The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 1/27/2017
Show: The Rachel Maddow Show
Date: January 27, 2017
Guests: Daniel Drezner, Laura Kennedy
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Thursday is going to be the day it`s announced
and I`m predicting the fear, Charlie, the fear of being Soutered again
means it`s going to be someone who`s rock solid.
Charlie Sykes and Jess McIntosh, thanks for joining us. Appreciate it.
That is “ALL IN” for this evening.
THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts right now.
Good evening, Rachel.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: My girlfriend Susan has had a life long crush
on David Souter, so the verb to be Soutered in our house has a totally
HAYES: I was like where is this sentence going to be going? I thought it
was going to Chris Hayes and I was going to be like, I can hardly blame
her. But you went with David Souter.
MADDOW: You know, Chris, we`ve known each other a long time, when we`ve
known each other a really long time, to be Hayesed will have a different
meaning in my house, too. Thank you, my friend. Happy weekend.
MADDOW: And thanks to you at home for joining us this. It`s really good
to have you here on this Friday night. There`s a lot going on.
I would like to introduce you to the patron saint of pressure. His name is
Dr. Isaac Silvera. He`s a natural scientist professor with a named chair,
very fancy professor at Harvard. And he says he just created something
that never existed before on the face of the earth. And he and his post-
doctoral researcher, they made this brand new thing using this little
device which is – it`s small and doesn`t look that mighty, but I think
we`ve gotten a image of it here.
Yes, OK, that`s the post-doctoral fellow. He`s holding it. This device is
called a diamond anvil cell. It`s basically like a vise where the two
sides of the vise are specially polished specially coated synthetic
diamonds and inside the vise grip they can create inside that little device
they have figured out a way to produce almost unimaginable pressure, 72
million pounds of pressure per square inch. That is greater pressure than
the pressure at the center of the earth, in that tiny little device.
And by inventing a way to squeeze stuff that hard, they say, these
researchers from this lab at Harvard, they say they have created a whole
new thing on earth. The first element in the periodic table is hydrogen.
In normal circumstances, hydrogen is a gas. If you cool it to low
temperatures, hydrogen becomes a liquid. If you cool it down more than
that, it can become a solid.
But if you take that solid and put it into Professor Silvera`s magic
squeezing device you, according to what they say, according to what they
think they have just done, they think they have figured out a way to
compress hydrogen so much with more pressure than we can exert at the
center of the earth, you can compress it so much that hydrogen turns into a
And at Harvard, Professor Silvera and his post-doctoral fellow, a guy named
Ranga Dias, they say they successfully did that. They created a new metal.
It took, like, 40 years of work, but for the first time in the history of
the universe, they made this new thing. They made hydrogen metal. They
made metallic hydrogen.
Harvard just published the news about it today. In an interview with
Professor Silvera, quote, “It was really exciting. Ranga was running the
experiment and we thought he might get there but when he called me and said
`the sample is shining`, I went running down there and it was metallic
The next big step will be to figure out whether metallic hydrogen stays a
metal once you remove it from that incredibly high pressure environment.
They are predicting that it will stay a metal. If that happens, they think
there could be all sorts of different applications for this new metal that
never existed on earth before.
They think it could be, for example, the world`s most powerful rocket fuel.
They say it would radically change everything that is powered by strong
magnets, including things like MRI machines. They think it could be the
world`s most important superconductor.
So, if you made power lines out of this new metal, theoretically you could
convey electricity from one side of the country to the other without losing
any of it in transit. But whether or not any of those applications work
out, it`s also just exciting there`s a new thing under the sun. There`s a
new metal. There`s a brand new thing that never existed in the universe
until Ranga Dias and Professor Isaac Silvera figured out how to squeeze
hard enough to make it happen.
And, so behold, new patron saints of pressure. The sample is shining. And
pressure turns out to be one of the most important things that we have all
learned as a country, that we have all learned in the news in this first
week since we swore in a new president, since we started sliding in
American politics into a tire-screeching out-of-control full-speed U-turn.
One of the important things we learned this week as we started to go
through this radical change as a country that as fast as things seem like
they are changing and as radical as these changes in direction seem,
pressure matters. Pressure still works, at least some of the time.
On inauguration day, a memo went out to all the employees at the Department
of Health and Human Services and that memo told them that without exception
people in that agency were no longer allowed to make any, quote,
“correspondence to public officials”, no more correspondence to public
officials including members of Congress and governors, for example.
And people who work at that agency started telling members of Congress, I`m
sorry, we`re banned from speaking with you. I`m sorry, I can`t go to that
meeting with you. I`m sorry, I know you`ve made this request of a federal
agency for information but I can`t answer that because I have been banned
from speaking with members of Congress. We`ve been told we`re not allowed
to provide information to members of Congress or other elected officials.
Democratic members of Congress, including Congressman Elijah Cummings and
Congressman Frank Pallone, they went nuts in response to this gag order on
all the employees of this agency. They wrote to the White House about it.
News coverage of the gag order geared up. The new administration clearly
had no explanation, no defense for what they had done.
And now, you know what happened? They rescinded it. Now, there has been a
new memo to Health and Human Services employees rescinding the earlier
order telling them nothing they`ve received should in any way preclude or
in any way interfere with them addressing elected representatives, either
in person or in writing.
And now the White House itself is disavowing ever having asked for that in
the first place. No, no, that wasn`t us, that had nothing to do with us.
Must have been a typo.
Same thing at the USDA. We reported Tuesday night that the 2000 scientists
of our nation`s agricultural research service, those scientists have been
told they`re no longer allowed to post any public information, including
any scientific information. Nothing that the public could see. A gag
order on everything from all of those scientists to anything that might
make it to the public.
That gag order on those 2,000 scientists made it to the press, White House
got asked about it, pressure started building and, hey, look, they took it
back, they caved.
They sent a follow-up message to the USDA scientists saying the original
order was, quote, “hereby rescinded”, adding for good measure, “The
agricultural research service values and is committed to maintaining the
free flow of information between our scientists and the American public.”
Yes, they are now, after the American public found out they were trying to
cut that off and the American public got mad about it and said so, and then
Same thing happened at the Environmental Protection Agency. We reported a
couple of nights ago that they`d been directed to take down the page at the
EPA web site. That includes not just information about EPA climate change
programs but includes the EPA`s climate-related data. Tons and tons and
tons of giant data sets on climate, and all sorts of scientists rely on
that with all sorts of research.
After being told to take down that whole site after it was reported that
EPA employees had been ordered to take that down – naturally, A, outrage,
B, questions, C, pressure, and, D, ultimately they caved. They backed
Quote, “The Trump administration has walked back plans to scrub climate
change references from the EPA web site.” And naturally, the White House
spokesman is denying the Trump administration ever wanted that page taken
down, totally disavowing any order to remove that information.
So, maybe the climate change data sets at the EPA, maybe those will stay
up. Tom Steyer, the environmentalist billionaire in California, says just
for good measure he has copied the website and all of its data sets now
anyway, just in case, so if they take it down he`s got a spare. In case we
need it. But still maybe they won`t take it down.
It`s also just happened at the V.A. One of the first things the new
administration did was issue a blanket hiring freeze for the entire federal
government. That sounds like a great thing if you don`t believe the
government does anything useful.
But even if you like the idea of hiring freezes in general, ask American
veterans, ask them if it`s a good idea to have a hiring freeze at the V.A.
right now, at the V.A, where the whole key to fixing the V.A. and staffing
it up well enough so it can meet the demand for veterans health care, so
veterans are not waiting too long to see their doctors and get into
counseling, all those things that led to the V.A. scandal. The whole key
to that actually is staffing up the V.A.
They`ve got tens of thousands of positions they are trying to fill. They
are recruiting health care staff, they are recruit people to work at the
V.A. in all levels of V.A. service and it`s the linchpin, that hiring
initiative is the linchpin for getting that organization where it needs to
be to serve America`s veterans.
This was Paul Rieckhoff from Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America after
the hiring freeze was announced. Quote, “Imagine you`re a nurse
considering working at either V.A. or a private health company. V.A. just
got hit with a hiring freeze. Where would you go?”
Right, exactly. Veterans groups were livid about how much that blanket
hiring freeze was going to set back efforts at the V.A. to get that agency
together and veterans groups and their supporters erupted.
And, honestly, the White House had no idea how to answer their questions or
their concerns or how to respond to the ensuing pressure. The White House
press secretary stood there at the podium and said, “For the problems that
have plagued the V.A., hiring more people is not the answer.” And the
whole veterans community and everybody who knows anything about the V.A.
responded in concert, actually, yes, it is the answer. That is what we`re
trying to do to fix the V.A. We all agree on that.
And so, now having been exposed both for the bad idea and for their
ignorance about its consequences, they`ve caved. Pressure worked. The
Department of Veterans Affairs has just announced that it is proclaiming
itself exempt from the hiring freeze. But only for specific positions
necessary to meet public safety responsibilities.
This is the memorandum they put out about that, their exempted positions
include medical officer, physicians assistant, nurse, optometrist,
podiatrist, dental officer, chiropractor, psychologist, therapist, social
worker, dietitian, occupational therapist, physical therapist, pharmacist,
dental hygienist, laundry worker, food service worker, pest control,
housekeeping aide, maintenance mechanic, tractor operator, materials
handler, cemetery representative, tools and parts attendant. Also
occupation category 3502 which is laborer.
So, yes, hiring freeze applies to everybody. Except for every job title
the veterans administration can name which they are proclaiming exempt from
this stupid hiring freeze. When veterans erupt and veteran supporters
erupt and the press erupts and the way that they did in the face of that
insult, and they create as much pressure around that as they did this week,
turns out a lot of exemptions can be found for what was otherwise
proclaimed to be a blanket policy with no exceptions.
Well, now, tonight it`s happened again. Keeps happening, you might have
heard yesterday that even though the deadline to sign up for health
insurance, the enrollment period for getting into a new health insurance
plan comes to an end on Tuesday and everybody waits until the deadline.
Everybody waits until the very last minute until they sign themselves up.
You might have heard last night that the new administration had yanked the
ads and public service announcements telling people that that deadline is
on Tuesday and people only have a few days left to sign up.
I mean, these guys have not repealed Obamacare. The Affordable Care Act is
still in effect. Signing up for a new health plan during the open
enrollment period, that`s still the way we Americans get health insurance.
It doesn`t benefit the Trump administration in any way if individual
Americans miss that deadline and have to go without health insurance. It
doesn`t help the Trump folks but it does hurt individual Americans.
But still, as of last night, their plan was to yank those ads, yank those
PSAs, even the ones that they had already paid for. They said they would
rather waste the money and spend the money to run no ads, yank the ads,
spend the money anyway but not run the ads, so just so fewer Americans
would end up with health insurance, which is on its face outrageous. It
therefore created outrage. It therefore created questions that the White
House had a very hard time answering about why they were wasting Americans`
taxpayer money for the specific purpose of making fewer Americans have
And so, tonight – say it with me now – they caved. They caved in the
face of that pressure. Quote, “Reversing course, Trump administration will
continue Obamacare outreach.”
Oh, pressure works. Pressure doesn`t always work. Let me quote that super
psyched post-doc in the Harvard pressure physics lab, “The sample is
shining.” The sample is shining. This is an interesting data sample,
We`ve got case after case after case after case from just the first week of
them being in office where they tried to do something and took it back when
people rose up against it, when they had no answer for the criticism, when
they could not bear the pressure. Pressure sometimes works. And now, we
get a couple of very interesting, very big tests of that new principle that
we have discovered about our new president and this new administration, a
couple really big tests.
One of them, of course, is the wall. When the new president signed his
“build the wall” order a couple days ago, we were not exactly sure if it
was another one of these symbolic campaign promise style orders he has put
out this week. These things that make it look like he`s acting and keeping
a campaign promise but, really, it`s an order that has no effect, like
today, for example, he made a big show out of signing an executive order
that basically says we`re going to make the military way huger, we`re going
to have more ships, more troops, more planes. We`re going to dramatically
increase the size of the military.
It`s neat to know that he wants that, but him signing an order saying the
military is about too get way bigger, that`s the equivalent of me
proclaiming that I am seven feet tall and an astronaut and I can grab a
charcoal briquette and squeeze it with my super power grip and make, you
know, synthetic diamonds that they`ll use at Harvard to make metal
hydrogen. I can say all of that stuff. I can tell you I`m Miss America.
It might be neat to learn that I want to be those things, because I said
them, but you can`t do that just by saying it. The new president
proclaimed in this executive order today that he is making the military
bigger. That`s something he cannot do. Even with a big sharpie signature.
That`s something Congress has to do because it costs money.
I mean, what he called an executive order on making the military bigger,
that`s essentially apparently a shorthand non-official version of what his
budget request will be, which is a nice heads up. But it`s not an order.
He doesn`t need to sign it let alone at a big ceremony where it seems like
he might be making the extra ships right there. It`s just theater. That
One of the things we have learned with this new president is that he
sometimes makes a big deal out of doing nothing. He signs stuff. It`s big
sharpie signature, makes a big show out of doing stuff that is
substantively is meaningless. He doesn`t have the power to order it by
executive order or it`s so unclear what the executive order is asking for
that nobody in the agency acts on it or has plans to.
He`s proclaimed that he has done a bunch of things that don`t affect the
great changes he claims to be affecting. And so, when he signed that order
on building the wall on the southern border, we didn`t know if it was going
to be an aspirational statement about something he wants, but he has no
plans to get. We didn`t know whether it was going to be those or whether
it was going to be a nuts and bolts thing. We now know that he is
directing the start of the construction of a wall on the border but turns
out he didn`t persuade Mexico to pay for it.
And so, that request for a wall, which is what it is, it now becomes a
request to Congress to please come up with a way to charge the American
taxpayers for the cost of building that wall, which is not what he said in
the campaign he was going to do.
And so, this is what is going to be one of the next big tests to see how
they deal with pressure because the pressure on this was foreseeable, it
has already begun, there`s international pressure already. The president
of Mexico cancelling his planned visit to the United States, seeing his
approval ratings at home skyrocket as he stands up to and says no and snubs
the U.S. president. There`s pressure in the American streets, protests
already, Americans particularly in border states saying do not put a wall
on that border.
Now that we know the plan is to have the American people pay for it with
taxpayer dollars, that does mean Congress is going to have to vote on an
appropriation of taxpayer funds to pay for that wall and that makes every
congressional office around the country, Democrat and Republican, House and
Senate the future site of protests on this subject. The site of
constituent visits, people telling their representatives and their senators
if you vote for that freaking appropriation for that stupid wall, we will
never let you forget it.
I mean, it is one thing to promise a big beautiful wall and Mexico`s going
to pay for it, right? It`s one thing to promise. It`s another thing to
say that`s what I`m delivering, I swear. But actually getting it? Come
It`s going to mean every individual member of Congress from coast to coast
with standing pressure from their home district constituents about whether
or not they want to help Donald Trump break that campaign promise about
Mexico paying for the wall at the expense of the American people. They`re
going to have to bear that pressure in every congressional office in the
country. So, that will be a test of how they handle pressure and so far
they`re not handling pressure well.
But now, tonight, there`s an even bigger test coming up. That story is
very dramatic. It`s a little emotional and it is next.
MADDOW: When the United States was attacked on 9/11 there were 19
hijackers who carried out that attack. One of them was from Egypt, we
remember him by name, Mohamed Atta. One of them was from Lebanon. Two of
them were from United Arab Emirates and the other 15 hijackers and
attackers on 9/11, they were all from Saudi Arabia. Again, the
nationalities of the 9/11 attackers, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates,
In the 15 plus years since 9/11, there has been no other attack on the
United States at that scale but there have been a number of attacks or
attempted serious attacks motivated by that same ideology here on U.S. soil
and targeting American citizens, there were two serious attempts to blow
airliners out of the sky, the shoe bomber and the underwear bomber. There
was the mass shooting by an army major at Ft. Hood. There was a bomb
placed in Times Square in New York City.
There was the bombing of the Boston marathon. There was the husband-and-
wife shooting attack in San Bernardino. There was the gun massacre in the
Latino gay nightclub in Orlando. There was the bomber who set off
explosions in the New York City neighborhood of Chelsea and in Seaside
Park, New Jersey, and had other bombs discovered before they detonated in
Elizabeth, New Jersey.
Ali Soufan, who was an FBI interrogator after the USS Cole attack and in
the aftermath of 9/11, this week, he posted a list of all those major
attacks and attempted attacks in the United States from 9/11 until the
present. And he posted it to point out that all of those attacks and
attempted attacks, when you look at those, right now, we should notice one
thing about those attackers and where they came from.
Like I said, the 9/11 attackers were from Egypt, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia,
United Arab Emirates. Those other attacks, the perpetrators were British,
Nigerian, Afghan American, Chechen, Pakistani-American.
Today, the new president ordered a stop on immigration to the United States
from these seven countries – Iraq, Syria, Iran, Somalia, Yemen, Libya and
Sudan. This is what candidate Trump`s proposed Muslim plan morphed into.
A block on immigration from those seven countries, quote, “to protect the
American people from terrorist attacks by foreign nationals admitted to the
OK. None of the major attacks committed or attempted in the United States
since 9/11, including 9/11, were committed by people who are from any of
those countries but we nevertheless have now stopped anybody from any of
those countries from coming to the U.S. and proclaimed them by virtue of
their national origin, quote, “detrimental to the interest of the United
States.” this means that efforts all over the United States to sponsor
families from Syria, to help refugees who are fleeing that war, which has
killed half a million people, which has cast 4.8 million people to the
winds as people have fled their own country seeking safe passage to
anywhere that`s not home, all of the efforts in the United States to
sponsor those families find a safe place for those families, those all come
to an immediate end because they won`t let Syrians in anymore.
Jodi Kantor from the “New York Times” posted this picture on Twitter
tonight, she said she raced out to O`Hare Airport in Chicago to wait with
volunteers there who are waiting to receive one of the last Syrian families
expected to arrive in the United States right before Donald Trump today
signed the order banning all Syrians from entry into this country.
The reason we developed a refugee policy in this country, the reason our
country has tried – and sometimes we fail – but we have tried to lead the
world on sponsoring and resettling refugees who are fleeing war zones, the
reason we have at least tried that, the reason that has been American
policy is because of the moral disaster that we underwent as Americans
during World War II when we as a country refused to take in refugees
fleeing the Nazis. We refused to take in Jewish refugees fleeing the
Today is Holocaust Remembrance Day. The new president started his day with
a statement commemorating International Holocaust Remembrance Day. He
ended the day by banning the acceptance of all refugees into this country.
Dan Drezner is a foreign policy specialist, columnist for “The Washington
Post,” a professor of international politics at Tufts. He posted this
remark tonight on Twitter, which has received a lot of attention. He later
apologized for the profanity in it.
But as you can see, he wrote here, “Dear POTUS, dear Mr. President, on
Holocaust Remembrance Day, my synagogue told me that the Syrian refugee
family we`re sponsoring is not coming.” And then he concluded with an
epithet for the new president, telling what he could to himself.
Again, Mr. Drezner apologized for that profanity. But the pressure is a
big deal right now. And pressure gets to us all in different ways and Dan
Drezner joins us next.
MADDOW: Edith Rogers, one of the first women to ever serve in Congress,
she was a Republican, her husband had been a member of Congress and when
her husband died, she ran for his seat. She was only the sixth woman to
ever serve in Congress. She was the first woman to ever serve in Congress
from Massachusetts. And while she was in Congress she was one of the first
elected officials in the United States to speak out during World War II
about Hitler`s persecution of the Jews in Germany. She spoke out even
before the United States got into World War II.
In 1939, Edith Rogers sponsored a bill in Congress – again, she was a
House Republican – she sponsored a bill with a Senate Democrat. The
Democratic senator from New York. It was a bill that would have admitted
20,000 Jewish kids, kids under the age of 14 from Nazi Germany.
This was February, 1939. Again, the United States did not get into World
War II until 1941 but their bill would have let 20,000 Jewish kids in
Germany escape the Nazis and come to the United States. Kids only, under
the age of 14. Congress voted it down.
The following year, the United States turned back a ship carrying 900
German Jews who were fleeing for their lives. Coast Guard in Florida
tailed the ship. We turned them back. Hundreds of people who were on
board that ship who were turned away, hundreds of them ended up getting
murdered in Nazi concentration camps because we would not give them safety
On Holocaust Remembrance Day, Americans remember experiences like that as
part of our own culpability, as part of our own failure as a country.
After World War II, we came up with a new approach, a new policy that we,
as the United States of America, would welcome refugees, that we would vet
and settle refugees in part because of our national shame for what we did
in that war.
Today was Holocaust Remembrance Day which our new president noted with a
statement this morning. And then this was this afternoon.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This is the Protection of
the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States. We all
know what that means. Protection of the Nation from Foreign Terrorists
Entry the United States. That`s big stuff.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: The reaction continues to pour in to him signing that executive
order. It suspends all refugee admissions from all countries for a period
of four months. It suspends all admissions of refugees from Syria
indefinitely. The order also immediately suspended entry into the United
States for 90 days of anybody traveling from one of the following seven
Muslim-majority countries – Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and
Tonight, the Council on American Islamic Relations announced they`ll file a
federal lawsuit on behalf of more than 20 individuals challenging this
order. The ACLU says tonight, “Closing America`s doors to refugees plays
into the hands of those who would do harm to our country.” Democratic
leader in the Senate Chuck Schumer writes, “Tonight, there are tears
running down the cheeks of the Statue of Liberty tonight.”
And as I mentioned before, this caught our eye, there was this tonight from
Dan Drezner. He`s a foreign policy expert, professor of international
politics at Tufts. He`s a columnist at the “Washington Post.”
His reaction got a lot of attention tonight. Quote, “Dear Mr. President,
on Holocaust Remembrance Day, my synagogue told me the Syrian refugee
family we are sponsoring is not coming.” And then he ends with an impolite
suggestion to the new president. He later apologized for the profanity in
Joining us now is Daniel Drezner, professor of international politics at
the Fletcher School of Diplomacy at Tufts.
Professor Drezner, really appreciate you being here tonight. I know you
feel like you`re a little bit in the middle of a storm right now.
DANIEL DREZNER, THE WASHINGTON POST: Yes, although I`m obviously better
off than the Syrian family than was potentially we were going to be hosting
– my synagogue was going to be hosting when they come into this country.
So, it`s a relative thing.
MADDOW: So, what was – this was a sponsorship planned by your
DREZNER: Right, in concert with the HIAS, the Hebrew International Aid
Society. We were planning to bring in I believe two families to resettle
them. And there was fairly large amount of support within the congregation
to do this, but we received an e-mail today explaining because of the
executive order that was going to be coming out, that program was going to
be suspended, obviously.
MADDOW: So what sparked the profanity you later apologized and the anger
that gave rise to it?
DREZNER: I think it was the combination of the fact that this was
something good we could do as a congregation, for a situation where the
United States hadn`t handled Syria terribly well, and you can debate about
what the appropriate way of coping with that would be. But there`s no
denying particularly our allies have had to shoulder a lot of more of the
refugee burden than the United States has. So, it seemed like the least we
could do is to help repatriate – not repatriate but to welcome new
refugees into our country.
And the fact that this is being issued on Holocaust Remembrance Day and as
someone who is Jewish and someone whose family was fortunate enough to get
to this country before the Holocaust occurred, I can`t quite describe the
degree of anger that I felt is sort of reaction is, which then caused me to
curse at the president on social media, which is probably something I
should not do as a general rule.
MADDOW: The new president obviously campaigned saying that he would do
this, portraying refugees in general, Syrian refugees in particular and
Muslims more broadly as an imminent threat to this country. He portrayed
this – his Muslim ban and his proposed refugee ban as something that was
necessary to keep the country safe.
Do you feel like the reaction to this action that he`s taken today, the
anger that a lot of people are feeling that I think you gave voice to, do
you think it will be fought on those terms about the fact that these
refugees aren`t dangerous? That the people from these individual countries
aren`t more dangerous than people from other places in the world that
religion shouldn`t be a ban to coming to the United States?
Do you think that we fight these things as a country on those terms he laid
out in the campaign, or do you think the resistance takes on its own terms?
DREZNER: Well, here`s one way to think about it. You know, you can argue
that U.S. policy has been a debate about the right way to prioritize
American values as opposed to American interests. The question is, when do
we, you know, advance American values as human rights and democracy as
opposed to ostensibly, you know, coldhearted hard-headed American interest.
You can argue that Trump`s executive order was unique because it manages to
simultaneously harm American values and American interests. And so, I
think, absolutely, the debate has to happen in the question of values, the
degree to which we`re supposed to be a country of immigrants, we`re
supposed to be a country that takes refugees from other parts of the world
and presumably one of the strengths of the United States is that we`re
supposed to be able to have those people come into our country and they
finds themselves being Americans.
But this also harms American national security. Basically by imposing
these kinds of executive orders, we are alienating allies, not just
individual allies in places like Iraq or Syria or elsewhere, we`re also
obviously going to be alienating our European allies because they`ll have
to shoulder much more of the burden, and it essentially potentially
radicalizes people both within this country and without of this country who
see the United States as an enemy of Islam as opposed to just an enemy of
MADDOW: Daniel Drezner, professor of international politics at the
Fletcher School of Diplomacy at Tuft`s University – really appreciate you
taking time to talk to us about this tonight. Thank you.
DREZNER: Thank you.
MADDOW: All right. We`ve got much more ahead tonight. Busy Friday. Stay
MADDOW: I want to make one last note on this refugee ban that the new
president signed today and its remarkable timing. Remarkable in a bad way.
All day today, every five minutes, a new Twitter feed posted a new message
like this. “My name is Imgard Koppel. The U.S. turned me away at the
border in 1939. I was murdered in Auschwitz.”
And then five minutes later, “My name is Max Hirsch. The U.S. turned me
away at the border in 1939, I was murdered in Mauthausen.”
This one, “My name is Lutz Grunthal, the U.S. turned me away in 1939. I
was murdered in Auschwitz.”
Every five minutes, all day long today, it`s a new Twitter feed, it`s
called the St. Louis Manifest, and each tweet names a passenger and tells
part of the life story and the death story of a passenger aboard the “St.
Louis” that ship I mentioned earlier in the show which was carrying 900
Jewish refugees who were fleeing Nazi Germany which we nevertheless turned
away from the U.S. in 1939.
This is a Holocaust Remembrance Day project, but it has, of course, taken
on sharp new resonance in the face of the president`s executive order
today, today of all days, banning refugees from the United States.
MADDOW: The lead-up to the `08 presidential election, the largest crowd
that candidate Obama drew for a speech in that campaign was not the United
States, it was in Berlin.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRIAN WILLIAMS, NBC NEWS ANCHOR: As one local journalist here put it, if
the election were held today, Barack Obama would sail to victory by a
margin of 70 percent or more as president of Germany. Perhaps even all of
Europe. The only problem is Senator Obama is running for president of the
Still, here in Berlin today not far from where the wall once stood the man
from Chicago, Illinois, the first ever African-American running as
presumptive nominee of the Democratic Party brought throngs of people into
the center of Berlin.
BARACK OBAMA, THEN-U.S. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The walls between old and
allies on either side of the Atlantic cannot stand. The walls between
races and tribes, natives and immigrants, Christians and Muslims and Jews
cannot stand. These now are the walls we must tear down.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Something like 200,000 people turned out in Berlin to watch that
speech. But one specific group of people was banned from attending that
speech – anybody working at the U.S. embassy in Berlin.
Quote, “The U.S. embassy in Berlin instructed foreign service personnel
stationed there to not attend Senator Barack Obama`s public rally today”,
which the State Department labeled a partisan political activity prohibited
under its regulations for those serving overseas.
State Department official at the center of that decision was this man,
Patrick Kennedy. Mr. Kennedy got a lot of pushback against that decision
at the time, especially by members of the Foreign Service who wanted to go
to the speech. His rationale was that, quote, “no U.S. government foreign
service person serving overseas should be seen as advocating for one side
or the other.”
And that kind of non-partisan ethos speaks to what the State Department is
all about. I mean, take Patrick Kennedy, for example. He was appointed as
an undersecretary of state during the Bush presidency in 2007. When
President Obama took over the White House, he was asked to stay on in the
State Department in the same role.
If you look at his job description in the State Department web site, you
can see why they might have a tough time ginning up an easy replacement for
him. Quote, “He is responsible for the people, resources, budget,
facilities, technology, financial operations, consular affairs, logistics,
contracting and security for Department of State operations and is the
secretary`s principal adviser on management issues.”
That`s kind of a lot. Patrick Kennedy, career public servant in the
Foreign Service. Yes, he became an undersecretary in 2007 but he joined
the U.S. Foreign Service in 1973 and he served in all the administrations
since then, Republican ones, Democratic ones, all of them – until today.
He`s now out.
He`s part of a wave of career senior management who were just all
unceremoniously no notice cleared out of the State Department – people who
have been there since the 1970s and the 1980s who didn`t leave in previous
presidential transitions. According to “Foreign Policy” magazine, just the
top tier officials who have been cleared out of the State Department,
quote, “They represent more than a century of combined experience at the
And, you know, it`s one thing to clean house. It`s another thing entirely
to clean house with no one ready to take over their jobs. When those jobs
were, you know, overseeing security for more than 275 diplomatic outposts
around the world, including some of the most dangerous places on earth. Or
when there`s jobs where, say, arranging for evacuation of U.S. citizens
trapped in countries dealing with foreign crises or natural disasters
How do you get those basic non-partisan non-political jobs done when you
have suddenly with no notice sent everyone packing with nobody ready to
take over those jobs? Can you still get those basic non-partisan jobs
done? I have just the person to ask.
Stay with us.
MADDOW: How`s this for abrupt? Ready? The State Department`s most senior
official dealing with, among other things, nonnuclear proliferation,
chemical weapons, the monitoring of arms control treaties, that senior
official was en route to meetings in Europe when he was directed to return
home immediately to resign by Friday. One day`s – let than one day`s
notice for the senior most official on chemical weapons, nuclear.
By and large, former State Department officials seem shocked by the very
sudden last-minute, unexpected, forced departures of a lot of senior career
State Department officials. One of them writing this week, quote, “These
are all professionals that would stay to help the new team settle in.
Instead these dedicated public servants have been sent packing.”
The person who wrote that joins us now. She is Laura Kennedy. She is
former ambassador to Turkmenistan and former deputy assistant secretary of
state. I should note that Ambassador was a volunteer for the Clinton
campaign, and during the campaign she and other former career ambassadors
signed an open letter expressing their concerns about the Trump presidency
and its foreign policy.
Ambassador Kennedy, I really appreciate you being here tonight on a Friday
night. Thanks for your time.
LAURA KENNEDY, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO TURKMENISTAN: Well, thank you for
having me, Ms. Maddow or Rachel, if I may.
MADDOW: Of course.
KENNEDY: I appreciated your lead in and the reference to, for example, Pat
Kennedy. I should say that we`re no relation, but like Pat, I served about
40 years for the State Department.
And the foreign service and our civil service counterparts are exactly as
you say, we are non-partisan. Not only are we covered by the Hatch Act,
it`s in our culture, our DNA. We loyally the administration, we are
dedicated professionals. We are there to serve the American public at home
So, I was very concerned to hear that the new administration had, as you
indicated, summarily dismissed a number of senior career officials before
the new secretary of state has been confirmed. Now, of course, any new
administration has the right and does bring in their new team. That is
absolutely understood, accepted.
But these are nonpartisan, career officials that although I`m sure they are
delighted to go and retire, maybe play golf, 16 hour days year after year.
But they would certainly, I`m convinced have stayed on to help the new
administration, to give them the benefit of their advice, to help the new
team settle in. It can be months before the new team is identified, vetted
So, why leave gaps in these crucial positions and if there`s one thing that
I learned in 40 years with the State Department, crises can blow up
literally overnight out of nowhere.
So, why deprive yourself in the interim of these career foreign service
MADDOW: It seems to me that part of what`s unusual here – and for those
of us who are, you know, observers of these agencies and observers of the
work at the State Department from afar, just as citizens, it`s hard to know
what counts as normal and how out of the norm these things are. But some
of the abruptness of the dismissals, the abruptness of the departures for
these people who as you say therein there 20, 30, 40 years. And so, by the
definition, they have been there through all different kinds of
presidencies. It does seems like it was last minute.
Is that – is that your impression of how these resignations and dismissals
KENNEDY: Well, as – I`m retired now and I don`t speak for any of these
people. I encourage you, if you could, to invite some of them on your show
just to talk and help to educate the Americans about what career
professionals do for American citizens overseas.
So, as I say, you know, they may have been looking to having a respite from
16-hour days, but they are thorough going professionals. They are so aware
of the needs of the American public overseas. We take care of American
citizens around the globe. We promote trade. We deal with all sorts of
So, the management team alone has to run some, I don`t know, some 270-plus
missions an the world. So, for example, the assistant secretary for
consular affairs, why wouldn`t you want to keep them on until the new
person was installed? For example, you mention the new executive order
about admitting refugees. The acting undersecretary for arm control
international security, there`s one issue that I think will be a challenge
for the national security team, North Korea.
So, again, why have a gap in the senior position that deals with
nonproliferation when you have these challenges that are facing our
MADDOW: Laura Kennedy, former ambassador to Turkmenistan, former deputy
assistant secretary of state. Thanks for joining us to help us understand
KENNEDY: Thank you very much.
MADDOW: Thanks. All right. We`ll be right back. Stay with us.
MADDOW: So, it`s been a super, super busy news day today. We`re also
expecting a busy news day tomorrow even though it is Saturday. Further
executive orders are slated for tomorrow afternoon. Who knows what they
will be and if they will be effectual executive orders or nonsense ones
that he`s been signing a lot of this week that are expected to do
Also, tomorrow Putin. The new president will be speaking with Putin
One other thing to keep an eye on that you`re going to be able to watch
this next hour on MSNBC, one thing we learned in today`s news is that
Republicans, when nobody is watching, behind closed doors, they are
freaking out about what they are doing about health care and the Affordable
Care Act. The reason we know that, it`s not just me saying it, the reason
we know it now, we have evidence is because the “Washington Post” obtained
today surreptitiously audio recordings.
They have obtained tape of Republicans at their retreat this week, behind
closed doors, talking to each other, freaking out about how they have no
plans to replace the Affordable Care Act once they have repeal it. “The
Washington Post” got tape of them talking about it amongst themselves
behind closed doors.
And the man who wrote story is the reporter Mike DeBonis
and he is coming up next on “THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL”, which
means you should watch that show. It starts right now. Have a great