out in a statewide race, five days out from the election to be separated by 0.2 percentage points.
Now, the wild card of that Georgia race is that if neither of these candidates gets over 50 percent of the vote, Brian Kemp and Stacey Abrams will have to go to a runoff in December. So, if neither one of them hits 50, we will not know who Georgia`s governor is going to be until next month there. There is a libertarian candidate who is running in Georgia as well. He has as much a chance of winning the governorship in Georgia as I have at winning Miss America and the lottery and a Tony Award, all tonight. Ta-da!
But with the race this close, even with the tiny little pointless sliver of the vote that that libertarian candidate seems to be pulling in, him pulling off that number of votes, as unimportant as that will be for his future, it will result in neither Brian Kemp nor Stacey Abrams being able to get over 50 percent to win that race next week. Not when they`re both tied at between 46.7 and 46.9 percent.
But it`s not just there. There is a new CNN poll out tonight in the Senate race in Florida. Democratic incumbent Senator Bill Nelson running against the Republican incumbent Governor Rick Scott. That race tonight in Florida also exactly tied, 46 percent each.
We also just got new Fox News polls on the Senate race in Arizona. Republican Martha McSally running against Democrat Kyrsten Sinema. That race is also tied at 46 percent each.
Another Fox News poll also shows a tie in the Missouri Senate race between Democratic incumbent Senator Claire McCaskill and Missouri`s Republican Attorney General Josh Hawley. They are both tied at 45 percent.
And look at this one. This is actually the best one of all of them. This one is out of Wisconsin. This is Marquette University. Their poll just released in the Wisconsin governor`s race, this is incumbent Republican Governor Scott Walker is having a tough time holding on to his seat against a Democratic challenger named Tony Evers.
This is the Marquette University poll in that Wisconsin governor`s race. It now not only shows a tie between Scott Walker and Tony Evers, not only shows them with each having 47 percent of the vote, that Marquette University poll literally rally found the exact same number of humans picking Tony Evers as picking Scott Walker. It`s not a statistical tie, it`s not a margin of error. The exact same number of human respondents in that poll picked Tony Evers as picked Scott Walker.
Man, lest you think your vote might not count this year, lest you think that you might not bother, I don`t care where you`re voting, there are so many really important, really interesting races all over the country, right? Congressional race, statewide, state legislature race, governor races, Senate races, there are so many of them we`re seeing polling like this, where it`s not just close, it is absolutely dead even.
In that case of that Wisconsin governor`s race, it`s literally tied with the exact same number of human beings on each side. And in an environment like that, that means every single individual vote has a good chance of being very exciting, because it could be divisive.
And every race is different, and every race turns on the strengths and weaknesses of each candidate and on the issues on which the candidates are fighting it out, and the local circumstances in which the elections are happening. I know every race is local. But when the contest overall appears to be as close as it is this year between the two party, right, and we see that most strikingly of course at the national level with the question of who will control the House of Representatives. Will the Republicans continue to hold it or will the Democrats hold it?
That has huge implications in Washington for the next couple years of the Trump administration, let alone policy. But even bigger picture than that, right, when the two parties are fighting this hard, this closely over this many battlegrounds, I think it becomes almost irresistible for the party controlling the White House to try to give the elections overall some sort of big national shove, right? To try to change the weather in their own favor, to try to change the political climate in this country that somehow redounds in the direction of the president`s party.
The White House finds it impossible to not try in an election like this. And when it comes though to this White House and this president, the shove that President Trump has tried on for this election for this year is remarkably unsubtle. This ad apparently created by the White House or maybe the Trump campaign, but certainly circulated by the president, it literally argues that Democrats are rioting violent, marauding criminal mobs that will hunt you down and beat you bloody and destroy your city and then burn its wreckage.
That was followed by the president now circulating a new ad that overtly and literally blames Democrats for a sinister murderer of police officers who braids his beard hair. The ad makes the case that Democrats are in favor of murdering police officers and specifically they`re in favor of this guy murdering police officers. The ad says it is outrageous what Democrats are doing to our country. Literally says, quote, Democrats let him stay.
Actually, after being deported during the Clinton administration, that is actually a guy who was allowed back to stay in the country by the George W. Bush administration. But apparently that`s close enough to Democrats to make the grade when it comes to the expected veracity of presidential statements in the Trump White House. These images are so scary and terrible, right? You can`t let the truth of them get in the way of the story they trying to tell in the last few days before the election, to try to terrify low information voters into not voting at all, or for voting for the party that they think will defend the white race from the mongrel hordes who Donald Trump promises are coming into your house to punch you in the face.
I mean, I realize that`s a little on the nose, but I feel like if this is the level of subtlety they want to operate at heading into the election, this where we should meet them and at least talk bluntly about what they are doing here. But nobody is going to go to the polls, either early voting or this weekend, nobody is going to the polls to get a chance to vote yes or no on Donald Trump. He won`t be on the ballot, right?
It`s other Republican names all around the country the people have to vote on. State legislative candidates, statewide candidates, congressional candidates, gubernatorial candidates, those interest are the Republicans who are going to have to decide whether they want to position themselves to benefit from this final shove that is coming from the White House before this year`s elections, from this propaganda effort that is designed to shape the electorate in a way that will hopefully help Republicans.
And I understand why the White House is trying to do this. But there are problems for them with this strategy. For example, no matter how much they`re trying to change the conversation away from it, today was another day of funerals in Pittsburgh for three more of the victims of the deadliest attack on the American Jewish community ever committed on U.S. soil.
The suspect in this weekend`s massacre in that Pittsburgh synagogue pled not guilty today to 44 felony counts. He is pleading not guilty. He could have plead guilty, come to some sort of plea agreement, specifically maybe in an effort to try to avoid the death penalty, but he is pleading not guilty, and he told the judge today that he wants a jury trial. And we will see how that works out for him in the court system.
A lot of things could happen. But presumably, at that jury trial he is thinking at this point that he`ll be able to mount what all of these guys fantasize about when they see themselves as justified, righteous killers defending the white race. Presumably, he will want to use his jury trial to make a public argument in court that he thinks will persuade the country into rising up for a race war, right?
Make his public argument in court for why his murder of all these mostly elderly Jews in Pittsburgh was necessary and even patriotic. He`ll presumably want to make that public case before the jury. That`s what these guys always want to do. And we know that he wants to make that arguments publicly because he made that argument at length over a period of weeks and months online, before he finally went ahead and loaded his guns and did it.
The suspect in the Pittsburgh massacre waxed ineloquent and in all caps for months in age old Klan and skinhead style that the Jews are out to destroy white people by promoting immigration so as to dilute the white race, to dilute white racial purity, to undermine white racial majority, weaken the country by making it less white. That`s the -- that`s the white nationalist connection, right? That`s the connection they draw between the "be afraid of the terrible terrifying diseased immigrant hordes coming in" and the "Jews are probably paying for it" argument. Those are two halves of the same argument.
The racial purity people, the white nationalist people have always connected those two things. The immigrant hordes are coming here to dilute our racial purity and undermine white power in America and the Jews are arranging it because the Jews are out to destroy the white race. That`s their argument and it has been as far back as you can count. That`s why the Pittsburgh massacre suspect was ranting about the caravan of migrants coming up from Central America, and also simultaneously ranting about the need to kill the Jews to stop that invasion that he was so afraid of.
That was his argument for why he said he had to do it. He pled not guilty in court today. But that is what he`s already pled online as his justification for this past weekend`s massacre. He had to do it because the United States was being invaded, invaded by these immigrants and refugees right now. So he had to act urgently.
That`s the massacre suspect that pled not guilty in court this morning, and then this was the president`s speech acting out his arguments this afternoon.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: At this very moment, large well-organized caravans of migrants are marching toward our southern border. Some people call it an invasion. It`s like an invasion.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Even if there had not just been the worst massacre of American Jews on U.S. soil by an alleged killer who decried the invasion and made this exact same argument just days ago before he grabbed his guns and started shooting, even if that hadn`t just happened, Republicans might still be having a hard time deciding if they too are going to go with this as the last big public argument that we`re going to have before this year`s election. The country is in a national emergency because we`re being invaded?
I mean, the president certainly believes this is a great political move for himself and his party. But there are already signs that this sort of thing isn`t going to work everywhere. It`s actually starting to get hard to see where it`s going to work.
I mean, in the great state of Iowa, the governor`s race right now is a really interesting one. It`s one where there hasn`t ban lot of public polling, there hasn`t been a lot of national attention. But FiveThirtyEight.com right now lists the Iowa governor`s race as likely Democrat, in Iowa. And that`s with an incumbent Republican trying to hold on to that seat.
One of the late emerging issues in that Iowa governor`s race is the Republican incumbent Governor Kim Reynolds, she picked as her statewide co- chair for her campaign a congressman named Steve King. Now, Congressman Steve King has a national profile because he had these virulent anti- immigrant politics and was known for his raw, unapologetic racist appeals against immigrants and his retweets of neo-Nazis. He was known for all of that, even before Trump made it cool in the Republican Party.
After Congressman King went so far as to take a trip to Austria this summer, literally to meet with a neo-Nazi political party, King`s own district in Iowa, even though they`ve been electing him and re-electing him for years, and he`s never exactly hid this light under a bushel, they`re finally shuddering a little bit about the prospect of reelecting him one more time.
Among other things, his hometown paper, which has supported him in the past, his hometown paper has now abandoned him. It doesn`t hurt that the Democrat running against Steve King appears to have an enemy in the world and seems to be running exactly the kind of race you might need to run in that district in order to beat a guy like Steve King.
But Steve King`s race and anti-immigrant stuff now, it does appear to have fed up his own constituents in Iowa enough that his own race is an interesting new question and his involvement in the Republican governor`s campaign itself is becoming enough of a controversy for her that it may help her lose that governor`s seat. It may help elect Democrat Fred Hubbell, governor of Iowa on Tuesday night.
For other Republicans who don`t want a reputation like Steve King`s, for other Republicans, particularly those in tight races who are trying to steer clear of the Steve King-Donald Trump effect at this late date, a lot of them have been trying to avoid this race and violence and anti- demagoguery stuff as much as they can. They try not to answer questions about it. They try not to comment on it, even when they are confronted with it. They just sort of pretend like it`s not happening, oh, it has nothing to do with me, I`m focusing on local issues. Please don`t ask a follow-up.
A lot of them have been trying to run instead on things like health care, which we`ve been covering for the last few weeks now. That, of course, has its own awkwardness for Republican candidates this year. After all these years of the Republican Party as a unified front running vituperatively against Obamacare, and everything the Affordable Care Act stood for and did, now this year all these Republicans who are up for election or reelection this year, they`re all trying to run like they`re the biggest champions of Obamacare ever.
Vote for me. I will protect what Obamacare -- vote for me. I`ll make sure that Obamacare. I mean, Obamacare made it a new rule that insurance companies can`t deny you a policy, can`t say no to you for getting covered, and they can`t charge you more for getting covered if you have a preexisting condition, right?
All these Republicans were trying to say that was awesome. We got to make sure that doesn`t go away. Boy, I sure love that. I can be counted to fight for you on that. After all these years they have been fighting to get rid that of and every other element of Obamacare.
President Obama himself has been out on the campaign trail, stumping for Democratic candidates in this election. He seems quite specifically fed up about that. Here is former President Obama a few days ago in Wisconsin talking about Wisconsin Republican Governor Scott Walker, trying to run for reelection this year as if he`s Obamacare`s biggest champion.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT: Your governor has been running an ad during election time saying he is going to protect preexisting conditions when he is literally doing the opposite. That is some kind of gall. That is some kind of chutzpah. But let`s also call it what it is. It is a lie.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: As Republicans try to run away from Trump and his violence and race closing argument and they try to find other policy issues to run on instead, health care isn`t going to work for Republican candidates for a bunch of different reasons. I mean, one of them is their record. The Republican Party`s unified, unanimous record fighting everything in the Affordable Care Act, including insurance companies having to cover you if you got a preexisting condition.
They`re all trying to run on that now. But it is too blatant a reverse. It`s too blatant a lie to get away with anywhere in the country, especially in a year when health care is more important to voters than any other issue that`s helping them to decide between the candidates in their local race.
There is also this problem: 20 Republican-led states, including Scott Walker`s Wisconsin right now are suing in federal courts to eliminate coverage for preexisting conditions, as established by Obamacare. They`re suing to eradicate every vestige of Obamacare, including specifically arguing in their lawsuit that the rule that says preexisting conditions have to be covered, that must die. That`s a lawsuit from 20 Republican-led states.
That lawsuit has actually made its way through the courts now, and a ruling on that case is due any second, any day. I mean, the Republican-led states are suing to eliminate preexisting conditions. All of these Republican candidates, including Republican governors from those states that are suing for that are saying I`m really for coverage for preexisting conditions. But the court`s ruling on that could come any day now, between now and Election Day, on Tuesday. So, that`s a problem for them.
But even worse for Republicans who are trying to change the conversation to health care today, today, November 1st, was the first day that new rules established by the Trump administration unilaterally, today is the first day those new rules went into effect. And as of today for the first time, actually, I`ll quote "The Wall Street Journal" here, quote, this is the first open enrollment period under a Trump administration change under which plans -- health insurance plans can now deny coverage to people with preexisting conditions.
Under Obamacare, we got this new rule in the country that tells health insurance companies you can`t deny people coverage because they have asthma or high blood pressure. They`ve ever had a lump removed from their breast or any other preexisting condition. We got that under Obamacare. Republicans in 20 states with support from the Trump Justice Department are suing to get rid of that protection.
And today, for the first time, you can buy cruddy health insurance that will not cover you if you have a preexisting condition. And you can buy that as of today for the first time since Obamacare passed because of a rules change that was pushed through unilaterally by the Trump administration that has gone into effect today, literally five days before Election Day.
All right. And here is one last problem. As other options of other policies to talk about, like health care, those things get basically closed off to Republicans for the last five days, as we head toward election day, as the president doubles and triples and quadruples down on this hard shove to make this election all about terrible immigrants and race and the border, there is another problem for Republican candidates right now.
And we`re going to speak in just a moment with a well connected reporter from "Newsweek" magazine about the military deployment, the active duty troop deployment that just started today which Trump ordered to the U.S. border in response to that caravan of Central American migrants that he is trying to make so terrifying, that he`s tried to make the centerpiece of the election, the caravan is more than 800 miles away from the nearest place they could cross the U.S. board if they got there. They`re more than 2,000 miles away from the place they`re considered most likely to try to reach the border, if they try to.
But the president announced this week that there would be initially 5,000 active duty U.S. troops rushed to the border in response to the threat of this caravan. Then it became 9,000 troops. Now, apparently, they`re saying it is 15,000 troops, 15,000 active duty U.S. servicemen and women.
Democrats in the armed services committees in both the House and Senate have now written letters to the White House asking about what`s the cost of this deployment? How long is this thing going to last?
And, of course, we are all used to not just increased demagoguery, but also blatant political stunts before election day. I know that. It is something different. It is a different order of magnitude when you`re talking about thousands of active duty U.S. soldiers, more U.S. soldiers than are serving right now in the war in Afghanistan.
If 15,000 active duty U.S. troops at, what, round up to infinite costs, if they`re being taken away from other U.S. military missions and instead sent in a huge deployment right before the election to the border, specifically to help the president`s party win the election, because the president thinks that`s good messaging, that`s not your run-of-the-mill stunt. That`s something that might even annoy the military itself.
And so, here`s the last point. Two military sources have gone to the press and have provided to "Newsweek" magazine actual military planning documents for Trump`s pre-election border deployment. These documents just published by "Newsweek" magazine show the unvarnished internal military assessment that was not supposed to be made public about what exactly the military believes it is being sent to the border to confront.
These documents obtained by "Newsweek" magazine, there is a lot here. We`re going to talk to the reporter from this story in just a moment. But here is the reason they were leaked in the first place. This is the military assessment of the threat that the president is hyping so much as justifying this deployment. This is what this document says.
According to the military in this internal document, quote, based on historic trends, it has assessed that only a small percentage of the migrants will likely reach the border. And then see over here? Military documents love acronyms. The acronym is MLCOA, most likely course of action. MLCOA.
This is the most likely course of action, which is what the military itself assesses in terms of the supposed threat they`re responding to with this deployment. Most likely course of action, caravan dwindles as it nears U.S., limited criminal exploitation and no terrorist infiltration. So, this is a document that was not supposed to be released to the public. It`s unclassified but it`s labeled for official use only and law enforcement sensitive.
But it`s now been leaked. And this shows us what the military thinks about this situation for which they`re being sent in numbers larger than the Afghanistan war deployment to the border right ahead of the election on the president`s orders. The reason this document is now public, we don`t know, because we can`t get in the heads of the sources here, right? But it would seem to indicate that there may be people within in the military who want it to be known that this deployment of U.S. troops to the border right before the election might just be for a political reason, to help the president`s political party and not for a real military reason.
We`re going to have more on this document with a reporter who broke this story, next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERT BONNER, U.S. CUSTOMS AND BORDER PROTECTION: They directed that we add a total of 534 additional border patrol agents to Arizona.
MARK MULLEN, REPORTER: The government is concerned about a group of civilians called the Minutemen. For them, today`s announcement is too little too late. On Monday, a thousand minutemen, some armed, will begin patrolling a 23-mile stretch of Arizona`s border, claiming Border Patrol agents need help.
JIM GILCHRIST, "THE MINUTEMAN PROJECT" ORGANIZER: Are we going out looking for a firefight? Absolutely not. Do we have a right to be there? Yes. That`s United States territory.
MULLEN: The Border Patrol fears some of the Minutemen are neither trained nor prepared to encounter illegal immigrants or smugglers.
ANDY ADAME, U.S. BORDER PATROL: We feel if you bring untrained civilians to an area they don`t know, you know, that the likelihood of them getting into a serious violent incident is very high.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Ah, the civilian fake border patrol. This comes up and around every few years, people who have been whipped up into a frenzy into believing that the border is being overrun and he can help. What the border patrol desperately needs is their untrained civilian vigilante fake uniform Roger Gator help.
It`s not actually helpful. It`s never been helpful. The actual people who work on the border for U.S. law enforcement never think it`s helpful.
So, tonight, we`re reporting on these leaked documents from the U.S. military that have ended up getting published in "Newsweek" magazine. The top line result here is that in terms of this deployment that the president has ordered of U.S. active duty troops to the border right ahead of the election, the military assessment about the threat they`re going there to stop, this migrant caravan coming up from Central America, military`s assessment about that as an actual threat is only a small percentage of any of those migrants who are part of that caravan right now will end up ever reaching the border.
Here`s what the military assesses as the most likely course of action for that caravan, quote: caravan dwindles as it nears U.S. There is limited criminal exploitation and no terrorist infiltration. So, no criminal problem, no terrorist problem, and not all that many people overall.
Also, nobody is going to be anywhere for a really long time. There are 800 to 2,000 miles away, depending on which route they take. So, active duty troops are being sent there, apparently in huge numbers on the president`s orders right before the election. He is making as big a show out of it as possible, speech at the White House today and everything.
But now we know that the military itself assesses the situation there as nowhere near the kind of terrible immediate existential threat that the president is preaching to the country as supposedly justifying this deployment. So, it`s interesting. With this document, with James LaPorta`s reporting, he is the one who obtained this document for "Newsweek," we can see what the military is apparently not at all worried about.
Here is the neat thing about this document, though. In this document, we can see what the military is most worried about with this deployment, this just in time for the election border troop deployment. It turns out what the military, according to these documents, according to these leaked documents, what the military is most actually worried about are Americans who show up to play militia and fake patrol the border themselves. They say among the events of interest they need to be concerned about are, quote, an estimated 200 unregulated armed militia members currently operating along the southern border.
For one thing, the pentagon says based on their past experience with these vigilante anti-immigrant militia guys, one of the problems with them they know from past experience is that they steal. Look at this. Under events of interest, quote, reported incidents of unregulated militias stealing National Guard equipment during deployments.
So, OK, active duty troops, if you or somebody in your family is going to be part of this 15,000 troop deployment to the border just in time for the election, you already know and now we know thanks to these documents that the military assesses basically no credible threat of that caravan overwhelming the border. But the military does want you to keep your eyes pealed for the armed militia vigilante guys who are excited about the caravan who might be looming in the area and trying to steal your stuff.
Joining us now is James LaPorta, investigative reporter at "Newsweek." He is a former U.S. marine infantryman himself.
Mr. LaPorta, it`s really nice to have you with us tonight. Congratulations on this scoop.
JAMES LAPORTA, INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER, NEWSWEEK: Thank you for having me.
MADDOW: Can you tell us -- both from this document that you obtained from your second quarter, but also with your own military background, I understand you have military intelligence background as well, what kind of document is this that you`ve obtained? What would this be used for? And also, how secret is this kind of a document?
LAPORTA: So, in terms of how secret this document is, it is an unclassified document. It is for official use only. It does have a slightly higher classification than for official use only because of the law enforcement sensitivity.
But in terms of the intelligence assessment -- I mean, from my limited experience in the intelligence community, you would see this in what we call an intelligence preparation of the battlefield. I don`t want to -- I want to caveat the term battlefield is not what I`m calling the southern border, but usually is when you would see it. It is an assessment of just like you said, the most likely course of action, the most dangerous course of action, but based on historical trends, what the intelligence community predicts will happen.
MADDOW: I`m not going to ask you to talk about your sources. I`m not pressuring you about that at all. I don`t need you to explain exactly how you got this document which you say is law enforcement sensitive. It`s not designed for public scrutiny. But can you talk at all about why you think this document was leaked, why somebody wanted a reporter such as yourself to have access to this information?
LAPORTA: Well, my sources and both other people I just talked to today in terms of sort of what is the overall feeling in the Pentagon, they believe there tends to be an agreement on two things, one, that it`s sort of a waste of time and there is really not the evidence to support sending this many troops down there. I mean, it really comes from a standpoint of how much money this is going to cost the taxpayers.
But in terms of why the documents were leaked, it`s really to show that the military is from my source`s opinion and people in the pentagon they believe a lot of them -- not all of them, but lot of them believe that this is politically motivated. And so that, you know, they`re sending 15,000 troops to basically respond to about 1,400 people that may or may not show up at the border.
MADDOW: And even if they do, it won`t be any time soon. Certainly nothing for which you need to rush people there right before the election, if this is politically motivated.
I just want to underscore one thing that you said there, not just in terms of the sources from whom you obtained this document, be you also described sort of Pentagon source more clearly that you`re hearing, just make sure I got this right, you`re hearing that within the Pentagon, there are definitely voices who are upset about this deployment, who are suggesting that it`s wasteful and that it is motivated for political reasons and that it is not warranted by the actual conditions on the ground.
Do you think that is something for which we`re going to start to hear a sort of dissent channel voice from the Pentagon or that will start to see more documents leaked or that people will actually start to talk about what their concerns are about this deployment?
LAPORTA: Possibly. The sources talked to today sort of paint the Pentagon into sort of three different groups.
One group is a dissenting opinion from what these documents show, it`s basically they are hard liners. They believe in a crackdown on illegal immigration. And, you know, they`re going to sort of -- they support what`s actually going on. That is not from what I`m hearing is not the majority view.
There is a second group that they are career military. They`re going to follow the orders of the president, just regardless of political ideology. They`re going to follow the orders, but they really come at this problem in terms of the money situation, like, you know, how much is this going to cost?
And then the third group is really how is this going to overall affect military readiness, that it`s a waste of money, that even the troop level response coming down from the national command authority is -- just doesn`t equate with the most likely course of action. Like you said, they`re assessing that the migrants are going to dwindle down to the smallest group, that historically 20 percent make to it the border. And so, if you`re taking the 7,000, which is assessed in that document, 20 percent of 7,000 is about 1,400 people. So it just seems to them irrational to send a force of 15,000 which is more than sort of what we have in Afghanistan right now, which is a 17-year war to the border to respond to about 1,400 people.
MADDOW: James LaPorta, investigative journalist for "Newsweek," an infantry veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps himself.
James, thank you very much for sharing this scoop with us. I think it`s a really important story. Thanks.
LAPORTA: Thank you for having me.
MADDOW: All right. We`ve got much more to come here tonight. Do stay with us.
MADDOW: So, we have recently been following this sort of dire voting rights situation in North Dakota where there is one of the most important and closely fought Senate races in the country, and where the Republican- led government in that state decided to effectively block the ability of most Native Americans in that state to vote in this election when they made it a requirement to vote this year that you`ve got to have a residential street address on your ID. Native Americans who live on rural reservations in North Dakota don`t have residential street addresses on the reservations, and so they don`t have that on their IDs and so this has just been a heck of a fight in North Dakota -- house to house, tribe to tribe, and now in court. We`re going to have an update on that coming up in just a moment.
We`ve also got an update on Kansas as well where we`ve been following the voting rights disaster in majority Hispanic Dodge City, Kansas. We have both of those updates coming up for you next.
MADDOW: Today, Dodge City went to court. This is the case we talked about last night on the show. Involves 18-year-old first-time voter Alejandro Rangel-Lopez as the named plaintiff in a lawsuit over the polling place that used to be in Dodge City, Kansas.
The local Republican county clerk says that she moved Dodge City`s lone polling place completely out of the city this year because of what she says is construction that blocks this site. We took pictures of this week where the construction doesn`t actually seem to be blocking anybody`s way, let alone clear access to the great big parking lot right in the center of town.
Nevertheless, citing this terribly intrusive construction we couldn`t see, she moved Dodge City`s polling place. It had been right there in the center of town. She moved it this year to a new location way outside the city limits, the sort of moonscape place where there are no sidewalks, nearest bus stop is a mile away. People of mostly Hispanic Dodge City can make the trek out there if they want to vote this year. Good luck. Got a car?
After trying for weeks to get some kind of fix for this from the Republican county clerk, the ACLU in Kansas decided to sue the clerk in federal court. That hearing was today. A bunch of people testified. That as we saw ourselves when we sent the producer there this week, there really is no construction happening on that old site in the center of town even though the clerk says construction is why that site couldn`t be used.
The hearing today lasted nearly three hours. And now, tonight, within the last hour, the federal judge in that case has issued a ruling on the situation in Dodge City. The court in Kansas just minutes ago denied the ACLU`s request for a second polling place to be in town. The judge cited the election being just days away writing, quote, for the court to insert itself on the eve of the election would create more voter confusion than it might cure.
The ACLU itself has said it will not appeal a decision like this again so close to the election. We are awaiting comment from them tonight, as well as our new friend Alejandro, student council president, first time voter who lent his name to this case.
Welcome to voting in 2018, Alejandro. I hope you get a ride.
This disconnect we have seen play out in Dodge City between the people who make these decisions about how people vote and the people who have to live with those decisions, we are seeing that play out on an even larger and more dramatic scale in the state of North Dakota, where there are thousands of Native American voters who don`t have the kind of ID the state newly requires in order to vote. After Democratic U.S. Senator Heidi Heitkamp won her Senate seat in 2012 in a squeaker, thanks in large part to her strong support from Native American voters in her state, North Dakota`s Republican-led state government decided they would newly require ID that shows a voter`s physical street address.
Many Native Americans in rural North Dakota don`t have that because many of them live on rural reservations where the reservations don`t assign residential street addresses. As NBC News reported on the ground this week, the tribes have been making a fairly desperate last-ditch effort to try to get new addresses to every tribal voter to try to generate addresses, and then get that address printed on an ID and get that ID into every voter`s hands so they can all vote. NBC reports that they`re up to about 1,300 people with new qualifying IDs. That leaves at least 3,700 to go and five days to get there.
North Dakota is a state where a few thousand votes, few hundred votes can mean the difference between getting elected and not, and who gets elected in this Senate seat this year makes the difference to which party controls the U.S. Senate.
Native American groups say that even working around the clock, even printing out new IDs so fast, one of their machines overheated and started to melt the IDs. They say they will be hard-pressed to get everyone. Running out of time, the Spirit Lake Sioux Tribe sued North Dakota in federal court yesterday, saying the state`s voter ID law is disenfranchising Native American votes. They asked the court to intervene on an emergency basis.
Today, the judge ruled on that and said, no, sorry, it`s too late. We`re too close to the election. The judge told this North Dakota tribe that their testimony had given the court, quote, great cause for concern, but he also told them that if he were to intervene it would, quote, create as much confusion as it would alleviate.
So, what happens now? All right, what happens now particularly in North Dakota with thousands of Native American voters who are being told they cannot vote unless they get something they have never needed to show in order to vote before, and they have never had in their lives? They have never had in generations.
And they say they can`t get those things generated and assigned and printed and distributed by any stretch of the imagination between now and Election Day. It just can`t be done. The state has made it so that Native Americans will not be allowed to vote, and now the court says can`t do anything. What happens now?
Lawyer in that case joins us next.
MADDOW: A former U.S. attorney for North Dakota is part of a legal team for the Spirit Lake Tribe in North Dakota. That tribe today suffered a defeat in federal court when a judge turned down the tribe`s plea to block North Dakota`s new voting law, which is turning out to be a very well targeted means of essentially blocking Native Americans from voting in next week`s crucial North Dakota elections.
Joining us now is that former U.S. attorney Tim Purdon.
Mr. Purdon, thank you very much for joining us tonight. Really appreciate you being here.
TIM PURDON, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: Thank you for having me, Rachel.
MADDOW: This new law and its effect has received a lot of national attention. We have been covering this closely. This feels -- this ruling today seems like a big setback.
Is this the end of the line in terms of the legal fight here?
TIM PURDON, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: Well, we`re working with our team in the Spirit Lake Tribe to figure out what the next steps are. But the tribes are continuing to work tirelessly leading up to the election. As you said in the wind up, Rachel, printing new IDs, making sure they can get the IDs with the street addresses in the hands of the voters in anticipation of next Tuesday.
MADDOW: One of the things we have found frustrating trying to report on this is the secretary of state`s office, long-time secretary of state in North Dakota, has been unwilling to explain to us in trying to report this out what his office will accept in terms of acceptable ID this will be the first election for which this new rule will be in effect and he just won`t say what he`ll accept from Native American tribe members.
Do you have a sense of what will be accepted or what won`t, or is it as muddy to you as it is to us?
PURDON: Well, that was the purpose of our lawsuit. Once of the purposes of the lawsuit, Rachel. I mean, let`s start with first principles.
North Dakota does not have voter registration. We`re the only state in the country that doesn`t have voter registration. That`s the vestige of the fact we`re very small, small population. Population of North Dakota is less than the city of Charlotte, North Carolina.
And out of that history comes the idea that you show up in the polls and you vote. There`s no voter registration process.
Under the statute as written that the legislature adopted that`s been the subject of this litigation, if you show up at the polls with a voter -- with an ID either tribal or state that has a picture ID, a date of birth and your current residential address, you`re supposed to be able to vote. But what we`ve seen and what our investigation over the last month revealed and what we allege in our complaint is, some of those addresses are now being compared against a central voter file. And we had one of our plaintiffs who submitted an absentee ballot and it came back that his address was invalid.
Again, we don`t have voter registration. If you have an ID that has a date of birth, picture, residential address, you should be able to vote. So, what we`re concerned about is next Tuesday, are they going to be checking these addresses. And when you dive into that and you see all the problems with the voter -- the address assignment system, we have an instance of two people living in the same home that have different addresses in the central voter file, a number of folks who don`t have addresses in the voter ID -- central voter file, specifically on the reservation where we have large streets that are labeled unknown on the official map.
MADDOW: Tim Purdon, former U.S. attorney for North Dakota. -- I have a feeling these next five days may involve further developments in this case. Please keep us apprised. Much appreciate you being here, sir.
PURDON: Thank you for having me.
MADDOW: All right. We`ll be right back. Stay with us.
MADDOW: That does it for us tonight. We will see you again tomorrow.
Now, it`s time for "THE LAST WORD" with the great Lawrence O`Donnell.
Good evening, Lawrence.
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