The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 10/21/2016
Show: THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW
Date: October 21, 2016
Guest: Andrea Bernstein
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC ANCHOR: You`re almost home. You`re almost there.
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC ANCHOR, “ALL IN”: I`m almost home. Happy Friday.
MADDOW: Happy Friday, my friend. Well done. Have a good weekend.
And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour as well. Happy Friday.
It`s nice to have you here.
In November 2008, at an open air plaza on a beautiful night in Arizona,
Republican Senator John McCain gave a speech that his supporters did not
want to hear.
His supporters loved him. They supported him. But he was there to do
something they did not want. And you could almost see in him the almost
physical strain it took for him to keep a lid on their emotions. For him
as a leader, to stop the raging sentiment and upset and emotion on that
plaza among his supporters, to stop it from boiling over.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: My friends, we have come to the end of a
long journey. The American people have spoken and they have spoken
clearly. A little while ago, I had the honor of calling Senator Barack
Obama to congratulate him –
Please. To congratulate him on being elected the next president of the
country that we both love.
In a contest as long and difficult as this campaign has been, his success
alone commands my respect for his ability and perseverance. My heart is
filled with nothing but gratitude for the experience and to the American
people for giving me a fair hearing before deciding that Senator Obama and
my old friend Senator Joe Biden should have the honor of leading us for the
next four years.
Please. Please. I would not – I would not be –
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: The start of John McCain`s concession speech on election night
2008, his crowd is Arizona is booing every time he mentions Senator Obama,
booing the idea that McCain is conceding. By the end, though, Senator
McCain has mostly gotten that under control, scattered boos.
But you notice the very end of that piece, the crowd starting to take a
little turn at the end not to just booing Obama but at the end there they
started yelling “Sarah, Sarah, Sarah”.
We didn`t know that night, but we know now after the fact that Governor
Sarah Palin actually wanted to give her own concession speech that night in
2008 and that`s a thing that running mates don`t do.
But she apparently had a speech written. She thought for sure she was
going to give her own concession. She would have her own moment in the
spotlight, but the whole idea apparently was definitively and firmly
kyboshed by our own Steve Schmidt who told her, “no, you will not be
In the end, Sarah Palin was not given a speech, but she was allowed to
stand on stage with her husband and with Senator McCain`s wife Cindy, while
the presidential candidate himself, while Senator McCain gave what was
really a nice noble speech.
And the crowd didn`t necessarily receive it all that well. They still
booed and hollered against Senator Obama a lot, at the beginning of the
speech. Even a little by the end.
But that crowd had a totally different, totally opposite unforced positive
reaction any time Senator McCain mentioned his running mate. No wonder she
thought she ought to be able to give a speech that night.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MCCAIN: I am also – I am also, of course, very thankful to Governor Sarah
Palin, one of the best campaigners I`ve ever seen.
One of the best campaigners I have ever seen and an impressive new voice in
our party for reform and the principles that have always been our greatest
Her husband Todd and their five beautiful children for their tireless
dedication to our cause and the courage and grace they showed in the rough
and tumble of a presidential campaign. We can all look forward with great
interest to her future service to Alaska, the Republican Party and our
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Yea, crowd goes wild. Crowd goes as positive as they went that
The night of the John McCain concession speech in 2008, that crowd was very
bummed out. There was a lot of open container in that crowd. People were
not happy. It was late. They were turning to drink and sadness and
But they, you know, they loved John McCain. Sad and angry that he lost.
They were not psyched about Senator Obama, this new president.
But Sarah Palin, that was an unreserved high point. Applause every time
Sarah Palin was mentioned and sometimes shouting of her name whenever
anybody needed something positive to yell.
And when John McCain was looking forward with great interest to her future
service of Alaska, the Republican Party and our country, I`m pretty sure he
couldn`t have known that that service he was referencing of hers would
actually be over within just a few months.
That concession speech by John McCain was November 2008. By the following
summer, by the following July, Sarah Palin was out of public office. She
gave this announcement on the Fourth of July weekend in 2009 that it was
not the easiest thing to figure out.
She convened reporters at her home in Alaska on short notice and sounded
like she might be announcing a very, very, very early run for president
herself in 2012, then it sounded like she might be announcing like a
different office in Alaska, maybe Alaska Senate for a while in the speech
it sounded like she was going to make her re-election announcement, that
she would stand for another term as Alaska governor.
But then, the speech took another term and she announced she wouldn`t run
for another term as governor, and then not only was she not running for
another term as governor, she was quitting right then that day, good-bye.
It was very hard to figure out. It was hard to follow her logic. It was
hard to follow the plot.
But we now know, based on the fact that she never went back to work again,
we now know that what she meant when she said this, what she meant by this
was, I quit.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SARAH PALIN (R), FORMER ALASKA GOVERNOR: Though it may be tempting and
more comfortable to keep your head down and plod along and appease those
who are demanding, hey, just sit down and shut up, but that`s a worthless
easy tap-out, that`s the quitter`s way out. And I think the problem in our
country would be apathy. It would be apathetic to just hunker down and go
with the flow. We`re fishermen. We know that only dead fish go with the
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: The dead fish thing and the quitter`s – what she meant there, we
now know was I am quitting today my job as governor.
Within a few months, she had a new job, the now former governor was on the
air with her new reality show, incidentally produced by the same people who
made “The Apprentice.” It was called “Sarah Palin`s Alaska”. It ran for a
grand total of nine episodes before it got canceled.
Governor Palin also started doing a recurring branded segment, Sarah
Palin`s segment on the FOX News Channel. It was “Real American Stories
with Sarah Palin”. That recurring series or segment, that also got
canceled. Then just her regular contract as a FOX News contributor also
Eventually, she landed at the Sportsman Channel hosting a show called
“Amazing America.” Now, I will tell you we spent some time on this today.
We do not exactly know the fate of Sarah Palin`s “Amazing America”.
There`s no new episodes and it`s not scheduled to run anywhere in the
Sportsman`s Channel`s lineup.
I want to tell you, though, it was fun to look around on that channel to
try to find it. I don`t know how they`re categorizing it, but if Sarah
Palin`s Sportsman Channel TV show still exists and if it`s still called
“Amazing America”, that would put it up in the listings next to “Arrow
Affliction” and “Adventure Bow Hunter”.
If it`s an alphabetical listing, and if that`s wrong, if it`s not “Amazing
America”, if it`s actually listed as “Sarah Palin`s Amazing America”, then
she`ll be way further in the listings, next to “Sheep Shape”, which is a TV
show about shooting sheep.
I share Governor Palin`s affection for fishing. I do not know very much
about hunting. I had no idea that shooting sheep was so dangerous, but
having watched the clips from “Sheep Shape”, I can tell you, it`s
thrilling. Seriously, the sheep thing can be super scary.
That said, “Sheep Shape” is still on. “Sarah Palin`s Amazing America”, I
Governor Palin`s shot, as it were, at the White House did not kindle in her
an ongoing desire to do more public service. I mean, quite the opposite.
In fact, going back and reading her resignation speech as Alaska governor,
going back and reading that again today, the dead fish speech. I mean,
it`s fine on its own terms, it`s kind of fun.
But she also does make pretty clear if you read between the crossing lines
that if she hadn`t been picked as John McCain`s running, had she not been
in the national campaign as a vice presidential candidate in 2008, she
probably would have finished out her term as governor, she might have run
again. She would have spent more time as a public servant.
But that time in the national spotlight with John McCain, competing for the
vice presidency, that is what led her to quit public service and instead
try her luck at various potential TV careers. And now that we`re a five
years out from her trying to start that part of her life, we know that none
of those seem to have stuck.
In terms of her continuing role in politics now, I think it would be a
stretch to call it even tertiary. In this current campaign, she did do an
event with Donald Trump at the outset of the primaries. She endorsed him
in Iowa. That endorsement was honestly a little odd. It did not seem to
bring out the best in either of them.
We have thought – we had actually been advised the two of them would do
events together. We thought she was maybe going to be a big Trump
surrogate. The Breitbart folks including the current Trump CEO, they`ve
been huge boosters of Sarah Palin. Steve Bannon once made a movie about
how great Sarah Palin is, the movie was called “Undefeated”, which was not
meant to be an ironic title. It`s just deeper than anyone can understand
about how she`s undefeated.
But it just – in the end, despite the enthusiasm for a Palin/Trump
matchup, it didn`t work out for her to be a part of the Trump campaign.
Palin and Trump did not go on to do joint appearances. She did not do
anything for that campaign after that initial endorsement announcement that
got so weird.
When it came time for the Republican National Convention this past summer,
Donald Trump had a very transparently awkward explanation for why Governor
Palin would not be appearing at the convention for him, even though
everyone from Scott Baio to all of his children would be.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
REPORTER: I noticed that Sarah Palin wasn`t on the list. Did she not ask
for a speaking role?
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: No, she was asked – it`s a
little bit difficult because of where she is. We love Sarah. A little bit
difficult because of, you know, she`s got a – it`s a long ways away. But
Sarah will always be with us, and Sarah`s involved. And very much involved
in the campaign.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MADDOW: Sarah will always be with us. Alaska is very far away from
Cleveland, particularly if you walk. But, you know, it`s not like Alaska
to Ohio is an insurmountable physical barrier to someone participating in
the – I mean, other people came from Alaska for the –
Trump almost made it sound like she was dead, right? She will always be
with us. She`s fine. She`s just not put on stage or welcomed to that
And in fact, we haven`t seen anything from Governor Palin in conjunction
with the Trump campaign until two nights ago at the last Republican debate
when Sarah Palin was brought to the event by the Trump campaign, brought to
the debate. She was used as a surrogate in the spin room for Donald Trump
after the debate for about three minutes before she took off.
But even that brief return of now reality TV personality, former Governor
Sarah Palin, it`s interesting and it`s potentially important because that
coincided with the Trump campaign on Wednesday night also debuting what
might be their own version of a TV channel.
You heard about them doing this on debate night, right? Thirty minutes
before the debate and 90 minutes after, they ran a Facebook video stream
featuring Trump campaign staffers and surrogates. This is the second time
they`ve done a Facebook video stream for the Trump campaign. The first was
just before the second debate when they used that same medium to broadcast
Trump`s weird little press conference with women who had made accusations
about Bill Clinton in the past.
That was the first time they did a Facebook live thing. The second time
they did it was after – before and after this week`s debate. And this one
was set up not exactly to be a press conference. It was more like fake
news coverage of Donald Trump`s debate performance and the fake news
coverage by the Trump campaign was interspersed with fake ads. I mean, not
like joke ads that were advertising fake stuff. It was just they weren`t
ads for anything other than Donald Trump.
In between their fake news coverage, they ran ads for Trump. They ran
requests for donations in particular.
And I know by now you have heard that Donald Trump did this Facebook live
video thing in conjunction with the debate and people have been talking
about it as Trump TV. There`s been funny jokes about it looking like a mix
of QVC and authoritarian state television from somewhere you never visited.
I know you`ve heard all of that.
But what you may not have heard was this Trump TV thing after the debate,
30 minutes before, 90 minutes after, it was a huge success. Serious,
serious. They say that they had millions of people tune in and watch that
stream. They might have. That`s essentially unverifiable from an outside
But we were able to see the numbers to see who was watching at any one
time, at least the counter they had online. It seems totally plausible
that over the course of the two hours of coverage that night, they did get
millions of people to tune in.
What we have official numbers on, though, is another metric that is maybe
even more important if this is the first draft of what`s going to happen
next. What we have official numbers on is money. The amount of money they
raised from those ads asking for donations from people who tuned in to
watch the Trump campaign`s fake news show that night online. And these are
real numbers because they had to report them to the FEC.
According to what they told the FEC, they said they raised 9 million in
that one night. What? That`s a ton of money. They raised $9 million over
the course of two online segments 30 minutes before the debate and 90
And that is freaking great news for them. I mean, that is a ton of money.
It`s great news of two different levels. I mean, $9 million is $9 million
for running these last couple of weeks of the campaign.
But it`s also proof of concept for them, right? If Donald Trump does, in
fact, lose the election and he decides he wants to follow the Sarah Palin
path, hey, Sarah Palin, what were you doing back at this third debate when
we`ve only seen you once this whole time on the campaign trail?
If he decides her path is the one he wants to follow, maybe he can do it
better than she has. If he wants to follow her path, not taking a run like
this and turning the it into more public service, but instead turning it
into ditching the idea of public service and instead just getting on TV,
well, then raising $9 million in two hours of this terrible version of
their emoji-strewn online cable access stream where the audio and the video
didn`t link up – I mean, $9 million that will make a great pitch for them
doing some more professional form of TV that might really try to monetize
Donald Trump`s political support in his next act after this election.
That pitch will be bolstered by the true blue evidence that Donald Trump
does attract viewership as a political figure. We just got in the final
viewing numbers for Wednesday night`s debate, 72 million people. The
combination of him and Hillary Clinton is a very popular thing on TV.
That`s a really, really, really large number for a third presidential
I mean, the most watched presidential debate in history was the first
Clinton/Trump debate this year. Second most watched presidential debate in
history was 1980, Carter/Reagan. They only had one debate that year. But
the third most watched debate ever was this one we just had on Wednesday
So, two of the three most watched debates in history were Clinton/Trump.
They`re blowing the roof off. So, if you`re looking at numbers like that
and you`re also looking at the polls right now, you got to think that like
the Sportsman Channel is super psyched.
They`re imagining like Donald Trump in a duck blind might be coming soon
and it`s going to be mammoth. I mean, if he does want this to be a prelude
to some new TV career, today`s news was really, really good news for Donald
If, however, he wants this campaign to be the lead-up to not a TV career
but to a public service career, today`s news was basically as bad as it
could be. And some of that we`ve got exclusively here, next.
MADDOW: More than 4 million Americans have already voted in the
presidential race. Really. Two days ago, it was 2 million, now it`s 4
million. Early voting in 34 states is already under way this week saw long
early voting lines in North Carolina and that`s kind of a good news, bad
news thing, right?
It is inspiring. It`s exciting to see people so psyched to vote. See
these big long lines, high voter enthusiasm, high voter determination.
Also, however, it indicates a shortage of polling locations for the first
week of early voting, right? It`s exciting that the lines are long and
it`s also not necessarily good that the lines are so long. They ought to
make it easier for people to vote.
This week, we also saw long lines of people. Look at that, turning out in
the heat to cast ballot ballots for the first week of early voting in
But we do have early voting data from the more than 4 million votes that
have been cast around the country. You can`t open up those ballots. We
can`t tell you who those votes are for literally, but based on party
registration and modeling data, the basic consensus from everybody who is
looking at the 4 million early votes cast thus far is that it`s really good
news for the Democrats.
The Clinton campaign, quote, “has a greater percentage of banked votes,”
meaning votes already cast than President Obama did at this point four
years ago. Looking at the swing states for which we`ve got early voting
data already, Clinton, that means has a higher proportion of the votes that
have been cast already than Obama did at this point in the race in 2012.
You might remember that Obama won the race in 2012 by kind of a lot. So,
that`s good news for the Clinton campaign. It`s terrible news for Donald
Trump, right? There`s no way to undo that. Those votes are banked,
they`re sunk, they`re cast. Nothing else in the campaign can happen that
can affect the advantage that Hillary Clinton has already apparently racked
up at a faster clip than Obama banked votes against Romney in 2012.
So, that`s one piece of bad news today for the Trump campaign, no matter
what they`ve done, they`re already losing.
There`s already a mysterious – there`s also a mysterious piece of bad news
for them, and this – I don`t raise this as a mystery just to pique your
interest. I legitimately don`t know what`s going on here. If know,
But the mysterious news in the last 24 hours is their national political
director has quit and nobody seems to know why. His name`s Jim Murphy. I
don`t know very much about him as a political operative. He says he is not
technically resigning from the Trump campaign but he`s taking, quote, “a
step back” from the campaign for what he describes as personal reasons.
He`s not elaborating on what his personal reasons are. Honestly, if they
are personal, they`re none of our business.
But it is a big deal for a presidential campaign to lose its national
political director 18 days before the election. Doo-wop, right? It`s a
big deal. This is sort of being treated like a side bar human interest,
you know, human relations story for the Trump campaign. Flashing red
lights, bells and whistles, this is not a normal thing.
Philip Bump put it this way at “The Washington Post” today, quote, “For
another campaign, this would be a crisis, but for this campaign it`s a
crisis that`s somewhere toward the middle of a long line of crises. It`s
the guy who lost a finger walking into an emergency room filled with people
who have lost both legs and arms. It`s a problem and a big one, but it`s
not their worst problem.”
But, seriously, that news – the Trump campaign losing its national
political director 2 1/2 weeks before the election, that news arrives on
the same day that we have just learned, that the Clinton campaign has moved
five full-time staffers into the now toss-up swing state of Utah.
That doesn`t make the loss of Trump`s political director any worse of a
story, but that`s a terrible story of competing narratives, right? Trump
loses national political director and no one notices while Clinton staffs
up in Utah because she thinks she can win there. That`s a bad news day for
the Trump campaign.
In addition, we have been monitoring this ongoing interesting sort of
unprecedented saga of newspaper endorsements for this year`s campaign. I
want to again reiterate our request to you, our fair viewers, if you know
of a daily newspaper endorsement for Donald Trump in the general election,
if you know of one anywhere in the country, please sendittorachel.com.
So far, we`ve only been able to find three Trump endorsements from three
obscure little newspapers. One in Santa Barbara, California, one in St.
Joseph, Missouri, and one in Waxahachie, Texas.
Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton has locked up just about every other newspaper
endorsement in the country including the ones from Republican papers and
now newspapers and magazines are having to get creative in order to try to
stand out among the crowd as they endorse Hillary Clinton and come out
against Donald Trump.
Today – did you see this today? The “New York Daily News”, they did not
just reiterate their endorsement of Hillary Clinton today. They decided to
write a 14-chapter long, multi-thousand word indictment of Donald Trump.
I mean, I brought the physical paper so you can get a grasp of this. So, I
want you to see all the pages it takes up in the paper. It`s here on the
front here, right, “Bury Trump in a Landslide,” then on all of these other
Look, this is where they start. They basically – wait, there`s more. Oh,
wait, there`s more. I mean, they basically unload everything they`ve ever
thought or reported against Donald Trump. They say that they hope that
this opus from them will be his political obituary.
It takes up – I mean, I`ve never seen anything like this. And from the
cover, I mean, they`re not just calling for his defeat, they`re calling for
a landslide destruction of him.
Now, I can also report exclusively that on Monday, the “New Yorker”
magazine is going to publish their own epic statement of condemnation for
Trump and support of Hillary Clinton. The newsy non-feature part of the
magazine is called “Talk of the Town”. “Talk of the Town” usually consists
of four or five pieces of news on culture and politics and art.
But in the addition of “The New Yorker” that comes out on Monday, this is
the cover of it we can show you. They have given over the entire section
of the “Talk of the Town” to one big, long article on their feelings about
Trump and their feelings about Clinton. And they denounce Trump with all
of the fervor that almost every other publication in the country has now.
I think what sets apart what the “New Yorker” is about to do is the
thoughtfulness with which they sing Hillary Clinton`s praises.
I`m going to quote from it here and again, we`ve got this exclusively. You
can`t get this anywhere until it comes out on Monday. But we obtained a
sneak preview of it tonight.
Quote, “On November 8th, barring some astonishment, the people of the
United States will, after 240 years, send a woman to the White House. The
election of Hillary Clinton is an event that we will welcome for its
immense historical importance and we`ll greet it with indescribable relief.
It will be especially gratifying to have a woman as commander in chief
after such a sickeningly sexist and racist campaign.
On every issue of consequence, including economic policy, the environment,
foreign affairs, Hillary is a distinctly capable candidate: experienced,
serious, schooled, resilient.
Hillary Clinton`s vision and temperament are the opposite of her opponents.
Her story is about walking through flames and emerging changed, warier and
more determined. We wish that Clinton faced a worthy opponent. She
deserves a less sullied more substantive win.
Electing a female president means imagining new possibilities that a woman
might survive that gauntlet of derision to hold power with confidence,
without apology, to enlarge our notions of authority and hasten an age when
a female president will no longer be exceptional.”
They conclude with. “That is a thrilling possibility for all Americans.”
So again, that`s the “New Yorker” which will publish on Monday. We`ve got
that exclusively tonight.
So, Donald Trump, I think, credit where credit`s due. I think he had a
good Trump TV day. He had a good Trump TV day. A lot of people gave him
money when they watched his web stream on Monday night. Also, a lot of
people watched the debate.
But even though it was a good Trump TV day, it was a terrible, terrible day
in terms of his chances a the presidency, even down to terrible local news
in a New Jersey courtroom today. If Donald Trump somehow defies the
towering odds and does end up getting elected president on November 8th,
the additional bad news he got today, about that prospect of him winning is
about the guy charged with staffing up his administration, his transition
chief has been told that he`s due to testify just after the election in the
criminal trial of two of his top appointees and he was explicitly named in
open court today as basically complicit in the crime for which they are on
So, even if Donald Trump wins, today is still bad news for him because it`s
probably going to be kind of a big distraction, right, for his guy who is
supposed to be in charge of staffing up your under-secretaries of pencils
But that story and much more is still ahead tonight. Stay with us.
MADDOW: So, we`re just talking about how this was a day of very bad
political news for the Trump campaign. There`s actually one other piece of
news to add to that list that you may not have heard today. Weirdly, it is
from the Al Smith dinner last night. The Al Smith dinner not technically
part of the political contest between Trump and Clinton. It`s actually
supposed to be kind of a nice thing. A memento detente, levity, as the two
candidates gibe each other and themselves in this room of incredibly rich
people in penguin suits.
That was last night. But even, I should mention, it didn`t go well for
Trump. The room reacted poorly to a number of the shots that he took at
Hillary Clinton. He ended up getting heckled and jeered and booed as he
finished up his remarks.
It didn`t seem like it went all terribly for Trump last night, though.
Last night on this show we had Minnesota Senator Al Franken, “Saturday
Night Live” veteran Al Franken here. He complimented Mr. Trump in
particular for one of Trump`s jokes that involved Mr. Trump talking about
his wife. And Senator Franken is a guy who knows these things.
This is what Senator Franken said was Donald Trump`s best joke last night.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: You know, the president told me to stop whining, but I really have
to say the media is even more biased this year than ever before. Ever.
You want the proof? Michelle Obama gives a speech, and everyone loves it.
It`s fantastic. They think she`s absolutely great.
My wife Melania gives the exact same speech. And people get on her case.
And I don`t get it. I don`t know why.
And it wasn`t her fault. Stand up, Melania, come on. She took a lot of
Oh, I`m in trouble when I go home tonight. She didn`t know about that one.
Am I okay? Is it okay? Cardinal, please speak to her.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Overall, it was a bad night for Donald Trump, but the al smith
dinner, he did get booed and heckled, but that joke, that joke about his
wife`s plagiarism in her Republican convention speech, that one really did
go over great in the room. Al Franken thought it was a great joke, went
over great in the room, everybody laughed.
It turns out that joke appears to itself be plagiarized. Ahh! This comic
from RJ Matson was done for “Roll Call”, the Capitol Hill newspaper. This
summer, “Michelle Obama gives a speech and everybody loves it. But Melania
gives a speech word for word and somebody – everybody hates it. Why the
It`s pretty much the exact same joke that Trump told last night about
plagiarism. I told you that Donald Trump was having a really bad day. I
MADDOW: So, coming up, we`ve got the details on this very, very bad news
today for the would-be Donald Trump campaign presidential transition chief.
But honestly, I`ve got to tell you, we feel like we`re also waiting on news
tonight from the vice president`s office. And it`s because of this. At a
campaign event in Wilkes-Barre, this afternoon, Vice President Joe Biden
had this to say about Donald Trump when he was talking about the “Access
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOSEPH BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: He said, because I`m
famous, because I`m a star, because I`m a billionaire, I can do things
other people can`t.
What a disgusting assertion for anyone to make. The press always asks me,
don`t I wish I were debating him. No, I wish during high school I could
take him behind the gym. That`s what I wish.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: I wish we were in high school and I could take him behind the gym.
Apology presumably coming from the vice president`s office in three, two –
we`ll be right back.
MADDOW: You know, they`re already building the platform for the
inauguration of the next president of the United States. The election is
two weeks from Tuesday. No matter who is elected two weeks from Tuesday,
that person will be sworn in on that platform on Friday, January 20th, in
In between the election and inauguration day, the candidate who wins will
have to go into overdrive in the transition process. They`ll work with
President Obama`s outgoing administration, they`ll staff up the new
administration, pick up everything from cabinet secretaries to the color of
the new drapes in the Oval Office.
If Donald Trump is the one who wins the election two weeks from Tuesday,
there`s a problem with the person he`s put in charge of what would be his
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Governor, can you say with certainty that someone else didn`t,
on your staff or in your administration, act on your behalf to order those
lane closures for political retribution?
GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: Yes, I have absolutely, absolutely no
reason to believe that, Angie, and I`ve made it very clear to everybody on
my senior staff that, if anyone had any knowledge about this, that they
needed to come forward to me and tell me about it and they`ve all assured
me that they don`t. Oh, yes, I`ve spoken to Mr. Stepien who is in charge
of the campaign and he`s assured me of the same thing. I`ve spoken to
everybody on my staff and asked anybody around here and my campaign manager
if they knew anything more about this that we didn`t already know and they
told me no.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Told me no. I`ve spoke with everybody on my senior staff and my
campaign manager Bill Stepien, and nobody knows anything. New Jersey
Governor Chris Christie fending off reporters` questions in the middle of
what`s become known as the Bridgegate scandal, the scandal for which three
of his top staffers or appointees, were hit with felony criminal charges.
Well, today, at the trial for two of those staffers and appointees, a
longtime Chris Christie adviser testified that he told Governor Christie
before that press conference that, in fact, his stop staff did know about
what was happening on that bridge. He says he told Governor Christie that
his deputy chief of staff and his campaign manager both knew about it.
And he says he told Christie that right before Christie told the public
that they didn`t know anything about it.
His deputy chief of staff also testified herself today. She says before
she sent that e-mail that said time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee,
before she sent that e-mail she testified she got the okay to do so from
Governor Christie himself, personally and directly. She ran it by him.
She also testified that she is personally physically afraid of Governor
Christie. She broke down in tears on the stand while she recounted him
swearing at her and throwing stuff at her, and that`s next.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
REPORTER: It was a story of what happened after the huge boardwalk fire in
Seaside Heights. Kelly at the governor`s side, told to arrange a
roundtable with hurting businessmen. As she briefed the governor
beforehand, Kelly, quote, “He had a water bottle in his hand and said what
do you think I am, an F-word game show host? And he threw the water
bottle,” she says. “And I moved out of the way. He, meaning the bottle,
hit my arm.”
The attorney, “a big tough guy, right?” Kelly crying, “Yeah”.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MADDOW: There are no cameras in the courtroom, so we count on excellent
reporters to read us out on what happened. Dude, what happened here?
Joining us now is Andrea Bernstein for WNYC News. She was there in the
Andrea, thank you for being here.
ANDREA BERNSTEIN, WNYC: Sure.
MADDOW: I know throwing the water bottle thing is essential here. What`s
up with throwing the water bottle?
BERNSTEIN: So, throwing the water bottle was meant to show that Christie -
- she was afraid of Christie.
MADDOW: This is deputy chief of staff.
BERNSTEIN: It is his deputy chief of staff and the incident was at this
event, where she had organized some businesses and commissioners and she
was briefing him beforehand. She said, “Governor, I think you should
welcome everybody, then let the commissioners talk to the businessmen who
have just lost everything again for the second time.” And he said, “What
do you think I am, an f`ing game show host,” according to testimony and
threw the bottle. She was just sobbing throughout this.
I mean, she was mostly composed. There were times when she choked up
during her testimony. But she was just crying right to the jury when she
MADDOW: She also testified that before she sent what is the most famous
piece of evidence in this scandal, “Time for some traffic problems in Fort
Lee,” that e-mail. She said she ran it by Governor Christie.
BERNSTEIN: She did. She said it was a very poor choice of words. That
she had been parroting David Wildstein who was the mastermind behind all of
this, and he was cooperating, the prosecutors. She said – he had raised
the idea that he wanted to do a study and it was going to cause big traffic
jams and could she tell the governor.
She said she was afraid not to, that if there was a problem, it would be
blamed on her. She went to the governor that day and said that David
Wildstein wanted to do a study in Fort Lee and it was going to cause
traffic jams and he said, OK, fine. What`s our relationship with the
mayor? And she said she was embarrassed because she actually didn`t know
what the relationship at that time was with the mayor of Fort Lee.
MADDOW: So what this means in terms of sort of culpability on who knew
what when is that Christie knew ahead of time that there were going to be
traffic problems in Fort Lee.
MADDOW: That they were man made traffic problems.
BERNSTEIN: Which is contra to everything he said.
MADDOW: In addition, another Christie staffer or top ally of Governor
Christie testified today that before Christie went out and told reporters
in December, I`ve checked with all my senior staff on the governor`s side
and I checked my campaign manager, nobody knew anything about this. He
says that he told Governor Christie right before that, actually senior
BERNSTEIN: Minutes before it.
MADDOW: Minutes before it.
BERNSTEIN: Minutes before the press conference when Governor Christie went
out and said that, four minutes before that, he went out and said that
there were e-mails that had his staffers name on it, including his campaign
manager Bill Stepien, who is now national field director for Donald Trump.
But his testimony was eclipsed by the testimony of Bridget Kelly, who has
flipped the narrative. And she said, I was the one without the power here.
I was the one who wasn`t told this was a retaliatory scheme.
BERNSTEIN: They put me in the position of sending these e-mails and
carrying it out, but I didn`t know what was going on. And it was big guys,
according to her testimony, the governor, his chief of staff and his
campaign manager who were ordering retaliation, and she described in detail
a retaliatory scheme against another mayor, the mayor of Jersey City, in
which the governor allegedly said he doesn`t, he`s not entitled to an f-ing
meeting. A lot of cursing in the Bridgegate trial.
MADDOW: I`m shocked by.
MADDOW: I`m not shocked by the cursing. I am shocked by the throwing.
BERNSTEIN: If it`s true, not only were the governor`s top aides involved,
but they have participated in a big cover-up of what happened.
MADDOW: And he lied about it directly.
BERNSTEIN: Andrea Bernstein, WNYC News senior editor and Bridgegate trial
watcher for us this evening – Andrea, thanks for being here.
MADDOW: Thank you.
Lots ahead tonight. Stay with us.
MADDOW: You know what? It`s Friday. We`re going to end the show with
something weird tonight. It`s something we have never done before. I`ve
never done it in my life before, let alone on TV before.
It`s taken me a couple of days to get the nerve for it. I have 50 percent
confident it`s going to work. But you know what? It`s Friday. We`re
going to try. OK? OK.
MADDOW: OK. You`re one of those families that has a big, extended family,
and you do a big extended family reunion every year, and it`s always a
little nuts. It doesn`t sound like a prison riot or anything, but it may
vary either, it`s the managed chaos of a big sprawling family reunion with
lots of activities for everyone.
There`s always a big tug-of-war every year, where we always do a treasure
hunt for the kids, somebody always organizes a pie-eating contest, which is
always a mess. Everybody gets family reunion t-shirts.
But then one year, a cousin who everybody`s aware, but has never been to a
family reunion before, that cousin decides to show up for the first time,
and that`s nice. It`s a big extended family after all. It`s to have new
folks show up who you have not gotten to know before.
But then it gets a little weird with the new cousin. The new cousin, for
example, sees what`s going on with the t-shirts and the pie-eating contest
and he decides, oh, this is sort of transactional and he decides he`s going
to start trying to sell people stuff, like cheesy pyramid scheme stuff like
grow-well or whatever.
And everybody thinks, oh, that`s tacky, you know, your family reunion, kind
of brush him off. But then he starts swearing at the kids who are doing
the treasure hunt, making fun of the kids, calling the kids insulting
nicknames, not in a cute way but a mean way.
And then the tug-of-war starts, he doesn`t take a side on the tug-of-war.
He waits until everybody starts, and then he comes up and he cuts the rope.
He thinks that`s hilarious, ruins it for everybody.
This new cousin, he`s starting to sort of change the whole vibe of the
whole thing. But, you know, you`ve been doing this for years and you think
one creepy cousin can`t stop this whole event, something always goes a
little weird. Sometimes people get drunk, sometimes people have family
fights. It`s not like you can`t take a little bad behavior in our
rambunctious family reunion every year.
But then, you know, it just keeps taking darker turns, because then the guy
makes a pass at somebody`s wife, he gets called out on it, laughs it off
and says he was joking. Then he goes up to another woman and grabs her,
tries to kiss her. And it`s starting to get to the point where nobody
knows what to do with this guy, and he`s yelling, what are you going to do?
Call the cops on me?
This is a family reunion. I`m family. You can`t call the cops on me.
This whole family has always rejected me and hated me. You`re biased
against me, and everybody feels bad for a second, right? Family reunion,
you wonder if somehow you`re not giving him a fair shake because you`re not
used to this guy.
But then you know what? He pulls out a weapon. In this story, he pulls
out a blender for your fruits and vegetables family. And so, yes, you have
to call the cops.
And that`s my best explanation for what happened this week in the
presidential campaign when Donald Trump said he refused to say if he would
accept the results of this year`s presidential election when he said on
election night, quote, “I`ll just keep you in suspense.”
The democratic process of choosing our leaders in this family, it`s not a
family reunion, right? It`s more contentious than that. And sometimes it
does feel more like a riot than a tug-of-war.
But we conduct ourselves and our democratic process, with an understanding
that we are part of an ongoing chain of events, an ongoing permanent
process that preceded us and will continue much like this when we`re gone.
We can handle bad behavior. We can handle somebody peeing in the
proverbial punch bowl one year.
What we cannot handle is somebody threatening to kill what we have built.
We cannot incorporate someone in this process who wants to end this
process, who wants to make this event something that might never happen
again because who`s going to bring their kids and their families and old
folks and their real problem-solving needs into something that is dangerous
or somebody`s going to end in jail or in the hospital by the end of it.
When you jeopardize this event from ever happening again, that`s it. We
can all stop feeling bad about the fact that you are never, ever getting
invited back, extended family or not. That`s the way I understand it.
And that does it for us tonight. We will see you again.
Now, it`s time for “THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL.”
Good evening, Lawrence.
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