'The Rachel Maddow Show' for Monday, August 4th, 2014
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THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW
August 4, 2014
Guest: Sarah Clements, Nancy Northup
STEVE KORNACKI, GUEST HOST: Thanks to you at home for joining us this
hour. Rachel has the night off.
There is a lot of news in the world tonight, including a possible move away
from violence in Gaza, and a huge federal court ruling regarding abortion
law in Alabama.
But we begin tonight with this: it was a byline that caught everyone who
read it by surprise. It was a byline that shocked the political world as
it woke up on the morning of March 29th, 1991 and opened up "The New York
Times." The headline, "Why I am for the Brady bill", and the byline,
author who wrote it was Ronald Reagan, the former president of the United
States, a Republican president, a staunch opponent of gun control. But
now, here he was coming out vehemently in favor of a gun control bill that
the NRA was bitterly resisting.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
TV ANCHOR: Good evening. Federal gun control, one of the most emotional
issues on the political agenda, has an unexpected new ally tonight, former
President Ronald Reagan. He has endorsed a seven-day waiting period for
the purchase of handguns, and President Bush may follow.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He looked and sounded like the Ronald Reagan of old,
but what he said was far from it. This darling of the gun lobby endorsing
a gun control bill.
RONALD REAGAN, FORMER PRESIDENT: And I`m going to say it in clear,
unmistakable language. I support the Brady Bill, and I urge the Congress
to enact it.
UNIDNTIFIED MALE: All this left the National Rifle Association all but
speechless. Day released a terse one-page statement which simply
reiterated the NRA`s opposition to the Brady Bill.
JIM MIKLAWSZEWSKI, NBC NEWS: It appears now that the NRA has lost the
White House on this one, but the powerful gun lobby is now expected to turn
its sights on Congress, where it`s enjoyed considerable success in the
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
KORNACKI: That bill that Ronald Reagan was supporting back then, that bill
he supported in defiance of the NRA, it was named in honor of James Brady.
James Brady had worked for the Reagan campaign back in 1980. He then came
to the White House with Reagan to serve as his first press secretary. That
meant he was with Reagan just three months into his first term when a
gunman tried to take out the president.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These are policemen in raincoats waiting for President
Reagan to come out. This is the advance guard now with the secret
servicemen coming out. Here`s President Reagan waving, right arm up in the
Suddenly, everybody ducks. Mike is down. Everybody`s down. Three
policemen jump on top of the assailant, wrestle him to the ground. Guns
are off, Secret Service men and Metropolitan police have drawn their guns.
Absolute pandemonium with one aide after another yelling and screaming.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: President Reagan is in good condition tonight in a
Washington hospital after several hours of emergency surgery. His press
secretary, James Brady, is in extremely serious condition with brain
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: So, you`ve heard the expression before, but when it came to
James Brady, it was literally true. He took a bullet for the president.
And because he did that, he suffered the most serious injuries that day.
He nearly died. He was left partially paralyzed. He was left with
permanent brain damage.
But he did survive. He and his wife, Sarah Brady, then dedicated
themselves to trying to stop what had happened to them and their family
from happening to anyone else, to any other family. They became activists.
And they became the most recognizable advocates of gun control legislation
anywhere in America.
That was the legislation that President Reagan, to the surprise of
everyone, came out in support of back in 1991. It was legislation that
could be traced directly back to that attempt on his own life, the lives of
others around him a decade earlier.
Two years after Reagan made that surprise announcement, the fall of 1993,
the Brady Bill actually passed Congress. It was signed into law by Bill
Clinton. The Brady Bill, now the Brady Law as it`s now known, mandated all
federally licensed gun dealers perform background checks on customers in
conjunction with federal law enforcement authorities. They couldn`t just
check off some background check form, put it in a drawer and never tell
anyone about it. There were real teeth in the law. The Brady Bill changed
the way people bought and sold firearms in this country.
In 1993, James Brady sat next to Bill Clinton as he signed that bill. And
today, James Brady passed away, 73 years old.
But the bill that was named after him wasn`t the only piece of gun
legislation that was passed during Bill Clinton`s first term. A year
later, September of 1994, Clinton signed the Federal Assault Weapons Ban.
It was written by a senator from California who, herself, had been witness
to a political assassination, Senator Dianne Feinstein. She was the first
person on the scene to find the body of the San Francisco board of
supervisors member Harvey Milk when he was shot and killed in 1978.
President Clinton inaugurated in 1993 and in the first couple years of his
presidency, two major pieces of gun control legislation passed the House
then they passed the Senate. They make it to his desk. Bill Clinton signs
them into law. One in 1993, the other in 1994.
Two months after he signed that assault weapons ban in 1994 came this --
1994 midterm election. Those were elections in which Democrats famously
got absolutely clobbered. They call it the Republican revolution, the
revolution of `94. Newt Gingrich became the speaker of the House.
Republicans won more seats in Congress in that election than they had had
in 40 years.
It was a seismic political event. The political narrative that started
being spun about that 1994 election was that it was about guns. It was
their support of gun control. It was those gun-control laws that they had
passed that helped fuel the Republican revolution. That`s what some
Democrats started to say.
Now, this was, to put it politely, a questionable claim. There were a lot
of reasons Democrats took such a big hit in 1994. It was the kind of thing
that a lot of smart people, even a lot of smart Democrats, started saying
and repeating to themselves and to everyone. It was something that even
Bill Clinton started saying, something that became conventional wisdom.
This idea that gun control was costing Democrats voters they would
otherwise win over if they would just stop talking about gun control, if
they would stop doing anything about gun control.
And then came the event that really cemented that thinking in place, that
event was the election of 2000. Everyone remembers Florida as the key
state that year. The Florida recount, the hanging chads and all that. But
a lot of Democrats looked at the electoral map in 2000 and what they saw
was a bunch of states with big rural areas, states with lots of gun owners,
states with deep gun cultures, states that Bill Clinton had won twice in
1992 and 1996 but now that Al Gore lost.
Missouri, Kentucky, West Virginia, Tennessee, Arkansas, and Ohio. Forget
about Florida. It Gore had won any one of those states, he would have been
president. The recount wouldn`t have mattered.
So, that`s what a lot of Democrats saw when they looked at the 2000 map --
the idea that gun control had cost them in those states, that it had cost
them the white House. It was why they were stuck, it was why the country
was stuck with George W. Bush.
Now you can argue whether that conclusion was right or not, but it is the
conclusion that has shaped how a lot of Democrats have looked at the issue
for the last decade plus -- the last decade plus through one horrific gun
tragedy, one ghastly mass shooting after another.
Just before the 2000 election, there was Columbine. Then there was the
Virginia Tech shooting rampage in April of 2007. There was the shooting in
Tucson, Arizona, where Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was shot. There
was the Aurora movie theater shooting. Terrible, devastating tragedies
that everyone bemoaned, but that produced from Washington no real response
-- no legislation, no new laws.
One attempt to close a big loophole in the Brady Law, the gun show
loophole, after columbine. That attempt was made, it failed. After that,
And then came Newtown. The shooting that left 20 first graders and six
teachers dead at sandy hook elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut.
When that shooting happened, now almost two years ago, when we all absorbed
the unspeakable shock and sadness around that shooting, that did jolt a lot
of people in Washington, did jolt a lot of Democrats who had been shying
away from gun control for so long. They were jolted into trying to do
It was after Newtown that Democratic Senator Joe Manchin from West
Virginia, Republican Senator Pat Toomey from Pennsylvania, came together to
sponsor bipartisan legislation to try again to close that loophole that was
left open in the Brady Law all those years ago, the gun show loophole.
The Toomey/Manchin bill would have expanded federal background checks
program to include not just anyone trying to buy a gun at a federally
licensed gun dealer but also anyone trying to buy a gun at a gun show.
That`s a lot of people. It would have extended background checks to cover
basically every private sale.
President Obama pushed for it as hard as he could and many Democrats, most
Democrats, came together and pushed for it, too. But ultimately, failed to
pass the Senate, failed to even get enough votes to get a vote in the
Senate. There weren`t 60 votes to break a filibuster to have that real
That moment, that was the moment it turns out that President Obama has said
was the single most frustrating moment in his entire presidency.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I have to say that people
often ask me how`s it been being president, and what are my -- what am I
proudest of, and what are my biggest disappointments? And I`ve got two-
and-a-half years left.
My biggest frustration so far is the fact that this society has not been
willing to take some basic steps to keep guns out of the hands of, you
know, people who, you know, can do just unbelievable damage. We`re the
only society -- we`re the only developed country on earth where this
happens. And it happens now once a week. And it`s a one-day story.
There`s no place else like this.
And I will tell you that I have been in Washington for a while now, and
most things don`t surprise me. The fact that 20 six-year-olds were gunned
down in the most violent fashion possible, and this town couldn`t do
anything about it, was stunning to me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: Just try to imagine a president sitting down to sign legislation
like the kind of legislation that President Clinton signed back in 1993 and
1994. Try to imagine that legislation making it through the House. Try to
imagine that legislation getting those 60 votes to even get a vote in the
Senate and then passing the Senate.
Try to imagine a Republican as big as Ronald Reagan coming out and
supporting that legislation. Telling people in his party, it`s OK to
support that legislation.
Try to imagine that -- but you find out it`s impossible to imagine that
right now. When you look at it at the federal level, our system is broken
down completely when it comes to the issue of guns, and there was no symbol
of that that was more potent than the failed background check bill in the
wake of Newtown.
But here`s the other side: if you look state by state, if you get away from
Washington, if you get away from Congress, if you get away from the federal
government, and you look at places like Connecticut and New York and
Colorado and California and Maryland and a host of other states, if you
look there, then you see that there actually has been some movement on this
issue, that the system isn`t broken when it comes to guns.
Took 12 years after President Reagan and James Brady and two others were
nearly killed when they were shot and then nearly killed before the federal
government passed gun legislation, passed the Brady Bill in 1993.
It has been about a year and a half since Newtown. Is our federal
government now broken beyond repair when it comes to this issue? Has the
battle now moved away from Washington into the states? Is that the future
when it comes to gun control?
Well, joining us now, Sarah Clements. She`s a gun violence prevention
advocate. And she`s the founder of the Junior Newtown Action Alliance.
Her mother is a teacher and survivor of the shootings at Sandy Hook
So, Sarah, thank you for being here.
SARAH CLEMENTS, JUNIOR NEWTOWN ACTION ALLIANCE: Thank you for having me.
KORNACKI: And I`m really interested in how you look at this issue because
you`re much younger than me. I think you were probably born in the late
1990s. So, after a lot of the stuff we were talking about in the intro
And I can remember what it was like politically in the early 1990s, in the
run-up to the Brady Bill getting passed and getting signed into law, the
run-up to assault weapons ban becoming law, and there was just a sense of
real momentum, that it was going to happen, that it was a matter of time.
You had Republicans like Ronald Reagan coming out for it.
I look at the situation right now where a background checks bill goes to
the Senate last year and can`t even get a real vote. Do you feel any sense
of momentum when it comes to the federal government doing anything about
this, or do you look at it and say, it`s just not going to happen?
CLEMENTS: I absolutely am optimistic about legislation being passed on the
federal level, especially on the state level right now, but also on the
federal level. It was absolutely a devastation for the universal
background check bill to fail for survivors and victims everywhere. It was
a devastation for communities everywhere.
But it also motivated a lot of Americans who otherwise were just sitting on
the sidelines who: A, didn`t even know that there was a gun show loophole
or that you could buy a gun online without a background check; and, B, it
angered so many people, including young people, including millennials like
myself most disproportionately affected by gun violence in America to get
up and fight this.
And I think we`re sort of in this turning point right now where moms and
students are -- and other sort of demographics are coming together on the
grassroots level to advocate against the gun lobby and to prove that
average Americans can have more political power than the gun lobby and
that`s never happened before.
KORNACKI: Yes, maybe you could tell us a little bit. I mean, there`s the
Protect All Women Movement that`s out in Washington. In California, they
have this gun violence restraining order idea. So, there are some
interesting things happening or trying to make happen at the state level.
Can you tell us about some of those?
CLEMENTS: Right. So, exactly, even though universal background checks
have been put on the back burner on the federal level, that doesn`t mean
other legislation can`t be passed, especially on the state level like you
So, in California, they`re looking at the -- the state legislature is
looking at this gun violence restraining order which would give parents,
you know, family members or intimate partners a mechanism and a process, an
efficient process to work with law enforcement to ensure that a loved one
who they fear might be dangerous to themselves or to others in the future,
in regards to owning or buying a weapon, a firearm, it provides that
mechanism to ensure that everybody stays safe.
An example is the Isla Vista shooting a few months ago. We heard in the
aftermath the parents didn`t really have -- of the shooter didn`t really
have a way, a mechanism, a process, to work with law enforcement to ensure
that when they went to the shooter`s apartment, that they could seize his
firearms for just a short amount of time, just like a domestic violence
restraining order would happen, and make sure that whatever issues that he
might have, like a mental health issue, or substance abuse issue that might
trigger a violent act, are taken care of before he`s able to possess those
firearms, again. And potentially that could have stopped that shooting as
well as other domestic violence shootings, things like that, and suicides.
KORNACKI: One more question. I`m just curious. I mean, we all --
obviously the images and the emotions of Newtown are just permanently sort
of a part of all us. I wonder how is the town? How is Newtown now almost
two years later?
CLEMENTS: You know, the town is strong. Healing and moving forward as we
have been for the last 19 months. But to me, the heroes in our town are
the advocates who are standing up and saying, like Richard Martinez, not
one more. Advocates who I work with every single day in town like my mom
who is a survivor of the shooting and coming out in support as a survivor
and as a teacher to stand up and say that it`s enough, that we have to act.
And survivors and victims all around the country who are coming together
and building bridges between every type of community to show that we have -
- we can have more power than the gun lobby.
KORNACKI: All right. I appreciate the time tonight. Incredibly well
spoken, too, I have to say. Really, I wish at your age I had been half as
CLEMENTS: Well, it`s an honor to be on, especially tonight, you know, in
the wake of the passing of Jim Brady. He`s a hero to all of us in this
movement and in this country, and millions of activists around the country
hope to move forward his legacy of one day ending gun violence in America.
KORNACKI: I`m sure. I`m sure that mean a lot to him.
Sarah Clements is the founder and chairwoman of the Junior Newtown Action
Alliance. Thanks for joining us tonight. Appreciate that.
More to come on the show tonight:
There appears to be movement away from violence between Israel and Hamas at
least for the moment.
There was a big deal federal court ruling regarding Alabama and abortion
law today that may resonate elsewhere.
And former President Bill Clinton did something over the weekend that not
even he ever thought he`d be doing.
KORNACKI: Apparently, the Tea Party candidate for Senate in Mississippi
had so much fun barely losing to the establishment Republican that he wants
to do it all over again. Details ahead.
KORNACKI: There is important news from the war between Israel and Hamas in
the Gaza strip tonight. Late this afternoon, it was reported that Israel
and Hamas have agreed to a 72-hour truce. It was first proposed by Egypt.
The deal would allow the two sides to negotiate a longer-term cessation of
military hostilities. The truce would begin Tuesday at 8:00 a.m. local
time which is four hours from right now.
Promise of a halt to the deadly violence is, of course, tempered by the
brief history of the current hostilities. At least four cease-fires have
been broken since the war broke out back on July 8th. Most recently, which
was struck on Friday, crumbled within hours of its start. Shelling resumed
from both sides. A responsibility for that agreement`s failure was
disputed by both sides.
Earlier today, it had already been reported that Israel was ramping down
its military efforts. Israeli officials indicated that the mission to
destroy tunnels linking Gaza to Israel was nearly achieved. Israeli troops
were withdrawing its ground forces from Gaza on Sunday before news broke of
this latest truce.
The troop withdrawal came on the heels of another day of deadly shelling on
and near a U.N. shelter in Gaza where displaced civilians sought safety.
Ten people were reportedly killed.
In the wake of that incident, the U.S. State Department strongly condemned
the actions saying, quote, "The United States is appalled by today`s
disgraceful shelling --" excuse me. Excuse me, "The united States is
appalled by today`s disgraceful shelling outside a U.N. school in Rafah
sheltering some 3,000 displaced persons. The suspicion that militants are
operating nearby does not justify strikes to put at risk the lives of so
many innocent civilians."
Those civilian casualties added to the grim total on human life on this
war. Palestinian authorities say that at least 1,800 Palestinians have
been killed, 64 Israeli soldiers and three Israeli civilians have
reportedly been killed as well. All of those casualties have come since
Even today, as the 72-hour truce was being finalized, we were reminded how
fragile a cease-fire can to be maintained when violence in Jerusalem
claimed yet another life and injured three more. A man attacked a truck
using the excavator`s shovel to tip it over.
The fate of this latest truce is obviously murky at this hour.
Palestinians want a full and complete Israeli withdrawal from Gaza and an
end to the Israeli blockade of that territory. They want Hamas prisoners
to be released by Israel. They want international help rebuilding and
reconstructing Gaza. Israel wants Gaza to be completely demilitarized,
giving up all weapons.
For now, we will wait to see if and for how long the violence stops. Then,
we will see what more is possible.
Be right back.
KORNACKI: On June 25th of last year, "The Washington Post" got a scoop on
a story they had been doggedly chasing down for weeks. It was about a
governor in trouble. It was about a governor suspected of carrying out
official state actions in exchange for gifts.
And that day, "The Washington Post" hit (ph) it from reliable sources that
one of those gifts that the governor was received was a fancy new Rolex
watch worth somewhere in the neighborhood of $6,500, a Rolex that was
personally engraved with the inscription, "71st governor of Virginia."
That, of course, would be then-Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell, and that
Rolex has sort of come to symbolize the heart of the case against him.
That he performed official state actions for a wealthy businessman in
exchange for gifts like that $6,500 Rolex. Last week was the first week of
the Bob McDonnell corruption trial and now after more than a year of
waiting, we finally have gotten to lay our eyes on the Rolex watch in
This is the watch right here, you`re looking at it, the watch that Virginia
businessman Jonnie Williams bought for bob McDonnell.
You can see right there on the back of the watch is the inscription.
"Robert McDonnell, 71st governor of Virginia." There`s McDonnell, himself,
proudly displaying his Rolex in a photo that was texted to the wealthy
donor who bought it for him.
That watch was brought inside the courtroom last week during the trial and
was passed around among the jurors so each one could handle it and could
inspect it personally.
Today, the businessman who purchased that watch for Bob McDonnell was on
the stand for another day of testimony. The government still has to prove
that the gifts that McDonnell and his wife received from him were given in
exchange for official state actions.
But right now, any time you Google bob McDonnell, any time you Google him
from now and any point in the future, these are now the search results that
you`re going to get. A few years ago, they were talking about Bob
McDonnell ending up on the national GOP ticket someday, vide president,
president, who knew how high he`d go. But now, this is what it`s come to
We`ll be right back.
KORNACKI: Since 2010, since that historic midterm election that saw a huge
Republican tide not only in Congress, but state houses and state
legislatures across America, too, after the midterm elections, Republicans
controlled more state-level legislative seats than they had at any point
And in 21 states, Republicans controlled both chambers of the state
legislature and the governor`s mansion, complete control of state
government for Republicans in 21 states. Thanks to their 2010 midterm
One of the things that Republicans have been doing with that uncommon power
on the state level, something that this show has been reporting on for the
last 3 1/2 years, has been a drive at the state level to close down
abortion clinics. In multiple states around the country, legislatures have
passed nearly identical laws that place restrictions on abortion clinics
with the intent to shut them down, or at least to make it very hard for
them to stay open.
These are known as TRAP laws, one of the most frequently used TRAP laws
require doctors performing abortions at clinics have admitting privileges
at local hospitals. It is a requirement that may not sound like a big
deal, but one that has proven nearly impossible for many abortion clinics
and providers to fulfill.
Since 2010, Republican-controlled Statehouses have passed a version of this
particular TRAP law in Kansas, in Mississippi, North Dakota, Tennessee,
Alabama, Texas, Wisconsin, and just this year, in Louisiana and Oklahoma.
Same legislation, same potential, same intentional effects.
In Texas, this law has already resulted in the closure of half of all the
clinics in that state. In Oklahoma, likely shut down all but one clinic
for the entire state. In Louisiana, the law there passed just last month
will close all but one or two clinics in that state as well.
And in Alabama, that same law was likely to shut down all but two clinics
in the whole state -- two clinics for the state`s 2.5 million women.
In Alabama, Republican Governor Robert Bentley who won his seat in that
2010 Republican landslide, he has been very clear about his objectives for
abortion access in his state. He campaigned on a pledge to bring more
antiabortion legislation to the state of Alabama. When he was asked about
it in 2009, he said that he`d even pre-filed antiabortion legislation.
So, that`s the backdrop for some very big news that came just today. It
was a decision of a federal district court judge in Alabama to strike down
part of that state`s TRAP law, finding that the state`s case in favor of
the restrictions on abortion providers was, quote, "weak at best."
In a lengthy 172-page opinion, the federal judge referred to the history of
violence against abortion providers in the state which reduced the number
of doctors willing to take on the task. Quoting testimony from abortion
doctors in the state who continue to feel threatened finding that, quote,
"Against the backdrop of this history of violence, abortion providers and
women seeking abortions in Alabama today live and work in a climate of
extreme hostility to the practice of abortion."
Alabama`s Republican attorney general said today that his state will appeal
the decision. What happened today also comes just a week after the Fifth
Circuit Court blocked Mississippi`s version of the same law, which would
have closed the very last abortion clinic in that state. Fifth Circuit
ruled in that case that Mississippi was going too far in its effort to shut
down its only remaining clinic, that a state cannot close every last clinic
within its borders.
It was that very same court, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, that
earlier this year ruled in favor of the restrictions that have successfully
closed half of the clinics in Texas. And this week, Texas will be forced
to defend in court another challenge to those restrictions, which have
closed every clinic in Texas` Rio Grande Valley. That`s an area that`s as
big as the state of Connecticut. It`s a challenge that will ask the court
whether a law that effectively eliminates access to a legal procedure in an
area that big can stay on the books.
Joining us now is Nancy Northup. She`s president of the Center for
Nancy, thanks for being here tonight. So, this Alabama ruling, if you just
explain the meaning for abortion clinics in the state of Alabama, for women
in the state of Alabama, for the state of Alabama -- how final is this
NANCY NORTHUP, CENTER FOR REPRODUCTIVE RIGHTS: Well, it`s a huge win
because the federal court in Alabama called out the politicians that passed
this law for the underhanded tactics that they`re using and said this is
not a law about advancing women`s safety, it`s about a law that`s going to
hurt women`s health because it`s going to close clinics. And that the
state is unjustified in its reasoning, and it`s a very, very important
decision that comes after other positive decisions in this area that we`ve
KORNACKI: And can you -- can you explain -- I think for sort of the
layperson who`s just sort of following this maybe for the first time or
doesn`t follow it that seriously, when they hear this idea of laws on the
books that say, doctors have to have admitting privileges at local
hospitals. That probably sounds like a reasonable thing. All things being
equal, give one a doctor who has admitting privileges.
What is -- why is that such a difficult thing for these clinics to fulfill?
NORTHUP: Well, I think the most important thing to remember is groups like
the American Medical Association have come out against these type of laws
because they`re not medically necessary. And like the court in Alabama
today, they showed that these laws are really about shutting down the
clinics, because what they know is going to happen is that the hospitals
aren`t going to give admitting privileges because, again, the judge today
did such a beautiful job, really, in going through the horrific history of
violence in the state of Alabama. I mean, Alabama had the murder of an
KORNACKI: So, hospitals wouldn`t want to be associated with a doctor that
could potentially bring violence to the hospital or anything like that,
NORTHUP: Exactly. There`s a very hostile environment. The court goes
through that in their decision. And what`s happened is you go from the
violence that tried to close clinics in Alabama 20 years ago to this
attempt to do by the back door what couldn`t be done by the front. Which
is pass a law that sounds like a health and safety law, the AMA is saying
it`s not, and not necessary, and that`s a devious way to try to shut down
KORNACKI: And it sounds to me if I`m reading this right that far of the
decision here is basically, look, the Supreme Court through Roe v. Wade
says abortion is a legal procedure in the United States of America and you
cannot pass a law that effectively in a state effectively outlaws it by not
allowing clinics to open.
Do you think that logic that prevailed in Alabama today, when you look at
the challenge now taking place in Texas where an area that big, the Rio
Grande area, the size of Texas now, the clinics have been closed, do you
think that basic logic will prevail in Texas?
NORTHUP: Well, trial started today on another restriction in Texas which
you pointed out. That`s a restriction that`s so onerous it makes every
clinic in Texas have to be a mini hospital despite the fact abortion is one
of the safest procedures that there is. Despite the fact that one in three
women in the United States will make the decision that ending a pregnancy
is the right decision for her.
And in the Rio Grande Valley now, there is no clinic. It`s been closed.
KORNACKI: What are those -- you say they have to become a mini hospital.
What does that mean? What are they forcing them to do?
NORTHUP: Well, they have to have all of the kind of hall widths and
storage spaces and all kinds of regulations that doctors in private
practice who are doing similar -- so, for example, if you`re an OB/GYN and
do miscarriage completion in your office, similar procedure to an abortion
procedure, you don`t have to follow these regulations and be a mini
hospital. And that`s what shows and that`s what these courts are looking
at these comparisons and saying this isn`t about health and safety. If it
were, it would apply fair-handed to every similar type of medical
But they`re really about the fact that clinics would have to spend millions
to comply and know what that means is they will close down.
KORNACKI: So, how does this all get reconciled? You have the ruling in
Alabama today. Texas, earlier this year in Texas they upheld the
restrictions in the state. Other states ruled sort like we had in Alabama
today. Do these all at some point get reconciled so that there`s one sort
of definitive ruling on these TRAP laws?
NORTHUP: Well, we`re certainly looking for the court of appeals in Texas,
the federal court to reconsider that decision. But eventually, there`s
only one court that can decide what is the one law for the nation, and that
is the Supreme Court. And we are looking to that court to do what the
Alabama court did today, in a very well-reasoned 172 pages, which would say
when you look at the facts, when you look at what American Medical
Association is saying, these are unnecessary regulations. They`re
unjustified and they are really hurting women.
KORNACKI: When you look to the Supreme Court, you`re looking to one
justice it almost seems these days, Anthony Kennedy.
So, anyway, it`s a to be continued story. But I appreciate the time
Nancy Northup, president of the Center for Reproductive Rights, I
In the event you were under the impression that August was a sleepy month
in news and politics, there is in the great state of Kansas, things are
getting a little testy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MILTON WOLF (R), SENATE CHALLENGER: You`ve told Kansans, given your word
you`d give a debate. You said it multiple times in multiple places. You
told us you`re tough and trusted. I want you to keep your word. I want
you to debate.
SEN. PAT ROBERTS (R), KANSAS: Milton, Milton, this is not the time. We
have a regular scheduled event, listening tour event. This is not the way
to conduct ourselves.
WOLF: When would be the time?
ROBERTS: This is not the appropriate time.
WOLF: When would be the time, Senator? I`ll go anywhere you`d like.
You`ve given your word to debate. Let`s just debate.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: For the record, there was never a debate, but those two guys are
going to be on the ballot facing off against each other tomorrow. The
whole story, coming up after this.
KORNACKI: One of the strangest and most unlikely stories of enemies turned
friends you will ever hear, straight ahead.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRIS MCDANIEL (R), MISSISSIPPI SENATE CHALLENGER: We all witnessed what a
segment of our party did in the weeks leading up to the 24th. We saw
despicable acts of race-baiting. We saw despicable allegations from those
that are supposed to be leaders in our party. We saw the dirty tricks. We
saw the dirty money come from Washington, D.C., whether it was from
Bloomberg or other Republican United States senators.
Through the acts that they took, the actions that they took, they moved
more than 40,000 Democrats into the Republican primary and in so doing,
mistakes were made. Some of those weren`t mistakes. Some of it was very
intentional. What we`re going to show is a pattern of conduct on the part
of a number of people that demonstrates a problem with this election. The
evidence is clear.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: The Mississippi Republican Senate primary race is the primary
race that never ceases to amaze. Also that never ceases, period.
Today, Chris McDaniel who narrowly lost to incumbent Republican Senator
Thad Cochran in June 24th runoff, today, Chris McDaniel announced he plans
to prolong the contest even further. McDaniel`s legal team filed a formal
challenge to the state`s executive committee to prove that McDaniel and not
Cochran was the rightful winner of that runoff six weeks ago and that he
should be on the ballot as the Republican Party`s nominee this November.
McDaniel`s legal team argues the votes that put the six-term Republican
Senator Cochran over the edge in the June 24th runoff were illegal or
questionable because they contend many of the predominantly black
Democratic voters that the Cochran campaign turned out on June 24th had
previously according to the McDaniel team had previously voted in the June
3rd Democratic primary.
And state law says that you cannot vote in one party`s primary and then
turn around and vote in the other party`s runoff. McDaniel`s team is
pushing that argument hard, although they have yet to prove that anywhere
near enough illegal votes were cast to potentially affect the outcome of
But their legal Hail Mary pass is a reminder that this summer of strange
primary elections still isn`t over.
And in fact, the next one to keep an eye on is happening tomorrow in
Kansas, that`s where Pat Roberts is generally expected to win his party`s
nomination for a fourth term, but his team party challenger may have him
sweating a little bit right now on the eve of the primary.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WOLF: You told Kansans, you`ve given your word you`ll give a debate. You
said it multiple times in multiple places. You told us you`re tough, and
tested, and trusted. I want you to keep your word. I want you to debate.
ROBERTS: Milton, Milton, this is not the time. We have a regular
scheduled event, listening tour event. This is not the way to conduct
WOLF: When would be the time?
ROBERTS: This is not the appropriate time.
WOLF: When would be the time, Senator? I`ll go anywhere you`d like.
You`ve given your word to debate. Let`s just debate.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: That was Senator Pat Roberts being confronted in the street last
week by his Republican primary challenger, Milton Wolf, then scurrying away
from him as quickly as possible.
Milton Wolf is actually, believe it or not, a distant cousin of President
Barack Obama. He`s also a radiologist who caused a stir earlier this year
when it was revealed he used to post X-rays of some of this patients`
various ailments on Facebook.
But Pat Roberts, incumbent senator, hasn`t exactly done himself favors in
this race. He spends a lot more time in Washington than he does in Kansas.
That`s a big no-no especially in the Tea Party era. It turns out his
official primary residence in Kansas, the one that he, himself, claims, is
a friend`s recliner sofa.
The Senate Conservatives Fund, and other outside spending groups, have
spent heavily trying to knock off Roberts tomorrow. The polls have been
tightening a little bit in the last few weeks. Pat Roberts fits the
profile of the kind of Republican incumbent who`s been caught sleeping by
the Tea Party in one primary after the other in these past few years,
especially after House Majority Eric Cantor`s shocking primary loss this
spring, this Kansas race is one political observers have been keeping a
close eye on. Could there be one more big Tea Party surprise in the works
That primary in Kansas is tomorrow. It`s along with primaries in Michigan,
Missouri, and Washington state. We`re going to have updates. We`re going
to have complete results for them for you right here on this show tomorrow
KORNACKI: A memorial service was held over the weekend and the eulogy that
was delivered at it was, in one word, extraordinary. Not really for the
words that were said, although they were certainly nice. But it was
extraordinary for the simple fact that this eulogy was ever delivered. And
actually, I`m not sure there is a word that captures how baffling and
bizarre and just plain unlikely it was.
This is David Brock. If you know who he is, you probably think of him as a
lefty. He started something called Media Matters, it`s a watchdog group
aimed at combating conservative misinformation. He also created a
Democratic super PAC that`s called American Bridge and a group called
Correct the Record. They are dedicated to defending Hillary Clinton
against attacks from Republicans.
But David Brock wasn`t always a man of the left. Back in the early 1990s,
he was young and ambitious conservative journalist, and he was looking to
make a name for himself. If you were looking to name a name for yourself
on the right in the early 1990s, there was one obvious way to go about it -
- go after Bill Clinton.
When Clinton was elected president in 1992, the resistance from the right
was instant, it was heated, and it was often way, way over the top.
Suggestions that he`d been involved in drug running, that he`d been
involved in murder, things like that.
There was a lot of money behind this resistance, too, and a lot of money to
be made by channeling it. This is how David Brock first got famous. He
linked up with a magazine called "The American Spectator." This was a
fairly small and very conservative publication.
But the man who was bankrolling it has big plans. His name was Richard
Mellon Scaife. He was a right wing billionaire who inherited a fortune
from his father. Scaife poured that money into publishing and for decades,
he had been the single biggest supporter "The American Spectator" magazine.
He was basically the guy keeping this thing alive.
Like the rest of the right, Scaife just couldn`t stand Bill Clinton. He
couldn`t believe he`d ever been elected. He believed he was unworthy of
the presidency and he was convinced, absolutely convinced, there were all
sorts of deep, dark secreted back in Arkansas that would bring Clinton down
if they ever came to light.
So that`s what Scaife want "The American Spectator" to do, to do the
digging that would unearth the scandal that would destroy Bill Clinton.
Scaife and his team called this "The Arkansas Project", and there is where
David Brock came in. He was that young ambitious conservative reporter who
was going to go out there and going to get Richard Mellon Scaife the big
juicy scandal that they were sure was out there.
And Brock came through for them. This was his big scoop in the January,
1994 issue of "The American spectator." He had gone to Arkansas, he had
gotten four state troopers to say that they had arranged and facilitated
all sorts of extra marital encounters for Clinton when he`d been the
The story caused a bit of a stir but actually it wasn`t huge news. By that
point, people already knew that Bill Clinton maybe hadn`t always been faith
to feel his marriage. It got bigger. The story mentioned one of the
women`s first names -- Paula.
And the real Paula got upset about this, decided she wanted to come forward
and some very well-connected conservatives wanted her to come forward, too.
This is how the world met Paula Corbin Jones. In 1994, she publicly
accused Clinton of making unwanted sexual advances and sued him for sexual
There was a question of whether she could actually to that, could sue a
president over something like that. Fortunately for Paula Jones, she got
help from a legal team, the legal team with deep connections to Richard
So, she got to go forward with her lawsuit and then her lawyers came up
with a strategy. They wanted to ask Bill Clinton under oath about a bunch
of different women he was rumored to have been involved with, to prove a
pattern -- at least that was their justification for doing that. They`d
heard rumors about a white House intern named Monica Lewinsky so they asked
him about it and he denied it -- or seemed to deny it.
Then Ken Starr, the independent counsel who`d been investigating
Whitewater, remember that thing? He`d been investigating whitewater but he
caught wind of this and the next thing you knew, Starr put out a sordid
report which was basically a catalog of Bill Clinton`s sexual habits and
the Republican-controlled House impeached him.
That was American politics in the Clinton era. A conservative movement
intent on taking down a president who it believed had no legitimacy. And
Richard Mellon Scaife was at the heart of the movement. He is who Hillary
Clinton probably had in mind when she went on the "Today" show when she had
this to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY CLINTON, THEN-FIRST LADY: Look at the very people who are involved
in this. They have popped up in other settings. This is -- the great
story here for anybody willing to find it and write about it and explain it
is this vast right wing conspiracy that has been conspiring against my
husband since the day he announced for president. A few journalists have
kind of caught on to it and explained it, but it has not yet been fully
revealed to the American public and actually, you know, in a bizarre sort
of way this may do it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: The "vast right wing conspiracy." Hillary Clinton took an awful
lot of heat for saying that, but she and her husband felt it deeply. What
started with Richard Mellon Scaife and "The Arkansas Project" and David
Brock talking to those state troopers, it ultimately led to Bill Clinton
being impeached and having all of those embarrassing details from his
private life aired for all the world to snicker at.
Richard Mellon Scaife and the right did not succeed in destroying Bill
Clinton in the 1990s, but they sure tried their best and they sure
inflicted their share of damage.
Well, Richard Mellon Scaife passed away, and he was 82 years old. And this
past Saturday, on his estate near Pittsburgh, there was a memorial service.
The eulogy was delivered by a man he had specially requested to take part
in the services -- a man with whom he had forged a late in life friendship
that few people could figure out. That man was Bill Clinton.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT: If someone had asked me on the day I left
the white House --
CLINTON: -- what the single most unlikely thing I would ever do, this
would rank high on the list.
CLINTON: Our differences are important. Our political differences, our
philosophical differences, our religious differences, our racial and ethnic
differences, they`re important. They help us to define who we are. But
they don`t to keep us at arm`s length from others.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: I guess there`s a lesson in here, something about how if Bill
Clinton and Richard Mellon Scaife could end up coming together, there`s
hope for all of us. Or maybe that it`s just in life, sometimes crazy
things just happen.
That does it for us tonight. We`ll see you again tomorrow.
Now, it`s time for "THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL".
Good evening to you, Lawrence.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
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