The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 1/12/2017

Jeff Merkley

Date: January 12, 2017
Guest: Jeff Merkley

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: And thanks to you at home for joining us at
this hour.

The youngest person in the United States Senate is this guy. He has
recently taken to wearing a scruffy little beard which makes him look a
little bit older. Definitely makes him look beardier.

But beard or not, Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas is young. He`s only 39
years old. He`s the youngest member of the United States Senate and that
is an institution that is not known for its youthful vigor.

The oldest member of the U.S. Senate is more than twice his age. Dianne
Feinstein has lived two of Tom Cotton`s lifetimes already and then some.
She`s 83 years old.

And you know what? We should all hope to be as nails as Dianne Feinstein
is when we get to be 83 years old because – get this – we started
covering this story yesterday. This is not at all how I expected it to
turn out but check this out.

What you`re looking at here is Dianne Feinstein at work on Tuesday. Two
days ago. This was the first confirmation hearing for any member of the
new incoming cabinet. The Jeff Sessions attorney general confirmation
hearing started on Tuesday and it started in Dianne Feinstein territory.
She`s the top Democrat on the committee who`s holding that hearing for Jeff

And as the leader of the Democrats on that committee, she got to kind of
lead the charge and so, on Tuesday, she hit him on torture and on civil
rights and on immigration and on discrimination. Everybody says senators
always get treated gently by other senators, they get a lot of deference,
but Jeff Sessions had a rocky ten-hour day in front of his fellow senators
on Tuesday, thanks to the Senate Democrats led by Dianne Feinstein. OK.
So, that`s Tuesday.

Then, yesterday, Wednesday, she was not there for the second day of the
Jeff Sessions hearing. See, there`s her chair. And that itself is
newsworthy, right? The top Democrat missing on day two of that hearing.

But the reason it made our show last night was in part because of the
explanation we got from her office as to why she didn`t show up for day two
of the Jeff Sessions hearing. Why she was missing yesterday. It turns
out, Dianne Feinstein had to go to the hospital to have a pacemaker
installed. It`s a 90-minute surgery.

Pacemakers have changed a lot over the years but the basic idea is still
what you think it is. They surgically implant in your chest a mechanical
electrical device like this one. It has a battery in it and everything, if
you need to change your batteries that means more surgery. They mount it
inside your chest. It`s then physically wired into the muscles of your
heart, that`s what the wires with those probes are on them.

It`s kind of a big freaking deal, right? That`s why Dianne Feinstein had
to miss work yesterday. And then – I kid you not – look what happened.

This was Dianne Feinstein today. What? Back at work. She`s 83 years old.
She`s more than two Tom Cottons old. She was at work questioning Jeff
Sessions on Tuesday, she left, went and had surgery and had a pacemaker
installed, missed one day of work and today, she is back bright and early
for 10:00 a.m. hearing.

This morning, she was ready to go, ready to give the CIA nominee what for.


SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D), CALIFORNIA: If you were ordered by the
president to restart the CIA`s use of enhanced interrogation techniques
that fallout side of the army field manual, would you comply?

REP. MIKE POMPEO (R), CIA DIRECTOR NOMINEE: Senator, absolutely not.


MADDOW: No ma`am. Absolutely not. You can almost see the thought bubble
over Mike Pompeo`s head there, right? “No, ma`am, did you seriously have
surgery yesterday and you`re pinning me to my chair right now today?
Seriously? No, ma`am, anything you want, ma`am.”

Wow. Do not mess with Dianne Feinstein. You think she`s old? You think
she`s brittle?

Dianne Feinstein will crush you and bench press your corpse and accept your
apology thereafter. Absolutely unbelievable, 83 years old. One day off.

But that was just one of a number of stranger than fiction, sort of
unbelievable things that happened in today`s news. Take, for example,
something else that happened at that same hearing. It happened 14 minutes
into that hearing for the new head of the CIA. That hearing started at

Then just before 10:15, Democratic chairman of that committee, Mark Warner,
started asking a question about Russia, about Russia hacking the election
and then watch what happened.


SEN. MARK WARNER (D), VIRGINIA: Finally, as you know, Chairman Burr and I
have committed to conduct a review of the intelligence supporting the
intelligence committee`s assessment that Russia at the direction –


MADDOW: OK. Yeah. Do not adjust your set. This is not going wrong right
now. This is what happened today at the hearing for the new head of the
CIA right after the topic of Russian hacking was broached for first time,
this is what happened. This is what we all saw.

What happened in the room was a complete power cut. All the lights in the
room went out, without warning in that room. The reason we can`t show you
the lights going from on to off is because the cameras that were running in
that room were plugged into the electrical outlets in that room and those
electrical outlets also lost power when the lights did, and that`s why the
pool camera that we were all watching the hearing on, the pool camera went
to that green screen because that camera lost power just as all the lights
went out and the hearing went into chaos.

Have you ever been really, really deeply asleep but in a place where you
maybe didn`t expect to be asleep and then you get woken up and you have no
idea that you had been asleep and you don`t really know where you are and
it`s kind of disorienting? This has happened to me like when I`ve fallen
asleep on an airplane or on a train or something. Like I didn`t know I was

And then you wake up, you have no clue where you are and you`re like a
little embarrassed and confused and disoriented. If you ever had that
experience, you will recognize that in what I`m about to show you, because
that is exactly what it was like when the C-Span camera woke up after 45
minutes of that craziness in the CIA hearing today with the unexplained
power cut.

Watch the C-Span camera wake up after its green screen time. So, it`s a
sleep, you`re getting the green screen, no audio but then look, it kind of
oops. Blink, blink. The camera opens its eyes, it`s a little shaky.

Where am I? Trying to focus. Trying to figure out where it is. Was I
asleep on the train? Was I drooling? Who are these people? I must have
been snoring.

And this is the feed that we have of that hearing from that time. Focuses
on the back of that guy`s head for a while. Jiggles around, focuses on
some different people.

You can see it sort of getting, like – I know I`m anthropomorphizing the
camera here but it`s hard not to. Who am I? Where am I? How much time
has passed?

It goes on like – starting to get its bearings. Goes on for several
minutes, before any of the audio comes back and then – OK, it settles.
Ultimately, the camera gets its bearings visually and it sits like there
like this for about 10 minutes with no audio before this happens.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To ensure that I don`t – we don`t end up with a light
turn out again, I won`t redo my second half of my statement.


MADDOW: So, it eventually all came back. They moved to a different
hearing room, they set up microphones and everybody woke up but still
nobody knows why the lights went out and the power all went out and the C-
Span camera got drunk and passed out and couldn`t figure out who it was for
almost an entire hour at the CIA hearing.

But for the record, that power cut did happen as soon as Senator Mark
Warner brought up Russia hacking. That was 10:00 this morning. First
hearing, happened about 15 minutes into that hearing.

Then, half past 2:00 this afternoon, it happened again. Kind of. A
version of it happened again.

It`s on the other side of Capitol Hill, on the House side. This time, it
wasn`t the lights that went out, it was something way weirder.

We now know because we`ve been able to patch it back together
retroactively. We now know that this was what was happening on the floor
of the House when the next mysterious outage hit Congress today.

All right. We went back after the fact and were able to patch this
together but I can show you now for the record this is what was happening
at the time. This is California Congresswoman Maxine Waters.


REP. MAXINE WATERS (D), CALIFORNIA: In opposing HR-78, to ensure that the
actions of Trump`s SEC are in the interest of Americans` economic stability
and not in Russia`s or Wall Street`s interest. I am amazed that the
Republicans can be so blatant, so non-caring to come with us at this time
with a bill that would basically take our cop on the block, the SEC, and
literally obliterate it.


MADDOW: Putting that on the record because I can now tell you that that is
what actually happened in real life on the floor of the House today. OK?
Maxine Waters, California Democrat giving this speech saying if you get rid
of this oversight, then the Trump administration can come in here and
instead of acting in America`s interest, they can act in Wall Street`s
interest. They can act in Russia`s interest.

I`m amazed that the Republicans would do this. We now know that is what
she was saying on the floor of the House. That`s what you would have seen
if you were there live.

But you weren`t there live, were you? No, if you were watching it at all,
you were watching it on C-Span, and on C-Span this is how it went.


WATERS: At this time, with the bill that would basically take our cop on
the block, the SEC and literally obliterate it –


MADDOW: Again, do not adjust your TV set, this did not go wrong just now.
I`m showing you what happened on the C-Span feed. I`m showing you what you
would have seen if you had been watching the House today on C-Span. If
you`d tuned into C-Span and know what`s going on in Congress today, Maxine
Waters is there saying the Trump administration is going to do Russia`s
bidding and then 10 seconds later, the C-Span feed of the House floor for
the first time ever in the history of the C-Span feed gets overtaken, gets
hijacked by – you see that down in the lower left-hand corner, see what it
is? “RT.” That stands for Russian today.

Russian Today is the bonkers state-funded Russian news/propaganda outfit
that the FBI, the CIA and the NSA recently implicated in the Russian attack
on the U.S. elections. It`s a Kremlin-funded pseudo-news source.

And for 10 minutes today, after Maxine Waters mentioned Russia when she was
talking about this SEC rule, C-Span wasn`t C-Span anymore. It all of a
sudden became Kremlin TV.

And the reason we have the record of that is because it was captured online
by a Deadspin editor named Timothy Burke and he tweeted this clip of what
happened. I was just watching C-Span and it got taken over by RT.

And when it first happened, when we saw that tweet from him, we were like
could that possibly be a glitch? Could that just have been on his
computer? But, no, it happened, it happened for about 10 minutes today.

As of tonight, C-Span says it still cannot account for how this happened.
They can confirm this has never happened before in the history of the C-
Span feed. But that happened today. As did the lights out and power cut
in the other hearing.

So, welcome to your whole new world. Who knows what any of that was about?

Our congressional producers – NBC News congressional producers tonight
tell us in terms of the Mike Pompeo hearing, the CIA hearing, they say that
power cut and the lights going out, that`s still unexplained even now and
that happened just after 10:00 this morning.

The word from C-Span is that the hijack by RT is still as yet unexplained.
They don`t think they were hacked, they say, but they don`t know what
happened. Who knows what this was about? Presumably, these were both just
whacky coincidences.

But if things feel weird and unpredictable right now, it might be because
things are weird and unpredictable right now. In a political moment where
nobody really knows what`s going to happen next, where so many precedents
are being broken, political norms are being cast aside, I mean, that`s two
things for us as a country.

Number one, for all of us who are just citizens, it`s not time to stop
paying attention. This is not time to bury your head in the sand and say
you don`t want to know. You definitely want to know. You want to notice
what is going on right now.

For one thing, it`s fascinating but for the other thing it`s sort of time
for due diligence.

The other thing is, though, that this is sort of a political test, right?
It`s a test for us as a country to see how well we roll with the punches,
particularly when the punches are unprecedented and unpredictable.

Inside politics, it`s a test to see who`s going to rise to this occasion
and who was better suited to a previous time. I mean, the Obama era is
ending. President Obama today gave vice President Joe Biden the
Presidential Medal of Freedom and the vice president cried. He wept as he
received it. President Obama surprised him with it today. It was an
incredibly touching moment.

But they are on their way out, and while they are on their way out on the
other side of Pennsylvania Avenue, the new post-Obama era of Democratic
politics in Washington is starting to show us what it is. Starting to show
its face and the skills Democrats needed when they had a friendly
Democratic face in the White House, those won`t be the same skills
Democrats need in the days ahead.

We don`t know what skills the Democrats are going to need in the days
ahead. We don`t know who the Democratic stars are going to be. We don`t
know who`s going to be effective and who`s not, but we`re starting to see
them do their best. And last night in the middle of the night after 1:00
a.m., Democrats got up on their hind legs and put on a show of how they are
going to fight against Republicans in Washington and what the incoming
administration wants to do.

Have you seen this tape from the middle of the night last night yet? I
don`t know how many people saw this today because of all the other stuff
that happened over the course of the day, but what Democrats did in the
middle of the night was freaking dramatic and I want you to see it.

This was the end of the vote-a-rama thing. They voted on a million
different amendments and things all night, way into the wee hours. But by
the end of it, what they were voting on was basically the first procedural
step that Republicans would need to get through – they need to pass this
if they repeal Obamacare, if they take away this program that provides tens
of millions of Americans with their health insurance.

And at the moment, they were taking this crucial vote, it was Republican
Senator Cory Gardner of Colorado who had the gavel. He was presiding over
the Senate while taking this vote, and I think what happened here
procedurally is that all the Republicans had voted yes on this repeal
Obamacare thing. The Republicans I think just went to their desks and
pushed the button to indicate I`m voting yes. So, Cory Gardner, you`ll see
him here, he reads the names of the Republican senators to indicate they
were yes votes. Again, in a vote to take the first step toward repealing

He gets to the end of that list and he reads the name of the one Republican
who voted no – that`s interesting, and a reminder of how tight the margins
are right now in the Senate, you only need to peel off one or two
Republicans on anything in order to make it go the Democrats` way.

So, it was very interesting – Rand Paul voted with the Democrats on this.
He voted no on the Obamacare repeal thing. So, he notes that, Rand Paul
voted no. And then he gets to the Democratic names and then watch what the
Democrats do.


SENATE CLERK: Mr. Sasse? Mr. Sasse, aye. Mr. Gardner? Mr. Gardner, aye.
Mr. Paul voted in the negative.


SENATE CLERK: Mr. Schumer?

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY), MINORITY LEADER: On behalf of the tens of
millions of Americans who will – be.

SEN. CORY GARDNER (D), COLORADO: Debate not in order during a roll call

SCHUMER: Whether they`re in the exchange or not, if ACA –

GARDNER: The leader is not in order.

SCHUMER: I vote no.

GARDNER: Debate is not in order during a vote.

SENATE CLERK: Mr. Schumer, no.

GARDNER: Debate is not in order during a vote.

Gentlemen from Illinois?

SEN. DICK DURBIN (D), ILLINOIS: On behalf of the down state hospitals of
Illinois, I vote no.

GARDNER: Debate is not in order during a vote.

SENATE CLERK: Mr. Durbin, no.

Mrs. Murray?


GARDNER: Debate is not in order during a vote.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I), VERMONT: How am I recorded? On behalf of elderly
people who cannot afford higher prescription charges, I vote no.

SENATE CLERK: Mr. Sanders. Mr. Sanders, no.

Mrs. McCaskill?

SEN. CLAIRE MCCASKILL (D), MISSOURI: Because there is no replace, I vote

GARDNER: Debate is not allowed during the vote.

SENATE CLERK: Ms. Klobuchar?


GARDNER: The senator is not recorded.

KLOBUCHAR: Because there is no plan and the alternative. I vote no.



MURPHY: How am I recorded?

GARDNER: Senator is not recorded.

MURPHY: This is cruel and inhumane.

GARDNER: The Senate will be in order. Debate is not allowed.


SENATE CLERK: Mr. Franklin?

FRANKEN: How am I recorded?

GARDNER: The senator is not recorded.

FRANKEN: I vote no on behalf of the more than –

GARDNER: Debate is not allowed during the vote.

FRANKEN: – 2.3 million Minnesotans who can no longer be discriminated
against –

GARDNER: There will be order and the clerk will continue the role.

FRANKEN: – because of the aca.

GARDNER: The Senate will be in order.

SENATE CLERK: Mr. Franken, no.


SENATE CLERK: Ms. Heitkamp?

HEITKAMP: How am I recorded?

GARDNER: Senator is not recorded.

HEITKAMP: On behalf of the thousands of –

GARDNER: Senator will suspend. Debate is not allowed.

HEITKAMP: – people who receive health care in my state and rural
hospitals who know not how they`re going to get health care if this passes
without a replacement, I vote no.

SEN. TAMMY DUCKWORTH (D), ILLINOIS: Madam clerk, how am I recorded?

GARDNER: Senator is not recorded.

DUCKWORTH: On behalf of the 1.2 million people from Illinois who will –

GARDNER: The Senate will be in order.

DUCKWORTH: – who lose health insurance with this repeal of the ACA, and
for all those we pre-existing conditions, I stand on prosthetic legs to
vote no.

GARDNER: The Senate will be in order.

SEN. MARIA CANTWELL (D), WASHINGTON: Clerk, how am I recorded?

SENATE CLERK: Ms. Cantwell?

CANTWELL: This is not –

GARDNER: Debate is not allowed.

CANTWELL: – business as usual, you are stealing health care from
Americans, I vote no.

GARDNER: The Senate will be in order.

SENATE CLERK: Ms. Cantwell, no.

SEN. TIM KAINE (D), VIRGINIA: Madam clerk?


KAINE: When I was sick you visited me.

GARDNER: Debate will not be allowed. The Senate will be in order.

SENATE CLERK: Mr. Kaine, no.


MADDOW: All of these Democratic senators, this is the middle of the night.
This after 1:00 a.m., all of these Democratic senators, all of them except
for Dianne Feinstein who just had a freaking pacemaker put in and she was
getting ready to come back to work after surgery the very next morning, all
of them shouting over the gavel, voting no, saying why they are voting no.
Senator Tim Kaine at the end citing Scripture, citing the Gospel of
Matthew, “when you were sick you visited me.”

You heard Senator Bernie Sanders there, he said on behalf of elderly people
who cannot afford prescription drugs, I vote no. Senator Sanders this
weekend will lead a rally to try to save Obamacare. He`s going to do it in
Michigan, which is interesting. He`ll be in Warren, Michigan. But there
are more than 40 different rallies around the country planned this week to
end to save Obamacare, to try to stop what the Republicans are doing.

That organizing effort is under way. Indivisible, this organizing effort
we`ve been reporting on here on the show, the Indivisible folks now tell us
they are up to almost 3,000 groups that have registered, that say they are
using the Indivisible guide to plan political action to pressure Congress
against what Trump and the Republicans want to do, including trying to save

It`s expected that hundreds if not, I guess, thousands of these groups
organizing around the Indivisible guide. It`s expected these groups are
going to take different action in their own local areas this weekend and we
have no idea what the affect of those groups is going to be on Washington
politics. We have no idea what the effectiveness will be of Democrats
showing the kind of heart and organization that they showed last night in
the middle-of-the-night showdown in the Senate.

But honestly, this is a weird new era. We don`t know what`s going to
happen. We don`t know why the lights went out in the middle of the
confirmation hearing today. We don`t know what to expect from the incoming
administration at very, very basic levels.

That also means we don`t know what`s going to work when people try to stop
the Republicans from doing what they want to do. I mean, in the Democratic
politics right now, we are experiencing the end of something. But it is
also the beginning of something, too.

And the Democrats, even the 83-year-old Democrats in Washington who are
currently having surgery, apparently, they are fired up and ready to go.


MADDOW: So, last night it was starting to look like the confirmation of
the Exxon CEO to be secretary of state. Last night, we reported that that
confirmation started to look like it might be in jeopardy.

Well, today, another senator has come out against that nomination. That
senator is going to be here live with us tonight. We also have intriguing
news about Michael Jackson`s bejeweled glove from the “Bad” tour. Uh-huh.

And we have a best new thing in the world ahead tonight. Stay with us.


MADDOW: Hindsight is – infuriating in most cases. But we now know with
20/20 hindsight, that there were two externalities imposed on our
presidential election this past year from outside the normal political
process, and both of them may have been very consequential in terms of the
outcome of that election. We`ll not ever necessarily be able to quantify
what exactly it did to the election result, but what we know about the
Russian attack on the integrity of our election, that continues to unspool.
The developments today in that story were plot twists honestly rejected
from spy movies because they seemed too implausible for the movies. We`re
going to get to some of that stuff in a second.

But the other externality that was imposed on our election from outside the
political process came from our own FBI chief. A week and a half before
the election, the FBI director decided to write to Congress to say his
agents were going over more Clinton e-mails. Director Comey sent that
letter to Republicans in Congress 11 days before the election suggesting,
you know, something might be up with those Clinton e-mails and that went on
for nine days. And then two days before the election after millions of
Americans had cast their votes, James Comey sent another letter to Congress
basically saying “never mind. Actually, nothing`s up with those Clinton e-
mails after all.”

And the overt official assessment from the Clinton campaign is that what
James Comey did with that letter cost them the election. The Clinton
campaign says their data shows clearly that his intervention is the
variable that explains why Hillary Clinton lost and Donald Trump won.
Whether or not you think that`s true and you share that assessment, it
turns out we`re all going to get to learn much more about that incident
because today, the inspector general for the Justice Department announced a
review of this case, is including the two letters from James Comey in the
closing days of the election and even before that, that July press
conference where he announced he wasn`t charging Hillary Clinton but then
he decided to excoriate her publicly anyway even though the FBI wasn`t
recommending charges.

All of those decisions by the FBI director will now be reviewed by the
inspector general for the Justice Department and we don`t have a timeline
for when that investigation will conclude. But one interesting variable
here is that the incoming administration, the incoming president
conceivably could try to replace that inspector general if the Trump
administration wanted to. They`d be replacing the inspector general while
the inspector general is investigating the FBI`s director – the FBI
director`s intervention at the end of the election which the Clinton
campaign says cost Hillary Clinton the presidency.

Think the Trump administration might want to interrupt that investigation?
I should tell you, this inspector general story, this investigation of
James Comey and what it might mean and what the Trump administration might
do with it, it is fascinating and it`s going to be fascinating in days
ahead, it`s also the second-most fascinating story about these external
variables that affected our election in its very closing days today.

That other story is next. Stay with us.


MADDOW: A few things we learned today, all super interesting, about this
intelligence dossier thing that has upended the political universe
concerning Russia and Donald Trump. First thing we learned about today
which is probably the most important and that is that the president-elect
just lied to us about it. We know that the president-elect spoke by phone
with the director of national intelligence, James Clapper. We know they
discussed that mysterious dossier of unsubstantiated Russian source
material about Donald Trump.

This morning, the president-elect said on Twitter, quote, “James Clapper
called me yesterday to denounce the false and fictitious report that was
illegally circulated, made up, phony facts, too bad.”

Except that is not what the Director of National Intelligence, James
Clapper, said about that dossier. I mean, we weren`t in on the
conversation but we can tell you, we know, you and me as citizens, we know
James Clapper specifically did not say that that dossier was false and
fictitious. Neither did he say it was true and trustworthy.

What he said was – and we know this, you and I both know this because he
released a public statement about it for the whole world to read – what he
actually said about it was this, quote, “The intelligence community has not
made any judgment that the information in this document is reliable and we
did not rely upon in the any way for our conclusions.”

So, the incoming president is saying the intelligence chief has denounced
this dossier as false and fictitious. No. That`s not true. The
intelligence chief actually says the intelligence community made no
judgment about the reliability of this dossier at all.

The president-elect, the incoming president is lying to us about it
outright in a way that we can check. He`s saying the intelligence
community has made this claim when they actually have made a claim that
totally contradicts what he says.

And if being lied to by the incoming president about this, if this feels
familiar, it`s because this is the exact same kind of lie we got from the
incoming president last week. He had a briefing with intelligence
officials on Friday about the Russian interference in the election. After
that briefing, the incoming president released this statement that said,
quote, “There was absolutely no affect on the outcome of the election.”
The intelligence report actually said this, quote, “We did not make an
assessment of the impact that Russian activities had on the outcome of the

So, when the president-elect came out of that briefing and said, “Listen,
what happened in that briefing is they told me this didn`t affect the
election”, he was lying. The president-elect was lying to us overtly last
week about intelligence on the Russian hacking of our election. He is
lying overtly today about the intelligence in this dossier, and whether or
not it is viewed as credible by the intelligence community.

The intelligence community has not denounced this dossier as false and
fictitious. It has had not made any judgment. It`s actually not made any
judgment about it.

So, this is once again the incoming president just directly bluntly
uncomplicatedly simply lying. So, I feel like that`s the most important
thing. We need to know, you and I need to know as citizens that the
incoming president will lie to our faces even when we can easily disprove
it ourselves with facts that we can check ourselves, even when we have
access to the information that he`s talking about. Apparently, that
doesn`t bother him.

So, that`s the first thing. That`s what we need to know about our new era.

Second thing we learned definitively today is that the incoming president
was informed about this dossier of Russian whatever last Friday, but not in
the way you might expect. NBC News reports tonight that according to
multiple high level intelligence sources, after the president-elect`s
formal briefing on Friday was over, after that was over, the FBI Director
James Comey took the president-elect aside and spoke with him one on one
about the existence of these unverified allegations concerning Trump`s ties
and activities in Russia. U.S. officials tell NBC News that the FBI
director also told the incoming president that a summary of those claims
was included in the addendum to his – this top-secret briefing.

At his press conference yesterday, the incoming president did not deny
being briefed about this Russian dossier but he didn`t really confirm it,
either. He said he wouldn`t discuss classified information. At one point,
he said “I read the information outside of that meeting.”

But now, we know that the president-elect was made aware of that dossier
following his intelligence briefing on Friday. So, there`s that.

The third thing we learned today may or may not be important but it`s
interesting and, frankly, sort of worrying news about the former spy who
compiled that dossier of Russian stuff, this 35-page dossier was put
together by a former British MI-6 operative named Chris Steele. Chris
Steele served undercover in Moscow in the late 1990s. Later, he was the
top Russia expert at MI-6, which is U.K.`s version of the CIA.

After he left MI-6, he set up his own private research firm which is called
Orbis Business Intelligence. He set that up in 2009, and there, he was
hired on behalf of unidentified Republicans to put together a file on
Trump. Basically opposition research on Trump in order to try to stop
Trump`s bid for the party`s nomination.

Well, now, today, the man who did all that, who was hired and compiled this
dossier, today, Mr. Steele has disappeared. He has gone to ground, in the
words of the “New York Times”. “The Times” reports that Mr. Steele was
reportedly seen hurriedly leaving his home in Surrey, southwest of London,
yesterday after his identity was outed in the press.

Today, our British partner network ITV caught up with his business partner
and watched this. His business partner seemed reluctant and maybe a little
scared to talk about this at all. Watch.


light of everything that`s happened over the last 24 hours, I don`t think
it would be appropriate for me to make any comments at the moment on what`s
happened, whether all this has been involved or not.


MADDOW: You can see there business partner looking worried. But the man
who reportedly compiled this dossier who`s now been named in the press has

I don`t know what`s going to happen next in this story, either. Nor do
you. But don`t believe what the next president says about it.

Lots still to come. Stay with us.


MADDOW: This is a lovely $30 million mansion in Malibu in southern
California. This is a bejeweled glove that Michael Jackson wore on the
tour to support his album “Bad”. It`s a crystal-encrusted Michael Jackson

Same guy who owned the gazillion dollar mansion and Michael Jackson`s
bejeweled glove also owns all of these cars, which are very nice cars. Not
just Porsches and Ferraris, he also owns some of the rarest cars in the
world, including some Swedish thing called a Koenigsegg – I think that`s
how you say it. Koenigsegg.

He had one of only seven ever produced. It costs something like $3 million
for a car.

Same guy owned this junk, the mansion, the rare cars, Michael Jackson`s
bejeweled glove. He owns six life-sized Michael Jackson statues. Not all
that big anyway. Michael Jackson wasn`t all that – anyway.

All the same guy. This is the part where I tell you the good news. The
guy who owns all of this stuff is not the latest announced nominee for the
Trump cabinet.

No, it is the vice president of a country called Equatorial Guinea. His
dad is the president. He`s the longest-serving president of any country on
earth. He`s been in power for 36 or something years. Last year, he
appointed his son to be vice president and so, the son got famous for
something other than having Michael Jackson`s bejeweled glove.

Equatorial Guinea is one of the poorest nations on earth. Three quarters
of the population lives below the poverty line. Most of the country lives
on less than $2 a day.

But Equatorial Guinea has oil, a lot of it. And starting in the mid-`90s,
they started getting huge royalty checks from oil companies who were
pumping oil out of that country. And because of that oil money, on paper
Equatorial Guinea is doing great. On paper, they have the highest GDP per
capita in Africa.

But none of that money gets to the people. Over three quarters of its
population is below the poverty line. The government spends less on
education and health than even the rest of sub-Saharan Africa.

But for the ruling family, things have never been better. This past April,
the country held an election and that longest-serving president in the
world? He won with 94 percent of the vote. It`s actually a little less
than what he won by in 2009 when he got 97 percent of the vote.

The president`s family runs everything. His eldest son, the guy that loves
the cars and the Michael Jackson junk, he`s the vice president. The
president`s other son runs the oil ministry. The first lady`s brother is
the head of the state-owned oil company GE Petrol.

And as that family has made itself fabulously wealthy off the resources of
that country, while the people of that country starve, it`s now newly
relevant in our politics that the company that handed over all the money,
that company that pumped all that money into Equatorial Guinea, the biggest
oil country in the company, the company that brought the first oil field
into production in 1995. That company is – say it with me now – Exxon.

Still does business there. Their own web site, they brag about being the
largest oil producer in that country. They are partnered with the state-
run oil company run by the first lady`s brother.

And if you want to know how the oil money for that country ended up not
that country but just in the pockets of the ruling family, turns out it`s
really simple. Turns out when Exxon would pay Equatorial Guinea for
allowing them to operate there and pump oil there, they would dump millions
and million and millions of dollars into the ruling family`s personal bank
account in Washington, D.C.

Right through 2004, they were doing that. When U.S. authorities discovered
that bank account and that became the subject of a U.S. Senate
investigation. And that is now newly relevant because the guy who is maybe
going to be our next secretary of state was the CEO of Exxon when they were
funneling money into the president of Equatorial Guinea`s private account
and Exxon never really felt pain for that before. But, boy, are they now?
Hold that thought.



SEN. JEFF MERKLEY (D), OREGON: The president for life, President Obiang,
has become exceedingly rich, and part of the way that he`s become
exceedingly rich is the payments that Exxon has made have gone to his
family`s accounts rather than going to the national treasury. What are
your thoughts on why Exxon participated in that which continued in time
that in your opinion the leadership of the company?

REX TILLERSON, SECRETARY OF STATE NOMINEE: In terms of the – this payment
that ExxonMobil would make in any arrangement, a contract in any company –
country, would be no different than they are made with domestic producers
here in the U.S. that are operating on federal lands. There`s royalty and
there`s taxes paid to the treasury.

Now, what the government does with those monies once the company pays those
is up to the government.

MERKLEY: (INAUDIBLE) actually cut their foreign economic assistance to the
country because of the massive corruption and control by this family.


MADDOW: Joining us now is Oregon Democratic Senator Jeff Merkley, a member
of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee who pinned Rex Tillerson on that
yesterday and who today announced his opposition to the secretary of state
nomination of Exxon CEO, Rex Tillerson.

Senator, it`s nice to have you here.

MERKLEY: Oh, it`s great to be with you. Thank you.

MADDOW: Are you excited to talk to someone else about Equatorial Guinea
and their corruption and Exxon`s role in it?

MERKLEY: Well, indeed, absolutely. I think it`s a story that the American
people need to know.

MADDOW: The thing about that exchange, I watched that while it happened,
was that his answer to you basically was, yes, we didn`t break any laws.

MERKLEY: Now, the answer was we haven`t been successfully prosecuted for
it, so it must be OK.

And when I pointed out that the family`s phenomenally powerful and rich,
president of life, really dictators with is the right word, while the
people are absolutely oppressed, impoverished and all this oil wealth is
being channeled into just this one family, and that they are cooperating
with that. They`re helping make it happen, that this is a huge problem and
he just said, it`s OK. It`s OK, don`t worry about that.

MADDOW: It`s OK. We were never found to be breaking any laws.

MERKLEY: Yes. No, that`s right.

MADDOW: That was – that was the line of questioning, the line of
discussion on Equatorial Guinea. That sort of line of questioning has come
up with him and a number of – around another, a number of other countries
where Exxon has acted in ways that are in – I would say not consistent
with American values and American interests. But Exxon, it was legal. And
that`s what they`re doing.

Including in Kurdistan, when American soldiers were dying to try to create
a single Iraqi government, Exxon was undermining it.

MERKLEY: Absolutely.

MADDOW: Is it – is it not a bipartisan concern, this line of questioning?

MERKLEY: Well, I think it is. You had Marco Rubio raising the issue of
Saudi Arabia. I raised the issue of Saudi Arabia, using cluster munitions.
So, have you bipartisan both of us concerned about it.

Marco Rubio raised concern about President Duterte of the Philippines,
having extrajudicial killings of more than 4,000 to 6,000 young men on the
streets. And his answer in that case was simply, I need a little more
information. And when I asked about cluster munitions, well, I don`t
really have thoughts on that.

And you – he had started when he first came and talked to me in office in
saying, “My goal is to have moral clarity in U.S. policy.” But all I heard
during testimony he gave is a complete lack of moral clarity on issues he
should have been able to say, no, this is not right in the world and
America`s going to try it take this on.

For example, when raised about Russia and Putin authorizing the bombing of
civilians that have killed hundreds of thousands and more than 4 million to
5 million have fled the country, he just – it was like he didn`t have an
opinion on it. It was deeply disturbing testimony.

MADDOW: Within the committee, and with among these deliberations, do you -
- do Democrats only talk to Democrats? Do you talk with your Republican
colleagues about this? Do you have any sense about the depth of Republican
concern? Obviously, even if all Democrats vote against him, he is still be
confirmed, unless a Republican crosses over.

MERKLEY: Well, and certainly, this is the first stage in committee and
more could happen on the floor. There isn`t a lot of conversation because
we had ten hours of hearing and sitting on opposite sides of the room and
then we`re rushing on to the floor to start the health care debate, which
took us until 2:00 in the morning.

And so, it was a crazy day. But I would hope that my Republican colleagues
are hearing some things that should really bother them.

MADDOW: Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon, it`s really nice to have you here
in person, sir. Thank you for being here.

MERKLEY: Thank you.

MADDOW: And come back soon.

We`ll be right back. Stay with us.


MADDOW: This is great. This very rarely happens. But on Monday night`s
show, we did a story here that got a huge reaction from you guys, a huge
emotional reaction from you guys.

A lot of you guys out there told us you thought this story was one of the
worst things in the world, one of the worst things you`ve heard in a long
time. Well, tonight, we have an update that story has done a 180. And
tonight, it is the best new thing in the world that is next.

Stay with us.


MADDOW: Best new thing in the world. Monday`s show, we reported the story
of 89-year-old Charlie Brotman. Every four years since 1957, ever since
Eisenhower, Charlie Brotman has been the official announcer for the
president`s inaugural parade, 11 presidencies, 60 years he`s been doing

This year, he was already prepping to do it again, and then Donald Trump
told him, no, thanks, we don`t want you. Donald Trump canned Charlie
Brotman after 60 years of doing this job and he hired the inaugural
announcer this year, his own guy, a Trump volunteer who has done some
freelance announcing.

Charlie Brotman told reporters that when he got the e-mail firing him, he
said he wanted to commit suicide. He said it destroyed him.

New development in the story. The story started making the rounds. Mr.
Brotman`s telephone rang. On the line was the local NBC station in
Washington, D.C. offering him a job. NBC 4 in Washington, D.C. just hired
Charlie Brotman to be the commentator for their inauguration coverage next
week. So, he gets to call the inauguration anyway. But this time on TV.

We talked to Mr. Brotman tonight. He said he was shocked to get that call
but he is thrilled to take the job. He says he has a lot to discuss about
the inauguration with his new TV audience. Mr. Brotman told us he is at
peace with what happened.

He told us, quote, “I have recognized that, hey, nothing is forever for
heaven`s sake. It`s the old guy coming out and new guy coming in. There`s
nothing wrong with that.”

But Charlie Brotman will be NBC Washington`s newest inaugural commentator
and everybody is new role model for resilience in the face of insult and

And that is today`s best thing in the world. Congratulations, sir.

That does it for us tonight. We`ll see you again tomorrow.


Good evening, Lawrence.


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