The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 1/24/17
Show: THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW
Date: January 24, 2017
Guest: Tom Perez
CHRIS HAYES, “ALL IN” HOST: – investigation happening into contacts
between the Trump campaign and Russia, Stone was one of three people named
in that one report, along with Carter Page and Paul Manafort. So, that`s
Thank you, Philip Rucker. Appreciate it.
PHILIP RUCKER: Thank you.
HAYES: All right. That is “ALL IN” for this evening.
THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts right now.
Good evening, Rachel.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chris. Thanks, my friend.
HAYES: You bet.
MADDOW: And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour. We`ve got a
big show tonight.
Our guest tonight for the interview until recently was the secretary of
labor in the Obama administration. He is now a leading candidate to be the
next chair of the Democratic Party. Tom Perez is going to be here live in
person tonight, very much looking forward to that. This will be his first
appearance on THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW ever. So we`re soupy – super –
soupy happy. We`re super happy to have him here tonight.
Also we`re sort of soupy, but that`s a totally different thing.
All right. We`re going to start tonight in July of last year, this past
July, summer, 2016 – on a day when we as a nation were very distracted.
We had our own mess to think about, we had our own politics to focus on, we
were really not noticing anything else going on in the world.
July 21st last year, that was the day that the man who is now our new
president gave his big speech at the Republican Convention. That`s the
night he accepted the nomination of the Republican Party to be their
presidential candidate. That day, leading up to the speech, the big news,
the big distracting news all day long is what had happened the night before
at the Republican Convention.
We were very distracted. This was a very distracting thing because Senator
Ted Cruz of Texas just the night before had given his speech at the
Republican Convention and he had been all but run out of the room, screamed
at, booed at for refusing to explicitly endorse Donald Trump in his speech
at that convention.
So, that`s what was going on July 21, this past summer. We had a lot on
our minds that day. But that day, our neighbors to the North had a big
freaking oil spill. It made zero news in the United States but it was a
This was a pipeline. It was not a particularly old or controversial
pipeline. But it busted open and it sent 50,000 gallons of oil into the
North Saskatchewan River which, among other things, is the drinking water
source for a lot of people downstream. And the river was running really
high at the time of the spill. There`d been a lot of rain in the area at
They did put boom into the river to try to contain some of the oil but it
was basically completely – you can see how effective the boom is being
there, right? Basically completely ineffective. The oil spilled all the
way downstream. More than 200 miles down the North Saskatchewan River.
A whole bunch of Canadian towns were not only polluted, a whole bunch of
wildlife not only died but a lot of people, tens of thousands of Canadians,
lost their water source.
The nearest town of any significant size to the spill luckily had some
rainwater stored that it was able to use for emergency water on an
emergency short-term basis until they could MacGyver together a hose to
bring in water from another town that had been lucky enough to not have its
drinking water intake fouled by all this crude oil in the river.
But it was a big deal. They started a cleanup operation. A lot of this
was on native land in Canada, in addition to the official cleanup led by
the government a lot of local people came out to see the site for
themselves and to try to help with the cleanup.
This one guy – I came across this in the contemporaneous news coverage.
He made his feelings known. He`s a member of the Cree Nation. This
picture was taken more than a month after that oil spill. He was out there
at the site of the spill collecting dead animal life from alongside the
polluted river, and you can see him making his feelings known there on his
tee shirt which says, “when I die, I`m haunting you first.”
So, yes, that spill was a bad one. It happened on July 21st. The company
whose pipeline it was, they apologized. All the towns that lost their
drinking water source they were, of course, very angry.
The company told them they thought for sure all the fresh drinking water
would be restored by September? That was not the case. By the time, we
were holding our election in November many of those towns still did not
have a source of clean drinking water because of that spill. Seven
thousand people affected directly in terms of their water, but this major
river in some ways irretrievably fouled by this big spill that happened
July 21st, the day Donald Trump became the Republican nominee for
Today, it happened again. Another unexplained pipeline rupture in a not
particularly old, not particularly controversial pipeline. And this one
was just as big a spill, another 50,000 gallons or as they like to say in
Saskatchewan, 200,000 liters.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHANTEL SAUNDERS, TV ANCHOR: There`s been another major oil spill in our
province. Officials say around 200,000 liters of crude oil leaked on
agricultural land in southern Saskatchewan.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The pipeline is owned by Energy Marketing Incorporated
and it was shut down when the leak was discovered. So far, there`s no word
on what the cause of the spill was. In fact, they`re still trying to
determine the source of the rupture under the frozen surface.
This southern Saskatchewan spill is significant at 200,000 liters, almost
as much as crude oil that spilled as the Husky Energy spill into the north
Saskatchewan, that being about 225,000 liters. Of course, that affected
the water supply for nearly 70,000 people down river.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Because I believe the news gods are numerologists, we get these
interesting bookends now, right? On the day he was nominated for
president, we got a 50,000 gallon Canadian oil pipeline rupture.
Now, today, now that he is president, on the day he signed presidential
memoranda resurrecting the Dakota Access Pipeline and resurrecting the
Keystone Pipeline, today we got another twin oil pipeline rupture. Another
50,000 gallons spilled. So, that`s 100,000 gallons of ruptured pipeline
crude to bookend this decision today and the politics that made it
Because of that decision today about the Dakota Access Pipeline and
Keystone, today, we saw protests – basically spontaneous protests at the
White House in Washington, D.C. Also in New York City. People protesting
up at Columbus Circle and near Trump Tower.
Given the size of these protests against both of these pipelines in the
past, right, the anti-Keystone protests that happened all over the country
but mainly in D.C., those huge protests about keystone, given the enormous
anti-Dakota Access Pipeline protests that stunned North Dakota this past
year after Native Americans took the lead in protesting that pipeline even
into the bitter winter months on the North Dakota plains, given the size of
the protests that these two projects have attracted in the past, expect
this action by the new president to resurrect them today, expect those –
that action to create an unequal and very opposite reaction that will
likely be a sustained protest campaign to add to the other sustained
protest campaigns that seem to be gearing up against this new and very
The opposition to the Keystone pipeline alone in Nebraska alone, I think
the new president will find that`s about to splash back in his face in a
way he may not be expecting. But we don`t yet really know how opposition
like that and controversy like that is going to function in the Trump era.
We don`t know how the new president is going to react.
We just know with this decision on these two pipelines he has started
something that will probably get a very, very big response. And now,
speaking of a big response, let`s pop over to Oklahoma for a second because
I want to show you a weather map. I want to show you a weather map from
Oklahoma from the first Saturday morning in September.
This is September, 2016, and this is a loop of the weather radar map that
day and we`re going to run it on this loop here so you can see what`s weird
about it. You see that blue green like burst? This is not something you
typically see on weather radar, right? It`s like a bloom or like a burst
or flashbulb going off.
What that is is not clouds, it`s not a storm, it`s not a tornado or
something. What that is, that big burst of blue and green on the weather
snap, that`s birds that`s all the birds in Oklahoma taking off and flying
away all at once. That happened at 6:47 a.m. on the morning of Saturday,
September 3rd. All the birds in the state flew away to the point where it
was captured on weather radar.
The birds took off apparently because they knew something was coming.
Because 15 minutes after they did that, 15 minutes after 6:47, at 7:02 a.m.
something did happen; 7:02 a.m. Saturday morning September 3rd, there was
an earthquake in Oklahoma. And the birds knew it was coming. Isn`t that
It was a really big earthquake, though. It was the biggest earthquake to
ever hit Oklahoma. In fact it was the biggest earthquake to hit the
Continental United States in the last two years.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Nearly a full minute of shaking in Oklahoma, a state now
rivaling California as earthquake country.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was the biggest one I`ve ever felt.
REPORTER: Today, a 5.6 quake in the small town of Pawnee.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`ve got to have you inspect the damage.
REPORTER: Emergency crews dousing fires while other areas saw 100-year-old
stone facades come crashing down and in grocery stores, aisle after aisle
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right away, you could tell this was something
REPORTER: The quake fanning out across the country felt in Nebraska,
Missouri, Iowa, Arkansas, Texas, and as far as Illinois and Colorado.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It`s crazy.
REPORTER: But more alarming than the shaking, an upward trend documented
by the U.S. Geological Survey showing a spike in Oklahoma earthquakes, a
region with heavy oil and natural gas production. This year, for the first
time, geologists putting out a map highlighting areas prone to human-caused
earthquakes. They`re linked to the promise of fracking and injecting waste
water at high pressure deep into the earth.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That earthquake that hit Oklahoma in September, the one that made
all the birds in the state fly away 15 minutes before it arrived, the U.S.
Geological Survey now says that was a 5.8 magnitude quake which is big.
Oklahoma not only makes its own earthquakes now, it makes its own big
earthquakes. That one, again, was the biggest quake to hit the Continental
United States in years.
The attorney general of the state of Oklahoma is a man named Scott Pruitt.
He took office, he was sworn in in 2011. That year, the year he took
office in 2011, the number of earthquakes in Oklahoma that were a magnitude
3.0 or above was 63. Last year, Oklahoma had more than 600 earthquakes of
The U.S. Geological Survey did do a study of manmade earthquakes in the
United States. Induced earthquakes and they make it very clear – this is
not, like, a big national problem in the United States. This is not
everywhere. The U.S. Geological Survey did a study of man-made
earthquakes, induced earthquakes a couple of years ago, and these are the
maps from that study.
Here`s one of them. I think we have a couple of these other maps. Yes,
that`s the one you saw in that “NBC Nightly News” piece and I think we`ve
got one more. Yes, OK, so these are the maps from the study.
Notice anything they all have in common? All of them are very, very
focused on one area of the country, right? Like flashing red lights,
danger, Will Robinson, danger, Will Robinson. It`s all right there on
This is an Oklahoma problem. Oklahoma has a very particular, specific
problem with this unique, very modern environmental disaster. Oil and gas
companies inject polluted waste water from the fracking process deep into
the ground in Oklahoma and Oklahoma can`t take it.
The ground in Oklahoma can`t take it, and now, Oklahoma had hundreds and
hundreds and hundreds of earthquakes every year, multiple earthquakes per
day, everyday of the year in Oklahoma, including the biggest earthquakes in
the Continental United States.
And it`s not random. It`s not like God is mad at Oklahoma and he keeps
picking it up and rattling it like a snow globe. This is happening
specifically in that state as basically an environmental crime, right?
It`s happening in that state because of what oil and gas companies are
doing to the environment there. What they are doing to the earth in that
And we have seen it bloom over the past five years in Oklahoma. And for
the last five years the attorney general of that state chose to do
absolutely nothing about that problem.
Actually, let me revise that. He did do one thing about that problem. In
2014, as attorney general he wrote to the federal government, he wrote to
the EPA to complain that they were being too intrusive in trying to do
anything about this problem. They were being too intrusive in trying to
regulate fracking and these waste water injection sites in the state of
So, that is the one thing he did. He did nothing about it himself. His
only action was to try and stop anybody else from doing anything else about
it, either. This complaint to the EPA, stay out of our fracking industry -
- that was it.
When Scott Pruitt became attorney general in Oklahoma, there was an
existing environmental protection unit in his office, in the attorney
general`s office. It had about a half million dollar budget. It was
budgeted in the state budget as environmental law.
Scott Pruitt eliminated that office entirely when he became attorney
general. There actually still is an environmental law line item in the
Oklahoma state budget but it`s now zero. And it has been for a few years
because Scott Pruitt shut it down.
And now, Scott Pruitt is the nominee to be the head of the EPA, the head of
the nation`s Environmental Protection Agency. And today, we learned a
little more about how if you like what he`s done for Oklahoma, you`re going
to love what he`s going to do for our country.
On the same day that our new president signed those presidential memoranda
resurrecting the Keystone and Dakota Access pipelines, on the same day, an
anonymous EPA employee surreptitiously got out to the world, that in
preparation for Scott Pruitt`s takeover at the EPA, that agency has
basically been frozen in its tracks, it`s been brought to a halt.
Now, there has been no announcement about this from the White House. They
did not put out a press release about it. The White House spokesman Sean
Spicer got asked about it today at the White House press briefing. He
appeared to have no idea what he was being asked about.
The only within reason we know about this is that an EPA employee took it
upon himself or herself to secretly tip somebody off inside a congressional
office on Capitol Hill and somebody in a congressional office on Capitol
Hill then told reporters. And that`s the only reason we know, that all EPA
grants and contracts have been suspended effective immediately.
That`s the bulk of how EPA does its work. EPA oversees over $6 billion in
grants and contracts, everything from monitoring air quality, to cleaning
up polluted industrial sites, all of that according to these documents
smuggled out to Capitol Hill today, all of that, all grants and contracts
are suspended, quote, “effective immediately.
The agency has been effectively stopped. And again, there`s been no
official announcement about this. We only know it because an employee has
blown the whistle. The only reason the employee had to blow the whistle in
this way is because EPA employees have been ordered to stop talking to make
no public pronouncements on anything.
In addition to this information about the contracts and grants being
halted, this document was smuggled to a staffer on the Hill. Details,
quote, “restrictions that are effective immediately and will remain in
place until further direction is received.”
This is what EPA employees have been told and they`ve been told not to talk
about it. Quote, “No press releases will be going out to external
audiences.” Quote, “No social media will be going out. No blog messages.”
The Beach Team, meaning the incoming Trump administration, they will,
quote, “review the list of upcoming webinars to decide which ones will go
forward.” Quote, “Please send me a list of any external speaking
engagements that are scheduled for any of your staff from today through
Quote, “Incoming media requests will be carefully screened.” Quote, “No
new content can be placed on any web site.”
Even e-mail lists are now under a gag order at the EPA. Quote, “List
serves will be reviewed. Only send out critical messages as messages can
be shared broadly and end up in the press.”
So, the work of the agency is frozen. All existing contracts and grants
are suspended immediately. And no EPA employees are allowed to make any
public statements, including any online postings, social media, anything.
They can`t even make public appearances that were previously scheduled.
Even their webinars are now getting –
People have been worried the Trump administration was going to try to
abolish the EPA. It doesn`t seem like they have figured out how to
formally do that yet, but they`ve put it on ice. They have bound and
gagged the EPA and put a hood on it, even before the new head of the agency
is confirmed and they tried to do it without anybody knowing.
This gag order for people who work at the EPA is also not a solitary case.
This appears to be part of a broader gag order initiative that the new
administration is pursuing with multiple federal agencies. Employees and
agencies from the Department of Transportation, to the Department of the
Interior, to the National Institutes of Health, the Health and Human
Services, even the USDA, employees at all of these agencies have now to a
certain degree been told that they`re no longer allowed to make public
pronouncements. In some cases, they`ve been told explicitly they are no
longer allowed to even provide information to congressional offices.
The 2,000 scientists at the Agricultural Research Service, which is part of
the USDA, they`ve been ordered to suspend immediately the distribution of
any, quote, “public facing documents.” Gag order. You are not allowed to
talk. Not in a way that the public can see.
That apparently includes even letting people know about any scientific
findings for publicly supported research that the scientists are involved
in. Gag order.
Today, there was a little flurry of defiance from the Twitter account from
one of the national parks. The Badlands in South Dakota, their National
Park Service Twitter account today started posting random but real facts
about climate change, apparently in defiance of the new gag orders that the
Trump administration is instituting across the government for a brief
For example, this was one of their climate change tweets visible online.
“Today, the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is higher than at
any time in the last 650,000 years.” That is true. But that is now gone.
It`s interesting. About 4:30 this afternoon the Democratic Party put out a
press release rounding up all this reporting today on all these gag orders
applying to these different federal agencies, public employees being told
they`re not allowed to speak.
The DNC asked – again, this was at 4:30 this afternoon. They put this in
writing, quote, “How long will it take for the Twitter account of Badlands
National Park Service to be suspended for its defiance?” They put that out
at 4:30. The answer was less than an hour. By 5:30, all those tweets
about climate change from Badlands National Park, all of them were
disappeared. All of them were deleted.
And then after that the DNC put out a statement this evening that read,
very bluntly, quote, “Vladimir Putin would be proud.”
Again, as I mentioned at the top of this hour, one of the leading
candidates to be the new head of the Democratic Party is going to be here
for the interview. We will hear what he has to say about this.
But, you know, all that scurrying and worrying you heard after the election
from scientists and researchers and data geeks who were freaking out about
government data sets being disappeared by the new administration, people
scrambling to archive all the public-facing data about climate and the
environment and all those other issues, you heard a lot about that right
after the election, people scrambling to try to download and save that data
so it wouldn`t be disappeared seemed a little paranoid but interesting.
Now we know not paranoid. Now we know.
Day four of the new administration, those people were not wrong to be
freaked out, and they probably, in the interest of science, were not wrong
to be downloading and trying to save data privately because the data is
disappearing. The scientists are being told they are not allowed to speak
It is already happening. It`s day four, it is already happening. Focus,
We`ll be right back.
MADDOW: So far, the new president has signed ten executive actions of
various kinds. Now, we`re reportedly about to get a new round, a big new
round. NBC News reports tonight that the president tomorrow will sign
executive orders on immigration and border security.
Now, you may have heard conflicting reports or different kinds of reports
about this tonight. Earlier this evening, there was a Reuters report that
President Trump would issue orders tomorrow that would restrict travel to
the United States from a number of specific Middle Eastern countries.
Again, that`s a Reuters report. NBC News has not confirmed that. And, in
fact, we`ve had some caution that that may not actually be on deck for
But, again, that`s the Reuters report, NBC not confirming. Even if that`s
not tomorrow, though, we did, of course, get extreme promises on
immigration and religious discrimination from the new president during the
campaign. When he was a candidate, he promised he would ban Muslims from
entering the United States for any reason. We may see some version of him
trying to enact something like that in the coming days.
But again, tonight, in terms of what we`re expecting in the very short
term, NBC News is reporting it will be some kind of new executive order on
the border, maybe on immigration, we just don`t know what to watch for
exactly yet, but we do know to watch for it.
Watch this space.
MADDOW: In South Carolina today, they stood outside Senator Lindsey
Graham`s office. Look at this, Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina. Protesters
encouraging their Senator Lindsey Graham to stand up to the new president.
Senator Graham sometimes hints that he might do that. He always gets a big
flurry of press coverage whenever he so hints. But so far, he hasn`t
actually stood up to the new president on anything substantive.
In Kansas, there was 15 of Senator Pat Robert`s local constituents; 15
Kansans who crammed happily into this office elevator to protest at Senator
Roberts` office in Overland Park, Kansas.
In Florida, a pretty big crowd showed up at the office of Senator Marco
Rubio. Both in Doral and Orlando.
In Denver, Colorado, this was another big one. Hundreds of people from
Colorado, Senator Cory Gardner`s constituents flooded his office today
despite the cold weather and the snow. Some of those folks did eventually
get a meeting with Senator Cory Gardner`s chief of staff.
This was today in Texas outside Senator John Cornyn`s office in Austin,
Texas. Same thing, hundreds of people today chanting and calling on
Senator Cornyn to vote no on the president`s cabinet nominees. Again, that
is Texas today.
In Philadelphia, PA, over 300 people showed up for what has now become a
weekly event they`re calling “Tuesdays with Toomey.” Today, they told
Senator Toomey to vote no on the Trump nominee to be education secretary,
Betsy DeVos. You can hear them chanting here, they were saying “No DeVos,
These are all local manifestations of this national movement that has
sprung up around something called the Indivisible guide. It`s basically an
effort to build a Tea Party-style movement against Trump and we`ve been
following the progress of that movement on this show. And it`s interesting
the key insight that these former congressional staffers who wrote the
guide, the key insight that they share is that you have to target your own
member of Congress. You have to target the members of Congress, the
senators and representatives for which you are their constituent or they
will not listen to you.
And true to form, we are now finding that these Indivisible groups are not
only targeting Republican politicians. In San Francisco today a staffer,
an aide to California Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein, she gotten a
earful from protesters who objected to Senator Feinstein`s vote to confirm
the Trump nominee to be head of the CIA.
The lobby of Democratic Senator Mark Warner`s office in Vienna, Virginia.
That lobby, that office got so overwhelmed today that protesters were told
to leave the premises which security reminded them are on private property.
They were ordered to hold their protest across the street.
Now, Mark Warner`s office reportedly did end up meeting with the protesters
in smaller groups.
In Rochester, Michigan, today, the regional director of Democratic Senator
Gary Peters` office encouraged protesters who were swarming outside that
office, he actually called out to them, “Keep it up, we can hear you.”
In New York City, it was a very rainy windy stormy cold day today and in
New York City, a lot of people, hundreds of people stood in the cold wind
and pouring rain outside two New York Democrats, Senator Kristen Gillibrand
and Democratic Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. Gillibrand and Schumer have
their offices in the same New York location.
Senator Gillibrand has voted no on three of the early confirmation votes
but Senator Schumer has been voting yes, and today, these constituents,
these New York constituents, the Indivisibles, were out there in the rain
and then ultimately in the office saying, “drain the swamp.”
We have watched this movement evolve. We have watched it grow over the
course of just a few weeks, the number of groups identifying as part of the
indivisible movement has climbed to over 4,000 different groups around the
country. And mostly, the way you are seeing them is at these individual
events at individual senators and representatives offices.
We`re getting reports tonight of indivisible showing up at lawmaker offices
today in New Jersey, North Carolina, in Kentucky, in Louisiana, in Utah, in
Arizona, in Illinois and on and on and on. All today.
Again, there are thousands of these groups now putting pressure on their
own representatives, their own senators.
This doesn`t look like a national movement if you take a bird`s eye view.
But up close, it really does. Keep an eye on this. It`s one to watch.
MADDOW: If you add together all of the “no” votes for the new
administration`s confirmed nominees, coming into today, you`d get to just
44 – 44 no votes for all three of them, that averages out to 15 or so “no”
votes for each nominee and that average is falling.
Tonight, former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley became the fourth
nominee to be confirmed. She`ll serve as U.N. ambassador, but the vote for
her was overwhelming, 96-4.
So, among the nominees who`ve gotten a floor vote thus far, they really
haven`t had any trouble. When they get to the Senate floor, they do fine.
But we have seen a bunch of these nominations look really bumpy on the way.
As they run into stuff that got missed and was apparently a really shoddy
vetting process, stuff that tends to show up in the headlines.
For example, today, “The Wall Street Journal” reported on the president`s
pick for U.S. trade representative. He may have a legal conflict, thanks
to his prior legal work on behalf of a foreign government. That may
legally disqualify him from holding the trade job. Under a 1995 law that
was right there on the books for anybody to see – if anybody had checked,
if anybody had vetted him.
Today, “The Journal” also dropped the latest in a seemingly endless parade
of stories concerning questionable stock trades by the president`s pick to
run Health and Human Services, Congressman Tom Price. A lot of discussion
of at Tom Price`s confirmation hearing today. We`ll have more on that
coming up later on the show.
But, meanwhile, the president`s pick to head up the Office of Management
and Budget, he spent part of his confirmation hearing today explaining why
he didn`t pay $15,000 in taxes for a household nanny. And honestly, if it
was anybody other than Senate Republicans in control of this process, these
cabinet nominees would be having a hard time getting confirmed. Tax issues
for household help? That has scuttled a lot of nominations in the past.
But instead because these particular Republicans are in control, and
because, honestly, Democrats are not in lockstep opposition to these
nominees, it`s starting to look like the entire cabinet will all get
confirmed. And if they do, it will not only be the richest cabinet in
history, it will also be a throwback in terms of diversity. This will be
the first cabinet since the 1980s that has nobody who is Latino serving in
it in any capacity.
President Obama, of course, appointed the most diverse cabinet the country
has ever seen. One of its members, Labor Secretary Tom Perez, is now in
the running for a different job. He`s running to be chair of the
Democratic Party and he`s running, I think it`s fair to say, with the
implicit if not explicit backing of much of the Obama administration.
So far, that said, the clear and early favorite for Democratic chairman is
probably Minnesota Congressman Keith Elliston. Today, Congressman Ellison
got the endorsement of the Reverend Jesse Jackson.
But Tom Perez gotten a very important endorsement of his own today. He got
the support of the political arm of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.
So, this fight to run the Democratic Party, this fight for leading the
Democratic Party in the Trump era, rebuilding it and opposing the Trump
agenda and winning big elections, this fight is very interesting now and
And joining us now for the interview tonight is Tom Perez, former secretary
of labor in the Obama administration, now a candidate for DNC chair.
Tom Perez, it`s really nice to meet you.
TOM PEREZ, SECRETARY OF LABOR IN THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION: Great to be
with you, Rachel.
MADDOW: You`ve never been here before.
PEREZ: Yes, you never invited me.
MADDOW: I know, it`s my fault. I hereby am sorry.
So, there are seven people that I know of running for DNC chair. Why did
you decide to run and when did you decide to run?
PEREZ: Sure. I decided to run because this is a “where were you” moment,
all you have to do is watch the first four days of carnage that President
Trump has inflicted on the American people. We`re at this moral and
ethical and economic fork in the road in our nation`s history and my entire
life has been about making sure that we fight for progressive values. So,
I decided to run because we need – frankly, the DNC is a turnaround job.
You know, there`s a crisis of confidence right now in the Democratic
National Committee, and we need a leader who can inspire people, who can
take the fight to Donald Trump, who can appeal to every stakeholder in our
big tent – and I think our big tent is one of our biggest strengths – and
who understands how to take this complex organization that isn`t firing on
all cylinders and move it forward.
And that`s what I did at the Department of Labor and that`s what I had the
privilege of doing it at the Department of Justice before that. You know,
fighting, making sure we were enforcing – going after Joe Arpaio. Making
sure we were enforcing voting rights. At the Department of Labor, making
sure people had access to jobs and access to opportunity.
And in both those jobs, it was about making sure opportunity existed for
everyone. Opportunity to vote, opportunity to realize that American Dream,
and right now, the Democratic Party, you know, we have to – we have to get
back to basics. We`ve got to organize, organize, organize.
You look at the anatomy of the losses in Ohio, and Florida, and in
Michigan, and they were the failure to do the basics, Rachel. It`s not a
strategy to go to an African-American church every Fourth of October. You
know, Mitt Romney got more votes than Donald Trump in Wisconsin, but we
lost Wisconsin because we took Milwaukee for granted and we got our butts
kicked in rural Wisconsin where Barack Obama held his own.
And so, we`ve got to go back to basics as a party. We`ve got to – we`ve
got to make sure that every state has a vibrant party where we are
recruiting candidates, where we are organizing as a four-year, 12-month-a-
year enterprise, where we are working side by side.
And we`ve got to change this culture of the DNC from this top down sort of
culture to a culture where we`re working together with states, because the
Democratic Party can`t be the party of the West Coast and the East Coast
and a couple states in between. We can compete everywhere if we are mining
the basics and we lost sight of the basics. Data analytics are fine and
they`re important but they can`t supplant good old-fashioned house calls.
MADDOW: In terms of where the country is at right now, obviously, the kind
of diagnosis you gave there about what went wrong, why the last election
went the way it did – I feel like we are obviously in that place for post-
election, but we are in the Trump era now.
MADDOW: And I feel like one of the things I don`t know is what Democratic
success looks like in the Trump era. Should Democratic senators all be
voting no on all the Trump nominees? Are you surprised with the way things
are going in Washington thus far? Do you think that – do you have an
opinion on this idea of – on this difference of – on this split in the
Democratic Party between wanting to work with Trump where some things can
get done versus opposing him on everything and just throwing sand in the
gears? Where do you come down on that?
PEREZ: Well, I think we should give Donald Trump the same respect Mitch
McConnell accorded Barack Obama. That`s own my feeling.
MADDOW: Which is not much.
PEREZ: Which is not much of anything.
And you know why? Because if Donald Trump wants to give people a fair
minimum wage, then, heck, I`d be for Donald Trump. If Donald Trump is
going to keep his promise and make sure that everybody who`s working hard
and playing by the rules can have access to the American dream, I`d be all
But you look at the actions of his first four days and it`s been a series
of broken promises. I`m going to lift your wages and help your standard of
living, and day one he makes it harder for homeowners – first time
homeowners to buy a home by rescinding an Obama-era rule. He`s nominated
as my replacement, you know, a person who`s a plaintiff in the lawsuit
challenging our efforts to lift overtime wages for people who work extra,
who, you know, believes that $7.25 minimum wage is fine.
He said he was going to lift wages and help communities out, and we`ve seen
betrayal from day one. And that`s why, I think we need someone at the head
of the DNC who`s going to take the fight to him and take the fight to him
on voting rights. Look what he did day one again down in Texas. I brought
that case – and all Donald Trump talks about is there`s three million
folks who voted, you know –
MADDOW: Illegally voted. Yes.
PEREZ: And, by the way, I know a little bit about that, Rachel, because we
brought the voter ID case in Texas. In the course of the trial, we learned
that over a ten-year period in Texas there were 46 million votes roughly
that were cast.
This is Governor Abbot. He was railing on voter fraud. He established a
tax – a fraud unit. And 46 million votes cast. There were no reported
cases of non-citizen voting prosecutions and there were two cases, two,
count them, two, of in-person voter fraud. Two out of 46.6 million votes
We cannot normalize alternative facts. We cannot normalize the ethical
lapses that have characterized this administration. And that`s why I come
to this with a healthy dose of optimism because you see what happened over
the weekend with the millions of people coming out to march.
And I think the challenge for the DNC is to turn that moment into a
movement by making sure we`re organizing everywhere. That we`re telling
the optimistic story that is the Democratic Party – the story of
opportunity, instead of the story of carnage.
I was confused at his inauguration because when I heard him talk about
carnage, I was thinking about when President Obama took office and the
economy was hemorrhaging 800,000 jobs a month. And then he hands off
Donald Trump 4.7 percent unemployment.
So, we`ve got to take the fight to Donald Trump and we`ve got to articulate
our values of inclusion. And when he talks about a Muslim ban, you know,
we`ve got to stand up to that. When he talks about silencing people of the
EPA, we`ve got to talk about that.
And so, that`s why I`m running. This is a turnaround job. And that`s what
I`ve had the privilege of doing at the Labor Department and the Justice
Department beforehand, and I`m looking forward if I have the privilege of
getting elected to doing that here.
MADDOW: Tom Perez is the outgoing secretary of labor from the Obama
administration Justice Department official before that, now a candidate for
DNC chair in a crowded but exciting field. Good luck, sir.
PEREZ: Thank you so much.
MADDOW: Stay in touch, let us know how it goes.
PEREZ: Great to be here with you.
MADDOW: All right. Much more ahead tonight. Do stay with us.
MADDOW: I`m terrible at this. That`s why I have to practice. I`m
practicing for our next block. It`s kind of a good news/bad news situation
but I can`t figure out the theme song.
I`ll be right back. Come on.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Teachers know their stuff and not just school stuff.
They know that kids won`t be able to get good jobs if the only thing they
will learn about is how to start food fights. So, listen to your teachers.
That`s a wise guide.
The more you learn in school, the better off you`d be when you get out of
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Don`t start food fights, the more you know.
You know we have borrowed “the more you know” idea here. But here, we do
it sort of backwards. Here, instead of the more you know, it`s “You Know
Thanks, Nick. We wheel out producer Nick Tuths and the theme song – I`m
getting better at it.
When we know more now, when a story left as a bit of cliffhanger finally
gets resolved, and we`ve got one of those tonight, kind of a serious one,
concerning Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton. Last night, he was delivering
his State of the State Address. We reported this last night moments after
He collapsed in the middle of his speech. He hit his head on the lectern
as he fell to the ground. People rushed to hold him up. His staff and
family members say that he quickly recovered. He did not go to the
hospital last night, although in our initial reporting on the show last
night, we thought that he had been hospitalized.
Instead, he was just seen by EMTs and then he was able to go home. Today,
he was even feeling well enough to joke with reporters, quote, “If I had
known it was going to result in the Republicans not criticizing my speech,
I`d have tried it years ago.”
So, that`s the good news that Governor Mark Dayton did not have to be
hospitalized and that he was well enough today to joke around and to keep
up the normal schedule of events. This was him today.
That said, there is also not good news from the governor. Today, he
announced that he was recently diagnosed with prostate cancer. He says the
diagnosis was confirmed just a few days ago last week. He says he planned
to make a public announcement about it next week, but he moved up that
announcement to today because of concerns about what happened at that
speech last night where he fainted.
Governor Mark Dayton of Minnesota says he does not expect that this
diagnosis will affect his ability to do his job. He says he plans to
finish out his term. But now, we know what happened and, of course,
everybody in Minnesota and around the country wishes the governor the best,
for a full recovery.
And now technically, you know more now.
MADDOW: I want to update a story from tonight that we mentioned earlier
this hour. What were unofficial reports, basically well-sourced rumors,
that the new president is expected to sign executive actions tomorrow on
immigration and on the southern border. Now, it`s still not clear exactly
what the president is going to do tomorrow, but moments ago, he did confirm
the basic premise that we were discussing earlier.
He tweeted this, quote, “Big day planned on national security for tomorrow.
Amoung many other things, we will build the wall.” And then I think
because he misspelled the word “among”, he did delete that and then he
reposted a few minutes later. This time with more capital letters and a
better try at that difficult word “among”. He tweeted this one, “Big day
planned on national security tomorrow. Among many other things, we will
build the wall.”
So, whatever he might sign, do or say tomorrow, he is confirming the
premise that he`s going to do something on the southern border, something
having to do with building the wall. Maybe in a minute, he will tweet how
Mexico is going to pay for it someday. Yes.
MADDOW: I have two things to tell you about as we wrap up tonight`s show.
First of all, in the next hour, on Lawrence O`Donnell`s show, he`s going to
have the head of three major progressive rights organizations, all at once,
talking about this moment in progressive activism, this sort of catalyzing
moment in terms of anti-Trump movement taking shape in this country. He`s
got the head of Planned Parenthood, and the head of the Human Rights
Campaign, and the head of the United We Dream altogether, talking about
this moment in anti-Trump activism.
So, that`s kind of a big deal to have the heads of those three very big
organizations, very important organizations all together. That is this
next hour live here on MSNBC on “THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL.”
I also want to tell you about something we are going to do tomorrow night
on this show. It`s something that I`m happy to be able to bring you, but I
have to tell you, I`m also worried about it, too.
Last night, we spent half of the show talking about the new president and
his public proclamation that we should take the oil from Middle Eastern
countries and that we may have another chance to take the oil from
countries like Iraq. We talked last night about how that is dangerous for
troops who are deployed right now by the thousands in countries that are
oil-producing countries, including Iraq.
Tomorrow night on this show, we are going to premiere something that
indicates that that danger and the spread of that news about the new
administration and its new policy toward that thing may already be posing a
clear and present danger to Americans serving abroad. We`re going to
premiere that here tomorrow night. Again, I`m not happy to be able to show
it to you, but at this point, it`s necessary.
That does it for us tonight, though. We will see you again tomorrow for
Now, it`s time for “THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL.”
Good evening, Lawrence.
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