Cindy Hyde-Smith offers non-apology. TRANSCRIPT: 11/21/18, All In W/ Chris Hayes
STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC HOST: That is all for HARDBALL now. Happy
Thanksgiving. “ALL IN” with Chris Hayes starts right now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Tonight on ALL IN.
MATT WHITAKER, ACTING ATTORNEY GENERAL, UNITED STATES: I want to shake
everybody`s hands. Is that all right?
HAYES: New questions about the President`s pick to oversee the Mueller
WHITAKER: The stakes have never been higher.
HAYES: Tonight, a deep dive into the sketchy past of Matt Whitaker.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can you answer a question if you`ve ever had a
discussion with the President about investigating Hillary Clinton or James
HAYES: Then, why the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court issued a rare
rebuke of the President.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You people know better than
anybody what`s happening. It`s a disgrace.
HAYES: Plus, is the President shrugging off a Saudi murder because he
thinks it will keep oil prices low?
TRUMP: If we broke with them, I think your oil prices would go through the
HAYES: And with six days until the runoff, why Democrats think they have a
shot in Mississippi.
SEN. CINDY HYDE-SMITH (R), MISSISSIPPI: For anyone that was offended for
my – by my comments, I certainly apologize.
HAYES: When ALL IN starts right now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Good evening from New York I`m Chris Hayes. Every day we learn
more about the man personally installed by President Trump two weeks ago on
constitutionally dubious grounds to run the Justice Department. And every
day the details that we are learning about Matthew Whitaker are more
troubling, indeed more obviously disqualifying.
Here`s the latest. After two weeks in which the Justice Department refused
to hand over Whitaker`s standard ethics financial disclosure, it was
finally released late yesterday. And it appears it has been revised at
least five times. One can only imagine what exactly was going on with
those documents during those two weeks.
And it`s not a crazy question given what we`ve also learned about a strange
financial chapter in Whitaker`s career when he headed up a dark money
nonprofit group that reported Whitaker as the sole employee where he made
$400,000 a year over three years. The salary came from a group called Fact
whose donor or donors we do not know, are shrouded in secrecy. And while
Fact claimed to be a new nonpartisan watchdog, nonprofit, you can get an
idea from Whitaker`s T.V. appearances in his capacity as its leader what it
was up to.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WHITAKER: Let`s all be honest here. You know, sort of she had a server
that she controlled, they reviewed all the e-mails now, I heard over the
weekend, so what we`d really like to see is all of the e-mails.
We`ve got a pending FOIA request with the State Department regarding his e-
mails and his interactions with the Clinton Foundation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: It sure looks like a nonprofit created to launder right-wing
attacks through the name of a putatively independent new org. Now, this
comes on top of the fact that his other recent activities included being a
paid advisory board member of a patent company which allegedly scammed $26
million from its customers and is now being criminally investigated by the
FBI. Of course, house in the same Justice Department he now oversees.
Whitaker served on the board of World Patent Marketing where he was
responsible for conducting cheesy pitches for new hot tub designs and
apparently scaring off would-be whistleblowers who were hip to what the
company was doing. The Federal Trade Commission uncovered e-mails in which
Whitaker personally threatened and tried to silence customers who said they
were defrauded. And a profanity-laced phone call he made to site entitled
our appropriately enough Ripoff Report.
The closer you look, the thinner his resume gets. When President George W
Bush appointed Whitaker as a U.S. Attorney in Iowa which is a big deal job,
his questionnaire boasted a personal injury claim he had handled and he had
never been a prosecutor. He got the appointment through political
connections in Iowa and then once in that position, his biggest high-
profile prosecution was of a Democratic politician. At a time when we know
but the Bush Justice Department was being politically manipulated by the
White House to put pressure on U.S. attorneys to pursue George Bush and
Carl Rove`s political agenda, political manipulation that turned into a
seismic scandal and ultimately led to the resignation of then-Attorney
General Alberto Gonzales.
Not to mention that while he was there, Whitaker was ranked as one of the
worst U.S. Attorneys in the country for imposing unusually long drug
sentences. And that individual Matt Whitaker with that resume and that
record is now the firewall between the rule of law in America and a
President who is on the record repeatedly attempting to manipulate the
tools of the Department of Justice to prosecute his political enemies, to
throw them in jail, to lock them up if need be.
Whitaker addressed an FBI joint operation center in New York today but was
not interested in answering questions about all of this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can you answer a question that you`ve ever had a
discussion with the President about investigating Hillary Clinton or James
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Let`s bring in two people who have been scrutinizing Matt
Whitaker`s past, Marcy Wheeler Reporter for Emptywheel and Fordham Law
School Professor Jed Sugerman who`s latest Washington Post opinion piece is
titled Think Matt Whittaker is a Hack, He`s One of Many. Jed, let me start
with you. What do you make of this record?
JED SUGERMAN, PROFESSOR, FORDHAM LAW SCHOOL: Well, it strikes me that this
is someone who clearly was chosen because of that record and not despite
it. He was chosen because of his willingness to say on T.V. that the
Mueller investigation is a witch-hunt and there`s no – it`s implausible
that Trump didn`t know about that when he chose him. So I think that
raises the question, it raises many legal questions.
But the question it raises for me is that whether this is a
constitutionally acceptable appointment. And I think that raises both the
text of the Constitution but also a larger question in the Constitution,
what is it for the President to faithfully execute his office or to make
sure that the laws are faithfully executed. This seems to be
quintessentially faithless execution of the President`s office.
HAYES: Marcy, he does seem significant to me that he gets his sort of big
infra mater, his big kind of credentialing card punished as a Bush U.S.
Attorney during the time that we know that there was a lot of political
manipulation of the U.S. Attorneys.
MARCY WHEELER, REPORTER, EMPTYWHEEL: Right. I mean, he was sort of an
early adopter for that kind of political attack. And as soon as he was
named, people in Iowa were like, yes, he tried to take out the Democratic
opposition by going after this openly gay lawmaker and trumping up this
case and trying to get him to inform on fellow Democrats. And when it
finally went to trial, it took 25 minutes for the jury to decide that it
was bogus case. So it was – it was a bogus case but even after that
Whitaker was like yes, I still you know – I`m OK with what I just did
which was a clear politicization over the prosecutorial process.
HAYES: Yes, that`s a good point. That was – that was an acquittal, the
most high-profile case. What do you think, Marcy, also of the – I mean,
there is also just a very obvious conflict here which is the – both the
FBI investigation but this question of who exactly was funding this bizarre
shell organization he was running.
WHEELER: Right. So this organization – and the other thing that happened
is he first started making $60,000 a year there. By the end he was making
like $600,000. So he gets hired, he`s doing kind of podunk stuff, he
starts going after Hilary and he gets a huge raise. He starts advising
Trump via CNN appearances, how to deep-six the Mueller Inquiry and he gets
another big raise.
And you`re right. We have no idea who was paying him. It was laundered
through a bunch of dark money. And the name kept changing too so it`s this
kind of quintessential suspicious group. And so we don`t know what kind of
conflict or who exactly was paying for him to you know – and he was
supposed to be nonpartisan.
WHEELER: But he kept going on T.V. and only attacking Hillary and only
attacking Mueller`s inquiry.
HAYES: Jed, you talked about the Constitution, the sort of dodgy
constitutional ground he`s on. It strikes me there`s a connection between
the lack of advice and consent and what we`re learning about his record
SUGERMAN: Right. And let`s take a look at that constitutional question
here. First, it`s uncontroverted that a principal officer has to be
confirmed by the Senate. And so there`s at least a question about what the
line is between a principal officer and an inferior officer in certain
cases and inferior officer doesn`t have to get Senate confirmation and
that`s what the OLC basically said. Maybe he`s not a principal officer,
maybe he`s not an officer at all, maybe he`s inferior. The Constitution
tells us that that`s not true. The Constitution treats the heads of
departments as principal officers in a couple of different places.
So if that`s true, then what is Whitaker right now? Whitaker is the head
of a department. And as head of a department, the Article Two of the
Constitution tells us he`s a principal officer, and as a principal officer,
he must have Senate confirmation. So the fact is that Clarence Thomas,
Justice Clarence Thomas had an opinion where he said that the larger point
here is to avoid presidential favoritism and abuse of power.
That`s what – that`s what Alexander Hamilton said in Federalist Number 76.
The Originalist, Conservative Originalist say that this appointment is
unconstitutional, John (INAUDIBLE) as well. So you`ve got the whole
spectrum from left and right originalists and textual saying this is just
HAYES: And Marcy, it strikes me that I don`t think he could be confirmed.
Now, you can`t – he couldn`t be nominated now because he`s working as
Acting, but given his resume and his record, like I don`t think this is
someone who could be confirmed to Attorney General United States even with
a very pliant Senate.
WHEELER: Well, yes. I`m never going to put anything by a Mitch McConnell
Senate. But right, I mean, the whole point of confirmation is to say are
you qualified, good questions about that, do you have conflicts, really big
questions about that. Do you have legal problems, I mean you mentioned the
FTC investigation into the company that used to be on. The board of
Senator Whitehouse today raised some questions about whether he was in
violation of the Hatch Act earlier this year because he was still getting
political donations for 2014 political campaign he ran in Iowa four years
after the fact. So he got four donations this year while he`s been working
as the chief of staff for Jeff Sessions.
So there`s lots of legal questions of whether you know, he`s under active
investigation by the FBI. It`s kind of hard for him to be Attorney
General. One would hope that the Senate would not confirm somebody like
this but you`re not hearing anything from the – especially the Republicans
in the Senate about his disqualifications for being Attorney General and in
fact Chuck Grassley who remains the Chair of the Judiciary Committee has
really close ties with him from Iowa so he`s not going to say anything
about Whitaker because you know, he`s one of his Iowans.
HAYES: Marcy Wheeler and Jed Sugerman, thank you both for making time
tonight. Happy Thanksgiving. Joining me now Senator Jeff Merkley of
Oregon. Senator, you just heard what we`re discussing about Chuck Grassley
not making any moves here. Should the Senate be doing something about this
situation in the lame-duck session?
SEN. JEFF MERKLEY (D), OREGON: Well, they absolutely should. I mean,
listen. This is an individual who is being investigated. His company –
his former company is being investigated for a predatory scam on which he
was the enforcer. And we`ve heard how he abused his office in Iowa. We`ve
now heard about the campaign donations which would enable him to be able to
repay a loan to himself. I mean, at every aspect this man is unfit. And
that is what Hamilton was talking about. He said, we need this
confirmation process to avoid the appointment of cronies of unfit character
and yet that`s what we have right now, unfit character.
HAYES: What – is there any forcing mechanism, any leverage that Democrats
on minority wield in this Senate between now and the new Congress?
MERKLEY: Well, if we have partisanship and then we`re – it`s going to be
difficult, but if we have bipartisanship on this issue, then leverage can
be exerted. Otherwise, it`s an issue for the courts to take up and say is
this a violation of the Constitution. And I certainly hope that that can
be – that can happen very quickly. We`re asking the courts to do so. But
really the Republicans sometimes say to me. Jeff, I agree with you
completely. This is inappropriate by the President. I say, will you join
us in a public display or a conversation or letter? They`ll say well,
we`ll quietly call the president.
And well, I hope they not so quietly call the President and say that this
is just an outrage for the Department of Justice. And of course, we know
this is also part of the whole effort to keep the Mueller investigation.
Remember, delivering its report to Congress and that is an obstruction of
justice. We so for about every level, we need to we need to act.
HAYES: Let me – the last point you said, stopping the Mueller
investigation for every – delivering its report to Congress. Do you – do
you mean something specific there or just a general attempt to shut it
MERKLEY: Well, the Mueller investigation as I understand it cannot be
delivered without the superiors in the department allowing it to be
presented to Congress. And so, that`s the troubling point we are at right
now is we may never get our hands on all of the work that has been done by
the special investigator.
HAYES: Oh I see. So you think that Whitaker might be there not to shut it
down but essentially just to bottle up the final report?
MERKLEY: Well, all of the above. Because even if he shuts it down now,
there`s a lot of material there the President doesn`t ever want Congress to
HAYES: Aren`t there ways that you guys can get that though? I mean, it
just seems impossible good God, in this day and age, is something like that
would stay a secret.
MERKLEY: It absolutely seems incredible that that could be the case but
that is a very significant substantial concern is that with Whitaker there
we will not be able to get our hands on the report.
HAYES: You are not a party in that – you mentioned the lawsuit, there`s
three legal actions, I think there may now be four and the Justice
Department responded to one of them today about the sort of dodgy
constitutional footing upon which Whitaker is currently standing. But you
mentioned before. You support the lawsuit from Senators Blumenthal,
Whitehouse, and Hirono against Whitaker?
MERKLEY: Absolutely. And do you think that whatever happens, there`s
going to be some kind of reckoning because you know, they`ve got the next
40 days or whatever, but eventually Whittaker is going to have to testify
before someone in Congress I imagine, with the Democrats having taken the
MERKLEY: No, that`s right. And I certainly believe that they`ll move
quickly in the House to bring him to testify. And they`ll ask him a lot of
difficult questions. Questions that probably the President would be best
off replacing him before he has to come in and talk to Congress.
HAYES: All right, Senator Jeff Merkley, thank you for making some time
tonight. Have a great Thanksgiving. I really appreciate it.
MERKLEY: You bet, Chris. Good Thanksgiving.
HAYES: MSNBC Legal Analyst Nick Akerman, former Assistant Special
Watergate Prosecutor, he joins me now. It remains a scandal every day the
guy is the acting Attorney General of the United States. There`s no stop.
NICK AKERMAN, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: There`s no question about it. I mean,
he was put in there by Trump for one reason and only. There are three
things that Trump is worried about. He doesn`t want the Mueller
investigation going forward, he wants to prosecute Jim Comey, and he wants
to prosecute Hillary Clinton. Well, his in-house counsel, his coast
counsel, the White House counsel kept him from doing those things. So –
HAYES: Right. And Jeff session stopped him from doing the others.
AKERMAN: Right. And what does he do? He gets around it by pointing this
guy who`s willing to do all three of those things for Trump. I mean he is
nothing but a political hack. He has absolutely no legal foundation or
underpinning. I mean, he`s a guy who thinks that Marbury Madison which
held that the Supreme Court has the final say on the constitutionality of
an act of Congress, he thinks that`s all wrong. However, he also claims
that the Supreme Court should have overruled ObamaCare.
AKERMAN: So the guy is – he`s talking out of both sides of his mouth and
like Donald Trump he`s a fraud stirrer. He`s involved in sort of the Trump
University of his own making which is this patent marketing group.
HAYES: You know, you had experience – I mean the you know, Nixon went
through a number of attorneys general and they were political hacks
fundamentally and that was sort of the problem, right? I mean, that was a
key part of what – the problem of Nixon was what his Justice Department
was willing to do for him.
AKERMAN: Well, he had two attorney generals that were felons. They he
wound up being convicted of felonies. But I must say, during their
confirmation, if you took the resume, I mean it was stellar compared to
AKERMAN: It wasn`t even close.
HAYES: So it was not as obviously as sort of installing a crony as this –
AKERMAN: No. I mean, John Mitchell who was the Attorney General, the
first one was clearly a crony, was the campaign manager. I mean, that was
outrageous in itself. But you know, he had a reputation as a good bond
lawyer, he was a partner in a major firm in New York, he knew what the law
is even though he knew how to violate it. This guy doesn`t know what the
law is, he doesn`t know what he`s doing, he just doesn`t have the resume to
be Attorney General.
HAYES: I just kind of wonder how long he can stay.
AKERMAN: Oh I think it just keeps building up every day. I mean, really
HAYES: Yes, like you saw – you saw that look on his face that sort of
sheepishly goes to New York today. He addresses you know, some of the
folks in SDNY, he gets a tour of a customs facility if I`m not mistaken.
1He gets one reporter talking to him and he sort of sheepishly looks away.
Like a certain point, he`s going to have to talk –
AKERMAN: Well he did. He made up a story today. He made up a story about
this individual that was convicted in the bombing in New York and New
Jersey having two co-conspirators that were supposed to be flying in from
Europe which was a complete phony baloney.
HAYES: Yes, he said that in the– he said that his prepared remarks today,
AKERMAN: That`s right.
HAYES: And he`s wrong about that. There we`re not co- conspirators.
AKERMAN: It`s a typical Donald Trump. What you don`t know, make it up.
HAYES: Right. I just – I wonder – I mean right now, the balances, it`s
sort of a nice edge which is Grassley has his back and you also wonder how
much the Iowa connection is part of this. Grassley has his back, the
coverage of the guy is brutal because every day they find something new,
and at a certain point like there is going to – there is a date certain
where he`s going to have to go under oath before Congress. And he`s not
going to get out of it.
AKERMAN: He`s going to have to pay the piper at some point and this is
going to keep building. I mean, I think there`s even more here. I mean,
the idea of these getting campaign contributions for a prior Senate
campaign when he`s working for the Attorney General of the United States.
HAYES: Or I think I just saw someone from open secrets who suspect they
have found the donations that were funding this bizarre nonprofit that
might have been just a single donor which again would be interesting to
know. The other thing today is that the President finally – you know, he
put in his – he put in his answers to Mueller. There`s a long sort of
background piece in the A.P. They`re kind of like, well, we`re done with
that. What do you think the next move is?
AKERMAN: Oh, I think the next move is going to be indictment. What he`s
got is –
HAYES: You don`t think he`s going to come back and try to go back and
forth or –
AKERMAN: No, I don`t think so. I think what you`ve got is what – the
real backstory is there are four cooperating witnesses. There`s the
President`s campaign manager, there`s his vice chairman who`s pled guilty,
there`s his national security director, and his personal lawyer. All of
these people are singing and of course. I mean, every one of them is
talking about Donald Trump`s role and what they know about it. In
Watergate, we never had cooperating witnesses who came close to what these
HAYES: That`s a great point. Although you didn`t have the tapes. That
was key. Nick Akerman, thank you very much.
AKERMAN: Thank you.
HAYES: Coming up, did the President make some kind of deal with Saudi
Arabia to turn a blind eye to the murder of a Washington Post columnist in
exchanged for cheap oil? Oil trader Dan Dicker is here to explain why he
thinks there might be a deal, next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Saudi Arabia is probably the second biggest oil producer. They`ve
worked with us very well. We`ve kept oil prices down. If you want to see
what prices go to $150.00 a barrel, like by the way Russia would love to
see that, all you have to do is break up our relationship with Saudi
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: The President has been very clear why he`s OK with Saudi officials
killing and reportedly dismembering the U.S. resident and Washington Post
columnist last month. And it is because at least in part he believes that
Saudi Arabia can supply the United States with cheap oil, something he
continued to brag about today tweeting “oil prices getting lower. Great!
Like a big tax cut for America and the world. Enjoy! $54.00, was just
$82.00. Thank you, Saudi Arabia, but let`s go lower.”
Trump`s unabashedly willingness to link his steadfast support of Saudi
Arabia despite their brutal murder of Jamal Khashoggi not to mention the
weeks and weeks lying about it, and his love of cheap oil reasonable
questions most especially is there some kind of explicit deal here? Here
with me now oil trader Dan Dicker, author of Shale Boom Shale Bust: The
Myth of Saudi America. Dan e-mailed me yesterday to help hypothesize that
yes, there was some kind of deal between the Trump administration and the
Saudis over oil prices and Khashoggi`s murder. What was your contention?
DAN DICKER, OIL TRADER: Well, let`s do a little reconnaissance, Chris, a
little bit of history. The Saudis and OPEC are dealing with a very low
price of oil and they need a high price of oil. Their economy is almost
100 percent based upon oil revenues. Russia as well, 150 percent of their
revenues based on oil. So they`re dealing with beds piece of oil action
where oil was trading in the $30 range. This is going back to 2016. At
this point, MBS has his consolidating power, has a new plan. He`s going to
control supply. He puts together a consortium not only of OPEC members but
of Russia too to control production. Really cut it back very, very
Now, remember, the cartel does not have a good record of keeping these
HAYES: Right. Part of the reason that he has to make the new consortium
is because there`s so much cheating in OPEC they have a hard time keeping
DICKER: That`s all they do. And most of the traders expect that`s what
they`ll do this time. But instead of that, MBS has the ability to hold
this consorting together for two years with compliance not of 100 percent
but 110 percent, 115 percent where the Saudis are actually throwing in more
of a production cut to make sure that they soak up the extra surplus that
was in the market and we`re watching oil prices rise. And as we`re
watching while prices rise all these two years, Trump is getting madder,
and madder, and madder. He`s tweeting at the Saudis we won`t allow this to
happen, this manipulation on the oil market. He`s getting more and more
mad as oil prices are going on.
Fast forward, Khashoggi is murdered. A week later, Pompeo, the Secretary
of State goes to Riyadh to talk supposedly about what went down in Turkey.
Comes out of the meeting and they – what did you talk about, and oh, we
didn`t even mention Khashoggi in this meeting.
DICKER: Really? OK, fine. Three days later, Al-Falih who is the Saudi
oil minister comes out with a statement. We`re not only going to increase
production, the Saudis, but we`re selling to the rest of OPEC that you can
open your spigots as wide as you want right now. And we`re all sending
this thing. What this goes against the entire strategy that the Saudis
have been so painstaking to put together for the last two years, and what
they really need going forward for the next two years because they have
even bigger plans with a with a modernization of their state oil, Saudi
Arabia – I mean they have big plans they don`t need just $80.00 oil, they
need $100.00 oil, $110.00 oil.
But for this moment they`re saying we`re done with this proposal.
Everybody, all the traders, all the hedge funds start to flee. And in two
and a half weeks –
HAYES: Based on the statement. So the top Saudi oil official says this
thing, the oil markets start to – we`ve seen them go down like the
President tweet about, they`ve gone down $25.00 or whatever in –
DICKER: But we`ve never seen them go down like this without something else
going wrong. Like in 2008, a major credit crunch, the equity markets are
getting pummeled, you know, the dollar is going up or any – something,
something else has to be going on, some other commodity is getting killed,
but no, just oil straight down $25.00 without a stop for two and a half
HAYES: And that`s not because – I mean, we also seen at the same time we
seen the markets go down, the markets appear to be pricing in signals they
think it`s late cycle. We`re headed towards a recession. You don`t think
that`s what`s driving the oil.
DICKER: It`s helped. I mean, there were – there were a lot of –
HAYES: There`s a lot of bear market indicator –
DICKER: There are some bear market indicators but they were kind of always
there. And what they`re really were was most people in the financial
communities who believe that the Saudis were continued with their plan of
supporting the oil market going into 2019. And when they bailed on that,
everybody just came in like an avalanche of selling –
HAYES: So you e-mailed me yesterday which I thought oh, I guess it`s
plausible. I don`t know. Is this like a conspiracy theory, is it what –
I said, do you have evidence. You said, no. It`s just this is the way
that the technology lines on.
DICKER: And it would all see circumstantial except that of the last few
days where Trump is all of a sudden –
HAYES: Bragging about it.
DICKER: – really pleased – really pleased with the way the Saudis are
helping us and also quoting on the White House lawn that they are working
with us on oil prices. Really? The President is now working with the
Saudis on oil prices? How did that turn around so quickly? This would
have wall seemed circumstantial or at least you could have put it off as
circumstantial if not for the fact that Trump is, in fact, admitting openly
that he did, in fact, have a deal they are working together with the Saudis
in terms of getting oil prices lower.
HAYES: And he`s basically bragging about today, another tweet about how
there`s so much traffic because everyone says the oil prices are so low
like it seems like a totally plausible –
DICKER: He can`t help but take credit for it. He cannot help it.
HAYES: A plausible account of the facts before us. Dan Dicker, that was
great. Thank you very much.
DICKER: Thanks, Chris.
HAYES: The President picks a fight with the justice system and the Chief
Justice Supreme Court fights back. That`s next.
HAYES: Today brought a rare public rebuke of the president from the Chief
Justice of the Supreme Court John Roberts. Roberts was responding to a
comment the president made yesterday after Judge Tigar of the ninth circuit
put a temporary hold on a Trump administration plan to refuse
asylum applications to people who cross the border outside ports of entry,
ruling that Trump cannot unilaterally rewrite the immigration laws.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Well, you go to the ninth circuit and it`s a disgrace. And I`m
going to put in a major complaint, because you cannot win if you are us a
case in the ninth circuit. This was an Obama judge. And I`ll tell you
what, it`s not going to happen like this anymore.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Chief Justice Roberts took issue with Trump`s suggestion that the
judge was biased
because he was appointed by Barack Obama. Roberts telling the AP “we do
not have Obama judges or Trump judges, Bush judges or Clinton judges, what
we have is an extraordinary group of dedicated judges doing their level
best.” That was pretty remarkable. That`s not normally the kind of thing
that a Supreme Court justice does.
And a president, of course, naturally attacked back.
Now, in a sense, Roberts is absolutely right, that the reason the Trump
administration keeps losing in court over and over in humiliating fashion
is not because political animus, it`s because the administration keeps
trying to do flagrantly lawless things that judges across the ideological
spectrum have no tolerance for.
But if there were really no such thing as Trump judges then ask yourself
this, why on earth is
Mitch McConnell so intent on filling the judiciary with as many of them as
HAYES: There is only one senate race left in the nation, I promise. It`s
the runoff election in
Mississippi set for next Tuesday between the incumbent appointed Republican
Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith and the challenger, former Democratic congressman
and secretary of agriculture Mike Espy.
Now, this was supposed to be a pretty easy race for Hyde-Smith, a
Republican running in a deep
south state that Trump won by 18 points, but then Hyde-Smith started
running into some trouble of her own making. She was caught on camera
saying it`s a great idea to make it harder for liberal folks to
vote. She was found to have posed in a confederate soldier`s hat holding a
gun. And she made this really unbelievable comment in a state where more
than 600 black people were killed in lynchings, more than in any other
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. CINDY HYDE-SMITH, (R) MISSISSIPPI: If he invited me to a public
hanging I`d be on the front row.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Vouching for her friend there saying if he invited me to a public
hanging, I`d be on the front row.
That comment crossed the line for a number of companies, including Walmart,
which asked for its campaign donations back.
And so now to the bizarre scene that took place last night in the one and
only debate between the senate candidates. This was no ordinary debate.
The Jackson Free Press reported that Hyde-Smith demanded no audience and no
press be present, that the debate be organized by the Mississippi Farm
Bureau Federation whose top board members have all donated to Hyde-Smith.
But the craziest details involved the note pads the candidates were
supposed to use to take notes during the debate. Hyde-Smith`s campaign
demanded access to their note pad an hour early and they appeared to have
use it as a cheat sheet, just like fill it up with notes for her look at.
Check out these huge pile of notes in front of Hyde-Smith versus the one
small stack in front of Espy. Hyde-Smith repeatedly looked down at her
notes throughout the debate, though at times it didn`t really seem to help
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HYDE-SMITH: Tonight you have heard two clearly different, opposite,
differences between me and my opponent.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: She also relied on her notes in making a stilted non-apology for
the public hanging comment.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HYDE-SMITH: You know, for anyone that was offended for my – by my
comments, I certainly apologize. There was no ill will, no intent
whatsoever in my statements.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Mike Espy, the Democrat, an African-American, said the damage had
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE ESPY, SENATORIAL CANDIDATE, (D), MISSISSIPPI: I don`t know what`s in
your heart, but we all know what came out of your mouth and it went viral,
you know, within the first three minutes around the world. And so it`s
caused our state harm. It`s given our state another black eye that we don`t
need. It`s just rejuvenated the old stereotypes that we don`t need
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Joining me now, Jackson Free Press reporter, Ashton Pittman, one of
the two reporters who broke the story of Hyde-Smith`s debate demands. Also
with me, the president and CEO of the NAACP Derrick Johnson who previously
led the NAACP Mississippi State Conference.
Let me start with you, Ashton. What – give me some background on how this
debate came about and how the Hyde-Smith people negotiated for it.
ASHTON PITTMAN, JACKSON FREE PRESS: So for months, both Mike Espy and
Chris McDaniel who was a Republican opponent before the November 6th
general, had been asking her for a debate. She repeatedly refused. First,
she said that she didn`t want a debate because – or she couldn`t debate
because of her senate schedule. But then when the senate went on recess
she said, well, actually she didn`t want a debate because she thought
McDaniel`s supporters might come and be rude and boo her if it had a live
So the day after – the day after the November 6th election, she apparently
spoke with Farm
Bureau and by Thursday morning she had put out a press release saying she
had agreed to this debate. And when I called the Mike Espy campaign that
morning after the press release, they had not even seen the rules of the
debate or seen the terms. So, they hadn`t accepted it, but she accepted it
So, I`m assuming, you know, she must have already talked to them about what
those terms would be, but the Espy campaign did not even know the terms at
the time she accepted.
HAYES: Derrick, talk a little bit about how you`re viewing this as someone
who did civil rights work in that state, an African-American candidate and
Hyde-Smith in this race which should be a walk for her given the kind of
conservative voting habits of that state.
DERRICK JOHNSON, PRESIDENT, NAACP: Well, her actions, her statement is
consistent with the racialized political nature of Mississippi. If you use
race, religion or region, you can get voters to vote against their
interests. Of the statements she made, her posing for pictures with
Confederate artifacts on, the nature by which she had the conversation
dealing with voter suppression is a true indicator of her character, but
not unusual for Mississippi.
Unfortunately, race is a tool that`s oftentimes weaponized to turn out a
very conservative base.
HAYES: Yeah, let me follow up on that. I think there`s a lot of people
watching this saying is this hurting her? There`s an internal poll that
got leaked that had her at points. Do you think that the kind of campaign
she`s run do you think the kind of campaign she`s run and the missteps
she`s had, the things she`s said, do those hurt her politically in
Mississippi based on your experience?
JOHNSON: Well, nationally it may hurt her, but the voters she`s catering
to, it may be more appealing, it may be energizing.
The third candidate in this race is Chris McDaniel. He`s a Tea Partier.
Many of the individuals that would support him, they support this type of
politics. And as a result of that, this is a way to appeal to that base,
to get them to move over to support her candidacy, which could be enough to
put her over the top.
HAYES: Ashton, as I was watching the senator last night, and sort of the
first extended bit I`ve seen of her really, I thought to myself like this
is a United States Senator, how exactly did she end up here? Like what is
the backstory of how she ended up being a U.S. Senator?
PITTMAN: Well, first of all I will say I have talked to McDaniel
supporters who actually after
those videos were actually even more upset who said originally they were
going to vote for her after November 6th, but then they decided they
couldn`t do it after those videos came out.
So, there are some who were actually turned away because of that.
HAYES: That`s interesting.
PITTMAN: As far as how she came to this, when Senator Cochran stepped
down, Governor Brian appointed her. She had served as the commissioner of
agriculture and commerce for the state. And Governor Brian appointed her.
And, you know, a lot of people are upset by that. They felt like she was
kind of forced upon them, and there are still a lot of people in the
Republican Party who feel that way and feel like this was the establishment
choosing for them. Some people consider it Mitch McConnell`s doing. So,
there`s a lot of anger about that.
HAYES: That`s interesting, Derrick, because I mean – look a Democrat
winning a race in Mississippi is a long shot, a black man frankly being
elected U.S. Senate from Mississippi has not happened since Reconstruction.
But there does seem like there is a little bit of a political opening here.
What do you make of it?
JOHNSON: Well, it`s not such a long shot in Mississippi. Mississippi has
the highest percentage per capita of African-Americans than any other
state. We had a Democratic body state
elected field up until 2003. In fact, Cindy Hyde-Smith was a Democrat.
She switched parties when she was a state senator. She ran for state ag as
a Republican, and she was appointed to this position.
But it`s not a long shot for an African-American to win statewide. It`s
not a long shot for
Democrats to win statewide. It is truly an investment in the state`s
infrastructure. But there are many more people who are seeking a much more
progressive outlook on how governance should take place.
The state of Mississippi refuses to accept Affordable Care Act funds, and
it`s caused major problems across the state in terms of closing of rural
hospitals. And you have a lot of people who are now more angry about
what`s taking place because there have been so many promises broken.
HAYES: Ashton Pittman, down there in Mississippi, and Derrick Johnson,
thank you both for
being with me.
PITTMAN: Thank you.
JOHNSON: Thank you.
HAYES: Coming up, the election still isn`t over and Democrats are getting
closer to a 40 seat sweep in the House. The latest on all the winning
HAYES: The reviews are in for our latest episode of Why is This Happening?
featuring the one and only Rachel Maddow – tacticalpantsone (ph), just
said that on TV says “very well done, Chris Hayes. Rachel Maddow podcast
playing above the rim.” Piecederesister (ph) says “she just saw Maddow as
the guest on #withpod. I know it`s not Thanksgiving yet, but if feels like
And Lauren – that`s an easy handle – says she has Bagman and withpod
queued for a drive
from the Bay Area to L.A. and she`s actually looking forward to the drive.”
We are so, so thankful to all of you who are listening to withpod and join
the podcast. And for those of you who have yet to get on board, head to
iTunes, who wherever you get your podcast, and do some sweet calorie free
binging this Thanksgiving weekend.
HAYES: It`s been 15 days since election day and Democrats are still
winning seats. The latest flip looks like it will be in Utah where the
Associated Press says Democrat Ben McAdams has beaten Republican incumbent
Mia Love in that state`s fourth congressional district. NBC News, I
should note, has yet to call the race.
But if the result remains, Democrats will gain 39 House seats. And, get
this, they have a shot of
picking up one more. Although, NBC and many others have already called
California`s 21st congressional district for Republican David Valadeo, late
counted ballots now show that Democrat TJ Cox is within 500 votes.
Dave Wasserman of the Cook Political Report summing the race up this way,
“Valadeo isn`t just in jeopardy, he`s probably the underdog.”
If that seat flips, Democrats are looking at a 40-seat pickup. And they
have already won the
popular vote in the House by nearly 9 million votes, the largest margin
To talk about this huge, Democratic victory, particularly in the highest
midterm election turnout in 100 years, I`m joined by former congresswoman
Donna Edwards, Democrat from Maryland, and Congressman Ryan Costello,
Republican from Pennsylvania who did not seek reelection this month.
Congressman Costello, I want to play you a clip from Newt Gingrich in 1994
of what a mandate means after the Republicans won the House and a popular
vote, slightly smaller than the Democrats this time. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NEWT GINGRICH, FORMER SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: As a historian, every time
you`ve had an election that clear cut, the word that has been used to
describe it is a mandate. And if this is not a mandate to move in a
particular direction, I would like somebody to explain to me what a mandate
would look like.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: It seems like that applies here, right?
REP. RYAN COSTELLO, (R) PENNSYLVANIA: I guess. I would probably say – I
would probably use the word rebuke than a mandate. I think it was a rebuke
on the president because you saw 20 – out of 24 districts where you had a
Republican member of congress yet vote for Hillary Clinton, you now have
you three or at best four Republicans remaining. And I just think it was
extremely difficult, if not impossible, to differentiate yourself and have
voters who ticket split, vote for you if they were anti-Trump or if they
evolved to being anti-Trump over time.
The Democrats, to be fair, this isn`t critical, but in all reality, they
didn`t campaign on a particular policy agenda in as much as it was a check
and balance provide oversight type of a campaign would you say that was
more of a mandate or more of a rebuke?
HAYES: Here`s the thing, I thought going in that was what it was going to
be, but having covered that – the races very closely, it was actually the
opposite wierdly. I mean, in a lot of those races, like New York 19 here
or New York 11 or a bunch of other races, the Democrats were campaigning on
health care and not talking about the president, weirdly enough, almost to
an extent that I think people thought was crazy.
COSTELLO: My quick observation there would be I think what happened is the
electorate was very softened up in being anti-Trump, and then in New York,
New Jersey and California, they layered the salt deduction in high tax
districts in order to grab a couple points from Republicans. And then they
used the pre-existing conditions because of the vote that never became law
as another layer.
But Democrats weren`t campaigning on a particular policy agenda with health
care, they want to make it more accessible, less costly. That`s fine. We
all do. But I don`t think they were laying out a marker in terms of what
they were going to do policy specifics, that was my point. That`s why I
would say rebuke rather than mandate.
HAYES: What do you think, Donna?
REP. DONNA EDWARDS, (D) MARYLAND: I could not disagree more. I mean, in
fact, while we were all having this big national conversation about
President Trump, for sure, every mid-term election is a call on the
president who is in office, and this was a rebuke of the president. But
the fact is, in every single one of these districts the candidates chose to
run on an agenda of creating jobs through rebuilding infrastructure, on
health care. Health care, which actually polled as the number one issue
coming out of the election.
And so to say that Democrats didn`t have a message or didn`t run on
anything is just not accurate.
HAYES: Let me just follow up on that, because if there is – let`s say
there is a mandate or they
ran on health care, what do you you see that as the mandate for, right? I
mean, clearly health care was
extremely powerful, potent issue. It was the number one issue, as you
said. I watched race after race in which it worked from Kansas to Orange
County. What do you think the mandate now is for?
EDWARDS: Well, I think, you know, people – obviously, the electorate is
really satisfied with Obamacare, with the Affordable Care Act, but they
know that it has gaps. And so they want to make sure that they really do
protect against discrimination on pre-existing conditions, making sure to
close the gaps from all the people who are still not covered under the
Affordable Care Act, and of course lowering the cost of prescription drugs.
This factor varied heavily in so many races across the country.
And so I really do think that Democrats have something to govern on in
addition to what they ran on.
HAYES: Congressman, let me ask you this, a lot of your colleagues, soon to
be former colleagues, a lot of them haven`t been in the minority before.
What do you think life will look, the tactics will look like, the politics
will look like, for the new House Republican minority?
COSTELLO: Well, I`ve always said that it`s easy for any party to be in the
minority, all you have to do is vote no and most of your electorate is
going to be happy. In this case, there are – we have lost a lot of the
more centrist Republicans, so it is a much more conservative conference by
percentage, because we`ve lost a lot of Republican moderate members and we
just have less members to begin with.
I do want to pick up on one other point, I think the other thing that
really became a challenge for a few Republicans that just barely lost, was
the birth right citizenship caravan nonsense. You had districts in Florida
and in California with high immigrant populations and those members bucked
the party, along with myself and others, on an immigration compromise
package trying to say, we don`t agree with the president. We don`t want to
inflame the immigration issue. The president went and inflamed it. And I
think a lot of others said well how can I be for you when the president –
he`s going to override you?
HAYES: It`s a great point. Donna, it does – that seems to be another big
lesson here, the backfire on the immigration stuff.
EDWARDS: Well, absolutely. And I think if anything what we learned from
this is that when you put immigration on the table, you actually are
opening the door, you know, in states like Florida and in border states,
where they`re the ones who have – who stand the most to gain or lose in
this conversation and immigration. And they just weren`t – voters weren`t
having it. And I think, you know, it underscores actually why it is that I
believe that Nancy Pelosi is actually going to have a governing agenda come
HAYES: Well, and I think she is going to be the speaker. The cards look
like they`re are going that way.
Former Congresswoman Donna Edwards and Congressman Ryan Costello, thank you
both so much. Have a great holiday. I appreciate it.
That is ALL IN for this evening. “THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW” starts right
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