The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 11/12/12
RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: Good evening, Ed. Thank you, my friend.
ED SCHULTZ, “THE ED SHOW” HOST: You bet.
MADDOW: And thanks to you at home for staying with us for the next
Whatever post-election lull in the news we figured we`d be able to
count on right now, the lull has apparently been cancelled this year.
New reporting tonight about the scandal which has forced General David
Petraeus out of government, out as head of the CIA, and there are a ton of
questions which we will try to get answer tonight with some fresh
And even though President Obama`s reelection was settled at about
11:15 p.m. Eastern last Tuesday, the election overall is still underway in
some parts of the country, including one place where it appears to have
mostly just broken down with a bunch of federal level races still
undecided. And the state in question is not Florida for once. Important
updates coming up there including what may be a de-concession, an un-
concession, by a Democrat who previously thought he had lost in a big
important U.S. Senate race.
That is all ahead.
But we have to begin with breaking news out of Washington. “The
Washington Post” is reporting tonight that President Obama is considering
Massachusetts Senator John Kerry as his new secretary of defense. That`s
right, defense – putting the decorated Vietnam veteran and former
Democratic presidential candidate in charge at the Pentagon and not at the
State Department, as had been widely speculated.
“The Washington Post” is sourcing its reporting to unnamed senior
administration officials. So that doesn`t help much.
Senator Kerry is also not commenting tonight. If Senator Kerry does
move to the cabinet for defense or for any other post, there, of course,
will be an immediate political question for the Democrats as to what
happens to his U.S. Senate seat in Massachusetts.
Senator Kerry had mostly been talked about as a potential replacement
for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The post reporting tonight that
that nomination for secretary of state is instead almost certain to go to
United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice. Republicans tried to make into a
scandal Susan Rice`s Sunday news show comments after the attack on the U.S.
consulate in Libya. Her comments that the attack was thought to be linked
to Islamist protests in Benghazi and around that part of the world, rather
than an organized terrorist attack.
But the administration and the intelligence community have both
stepped up to defend Susan Rice`s remarks that Sunday. And if she is
tapped by President Obama to replace Secretary Clinton as secretary of
state that would imply that the president is willing to keep backing Susan
Rice up all the way.
The current defense secretary, of course, is Leon Panetta. He used to
run the CIA where he was succeeded by General Petraeus. That CIA job is
also now available as of Friday, after General Petraeus resigned
The same senior administration sources talking to “The Post” tonight
also telling them that the president`s chief counterterrorism adviser, John
Brennan, is the top contender for the CIA job if he wants the job Post-
David Petraeus. Mr. Brennan has made known his desire to leave public
service, to leave government work. But if he does reconsider, apparently
the CIA chief job should be his.
If Mr. Brennan decides he does not want the job, the agency`s current
acting director, Michael Morell, looks likely to keep the job.
Again, we will have more on the questions surrounding the Petraeus
scandal and his abrupt departure from the CIA later on in the show with a
reporter who broke the story, NBC`s Andrea Mitchell.
Beyond the shape of President Obama`s second term administration and
who is in his cabinet, we now know that President Obama has scheduled a
major meeting for tomorrow in Washington with labor leaders. That will be
on Tuesday. And then on Wednesday, the president is going to be meeting
with a lot of CEOs, with business leaders.
Obviously, the world of big business in some ways large and small
chose Mitt Romney over President Obama during this election season. They
made their choice early and loudly and publicly and put a ton of money
behind Mr. Romney.
And it did not work. Their guy did not win. President Obama got
There presumably is some sort of reckoning from that, which presumably
will start this Wednesday at that meeting at the White House. If not a
reckoning, then at least a turn of the page. The White House is signaling
that the president actually wants to enlist business leaders in his effort
to end Bush era tax cuts for income over a quarter million dollars and for
a spending deal to go along with that plan. The president wants the
business community to bring their political capital to bear on an effort
they might get something in return for.
The White House characterizing their plans as a deal that would
actually help bring down the deficit, but without destroying the economic
recovery and the middle class along with it.
It should not come as a surprise that President Obama is pushing hard
on ending the Bush tax cuts for income over a quarter million dollars.
That`s probably been the president`s most consistent, most repeated promise
I mean, here`s what he said about the Bush tax cuts on high income
right as he was agreeing to extend those tax cuts back in 2010.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I`m as opposed to the
high end tax cuts today as I have been for years. In the long run, we
simply can`t afford them. And when they expire in two years, I will fight
to end them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Even as he was agreeing to extend the tax cuts that time, the
president was promising right there that he would not do it again. In
April of last year, he went one step further. He issued an ultimatum.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: In December, I agreed to extend the tax cuts for wealthiest
Americans because it was the only way I could prevent a tax hike on middle
class Americans. But we cannot afford $1 trillion worth of tax cuts for
every millionaire and billionaire in our society. We can`t afford it. And
I refuse to renew them again.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: The president in April saying he will refuse to renew the
Bush tax cuts for the highest levels of income again. This has not been a
During election season, the president campaigned on ending the tax
Bush cuts for the wealthy both in TV ads and out on the stump every speech,
all the time. It was a central pillar of his campaign message. And then
after he won reelection on Tuesday, resoundingly, in his first public
comments after election night, the first thing the president said was that
he was going to end those Bush tax cuts on high income.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: I am not going to ask students and seniors and middle-class
families to pay down the entire deficit while people like me making over
$250,000 aren`t asked to pay a dime more in taxes. I`m not going to do
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Now, just in case it wasn`t clear enough, the Obama
administration is floating the idea that the president may very well
barnstorm the country in support of this idea that he has been declaring
since 2010. But it`s not clear that he needs to, frankly. Republicans
(AUDIO GAP) caving in ways – at least small ways, at least starting to
cave, at least thinking about caving, at least sniping at each other about
the possibility of caving.
And if the Republicans don`t cave, the Republicans and Democrats have
the option of just letting all the tax cuts expire. That`s what`s set to
happen automatically. And they seem willing to let that happen. They can
always sort of fix it retroactively before the end of the tax year.
So what else is in the realm of possibility right now for the
Democrats? I mean, don`t forget the president`s meeting with labor leaders
tomorrow. That happens before he makes his case to the CEO.
Here`s what – the CEO he`s going to meet with on Wednesday, excuse
me. Here`s what`s on Richard Trumka`s mind as he heads into tomorrow`s
meeting. Mr. Trumka has been reminding the press that in Ohio, AFL-CIO
members are 83 percent white, 40 percent are evangelicals, 53 percent of
them own guns and they voted 70 percent for Barack Obama.
Labor knows exactly how important it was to the president`s reelection
effort particularly in the swing states. What about labor law reforms?
What about making the marketplace more attractive to unions and union
Mitt Romney ran against President Obama as if the president had
already put in place big sweeping labor law changes, but the Obama
administration really didn`t affect major change in labor law in the first
term. There`s lots of things left on the labor agenda like a bill to make
it easier for unions to get recognized and harder for companies to block
unions from forming.
Could labor reforms be in the realm of possibility in the second term
Or how about this? Yesterday, when the president spoke on veterans
issues at Arlington National Cemetery, he touched on something that should
be in the realm of possibility for his second term. The sometimes month`s
long backlog that our new veterans are facing when they try to access the
benefits they have earned when they get home from war.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: No veteran should have to wait months or years for the
benefits that you have earned so we will continue to attack the claims
backlog. We won`t let up. We will not let up.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Yes, that claims backlog is actually a disaster. And it`s
getting worse and it needs to be fixed. It is a very specific problem that
cannot be allowed to continue if we are to make good on the promises we
have made to people who have fought in our name.
And it is on the president to get it done. And if his V.A. secretary,
Eric Shinseki, cannot get it done as head of the V.A., then probably the
president needs to find a new second term V.A. secretary.
Fixing the veterans claims benefit backlog is something that needs to
be in the realm of possibility for the Obama administration in its second
term. Later on in the show tonight, we`re going to be talking about how
and where the actual election is still happening, where the election is
still a great big chaotic mess.
Now members of Congress are proposing election reform at the federal
level, legislation to set out uniform rules for early voting all across the
country to make it so we don`t have partisan administration in charge of
elections. Real, meaningful, nonpartisan election reform could be in the
realm possibility for Democrats if they choose to work on that.
Or how about this – on the Sunday shows yesterday, Republicans
started to sound a little more conciliatory toward the idea of immigration
reform with Lindsey Graham, senator from South Carolina going so far as to
say, quote, “We have nobody to blame but ourselves when it comes to losing
Hispanics. I intend to tear this wall down and pass an immigration reform
bill that`s an American solution to an American problem.”
Softening towards immigration reform is even happening among some FOX
News Channel personalities. Of course, not on FOX News Channel, but on the
FOX News hosts` radio shows, which we call satobuchi (ph). But still, it`s
So immigration reform may be more within the realm of possibility in
the near term than it has been for a very long time.
Last week, on Thursday, two days after the election, Mark Kelly, the
husband of former Arizona Congresswoman Gabby Giffords made a statement at
the sentencing hearing of the man who shot Gabby Giffords and 18 other
people January last year outside a Tucson supermarket. Mr. Kelly`s
statement included a poignant call for a restoration to sanity on gun
policy in this country for at least a return to what used to be the gun
laws in America.
Quote, “We have a political class afraid to do something as simple as
having meaningful debate about gun laws and how they are being enforced.
As a nation, we have repeatedly passed up the opportunity to address this
issue. After Columbine, after Virginia Tech, after Tucson, after Aurora,
we have done nothing.
In this state – meaning Arizona – we have elected officials so
feckless in their leadership that they would say, as in the case of
Governor Jan Brewer, I don`t think it has anything to do with the size of
the magazine or the caliber of the gun. She went on and said, `Even if the
shooter`s weapon had held fewer bullets, he`d have had another gun maybe.
He could have had three guns in his pocket.` She said this just one week
after a high capacity magazine allowed you to kill six and wound 19 others
before being wrestled to the ground while attempting to reload.”
He said that to the face of the man who shot his wife.
So everyone says that gun law reform isn`t possible. But maybe at
least fixing the expired assault weapons ban that used to be a consensus
piece of legislation in the country, maybe that could at least be in the
realm of possibilities for the second Obama administration term.
On Friday, we found out that Jay Inslee won the Washington state
governor`s race. What`s the thing that Governor-elect Jay Inslee is most
known for in his whole legislative career up until this point? Clean
energy and bio tech. He`s the pay attention to climate change guy. He`s
now governor of Washington state.
Of course, today, Andrew Cuomo, the governor of New York state, came
out and said he will be asking for $30 billion for New York state in storm
relief. That money would be in part to shore up New York`s infrastructure
so it can withstand storms of increased frequency and increased severity
due to climate change.
So while the new governor of Washington will be out trying to fight
climate change, the governor of New York is also calling for action to make
us more resilient so we can sustain ourselves in the face of damage that
will happen on an increasingly frequent basis because of climate change.
So who knows? Maybe even climate change heading off further climate
change and responding to what we`ve got already, maybe that could be in the
realm of possibility for a second term.
What about the things that we know the president wanted to accomplish
in his first term? Things he specifically said he wanted to get done in
his first term and he didn`t do. What about closing Guantanamo?
Remember once a time when that was the plan? Maybe that is back in
the realm of possibilities in the president`s second term. And, hey, let`s
just go out on a wild hair here. What about ending the war in Afghanistan
ahead of schedule? Could a second Obama term see the war ending earlier
than we thought?
What`s within the realm of possibility now? What can Democrats
achieve now that they could not have achieved before, say, last Tuesday?
I mean, they can`t run the table. There are still Republicans in
Washington and the Republicans still do control the House. The world is
not the Democrat`s oyster right now, just ask the Republicans. It`s at
least getting clammy, right?
Democrats can`t do anything they want, but they have an opportunity to
recast the realm of what`s possible.
Joining us is the U.S. senator from Minnesota who was just reelected
to her seat in the race that is not as squeaker. She won by 35 points.
Senator Amy Klobuchar, it`s great to have you here. Thanks for coming
SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D), MINNESOTA: Great to be on again, Rachel.
MADDOW: Thirty-five points, congratulations.
KLOBUCHAR: There you go. I went to every town. I even went to a
town with four people, Finley (ph). I got there and found out they had
abolished the town three months before.
KLOBUCHAR: But I met a guy.
MADDOW: Did you follow them home from Finley to wherever they –
KLOBUCHAR: – green elevator.
Anyway, I think actually when I was hearing you talk about everything,
very focused on – I love that you talk about things beyond just the
immediate that we can do to get this economy moving again.
KLOBUCHAR: I do think this idea of getting out there with the people,
the people got engaged in this election. First of all, the message was
balanced in bringing the debt down. There`s no doubt about it. When you
look at some of those races, Heidi Heitkamp winning in North Dakota,
Indiana race, they rejected a lot of rigid ideology. They said let`s get
problem solvers in there that are going to get something done and bring
this down in a balanced way.
And I couldn`t agree with you more on what we`re hearing on the
Republican side. Conservative commentator Bill Kristol just saying this
weekend that we should look at it`s not going to kill the country to look
at raising some of the taxes on millionaires and that, in fact, we could
look at – he suggested that the Republican Party should take President
Obama up on his offer.
You have Speaker Boehner saying, let`s look at compromise. We have to
So, this is the time to bring that debt down. And we seriously have
to do it. I don`t think anyone disputes that, but it has to be a mix of
those spending cuts and the revenue.
And the one figure that I`d like to add here is how much revenue we
get by just going back to the Clinton levels at $250,000 and above. That`s
$700 billion in 10 years.
KLOBUCHAR: That`s what draws people to that number when you add that
in and then close some loopholes, subsidies, do the budget cuts that we
need to do, we`ve already done a trillion. You can get to the $4 trillion
that most economists say would at least lead us to the path to reduce debt
over 10 years to $4 trillion.
MADDOW: Because it is so much money and because it would be so
relatively painless for people who have income above a quarter a million of
dollars to see that change go back to the Clinton level rates, because
people like Bill Kristol are already, yes, we got to go on this, because
the president has been so clear on that for years now, that that`s what
he`s running on, it feels to me that`s very clear that that`s within the
realm of the possible.
But what else didn`t previously feel like it was in the realm of
possible and has now moved there? Is immigration there?
KLOBUCHAR: I think so. When you hear – I called a number of the
Republican senators who won this time and two of them brought up
immigration reform. This was before the election. These were people we
knew were going to win.
KLOBUCHAR: I think that you see Senator Schumer and Senator Graham
working on a proposal. The DREAM Act was very close to begin with. But
the whole idea, when you look back to George Bush, he was legitimately
trying to get immigration reform done in his last two years, but it was the
first time of the pushback from talk radio, if you remember the whole
And now, you have Hispanics 10 percent of the electorate. You have,
as was pointed out on this show this weekend, 75 percent of them voted for
So the Republicans have a little outreach to do. And I`d suggest one
way instead of just giving speeches is to actually work with us on
MADDOW: What happens – from your advantage point as a Democrat in
the Senate who`s been cross aisle-oriented, you`ve been sort of – you`ve
been a bipartisan-oriented senator, what happens within the Republican
Party between those Republican senators and who they see as their
constituents on an issue like that?
I mean, Kris Kobach was the guy who wrote the “papers please” law in
Arizona, was an immigration adviser to Mitt Romney. He`s secretary of
state in Kansas. I mean, he`s not Tom Tancredo. But he`s there. And
that`s an active and vocal faction in the Republican Party.
How do they lose the debate if they need to lose the debate for
Republicans to survive?
KLOBUCHAR: Well, I think the business community can play a major role
in this. We have major businesses in Minnesota that want to see
immigration reform. They look at their employee base. They look at the
possibility of the reform and what it would mean with earned citizenship,
So, I think that`s a group that they will listen to. And then you
just have what happened to them in this election, where people that were
just adhering to these rigid ideologies lost. And then we got some
conservative, moderate Democrats in there that were problem solvers. And
so, I think that sends a message as well.
Other possibility would be energy reform. There are some great
possibilities there when you look at our competitiveness internationally.
I always like the renewable electricity standard. Governor Pawlenty in
Minnesota signed off on 25 percent by 2025. That`s one way, we can go with
And then, finally, in Minnesota where we have a lot of manufacturing,
you`re seeing this resurgence of made-in-America products. We need to
train workers and students in areas where there are jobs. This is going to
mean traditional jobs like welding and it`s also going to mean science,
engineering, math, technology.
So, a nationwide focus on getting kids to go to those areas, as well
as getting those one and two-year degrees in high school has got to be
something that everyone will agree ongoing forward.
MADDOW: The things you talk about have no ideological edge to them in
terms of what`s feasible.
Let me ask you one last thing. Scott Brown is replaced by Elizabeth
Warren. Richard Lugar replaced by Democrat Joe Donnelly. Republican
Olympia Snowe replaced by an independent Angus King. Joe Lieberman
replaced by Chris Murphy. Herb Kohl replaced by Tammy Baldwin. Jim Webb
replaced by Tim Kaine.
The pattern in all of those is that it`s a more conservative person in
the Senate replaced by a less conservative person in the Senate. Maybe
fine lines there, but that`s the pattern in all of them. Is one of the
consequences that Democrats might reform the filibuster?
KLOBUCHAR: I am so hopeful. You know, a group of the newer senators
pushed for this last time.
Two ideas I`d throw out there. One is to get rid of it on the motion
to proceed. That would reduce everything in half the time we spend on
The second: require these people to stand and speak. Make them stand
and speak. I could imagine, Rachel, you could have a filibuster clock on
your show. It would be mesmerizing. Not really. Actually, what would
happen is people would hate it.
KLOBUCHAR: They would hate that two people would hold up one judge
out of Peoria, Illinois. That`s what we`re seeing.
So, if those senators are held accountable by making them actually
stand and filibuster, it would make a difference. The American people will
And there could be other reforms as well. I put those out there as
doable and something that could make a huge difference.
MADDOW: And make the Senate not function on a default super majority
KLOBUCHAR: And you once called it dysfunction junction.
MADDOW: Exactly right.
KLOBUCHAR: But the train is leaving the station. We`re ready to go.
MADDOW: And we`ll try to clear the tracks.
Senator Amy Klobuchar, it`s great to have you here.
KLOBUCHAR: Thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: Thanks for being here.
All right. Do you remember when General David Petraeus could have
been a viable presidential candidate? That was Thursday. Now it`s Monday.
And now there`s a lot of new reporting about the scandal which has
apparently ended his career and about which there are a lot of remaining
We`re going to be talking with a reporter who first broke the story,
NBC`s Andrea Mitchell. Stay tuned.
MADDOW: You are not allowed to cheat on your beloved. If you are
married, you are not allowed by law if you are in the military. Under
Article 132, the Uniform Code of Military Justice, having an affair is
illegal. The maximum punishment is dishonorable discharge, forfeiture of
all pay and allowances, and confinement for one year.
How is that for a cold shower? If you have an affair, you could go to
jail for a year for cheating on your husband or wife while you are in the
Now, even though the CIA acts like it is the military now, the CIA
doesn`t play by the same rules as the military, including for shtooping
somebody outside your marriage. In the CIA it`s not illegal to have an
affair. You can have one without going to jail.
But honestly, the CIA rules might take all the fun out of if. If you
are in the CIA and you want to have an affair without getting fired for it,
you have to tell your boss that you`re doing it and you have to tell your
spouse, which probably makes it less of an affair and more just the thing
that happens right before you get divorced. And even with all those rules,
you can`t have an affair with a foreigner no matter who you tell.
Obviously, there are still many unanswered questions regarding the
resignation of CIA Director David Petraeus.
But here`s one – if his affair was not a criminal matter, it happened
at the CIA, so it was not a criminal matter. And reportedly, the FBI
investigation that turned up evidence of this affair turned up no evidence
of breaching classified information or any other criminality, then why did
the affair itself get reported to the director of national intelligence and
then the national security staff at the White House and then ultimately the
president? This was private misbehavior that was a breach of CIA personnel
rules, but not the law.
Is the FBI the armed wing of the CIA`s human resources department now?
Why did the FBI report the affair to anyone? Again, there was no
classified information breached here. there`s no reported breach of David
Petraeus` access to classified systems. Any e-mail involved here was not
his CIA e-mail. This was not like the former CIA Director John Deutch who
got busted taking home classified information on his home laptop. It
wasn`t anything like that.
So, strictly speaking, this was not a national security matter. And
it was not a criminal matter. So why was this brought up to the director
of national intelligence by the FBI? We do not know.
What we do know is once that James Clapper, head of the national
intelligence, found out about the affair on Election Day, he urged David
Petraeus to resign.
The following day, Wednesday, Mr. Clapper reportedly notified National
Security Council staff at the White House.
And then, the following day, Thursday, General Petraeus reportedly sat
down with President Obama directly. The president did not initially accept
his resignation that day, on Thursday. He didn`t accept it until the
following day, until Friday. And that`s when it all became public.
Here`s another question, though. Why did the FBI investigation start
here in the first place? What we`re told about why it started is that a
woman who was not having an affair, she received e-mails that she perceived
as threatening and that woman who received the threatening e-mails happened
to have a friend in the FBI to whom she complained about the threatening e-
mails and that friend of hers who happened to be an FBI agent started this
investigation that ultimately uncovered the affair involving David
That`s such a strange way for all of this to begin, right? I mean, do
you call the FBI if you get a creepy e e-mail? If I called the FBI every
time somebody sent a creepy, threatening email, they`d need to set up a
bureau right here at 30 Rock.
Here`s another question, in like of the far right conspiracy theories
that this was all designed to undercut General Petraeus before he could
testify to Congress about Benghazi on Thursday, which was also sort of
Democratic plot to protect the president from hard questions before the
election and now even after the election – in light of those conspiracy
theories which are being portrayed as fact on the right, right now, how are
we supposed to make light of the fact that two Republican congressmen,
Washington Congressman Dave Reichert and the Majority leader in the House,
Eric Cantor, were apparently read in on this investigation by the FBI ahead
of the White House and ahead of it going through more official channels?
If this weren`t the director of the CIA, this would not be an
important story at all. Because it is the director the CIA and because
each new detail takes the story seemingly in a new direction and now, every
civilian involved in the case that we know of has hired very high profile
lawyers and because there`s so many unanswered politically potent questions
here, this story rivals anything else going on in the country right now in
terms of its political import.
The reporter who broke the story nationally joins us next.
MADDOW: One of the really strange things in this very strange story
about the now former director of the CIA, David Petraeus, that even though
this is something that concerns the director of central intelligence, the
parts of our government that are supposed to know everything that happens
at the CIA, the parts of our government that oversee intelligence seem to
be largely out of the loop on this story.
That was brought into sharp relief today live on MSNBC when Andrea
Mitchell was the first reporter to break this story, she had live on her
show here on MSNBC, the chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee. And in
the course of asking that chair a question, Andrea apparently broke yet
further news that the head of the Senate Intelligence Committee had never
heard before that moment on Andrea`s show.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANDREA MITCHELL, MSNBC HOST: The FBI agent who had initially been
contacted by this woman who was a friend of the Petraeus family, Jill
Kelley in Tampa, this FBI agent who knew her so he went to him, as far as
our reporting is concern, she went to him to ask for help. She was getting
e-mails that were of concern to her, harassing, were threatening emails.
This is Jill Kelley, whose husband and the Petraeus` had been friends for
more than five years from Tampa`s –
SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D), CALIFORNIA: Well, this is all news to me.
See? We were not told this. This is the first time I have learned of
this. So that makes me think, how many other things are there too?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Joining us now is Andrea Mitchell, NBC`s chief foreign
affairs correspondent and the host of MSNBC`s “ANDREA MITCHELL REPORTS”,
which is even much more must-see TV right now than it usually is.
Andrea, thanks for being here.
MITCHELL: The interesting thing about that was that that made the
point that Dianne Feinstein wanted to make today, which is that the FBI is
not sharing with the people they are supposed to share with. Now, the FBI
pushes back on that. But you`ve got a Republican House chairman and a
Democratic Senate chairman both saying they are not being properly briefed,
and for months at a time.
MADDOW: I understand the basic idea that intelligence matters need to
be overseen aggressively by Congress and that Congress needs to be more
aggressive I think than they have been. They have powers to do things
confidently in ways that other oversight parts of Congress don`t have
because intelligence can be so sensitive.
I don`t necessarily understand, though, why private marital infidelity
by somebody in the CIA would become a matter of national significance that
Congress needed to be briefed on. Is that a clear line for you?
MITCHELL: Yes. Well, that`s the FBI`s point. That once they knew
this was just a private matter. But the point that Feinstein made today is
that there were stages along the way where this was considered a national
security breach, where at least initially, they thought the director`s e-
mails had been hacked into and someone was trying to e-mail – pretending
to be him. And that also his personal schedule, which is classified, had
been released because of the harassing e-mails, the anonymous e-mails to
Jill Kelley included e-mails that describe David Petraeus` comings and
goings, things not on the official schedule.
So there were concerns. There was the possibility that some foreign
governments could also be getting into these e-mail accounts. So there
were stages along the way, at least according to what the concerns are on
the Hill, that could involve national security.
And as long as they were taking months and months to determine that
this should be shut down and there`s no criminal aspect to it, they think
they should have been notified.
MADDOW: So – go ahead. I`m sorry.
MITCHELL: And also not incidentally, you have a sub cabinet change in
the head of the CIA. This led to a resignation and now they have to deal
with the fallout from that.
MADDOW: Trying to figure out the timing is one of the things that has
– my understanding of this, has changed in the last few days as we have
learned more about what David Petraeus knew and when he knew it.
Obviously, he knew that he had the affair, but if he was interviewed by the
FBI at the end of October about this, then he obviously knew it had become
known. He did not resign because other people knew he had done a
dishonorable thing. He didn`t resign when he had the affair.
He waited until it had been brought to the attention of the White
House, which somewhat changes the explanation that he had to do it just
because the affair was wrong.
MITCHELL: Well, I think that initially he did not realize what the
damage was, how much China had been broken.
Look, after he was interviewed, it`s my understanding he left for his
final secret mission. Didn`t realize at the time it was his last mission,
but he was preparing to have to testify for the closed hearings on
Thursday. So he went to Libya. He went and debriefed the CIA station
chief in Benghazi. He was preparing himself with a country trip report.
And one of the other complaints of Feinstein is that she`s been told
that there is a written report from that briefing that trip to Benghazi in
Libya and that she even hadn`t been told that there was such a report. The
CIA then said, no, there wasn`t. There`s no final report.
She`s preparing for the hearings. It`s a long inquiry with closed and
open hearings. It`s not just one hearing. And she`s asking what is the
Petraeus conclusion and she`s being told we really don`t have that written
So there`s a lot of distress now on the Hill with the kind of
cooperation they are getting from the CIA and from the White House.
MADDOW: Do you expect that members of the intelligence committee,
either Democrat or Republican, will attempt to get David Petraeus there to
say what he knows?
MITCHELL: Oh, you bet.
MADDOW: Based on your understanding of how these things go,
particularly on Benghazi, but more broadly with the way that Central
Intelligence Agency works, are there other people who know what David
Petraeus knows about Benghazi, about the matter being investigated, or is
he a person that would know things that others can`t speak to?
MITCHELL: Well, I think – I certainly think that Mike Morell, the
deputy, the acting now CIA director, would know, but was not the person on
the ground. He did not accompany, as best we know, he did not accompany
Petraeus on the trip.
So there`s firsthand granular intelligence that Petraeus has. And
that what they are doing is giving him enough time to spend with his
family, to do whatever healing he can do these days, but they are going to
want to talk to him, not in open session but in closed sessions. They
don`t want a circus.
They have a great deal of affection and respect for him. They don`t
want to put him through more agony than he has to at this point.
But there`s also the question of how the agency is going to be led.
There are cabinet changes afoot, as you know. A lot of talk tonight about
what`s going to happen in the rest of the national security team.
Leon Panetta was asked about this for the first time on a trip to
Australia. They are still en route, but we have been briefed by the
traveling pool with him saying there are legitimate questions that need to
be asked. He suggested that as the immediate predecessor to Petraeus, he
believed that Congress needed to be better informed. So, he came down on
the side of Congress on this.
He also acknowledged that there are questions about just when the
relationship began, the romantic relationship, because if it began before
he left the military, then it`s an entirely different issue. Then, there
are illegal issues that probably will not be pursued. But the military
code does have a different standard regarding infidelity than does the
civilian, which would be the situation at the CIA.
MADDOW: Andrea, in terms of the reporting from “The Washington Post”
tonight, just briefly, that John Kerry is being considered for defense
secretary, and that U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice being considered for
secretary of state. Does that comport with what you`re hearing and
informed speculation in Washington to those ends?
MITCHELL: Can you see all these balloons being floated? I`m
surrounded. It`s like being at a Democratic or Republican convention, all
these balloons coming up.
Yes and yes. They – John Kerry has long, I think, wanted to be
secretary of state. And that`s not a secret in Washington. And he is many
people believe superbly qualified for that job. The White House – by all
reports, by my reporting, prefers to have Susan Rice on that position. But
according to Democrats, she`s been badly damaged by the Benghazi situation
and needs to go through the process. They are not sure she could be
So this floating of John Kerry for defense would perhaps clear the way
or ease the way for Susan Rice to get confirmed for state. But it`s not
clear that it will work.
MADDOW: Andrea Mitchell, NBC`s chief foreign affairs correspondent –
I could talk to you all night tonight. There`s so much going on.
Thank you very much, Andrea. It`s great to have you here. Thank you.
MADDOW: Andrew`s show is at 1:00 p.m. Eastern here on MSNBC, “ANDREA
MITCHELL REPORTS”. And I`m telling you, must-see TV.
All right. Hey, it turns out the election isn`t over. Stay tuned for
that, including the music and everything. That`s coming up next.
MADDOW: Sorry. It turns out the election is not over, seriously, and
not for a good reason, though. It`s still exciting to hear the music. The
story is coming up.
Play it again.
MADDOW: One more time.
MADDOW: I play this at home sometimes.
All right. Over the weekend, the 2012 presidential election finally
came to a close as the great state of Florida reported that its long, long,
long process of tallying up the votes of finally complete and the winner in
the state of Florida was – hit the board – President Obama.
According to Florida`s results, it was about as close as you could get
without triggering an automatic recount. President Obama winning Florida
with 50 percent of the vote, compared to 49 percent for Mitt Romney.
So, in the final account, this is the electoral map – President Obama
with 332 electoral votes. Mitt Romney with 206.
Turn off the music now. It`s distracting. Away, away, stop. It`s
getting me too excited.
OK. Ultimately, though, the decisive thing about Florida was not who
Florida voted for. It was the state becoming a showcase for the
unreasonable lengths and lengths of time people had to go to to exercise
their right to vote.
Florida`s Republican-controlled legislature cut down early voting days
by almost half. Republican Governor Rick Scott broke with even Republican
tradition and refused to extend early voting hours even in the face of six
to seven-hour lines in the state.
But now that it`s done, now that Florida`s 29 Electoral College votes
have been allocated, Governor Rick Scott says he`s ready to address the
state`s problem, telling reporters, quote, “I have asked the secretary of
state to review this general election and report on ways we can improve the
process after all the races are certified. As part of this, he will meet
with county election supervisors, especially those who ran elections where
voters experienced long lines of four hours or more.”
So waiting in line for four hours doesn`t trigger any special
attention. You have to be more than four hours for that.
When`s the last time you waited in line outdoors for four hours for
something? When`s the last time you thought it would be OK to ask your
grandmother to wait in line outdoors for four hours for something?
But as bad as Florida was and is, there were states that did even
worse, including one state where I went to bed thinking the senate race was
settled only to wake up it may not be over. That`s coming up next.
MADDOW: One of the few bright spots for Republicans in the election
this year was the Senate race, the U.S. Senate race in Arizona. Jeff
Flake`s race in Arizona was one of the few contested Senate seats that was
in reach for the Republicans, but it appeared the Republicans actually did
But today, the Democrat in that race, former Surgeon General Richard
Carmona, kind of essentially hinted at un-conceding that race. Mr.
Carmona`s campaign today is saying they might have declared defeat too
soon. They say they are now watching the vote count in Arizona very
As of this weekend, Arizona had not counted roughly one in every four
votes that were cast in the election. Still, half a million votes left to
count and a bunch of close races in the state are hanging in the balance.
This botched election in Arizona, which is still not over, and this
remarkable, potential un-concession in the U.S. Senate race by Richard
Carmona, ultimately may go back to this guy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SHERIFF JOE ARPAIO, MARICOPA COUNTY, ARIZONA: As you know, 250
citizens of this valley, this state, came to me. Asking me as the head of
a law enforcement agency to look into President Obama`s birth certificate
as released by the White House in April of 2011 on the official White House
Web site. As we suspect, it is a fraudulent document.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County in Arizona revealing
the results of his taxpayer-funded investigation into President Obama`s
birth certificate back in July. The sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona,
and a prominent Mitt Romney endorser, sent his cold-case posse to Hawaii,
where the Arpaio posse discovered the president`s birth certificate is a
Sheriff Arpaio is a cartoon, but he is also a very visible political
force Republican Arizona politics. He was a big backer of Arizona`s anti-
immigrant “papers, please” law. He does everything he can to try to make
himself nationally famous, everything from moving prisoners out of jail and
putting them instead in tents in the desert. Forcing prisoners under his
care to wear pink underwear, because it amuses him as sheriff to make them
do that. He brags about making prisoners eat baloney sandwiches so rotten
the meat has turned green.
And then we couldn`t stand the brief lull in national attention for
himself, he tried with the Obama birth certificate cold case posse thing
that some people in Maricopa County, Arizona, love old Sheriff Joe and his
Joe Arpaio traveling circus.
But some people don`t like it, and this year, a group of high school
kids in the county decided that they were going to take on Sheriff Joe
Arpaio in his reelection bid this year. These 100 or so teenagers set up a
voter registration drive that they called Adios Arpaio. Adios Arpaio had a
goal of registering 30,000 people in the county, which is a lot of people
for a county race.
In October, they announced that they had beaten their goal. They were
aiming at 30,000, and got over 34,000. Just a triumph of civic activism
for these kids – until the realities of democracy in Maricopa County,
Arizona, started to take hold.
Maricopa is the same Arizona county that this year told Spanish-
speaking voters that Election Day was November 8th, which is two days after
the election. Maricopa County said that was just an accident, and we found
the county made the same exact Spanish language accident on a bookmark that
was also sent out to voters, telling them when to vote.
Arizona also reduced the number of polling places this year, in
Maricopa, they closed a third of the polling places that had opened in
2008, when they had long lines too. So, when voters got to the polls this
year, they likely would have encountered big long lines just because there
were fewer places to vote.
And then what many of the new voters voting this time found
specifically was that their names were not on voter rolls, even though they
registered. As a result, those new voters got forced into voting in a far
from reliable way, known as a provisional ballot and that`s how Arizona
found itself in the national headlines.
Days after the election, Arizona still has a mountain of ballots to
count. That pile including a mini mountain of these provisional ballots,
many of them cast by first time minority voters, like the 30,000-plus
people who were signed up by the high school kids in Adios Arpaio. Those
kids have been marching in the streets of Phoenix ever since, a core group
sitting in outside the Maricopa clerk`s office. They say they will stay
there until every vote in that office is counted.
Meanwhile, activists in Phoenix are desperately working a phone bank.
They are trying to reach all of the voters they reached before the
election, so they can figure out who got forced into voting one of these
provisional ballots? Because if they made you vote that way, you only have
until Wednesday of this week to go back to the county election office and
prove that you voted rightfully. Otherwise, your ballot, your provisional
ballot that they made you vote that way, that ballot will get thrown out.
And this is not only Maricopa County`s problem. You could find boxes
of uncounted votes across Arizona. Depending on how you figure it, our
nation woke up today with half a dozen undecided congressional races, half
of them were in Arizona.
Early on, activists in Arizona asked for help from the Justice
Department. They tell us the next election matters as much as this one, so
Arizona really needs to get their act together and put this right.
It does seem like they are starting to get a little notice in Arizona,
starting with Richard Carmona`s U.S. Senate campaign saying, hey, wait a
minute, maybe this thing is not over. We`re going to make sure that they
count every vote.
This weekend, Harry Reid, the Senate majority leader, also signaled
that he is taking this seriously, putting out a statement calling for all
of the votes in Arizona to be counted promptly, accurately, and equally.
Senator Reid pointing out that just in Maricopa County alone, the uncounted
votes represent a major portion of the total votes cast in Arizona.
Florida only finished counting its votes for president this weekend.
After Floridians waited in some cases eight plus hours to vote, and because
Florida is Florida, and because what Florida means in American national
politics, Florida is probably always going to be exhibit “A” for what is
wrong with our election system on purpose.
It`s wrong on purpose, because we know what needs to be done to fix
those problems and it`s not being done on purpose. But Arizona, right now,
is a hot and heavy contender at this point for at least exhibit “B” in the
And unlike Florida, Arizona is still not even done yet. Not even with
this year`s election.
Stay tuned. There`s going to be more on this.
Now, it`s time for “THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL.” Have a
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