THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW
April 28, 2014
Guest: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chris. Thanks, man.
And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour. Happy Monday.
OK, example number one, football. This is Tom Udall. He`s a Democratic
United States senator from the great state of New Mexico. His dad, his
father was secretary of the interior under JFK. John F. Kennedy won the
presidency and the election in 1960. He went to Washington and was sworn
in as president in January, 1961.
But the other big new thing that happened in Washington, D.C., in 1961 in
addition to the new presidential administration was this -- this brand new,
beautiful, state-of-the-art football stadium. 1961, D.C. Stadium it was
It was paid for by the taxpayers, it cost $24 million to build it. It was
publicly owned. It sat on federal land. And so, technically that put this
new professional football stadium in Washington, D.C., under the purview of
Tom Udall`s dad because he was secretary of the interior.
And in February, 1961, the month after the brand new president was sworn
in, Interior Secretary Stewart Udall, new in the job, wrote President
Kennedy a memo about this big, new stadium in D.C. and a big problem
related to that new stadium. This is amazing.
Thomas G. Smith dug this up for a book called "Showdown" which was about
this big fight that they had related to the stadium in Washington, D.C. in
the Kennedy administration. And this is just amazing. This is the memo
that Udall wrote to President Kennedy.
It says this, quote, "George Marshall, the owner of the Washington
Redskins, is the only segregationist holdout in professional football. He
refuses to hire Negro players, even though Dallas and Houston, Texas, have
already broken the color bar. The Interior Department owns the ground on
which the new Washington stadium is constructed, and we are investigating
to ascertain whether a no discrimination provision could be inserted in Mr.
At the time the Redskins moved to Washington, that made them the
southernmost team in the National Football League. Even though Washington,
D.C., is not all that far South, the owner of the team made a strategic
decision to try to market the Redskins as the team of the South, as the
team of the old Confederacy. The band used to play "Dixie" before Redskins
And the Redskins owner, George Preston Marshall, he really did refuse to
hire any black players for his team, 15 years after the rest of the league
integrated. And he wasn`t embarrassed about it, he was proud about it. He
said his team would, quote, "start signing Negroes when the Harlem
Globetrotters start signing whites."
But he was now playing a publicly owned stadium on federal land and Stewart
Udall did crank up the leverage on him from the point of view of the
Civil rights groups like the NAACP and CORE ended up picketing not only the
racist team owner`s house, they also picketed outside all the home games in
the Redskins opening season in Washington, D.C. President Kennedy himself
was supposed to attending the inaugural game in the public stadium in
Washington, but he ended up turning down the invitation because of the
There ended up being counter-protests by the Ku Klux Klan and by the
American Nazi Party. They held up banners outside the stadium in D.C. that
said, "Keep Redskins white." Let that sink in for a second. "Keep
But ultimately, the interior secretary, Stewart Udall, he won in this fight
with the racist owner of the Redskins. In 1962, the Redskins did finally
consent to draft their first black player, and that was a decade and a half
after the rest of the NFL got over that particular hump.
George Preston Marshall did not go willingly to his integrated Washington
Redskins. He never really got over it. When he died in 1969, his will
stated that all of his money should go to the Redskins foundation and that
not a single dollar of his money should be directed by the Redskins
foundation toward, quote, "any purpose which supports or employs the
principle of racial integration in any form."
Dave Zirin and Michael Tomasky have both written really well about the
history of the Redskins which is so freaking unbelievably racist, you
almost can`t believe it even if you know it. But we`ve posted some links
to their articles about it at Maddow Blog tonight if you want to check it
But the example of that team and that owner and that history, that is one
way to handle this particular problem. I mean, in the case of this
football problem, the league basically never really handled it. I mean
there were external forces in the form of this liberal activist new federal
government that got involved because of a quirk in the ownership of the
stadium that allowed them to exert leverage. That is how they broke the
worst of it.
But the league basically let George Preston Marshall run the Redskins as a
Confederate team in the National Football League. And all these years
later, there`s still the leftover stink, with everybody now debating as if
we`re in some sort of ahistorical vacuum about whether George Preston
Marshall meant it when a racist way when he called that team the Redskins
in the first place.
I wonder if we should keep the name. Who came up with the name? What was
That was example one, football. Example two, baseball.
Go to any Major League Baseball stadium in the United States, unless you`re
a Red Sox fan, it`s not that hard to get a seat. My God but stadiums are
empty these days.
Anyway, though, if you go to any of these mostly empty stadiums where they
play Major League Baseball now, you can get yourself at every one of the
stadiums where they play baseball, you can get yourself the traditional
baseball watching meal of a hot dog. The average price for a Major League
Baseball stadium hot dog is $4.32. But that`s the average. The most
expensive hot dog in the league is at the Mets Stadium. The Mets
frequently completely empty stadium which is called Citi Field. Go to Citi
Field, (a), you`ll be lonely. But, (b), a hot dog will run you $6.25.
On the other end of the spectrum, if you go to the Great American Ball Park
in Cincinnati, home of the Cincinnati Reds, you will find there that a hot
dog at that stadium will set you back exactly $1. And that is not an
accident. And even though it`s Cincinnati, it`s not the obscure economic
product of normally low local sausage prices or something.
The reason prices are that low, the reason that hot dogs have been $1 at
the Cincinnati Reds ballpark for decades is because of the insistence of
the team`s long-time owner.
This is the quote: "I want families to come to reds games. We are still
the lowest price ticket in the Major Leagues and we have hot dogs that cost
only a dollar. People say you sell hot dogs for a dollar? I can`t believe
it! But how else could families afford a day at the ballpark?"
That`s nice, right? That Cincinnati Reds owner is one of the most famous
baseball team owners of all time, and not for a good reason. In 1984,
Marge Schott acquired the Cincinnati Reds. She was the first woman to ever
be a Major League Baseball team owner other than inheriting it from some
other family member.
So, that fact made her a high-profile baseball team owner anyway. She was
also an outspoken populist. She not only kept the hot dog prices low, she
kept the ticket prices low for the Cincinnati Reds games too. She was a
beloved figure in Cincinnati. When the team was doing well, when the team
was doing poorly, everybody loved Marge Schott.
And Marge Schott, it turns out, loved Hitler. Seriously. That was part of
the Marge Schott problem. I`m not speaking hyperbolically, I never do
In 1991 a front office employee at the Reds sued Marge Schott for wrongful
termination. He said he was fired because he opposed what he said was her
policy of not hiring black people.
When they started taking depositions in that lawsuit, that`s when all heck
broke loose. Another Reds employee said in his sworn deposition that Marge
Schott referred to her own team`s black players using the "N" word and then
there was the thing about her Nazi memorabilia.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: In a sworn statement released last week, Schott acknowledged
using the word (AUDIO DELETED), admitted she might be talked about money
grubbing Jews and keeping a swastika arm band in her home as a souvenir.
Eric Davis was a star outfielder for Cincinnati, so was Dave Parker. A
former Schott employee said Schott once referred to them as her million
dollar (AUDIO DELETED). Schott denies saying this.
DAVE PARKER, FORMER REDS PLAYER: I felt a need to come forward when I
first heard her portray myself and Eric Davis as her main (AUDIO DELETED)
as if we should have been up on the podium spinning around stark naked and
having people bid on us.
REPORTER: A former employee of the Oakland A`s, Sharon Jones, said she
once heard Schott making racist remarks on a conference call with other
team owners four years ago.
SHARON JONES: Marge Schott, chief executive officer of the Cincinnati
reds, said that she would never hire, quote, "another (AUDIO DELETED)," end
quote, and she would never have a -- she would rather have a, quote,
"trained monkey", end quote, working for her than a (AUDIO DELETED)
REPORTER: Schott denies this too.
MARGE SCHOTT, FORMER CINCINNATI REDS OWNER: I am not racist. Never have
been, never will be. I`m a minority too and I -- you know, I`ve been in
the little old boys world long enough.
REPORTER: Black and Jewish leaders have called for Schott`s suspension but
it`s up to the four-member committee to decide what action, if any, will be
Gary Matsumoto, NBC News, Cincinnati.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Cincinnati Reds owner Marge Schott did maintain that she was not a
racist, as she put it, a racist, but she also unhelpfully explained the
swastika arm band to "The New York Times" as being somehow related to her
belief that Hitler initially was good for Germany.
The owners of Major League teams that year did appoint a four-member
commission, so four other team owners, to investigate what Marge Schott had
said and done. They decided after they looked into the matter that they
would suspend her for a year for her racially and ethnically offensive
That was in 1993, so she was gone for a year. She was back by 1994.
Didn`t take long, though, because it turns out she wasn`t kidding about the
Hitler thing and all the rest of it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TOM BROKAW, NBC NEWS: Even if you`re not a baseball fan, you`ve probably
heard of Marge Schott. The woman who owns the Cincinnati Reds and a set of
opinions so outrageous she has other baseball owners wondering whether she
can stay in the game. However, as NBC`S Bob Pah (ph) discovered when he
went in search of Ms. Schott, she also has her fans and the confidence of a
woman who answers only to her pet dogs.
REPORTER: She is legendary for pampering her dog Schotzie more than her
players and for shooting off her mouth.
In "Sports Illustrated", she ridiculed Asian-Americans and the Japanese.
SCHOTT: When he came in, he was good.
REPORTER: On ESPN, she lauds (ph) how Hitler was not all bad.
MICHAEL RAPP: (INAUDIBLE) destroyed, and it`s regrettable.
REPORTER: True, no one charges less for tickets or hot dogs, but the
antics of this world class tight wad who calls everyone honey, watch
closely now, have made her a laughing stock.
What do you expect, says former slugger Dave Parker. She once called my
million dollar (AUDIO DELETED).
PARKER: She`s set in her beliefs and I don`t think there`s a whole lot
that can change that.
REPORTER: Three years ago, Major League Baseball suspended and fined her
for her remarks and made her go to sensitivity class. Homerun king Hank
Aaron says baseball should crack down even harder this time.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s an embarrassment to baseball, it`s an
embarrassment to the city of Cincinnati. It`s just an embarrassment for
mankind, you know, for her to continue to make these racist jokes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: The 1996 round of Marge Schott praising Hitler as not all bad,
cartoonishly mocking Japanese people with racist accents, using the "N"
word -- that round of Marge Schott being Marge Schott resulted in another
year-long suspension from Major League Baseball. She did come back again
after her second year-long suspension, but then ultimately she lost the
team. The league forced her to sell the Cincinnati Reds after a final
scandal, weirdly involving her buying up cars from her own dealership,
putting them in the names of her players and her other employees so as to
lie to G.M. about how many Chevys she was selling. All that and the
swastika arm band, too.
Marge Schott was the George Preston Marshall of her day, right? George
Preston Marshall for the Redskins, Marge Schott for the Cincinnati Reds.
But Major League Baseball did kick Marge Schott out. And in so doing, the
Cincinnati Reds got their dignity back. Cincinnati decided the one thing
they would keep of hers was the $1 hot dogs and those they still have, but
the Marge Schott legacy is done and has a very finite ending.
So, that`s example two. That`s baseball. When a league does step in and
deal with a problem, that`s how it looks like.
And now, today, we are living out example number three, which is
basketball. The National Basketball Association dealing with one of their
own, I guess, basketball variants of the George Preston Marshall, Marge
Schott scale of professional sports team ownership. After audio tapes of
uncertain origin surfaced this weekend on the TMZ Sports Web site,
apparently capturing L.A. Clippers owner Donald Sterling making derogatory
remarks about black people, apparently telling his mistress that he did not
want her to advertise on social media that she spent time with black people
nor did he want her to bring black people to his team`s basketball games.
The NBA has announced that they are investigating the matter. They`re
obviously weighing their options. The team`s sponsors appearing to be
voting with their feet already. All of these companies either ending or at
least suspending their sponsorship of the Clippers in protest of the
The commissioner of basketball is this man, Adam Silver. He does have some
leeway to take action unilaterally as commissioner under the constitution
of the National Basketball Association. And, yes, there is such a thing.
That same constitution affords the other owners in the league the right to
strip Donald Sterling of his ownership of the Clippers if a super majority
of the other owners vote to do so. But the context in which those
decisions are now being considered is sort of in three layers.
The first one, of course, is whether or not he actually made the remarks in
question. NBC News has not independently verified that that is Donald
Sterling`s voice on the recordings. Mr. Sterling for his part has put out
a statement through the L.A. Clippers organization in which he has
apologized for how he has been represented here, but he`s not confirming
that that is his voice on the recording. The Clippers in that statement
also made a suggestion that these audio tapes might have been altered in
some way. So that`s one element of very immediate context.
The second element of context is that this is not the first time an
American big-time professional sports that a league has had to deal with
allegations of an outrageously racist owner. And we`ve seen the examples
of what happens when you let it slide because it`s an owner, right? And
we`ve seen what happens when you confront it.
But the third element of context here is the sort of middle element and it
may be the one that is most vexing to the people who are closest to this
story. The last element of context here is Mr. Sterling`s own personal
history. The way that he`s made all of his money is from being a property
owner and a landlord on a very large scale in southern California.
In 2003 and again in 2006, Mr. Sterling paid huge settlements in two large-
scale discrimination cases brought against him on the basis of his property
business. The 2003 lawsuit accused him of maintaining racial preferences
for his tenants. He allegedly said, quote, "black tenants smell and
attract vermin." That`s how he explained not renting to black tenants.
The 2006 case was settled on behalf of not only black tenants but also
Latino tenants and families with children. The fine that Mr. Sterling
agreed to in that discrimination case was the largest fine ever obtained by
the Justice Department in a housing discrimination case of that kind. In
both of those incidents, Mr. Sterling settled the cases, he did not admit
When NBA great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, a former league MVP who actually
coached under Sterling at the Clippers back in the year 2000, he`s now
written a blistering essay today for "Time" magazine in part addressing
Quote, "What bothers me," he says, "about this whole Donald Sterling affair
is not just his racism. I`m bothered that everyone acts as if it`s a huge
surprise. This ridiculous conversation with his girlfriend is what puts
you over the edge? That`s the smoking gun? He was discriminating against
black and Hispanic families for years, preventing them from getting
housing. It was public record. We did nothing."
"Suddenly," he says, "he doesn`t want his girlfriend posing with Magic
Johnson on Instagram and we bring out the torches and the rope? Shouldn`t
we have all called for his resignation back then?"
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar continues, "The big question is what should be done
next? I hope Sterling loses his franchise. I hope whoever made this
illegal tape is sent to prison.
I hope the Clippers continue to be unconditionally supported by their fans.
I hope the Clippers realize that the ramblings of an 80-year-old man
jealous of his young girlfriend don`t define who they are as individual
players or as a team. They aren`t playing for Sterling, they`re playing
for themselves, for the fans, for showing the world that neither basketball
nor our American ideals are defined by a few pathetic men or women," so
says NBA great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar today, and he joins us next.
Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ADAM SILVER, NBA COMMISSIONER: While I understand anger that would be
naturally expressed over hearing a tape like this, I also believe that
ultimately the players and the rest of the NBA family has confidence that
we`ll deal with it appropriately.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: NBA Commissioner Adam Silver today assuring the country that the
NBA will deal with the controversy surrounding L.A. Clippers owner Donald
Sterling, in his words, appropriately.
Joining us now is Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, former NBA player and MVP, former
coach of the L.A. Clippers at one time. He wrote in "Time" magazine today,
"Welcome to the finger-wagging Olympics. It`s time to look at ourselves
and our collective moral outrage in the mirror."
Mr. Abdul-Jabbar, it`s a real honor to have you here today. Thanks for
your time tonight.
KAREEM ABDUL-JABBAR, FORMER NBA PLAYER: It`s a pleasure to talk to you,
MADDOW: So, you wrote today that you`re basically as bothered by Mr.
Sterling`s evident racism in this tape as you are by everybody acting like
it was a huge surprise. Why do you think -- why do you think that
happened? Why do you think that is?
ABDUL-JABBAR: Well, I think it has a lot to do with the fact that Mr.
Sterling is very wealthy. He employs lawyers and PR people to help make
him look good. People feel very uneasy calling him on things because he
has the means, especially financially, to make their lives miserable.
MADDOW: You wrote that it bothers you that this conversation was taped
under circumstances that we don`t totally know. We can`t even ascertain
the veracity of the tapes. Certainly, we know what they sound like but we
don`t know for sure where they came from and what the motivations were of
the person who taped them and Mr. Sterling isn`t admitting that they are
Those murky circumstances give this a real salacious gloss even above
what`s actually happening on the tapes. Is it frustrating to you that
that`s how this has come to light?
ABDUL-JABBAR: It kind of adds to the stench, you know, because this seems
like everybody was working against each other. You know, both sides of
this issue between Mr. Sterling and his -- this lady, Ms. Stiviano. So,
it`s very hard to figure out what exactly is going on here.
MADDOW: Do you think that there should have been some sort of, I guess,
greater move toward accountability outside the courtroom? Greater move
toward accountability within basketball when there were those big
discrimination suits that Mr. Sterling settled? You referenced those in
your piece today in "Time" magazine saying that`s what we should have been
mad about, that`s what we should have acted about.
What do you think basketball should have done?
ABDUL-JABBAR: I think at that point basketball should have tried to do
something about Mr. Sterling at that point, because those are pretty
despicable things. They have nothing to do with basketball, but it gives
you the indication of someone`s character and their purpose in life. And
we should have been more aware of that and acted earlier.
MADDOW: If the league completes this investigation in a way that
satisfies, I guess, everybody, as the commissioner put it, in the NBA
family and everybody can agree that what seems to have happened is what
happened and they come to agreement on the facts, what do you think the
league should consider in terms of its options? Do you think they should
strip him of the franchise?
ABDUL-JABBAR: There`s a whole lot at stake here, Rachel. Look at how many
different communities were affected.
For example, you want to know how the black community is affected, go to
the greatestteam.com. Black people have supported this game ever since it
was segregated and have been happy to become a part of the NBA.
It`s reached into so many communities. The Hispanic community, Mr.
Sterling discriminated against them. It`s very obvious that this guy has
been a bad actor for a long time and he`s just -- it`s just now reached
this point of saturation that people are saying, hey, we`ve got to do
something. I think it`s -- they`re about 10 years too late.
MADDOW: You heard at the top of the segment, you heard the commissioner
say I also believe that the players and the rest of the NBA family has
confidence that we -- meaning we the league -- will deal with it
Do you think he`s right? Do you think people have confidence in the league
doing right by this revelation?
ABDUL-JABBAR: I think they should have confidence in the NBA. My first
experience with the NBA, I played for the Milwaukee bucks. They hired the
first general manager of a team that was African-American. That was a big
step. And they have continually reinforced that with opening more doors
for minorities, women and, you know, other people of color.
I think the NBA has been exemplary. Great athletes from around the world
want to come to America and play in the NBA. I think that says something
for its inclusiveness and the open door that it tries to show the world
that this is what we believe in.
This is America. It`s Ameritocracy, come one, come all, just be on your
game. That`s a wonderful message. I think the NBA should enforce that and
I hope Commissioner Silver has the means and the support from the owners
and everybody to get that done.
MADDOW: All eyes on the league right now as they handle this, both needing
to be responsible here, but also accountable in a way, and I think your
optimism about the league being capable of handling it in the way that you
just described there I think goes a long way because you`ve earned the
respect of not only basketball fans but all of us for so long, sir. Thank
you for being here.
ABDUL-JABBAR: My pleasure. Great talking with you, Rachel.
MADDOW: Thank you. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, of course, former MVP of the NBA
and a former NBA coach, as well as a long-time player, and one of my heroes
when I was growing up as a kid. I lost focus (ph).
We`ll be right back.
MADDOW: Today was a big day. Today, two Republican congressmen did not
resign. And in both cases, it was important enough to make news.
The first one, Vance McAllister was only been in Congress since November.
He was last seen on videotape making out with his then staffer who was not
his wife. Mr. McAllister today announced that he will not resign his seat,
but he will also not run for re-election in November.
Also today, the Justice Department unsealed its felony charges against
another Republican congressman, Michael Grimm of New York. Mr. Grimm also
says that he will not resign but he, in fact, says he will run for re-
election, while he`s under indictment on 20 federal charges.
The really sticky wicket with him is the Republican Party may not be able
to get their indicted congressman off the ballot in November even if they
want to try to. And what is most amazing about this story is who the
Republicans might put up against him for that seat. Seriously, this is
unbelievable, and that story is coming up.
MADDOW: Early this morning, President Obama was in Manila in the
Philippines giving a press conference and the FOX News Channel got in the
last question for the president and they got a rise out of the president in
so doing. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ED HENRY, FOX NEWS WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: As you end this trip, I
don`t think I have to remind you there have been a lot of unflattering
portraits of your foreign policy right now. Rather than get into the all
the details of red lines, et cetera, I`d like to give you a chance to lay
out what your vision is more than five years into office, what you think
the Obama doctrine is in terms of what your guiding principle is on all of
these crises and how you answer those critics who say they think the
doctrine is weakness?
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, Ed, I would -- I doubt
that I`m going to have time to lay out my entire foreign policy doctrine,
and there were actually some complimentary pieces as well about my foreign
policy, but I`m not sure you ran them.
Typically, criticism of our foreign policy has been directed at the failure
to use military force. And the question I think I would have is why is it
that everybody is so eager to use military force after we`ve just gone
through a decade of war at enormous costs to our troops and to our budget.
What is it exactly that these critics think would have been accomplished?
The point is that for some reason, many who were proponents of what I
considered to be a disastrous decision to go into Iraq haven`t really
learned the lesson of the last decade. And they keep on just playing the
same note over and over again. Why? I don`t know.
But my job as commander-in-chief is to look at what is it that is going to
advance our security interests over the long term. To keep our military in
reserve for where we absolutely need it, and that may not always be sexy.
That may not always attract a lot of attention and it doesn`t make for good
argument on Sunday morning shows.
But it avoids errors. You hit singles, you hit doubles. Every once in a
while, we may be able to hit a home run, but we steadily advance the
interests of the American people and our partnership with folks around the
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: President Obama today making some of the most extensive off-the-
cuff remarks he has ever made about his approach to American power and the
rest of the world. Why not war is generally preferable to war, especially
if you can get what`s in America`s interests by means other than force.
The president making those remarks today in the Philippines as his
administration announced yet more sanctions against Russia for what the
White House described as Russia`s continued illegal intervention and
provocative actions in Ukraine. This is the third escalation of not war
tactics, sanctions against Russia over the issue of Ukraine.
Among the seven Russian officials targeted today is this guy, the man here
in close quarters with President Vladimir Putin, a former deputy prime
minister to Mr. Putin, and he now heads up the Russian state-owned oil
company, Rosneft, the biggest oil company in the world.
If President Obama does ramp up sanctions even further, the most aggressive
option that he`s got is to take actions not just against individuals, but
against the whole Russian oil and gas sector, which accounts for more than
half of that country`s economy.
So far President Obama has not done that, but as of today he has targeted
that guy. He has targeted the head of Russia`s oil company. He`s targeted
him personally as an individual. Even while the American company Exxon
continues to announce yet further partnerships with that same Russian
company, whose chief executive has just been hit with White House
sanctions, this headline out today.
How long can Western oil companies keep doing stuff like that? And are
these escalating but not war tactics working against Russia? And how would
we know if they were?
Joining us now is Michael McFaul. Until earlier this year, he was
America`s ambassador to Russia. He`s now a professor of political science
Professor McFaul, thanks for being here.
AMB. MICHAEL MCFAUL, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO RUSSIA: Great to be here.
MADDOW: How does -- how does it work to be sanctioning essentially the CEO
of the company but not the company? How does that -- how does that affect
American firms making decisions about doing business in Russia?
MCFAUL: Well, it means that they continue to do business and can continue
to do business with the company Rosneft. It just means that Igor Sechin
can`t travel to the United States anymore. By the way, he hadn`t traveled
to the United States very much until he became the head of this oil
But it also, I think, signals that there`s more to come. I think that`s
what the administration was trying to do. They`re trying to say we are
serious about this. If you escalate violence in eastern Ukraine, we`re
going to go after not just Mr. Sechin, but perhaps the banking sector, the
energy sector in Russia.
MADDOW: I recognize that the strategy here is to leave further room to
grow. Essentially to do these things incrementally so that you have
somewhere else to crank to if Russia does something else.
But is the basic idea here, I don`t know if this exists in diplomatic
speak, but is the basic idea here that there`s only one person who is the
target of sanctions, that all decisions that matter are President Putin`s
decisions, and so only sanctions that bother him have a chance of a policy
MCFAUL: Yes and no. I would say there are two kinds of sanctions that
have already been done and are being threatened. So, the ones you see so
far, they`re to punish Putin`s inner circle. If you look at the list
today, it`s clearly designed to punish those people. And I don`t think
anybody has any illusions that because we`ve done this, Putin is going to
change his mind.
But the prospect, the specter of these sectoral sanctions, that`s to raise
the costs in Putin`s mind about going into eastern Ukraine and annexation.
That`s different. That is going to affect the long-term economic health of
Russia. So, that wouldn`t be about him precisely.
And that`s why it has to be preemptive, right, because once he goes in,
then you`re going to be forced to do sanctions and then you`re in a game of
lock-in. You`re not in a game of trying to change his calculus. Right
now, they`re trying to change his calculus about further military
intervention in Eastern Europe -- eastern Ukraine, excuse me.
MADDOW: How is the U.S. doing in terms of lining up the rest of the world,
lining up the E.U. and other countries that matter to Russia in terms of
its economic interactions around this strategy? Where have they succeeded
and where have they not succeeded?
MCFAUL: Well, they`re working hard as best I can tell, and President Obama
just yesterday, I believe, said we don`t want to get ahead of the
Europeans, we want to be in concert. And I think that`s right, because if
not, then they can pick and choose who they work with.
But we have different economic interests. We`re less exposed than the
Europeans are. It reminds me when I was in the government about the debate
we had with our European allies about Iran, where they had more business,
they had more banking relationships with Iran.
We had nothing to lose so it was easy for us to be tough. It`s a bit like
that. And, you know, there`s push and shove. I think it was striking, for
instance, that the head of Gazprom, Mr. Miller, was not on the list today.
MADDOW: So we have the Russian essentially state-owned oil company is on
the list but the state-owned gas company not on the list.
MCFAUL: Correct. And I don`t know why. If I`m guessing, maybe because of
Europe`s exposure to gas, that might have been a reason.
MADDOW: Europe needs Russian gas more than they need Russian oil so that`s
a bigger jump for them?
MADDOW: In terms of what happens next here, the president today -- the
reason I played those remarks sort of at length, and he went on for even
longer than that.
MCFAUL: Striking to me.
MADDOW: First of all, he`s very confident in the way that he`s talking
about these. He`s obviously put thought into it and he`s obviously very
bothered by the criticism that was put to him by that FOX News reporter
saying you`re weak and the president reads that as, you`re telling me I`m
weak because I`m not bombing anybody. That`s not the way that my strength
should be measured.
MADDOW: Is that an animating dynamic inside the White House and inside
this administration and the state department more broadly when they`re
making foreign policy decisions, the fear of being called weak, the need to
defend nonmilitary action as actions of strength?
MCFAUL: Not for President Obama. I mean, I worked for him for three years
at the White House, and the last thing he`s thinking about is whether Ed
Henry is calling him weak or not. You heard a bit of that flippancy in his
He wants to achieve results, within the constraints and his foreign policy
philosophy that he thinks the American people have elected him to execute.
So, on Ukraine, there`s not a military option. There`s no military option
available. Instead what you see, I think, is a very aggressive
administration using nonmilitary means.
Let`s be clear, tell me the last time Russian government officials have
been sanctioned by a president of the United States? Didn`t happen under
Ronald Reagan. Didn`t happen under Dwight D. Eisenhower when we were
rolling back communism in Eastern Europe, which is to say we`re not going
to use military force -- by the way, neither did Reagan and neither did
George W. Bush or President Eisenhower -- but they are trying to inflict I
think a rather aggressive policy to try to stop Putin from further
aggression in Ukraine.
MADDOW: I believe that had this been George W. Bush taking these actions,
the left would be paying them a lot more attention because I think the left
would be very worried that they were too aggressive and the right would be
praising him as Reagan, but because it`s President Obama doing it, its
right is defining as -- the right is defining it essentially as weakness,
and the left isn`t paying attention to that.
MCFAUL: George W. Bush faced Russian intervention into Georgia. Not a
single Russian government official was sanctioned by the Republicans.
MADDOW: Yes, but he swaggered when he didn`t do it.
Michael McFaul, former ambassador to Russia, it`s really helpful to have
you to talk to about these things. Thank you.
MCFAUL: Thanks for having me.
We`ll be right back.
MADDOW: News right now in terms of this storm system that has been so
devastating over the past few days. It`s now 9:45 p.m., 9:49 p.m. here on
the East Coast and we are tracking another round of significant tornados
across a huge swath of the South, from Jackson, Mississippi into Knoxville,
Tennessee, and into West Virginia.
Separately, separate system, a tornado watch is also in effect for parts of
the Midwest, from St. Louis, Missouri, to Des Moines, Iowa. Earlier today
tornadoes began to form in Mississippi and Alabama and Tennessee, touching
down in Louisville, Alabama and in Tupelo, Mississippi.
Late today, I want to show you this. This was the scene at our NBC
affiliate in Tupelo, WTVA, when the weatherman on camera live was told to
take his own advice and move to shelter, move into the basement shelter at
the station as the tornado crossed them.
There are no reports of fatalities in Tupelo, Mississippi but widespread
damage, serious injuries are being recorded. Mississippi and Alabama have
both declared a state of emergency tonight. In Alabama, two fatalities
have been confirmed in the Athens area tonight where extensive damage is
being reported as the storm continues to move through the area.
This is the second consecutive day that multiple tornadoes, damaging winds
and hail have just pummeled parts of the Midwest and the South. A tornado
first touched down at 7:00 p.m. Sunday night, just west of Little Rock,
Arkansas. Storms carved a half-mile-wide path running almost 100 miles
through the center of that state and moving Northeast.
It took two hours to blow through the whole state. It claimed the lives of
14 people and injured more than 100. Another person was killed yesterday
by a separate storm north of Tulsa, Oklahoma. Another death attributed to
severe weather was reported in Iowa. By the end of the day Sunday, 31
tornadoes are known to have hit ground in the middle of the country.
Severe damage is being reported in the suburbs of Jackson, Mississippi,
where the latest tornado has touched down. Again, we`re also watching
tornadoes forming in the Birmingham area of Alabama. Again, for the next
24 hours, there is a tornado watch throughout Mississippi, Alabama, and
western Tennessee. The potentially affected area is vast, and it covers
territory where tens of millions of Americans are living.
We will bring you more as we have it. Stay with us.
MADDOW: 2008 Super Bowl was the game they won when that New York Giants
receiver caught the ball with his head. Then they scored a touchdown with
seconds left to play.
A few months later, the Giants made their ritual journey to the White House
where they were celebrated by President George W. Bush.
Look at Eli Manning. He`s like a little kid at this point. They`re having
so much fun, the president and the players.
And also it turns out the home state congressional delegation, this
Republican congressman, for instance, Vito Fossella, the pride of Staten
Island, New York. Vito Fossella celebrated all night that night, right
until the police pulled him over in the condition technically known as
seeing three of everything drunk. Congressman Fossella was blotto when
they pulled him over. His blood alcohol registered more than twice the
An arrest for drunk driving is bad news for anyone. Particularly bad news
for any politician. But the trouble got worse for Vito Fossella when he
would not say where it was that he was so drunkenly trying to get to.
Reporters soon discovered that the pride of Staten Island had been picked
up from jail not by his wife but by a nice single mom who lived near the
spot where he was arrested.
A week later, Vito Fossella admitted that nice single mom who fetched him
from the hoosegow was not just his old friend like he said. She was his
sweetheart on the side. And the toddler she lived with was theirs,
Congressman Fossella, conservative, married, law and order Republican
politician, had started a secret second family.
The tale of Congressman Vito Fossella is one of the more salacious
political unravelings we have seen in Washington in recent years. When
Congressman Fossella decided not to run for re-election, his seat left
Republican hands and instead went to a Democrat, went to a Democrat named
Michael McMahon, who swept into office on President Obama`s coattails in
Congressman McMahon, though, held that seat for only one term before Staten
Island got a new new guy. A new Republican who was able to wrest that seat
back for the GOP in 2010. And Republicans must have been delighted to have
that seat again after "congressman driving while drunk and keeping a secret
family" fumbled that seat away.
Republicans must not have believed their luck in 2010 when they got a
Republican to win back Vito Fossella`s seat. That said, the new Republican
they got to retake Vito Fossella`s seat was a guy named Michael Grimm. And
look how he turned out.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Can we ask you about the charges?
REPORTER: Congressman, very simply, are you a crook?
REP. MICHAEL GRIMM (R), NEW YORK: No.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: No, I`m not a crook.
Congressman Grimm, Michael Grimm, showed up in federal court today so he
could plead not guilty to 20 separate federal criminal charges. The
indictment today includes charges of obstructing and impeding the IRS.
Also, conspiracy to defraud the United States. Also, health care fraud.
Also, wire fraud. Wire fraud. Wire fraud. More wire fraud. Five counts
of that. Not to be confused with the five counts of mail fraud or the two
counts of perjury or the count of obstruction of an official proceeding or
the count of unlawful employment of aliens.
The charges all stem from his ownership of a restaurant before he went to
Congress. Prosecutors say he kept two sets of books for the rest and he
paid his employees partly in cash to avoid the payroll taxes and they say
he lied about it under oath. Twenty federal charges is a lot of federal
But Michael Grimm says he`s not going anywhere.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GRIMM: We`re going to fight tooth and nail until I am fully exonerated.
So let me be perfectly clear: I will not abandon my post, or the wonderful
people who entrusted me to represent them. I have their backs and I know
that they have mine. I will get right back to work, as I always have, with
honor and distinction I will serve. And then, on top of all that, I have
an election to win.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: I have an election to win? He does, actually, because it appears
that Republicans are stuck with Michael Grimm on the ballot in November as
their candidate for congress. He`s stuck on the ballot now because the
deadlines have passed. He`s stuck on the ballot unless they can convince
him to move out of the district or unless he gets convicted between now and
Or maybe the Republicans can put him up for a judgeship. Literally, that`s
one way they can get him off the ballot, name him a judge. What do you
think the odds are of that?
But my favorite part of the story is what happens if Republicans somehow
shake loose of Michael Grimm. "Roll Call" pointed out that waiting in the
wings itching for the part, ready for his second chance, is Vito Fossella,
the drunk driving former congressman with Staten Island`s previous entry
for most salacious political ending.
Mr. Fossella has been saying that Republicans nosing around about whether
or not he would be willing to take on Michael Grimm. So, the congressman
who once threatened to throw a reporter off a balcony and break him like a
little boy is now facing 20 federal felony counts, has a willing
replacement in the guy who would not call a cab and did not hold his count
of families to one.
God bless you, Staten Island, for whatever you`ve done wrong in your life.
You never did anything to deserve congressional representation like this.
That does it for us tonight.
Now, it`s time for "THE LAST WORD."
Thanks for being with us.
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