The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 1/5/2017
Show: THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW
Date: January 5, 2017
JOY REID, MSNBC GUEST HOST: THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts right now.
Rachel, that was a little bit of tongue twister at the end. Katherine
Clark was great.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC ANCHOR: She was great and you know what? THE RACHEL
MADDOW SHOW does start right now, too. So, you didn`t tongue twist that at
all. Here we go. Thank you.
And thanks to you at home for starting up and staying with us for the next
hour. There`s a lot going on tonight.
We`ve got two excellent experienced life-long journalists here tonight as
our guests which is really good because this is a night when there seems to
be a lot of news breaking into the evening hours.
At just about 7:00 Eastern Time tonight, we got a surprise out-of-the-blue
announcement that former CIA Director James Woolsey has abruptly quit the
Donald Trump transition team.
Mr. Woolsey had been on the Trump transition, we had no advanced word that
there was anything wrong in that relationship or he might be on his way
out. He was on TV as recently as yesterday speaking for the incoming
administration, defending them on various matters related to his area of
expertise. But for whatever reason abruptly and with no notice tonight,
James Woolsey has quit the Trump transition, saying it`s effective
Now, they`re not saying what it`s about, but that, of course, has led to
lots of speculation. Again, he`s a former CIA director and today was a
high-profile day for the nation`s spies. Heads of the nation`s
intelligence agencies testified today about Russia`s cyber attacks on the
American presidential election. “NBC Nightly News” reported tonight that
the Russia attack also apparently targeted the White House and the Joint
Chiefs of Staff in addition to the offices of the Democratic Party.
“The Washington Post” is reporting late tonight that the intelligence
community has direct intercepted evidence of Russian officials celebrating
our election results, celebrating Donald Trump`s win over Hillary Clinton
as a victory for Russia.
So, that`s breaking and developing news tonight on that subject. There`s
some additional threads of that story that are continuing to break into
this evening. We`re going to have Andrea Mitchell here shortly with the
latest on that.
But, you know, it`s not always mainstream media and nationally known hard-
working journalists with a lifetime of pushy experience under their belt
who end up bringing you the most important news in a particular news cycle.
Sometimes even the biggest political scoops related to a presidential
election can come from not where you`d expect but actually some pretty low-
Por ejemplo, it was the supermarket tabloid the “National Enquirer” that
broke the news a couple months ago that Hillary Clinton had been caught on
camera having a seedy romp at this motel. “The National Enquirer” broke
that news the week of the election.
Actually, to give them their credit, they had quite a bit. They had quite
a bit of new stuff. They had a whole bunch of scoops just on that one
cover that one week. All on that same cover, there`s the seedy romp caught
on camera at this motel, roughly identified in the picture by the sign that
They also broke news on the same cover that Hillary Clinton was not just
having a seedy on-camera romp at this motel. It was a gay seedy romp at
this motel, because apparently Hillary Clinton is gay. At least she`s gay
when she`s at that motel.
Also same cover, yet another scoop, Hillary Clinton is hooked on drugs.
Hillary Clinton is hooked on narcotics. Also same cover, yet another
scoop, Hillary Clinton blackmailed the FBI, in a back room deal to avoid
prosecution. That`s a lot of news to break on one $1.95 cover.
If you notice, though, the red banner at the top, this scoop-filled cover,
that issue of the “National Enquirer,” wait, there`s more. That was only
one part of a two-part “National Enquirer” exclusive scoop about Hillary
Clinton having a secret hit man. See? Part two of Clinton hitman`s
Part one of Hillary hitman tells all was the previous week. That was the
explosive story that will change the election. That was about her top-
secret file of 24 years worth of cover-ups and crimes.
“The Enquirer” got their hands on that file. They got the hitman to reveal
the smoking gun proof that Hillary Clinton bribes reporters, that Hillary
Clinton had her hitman pay hush money to hookers. Hoo boy.
I mean, leading up to the election, it was really something else. I mean,
we`re used to “The National Enquirer” of being like, you know, celebrity
divorces and who`s too fat and who`s too skinny and everybody`s always on
the brink of dying.
But starting this past summer, starting in the heat of the general
election, this nationally distributed low-brow high-profile supermarket
tabloid, they really stopped doing most of the other stuff that they do and
they became full-time full-bore this.
Corrupt! Breaking news, new FBI indictment. Really? A new one? What was
the first one?
Also, Hillary failed secret FBI lie detector, the shocking bribe.
Donald Trump`s revenge on Hillary and her puppets. You see the little
inset there? That`s Muslim Obama, little Bloomberg, weird Tim Kaine.
In case you don`t want to bother reading this particular expose, they
pretty much nut it up on the cover there in the red dots, mob connections,
shady billion dollar deals, gay double life. There`s the gay thing again.
But you know what? Gay was the least of her problems because by the end of
next week, look, Hillary Clinton gained 103 pounds. She`s eating herself
to death. Poor Bill, Bill will be dead by Election Day.
Actually, no, wait, just a couple weeks later she`s the one who will be
dead by Election Day and the reason they know this is, one, obviously, look
at her but they at the “National Enquirer,” they say they obtained
exclusively revealed at last her full medical file. Revealed at last.
Hillary Clinton who you can see from this obviously un-retouched photo
she`s already dead, maybe. They had to dig her up to take that picture. I
mean, she`s definitely suffering from Alzheimer`s disease.
Even still, though, even though she`s probably already dead and she has
Alzheimer`s, she`s probably still a threat with her violent rages and all
and she has 10 deadly secrets every American must know. So this dead lady
is a threat.
Not to put to fine a point on it, the “National Enquirer” finishes that off
with “Jail Clinton now.”
Just a fire hose of this stuff heading into the election and mostly, it`s
this kind of unbelievable hit stuff on Hillary Clinton. Look – corrupt!
Racist! Criminal! That was the “National Enquirer`s” election eve
special. That`s what they put in supermarkets across the country as people
are going to vote.
You get a sense of how they treated Clinton. But it was also at the same
time this. Did you know Donald Trump did release his tax returns? He did
because the “National Enquirer” has them. The documents America has been
waiting to see.
You might have heard that Donald Trump didn`t release his tax returns but
that`s just a Hillary ugly smear campaign that has now fallen apart because
the “National Enquirer” is publishing his tax returns. And incidentally,
he really is worth $10 billion. Donald Trump tax returns, the “National
Enquirer`s” world exclusives.
Supermarket tabloids being weird or outrageous or fantastically false is,
you know, it`s like reporting the sun rises in the east. I know.
But with the “National Enquirer” specifically, there`s something going on
here, right? I mean, all that stuff that I just showed you was leading up
to the election. Right up through election eve.
Since the election, it`s been this. “Trump takes charge.” “Success in
just 36 days.” “He smacked down arrogant China, he saved jobs.” Then it
says “What`s next? Peace between Israel and its enemies.” Obviously.
Meanwhile, up in the left-hand corner there, poor 117 pound Bill Clinton he
may have beaten Alzheimer`s and Parkinson`s which they said was killing him
a few weeks ago but he`s dead again, this time he`s caught the cancer.
Look at the kind – these are the kinds of pictures they run of bill and
Hillary Clinton and look at the pictures they run of Donald Trump. That`s
November 28th, December 5th, December 12th.
And actually this is what`s on newsstands now. Look at that.
If it`s starting to seem like this is not just a bizarre turn for this
supermarket tabloid that was going to last the duration of the election, it
seems like this is a new Trump news out let indefinitely now. Look at this
which they published since the election. “Muslim spies in Obama`s CIA.”
“Infested”, that`s a nice term. “Infested. 55 double agents exposed.”
Right under that it says, “Why we must not stop water boarding or close
Guantanamo.” and in the lower right-hand corner there, “Secret list of
traitors inside.” The Muslim spies in Obama`s CIA.
It`s not just for the election. It`s apparently for governing, too. Trump
media strategy is basically to avail itself of what is an alternate
parallel universe to traditional journalism, right? And we have talked
about this over the course of the campaign in terms of, like, fake stories
and social media stuff and, you know, using social media and stuff.
But a lot of the beltway discussion even now continues to be just about how
mystifying we all apparently find it that he will continue to tweet in his
unpredictable misspelled helter-skelter way after he`s sworn in. Yeah,
he`s going to keep tweeting. But the tweeting isn`t all of it. His
communication strategy, his media strategy really is also this stuff.
I mean, the “National Enquirer” is ridiculous. It is exactly what you
think it is. Donald Trump did not release his tax returns to the “National
Enquirer” or anyone. The “National Enquirer” did not obtain Hillary
Clinton`s full medical file which shows that she has Alzheimer`s and
violent rages, nor is Cher dying, broke, or alone, nor was Ted Cruz`s dad
linked in the JFK assassination.
I mean, in this universe, the “National Enquirer” is ridiculous. It`s a
laugh out loud diversion, but not to our new president.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT-ELECT: There was a picture on the front page
of the “national enquirer” which does have credibility and they`re not
going to do pictures like that because they get sued for a lot of money if
things are wrong, OK? A lot of money, and there was a picture.
All I did is point out the fact that on the cover of the “National
Enquirer” there was a picture of him and crazy Lee Harvey Oswald having
breakfast. This was a magazine that, frankly, in many respects, should be
very respected. I mean, if that was the “New York Times,” they would have
gotten Pulitzer Prizes for their reporting. I`ve always said why didn`t
the “National Enquirer” get the Pulitzer Prize.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: One of the new depths of field on which we need to train our focus
for this new era that we`re in now is their strategy, the new
administration`s strategy around media management. It`s different. It`s
I mean, other presidents have tried to change the traditional politician
relationship with the media. President Obama talked to comedians, right,
and talked to YouTube stars. President George W. Bush and his dad both did
lots and lots of really right-wing talk radio. Go back to the fireside
chats of FDR, you will find presidents either trying to reach people
through non-traditional elements of the media or try to find ways around
the media in a way that best suits their purposes as president.
But there is going to be something different and it`s not just the
tweeting. There`s old school elements to the very different media approach
the Trump administration is taking and it`s important in terms of thinking
about how they`re going to wield power and how they`re going to try to get
I mean, he did put a guy most recently in charge of a fringe right wing web
site not just in charge of his campaign but now in the Oval Office at his
chief strategist. That continues to matter in terms of how they operate.
They really are using supermarket tabloids that have huge distribution.
And their covers are in every grocery store in America whether or not you
buy them. They are using this thing against their political enemies and to
promote their political selves.
And tonight, as we get ready to talk to a couple of great journalists here
on this show, people who have meant a lot to me in my own career, people
who outlasted all sorts of ups and downs in this business that we`re in, I
just – I just want to stick a pin in this particular dynamic with this new
administration because I think it`s worth keeping in mind as a lens, as a
way of focusing on what`s about to happen, because next week, we are about
to get a real charge in terms of the aggressive and sometimes weird ways
this new administration manages media.
On Tuesday night next week, you`ve heard President Obama is going to be
giving his farewell address, his prime time farewell address in Chicago.
That Tuesday, as far as we know, that will also be the first day of the
Jeff Sessions confirmation hearings, this incredible controversial
confirmation hearings for him as attorney general.
The following day, Wednesday of next week, January 11th, that will be the
second day of the Jeff Sessions confirmation hearing. That same day will
also be the confirmation hearing for the man they nominated to run the CIA.
It will also be the confirmation hearing for Betsy DeVos, a very
controversial nominee to run the Department of Education. It will also the
hearing for John Kelly, the homeland security nominee, his hearing is
supposed to be the place we debate building the wall and other immigration
proposals of this administration.
On the same day, that`s the day Mitch McConnell`s wife Elaine Chao will
have her hearing. It`s also the day that the Exxon CEO, Rex Tillerson will
have his confirmation hearing. There are six mega confirmation hearings
called for the same day, all called for Wednesday.
And on that same day, the Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has
scheduled what they call a vote-a-rama which means a million different
votes on a million different amendments on their proposed budget
legislation. That will include the first votes on repealing Obamacare.
That will happen in the Senate on the same day.
And on that same day, we now know we are going to have the first press
conference from the president-elect since July, since he invited the
Russians to hack Hillary Clinton`s e-mails back in July. He hasn`t done a
press conference since then but he`s going to do it now. That day.
You see what they`re doing here?
And the Democrats are going to try to slow these things down, presumably
they will appeal to spread these things out so they don`t all happen on one
day, but what this is is an aggressive media strategy. It`s an aggressive
political strategy to schedule almost all of the most controversial things
that will happen in the confirmation process to all happen simultaneously.
While we are basically guaranteed that probably none of them will get any
media coverage whatsoever because all of those hearings, as controversial
as they may be, all of them will simultaneously happen and they will all
simultaneously be blotted out in the media by the fact that Donald Trump
will be doing his first live press conference in seven months.
And you may think it`s weird for me to describe that as a media strategy,
right, the way they have stacked those individual things on top of each
other, all for the same day. You may think it`s weird for me to call that
a media strategy. But really, is that less weird than this?
This is part of what they`re doing. Expect anything.
We`ll be right back.
MADDOW: So, I mentioned at the top of the show that NBC News broke the
store they the intelligence review of the Russian cyber attack on the
United States includes evidence that the Russians didn`t just target the
Democratic Party, they also targeted the White House and the joint chiefs.
“The Washington Post” further reports tonight that the review includes
evidence of Russian officials celebrating Donald Trump`s election victory
as a win for Russia.
Well, now, we are also getting reporting that the intelligence review has
found the link, the link between the Russian government hacking those
documents, hacking those servers, hacking those sources of information in
the United States, they found the link between the Russian government and
those documents getting to WikiLeaks, which is how they got released into
the U.S. bloodstream.
There`s a lot of developing stories in this particular topic tonight as
that intelligence review is briefed to the White House, is going to be
briefed to the president-elect and then is going to be briefed to the rest
of the country next week. We`ve got the latest on that with Andrea
MADDOW: As I mentioned, we`re having some developing stories that continue
to break new details throughout the evening tonight, a lot of them related
to the intelligence review of the Russian hacking to the American election.
Just as we were coming on the air, we got news former CIA Director James
Woolsey tonight has abruptly quit the Trump transition team with no
explanation. He was on TV as recently as yesterday speaking in his
capacity as part of the transition and giving the Trump transition
credibility in terms of having a former CIA director on their side. But
apparently, that`s done and he`s not explaining why.
Also tonight, we`re getting our first bit of reporting into the
intelligence community`s investigation into the Russian hacking which was
requested by President Obama after the election. That report was presented
to President Obama today. While Director of National Intelligence James
Clapper testified to Congress about what the Russians did. Director
Clapper will personally brief the president-elect, Mr. Trump, on this new
“NBC Nightly News” reports that this report contains evidence that the
Russia attack didn`t just target the Democratic Party. It also targeted
institutions including the White House as well as the Joint Chiefs of
“The Washington Post” reporting that intelligence agencies intercepted
communications after the election in which senior Russian government
officials were heard celebrating and congratulating themselves on the
outcome of the American presidential election, celebrating Donald Trump`s
win as a victory for Russia and congratulating each other as Russian
officials for their role in it.
Now in addition to that, “The Washington Post” and NBC News say the report
includes evidence that the actors have been identified who delivered the
stolen Democratic e-mails, stolen by the Russian government, they think
they`ve identified basically the couriers, the way those pieces of
information were delivered from the Russian government to WikiLeaks.
President-elect`s going to get this full over 50-page-long classified
report delivers to him tomorrow. We`ll get an unclassified version of it
next week, but we`re getting a bunch of details tonight.
Joining us to make sense of this is Andrea Mitchell, NBC News chief foreign
affairs correspondent, host of “ANDREA MITCHELL REPORTS.”
Andrea, I know you were at the Senate hearing today. Thanks for staying up
late to be with us tonight. I appreciate it.
In terms of –
ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC NEWS CHIEF FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Sure thing,
what a day.
MADDOW: It`s been – it`s been nuts. And the stories continue to develop
through the evening.
Can – what do you think is most important in terms of what we`ve had
basically leaked, what we`ve learned what`s in the intelligence report?
MITCHELL: Well, first of all, from the hearing itself to get back to
basics. James Clapper, who is celebrating 53 years as a spy and has 15
days to go and is counting the days until he`s out, he is going to be
leading the brief of Donald Trump tomorrow and he said what he has learned
since October 7th when he and Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson
jointly declared the – their conclusion that this was done by Russia and
done at the highest level, which is only means one person, Vladimir Putin,
that back on October 7th, that he is now more certain that they have
collected more information or done more analysis since then, and that they
are – that it is more authoritative, more conclusive than before.
Lindsey Graham said to me today, he`s a thousand percent sure that no one
who has been briefed on this disagreed with the conclusion and it was rare
unanimity in that hearing today. Very little dissent that it was Russia.
Varying degrees and some dissent as to how much Donald Trump`s criticism of
the intelligence agencies should be faulted. Clearly, there was a partisan
divide on that to a certain extent, although Republicans are very
uncomfortable about it, many of them, but don`t want to be overtly
criticizing the president-elect. So, they would more focus on Russia which
is a sort of unifying factor here.
So, for Donald Trump to disagree with the conclusions tomorrow would be
startling but that`s what they`re bracing themselves for.
Now, a little bit of context for this – for what`s been reported out of
what this report will be. The report goes all the way back to 2008, 2012.
It goes back to a lot of things we have reported and knew previously about
Russia`s hacking. We knew that the State Department computers were shut
down in June of 2015 because of Russian hacking. We`ve known a lot about
And what John McCain said in the opening statement is we know the joint
chiefs and the White House and State Department have been hacked in the
past by Russia. What hadn`t been reported before is that this is going to
be combined in the report and what is new in the reporting on “NBC Nightly
News” by Hallie Jackson tonight was the motives involved as well. That
Putin had a grievance against this administration going all the way back,
feeling he was being delegitimized by Barack Obama. Ironies abound.
MADDOW: Andrea, we`ve seen evolving explanations from the president-elect
and his team in terms of why they don`t buy it. It was initially they said
that the intelligence agencies weren`t all on the same page. It`s clear
they are now on the same page. Then they said they`d release – they had
released no evidence to prove their case, they have obviously over the
holidays and now, with this new report are releasing tons of evidence to
prove their case.
We got word from the president-elect, sort of strangely, over the weekend,
that he had secret information that nobody else had that would be revealed
on Tuesday or Wednesday, and that that was why he didn`t believe that
Russia was behind the hacking. Since then we`ve had him take shots at the
intelligence community, going so far as to put the word “intelligence” in
scare quotes as if it`s not real intelligence and in the “Wall Street
Journal” we`ve had a report they`re planning on not just continuing to
disparage the intelligence community but take it apart. Maybe get rid of
the director of national intelligence and to slim down the other agencies,
all basically saying the agencies can`t produce anything useful because
they`re corrupt or politicized.
This evolving – these evolving explanations and excuses, do they run out
eventually? Or at this point, we see it as an infinite process and they`re
never going to accept its conclusion?
MITCHELL: I think we should bring our viewers into the circle of how
difficult it is and will be to cover this administration so far at least,
because – for one thing, Donald Trump tweeted a tweet yesterday that was
almost universally interpreted to mean he was siding with Julian Assange,
the fugitive founder of WikiLeaks and public enemy number one considered by
the intelligence agencies for that huge dump starting with Chelsea Manning,
and then today said that that was a media lie, that he was not siding with
Assange at all and that he`s a fan of the intelligence agencies.
So, was he dialing that in anticipation of tomorrow`s report or is he going
to load it up tomorrow?
Sean Spicer said the “Wall Street Journal” report is 100 percent incorrect.
And there are a lot of people within the intelligence community who would
like to see some reordering of the post-9/11 reforms, quote/unquote,
“reforms”, and that perhaps DNI is too bureaucratic.
So, there should be an assessment, a lot of people say, after they are in
office and can take a close look but not before and not when it seems to be
sort of a brushback pitch against the intelligence briefers who are going
to be visiting with him tomorrow.
By the way, I have learned they are going to be briefing the “Gang of
Eight”, which is not as sinister as it sounds. It`s the bicameral
bipartisan intelligence leaders, both houses, Democrats and Republicans,
they`re going to be meeting secretly with Clapper and Comey and the others
tomorrow morning before they fly to New York for this briefing which,
again, I have been told was scheduled for at least a week to be tomorrow,
not as Donald Trump had tweeted and suggested was being delayed so they
could firm up their evidence.
This is messy stuff and do you believe the “Wall Street Journal” reporting,
some of which we heard independently or do you believe Sean Spicer`s strong
denial and what`s going to come next? It`s a very confusing bit but we
hope the declassified version will at least give us more clarity.
MADDOW: That`s right. And it`s one thing to parse different people who
are supposedly on the same team saying different things. It`s another
thing when the principal, when the president-elect says things that
contradict his own self.
Andrea Mitchell, NBC News chief foreign affairs correspondent, host of
“ANDREA MITCHELL REPORTS” – it`s always great to have you here, Andrea.
MITCHELL: Thank you. Thank you.
MADDOW: So, it`s been one of those days where the news doesn`t stop to
collect itself before it jumps on the next news story. We`ve got another
excellent journalist here tonight who I`m very excited to introduce you to.
Stay with us.
MADDOW: Secretary of State John Kerry today held what is probably his last
news conference. Reporter asked him about the incoming administration and
Secretary Kerry offered a question of his own.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN KERRY, SECRETARY OF STATE: Nobody can predict what choice this is
administration is going to make. I don`t know. I don`t think you know. A
question a lot of people ask is, do they know?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That was the question back from the secretary of state. But if
that one felt like a twinge, the outgoing vice president today got asked
about the president-elect tweeting insults at congressional Democrats. He
didn`t wait for the question to end before he started to answer himself.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOSEPH BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Grow up, Donald. Grow
up. Time to be an adult, you`re president.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Much more ahead tonight. Stay with us.
MADDOW: Almost everybody who watches TV watches it on TV, or at least on
some sort of screen, right? On your phone or something?
At some point, though, you may find yourself with the opportunity to watch
TV in person where the TV show is filmed. And if you ever do get to attend
the taping of a TV show, the first thing you will find that the studio
looks really different in person than it does on TV.
Por ejemplo, behold! Look how much space there is around me! You could
fit, like, many elephants in here. Smallish? Smallish, friendly
elephants, but still, it doesn`t seem like that, right?
TV studios are tricky. TV studios are expensive and right now this company
is building a brand new studio in Washington, D.C. for a new show that
starts on Monday. Monday, it starts Monday, today is Thursday.
Look, this is the progress of the new studio as of today. Ahh! Hurry up
But also, hold that thought.
MADDOW: In telling the stories of the day, covering the day`s news, on
this show, we tend to show a lot of archive footage. I don`t know if you
saw when we ran our year end credits this year, there are like five zillion
archivists in our credits.
We love our archivists, we love our archives, we love showing news footage
and historical footage from all the way back to the dawn of news.
We play a lot less contemporary news coverage on this show. I know a lot
of other shows do it, but I just don`t end up showing a lot of, you know,
“here`s a thing somebody said on TV last night.” It just doesn`t come up
that often on this show.
One thing I have noticed, though, over the eight years or so that we`ve
been doing this show is that when I do use contemporary footage, when
there`s no other way to tell the story without showing you what just
happened on somebody else`s TV show, that footage disproportionately and by
a mile tends to come from one place – it has come from one show, hosted by
one particular person who we`ve used footage from over and over and over
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
MADDOW: Mr. Gingrich appeared on Greta Van Susteren`s program at FOX News.
GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, TV HOST: What would you do about Libya?
NEWT GINGRICH (R), FORMER HOUSE SPEAKER: Exercise a no-fly zone this
MADDOW: Foreign policy pronouncements like this one that he made this week
with my friend Greta Van Susteren on FOX News.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT-ELECT: Bring ISIS to the table or beyond that,
defeat ISIS very quickly and I`m not going to tell you what it is tonight.
You know, one of the problems that we have –
VAN SUSTEREN: Why won`t you tell us? Hey, Donald, Donald –
TRUMP: I`ll tell you why, because I don`t want to, Greta.
VAN SUSTEREN: Donald, why don`t you tell?
MADDOW: That baffled even the usually unflappable Greta Van Susteren at
RICK SANTORUM (R), FORMER U.S. SENATOR: So, that combination is causing a
problem at Social Security. I simply made that point. My –
VAN SUSTEREN: You don`t think that`s weird?
MADDOW: Greta in the background saying “that`s a little weird.”
Donald Trump speaking tonight with my friend Greta Van Susteren on the FOX
VAN SUSTEREN: Donald, you issued a statement there should be a complete
shutdown of Muslims entering the United States. Is that your view?
MADDOW: This was one of my all-time favorite Greta moments from when she
was on FOX.
REP. DUNCAN HUNTER (R), CALIFORNIA: I know that at least 10 ISIS fighters
have been caught coming across the Mexican border in Texas. There`s nobody
VAN SUSTEREN: How do you know that?
HUNTER: There`s – because I`ve asked – because I`ve asked the border
VAN SUSTEREN: And the border patrol just let ISIS members come across the
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
MADDOW: If you want to count on your fingers how many times we on this
show have played clips of Greta Van Susteren over the years, you could not
do it. You need like four extra hands.
And I know everybody thinks that various news outlets and news networks are
at each other`s throats, particularly between FOX and MSNBC, we must hate
each other`s guts, but you know what? Greta Van Susteren is great. She
And she has an uncanny ability to make newsworthy things happen when the
red light is on the camera and she is on TV talking about the news. She
can get anybody to talk to her. She has reported from all over the world.
She had a decade at CNN. She had 14 years at FOX.
She`s also outside this building one of the single-most decent and genuine
and honorable people I have ever come across in this business. And this
that I just showed you a minute ago, this is her new studio to be, because
she starts here at MSNBC 6:00 Eastern on Monday night. And I could not be
happier about it.
And joining us now from right next to her brand new studio in D.C. is Greta
Van Susteren host of “FOR THE RECORD”, which launches here on MSNBC, 6:00
My friend, congratulations.
VAN SUSTEREN: You know, and, Rachel, thank you, that`s so kind of you and
I couldn`t be happier.
I mean, just think about it. I mean, I`m the luckiest person alive. I
mean, look, I have many good friends over at CNN and over at FOX News
Channel who have been colleagues to, but just think about this – I know
Chris Matthews, known him for years, Andrea Mitchell, travelled the world
with her following secretaries of state, even trying to keep up with Andrea
because she outraces all of us.
You and I have been friends for a long time. You and – and to be honest
you and my husband and I have tipped a few glasses of wine together – or
more. So, I mean, like – so, I mean, how could I not be luckier? It`s
like this is just so exciting. This is fun for me. I`m thrilled to be
MADDOW: You are one of the few people who has now had careers at all three
of the major competing cable news outlets and you and I know that people
are – you know, individuals exist within different universes and people
get, you know, varying degrees of autonomy within their networks.
But I`ve got to ask you, if your FOX fans are mad at you for coming to
MSNBC, do they feel like you`re crossing enemy lines?
VAN SUSTEREN: Oh, listen, I`m getting hit from the right and left. But
that happens. I mean, you know it, too, being in the business. People get
mad at you every single night.
And, look, I just want – I just want them to give me a chance. If they
don`t like me, fine, but at least give me a chance. I think that the MSNBC
audience is going to like me. I hope the FOX audience comes over here.
I`m interested in the facts and wherever the facts lead me.
And, look, I like a robust debate. People don`t always agree with each
other. My own husband doesn`t always agree with me. My own family doesn`t
agree with me.
So, you know, look, I – I want to have a good time over here. I want to
do a good job for MSNBC. I want to do a really good job so you`re proud of
me, my colleagues are proud of me and most of all, I want to do a good job
for the viewers and the voters at home because these are very, very serious
times, and people have really big problems, and they`re really worried
about the future. And I`m hoping to put a spotlight on the problems, try
to chase down some facts and maybe get some good things going on.
MADDOW: You know, one of the things I have that always been envious of you
for is your ability to get anybody to talk to you. Like, your history,
your interview history is like reading an encyclopedia. But in the last
year or two, you`ve been particularly good at getting Donald Trump to talk
to you about getting all the Republicans to talk to you.
Let me ask you, honestly, do you feel like some of that was specific to the
fact that you were at FOX, or do you think that those Republican
connections that you made, the Republican guests you`ve been able to book
up to and including the president-elect, do you think they will still want
to talk to you over here? I certainly hope so.
VAN SUSTEREN: I think so. I mean, look, I`m curious and I think they`re
going to come over here. I`m going to give them a fair shake. I`m going
to give Republicans a fair shake. I`m going to give Democrats a fair
You know, here`s sort of the odd thing. As certain as I am of anything at
all, Rachel, I`m not 100 percent certain. So, I actually want to know what
people have to say because maybe they`ll change my mind. Maybe I`m wrong
So, you know, I think I`m a very – I think I`m a curious person and I`m
not out to gun anybody down. I`m out to get some information and, frankly,
I want to hear what they have to say.
MADDOW: Greta Van Susteren, host of the soon to be hit show “FOR THE
RECORD” here on MSNBC starting Monday at 6:00 – Greta, I can`t speak for
everybody in the building, but let me speak for everybody in the building.
We`re super psyched that you`re coming here and I can`t wait for you to get
to work here. It`s really going to be great to be a colleague.
VAN SUSTEREN: And you know what, Rachel? I am so glad to be here. It`s
fun for me.
Look, you`re my friend. I mean, this is exciting. I`ve wanted to work
with you. So, this is great.
So, thank you very much. It`s been fun. And I look forward to a lot of
exciting times ahead.
MADDOW: Good times. Thanks, Greta. Good luck.
All right. Let me just say I know what you`re thinking. Nobody asked to
do that. It`s true. Nobody asked me to do that.
I do not have that kind of relationship with anybody who works as an
executive in this building. I did that of my own accord because I really
am psyched about Greta being here. I do think she`s great.
And I know you`re thinking ex-FOX News, really, Maddow?
Really. She`s her own person. Nobody tells Greta what to do. Nobody ever
She`s incredibly heterogeneous in terms of her ideological interests, in
terms of her convincibility. She`s been all over the world. She really
does have an incredible curiosity and enthusiasm for this job and I think
you`re going to like her and I think you should give her a chance.
So there. OK, go away.
MADDOW: Tomorrow in our nation`s capital, we will witness something
unique, real history in the making stuff. It`s not getting a lot of
attention yet, but it should. It involves two large, pretty mahogany
boxes. It also involves Vice President Joe Biden.
But it`s going to happen tomorrow, midway. We`re going to witness
something that has not happened since the 1870s. Vice President Biden,
pretty mahogany boxes, also the dawn of a new era in U.S. history.
I don`t know why the story is not getting attention, but it is next. And
that story is next.
MADDOW: 1776, we declared our independence. Hurray!
Five years later, 1781 we got the Articles of Confederation, which spelled
out how we were governed as a country, at least for a hot minute. But the
Articles of Confederation did not include us having a president.
There wasn`t an executive branch at all. It wasn`t until seven years later
when we ratified the Constitution in 1788, that`s how we got a president.
And so, after 1788, with te Constitution, we needed to hold an election to
pick a president for the first time.
So, ratified 1788. 1789 was the first presidential election in the United
States. It wasn`t a particularly eventful one. There was only one guy
George Washington stood for president in that first presidential election
in 1789. Nobody ran against him. He got all the electoral votes, 1789.
Then in 1792, it was time for our second presidential election. Again,
nobody ran against George Washington. Would you?
There were 132 electoral votes cast in that second election and again, they
all went to George Washington.
Then, of course, at the end of that second term, four years later, he bowed
out. He gave his famous farewell address. He started making plans to go
home to Mt. Vernon to start making booze.
George Washington left office after two elections in which he had run
unopposed. And that meant that in 1796, 20 years after we first declared
independence as a country, it was finally time to have our first real
presidential election, you know, with competing candidates and everything.
In those first two elections we`d had as a country, Washington got every
single electoral vote. But in the first election after that, the first
real contested election – look at this – freaking 13 different people got
John Adams got the most. So, he got to be president. Jefferson came in
second. He got to be vice president. But, look, 11 other guys got
And that election in 1796, kind of the first real presidential election we
had as a country, that is the last time so many people got so many
electoral votes in a presidential election. Nothing like that has ever
happened again in our country. Until this year.
I`m not sure why this isn`t getting more attention today given the
craziness of this presidential election year. But tomorrow is the day that
the Electoral College results from this year`s presidential election are
going to get certified by Congress. And the Electoral College results from
this year`s presidential election are nuts.
I mean, yes, Donald Trump won the presidency by winning a majority of the
Electoral College votes. But there are two historically bizarre things
that that have happened in the Electoral College this year. Well, three,
if you count the fact that nobody`s ever won the Electoral College and won
the presidency while also losing the popular vote by almost 3 million
But even if you put that aside – when the Electoral College voted on
December 19th, the electors cast their votes for seven different people.
Donald Trump got the most, Hillary Clinton got the second most. But
electors also cast votes for Bernie Sanders and John Kasich and Rand Paul
and Faith Spotted Eagle. And three different electors cast their votes for
We haven`t seen that many different people get votes in the Electoral
College literally since 1796, while we were still figuring out what a
presidential election was.
And that`s not all. In addition to the sheer number of people who got
Electoral College votes, we also set a record this year for the number of
electors who were bound to support a particular candidate, but they bailed
on that obligation and instead decided to vote for somebody else.
When seven electors broke ranks this year and cast their ballots for people
other than the candidate they were bound to support, that was the largest
number of electors to defect on a presidential ballot since 1872.
In 1872, they had great reason to defect and switch their vote to somebody
else, instead of the presidential candidate they were bound to support,
because in 1872, there was this guy whose 66 electors who are obligated to
support because their state had voted for him. His name was Horace
Greeley. And he up and died between the election and when the Electoral
College cast their votes. It was terrible.
Five days before the election, Horace Greeley`s wife died. Five days after
that he lost the presidential election. Then right after he lost the
presidential election he lost his business, he lost his newspaper. Then
after that, dude just up and died before the Electoral College even got a
chance to meet and cast their ballots to formalize the result of that
Of the 66 electors who were bound to vote for old dead Horace Greeley, 63
of the 66 bolted and voted for somebody else, which you can kind of
understand, right? He was dead. I mean, hats off to the three who still
voted for the dead guy, right? That`s a friend indeed.
But that`s the last time. I mean, that also bizarre election in 1872,
punctuated by the death of the runner candidate, that`s the last time this
many electors bolted, flipped the bird to the Electoral College, said no.
When it comes to the presidential election, I`m just going to vote my own
But seven electors did that this year in the Electoral College in seven
different sort of random people received votes in the Electoral College
this year. And that is historically bizarre on both counts. That is also
going to be formally certified tomorrow at roughly 12:50 p.m. Eastern Time.
Two big pretty mahogany boxes containing the certified vote from the
states, those boxes will be carried from the Senate into the House chamber.
And then, Vice President Biden will oversee a formal count and a
And then, tomorrow, sometime in the 1:00 hour, Vice President Biden will
formally announce the certification of the Electoral College vote and the
election of the president and the election of the new vice president, and
it will be done. And with those results being certified it will also start
a new era in American history, when really for the first time in our
country, for the first time in our history as a country, we won`t really
know what`s going to happen the next time the Electoral College gets
together to cast its votes, because it went a little hinky this year.
I mean, we broke rules this year that hadn`t been broken since the 1790s
and the 1870s, and that is neat from a historical perspective. But it may
also put a little shiver up your spine, right? I mean, when we decided to
get rid of the century`s old structures that make up our country, there`s
an argument to be made that we ought to actually make an overt, considered
decision to do that, because whether you like the old structures of our
democracy or not, they are the only ones we`ve got unless and until we
build new ones.
And I`m not sure anybody`s much going to notice, but one part of the long
epic sweep of American history is going to take a jolt tomorrow when those
mahogany boxes get carried into the House. It will start just before 1:00
That does it for us tonight. We will see you again tomorrow.
Now, it`s time for “THE LAST WORD” where Ari Melber is sitting in for
Lawrence tonight, who I can recognize clearly because I know what he looks
Good evening, Ari.
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