The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 12/9/2016
Show: THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW
Date: December 9, 2016
Guest: Ellen Nakashima, Michael McFaul
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Thanks to you at home for joining us at this
hour. Happy Friday.
So, we had a whole show planned tonight that had honestly nothing to do
with this topic but then “The Washington Post” just dropped this
astonishing bombshell within the last hour. Now, I`m going to – if you
haven`t seen this yet, I`m going to put the headline up on the screen so
you can see it. But this is one of those stories where the headline is
really only a fraction of the news that they just broke here.
This is a big deal what “The Washington Post” just published. And there
are really two big deals within it. There are two bottom lines to this
story that they just broke tonight.
The first one is what is reflected in the headline. I`m just going to
quote the lead directly here.
The CIA has concluded in a secret assessment that Russia intervened in the
2016 election to help Donald Trump win the presidency rather than just to
undermine confidence in the U.S. electoral system. They`re citing
officials briefed on the matter. Quote, “Intelligence agencies have
identified individuals with connections to the Russian government who
provided WikiLeaks with thousands of hacked e-mails from the DNC and
others, including Hillary Clinton`s campaign chairman.”
According to U.S. officials these individuals are actors known to the
intelligence community who are part of a wider Russian operation to boost
Donald Trump`s chances at winning and hurt Hillary Clinton`s chances.
A senior U.S. official briefed on an intelligence presentation made to U.S.
senators – stick a pin in this sourcing there for a second – that person
is then quoted saying this, “It is the assessment of the intelligence
community that Russia`s goal here was to favor one candidate over the
other, to help Trump get elected. That`s the consensus view.”
OK. So that is the first part of this breaking news tonight from “The
Washington Post.” The CIA has told U.S. officials and senators secretly
that when Russia hacked the e-mails of Clinton`s campaign chair and the
DNC, when they fed that information to the U.S. public via WikiLeaks, it
wasn`t some chaos plan to make Americans wonder about the integrity of our
election system. They weren`t trying to make us feel ughy about voting.
They weren`t trying to make us feel like our democracy was shaky and
vulnerable. It was a specifically directed thing. They were overtly part
of a Russian op to try to win the American election for Donald Trump.
OK. So that`s one. Here`s the other part. And I said stick a pin in that
sourcing stuff there for a reason. I think it`s always important to pay
attention to the sourcing, but particularly on stories like this.
Obviously, the reporters at “The Washington Post” are not going to tell us
who their sources are and we would never ask them to, but they do describe
They describe the officials they`re talking to and their sources for the
story as, various throughout the story, officials briefed on the matter or
U.S. officials or at one point, like I said, stick a pin in it. A senior
U.S. official briefed on an intelligence presentation made to U.S.
OK. So, that sourcing ends up being a big part of that story because this
assessment by the CIA – this is not a public assessment. The CIA has not
made this incredibly inflammatory assessment public. They haven`t said
overtly to us, to you and me, to citizens that Russia tried to win the
election for Donald Trump.
But that assessment is now in the paper. That`s now on the front page of
“The Washington Post.” And the reason it is is because the CIA didn`t keep
this assessment to itself. They gave this assessment to people in the U.S.
And the question is, I think, the sort of most disturbing part of what has
just been broken here is how much of this information they gave to people
in the U.S. government before the election. And that`s, I think, probably
the biggest part of this story here. This is totally new tonight.
“The Post” describes what they say was a secret briefing for congressional
leaders in September. Again, I`m just going to vote directly here. This
came out in the last hour. So I haven`t written this up and given you a
big explanatory thing about it. I`m just going to tell you what they got.
This from “The Post”, “By mid-September White House officials had decided
it was time to name and shame the Russian government by publicly blaming
Russia for doing this. But they worry that doing so just weeks before the
election unilaterally without bipartisan congressional backing, that would
make President Obama vulnerable to charges that he was using intelligence
for political purposes. Instead, officials devised a plan. They would
seek bipartisan support from top lawmakers.”
So they set up a secret meeting with the Gang of 12, the leaders of the
House and Senate, the ranking members of the intelligence committee, in the
Homeland Security Committee, in both the House and the Senate, that`s the
Gang of 12. Obama dispatched counterterrorism director Lisa Monaco, FBI
Director James Comey, Homeland Secretary Jeh Johnson. He sent them to go
make the pitch to these leaders in Congress for a, quote, “show of
solidarity and bipartisan unity against Russia interfering in our
This detail is incredible. “In a secure room in the Capitol used for
briefings involving classified information, these administration officials
broadly laid out the evidence that U.S. spy agencies had collected showing
Russia`s role in cyber-intrusions in at least two states and in hacking the
e-mails of the Democratic organizations and individuals. They made a case
for a united, bipartisan front in response to what one official described
as the threat posed by unprecedented meddling by a foreign power in our
And get this, the Democratic leaders in the room unanimously agreed on the
need to take the threat seriously. Republicans, however, were divided.
Some of the Republicans in the briefing seemed opposed to the idea of going
public with such explosive allegations in the final stages of an election.
According to several officials, Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell
raised doubts about the underlying intelligence. He made clear to the
administration that he would consider any effort by the White House to
challenge the Russians publicly to be an act of partisan politics.
And then, “The Post” helpfully notes after the election, Trump chose
McConnell`s wife, Elaine Chao, as the nominee for transportation secretary.
This is stunning stuff, right? I mean, this has just broken within the
last hour in “The Washington Post.” They`re reporting that the CIA not
only concluded that the Russians intervened in the election, stole
information, publicized stolen information to help Donald Trump win the
presidency, but the CIA gave its information about Russia to the leadership
in the House and the Senate and the White House want to make a big public
bipartisan stand against it, and Republicans said no.
Mitch McConnell specifically said, no, no, don`t tell the public. And so,
we held the election with the leadership in Congress knowing full well what
Russia was doing and we all went to vote while they sat on that. Until
now. Until “The Post” published that tonight.
Joining us now is __. She`s a cybersecurity reporter for “The Washington
Post”. She`s one of the reporters who broke this story just a little while
Ms. Ellen Nakashima, thank you very much for joining us. I know this must
be a very busy time for you right now.
ELLEN NAKASHIMA, WASHINGTON POST CYBER SECURITY REPORTER (via telephone):
Yes, thanks for having me.
MADDOW: So, it seems to me, as I just explained that the big new piece of
this is both the CIA`s conclusion that Russia was trying to decide who
should be the next president of the United States, that`s what this
intervention was about, but also this information that was given to
Congress. Were there multiple times when the intelligence agencies, when
the CIA, when this intelligence information was brought to congressional
NAKASHIMA: Well, we know that the CIA briefed the Senate Intelligence
Committee last week with this information, which is partly what prompted a
letter, the letter we mention, in the article, from seven senators, Senator
Wyden among them, of Oregon, to President Obama, asking him to declassify
information that these senators thought was important for the public to
These are all Democratic senators who signed the letter. And, you know,
this is the information, part of the information that was given to them and
which the senators felt should be made public.
MADDOW: In terms of what the – this congressional meeting that you and
your colleagues describe happening in September where Jeh Johnson and Lisa
Monaco and James Comey were all sent to that room that`s used for
classified briefings on Capitol Hill in this larger group of Senate and
House leadership were briefed on these matters, do we know specifically
what they were told, how the intelligence was characterized in that
NAKASHIMA: So, that meeting was actually more of a meeting to get
bipartisan support for a statement that would urge the state to avail
themselves of the Department of Homeland Security`s, you know, help in
protecting their election systems from attack, especially at a time when
they were being targeted by a very advanced adversary, Russia. So, that
was – it was an informational session, and during that session, there was
discussion about also publicly naming Russia as the, you know, culprit
behind the hacks and the meddling and some lawmakers even wanted to go
further and urged the administration to take a response to deter Russia.
MADDOW: And you`re able to characterize the disparate response from
members of Congress who were briefed at that point by saying that the
Democratic leaders unanimously agreed that the threat was serious and that
presumably there should be some response, but it was a divide among
Republican lawmakers which is the reason why there was no public statement
of any kind after that briefing before the election?
NAKASHIMA: There was no bipartisan public statement. What happened after
that meeting is when the Democrats could not get – even though there was
no consensus from the entire group, two Democratic lawmakers, Senator
Dianne Feinstein from California who is the ranking member on the Senate
Intelligence Committee and Congressman Adam Schiff from California, who is
the ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, both put out a
statement essentially pointing the finger publicly at Russia and blaming
them for the hacks and trying to undermine the election.
MADDOW: Ellen Nakashima, “Washington Post” cyber security reporter –
thank you for helping us understand the story tonight. Thanks for taking
the time to be with us. I appreciate it.
NAKASHIMA: Thanks again. Bye-bye.
MADDOW: All right. So, we have much more to come tonight, including on
this story. We had Lisa Monaco, the national terrorism director, announce
today that President Obama has ordered an intelligence review to be
completed before he is out of office in terms of what Russia did in this
But this bombshell tonight from “The Washington Post” that the CIA knew
that Russia wasn`t just meddling, Russia was trying to deliver the
presidency to Donald Trump and this news about the partisan difference in
terms of the response on Capitol Hill that members of Congress who are
Republican particularly Mitch McConnell didn`t want the American people to
be told what they were being alerted to, whereas Democrats wanted to do
It is – it is striking. It`s striking not only because his wife went on
to get a cabinet job from Donald Trump, but it`s striking because this is -
- this is I think not what any of us expected to be living through in our
lifetime in terms of thinking about the vulnerability of the American
political system to our enemies and how American politicians respond to
that with such incredible partisanship.
All right. Next, we will talk to the American who knows more about
Russian-American relations in just about anybody else alive. He`s here
with us live next. Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LISA MONACO, COUNTERTERRORISM ADVISOR TO PRESIDENT OBAMA: The president
has directed the intelligence community to conduct a full review of what
happened during the 2016 election process. It is to capture lessons
learned from that and to report to a range of stakeholders to include the
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: So, that was Lisa Monaco this morning, President Obama`s
counterterrorism adviser. She announced today that President Obama told
the intelligence community he wants a full review of Russian interference
in this presidential election before he`s out of office.
Now, of course, the president-elect keeps insisting, despite the
intelligence community saying otherwise, that he`s sure Russia did nothing
to interfere in the election. But both that announcement about the review
and that repeated insistence from the president-elect, those were both
before “The Washington Post`s” blockbuster report just out within the last
hour tonight which says that not only did the CIA determine that Russia was
interfering in the election, they determined that Russia was interfering in
the election specifically to try to hand the presidency to Donald Trump.
That`s why they were interfering. It was to make Trump president.
“The Washington Post” also reporting some disturbing details tonight about
members of Congress being given that assessment by the intelligence
community and by U.S. officials ahead of the election and them not wanting
anything said about it, as we all went to vote not knowing this, even
though they knew it.
Joining us now is Michael McFaul. He`s the former U.S. ambassador to
Russia. He`s now the political science professor at Stanford.
Mr. Ambassador, thanks very much for your time. It`s nice to see you.
MICHAEL MCFAUL, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO RUSSIA: Sure, thanks for having
MADDOW: Let me ask you about this “Washington Post” report tonight. We
had earlier, obviously, seen this public declaration from the Department of
Homeland Security and the office of the Director of National Intelligence
saying Russia had meddled in the election, but they didn`t say they were
trying to elect Donald Trump. I think a lot of us were sort of making that
Now, we`ve got the CIA in secret saying, yes, that`s what they were trying
to do. They wanted Trump to be president. What do you make of this?
MCFAUL: Well, two things I think are especially new for me. And I want to
remind you, Rachel, we`ve been talking about this for months. I wrote a
piece about this in “The Washington Post”, which we talked about in August,
but we didn`t have the exact data or the CIA connecting the dots.
The important piece of this reporting for me is that the CIA now says, you
know, in the story filtered through the different sources that you rightly
pointed out about ten minutes ago, that the Russians gave WikiLeaks the
data, right, before we had to speculate about that. The CIA has now
briefed people to say that definitively. And therefore, it doesn`t – you
don`t have to be a rocket scientist or have a PhD. in Russian studies to
say they did that because WikiLeaks then dropped that data to adversely
affect one candidate in this election.
So, before we had to hypothesize about that, now the CIA is saying it`s
MADDOW: The CIA also reported, is intelligence community more broadly, I
should say, appears to have delivered, according to this reporting, appears
to have delivered some of this assessment to member of Congress, to
leadership in the House and Senate and to heads of the Homeland Security
and Intelligence Communities including in advance of the election whereupon
there was a debate about whether or not the intelligence was good and
whether or not the American people should be warned about this.
What strikes me in “The Washington Post” reporting is that they said there
was a partisan divide, that the Democrats took this seriously and want to
say we are unified against this. The Republicans didn`t. They were at
least divided on this issue and Mitch McConnell was flat out against it.
I don`t – I don`t – I don`t think of intelligence as being that partisan
a thing and I especially don`t think of classified intelligence that has to
be done in one of those, you know, compartmentalized briefing rooms, I
don`t think of that as being something that engenders a partisan reaction.
Is that part of the reporting a surprise to you or am I just being naive?
MCFAUL: It`s not surprising to me given the election that was at stake. I
mean, you know, time and time again some of us who consider ourselves to be
national security experts tried to raise this issue during the campaign and
every time, we were derided as, oh, that`s just a partisan statement.
That`s because you`re for Hillary Clinton and not Donald Trump.
And tragically, even after the election, President-elect Trump has already
stated on the record that he doesn`t believe this intelligence.
So, you know, that is what it was, but moving forward, we have to have a
real conversation about national security. Not divided between Democrats
and Republicans. That`s why there`s new legislation that just dropped a
few days ago. It`s called Protecting Our Democracy Act.
Congressman, Representatives Cummings and Swalwell have proposed this, an
independent bipartisan commission to investigate this.
And with all due respect to my friends in the Obama administration, having
them do a 30-day review internally in the U.S. government, that`s not
enough. Because that will be dismissed once the new administration comes
in. It has to be independent and bipartisan and a serious scrub of this so
that we don`t go through this again in 2020.
MADDOW: Michael McFaul, former U.S. ambassador to Russia, now professor of
political science at Stanford University – thank you, Professor. It`s
good to have you here. This is sort of incredible.
MCFAUL: You can see I have a little passion about this, Rachel. Thanks
for having me on tonight.
MADDOW: I appreciate it. Thank you.
MCFAUL: Thank you. Thanks for doing the show.
MADDOW: I also want to say that what the ambassador just said there about
looking ahead to 20 and making sure this doesn`t happen again, you also
heard Lisa Monaco say it in terms of having lessons learned about these
sort of things – there`s also the issue of retaliation, right?
I mean, if the United States government interfered in a Russian election to
pick the next president of Russia and Russia found out about it, right
after that election, don`t you think they would retaliate against us
somehow? Will there be an American action in response to that,
particularly if we know that Russia not only was doing it in order to just
be mischievous, they were doing it to get an outcome. Does the fact that
they got the outcome they wanted mean they get away with it? That`s hard
Much more ahead here tonight. Stay with us.
MADDOW: All right. You will notice a theme in tonight`s breaking news.
Some Fridays are like this, a whole bunch of stuff happens and the news
gods don`t care that it`s the start of the weekend. But this evening, just
before we learned about “The Washington Post`s” reporting about Russia`s
role in the election, this bombshell report tonight from “The Washington
Post,” the CIA concluding that Russia intervenes in our election
specifically to hand the presidency to Donald Trump, before that bombshell
broke in “The Washington Post” tonight, “The Wall Street Journal” broke the
news that the CEO of Exxon, Rex Tillerson, is now all of a sudden the top
pick to be the next secretary of state.
“The Wall Street Journal” was the first to report it but now “The New York
Times” and “the Washington Post” are running with the story. They are
reporting that President-elect Trump plans on meeting with the Exxon CEO
again this weekend. He`s expected to make a formal announcement of his
secretary of state pick next week, but Rex Tillerson is reportedly the
In case you are not connecting with that name or with the Exxon connection,
Rex Tillerson is this guy we`ve been covering for the last few days, right?
This is Russian president Vladimir Putin personally awarding him the
highest honor they give to non-Russian citizens for Exxon`s big
contributions to developing cooperation in the energy sector. He was
awarded that prestigious medal after he went to Vladimir Putin`s vacation
home and signed what would have been a $500 billion deal between Exxon and
a Russian-owned oil company to explore the arctic and, indeed, our own Gulf
That guy who just finished doing a half trillion dollars worth of business
with Russia or what would have been a half trillion dollars worth of
business with Russia had the U.S. government not intervened with those
pesky Russian sanctions, if those sanctions went away, do you know what
would have happened to the value of Exxon stock and his Exxon stock and his
That guy, the CEO of Exxon, the guy who has only ever worked at Exxon – he
started working there in the 1970s. He`s never held another job. He has
just reportedly risen to the top of president-elect Trump`s secretary of
There`s a theme in tonight`s election. It has an accent.
MADDOW: The American idea. If there`s only one American idea, what would
I don`t know. That actually sounds kind of sad to me. I think there`s a
whole bunch – well, I have no plan to propose what the one American idea
should be, but I do know that that specific phrase “the American idea,”
whether you think that`s a good phrase or bad phrase, it was trademarked
And the story behind trademarking “the American idea” turns out to be
absolutely nuts. And that story`s next.
MADDOW: There is a Central Park perfume. I have no idea what it smells
like but it comes in a pretty bottle and very expensive, 100 bucks on
Amazon. And Central Park perfume is manufactured or sold by the next
president of the United States.
There`s also a Central Park sports bra, this one in a kicky color. It`s
also kind of an expensive item. It`s like about 50 bucks for a sports bra,
but it is also not manufactured or sold by the next president of the United
There`s also this Central Park hat. This one isn`t bad. It`s about 20
bucks. Also not manufactured or sold by the next president of the United
But you do have to be careful about this stuff because those things,
perfume, active wear, underwear, those are not him, but the next president
really does basically make and sell almost everything else that says
“Central Park” on it.
In 2008, for whatever reason, our next president decided to radically
expand the number of trademarks that he had on the name “Central Park.” It
had previously been for Central Park as in parking, like a pun. Park your
car here in Central Park. Ha ha. That`s what he previously had for a
Central Park trademark.
But in 2008, he expanded his trademarks to include a gigantic list of
Central Park stuff. Central Park paperclips, Central Park bookmarks,
Central Park breadboards, Central Park fireplace brushes, Central Park bird
baths and trash cans and tee balls. Tee balls. I don`t know what a tee
ball is. Central Park nonmetal piggy bank, Central Park gravy boat. This
gigantic list of stuff.
Our next president back in 2008 applied for registered trademarks for all
of these Central Park things so he alone could make and sell these things
and nobody else could. It`s kind of a weird thing to think about, right,
but if you ever wanted to buy and like a Central Park hand operated coffee
grinder, the Patent and Trademark Office of the United States says the only
person you can legally buy that from is Donald Trump.
Or at least that used to be the case until very, very recently, and this is
such a weird part of this story. Because on July 21st this summer, this
happened in Cleveland, Donald Trump accepting the nomination of the
Republican Party to become president of the United States. The very next
day – that was July 21st. The very next day, July 22nd, the Patent and
Trademark Office canceled all of his trademarks on all the Central Park
Run that scroll again. It`s incredible. Can we run it again? Do we have
Yes, all of the Central Park branded stuff, the decorative pencil top
ornaments, knife boards, knife blocks, wood chopping boards for kitchen
use. All this stuff – the day after he got the presidential nomination,
they declared his trademark registrations of all of these things dead.
Why then? Why that day? No idea.
Just funny, we talked to a bunch of trademark lawyers who are experts on
this stuff and reporting out the story, and they all told us about the
timing, meh, who knows? Probably just a coincidence.
OK. But it does seem like an odd coincidence.
Now that his trademark registration on all of the Central Park branded
stuff is dead, though, are you starting to see dollar signs of your own,
right? If he`s lost that trademark, does this mean that you or I or
anybody can now start manufacturing or selling Central Park pencil top
ornaments or Central Park caviar coolers or Central Park commemorative
plates or all the rest of it?
It`s interesting. We also don`t know the answer to that and that ends up
being important in terms of what`s about to happen next to our country and
what`s about to happen to presidency, because our next president appears to
have lost his trademark registration on all of these zillions of Central
Park items because the Patent and Trademark Office believes that he stopped
using the trademark. He stopped making and selling all of those things.
And with the trademark, if you don`t use it, you lose it, and that`s why
they canceled it.
But if it turns out that the trademark office was wrong and according to
him and his lawyers, he is actually still using this trademark, he does
still deserve to hold the exclusive trademark on all Central Park caviar
coolers, then we`d be in lawsuit-ville, right? Because you or I looking at
that dead trademark registration, one of us might decide, you know what,
I`ve always want to make and sell Central Park pepper grinders. But if you
or I started selling Central Park pepper grinders, Donald Trump, who at one
point held that trademark, he could conceivably come after us for that and
say, oh, even though it looked like my trademark had lapsed, I was still
using it, I was still the rightful owner, and now you have violated my
trademark, you got to pay me all your profits, you got to pay me damages.
I`m going to clean you out.
If he was still just a rough and tumble New York business guy, that would
be an interest business question about all the trademarks that he used to
have that lapsed and canceled the day after he got the nomination. But
he`s no longer a rough and tumble New York business guy. Now, he`s going
to be president. So, what`s he going to do about all the stuff that he had
or had trademarks on? I mean, will he come sue you or me for our Central
Park pepper grinders? You know, signing papers in the Oval Office to tell
his lawyers to come after some citizen?
He`s proudly litigious as a businessman. Once he`s president, is he still
going to sue to protect his many trademarks, lapsed or otherwise, while
he`s still serving as president of the United States or is he going to
leave that money on the table, let people walk all over him. You know,
that sweet, sweet Central Park pepper grinder money.
Is he still going to sue people over that stuff? You tell me. We have no
It ends up being a live topic because even in the late stages of the
presidential campaign, he was still registering new trademarks in the
middle of the presidential campaign, while he was winning but the
Republican primaries were still going on, he applied for new trademark re
registrations under the auspices of the “American idea”. He applied to
register a whole bunch of trademarks around the “American idea”. I wonder
where he got that, the American idea.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: We`re here today to explore
the American idea.
You deliver Virginia. You save the American idea.
Americans want the American dream. They believe in the American idea.
These are the principles that define the American idea. The American idea
belongs to all of us.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Actually, the American idea belongs to the Trump Organization,
because they trademarked it in April. Too slow, Paul Ryan, too slow. They
I mean, who knows where they heard it first, but Donald Trump and his
companies started registering the American idea as a trademark this year,
deep into his run for president. And we don`t know what he`s going to do
with that. We don`t know what the idea is there.
I mean, was the idea maybe if he`s president of America, that might be an
even better brand than Trump or Central Park or any of these other things
that he`s trademarked over the years and tried to monetize in his business?
I mean, trademarking the American idea, what a great way for a U.S.
president to make money off the country.
Too slow, America. He got the trademark.
Every day, there`s more stuff like this that we have to figure out. Every
day this stuff in terms of the conflict between his business interests and
what he`s supposed to be doing for the country, these conflicts get worse
and weirder and not better. And the transition still is just not
commenting very much on the president-elect continuing his moneymaking
ventures and his ownership stake in his business while he`s now serving as
president-elect and once he`s about to serve as president.
But no matter how little they want to talk about it, it is already weird.
It`s weird every day.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT-ELECT: Two simple rules when it comes to this
massive rebuilding effort: buy American and hire American.
Two simple rules when it comes to rebuilding this country: buy American and
hire American. All right?
Two simple rules: buy American and hire American.
Two simple rules: buy American and hire American. Okay?
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
MADDOW: The president-elect has been doing these campaign-style rallies
for himself around the country over the last couple of weeks and he`s using
this new slogan “Buy American, hire American.” Always gets a huge round of
applause, but he`s also at the same time still running his business. And
so, he`s out there in the world saying, hire American. Hire American.
And now, here`s “The Palm Beach Post”, “Trump again hires foreign workers
for Mar-a-Lago.” Little change in pay. Citing newly released data from
the U.S. Labor Department, “The Palm Beach Post” says, quote, “President-
elect Donald Trump has won approval to hire 64 foreign workers through the
federal`s H-2B foreign visa program.”
This is not like building something overseas in a foreign factory. This is
for service jobs like cooking and bartending and waiting table jobs and
cooking at a place in Florida. He`s bringing foreign workers into the
United States to work at his place in the United States, at a place in
Florida. He`s bringing foreign workers into the United States to work at
his place in Florida.
I mean, there are local people in Florida who want these jobs. There`s a
local nonprofit job placement agency for American citizens in the county
where Trump operates this club. It`s a nonprofit called a career source.
They say they know plenty of American citizens, hundreds of them wanting to
go work at Mar-a-Lago. They says they have hundreds of candidates for
hospitality like servers, and chefs, and cooks, and bartenders and
housekeeping and all the rest of it.
But “Palm Beach Post” says, quote, “While Mar-a-Lago asks the federal
government for dozens of H-2B visas for workers every tourist season, the
private club has asked the local placement agency for help in finding a
local employee, quote, `only once in the past decade`.”
Apparently, they needed a banquet server really fast just one some time
last year. So, they went down to the local place to get an American for
that job. But they only did it once and it was only because they, what,
didn`t have enough time to get somebody over here from Burkina Faso in time
for tonight`s banquet or from wherever else he prefers to bring in his
But that`s not the – bringing in a local person from a local employment
agency? That`s not the way he likes to hire. And so, the president-elect
will be bringing in from foreign countries 19 people to work as cooks for
$12.74 an hour. They`re getting their pay cut from last year. They got
over $13 last year. This year, he`s stiffing 26 cents per hour.
He`s also hiring his waiters and waitresses from foreign countries. He`s
hiring his housekeepers from foreign countries.
I mean, it is awkward to be a guy who still owns a business, particularly a
business that operates like that, while also being a politician who says
things like this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: We will put our people, not people from our lands, our people back
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: We will? What we? Not you. I mean, people get to run their
business however they want, but he`s out there preaching, preaching at
these rallies, standing in the pulpit preaching hire American, hire
American. We will put our people to work not people from other lands.
Hire American – while he is going out of his way to not hire American.
So, that`s awkward for him to still have an ownership stake in his
One last point here, and again, this is just today`s news, a snapshot in
the life of what`s happening to the presidency. But 2 1/2 weeks ago, “The
Washington Post” reported that during the campaign, Trump formed eight new
companies tied to a potential new hotel project in Saudi Arabia. Eight new
companies formed during the campaign.
Tonight, “The A.P.” reports that the Trump Organization has shut down four
of those companies that he set up to do the Saudi deal.
So, if you do the math, eight and you take away four, that means he`s
shutting down four of the eight companies that he set up to do that Saudi
deal. Are the other four companies still alive? Is the incoming president
and his family in talks with Saudi officials about hotel deals that will
personally benefit them while they`re also making decisions about Middle
East peace making, Middle East policy making, U.S. military matters?
I mean, we have no idea. They don`t tell us.
For now, though, presumably there are interests all over the world and all
over our own country looking for ways to do what previously was very hard
to do, looking for ways to grease the palm of the U.S. president. That
used to be a really hard thing to do. Now, it`s easy.
I mean, if you`re a business, you can advertise on the president`s new TV
show that is going to start airing in January. That will grease his palm.
If you`re not a business who can advertise on a big TV show like that,
you`re just a Schmoe who doesn`t want to advertise there, doesn`t have that
deep a pocket, might I suggest an alternative, a Donald Trump Central Park
crystal ice bucket that`s made in Slovenia. It`s cheaper there. Gives you
a bigger profit margin, you know, which means more for him.
I`ll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Two simple rules: buy American and hire American.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: OK. So, news continues to break on this amazing story that we
covered at the top of the show, the new “Washington Post” bombshell about
the CIA concluding that Russia intervened in the election specifically to
hand the presidency to Donald Trump.
Also, “The Washington Post” reporting tonight that the intelligence
agencies and the White House told Democratic and Republican leaders in
Congress back before the election that Russia was trying to interfere in
the U.S. election. They wanted a bipartisan show of resistance to that.
They wanted a bipartisan response to that. Republicans including
specifically Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell responded by saying
no, that they didn`t want to say anything before the election. That`s
particularly troubling given that his wife went on to get a cabinet
position in the new Trump administration, get offered a cabinet position in
the new Trump administration once Trump was elected.
But as we are all absorbing that news tonight, we now have a response from
the Trump transition and it`s a doozy. Ready? Transition statement on
claims of foreign interference in U.S. elections.
Quote, “These are the same people that said Saddam Hussein had weapons of
mass destruction. The election ended a long time ago and one of the
biggest Electoral College victories in history. It`s now time to move on
and make America great again.”
It was not one of the biggest Electoral College victories in history.
Also, you lost by more than 2 million votes in the popular vote.
But the fact that Saddam Hussein didn`t have weapons of mass destruction,
and the intelligence agencies indicated otherwise is indelibly true, the
fact that U.S. intelligence agency say that Russia intervened in our
election to help Donald Trump is an entirely separate matter and if you
won`t engage with that on the substance, then telling other people to move
on while you ignore it isn`t going to persuade anyone.
We`ll be right back.
MADDOW: When the national counterterrorism adviser, Lisa Monaco, spoke
today at the Christian Science Monitor breakfast, she made a couple of
pieces of big news. First, as we discussed earlier, she announced that the
Obama administration`s order to review of what`s happened with the Russians
intervening in the presidential election. But she also dropped a scary
little bombshell that as the top counterterrorism adviser in the U.S.
government, she hasn`t yet met with whoever is going to replace her. Not
sure there is a replacement actually.
Quote, “I have not met my successor. My successor to my knowledge has not
been named yet. I am eager to sit down with that person.” Whoever that
person may be, if they ever pick someone.
If you are the counterterrorism adviser to the president and they don`t get
around to picking someone to replace you for the next president, what do
you do like on Inauguration Day? What do you do with all of your stuff?
Do you just burn everything in a trash can and go home? Do you lock the
door behind you when you leave? What do you do?
The transition has had some weird elements. I mean, there`s the fact that
it`s still being run out of Trump`s house. They`re not still using the
transition offices taxpayers pay for in D.C. It`s also preceding in a
weird pace, with priorities that sometimes don`t make sense.
For example, it`s been 31 days since the election. On every one of those
days, the intelligence community has prepared a president`s daily brief
that they`ve made available to the incoming president, but “Reuters”
reported last night that the incoming president has only sat down and taken
four of those briefings, four out of 31.
He`s been very busy, you know, holding rallies for himself and stuff, while
he has turned down 27 of the 31 intelligence briefings he`s been offered.
Also, there`s no counterterrorism adviser.
That said, today, we learned that elements of the transition are – there
are elements of he transition that are going super aggressively. The
former director of federal affairs for Koch Industries is heading up the
transition for the Energy Department. “Bloomberg News” is first to report
that at energy, the transition has now sent over a list of 65 questions for
the Obama energy department, including the names of individual employees
who have worked on climate change. They want to know who went to climate
change meetings, who worked on what climate change issues. They want
“Washington Post” reports that they`ve also demanded names from top
scientists at the nation`s national laboratories. They want scientists`
names, their salaries, their publications, their professional affiliations,
everything they have put their name to as scientists.
Now, the worry here is obvious. I mean, everybody expects the incoming
Trump administration will destroy everything the Obama administration has
done on a lot of scientific issues. You make those intentions clear when
you put the chief lobbyist for Koch Industries in charge of setting up this
part of the administration, right? And you name an EPA administrator who
mostly just wants to abolish the EPA. You make that clear, right?
But this new worry with this new reporting is not just that they`re going
to change policy. They`re going to remove and replace people who Obama
appointed in all the science parts of the administration.
The worry here is that they`re going to go after people Obama didn`t
appoint. They`re going to go after the long-life civil servants. They`re
going to go root out scientists and staffers who aren`t political
appointees, but who committed the Republican sin of working on science that
the right doesn`t believe in.
I mean, replacing political appointees is expected. Scouring the names of
all the civil servants to root out all the permanent staffers? That would
be radical. I mean, not everything is designed to turn over with every new
president. That ends up being a really interesting potential break on
radicalism for the next administration.
And there is a hot, hot, hot story about that that we just learned about
tonight, and that`s next.
MADDOW: Not everything is designed to turn over with every new president.
There are jobs up and down government that are supposed to outlast any one
particular administration. So, the people in those jobs don`t blow in the
political winds, like the FBI director has a ten-year term.
The people on the board of directors of the Federal Reserve have a 14-year
term. Federal judges serve for life, right? The idea behind long terms
like this is political insulation. So, those folks aren`t always worried
about their jobs security, depending what`s going on in politics.
Last week, you might remember that the Office of Government Ethics went on
an epic, sarcastic tweet storm at the incoming president, basically telling
him that handing his business off to his kids won`t clear up the corruption
issue that`s posed by his business empire. He needs to divest. He needs
to sell-off or he`s got a problem.
After getting a bunch of attention for that, it was interesting, that
Twitter account, the Office of Government Ethics went dark. Not a single
tweet for over a week until this popped up late yesterday. “New, new
Office of Government Ethics profile explains how to prevent conflicts of
interest in the executive branch,” hint, hint, and they linked to their
brand new pamphlet complete with very simple explanatory pictures about
conflicts of interest in the executive branch. These guys think of anybody
If you`re thinking that that Office of Government Ethics is already
annoying the incoming president, you think the incoming president might not
cotton to folks like this with that kind of attitude about him once he gets
to Washington. Well, that`s why it`s a good and now really interesting
thing to know that the guy who runs that office, he doesn`t leave when
Obama leaves. He`s one of these guys on a longer term. He`s got a five-
year term. Trump gets him until 2018.
Elections have consequences, but they don`t change everything, at least
they don`t change it all at the same time. And in the case of this plucky
little agency they put in place after Watergate, that dynamic might be
about to get really fun to watch.
That does it for us tonight. We`ll see you again on Monday.
Now, it`s time for “THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL”.
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