The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 3/20/2017
Show: The Rachel Maddow Show
Date: March 20, 2017
Guest: Adam Schiff
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: That`s a public service announcement you never
really think you`ll have to give.
CHRIS HAYES, “ALL IN” HOST: Exactly. We`re proud to be servicey here. I
dispense some tips for free, but just listen to that advice.
MADDOW: Well done. And I will see you in a minute, my friend. You`re on
your way over.
MADDOW: Very good.
And thanks to you at home for joining us for this hour. Happy to have you
with us on a really historic day in American politics and American
governance and maybe even in international relations today. Today was a
In 1945, in the summer of 1945, they called it the gadget. They tested the
gadget on July 16th, 1945, and it worked. That was Trinity. That was the
world`s first successful test of an atomic weapon.
And then right away, right after Trinity, three weeks later, they used it
in war. They dropped it an atomic bomb on Hiroshima and then three days
after that, they dropped another one on Nagasaki. It all happened
incredibly fast from July 16th, the Trinity test, until August 6th and
August 9th, those two bombs dropped on Japan.
And to this day, the United States remains the only nation in the world to
have ever used a nuclear weapon against an adversary in wartime. But
looking back on the aftermath of that first test and the aftermath of those
bombings in Japan, it`s clear that a singular and defining feature of the
world history in that era was not just that we have the bomb and that we
use the bomb. A singular and defining feature of that era in world history
is that for years, we were alone in that capacity. For years, the United
States was the only country on earth that had an atomic weapon.
Again, our first atomic test was July 1945. It was not until more than
four years after that that any other country figured it out, that any other
country had a successful nuclear test of their own.
But it finally happened on August 29th, 1949. Soviet Union set off their
first successful atomic test and it`s interesting. They didn`t make any
sort of announcement about it. I think they knew they probably wouldn`t
The United States picked up signs of the radiation that was released by
that test five days after the explosion. There was a U.S. surveillance
plane flying near Siberia and five days after the Soviets first successful
atomic test, that U.S. surveillance plane picked up these unexpected signs
of radiation and so, the U.S. collected what data we could, U.S. scientists
set out to confirm the suspected tests and then finally almost three weeks
after that surveillance plane first sniffed that radiation in Siberia,
almost a month after the Soviet`s test, finally, the president of the
United States, Harry Truman put out a statement letting the world know that
somebody else other than the United States had nuclear capability.
It was a written statement that he put out. It said, quote, “We have
evidence that within recent weeks, an atomic explosion occurred in the
USSR.” That statement from President Truman was issued on September 23rd,
1949. And as you might imagine, everybody freaked out.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: President Truman`s dramatic announcement that Russia
has created an atomic explosion sends reporters racing for (INAUDIBLE)
where Russia`s Vyshinsky (ph) arrives to address the United Nations.
REPORTER: Mr. Vyshinsky, do you got a statement about President Truman`s
statement about the atomic bomb? Does Russia have the atomic bomb?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Russian foreign minister maintains his silence.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Does Russia have the atomic bomb? Well, would you reply to me?
Russian foreign minister maintained his silence in that interaction and in
his speech that day, honestly, because actions speak louder than words and
you know what, the Soviets freaking had the bomb. It was not just the U.S.
with that monopoly anymore. Every interaction with the Soviets that we
would have from that moment forward would be made with the knowledge that
they could destroy Washington with a nuke just as we could destroy Moscow
with a nuke, just as we had destroyed two Japanese cities already. It
changed everything. We were not a monopoly power in terms of nuclear
weapons from that point forward.
Russia went nuclear in the fall of 1949 and incidentally, very soon
thereafter, by the spring of 1950, one of the scientists who worked on
America`s Manhattan Project, Klaus Fuchs, confessed and was convicted of
passing America`s nuclear secrets to the Soviets.
So, yes, that weapon that the Soviets developed four years after us, that
weapon that they developed and tested in 1949, it was a great equalizer
between Russia and the United States. It really did change everything in
terms of the international balance of power. But it`s helpful to remember
that they actually had help from within the United States in getting there.
Klaus Fuchs was sentenced to 14 years in prison for that betrayal, for
giving the Soviets our nuclear secrets. Last year, in February, in Moscow,
the Russian government hosted something that they called Info Forum 2016.
David Ignatius is the national security columnist with “The Washington
Post” who wrote about this earlier this year, but the event itself happened
last February, February 4th to 6th in Moscow.
So, in terms of what was going on for reference sake, this Info Forum event
in Moscow happened, again, the first week of February last year. That
means on our calendar, that was right at the beginning of the presidential
primary. That was well before the presidential general election got under
way, but our contests had just started.
And at that event, the first week of February last year, a senior adviser
to Russian President Vladimir Putin got up to make his presentation and
this is what he said. He was speaking to a Russian audience at a Russian
event. He was speaking in Russian.
But this is the translation, quote, “You think we are living in 2016. No,
we are living in 1948. And do you know why? Because in 1949, the Soviet
Union had its first atomic bomb test. And if until that moment, the
Americans were not taking us seriously, in 1949, everything changed and
they started talking to us on an equal footing.”
He then says, quote, “I`m warning you, we are on the verge of having
something in the information arena that will allow us to talk to the
Americans as equals.”
“I`m warning you,” he says, that was February of last year. Top adviser to
Vladimir Putin, threatening at a Russian event that Russia had developed
its information warfare capabilities to such an extent that the world would
soon be tilted on its axis in terms of the balance of international power,
that the United States would not longer be seen as a pre-eminent world
power. In fact, we would be matched.
Russia was about to prove through information warfare, through something
new they had developed in information warfare, they were about to prove
that they were as strong as any nation on earth, that they could humble the
United States, they could threaten the United States to such an extent that
it would allow them to, quote – it would tell them to, quote, “allow us to
talk to the Americans as equals.”
“It will allow us to talk to the Americans as equals. I`m warning you.”
That was February.
By June, we know that Russia had begun its operation against the U.S.
presidential election. From the FBI director, we now have confirmation
that the FBI started investigating that Russian attack within weeks. By
late July, by which time the attack was in full swing.
We also have confirmation from the FBI director today that what is
currently being investigated by the FBI is not just whether the Russian
intelligence services and Russian military built that weapon and deployed
it against the United States, that much we know, but we`ve had it confirmed
today that what they are also investigating is whether, once again, the
Russians had help from inside the United States when it came time to humble
America and show our country what they are capable of.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAMES COMEY, FBI DIRECTOR: The FBI, as part of our counterintelligence
mission, is investigating the Russian government`s efforts to interfere in
the 2016 presidential election, and that includes investigating the nature
of any links between individuals associated with the Trump campaign and the
Russian government, and whether there was any coordination between the
campaign and Russia`s efforts. As with any counterintelligence
investigation, this will also include an assessment of whether any crimes
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Whether there was any coordination between the campaign and
Russia`s efforts. That statement by the FBI director today obviously very
carefully couched. By the time he said it, it could not have counted as a,
you know, total surprise. But it is still shocking. This is a historic
As “USA Today”, Susan Page at “USA Today” put it, this afternoon, quote,
“Not since the Watergate scandal that forced President Richard Nixon to
resign more than half-century ago has there been an official investigation
of such potential consequence.”
At moments this big, it also sometimes helps to get outside our news
environment and kind of look in on it from behind our shores. Toward that
end, the left-leaning “Guardian” newspaper in Britain sort of nutted up the
moment nicely today. They said, quote, “Comey`s appearance, flanked by the
NSA director, marked a remarkable and unprecedented threshold in U.S.
political history, putting beyond doubt that a sitting president`s
entourage was under investigation for possible conniving with a foreign
adversary to put that foreign in power.”
The hearing today was at times incisive, at times, it was lame and
embarrassingly partisan. Sorry. My favorite moment was when the
Republican chairman of the committee demanded that Hillary Clinton must be
investigated for Donald Trump`s ties to the Russians? Yes, I don`t know.
Sorry. Just a reflex. Lock her up.
But, you know, despite low moments like that, not everything was partisan
and we did learn some concrete new information. We have confirmed now that
the FBI has an ongoing counterintelligence investigation into the Trump
campaign and whether or not the Trump campaign coordinated with Russia
while Russia was attacking the United States.
We know that that investigation started in late July last year. We know
from some very pointed questioning from the top Democratic on the
intelligence committee, Adam Schiff is going to be here in just a moment.
We know from his questioning of Director Comey that one of the things we
reported on Friday night is borne out by the FBI`s investigations.
We did this special report on Friday night where we talked to the guy who
was in charge of these matters in real time at the Clinton campaign when
the attack was happening. And we reported on Friday night that it was the
Clinton campaign`s perception at the time that the initial dump of
Democratic documents, Democratic Party documents that were stolen by the
Russians, it was their perception that that was sort of inexpertly and ham-
handedly released and handled by the Russians themselves.
The second release of documents, though, the one that was through
WikiLeaks, was much slicker and appeared to have been handled through some
sort of intermediary, some sort of intermediary, some sort of third party
who sharpened its political impact both in terms of its timing and its
presentation, its user-friendliness. That was as reported Friday night,
suspected by the Clinton campaign at the time. The FBI director confirmed
today that, in fact, the initial release of documents that the Russians
hacked and stole and released through Guccifer and D.C. Leaks, that the FBI
director today confirmed that it was a Russian operation directly. He
confirmed today that the second wave of WikiLeaks stuff, according to
Director Comey, he says those were done through what he called a cutout,
some sort of intermediary. So, what we`re beginning to understand about
how this happened, the FBI is confirming that`s the way it happened.
In general, I think it`s fair to say that the Republican members of the
committee contributed less to the investigatory nature of what happened
today in this public hearing, but it is also worth noting one exception to
that rule. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen is a moderate Republican from Florida. She
did not go down the other roads, you know, investigate Hillary Clinton.
She didn`t go down these other roads with the other Republicans. She was
an independent voice today.
She asked her own variety of direct, probing questions with most of the
time that she had. And her questioning elucidated another one of the
concrete new things that we learned today or at least that we had confirmed
today by the FBI and the NSA, and it`s something that really makes sense,
if Russia wanted not just to affect the outcome of our elections, they
wanted this to be a show of force. They wanted this to be, you know, the
test of an atomic bomb. They wanted this to be a display of their
capability that would threaten the United States, hurt the United States,
humble the United States and make us see them as equals, right?
They didn`t want anybody else to get credit for this work. They didn`t
particularly want to cover their tracks here. They did this – one of the
things we had confirmed today by the FBI and NSA director is that the
Russians did this in as loud of ways as possible when it came to the actual
tactics of how they mounted the attack.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ILEANA ROS-LEHTINEN (R-FL), INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Why do you think
that they did not mind being loud and being found out?
COMEY: I don`t know the answer for sure. I think part, their number one
mission is to undermine the credibility of our entire democracy enterprise
of this nation. And so, it might be that they wanted us to help them by
telling people what they were doing. Their loudness in a way would be
counting on us to amplify it by telling the American people what we saw and
freaking people out about how the Russians might be undermining our
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: People freaking out. Essentially making the case there that the
Russians didn`t mind leaving their fingerprints all over this attack
because they wanted to freak us out about what they are capable of.
Back in February, in Moscow when Putin`s senior adviser was explaining to
this Russian audience about Moscow`s newfound soon-to-be demonstrated
capabilities in information warfare, this moment that we`re having right
now, this is kind of the moment that Russia was licking its chops about.
This is what they were looking forward.
I`m going to quote David Ignatius again about that presentation in Moscow
back in February, quote, “Putin`s cyber adviser stressed to the Moscow
audience the importance of Russia of having a strong hand in this new
domain. If Russia is weak, he explained, it must behave hypocritically and
search for compromises. But once it becomes strong, it will dictate to the
Western partners, it will dictate to the United States and its allies from
the position of power.”
And so, Russian strength, Russian capability, Russian – essentially
Russian warfare capacity in this regard must be shown off, right, to humble
us, to bring us down to size, so that they can then dictate the size of
national relations to us. They can get us to do what they want, because if
they don`t, they can almost existentially threaten us with this kind of
power. If that is the Russian project here, it sort of helps you to see
how serious it is that any American might collude with that Russian
The FBI confirmed today that they are investigating the Trump campaign to
see whether or not they coordinated with the Russian government in this
operation. The FBI today would not say how many associates of the
president or members of the campaign are subjects of this
counterintelligence investigation. The FBI director would not even confirm
whether the president himself is a subject of this investigation.
But you are starting to see little hints from the White House about some of
the different directions at which they maybe would like to divert blame.
Asked, for example, about fired National Security Adviser Michael Flynn
today, the White House press secretary notably stopped defending Mike Flynn
as he has done in the past and in fact at one point today referred to Mike
Flynn as a, quote, “volunteer”.
You know, which he was, right? He was a volunteer for the Trump campaign
for a time. OK. But then he was named national security adviser.
The White House press secretary also described former Trump campaign
manager Paul Manafort today as somebody who played a, quote, “very limited
role for a very limited amount of time.” He was the campaign manager for
Donald Trump, up to and including the time when Donald Trump won the
Republican nomination for president.
Paul Manafort was brought onboard the Trump campaign in March last year,
third week of March, almost exactly a year ago today. He was brought on
board on the same week that Trump the candidate inexplicably and without
warning started talking frequently about how terrible he thought NATO was.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, THEN-PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: NATO is obsolete. It was 67
years or it`s over 60 years old.
What I`m saying is NATO is obsolete. NATO is obsolete and it`s extremely
expensive to the United States disproportionally so, and we should readjust
NATO is costing us a fortune and, yes, we are protecting Europe with NATO,
but we`re spending a lot of money. Number one, I think the distribution of
cost has to be changed.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Look at the time. The same week that Paul Manafort came on as
Donald Trump`s campaign manager, Trump pivoted to this whole new area of
talking points. He started insistently and repeatedly volunteering his
negative views on NATO, how terrible and obsolete NATO is and his views
specifically that, you know what, NATO isn`t fair. The other NATO
countries are not paying their fair share, are they?
And whether or not the White House is now already pivoting to throwing Paul
Manafort, maybe even Mike Flynn under the bus, it`s not inexplicable why
candidate Trump might start criticizing NATO at that point in the campaign
and sowing distension and division among NATO countries, hitting this
potential sore spot about whether the United States pays too much and other
countries don`t pay enough.
It`s not inexplicable why candidate Trump might start doing that. I mean,
the uncorroborated dossier of alleged Russian dirt on Donald Trump that was
published by “BuzzFeed” in January after handed over to the FBI by a former
British MI6 officer, that dossier made, of course, a baseline claim that
the Trump campaign was aware of the Russian campaign to attack our
election. They were supportive of it. They cooperated with it.
It also claims that there was a quid pro quo, that in exchange for Russia`s
attack on the election to hurt Clinton and help Trump, according to the
dossier, quote, “The operation had been conducted with the full knowledge
and support of Trump and senior members of his campaign team. In return,
the Trump campaign had agreed to sideline Russian intervention in Ukraine
as a campaign issue, and to raise U.S./NATO defense commitments, to deflect
attention away from Ukraine.”
So, in the Christopher Steele dossier, I mean, that`s the alleged quid pro
quo. Russia attacks the U.S. election for its own purposes, right, but
then it also coops, corrupts and collaborates with the Trump campaign in
that attack, and the Trump campaign allegedly agrees to take steps to help
Russia along the way, drop that pro-Ukraine platform out of the Republican
– the pro-Ukraine plank out of the Republican Party platform, which they
did at the convention, inject a whole new controversy into American and
NATO politics, instead of America being NATO`s biggest cheerleader, will
instead be its biggest detractor while make every other country feel
attacked in terms of their financial contributions to that alliance.
This is the stuff that the ranking Democratic on the intelligence
committee, Adam Schiff, this weekend, described as the circumstantial
evidence, that it wasn`t just a Russian attack. That it was a Russian
attack with collusion, with cooperation from inside this country, from
inside the Trump campaign.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA), INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE RANKING MEMBER: Is it
possible that all of these events and reports are completely unrelated and
nothing more than an entirely unhappy coincidence? Yes, it is possible.
But it is also possible, maybe more than possible, that they are not
coincidental, not disconnected and not unrelated, and that the Russians
used the same techniques to corrupt U.S. persons that they employed in
Europe and elsewhere.
We simply don`t know. Not yet. And we owe it to the country to find out.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Congressman Adam Schiff is the top Democrat on the Intelligence
Committee. He`s our guest, next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SCHIFF: We do not yet know whether the Russians had the help of U.S.
citizens, including people associated with the Trump campaign. Many of the
Trump`s campaign personnel, including the president himself, have ties to
Russia and Russian interests. This is, of course, no crime.
On the other hand, if the Trump campaign or anyone associated with it aided
or abetted the Russians, it would not only be a serious crime, it would
also represent one of the most shocking betrayals of democracy in history.
In Europe, where the Russians have a much longer history of political
interference, they`ve used a variety of techniques to undermine democracy.
They employed the hacking and dumping of documents and sick propaganda as
they clearly did here, but they have also used bribery, blackmail,
compromising material and financial entanglement to secure needed
cooperation from individual citizens of targeted countries.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That was Congressman Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the
intelligence committee today, speaking today at this historic hearing where
the FBI confirmed that there`s an ongoing counterintelligence investigation
into the Trump campaign and its potential coordination with Russia while
Russia was attacking the U.S. election last year.
Congressman Adam Schiff joins us now from Washington.
Sir, thanks very much for being with us. Appreciate your time tonight.
SCHIFF: You bet.
MADDOW: I`d like to tell you what I observed a little bit in terms of new
factual information we didn`t have before and if you could just let me know
whether there are other things that we`ve missed in terms of new things
that were disclosed. Obviously, the headline is that the FBI has confirmed
a counterintelligence investigation into the Russian attack and potential
coordination with the Trump campaign. We know it started in late July.
We also have the FBI and NSA confirming their assessment that the Russians
did this loudly and didn`t particularly try to cover their tracks. The FBI
director also told you that it appears that the Russians directly released
the first tranche of stolen documents that they had, but the second one
through WikiLeaks appears to have some sort of intermediary.
All of those pieces of information to me were sort of nuggets that I drew
out of today`s 5 1/2 hour hearing. But I wonder if there are other things
that you saw today that have been publicly disclosed now for the first
SCHIFF: You know, I`m not sure that I can point to any others but, you
know, I would say this with respect to Director Comey`s discussion of the
Russians loudly making their presence known. I`m not sure that I would
draw that same conclusion and part of this is the question of what the
Russians intended at the outset, that it may very well be when they first
penetrated the Democratic Party computers, it was merely a foreign
intelligence gathering operation and they didn`t feel the necessity of very
cleverly hiding their tracks because it`s something the Russians have also
done in terms of foreign intelligence gathering.
But when they decided to move to the weaponization of that data, that had
become more important for them to hide their tracks, then they needed more
plausible deniability in terms of the platforms that they would use to
publish the material.
So, I`m not sure it is as simple as the Russians were intending to send us
a signal here. That`s possible. I think it may be more likely that the
Russians were either clumsy or what started out as an information gathering
purpose later turned into something different.
MADDOW: On the point of the Russians releasing the information themselves,
the Guccifer and D.C. Leaks release of information versus the Russians
using an intermediary for later releases of documents, including through
WikiLeaks, what`s your understanding of the importance there or the basis
for that conclusion?
SCHIFF: Well, I can`t go too much beyond what the director talked about
today, but, you know, it`s clear that in some cases, they have a more
direct relationship or essentially the persona like Guccifer 2.0 is a
reflection of the Russian GRU. There`s not much distance, if any, between
the personnel that are collectively the identity of Guccifer 2 and Russian
intelligence itself. In other cases, where they wanted more deniability,
more distance they used a platform like WikiLeaks.
Now, whether they directly engaged Julian Assange or indirectly, one thing
is pretty clear, not only does Donald Trump have a hard time criticizing
Russia, so does Julian Assange. And why is that? Is there some
relationship there? I don`t know the answer but I do think it`s worth our
MADDOW: Congressman, on NBC yesterday, you said that you see there being
an accumulation of what you`ve described as circumstantial evidence, that
there was collusion between this Russian operation and associates of Donald
Trump during the campaign. Can you just expand on that a little bit, what
you meant by circumstantial evidence and both the limits of that and also
the extent of it?
SCHIFF: Well, you know I know when you use that term, a lot of people
think circumstantial evidence isn`t very telling. It isn`t very powerful.
But it all depends on what kind of circumstantial evidence. I can`t go
into a lot of specifics here.
But probably the best example for your viewers is, if you go outside in the
afternoon and there`s no snow on the ground and you wake up the next
morning and there is snow on the ground, you can pretty well conclude that
it snowed overnight. That`s circumstantial.
If you see the snow coming down, then you can say I have direct evidence
that it snowed. So circumstantial evidence can be very, very powerful and
indicative of something that`s happened. And here, you know, I think we
can say certainly that the director made clear today that he had a basis in
specific or credible information or evidence to initiate an investigation
of the Trump campaign. That`s not something that you do lightly or at the
drop of a hat or on a whim or someone suggesting, you know, third-party
hearsay. No, as the director made clear, you not only need to have a
certain quantum of evidence, but it has to be a high enough priority to
supersede other investigations that you can`t do at the same time because
of lack of resources.
So, this was obviously a big deal and I think we also can see some very
direct evidence of deception, which raises profound questions about why are
they hiding what they are hiding and why did Michael Flynn lie about his
conversation with the Russian ambassador and why wasn`t Jeff Sessions more
forthcoming to put it charitably with the Senate about his meetings with
the Russian ambassador? What about Paul Manafort, why did he lie about the
Trump campaign rule in fending off an amendment at the Republican Party
convention that would have provided for defensive weapons for Ukraine? Why
all of the deception? If this is aboveboard, why do they need to hide it
and I think certainly those are important questions to answer.
MADDOW: Congressman Adam Schiff joining us tonight from Washington.
Congressman, while we have been on the air, you and I discussing this, a
little bit of breaking news has just happened. We`re just – my control
room is telling me that we`re just getting it in. It actually relates to
something that we were discussing earlier in terms of the Trump
administration relationship with NATO. If you wouldn`t mind sticking
around for the commercial break, I`d love to ask you –
MADDOW: – about that when we come back.
All right. We`ll be right back with Congressman Schiff right after this.
MADDOW: So, we have some breaking news tonight on this subject of the
United States in the Trump era and Russia and also NATO. “Reuters” has
reported just within the last few minutes that Trump Secretary of State Rex
Tillerson plans now to skip a meeting next month for NATO foreign
ministers. This would be his first NATO meeting, again “Reuters” citing
U.S. officials says that Secretary Tillerson is going to skip that NATO
meeting next month. Don`t worry, though, he won`t be house-bound.
“Reuters” also reporting tonight that Secretary Tillerson is not going to
NATO next month, but he is now planning a visit to Russia next month.
The State Department had no comment for “Reuters”. Again, this is not
MSNBC reporting. This is “Reuters”. But it has just broken within the
last few minutes.
We`re back with Congressman Adam Schiff, who`s the senior Democrat on the
Congressman, thanks for sticking with us. I appreciate it.
SCHIFF: You bet.
MADDOW: The issue of NATO and the United States playing up divisions among
NATO countries, playing down any concern about Russia`s incursions into
Ukraine, that was raised in this mysterious dossier from a former MI6
officer as essentially the quo in a quid pro quo between the Russians and
the Trump campaign. The allegation was there that the Trump campaign knew
about Russian intervention in the election, cooperated with it or aware
that it was going on and what they promised to do in return was to downplay
Ukraine, sow dissension in NATO.
You raised that today in today`s hearing. And I wonder if that means – if
we should read into that. When you cited with that dossier, should we stop
describing that as an uncorroborated dossier? Has some of the information
of that been corroborated?
SCHIFF: Well, you know, Rachel, I can`t go through the dossier and
disclose what we may have been able to corroborate or not, but I can say
just in response to the “Reuters” story, that I have to hope that that
story is not true. We`ve already sent a terrible message to NATO. The
only message frankly that has gotten through of this administration to NATO
is not that we support you, not that we value you, not that we thank our
NATO allies for coming to our assistance in Afghanistan and Iraq where NATO
soldiers have stood by, fought by and died with our own troops but rather
pay up. That`s the only message we`ve delivered.
And if Rex Tillerson is going to avoid going to the NATO meeting and
instead go to Moscow, I hope the reason he`s going to Moscow is to hand
back the Special Order Friendship medal he got from Putin because after
what the Russians have done to us over the course of the last year, that`s
the only reason Tillerson ought to be going to Russia.
MADDOW: Congressman Adam Schiff, senior Democrat on the House Intelligence
Committee, I really appreciate your time tonight. I know this was an
exhausting day for everybody involved here. Thanks for being with us.
SCHIFF: Thanks, Rachel.
All right. It is – it`s not wrong, it`s utterly understandable if you
can`t stop watching congressional hearings right now. But I promise you,
it`s just the first course. Wait until you see what is being served around
the country, outside of Washington.
That`s next. Stay with us.
MADDOW: Watch the reaction here. This is capital F feedback.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
QUESTION: Will you support the immediate release of Donald Trump`s tax
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
REP. VERN BUCHANAN (R), FLORIDA: On the tax return, I believe someone that
wants to run for president should release their tax returns.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
But I wouldn`t enforce it. If they don`t want to release them, that`s up
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Republican Congressman Vern Buchanan of Florida had that giant
town hall on Saturday, facing 1,800 of his constituents. And they were not
shy and there were a bunch like that over the last couple of days.
In Novi, Michigan, after not holding a town hall for two years, Republican
Congressman Dave Trott finally faced his constituents. It`s quite possible
that he was tired of them calling him a chicken. There were only 400 seats
inside the Novi, Michigan town hall, but about 1,000 people showed up. The
people who couldn`t get inside that one stuck around in a freaking
Look at that. They did not leave even though they were stuck out there in
the snow. Michiganders are hard core.
Also, in a red pocket of northern California, 1,300 constituents turned out
for a town hall with Republican Congressman Doug LaMalfa. Those folks were
happy to wait out in the rain. The line to get into his town hall
stretched for over half a mile, well over 1,000 people. That red arrow is
where the line starts.
Also, just north of Dallas, Texas, Republican Congressman Pete Sessions got
an earful from his constituents this weekend.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. PETE SESSIONS (R), TEXAS: We are going to make the changes. We are
going to pass the bill and we`re going to repeal Obamacare.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Like I said, not subtle, not shy.
Look at Omaha, Nebraska. There`s no town hall this weekend in Omaha,
Nebraska, but instead, look at this. It took to the streets this weekend,
one of the busiest intersections in town. Again, this is Nebraska. People
organized in part by their local Indivisible group. People showing up,
getting in the way.
Honestly, it is almost bizarre that the Trump agenda, the Trump Supreme
Court nominee are being considered right now, steaming towards votes while
the president`s campaign is the subject of a counterintelligence
investigation to see if it colluded in an attack on the United States last
year. It`s weird that they still get to do stuff while that is happening.
But things proceed apace and Americans are speaking up about it and trying
to affect the course of events. House Republicans plan to hold their vote
on repealing Obamacare on Thursday of this week. NBC News has drawn a whip
count on that vote. So far, they`re confirming 17 House Republicans will
vote no on the Obamacare repeal.
That 17 number is important. If they get to 22 “no” votes, it`s dead.
Even just in the House. It already appears to be dead once it tries to get
to the Senate but they could kill it in the House, too.
This is – this is a volatile time. This is going to be a very busy couple
of days, including this building pressure back home.
Watch this space.
MADDOW: You know Chris Hayes, right? My buddy, Chris. Show before mine.
He wrote a book in 2012 called “The Twilight of the Elites.” The basic
thesis of this very good was that elite institutions of all kinds were
losing their luster in this country. Elite institutions were not just
failing, they were increasingly being rejected by the American people.
Very interesting thesis, very well reported and argued. It also sounded a
little bit of an alarm in that book again, 2012 is when the book came out
and he warned in this book that one of the consequences of the twilights of
the elites, twilight of elite institutions, including the government and
media and all the rest, one of the consequences of that would likely be
increasing interest in our country in a new form of American
authoritarianism, an anti-elite, anti-academic, burn down the establishment
authoritarian impulse of the kind we haven`t really enjoyed in this country
Nailed it. Called it. Four years in advance. Nailed it. That was his
Now, Chris has written a second book. And I`m also scared of this one.
It`s called “A Colony in a Nation.” Title actually comes from Nixon, comes
from Nixon`s acceptance speech of the 1968 Republican convention. It was
Nixon`s law and order speech.
But in that speech, he warned against black America becoming a colony
within a nation. In his new book, Chris takes that argument and turns it
completely inside-out, argues that in many ways that is exactly what
happened but not the way Nixon meant it.
And Chris argues that this did happen in large part because of how the law
has been used to impose order. Quoting from Chris, “The terrifying truth
is that we as a people have created the colony through democratic means.
We have voted to subdue our fellow citizens. We have rushed to the polls
to elect people promising to bar others from enjoying the fruits of
liberty. A majority of Americans have put a minority under lock and key.”
It is a terrifying, fascinating, well-told short, interesting book. Unlike
“Twilight of the Elites,” though, this one does not necessarily offer us a
plan for getting out of it.
Joining us now, the host of “ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES” here at MSNBC, is
HAYES: No, it`s totally fair. Yes, I don`t know.
MADDOW: Yes. I mean, you are lamenting what you describe as this colony
in a nation phenomenon –
MADDOW: And it`s an emotional argument about how it hurts, the idea of
America and all Americans. I don`t think that you are selling us a way out
HAYES: No, what I think – what I think I am saying is, we all have to
recognize, you know, the way I`ve been thinking about it as I think about
the book, is like there`s a Donald Trump in all of us. And what I mean by
that is that, what he appealed to – there`s an appeal to the idea of
There`s an appeal to the idea of particularly if you were experiencing
decline, particularly if you`re experiencing a kind of unraveling, there`s
an idea that, like, we can contain it, keep it over there, we can send in
the guards, we can send in the cops and they can keep that disorder
contained and you are going to be secure and you are going to be okay. And
the appeal of that kind of order is very subtle and it`s very seductive and
it`s very powerful and it`s very universal.
HAYES: I mean, I have felt it in my life. Many a time, I`ve felt the
siren call that particularly growing up as 12 and 13-year-old in New York
City when the crime rate was at a peak amount. And so, before we talk
about, like, criminal justice policy or policing, like, the deeper truth is
an emotional truth about how we, as political actors, respond to these
HAYES: And recognizing the way they speak to us, and I mean this
specifically in this context of white people, frankly, how they speak to us
and learning to take that reaction and sort of interrogate it.
MADDOW: Do we ever get any better in terms of not being driven by fear?
And not having fear being the easiest button it is for politicians to push
and for, you know, media elites to push in terms of getting people`s
attention, getting them to believe –
HAYES: You know, that is so – it is so hard, right, to overcome that
because the fear stuff is located in the brain stem. It`s the first part
that evolved. And then all the other stuff is here in the prefrontal
cortex. And when you`re like, I don`t know, making a television show, or
trying to get clicks on a website, there`s this appeal of the brain stem.
There are a lot of examples. I mean, here in New York City, there was an
election to end stop and frisk, I mean, which that was overwhelmingly
ratified and same echoes of fear, fear, fear, like crime is going to go
right back up. And it did not. I think that was a sort of powerful and
important test moment.
But we`ve also seen the inverse, right? We`ve seen the president of the
United States warning that America is, you know, misquoting the homicide
statistics, we`re going back to the bad old days, that chaos and violence
and ruin are just knocking on the door and if we turn away from this very
punitive model that we`ve been deploying for 40 years, we will allow this
disorder into our lives and that retains its power.
I mean, if this election was a proof of anything, it is the degree to which
that retains its power.
MADDOW: You know, on that point, that`s one of the very interesting
statistical cases that you make is that people perceive, polling data shows
that people perceive there to be an increase in crime –
HAYES: Every year.
MADDOW: Every year. It is not every year that politicians stoke it.
HAYES: That is true.
MADDOW: But it continues to increase every year.
HAYES: That is such a great point, because I think part of how we – the
project of the book is how do we build the system and one of every four
prisoners in the world is an American? The answer is the two parts of it,
right? There`s actual stuff that happened in the country, we had a huge
crime spike in this country. The country got more dangerous and that
freaked people out in ways – in all sorts of totally natural ways, right?
And then politicians took that thing and they ran with it and they did
something with it.
And what we`ve seen this year is this politician particularly using this
rhetoric that to him comes as second nature because this is a product of
New York City in the `70s and `80s.
HAYES: This stuff is in his bones and it`s not an accident Rudy Giuliani
was one of his closest advisers in the campaign, of using that to appeal to
and speak to voters in a very specific way and that matters a lot, too.
It`s coming in both directions. It is – I call it in the book, it is a
call in response.
MADDOW: Yes. We`re wired for it, but you still have to know where to put
the electron (ph) down –
HAYES: You watch the people jump and see it sort of reflected back.
That`s what you see sometimes in those rallies and see it when you go read
the newspapers or watch events in large urban areas in the `70s and `80s,
it`s like you can turn the switch on. It`s enriching political uranium
when you do that.
HAYES: It is one of the most powerful forces in our politics, that kind of
MADDOW: “A Colony in a Nation” is Chris Hayes` new book. It comes out
tomorrow. It`s really well-written. It is – I`d just say, it is
emotional, a little bit personal. It is short. It is a very clear
argument, very well argued. I would say that even if I don` didn`t like
you so much.
All right. Much more on MSNBC tonight on today`s explosive and historic
hearing in intelligence committee. And right here next, what you need to
watch for tomorrow morning.
Stay with us.
MADDOW: Hard to believe that when you`ve got a president whose campaign is
the subject of an FBI counterintelligence investigation, as to whether or
not his campaign cooperated in an attack on the United States by a foreign
power, hard to believe that somebody facing that kind of investigation gets
to nominate someone to the Supreme Court in the meantime, but yes, that`s
Today was day one of the confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee
Neil Gorsuch. Tomorrow, the questioning portion of the hearings will
start. We don`t yet exactly know what path Democrats will focus on with
There`s also the question of why Democrats are there at all for the
hearing. Today, a lot of the Democrats on the committee highlighted the
fact that President Obama`s nominee for that seat, Merrick Garland, never
got a hearing in the Senate. That question is still unanswered and looming
over all of this. Why are the Democrats participating in a process that
Republicans would not allow under President Obama?
But nevertheless, tomorrow`s hearing begins at 9:30 a.m. Eastern. You, of
course, can watch it all here on live on MSNBC.
That does it for us tonight. We will see you again tomorrow.
Now, it`s time for “THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL”.
Good evening, Lawrence.
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