'The Rachel Maddow Show' for Monday, December 15th, 2014
Read the transcript to the Monday show
Past transcripts by month
Show: THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW
Date: December 15, 2014
Guest: Josh Koskoff, Ziva Branstetter
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Ari. That was an amazing
interview with that police union captain. That was amazing. Well done.
ARI MELBER, THE CYCLE: Thank you.
And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour.
OK, first things first. This is not a story about football. Whether
or not you like football or pay any attention to football at all, I`m just
saying, this may be helpful to understand just in terms of understanding
the news right now and understanding kind of the American zeitgeist right
Whether or not you care about football, you may want to know about
this guy and what has just happened to him. His name is Johnny Manziel.
As you can tell, he is very, very pleased with himself. They call him
He was an excellent college quarterback in Texas. And this is his
first season in the NFL. The thing you see him doing there in the video is
the money -- like the money gesture, right? That`s his signature move,
Look what I did. I`m so great. Money. His kind of signature style.
Super confident. Super cocky.
Every time he does something good, he wants you to know that`s money
in the bank for him. Johnny Manziel.
Mr. Manziel now plays for the professional football team in Cleveland.
And yesterday, for the first time in a really key game at home, Cleveland
decided that they were going to start Johnny Manziel as quarterback. So,
it`s his first ever career NFL start.
And Johnny Manziel and the Cleveland Browns lost, 30-0. He threw no
touchdowns. His team scored no points at all. The only good throws he had
were to the other team. With him leading the Cleveland offense, Cleveland
was so terrible on offense that only once in the entire game did the Browns
even cross over onto the other team`s side of the field -- once in the
And, you know, Cleveland is not a good team. And they have not been a
good team for a long time. Usually, if you are like me, at least, you want
to root for the bad team, right? You want to root for the underdog.
But that is harder to do when this is the face of the team, right?
When a guy this arrogant, right, this cocky is the face of the team. So,
cocky, cocky Johnny Manziel. Mr. Johnny Football, he had a terrible start
in the NFL.
The other team that beat him and beat his team, yes, they were all
doing this. The other team, all the opposing players who kept knocking him
down throughout the game, all the fans from the other team, the Cincinnati
team that beat Manziel and the Browns, they had a great time, right? Not
just beating Manziel and his team but taunting this guy in particular.
They are all doing that little money gesture the whole time.
Arrogance and trash talk and being cocky are run-of-the-mill thing in
sports. But there`s one bottom line rule about that. If you`re going to
be super cocky, you better be really good.
That was true this weekend for one very full of himself Texas
quarterback. It was also true this weekend for one very junior Texas
Politics is almost wrapped up for the year. House has gone home.
Senate is done to the last waning days. Friday night, it looked like an
orderly plan had been worked out between the two sides about how they were
going to finish up for the year. The senators would be allowed to go home
Friday night. They come back Monday morning. On Monday, they`d take up
the bill to keep the government funded for most of the next year, that bill
that passed the House with all the drama the night before.
And then after they did that Monday morning and the remaining day or
two before they wrapped up for the year, senators decided -- before
senators decided they could no longer take working anymore and they had to
go home, they got another day or two after the funding bill. Maybe
Democrats would have time to get in a few more nominations before they
handed over control of the Senate to the Republicans, right? Maybe?
Once the Republicans take control, presumably no Obama nominee will
ever get confirmed again. So, the Democrats thought they may be able to
squeeze in a few more nominations before the end of the session.
They`d go away for the weekend, come back Monday and vote on the
spending plan and a few more nominations. That was the plan Friday night.
Senator Mitch McConnell seen hopping into an elevator and saying to
Capitol Hill reporters on Friday night -- Bye. I`ll see you Monday.
But then, Senator Ted Cruz of Texas decided to pull one of his
patented Senator Ted Cruz of Texas stunts. He pulled a parliamentary
maneuver late Friday night which threw the whole plan out the window. The
senators, in fact, would not be allowed to go home for the weekend.
Instead, because of Ted Cruz, they would have to stay in Washington. They
had, in fact, to stay in session on Saturday for ten straight hours of
voting and parliamentary procedure because of Ted Cruz.
Now, what Ted Cruz held everything up for was a symbolic vote. A
symbolic -- meaning, you know, substantively meaningless vote on President
Obama`s immigration action. Now, there`s no reason why they had to take
this symbolic vote now as they are facing all these other deadlines in the
end of the session. There`s no reason it had to be now. Ted Cruz just
decided he wanted it to be now.
Had it passed, it would have done nothing. It didn`t pass. It failed
by a huge margin.
So, what was that about? By forcing that vote to happen this weekend,
what Ted Cruz did substantively was one thing. He did Democrats a huge
favor by keeping the Senate in session over the weekend, thereby giving the
Democrats more time when the Senate is in session and the Democrats are
still in control.
Specifically, he let the Democrats start the clock ticking two days
earlier than they otherwise were going to, on a bunch of the nominations
they were going to try to squeeze in at the end of the year.
The question about all of these nominees now is not whether or not
they`re going to pass, whether or not they can get a majority vote. It`s
just whether or not there`s enough time, whether or not they can get
through all the procedural hurdles and the enforced waiting time before the
Senate recesses. Ted Cruz by doing what he did this weekend just gave the
Democrats two extra days to get all of their nominees through.
It is possible that more than 20 additional people will be confirmed
by the Democrats who otherwise would not have had a chance because of what
Ted Cruz did this weekend, which again had no point and failed.
And so, you know, even if you don`t like football, what just happened
here is Ted Cruz, the super full of himself rookie quarterback from Texas
is now laying on the ground in his back having completely failed an the
largest possible stage and everybody else in politics is now standing over
him going like this. Taunting him about how full of himself he is and how
bad he is at this game, which is a bad combination in sports, in politics
and in life.
So, here`s Senator Chuck Schumer lording it over him. "I was worried
Dr. Vivek Murthy might not get confirmed as surgeon general, but thanks to
Ted Cruz, looks like he will."
Senator Harry Reid`s office also thanked Senator Ted Cruz for
singlehandedly hoping to advance two dozen Obama nominees. "I mean this
sincerely, thank you, Senator."
Here`s Barbara Boxer, "Ted Cruz, by his shenanigans, gave us a
wonderful opening to do nominations. He gave us an opening, and we took
But it wasn`t just Democrats, the proverbial opposing team taunting
Ted Cruz. It was also his own team.
Republican Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah, quote, "You should have an end
goal in sight if you`re going to do these types of things, and I don`t see
an end goal other than irritating a lot of people."
Senator Susan Collins, Republican of Maine, "I don`t understand the
approach he`s taking, and I think it`s very unfortunate and
Senator Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire says, quote, "I think this is
Asked what he thought about what Senator Cruz did this weekend,
Republican Senator Lindsey Graham responded, quote, "I haven`t seen Harry
Reid smile this much in years and I didn`t particularly like it."
So, Congress might have been entirely over by now. It would have at
least been wrapping up a lot faster had Senator Ted football not got be his
brilliant idea this weekend to do whatever it is he thought he was doing
with all the confidence in the world.
But as it stands, the spending bill passed as is. They passed the
same one the House passed the night before. The government is not going to
shut down. And because of Ted Cruz, Democrats are going to get 20 or 25
more Obama nominees through before they give up control of the United
The most high-profile of the nominees that they are going to and have
gotten through is this man, Dr. Vivek Murthy, President Obama`s nominee for
more than a year now, to be surgeon general of the United States. Dr.
Murthy`s nomination was approved by a vote of the full Senate earlier
tonight -- thank you, Ted Cruz. Dr. Murthy`s nomination had been stalled
for more than a year because the NRA had decided to wage war on his
Dr. Vivek Murthy had never been an activist on gun issues or
particularly involved in either side of the gun rights, gun reform debate,
but the NRA decided they were going to make an example out of him, make a
big show out of opposing his nomination because of a couple of times he had
expressed his opinion online that gun violence should be seen as a public
health matter in the United States.
Well, the NRA decided that was a bridge too far. They`ve been
fighting his nomination all along.
Today, before the vote -- before today`s vote, the NRA announced
they`d be scoring the vote on this nomination, meaning voting for him would
hurt any lawmakers` NRA ratings. If they cast a vote for this guy, that
would mean they couldn`t get a perfect rating from the NRA.
But even with that threat, the Senate voted today to confirm him
anyway. And so, finally, as a country, we`re about to get a surgeon
general. We haven`t had one for a year and a half.
To be clear, though, Vivek Murthy is not a gun control activist. He`s
not an activist on gun issues. There`s no reason substantively that his
nomination should be seen as a win for the gun reform side. Except for the
political fact that in order to get him as surgeon general, you had to beat
the NRA, and they beat the NRA. The NRA lost this one tonight when he was
And that comes as the country marks two years since the elementary
school massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut, in
December 2012. It`s been two years.
And today, the families of nine of the kids and adults who were killed
that day, and one of the adults who was shot multiple times that day but
survived, today, two years on, those families did something that, if it
works, wouldn`t be just a political threat to the NRA and its reputation,
like Vivek Murthy was, but rather an existential threat to the NRA and its
grip on our politics.
Back in 2004, family members of those killed by the D.C. sniper filed
a lawsuit about the gun that that sniper had used. He apparently obtained
that gone from a gun store which said he had shoplifted it. He stole it.
He never paid for the gone. Must have somehow just taken off their shelf
without them knowing because they don`t have any record of selling anything
The families of the people killed by the D.C. sniper sued that gun
store saying way too many guns mysteriously walked off the shelves of that
store, were supposedly stolen and were therefore off the books and
untraceable and used in way too many crimes. The family sued that gun
store for that and they sued the manufacturer of the gun that was used in
the D.C. sniper shootings, to say that this lawsuit -- that this store lost
track of so many guns and had so many guns, quote/unquote, "stolen" from
them, that the manufacturer should not have distributed guns to that store.
The manufacturer should have distributed guns to that store, the
manufacturer should known that that store was too irresponsible to be
selling their product.
So, they filed that lawsuit and the D.C. sniper case, and they won.
Both the gun store and gun manufacturer had to pay out to those families.
And when that happened in 2004, the NRA freaked out. This was a decade
ago. The NRA decided to lobby Congress to pass a law in 2005, George W.
Bush signed it. It`s a law that basically tries to ban those kind of
It makes guns a special type of product. You can sue all kinds of
makers of all kinds of products in this country except the people who make
guns. This law tried to shield gun manufacturers from being sued for any
Well, now, the Newtown families, ten of the Newtown families are
putting that to the test. Their new lawsuit filed today says the AR-15
Bushmaster rifle used to kill all those kids and those staffers at Sandy
Hook Elementary, that gun should not have been sold to the general public
because it is designed for and only appropriate for military use or law
And their argument in the lawsuit is based an some very stark and very
specific history. Look at this, this is from the lawsuit. After World War
II, the U.S. Army analyzed over 3 million casualty reports from World War I
and World War II. Its final report observed that modern combat occurred at
short range and was highly mobile. These findings led the U.S. Army to
develop specifications for a new combat weapon -- a lightweight firearm
that would hold a large detachable magazine and rapidly expel ammunition
with enough velocity to penetrate body armor and steel helmets.
So, those were the specifications that the Army asked for. Quote, "A
company called Armalite designed the AR-15 in response. Lightweight, air-
cooled gas operated magazine fed, the AR-15`s capacity for rapid fire with
limited recoil meant its lethality was not dependent on good aim or ideal
The military ultimately adopted the AR-15 as its standard issue
service rifle, calling it the M-16. After Armalite sold its licensing
rights, Colt took over its military contract and began manufacturing the M-
16. Today, Colt remains the largest supplier of combat rifles to the
Bushmaster, meanwhile, holds the distinction of being the largest
supplier of combat rifles to civilians. When AR-15s or M-16s are
distributed in a military context or to law enforcement, the lawsuit traces
all the specialized training and supervision and controls that soldiers in
law enforcement officers get on the proper handling and use and storage of
those weapons. In contrast, when you give them to the untrained general
public, it`s a free-for-all.
"Bushmaster knew or should have known that the sale of assault rifles
in the civilian market posed an unreasonable and egregious risk of physical
injury to others. Bushmaster knew or should have known of the civilian
population`s poor track record of safely securing weapons. A mass casualty
event such as the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School was within the
scope of the risk created by Bushmasters manufacturer and sale of the AR-15
to the civilian market." That was filed today.
So, today was a bad day for the NRA in Washington, when they lost this
political fight that they picked against Vivek Murthy to be surgeon
general. Vivek Murthy is our new surgeon general. Today was a bad day in
Washington for the NRA, but today was a really bad day for the NRA in
Connecticut when this potentially game-changing lawsuit was filed against
them by the families from Sandy Hook.
Joining us is Josh Koskoff. He`s one of the lawyers who`s
representing those 10 Newtown families who filed that wrongful death suits
Mr. Koskoff, thanks for joining us.
JOSH KOSKOFF, LAWYER FOR THE FAMILIES: Thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: Did I -- did I roughly explain the argument?
KOSKOFF: I might as well go home. That was really good.
MADDOW: Well, I was quoting what you wrote.
What is the ultimate goal here? I look at the 2005 law that President
Bush signed and I thought that law was to preclude this kind of fight
against the gun industry ever.
KOSKOFF: It was. And I had never handled a gun case before. And
this is my first gun case. When I started looking into these cases and saw
that law, first I thought somebody had typed something up purposefully to
make me angry, and to give me no hope.
And -- but this law is a broad immunity. But like all immunities,
your goal as a lawyer, especially one who is representing people like as
deserving and as shattered and as heartbroken as my clients are, is to find
a way to, through that immunity, and as hard work, I guess would have it,
not by me, per se, but by people I work with, we discovered a clear path
through the immunity, and not only that. I mean -- so, it really came
together for us.
So, the NRA is powerful interest, obviously. You touched on it. This
is an industry that makes the world`s most dangerous product, yet
ironically you can`t sue them when that product is defective. Yet, you can
sue a pillow manufacturer for designing a bad fellow.
MADDOW: Right. Your -- when you say you never handled a gun case
before, you`re not a lawyer who`s come up through this part of the
movement, right, you haven`t been an advocacy lawyer on this issue. We`ve
seen that happened in other areas of the law. You have people who are sort
of within the movement, have come up, part of a grand strategy, right, and
who do the next agreed upon thing. We see this, for example, in gay rights
cases and stuff.
But then, often times what happens, the cases that break things open,
whether it`s abortion rights or gay rights or other kinds of civil rights
and perhaps gun rights, I guess, are people who just decide that what
everybody else is fighting about is not the right way to go.
You are sort of charting your own course here.
KOSKOFF: Well, I actually -- that`s probably true. I think you get
sucked as a lawyer, and it happens to me, too, if I`m trying a certain type
of case time and again, you start to lose your creativity and your
imagination with the law. And it was helpful we weren`t burdened by the
failures or difficulties and hurdles of the law.
We were -- when we saw it, we were shocked, but sometimes that
combination of finding something really difficult and representing people
that are so worthy, all it does to you as a lawyer is make you want to
fight harder and to find a way.
And we found that way, Rachel. I`m pretty sure we found our way. And
it was enough so that I could say to my clients, you know what? We`ve got
a case here. And it would have been heartbreaking to tell them we didn`t
have a case, but I would have done that if we didn`t find a way.
MADDOW: Do you expect that there`s any risk if you go forward with
this and you lose it, is there any risk that a ruling against you, if you
don`t succeed here, that it could set back the effort for gun reform by
enshrining something in law that right now is ambiguous?
KOSKOFF: You know what, if you worry too much about what could go
wrong, you would never do things that make change and go right.
And so, I think that a lot of my colleagues who would say they
wouldn`t take this case because of fear of that or because it`s too hard,
and that`s perfectly reasonable. But my feeling was, if we weren`t going
to handle this case in Connecticut, which happened in our own backyard, you
know, then we might as well just fold them up.
So, no, I`m not worried because, (a), the status of the law on guns is
not that great, you know?
KOSKOFF: With the immunity that you reference.
And we have to keep testing these immunities that are protective of
big industry because things change over time. You know, once upon a time,
there wasn`t massacre every six months. And so, now, it`s apparent that
these weapons are used disproportionately in these massacres. So, it`s no
longer acceptable to say, well, we didn`t know. Or, look, some crazy
personal did it, you know?
MADDOW: Right. Exactly, the fact that this sense of recurrence,
dread, and deja vu every time we see the next headline about another one of
these incidents is a change that happens in the hearts of judges as well.
Josh Koskoff is one of the lawyers representing 10 Connecticut
families against a wrongful death suit against the manufacturer of the
Bushmaster AR-15 that was used in the Sandy Hook massacre, this is an
ambitious legal strategy, really interesting one, Josh. Thanks for helping
us understand it.
KOSKOFF: Thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: All right. I should tell you that we reached out to the
company that makes the Bushmaster AR-15 tonight for comment on this case.
They said they cannot comment on ongoing litigation. We`ll keep asking,
All right. Stay with us. We`ll be right back.
MADDOW: So, an entire roomful of dedicated professional journalists
and TV producers debated the merits of one of our news stories tonight,
decided that it was frankly tasteless and beyond the pale, and then
insisted that I make room for it on tonight`s show.
It is truly tasteless and beyond pale. It`s also too amaze balls not
to include in tonight`s show, and it`s coming upright at the end of the
show with a little advanced regret on my part. Still, it`s coming.
MADDOW: We should have seen it coming this summer. We should have
seen it coming when Senator Tom Coburn said he objected to the plans to
build a new V.A. health care facility in his state because the planned
facility in Tulsa, Oklahoma, he said, was too nice for the veterans. He
complained to the local press in Oklahoma, quote, "They`re building a Taj
And so, Oklahoma veterans had their home state senator to thank for
trying to block a new health care facility for Oklahoma veterans because
Senator Coburn thought it was too nice for them. So, we should have seen
But when Senator Tom Coburn took to the floor of the Senate tonight to
single-handedly block a veteran`s bill, to try to stop veteran suicide,
this bill already passed the House. It has almost unanimous support in the
Senate. It is 100 percent bipartisan. When Senator Coburn went to the
floor tonight to explain that he didn`t care how much support this thing
had, he personally was going to block that bill, what I did not expect was
his rambling and emotional incoherence when he tried to explain himself.
Watch this. This is why veterans don`t get the enhanced suicide
prevention measures that they got everybody else to agree to. This is why.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. TOM COBURN (R), OKLAHOMA: My grandfather was awarded the Croix
de Guerre, the highest honor the French give for his work during World War
I also would state that as a physician, I know suicide all too well.
I have failed patients in the past doing everything I knew to do. I`ve
treated patients in the past with the demons that these young men and women
When every veteran, regardless of how long his hair is, or how
unshaven, or how scraggly he looks, or how nice he looks, is greeted with a
"yes, sir" or "yes, ma`am", is greeted with a smile at every veteran
facility, is treated with the respect that they deserve because they served
and some of us didn`t.
My heartbreaks for the people who commit suicide. You know what it
is? They find no relief anywhere else except death. There`s no answer for
them. We don`t give it to `em. We have failed `em. I personally have
Events, catastrophic events, depression and situations lead people to
suicide. Not any one individual. They are searching for an answer that we
have failed to give them. They are searching for the support and the
nurturing and the love that needs to be there.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Does anybody have any idea substantively what Tom Coburn is
He`s about to leave the Senate, he gave this speech, this incoherent
speech on the Senate floor today about how much his heartbreaks over people
committing suicide and how much veterans need more support, and then
something about the French and his grandpa and smiling at long haired man
and the relief of death, and his own failure as he goes on and on about his
own failures, and then he cried a little bit, he got a little choked up,
and then personally blocked the bipartisan, nearly unanimously supported
modest little best practices bill that the veterans group say will make the
difference to stop 22 veterans a day from killing themselves.
Nobody else has an objection at all. Just Tom Coburn who is leaving
the Senate. This is the last thing he will ever do in the United States
Senate. A speech about the demons and his own failures and him blocking
the veterans suicide bill while talking about himself.
And, you know, they`re going to pass this thing next year when Tom
Coburn is gone. They`re going to bring it up with the same language and
they`re going to pass it in the House unanimously again and they`re going
to pass it in the Senate unanimously because Tom Coburn will be gone. Once
he is gone, they will pass this thing and it will become law.
But this is what Tom Coburn will be remembered for forever.
Twenty-two veterans a day, Senator. Sleep well.
MADDOW: So, there`s two terrible and dramatic standoffs in today`s
news, one international, one national.
The international standoff, of course, was the Sydney, Australia,
situation. A gunman took hostage 17 employees and customers, held them for
more than 16 hours. The man had put up a black Islamic banner of some kind
in the window of the cafe. But he does not seem to have been tied to any
known terrorist groups. As an individual, he had lots of legal trouble.
He was out on bail on unrelated but serious legal charges.
That hostage standoff ended with the hostage taker and two of his
hostages killed. Four other people were wounded. That siege was a
terrible overnight ordeal that brought out a huge police presence in
But again, that one is over. The gunman in that case has been killed.
That one is resolved. That`s the international one.
The domestic standoff is already significantly more lethal and, at
this hour, not resolved, because the suspect is still on the loose. This
is the one that`s been going on today in Pennsylvania. It started with a
series of shootings in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania. Tonight, the
manhunt in this case was extended from Montgomery County into Bucks County,
Authorities say they are searching for this man, 35-year-old Bradley
Stone. He`s from Pennsburg, Pennsylvania. He`s suspected in three
shootings in three different locations today -- shootings that left his ex-
wife dead as well, as five other people. So, six all together. Beyond his
ex-wife, all five of the other victims are reported to have been members of
his ex-wife`s family.
Now, the district attorney in Montgomery County says the suspected
should be considered armed and dangerous, has advised residents of
Pennsburg, Pennsylvania, where the man lives, to remain inside their homes
and keep their doors locked.
But, again, one of the very alarming things about this despite a high
body count is that this is an unresolved situation at this point. Six
people dead already, it seems to be rooted in a domestic conflict. But the
man suspected of killing all of those people is still at large.
Stay here with us at MSNBC. We`ll keep you posted as we learn more.
MADDOW: He was trying to get up off the gurney.
Witnesses at the time testify that the man, quote, "was trying to get
up and we had him struck down and take down and wouldn`t let him." He was,
quote, "arching his back". He tried to get up.
We knew the night it happened, in April, that the execution in
Oklahoma had gone wrong somehow. We knew that in the 43 minutes it took
that Oklahoma prisoner to die, we know that he writhed and called out and
gasped, all while he was supposed to be unconscious and feeling nothing.
In the midst of that 43 minutes and him not dying the way he was
supposed to, state officials eventually pulled the curtains so the
witnesses couldn`t see what was happening.
Then, we know that they attempted to call off that execution. They
attempted to try to stop killing him after they had already started. We
know that the governor`s office had told the state prison to stop killing
the guy who was writhing on the gurney and not dying, but that he
eventually did die of a heart attack. We knew all of this from what
witnesses said about that night in April. What they`d been able to see
before that curtain was pull down.
But over the weekend, a new court filing told us things that we did
not know before about the case. And this new court papers, the warden of
the state prison describes the scene of that execution as, quote, "a bloody
mess". We now know they made more than a dozen attempts to set an I.V.
line. The doctor that had been called in to the execution that night said,
quote, "someone asked me about putting in another line. I said I wouldn`t
attempt it. I couldn`t. I didn`t think I could get another line in and I
wasn`t going to attempt to."
The doctor did, anyway, try to put the I.V. in again to the prisoner`s
groin. Quote, "I do remember that the doctor going over there to this
would be the left groin and try to get the needle stuck in there and did
get a needle, and I don`t know where it got at, but he got a needle in
there and blood came out of the back of it, and got all over the back of
his coat and jacket and shirt."
The doctor then said that he had, quote, "get enough money out of this
to go buy a new jacket."
Court filing also shed some light on what happened after the execution
was at least temporarily called off. The doctor said he told the staff on
site that it was not possible. The doctor said he could have started CPR
and advanced cardiac life support, but he did not.
The paramedic there was asked why those measures didn`t happen said,
quote, because the purpose of being there was to provide an execution, and
we were told not to reverse it.
When Oklahoma set out to do a double execution back in April, they
were going to kill this first guy and then they had another guy standby who
was going to be killed just hours or even minutes later. When they decided
that they were going to do a double header execution in April, the
Department of Corrections, apparently, had decided, for that night, that
they would hunt around on the Internet to find a drug combination that they
thought would work to kill those two men.
According to this new court filing, the person who researched and came
up with this experimental formula the state had never used before, found
it, quote, "on Wiki leaks or whatever it is."
In October, Oklahoma called off another scheduled execution in part
because they were still trying to get ahold of drugs or some combination of
drugs with which they could kill more prisoners. Now, the state says that
next execution will happen on January 15th.
Here`s the thing, though -- the man who is scheduled to die on January
15th, he`s the guy who was scheduled to go second that night back in April.
He was scheduled to go second the night that the man tried to get up off
the gurney and they tried to stop killing him and it was a bloody mess and
all of the rest. They called off the second planned execution that night
after the first one went so wrong.
But, now, that man who was waiting to die that night and who was
spared because of how badly the first one went, now, he`s scheduled to go
next. Oklahoma will try again on January 15th with whatever combination of
drugs they decide to settle on. Whatever they find on, you know, Wiki
leaks or whatever. Amazing new information in that Oklahoma case.
Joining us now is Ziva Branstetter, enterprise editor for "Tulsa
World", where reporters have been digging into this -- the death penalty
system into this particular execution for months now.
Ziva Branstetter, thanks for being here. It`s nice to have you here.
ZIVA BRANSTETTER, TULSA WORLD ENTEPRISE EDITOR: Thank you, Rachel.
It`s good to be here.
MADDOW: So, what are the substantively new details or factual -- I
guess factual bits of this story that we didn`t know before these new
revelations this weekend?
BRANSTETTER: Well, I think I was surprised to hear the warden say
that the affidavit she signed saying she would follow the department of
corrections policies, that she essentially controlled this whole process.
That she said, in her words, she gist signed it. She didn`t have anything,
really, to do with choosing the drugs, nor did the Department of
It appeared that attorneys were in charge of choosing which drugs to
execute Clayton Lockett, which is not what we were led to believe.
MADDOW: And, honestly, the thing about WikiLeaks, what they`re
explaining there is that they went online, looked around to see what
publicly-available information might be out there about how you might kill
people with available drugs? And these were doctors who were making this
BRANSTETTER: Correct. So, this was the state`s first use of the drug
called Midazolam which had been problematic in another execution. There
were a lot of questions about whether it would work.
The Department of Corrections general counsel at the time, Mr. Oakley,
said he did some research online to figure out how long will it takes to --
for Midazolam to kill someone. Could it sedate someone, essentially?
That`s what it needed to do. He said he went on line and "Wiki leaks or
whatever" was the quote.
The Department of Corrections director said that the attorney
general`s office participated in this process of choosing the drug. I will
say today, the attorney general`s office told me that they deny that, that
they were only an advisory role, and that these are not -- these facts are
in dispute. However, they came from transcripts of interviews of these
MADDOW: And they`re ultimate story is that these -- the protocol was
all designed and, in fact, implemented by the warden of the prison who is
now on record, at least in these transcripts, saying, yes, I signed it, but
I didn`t have anything to do with it.
I mean, the thing that is remarkable here, obviously, this execution
itself was a remarkable thing. You were there, you were one of the people
who were shut out from witnessing once that curtain was pulled. The state
of Oklahoma has investigated this and put out their version of what they
say happened, their version of the investigation.
What it seems like now is that this was a botched execution. But
whatever the state did to execute it and describe what happened, sort of
has to be called into question here in terms of whether or not that was a
BRANSTETTER: Yes, so my partner, Kerry-Anne Walsh and I investigated
this, and just determined that the report that the state put out really
downplayed significant angles of this story. According to the transcripts,
it was described as a chaotic bloody scene. The paramedic himself said
that the whole day was, quote, "a cluster." The doctor didn`t know that he
would have to do an I.V. The warden and the executioners they knew very
little about the drug and how long it would take to work. The state report
did not give those impressions at all. It laid the blame solely on an I.V.
that didn`t work.
MADDOW: In terms of what happens next, obviously, the state has
scheduled and then called off subsequent executions since the Clayton
Lockett one was so botched. They are planning on doing one January 15th.
Do you think that significant questions have been raised about whether
or not Oklahoma knows what it`s doing enough about how to kill people and
how it intends to kill people to be able to go ahead with that execution in
January. Does this call them into question?
BRANSTETTER: Well, I think there are questions that need to be
answered. There`s a hearing that`s beginning in federal court in Oklahoma
City Wednesday, expect to cover several days of, essentially a motion of
preliminary injunction, the death row inmates are asking the judge to stop
Oklahoma to stop executing people until it can be proven the state can do
The state, of course, says it has a new protocol. It has training in
place. It has made improvements on the process. And that they can execute
So, it will be up to the federal judge to determine if they`re going
to be allowed to go forward.
MADDOW: Ziva Branstetter, enterprise editor for "Tulsa World", which
has been following this case extensively -- thank you for helping us
understand this new reporting. I really appreciate it.
BRANSTETTER: Thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: We`ve got much more to come tonight. Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Can we do the Blake Farenthold story, or can we not?
SR. PRODUCER MIKE YARVITZ: We can. Yes we can. Si se puede. You
could just --
MADDOW: I don`t think I can say (EXPLETIVE DELETED) me.
MIKE: You can just have people read it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: This is a time lapse video. Watch this. This is from New
Look at this. New York City this weekend. Look at the size of this.
This is a time lapse covering a period of 90 minutes.
You can just see the crowds just pouring up Sixth Avenue in New York.
Sixth Avenue in New York City I should tell you is about six lanes wide.
It`s the width of your average highway.
We said on Friday that it looked like the anti-police brutality
demonstrations were going to be big this weekend in New York. We did not
know they were going to be this big.
Tens of thousands of people marched in New York City on Saturday. If
you saw any images from that big demonstration over the weekend or if you
went to that big demonstration, what you probably remember in terms of the
visually stunning aspect of this were these panels. These oversized
photographic panels showing Eric Garner`s eyes. Eric Garner, the man
killed by a police officer in Staten Island with a chokehold this summer.
This weekend, thousands of people also marched in Washington, D.C.
Look at the size of that crowd. They were led by Reverend Al Sharpton`s
National Action Network and also by a number of families of black men and
black boys killed by police, including Eric Garner`s family and also the
families of Michael Brown from Ferguson, 12-year-old Tamir Rice from
Cleveland, and Amadou Diallo from New York City.
People demonstrated in significant numbers this weekend in Boston and
also in St. Louis and also in Pennsylvania, even in Nebraska, and dozens of
other places across the country.
It`s been nearly two weeks since the Eric Garner grand jury decision
and three weeks since the grand jury decision in Ferguson, Missouri, in the
Michael Brown case. If this weekend is any indication, it does not seem
like the protest movements sparked by those deaths has anywhere near spent
MADDOW: I love this story so much. OK. Dream it up, and you can
find it. If it`s a thing that you can imagine, the Internet has it for you
if you know where to look.
Let`s say you want a pillow with an arm attached to it that can cuddle
with you. No problem. You can have that.
Or maybe one night you thought to yourself, this toilet paper should
glow in the dark. Well, the Internet has your back. Your back side,
Maybe your home is incomplete without a coffee table shaped like a
giant Nintendo controller, a giant Nintendo controller that you can
actually play Nintendo with. You can get that from the Internet machine.
Your dog needs a hoody. Your dog can have a hoody, just ask the
Internet. Perhaps your cat needs a hoody, too. It`s doubtful, but if you
ask the Internet, you can have one.
Maybe you love rubber ducks and you love footy pajamas. You can have
them and you can have them together, even as an adult. I have to tell you,
you are not alone in that desire. It turns out, these are pretty popular.
Specifically we have good evidence they`re popular among current
members of Congress who reside in Texas`s 27th district. The man on the
right in these pictures, the guy in the ducky pajamas is Congressman Blake
Farenthold. He`s a Republican. He`s a member of the Tea Party caucus.
These pictures of him in the footy ducky pajamas -- these are not new.
They`ve been around since 2010 when he was first running for office.
Congressman Blake Farenthold knows well the lasting power of the Internet,
before he was elected to Congress he was in a totally different business.
Specifically, he was in the computer consulting industry.
And in that role in that time of his life, he purchased a number of
Internet domain names. Sort of bought them on speck, whether or not he was
ever planning on using them. You know, nothing wrong with that. I cannot
complain about someone doing that. We buy domain names all the time here
on this show.
For example, you might remember, we own Arizonahonorsbiology.com,
which is where we posted the content that an Arizona Tea Party local school
board, we posted the content they wanted to cut out of the local biology
We also own the URL whenindoubtchickenout.com. We own
fredthompsonisinherentlyfunny.com. We own the web domain
We also own empathizerightonyourbehind.com, which sounds dirty, but
it`s not. I point that out because out of the many domain names that
Congressman Blake Farenthold owns, one of them jumps out. But it`s the
This came up at the news meeting today and it`s hard to get around.
It`s a family program. We would at least like it to be a family program.
Congressman Farenthold`s domain name is not a PG name. It`s so not PG that
I actually cannot tell you what it is.
However, I can tell you what it sounds like. Here we go. It sounds
like know-me.org, but it`s not know-me.org because know-me.org is an
academic and industry network for maritime training.
It also sounds like showme.org, but it`s not showme.org because that`s
the Web site for the Missouri Economic Development Council.
His Web site also sounds like throw-me.org, which is not a real site
but would be if we owned a Frisbee company, throw-me.
It`s not know-me, it`s not show me, and it`s not throw-me. It is
something-else-me.org, which I would never and could never say on
But trust me -- I mean, trust me, this story has blown up. It may be
a blow to his reputation. When a story blows up like this, the first
instinct that blows through our news room is to request a comment from the
And here it is, quote, "Prior to serving in Congress, Mr. Farenthold
operated a computer consulting company that routinely bought domain names,
including the one in question", which, let the record reflect, this show
has not said out loud. "The domain name has never been used, and Mr.
Farenthold has no intention to renew it."
So, no intention to renew it. No intention to renew it, but he did,
yes, it`s his.
So, there you have it. The conservative Texas Tea Party Congressman
Blake Farenthold, he does currently own rhymes with flow-me.org, but his
office says he`ll soon be relinquishing his rights to that name. Well,
blow me down.
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, Lawrence.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
<Copy: Content and programming copyright 2014 MSNBC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
Copyright 2014 CQ-Roll Call, Inc. All materials herein are protected by
United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed,
transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written
permission of CQ-Roll Call. You may not alter or remove any trademark,
copyright or other notice from copies of the content.>
MORE FROM RACHEL MADDOW SHOW
Add Rachel Maddow Show headlines to your news reader: