The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 12/8/2016
Show: THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW
Date: December 8, 2016
Guest: Jo Becker, Ilhan Omar
CHRIS HAYES, “ALL IN” HOST: That is “ALL IN” for this evening.
THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts right now.
Good evening, Rachel.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chris. Thank you, my friend.
HAYES: You bet.
MADDOW: And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour.
The only poll that counts is the poll on Election Day. That`s one of like
the most grim-faced cliches in all of politics, right? But every election
cycle, you can set your watch on it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GERALD FORD, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: I`ll tell you what I think. The only
polls that count are the polls the American people go to on November 2nd.
BOB DOLE (R), FORMER U.S. SENATOR: In any event, the bottom line is this:
the only poll that counts is going to be in November.
SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: The only poll that counts is the one
they`re going to take on Tuesday when they count the votes that these
people are going to cast. And we`re going to win Florida.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: No, you`re not going to win in Florida, Senator. You are not.
But that cliche, the only poll that counts is the one in – that is most
useful in politics as a sign post to tell you who is losing in the polls at
that moment. That`s who always says that cliche about the only poll that
matters is the poll on Election Day. You know, but there is some truth to
it. Polls in advance of an election only get you so far in terms of
telling you exactly what is going on in the country and what`s going to
happen next in politics.
And however you feel about the results of any particular election, one
thing I think is always a little bit of a relief about watching the news
after an election is that at least, finally, there`s no more polling.
That`s been nice, right? There`s more polling.
And this will not tell you about who is going to win any next thing. But
honestly, this new polling, this turns out to be fascinating. And I think
it may actually end up being really useful information in terms of
understanding what is about to happen next in our country.
And we have got this exclusively tonight. You are not going to get this
anywhere else. But going through this new poll tonight from PPP, honestly,
I feel like it knocked a few years off my life expectancy. This will curl
your eyelashes a little bit.
Look at it. This is a national poll done by PPP. For me, this is kind of
an a-ha moment. This makes some previously sort of inexplicable stuff make
OK, here it is. Put up that thing that says we`ve got this thing
exclusively that nobody else has. We`ve got this thing. Nobody else has
this. Put up that thing.
All right. This is exclusive. You can`t get this anywhere else.
And they start with some basic questions. They ask the country, do you
like Donald Trump? And the country`s answer is no. No. Fifty-one percent
of the country views Donald Trump unfavorably, 51 percent unfavorable to 43
percent favorable. That`s if you ask the whole country do you like Trump.
But if you ask Donald Trump voters, yeah, Donald Trump voters love Donald
Trump, obviously, 87 percent favorable. They love him.
But now look at this. Again, ask the whole country. Do you like Barack
Obama? The country`s answer to that is yes, we do like Barack Obama. 50
percent favorable rating overall for Barack Obama, 45 percent unfavorable.
That`s for the whole country.
But if you just ask Trump voters, do you like Barack Obama, the answer is
capital N, capital O with a swear word before and after it. Look at that.
Among Trump voters, Barack Obama has a 5 percent approval rating.
And, you know, Republicans have always hated President Obama, but the
hatred for President Obama among Trump voters is even stronger than it is
among Republicans more broadly. You ask Republican voters that same
question, they give President Obama a 9 percent approval rating. And
that`s still low, but that`s almost double the proportion of Trump voters
who like him.
So, yes, we do have a partisan split in this country and Democrats and
Republicans see things differently, blah, blah, blah. But there`s
something a little special going on with Trump voters and this is where it
starts to get really hairy because – all right, look at this.
This is a snapshot of real life. See that blue line there? It`s faint.
But you see that blue line there? That`s real life. That`s the
performance of the stock market under Barack Obama as president. This is
the Dow Jones Industrial Average when he took office the Dow was at just
under 8,000 points. Today it closed at 19,615 points.
So, the stock market since Barack Obama has been president has risen by
almost 12,000 points. It is considerably more than doubled since he`s been
president. But if you ask Donald Trump voters about this, 39 percent of
Donald Trump voters say that the stock market has dropped since Barack
Obama has been in office, which is crazy. It`s way more than doubled. You
guys think it`s dropped, the stock market?
Here`s another one that`s even more astonishing. This is, again, we`ll
start with the snapshot of real life. This is the unemployment rate over
the time that Barack Obama has been in office as president. And
unemployment, it always flops around a little bit. It has little seasonal
zigzags. But this is a clear picture.
There`s only one way to describe what has happened overall to unemployment
in America since Barack Obama has been president. And if you ask America
about that, America knows this is what has happened to unemployment under
If you, in this new national poll, if you ask Hillary Clinton voters, they
understand this. Unemployment rates under President Obama have dropped.
You ask Gary Johnson voters, they understand this. Unemployment rates
under Barack Obama have dropped. You ask Jill stein voters, they get it.
You ask people who voted for someone other than Hillary Clinton, Donald
Trump, Jill Stein, or Gary Johnson, like people who voted for vermin
supreme, you ask people who voted for other, even they freaking know this.
Everybody knows that unemployment has dropped under Barack Obama but not
Donald Trump voters and not by a mile. Look at that. By a 47-point
margin. Donald Trump voters, look at that graph on the right and say, yes,
unemployment has gone up under President Obama by a 47-point margin.
The whole country gets that. But look at that among Trump voters. That`s
insane. That`s plainly wrong.
And this is not even one of the things that`s widely misunderstood among
the American people and Trump voters seem to be more confused than other
people. No, everybody gets this, but Trump voters don`t by a huge margin.
They`re in a fantasy world about this. They do not know what is true when
you ask them about this issue even though the rest of the country does know
And that`s what I think is really important and interesting about this
poll. I know it`s a poll after an election. But I feel like this is an
important bit of data. This is not predicting any election result here.
There`s no reason to go to the bank in terms of who is going to win
something of any kind.
But just take a peek into the mind of Trump voters, of Trump voters
nationwide, from this new data that we`ve got exclusively tonight, 40
percent of Trump voters believe that Donald Trump won the popular vote.
Donald Trump did not win the popular vote.
Donald Trump voters by a huge margin, 60 percent of them, believe that
millions of people voted illegally for Hillary Clinton in the presidential
election. Millions of people did not vote illegally for Hillary Clinton in
the presidential election. Donald Trump voters, by a huge margin, huge
margin, 73-6, Donald Trump voters believe that George Soros is paying
people to protest against Donald Trump. George Soros is not paying people
to protest against Donald Trump but 73 percent of Trump voters believe that
he is and only 6 percent say that is not true.
Again, let me reiterate. That is not true. He`s not paying people to
protest against Trump but among Trump supporters it`s an absolute article
Here`s a weird one. Nearly a third of Donald Trump voters, 29 percent of
Trump voters say they do not think that votes from the state of California
should be included in the national popular vote. What`s that about? The
logical follow-up to that is asking Trump voters whether or not they think
California should be forced out of the country, right? Or are they saying
that California should stay in the country, it should still be seen as part
of the United States of America, but maybe California still just shouldn`t
have its votes counted.
I mean, honestly? You shouldn`t count California`s votes as part of the
national vote total? I don`t know. Maybe that is what they want. This is
But again this is exclusive to us. PPP is going to release this national
poll tomorrow. We`ve got this exclusive first look at it tonight. And I
think it shows that even after the election, what Trump voters believe
about the world is distinctively different from what the rest of the
country believes and from what is true.
And this alternate reality that they`re in, it is weird enough and specific
enough that you can`t say it just springs from broader misunderstandings or
from, you know, a broader ignorance on the issues that afflicts the
country. This is a specific alternate reality that was created by the
Trump movement for a political purpose. And so, now, as the Trump
administration takes shape, they have to know that they`re in power thanks
to their voter base that has these false beliefs about the country. False
beliefs about the country and false beliefs about the economy and false
beliefs about the outgoing president and false beliefs about what
So, in terms of what happens next in our country, it seems important to
know that the incoming president basically created this fantasy life for
his supporters and as he sets about figuring out how he`s going to govern
as president, he`s got to know that this mind-set among his supporters is
what he has to work with. And in terms of what that will mean for how he
will govern and how he will behave as president, there`s one last finding
from this poll tonight that we have exclusively.
And I want to show you tonight this one last thing. I think this might
give us an important preview, an important reality check, as it were, of
what to expect from the new president. And it`s this question from the
poll. It`s question number ten. Quote, “Do you think Donald Trump should
release his tax returns or not?”
Now, when you ask the country that question, the country responds yes!
Yes, we do. Donald Trump should release his tax returns, by a 30-point
margin. When you ask the country that. 59-29, the country says Donald
Trump should release his tax returns.
But look at how that breaks down. Hillary Clinton voters very clearly want
him to release his tax returns. Gary Johnson voters want him to release
his tax returns. Jill Stein voters want him to release his tax returns.
People who voted for none of these. People who voted for vermin supreme or
your mama or deez nuts or whatever, those people all want to release his
But if you ask Donald Trump supporters, the answer is no, he should not
release his tax returns. By a 36-point margin, Trump voters say no way
should President-elect Trump release his tax returns. And that`s
important, right? That`s kind of an aha moment, because I think the
beltway common wisdom on this issue, the beltway common wisdom is sort of
looking at the country as a whole and oh, yes, people want him to release
his tax returns.
The beltway common wisdom about the corruption issue with this incoming
president, corruption worries about the incoming administration and the
incoming president in particular, the beltway common wisdom about this
unprecedented thing where we do not know what his financial holdings are,
we do not know if his proposed tax policies are designed to benefit his
family business and himself, we don`t know. We don`t know what his ongoing
business relationships and his pending deals are, so we don`t know if he`s
taking official actions in the name of the United States of America that
are actually motivated by a desire to get a financial benefit for his
family or himself.
The beltway common wisdom about the snowballing concerns about his ongoing
business deals and what appears in several instances to be him already
trying to personally profit off the presidency, the beltway`s take on all
of that is that, hmm, that`s going to create a political problem for him.
That`s a really embarrassing thing to be caught doing. There will be so
much political pressure on him to not do those unseemly things eventually
he`ll have to stop those things. That`s the common wisdom.
But look at those numbers. Those are the people that put him in the White
House. His supporters by a very large margin don`t even want to know what
his financial ties are, which is the only way to know if he`s taking
actions as president that are designed to line his own pockets. They don`t
want to know! And he knows that.
That 36-point margin among his own supporters, that`s his cushion. That`s
what he can throw up at the beltway common wisdom and say, oh, yes, you
think I`m feeling pressure. When he looks at that number, do you think he
feels any pressure whatsoever to dial it back a little bit on continuing to
make money off his name and his position and his celebrity now that he`s in
the White House, you think he looks at that number, you think he looks at
what his voters believe and thinks, hmm, I`m going to face a lot of
pressure on this. Better do the right thing.
MADDOW: Variety.com was the first to report tonight that we`re in
unprecedented position as a country once again. The news tonight is that
our president-elect has a new TV show coming out. He apparently will be
credited as an executive producer on the new series of the “Celebrity
Apprentice” which is apparently coming out in January and will star Arnold
Schwarzenegger. But it will be brought to you by the president of the
United States, Donald Trump.
Remember when he said a week and a half ago to great fanfare, right, and
all these news organizations everywhere writing it down like it was true,
remember when he said nine days ago or something, that he`d be leaving his
great business in total? It`s not even a week and a half later and now
we`ve got the news that, well, maybe he`s leaving it in total but he is in
the meantime launching a new TV show the same month he`s going to be sworn
in as president, and he`ll get an on screen credit and presumably he`ll get
paid because he`s an executive producer of the show. He`s retained his
ownership and he`s involved in producing the new for-profit.
Today, we also learned that the Republican National Committee is giving the
president-elect a very nice Christmas present. Did you ever get a
Christmas present from like a favorite aunt or from your grandma or
something and it was like a card that was designed with either a little
slot in it or a little embedded envelope and there would be like five bucks
in it? And you`d be like, oh, grandma just got me a card. You`d open it
up. No, grandma got me money!
Now, it turns out the RNC is giving the president-elect money for Christmas
this year. Money always fits, never gets returned. The RNC announced
today that they will be holding their annual holiday party at Donald
Trump`s hotel. He, of course, remains the majority owner of the hotel so,
you know, profits made by the hotel end up going to him. So, you book an
expensive room at his hotel, you`re putting money in his pocket.
We`re seeing a lot of this. The conservative group the Heritage Foundation
just spent a gazillion dollars to hold a big gala at the Trump Hotel this
week. The vice president-elect just spoke at that event. That again will
be more money that goes to the president-elect personally as the majority
owner of this business.
It`s not just American organizations. Foreign governments are doing this
too. The government of Azerbaijan will be spending a ton of money to host
a holiday gathering at the big Trump Hotel in D.C. next week. That follows
a very successful Trump Hotel gathering by the kingdom of Bahrain, which we
reported on last week. That event has now happened. Bahrain National Day
celebration took place in the presidential ball room or some such thing of
the Trump Hotel.
Only downside apparently of that great and very successful event is that
the investigative reporting team from ABC News showed up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Just down the street from the White House the president-elect`s
new luxury hotel seems to be the new in spot, the place for foreign
governments and special interests to show loyalty to Donald Trump. Today,
the kingdom of Bahrain rented out the presidential ballroom at an estimated
cost around $100,000 to celebrate its national holiday. So, we showed up
to ask why here.
(INAUDIBLE) because Donald Trump is the president-elect?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have no comments.
REPORTER: Outside today, as Bahrain diplomats left, they still weren`t
You want to say anything at all?
As security men blocked our cameras.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Brian, President-elect Trump has promised to cut ties
with his business when he takes office. We`re going to hear from him on
this in the coming days?
REPORTER: That`s right. Some time next week, David. He said he`s leaving
his business to focus fully on running the country, but of course as long
as he continues to own his company, every dollar profit this hotel makes
goes into his pocket.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: This is not an esoteric thing, right? This is not like a
complicated business rules thing that`s hard to grasp.
As long as he continues to own properties around the world, as long as he
continues to own his business now that he`s president-elect, all sorts of
people will spend money at his businesses, will spend money on his business
that they wouldn`t otherwise have spent on his business because they want a
way to give him money. They want to give the president money. They want
the president to know that they have given him money because they want to
try to affect his actions as president. It`s very simple. It`s as simple
as that. It`s true regardless of all of the nonsense and all of the ink
spilled about which of his children is running the business that he still
I feel like finally today we did get to a breakthrough moment with the
press on this very, very simple issue. “The New York Times” finally put
out a genius headline on this which said it exactly the right way, that did
not continue to make this blurrier than it needs to be, that didn`t follow
the Trump spin like so much of the news coverage on this issue has.
This was the front page of “The New York Times” today. Trump is said to be
intending to keep stake in his business. Right. Keeping a stake in his
business, and it`s as straightforward as that.
He`s planning on, reportedly, being president and making money for his
business and himself simultaneously. Whether or not he hands it to his
kids doesn`t matter if he`s still got a stake in his business. As “The
Times” notes today even some, quote, “on the transition team have privately
expressed concern over how foreign and domestic interests could seek to
curry influence with the president by doing business with his adult
Doing business with his adult children that ultimately accrues to Mr.
Trump`s financial benefit. Right.
In a normal world, this is an almost unimaginable corruption scandal. This
is something that you know happens in other countries but you can`t imagine
it happening here. But you know what? The politics of this are we now
have the data. Trump voters just don`t care.
That said, we also know from the date that tonight that we got from this
new poll that Trump voters think that down is up and up is down and
California is not part of the country. So what happens next here? What`s
the intersection of politics, real politics and the law?
Joining us now is Jo Becker, investigative reporter for “The New York
Times.” She also won the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for her reporting on Vice
President Dick Cheney while she was at “The Washington Post.”
Ms. Becker, it`s real pleasure to have you here. Thank you.
JO BECKER, NEW YORK TIMES INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER: Thanks for having me.
MADDOW: So, Mr. Trump`s transition team, you`re able to report, is
expressing some worry that money spent at the Trump businesses which
ultimately will go down to him if he keeps a stake will effectively be
people – I mean, can you say trying to pay a bribe, trying to curry favor
with the administration? They`re worried about this –
BECKER: I think that there is concern, sure. There was – if you read Mr.
Trump`s tweet where he said he was going to leave his business in total,
one could be forgiven for thinking that there was a dramatic announcement
in the offing coming next week, in December 15th as he said, you know, as a
date that he`s going to explain how this is all going to work.
And what we found out was the plan doesn`t actually change all that much.
Mr. Trump intends at the moment to retain his financial stake in his
business. Now, they`re going to set up some kind of a legal structure
undefined to somehow separate him.
How is that going to work? He knows what his assets are. Foreign
governments know what his assets are. I mean, typically presidents put –
wealthy presidents have liquidated their assets. They put it in a blind
trust, they let someone manage it. They don`t even know what it`s invested
in, so that when they`re making decisions, you know, they don`t even know
if it`s –
MADDOW: The only way to ensure that a president in that circumstance can`t
make a corrupt decision.
BECKER: And the Office of Government Ethics went on this very unusual
tweet storm saying exactly that last week that that is the only path for
Mr. Trump. Mr. Trump is apparently rejecting that path. I`ve been told
that he`s concerned about the tax implications.
MADDOW: He`s going to lose money.
BECKER: Well, he`ll have to pay capital gains if he sells. And you can
defer that, but that`s – you know, that is said to be motivating his
concern. Now, he has – Ivanka Trump is going to step aside from Trump
MADDOW: This is new reporting today. We haven`t heard this before. We
previously thought that he was maybe going to have all thee adult children
in the business. But you`re saying that it would be the sons running the
BECKER: The two sons will run the business and how you will wall that off?
Like nobody will talk about that at family dinners? Or you know – I`m not
sure. We`ll have to hear from them next week about exactly what they
But Ivanka Trump is going to step aside and it`s unclear whether she, too,
is going to retain her ownership stake, but that is because her husband is
trying to clear a path for an official role at the White House, our sources
are telling us.
MADDOW: But stepping – but to be clear and to get to the nature of my
praise for the Trump headline for your piece today – “The New York Times”
headline today, stepping aside means getting out of an operational role in
the business. If she retains her stake in the business and if he retains
the stake in the business, the stepping aside stuff is basically immaterial
from an ethical point of view?
BECKER: Well, we talked to Jan Baron who said this will be a four-year
ethical challenge. I mean, legally, there`s nothing in the law that says
he has to sell his stake. But other presidents have when they`ve had
significant wealth. They`ve gotten – they put everything into blind
And there are legal issues – I mean, real legal issues. Nothing says he
has to do it, but, you know, there are bribery statutes. There is a clause
in the Constitution that says you can`t take gifts from foreign
Now, how is that going to work? Let`s say a hotel, they want to open up a
new hotel somewhere. Let`s say a state bank wants to give them the
financing. Let`s say the financing is at x and so rate, there`s going to
be questions about is that a gift? What about if they want to extend the
period of the loan? They want to roll the loan?
All of this is going to be a question. And I find it really interesting.
I did a lot of the reporting on the Clinton Foundation, a lot of the
investigative reporting. It`s all the same questions except that in this
case, you`re talking about a for-profit business. I mean –
MADDOW: Going to the principal.
BECKER: They did have some charitable endeavors. Here you`re talking
about a for-profit business. We`re going to see the same kind of questions
over and over again in every instance of people`s, you know, throwing
parties at hotels as you were showing earlier. This is just – I don`t see
how they get around this for four years. It`s going to be a constant thing
that dogs them.
MADDOW: Part of the way they may get around it is by having absolutely no
embarrassment about it whatsoever and having political backing for it. But
the way it gets maybe litigated or prosecuted in other ways is going to be
really interesting question.
Jo Becker, investigative reporter for “The New York Times” – I really
appreciate you coming in to talk to us about this.
MADDOW: Thank you. Nice to meet you.
BECKER: You too.
MADDOW: We`ve got much more to come tonight. Please stay with us.
MADDOW: There`s very rarely an imperative at this job, in my job, to use
half naked photos. With one or two notable exceptions, politics is usually
a keep your clothes on in public kind of sport. But tonight, we have to go
full cheesecake because that`s where the news has gone.
I`m apologizing in advance. We have no choice. Please take this next
commercial break to hide the babies.
We`ll be right back.
MADDOW: This is interesting. December 1980, so a month or so after
winning the presidency in November, president-elect Ronald Reagan announced
his nomination for secretary of labor. He announced a New Jersey
construction executive named Ray Donovan would be his labor secretary.
Donovan was announced on the same day as Reagan`s choice for secretary of
state, Alexander Haig, and at the time Alexander Haig got all the
headlines. He was seen as a controversial pick. So, Raymond Donovan was
kind of an afterthought. He didn`t really get much mention. The day he
was nominated to run the Labor Department under Reagan, “The Washington
Post” just reported Donovan as, quote, “unknown to most labor leaders.”
He did not stay unknown for long, though, because a month later, a month
after he got named at his confirmation hearings, he just got raked over the
coals in the Senate about his alleged ties to organized crime and it turned
out that was just the beginning. He did get confirmed but toward the end
of Reagan`s first term, he got indicted on fraud charges. He became the
first cabinet secretary ever indicted while in office. And that led to his
resignation in 1985.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Donovan went to the White House to submit his resignation to
President Reagan shortly after noon. Later, talking on the White House
lawn, the president once again endorsed Donovan.
REPORTER: What are your feelings about him?
RONALD REAGAN, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I still have faith
and confidence in Ray Donovan.
REPORTER: Donovan`s lawyer said he quit voluntarily.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To my knowledge, there was no pressure whatsoever at
any time by anyone.
REPORTER: Donovan`s four years in the cabinet have been controversial.
Questions about organized crime raised at his confirmation hearings. A
special prosecutor`s investigation which cleared him twice, finally the
fraud charges last fall, giving Donovan a dubious place in history as the
first cabinet member ever indicted while in office.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: First cabinet member ever indicted while in office. Two years
after the indictment, after he quit the Reagan administration, Ray Donovan
was acquitted at trial. But that was the last time somebody with zero
government experience was ever put in that particular cabinet job. That
was the last time. Before today, when the president-elect announced that a
fast food executive named Andrew Puzder will be his choice for that job for
Mr. Puzder runs Carl`s Jr. He has no government experience but he and his
wife did donate several hundred thousand dollars to elect Donald Trump
In terms of his labor views, he`s been vocally opposed to getting – having
more workers be eligible to get overtime pay, which is a key policy of the
Obama administration. He`s also against raising the minimum wage. He
aggressively wants to get rid of all of Obamacare. And interestingly, he`s
also a fan – where you can do it – of getting rid of employees
Earlier this year, he did a business profile about the prospects for
automating many of the jobs in his fast food restaurants. He waxed
rhapsodic about how great it would be if he could just have robot workers
instead of humans. He said, quote, about robots, quote, “They`re always
polite, they always upsell, they never take a vacation, they never show up
late, and there`s never a slip and fall or an age, sex or race
So, if the Carl`s Jr. CEO had his way, all burgers in the United States
would be made like this. Look, ma, no hands. Because no people.
So, he doesn`t like overtime, doesn`t like Obamacare, doesn`t like the
minimum wage, and he doesn`t mind his minimum wage and low wage employees
all that much but he would mind them less if they were no-wage employees
who were made of metal.
Interesting choice for labor secretary. But there`s one use for human
beings at his business that`s he`s very gung-ho about and famous for and
it`s these particular humans. This is the aforementioned cheesecake that I
warned you about.
The one thing Carl`s Jr. CEO is famous for beyond anything else, what he`s
most famous for outside the business press is what he did to Carl`s Jr.`s
public image. He`s the one that oversaw Carl`s Jr. turning its ad campaign
into this decade-long series of skinny ladies not wearing much clothing, if
any, making something approaching love with food. This is what Carl`s
Jr.`s ads became under him.
Our nation`s could be next labor secretary has explained his philosophy
around this ad campaign saying it`s the only ad campaign in our nation that
reflects the personality of the company`s CEO, namely him. He also
explains that very simply, quote, “I like beautiful women eating burgers in
bikinis. I think it`s very American.”
Carl`s Jr. CEO was asked right before the election whether he wanted a job
in the Trump administration after he became a very outspoken Trump donor
and Trump surrogate. He replied when he was asked, quote, “I think it
could be the most fun you could have with your clothes on to be in this
So, that`s what we knew, what we sort of thought we knew about the guy who
has now been picked to be the next U.S. secretary of labor. But now that
he`s been picked to be the next U.S. secretary of labor, now there`s this
other thing from his past that has come up that will probably require an
explanation. And that`s next.
MADDOW: Before he became a fast food mogul, the CEO of Carl`s Jr., who is
now Donald Trump`s pick to be the next labor secretary for the United
States of America, he spent many years as a crusading anti-abortion lawyer
in Missouri. He was sort of a high profile figure on the anti-abortion
And today, once he was named as a choice for the new cabinet in the new
administration, one local Missouri paper who remembered him from his
activist days, they went digging in their archives for any stories they
might have run about Andrew Puzder`s time in their state.
Turns out this was the front page of the “Riverfront Times” in St. Louis,
Missouri, on July 26, 1989. I`m just going to quote to you from what they
published at the time. Quote, “One of the key people picked by Governor
John Ashcroft to craft Missouri`s next anti-abortion statute was accused of
physical abuse by his ex-wife in their divorce case. That`s according to
documents filed in St. Louis County Circuit Court. Among the items in the
public record, Puzder`s ex-wife alleged that he hit her and threw her to
the kitchen floor and then unplugged the phone when she tried to call
police for help during an altercation in 1986.”
Puzder in a deposition denied using physical violence and said that his
wife was yelling and coming at him so he grabbed her by the shoulders and
pushed her back to prevent her from hurting herself. Puzder said that his
wife ended up on the floor. I don`t know if her foot caught or what
happened, but she went down on her back and stayed down on the ground.
Puzder acknowledges that police responded to that altercation. His ex-wife
sought a protective order against Puzder alleging that he, quote, “attacked
me, choked me, threw me to the floor, hit me in the head, pushed his knee
into my chest, twisted my arm, dragged me on the floor, threw me against
the wall, tried to stop my call to 911 and kicked me in the back.”
Puzder told “The Riverfront Times”, quote, “There was no physical abuse at
any point in time.”
In his deposition he called his ex-wife`s allegations about abuse, quote,
Now that he`s the nation`s nominee to be secretary of labor confronted with
this material, Andrew Puzder told a reporter at the time, we should tell
you what he said at the time, quote, “This is what normally happens in
divorce cases. You`re blowing it out of proportion.”
In terms of what happens now, I mean, whether or not he still thinks it`s
being blown out of proportion, which is what he said back in the day,
honestly, it`s not every day that a proposed cabinet secretary has been
accused on the record multiple times of domestic abuse and has been subject
to protective orders to prevent domestic abuse. So, the questions about
these things aren`t going to go away because he deflected questions about
them when they happened in years past.
We contacted the Trump transition office tonight to get a comment from them
on this history of allegations against the new pick for labor secretary.
We have not yet heard back from the Trump transition office in terms of
that request for comment.
But I should also tell you that the “St. Louis Post Dispatch”, they report
tonight that they`ve heard from a spokesman for the labor secretary
designee. They`ve heard from a spokesman for the Carl`s Jr. CEO, and what
the spokesman has provided “The St. Louis Post Dispatch” is what he says is
a copy of an e-mail that was sent to the Carl`s Jr. CEO by his ex-wife
dated a week ago.
Nobody has confirmed this. We just got what the spokesman says it is, but
what it says is, quote, “I impulsively filed for a divorce without your
knowledge and was counseled then to file an allegation of abuse. I
regretted and still regret that decision and I withdrew those allegations
over 30 years ago. You were not abusive. I will most definitely confirm
to anyone who may ask that in no way was there abuse.”
“Post Dispatch” reports that although they got that from the Carl`s Jr. CEO
spokesman, they say that they were not able to reach his ex-wife directly.
They just got what is supposedly this e-mail from her.
But again, we`ve just learned of these allegations today, the day that he
was announced as the nominee to be the nation`s next secretary of labor.
We`ll update you as soon as we hear back from the Trump transition team.
We`ll update you as we learn more. Let us know.
MADDOW: Every so often we have a guest on this show who really connects,
who makes a big impact. And we can tell that because you guys out there
let us know by all the means by which you have to get in touch with us.
Well, we`ve got a return visit from the last guest that we had that really
caused our viewers to react, to e-mail us and tweet us and write to us like
crazy. We had her on this show and the response we got was unbelievable,
we just had a huge response.
Well, tonight, she`s coming back to the show. She has just returned from
Washington, D.C., and what happened to her in Washington, D.C., is
unsettling and personally frightening and it`s a pretty incredible story
about what happened while she was there. These are not the circumstances
under which I expected to have her back here, but she`s back here tonight.
You`ll want to hear this. That`s next.
MADDOW: The week after the election, the first-ever, Somali-American
legislator in the country came here to be a guest on this show. Her name
was Ilhan Omar. She was born in Somalia. She and her family fled Somalia
when she was a child.
For a time, she lived in a refugee camp. But then she was able to come to
this country, she has thrived in this country. She`s a U.S. citizen.
She`s now an elected official.
And because she made history in this election as a Somali-American, as a
Muslim American, as a new state representative in Minnesota, Ilhan Omar
really has become a symbol of hope for a lot of people. She`s a real
You might remember two days before the election, Donald Trump made a point
of traveling to Minnesota, to Minneapolis, and while he was there whipped
up fear and anger about Somali Americans who live in Minneapolis.
I should note Donald Trump did not win the state of Minnesota. And I think
in part by that visit by Trump, it was inspiring when they sent their
Somali-American candidate to the statehouse. Ilhan Omar won her seat.
Well, this past week as a newly-elected state rep, Ilhan Omar was invited
to the White House as part of a strategic planning session for lawmakers to
help prepare for their political lives particularly now in the era of
President Donald Trump. And that trip to the White House included a
session with President Obama`s senior adviser, Valerie Jarrett. It also
included things like selfies with New Jersey Senator Cory Booker.
But when all that fun was done on Tuesday, two nights ago, Representative
Omar jumped in her cab to make her way from the White House back to her
hotel where she was staying in D.C.
And this is how she describes what happened on that ride. Quote, “I spent
yesterday afternoon at the White House, learning about policy ideas states
could implement in the areas I`m passionate about. On the way to the
hotel, I got in a cab and became subjected do the most hateful, derogatory,
Islamophobic, sexist taunts and threats I have ever experienced. The cab
driver called me ISIS and threatened to remove my hijab.
I wasn`t really sure how this encounter would end. I attempted to rush out
of my cab and retrieve my belongings. I am still shaken by this incident.
I can`t wrap my head around how bold people are becoming in displaying
their hate toward Muslims. I pray for his humanity and for all those who
harbor hate in their hearts.”
Joining us now under circumstances that I did not expect is Ilhan Omar, the
first elected Somali-American legislator in the United States.
Representative-elect Omar, it`s really nice to have you with us again. I`m
sorry about the circumstances.
ILHAN OMAR, FIRST SOMALI-AMERICAN FEMALE LEGISLATOR: Thank you, Rachel.
I`m sorry about it as well. I didn`t know that my trip or my reflection on
Facebook would draw this much attention, so I`m a little overwhelmed about
how it`s been received.
MADDOW: Well, is it, how do you feel about it? Was it a legitimately
scary situation? Was it just a surprising situation? Did you feel like
there was a real threat to your safety?
OMAR: I mean, I think in the way that the event transformed itself was,
was what was scary for me. You know, there are many people who have
scarier interactions than I have had, but it was a very unexpected turn of
events and so I didn`t really know how to behave and act in that situation.
On Tuesday, I got an opportunity to end the three days I was in D.C. for a
sixth conference for state innovators with an invite to the White House to
attend two briefing sessions on the criminal justice reform and middle
class economics. And when I left, I went back to the hotel where the
conference was happening to transition into another hotel where I would
stay for a day and a half to attend some other meetings I had scheduled.
And on this cab ride that I got from the hotel where the conference was, my
sister and I were in that ride going to that hotel we would say. And this
gentleman was on his phone, he didn`t interact with us, and I was playing
and fidgeting on my phone. And the area that we were traveling through
didn`t seem familiar to me, and I am from Arlington, Virginia, and have
been in D.C. quite a lot.
And so, I attempted to look through my phone to see if the direction we
were heading was to the hotel, because when you`re in, in a cab, you don`t
know if you`re going to make it, sometimes, to your destination in, in the
fashion that you want to make it to.
So, when we got to the hotel, it was, it`s the, it`s inside of a Deaf
OMAR: – in D.C. And when you`re entering, there`s two ways that you can
turn. One takes you all the way around the hotel. And one gives, you
know, takes you, just like a short turn and then you`re right at the
entrance to the hotel.
And so, you know, having stayed at that hotel many times, I, you know,
turned to the cabdriver who was on the phone and said, sir, if you turn
this way, it is where the entrance door is, and if you go the other way,
you`ll take us around the university, and he said, “You shut up”.
OMAR: And I thought that he must be saying that to the person he was on
the phone with, you know. And so, I said, “Excuse me, are you talking to
me?” And he said, “Yes. What do you think I would want to chauffeur
around filthy people like you?”
And the gentleman was a man from Africa. So, he had, you know, an African
accent. Just like many of my family members, and I said to him, “I don`t
know how to respond to you. You know, I`m in your cab. And that`s not how
you treat customers.”
And then he went on to say some words that I can`t repeat. And then I
reminded him that in our African custom, a man who is older than me is
supposed to treat me with respect, and I am supposed to treat him with
respect, because I could be the age of his daughter, and he said, “I don`t
have disgusting children like you.”
And by that time, we had arrived at the hotel. He went the longer route.
And once we arrived, I gave him my credit card, because I was like shaken.
And he said, “You get the F out of my car.” And I was like, “I would like
to pay for the service and get a receipt so that I can, you know, know that
this, this transaction did take place just in case something happened.” My
phone had died. I would have, you know, recorded the incident or have
taken proactive actions, but I couldn`t at the moment.
And so, I made my sister got out of the taxi, she`s afraid, but I stayed in
to get my receipt, and I, he gave me the receipt and opened the trunk. We
tried to get our stuff out, and as we, you know, are getting our things
out, he said, “I should remove your head scarf and see what you have hidden
under it, you ISIS.”
And it was just – you know, I just stood there. And he got back in his
car and he drove. And I just stood there for 20 seconds, maybe 30 seconds,
just frozen. And I walked into the hotel and when the cashier, the hotel
attendant said hello to us, I said, you know, she said, “Are you OK?” And
I said, “No, I`ve, for the first time been called ISIS.”
And I don`t, you know what I mean, I don`t, I remember just looking down at
myself. And trying to think of why somebody would turn on us that way and
how that interaction would take place. And it was a really bizarre and
frightening and confusing situation.
MADDOW: Ilhan, we`re hearing your story, you`re now a very high-profile
Muslim American, and perhaps the most high profile Somali-American lawmaker
in the United States. We are hearing it in increase of hate crimes that we
found in the country.
I have to go now because we are out of time, which I am sorry about. But I
also just want to say I`m sorry for what you went through, and I want to
thank you for talking about it publicly rather than enduring this as a
private thing, because in your position, being able to talk about it is
going to open a lot of people`s eyes. I`m sorry that it happened, and I`m
thankful for you being here.
OMAR: Thank you so much.
Ilhan Omar is the first elected Somali-American lawmaker anywhere in the
United States, that happened to her as she was leaving the White House this
week in Washington, D.C.
That does it for us tonight. We`ll see you again tomorrow.
Now, it`s time for “THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL”.
Good evening, Lawrence.
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