The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 11/14/2016
Show: THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW
Date: November 14, 2016
Guest: Jaime Harrison
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chris. Can I see you in a few
CHRIS HAYES, “ALL IN” HOST: Absolutely.
MADDOW: Looking forward to it.
All right. And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour. Happy
All right. Here`s how it starts. It starts with a mad scientist. A mad
scientist who looks just like Val Kilmer because, you know what? Oh, my
God, its Val Kilmer. There`s Val Kilmer and he`s a mad scientist.
Also, there are a bunch of people in a steam room.
Now, handily, for the purposes of this movie, there are all handsome people
in the steam room and they are very sweaty and they`re wearing almost
nothing and they`re lit in an attractive, summery kind of way. They also
smolder at each other when they need to.
The mad scientist turns up, he has taken those six people in the steam room
and he is holding them hostage in the steam room. He`s making the steam
room hotter and hotter and hotter and he says he`s going to keep making it
hotter and hotter and hotter unless – unless the newspaper publishes his
crazed, deranged, mad scientist, insane theory.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why are you here?
VAL KILMER: Hundreds of millions are going to die. That`s a fact.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hundreds of millions of people will die. How?
KILMER: Global warming.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That`s his insane theory. Global warming. See, he`s insane. And
he`s going to kill those very attractive sweaty people in the steam room in
order to get his deranged way of publicizing his crazy theory but not
before somebody has to rip off their bikini top.
The executive producer of that spectacular achievement in bathing suited
American cinema has now just learned that he just got a very, very fancy
I should also mention the executive producer of the steam room thing is
also the producer of a new film that just came out this year which
celebrates the oldest guy from the “Duck Dynasty” TV show, it celebrates
him as literally, I kid you not, a living prophet here on earth. It`s
called “The Torchbearer” and he, the guy with the beard, he is the
torchbearer. Mr. Robertson may look like a guy who sells duck calls, but
this documentary basically proves that God has sent him here to show us on
earth the light and the truth and the way he speaks for Jesus.
I highly recommend that you watch the video trailer for the Val Kilmer
steam experiment, global warming is only for mad scientist thing. I do
highly recommend that you watch that trailer.
At the same time, I highly recommend that you do not watch the trailer for
the Phil Robertson is a living religious prophet thing because don`t – if
you`re tempted to look it up, I`m not going to stop you.
But I got to tell you, even just in the two-minute trailer for the “Duck
Dynasty” guy for that movie, there is a lot of killing and I don`t mean
stylized killing, they show people being beheaded. There`s a ton of Nazi
footage. There are multiple real executions shown just in the trailer,
including somebody being run over and crushed to death by a tank. So,
unless that`s your sort of thing, you probably don`t want to go there with
the “Duck Dynasty” guy as a living religious prophet documentary.
But, you know, if you are looking for an emotional punch to get your
message through in your documentary, shocking people by showing them actual
murders, that`s one way to achieve it, and that`s what the filmmaker has
chosen to do in the one about the “Duck Dynasty” guy.
The same movie producer also created a film called “The Undefeated”, and
that`s an unlikely title for a movie about Alaska Governor Sarah Palin.
“The Undefeated” was, in fact, made right after she was defeated in her
effort to become vice president of the United States, followed shortly
thereafter by her quitting her day job as the not quite one term governor
But the man who produced the Sarah Palin movie and called it “The
Undefeated”, he`s the same guy who produced the “Phil Robertson is a
prophet and here`s snuff film footage to prove it” movie. He`s the same
guy the Val Kilmer, mad scientist global warming movie with all of the
people in bathing suits in the steam room. And that guy really did just
get a gigantic promotion.
Interesting, interesting career. Before his Hollywood days, he also had
his own minor mad scientist moment when for a time he took over the
management of something called Biosphere 2, which you may remember from the
`90s. Biosphere 2 is basically a human terrarium set up in the Arizona
desert where people pretended for months on end that they were on Mars.
During his time running that operation when it was reportedly losing about
a million dollars a month, Biosphere 2, our hero admitted in a lawsuit
filed against him at the time that indeed he had called one of the
Biosphere 2 residents a bimbo and he had told her to her face that when it
came to her safety concerns about the project, he told her he would, quote,
“ram them down your f`ing throat.” Although he didn`t say f`ing.
So, it sounds like that was a nice work environment he created when he was
running the Biosphere 2 project. The allegations from the lawsuit and what
he admitted to saying to the person who is working for him in that lawsuit,
that took on a darker tone a couple years later in 1996 when a woman who
was his wife at the time called police on New Year`s Day in Los Angeles and
claimed that he had attacked her. His wife told the responding officers
that he grabbed her both by the wrists and by the neck.
According to the police report, she told the responding officers that she
ran away from him and into their home to try to call police. She told the
officers he chased her into the house after she had grabbed – after she
had dialed 911, he grabbed the phone out of her hand, threw it across the
room and shattered it. In fact, the police report says the department only
responded to that call as a silent 911 call. They could tell somebody had
911, but they couldn`t tell for what reason, because in fact when the
police turned up, the phone was shattered and in pieces.
The police report says the officers did observe red marks around the
woman`s neck. And red marks on her wrists and prosecutors did file
domestic violence and battery charges against him.
They also charged him with seeking to prevent a crime victim or witness
from reporting that crime to authorities. That ends up being a really key
part of this because there was an arraignment. The man was brought up on
these charges in March 1996. He pled not guilty to all of these charges.
But his wife claimed in court documents that her husband had threatened her
specifically, and threatened repercussions against their kids, if she
showed up in court to testify him – excuse me – to testify against him on
those charges. So the police – she called 911. The police showed up.
The police documented what they documented about those charges.
Prosecutors chose to bring charges against him, including him trying to
intimidate his wife, a witness, into not being able to pursue those
And his wife says, after the charges were filed, in fact he threatened her
and their kids if she showed up in court for when he was going to face
trial and in fact when his court date came up for him to face trial, his
wife mysteriously could not be located. She did not appear at the trial.
And so, without the witness there, without her able to testify as a
witness, prosecutors had no choice but to drop those charges and that`s how
that case went away.
Over the following decade, he and his wife continued to tangle over money
and child custody and ultimately divorce. On court filings related to the
divorce in 2007, his wife said one of the reasons they had a hard time
deciding where their child should go to school, is because he felt like too
many Los Angeles area private schools just had too many Jews in them. She
described him asking the director of one Los Angeles area prep school,
quote, “Why there were so many Hanukkah books in the library”. Another
school was allegedly not to his liking because it, quote, “used to be a
temple”, meaning a Jewish temple.
The couple did ultimately decide on a middle school and high school for
their daughters, but only over his alleged complaints that, quote, “the
biggest problem he had with another school was the number of Jews that
attends”. He says that he doesn`t like Jews and he doesn`t like the way he
raises their kids to be whiny brats and he doesn`t want the girls going to
school with Jews.
And that is the guy who Donald Trump has now named to be his chief
strategist and senior counselor in the White House. His name is Steve
Bannon. We have reported on him extensively on this show ever since Donald
Trump named him to be campaign CEO earlier this year.
Part of the reason we have focused on him is because Trump hiring somebody
like that for any job on the campaign, let alone the top one, sort of
begged the question as to whether or not the Trump campaign was running
background checks on the people they were hiring.
Now that he`s not just working on the campaign now, he`s going to be in the
Oval Office, serving the position that the Trump folks are describing as
equal to the White House chief of staff. Now I really want to know if they
are doing background checks.
This summer at the Republican National Convention, Steve Bannon told
reporters Sarah Posner at “Mother Jones,” that at his old job running a
website called Breitbart.com, he had created, quote, “the platform for the
alt-right.” Alt-right is, of course, a euphemistic term that has not been
around very long. Breitbart.com interestingly, under Steve Bannon, they
ran a long, sympathetic profiler, self-explainer, last year, where they
described the constituent parts of the alt-right movement and its leading
Again, Steve Bannon describes his own website, describes breitbart.com as
the platform for the alt-right. In their explainer about what the alt-
right is, the Breitbart website describes this guy with the trendy haircut
as the, quote, “center of alt-right thought.”
This is a man named Richard Spencer who we`ve also covered a number of
times on this show. Richard Spencer and other leading lights of the alt-
right movement, they held their own press conference in September in
Washington, D.C., to clarify for everybody what the alt-right is and what
they stand for. Steve Bannon at Breitbart.com had given the alt-right all
of this new publicity, all of this attention that comes with having
somebody who represents you who says they run the platform for the al-
right, having them operating at such a high-level of national politics.
Steve Bannon, new senior counsel to the president elect, describes himself
as having created the online platform for the alt-right. So that platform,
his publication describes, Richard Spencer is at the center of alt-right
thought. Richard Spencer freely admits that his goal as the center of the
alt-right thought, his goal is to create a whites-only homeland in the
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PETER BRIMELOW: Richard is probably the most radical of any of the three
of us here. He just said he wants to a white homeland. A white identity.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: A lot of mainstream publications today are having a hard time
coming up with the right way to describe who is going to be this Karl Rove
figure in the Trump White House. The senior counselor who President-elect
Trump has named to be his top adviser and, again, they are being explicit,
equal in status with the White House chief of staff.
You can sort of feel, viscerally feel the discomfort in the beltway media
referring to him as a white nationalist, or a person who comes from the
white nationalist corner of conservative media and conservative propaganda.
But that really is true. That is documented. That is in his own terms the
way he has characterized his own work, up until the point where he left it
to go run the Trump campaign.
Or did he leave that work to go run the Trump campaign? We don`t actually
Steve Bannon has disclosed none of his financial information either, much
like President-elect Trump himself. We don`t know if Steve Bannon still
has ties to the white nationalist alt-right platform that he created at
Breitbart.com. Will he keep running that media outlet or will he keep a
financial interest in that media outlet while also running the Oval Office?
Can you do that?
And while we`re on that subject, a further update and almost unbelievable
update to a sort of surprising development we started covering right at the
end of last week, which is the certainly unprecedented, definitely
astonishing dual role that Donald Trump has appeared to have assigned to
three of his children, simultaneously on Friday, the Trump folks announced
that Mr. Trump`s eldest three children would be taking over his share of
the family business, which means they will continue to run the family
business while Mr. Trump is president-elect. All other presidents in the
modern era have put their assets in a blind trust.
Trump is not planning on doing that. He`s keeping his family business his
family business and his kids are going to keep operating it while he is
president. We learned that simultaneously on Friday, along with the news,
that those same Trump kids will also be brought on board in a formal role
setting up the Trump administration as part of the transition effort. So,
they are going to be running the Trump family business and they are helping
set up the Trump administration with formal roles on the transition team.
NBC News has confirmed as well tonight that in addition to all of that, in
addition to them running the business and helping set up the administration
on the transition team, Donald Trump has already requested top secret
security clearances for all of his children. Did I mention that they are
still running the Trump family business?
NBC News now reports that Mr. Trump has requested top secret security
clearances for his three eldest children. If the Obama administration and
the intelligence community decides to grant those clearances, that would
allow them access to top secret national security information between now
and the inauguration.
The Trump campaign says that Ivanka, Don Jr. and Eric will be unpaid
national security advisers to their father and that`s why they need
security clearances now during the transition.
If that doesn`t pass muster with the Obama administration and the
intelligence community right now, however, don`t worry. Once Donald Trump
is sworn in as president in January, he won`t have to ask anybody for the
permission to do that. He can just make that decision himself
unilaterally. He could clear them all the way up to presidential level
information if he wants to, while they are running his business.
Today, CBS reported that not only former President George W. Bush and
former President George H.W. Bush placed congratulatory phone calls to
President-elect Trump. They also reported today that Trump also received a
congratulatory phone call from Jeb Bush and he apparently received a
congratulatory phone call from Mitt Romney as well.
Everybody`s wishing him all the best. Even the people who were so opposed
to him. Everybody`s wishing him all the best, as if this is a normal time,
as if this is the normal start to a presidency, as if this is not already
what he is doing with the tiny little taste of power that he has gotten so
And for the last few days, a lot of people, I think for good reasons,
right, for civic-minded reasons, for big-hearted reasons, optimistic
reasons, a lot of people – a lot of smart people have been saying, give
him the benefit of the doubt. Let`s see what he does.
We are now seeing what he`s doing. More on him.
Stay with us.
MADDOW: So this is an unusual development. As you know, the president-
elect visited the White House along with his wife Melania last Thursday.
His son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who is now serving an official role on the
presidential transition team, on that Thursday visit, Jared Kushner was
apparently also part of the Trump`s entourage on their visit to the White
And Mr. Kushner apparently left a real impression while he was there. “The
L.A. Times” says that he drew notice from Obama`s staff when he asked as
they toured the West Wing how many of the individuals there would remain
into the next administration.
None of them. No. Did you ever see that TV show, “The West Wing”, it sort
of – none of them stay. The West Wing – when the president leaves, all
of the president`s staff, whoop, out the door. You`re supposed to bring in
all new people. The West Wing staff will all leave when President Obama
leaves and the Trump transition team apparently doesn`t know that. Woo-
“The L.A. Times” also reports that there was supposed to be a follow-up
meeting after the initial meeting on Thursday, there was supposed to be a
substantive following up meeting the next day between the White House
transition staff and the Trump transition staff but the Trump folks
canceled it. They didn`t feel like doing it.
Something does appear to be sort of going wrong here with some of the basic
parts of the transition period, which, again, is not that long of period,
right? It`s a really steep learning curve. You have to do a lot.
All of the presidential staff really does leave. You have to hire 4,000
people. That`s not even talking about your cabinet, right? And something
does appear to be going wrong with this.
NBC`s Andrea Mitchell reported today that as of today, the Trump transition
team had made no contact with the State Department or the CIA or the
Department of Homeland Security or the Pentagon. All of those departments,
they`ve all got there`s transition folks ready to go. They`re ready to
start handing stuff off. They have reached out to the Trump campaign but
no interest so far from the Trump folks, no comment.
The Pentagon, the Defense Department isn`t getting their calls returned.
The CIA isn`t getting their calls returned. They are ready and willing to
go. They`ve reached out. Nothing.
As for Mr. Trump himself, “The Wall Street Journal” reports today on
something that I don`t quite know what to do with. I`ll just read to you
how they reported it.
Quote, “During their private White House meeting on Thursday, Mr. Obama
walked his successor through the duties of running the country and Mr.
Trump seemed surprise by the scope. After meeting with Mr. Trump,
President Obama realized the Republican needs more guidance. He plans to
spend more time with his successor than presidents typically do.”
And if that`s true, that is a nice thing for President Obama to be doing.
It also puts a whole different cast not just on what President Obama wants
to do in the next 66 days to cement his legacy, it puts a cast on how much
help, what kind of training wheels he may need to provide for those folks
who are coming in next who don`t think it`s important to return a call from
the Pentagon who apparently as late as last week had no idea that they were
responsible for staffing up the whole White House.
I don`t know what Obama is going to do with his lame duck period. I`m
quite sure he didn`t plan on it having to be this.
We`ve got more on that straight ahead. Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: He is coming to this office
with fewer set, hard and fast policy prescriptions than a lot of other
presidents might be arriving with. I don`t think he is ideological. I
think ultimately, he`s pragmatic in that way and that can serve him well as
long as he`s got good people around him and he has a clear sense of
Do I have concerns? Absolutely. Of course, I`ve got concerns.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Joining us now is the host of “ALL IN” here on MSNBC, the good and
great Chris Hayes.
Chris, thank you for being here.
HAYES: Oh, it`s my pleasure.
MADDOW: I`m enjoying talking to you about these things. I feel – A, I
trust your judgment and, B, I feel like having an ongoing dialogue about
this stuff as it happens on a day to day basis is clarifying for me.
HAYES: Yes, it`s a little like, it`s like you`re just like checking in
MADDOW: Yes. Exactly.
HAYES: Because, you know, Masha Gessen was writing about, you know, and
this is not to say this is the way things go in the U.S. She was writing
about sort of Russia and Putin and the way that your radar screen system
HAYES: Like bats, they echo locate and they send out these beams, there`s
a wall there and all of a sudden, because of the side you`re in and the way
that the leader of the country is using the media, you can start to lose
your bearings. There`s a real thing it happens. It happens in Turkey and
it`s important to be constantly checking in.
MADDOW: Checking in, yes.
HAYES: OK. Where are we now? Where are we on day five? Where are we on
MADDOW: It seems to me where we are this day, I mean, there`s a million
things that this can go. But, obviously, he`s promising to start deporting
2 million to 3 million people as of day one. He`s got the most hard-lined
people, hard-lined anti-immigrant people on board for his transition team.
That seems for real. He`s also done this remarkable thing with his kids.
HAYES: You know, when you go back and you look at the coverage up to the
election, it was really underappreciated the unique challenge that would be
posed by the fact that here`s a person who runs a business empire behind
the cloak of a private corporation, who is then going to be president of
the United States, and as Rudy Giuliani said, with very little actual
statutory restrictions on what he could do.
HAYES: All of those are essentially norms. The norm is you put in a blind
trust. He`s violating that.
MADDOW: The norm is you release your tax returns.
HAYES: The norm is you release – so, look, the potential here for
corruption and for conflict of interest is unlike anything we have ever
seen. And that`s not a hyperbolic statement. Maybe they will be absolute
boy scouts about it. But the fact of the matter is, any interest who wants
to curry the favor to the president of the United States can use the
vehicle of the Trump Organization to do so. We`ll have very little insight
into what that organization is doing. Vice versa, he can use the
organization to pay off favors for political favors that he needs.
So, the idea that these folks are going to be brought in, the kids, and
play this kind of dual role, like advising dad in the morning about matters
of state and judgment.
MADDOW: National security.
HAYES: And getting in the car to the Trump Org offices down at the Trump
Hotel around the block to talk about what the Trump board is doing. There
has never been anything remotely, remotely like this.
MADDOW: How does the security clearances development play into that for
HAYES: So, that to me is – here`s what I think has been clear all along.
He doesn`t have close trust advisers other than his family. It is a family
business. They`re the people he trusts. They`re the people that run the
He`s now got a new job. It`s a hard job. You rely on the people that you
trust before you got the job after you got the job to rely on them and do
the job, they would have to have security clearances, right, because if
he`s having a decision that he needs to make, matters of national security,
he`s going to want to go to the people who he has trusted all along for his
own kin who are the folks that he`s most comfortable with.
HAYES: So it makes perfect sense –
MADDOW: From his point of view, yes.
HAYES: – that these people are going to be running a private business,
that is a business entity with the name of the president of the United
States with business dealings around the world, in hot spots that could be
in conflict with American foreign policy, that could be in conflict with
American military policy and strategy.
I mean, just the sheer scope of it has never been – we have not
comprehended it yet. It`s never happened and no one has gotten their head
around it yet, but just this little bit of news, oh, I`ve got security
clearance. Sure, I guess that makes sense. Just shows like what – what
has been opened up here.
MADDOW: And President Obama and the intelligence community now under
President Obama have to decide whether or not they are going to say yes to
that. I have to say I feel a little different than I usually do about
President Obama leaving on this overseas trip to go to Germany and Greece
and Peru now that it`s been reported that he`s going to spend more time
with the president-elect than an outgoing president usually would. He
realizes he needs a lot of help. He`s concerned about his ability
apparently to handle the transition, I like, does Peru really need you more
than we do right now? Maybe you should stay.
HAYES: And this is something that I learned in the years that I reported
on the White House in Washington, D.C. And I should say that, you know, my
wife worked in the administration, in the first day of the Obama
administration and folks that I know have worked in various
administrations, Republican and Democrat, the learning curve is steep. No
one`s prepared for it.
Even just getting your head around the NSC process, like the NSC process
MADDOW: National Security Council, yes.
HAYES: The National Security Council process itself was an incredibly sort
of statutory to describe, and that itself is a whole like Rubik`s cube to
solve, OK? You`ve got people coming in who just, I mean, even Reince
Priebus who`s the sort of seasoned hand here like doesn`t –
MADDOW: No experience in governing whatsoever.
HAYES: So, you`re talking about literally the hardest job in the world
this individual is going to do with the least preparation for it in the
history of the country. Those are the two combinations that are happening
here and the potential for it to go sideways and I don`t mean sideways and
the knock of the door and people are getting rounded up. I mean sheer
competence just falling apart, there`s like very significant potential for
MADDOW: My single favorite thing on that today, Mike Pence is technically
in charge of the transition now. Mike Pence announced today that he`s
staying on governor as Indiana until January 9th.
HAYES: I saw that, too.
MADDOW: It`s not like he`s busy to work on.
Chris Hayes, thank you, my friend. Can I see you tomorrow?
MADDOW: You`re my lifeline at this point. You guys can stay here with me
and Chris, too. You`ll find us at the same bat time, same bat channel.
Also, we drink more.
See you in a minute.
MADDOW: If you have any desire to be the most powerful Democrat in the
United States of America, now is the time to raise your hand.
Republicans have just had their best election since 1920-something, which
means Democrats are now compete fog are a chance to lead their party up the
steepest hill you can imagine since before movies had sound.
Minnesota Congressman Keith Ellison has officially announced his bid today
after a few days of speculation that he would jump in and a statement of
support from the top Democratic in the Senate, Charles Schumer.
Former Vermont governor, former presidential candidate Howard Dean has
already said he`s in the race as well. A bunch of other people`s names
have been floated so far.
But tonight, there is one more name to throw in to this mix. He`s not the
most obvious choice. I think he`s an intriguing choice. He brings a
really, really, really interesting biography and a really interesting set
of experience to this job potentially he`s also going to be here tonight
live in the studio to announce his bid to lead the Democratic Party.
And, yes, I`m going to keep you in suspense until then. I`m not telling
you who it is. Ha! Because that`s become fun to do that, because nobody
has figured it out. The suspense will end soon, in just a moment. I have
a lot of questions for him.
Stay with us.
MADDOW: You might reasonably think that given how difficult the
presidential transition is turning out to be, you might think that
President-elect Mike Pence would be clearing his card, focusing on his new
role as chairman of the transition effort. You might think that. You`d be
As I just talked about with my friend Chris Hayes, Vice President-elect
Mike Pence is as of today, planning on staying on as governor of Indiana
until his term formally ends on January 9th. He`s staying on as the full-
time governor of Indiana until just 11 days before the Trump administration
takes office while he is simultaneously supposed to be running the whole
Trump transition effort.
Why is Mike Pence doing that? I don`t know. But it appears that Governor
Pence does have some loose ends that he`s maybe trying to tie up before he
heads to Washington.
“The Indianapolis Star` is now reporting that Governor Pence has decided to
wage a court battle back home with everything else he`s dealing with,
decided to wage a court battle back home to try to keep some of his e-mails
secret. This comes out of a lawsuit that Indiana filed against the Obama
administration on the issue of immigration. Mike Pence is now fighting in
court to keep his e-mail related to that lawsuit secret and hidden from the
public. Hillary Clinton online for you too, Governor.
I should note that this is not the only time that Mike Pence has been
notably private about his public stuff. Before Mr. Pence became governor
of Indiana, he was a U.S. congressman for a long time. He was in Congress
for 12 years.
All of his papers from his time in Congress have been shelved at Indiana
University in Bloomington. This is all of his papers. He made the
decision to do this. It spans more than a decade of his public life.
It`s apparently a lot of content, 30 cartons of documents and lots more of
electronic records spanning 12 years of his time in public life, but
Governor Pence has made a remarkable decision that those congressional
records, those papers from his time in Congress will be sealed with no
public access until December 2022 or until he dies, which ever comes later.
And honestly, the weirdest part about all of that is that Mike Pence didn`t
have a consequential time in Congress. He wasn`t involved in super high-
level decisions. Mike Pence was in Congress for 12 years but he literally
never had a bill become law. He had one bill clear committee one that was
to scrap limits on an individual`s aggregate campaign limits but that one
didn`t even pass, it just died a little later than everything else he
proposed in Congress.
So, I`m sure not alone in thinking, what could possibly be in those
documents that they have to be held under seal until you`re dead?
As the plan stands now, we might not know until he dies or he could decide
now to open them to the public. People maintaining in those archives that
that`s all it would take. They would happily renegotiate with him if he
wanted to allow that stuff to be made available to the public.
Maybe this would be a good time to do that. Why should those records be
sealed, particularly given this new job?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: I believe that we have better ideas but I also believe that good
ideas don`t matter if people don`t hear them. And one of the issues that
we have to be clear on is that given population distribution across the
country, we have to compete everywhere. We have to show up everywhere.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: President Obama today weighing in on an age-old fight within the
Democratic Party about how to win back the vote from the Republican Party,
particularly after you`ve lost a lot of it. It was not that long ago that
one Democratic leader tried to do that during the Democratic presidential
primary when he shocked pretty much everybody by shelling out 4,500 folks
for a rally in the very, very red state of Louisiana.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D), VERMONT: People told me that Louisiana was a
conservative state. Guess not.
I think my colleagues in the Democratic Party have made a very, very
serious mistake. And that is, they have kind of written off half of
America including Louisiana.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That was Bernie Sanders early on in the Democratic primary. That
was July 2015.
The following spring, spring 2016, after Hillary Clinton had beaten Senator
Sanders not just in Louisiana but across the South, Senator Sanders`
defense of senators in the South started to wane a little bit.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SANDERS: You know, we started off this campaign having to run in the Deep
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Trust me, I know about running in the Deep South.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That ain`t the thing to do. You don`t –
SANDERS: It`s a pretty – yeah, it`s a conservative part of our country
people say why does Iowa go first, New Hampshire go first?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yeah.
SANDERS: But I think that having so many Southern states go first distorts
reality as well.
Let me acknowledge – let me acknowledge what is absolutely truth.
Secretary Clinton cleaned our clock in the Deep South. No question about
it. We got murdered there. That is the most conservative part of this
great country. That`s a fact.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
MADDOW: We got murdered in the southern Democratic primaries because it`s
the most conservative part of this country. Democratic votes in southern
states distort reality.
When Bernie Sanders started making those arguments about the Democratic
primary, it caused some leaders in the South to say, hold on, don`t blame
us essentially. A number of Democratic Party chairs from Southern states
wrote a fairly scathing letter which they basically criticized Senator
Sanders, but also anybody in the party who wouldn`t take Democratic votes
in the South seriously.
Quote, “You argue that the south is the most conservative part of America,
implying states that traditionally vote Republican in the general election
are not worth contesting in a Democratic primary. In this year`s primaries
in the Southern states, South Carolina, Georgia, Mississippi, Louisiana,
Alabama, North Carolina, African-Americans represented between 31 and 71
percent of the Democratic electorate. To dismiss the importance of this
region is to minimize the importance of the voices of a core constituency
for our party.
We must continue winning states like Virginia and North Carolina, and we
can`t write off states like Tennessee and Georgia, even Texas could turn
blue in less than a generation.
And beyond the presidential race there are important statewide and other
federal races happening every cycle, boosting Democrats` chances in those
seats is vital to enacting a progressive agenda at the local level. This
can only happen if we show up, speak to the region`s needs and compete for
every vote, even in the face of long odds. That`s how change really
Now, to be clear, this letter from the southern Democratic chair, it was
written in support of Hillary Clinton during the primary. But the closing
line here seems particularly applicable today for the Democratic Party
given what it`s facing right now.
Quote, “To be the leader of the party, you have to be with Democrats in all
states as well. That includes the ones you won and, yes, even the ones you
Democratic Party`s in dire straits right now. Whatever plan the party had
before, it did not work for holding the White House, for gaining the
Senate, let alone for making any considerable progress in the House.
Democrats are in bad shape after this election. That`s even more true
down-ballot in the states.
But is this kind of thinking put forward in April by the Southern
Democrats, focusing on the grassroots, progressive work at the local level
to build up the Democratic base from the ground up, even in traditionally
in Republican regions, does that make the most sense for the party as a
whole moving forward?
One of the state party leaders who signed that letter back in April, that I
think landmark letter, is named Jamie Harrison.
Jamie Harrison is the chairman of the South Carolina Democratic Party.
He`s a bit of an outsider in some ways, by no means a nationally known
figure at this point. He`s not an elected official nor does he represent a
traditionally Democratic state in this country.
But his name is now one of the names being discussed as a possible next
chair of the National Democratic Party. The South Carolina Democratic
Party chairman, is he the kind of unifying figure that party needs right
now? Does he have the stomach? Does he have the wherewithal to take on
this hugely important role right now at this very difficult time?
Let`s ask him. Joining us now, Chairman Harrison.
Thank you for being here.
JAIME HARRISON, SOUTH CAROLINA DEMOCRATIC PARTY: Thank you for having me,
MADDOW: Nice to see you.
HARRISON: Yes. This is great.
MADDOW: Are the rumors true? Are you throwing your hat in? Do you want
to be considered as Democratic Party chairman?
HARRISON: Count me in. I`m throwing my hat in, Rachel.
HARRISON: Listen, I love this party. Everything I am is because of this
party. I grew up in rural South Carolina, a small town Orangeburg, a teen
mom who had to stop school to have me and went back to school.
MADDOW: Your mom was 15 when she had you?
HARRISON: Yes, she was 15 years old.
And so, we`ve been fighting for everything we have and I`ve been fighting
for a long time. And the one thing that I see that we have to fight for
was for this Democratic Party.
My grandparents who really were instrumental in helping raise me, my
grandfather had a fourth grade education, my grandma had an eighth grade
graduation. So, I was the first in my family to go to college, went to
Yale, ended up at Georgetown Law School, went to work on Capitol Hill, I
taught high school, I worked at a nonprofit that helped low-income kids get
into high school.
So, every step of the way, I had people telling me, you can`t do this. You
can`t do this. And even lately in terms of the discussion of whether or
not I run for chair, I`ve had people say, “Well, you can`t do this.” Some
people have told me, “You have to stand down.”
And people don`t understand, when you start from nothing and you work and
you pour yourself into building yourself up to be successful, to live the
American dream, you`re not going to have anybody stand in your way and say
that you can`t do it.
MADDOW: When you – you mentioned your grandparents there, a fourth grade
education, an eighth grade education. They had this instrumental role in
raising you because of this upbringing that you had. If you want to be the
Democratic Party chairman, think about talking to your grandparents about
what the Democratic Party can offer in South Carolina, right?
There`s one member of Congress –
MADDOW: – for South Carolina, Jim Clyburn, who you worked for as a
staffer. The Democrats – in red states in this country, what does the
Democratic Party have to offer other than some distant hope that maybe it
won`t be a red state again in the future, what can you say to them?
HARRISON: Well, listen, one of the things we`ve been trying to do in South
Carolina, we started when I became chair, this initiative called South
Carolina Democrats Care, because I – just as you said, we only have one
member of Congress. We don`t control the governorship. We don`t have any
control of the legislative bodies.
And so, our idea is to go back into those communities, seeing what the
needs are, listening to the people, letting them know that they matter and
they`re important, and we go into those communities to address some of
their needs. So, some of my county parties, Sumter County is one of them,
they put on a school supplies drive, and they go every August to make sure
that poor families who can`t afford the clothes or the school supplies for
their kids, that those things are provided. And they also work with the
teachers who need reams of paper all throughout the year who have to pay
for it out of their own pockets.
When we do that, when we`re able to do those type of things, put on housing
workshops or helping people write their resumes, that`s when people say oh,
my God, the Democratic Party has helped me do A, B, and C. It doesn`t –
you know, we spend millions and millions of dollars on TV, but those are
the things that we can do for free, and it has so much more impact on the
lives of people. We have to start listening to people again, particularly
the people in rural communities.
Everybody in this past year, these past two years, about people feeling as
if they don`t matter. African-Americans, and that`s why you had Black
Lives Matter, because they feel like their lives don`t matter law
enforcements. Young people feel like their lives don`t matter. Even the
Bernie supporters felt like their voices did not matter to the Democratic
And so, what we have to do now is figure out how do we start listening to
people again, and how we move from a political organization to a community
MADDOW: South Carolina Democratic Party Chairman Jamie Harrison, will you
stay with me?
MADDOW: I have one other thing I want to ask you about after the break.
MADDOW: Jamie Harrison is making the announcement that he will run for
chair of the Democratic National Committee. He`ll be right back with us
right after the break.
Stay with us.
MADDOW: We`re back with Jamie Harrison, who`s the chairman of the South
Carolina Democratic Party tonight. He`s throwing his hat in the ring in
the contest to be chair of the Democratic Party.
Jamie, I have to ask you. You volunteer as chair of the South Carolina
MADDOW: You work as lobbyist with the Podesta group in Washington.
HARRISON: Yes, I do.
MADDOW: Would you be willing to give up that role as DNC chairman?
HARRISON: Well, I am taking a leave right now, unpaid leave. My wife is
not happy about that, but unpaid leave. And it`s partly – you know, and
people – you know, they criticize lobbyists all the time.
And what I tell people is that is how I take care of my family. I pay my
grandmother`s mortgage. I have $160,000 of student loan debt. And when
you`re a poor kid who grows up, and you`re able to be successful to do
this, you have to take care of –
MADDOW: What about the people`s concern`s though that your lobbying roster
would be the special interests who you`d serve as chair?
HARRISON: The special interest that I care about are people like my
grandmother, people like my grandfather, because those are the people that
I care about each and every day. That`s why I went back home to South
I lived in Washington, D.C. for a long time, for 12 years working on the
Hill and doing work with the Podesta Group, but I went back to South
Carolina to volunteer, because I needed to improve the place that is home
for me. And that`s what I want to do for this country.
I have a 2-year-old at home. And I work with Nikki Haley and Matt Moore
and a lot of other people to take down the Confederate flag after the
horrible incident at Mother Emanuel. Those are the types of things that
are passionate for me. And that`s what I want to work on and that`s why
I`m throwing my hat in the ring.
MADDOW: There`s been a lot of debate as to where the Democratic Party
should spend resources. During the primary, you talked to me about the
need for Democrats to focus on turning red states purple and red states
blue, places like South Carolina. You said they`re closer than you think.
I remember you making that argument.
HARRISON: That`s right.
MADDOW: After losing Wisconsin, after losing Pennsylvania in a
presidential race, is that – can the Democratic Party afford that?
HARRISON: No – we have to. I mean, we have to go into a 50-state
strategy plus. Adding on, Howard Dean was so great in that, Maynard
Jackson thought about it even before Howard Dean, and it was so important
to do that. But we have to ramp that up and make sure that we`re investing
in all our state parties and we`re building the next bench of Democratic
MADDOW: Jamie Harrison, chairman of the South Carolina Democratic Party.
I told you somebody new was getting in as of tonight.
Mr. Chairman, thank you.
HARRISON: Thank you.
MADDOW: Appreciate you being here to have this discussion.
HARRISON: Thank you so much. Thank you for letting me to do it here.
MADDOW: All right. We`ll be right back. Stay with us.
MADDOW: That does it for us tonight. I do just want to say as I`m signing
off tonight that I join everybody else in this business, everybody else who
has ever crossed paths with her for any reason, I want to join all of those
folks today who have been I think united with an outpouring of grief in
mourning the loss and celebrating the legacy of Gwen Ifill.
Gwen Ifill is just, there`s nothing else like her in this business. She
was a giant in this field, did not have an enemy in the world, was one of
the funniest people you`ve ever met, was incredibly talented. There`s just
nobody else like her. I don`t know if there ever will be anybody else like
her. But she`s one of the people in this business who was an unqualified
role model for me and just really going to be missed.
So, that does it for us.
Now it`s time for “THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL.”
Good evening, Lawrence.
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