The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 11/18/2016
Show: THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW
Date: November 18, 2016
Guest: Ari Berman, Adam Schiff
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC ANCHOR: I am – you know, I`ll tell you in an hour.
At this point, I`m so wiped out from the past couple of weeks. I feel like
I got super psyched for the show, and then once the show is over, I don`t
know who I am again until 9:00 a.m. on TV the next day.
STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: I`m a preview of where you`ll be in
an hour from now. It feels good.
MADDOW: Very good. But there`s no cocktail in your hand.
KORNACKI: That`s coming.
MADDOW: Thank you, Steve. I appreciate it.
And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour. Happy Friday. It has
been a huge day of news, got a lot to get to tonight. We`ve got a couple
of really good guests.
I want to introduce you, though, to Joseph Broughton. This is Joseph
Broughton. He was a United States senator for a grand total of three
months, elected in 1948, sworn in on New Year`s Eve. And then he dropped
dead in March. And that was it. That was his whole time in the Senate.
And so, in March, before the people of North Carolina have ever gotten used
to the idea they had a senator named Joseph Broughton, it was already time
to replace him. But the voters didn`t get to replace him. The governor of
North Carolina got to replace him because it was an unexpectedly open seat.
And the governor of North Carolina decided to look to a very prominent
North Carolina citizen to take Broughton`s Senate seat. He decided to give
it to the president of the University of North Carolina.
And the president of the University of North Carolina at that time, 1949,
was a really interesting guy. He came from an academic background. He had
been a history professor. But he ended up proving to be a very politically
When he became president of UNC, he made lots of friends in Washington, he
turned into lots of federal funding for UNC. He was also really
broadminded for his time. For example, there had previously been a quota
on the number of Jews that UNC would accept at its medical school. But
when Frank Porter Graham became the president of UNC, he scrapped the Jew
Frank Porter Graham, UNC president. And then in 1949, he was unexpectedly
vaulted into the United States Senate when he was asked to fill that open
seat when the senator who just won the seat unexpectedly died.
When Frank Porter Graham was given that seat in 1949, in North Carolina,
there were certain segments of the population in that state who were not
going to stand for a guy like him getting a job like that. And the reason
that it`s worth talking about today is because you should have seen the
campaign that they ran against this guy.
All right. He had been president of UNC, just appointed to the Senate
seat. You should see how they ran against him.
Look at this, “White people, wake up before it`s too late. You may not
have another chance. Do you want Negroes working besides you, your wife,
your daughters, in your mills and factories? Do you want Negroes riding
besides you in all public eating places?
Do you want Negroes riding beside you, your wife and your daughters in
buses, cabs and trains? Negroes sleeping in the same hotels and rooming
house. Negroes teaching and disciplining your children in school. Negroes
sitting with you and your family in all public meetings. Negroes going to
white schools and white children going to Negro schools.
Do you want Negroes occupying the same hospital rooms with you and your
wife and your daughters? Do you want Negroes as your foreman and overseers
in the mills? Do you want Negroes using your toilet facilities?” They
leave that one for last.
And it says on the box there, “Northern political labor leaders have
recently ordered that all doors be opened to Negroes on union property.
This will lead to whites and Negroes working and living together in the
South as they do in the North. Do you want that?”
And then we get to the money part of it. Frank Graham, the newly appointed
senator, the guy who had been UNC president, the guy who the governor of
North Carolina just put in that open Senate seat, says at the bottom of
this flyer, “Frank Graham favors mingling to the races. He admits that he
favors mixing Negroes and whites, do you favor this? What some more of it?
If you do, vote for Frank Graham. But if you don`t, vote for and help
elect Willis Smith for senator. He will uphold the traditions of the
That was the Willis Smith campaign for Senate in 1950 in North Carolina.
You know this kind of stuff went on but it kind of takes your breath away
to see it, right? The campaign for Willis Smith for Senate that year, they
also famously doctored a photo to make it look like the incumbent`s wife,
to make it look like Frank Porter Graham`s wife had been dancing with a
black man. It was a fake photo, but they circulated in North Carolina, in
that Senate race that year.
In 1948, all right, it was just the year before Frank Porter Graham had
been nominated to the Senate seat, two years before the Senate race,
President Truman had ordered the desegregation of the U.S. military, right?
Famous land mark in American history, 1948, the desegregation of the
military, famously that was – you know, ultimately a huge success.
But in 1948 and 1949, when that decision was fresh in that North Carolina
Senate race against Frank Porter Graham with the wake up white people flier
and the fake photo of his wife with a black man in that environment, in
that Senate race, the desegregation of our military was just another lit
match for dry grass.
And one of the other things that the campaign for Willis smith did that
year in that Senate race is they put out flyers accusing Frank Graham of
nominating, God forbid, a black man to go to West Point. And to that kind
of audience, to the kind of voters that Willis Smith was trying to scare up
for that Senate race, that was almost the ultimate outrage, a black man to
And that almost unbelievable, all race, all the time campaign against Frank
Porter Graham for that Senate seat in 1950, it worked. Frank Porter Graham
had been appointed to the Senate seat after the previous guy died in 1949.
But by 1950, thanks to that racist campaign against him, he was voted out.
And so Willis Smith became a U.S. senator.
And Willis Smith, I think – I think he knew exactly why he won. Out of
all the people who worked on his campaign, he took the guy who had come up
with the idea for this flier, he took the guy who reportedly was the one
who personally, yes, used the scissors on the doctored photo of Frank
Graham`s wife with the black man on the dance floor, he took that race
specialist from his campaign with him to Washington to be his
administrative assistant in the United States Senate on his Senate staff.
Interesting though, even though he only brought that guy there as a junior
staffer, that junior staffer proved to be ambitious and sort of hard to tie
down. That junior staffer didn`t have all that much interest in working
that part of the regime. Turned out he wanted to keep working that type of
campaigns. He wanted to keep running campaigns like that Willis Smith
campaign that knocked out that incumbent senator in North Carolina in 1950.
By 1952, that staffer was back out on the campaign trail again this time
working on a presidential campaign, this time working on the overtly
segregationist presidential campaign of a failed presidential candidate but
long-time southern senator named Richard Russell.
By 1960, he was back out in another campaign. He was working on a North
Carolina governor`s race that time, supporting an insurgent candidate 1960,
whose only issue in the run for governor was race. This congressional
staffer supported a candidate called Bev Lake, who only ran for governor
because of the insufficient fervor he saw for segregation among the
existing white politicians in South Carolina. Quote, “The mixing of our
two great races in the class room and then in the home is not inevitable
and not to be tolerated.”
And so, for this one campaign operative, who specialized in this type of
stuff, right, this nominally a Senate staffer, but really he was a campaign
operative and this was his specialty. Segregation, segregation,
segregation. He sort of cornered the market at least in North Carolina on
running campaigns that turned everything into race, that turned everything
into white fear of encroaching black people particularly near your
And he got good at it over the decades and he was involved in all these
different campaigns, including the ones that he got him his job in
Washington. But, finally, this campaign pro who had run all of these
expertly Confederate race-based campaigns, he finally decided the next
candidate he knew of to run for the next big open seat in North Carolina
would be himself.
And so, he denounced Frank Porter Graham`s beloved UNC as the university of
Negroes and communists. And he proclaimed that the Civil Rights Act of
1964 was the, quote, “single most dangerous piece of legislation introduced
And he ran himself for the United States Senate seat in North Carolina,
that was opened in 1972. And that is how we got Jesse Helms, and Jesse
Helms, Senator Helms, he ultimately got to the Senate too late to stop the
hated Voting Rights Act the first time around, because he didn`t get there
until the 1970s, but when the Voting Rights Act was up for reauthorization
for the first time in 1982, Jesse Helms filibustered it in his words, until
the cows came home. He did everything he could to try to get rid of the
Voting Rights Act. That was 1982.
In 1983, he led an epic filibuster of the federal holiday that would honor
Martin Luther King. When he finally relented with his Martin Luther King
filibuster, after days of stopping that holiday, the “AP” interviewed him
about what he had done. This was kind of amazing. I stumbled across this
today and I was looking at old newspaper clippings.
Quote, “He said in an interview he realized his opposition to the bill and
his comments about King had angered the black community. But Helms said he
didn`t expect to get much black support in his reelection bid anyway.”
Quote, “I face reality. The blacks have a history of voting Democratic
down the line.” And so, screw Martin Luther King.
Jesse Helms did overlap with one African-American senator during his entire
tenure in the United States Senate. He overlapped with Carol Moseley Braun
famously in 1993. Jesse Helms got into a Senate elevator with her and one
of her staffers and Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah.
According to all involved, Jesse Helms looked at Carol Moseley Braun, his
fellow senator, and then he turned to Orrin Hatch, and he said quote,
“Watch me make her cry. I`m going to make her cry. I`m going to sing
`Dixie` until she cries.”
And Carol Moseley-Braun and her secretary later described it to “The L.A.
Times”. They said he did get right in her face and sing Dixie in her face,
oh, I wish I was in the land of cotton, old times there are not forgotten.
Watch it all. Make her cry.
Jesse Helms` epic filibuster against the Martin Luther King holiday, it`s
interesting that the “AP” asked him like, are you worried how it would
affect you politically? Like you`re in a state with a lot of black voters.
Not only was he worried about it. He was doing it on purpose. That is
what he was building his political capital on. Filibustering, that was
something he came back to again and again and again in his political life,
proudly. That was something but he was not ashamed of it. That was
something he used in all of his reelection efforts thereafter, because it
can spike a particular white vote if you do stuff like that even if it
costs you most of your black vote or all of your black vote. Can you go
negative on the black vote?
Even though Jesse Helms did everything he could, though, to block the King
holiday, I should tell you that his filibuster on that issue, although it
stretched out over the a number of days and he used a bunch of different
procedures, it didn`t end up being a single person filibuster record.
The record longest filibuster ever done in the United States by any one
senator all at one time, that record actually is not a Jesse Helms record.
That record was also set against civil rights election but it is a record
that belongs to this guy.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
STROM THURMOND, 1948 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I want to tell you, ladies
and gentlemen, that there`s not enough troops in the army to force the
Southern people to break down segregation and admit the Negro race into our
theaters, into our swimming pools, into our homes, and into our churches.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MADDOW: That was Strom Thurmond, South Carolina 1948. He ran for
president that year on a segregation ticket. The basic idea behind he`s
running for president in 1948 was the two political parties in our country
were not racist enough that year. And so, Strom Thurmond had to run
himself for president in order to create a whole new party, specifically to
meet the racial needs of his constituents.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: The (INAUDIBLE) revolt against President Truman reaches its
climax at Birmingham under the states rights banner. Venerable Alfalfa
Bill Murray comes out of retirement to join in the protests against the
president`s civil rights program. More than 6,000 flock to the Rump
convention to select the presidential ticket. Thirteen southern states are
represented in the (INAUDIBLE) section which precedes the nomination of
Governor Thurmond of South Carolin and Fielding Wright of Mississippi as
party standard bearer. Governor Thurmond attacks the civil rights flank.
THURMOND: It simply means that it`s another effort on the part of this
president to dominate this country by force and to put into effect these
uncalled for and these damnable proposals, he has recommended under the
guise of so-called civil rights. And I tell you the American people from
one side to the other had better wake up and oppose such a program, and if
it does, the next thing will be is a totalitarian state in these United
REPORTER: (INAUDIBLE) Party is born.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Strom Thurmond, running for president in 1948 to stop the
totalitarianism of civil rights and desegregation. He ran for president.
He did all right, lost.
But it wasn`t too long. It was in 1954 before South Carolina was ready to
start electing him to the United States Senate. And South Carolina would
not stop doing it for another 40-plus years. Until Strom Thurmond became
the oldest man ever in the United States State. He still holds the one-man
filibuster record for his more than 24 hours as a one man filibuster
against civil rights legislation.
Even at his hundredth birthday, everybody was still talking about Strom
Thurmond`s segregation run for president back in the good old days.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRENT LOTT (R), FORMER U.S. SENATOR: When Strom Thurmond ran for
president, we voted for him. We`re proud of him. And to the rest of the
country that followed our lead we wouldn`t have all of these problems over
all of these years either.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That was in 2002. And it – obviously went over great in the
room, but didn`t go over well in the country when Senator Trent Lott said
that. I think, by 1982, some of the charm of these guys, like Strom
Thurmond and Jesse Helms, it was starting to wear off a little bit. At the
point he said that at Strom Thurmond`s 100th birthday, Trent Lott had been
the top Republican in the United States Senate.
But two weeks after he said that on tape, two weeks after he said we would
have been better off as a country if the whole country had voted for the
segregationist president like Mississippi did back in 1958, two weeks after
that, Trent Lott was gone. He had resigned his posts in the Senate.
Now, I should tell you in 2016, Trent Lott is a very, very wealthy
lobbyist, most recently this week in “The New York Times” enthusing about
what a bonanza the Trump administration is going to be for lobbyists like
him and his clients.
And, you know, ultimately, seeing how well he`s doing, Trent Lott is
probably better off as a lobbyist and not as a senator anymore. But it`s
important for us as a country I think to know that basically Trent Lott
couldn`t stay on as a senator. He certainly couldn`t stay as the top
Republican senator in Washington, once he was caught on tape talking the
way he did about Strom Thurmond and his segregationist ran for president.
I mean, at some point, guys like this, the politics of guys like, it just
became something that normal politics choked on. I mean, there did used to
be a lot of these guys around, and for a while, it felt like they were all
going to live to be 500 years old. But they all mostly died out.
I`m 43 years old. And over the course of my lifetime, I have seen it
became ethically unwieldy for anybody in mainstream politics to ally
themselves with guys like this anymore, this breed of unreconstructed, you
know, white, southern race politicians. Over the course of my life, I have
watched most of those guys die out. Most of them, not all of them.
That ends up being really, really important for what is about to happen
next in our country, and that`s next tonight here as well.
MADDOW: In 1968, when Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. was killed, his
funeral was organized as basically a massive procession. And his casket
was pulled through the streets by mules. And the guy who led the
procession, the guy who led the mule train with the casket, in the
procession of Martin Luther King`s funeral, a guy who you see there on the
left side with the white shirt behind the flag there, he turns out to
himself have had an incredibly and now newly newsworthy role in American
civil rights history.
It`s important in terms of where he came from and what he did. It`s also
really important for us right now. You`re going to see that story next and
it`s going to blow your mind.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A federal judgeship is a lifetime appointment and
President Reagan has been nominating young men for these jobs, 32 to 38
years old, people who could keep the Reagan influence around for a long
However, one of Mr. Reagan`s nominee is in trouble in Washington, in
trouble for saying that the NAACP is a pinko organization and that a white
civil rights attorney from his home state of Alabama is a disgrace to this
NBC News national political correspondent Ken Bode is in our Washington
studio this morning with more on that nomination.
Good morning, Ken.
KEN BODE, NBC NEWS: Good morning, Jane.
The man who said those things and would be a federal judge is Jeff
Sessions. Part of the story of the struggle over Sessions nomination takes
place right here in Washington, in the Senate, and part takes place in the
black belt of Alabama, where Sessions was born and where the struggle for
black voting rights was waged.
Let`s take a look both place.
SEN. EDWARD KENNEDY (D), MASSCHUSETTS: Mr. Sessions is a throwback to a
shameful era, which I know both black and white Americans thought was in
our past. It`s inconceivable to me that a person of this attitude is
qualified to be a U.S. attorney, let alone a United States federal judge.
BODE: Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III, he was brought face to face with
things he personally had said. For example, that the NAACP and Civil
Liberties Union are un-American organizations.
JEFFERSON SESSIONS, FEDERAL JUDGESHIP NOMINEE: These comments that you
could say about a commie organization or something. I may have said
something like that in a general way. And that probably was wrong.
BODE: It also brought face to face with the Justice Department civil
rights attorney who knows him well and who was asked, is Sessions a racist?
GERALD HEBERT, JUSTICE DEPARTMENT LAWYER: I don`t know really know whether
he is or isn`t. I probably ought to know, but I don`t. I really can`t
BODE: But the would-be judge`s biggest problem came in a case he
prosecuted and lost, a case involving civil rights leaders in Perry County,
Alabama. Defendants in the Perry County case, were Albert and Evelyn
Turner, political and civil rights leaders for more than 20 years.
Albert was an aide to Martin Luther King Jr. Their scrapbook has all the
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is Bloody Sunday, Albert can see, that is him
BODE: Albert Turner guided the mules at Dr. King`s funeral. The federal
government charged the Turners with doctoring absentee ballots, vote fraud,
and mail fraud.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My whole opinion is that the case is political. I just
don`t think Jeff Sessions came in with an ounce of evidence.
BODE: Blacks charge harassment by U.S. Attorney Jeff Sessions noting there
was no investigation of white vote fraud. The Justice Department said it
had no complaints about white vote fraud.
Jake Drake, a Tuscaloosa civil rights attorney says the feds might have
found plenty of white vote fraud had they looked for it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have seen letters written out of concerned citizens
of Sumter County, for example, saying, we know you don`t live here but we
want you to vote here.
BODE: The case was tried last summer. Albert and Evelyn Turner were found
not guilty. Jeff Sessions declined to talk to NBC News, but as friends and
supporters told us, he is not a racist, and the Justice Department says
Sessions had a good case.
Jack Drake disagrees.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I didn`t think the government had a case. The impetus
of it, I think, was to keep blacks from voting, to intimidate people. And
they went right at the leadership they want to defeat.
BODE: Albert Turner doesn`t want Jeff Sessions on the federal bench.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A man like Jeff Sessions will be there for a long time
and I honestly think he will be in the way of progress for quite a while.
KENNEDY: He is I believe a disgrace to the Justice Department and he
should withdraw his nomination and resign his position.
BODE: And the Jeff Sessions nomination is not over, from my sense what I
heard in the Senate last week is that if President Reagan really wants Jeff
Sessions on the bench he is in for a fight, Jane.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It does sound rough. Thank you, ken.
MADDOW: Thank you, it was rough, he didn`t make it.
This was 1986. By 1986, Ronald Reagan had been president for five years,
been through a lot of judges. He had never had a district court nominee
rejected, until even in 1986, they decided a guy like Jeff Sessions could
not be choked down. This guy, erased? No, that was 1986.
The voters of the state of Alabama decided, though, they didn`t care about
him enough to keep him out of statewide and ultimately federal office. By
1994, the voters of the state of Alabama had elected him state attorney
general. By 1996, they sent him to the United States Senate. And they had
been sending him back ever there since.
In his time in the Senate, Senator Sessions got on the same judiciary
committee that rejected him as basically too racist for a judgment in that
earlier phase of his career.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SESSIONS: I`m still concerned about some of the issues that have been
raised with regard to the – the wise Latina quote where you said that they
should make decisions that are better than a white male.
Throughout her career, Ms. Kagan has associated herself with well-known
activist judges. She clerked for Justice Marshal, well-known activist.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: He spits out Justice Marshall there. He is talking about Justice
Thurgood Marshall. The idea is anybody who worked for Thurgood Marshall,
that should be a black mark against them because he was such an activist.
Justice Thurgood Marshal, who argued Brown versus Board of Education. Be
Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III is really the last of what looked like it
was going to be a dying breed of old school, absolutely unreconstructed
white southern senators. His race politics over the course of his entire
career is part of why he has remained a relatively anonymous low-level back
bench senator for his entire time on Capitol Hill. There is a reason he is
not in charge of anything. But, today, President-elect Trump announced his
next pick for the attorney general of the United States is Senator Jeff
Joining us now is Ari Berman. He`s senior writer for “The Nation” who
chronicled Jeff Sessions and his personal history today. Ari is also the
author of “Give Us The Ballot: The Modern Struggle for Voting Rights in
America”, which conveniently comes in a lightweight version now, which will
almost fit in your back pocket.
Ari, thank you for being here.
ARI BERMAN, THE NATION: Good to see you, Rachel. Thank you.
MADDOW: Part of why Jeff Sessions was rejected for that federal judgeship
when he was in his 30s, was because of the corroborated report of him
making racist statements. But the other part of it was the prosecution
that he brought in Selma.
Can you explain that part of the story? We just saw that tape
contemporaneously. But looking back on it now, what should we know about
BERMAN: So, he prosecuted three people that were very influential African-
American civil rights activists in Alabama, people who had marched on
bloody Selma in 1965, who had been beaten, who after the passage of the
Voting Rights Act, helped to build political power in the black vote of
Alabama, where there had been virtually no black elected officials prior to
1965. And the fact that Jeff Sessions prosecuted them on trumped-up fraud
cases, for helping African-Americans vote, for helping elderly voters cast
absentee ballots, the fact that he prosecuted them, the fact that the
prosecutions took place in Selma of all places, the fact they were
prosecuted under the Voting Rights Act, which were supposed to help
African-Americans, not harm them, was all outrageous at the time.
MADDOW: And that was a case that went to the jury, the jury that went to
the decision, he brought his charges. And the jury, as far as I remember,
was almost half and half, there were like seven African-Americans, and five
white people in the jury. They came back in something like three hours,
four hours and said immediately, no, not guilty on all counts. They
absolutely rejected the prosecution here.
BERMAN: Absolutely. It was not a strong case by Jeff Sessions, that is
what civil rights activists were telling him at the time, don`t do this.
Don`t bring these charges. Number one, it is politically and racially
motivated, and number two, you don`t have a strong case.
So, for Sessions to lose this high profile case against black activists,
and then four months later, to be appointed by Ronald Reagan to be a
federal judge was really outrageous, shocking.
MADDOW: Did he ever changed his mind on voting rights, on any of the stuff
that was problematic for him when he was trying to get named to a
judgeship. How did he react when the Supreme Court basically gutted the
Voting Rights Act a couple of years ago?
BERMAN: He has never changed his mind when it came to voting rights. He
supported the Supreme Court decision gutting the Voting Rights Act, said
there was no racial discrimination and voting going on anymore in Alabama,
in Georgia, in North Carolina. Clearly, he is not watching your show.
He`s not reading my reporting.
In his own state of Alabama, in the last year, they closed 31 DMVs, many in
North Carolina and Alabama, the courts found that voter suppression law
targeted black voters with almost surgical precision. There has been so
much evidence of racial discrimination in voting that Senator Sessions
refuses to acknowledge.
MADDOW: If he`s confirmed, he`ll have incredible leeway in terms of
deciding how much of those cases get prosecuted and pursued.
Ari Berman, this is going to be an ongoing beat for quite sometime, I hope
you come back.
BERMAN: Absolutely. Thank you, Rachel. Good to see you.
MADDOW: Jeff Sessions is a controversial nominee. He is not the only do-
whoop controversial person President-elect Trump picked for a very
important job today.
We`ve got much more ahead. This is an important time in the news.
Please stay with us.
MADDOW: This is Raj Goyle. Raj Goyle is from Kansas. Technically, he was
born in Cleveland. But he`s made his life in Kansas. And Wichita, Kansas,
elected to the Kansas state legislature for a couple of terms starting in
2006. In 2010, after his two terms in the legislature, Raj Goyle decided
to try to take a big leap and run not just for the state legislature again
but instead for Congress from his district in Kansas.
And this is what it was like that year to be Raj Goyle running for Congress
in 2010, in Kansas. Vote American, vote for the guy running against this
guy. Subtle, right?
The guy running against Raj Goyle did not put up the “vote American”
billboard against Raj Goyle, implying that Ray Goyle must not be American
for some reason. That billboard was actually put up by a supporter by Raj
Goyle`s appointment – excuse me, Raj Goyle`s opponent, not by the opponent
But when Raj Goyle called his opponent out on this, about this billboard
that his opponent supporter put up, his response was just that Raj Goyle
was just distracting from the real issues in that campaign. So that really
is what that looked like in Kansas in 2010, true Americans vote for Pompeo.
Now Raj Goyle`s opponent in that race is Mike Pompeo, who has been best
known in Congress before now for two things, for dissenting from the
Republican`s Benghazi report, because even though the Republicans Benghazi
report concluded that basically Hillary Clinton didn`t do it, Mike Pompeo
remains convinced that she did. And so, he dissented.
He is also famous for basically being the congressman from Koch Industries.
He represents the Koch brothers headquarters home district, and they have
been his biggest funders in his congressional life, ever since his first
run. They have been the number one funders of Mike Pompeo every time he`s
When he first got to Congress, Mike Pompeo hired Koch Industries` former
top lawyer to be his chief of staff and then he got to work on his first
two top priorities which happened to be exactly what Koch Industries wanted
for Christmas that year, which was a super happy coincidence.
His first two priorities when he got to Congress were A, killing a registry
of greenhouse gas polluters, and B, stopping an online registry of product
safety complaints, because that is what the people of his district were
Now, after pulling that heavyweight for the hard-working people of Wichita
and writing brave op-eds like this, “Stop harassing the Koch brothers,” now
he is Donald Trump`s nominee to be the director of the CIA. Mike Pompeo
has no intelligence experience, outside of his time as Koch Industries guy
on the House Intelligence Committee. Mike Pompeo does have to be confirmed
before he takes over the CIA, but Republicans in the Senate definitely have
the numbers to get that done.
And in the House, it`s interesting, one of his Democratic colleagues on the
intelligence committee, Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff today called
him, quote, “willing and listen to engage, both key qualities in a CIA
So, whatever fight Democrats are going to put up over some Trump
nominations somewhere, we`re not seeing much of one here for the CIA
director, at least not yet. The congressman for Koch Industries, at least
today, appears to be in a glide path to the top the nation`s elite
Watch this space.
MADDOW: Every new day is like civics boot camp these days. You know what?
It is a blessing to have clarity. It is a blessing to see things clearly.
It is a blessing to have a very clear understanding of what you`re up
against in the world, and why. That is a blessing.
Tonight, after today`s news cycle, we`re working our way down the list of
the new hires that the Trump transition has announced for the new
administration. We talked so far about the senator who was widely and
bipartisanly viewed as too racist for a judgeship, but now he is next up to
Justice Department and we talked about the congressman from Koch Industries
who`s in line to run the CIA. But that leaves one more announced hire to
talk about tonight and this is one that makes the other two look really
mainstream, and his story is next.
MADDOW: The president-elect today announced that retired General Michael
Flynn would be his new security adviser. And that is not a position that
requires any other form of announcement. That`s it. No Senate
confirmation for national security adviser.
For General Flynn, that might be a blessing. Last year, you might
remember, he attended the anniversary party for Russian state-sponsored
television. There he is there, with red arrow.
And if you look just to the right of him, see that handsome guy? You will
see – that`s Russian President Vladimir Putin sitting with General Flynn.
General Flynn has actually explained this whole episode by saying that he
was paid for that appearance. That is his defense, going to the gala
dinner with Vladimir Putin and honoring Russian state TV.
His defense to that is, I was paid. They paid me to be there. Now, he`ll
be national security adviser to the president of the United States.
General Flynn was fired from the Defense Intelligence Agency from 2014 over
what were described from one side as leadership clashes. This is how he
explained it, though, he says, quote, “The military fired me for calling
our enemies radical jihadists.”
General Flynn, in context, I think it is fair to say, I think even his
supporters would concede that he is a fringe choice – he is a fringe
enough choice that you would probably hear, probably impotent but
nevertheless insistent opposition to somebody like him having such a big
important role in the White House. A former colleague of his told “The New
York Times” today, quote, “His thinking process is not sufficiently
analytical to test some streams against others and make sense of it, or
draw a consistent conclusions.” Quote, “If you listen to him, in ten
minutes you will hear him contradict himself two or three times.”
Flynn is known in terms of his public persona for putting stuff like this
on Twitter. “Fear of Muslims is rational.”
He is also on board 100 percent with the things that Donald Trump
campaigned on, on national security, that more mainstream national security
figures may be expected to balk at.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
INTERVIEWER: Would you kill the family of a terror suspect, yes or no?
LT. GEN. MICHAEL FLYNN (RET.), U.S. ARMY: I would have to see what the
circumstances of that situation was.
INTERVIEWER: Are you kidding me?
FLYNN: We have to see the circumstances of that situation –
INTERVIEWER: What circumstances would justify killing the family, a wife
and a child?
FLYNN: It would have to be the circumstances that we were facing at that
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Kill a wife and a child?
What can you tell me about the child?
These are things that you should know. Donald Trump has said he would kill
family members of terrorists, even if the families themselves were totally
innocent. And President-elect Trump has now chosen to have Mike Flynn as
the person closest to him whispering in his ear and advising him as
national security adviser. General Flynn has accepted the job offer, and
as far as we understand it, that`s the end of that process. He`s in. This
is done, right?
Joining us is Congressman Adam Schiff, Democrat from California, ranking
member of the House Intelligence Committee.
Congressman, thank you very much for being with us tonight. It`s nice to
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D), CALIFORNIA: Good to see you, too.
MADDOW: Broadly, what is your reaction to Mike Flynn being named national
SCHIFF: Well, you know, shocked and gravely concerned about it both for
the reasons of his policies, they`re well out of the mainstream when it
comes to Russia. His comments about Turkey show a complete lack of
appreciation on who is happening there. And more broadly, his views on
Islam, his failure to distinguish the perversion of that state by groups
like al Qaeda and ISIS, and the faith itself is deeply troubling. It plays
into the al Qaeda narrative that there`s a clash of civilizations between
the West and Islam, that Islam is incompatible with a productive or healthy
or positive relationship with the West.
These are deeply disturbing ideas that the president-elect has already
expressed, and to have the national security adviser on this is alarming,
and the tenure is especially alarming. But the temperament is a separate
issue and I think what people at DIA found and what he exhibited on the
campaign trail is this is someone who is often erratic, who shoots from the
hip, who is a volatile personality.
And in the role of NSA, adviser, you want somebody who can bring together
the national security experts, the secretary of defense and state, the
National Security Council and reach consensus on very tough issues and
often with the pressure of time. And you don`t want another volatile
personality guiding the way of already an impetuous president-elect.
MADDOW: Let me get more specific with you on that, because we`ve seen like
sort of vague, almost euphemistic characterizations of what happened in his
time at Defense Intelligence Agency. So, he was at DIA, he was not there
for a very long time, he was there from 2012 to 2014. He was asked to
You`ve got the seat on the Intelligence Committee. You obviously have your
finger on the pulse on terms of what`s going in the intelligence agencies.
What can you tell us about why exactly he was asked to leave, what went
wrong, what his colleagues at that agency thought about his tenure there?
SCHIFF: Well, it has nothing to do with wanting to call Islamic radicalism
by its name. Rather, it had to do with his management style, which was one
of essentially a bull in a china shop, the inability to work with others,
enormous management problems within DIA that were largely his creation,
essentially a mess. And that`s what forced him out more than anything
And those kind of, you know, lack of qualities frankly are going to be a
real problem as national security adviser. He is the equivalent of Steve
Bannon in the national security arena. So you have one person who flirts
with the alt-right in Steve Bannon in charge of domestic policy advice and
now Flynn as national security policy. That`s a dangerous combustible mix
for the country.
MADDOW: Congressman, before I let you go, I also have to ask you about the
other major intelligence announcement today, which was Mike Pompeo, the
congressman, being named the Trump nominee for – to run the CIA, to be
director of the CIA. You sort of welcomed that. You`re not opposed to
everything that Trump has announced thus far. It sounds like you`re
keeping an open mind about whether Congressman Pompeo might actually be a
good choice for CIA
SCHIFF: I am. You know, I know Mike quite well. He`s a very bright guy.
He`s a hardworking guy. I think he has the capability of being a good CIA
He can also, as you pointed out, be a very bipartisan guy. And he
certainly was in the Benghazi hearings. He will need to set that aside to
be an effective CIA chief, he is going to be strictly a political non-
I think he can do that. And you know, what I have to recognize, what
Americans have to recognize is, the elections have consequences. Trump
Mike is a conservative, he`s not a moderate. But that is the president`s
prerogative to pick. And I think that he can set the partisanship aside.
I`m counting on him to do that and run that agency well.
MADDOW: Congressman Adam Schiff, ranking member of the House Intelligence
Committee – always a clear and sober voice on scary issues. Thanks for
your time tonight, sir. I appreciate you being here.
SCHIFF: Thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: All right. We`ll be right back. Stay with us.
MADDOW: At this point in the show, I had something else we were going to
cover, but I scrapped it, because there`s a thing I feel like I need to say
about the Mike Flynn national security adviser announcement. It is an
announcement. It`s done.
All a president-elect or president ultimately has to do to get a national
security adviser and have them say yes. So, this Mike Flynn thing is done.
That means it will not be discussed all that much compared to the other
people who have to go through the Senate confirmation process.
But the choice of Mike Flynn really is a different kettle of fish than
anything we might have expected from the Trump campaign. Mike Flynn calls
Islam a political ideology hiding behind a religion. Mike Flynn calls
Islam a malignant cancer. Mike Flynn really did sit next to Vladimir Putin
and take money to go to a gala honoring Russian state television. He`s
been a frequent guest on Russian state television and says he sees no
difference between Russian state television and, for example, MSNBC.
He will now be the closest person to the president of the United States on
a day-to-day basis on all foreign policy issues, on all military issues, on
all national security issues, and he is way outside anything that anybody
on the left, right or center might consider to be the mainstream, either in
thought or temperament in terms of national security issues, and it`s done.
And Trump gets him unless he has some change of heart or awakening of
conscience about doing something like this for such a key position.
I would also say that Mike Flynn has been on the payroll, his intelligence
firm has been on the payroll of Turkey, including during the Trump
campaign, without him disclosing that while he was working for the Trump
campaign. So, this is just – I know he`s not going to get as much
coverage as the other people who have to get confirmed over the next few
days, but stick a pin in that. It`s a really, really important, really,
really worrying announcement.
All right. Back to our regularly-scheduled program. Back in a second.
MADDOW: OK. Here`s one tantalizing little giblet to meditate upon. If
Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions really does get confirmed as attorney general
of the United States, Jeff Sessions right now is a sitting U.S. senator
from one of the reddest states in the country, Alabama. Because of that,
there is zero drama as to which party his successor will come from.
Alabama has a Republican governor. If he leaves the Senate to be A.G., the
governor will undoubtedly pick a Republican to replace Jeff Sessions, and
that will undoubtedly be the safest seat in the country, right? Whatever
Republican gets appointed to that Senate seat in Alabama, that is basically
a guaranteed job for life.
But here`s one potentially hilarious thing to watch for in that process.
One of the people who could be appointed to that U.S. Senate seat by the
governor of Alabama is the governor of Alabama. He could appoint himself.
The same governor of Alabama who was last heard on this show saying this.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
ROBERT J. BENTLEY (R), ALABAMA GOVERNOR: You know what, I stand behind you
and I, and I put my arms around you and I put my hand on your breast and
pull you real close, I love that, too.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MADDOW: Alabama Governor Robert Bentley right now is facing possible
impeachment proceedings at home because of circumstances of that sex tape.
But one of the people he could appoint to the Senate seat to replace Jeff
Sessions is himself, which would let him escape the threat of impeachment
for the sex tape stuff in all likelihood, and it would be a job for life,
and Washington, D.C. is very nice this time of year.
So keep an eye on Robert Bentley and the prospect of him appointing himself
in Alabama. Everybody can borrow my tape when that happens. We`ve got the
sex tape, all verbated. You can use the subtitles and everything.
That does it for us tonight. We will see you again on Monday.
Now, it`s time for “THE LAST WORD”. Ari Melber sitting in for Lawrence
Good evening, Ari.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed,
transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written
permission of CQ-Roll Call. You may not alter or remove any trademark,
copyright or other notice from copies of the content.>