THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW
August 13, 2013
Guests: Bill Burton, Barry Cohen
RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: Thanks to you at home for staying with us for
the next hour.
Polls are closed now in the primary election for New Jersey`s U.S.
Senate seat. After U.S. Senator Frank Lautenberg died in June, New Jersey
Governor Chris Christie appointed a replacement senator to keep that seat
essentially occupied until New Jersey voters could choose who they wanted
to take that seat for the remainder of Mr. Lautenberg`s term.
Well, as of tonight, we now know that the two candidates in that
election to take Frank Lautenberg`s U.S. Senate seat will be for the
Democratic Party the mayor of New Jersey`s largest city, Cory Booker. The
Republican Party, the former mayor of New Jersey`s 280th largest city, a
place called Bogota. It looks like Bogota but say it Bogota.
Republican Steve Lonegan is the former mayor of Bogota. He would be
Cory Booker`s opponent for the U.S. Senate seat from New Jersey. If you
want to get a little flavor of what this race might be like, Cory Booker
versus Steve Lonegan, Mr. Lonegan`s previous pre-election effort as mayor
of Bogota was the subject spectacular documentary called "Any Town USA."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEVE LONEGAN (R), NEW JERSEY SENATORIAL CANDIDATE: I think it is
necessary to run election like you`re behind all the time.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Steve Lonegan is an outright liar.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He means well. And he has been doing that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I hate Lonegan.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You could put a monkey up against him and I think
the monkey would win.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have no intention of losing this election.
FRED PESCE, THE DEMOCRATIC CHALLENGER: I`m in it. I`m in it and
we`re going to win it.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Fred`s a good guy and I think he is an honest
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I know Fred, and I happen to like Fred. Fred`s
not a smart guy.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You`re probably the only politician in the nation
running against two legally blind candidates.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They can do the job just as well, no, they can`t.
I can do a better job but they can do a good job, too.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, I`m actually running for mayor of Bogota.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, yes, so I`m going to vote for you so that`s
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Really?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, what a joke.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Independents don`t usually win.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He is splitting the anti-Lonegan vote. We need
to be united by anti-Lonegan.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A large of angry protesters marched to city hall
calling for the mayor`s head.
CROWD: Lonegan must go!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have a voter who is in Estonia. There`s no like
secret way of sending an e-mail? Can he fax in the ballot application?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That`s the trailer for "Any Town USA" which is absolutely
worth your while. And that same guy, who we saw there at the end, can I
get this guy -- is that? That same guy, Republican Steve Lonegan is
officially, as of tonight, the Republican running against Democrat Cory
Booker for the United States Senate seat in New Jersey. Wow.
And if that is not hard enough to believe, consider also that the
election for that Senate seat is going to be held in October? On a
Here in America, we generally hold big statewide, big federal
elections on Tuesdays in November. Wednesday in October? And, in fact,
New Jersey already has a previously scheduled big statewide election on a
Tuesday this November -- a big normal election on a big no election day.
Tuesday in November. But the U.S. Senate seat election between Cory Booker
and the former mayor of Bogota is going to be held on a totally different
day, even different day of the week. It`s going to be held three weeks
before the normal Election Day on a Wednesday.
Why? Because on that Tuesday in November, real election day, New
Jersey Governor Chris Christie, is on the ballot. He`s running for re-
election as New Jersey governor, and as he is making the state of New
Jersey spend an extra $12 million to hold a whole separate election for
this Senate seat, less than three weeks before there`s going to be an
election anyway. Amazing.
Presumably he is going this because he does not want to be on the same
ballot with a Democrat as popular as Cory Booker. There is basically no
one in politics who thinks that Chris Christie is at any risk of not being
re-elected in November. He`s really popular. He`s not only way out ahead
in polling in the governor`s race for November, he`s doing better than
great in the national polling right now, too.
The last Quinnipiac poll on favorability ratings of all the best-known
politicians in the country showed that Chris Christie was really popular.
The top three most favorably viewed politicians in the country are
Elizabeth Warren, Hillary Clinton and Chris Christie. And Chris Christie
is first. His favorables right now are even higher than Hillary Clinton`s
But apparently he`s still scared, and so we have to have this primary
today so we can have a Senate election in October on a Wednesday so that
Chris Christie can have his own private election with no pesky nationally
popular Democrat elsewhere on the ballot harshing on his very, very
insecure mellow. Wow.
It is a $12 million chicken move and a weird one for the state of New
Jersey, but that is what Chris Christie did.
And meanwhile, as governor of New Jersey, Chris Christie has this
issue staring him right in the face right now or at least waiting for him
at his desk. This is -- I want to show you this for comparison purposes.
This is the size of a -- do we have this up here? Yes. This is the
size of a .22 caliber bullet and next to it you see the size of the kind of
bullet fired by an AR-15 assault rifles. AR-15s can be chambered for a
couple different kinds of bullets, but this is one of them. This is a .322
Remington round. We put those there for size comparison.
If you have a gun commonly referred to as a .45, this is a .45 caliber
round. This is what you shoot with a .357 magnum. If you shoot a .38
special, this kind of bullet here. If you`ve got a .9 millimeter handgun
like the popular Glock .9 millimeters, right? Here`s the round that`s shot
by that gun.
There are many different kinds of guns out there, and many different
kinds of bullets. But in terms of the universe of civilian owned firearms
and ammo, this is kind of a representative sample of popular ammunition.
Now, check this out. One of these kids are not like the other. This
is the round fired by a .50 caliber sniper rifle. Oh, it`s like a freaking
The round for a .50 caliber sniper rifle is so big there`s a whole
cottage industry of people making other things out of the giant shell
casings. Things like pens. There are a million people making pens out of
.50 caliber shells or making bottle openers out of them. Just enough heft
to give you leverage on the hard to open bottle.
Actually, it`s good for any kind of liquor. A .50 caliber bullet is
not a garden variety bullet. A .50 caliber sniper rifle is not a garden
variety gun. It is a military weapon used by military snipers to kill from
over a mile away. It`s said to have a range of 2,000 yards.
From closer ranges, it is an effective military weapon against even
some armored vehicles. A few years back, "60 Minutes" showed .50 caliber
rifles making short work of steel plate armor at several hundred yards.
Early brochures for the .50 caliber sniper rifle marketed its specific
military uses. Look at this -- the Model 82 A1 is the most cost effective
means of disabling or destroying some of the most sophisticated threats
that face your forces. It has the ability to engage the enemy at ranges
far beyond those at which small arms can return fire.
Oh, and by the way, it`s good for shooting down planes. And I quote,
"The compressor sections of jet engines or the transmissions of helicopters
are likely targets for the weapon, making it capable of destroying
multimillion dollar aircraft with a single hit delivered to a vital area.
The cost effectiveness of the Model 82 A1 cannot be overemphasized, when a
round of ammunition purchased for less than $10 U.S. dollars can be used to
destroy or disable a modern jet aircraft," so said the early brochures for
some of the first .50 caliber sniper rifles marketed to the defense
And right now, it is legal for any 18-year-old in New Jersey to buy
one, which is kind of amazing. At least the New Jersey legislature thinks
Earlier this summer, the New Jersey legislature voted overwhelmingly
in both the assembly and the Senate that the .50 caliber sniper rifle
should not be legal for civilian use in New Jersey. That bill now sits on
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie`s desk and he has to decide what to do
Last week, he did sign 10 new gun-related reforms, most of them just
upping the penalties for various gun-related offenses that were already
considered to be crimes in New Jersey. But he also signed a bill that
would ban you from buying a gun in New Jersey if you were on the federal
terrorism watch list because that did not use to be illegal.
I mean, so say you go to the airport in Newark, you get up to security
and they turn you around and say, no, sorry, you`re on the terrorism watch
list. You`re on the no-fly list. We can`t let you board an airplane. But
then you, no-fly list guy, could turn around, leave the airport, get on the
turnpike, pull off to go to the first gun shop you see and legally buy as
many .50 caliber sniper rifles as you want or handguns or anything else
legal in the state.
That terrorist watch list loophole was only closed in New Jersey last
week when Governor Chris Christie signed that one and nine other measures
that he called common sense gun reforms at the time that he signed them.
But he left five other gun-related bills still sitting on his desk without
him making a decision about them. And they include the one about whether
or not it should be legal for this military weapon to be sold to civilians
including 18-year-olds in New Jersey, because it is legal to have those
guns in New Jersey now -- even though New Jersey, the most densely
populated state in the nation, has a pretty progressive history on guns
overall. New Jersey was the first state in the country to enact an assault
weapons ban back in 1990.
Well, now, two former New Jersey governors, one Democratic former
governor, one Republican former governor, Christie Todd Whitman, are urging
Chris Christie to go ahead and sign the remaining five gun reform bills as
well saying, quote, "regardless of politics and party, New Jersey residents
have always shown unwavering support for common sense gun laws and these
remaining bills are common sense bills."
Editorials in the "Newark Star Ledger" and "Times of Trenton" are both
urging him to sign the bills as well, saying for the greater good and
safety of all New Jerseyans, Governor Christie should take this opportunity
to ban .50 caliber rifles, the most powerful weapon available to civilians
-- these five-foot-long sniper rifles with their four-inch armor piercing
Captain Mark Kelly, the astronaut and combat veteran, and gun owner,
who`s the husband of Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, he also just wrote an
editorial in the "Star Ledger" focusing on the bill for universal
background checks for gun purchases which Chris Christie has also not
decided to do about. Captain Kelly says, quote, "Polls show that 96
percent of New Jerseyans, 95 percent of gun owning households in the state,
support expanding background checks to keep guns away from those who should
not have them."
He says, "I was raised in West Orange, near the governor`s hometown of
Livingston and don`t think I`ve ever seen 96 percent of people in New
Jersey supporting everything except Bon Jovi and Bruce Springsteen."
I see what you did there, Mark Kelly, appealing to Bruce Springsteen
to help make your case to his number one fan.
But even without having to invoke the truly heavy emotional firepower
that is the Boss in New Jersey, it is true that even 95 percent of gun
owning households in the state of New Jersey think that you should have to
pass a background check in order to buy a gun in that state. And it is
true that the Republican base that`s going to pick that party`s next
presidential candidate probably really hates that idea.
The background check bill is on Chris Christie`s desk right now, as is
the bill about the gun that shoots bullets the size of carrots. Chris
Christie has got to decide what to do here. Do you do what Jersey wants?
Or do you do what`s best for you? Is this a tough call?
Joining us now is Bill Burton. He`s executive vice president and
managing director at the somewhat Orwellian-sounding Global Strategy Group,
a former deputy press secretary for the Obama administration.
Mr. Burton, thank you for being here.
BILL BURTON, GLOBAL STRATEGY GROUP: Thanks for having me.
MADDOW: Scale of 1 to 10, how tough a call is this? And should it be
for Chris Christie?
BURTON: Well, the word in there that matters is "tough." right?
Because Chris Christie builds his brand on the notion that he`s this
strong, tough guy, straight-talking, larger than life character who can
take on anybody. And when you consider that he`s got this bill on his
desk, he has three bills on his desk he could sign and he could actually
make people safer in New Jersey, and be a model for the rest of the
country, but he`s scared of Rand Paul in Iowa, and he`s scared of Marco
Rubio in South Carolina, it really undercuts his brand.
Now, I think the danger here is that should Chris Christie not veto
these bills and actually sign the into law, I think the Democrats actually
should worry about a guy like Chris Christie because he does cut this jib -
- he does cut this jib of being this guy who can come to Washington, shake
things up, maybe change how things get done.
MADDOW: Highest favorables in the nation.
BURTON: Highest favorables in the nation, right. But he does have
this primary problem. At the end of the day when -- way I look at this gun
issue is, in every nursery school across the country where kids who are,
like, 2, 3, 4, 5 years old, after Sandy Hook, every single one of them
changed the way they did something.
And Chris Christie is the governor of the state of New Jersey has the
power to change something big that could stop another one of those from
happening and doesn`t have the courage to do that because he`s worried
about Rand Paul in Iowa? I think it really undercuts the brand he`s trying
MADDOW: What is going to happen, though, within the Republican
primary process between the distance -- regarding the distance between what
the Republican base demands in the primaries, and what is a popular general
election position. I mean, 95 percent of gun owning households in New
Jersey say that Chris Christie should sign this background check bill. I
mean, New Jersey, yes, is a blue state but they elected Chris Christie.
And those kinds of poll numbers are a lot closer to the norm in the United
States, particularly the voting public norm in the United States than the
gun rights orthodoxy that`s demanded in the primary.
What bridges that distance?
BURTON: Well, it`s certainly true in the general election, but in the
primary, you do have this group of voters who are so different from the
American mainstream overall. And that`s why if you look at Christie,
people consider him to be a moderate. That`s in large part why his
favorables are so high.
But the truth is he`s anti-choice. He`s anti-equality. You talked
about the fact this special election cost $12 million. He personally
vetoed $7.5 million out of family planning in the state of New Jersey. His
budget looks like that of Scott Walker or John Kasich. He`s for the Ryan
This guy is as right wing as the rest of the crowd. He just doesn`t
sound like it.
MADDOW: Right. Right.
BURTON: And that`s the thing that he`s doing to try to still be able
to be competitive and win this primary. But, you know, the gun problem is
a big problem for him.
MADDOW: If you were still an Obama-not, if you were still in the
Obama administration and President Obama had the opportunity to run for a
third term, is Chris Christie the Republican you`d be most worried about
putting him up against?
BURTON: What I think is Rand Paul is going to be his nominee.
MADDOW: You really?
BURTON: I do. I think that he starts with these huge advantages on
fund-raising, on fields. And I think that if it`s Hillary Clinton, if it`s
any other Democrat, it`s going to be a generational type landslide election
because Rand Paul is obviously a lunatic.
MADDOW: I don`t think Rand Paul is going to get the nomination. I
don`t -- I think that politically -- it`s kind of like Rick Perry in 20 --
we`re talking about 2016. This is bad.
But in 2012, it`s like Rick Perry, he on paper looked like the guy,
but like Rick Perry, Rand Paul doesn`t know what he`s talking about, even
when he`s talking about supposedly his wheelhouse issues. That gets
exposed early on when people are exposed to the rigors of the campaign
BURTON: I think he does a better job than Rick Perry did.
MADDOW: I don`t think so. Did you hear him talk about Milton
Friedman like he was alive?
BURTON: Right. But keep in mind who we`re talking about here. It`s
not like all the facts are connected up top.
I will make a bet with you that Rand Paul is going it be the nominee,
though. I don`t know what that bet is. I`ll bet you a coffee cup or
something like that.
MADDOW: That`s my coffee cup. OK?
BURTON: OK. Perfect.
BURTON: But Chris Christie is -- I`m not one of these guys who says,
you know, Chris Christie is a jerk and he`ll overheat and that will be the
end of his campaign. I do think Democrats would have to worry about Chris
Christie particularly if he does not veto these bills. But at a time when
people see Washington as completely broken, he`s one of the people who I
think folks can look at and say, he could fix it.
And the last thing that I`ll say about him is that the reason that
Barack Obama, I believe, is president of the United States, is because he
figured out how to run the same election -- the same campaign in the
primary as he did in the general election.
BURTON: And if you look at the Republicans, there`s not one of them
who I think can do that except probably for Chris Christie. If that works
and if he can get through the primary, I think it could be very dangerous.
MADDOW: I would just -- it`s like seeing Cory Booker steaming toward
the Senate with winning this primary today, seeing what Elizabeth Warren
has, I think, cemented since being in the Senate in the way she`s conducted
herself since then, you`re starting to see the development of the
Democratic bench in the Obama era. Seeing the Republicans figure out what
to do on issues like the .50 caliber gun bill in New Jersey, it is still a
wide open question there.
Bill Burton, thank you so much for being here. It`s nice to see you.
BURTON: Thank you.
MADDOW: I`m sorry I called you Orwellian again.
BURTON: It`s OK. I`m used to it.
MADDOW: I`ll be right back. Thanks.
MADDOW: So, in political science terms, the basic requirements for
staging a comeback are, number one: people have to have missed you while
you were gone. And number two: at least some people have to be glad to see
Well, a certain well-known someone in today`s news is trying to
attempt his comeback today with neither of those things going for him.
It`s going very, very poorly and that story is next.
MADDOW: So today in "The Oregonian" newspaper, there was a guest
columnist. The column was this: "Tackle tax breaks with a blank slate
approach, guest opinion." Quote, "Pundits continue to speculate that my
successor in the U.S. Senate, Ron --" who is writing this opinion piece?
Could it -- no, it could not -- oh, my, who`s he, what`s he?
Yes, it is. It`s Bob Packwood, former Republican senator, Bob
Packwood. Does that name ring a bell?
Quick, Wikipedia him. Got it? Right. OK.
From the guest column today, it is clear that Bob Packwood thinks of
himself as someone who you will remember as an accomplished legislator. In
his words, "As someone who knows a thing or two about tax reform honestly,
if you or anyone remembers anything about Bob Packwood, it is not tax
November, 1992, right after Senator Packwood wins re-election, "The
Washington Post" publishes an article featuring interviews with 10, count
them, 10 women who accuse the Bob Packwood of sexual harassment. The
harassment they said was sometimes very physical and it went on for
decades. Stuff like Bob Packwood grabbing them in parking lots and in
offices, kissing them forcefully against their will, trying to pull off
their clothes as they squirmed and scrambled and tried to get away from
When the story came out in "The Washington Post," Mr. Packwood ran off
to rehab in Minnesota, hoping maybe for a cure? At least hoping that the
scandal would die down, but, of course, it didn`t. And within a few
months, 13 more women had come forward for a grand total of 23.
By then, the Senate was forced to hold hearings on these sort of
nightmarish accusations against Bob Packwood. Come time for those
hearings, it was up to 29 women who were willing to testify against him.
Twenty-nine, wow, busy guy. A Senate Ethics Committee voted unanimously to
expel Bob Packwood from the United States Senate.
The next day, about three years after "The Post" first broke the story
of grabby, harassy Bob Packwood, he finally had to announce his
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Senator Bob Packwood left the Capitol after ending 27 years
of service with a rambling resignation speech on Senate floor.
FORMER SEN. BOB PACKWOOD (R), OREGON: It is my duty to resign. It is
the honorable thing to do for this country, for this Senate.
REPORTER: He was one of the most powerful politicians in Washington,
brought down by 10,000 pages of Ethics Committee documents supporting
allegations of improper sexual advances to women and trying to use his
influence to get his former wife a job.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMLALE: By any standard, in any workplace in the United
States of America, he would have been fired and I voted to fire Senator
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: Let us not congratulate nor celebrate
a thing today. This is a moment for grieving.
REPORTER: The governor of Oregon now must call a special election to
fill Packwood`s seat, but for Senate`s Republican leadership, replacing
Packwood will be tougher to do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Senate Republicans did not replace Mr. Packwood. It was
Democrat Ron Wyden who was elected to Bob Packwood`s seat. And Ron Wyden
has been there ever since.
And now, nearly 20 years later, Bob Packwood is apparently writing
columns, offering his successor in the Senate vaguely threatening and cocky
advice on tax reform because he, Bob Packwood, thinks he is remembered for
his legacy in the field of tax reform.
Dear Bob, no matter how you think of yourself, when other people hear
the name Bob Packwood, they do not think of the tax code.
Back in 1995, the person who led the effort to investigate Bob
Packwood in the Senate was then-freshman Senator Barbara Boxer, the newly
elected Democrat from California. Now, 20 years later, she is having to
pull the same old playbook off the shelf.
Bob Filner, the Democratic mayor of San Diego, the former Democratic
congressman from San Diego has been accused of sexual harassment by 14
women and presumably and counting. Fourteen women have come forward just
in the past few weeks, and the San Diego sheriff has three people manning a
full-time hotline in the city to take down details of further allegations
against Bob Filner as they come in.
So far, Mayor Filner is accused by these 14 women of making aggressive
repeated, unwanted advances, trying to kiss them, in fact, kissing them
against their will, grabbing their bodies, propositioning them in
workplace, all taking place in the context of professional offices and
events and meetings.
The most recent of the 14 women who has thus far come forward did so
last week in a radio interview. Two of the mayor`s alleged victims were,
and he knew this at the time, victims of sexual assault. That`s the
context in which he met them. He was meeting with victims of sexual
assaults and he allegedly harassed them.
Like Bob Packwood before him, Bob Filner o far has tried to escape the
attention by checking himself into rehab, after initially saying he would
be there until later this month. He checked himself in early and said he
finished early. He is now reportedly back in San Diego, although nobody
has seen him.
If he did decide to show his face downtown, he yesterday could have
seen a not welcome back rally held in his honor, calling on him to leave
office and resign immediately. Also for reasons that are still not
entirely clear, he would have found that the locks on his office have been
changed. And if he`s opening the mail or reading the news, he would find
that Barbara Boxer, his old friend from the California congressional
delegation, his longtime progressive ally who also had to help lever Bob
Packwood out of the Senate, Barbara Boxer has written an open letter not
telling Bob Filner to resign but scorching him in the process.
Quote, "Bob, you must resign because you have betrayed the trust of
women you have victimized, the San Diagens you represent, and the people
you have worked with throughout your decades in public life. The latest
allegations regarding your behavior toward women recovering from sexual
assaults, women who desperately need our help have shaken me to my core.
Bob, you have already hurt so many people. To avoid hurting your
victims and people of San Diego more than you already have, step down
You know, it`s three years that passed between the publications of the
first accusations between Bob Packwood and his actual resignation. How
long is it going to take Bob Filner?
Today, he put out a statement making no reference at all to the
allegations against him. Talking about all -- talking all about how he is
moving forward for the city of San Diego, looking forward to moving
You`re not moving forward, Mr. Mayor. You really aren`t, ever. How
long are you going to drag this out?
MADDOW: This blockbuster "New York Times" story that was published on
A1 back in June would have been hard to believe if it did not come with
2,200 pages of proof that were published on "The New York Times" Web site
to accompany the story. Two thousand pages of FBI records showing that in
the last 20 years, the FBI`s internal investigations of itself have found
that no FBI agent has ever made a mistake when they shot someone.
In every single episode of an FBI agent shooting someone, either
wounding them or killing them, the FBI internal review process over the
last couple of decades has found that every single one of them was
justified, 150 shootings reviewed. All 150 shootings found to be
"The New York Times" had to sue to get access to those internal FBI
records. The records show that in most of these cases where an FBI agent
shot and killed somebody, the only inquiry into what happened, into what
led to that person being shot and killed by an FBI agent, the only entity
to investigate what happened, was the FBI, itself.
And surprise, the FBI has found for the last two decades that every
single time one of its agents shot and killed somebody, it was a justified
shooting. They never make a mistake. It`s amazing, right? It`s
incredible -- incredible in the sense of not being credible.
Given that perfect record of exonerating themselves every single time
they ever shoot someone, if the FBI asked you to meet with them, if you had
a choice, would you go?
The father of a young man recently killed by FBI has come to the
United States from Russia this week to investigate his son`s death. His
son is Ibragim Todashev. He was shot and killed inside his home in Orlando
in May when being questioned by FBI agents and law enforcement officials
about -- well, we don`t know exactly.
He was apparently at least an acquaintance, if not a friend of one of
the Boston bombing suspects. So presumably that was part of the
questioning, but really we do not know because Ibragim Todashev is dead and
FBI will not speak on the record about how or why they killed him.
At a press conference today, lawyers for Mr. Todashev`s father
revealed that the FBI asked to meet with him also. The FBI asked to meet
with the father, and the father said no.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ERIC LUDIN, TODASHEV FAMILY ATTORNEY: The FBI did attempt to question
Mr. Todashev, but he did not speak to them because he didn`t have any
attorneys present at the time.
HASSAN SHIBLY: I think if anything, what happened, unfortunately,
with his son, taught a very important reminder for all of us you should
never meet with law enforcement without an attorney present.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: The father refused to meet with the FBI without an attorney
present. And can you really blame him?
Mr. Todashev was silent for most of the press conference today. He
said he didn`t want to answer questions because it was hard for him to talk
about his dead son. He did, however, make a short statement through a
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ABDULBAKI TODASHEV, FATHER OF IBRAGIM TODASHEV (through translator):
He was a very good boy, and he wanted to live. I came to America to rely
on American legal system. But I will be able to pursue and achieve the
justice for my son.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: There were a lot of reporters at this press conference in
Florida today asking questions, which I have to say is nice to see given
how terrible some of the press has been about just writing down and not
challenging at all the contradictory claims by anonymous law enforcement
sources about this case -- including the totally contradictory reports that
the dead man was brandishing a weapon when he was killed, was definitely a
knife or a blade of some kind. No, it was a ceremonial sword -- no, it
wasn`t a ceremonial sword, it was a broom -- no, it wasn`t a broomstick, it
was a pole. No, actually, maybe it was nothing? It was nothing, he was
unarmed. But who knows?
They`ve all been reported as facts, citing anonymous self-
congratulatory law enforcement sources, usually without any reference at
all to the fact that other anonymous leaks in this case made totally
different claims. Mr. Todashev`s brand new lawyers today were asked about
those conflicting reports.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: There`s been some reports that he was armed but you`re
saying that absolutely is not the case, was not the case, correct?
SHIBLY: Our sources have said that he was unarmed during the
LUDIN: Based on everything that we`ve learned, we have absolutely no
reason to think there was any kind of a deadly weapon in the possession of
our client -- our client`s son.
REPORTER: We`ve heard knives, swords --
LUDIN: That`s right.
REPORTER: -- was there anything like that? I guess we don`t know.
LUDIN: I`ve heard that from you, from the media, but I have no
reason, in fact, to believe that`s true.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: One of the most interesting things about what happened today
was about the most inflammatory of all the anonymous law enforcement leaks
about this case. In the wake of this mysterious and unexplained death at
the hands of the FBI, it was not long before anonymous law enforcement
officials started telling the press that the man they killed, the dead man,
was on the verge of confessing to a gruesome triple murder that had stunned
the Boston suburb of Waltham back in 2011.
They said Mr. Todashev was about to confess or maybe he had already
started to confess to that unsolved triple murder just moments before the
FBI had to shoot and kill him.
At the press conference today, lawyers for Mr. Todashev`s father said
what Ibragim Todashev`s friends and relatives have been saying for some
time now, which is he talked to his friends and relatives extensively about
his conversations with the FBI but he never once mentioned that the FBI was
talking to him at all about those Waltham murders.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: There was mention he might have been a suspect in a triple
LUDIN: Yes, we`ve heard that rumor as well.
REPORTER: Well, but that`s another reason --
SHIBLY: That had never been mentioned to him or his friends with him
during the questioning before that. So, the first that came out was after
the shooting after he was killed.
LUDIN: You should know, I want to make this point clear as well, the
FBI reached to Mr. Todashev`s son and spoke to him and asked to speak to
him again. Mr. Todashev`s son already had a plane ticket to leave the
United States and go back to Russia to visit with his family. He was
assured by the FBI that this would be the last time they wanted to speak to
him and he delayed his trip home to meet with the FBI because of apparently
an effort to want to be cooperative. And he didn`t survive that second
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Which leads to really obvious and interesting question,
right? If you knew you were the suspect of a murder investigation, and you
had a ticket to leave the United States, why wouldn`t you use that ticket?
Why would you stay in the country?
He had a ticket to leave the U.S. and go home to Russia. If the FBI
was pressuring him as a suspect in a triple murder, why wouldn`t he use the
ticket and leave the country? Why would he stay here to hang out with the
Joining us is Barry Cohen. He`s lead counsel for the Todashev family.
Mr. Cohen, thank you for joining us tonight. It`s nice to have you
BARRY COHEN, LEAD COUNSEL OF TODASHEV FAMILY: Thank you. Nice to be
MADDOW: It has been leaked to the media by anonymous law enforcement
sources that Ibragim Todashev was perhaps on the verge of confessing to a
triple murder that happened back in Boston, 2011. Can you share
information publicly about his potential involvement in that murder, any
COHEN: I don`t -- I have not learned that there`s any merit to that
kind of an accusation. I think it`s pretty typical to try to paint this
young man with a black brush, to make him appear something that he`s not.
There`s no evidence that I am even close to being aware of that would
I think, and even if it were true, which I have no reason to believe
it is, that doesn`t give the FBI the right to assassinate this young man.
Gives them the right to investigate it and do what they need to do, have a
right to do. But as far as we`re concerned, that`s untenable,
unsupportable. And the kind of propaganda that you`d expect to come out of
the FBI knowing there`s going to be an investigation into what happened.
So, this is typical. This is nothing new and nothing surprising.
MADDOW: We did not know until recently that there was going to be any
sort of investigation, any official investigation into this death other
than the FBI`s own troubling internal review process. But now, it`s a
state attorney in Orange County, Florida, who says that he also will review
independently what happened here.
Is that enough of an external independent investigation? What are
your expectations of that?
COHEN: Well, actually my expectations are different than they usually
are in these situations. I have no confidence in the integrity of the law
enforcement community investigating their own because they protect their
And I understand that. They work together. They fight crime
together. There`s a certain amount of loyalty. And they willfully close
their eyes to the truth when these investigations take place.
But this particular investigator, this particular state attorney,
campaigned on his dislike for the way police investigations were conducted
when they investigated their own.
And I have reason to believe that this investigator, this particular
state attorney, Jeff Ashton, is not the usual kind of police investigator
where they`re concerned about being re-elected or concerned about getting
the police benevolent league at election time.
I have a feeling, based on what I know, I`ve heard, have reason to
believe, that Mr. Ashton is taking this case seriously and he`s not going
to sweep facts under the rug. He`s not going to consciously avoid the
truth. He`s going to make these people who may have a proclivity to spin
and tell the truth -- you know, when a clerk banishes the oath in a
courtroom, they say tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the
There`s a difference between the truth and the whole truth. That`s
why they give that sort of swearing in oath.
But I believe that this state attorney brings something new to the
table. And I think that he`s going to be serious about his investigation,
and I think he`s going to likely -- more likely than not -- indict this FBI
agent. Then, we`re going to have a lot of interesting dynamics because
this FBI agent is going to use Florida`s stand your ground rule/law, as a
defense in his case.
And it`s going it be an interesting dynamic how we`ve heard so much
about stand your ground in Florida, and if this FBI agent is indicted, I
can almost assure you that his lawyer will advance the stand your ground
defense, which may be a reason that they -- that he may not be indicted
because of the availability of that defense in Florida.
But my interest is going to be in protecting this family, to make sure
that justice is done. We`re going to look very hard at the facts and we`re
going to hold the FBI agent who should be held accountable in this case,
we`re going to hold him accountable. We`re going to hold the United States
of America accountable for conduct as a result of an FBI agent`s conduct.
And we`re going to see that justice is done.
MADDOW: Barry Cohen, lead counsel for the Todashev family. Mr.
Cohen, it`s been hard to get anybody associated with this case on any side
of it to talk to us. I appreciate you being here tonight. I hope you`ll
stay in touch.
COHEN: Thank you.
MADDOW: Thank you very much.
MADDOW: All right. Now I`m going to try to buy a disgraced
governor`s watch. Please hold on.
MADDOW: The Republican candidate for governor in Virginia is the
state`s attorney general now. His name is Ken Cuccinelli. And Ken
Cuccinelli`s office, we just learned, is under state investigation for
allegedly providing free legal advice to oil and gas companies allegedly
involved in a legal dispute.
Of course, the politics in Virginia have been thoroughly dominated
recently by the scandal surrounding the current governor, Bob McDonnell.
But this new investigation -- this is a whole new, a whole new thing that
Ken Cuccinelli really does not want to talk about.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Can we ask another question --
KEN CUCCINELLI (R), VIRGINIA ATTORNEY GENERAL: No, I`m going to leave
these guys today.
REPORTER: The inspector general --
CUCCINELLI: No, no, I`m sorry. Let me say one thing, you guys, and
by that, I don`t mean anybody here particularly, but I`ve been (INAUDIBLE)
press who complains about negative campaigning. And I`m just going to
leave us with the subject of the day, which is important to every person in
Virginia, and that`s education.
So, if you have other topics, today, you`ve got to ask those of people
REPORTER: Well, your folks want to ask tough questions of Terry
McAuliffe. I mean, shouldn`t we be able to do the same with you?
CUCCINELLI: Well, you have. Call tomorrow and we`ll talk about
something other than education.
REPORTER: OK. That`s not going to turn out well.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That`s not going to turn out well. We shall see.
In the meantime, let`s try to buy Governor Bob McDonnell`s Rolex,
maybe Ken Cuccinelli will talk about that next. That story is next.
MADDOW: On a Saturday night, May 1962, 15,000 men and women filled
Madison Square Garden here in New York City and it was not for a sports
event. It was this. Marilyn Monroe serenading President John F. Kennedy
on the upcoming occasion of his 45th birthday.
What Jimi Hendrix would become to guitar versions of national anthem,
Marilyn Monroe would become to almost obscenely breathy version of happy
birthday to you. And she did in a dress, of course, that she had to be
sewn into. On that memorable night, Marilyn Monroe arrived not just with a
song in mind but also with a gift in hand, with a gold Rolex watch, that
was inscribed on the back, Jack, with love, as always, from Marilyn, May
Marilyn Monroe allegedly gave the watch to a presidential aide who
then passed the watch to the president himself. And when the president
himself saw the watch, he reportedly told the aide to, quote, "Get rid of
it" -- which the aide presumably did. But decades later, just a few years
ago, that Rolex that Marilyn Monroe reportedly gifted to JFK with that
lovely engraving turned up at auction and sold for 120 grand.
And now the worm turns. Today, we have Governor Bob McDonnell of
Virginia, and his gifted engraved Rolex. I think this is it there, on his
left wrist there. In this case, though, there is no breathy movie star
involved. His fully functional hood ornament for your wrist was gifted to
him by a rich businessman, a donor and a used to be a friend of his, named
The story goes as reported in "The Washington Post" that the first
lady of Virginia, Maureen McDonnell, admired John Williams` own Rolex and
suggested he buy a similar one to give to her husband, the governor. And
this all happened at exactly the same time that the governor and his wife
were arranging for Mr. Williams to have meetings with health officials so
they could lobby for him to use his products made by his company for state
Mr. Williams did buy the Rolex watch for the governor. It was
inscribed "71st governor of Virginia", nobody saying apparently, though,
and Governor Bob McDonnell didn`t tell anyone to get rid of it. He started
wearing it. And the engraved Rolex became one of the most memorable items
of an embarrassingly long list of cash and prices that governor ultrasound
Bob McDonnell and his family took from Johnny Williams over the past couple
Over $140,000 in cash, a $15,000 shopping strip to New York City, a
loaned Ferrari, a lakeside vacation home, right? After the scandal broke,
the governor apologized and said he paid back all the cash to Johnny
Williams. But what about the prizes -- what about the shopping spree at
Bergdorf Goodman`s, the suede jacket, the designer gown, the handbags, the
shoes, the loaner Ferrari, what about the engraved Rolex?
It has not been cleared before today what became of all of that.
Today, as he was being whisked away on a state airplane to the next stop on
his weird two-week Commonwealth of Opportunity, can we please stop talking
about my scandal tour, Governor McDonnell turned to the reporters and said,
quote, "At this point, I have been advised by my attorney that all the
tangibles have been returned."
The tangible -- in other words, he told somebody to get rid of it.
There has been no itemized list of the returns but we were able to do
a little reporting (ph) on this matter. There are still plenty of pictures
of the governor`s wrist on public record. He certainly still wears a
watch. It`s not clear from a distance what watch he is wearing now
exactly. But if you compare the watch now to the one seen months ago, it
does seem clear that he maybe is wearing something new.
But what do you do with the watch that was engraved to you? Do you
pawn it? You put it on eBay. Without being able to get physically to the
pawn shops of the commonwealth, we looked online. We found this one,
except this watch here is engraved with the Masonic emblem. It`s also a
bit older and gold.
We found this one, which is silver, kind of looked similar, except
this one was engraved with the General Motor`s logo on the back.
As far as we can tell, Governor McDonnell`s ex-Rolex or a comparable
model is not available on eBay yet. What`s going to happen to it?
Johnny Williams presumably did not return it to the Rolex store, to
have the back ground off of it to take the engraving out. The bottom line
is we don`t know the exact whereabouts of the governor`s former Rolex or
any of these gifts, we`re taking his word for it.
When do we stop doing that?
That does it for us tonight. Now, it`s time for "THE LAST WORD WITH
Have a great night.
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