tv The Rachel Maddow Show MSNBC May 12, 2014 9:00pm-10:01pm PDT
hospital in huntsville, texas, although sometimes the state of texas lies and says there is. according to a lawsuit filed this past fall, texas sent a purchase order to a company called pharmacy innovations to try to buy a number of drugs that the state of texas wanted to use to inject into prisoners to kill them. on the purchase order to this pharmacy, they said the entity that was requesting the drugs was "the huntsville unit hospital." which sounds nice, right? except what they mean is, the texas state penitentiary at huntsville, also sometimes known as the huntsville unit, which is not a hospital. the prison had a hospital long ago apparently but that hospital has not existed since something like 1983. when the pharmacy found out where they had really sent their drugs in response to this purchase order, when they found out it wasn't to a hospital and what it meant about how these drugs were going to be used, the company reportedly was shocked.
they were caught unaware that the drugs were purchased to use them for lethal injections. but texas apparently fooled that company to sending the prison some the drugs. but when the state of texas tried to pull that same trick again with the same company to get them to send another drug, by that point the company had caught on to what texas was doing and lying about and the company would not send them any more drugs. lethal injection, deliberately misusing pharmaceuticals to kill people through iv lines and needles, it's never been a trouble freeway of killing people. even before the current utter chaos about what drugs were being used for these executions, there have been mishaps in the past. the most famous one in texas, which is the state that kills people more than any other state in the country. the most famous failure before
this current round of systemic failures was probably the case in texas in december 1988, when the iv line that was attached to the needle going into the prisoner's arm, the line came loose. it didn't just come loose and start dripping. it was almost like it was pressurized. the line flew around the room and started spraying lethal injection chemicals across the injection chamber at the assembled witnesses. that was in december 1988. that got a mention today in "the new york times" that called texas the gold standard for executions in this country. everywhere they do them. a couple of years ago. that's when the supply started to dry up of the drugs that more than two dozen states were using in their lethal injection protocols.
first the supply of the main drug dried up. then the supplies started to dry up for the other drugs. sense then, it's just been chaos in terms of the drugs. whether or not you are for the death penalty or against the death penalty or neither, technically speaking, the death penalty is in total disarray in this country. the states are just making it up as they go along. lethal injection is a medicalized way of killing people but it's not a medical procedure. so there's no technical correct way to do it. what we have learned the last couple of years, though, is there are a lot of incorrect ways to do it. in the u.s. constitution, there's a ban on cruel and unusual punishment. the supreme court with specific regard to lethal injection says any undue risk of severe pain associated with these executions makes it unconstitutional. it would mean it would violate the eighth amendment. so no state can legally execute somebody if it causes undue risk
of extreme pain. but honestly, just from observing what's been happening over the last couple of years, that seems to be happening all the time now. for example, when texas tried to trick that pharmacy in to sending them drugs by saying they were a hospital, when they were really a prison, the drugs they reportedly did obtain that way by deceit from that pharmacy were a combination of a sedative and painkiller. despite the objections of the pharmacy, texas never sent those drugs back and still say they have those drugs around. they're keeping them in the texas state prison system. they say they have reserved the right to use those two drugs in combination to kill prisoners. the problem is that in january, ohio decide to become the first place in the country to use that combination of drugs to kill someone. you might have heard how that went. it took 25 minutes for the man
purple by the time the execution was over. >> and his eyes remained open from the last breath that we heard. until the end. the assistant coroner attempted to close his eyes at one point and they popped back open. >> that was october 2012, the first time a state killed somebody using something made for them at a compounding pharmacy. the man they were killing gave what he thought was his final statement. they asked for his last words and he said he wanted it to be this. those did not end up being his last words on earth because they injected him with something they got at the compounding pharmacy and two more drugs and what he
ended up saying as his actual last words were, i feel my whole body burning. that was in january. in april in texas, the man was asked for last words, he said it would be, i would like to remind my children once again i love them all, everything's going to be okay, i love you all, i love my children. i am at peace. once again, they started injecting him with what he thought was his final statement was not. his real last words being, it does kind of burn. the ingestion used an
experimental combination of three other drugs. they tried to set up an i.v. lane into the femoral vein into the groin area. it did not work as intended. after the man was pronounced unconscious, he clearly became conscious again. he was seen to be kicking and he was speaking at one point, moving his head. he was supposed to be unconscious. he was not. he appeared to be in great pain witnesses said. oklahoma department of corrections says they believed they had not gotten enough drugs into the man to kill him. by the time they had run out of drugs and the director of the department of corrections tried to call the execution off, tried to stop it after it had been started. ultimately they say the man died of a heart attack more than 40 minutes after the execution was started. and circumstances that remain
unclear and that were shielded from the witnesses because the corrections department drew the curtains. again, in oklahoma they fry tried to stop the process. so far the corrections department will not say if any efforts were made to revive the man after they stopped trying to kill him but before he had a heart attack. tomorrow at 6:00 p.m. central time, the state of texas is planning to carry out the first execution in the united states since that happened in oklahoma. texas is planning on using the drug from a compounding pharmacy to carry out the execution. but it is from a secret source. texas will not say where it's from. we're pretty sure it's not from the pharmacy that the state lied to when they called the prison a hospital and tried to order the drug that way. the drug is also not from this compounding pharmacy in tulsa, oklahoma which used to make the drug for states to kill
prisoners but stopped after a lawsuit. that execution in oklahoma where the guy said i feel my whole body burning, one pharmacologist testified saying, it is my opinion the statement is consistent with the drug's injection. even -- we know a lot of place on the down low, people had somehow found out what that pharmacy had done. we know a lot of places where texas has tried to get drugs but probably isn't its supplier for whatever they're going to do tomorrow. but we have no idea where this stuff came from.
texas says they're quite sure it's safe. but we won't tell you where we got it. and the question, in the middle of all this sketchy pharmaceutical ad libbing the states are doing, the question is are these experiments just going to continue? are we just going to bumble our way through, developing new combinations of drugs and testing them on each new prisoner? we don't know how we're killing you, we're just going to see how well we can do it. is that what we're going to do now, or did the disaster in oklahoma two weeks ago tomorrow change things? did whatever happened in oklahoma go so wrong that it should stop every state from going ahead with any execution before we totally understand what went wrong there? because we still really don't know what went wrong there in oklahoma. the tulsa world newspaper has been all over this doggedly. they have turned up the fact that a lot of what the state
explained about what happened there and what went wrong isn't actually what happened at all. >> the initial report said that it was done by -- we learned that was wrong. it has to be a paramedic/emt. we asked the department of corrections to clarify. they said it was a paramedic/emt. we're not sure why the report listed that. we don't know what the qualifications were of the people that placed the iv, what happened when they drew the curtains. if there were possible other issues, did they try to revive him, did they have equipment in the room to do anything to help him when they halted the execution. we still don't know what happened there. we'll keep making requests. >> that's from the tulsa world newspaper. she was there at the execution that went so horribly wrong with
her editor. the tulsa world has been pushing hard to figure out what went wrong in this execution, which oklahoma tried unsuccessfully to stop once it was under way. that's the thing that's so unbelievable about what happened there. oklahoma has a long, detailed protocol of what happens in their execution procedures. a long protocol. they have no procedure listed for how to stop an execution that's been started. whether or not they should try to revive someone that they have stopped trying to kill. the great state of texas has a shorter written protocol for executions, not nearly as detailed as oklahoma. but as texas plans tomorrow to use a single drug from a compounding pharmacy of some kind to kill someone in their first execution, the first execution nationally after what happened two weeks ago in oklahoma, texas also has no written protocol whatsoever for what to do if things go wrong,
for how to stop it once it's started and whether or not they try to bring somebody back. if they try to kill him the way they are trying to. joining us now is the editor for "the tulsa world." she's covered four executions in oklahoma. four on paper. thank you very much for being here. >> thank you for having me. >> the tulsa world reporting an analysis on this case has been dogged and impressive. i want to congratulate you for staying on this story. from a national perspective, it's really helped us understand what we don't know. is there -- you understand is the truth different from what the state initially said happened in that execution chamber? >> it's pretty clear to us through our investigation that there are some significant differences already. they said in the timeline that the phlebotomist placed the iv,
but they changed the story and said oh, no, it was a paramedic. so there are some things that are not correct. in an affidavit, the warden who carried out the execution described the first drug as an aesthetic, but we've learned it was a sedative. so there were some inconsistencies we're finding and we haven't gotten the records we have requested. >> in terms of the constitutionality of that execution, the supreme court, in their most recent ruling on lethal injections, is very clear how states should design protocols to go about avoiding the necessary -- the certainty essentially of pain, trying to make sure that people don't have undue pain. they go into a lot of detail about how it's important the person be unconscious before their heart is stopped.
where are the details about the vein having exploded or the line having blown, that other language that's been used by corrections, do you have any sense medically of what they mean and whether or not that means that sedative might have gotten into that guy at all? >> well, the night of the execution, i witnessed the execution and we saw the man have a violent reaction. shortly after that, they pulled the curtains and the director said that the line was blown. later we all asked him what that meant. he said that the vein exploded. we have talked to experts who routinely say they don't accept that description, that veins don't explode. it's far more likely that the iv was improperly placed. it happened in arizona.
so one of the questions is, whether the training of the people who were placing these lines and that's a crucial part of it. they don't know how much of the second and third drug got into the inmate. it's clear some leaked out or got into the tissue, which would be a much slower process. >> as to whether or not what happened there was an anomaly or whether it's something that might happen again, whether it is representing a systemic problem, what you just said about the corrections department seems important. when he was running the corrections system in arizona, responsible for killing people, he also had a problem there with having people placing ivs improperly or people who weren't trained to do so? >> the testimony in lawsuit depositions we have reviewed said that the man in charge of the execution process did not check out the background of team members.
there was a review of five executions that occurred in arizona. the expert that reviewed said four of the ivs had been improperly placed. it's a very difficult procedure, and even some basic doctors can't do it. so there were problems. >> one last question for you, do you have any further insight into whether or not they tried to revive the prisoner whose execution you attended? once they closed those curtains and in those long minutes before he had a heart attack and died, do you know if they were trying to revive him? >> they refuse to say. we posed a number of questions to the state which have gone unanswered. i checked with ambulance companies in the area. they said they did not respond. the state changed their story about who was in the execution chamber. they just now said it was a paramedic. there's no evidence that there were in life-saving measures taken.
>> again, tulsa world doing great work on letting the nation know what happened there as much as we can understand it. thank you very much for this and congratulations on your work thus far. >> thank you, rachel. >> we speak on the eve of the next planned execution in america after that disaster two weeks ago in oklahoma. not only unexplained but less explained than it was in the days following that botched execution. we'll be right back. weekdays are for rising to the challenge.
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we are in political primary season. there's going to be a closely watched u.s. senate primary in nebraska tomorrow, as well as one in west virginia. there's two open senate seats there, as jay rockefeller refires from the senate in west virginia. there's a closely watched senate races next week in arkansas, georgia and kentucky. kentucky with the mitch mcconnell race. this is political junkie time for real political junkies. tomorrow, we'll have primary results for you and all the rest. that's it. late today, there is some generally shocking news out of north carolina concerning a man you may have heard about around last week's primary in north carolina. renee elmers is a member of congress, a republican member of congress from north carolina. the democratic primary to pick someone to run against her this year got a fair amount of
national attention because one of the leading candidates is the famous "american idol" runner-up clay aiken. since the primary vote on tuesday, clay aiken has been sweating out the vote count from what turned out to be his extremely close primary contest against a very well known and well respected in north carolina, his name is keith crisco, the former commerce secretary in north carolina. clay aiken led by just a few hundred votes. even as of today, the race is still considered too close to call. a county by county canvas to finalize the vote and count any absentee votes, that was scheduled to take place tomorrow. after that official result was announced, it turned out that the margin between the two was going to be less than 1%, rules provided there would be a run-off between the two
candidates to see who could face renee elmers in the fall. in that context tonight on the eve of the official final canvas for that close race, there's some sad and unexpected news out of north carolina. nbc news confirmed that keith crisco died today. he reportedly fell accidently at his home this afternoon and he passed away. mr. crisco's long-time friend told the news and observer newspaper in north carolina today he had spoken with mr. crisco just this morning, when they finalized plans to announce tomorrow he would concede the election to clay aiken and call mr. aiken to congratulate them. that was this morning. this afternoon, he fell and he died. keith crisco served as the commerce secretary for north carolina. he was the co-founder of a textile company. he had an mba from harvard. he once had a white house
fellowship during the presidency of richard nixon. in response to the news today, clay aiken has shut down his campaign website. he posted this message in its place. it says, i'm stunned and deeply saddened by keith crisco's death. keith came from humble beginnings. no how high he rose, he never forgot where he came from. he was a gentleman, a good and honorable man and extraordinary public servant. i was honored to know him. clay aiken says, i am suspending all campaign activities as we pray for his family and friends. again, sad and unexpected news out of north carolina today. one of the two democrats who was still vying for a chance to run in november died unexpectedly after a fall at home today. keith crisco was 71 years old. clay aiken will be the democratic nominee for that seat. if we learn more we'll let you know. i'm j-a-n-e and i have copd. i'm d-a-v-e and i have copd.
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to blame president obama. wouldn't we all? speeding ticket, president obama. hangover, president obama. late to work? it's spelled obama. but as governor chris christie puts new jersey through the economic ringer, his effort to blame president obama for what he did in new jersey got way more news worthy before it was day. that story is ahead. ♪ ♪ no matter what kind of business you own, at&t business experts can help keep it running... seamlessly. so you can get back to what you love.
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the waza national park is one of the places on earth with stuff you never imagined you might have the chance to see. lions and hyenas and giraffes and gazelles. waza is here in west africa and far northern cameroon, where cameroon makes a little stovepipe between the nation of chad and the nation of nigeria on the other. see that at the top. just north of there is another national park known for its elephants. the whole little stovepipe in this part of western africa has wildlife you cannot see anywhere else in the world. last year, several members of a french family who had been living in cameroon were kidnapped there.
three adults and four children. they were abducted by men on motorcycles. they're believed to have been carried across the border into nigeria, where a terrorist group called boko haram has its base. they kept that family in captivity for two months. the adults in the family doing the best they could until they could be rescued. in april of 2014, they were exchanged for a ransom only $3 million, though it's not clear who paid it. the deal included the release of 16 boko haram prisoners held by cameroon. what you see here is news footage of that french family going home after that two months being held by that terrorist group. the terrorist group had also released video of the family in captivity. i made a decision we are not going to show you that. it had and has intelligence
value for those fighting boko haram, for people to try to get them to stop doing stuff like this. it does not, though, have news value beyond us knowing that that hostage tape exists. the reason i think it doesn't have news value to show that hostages in captivity video is because the point of boko haram having done that video is to terrify us. they do horrific things and publicize these horrific things as widely as they can to shock, to terrorize, to make the government of their county look weak to undermine that government to they the terrorist group have a better chance of taking over in that country. that is the basic recipe of terrorism. as always, and as everywhere, it is disgusting. and now today, boko haram released a new video. we're not going to show you that either for the same reason. in the video today, they demand the release of boko haram prisoners from nigeria, they're demanding the release of those prisoners in exchange of the hundreds of teenage schoolgirls
they've been holding hostage. it shows the kidnapped girls sitting out in the scrub, praying. if you want to take hope from the news, that video at least offers proof of life for the girls, right? sometime after they were taken by this terrorist group, they were alive and more than 100 of them at least were together and that's good. boko haram has done this and is bragging about it for international attention and to terrorize. the story is, of course, having a very large international impact. there have been protests in nigeria and around the word. this weekend, there was this from the first lady of the united states. >> hello, everyone. i'm michelle obama, and on this mother's day weekend, i want to take a moment to honor all the mothers out there and wish you a happy mother's day.
i also want to speak to you about an issue of great significance to me as first lady and more importantly, as the mother of two young daughters. like millions of people across the globe, my husband and i are outraged and heart broken over the kidnapping of more than 200 nigerian girls from their school dormitory in the middle of the night. i hope that any young people in america who take school for granted, any young people who are slacking off and thinking about dropping out, i hope they will learn the story of these girls and recommit themselves to their education. these girls embody the best hope for the future of our world, and we are committed to standing up for them, not just in times of tragedy or crisis, but for the long haul. >> that's an unusual event this weekend. the president's weekly address, this weekend delivered by the first lady, delivered from the
white house urging american solidarity with a story unfolding thousands of miles away. in concrete terms, the white house described the constituents of the u.s. team that has been sent to nigeria to help that country to search those girls. before now, the white house has described that team as a coordination cell, a term that i don't understand, even after several days now of googling it. the white house announced more detail, they're sending five officials from the state department, including security experts and a medical officer. they will work with advisers from the pentagon. another seven pentagon advisers are joining the team from the u.s. military command from africa, and four people from the fbi with skills in hostage negotiation and hostage recovery.
so that is some of what the white house means when they say coordination cell. what else can we tell from that list about the american approach of this act of terrorism? how does the u.s. government train its experts to deal with this? does the particular expertise and training represented in this list gave us today give us any clues how this international crisis gets involved? are americans good at this? with we glenn enough information to understand how they might try to get those girls back? what might happen next and what kind of work might be under way? what should we expect here? joining us is michael liter. thank you very much for being was. appreciate your time. >> good to be here, rachel. >> looking at that list, about the personnel that is going, and what we know is the broad goal, what should we understand about the american approach to a terrorist hostage situation? i imagine that the u.s. official government position is we don't
negotiate with terrorists but what does that mean on the ground? >> the u.s. does have a very strict policy of no negotiation with terrorists. that isn't something that this group will really be doing, at least in the sense of we're not going to be saying if you hand over 50, we'll release some of these hostages -- some of the prisoners in nigeria. what this group will do, which is going to coordinate all of the operations to help the nigerians, it's going to have three principal functions. one, intelligence to find the hostages and understand kind of the capabilities that boko haram has. second, it will have the fbi people in particular, experts who can help the nigerians guide any discussions they have with boko haram. at least talking to them, understanding what the possibilities are. and third, the one which i think isn't very likely but we have to
be ready for it and work with the nigerians to do it, a group from the department of defense to go in and do some sort of hostage rescue. that's what this cell is meant to provide the capability and expertise. >> is this a situation where we should suspect talks may be under way, that are being kept from the public? you keep hearing unsourced descriptions of what's happening in nigeria, there may be people in touch with this group, so some form of informal talks may be already happening? >> i suspect that's the case. because of the political dynamic in nigeria and our policy of not negotiating with terrorists, there's not going to be anything on the surface. underneath, the nigerians have contacts in boko haram. they know some of the leadership. they know who is around that
organization. in that sense, i expect they are sending out feelers. what are some ways to possibly get past this crisis? but i think it's very unlikely there would be any large scale release or any release of prisoners. i think that would really undercut the position of president jonathan, and as you said in your opening, it would make him incredibly weak to put boko haram on the same level and do some sort of prisoner for kidnapped girls hostage exchange. >> in terms of the u.s. helping, how much this u.s. team augments the ability of the nigerians to get those girls back, to what extent are american officials bound to take steps that are suggested by or approved by nigeria? to what extent can the u.s. team members here, and i'm thinking about the u.s. hostage team if that is who is there, to what extent can they act independently in the way they think is best? >> we could have the best team
on the ground in the world, and we probably do, but we really can't do much of anything without nigerian cooperation. and historically, this is the place the nigerians have been worst. they're a very prideful country and they haven't cooperated with the u.s. to the degree we think they should have against boko haram and in their counterterrorism operations. so all of our expertise, the intelligence expertise, the fbi hostage rescue team, the department of defense special operations folks and people from africom, they probably aren't going to get access to information, access to any areas unless the nigerians say please come help us. so this is the classic statement, you can lead a horse to water but you can't make them drink. the nigerians are going to let us do what they want us to do, and we're not going to force them to accept any help. >> do you feel like boko haram is being dumb in releasing all these video statements and being
so operationally active while they -- they continue to launch very deadly attacks. they have continued to take more girls in that part of the country. are they giving away valuable intelligence where they might be or how to find them by put thing stuff out? >> the video probably gave a few tips, but i think they're relatively good in protecting against that. boko haram is simply an aggressive, deadly organization. this has captured america's and the western public's attention, but the fact is, since 2009, this is a group that's killed thousands. they have massacred schoolchildren in other instances. so the fact is, they're willing to give up some things to make clear that they are trying to embarrass the nigerian government and they are trying to fight against what they view as an incredibly, oppressive, nonmuslim regime. this is a long-term fight for boko haram. i expect regardless of what happens in this situation, boko haram and the violence they're
imposing on the people of nigeria, it is going to continue. >> michael liter, thanks for helping us understand this. nice to see you. thanks. >> thanks. lots more ahead, including stuff that's not so depressing, including a nice chart. please stay with us. [female announcer] we grow big celebrations,o. and personal victories. we grow new beginnings, and better endings. grand gestures, happier happy hours. so let's gro something greater with miracle-gro.
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this is the marriage rate over roughly a decade from 1999 to 2010 in the great state of alabama. you can see the marriage rate going down over that time. now, leave up that line there. and then add the next line. a-ha. this is the number of people who were electrocuted by power lines in the united states over the same time period. look, it tracks exactly the same. could that be a coincidence? yes. obviously, that is a coincidence. but consider this as well. this is total u.s. crude oil imports in millions of barrels from 2000 to 2009. and this is u.s. per capita consumption of chicken over the exact same time. oil imports and per capita chicken consumption. that's real data. they're basically exactly the same. one more? this is the total revenue generated by u.s. skiing facilities in millions of dollars from 2000 to 2009.
skiing facilities. and this is the total number of people who died in the united states over the same time period because they became tangled in their own bed sheets. what is the relationship between skiing revenue and fatal bedsheet misfortune? absolutely none. all of these examples come from the spurious correlations blog. it's maintained by a harvard law student. we have linked to it at our blog today. and when you see, this is real data, when you see real data put together like this, it's reasonable to try to make there be some connection between skiing revenue and tangled bedsheet deaths. it's understandable to try to make these spurious correlations into causation somehow, even though you really know that you shouldn't. but in the news right now, republicans are having the opposite problem. their problem right now is that something that president obama and the democrats have done and really, really obviously correlated with an outcome that republicans like. the republicans have decided to
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getting rid of taxes produced a reduction in tax revenue. revenue went down for the state. nobody warned us that would happen. and that shocking reduction in revenue now means that new jersey's budget has blown up as well. huge deficits in new jersey. new jersey just had its bond ratings lowered for the fifth time since governor chris christie became governor chris christie. and it turns out it's a trend because here's the third. in 2012 a republican governor was elected in north carolina, pushing through really big tax cuts. and once again, the shocking lack of revenue that follows big tax cuts blows up the north carolina budget. the state got huge deficits, totally unexpected. we had no idea that cutting taxes would reduce tax revenue. that budget emergency was away apparently the republicans didn't see coming at all has the north carolina legislature going back this week for a special short legislative session to figure out what to do with their, surprise, huge budget deficits that they did to themselves.
so far unlike kansas and new jersey there's no word as to whether north carolina's bond rating is also in trouble. you might want to keep an eye on that. but also keep an eye on whether or not north carolina's republican governor, pat mccrory, plans to accept any blame for what has happened to his state under his policies. in kansas and new jersey the governors there decided to explain the fiscal bombs that they set off in their own states as being president obama's fault. as if president obama was the one stalking the halls of the legislature in topeka and trenton, telling them to cut the corporate tax rate. but new figures out today from the budget that president obama actually does have something to do with shows that his government, the federal government, ran a $107 billion surplus last month. this is the second time in five months that the federal government has been in surplus. the new projections on the overall federal budget for a federal government that has not cut taxes but in fact raised taxes on the richest people in the country is that the federal budget deficit is plummeting. republican governors who thought that cutting taxes would have this kind of result on their own deficits but instead they experienced the opposite?
they can try to blame president obama all they want for their own problems, but chart imitates life. this is what has actually happened under president obama. the deficit dropping faster than at any time since the end of world war ii. chart imitates life. now it's time for "the last word." have a great night. gop's political fixation on benghazi. tonight we'll hear from the former bush counterterror czar who warned against politicized policy making on the road to war with iraq. richard clarke, a veteran of the bush, clinton, and reagan administrations is here to put benghazi in context. >> republicans and democrats have very different ideas of the meaning of the word "fair." >> they're not interested in a legitimate inquiry. >> right now we know the republicans are raising campaign funds. >> they are interested in a campaign strategy. >> we're taking a closer look at the concerted effort by republicans to stop a clinton campaign before it officially gets started. >> the republicans are really grasping at straws. >>