THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW
June 9, 2014
Guest: Nathan Baca, Julian Walker
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chris. Happy Monday.
Thanks very much.
And thank to you at home for joining us this hour.
Governor Mitch Daniels said it was a close call. He is a Republican
governor. The Indiana legislature was controlled by the Republicans in the
2012 season. There was nothing that the legislation passed in Indiana that
Governor Mitch Daniels even thought about vetoing, except this one thing,
this one bill he said for him, it was a close call.
He said he only signed it because in his words in the real world,
there will almost never be a situation in which these extremely narrow
conditions are met. And that was the reason that he was willing to sign
it. But even as he signed it and explained to the local press why he was
signing it, he still admitted that he was worried about it.
He said what is troubling to law enforcement officers and to me is
the chance that citizens will misunderstand what the law says. And that
worry turns out was understandable since there was no real way to explain
what that Indiana law did except this, the Indiana law that lets citizens
shoot cops, or another take on it -- NRA backed law spells out when Indiana
residents may open fire on police. At least when FOX News covered it they
phrased it as a question. Should citizens be able to shoot police?
The answer in Indiana, thanks to Mitch Daniels signing that
legislation, was yes. In very specific circumstances, that law that Mitch
Daniels sign in 2012, it only allows you to use force against the police,
including deadly force against the police if you believe that they are
acting unlawfully. So, only under those circumstances then you can use
force against the police.
And if you want to kill a police officer, if you want a legal defense
where you can walk free after shooting and killing a police officer, your
defense in Indiana has to be you think the police officer was acting
unlawfully and that you believe you were preventing serious bodily injury.
If that is what is going on in your head go for it in Indiana apparently.
The NRA backed that bill. The Republicans in the legislation passed
that bill and Mitch Daniels, with an uncharacteristically shaky hand and
voiced doubts, he did sign it into law.
It is a remarkable law even for this current iteration of the NRA and
even for Indiana. But that law in Indiana`s it`s OK to shot cops law, it
didn`t get all that much national attention, at least in mainstream
circles. In nonmainstream circles, though, that Indiana law got lots and
lots and lots of attention, and it inspired a lot of fantacist, armed
resistance against armed tyranny kind of stuff particularly on YouTube.
These two cobbled together home made videos on YouTube celebrating
the Indiana shooting cops law as invitation to armed revolution against
U.S. government. These are both posted on YouTube not long after the law
signed. You can still find them on YouTube today. And on that Web site
they got liked, they got a thumbs up, they got approved online by this 22-
year-old woman originally from Indiana, late of Nevada.
And the reason her online history of liking or disliking things is
making the national news is because she and her husband left a long online
trail that more or less may explain why those two went on a shooting
rampage yesterday in Las Vegas, including ambushing two police officers at
a pizza joint killing both of them and killing another local man at a
The female suspect then reportedly shot and killed her husband inside
the Wal-Mart, before she ended up killing herself.
And as amazing it is to say this, five people, including two
assailants killed in an orgy of gun fire in the United States. It`s sort
of something more than an every day occurrence but it`s usually less than a
national news story. And the reason this one has risen to the level of
national and intense interest is in part because of that online trail that
the killers left behind, as well as the unusual and seemingly political
trappings of the crime scenes in Vegas and how they left them.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KEVIN MCMAHILL, LAS VEGAS ASSISTANT SHERIFF: They walked past our
officers eating lunch on one of the booths, and immediately upon passing
them, Jerad Miller pulled a hand gun out and shot Officer Soldo one time in
the back of his head. Officer Soldo immediately succumb to his injuries,
there was no further movement from him in the booth.
At that time, Officer Beck immediately began to react when he was
confronted with lethal gun fire from Jerad Miller. He was shot once in the
throat area. What happened after that very quickly was that Amanda Miller
then removes a handgun from her purse and both Jerad and Amanda Miller
fired multiple shots into Officer Beck.
This entire incident at the CiCi`s is captured on video tape. We are
still conducting forensic review on the video. Immediately upon the
shooting commenced or finishing -- the suspects pulled the officers out of
the booth and on to the ground, where they placed a Gadsden flag, which is
a "don`t tread on me" yellow flag on the body of Officer Beck. They also
threw a swastika on top of his body.
At that point, Mr. Jerad Miller then pinned a note to Officer Soldo
that basically stated this is the beginning of the revolution.
They made the same types of comments inside of the restaurant where
numerous patrons heard the commentary and walked out of the restaurant,
gathered their backpacks and proceeded in a southbound direction. They
then crossed Nellis Boulevard over to the Wal-Mart, and entered in to the
front door the of the Wal-Mart store.
Immediately upon entering the store, Jerad Miller walked into the
front doors and fired off one round and told the people to get out and that
this is a revolution and that the police were on the way.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: This was not a revolution, but the police were on their way.
Multiple police officers responded to the Wal-Mart where the couple
apparently barricaded themselves inside the store. They apparently did not
shoot out or kill anyone inside the store after the first victim, who they
shot inside Wal-Mart.
And although officers shot did shot at them inside the store, the
couple apparently died together in a murder-suicide rather than be shot by
police or taken in to custody.
The female in the couple is reportedly 22 years old. She`s the one
who appears to be focused on the political goal of killing police officers,
at least showed interest in that with her YouTube profile and other online
"Mother Jones" magazines reports today that in 2012, a week after
Mitch Daniels signed the Indiana it`s OK to shoot cops law, the male
suspect also reportedly wrote approvingly about that law on the Web site of
conspiracy theorist/radio host Alex Jones.
Mostly the record of his online existence, though, is just very
focused on the Second Amendment. This is him posting something that says,
"Police will never attack armed people the way they will attack unarmed
people." Posted multiple videos of himself on YouTube talking about the
Second Amendment, lamenting online that because he was a person with felony
convictions, he could not legally own guns.
At one point he posted on Facebook that he wanted help acquiring a
rifle. As a felon, he couldn`t pass a background check, but obviously
that`s no problem. You can just buy it in private sale or at a gun show
and avoid the background check because we never closed that loophole as a
nation, even though the Senate for a half second tried.
Now, whether or not this was meant as a serious request for help in
obtaining a rifle, or whether as he said later on, he was just kidding
around, police today said that they recovered from the crime scenes in Las
Vegas no rifle. The only long gun they say they recovered was a shot gun.
They say they also recovered four handguns inside the Wal-Mart.
Police seem to believe that two of the handguns were used by the
couple from the outset of the shooting spree, including at the pizza place,
and that the other two handguns that they had may be guns they took from
the police officers who they killed at the first venue.
In addition to the Indiana it`s OK to shoot cops law and Second
Amendment issues broadly, the male suspect from the couple -- this has
received a lot of attention today -- he also has an extensive online trail
related to the Bundy ranch and the standoff between the sovereign citizen
Nevada rancher who doesn`t believe in power of any governmental authority
higher than the county sheriff and therefore refused to pay grazing fees,
for grazing his livestock in federal land, the conflict between him and
federal law enforcement officials when the FOX News Channel and other
conservative media outlets ripped that conflict between a rancher and the
federal government into a national frenzy on the far right.
This spring, in April, the male suspect from yesterday`s shootings in
Las Vegas appears to have posted on his Facebook page about his support for
the Bundy ranch fight. He said, "This is the next Waco. The ranch is
under siege right now. We must do something. I will be doing something."
On his YouTube page, the suspect from yesterday`s shooting appears
also to be the one asking questions, actually conducting sort of pseudo
interviews with Bundy family members and supporters at the militia standoff
ranch site in Bunkerville -- you won`t see him on camera here. He appears
to be the person behind the camera doing the interviewing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Margaret, well, thank you for your testimony.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s awesome that you are out here doing this.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK.
Well, Clive is my brother. This is family. This is where I was
raised. This is where I have seen the cattle on the river. It`s how it is
supposed to be and not even turtle cowboy, I mean cowboy, turtle, cow, it
is our freedom they are taking away inch by inch, and we need to defend
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It doesn`t matter what their excuse is. They`re
taking our freedoms.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That`s right. That`s right.
And we need to fight. America, we need to fight.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My name is Brian Bundy. If the state took over
this land, as they should do, there are still rights attached to the
individuals and those need to make sure we recognize those after we take
this land back.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you for your time and it was a very good
interview. And best of luck, brother.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
MADDOW: In addition to apparently conducting those interviews
himself at the Bundy ranch standoff, you can tell he is holding his own
camera, they have the handshake, because the camera shakes, right? In
addition to what appears to be the suspect from this weekend conducting
those interviews, again he`s the suspect in this weekend`s murder of two
police officers and one other person in Las Vegas, that suspect himself was
also briefly interviewed during the standoff by local Reno TV station
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I feel sorry for any federal agents that want to
come in here and try to push us around or anything like that. I really
don`t want violence toward them, but if they are going to come bring
violence to us, well, if that`s the language they want to speak, we`ll
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Again, that`s from KRNV in Reno during the Bundy standoff.
I should tell you, although the young man here is wearing two different
kinds of camouflage, there is no evidence that he ever served in any
military capacity other than what appears to be a fantasy in his own mind.
This is reportedly the suspect from this weekend`s shooting of the
two police officers and one other person in Las Vegas. The t-shirt that
he`s wearing under his camo jacket here, that`s a campaign t-shirt actually
for Clark County sheriff candidate named Gordon Martinez. Local candidate
for sheriff also claims to be a lifetime member of the Oath Keepers.
Remember that word from our previous reporting. That`s one of the
militia style groups that did set up camp at the Bundy ranch during their
fight with federal law enforcement. But they have been around for a while
on the far right fringe of conservative politics. The Oath Keepers and
also the Constitutional Peace Officers Association, which is headed up by
Richard Mack, frequent FOX News guest, also seen here in this Facebook
photo reportedly standing there with the suspect from in weekend`s
The Oath Keepers and the Richard Mack sheriffs group like Sovereign
Citizens groups more broadly, and like the ideology driving the Bundy ranch
standoff, they specifically do not believe in the existence or the
authority of the federal government. Basically, they don`t believe there`s
any law enforcement authority higher than a county sheriff.
Anyone else, their authority can be not just lawfully but forcefully
disobeyed. It`s a radical offshoot, on what used to be called the Posse
Comitatus Movement. It was a movement closely aligned with upsurge in
militias in the Clinton era back in the `90s.
Sometimes, that was a white supremacist movement. Sometimes, it
wasn`t. At this point, the functioning of the swastika imagery and the
crimes that were committed yesterday in Las Vegas may have been a symbol of
white supremacist or neo-Nazi views on the part of the perpetrators.
They may have also been an epithet leveled at the officers who were
shot by those perpetrators. And at this point, it becomes necessary, but
bizarre to note that in August, this past August, Las Vegas was the site of
another bizarre targeting of police officers -- bizarre and violent
targeting of police officers, apparently, for obscure and fringe
ideological reasons. Again, it was a couple who had moved to Las Vegas
from Indiana, though that appears to be nothing more than a coincidence.
In this case, the couple was older, was 42-year-old man and 67-year-
old woman. They were allied with the sovereign citizen movement and
according to the criminal complaint and police report, when they were
arrested, there`s sovereign citizen ideology meant not that they didn`t
just acknowledge the authority of police officers, but they actively wanted
to wage war on the police in order to start a sort of sovereign citizen
Quoting from "The A.P." at the time they were arrested, quote, "The
couple spend hundreds of hours plotting to abduct, torture and kill Las
Vegas police officers as a way to attract attention to their anti-authority
sovereign citizens movement, police said. The two attended training
sessions about sovereign citizen philosophy, they shopped for guns, they
found a vacant house and rigged it to bind captives to the cross beams
They also recorded videos to explain their actions and why in their
minds, police officers had to die.
In the apartment, this couple apparently three miles east of the Las
Vegas Strip. They had unwittingly brought a police informant in on their
planning to abduct, and torture and interrogate police officers and they
were arrested again in August. The two were charged separately. Both pled
guilty to conspiracy to commit false imprisonment.
Now, there`s no indication that these two with sets of couples were
connected in any way, other than both having, appearing to have anti-
government, specifically anti-police views that they link to a larger
political movement. Whether or not the larger political movement accepted
or linked to them.
Is something specific going on in Nevada? Doesn`t seem like a Las
Vegas-specific problem but is something specific going on in Nevada? Does
this online ideological trail of bread crumbs with this couple that
apparently committed these crimes yesterday, is now dead -- is their online
trail of bread crumbs just happen to be the political contriteness of a
pair of run-of-the-mill criminals, who would have done this regardless?
Their online fascinations might they just as easily been something
else? Is it just our desire to find meaning here that has us imparting too
much meaning to what they believed and why they said they were doing, why
they did it?
Or is a fantasist and weapons-focused strain on the far right of
American politics right now making this sort of thing more likely, making
it more possible than it otherwise would be if no one was out there
encouraging folks to believe that shooting police officers in a pizza shop
and shooting up a Wal-Mart might reasonably be the way to spark an anti-
Hold that thought.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MCMAHILL: Immediately upon the shooting finishing, the suspects
pulled the officers out of the booth and onto the ground, where they placed
a Gadsden flag, which is a "don`t tread on me" yellow flag on the body of
Officer Beck. They also threw a swastika on top of his body. At that
point, Mr. Jerad Miller then pinned a note to Officer Soldo that basically
stated that this is the beginning of the revolution.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That was Las Vegas assistant sheriff Kevin McMahill speaking
today in Las Vegas about yesterday`s double murder of two Las Vegas police
officers and one civilian in a rampage during which the alleged assailants
reportedly said they intended to start a revolution.
Joining us now is Nathan Baca, investigative reporter from KLAS-TV in
Mr. Baca, thanks for being with us to help us with the story.
Appreciate your time.
NATHAN BACA, KLAS-TV INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER: My pleasure, Rachel.
MADDOW: So, what have we -- or what have you learned in your
reporting since the initial news from the sheriffs department today about
this crime in Las Vegas? Are there new details to report?
BACA: There are. When it comes to Jerad Miller, it comes to his
long-standing quest it comes to people he could convince to join his
crusade to try to have an armed revolution against police officers. We
have been able to talk to people who knew him at the Bundy ranch, as you
mentioned earlier, that he was there.
Also, just recently, after he went to the Bundy ranch, and he also
went to the Las Vegas group of Anonymous, the hack-tivist group. He went
there with side arm, went to one of their meetings, tried to convince them
to try to join in some sort of armed revolution against police.
But members of Anonymous told us that they want a peaceful
revolution. They kicked him out of one of their meetings just late April.
MADDOW: So, his political affiliations, and I mean that in a
specific sense, they seem to be mostly aspirational. He wanted to be part
of a larger group, planning some sort of larger anti-government action.
But as far as we can tell so far in terms of all the reporting that`s
out there, I haven`t seen any sign that anyone was persuaded by him other
than perhaps his wife or that anybody sort of owns him as being part of any
larger organized group.
BACA: That`s right. What he told members of the Bundy ranch, the
militia out there is that he tried to convince members of the white
supremacist groups in Indiana to join him in his armed revolution against
police. Even the white supremacist group in Indiana that he was talking
about at the Bundy ranch said they would not have any of that.
Now, you have a situation where Jerad says that he was kicked out of
the Bundy ranch because he is a felon. He was a felon from a felony
marijuana charge actually in Indiana. But at this point, the folks that
were supporting Cliven Bundy were saying, no, what happened, indeed the,
was he was saying, talking about armed revolution actively, saying that he
wanted to go out and snipe police officers at night. Those words coming
from Jerad Miller, according to witnesses that were at the Bundy ranch.
Now, the folks at the Bundy ranch, the supporters there, the militia
groups, while they were doing their patrols, while they were in some cases
even doing check points, they did not want the instigation of having the --
firing the first shot against police there.
MADDOW: And, of course, as you mentioned, his criminal record
leaving the open question right now as to how he obtained the weapons that
were obviously used in this crime at this point. Do you have anything on
that? At this point, I have been able to find no evidence of how he
obtained those weapons.
BACA: I haven`t been able to find evidence of how he obtained those
weapons but a crucial date that really starts setting him off was October
10th, 2013. That`s when he posts on Facebook that he just finds out that
he has an arrest warrant for him in Indiana from a 2003 crime. The arrest
warrant kept on moving forward, moving forward from another county in
Indiana, but he found out in 2013, he said that he thought he was going to
have supervised probation. That was not the case.
Once you see his posting that on October 10th, 2013, after that, a
lot of the language he posts online, whether it be on Facebook or Google+,
really takes a more incendiary and talk of armed revolution more than
before. So, that date, in effect, is some sort of fulcrum point that
really changes his mindset.
MADDOW: Nathan Baca, investigative reporter for KLAS-TV in Vegas,
thanks very much, Nathan. It`s great to have you on this. I appreciate
BACA: Thank you.
MADDOW: Thank you.
All right. A lot still to come tonight, including an important
lesson about taking bribes. It turns out nobody`s supposed to be able to
see you doing it. The cardinal rule has been broken in a big way. And
that story is ahead.
Stay with us.
MADDOW: Today is Monday. That means tomorrow is Tuesday, which
means tomorrow is book release day. I don`t know why the publishing
industry releases all the books on Tuesdays.
But Tuesday is the day. And tomorrow brings with it former Secretary
of State Hillary Clinton`s second memoir. It`s called "Hard Choices".
Tuesday also means primary day in a whole bunch of states in which no
incumbent will be more on the hot seat tomorrow than House Majority Leader
Eric Cantor. He represents the most conservative district in Virginia.
And right now, Eric Cantor is on the eve of the toughest primary campaign
he has ever faced against a Tea Party Republican challenger named Dave
Maybe he can cuddle up with Hillary Clinton`s book to feel better.
But Virginia is home to a lot more right now than a contentious
Republican primary. That`s going to be very exciting to watch tomorrow.
Virginia is also the proud record holder for the most blatantly executed
political quid pro quo, in at least the last five minutes in American
And that Virginia story is straight up. Stay with us.
MADDOW: When then-candidate George W. Bush announced that he had
chosen Dick Cheney to be his vice presidential running mate, Mr. Bush
presented a storyline about that decision familiar to anyone who`s ever
watched a romantic comedy. It was the old -- the right person was right in
front of me all along plot line.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, THEN-PRESIDENT: As we work to evaluate the strengths
of others I saw first-hand Dick Cheney`s outstanding judgment. And as we
considered many different credentials, I benefitted from his keen insight
and gradually, I realized that the person who was best qualified to be my
vice presidential nominee was working by my side.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Before anybody knew how consequential Dick Cheney was going
to be one as a vice president, it seems like there were two important
things to know about him. One was that he was supposed to pick somebody
else for that job, until President Bush realized the man for him was in
front of him the whole time.
But also, the other really consequential thing that we knew at the
time about Dick Cheney becoming vice president is that he was going to be
the tie-breaking vote in the United States Senate.
One of the responsibilities of the vice presidency is also to serve
as president of the Senate. And that`s mostly a symbolic thing, a lot of
swearing people in, that sort of thing, until it becomes a crucially
important job and not at all symbolic because like Dick Cheney in 2001,
turns out you are presiding over a Senate that is evenly split. With the
50/50 split in the Senate making Dick Cheney as a tie breaker effectively
the 101st senator, some observers are asking whether he will be so tied
down on Capitol Hill that he won`t have enough time to participate in the
new administration as an active vice president.
It turns out that wasn`t a problem. Vice President Cheney certainly
was an active vice president. But maybe that`s because that evenly divide
Senate, where he was going to spend so much time breaking votes, where he
was going to be the tie-breaking vote -- he wasn`t going to have time for
That stasis in Washington only lasted about four months into the Bush
presidency before the tie broke itself.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TOM BROKAW, NBC NEWS: Good evening. By now you probably know what
happened today. A Republican senator left his party and formally aligned
himself with the Democrats.
But what about the future? The consequences could be profound. The
Democrats will have control of the Senate. They also will have control of
the powerful committees, the legislative agenda in that half of Congress.
This is a major setback for President Bush and his plans. Senator
James Jeffords of Vermont said he was leaving as a matter of principle.
THEN-SEN. JIM JEFFORDS (I), VERMONT: In order to best represent my
state of Vermont my conscious and principles I have stood for my whole
life, I will leave the Republican Party and become an independent.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Republican Senator Jim Jeffords quitting the Republican
Party and deciding to caucus with the Democrats. That completely changed
the balance of power in the Senate. Right, it had been 50/50 with the
Republican tie-breaking vote in the form of Vice President Cheney. Now, it
was no longer 50/50 and Democrats had control. It was the first major
political bombshell of the George W. Bush presidency.
But politicians abruptly switching parties is a thing that happens.
It is almost always shocking and disorienting when it first happens, but it
does happen. It doesn`t just happen in Washington. In New York state,
after the 2012 election, Democrats won control of the New York Senate. It
was a close fight, but Democrats won a majority on election night. That
lasted about a month. The election was November 2012.
In December 2012, a sub-group of Democrats announced that for voting
purposes, that we`re going to switch parties, that we`re going to caucus
with Republicans instead, thereby allowing New York state Republicans to
regain control of the Senate.
One of the Democrats who switched sides back in 2012 is a state
senator named Malcolm smith. Mr. Smith was very open at the time about how
what he really wanted is to run for mayor of New York City, and it turns
out Mr. Smith allegedly agreed to caucus with Republicans in the state
capitol with the long-term hope they would let him run for mayor of New
York City on the Republican line on the ballot.
Malcolm Smith was later charged with basically attempting to bribe
his way on to the ballot for New York City mayor and that of course is
illegal. The corruption trial is going on right now in New York. The jury
in that trial heard secretly taped conversations between Mr. Smith and a
government informant today.
It`s always a risky and provocative move to decide to change parties
if you are a politician, right? But if it seems like you were promised
something in order to switch your political affiliation from one party to
another, or to change the balance of power in your legislative body, that
can land you in legal trouble or at the very least gross out everybody in
your state, right?
The state senate in the great commonwealth of Virginia looked like
this as of last night, evenly divided just like the Senate was when George
W. Bush became president, evenly divided, 20 Democrats and 20 Republican in
Virginia is one of those states with off-year elections and one of
the reasons I was amazing to follow the election last year is because who
Republicans chose to run as their lieutenant governor, remember, E.W.
Jackson, the gift to the odd year elections? He did stuff like misspell
the word "commandments" on his own book, right on the cover.
But that race for lieutenant governor ended up being not just
entertaining, but very consequential in Virginia, because the person who
was eventually elected as lieutenant governor, Democrat Ralph Northam as it
ends up, that person was going to have to be the tie-breaking vote in this
absolutely deadlocked 20/20 evenly split Virginia State Senate, tied
The Senate president who also happens to be the lieutenant governor
is the tie-breaking vote. And so, when Democrats won the race, it meant
that Democrats controlled the state senate and that was the case until last
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TV ANCHOR: Breaking news tonight. A Virginia state senator is
resigning. Good evening. I`m Joe Saint George.
TV ANCHOR: And I`m Julie Bragg (ph).
CBS 6 has learned Democratic State Senator Phillip Puckett is
submitting his resignation tomorrow. "The Washington Post" reports he is
resigning to take a job on the state tobacco commission and to guarantee
his daughter is confirmed a circuit judge.
TV ANCHOR: Julie, this gives Republicans control of the state senate
in a time in which the commonwealth does not have a budget.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: When the news broke last night that Virginia Democratic
State Senator Phillip Puckett was resigning his seat in the State Senate,
in a reported deal with Republicans that was supposed to land him a six-
figure job on a state tobacco commission, and also a jump ship for his
daughter, the political world in Virginia and beyond freaked out a little
The criticism was biting. The chairman of the House Democratic
Caucus in Virginia released this statement, he said, "I`m dismayed by news
today that my Republican friends have offered Senator Puckett an unseemly,
shady backroom deal that benefits himself financially and reportedly
ensures the appointment of his daughter to the bench.
Late today, Senator Puckett announced that there was a little bit of
a change in plans. He said he would not, after all, be seeking that six-
figure job in the state`s tobacco commission. He said he was going to stay
with his private sector job instead. Everybody still thinks, though, that
his daughter is going to get the seat on the judgeship.
The reason this political development in Virginia such huge national
political news today is not just because of this alleged backroom dealing
that reportedly resulted in Senator Puckett`s decision to hand over control
of the state senate over to the Republicans, but also because of the
material consequences of that decision. The big fight in Virginia right
now is about the fate of 400,000 people in Virginia and whether they`re
going to get access to health insurance under Obamacare because of expanded
Democratic governor of Virginia, Terry McAuliffe, Democrats in the
state legislature, they want to expand Medicare to cover those hundreds of
thousands of people in the state. Republicans, most of them, at least,
don`t want to do that. And that is the fight right now in Virginia.
That`s why there isn`t a budget. That`s what they`re fighting over with
By handing Republicans control of the State Senate now, critics of
Senator Puckett argue that basically he took what he needed for himself and
his daughter, but his decision arguably cost the Democrats any chance of
securing health insurance for 400,000 people in the state. How`s that for
Whatever you think of his decision in terms of what he was supposed
to get out of it, is that a fair criticism in terms of the cost for the
state and Senator Puckett`s largely poor district in southwest Virginia?
Did that one state senator`s decision today do Medicaid expansion for his
state while his family got taken care of?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TV ANCHOR: Major change at the state capital after a Democratic
senator gives up his seat in the Virginia general assembly. Senator
Phillip Puckett`s resignation shifts power in the state senate to
Republicans who now have the majority. The move could hamper the
Democratic-backed Medicaid expansion proposal in the budget.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Joining us now is Julian Walker, political reporter for the
"Virginian Pilot" newspaper.
Mr. Walker, thanks for being here. Appreciate your time tonight.
JULIAN WALKER, VIRGINIAN PILOT: Thanks for having me.
MADDOW: So, what are the material consequences of this senator
bailing out of the state senate and effectively handing control of that
body over to the Republicans?
WALKER: Well, it certainly appears to dim the prospects, at least in
the short term for Medicaid expansion through the budget legislatively.
Right now, Virginia is just a few weeks away from the expiration of the
current budget which runs through June 30th. So, the pressure has been on
and been mounting for months for legislators to get together over adopting
a new spending plan.
The hold up has been that Democrats largely support Medicaid
expansion or the Virginia alternative to Medicaid expansion through the
Affordable Care Act, whereas Republicans primarily and by and large are
against the Medicaid expansion.
And so, the hold up has been both partisans on both sides insisting,
one saying Medicaid expansion should not be in the budget and the other
side Democrats say it should be in the budget. With the departure of
Senator Puckett, the end result appears to be that there is movement
forward on the budget, out of the rubble of this fallout has been that
there was movement today on the budget and it appears the budget deal
potentially going forward would be one without Medicaid expansion in it.
MADDOW: And the Republicans are able, now they are in control, to
call the Senate back into session and move at any speed they want to in
terms of getting that budget done. Am I right about that? That they are
back in the driver`s seat at this point?
WALKER: Well, Republicans have gotten together. The procedural
rules in Virginia allow nine senators to call the chamber back into
session. Today, 20 Republicans and one Democrat joined together, signed on
to a letter to bring themselves back in to session on Thursday and the
House of Delegates, which has a Republican super majority, two thirds
Republican out of 100 members -- they are also coming back on Thursday to
hammer out a budget compromise.
MADDOW: Julian, let me ask you about the deal that was apparently
hatched, although maybe partially abandoned now, to get Senator Puckett to
do this. It seems like the terms of deal were that he would get a tobacco
commission job that could be appointed by the new Republican majority in
the Senate, that appears to be a six figure salary job and that he would
also have the way clear for his daughter to have a judicial seat in
I think that`s part of why this received national attention today.
It felt like that was the price he was selling Medicaid expansion, selling
out everything else that goes with his seat. As that deal falls apart, is
there any question whether that might technically be a bribe, whether it
might have been an illegal arrangement?
WALKER: Well, certainly some people are using that terminology to
characterize the deal or alleged deal. As you know, there`s a little extra
sensitivity in Virginia right now. We just came off of a rewrite of our
state ethics rules, our state ethics rules governing public officials. And
that happened because of the gift scandal that enveloped the final year of
the administration of former Governor Bob McDonnell who is now facing -- he
and his wife are facing federal public corruption charges in a trial that`s
coming up here in July that will be held in the federal courthouse here in
As it relates to this alleged deal, there are certainly criticisms of
it. Some people called for an investigation. They asked for the state
attorney general, as well as the Justice Department, to look in to this.
The Justice Department at this point is basically saying no comment. The
attorney general is saying that he doesn`t feel like it`s his role to have
a place in this investigation or to initiate an investigation at this
I can tell you that I did hear from one source that one Senate source
that they did feel the call from an FBI today.
MADDOW: Wow. Thank you for helping us to break that news.
Julian Walker, political reporter for the "Virginian Pilot" newspaper
-- thanks for helping us understand this. Appreciate your reporting.
WALKER: Thank you.
MADDOW: All right. We will be right back. I can feel it tick thing
right now. I`m about to blow my stack.
Stay with us.
MADDOW: One funny thing about this job is that I`m frequently given
credit for destruction.
I destroy blatant hypocrisy! I destroy Senator Richard Burr. I
destroy fake outrage. I destroy a myth about Texas.
I obliterate gay hate. That was a good day.
I destroyed that guy from the Koch brothers group. I destroy any
credibility that that politician might still think he has. Destroy!
I`m Godzilla in a cheap blazer and the same haircut since 2007. I
Whenever I am said to have destroyed something I realize this is
actually high praise, and I am appreciative. One of the important things I
think you have to do in delivering the news and explaining the news and
trying to increase the amount of useful information in the world is that I
do think you sometimes have to point out when something dumb is going on or
something hurtful or when people are not actually doing what they said they
are doing. Destroy.
But for all the appreciated but undeserved credit that I get for
destroying things I don`t really destroy, the only thing I really would
like to destroy but apparently I can`t is what I consider to be a modern
plague in the news business in this country.
The news business has enough challenges in this country just in terms
of the business model, having sufficient jobs, good jobs for full-time
professional reporters and editors and producers. What we could really do
without in this country and in this business is what we`ve got, which is a
plague of self-proclaimed but terrible fact checkers. Hello, PolitiFact.
PolitiFact fact-checks a State of the Union statement that in 21
months, businesses had created 3 million jobs. They looked around, find
that that is a true statement, and so, they rate, half true.
Everybody loses their minds, so they change their rating to mostly
true. But no, actually even under their own reasoning, they found it to be
true. And who cares except for the fact that they don`t go away.
How about another one? Kenneth Star says that in 29 states, it`s
legal for you to be fired for being guy. PolitiFact checks that, looks
around, finds that it is a true statement, rates it half true. My head
Senator Marco Rubio says that most Americans identify as
conservative. PolitiFact checks, it they look into, that find that a
majority of Americans do not identify as conservatives, so in other words,
they found that his statement is false. Therefore, they rate it mostly
Do you remember when Lawrence O`Donnell said that when the G.I. bill
passed in 1944 some critics of the law called it a form of welfare?
PolitiFact rated that false because they didn`t understand that when
someone said it was like going on the dole, they didn`t understand that the
dole means welfare. Destroy.
Fact-checking is a noble thing. The desire to independently verify
facts that you hear in news and political conversation, that is a noble
impulse, and everybody should do it. Honestly, third-graders who can spell
Google can do it alone without help.
But instead of just expecting people to do this individually, instead
for some reason, as a nation, we have grown a new terrible, terrible mini
industry wherein an organization that apparently cannot even Google has
decided to take on a sort of pseudo-official role as the nation`s fact-
Fact-checking, yes, you can do that on your own. PolitiFact as
America`s branded national replacement for fact-checking? No. No, no, no.
It`s like if the Prancercise lady brought the rights to the word
"exercise", and then people all over the country decided that exercising
was not for them because look at, it I`d never do that. That`s what
PolitiFact is doing to our country and our news literacy.
PolitiFact is to real fact-checking what Prancersize is to exercise.
You can do it on your own, but don`t call it the real world. You can`t
have the word "fact."
And I know I have yelled about how terrible they are for a long time.
But because nothing I do actually affects them, they continue to market
themselves as a news brand thing. And I didn`t think it was possible, but
over time, they have gotten even worse at what they were already failing
Por ejemplo, last week in discussing the return of prisoner of war
Bowe Bergdahl, we played some old footage from the rescue of the first
American POW who was rescued in war time since World War II, and that, of
course, was Jessica Lynch, who was ambushed along with her maintenance
company on the third day of the Iraq war in 2003.
Now, the story that emerged of her reported heroism during and after
that ambush, that story turned out not to be true. So, we reported on that
last week. PolitiFact decided to fact check that reporting.
Maddow, Pentagon made up story of Jessica Lynch`s heroism. According
to PolitiFact, quote, "some people who saw Maddow`s reporting questioned
her assertion that the Pentagon made up Lynch`s heroism."
OK. So, this is a pretty simple thing from the fact-checking
perspective. Did the military provide false information that led to the
narrative that Jessica Lynch went down fighting when she was captured?
Let`s do some Googling. Here`s a "Military Times" article published
after Jessica Lynch was rescued. It featured a named member of the
military, a public affairs official, providing false information about
Jessica Lynch`s capture.
Navy Captain Frank Thorp said Lynch waged quite a battle prior to her
capture. We do have very strong indications that Lynch was not captured
very easily, he said. Reports are that she fired her M-16 until she had no
That information straight from a military public affairs official was
not true. It was made up. But it landed in press reports anyway.
"The New York Times" also printed a story after Jessica Lynch`s
rescue that contained made up information about her supposed heroism,
information that was provided to "The New York Times" by a U.S. Army
So, if you have the Google, which I understand PolitiFact does not
have, if they did have the Google they could see all that evidence of the
Pentagon contemporaneously pushing this false story about Jessica Lynch
being a hero, right?
But for PolitiFact, their Google is broken. Lucky for them, we
played this contemporaneous reporting from NBC News on our show the night
they say they were watching.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Lynch and 14 other members of the 507th Ordnance
Maintenance Company disappeared after being ambushed near al-Nasiriyah.
Military officials say she fought even when hurt until she ran out of
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Military officials say she fought even while hurt until she
ran out of ammunition.
So, if you`re fact-checking whether or not military officials pushed
a made up story about Jessica Lynch`s heroism -- well, there you go, right?
It`s kind of answered, right? Did military officials say Jessica Lynch
fought even while she was hurt?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Military officials say she fought even while hurt.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Yes, so they did say that. So PolitiFact rules that no,
they didn`t say that.
PolitiFact`s entire reason for existing, it`s a noble reason, is to
figure out what is true and what is false in the world and tell you because
you can`t check it yourself. And they are terrible at that job.
And the world needs good fact-checking. The Internet specifically
needs good fact checking. What it does not need is an organization that
illegally uses the word "fact" in their name, anoints themselves the
arbiter of fact, and just makes an absolute mockery of it again and again
I do not actually ever destroy anything other than a good dinner.
But if I could start destroying things on TV, I know where I would start.
Now it`s time for "THE LAST WORD."
Thank you for being with us.
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