All in with Chris Hayes, Transcript 1/25/2017
Show: All in with Chris Hayes
Date: January 25, 2017
Guest: Dan Rather, David Sanger
CHRIS HAYES, “ALL IN” HOST: That`s “ALL IN” for this evening.
THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts right now.
Good evening, Rachel.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, my friend. Thanks, Chris,
And thanks to you at home for staying with us for the next hour. Happy to
have you here this fine Wednesday night. There`s a lot going on, have you
noticed it`s very busy?
But we`ve actually got some legit breaking news. We have got our hands
exclusively on a brand new national poll from Public Policy Polling. Now,
I know there`s no election coming up. This is not a national poll about
who people are going to vote for, that`s not what it`s about.
But this is a poll and it turns out to be an interesting and a very
newsworthy one that is about how the new presidency is going so far in the
eyes of the American people. And again, this is an exclusive. We`ve got
this tonight. We`ve got it. Nobody else has it, this is the first public
release of this information and you will see some of it is stark.
We`ll start right at the top. Do you approve of President Donald Trump?
The percent of Americans who say yes they approve of Donald Trump is 44
percent, which is in keeping with the historically low approval ratings
this president has, the lowest of any incoming president ever in U.S.
history. So, in this new PPP poll, approval for Donald Trump is 44
Next question, do you approve of the women who participated in marches
across the country this weekend? The percentage of Americans who say yes
they approve of the women who marched this weekend, that number is 50
percent. So, more Americans approve of the marchers this weekend then
approve of the new president. That`s probably going to bother him.
It`s not just bad news for him. It`s also bad news for the visible members
of the new White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: This was the largest audience to
ever witness an inauguration, period.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: No, it wasn`t.
So, question to the American people in this new national poll. Do you
believe that? The actual phrasing of the question is, “Do you think Donald
Trump`s inauguration had the biggest crowd of any presidential inauguration
in history or not?”, the answer from the American people, not. I`m sorry.
Look at that.
I`m sorry, White House spokesman Sean Spicer, it`s not working. What
you`re doing, it`s not working. By a margin of 62 percent to 18 percent,
Americans are fully aware that this was not the biggest inauguration in
history despite what the White House is telling them. In fact, this new
national poll shows that in addition to this not being the biggest
inauguration in history, the American people are also aware that the
women`s march in D.C., which happened the day after the inauguration, the
American people are aware that that march was larger than the Trump
inauguration turnout and Americans are aware of that by a margin of 54
percent to 29 percent.
So, again, this new poll is exclusive to us. We`re the only people who
have these poll results this evening. But just as a baseline for where the
new president is starting and for whether or not people believe the new
administration when it speaks to them, this is not a good place they are
And in terms of what`s coming down the road, what`s coming next for this
new administration, the rest of the poll doesn`t offer good prospects in
terms of how the American people are likely to react and what they say they
want from the new president. Let me show you what I mean.
Today, of course, by now you heard, the new president signed an executive
order to build a wall or something like a wall along the southern border.
There was also news from the Republican-controlled Congress today that they
will soon be moving legislation to make we the American taxpayers pay for
that wall, at least initially. Sure, the president promised it would be
Mexico paying for that wall, but if you believe that, ha, it`s going to be
U.S. taxpayers putting up the money for the wall, at least for now.
And so here is the question. Literally, here is the question from the
poll. If the American taxpayers have to pay up front for it, do you
support or oppose building a wall with Mexico? Answer from the American
people? Oppose. Oppose by a 19-point margin.
Here`s another one. Do you think Donald Trump should release his tax
returns? The answer from the American people, yes, he should release his
tax returns. That`s what Americans believe by a 27-point margin.
Take that a little further. Here`s question 13 from this new poll that
we`ve got exclusively tonight from PPP. Quote, “Would you support or
oppose a law requiring a candidate for president has to release five years
of tax returns in order to appear on the ballot?” Would you support that?
The American people say yes, we would support that by a 20-point margin.
Question 15, “Do you think Donald Trump should divest his business
interests?” Answer from the American people? Yes. Yes we think that. By
a 33-point margin, Americans believe he should divest from his businesses,
which is something he has not done and apparently has no intentions of
And now, you get to the hurtful ones. Now, you get to the ones that are
going to hit him close to the heart. This is question 16 from this new PPP
national poll we have exclusively. The question is, “Do you like Russia?”
Answer from the American people “no.” By a 47-point margin, no we do not
OK, let`s get specific. Do you like this man? Do you like Vladimir Putin?
The answer from the American people, no, no, no, no, no. No by a 57-point
margin, the American people do not have a favorable view of Vladimir Putin.
And here`s the thing, even Donald Trump supporters are apparently going to
have a hard time with our new president`s as yet love and affection for
Russia and specifically for Vladimir Putin. Those numbers we just showed
on Russia and Putin and how Americans feel about them? Those were for the
American people as a whole.
But look at the poll results just for Donald Trump voters. Even if you
just ask Trump supporters, Trump voters, they don`t like Russia either by a
27-point margin. They don`t like Putin, either, by a 40-point margin.
Even Trump voters do not like Putin, 55 percent to 15 percent.
And that is now politically important news. I`m glad PPP did national
polling on that subject. I`m glad they took a big enough example that we
were able to get results, even from some groups like just Donald Trump
voters. It`s important. This is part of the reason I asked if I could
have this poll exclusively tonight, because I think this is – this is a
This is one that`s about to be politically important, because the House and
Senate Intelligence Committees have started in on investigating Russian
government efforts to help Donald Trump win our last presidential election.
And the new president and his team keep dismissing the importance of that
subject as if people don`t care about it. But people do care about it.
And people don`t like Russia or Vladimir Putin.
And so, this issue is likely to stick to our new president as a problem
when even his own voters, even his own supporters even now remain so widely
skeeved out by Russia and specifically by Vladimir Putin. I mean, our new
president has continued his Russia and Putin love affair unabated but he
has yet to explain it. And if we are going to get an explanation, if there
is going to be a substantive ongoing long term investigation into what
Russia did and how Donald Trump benefitted from it in the presidential
election, that`s going to stick politically even with his own supporters.
And that`s notable. That is all the more remarkable given what else Donald
Trump supporters feel and believe, because there is one block here in this
new polling data that the new president and the new administration do
actually sort of actually have to be happy about, it`s very specific. I
think to the rest of the country it`s a little weird. But now that Trump
and company are in power, it is starting to feel like there is a warning or
maybe some foreshadowing for the rest of it.
And this is what it is, this is what I mean. These numbers that I just
gave. The results I showed about the size of the Trump inauguration and
the comparison of the inaugural crowd to the women`s march and all that
stuff, those results I was showing were for the country as a whole, right?
So, the country knows Donald Trump didn`t have the biggest inauguration,
the country knows Donald Trump didn`t have as big an inauguration as Barack
Obama did, the country knows that the women`s march actually had a better
turnout than the inauguration did.
The country as a whole knows that but check this out. If you just ask
Trump voters, if you only look at the results for from people who say they
support Donald Trump and they voted for him for president, those people,
Trump voters, they believe that Donald Trump did have the biggest
inauguration in U.S. history. They definitely think he had more people at
his inauguration than Barack Obama did in his.
Naturally, they are absolutely convinced that the Trump inauguration had a
larger turnout in Washington, D.C. than that dumb women`s march did the
following day. They also believe – I kid you not – they also believe
that most of the women who protested this weekend at those giant marches –
Trump supporters believe that most of the women who marched were paid to do
so by George Soros. Really? Most of them.
It`s a very complicated payment scheme. That is what Trump voters believe.
Soros paid them all.
Of course, none of that is true. None of that is true. But the fact that
Trump voters believe all that untrue stuff, that is starting to be of
renewed political importance because this is not the campaign anymore.
It`s not that people are supporting their chosen candidate because of stuff
they believe about the world that isn`t true.
There are people now who are looking at the world who still believe things
that are wildly and provably untrue, who are the base of support for this
president now that he is in office. And that`s important. That may be,
depending on how you look at it, either the silver lining for what`s
otherwise bad news or the building block for what the new administration
feels they have to work with in terms of starting this presidency, because
it`s one thing to have the country like you or not, it`s one thing to have
your supporters like you and trust you and the rest of the country doesn`t
like you and trust you. It`s one thing if your supporters have different
opinions or feelings about the world that set them apart from everybody
else in the country, I get that.
But it`s another thing all together if your supporters are deluded, if your
supporters are flat out operating from a whole different mostly false set
of facts that they don`t share with anybody else and that aren`t true, and
Trump supporters really are, and we are now, as of tonight, getting the
first national polling data, that proves that. And what is weird and
what`s happening in politics right now is that the forces supporting Donald
Trump in Washington and trying to figure out how they were going to careen
through his presidency with supporters like this, it may be that they
believe that is a good thing and they want to build on that, and we are
seeing the first concrete signs of that now. And that story is next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. LAMAR SMITH (R-TX), SCIENCE, SPACE AND TECHNOLOGY CMTE. CHAIR Better
to get your news directly from the president. In fact, it might be the
only way to get the unvarnished truth.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That is the Texas congressman who heads the House Science
Committee. Speaking on the House floor this week, he gave this extended
floor speech ripping the media, praising the new president and concluding
with an admonition to the American people that you`d be better off getting
your news directly from the president. It`s the only way to get the
At the end of November, Congress passed the bill that funds the military.
It`s called the National Defense Authorization Act. It`s one of those
bills that basically has to pass every year. It funds the Defense
Department. It funds the U.S. military.
This year, that bill was 1,587 pages long. This is roughly – you can see
– can you see that there? Yes, all right. This is roughly 1,587 pages.
So, this was the length of the bill.
Fourteen hundred and four pages into it – so, like, if you were reading
from the beginning, you`d get down to here, 1,400 pages into it and this
bill that just passed in November which is signed by President Obama, on
page 1,404 of that bill, there was a provision about something called the
Voice of America. Voice of America is a fairly non-controversial –
basically a public diplomacy outlet that is run as part of the U.S.
Every once in a while, there`s some minor kerfuffle about the Voice of
America but it`s considered to be non-controversial. It`s founded during
World War II. It broadcasts in 100 countries, 61 languages, reaches over
250 million people around the world.
And from World War II until recently it could only be broadcast around the
world. They changed that since 2013, interestingly. Now, Voice of America
can be broadcast in the United States. That`s new.
So, they have a big budget, $800 million. The reason it`s fairly non-
controversial is in part because it mostly broadcasts abroad, but it`s also
because it`s been run in a low-key non-partisan way. It`s been overseen,
for example, by a broadcasting board of governors, sort of a panel of
worthy professionals, they`re bipartisan appointed by both Republicans and
The agency is also run as part of the State Department. It`s run in a way
that`s supposed to be insulated from our domestic politics so it can`t be
used as a partisan tool by anyone in government. That`s the way it`s
supposed to go.
But on page 1,404 of the defense bill that was passed by the Republican
Congress, right after the election, this far into the bill that high, they
took the board of governors` part out of the equation. Isn`t that
interesting? So, that`s no longer who runs this $800 million broadcasting.
Voice of America.
Now, instead of being run by a non-partisan sort of insulated board of
governors, it`s now run by a CEO, by a CEO who is appointed by the
president and who serves at the pleasure of the president. When President
Obama signed that big defense spending bill in November, he actually
attached a signing statement to it, saying that he objected to that change
at the Voice of America, but he did sign the bill. It`s kind of a must-
pass bill, funds the military.
And so, he signed the bill overall, even though he expressed those
objections about that one part of it. But thanks to that one part of it,
thanks to the change that went into effect at this agency, the Voice of
America is now under the authority of a CEO who answers to President Trump.
And the CEO`s office this week at the Voice of America was taken over by
two 20-something political operatives from the Trump campaign.
One of whom, the guy on the left side of your screen, he was a right wing
blogger for a web site called the Daily Surge. The other was a young man
who recently moved to New Hampshire to be part of the utopian experiment
where libertarians would flock to New Hampshire from all over the country
and create critical mass and take over that government and – I don`t know
what they were going to do.
But those two 20-something guys, those two young Trump volunteers, as of
this week, they`re in the CEO offices at the Voice of America. Did I
mention that this is a state-run broadcasting network with an $800 million
budget that became legal to broadcast its content in the United States?
There`s a lot going on with the new administration. The executive orders
today, we`ll be talking about those tonight.
There`s this weird press lottery we have everyday now where at the start of
the press briefing from the White House, a new obscure right wing pro-Trump
outlet gets called on first or second at the press briefing. The Laura
Ingraham website getting the first question. The Christian Broadcasting
Network getting the second question. Today, it was the moony paper from
D.C., the “Washington Times” first question at the press briefing.
The president today promised a full-scale federal investigation into the
millions of illegal votes he said were cast in this presidential election.
He told an interview tonight that every single one of those millions of
illegal votes that was cast in the presidential election wasn`t cast for
him. He knows it. And now, there`s going to be a federal investigation to
And that`s insane. That`s insane. And it is sometimes hard to get your
bearings when the president himself and people who are working for him say
stuff every day that is blatantly and obviously not true.
I think in the middle of that, the challenge is to stay focused not just on
what they are saying, no matter how insane it is. I think the trick is to
stay focused on what they`re doing, whether or not they`re talking about
I mean, it`s one thing for them to call it an alternative fact when the
White House presents a blatant lie to the American public. It is another
thing for them to build in a dedicated way, with the resources of the
federal government, an alternative factual universe for their supporters to
live in, and we count on the political opposition and we count on the free
media to sort out lies from truth in this country, particularly when there
are lies told by people in power.
But these guys really do also now have the opportunity to build their own
media in a way that no president has ever been able to do so before. No
president has ever been able to use the resources the U.S. government to
have broadcasting resources like that at his or her disposal. But they`ve
done it now and they`re already installed their people in the corner
And one of the legends of American journalism is here to talk with us about
that tonight. That`s ahead. Stay with us.
MADDOW: Have you felt a bit at sea recently? Hard to get your bearings?
Have you been feeling maybe this isn`t real and if it is real I don`t know
what it means?
At times like this, if you have people in your life who can put things in
perspective for you, particularly historical perspective, this is a good
time to check in with those folks, get your bearings.
Personally, my favorite cure for the existential wussies is a man by the
name of Dan Rather and he`s here live next.
MADDOW: This is from tonight. We`re just getting in some of these photos
over this evening and into the night. These were protests in Washington,
D.C. before night fall tonight, in what was almost an immediate reaction to
the president signing these new restrictions on immigration, along with an
order to move ahead with building a wall on the southern border.
I know we`ve been following and showing images on this show of a lot of
smaller protests, people going to their local lawmakers` offices to make an
opinion known. The number of those actions and so many districts, so many
Senate and legislative offices has been remarkable, but it remains just as
amazing to see these large groups gathering almost spontaneously.
And those images you just saw were D.C. This is New York City tonight. I
saw fliers for this event posted around the city this morning when I was
out doing errands. It did not seem like it was necessarily going to be any
big thing but look at all the people who showed up.
People are just ready to do this right now. Ready to converge in open fast
physical response to this new president.
Maybe this is the kind of thing our next guest meant when he wrote this
week, quote, “These are not normal times. These are extraordinary times
and extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures.” The man who
wrote that joins us now, Dan Rather, host of “The Big Interview” on AXS TV
and the proprietor of “News and Guts” which he describes as his new digital
Mr. Rather, it`s great to see you. Thank you for being here.
DAN RATHER, AXS TV: Glad to see you. Always glad to see you.
MADDOW: When you say extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures,
what do you mean by both of those things?
RATHER: Well, first of all, extraordinary times, absolutely unprecedented.
We have never been through a time like this any time in our history. This
twilight zone quality that was going on, we never had this before at
anytime in our history.
So, now calling for extraordinary measures, such measures as if you don`t
like what`s going on, get organized and take some action. It`s good to
speak out. It`s good to march but if you want change you have to do what
the Trump forces did. Organize, get to the polls, get a lot of people to
the polls, be willing to run yourself, put yourself on the line.
That`s what I meant when I said calls for extraordinary actions.
MADDOW: What do you – we really haven`t seen – I`m always afraid of the
word “unprecedented” because I feel there`s something we`ve forgotten
something that you`ve forgotten about that was kind of like this. But
we`ve never seen protests against a new president on this order this
RATHER: Not on this scale.
MADDOW: No, we`ve never had a president`s inauguration dwarfed by the
protests against it that came the next day.
RATHER: No, we had large protests against Lyndon Johnson, a sitting
president. But not when he was elected.
But when you say “unprecedented”, I`m like you, I`m wary of that word. But
it is in this circumstances, apt. For example, there`s never been a time
when the American people within themselves, a large majority of them, are
either terrified or something close to terrified.
I`m struck by how many people say, listen, are you terrified about this
time? My answer is no. I`m determined but I`m not terrified, because
being terrified is not really in the American character.
MADDOW: And people are saying they`re terrified because they don`t know
what`s going to happen next. It`s the unknown or because they feel like
they do know what`s going to happen next and they are scared of that?
RATHER: Well, they know what has already happened, such things as the
inaugural address, such things as the report of the CIA, the unfortunate
appearance to say the least. They`ve already seen what happens so they`re
fearful. What they`ve already seen is just a beginning to what`s going
And the business of making enemies everywhere you turn. Trying to – doing
things – making a enemy of Mexico, China, everybody except Russia, and
speaking out against almost everybody who`s ever done anything that Donald
Trump considers to be not his interest or the interest of the country,
except Vladimir Putin. People see this and they shudder.
Now, my answer is don`t shudder if you don`t like it, get out and dedicate
yourself to change. But you know, when I say it`s a twilight zone, it`s a
very weird feeling to be in the country just now because we as a people
tend to be a determinative people who are proud of our country, but we like
our leaders in almost without exception, almost without exception.
We`ve had leaders who at least some essence of humility about them,
gratitude that they`re in the position, there`s none of this going on now
and the outright lies being told – and by the way, I know you noticed that
some in the press are beginning to call a lie a lie when it happens.
MADDOW: Even in a headline now sometimes.
RATHER: And the idea that there`s such thing as alternate facts when
that`s not true and nearly everybody knows it isn`t true. Some may not
want to accept it but two and two equals four. Two and two equals five is
not an alternate fact. But we are being asked on a daily basis to believe
MADDOW: Dan Rather, host of AXS TV`s “The Big Interview”, thank you.
Putting it in the terms of feeling like a twilight zone moment and the
weirdness of it, I would not have described it that by a before talking to
you but that`s exactly right. Thank you for being here.
RATHER: Thank you. Always good to be with you.
MADDOW: All right. Lots more to get to on this very, very busy news
night. Please do stay with us.
MADDOW: Today, a significant number of the nation`s mayors stood up and
said no to the new president. More than no, actually, it was more like,
“Hey, Mr. President, no way, no how, you can forget it.”
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
MAYOR ED MURRAY (D), SEATTLE: Today, January 25, 2017, is the darkest day
in immigration history in America since the interment of the Japanese
Americans during the Second World War. Mr. President, I have a message for
you, Seattle has been here before. We`ve experienced this dark history
before and we have no intention of going back there again.
MAYOR ED LEE (D), SAN FRANCISCO: I believe in our sanctuary city status.
I think there are hundreds of mayors all over this country that are saying
the same thing, and we stand united that a safer city is a city that
doesn`t allow its residents to live in fear.
MAYOR MARTHY WALSH (D), BOSTON: We will not be intimidated by the threat
to federal funding. We have each other`s backs and we have the
Constitution of the United States of America on our side. I want to say
directly to anyone who feels threatened today or vulnerable, you are safe
in Boston. We will do everything lawful in our power to protect you. If
necessary, we`ll use city hall itself to shelter and protect anyone who`s
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
MADDOW: The mayors of Boston, San Francisco, Seattle today and it wasn`t
just them. Mayors also from New York City, Los Angeles, Philly, Chicago,
Portland, Oregon, Santa Fe, New Mexico, Washington, D.C. – all these big
city mayors representing tens of millions of Americans, they made defiant
public pronouncement today in response to the latest executive order from
the new president. That executive order threatens to cut off federal
funding to cities if those cities don`t do what the Trump administration
tells them to do to immigrants in those cities.
The mayors responded today by basically saying, yes, make my day. You
heard Boston Mayor Marty Walsh threaten Boston will shelter immigrants in
city hall if need be if the federal government comes after them. And that
was the reaction to one of the president`s executive orders today.
The other order he signed today was, of course, about the wall.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We will build the wall and
who`s going to pay for the wall?
TRUMP: One hundred percent.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: No. Mexico zero hundred percent is going to pay for the wall.
The new president signed this order today telling the homeland security
secretary to figure out how the heck to build a wall down in the southern
border but then the bill for the wall will be sent to Congress which means
it will be sent to you.
My new colleague, my friend Greta Van Susteren, had House Speaker Paul Ryan
on her show tonight here on MSNBC. Paul Ryan seems fine with the whole
plan for the wall.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, MSNBC HOST: Today, he announced that he wants to begin
building that wall. Who`s going to pay for it?
REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Well, first off, we`ll pay
for it and front the money up. But I do think there are various ways, as I
know your follow-up question is Mexico going to pay for the wall – there
are a lot of different ways of getting Mexico to contribute to doing this
and there are different ways of defining how exactly they pay for it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Part of the reason I love Greta`s interviewing style, she lets
them sit there in the silence and find their way out of it and she gets
stuff out of people that they didn`t expect to say there. So there`s –
you know, lots of different ways. It depends on how you define, you know,
it. The Mexico can contribute I mean, what is pay for really mean anyway?
I mean, I know what your next question is going to be. Amazing.
The president of Mexico was supposed to visit Washington, D.C. next week.
Now, after the build the wall order, the Mexican president may be
cancelling that trip to Washington, so that negotiation with our closest
neighbor, one of our closest allies, that`s off to a good start.
But there`s another one of these executive orders that was floated or at
least apparently drafted today and then it surfaced in public. If it did
surface because it was being floated as a trial balloon, this was a trial
balloon that was made of concrete and it sunk fast. And now, the new
administration is going through this strange process of denying they had
any of these ideas or floated any of them in the first place. It`s a very
weird story of this being floated today and then instantly retracted and
the story behind that is next.
Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I have spoken as recently as 24 hours ago with people at the
highest level of intelligence and I asked them the question – does it
work? Does torture work? And the answer was yes, absolutely.
DAVID MUIR, ABC NEWS: You`re now the president. Do you want
TRUMP: I will rely on Pompeo and Mattis and my group and if they don`t
want to do, that`s fine. If they do want to do, then I will work toward
that end. I want to do everything within the bounds of what you`re allowed
to do legally.
But do I feel it works? Absolutely I feel it works.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: The question of torture came up in this ABC News interview tonight
because this morning – late last night, actually, the “New York Times”
reported that draft executive orders were circulating in the White House
that would move toward bringing back torture and reopening secret CIA black
site prisons where terror suspects were interrogated and tortured abroad
under the previous administration.
Asked about those draft orders today, the White House press secretary had
an unusual response. He said, “Those are not White House documents. And
the White House knows nothing about them.” And we don`t know what to make
of that disavowal.
Joining us now is David Sanger. He`s chief Washington correspondent for
the “New York Times.”
Mr. Sanger, it`s nice to have you here. Thank you for coming in.
DAVID SANGER, NEW YORK TIMES: Great to be back with you.
MADDOW: Do you have insight in terms of this disavowal by the White House?
It came as a real surprise today.
SANGER: It did. And, you know, it could be that what he meant was where
the document originated. I don`t know where they originated. I do know
that these draft executive orders not surprisingly, since they`re going to
be signed by the president or have to be debated about being signed by the
president, are circulating within the White House, among White House staff,
among White House lawyers, going through all the review you would expect.
So, where the document had its origin is sort of less interesting to me
anyway about where it is being edited, massaged, changed, and the decision
is being made about whether or not President Trump will sign it.
MADDOW: What substantively if that draft executive order were prepared for
the president and he signed something that looked very much like that, what
would be the material implication of that?
SANGER: Well, a couple different elements of it. You mentioned the black
sites. You know, we are in a very different place than we were than black
sites first opened up in Thailand and Poland and I think there was one in
Romania. There had been a few others that were around.
I`m not sure, Rachel, you could find a country right now that would take a
black site because so many of them took so much heat for accepting them in
secret and for what went on there. Even if they didn`t have a full sense
of what was going on there. So, I think it would be difficult.
Secondly, there`s not a great demand signal for these right now. It`s not
like we`re picking up people in the battlefield the way we did in when
Afghanistan and Iraq were at their height.
The third problem I think that they`re going to run into is that there is
now a body of international law that`s much more developed about sites,
about rendition, about interrogation. There is a segment in the draft
executive order that says nothing in here should allow torture to take
place. Doesn`t define what torture is.
I thought the president`s answer to David Muir was really fascinating
because when he came to lunch at the “New York Times” shortly after the
election, he had just seen General Mattis. And he said, you know, General
Mattis told me I could get more out of interrogated suspect with a pack of
cigarettes and a beer than I could – or a Coke I think he said than I
could using torture and he sounded impressed by that. The Donald Trump we
heard tonight sounded unimpressed by that.
Director Pompeo who testified in his confirmation hearing a week ago made
it pretty clear he didn`t plan to go bring these techniques back and I
don`t know anybody at the CIA who wants to open themselves to the legal
MADDOW: That`s the other part of this. Right. If this order was issued
and they`re telling the CIA open black site prisons again, go ahead,
torture people again it`s hard to imagine that the CIA, individual officers
at the CIA would feel like that they should or could do that, even with
those orders from the president who put them in an incredible position.
SANGER: Remember what happened after those came about. There was a big
argument about whether individuals in the CIA could be prosecuted and a big
argument about whether the president was going to protect them. And so,
I`m sure that many of them feel as if they don`t want to go down that road.
And there`s another element to this, which is I think the president, the
president sort of got this, there`s a big debate about how useful it is
MADDOW: David Sanger, chief Washington correspondent for the “New York
Times,” I know it`s not the easiest thing in the world for you to be on
late night cable news – hank you for being here.
SANGER: It`s great to be here.
MADDOW: I appreciate it.
All right. Lots more ahead tonight. Do stay with us.
MADDOW: So we`ve got one last story that we`re going to bring you tonight.
It`s kind of a big one. I mentioned this at the end of last night`s show
that tonight, we were going to show you some footage that we`ve gotten
ahold of. It is unsettling. It is evidence of a brand new danger that our
president has just created for Americans out there in the world.
This is a story we`ve got here tonight that you will not get anywhere else.
I think a big scary deal and that`s our final story tonight. That`s next.
MADDOW: The largest city in Iraq, of course, is Baghdad. The second
largest city in Iraq is Mosul.
And like a lot of Americans cities, a lot of cities around the world, Mosul
is built around a river. Tigris River runs right through the middle of
Mosul, divides Mosul into an eastern side on one side of the river and a
western side on the other.
And Mosul is a big city. It has millions of residents. And that`s why it
was really big deal almost three years ago when Mosul got taken over by
ISIS. By far, Mosul was the largest city under ISIS control anywhere.
And from Iraq`s perspective, to have their second largest city taken over
by ISIS, that was just stunning to Iraq`s conception of itself and the
threat that ISIS posed to that country. But ISIS took Mosul almost three
years ago, 2014. And you almost never get any good news when it comes to
stories about ISIS.
But in this case, there is good news. The Iraqi prime minister announced
yesterday that at least in the eastern part of Mosul, east of the Tigris,
ISIS has now been cleared out. The military offensive to reclaim Mosul
started last year. And east of the Tigris, they say that mission has
succeeded. ISIS is out. The Iraqi government has liberated east Mosul.
And it absolutely was Iraqi forces who retook that city. But American
troops are there in pretty big numbers too supporting that fight. U.S.
troops, U.S. air power, U.S. special forces have been there advising and
supporting Iraqis in that fight against ISIS.
A couple of days ago on this show we showed the images we got of U.S. air
strikes blowing up nearly 100 boats on the Tigris. Boats that ISIS was
using to have their fighters escape across the Tigris River from the east
side of what Mosul to west side, fleeing this Iraqi ground offensive that
has been happening there with U.S. support.
Well, now that the eastern side of Mosul has been cleared of ISIS, one of
the day to day consequences of that for the little kids of Mosul is that
those kids are now able to go back to school. ISIS had shut down all of
the schools in Mosul in that giant city. And the U.N. now says that 30
Mosul schools have reopened. That means something like 16,000 little Iraqi
kids as of today are finally able to go back to school after more than two
years of being kept at home because ISIS shut the schools.
And you see in some of these pictures matching backpacks, little blue
backpacks. Those are donated backpacks from UNICEF. It`s an emotional
thing to see the kids running back into their classrooms, right? Finally
able to get back to school. It`s just great at a human level. They`ve
been out of school for two years.
But clearly, there is still work to do there. This is just the eastern
part of Mosul. The western part of Mosul on the other side of that river,
that is not yet cleared of ISIS. For the American troops, the more than
5,000 American troops who are in Iraq partnering with Iraqi forces in this
fight against ISIS, that means they`re still in the thick of it. And there
is a lot of fighting still ahead. A lot of danger.
And the partnership between U.S. troops and Iraqi security forces over
there, it`s a delegate thing. But it`s a very important thing. If you
want to beat ISIS, you have to beat ISIS in Iraq. Iraq is the second I in
ISIS – Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.
ISIS took over huge swaths of Iraq. They took over Iraq`s second largest
city. The fight against ISIS can`t be waged without Iraq. The fight
against ISIS has unified and mobilized all these different factions in Iraq
to all pull in the same direction. It`s an existential thing for their
country to defeat ISIS. And Iraq as a country is motivated to do it.
And the skill and the firepower and the experience of U.S. troops is
absolutely a force multiplier in terms of increasing the likelihood that
Iraq will defeat ISIS. So, it is a delegate thing that U.S. troops are
involved in this. But it is important. And this is something that we do
not want to screw up. And this is something that is now being screwed up
by our new president.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: We should have kept the oil. But, okay. Maybe we`ll have another
chance. But the fact is – should have kept the oil.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That was the day after he was sworn in as president, his first
full day as president – no longer a candidate for public office just
talking smack and criticizing U.S. policy or past U.S. actions. That`s now
the commander in chief of the U.S. military, the president of the United
States declaring what the new U.S. policy is. As president, he is saying
that it is U.S. policy that we should keep the oil, that the U.S. should
have kept Iraqi oil in the past.
He said, quote, “Maybe you`ll have another chance,” end quote, to take
Iraq`s oil. So that was Saturday. Now, we`ve got the Iraqi prime minister
giving this press conference talking about the liberation of eastern Mosul
from ISIS and those little kids being back at school for the first time in
two years. He is talking about this great military success that Iraqi
forces have had in part by partnering with and accepting training from and
help from thousands of U.S. troops who are in Iraq for that fight.
And at that press conference, what does the prime minister get asked about?
He has to answer questions about whether those U.S. troops who are in Iraq
right now are there to take Iraq`s oil. And the prime minister responded
that he doesn`t think so. He said he doesn`t know what the new president
means by that.
He said at this press conference yesterday, quote, “Iraqi oil is for
Iraqis. No official anywhere in the world claims that is not his.”
But this is a dangerous thing to not have clarity on. And I don`t mean
it`s dangerous in some academic geopolitical sense. I mean it`s literally
physically dangerous for the American troops who are in Iraq right now. If
the Iraqis they`re serving alongside think that the United States has these
members of our military in that country right now because it is now U.S.
policy to take Iraq`s oil, that is very dangerous for American troops in
that environment. Like fighting ISIS wasn`t dangerous enough.
So, we reported some of this on Monday night`s show. Now we have something
new. Borzou Daragahi, a long time Middle East correspondent, really good
reporter, he`s now with BuzzFeed – he`s obtained a two-minute video that
is reportedly circulating very widely in Iraqi social media.
It`s a two-minute video. The title page here says “The politics of the new
president of America toward Iraq.” And then the red word in the middle is
Trump in Arabic. For over two minutes, there is this montage of the new
president of the United States talking about Iraq, talking about how U.S.
policy toward Iraq should be to take their most important natural resource.
And the clips are all in English, of course, because he speaks English, but
they`re all subtitled in Arabic for an Arabic speaking audience.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
TRUMP: They have weak armies. It`s a corrupt society anyway. I mean,
it`s totally corrupt what is going on over there. So, I said very simply
that if it`s me, we take the oil.
I said take the oil. At least pay us back. And I come out front-page
news, “Oh, Trump is a horrible human being. He wants to take the oil from
a sovereign country.” Sovereign. Give me a break. You see the people
ripping off sovereign.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Wouldn`t you be destroying the wealth of
TRUMP: No, no there is no Iraq. There is no Iraq.
COOPER: Iraqis might differ with you.
TRUMP: Excuse me, there are no Iraqis. They`re broken up into so many
MATT LAUER, NBC NEWS: How are we going to take the oil? How are we going
to do that?
TRUMP: You would leave a certain group behind and you would take various
sections where they have the oil.
INTERVIEWER: So you could keep troops in Iraq after this?
TRUMP: I would take the oil.
INTERVIEWER: I don`t understand how you would take – does that mean
keeping troops there or staying involved?
TRUMP: You heard me. I would take the oil.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
MADDOW: Again, the reason that has Arabic subtitles is because that is
circulating widely on social media in Iraq. And now, our new president has
reiterated that sentiment in his first full day in office, unprompted, he
brought it up again. And now, the Iraqi minister is fielding questions
about it from the Iraqi press corps. And all the while, more than 5,000
Americans are in Iraq as this takes hold because of our new president.
Deputy Pentagon spokesman who`s on post until last week in the Obama
administration put out this statement this week saying the White House
needs to clearly say the U.S. isn`t going to take Iraq`s oil. Every moment
that statement stands puts our troops at greater risk.
But it was not an error by the White House spokesman. It is the policy of
the United States now under this new president and that really seriously
changes the risk environment in which our troops are operating right now.
This is not hypothetical. This is happening. And as this builds and
builds in Iraq, I think the White House is going to have to explain pretty
soon how they`re going to fix this or why they don`t care about the target
that this has just put on U.S. soldiers serving abroad in what is already a
very dangerous place. Serious stuff.
That`s for us tonight. We`ll see you again tomorrow.
Now, it`s time for “THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL.”
Good evening, Lawrence. I`m sorry. I went long into your first minute.