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Public Statements

MSNBC "Rachel Maddow Show" - Transcript

Interview

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REP. ANTONY WEINER (D), NEW YORK: You know, here"s what awesome about you. You can do a story about girls on hobby horses and then go right into national political dialect.

MADDOW: Sort of.

(LAUGHTER)

MADDOW: I would describe a little bit of a bump in the speed way there.

All right. What do you think is going on with all these special elections? New York 26, your home state, but also all the rest of them.

WEINER: Well, it"s turning out that voters are sneakity (ph), detail-oriented, book-reading, article-reading folks, you know? They see what"s going on in the country and they don"t really--no one wakes up in the morning, or very few wake up in the morning and said, oh, that Medicare, I"m dying to get rid of it.

I think they"re also seeing something else. You know, I do think that the Republicans managed to do something in campaign 2010 which was strike this idea, you know what? we"re going to get to Washington, deconstruct everything.

And as a general precept, that seemed appealing to a lot of Americans. Now, they"re seeing what that means--eliminating Medicare, privatizing Social Security, slashing teachers and things like that and I think they"re realizing--you know what? When it comes to governing we"re not so crazy about the Republicans. And it"s having ramifications everywhere.

To the Republicans" credit, they"re not stepping back at all. They"re doubling down, and I think that"s going to mean for a lot of months like we had here, the Republicans don"t seem like they"re hearing the message of the voters.

MADDOW: Well, there was something interesting. For me, it was unexpected when it happened. And then I"m sort of thinking about it after I learned it and realizing it sort of makes sense. But let me get your take on it. The top Senate Republican Mitch McConnell, he said today that Republicans will force Democrats to agree to cut Medicare or the Republicans will not vote to lift the debt ceiling.

So he says explicitly, he explained explicitly that he wants to make the American people decide whether they want to punish both sides, both parties for going after Medicare by forcing Democrats to go after Medicare. He"s trying to essentially cover up their own vote to kill Medicare by trying to force Democrats to take one, too. What do you think is going to happen with that?

WEINER: Look, I"ve got to tell you something, this to some degree is them saying we"re not backing off at all, on this idea that we want to deconstruct Medicare if we can.

MADDOW: Yes.

WEINER: And what they"re trying to do, look, the debt limit is holding the whole country hostage. But, now, they"re saying we"re going to specifically hold a gun to the Medicare program. And insist that if you don"t cut Medicare, we are going to doom the economy, I guess.

Well, I don"t think we should give an inch. I know that Steny Hoyer kind of implied he was willing to negotiate. I don"t think we should. Let"s remember something for your viewers, we"ve already last year in the health care reform act, extended 10 years of Medicare, got $500-some-odd billion worth of savings by making it a lot more efficient program.

So, we"ve already done our bidding. And now, the Republicans are saying we want to go even from the than that. But it"s clear. On the altar of the debt limit, they are going to try to cut Social Security and Medicare and they"re not flinching at all from the bad results they got this month.

MADDOW: You have been in the news today because you have been pressuring Supreme Court justices to release their financial disclosure forms. Clarence Thomas" form shows his wife Ginni earns salary and benefits from an anti-health reform group called Liberty Central, as well as another group Liberty Consulting.

I was reading the forms after you posted them, I felt like there was also some sort of reference maybe to Clarence Thomas himself receiving funding from Liberty consulting. What do you interpret those disclosure? What do you think they mean?

WEINER: So everyone understands it"s required that every year, members of the Supreme Court disclose anything that might be a conflict in their background. Well, as it turned out for almost 20 years, Clarence Thomas" spouse was getting money not only from think tanks but think tanks that were actively trying to persuade the court to do something. Things like the Heritage Foundation and others.

And so, now, when that became public, we"ve been paying extra attention to when these filings are reported. And here"s the conflict. It is clear under the law that if any member of your household is going to benefit one way or another from the outcome of a case, you got to refuse yourself.

Well, Ginni Thomas is actively raising money, taking money from organizations that would benefit if the health care reform act were struck down. It"s clear that Clarence Thomas should recuse himself. And let me just say this to make it very clear: Clarence Thomas" spouse can earn money anyway she wants and be free to speak.

But the question becomes: does that income to the household present a conflict for Clarence Thomas? And so, you know, we"ve started a Web site ConflictedClarenceThomas.com, where we"ve put all of these documents up. And it"s pretty clear that Justice Thomas should recuse himself from health care reform debate at least because it"s clear his household is benefitting from one side of that debate.

MADDOW: Benefitting financially because she would not be getting the income that she"s getting from these ideological groups if it were not for her perceived influence on her husband?

WEINER: Exactly. As a matter of fact, she goes as far as to advertise that and to talk about the idea. You know, she makes fun of the idea. She says, oh, yes, I"ve got a great deal of influence over these proceedings.

And remember something, she"s basically--her organizations are raising money by saying if you give money to me, we"re going to try to stop health care reform from being implemented. Well, she returns home to Justice Thomas who has to make that decision and probably in less than a year.

So, we"re pressuring him to recuse himself. To me, it"s a pretty clear case to the law that he should.

MADDOW: And, of course, there"s no way to force him to do it except by shame.

WEINER: That"s right.

MADDOW: Congressman Anthony Weiner of New York--again, my apologies for the whole set up thing.

WEINER: These Friday night visits are turning out to be very interesting for me.

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