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'The Rachel Maddow Show' for Friday, February 6th, 2015

Read the transcript to the Friday show

Show: THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW
Date: February 6, 2015
Guest: Monica Malbrough

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Thanks to your home for joining us this hour.
Happy Friday, and I should also say happy birthday, sort of. Today marks
exactly one month since the Republicans took complete control of Congress.
And what a month it has been. First things first, because this is the
modern Republican Party which the beltway keeps telling us is totally over
divisive social issues. The very first thing that the Republican Congress
moved on after they got control in Washington, was abortion. They
introduced five or six different abortion bans or abortion restrictions
right off the bat at the start of the new Congress. Then they decided that
the ones they were going to run with, would be a federal nationwide 20-week
ban on abortion. They ran it through a committee, they put it on a
schedule. It was going to go to the floor of the house for a vote, and
then they yanked it. They pulled their own bill.

Then the next one was a border bill. The Republican`s own border security
bill. Remember securing the border was all they wanted to talk about in
the campaign for the last election. So, they had their border security
bill. They ran it through committee. Scheduled a vote on the House floor,
ready to go on their own border security bill, and then just like the
abortion bill, they yanked that one too. Now this was not the Republicans
getting, you know, outmaneuvered, right? This was not the Democrats
figuring out how to block the Republicans plans. This was just the
Republicans doing this to themselves. This was the Republicans on their
own not being able to get it together to pass their own legislation with
only their own votes. They could not do it.

There is also this manufactured crisis at the Department of Homeland
Security. They started this new Congress one month ago today, knowing that
homeland security is due to run out of money at the end of February. It`s
only funded till the end of this month. And they knew that was the case,
but so far the Republicans, even though they are in complete control of
Congress, they have not been able to pass a bill, to keep homeland security
funded. And right now apparently there is no plan for doing that. There
is nothing in the works in the Republican-controlled Congress to avoid a
shutdown of the whole giant homeland security department in just a couple
of weeks.

Now, to be fair, in this month that the Republicans have been in charge,
they did manage to pass a bill to force the construction of the Keystone
pipeline. They passed it as gas prices dropped below $2.00 a gallon. As
new poll numbers came out showing that even Republican voters want
political action to combat climate change, and they passed the bill at the
end of a three-week period, in which there were no fewer than five
significant pipeline explosions and ruptures in our country, including one
rupture of a North Dakota pipeline that was less than a year old.

And that rupture caused the largest spill of its kind in state history.
And then right after that, OK, everybody ready to vote on Keystone? It
seems like a good - even before they took that vote, President Obama
announced he would veto the bill, so, they did pass that one. It`s going
nowhere.

If you really want to talk futility, though, the Republican Congress did
also get up on its hind legs and by some counts, for the 56th time, they
got up on their hind legs and they voted to repeal Obamacare again. 56
times. Here`s what that looked like. Can you smell the excitement? As
"The Washington Post" summed up for much of the debate on repealing
Obamacare for the 56th time, for much of a debate, afternoon, no more than
a dozen seats were occupied on the repeal it side of the house. More than
once the Republican Party had nobody available to speak on their side at
they geared up to do it one more time. It`s like it is not even exciting
any more, but they did do it for the 56TH time.

It has been one month, exactly since Republicans took full control of
Congress. It has not been auspicious first month. You know, but hope
springs eternal. They`re the only Congress we`ve got, and we all do really
need to have some hope here that Congress is up to the task of doing stuff
that only Congress can do.

Not only because the Homeland Security Department is about to shut down,
but because this Congress is finally going have to do some real work and
make a real decision on the very serious matter of ISIS. NBC News is
reporting tonight the foreign relations committee in the senate, the
foreign affairs committee in the House, they`re expecting draft language
for authorizing the use of military force against ISIS. They`re expecting
that draft language to arrive on the White House as soon as next week,
foreign relations and foreign affairs will be the lead committees for
dealing with this in Congress, but it is expected that there is also going
to be hearings and debate on this matter in the armed services committees
and in the intelligence committees. And again, that may all start next
week.

It is a little awkward because the war effort is already sixth months old.
We are already sixth months into it. There has already been over 2,000
airstrikes against ISIS in Iraq and Syria. Congress has never weighed in
on any of it, but they are about to have to.

And from the structural perspective of our Constitution and our divided
system of government, that is great news. Congress is supposed to make
those decisions.

From our position as contemporary humans, looking at this particular
ridiculous Congress and all it can`t do, it is a little scary to imagine a
decision like this in their hands. But the founders left this way.

That work, that debate, that decision making will start in Washington next
week. They are going to have to get real serious real fast.

Today, meanwhile, CENTCOM confirms further airstrikes against ISIS targets,
both in Iraq and Syria. Now, the U.S. only ever announces that it is U.S.
and coalition fighters carrying out those strikes, but the nation of Jordan
for a second day today, probably let it be known, their planes are involved
in these strikes as well. Jordan continues to be absolutely enflamed in
its response to ISIS killing that Jordanian air force pilot in the
propaganda video that ISIS released this week.

The airstrikes, though, I`m not sure this is getting a lot of attention,
but I think it ought to, particularly as we are heading into this debate in
Congress next week. The airstrikes are not the only military part of this
campaign. They`re not the only fighting that`s going on. Richard Engel,
NBC`s own, is in northern Iraq right now, and he`s with the Kurdish
Peshmerga fighters out there who are fighting ISIS. You know, that the
Kurds have a sort of semiautonomous region in northern Iraq. Their
fighters are called the Peshmerga fighters. And Richard with them, filed
this amazing report today about the Peshmerga fighters out there taking and
holding, with some difficulty, but holding, the main road between Iraq and
Syria and that part of this ISIS threatened territory.

And the strategic importance here, and in addition how amazing it is just
to see it. The strategic importance here is that if these Kurdish
fighters, in northern Iraq, if they can continue to hold that position, if
they can continue to control that road, it is possible that ISIS could be
split in half between these two countries. Between Iraq and Syria, again,
instead of how it has been for months now, which is them controlling
territory in both countries in a way that erases the border. Watch,
Richard.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RICHARD ENGEL, MSNBC ANCHOR: We joined Kurdish fighters in northern Iraq.
America`s closest allies in this war and travelled to their newest
frontline position just outside of Mosul, captured two weeks ago.

Captain Akram (ph) explained why he and his man fought so hard to take and
hold this ground.

This position is strategic because from here we control the road from
Syria, he said. Now we cut it off. Cutting the road means the Kurds have
severed ISIS`s main supply line between Iraq and Syria, and ISIS wants it
back.

So, there was just an incoming round in this area, luckily it overshot this
position. You could see where the soldiers there, the Kurdish fighters are
looking at this moment. There comes at another round. So, let`s find a
more secure area.

The Kurds fire back to keep back ISIS. Sometimes mortar attacks followed
by ambushes. The Kurds took this base and have already lost three men
holding it. They will lose many more, they say, unless they get a lot more
help from Washington and soon.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MADDOW: That was Richard Engel reporting from northern Iraq today with
these Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga fighters.

And all of the ground level reporting from Iraq and Syria today about the
airstrikes and about the kind of fighting that Richard is witnessing
firsthand. All of that fighting, at least for us in this country today, is
dominated by the upsetting and at times confusing news today about this
young American woman who has been in ISIS custody.

And honestly, I will skip to the end here. We do not know her fate at this
hour, but her family has given news organizations their blessing to release
her name and her photo so we can now tell you without worrying that her
family believes it will jeopardize her safety. That she is 26-years old
Kayla Mueller. She`s from Prescott, Arizona. She graduated from Northern
Arizona University in Flagstaff, she`d done humanitarian work in a number
of places overseas, including some dangerous places.

But in 2012 she traveled to the Turkish/Syrian border, and apparently
linked up with the number of international aid groups trying to help
Syrians, particularly trying to help Syrian kids who had been displaced by
the fighting in their country.

On august 4th, 2013, so not last year, but the year before, her family says
she was kidnapped by ISIS in the Syrian city of Aleppo after she left a
hospital operated there by Doctors without Borders.

We reported earlier this week that some anonymous U.S. government sources
told reporters that as recently as two weeks ago, there had been some
specific information about her that led the U.S. to believe that Kayla
Mueller was still alive in Syria.

None of that has ever been confirmed on the record by a named source, but
she has been held by ISIS for a very long time. The U.S. government has
known that even though you have probably not heard her name reported in the
press before today.

She was reportedly one of the Americans who the Special Operations troops
were trying to rescue when they dropped into Syria. They dropped into
Raqqa in Syria, specifically, in that really high risk helicopter born
rescue attempt last July. That was an effort to find all the American
hostages known to be held by ISIS at that time. Kayla Mueller and James
Foley and Stephen Sotloff and Peter Kassig.

Now, that raid last summer, that special-ops raid inside Syria, it was not
a fiasco. As far as what we`ve been told, none of those special operators
were killed or were seriously wounded in that effort. There was apparently
one minor injury. They did get in and safely get out of that most
dangerous place on earth where they believed those hostages were being
held. But the place that they went where they thought the hostages would
be, the hostages were not there.

After that raid, three of the four Americans known to be held by ISIS, the
three men, James Foley and Stephen Sotloff and then Peter Kassig, were all
killed by ISIS, and they were all killed in those brutal, brutal murders
that ISIS then turned into execution propaganda videos.

But all of this time it has been interesting that ISIS, and they`ve
reportedly held Kayla Mueller since August of 2013, but they have never
chosen to parade her on camera in one of these propaganda videos. And
nobody knows exactly why that was. I will tell you there is speculation as
crazy as it sounds, that in the internal logic of their theologically
inflected crazy barbarity, it`s been supposed that they had some strategic
reason we can`t understand about why they didn`t want to film themselves
killing a woman in the same way they killed all those men. Maybe, it sort
of seems unlikely, given the way they`ve treated women everywhere they`ve
had the opportunity to.

But for whatever reason, they have never paraded Kayla Mueller on camera
and as far as we know, they have never filmed any sort of execution video
of her.

But then today, the day after Jordan proudly claimed responsibility for
sending dozens of its F-16s on airstrike raids against ISIS targets in
Syria, today ISIS announced that actually Jordan killed her.

Announced that it was definitely Jordanian warplanes, it wasn`t ISIS that
killed her. It wasn`t ISIS that killed her after kidnapping her and
holding her the hostage for a year and a half. No, no, no. It`s
somebody`s else`s fault that they say she is now dead. And it may be true.
It may be true that she`s dead, it may be true that she was killed in that
airstrike, in those airstrikes, but there are reasons to be skeptical.

And the news coverage today hasn`t been skeptical, I think it ought to be
given the facts that we know. I mean, the first one is the most obvious.
It is a little too tidy, right? It`s a little too perfect for them as an
explanation, particularly if they didn`t want to be seen as responsible for
killing her because she is a woman. All right, so that is convenient to be
able to blame it on somebody else. Why simultaneously trying to deflate
the patriotic fervor in Jordan right now. The sort of national scream of
outrage in that country for retaliation against ISIS. Obviously, they`re
trying to deflate that by blaming this blameless hostage`s death on
Jordan`s airstrikes. It is worst reason to be skeptical is that it is way
too convenient.

The second reason to be skeptical is that they provided no evidence
whatsoever that she was killed by those airstrikes or by any other means.
The only thing ISIS publicized was this photo of a damaged building in
Raqqa, or they say at least it`s in Raqqa, and that`s why they say, she was
being held. And that`s where they say, that she was killed in a Jordanian
airstrike, but there is no images that prove any of that at all. And then
there is the third point. The location. The location in which they say
that she was killed. These are the airstrike videos that were released by
the Pentagon today. You see, they come with an open - this is the opening
slate. The screen slate. Jordanian airstrike. They said a Jordanian
airstrike. So, according to the Pentagon, these are tapes of Jordanian F-
16 dropping bombs on ISIS targets in Syria. Interesting, of course, that
they`re naming Jordan as the country carrying these out since they
previously have not been naming coalition countries, but there are also
specifically labeling these airstrikes as hitting targets near al-Hasakah.
And forgive my pronunciation. Hasakah. Al-Hasakah, which is an ISIS-
controlled area of Syria.

But it`s nowhere near Raqqa, and Raqqa is where ISIS today said that those
terrible Jordanian airstrikes resulted in the death of this American
hostage.

So, it`s been reported everywhere today that American aid worker Kayla
Mueller had been killed in Syria while being held by ISIS militants. And
that may be true. It also may not be true. Even the claim is obviously of
grave concern. It is of more concern than even knowing that she`s been
held all this time, and it must be a very, very heroing (ph) time for her
family and for everyone who knows and loves her.

But anybody that is taking ISIS`s word on what happened here, and say, oh,
yeah, this is Jordanian airstrikes that killed her. Anybody who`s taken
ISIS explanation of what happened here as truth, as the descriptive
journalistic truth of what happened here, is both ignoring some very good
reasons to be skeptical about their claims, and frankly, doing ISIS
propaganda work for them. Like repeating what ISIS says uncritically? It
is like posting an ISIS propaganda video online and full for everybody to
enjoy. Thank you, you have just done ISIS`s work for them. If ISIS has
earned nothing - nothing else, it is the right to be known as liars.

Joining us now is NBC News chief foreign affairs correspondent Andrea
Mitchell. She`s also the host of "Andrea Mitchell Reports" here on MSNBC.
Andrea, it`s great to see you, thanks for being here.

ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC CORRESPONDENT: You too, Rachel.

MADDOW: So, you reported tonight on nightly news that it was a shaky claim
at best when ISIS said today that she was killed by Jordanian bombs in
Raqqa today. Why is it a shaky claim?

MITCHELL: For many of the reasons that you`ve just sited. I`m so glad,
Rachel, that you are as appropriately skeptical, as you were in your
description of what this is all about. First of all it is too convenient.
Right after the rallying of Jordanian, the public, the military, in a
previously divided country about the wisdom of these coalition airstrikes
including the father of the dead pilot.

Now you`ve got a country completely united, a region united. You`ve got
the other Arab leaders. They`re all, you know, so repulsed by the burning
alive of the Jordanian pilot that ISIS had gone too far, and it perhaps was
a turning point. We don`t know. But there really was a coming together,
and now 24 hours later, they say it was a Jordanian pilot that killed the
American hostage. Far too convenient. Plus the location. They showed us
a picture, we don`t know if that is in Raqqa, but they showed us the
rubble. They claimed it was Raqqa. And the Jordanian and U.S.-led
coalition did not hit, if we are to believe, the CENTCOM, the Pentagon and
the coalition leaders, they didn`t hit any targets there, they were 140
miles away.

So, that doesn`t make sense. Plus, we have not seen any proof, and in the
past, they have come up with evidence, visual evidence that is then fairly
rapidly confirmed by the experts, by the intelligence officials and then
acknowledged by Jordan, by the, you know, the White House. That has not
happened in this case.

So there is reason to hope. Now, the fact that they are liars, the fact
that the Jordanian pilot was dead for weeks before they even started
negotiating for his release in a prisoner swap, and then intelligence
established that, that also leads one to believe that something horrible
could have happened to her and they did not acknowledge her death. But one
hopes and the family hopes, and we just have to hope and pray that she is
still alive and that the lack of evidence bears that out. I just want to
say, you know, I have covered a lot of stories as you know. I go back a
long way. This got to me. I felt that I knew her somehow in reading about
her, in absorbing the information about her, and in keeping it secret at
the request of the family, agreed to by the government that the best hope
was to not make this too big of a deal. To not feed into the propaganda
machine.

And so, we tried to keep it as quiet as possible until this announcement
today. And she is like all of your young idealistic, passionate, hopeful
assistants, young producers, associate producers, interns, the college
women here in our news room today. They were devastated by this and I
found myself reacting and channeling their aspirations and inspiration that
a young woman who would go to this border, and then join doctors without
borders as a volunteer, who previously had been in India, in Israel, in
Palestine, had come back to Flagstaff working in an HIV/AIDS clinic, then
gone back to the region. She is the best of America and so ewe just we
hope she is alive.

MADDOW: And especially because she was held for so long. To have held -
to have held - I mean to your point, to have held the story, but also to
have seen her family having to hold on to this hope for so long. Knowing
what she has been through, and knowing what - what not just unusual, but
just terrifying circumstances she has been in. It`s been so - for so long.
I do feel like the only responsible thing we can do now is admit what we
don`t know.

MITCHELL: Exactly.
MADDOW: And to hope for the best. Andrea Mitchell, NBC News, chief
foreign affairs correspondent, thank you so much, Andrea.

MITCHELL: Thank you, Rachel.

MADDOW: Andrea Mitchell, of course, hosts Andrea Mitchell Reports
weekdays` noon here on MSNBC.

All right, we do actually have some breaking news next, we`re just getting
into the news room. I have not even fully digested it yet. But I`ve just
been handed some of this. It is news about the fight against ISIS. It`s
breaking tonight, actually, from the Justice Department and we have got
that breaking news ahead, stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW: So we have breaking news to tell you about tonight. It is just
now coming, and it`s just crossing, we`ve just wrangled NBC justice
correspondent Pete Williams to phone in with the live report to explain
this. This is news that is breaking from the Justice Department tonight,
it concerns ISIS. We`re getting Pete now, we`ll be back with him in just a
second, please stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW: So, as promised there is some breaking news to report tonight.
The Justice Department is now reporting, that they have charged six
individuals, six individuals living in the United States with providing
material support to the ISIS terrorist group. Five of those individuals
apparently have been arrested, and a sixth is believed to be at large and
overseas. Again, this news is just breaking within the last hour. Joining
us now, to help us understand what`s going on here is NBC News chief
justice correspondent Pete Williams. Pete, thanks for joining us, what is
going on with this story?

PETE WILLIAMS, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Well the Justice Department says a St.
Louis man named Abdullah Ramo Pazara went to Syria in 2013, and they say in
the months that followed five - rather, six people in the U.S. we are
sending him support, sending him cash by Western Union and PayPal, and also
sending him clothes, firearms, accessories, military boots, camouflage,
gloves, all kinds of other things that would help him. The people that
have been charged here, three of them are from the St. Louis area. A
husband and wife that are 40 and 35. One is from Utica, New York, one is
from suburban Chicago. And the other is from Rockford, Illinois. So, they
are in essence charged with indirectly supporting ISIS by supporting this
man who the government says went to Syria in 2013 and they say they believe
that he was killed last year at some point.

MADDOW: Is he named as one of the people who they are charging, even if
they believe that he has been killed?

WILLIAMS: No, and for that reason they`re not charging him. They say they
believe Pazara is dead, and of course, therefore he can`t be charged. Of
the six that were charged, as you point out, they say that five were
arrested in the United States. The sixth, and they don`t tell us which it
is, is still overseas. They don`t want to give that person a heads up,
that they`re on to that person. They`re trying to get that other country
to make the arrest.

MADDOW: I see. So that was my confusion, so the person who received this
material support from the United States, at least according to the
complaint is believed to have been killed, but one of the people who is
alleged to have sent that material support is no longer in the United
States, and is being sought abroad?

WILLIAMS: That`s right. Now, they do say that one of these six people,
the person who lived in Utica, New York tried to go to Syria, but did not
succeed. So we don`t know who the other person is, and we don`t at this
point know what country that other person is in.

MADDOW: One last quick question for you. Do we know that, or is the
allegation that these six people were working together or that they form
any sort of - I know I hate to use the word "sell," but that sort of what I
mean. That they were any sort of group in this country, or they - are they
grouped together in this charge by happenstance because they all have
different sort of connections to this dead ISIS fighter?

WILLIAMS: It is not clear how they came to know each other. What the
government says Pazara communicated by social media, by Facebook, by other
social media. Sometimes by phone and used coded language. But it is not
clear from this relatively bare bones indictment that was just been
unveiled tonight whether they all were in essence in cahoots with him
before he left the country .

MADDOW: Right.

WILLIAMS: Or whether he formed some alliances with him after he got there.
But in any event, the government says they sent this material to him
through the postal service to Turkey, and then intermediaries took it from
Turkey into Syria and gave it to him.

MADDOW: NBC News justice correspondent Pete Williams. Pete, thank you for
joining us on short notice, I really appreciate your help with this.

WILLIAMS: You bet.

MADDOW: Thank you.

Again, that breaking news from Pete Williams is that an indictment has just
been unsealed tonight. Just in a last hour. Six people being charged with
material support for ISIS fighters. Specifically one ISIS fighter who had
become an actualized citizen in the United States, went to Syria, was
fighting with ISIS, was killed there, but six people are being charged with
having him sent him stuff to help him fight from this country. Five of the
six people are said tonight to be under arrest. One is being sought.
Authorities tonight are saying that he is not in the United States, but
they are not saying where he is.

A dramatic story just breaking tonight. We`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Debunktion Junction, what`s my function?

All right. The first one tonight is an important one. Now, you have
probably seen this story in the last 24 or 48 hours. There`s been a bunch
of media reports in the last day or so, saying that federal investigators
have launched a new federal criminal investigation into Governor Chris
Christie and his administration.

No, not the bridge thing where the Christie administration may have closed
down lanes on a bridge to purposely gridlock one New Jersey town as
political retribution. No, not the bridge thing, this is a different
thing.

And no, not the Hoboken thing, where local officials said the Christie
administration might have stiffed the city on Super Storm Sandy recovery
money as political retribution against their city. No, not the Hoboken
thing, this is a different thing.

Also, it`s not the Jersey City thing where local officials said the
Christie administration stiffed that city on economic development efforts
as political retributions.

And no, it`s the Bridgegate thing, it`s not the Hoboken thing, it`s the
Jersey City thing, it`s a different thing. It is also not the travel
thing, and the RGA thing where Governor Christie has reportedly taken lots
of gifts and free travel and donations from people with business before the
state. No, it`s not that thing either. This is a different thing.

No, it`s not even the other brand new thing where Governor Christie`s
mentor and his top appointee to an agency called the Port Authority has
been asked to explain basically whether he got United Airlines to do him
the favor of creating a brand new flight route between Newark Airport and
his vacation home for the duration of the time that he was chairman of the
Port Authority and the United Airlines had lots of business before the Port
Authority. United reportedly canceled that route which was called the
chairman`s flight. They reportedly cancelled that three days after said
chairman had to resign from the port authority last spring.

I know it is a little hard to keep track of all of the investigations and
allegations that follow New Jersey Governor Christi Christie around like a
herd of stray dogs following a tanker truck full of quibble that has sprung
a leak. I know it is hard to keep track sometimes of what is following him
around.

But the Chris Christie story we`re actually talking about here is one that
you might remember from way back, that`s about the cat police. It is a
case that originated in rural Hunterdon County, New Jersey. It involves a
local sheriff`s department, fake credentials, and a branch of the SPCA -- I
kid you not -- that outfitted itself as a paramilitary organization. The
story is nuts nine ways to Sunday. If you want to get back into the
details, including the cat police, we have reposted our segment on this
story at Maddow Blog tonight in case you want to watch it again, it`s
great.

But, basically, for all of the crazy details of this Hunterdon County case,
the allegations of wrongdoing concerning Governor Chris Christie and his
administration boil down to a former assistant prosecutor in New Jersey who
says he was fired basically for prosecuting people that the Christie
administration didn`t want prosecuted. The way the prosecutor tells it, he
says the Christie administration quashed his investigation, quashed his
indictment against some Christie administration allies. Again, like I
said, it`s a juicy story.

And the local prosecutor who got fired in this case, Ben Barlyn, he has
been pursuing this case for a very long time. But these new reports this
week are sort of shocking. There`s been all these headlines this week
saying that federal investigators have now launched a formal federal
criminal investigation into this Hunterdon County scandal, these
allegations by prosecutor Ben Barlyn against Governor Christie and his
administration.

So, you might have seen those headlines this week. Is it true? Have
federal prosecutors launched a federal investigation into Governor Christie
and his administration concerning this Hunterdon case? You have seen the
headlines about it this week. Is it true or is that false?

(BUZZER)

MADDOW: False. Or at least we don`t know.

Here is the thing: Ben Barlyn, this local prosecutor, who says he was fired
for all the wrong reasons. He has been spoken to by federal investigators.
He has been asked interviewed by federal investigators asking about his
allegations against Governor Chris Christie. That does not necessarily
mean there is some new formal federal criminal investigation into the
Christie administration. The headlines on the story this week had been
very juicy but they have been overblown.

We spoke to the former prosecutor Ben Barlyn today and he says, yes, he did
speak to federal prosecutors this week. He also says he has no idea
whether a federal criminal investigation has actually been launched into
his allegations.

We also reached out to the U.S. attorney`s office in New Jersey today.
They would neither confirm nor deny whether their investigators actually
did speak with Ben Barlyn, but they told us that reports characterizing an
investigator speaking with Ben Barlyn, characterizing those conversations
as their office having launched an investigation into Governor Christie,
those reports are, and I quote, "a tremendous leap forward. We talk to
people all of the time. It doesn`t mean we`re investigating anybody."

Quote, "Any characterization that we are investigating the governor about
this is just not true." And that`s the horse`s mouth.

So, there is a federal criminal investigation of Chris Christie in New
Jersey about bridgegate, right? As far as we can tell, not necessarily
this whole other unrelated scandal. There might, in fact, be a federal
investigation of that other story, the cat police story, right, at some
point. But if there is yet, nobody knows about it, the prosecutor isn`t
saying.

So, although a bunch of reporting, national news organizations jumped the
gun on this one --

(BUZZER)

MADDOW: -- don`t believe the hype.

There`s more, though. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW: Debunktion Junction continues.

All right. Another one might have heard about today that screened out for
Debunktion Junction, here it is -- is it true or false that Elvis has left
the Republican Party? Is that true or is that false?

(BELL)

MADDOW: What, that was like the saddest, tiniest little bell I have ever
heard in my entire life. Come on. Bring it.

(BELL)

MADDOW: Slightly better. Can`t get any bigger than that?

(BELL)

MADDOW: Fix the bell.

So, yes, it`s true and it`s glorious. This is former State Senator Tim
Johnson who served two terms as a Republican in the Mississippi State
Senate. He is a legitimate and pretty well known politician in the state
of Mississippi. He noted this week that he had served Mississippi as an
elected Republican official for five different terms in three different
offices.

Senator Tim Johnson, look, is also pretty known in Mississippi politics
because of this. That`s him in the white suit with the red scarf. He is
an Elvis impersonator. He`s actually a pretty good Elvis impersonator. He
performs as Elvis all over Mississippi and has had some pretty good success
performing as Elvis all across the country.

Well, now, this particular Elvis, Republican State Senator Tim Johnson, has
decided to make a big, big change.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FORMER STATE SEN. TIM JOHNSON (D), MISSISSIPPI: Today, ladies and
gentlemen, I have an announcement. I am announcing today that I am
switching to the Mississippi Democratic Party.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

And I also want to announce that I am running to be the next lieutenant
governor in the great state of Mississippi.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: Mississippi is a very Republican state. So much so that the
Democratic Party is sometimes recently had a hard time even fielding
candidates for statewide races. But the Democratic Party of Mississippi
just got a former two-term state senator and a very well known Elvis to
join their team.

He gave this heartfelt speech today saying he was switching in part because
of Obamacare. Because Mississippi Republicans won`t expand Medicaid in the
state, Medicaid in the state, and that`s going to close a lot of
Mississippi hospitals, including he says the one that his mother is in
right now in his hometown and he just says he cannot abide it.

And so, Elvis has left the building. And he is seeking to come back in
through the other door. Obamacare of all things is minting new Democrats
in the great state of Mississippi. That is a true story.

All right. Last one, finally, true or false -- I love this one -- a
Republican congressman has changed the bill number on his federal
legislation in order to avoid the devil, altering a piece of federal
congressional legislation because of Satan, Satan, Satan. Is that true or
is that false?

(BELL)

MADDOW: True. Joe Barton, congressman from Texas, filed a bill this week.
It was assigned the number 666, House Bill 666. Instead of keeping the
number, the congressman had it changed. It`s now an innocuous bill number
702. He did not want his crude oil imports bill marred with the number
666, because you can never be too on guard against the mark of the beast in
the House of Representatives.

(BELL)

MADDOW: Too true. Too true.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW: Still ahead tonight: we`ve got an important and I think a
surprising update on a story we covered a few days ago, that the government
has now done a 180 on. We covered this story. We`re very worried about
what the government seems to have done. It now seems that the government
has completely reversed course on that story. It`s an interesting one and
that`s next.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW: This is such a strange story.

All right. You remember the incredible melting Afghan police training
center that we spent a half million dollars for? It melts when it rains.
And then, there`s a fleet of airplanes that we bought for Afghanistan for
$486 million and then ended up shredding into scrap for 6 cents a pound.
Two examples of the kind of nonsense and waste exposed by the special
inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction.

A few days ago, you may remember that we reported on a sudden and
unexplained decision by the U.S. military to start classifying to newly
make secret a whole bunch of stuff about what we`re doing in Afghanistan
that didn`t used to be classified before. All of a sudden, everything
related to our support for the Afghan forces, everything from how many
Afghan soldiers there are, to how much the U.S. spends on food to them,
food for them. All of these things which have been publicly available for
the past six years were now secret, which is a problem if you want to know
how the U.S. mission is going in Afghanistan if everything that might tell
you that is now a secret.

So, that was last week. Our report on that was Thursday. Now, look the
American military command in Afghanistan has changed its mind. That
information that had been unclassified and was then classified is now going
to be re-declassified, at least we think so.

The inspector general tells us that that office is still trying to figure
out exactly what has been un-un-unclassified. But the military was at
least embarrassed enough by what they did last week that they`re reversing
some of it.

We will stay on it to get to the bottom of it. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW: So, it turns out the great thing about weeks is that they end.

We are ending this one, splat, with a Friday night news dump. Producer
Nick Tuths is here, richly tanned, and fresh from his honeymoon.

Congratulations, Mr. Newlywed.

NICK TUTHS, TRMS PRODUCER: Thank you very much, Rachel.

MADDOW: It seems like you`re wearing it well.

TUTHS: I`m doing the best I can, you know?

MADDOW: If you`re not a good husband, we will all be furious with you.

TUTHS: I know.

MADDOW: One thing about our family, we will set up on you like locusts, we
like her for so much.

TUTHS: I respect you for it.

MADDOW: All right. Who`s playing -- after that threat -- who`s playing on
the Friday night news dump?

TUTHS: We have Monica Malbrough from Atlanta, Georgia.

MADDOW: Hi, Monica.

TUTHS: She`s getting a PhD in political science.

MADDOW: OK.

TUTHS: She`s done field work for her dissertation in Mozambique and she is
obsessed with maps.

MADDOW: Monica, it`s very nice to meet you. Thank you for coming on the
show.

MONICA MALBROUGH, ATLANTA, GA: Thank you.

MADDOW: PhD on political science is not useful for anything, take it from
me.

MALBROUGH: I know. I`ve been in it for a long time.

(LAUGHTER)

MADDOW: Were you doing political science dissertation, research in
Mozambique on their political system?

MALBROUGH: Yes, I do Sub-Saharan African politics, so I was there doing my
field work. So --

MADDOW: Very good.

MALBROUGH: One day, I`ll finish my dissertation.

MADDOW: Can I ask you, like how far along you think you are in
dissertation?

MALBROUGH: I know that you probably have had that question in the past.
I`m on my theory chapter, so I`m getting into the data side. It`s a work
in progress.

MADDOW: My secret about the theory chapter, they don`t really read it.
They want to know you did a theory chapter, but they`re going to read the
Mozambique stuff way more than they`re going to red the like --

MALBROUGH: That`s really good advice, because I`ve been pulling my hair
out for weeks over my theory chapter. So --

MADDOW: I mean, worry about it, but if you want something, if there is a
place to cheat, that`s it. OK.

MALBROUGH: OK.

MADDOW: This is a way it goes. I`m going to ask you three questions. If
you get two or more of the three questions, you will win -- Nick, what is
Monica`s prize?

TUTHS: A Rachel Maddow drink shaker.

MADDOW: Teeny, teeny, tiny cocktail shaker.

And if you get all three right, and so, you need extra credit, or if you
only get one right and you need a consolation prize, or if it just feels
like that kind of night, we also might send you something random that we
found in our office. Tonight, we`re doing something a little different.
We`re actually going to offer you a choice of junk from the office, because
I couldn`t narrow it down.

Nick, what are Monica`s random office junk choices?

TUTHS: So, the random office junk is this NFL football, from our deflate-
gate, bathroom escapade, or we have something very special, we have this
chain, and this big daddy four knuckle ring.

MADDOW: OK, these are of no value.

TUTHS: They`re of no value. We had not known where this was, but somebody
on the staff remembered. This was actually worn by Kent Jones in an old
segment. He looks great.

MADDOW: We dressed him up.

(CROSSTALK)

MALBROUGH: I`m from Atlanta, so that speaks to me.

MADDOW: OK. All right. So, that`s what you`re going for then.

All right. We also need to bring in the disembodied voice of Steve Benen,
lord of Maddow blog. He was also the guy who determines whether or not you
got the right answer.

Hi, Steve.

STEVE BENEN, MADDOW BLOG: Good evening to both of you.

MADDOW: Hello.

All right, Monica. Ready for your first question?

MALBROUGH: Yes, ma`am.

MADDOW: From Monday`s show -- on Monday`s show, we talked about a trip
that then presidential candidate Mitt Romney made to England in 2012. It
was a trip that did not go well. On this trip, one of the things that
didn`t go well is he addressed the head of the Labour Party, Ed Milliband,
by the wrong name. What did he call him? Did he call him, (a), Mr. Labor,
(b), Mr. Party, (c), Mr. Leader, or (d), Mr. Bean?

(LAUGHTER)

MALBROUGH: I love Mr. Bean, but I know it`s (c), Mr. Leader.

MADDOW: Steve, did Monica get that right?

BENEN: The question is not easy, but let`s check the Monday`s show.

MADDOW: OK.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: He repeatedly described him in that appearance as "Mr. Leader",
which sounds like a nice sort of complimentary thing. That is not a term
that is used in Britain.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BENEN: You know, I wish he had said Mr. Bean, too. But the correct answer
is (c), Mr. Leader, and Monica is correct.

MADDOW: Ed Milliband was mad enough without calling him Mr. Bean.

OK. You have to get two right to win at least the shaker prize.

On Wednesday`s show, we talked about one of our coalition partners, one of
the U.S. coalition partners in the air strikes against ISIS, reportedly
refusing to fly coming missions in Syria after ISIS captured that Jordanian
fighter pilot back on New Year`s Eve. That coalition member reportedly
demanded that more military assets get positioned closer to the action in
case more pilots needed to get rescued.

The question for you is, which country reportedly decided not to put pilots
in harm`s way until more got done in terms of search and rescue report?
Was that (a), Kuwait, (b), Saudi Arabia, (c), Bahrain, or (d), the United
Arab Emirates?

MALBROUGH: It`s (d), the United Arab Emirates.

MADDOW: Steve, is she right about that?

BENEN: Let`s check Wednesday`s show.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: We also learned that the United Arab Emirates suspended its
participation in air strikes against ISIS. They suspended that key part of
their involvement in the U.S.-led coalition in December.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BENEN: Yes, that`s right. Correct answer is (d). And Monica is correct
again.

MADDOW: Well done.

And the super surprising like coda to that story was that the day after we
learned over those complaints, the U.S. announced that they did, in fact,
move search and rescue -- more search and rescue assets closer to where UAE
wanted them. Anyway, I digress.

Are ready for your last question?

MALBROUGH: I`m ready.

MADDOW: This is from Thursday`s show. We introduced America, we talked
about C.J. and Charlie. They`re bears. They`re two Oregon high tech
bears, two guys who have owned the Web site jebbushforpresident.com since
2008.

So, the question is, what do CJ and Charlie plan to do with the URL
jebbushforpresident.com? Do they plan to (a), sell it to Jeb Bush for a
million dollars, (b), post content about gay rights on the Web site, (c),
make it redirect to Rand Paul`s campaign Web site, because they`re Rand
Paul supporters, or (d), do they plan to use it to post pictures of their
dog, which is named Jeb Bush?

MALBROUGH: I wish it was all like C, D and A. But I know it`s B.

MADDOW: Steve?

BENEN: That`s correct. Our high teach bears, they plan to post content
about gay rights and Monica is correct once again.

MADDOW: Excellent. Can I also tell you, I know I`m diverging from the
script here. We got a letter from CJ and Charlie after we did the segment.
Do you remember at the beginning I said if there`s any justice in the world
they`ll be on the show?

MALBROUGH: Yes.

MADDOW: Listen to what they said, as to the question of appearing on the
show, let me answer with an old Southern saying, has a cat got climbing
gear?

Which means, yes, we would love to. So, we`re going to have them on the
show at some point.

MALBROUGH: We love our bears in Atlanta, by the way.

MADDOW: Everybody loves bears. They`re the universal lunch.

All right. Nick, did Monica win the prize or prizes?

TUTHS: She did. She got all three right. She got the shaker and I don`t
know, you get all three right. You get to choose?

MADDOW: Monica, you want to the football or you want the big daddy?

MALBROUGH: You know, I feel like you guys were attached to that bag of
balls and I live in Atlanta, so I will rock that chain and the ring.

MADDOW: All right. We will send you that cheap chain and the four knuckle
big daddy ring.

Monica, thank you so much for playing. It was great to have you here.

MALBROUGH: Thank you.

MADDOW: Thank you. That was really fun.

All right. If you want to be like Monica, even though you no longer have
the opportunity to be the big daddy, please send us an e-mail at
Rachel@MSNBC.com, tell us who you are, where you`re from, why you want to
play the Friday night news dump. There is cheap stuff in our office with
your name on it.

But right now, you have to go to a place where you`re known by a number.
Go to prison.

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
BE UPDATED.
END

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