tv All In With Chris Hayes MSNBC June 20, 2014 12:00am-1:01am PDT
the united states played in iraq's history in planting the hatred that now marching toward the iraqi capital. that's "hardball" for now. thanks for being with us. "all in with chris hayes" starts right now. good evening from new york. i'm chris hayes. and the face of growing chaos in iraq, president barack obama today announced renewed american military involvement in that country. >> we have had advisers in iraq through our embassy and we're prepared to send a small number of additional american military advisers, up to 300, to assess how we can best train, advise and support iraqi security forces going forward. american forces will not be returning to combat in iraq. going forward, we will be preparing to take targeted and precise military action if and when we determine that the situation on the ground requires it. if we do, i will consult closely with congress and leaders in iraq and in the region.
>> as many as 300 additional military advisers announced today. that coming after the president had already announced the deployment of 275 military personnel to provide security to the u.s. embassy in baghdad and other facilities. there are still an option for targeted military action as you just heard which could mean air strikes. president obama also stressed the importance of a political solution with secretary of state john kerry slated to go to the middle east and europe this weekend. the situation on the ground in iraq does not appear to be improving. with competing claims about whether iraq's largest oil refinery in baiji is under the control of isis or the iraqi government. the "associated press" reports videos airing on arab television show the black flag of isis flying from a building within the refinery complex. meanwhile, the usual suspects, senators john mccain, lindsey graham today said while the president's decision to send military advisers is a positive step, he should not condition greater military action upon political change in iraq.
as for republicans who weren't in national office for the first iraq war, there was eager positioning today. >> do we deal with them now when they still have not created that calafate or deal with them five, ten years down the road when they've established the safe haven and significant operational capacity? >> in the last five years, america has receded from leadership in the world. and into that vacuum have stepped nations like iran, like russia, like china. as we've abandoned our allies. the consequence has been to make the world a much, much more dangerous place. >> regardless of how congressional leaders may or may not try to frame the current crisis, the american public is pretty clear on what they want. they do not support the u.s. going back into iraq with 74% opposed to sending combat troops to iraq.
joining me now is richard engel, nbc news chief foreign correspondent. he joins us from baghdad tonight. and richard, what are the latest reports you're hearing on the ground in baghdad? >> reporter: people here in baghdad welcome this action. they are nervous in this city. there is a curfew in place here. when you walk around, you see police and militia all over the streets, checkpoints almost everywhere. there is real fear here that isis militants could, perhaps not invade, although that's still a possibility, a less likely one, but more likely that they could bring chaos to the city by putting car bombs on the streets or suicide bombers. people here want the u.s. to bomb now. if you ask anyone here, they think the barbarians are at the gates and want the barbarians smashed by u.s. air power because they watched their own army dissolve. they watched their own army run
away from the fight. in mosul they ran away from the fight with two army divisions collapsing. they recognize here in baghdad, nationwide, the army didn't live up to the challenge and would like to see the u.s. come in and back up the army. and make no mistake, although this is not a combat mission and there's not going to be american troops here kicking down doors and doing searching homes like they did in 2005 and 2006 and all the other years that u.s. troops were on the ground, it is still a military intervention because the u.s. troops are going to be here working with the iraqi forces, making them more effective, making them more lethal, picking targets, guiding iraqi troops to insurgent locations, showing the iraqis how to do tactics, how to take back the half dozen cities or so that have been overrun by militants from isis. so it is a military mission, but one by remote control.
>> there's a growing sense stateside that part of the blame for this is nuri am maliki, himself, in the way he has governed and the way the government has treated the sunni minority in that country. what is your sense about the political temperature in baghdad around nuri al maliki? do people blame him for what's happening or are they rallying around him in the face of this possible isis incursion? >> reporter: i would say they blame him. a lot of iraqis are extremely angry with nuri al maliki because the situation is so bad. the situation economically is in trouble. the security situation is zero. the country's in collapse. the kurdish north is gobbling up territory and expanding its zone of influence. the sunnis are allowing these militants from this al qaeda monstrosity to fester in their midst. and the south is just trying to figure out how it can hold on to power.
things here are in a state of collapse, and when things are collapsing, you blame the authorities. and they are blaming maliki. the question is, and this is what we are hearing from sources close to the political negotiations, maliki doesn't really want to go anywhere. maliki wants to ride this out, and if you look what might happen over the next few days, he might win. maliki is incredibly unpopular now because the situation is terrible. you can imagine if this was the united states, what the president's approval ratings would be. they would be minus 1,000. if the united states was ever in a situation like this. okay. so here we are in baghdad, but let's say the u.s. starts intervening and 300 advisers have success. they guide the iraqi troops to retake maybe mosul or retake tikrit or at least push the militants back. then suddenly maliki starts looking like a hero. like the country, the guy who pulled the country back from the abyss.
and i think that's what maliki is trying to -- what he's counting on in that over the next few weeks he can show gains to the people whether he's responsible for them or not and get, become more popular again. and by the way, that's how maliki got to this government in the first place. he rode the wave of the u.s. troop surge which he took credit for under david petraeus and that's how he became maliki who he is now. so maybe he wants to play the same game again. >> nbc news chief foreign correspondent richard engel, always a pleasure, thank you. president obama was asked several times today about the fate of current iraqi prime minister nuri al maliki. pointing to maliki's pursuit of a shia dominated government that marginalized and persecuted sunnis as a major reason iraq is falling apart right now. president obama wouldn't commit to any action to remove maliki, he also didn't give him a strong show of support.
>> it's not our job to choose iraq's leaders, but i don't think there's any secret that right now, at least, there is deep divisions between sunni, shia, and kurdish leaders. i think the test is before him and other iraqi leaders as we speak. right now, they can make a series of decisions. regardless of what's happened in the past, right now is a moment where the fate of iraq hangs in the balance. >> it is worth noting amid calls for the u.s. to push maliki out that maliki was our guy. dexter filkins of the "new yorker" describes a 2006 video conference between president george w. bush and advisers like this. "american ambassador in baghdad zahyayl turned to the cia analyst assigned to his office, can it be in this country of 30 million people the choice of prime minister is ibraham al jaafari or ali adeeb? i have a name for you, the cia officer said, maliki."
while extremists call for a form of re-invasion, the sensible centrist position is to use american leverage to get maliki to step down and get someone else in there. what reasons to we have to believe someone else would work out better? joining me now, former u.s. ambassador to iraq, christopher hill. now dean at the university of denver. ambassador, when the president said it's not our job to pick iraq's leaders, i think that's true as a matter of principle, but that hasn't been the record of america and iraq, has it? >> well, actually, you know, i was there in the 2010 election, and none of us was particularly enthusiastic about maliki. you can't beat someone with nobody. the problem is there was nobody who came forward and eventually after nine months maliki because he's patient, as richard engel suggested, he just waited it out and finally he got the support he needed. i mean, i wouldn't underestimate this guy. he's a really tough guy.
i think the problem has been that when you, you know, try to get some kind of, you know, tough guy in there, don't be surprised if he doesn't listen to you all the time. and that's been a big problem with maliki. >> what do you think about this idea that conditioning u.s. air strikes on maliki making some political changes, whether that means changing the composition of the government, or actually stepping aside? what do you think about that as a kind of diplomatic strategy at this point? >> well, it always runs the risk where you say to some unpopular dictator, hey, work with us, we'll try to take care of this and, oh by the way, we'd like you gone. so that i think requires a little nuance and i think the president was really trying to do that. but there is an opportunity here. it's true that maliki's coalition just won this, or just came out ahead in this election, but he does need to put together a broader coalition to get the 50% plus 1% of the parliament that he needs, so i think there are already meetings among shia
saying do we have to have nuri al maliki again, is there someone else? i think they're working that issue. i want to stress, too, there's been especially in the u.s. press a lot of focus on maliki's failure to reach out to the sunnis. well, first of all, it takes two to reconcile, and sunnis in iraq, sunnis all over the middle east have been kind of slow to accept the notion that there should be a shia-run country in the middle east because as it is, iraq is the only one. so this has been a tough problem and it's kind of regionwide. where the sunnis have just not accepted shia government in the entire middle east. >> well, i mean, there's iran, right? it's the only arab country with a shia government. >> yes. yes. i'll qualify that by saying arab, but iran is sort of over there on the east, but, so this is -- this is an issue, and maliki knows that -- you know, saudis engaged. after all, this problem, and by the way, this isis group, they're not interested in
hearing maliki say, hey, i'll give you another deputy sports ministry position. >> of course. >> they want his head on a platter. so, i mean -- >> well, we should also say this. there were nonviolent demonstrations by sunnis that were dealt with in a fairly brutal method. i mean -- >> oh, yeah. >> we should just be clear that the kind of complaints against the maliki government by sunnis isn't necessarily completely driven by some kind of confessional animus, right? >> absolutely right. absolutely right. but if you go back to saddam hussein who most shias see as the last sunni ruler, if you're a shia from the marsh regions down in the south, you have no interest in seeing sunnis back in power. so this is a tough situation. >> so then what about this? >> i think the president has done well. >> there was the proposal, you know, the middle of the last decade, it was spearheaded by a
man named peter galbraith i believe and vice president biden talked about it which is the partition idea, essentially a sunni state, shia state and kurdish state. a lot of people have been refloating that idea in the wake of what's happening now. what do you think of that idea? >> show me a partition, i'll show you another war. >> well said. >> i think it gets dicey in the central part there. it's easier said than done. i get the point, the notion's iraq's borders were not really indigenous, somehow imposed by europeans, by the brits and the french. i get all that. it's not so easy to create international borders. i used to do the balkans. it was a tough situation there. >> as it happens right now, isis is effectuating their own kind of partition. >> you got it. >> former ambassador christopher hill. thank you. coming up, more on the president's announcement that he's sending special forces troops to iraq. >> once on the fringes of the u.s. military, they are now becoming central to the war on terror. behind them, a long struggle for resources and respect.
>> they've always been the redheaded stepchildren. this seems to have changed since 9/11. >> who are the special forces? what do they do? can they be effective in iraq? we'll talk about that, next. the projects will be done in a timely fashion and within budget. angie's list members can tell you which provider is the best in town. you'll find reviews on everything from home repair to healthcare. now that we're expecting, i like the fact i can go onto angie's list and look for pediatricians. the service providers that i've found on angie's list actually have blown me away. find out why more than two million members count on angie's list. angie's list -- reviews you can trust. that little guy cleans, brightens and fights stains. so now i can focus on more pressing matters. wow! isn't it beautiful? your sweet peppers aren't next to your hot peppers. [ gasps ] [ sarah ] that's my tide. what's yours?
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coming up, the most hotly contested primary race in the nation has already featured an alleged nursing home break-in, an incident that involved three supporters of the tea party candidate locked in the country county courthouse along with the ballots on election night. next week is a runoff, and an update is next.
the big headline out of the white house today on iraq is that the president is sending 300 of what he's calling, quote, military advisers, to assist the iraqi military in pushing back against the sunni extremist group isis or the islamic state in iraq and syria. now, according to the "associated press," those, quote, military advisers are
reported to be army green beret special operations forces. since september 11th, 2001, special forces have played an increasingly vital and central role in the u.s. military. from being on the ground in afghanistan before the actual invasion, to the now legendary bin laden operation in the spring of 2011 conducted by s.e.a.l. team 6, to just this week's successful extraction of ahmed abu khattala from libya, who allegedly helped lead that deadly attack on the u.s. consulate in benghazi. military units like s.e.a.l. team 6 and delta force have been overwhelmingly successful in their missions. because of this, there's a temptation to view american special forces as a solution to just about all military problems without really calling on military action. joining me now, spencer ackerman, u.s. national security editor for "the guardian" and someone who used to be in the special forces, former navy s.e.a.l. brandon webb. he's now editor of sofrep.com. the special operations forces situation report. features news and analysis from military and special ops vets. brandon, let me start with you.
if you're dropped into iraq under these conditions, i mean, what possible influence can you imagine having given the scale of the chaos there? >> well, we have to remember, you know, this is a mission that the green berets are very familiar with. a lot of these guys have existing relationships that they've developed with the iraqis, you know, during the second invasion. not that that makes a situation any better, but they do have -- they do stuff daily, but, you know, it just -- really what concerns me is the special operations community as a whole is really fraying at the edges. we've been at war for over a decade, and we're now starting to see major issues at home. these guys are doing sometimes 10, 12 back-to-back-to-back deployments. >> wow. >> and it's taking its toll. >> it does seem in this era, spencer, that in the obama era, if there's one central -- if the
defining strategy of the obama era is heavy use of special forces, the rise of targeted killing, all this has really depended on special forces. what is the white house thinking they're going to do with these military advisers? >> the plan is twofold and to the extent we can call it a plan is somewhat of a term we're going to use rather loosely. the first thing they're going to do, we understand from where they're going. they're going to go to baghdad. they're going to embed with essentially high-level iraqi military command units and they're going to essentially format the defense of baghdad. that's really looking to be primarily what they're going to do and as well sort of look so see what the else the iraqi military needs. open question. if the u.s. military could not over 12 years adequately prepare the iraqi military for a threat like this, what are we really going to do this time around? second thing they're going to do is collect situational intelligence, possibly northern iraq as well to spot for air strikes. >> brandon, this point you just said about fraying at the edges,
i mean, do you think it's the case that the nature of the performance of special forces operators during this period of war, and the desire to not engage in large ground wars, means that it's overly tempting, essentially, to civilian leadership to use special operations in these kinds of circumstances? >> yeah, i think the temptation is there. we do have one of the most highly trained special operations forces that this world has ever seen, and just by nature of the way warfare is conducted these days, it can't be involved with conventional forces. the problem that exists, and what spencer said is that, you know, if we can't, you know, effect this long-term strategy in the past 12 years, what good are we going to do by sending more guys over there? that's a key component i really think is missing. what's the preventative long-term strategic objectives? and then use the special forces, you know, to do their jobs and play their part, but we don't
have a long-term strategic objective. we're running around all over the world, in afghanistan, in libya, in syria, and we're meddling and we're really not thinking long term in how to prevent these situations in the future. >> brandon is absolutely right. to the degree there is a long-term objective, it's, ah, make it stop, make it go away. >> right, right. let me say this. the tactical objective is don't let baghdad fall. >> right. >> that, at least, seems pretty clear. >> here's the thing. it's not just don't let baghdad fall because baghdad is probably not going to fall to any sort of conventional assault the way that the cities like mosul and kirkuk. that won't happen or very unlikely to happen because you're already starting to see unconventional attacks, terrorist attacks in baghdad. isis' chance are they already know baghdad is going to be met with a lot of shiite resistance along with the cities in the south. the question is going to be, how do you form a defensive baghdad that accounts for that that also can deal with counter-provocation measures
that isis is going to try to spur? the question is really going to be, do you push isis back, do you try and roll back the gains they've already made on the ground, push them out of sunni cities or alternatively give the sunnis a reason to push isis out? that's a huge, huge question and one not answered by the white house today. >> brandon, having been an operator, yourself, in some of these and having seen the way we've come to rely so heavily on special operations forces, what is your best guess about six months from now are we going to see more or less operators being put into iraq? >> you know, that's a great question. you know, and it's a tough one to really answer. i don't see this administration investing a whole lot into iraq. the situation over there is a mess. and we left it that way. and i just don't see a long-term investment in special operations forces in iraq. >> spencer ackerman from "the guardian" and former navy s.e.a.l. brandon webb. thank you gentlemen, both.
happening in mississippi where tea party-backed chris mcdaniel is challenging six term incumbent thad cochran for his seat in the u.s. senate. the race already featured a truly bizarre nursing home break-in, an unfolding conspiracy investigation into said nursing home break-in, and a margin so tight on primary night earlier this month that the two men are are forced to square off again in a runoff election this coming tuesday. and so, faced with a fight for his political life in a state with an open primary where anyone can vote, thad cochran is reaching across party lines encouraging democrats to vote in the republican primary runoff on tuesday to save him from defeat at the hands of the tea party saying he hopes, "the more the merrier will prevail in this election." reminding folks he used to be a democrat, himself, which would have been some time before his first election to the u.s. house as a republican back in 1972. trying to reach democratic voters is not necessarily a bad strategy. as we've been reporting, there are lots of democratic votes to be had in the south. in fact, there are so many that
rupert murdoch is our modern day dr. frankenstein and took to the pages of the "wall street journal" to wrestle with the monster he, himself, has created. in an op-ped in today's paper he makes the state for comprehensive immigration reform, an initiative that remains stalled in the house of representatives. as you may know, murdoch is the executive chairman of newscorp which owns fox news. the personalities on fox have been outspoken about their views on immigration reform. >> the problem here is that nobody believes president obama will secure the border. they believe he'll give the pathway to citizenship, but nobody believes he's going to stop more people from coming in. >> if this amnesty bill goes through, and it is amnesty, step one is legalization. everything after that, all the triggers to citizenship, are
phony triggers. >> if we don't secure our border, we have a major national security problem. >> a lot of people coming to the country are working for drug cartels. a lot of people have wreaked havoc among communities. >> regularization, comprehensive immigration reform, it walks, it talks and it squawks like another massive illegal alien amnesty. >> this is one of those issues that splits the republican coalition. chamber of commerce and elites in the party want it to happen while the base absolutely hates it. polling by the nonpartisan public religion institute and brookings institution found that people who trust fox news are much more likely to oppose a path to citizenship. and if the comprehensive reform bill fails to move forward, it will be in large part thanks to fox. and the talk radio hosts to whom it gives a platform. final nail in the coffin may have been eric cantor's defeat by david brat who ran on his opposition to immigration reform
and endorsed by laura ingraham. if the fox empire succeeds at killing the bill it would be a repeat of the last time comprehensive immigration reform stood a chance of becoming law back in 2007. that bill went down after lawmakers came under major pressure from conservative hosts. especially lou dobbs who waged an almost nightly campaign against it on his cnn show. >> good lord. what a mess. and these arrogant little elitists, a dozen of them coming together and jamming this down the throats of their colleagues in the senate. >> border security, not first in this bill. we can't even find out what border security has to do with this legislation. it is all about amnesty. if you follow the law, you're punished under this legislation. if you don't, you're rewarded. hence the expression, amnesty. no matter what your views are on open borders, illegal alien amnesty, i assure you, no matter
what your views on this, you're going to find elements of this legislation to be absolutely outrageous. >> dobbs' opinions on immigration so deeply offended the sensibilities of cnn he was forced out of the network in 2009. where would he get a job next? well, scooped up by none other than "fox business." today rupert murdoch seems unhappy. the gop controlled house showing no desire to take up the senate's immigration bill or write one of its own. in a bizarre spectacle, murdoch has been forced to get on his knees and beg for immigration reform in "the wall street journal" also owned by newscorp. "if we're serious about our future, about creating job growth in america, then we must suggest -- the media monster he helped create is making immigration reform possible.
joining me, ali noorani, executive director of the national immigration forum. ali, what's your reaction to rupert murdoch taking to the pages of the "wall street journal" to call for this while the voices and so much of the right-wing media are absolutely slamming it? >> it's amazing what's happening. there's clearly a divide taking place within the republican party. when you look at the data and talk to conservatives on the ground, you realize there's deep and broad support from the conservative community for immigration reform. so, for example, just last week, ten republican pollsters, i mean, we're talking about people, the pollster for ted cruz, they released a survey that found 80% of republicans and in fact 75% of republicans who identify as members of the tea party in support of common sense immigration reform. then you look at not only did you have rupert murdoch in "the wall street journal" and sheldon adelson today in "politico" calling for reform. >> wait a second, ali.
wait a second. your job is to run this conservative coalition to work on getting comprehensive immigration reform passed. you're telling me there's broad support among conservatives for immigration reform. what you're telling me is you're doing a bad job at your job right now because if it's your task to organize grassroots conservatives, they're out-organizing you right now because they're kicking your butt. >> no, i totally disagree with you, chris. two examples. one is renee ellmers, rank and file republican congresswoman from north carolina. she was attacked just the same way eric cantor was on immigration reform. instead of like bobbing and weaving what cantor did, she leaned right into it. she went on to laura ingraham's show and said, laura, you're wrong, i believe we need a functioning immigration system because it's good for my district. renee ellmers won hands down. lindsey graham has been voting for immigration reform for the last seven years. he's out there. he wins 60%. so when republicans lean into it, their grassroots supporters say, you know what, we're going to support a leader, going to support a leader who's going to fix tough problems. >> why is this thing dying?
everyone has said, oh, it's dying, it's dead, got passed in the senate, house is not going to do anything with it. everyone was saying the death nail was the cantor race. if everything you're telling me is true, why is it the case we're going to most likely get through this term, get to the elections without this bill getting passed? >> i think he put it well in his op-ped today, he said in essence america wants leadership and don't want their elected officials, just sit-ins keep their seats warm. the opportunity is now for john boehner and his new leadership team to take courageous action. it's clear the political support is there. the question will be, is the political will there on the part of house leadership to move forward? there is no other issue now that has this kind of support. >> it's clearly not there. it is clearly not there. i mean, even if they're telling their donors that or telling you behind closed doors that, the way they are acting, if you just evaluate their actions, shows that the political will is not there for that fight. >> so then there will be consequences for the republican party. rupert put this in his op-ped, if the republicans don't act,
the administration will act. what will happen then? latino voters who would love to be able to vote for republicans will say, you know what, you don't represent my interests, i'm going to go with the democrats. you'll see the same thing happening with business and the faith community who ostensibly are republican voters. they'll look at republican members of congress say, you know what, you're not solving tough problems. >> can i ask you a question? you spend time doing this very difficult work which i think is actually quite laudable work because it's quite important. you spend time talking to conservatives trying to make this pitch, right, for why conservatives should support comprehensive immigration reform. do you ever convince anyone? is this an issue in which there's a middle space where people get convinced? >> i think so. i mean, again, somebody like renee elmmers. last summer we thought renee elmmers was going to be against us. we are your voters, we want you to be with us. she came back in the fall of last year and sent a letter to john boehner, said i want immigration reform to pass. she leaned into it, stood by her position over the course of the election and across -- i mean,
across the entire republican conference, we believe there are growing numbers of republicans who want to get this done. this is just really up to john boehner to put it up for a vote. it's really that simple. >> finally, here, the president talked to the president of mexico about the growing crisis of unaccompanied minors coming across the border. it's overwhelmed u.s. facilities. they've been trying to figure out what to do with this. does the coverage of that crisis hurt your cause? seems to me the coverage has been used particularly in the conservative media to show our borders are out of control and the president is letting in all the illegals. >> it is a problem because people don't understand what's happening. the fact is that these kids, these women and children, are fleeing very, very violent places in central america. this is a fleeing from violence story. so the problem here is that as long as congress doesn't fix the immigration system, we're going to have kids crossing a river instead of going through a process. and finally, the fact is that the border is more secure than ever.
these are kids who are not sneaking across the border. walking across the border and saying, please, save me from violence. look at the deportation numbers, majority of deportation are along the borders. this is not a migration story. this is a story about kids in really tragic situations. we've got to figure out a solution. >> ali noorani. thanks so much. >> thank you. coming up, tough day for two republican governors. prosecutors say wisconsin governor scott walker is at the center of a criminal fund-raising scheme. in a potentially blockbuster report, prosecutor is closing in on governor chris christie. that reporter who wrote that will be with us, ahead. so i get invited to quite a few family gatherings. heck, i saved judith here a fortune with discounts like safe driver, multi-car, paperless. you make a mighty fine missus, m'lady. i'm not saying mark's thrifty. let's just say, i saved him $519, and it certainly didn't go toward that ring. am i right? [ laughs ] [ dance music playing ] so visit progressive.com today.
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prosecutors to have been at center of a, quote, criminal scheme to violate election laws along with top wisconsin republican political operatives. court documents released today allege walker and his allies illegally coordinated fund-raising with outside conservative groups including the wisconsin club for growth. to boost walker and other wisconsin republicans as they fought against the recall efforts in that state two years ago. no charges have been filed against walker, who won that recall election and is up for a second term this fall. court documents surfaced in relation to what is known in wisconsin as a john doe investigation. it's a secret inquiry to determine whether crime has been committed and by whom. that investigation grew out of a separate earlier inquiry into walker's time as milwaukee county executive before he was governor and led to the convictions of six people including two former walker aides convicted of illegally doing political work on county time. walker did not respond to our request and invitation to come
on the show. in a series of tweets today he deemed prosecutors false. wrote that no laws were broken and called the inquiry nothing more than a partisan operation. joining me on the phone, ruth conniff of "progressive" magazine who's been covering this story. ruth, tell me first of all why we're seeing these documents now? >> well, chris, the reason we're seeing these documents now is that the club for growth want this investigation to go away. they went to federal court and asked the judge to review whether the investigation had any merit at all. in response to that request, the federal judge looked through all these documents and released today a whole lot of new information that we hadn't seen before that pertains to that very question. so he has the arguments of the lead prosecutor, a republican, by the way, fran schmidt, saying this is a grotesque violation of wisconsin campaign finance law, and furthermore, for the first time we hear walker is a target of the investigation and is deemed to be at the center of this criminal behavior, this coordination, and the evidence
for that is that walker wrote an e-mail in his own words to karl rove explaining that there's a coordinated activity that his right-hand man, the former head of the republican party in wisconsin, r.j. johnson, a close campaign adviser of walker's is working with outside groups and coordinating the efforts and making a pitch to karl rove that cross roads gps ought to put big money into wisconsin because this is a nationally significant coordinated effort for this triumph of right wing groups and republicans in wisconsin. so it really looks like a slam dunk. i mean, this is the smoking gun that did not come out of the first john doe investigation. that is to say that walker was not only a target, but really at center of this entire event. >> did he use the word coordinating in that e-mail that he wrote to karl rove? >> he said -- yes. he said that karl rove is organizing this entire thing.
and the text is in all the news coverage today. and there's a lot of news coverage. >> right. so here's my question. what's illegal about this? right? i mean, walk me through this. i think there's a few responses you get from walker and republicans. one is that this has been looked over a ton. this is a partisan vendetta witch hunt. the other is this is politics. like, this is politics. in fact, the federal district judge threw this out and said this is first amendment protected activity. >> okay. george rudolph randa, the federal judge, only judge in the state of wisconsin who's a frequent flier to koch funded brothers retreats to conservative activists who's a member of the federalist society did in fact write an opinion saying that campaign finance law in wisconsin should not apply and that there should be free spending in races and that there should be, you know, complete access by outside groups to do whatever they want to do.
run as many ads as they want, spend billions of dollars in our state. that's not the -- that's not what the law says in wisconsin, but there are a lot of conservative ideologues who believe that's what the law should say. randa also in that decision asked that the prosecutors, insisted, in fact, that they destroy all of the evidence in this case. and had that happened, had the seventh circuit court not reversed that decision by randa, we would never have seen this e-mail from scott walker to karl rove. so, you know, yes, there are conservative ideologues who are arguing really forcefully that this is the -- that this is the partisan witch hunt in spite of the fact it's led by a republican prosecutor, that there ought not to be these campaign finance laws. but that position is not the position of the law. it's not a state of the law in wisconsin. right now what we're going to find out is what the federal court thinks of the club for growth's argument that this entire investigation should stop in its tracks. and it would be, in the words of the "washington post" today, just a grotesque miscarriage of justice if that were to happen because the law in wisconsin is very clear. this is illegal. >> so finally here, how is this playing right now in wisconsin? what's the press been like today? >> people are amazed and shocked
because this is the smoking gun. it is, you know, walker in his own words saying, you know, we need to get this act together. with all these groups. and r.j. johnson is a point person on it and we're a coordinator. >> ruth conniff from the "progressive" magazine. we lost the shot due to weather but your voice is so gripping that it worked. things don't appear to be looking so good for governor chris christie, either. that's next. ♪
chris christie is trying really, really quite hard to put the bridge-gate scandal behind him. he even reportedly told donors recently at mitt romney's political retreat in reference to the scandal, "you'll get over it." but while chris christie might be done with the bridge-gate scandal, the bridge-gate scandal might not be done with him. "esquire" today citing two anonymous sources is reporting that four former christie allies are facing, "near certain indictments" by a u.s. attorney. includes david sampson, christie appointee whose law firm has been accused of improper
lobbying. according to "esquire" the four facing indictment are pressured to serve up dirt on christie in exchange for more lenient treatment. the magazine claimed sampson in particular is under intense pressure to flip, with one source telling "esquire," quote, they've got him cold. joining me, co-author of that story, scott raab, "esquire" writer at large. there are a lot of people working on this story and this is out past what has been previously reported. so, i mean, how solid are you guys on this? >> 100% solid. i got to give props to my wife, lisa brennan, whose reporting over 20-plus years in particular in the legal community has been impeccable throughout. >> what's significant in this report? we knew there was an investigation, we know it has been previously reported that that office, the office of the newark u.s. attorney, has been conducting an investigation.
the idea that there are indictments that are being worked through with these four people, that would be a huge step. >> well, i think part of what's new is foundational. both david wildstein, bill baroni, who resigned in the wake of bridge-gate have made proffers to the u.s. attorney for new jersey in hope of striking some kind of deal. according to our sources, both have been willing to give up sampson. fishman has rejected those proffers as inadequate. i think like any good federal prosecutor, he's trying to work his way up the food chain and it's become clear his target really is chris christie at this point. >> well, sampson, let's talk about sampson for a second. sampson is a big kahuna. he's a former attorney general for the state of new jersey. he's in some ways a kind of godfather figure in the republican -- i don't mean godfather in the criminal sense, i mean actually godfather, like, kind of mentor both to chris christie and in republican politics, right? >> in new jersey it's not really about party. it's about dividing up the money. i think sampson has played both sides over the course of a very long and distinguished career. >> can you talk to me a little bit about u.s. attorney paul fishman? this is someone who is, i mean, you can imagine how this kind of investigation in that office
would be given the fact that used to be chris christie's office. you have people presumably going to work every day in that building who got hired, sat down in a job interview with chris christie. he gave them a break to be assistant u.s. attorney. now they're going to be investigating him? >> many of those same came with chris christie to trenton. some were forced to recuse themselves from the investigation. one of the reasons the u.s. department of justice has sent outsiders is to help with the investigation. one of sampson's attorneys was paul fishman's mentor and that hiring was not in any way a coincidence. i think the negotiations we think are going on right now are primarily between chertoff and paul fishman to see what kind of bargain can be struck that would allow paul fishman, 74 years old, reportedly suffers parkinson's disease, had a wonderful and profitable career, what kind of plea bargain could be struck so he would not have to die in jail. >> what do we think -- i mean,
the political ramifications of this are even if this proves not to be the case, right, if something changes or they decide things fall apart, that it is precisely the uncertainty that hovers over the fact there's an ongoing criminal investigation that makes it extremely difficult for christie to do the thing he's trying to do which is turn the page. >> i think his chops as a politician are remarkable. >> i agree, actually. you've seen it -- yes. >> but once in his early january press conference, once this story was set that the bridge, itself, which is only a small part it turns out of the sewage, but once the alibi was that david wildstein and bridget anne kelly by themselves not only planned and executed the lane closures on the gwb, but convinced everyone, everyone including christie's chief counsel, charlie mckenna and other former -- u.s. assistant attorney general -- >> right.
>> yeah, and kevin o'dowd, his chief of staff. everyone was befuddled and bedazzled. >> two people, ran with it, convinced everyone. >> that was it. the entire master report, $3 million, $5 million, all reverse engineered from my point of view and many other people's point of view to solidify that alibi. >> i will say this. having done some reporting on u.s. attorney's offices and having worked with people, known people, friends who worked in u.s. attorney's offices, when they get going on something, they tend to dig until they hit something. it's in the nature of prosecutorial offices. it's very rare they start getting resources together, start taking depositions, getting documents and say there's nothing here and walk away. >> especially -- paul fishman, methodical, meticulous. no press conferences. no leaks. >> so far. >> solid guy. >> scott raab from "esquire." that's "all in." the "rachel maddow show" begins now. thanks to you at home for joining us this hour.
the last time president obama took to the white house briefing room to deliver remarks about the iraq and u.s. military was almost three years ago. friday october 21st, 2011. the president announced that day that after nearly nine years, america's war in iraq was coming to an end. he announced the withdrawal of nearly all troops in iraq by year's end that year. well today, as the long simmering sectarian civil war in iraq continues to devolve from terrible to even more terrible, today president obama took to the white house briefing room again. >> we have had advisers in iraq through our embassy and we're prepared to send a small number of additional american military advisers up to 300 to assess how we can best train, advise, and support iraqi's security forces going forward. american forces will not be returning to combat in iraq, but we will help iraqis as they take the fight to terrorists who threaten the iraqi people, the region and american interests as well.