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Date: 2024-02-21 Page is: DBtxt003.php txt00002090
ISSUES
Abortion
Women's rights, Choice, post birth quality of life
TRANSCRIPT
Rachel Maddow Show ... Abortion and murder ... Republican politics and personhood ... political hypocricy on display

The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript

Guests: Ben Ginsberg, John Archibald
Transcript: THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW
Date: March 31, 2016

CHRIS HAYES, “ALL IN” HOST: That is “ALL IN” for this evening.

THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts right now. Good evening, Rachel.

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chris. Thanks, my friend.

HAYES: You bet.

MADDOW: And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour.

The airport in Peoria, Illinois, is not what you call a big airport. It`s the General Wayne A. Downing Peoria International Airport, which is a lot of words and it sounds big. But that airport is only served by four passenger airlines.

I can`t tell what the international flights are. I`m sorry. I know there must be some, but I couldn`t find them.

Still, though, if you live near Peoria, Illinois, there`s a chance this lovely piece of infrastructure is your local airport. And today, it shut down. It wasn`t like a temporary weather shut down or something routine like that. No, they actually stopped all flights into the airport and out of the airport, and then, they evacuated the entire airport. They made all human beings leave.

They pushed everybody all the way out. There was a big long line of cars on the parkway leading into the airport which was stopped for so long, people ended up getting out of their cars. They were just stuck there hanging out. They couldn`t get in or out. Couldn`t leave or arrive. That lasted for hours today.

The reason for the shut down was in part, really, super shady national politics. The other part of it was suspicious dog toys.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Continuing coverage now. The story we first broke this morning. Here`s what we know about what transpired this morning at Peoria International Airport.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The airport was evacuated after authorities found what they called a suspicious package at TSA. That was at 6:30 this morning. Here`s a look at the x-ray of the device as it went through TSA in a bag.

This has been released from the Peoria County sheriff`s office. According to Sheriff Mike McCoy, a TSA officer handled the package and after opening it, discovered two bottles containing liquid, a timing device, wires and sticks that were labeled dynamite. It turns out, those sticks actually were dog toys.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: Sticks that were labeled dynamite, turns out they were dog toys. The dog toys, which shut down Peoria International Airport this morning for hours were apparently meant to be ostentatiously fake looking sticks of dynamite. Since they were dog toy, I`m guessing they squeaked or something else about them that was going to be fun for your dog to play with, but they really did cause quite a mess. The county sheriff later explained.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It looked like three sticks of dynamite in there.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, three sticks of dynamite with the jar of liquid. So, that`s what it looked like.

REPORTER: All it`s missing is acme dynamite company on there.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I wish I had some other pictures. A detective had a picture. There`s red sticks and on the side of them and it said dynamite. So, I mean – you know –

REPORTER: You can`t get much clearer –

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, I can`t get any clearer.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: Now, we don`t know exactly what the dog toys looked like. All we have seen are the pictures from the x-ray, and that doesn`t help. But based on the description from the sheriff there, we are guessing it was something like one of these, which you can get at all sorts of dog stores, along side other hilarious dark humor dog toys that look like grenades or bombs or even severed feet, for the schnauzer in your life who has an inappropriate sense of humor.

This airport security incident though, which shut down this airport today for hours, this was not a joke. It was not a frank. It turns out it wasn`t even dog related, even though it was dog todys that shut down the airport.

The reason this happened is because of the politics of abortion.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The airport was evacuated. And authorities isolated a woman in connection to the package. She`s being detained. There`s no word on charges right now.

She was headed to Washington, D.C., connecting in Dallas. She`s described as a white woman in her 30s. We don`t know her name at this time.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Authorities say the woman say the package is a training device for abortion clinics.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: Training device.

Peoria County government released statement explaining what happened here, explaining specifically that no charges are going to be filed against this woman who had this device. It turns out she is an employee of the National Abortion Federation. She travels the country. It`s part of her job working with abortion providers to train them on how to identify suspicious items, things like bombs which people might try to smuggle into a clinic or target an abortion clinic doctor or other clinic personnel.

The National Abortion Federation says this training device, this supposed bomb is so obviously fake, including the squeaky vinyl dog toy sticks of dynamite that say dynamite on the side of them in big white letters. They say it`s so ostentatiously obviously fake that they have routinely traveled with this training device all over the country and they never really had a problem.

But in Peoria, Illinois, today, at TSA, they spotted this thing in check baggage and the whole airport had to be evacuated for hours. And the reason this sort of thing happens in the United States is because somebody really does have to go around the country training abortion doctors and abortion clinic staff on how to spot bombs, how to protect themselves from assassination attempts, because abortion providers and abortion clinic personnel do get targeted by anti-abortion activists in this cancer on a scarily regular basis.

I mean, when these things have happened, they`re not random, unconnected attacks. One of the uglier features of the extreme anti- abortion movement in this country is they have spawned support networks for people who have shot abortion providers. Others radical anti-abortion activists will visit those folks in prison and create online tributes to them and organize legal support efforts on behalf of this particular variety of murderer.

For example, in 2003, Florida executed a double murderer, this man, who had assassinated an abortion doctor in Pensacola, Florida, as well as the security guard he had with him at the time. The head of a group called Operation Rescue put out statement when the state of Florida carried out the execution of this murderer. The Operation Rescue statement said it was no justice because the man who had shot and killed the abortion doctor and security guard, he wasn`t allowed to prevent a legal defense because it was justifiable defensive action.

Operation Rescue said when he was executed by the state of Florida, that the man never should have faced execution because he wasn`t allowed to present his defense, quote, “that claimed the killing of the abortionist was necessary – necessary to save the lives of pre-born babies.”

Lots of people are murdered in this country for all sorts of difference reasons. But as far as I know there`s only one group of people in this country that gets targeted for murder by an organized American movement that says it`s not only justified but it should be legal to kill those people because of what they do for a living and anybody who does murder one of those people should be supported and indeed legally excused for their action because it`s necessary to kill these people. Only abortion providers face that in this country in an organized and ongoing way.

And, so, employees of the National Abortion Federation have to travel around the country teaching people who work at clinics the best practices for how to avoid getting murdered by anti-abortion extremists. That`s why nobody could fly into or out of Peoria, Illinois, today.

The guy who wrote that statement in 2003, saying it was justifiable homicide to murder an abortion doctor and the guy who murdered the abortion doctor therefore shouldn`t be executed, that`s him there. His name is Troy Newman. He`s from Operation Rescue.

He also over the years put out statements praising the Lord and thanking God when other abortion doctors have died from natural causes, including this doctor he praised for dying of leukemia. He also once claimed in a book that the only just punishment for any doctor who does an abortion in the United States should be execution. Any doctor who does an abortion in the U.S. should be treated like a convicted murderer and executed. He made the case in a book called “Their Blood Cries Out”, which I learned about from Ted Cruz.

The head of Operation Rescue who has argued it`s justifiable homicide to kill abortion doctors, who said any doctor who does an abortion in this country should be executed for it, the man who has praised the cancer deaths of abortion providers. He is the co-chair of Pro-Life for Cruz.

Ted Cruz put out a press release bragging about the Operation Rescue guy coming aboard his campaign, published a little biography of him on the Ted Cruz official campaign website, bragging about this guy who is on team Cruz, Pro-Life for Cruz, he had authored this interesting book, “Their Blood Cries Out”, which is the book that calls for the execution of doctors who do abortion in this country. It`s also a book that says women who have abortions in this country are murderers and contract killers and should be treated that way in the United States.

Any woman who has an abortion is a murderer and a contract killer says the co-chair for Pro-Life for Cruz.

Ted Cruz has a lot of these sort of affinity groups, these coalition groups supporting his campaign. It`s a big part of how he organizes around the country. He`s also, for example, touted a group of faith leaders for Cruz, which includes a famous radical anti-abortion activist who incidentally has been found guilty of stalking an abortion provider, including distributing wanted posters of several doctors, which listed their names and home addresses. Go get them.

Distributing pictures and names and addresses of abortion doctors is one of the ways the abortion movement, anti-abortion movement has continually contributed to the intimidation of and violence against abortion doctors and clinic personnel in this country. Ted Cruz`s pro-life co-chair Troy Newman to this day maintains a website that includes addresses and photos of individual abortion providers.

Radical anti-abortionists like this tend to get convicted now when they put wanted dead or alive on these posters and these websites. So, they have toned that part of it down these days, but they do happily still distribute individual doctors, photos and addresses. Go get them.

So, we`re in this moment of really profound hypocrisy in the Republican presidential race and professed ignorance in national media coverage of the Republican presidential race. And I don`t know if the beltway media sort of doesn`t get this yet or if they don`t feel like reporting on it or if it`s uncomfortable or if it earns you too many enemies from people you want to be sources and friends in the future. But what we`re having right now in terms of the focus of the Republican presidential race and the national media coverage is a farce, because what`s going on is not that hard to understand, and it`s really different from the way this is being described this most national media.

Here`s what I mean: Just look at a snapshot in time of yesterday. Midday, simultaneously, yesterday, there was Ted Cruz doing an event this Wisconsin. It`s one of these coalition events. In this case, it wasn`t pro-lifers for Cruz or faith leaders for Cruz.

Yesterday, midday, he did a women for Cruz event. He had his wife there. He had his mother there. Also Carly Fiorina was there. He was touting all the support he gets from women. It`s one of these support groups, coalition groups, affinity groups for Ted Cruz. That was happening in Wisconsin.

At the same time Donald Trump was also in Wisconsin taping his now infamous town hall with my friend Chris Matthews. And Chris was fairly masterfully pinning down Donald Trump on how exactly it`s going to work when as president, self-proclaimed pro-life Donald Trump will make abortion illegal.

Chris pinned him down. Who will you enforce that? What will be the consequences? Who will be punished for that? How will women be punished if they seek an abortion once you`re president and you figured out how to make abortion illegal?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: You say you want to ban it. What does that mean?

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I would – I am against – I am pro-life, yes.

MATTHEWS: What is ban – how do you ban abortion? How do you actually do it?

TRUMP: Well, you know, you will go back to a position like they had where people will perhaps go to illegal places.

MATTHEWS: Yes?

TRUMP: But you have to ban it.

MATTHEWS: You banning –

Do you believe in punishment for abortion, yes or no as a principle?

TRUMP: The answer is that there has to be some form of punishment.

MATTHEWS: For the woman?

TRUMP: Yes, there has to be some form.

MATTHEWS: Ten cents? Ten years? What?

TRUMP: Let me just tell you – I don`t know. That I don`t know. That I don`t know.

MATTHEWS: Why not?

TRUMP: I don`t know.

MATTHEWS: You take positions on everything else.

TRUMP: Because I don`t want to – I frankly, I do take positions on everything else. It`s a very complicated position.

MATTHEWS: You tell me what the law should be.

TRUMP: I have – I have not determined…

MATTHEWS: Just tell me what the law should be. You say you`re pro- life.

TRUMP: I am pro-life.

MATTHEWS: What does that mean?

TRUMP: With exceptions. I am pro-life.

I have not determined what the punishment would be.

MATTHEWS: Why not?

TRUMP: Because I haven`t determined it.

MATTHEWS: By saying you`re pro-life, you mean you want to ban abortion. How do you ban abortion without some kind of sanction? Then you get in that very tricky question of a sanction, a fine on human life which you call murder?

TRUMP: It will have to be determined.

MATTHEWS: A fine, imprisonment for a young woman who finds herself pregnant?

TRUMP: It will have to be determined.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: Donald Trump, several hours later, tried to take that back. He put out a statement saying he didn`t mean that women should be punished for getting an abortion even though that`s what he said. He now said he wants doctors to be punished, not women themselves who seek abortions.

Now, Ted Cruz, the guy whose got the convicted abortion doctor stalker on his faith leaders for Cruz list, and he`s got the guy who says that women who have abortion are murderers and contract killers and should be treated as such, he`s got him as a co-chair of his pro-life for Cruz group. Ted Cruz, that candidate, wasted no time in criticizing Donald Trump for Mr. Trump`s remarks to Chris Matthews yesterday.

Ted Cruz, after those remarks, put out a statement saying this, quote, “Of course, we shouldn`t be talking about punishing women. We should affirm their dignity and the incredible gift they have to bring life into the world.”

Of course, we shouldn`t be talking about punishing women. We shouldn`t be talking about that. Ted Cruz is right that the anti-abortion movement in general has learned to stop talking about that. They don`t like the talk about that. They like toy say they`ll never talk about that.

But it is, if we`re being honest here, an unavoidable consequence of what it would mean if they get their way. What it would mean if they get their way, which means what it would mean if they make abortion illegal.

That is what the anti-abortion movement wants to do. And, yes, the anti-abortion movement has mostly learned to stop talking about punishing women, mostly. Not all of them have.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PAT ROBERTSON, TELEVANGELIST: It was interesting what Trump says. It shocks people, but the same time, the old adage was that abortion was illegal, that it was murder and consequently, if it`s illegal, it`s murder, then there had to be some penalty attached to it.

If somebody says abortion is murder, then what do you do to somebody who commits murder? I mean, it`s a dilemma that people had been wrestling with and I`m sure they`re not going to get into it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: Too late. You just got into it. The political narrative and media narrative that come up in the last 24 hours in response to what Donald Trump said yesterday about abortion and what it means to be anti- abortion, what it means to want to ban abortion in this country, it is so out of touch and so facile right now it`s mind-bending. I mean, reporting on what the anti-abortion movement is, reporting on that movement`s aims, reporting on what it means to be a pro-life politician doesn`t just mean writing down what you want to say about them.

You don`t have to use the antiseptic language and chosen phrases they choose to use themselves when they describe their own perception. You don`t have to talk about them only the way they like to be talked about. When you talk about them in terms of their actual policy goals in an objective way, you very quickly realize what Donald Trump did, yesterday, it may be viewed as a gaffe, but it wasn`t a gaffe, right? He just used blunter language than the anti-abortion likes the use in public.

Let`s just get real about this for a second. If you are pro-life, that means you don`t think a woman has a right to have an abortion if she wants one. If you`re pro-life, you mean that – that means you think there isn`t a right to get an abortion. It means you`re anti-abortion.

Anti-abortion doesn`t mean you don`t get an abortion in your own life. It means you believe nobody else should be able to get an abortion either.

When a politician says he or she is pro-life and will govern as such, what that means is that they would like abortion do be outlawed. It means they want the United States of America to be a country in which getting an abortion is a crime. If getting an abortion is a crime, that means anybody who gets an abortion is a criminal. Follow me here.

That`s what Chris Matthews was getting at with Donald Trump. And this is what he admitted to that has so upset everything that he said it out loud. But it`s true. If we become a pro-life country that abortion is illegal, then every time any woman becomes pregnant in the United States, she will face a government mandate that says she must bring that pregnancy to term and she must give birth by order of the government.

The government will use the criminal law to monitor every pregnancy in this country and to force every woman in America who gets pregnant to take that pregnancy to term and give birth if it`s against her will. That`s what it means in brass tacks.

It means if you are a woman in America and we become a pro-life country, because the anti-abortion side wins, that means your pregnancy tests is potentially criminal evidence. If you have a miscarriage, God forbid, every physical aspect of your miscarriage is potentially criminal evidence. The sight of your miscarriage is potentially going to be treated and investigated as a crime scene.

In a pro-life country, if the government knows you to be pregnant, and you do not give birth nine months later, that will be a matter for the police to investigate. Donald Trump says he`s pro-life. The Republican Party has generally viewed him as a squish on the subject, is not hard line enough abortion.

As an example of how he`s not hard line enough, in contrast, Ted Cruz is not only anti-abortion, he`s anti-abortion in every instance. Under President Ted Cruz, he would go further than Donald Trump and impose the same criminal regime not just on women broadly, but on specifically women who became pregnant because they were raped or because they were the victim of incest.

So, some – God forbid, right, some 13-year-old girl somewhere in America gets raped by her evil uncle and gets impregnated. Under a Ted Cruz presidency, if he gets his way, that 13-year-old girl`s pregnancy would become a matter for the state, the government to monitor and the criminal law would be used to force the 13-year-old girl to bring the pregnancy to term and it would force her to give birth to her rapist child against her will under penalty of criminal law.

So, it sort of feels like a parallel universe, right, in which the comments by Donald Trump yesterday are seen as somehow outrageous while Ted Cruz is the reasonable one.

Penalty of criminal law. So, it sort of feels like a parallel universe in which the comments by Donald Trump is seen as outrageous while Ted Cruz is the reasonable one.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: There has to be some form of punishment.

MATTHEWS: For the woman?

TRUMP: Yes. There has to be some form.

MATTHEWS: Ten cents, ten years?

TRUMP: I don`t know. That I don`t know.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: The anti-abortion movement of this country does not like to talk about that part of what their agenda would mean for our country. The anti-abortion movement in this country does not like any public reminders of the lengths between their movement and the part of their movement that shoots doctors and says it`s justified to do so.

But presidential candidate Ted Cruz has not been diligent about keeping a bright line between his own anti-abortion politics, his own anti- abortion campaign and the radical violent anti-abortion politics that have brought us the Operation Save America and Operation Rescues of this world.

His opponent, Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump, he`s not been particularly good at keeping a bright line between what he wants to be seen as mainstream anti-abortion Republican politics and the politically awkward but true fact of what it would mean for American women if Republicans get their way, the anti-abortion movement gets their way, and they succeed in making abortion a crime and every American woman who seeks one into a criminal.

So, just a note to the national media and to the beltway media on the subject – I know everybody is all over Donald Trump on this, what will it mean for his campaign? But covering a story like this does not mean just writing down what people want you to say about them in the terms they want you to use. And the idea there`s any distance at all between what Donald Trump said yesterday on this subject, and the aims of the antiabortion movement in this country, that is a fallacy and one that no responsible person should repeat.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW: We got word early today that Republican presidential front- runner Donald Trump was having a surprise meeting at Republican Party headquarters in Washington. Now that mainstream Republicans are pretty openly talking about how they might use Republican Party rules to try to stop Mr. Trump from getting the party`s nomination at their convention this summer, this means it`s news if Donald Trump turns up at Republican Party headquarters.

So, the D.C. press corps went down to watch Donald Trump go in and wait for him to leave.

But then, eagle eye reporters got another glimpse of another person leaving Republican headquarters around that time. And that someone – that someone happens to be the singular elections rules genius who`s not only seen as the nation`s foremost expert on the sort of dark political art that could potentially be used to block a Trump nomination at the convention. He`s actually the guy who wrote the convention rules that might make it possible, and he was there today simultaneously at RNC headquarters while Donald Trump was there having his surprise secret meeting.

Maybe they even said hello in halls. I don`t know. But we`ll all know in a minute, because that intriguing person joins us here next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW: If you are a Bernie Sanders supporter or anywhere near a critical mess of Bernie Sanders supporters today, you may have felt an unusual cold breeze today, a ripple of concern and worry. That`s because for a time today, it looked like Bernie Sanders was not going to have his name on the primary ballot in Washington, D.C.

Even though the Sanders campaign paid the fee and did everything they were supposed to do, turns out the D.C. Democratic Party screwed up. They submitted the paper a day late but that put his appearance on the ballot in jeopardy, hence the ripple of concern, hence the cold breeze.

Here is how the Hillary Clinton campaign reacted. Quote, “An administrative error should not keep a candidate off the ballot. Let`s get Bernie Sanders on the ballot in D.C.” That`s from Hillary Clinton campaign John Podesta.

And lo and behold the Democratic race has nice endings sometimes. Problem resolved. D.C. Democrats called the situation all a big misunderstanding. It`s like an episode of “Three`s Company”. They`re going to resolve the issues with Jack Tripper and Chrissy next week.

Bernie Sanders will be on the ballot. No problem. Everybody played nice. Issue resolved. Hooray.

Now, on the Republican side, it`s not like that. The Republican side, take the ballot, for example, in Montana. In Montana, Ted Cruz really is trying to get John Kasich kicked off the ballot in that state. Ted Cruz supporters are questioning the validity of signatures submitted by John Kasich`s campaign. They`re trying to make it where he can`t compete.

Really Ted Cruz? Are you sure you really need to get all out to get John Kasich off the ballot in Montana? Montana is really so important?

Actually, yes. And the reason is a potential magic key that could unlock the nomination at the Republican convention this summer if you use it right. It`s called rule 40B. It was authored by Mitt Romney super lawyer, former RNC general counsel Ben Ginsberg in 2012. It was basically designed to stop Ron Paul.

And it states, in part, that, quote, “Each candidate for nomination for president of the United States and vice president of the United States shall demonstrate the support for the majority of delegates from each of eight or more states, prior to the presentation of the name of that candidate for nomination.”

So, in plain English, you need to have gotten a majority of eight states. Majority in eight states or your name can`t be put forward as a possible nominee at the Republican Convention. That rule was basically designed to stop Ron Paul fans from nominating him and embarrassing Mitt Romney in 2012.

Before that rule, the rules had just required a simple plurality of delegates in five states. They upped the number to eight and said you have to have a majority in eight. That was the Romney`s team way of essentially denying Ron Paul the opportunity to have his name placed in nomination.

And if that sounds complicated, I`ll make it really simple. You can see it play out from a clip that I`m about to show you from the 2012 convention.

This is kind of amazing. This is Minnesota. Their delegation announcing their delegate preferences. What they had decided on Minnesota, what they wanted to be recorded by the RNC. So, watch them announce their preferences and then watch the official tally.

This is rule 40B in action. Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Minnesota, where we are very proud of our state Republican Party which runs a fair convention with integrity, cast 33 votes for Ron Paul. One vote for Senator Rick Santorum and six votes for Governor Romney.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Minnesota, six, Romney.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: That`s it, 33 votes for Ron Paul, what. One vote, what.

It`s like just take the Romney ones, because Ron Paul, let along Rick Santorum, they hadn`t crossed this eight-state majority threshold in rule 40B. So, it`s like they didn`t exist. That`s why Ted Cruz is challenging John Kasich`s appearance on the ballot in Montana, as pitiful as that may sound.

Ted Cruz has currently won a majority of delegates in six states. Under rule 40B, he needs two more by the end of the primary process to be eligible to be nominated for president by the Republican Party. And that should be doable. He only needs two more states.

But Montana is one of the states that Ted Cruz really plans on getting. It would be a little easier if John Kasich wasn`t even there, right? Now that Ted Cruz seems likely to cross that eight-state threshold, the Ted Cruz campaign thinks that Rule 40b is the best thing since sliced bread.

Ted Cruz said today on talk radio, that it will be a terrible idea for the Washington power brokers to change the rules and get rid of rule 40B. Keeping Rule 40B on the books would likely end John Kasich`s effort to get the nomination. It will likely end his campaign.

He was asked about Rule 40B in Pennsylvania, he said, quote, “As it applies to the rules of convention, there are no rules.”

In way, John Kasich is right. Forty B like all other rules, it is a temporary rule. Those rules can be changed. There`s the suspicion out there that Ted Cruz is being used like a mule to get the Republican Party into an open convention at which Donald Trump can be denied the nomination.

And right now, many members of the establishment are coalescing around Ted Cruz or pretending to coalesce around him because they think that`s the best way to keep Trump from getting the nomination. But the idea is, that once they get to the convention and they can pick anything they want, they`re not going to pick Ted Cruz. There`s the suspicion that`s what`s going on in Republican politics right now.

That is not possible if Ted Cruz can manipulate the rules-making process so that he holds onto rule 40B, in which case only he and Donald Trump can be possible nominees even with an open convention. Right? Isn`t that the way it works?

Joining us is the best person in the world to fact check me on this, Ben Ginsberg, former RNC general counsel, the author of Rule 40.

Mr. Ginsberg, it`s great to have you here. Thank you so much.

BEN GINSBERG, FORMER RNC GENERAL COUNSEL: Nice to be here. You give me far too much credit. We probably do have some things to unpack here.

MADDOW: All right. Well, tell me what I got wrong.

GINSBERG: Well, so the rules of the convention have to be passed by each convention. So, unless the 2016 delegates voter rule, it doesn`t exist. That`s true of all the procedural rules, including our favorite 40B.

So, that as of now, there is not a rule in place for the 2016 convention until the delegates, who are not yet chosen, for the most part, decide in Cleveland what the rules should be and number of states should be.

MADDOW: OK, let me ask you right there just to clarify. So, that does that mean that every – this is rule 40, which means there are at least 39 others. Does that mean they all get wiped off the map? They`re starting with a clean slate, none of the rules get carried over from 2012?

GINSBERG: No. There`s the proceedings of the convention rules that start with rule 26, the little noticed and misunderstood Rule 26, and carries to Rule 42. They`re the proceedings of the convention. Those are the ones that must be passed by each convention.

MADDOW: OK. There are some rules that carry over. There are some rules that have to be passed by each convention?

GINSBERG: Correct.

MADDOW: Is there a sense among Republican Party convention bigwigs. I don`t know a more technical than that.

GINSBERG: Who are those?

MADDOW: I know. Exactly. I know, as a lawyer, I know you can unpack that pretty quickly.

But is there a sense that Rule 40 only applied to 2012, and won`t be expected to be part of the rule making process in 2016. It`s now matter of political debate, for example, between Ted Cruz and John Kasich.

GINSBERG: Well, every convention has to pass a rule on what it takes to nominate a candidate for the presidency and vice presidency. It was actually in 2008 where they changed plurality to majority, because after all, if you`re trying to get a number of signatures on a petition, how do you know what a plurality is until it may be too late.

So, majority in 2008 became the standard. Those rules are supposed to be passed to deal with the conditions that apply to each convention.

So, for 2012, you sort of accurately describe the Ron Paul scenario, and that`s why it was moved up to eight. It was five in 2008 with a plurality.

So, the rule is changed over time, really for the conditions of each convention. That`s going to happen this time too. That`s what the rules provide for.

MADDOW: Does the RNC institutionally have any preference or is it purely down to the delegates?

GINSBERG: The RNC and the rules committee submits a working draft that becomes the foundation for what the convention rules committee and the convention do. In that sense, they do. Once you get to the convention rules committee those delegates are chosen by each delegation after that delegation is chosen in the individual states.

MADDOW: Ben, can I ask you one last request which I`m completely convinced you will not answer?

GINSBERG: Sure.

MADDOW: What were you doing at RNC headquarters today and did it have anything to do with Donald Trump surprise meeting there?

GINSBERG: I`m glad you asked. I will answer it. It had nothing to do with Donald Trump`s meeting there. I had a meeting with my friends and clients at the National Republican Congressional Committee two floors down.

The only thing I knew about the Trump meeting was I couldn`t get in the door because it was locked as he was arriving.

MADDOW: Ben Ginsberg, former RNC general counsel and the subject of so many baseless conspiracy theories – I`m sure you stopped counting them. Thank you, sir.

GINSBERG: Very flattering.

MADDOW: I know. It is a form of flattery. Thank you, Ben. Appreciate it.

GINSBERG: Thanks.

MADDOW: All right. We got much more to come on this very busy news night. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW: In politics, the visuals matter. They are usually carefully constructed by political operatives at the highest level, particularly when you`re dealing with a high profile politician.

But sometimes even very high profile photo ops go wrong like for example the time when Governor Sarah Palin of Alaska pardoned a Thanksgiving turkey and then conducted a lengthy media interview while a mass turkey slaughter took place in the meat grinder right over her shoulder.

Then there was Jon Huntsman who kicked off his announcement in front of statue of liberty. There was no pretty photo op, just a circle line tour boat that set there dissecting his head while he talked about his vision for the future of the country.

Then, there was the time that Connecticut senator held a press conference about commuter rail sift only to narrowly avoid getting hit while standing next to a commute r train that was close to him.

Sometimes photo-ops go horribly wrong. But none of those are nearly as wrong as to what happened to one high profile politician in trouble who today apparently accidentally went to prison.

That`s next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW: This is stunning.

All right. Let`s say you are a politician in trouble. Let`s say you`ve had to deliver a contrite apology to your state and the people of your state do not seem to be accepting it. They`re not only impeachment proceedings but 90 percent of people responding to surveys say you should quit. There are reports now that the state ethnics commission and the state attorney general, and department of justice are investigating you for criminal misbehavior. If you`re that guy, you probably have to think carefully about whether you want to make any public appearances at until things cool down or you have a better explanation for what you`ve just done, especially when the last explanation doesn`t seem to be working on people.

If you are going to appear in public, if you decide that you even will, you then need to think really specifically about the message you`re spending explicitly and implicitly about why you`re out in public, about where you`re going, why you`re there and what message it`s sending.

So, if you are a politician who is reportedly under criminal investigation, facing not only the possibility of getting thrown out of office but maybe the possibility of getting thrown into prison, if you`re that guy, don`t go do prison. Don`t let photographers, AP, wire service photographers stage paragraphs of you between you and the photographers, there`s a set of bars because you`re at a prison. Don`t let them show you on what appears to be your first visit to the prison commissary where you`re picking your Fritos and your sugar packets.

I mean, you might have to do some prison related business as a governor, but, A, don`t go. B, don`t go and make it your photo-op when people are thinking you ought to go to prison. I mean, now, in case Alabama was having any trouble imagining their deacon, family values super conservative, pious Republican governor going to jail, that governor has just made it a lot easy to imagine him going to jail because he`s literally shown us what it would like for him to go to jail during an official visit he took today to an Alabama state prison.

Governor Bentley, what are you thinking? Did you just lose your top political advisor who might have told you not to do this? Things are not getting better for Alabama`s Governor Robert Bentley, they are getting worse.

The big news is that his top political advisor no longer works for him. She was also his alleged mistress. She`s out. She`s resigned her position saying she planned to spend more time with her family.

It`s a little bit weird, right? She has to resign, but as far as we know, she hasn`t committed any official misconduct. She`s technically not even an Alabama state official. Part of the issue here is that nobody who knows who has been paying her salary all this time, right? That is stunning.

So, she`s out. He`s staying. There`s continuing reports there`s a criminal investigation at the state level and federal level.

As to the potential of impeaching Governor Bentley, that is now getting a lot of attention. Articles of impeachment have been filed by a member of the legislature in Alabama.

But quick note to our friends in the national media who are just picking up this Alabama governor story, there`s really good reason to be skeptical that Governor Bentley will be impeached by the legislature and that`s because the speaker of the House in Alabama is the guy who would have to organize an impeachment vote and the speaker of the House is facing more than 20 felony corruption charges, and Robert Bentley, the governor, is likely to be a witness in that felony corruption trial for the speaker of House.

So, the speaker of the House needs Robert Bentley to be a friendly witness and he`s likely to lead impeachment procedures.

I know you`re all just catching up to the story now, but just read the second and third paragraphs of the headlines you`ve been looking.

The local press has been amazing on this from the very, very beginning, even if the national press is just walking up the story. Check out “The Birmingham News” today, breaking yet another almost unbelievably provocative detail in the story. Look at the headline, Governor Bentley bought multiple disposable burner cell phones at Tuscaloosa Best Buy. Burner cell phones now, really?

The governor, at that miraculously ill-staged prison photo op today did say he`s still not even considering resigning, but with each passing day the story gets bigger and not smaller and the fact the national media has now caught up to it is probably not going to help his case.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. ROBERT BENTLEY (R), ALABAMA: I just want the people of Alabama to know there is nothing there, there`s nothing illegal, there`s nothing that`s ever been done that would affect the people of Alabama and effect my job.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: Joining us now from Alabama is John Archibald. He`s a columnist for the “Birmingham News”.

Mr. Archibald, thanks very much for being here. It`s nice to see you again.

JOHN ARCHIBALD, BIRMINGHAM NEWS: Thank you.

MADDOW: Why did the governor`s alleged mistress resign, his senior political adviser while the governor says he won`t consider resigning himself? Did she do something worse than he did?

ARCHIBALD: Well, she took the bullet for him. It was the inevitable first step if he`s going to try to keep this job and she took the first step. Whether she`s really out of the picture remains to be seen.

MADDOW: “The Birmingham News”, your paper, broke some intriguing, even puzzling news today that had a lurid headline. The news reported today that Governor Bentley bought a bunch of burner cell phones at a Best Buy in Tuscaloosa. Did we know that that is connected to this other scandal swirling around and is there any explanation from the governor about that?

ARCHIBALD: I`ve requested the text messages in the past and have been frustrated with it and have been told that he has several – he changes his cell phone numbers very often, his private ones. So, whether that`s a burner phone or not, but it`s another one of those images. Nobody wants the governor wandering into the Best Buy to pick up burners so yet another one of those image problems.

MADDOW: Your – this story which you had such a role in breaking here is now getting a lot of national attention, national TVs and national newspapers. I feel like people have grabbed on to the idea that the governor might be impeached. It`s my reading from out here that impeachment is actually an unlikely sanction for him. What`s your perspective on that?

ARCHIBALD: I think it`s unlikely for the reasons you stated earlier. You never know. If it comes up it requires a majority in the House. It could happen. The Democrats who have not really played a role in the last, what, eight years could be the deciding factor there.

It`s conceivable that it happened. I wouldn`t bet it though.

MADDOW: John Archibald, columnist for “The Birmingham News”, thanks for helping us keep up to date as this story keeps getting weirder. I appreciate your time tonight.

ARCHIBALD: Thank you.

MADDOW: Thanks. We`ll be right back. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW: So, we`ve thrown out what was supposed to be the back half of the show because there`s a thing I didn`t expect to have to do tonight. We have apparently ended up in a fairly serious dispute with the front- runner for the presidential nomination. He`s just made an allegation about this network which is a serious one which I will refute next.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW: So we have some breaking news tonight and it has to do with the comments Donald Trump made during his town hall with Chris Matthews yesterday in which he said women should be punished for having an abortion. Mr. Trump has clarified that what he meant is that doctors should be punished.

But, tonight, Mr. Trump went on the FOX News Channel and gave a new explanation for how his remarks came out this way. Watch this. This is amazing.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now we know you`ve since clarified your point in written statements, but we want to hear it from you.

TRUMP (via telephone): You really had to hear the whole thing. I mean, this was a long convoluted question. This was a long discussion and they just cut it out and frankly it was extremely – it was really convoluted and if in fact abortion was outlawed, the person performing the abortion, the doctor, whoever it may be, that`s really doing the act is responsible for the act, not the woman is responsible.

So, that`s the way I`ve always felt. I`ve had the same stance exactly as Ronald Reagan. I`ve had it and I`ve had it from the beginning. So, my stance is the exact same as Ronald Reagan.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So a lot of people are making a lot of hay out of this. I`m trying to figure, was it, did you misspeak or did you misunderstand the question?

TRUMP: Well, it could be that I misspoke, but this was a long, convoluted question. We talked about Catholicism and his religion and, you know, Chris went back and forth about that and this was a very long convoluted discussion which frankly they don`t run on television because it`s too long.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: “This was a long convoluted discussion which frankly they didn`t run on television because it was a long. This was a long discussion and they just cut it out.”

I don`t know who they are, but that appears to be Mr. Trump making an allegation about this network and the allegation that he`s making there is false. MSNBC did not cut his conversation with Chris Matthews at all. That town hall was taped as a live event, which is not to say we aired it live as it happened, but it was taped and aired in its complete form.

Everything that happened, with Chris Matthews, Donald Trump town hall, all of it went to air. The network did not clip it, did not cut it, certainly did not shorten Mr. Trump`s answers.

The official statement from MSNBC reads on Donald Trump`s claim tonight reads as follows, quote, “The town hall interview with Donald Trump was taped in advance and then aired in its entirety. Absolutely no part of the exchange between Trump and Chris Matthews was edited out.”

We know that and Mr. Trump knows that too and any allegation otherwise is provably untrue. Seriously. I mean even trying to sell this to a competing network, that is ridiculous.

That does it for us tonight. We`ll see you again tomorrow.

Now, it`s time for “THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL”.

END

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

END

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