The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 5/3/2017

Guests:
Jodi Kantor
Transcript:

 

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

the next hour. 

 

Sibenergo (ph) Group, Sibenergo Group.  I`ve been practicing all day, I –

still a mouthful.  Sibenergo Group. 

 

Here`s their website, Sibenergo Group.  It`s hard.  I`ve been practicing

all day, still hard.  Roughly translates to Siberian Energy Group. 

 

But the key word there is “roughly”.  Roughly translates.  There is also

this other totally separate dead thing that is also called the Siberian

Energy Group, and it`s a totally different thing. 

 

And thanks to the priceless national treasure that is the Internet Wayback

Machine, even though their Siberian Energy Group website is now dead, we

can use the Wayback Machine to lay eyes on it today. 

 

Now, the reason I raise this is that one night last week, we were talking

on the show about the Siberian Energy Group on the right and we

accidentally showed the website of the Siberian Energy Group on the left. 

I`m sorry about that.  But you can understand why we might mix those up. 

The live Siberian Energy Group versus the dead Siberian Energy Group. 

 

It`s interesting, though, the reason we even know we made that mistake and

put up the website is because of this article at politico.com concerning

the murky origins of the more than half a million dollars that was paid to

former security advisor Mike Flynn while he was working on the Trump

campaign. 

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

CNBC ANCHOR:  David Zaikin is CEO of Siberian Energy Group, it`s the only

publicly traded oil and gas exploration company in the U.S. that has 100

percent of its assets in Russia. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MADDOW:  OK.  Siberian Energy Group.  Part of what “Politico” reported last

week and what we told you about when we talked about this here on this

show, is that there is a link between the CEO of that now defunct Siberian

Energy Group and the guy who paid Mike Flynn more than half a million

dollars, which Mike Flynn did not disclose on his security clearance

application in Washington. 

 

This is the money that was paid to Flynn that later caused him to

retroactively register as an agent of a foreign power after he was fired

from the White House as national security adviser.  The guy who paid Flynn

that money has his own business history in Russia as reported by

“Politico,” including at least one financing deal that was personally

approved by Vladimir Putin. 

 

This is an interesting thing about the Flynn story, right?  That link from

the guy who paid Flynn to his Russian business dealings that personally

involved Putin, does that mean that the money that was used to pay national

security advisor Mike Flynn might have its origins in Russia, while Russia

at that very time was also attacking the U.S. election to help Trump win? 

 

That`s the question.  People who are trying to figure out the Trump-Russia

story by following the money, that`s what makes this whole question red

hot.  That`s why this is so important.  The prospect that when Flynn was

being paid during the campaign, there is – this possibility has been

raised that maybe who was paying Flynn, maybe the source of his foreign

money were the same people who were attacking the election on Trump`s

behalf. 

 

I mean, it`s a red hot question and it`s an important question particularly

as there is this new observable phenomenon in Washington, D.C. where

Republicans in positions of authority who find themselves getting up close

and personal to the Flynn side of the Trump-Russia investigation, those

Republicans keep poofing.  They keep finding reasons to absent themselves

from the investigations. 

 

Congressman Devin Nunes got the hearing cancelled where Sally Yates was

going to testify in open session as to what the Justice Department

discovered about Mike Flynn and what they told the White House about Mike

Flynn, Devin Nunes canceled that hearing and he got himself kicked off that

investigation entirely, whew. 

 

Then, Congressman Jason Chaffetz, his committee turned up new information

about Mike Flynn not disclosing the money he took from foreign sources. 

Before that could go any further, Jason Chaffetz announced that he was

quitting Congress, and that even more unexpectedly, he up and left town

without any warning to go get foot surgery for an old injury and said he

wouldn`t be back for weeks. 

 

Then„ right after that, the day after it was made public that the

Department of Defense inspector general was undertaking its own independent

investigation of Mike Flynn and those foreign payments, the day after that,

the attorney general of the United States, Jeff Sessions, announced for the

first time that he was out of this, too, that he would recuse himself from

any Justice Department investigation that touched on Mike Flynn. 

 

Something about the investigation into Mike Flynn that makes Republicans

turn tail and run away from these investigations.  Like the question of

Mike Flynn and particularly these foreign payments appears to just make

Republicans faint. 

 

And that makes the question of Flynn`s foreign payments very interesting. 

I mean, it is extraordinary enough the national security advisor was fired. 

It`s extraordinary enough that the national security advisor was fired for

lying about his contacts with the foreign government.  It is extraordinary

enough he did not report his payments from foreign sources on his security

clearance application. 

 

It is extraordinary enough as NBC News reported Friday night that the Trump

transition knew about Mike Flynn`s foreign payments and they hired him as

national security advisor anyway.  It is extraordinary enough that the

sitting attorney general and the sitting vice president, who was head of

the transition, they both now deny there was any way they could have known

about those foreign payments to Mike Flynn at the time.  Even though it`s

clear the White House and transition absolutely did know about those

foreign payments to Mike Flynn at the time. 

 

I mean, the whole thing is extraordinary enough already, even before you

get to the question of whether or not the foreign payments that came to

Mike Flynn during the campaign might have come from Putin connected

sources. 

 

Now, the guy who paid Mike Flynn denies that the money came from Putin

connected sources, although he himself has had Russian business dealings

directly with Vladimir Putin.  The link between that guy, the guy who paid

Flynn and the Siberian Energy guy is through a couple of D.C.-based

nonprofit groups that lobby on Turkish interests.  Both of these men have

loose ties to those Turkish organizations, both of them deny having played

a key role in founding them. 

 

The ex-Siberian Energy Group CEO denies any connection to Flynn, denies any

connection to the man who paid Flynn.  He denied having anything to do with

Vladimir Putin.  He also tells us he doesn`t want anybody to think of him

as a Russian-linked oligarch.  That said, he was the CEO of an oil and gas

exploration company with extensive holdings in Russia. 

 

And even as his lawyers wrote to us to convey his denials and to tell us

that his company`s exclusive contact with the Russian government was just

bidding at a public auction, they left out from their defiant lawyer letter

to us all the stuff from this is old bio-on his Siberian energy company

website about all the years he spent working with the Russian government,

including the part where he literally brags about his, quote, “extensive

ties” to Russia`s business community as well as federal government and

regional authorities. 

 

So, whether or not he is ultimately going to turn out to be tied to these

payments to Mike Flynn as “Politico” suggested and we talked about last

week, he says he`s not.  His denial to “Politico” and now to us he has any

connections whatsoever to the Putin government, his denial to us that he

has any connections to the Putin government is a little bit undercut by his

previous public boasting about his extensive ties to the Putin government. 

 

So, the Mike Flynn story kind of pulls it as red hot at the center of this

bullseye.  And the official story about it is getting more and more

upsetting to more and more people.  And we`re hearing about it in more and

more different kinds of ways every day.  But the central story of what

happened to Mike Flynn and where that money came from and why he was paid

and who he told about it and how it affected his employment at the White

House and how the White House responded when they were told what they were

told about his contacts with foreign government and Russian officials –

none of that, none of the official version of that makes any sense yet. 

 

FBI Director James Comey testified to the Senate today that he was

nauseated by the knowledge that the election result in our presidential

election might have been affected by his choice to talk before the election

about the FBI investigation into Hillary Clinton`s e-mail server and his

choice to not talk until after the election about the FBI`s counter-

intelligence investigation into the Trump campaign and the possibility that

they colluded with the Russian attack. 

 

Tomorrow, James Comey and Mike Rogers will testify behind closed doors to

the House Intelligence Committee.  That`s the Intelligence Committee

investigation from which Chairman Nunes has now been recused. 

 

Then, on Monday, there will be another open hearing in the Senate.  That

one will involve Sally Yates who`s fired by the Trump White House for

refusing to defend the Muslim ban in court, just a couple of days after she

went to the White House to tell them about Mike Flynn`s contacts with the

Russian government, and the fact that he was lying about those contacts and

was thereby potentially vulnerable to Russian blackmail.  That Mike Flynn

issue is what she is going to be testifying about in the Senate on Monday. 

 

And depending on how that hearing goes, maybe we will learn more at that

hearing about the murky origins of the foreign funding that went to Michael

Flynn during the campaign while Russia was attacking our election on behalf

about in the Senate on Monday.  Depending how that hearing goes maybe we

will learn more at that hearing about the murky origins of the foreign

funding that went to Michael Flynn during the campaign while Russia was

attacking our election on behalf of Trump`s interests.  Maybe we`ll hear

more about why the White House story about that money and Michael Flynn

just doesn`t add up. 

 

If we do get closer to the truth on that and to figuring out why the White

House has not been telling the truth about that thus far, I fully expect we

will see at least one more D.C. Republican faint from the shock, thus

requiring him or her to be immediately excused from this investigation.  At

that point, I will also fully expect more threatening letters from lawyers. 

 

Even so, we will stay on it, no matter what, I promise. 

 

But, today, we also got a grand new display how the Trump party will fight

against the Trump-Russia investigation. 

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

SEN. CHUCK GRASSLEY (R-IA), JUDICIARY COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN:  So, where is all

this speculation about collusion coming from?  In January, “BuzzFeed”

published a dossier spinning wild conspiracy theories about the Trump

campaign.  “BuzzFeed” acknowledged that the claims were unverified and some

of the details were clearly wrong.  “BuzzFeed” has since been sued for

publishing them.  Since then, much of the dossier has been proven wrong and

many of his outlandish claims have failed to gain traction. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MADDOW:  Republican Senator Chuck Grassley today trying to make the annual

FBI oversight hearing this year focus on what he`s now characterizing as a

scandal, the fact the FBI has used the dossier, the intelligence gathered

by former MI6 agent Christopher Steele as part of its Trump investigation. 

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

GRASSLEY:  The public needs to know what role the dossier has played and

where it came from.  We need to know more about it, how much the FBI relied

on it.  According to press reports, the FBI has relied on the document to

testify its current investigation.  There have been reports the FBI agreed

to pay the author of the dossier. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MADDOW:  The author of the dossier is someone who does have a longstanding

relationship with the FBI.  He was a key investigator who worked with the

FBI on investigation that led to multiple arrests and multiple indictments

of international soccer executives in the global FIFA corruption scandal. 

Remember that?  The big soccer scandal? 

 

This, of course, is a scandal that happened all over the world, but it was

substantially prosecuted here in the United States the least soccer major -

- least soccer crazy major country that there is – was prosecuted here

because the FBI and the U.S. Justice Department nailed the corruption in

that multibillion dollar organization, in significant part because the FBI

worked with MI6 agent Christopher Steele to do it.

 

Well, the Republican Party has just taken a turn on the Trump Russia

investigation.  They have decided to defend against the Trump Russia

investigation by attacking Christopher Steele and by attacking the FBI for

working once again with this British intelligence officer with whom the FBI

has had a longstanding and productive intelligence relationship, that in

the past has led to very high profile criminal indictments. 

 

But in order to make that turn, in order to try to discredit and turn

against the Trump-Russia investigation on this basis, Republicans have

really got to reach, because actually, since the dossier came out, piece

after piece of it have been corroborated by the free press, which is very

inconvenient for them for this argument, right?  I mean, here`s CNN, “U.S.

investigators corroborate some aspects of the Russia dossier.”  Here`s the

BBC, “Trump Russia dossier key claim `verified`.” 

 

One of the claims in the dossier was a Trump advisor`s trip to Moscow

during the campaign.  It was the Trump campaign itself verified that one. 

 

“The New York Times” reported that key American allies, including the

British and the Dutch corroborated the information about Trump campaign

figures having meetings during the campaign with Russian officials.  CNN

reported parts of this dossier passed muster even in federal court when the

dossier was used in part to justify a secret FISA court warrant for U.S.

surveillance on a Trump campaign advisor. 

 

So, it`s going to be an uphill battle for Republicans to try to make the

pivot on this, right, to try to denounce and defend against the whole

Trump-Russia investigation as if it is somehow tainted or suspicious

because it includes this dossier. 

 

The Republican claim today was that the dossier has been increasingly

discredited.  That`s not true in terms of the public record about the

dossier.  In fact, it`s quite the opposite.  As time goes on, more and more

pieces do get independently corroborated. 

 

But that`s apparently what they decided on.  And in fact, what has to be

one of the greatest political smoke bombs of all time, the Republicans

today started today to claim the dossier itself – the claim that there was

collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians, Republicans started

to claim today that that claim itself is a Russian op. 

 

What?  That`s what they`re going to say now. 

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA:  Are you familiar with Fusion? 

 

JIM COMEY, FBI DIRECTOR:  I know the name. 

 

GRAHAM:  OK.  Are they part of the Russian intelligence apparatus? 

 

COMEY:  I can`t say. 

 

GRAHAM:  OK.  Do you agree with me that if Fusion was involved with

preparing a dossier against Trump, that would be interfering in our

election by the Russians? 

 

COMEY:  I don`t want to say.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MADDOW:  The FBI director does not want to say anything, anything at all

about the Trump-Russia investigation in open, unclassified session, but the

Republicans on the committee want to let you know that their new defense

against the Trump-Russia investigation is that the Trump-Russia

investigation is a Russian operation, which is amazing.  But that really is

what they started arguing publicly today. 

 

On Monday, next week, Lindsey Graham will be the one chairing that

committee hearing in the Senate where Sally Yates is due to testify about

what she and the Justice Department found out about Mike Flynn and his

foreign contacts and his foreign conversation and how the White House

handled that information. 

 

Lindsey Graham also apparently invited former Obama National Security

Advisor Susan Rice to testify at that same hearing because why just have

the hearing on the Trump-Russia investigation when you can also muddy the

waters with the president`s claims that the Obama administration was

secretly wiretapping Trump Tower and Susan Rice must have been up to no

good. 

 

Susan Rice is declining to testify at that hearing on Monday.  She called

the request a diversion from what is supposedly the topic of the hearing,

the Trump campaign and Russia.  She also noted that the invitation came

just from the Republican side of that committee, and the ranking Democrat

of the committee, Sheldon Whitehouse, backed her up on that, saying it was

not actually a bipartisan request for her to come testify and he said he

supports her decision to say no. 

 

So, there`s a lot going on right now.  There`s a lot going on even just in

Washington right now.  The House vote on repealing Obamacare is likely to

take place sometime early tomorrow, early to midday tomorrow.  We have the

latest on that coming up next. 

 

The Trump administration may also be about to lose yet another senior

nominee for the new administration.  This is somebody who replaced their

previous nominee.  They may be losing their new nominee for that same job

as well.  That story ahead tonight as well. 

 

But on the Trump Russia investigation, all of a sudden, we are in full

pushback mode in terms of the other side of this.  The smoke bombs are

flying, counter-allegations and diversions are flying, Republicans with

ambitions are jumping out of the investigation anywhere they can, the

lawyer letters are coming down like rain. 

 

This is a new phase of this game here.  This took a turn today. 

Republicans are no longer just saying if Trump and Russia colluded, that`s

a serious thing, that`s a game changer, we need to get to the bottom of it. 

Now, they are starting to push back on the very concept of this being

investigated.  This took a turn today.  Everybody, on your toes now.

 

We`ll be right back.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

MADDOW:  At the end of this week, Congress leaves for 11 days off.  An 11-

day weekend, yeah.  That`s the only thing that`s ever made me want to run

for Congress.  I`m never going to want to run for Congress. 

 

But, still, think about it – 11-day weekend.  And it`s not even like for a

thing.  It`s just, why do we have an 11-day weekend?

 

Before their next taxpayer-funded vacation.  The question is, will House

Republicans try again for a third time to kill Obamacare?  Tonight, we

learned that the answer is very likely yes. 

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

NBC NEWS:  Going forward tomorrow? 

 

REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA), HOUSE MAJORITY LEADER:  We`re going tomorrow,

yes, we are. 

 

NBC NEWS:  Do you have the votes? 

 

MCCARTHY:  Yes, we do. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MADDOW:  Yes, we do.  Yes, we have the votes.

 

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy telling NBC News tonight that

Republicans think they do have the votes to kill the Affordable Care Act. 

Congressman McCarthy said the vote is expected to occur between 12:30 and

1:00 p.m. Eastern Time tomorrow. 

 

But I would caution that that is probably subject to change depending on

how confident they are in vote total and where they are in their twisting

of arms. 

 

Now, one remarkable thing about this planned vote, they are not going to

get the bill scored before they vote on it.  You might remember that the

last time they tried to appeal Obamacare, the CBO score came back and said

that the Republican bill would result in 24 million Americans losing health

insurance. 

 

And that`s kind of a hard thing to sell, right?  So, that effort failed

very shortly after the score came in.  But now, they`re going back at it. 

And in order to win over more conservative votes, they`ve actually made the

bill even more draconian this time, raising the possibility that when the

score does come in on this one, we could be looking at even more than 24

million Americans losing their health insurance because of this iteration

of the Republican bill. 

 

But the Republicans apparently learned their lesson.  They have decided to

solve that particularly problem this time by just not waiting for the score

before they go ahead and vote on this version of the bill. 

 

This new version of the bill allows individual states to opt out of the

coverage requirements that were mandated by the Affordable Care Act.  And

that sounds boring.  But what it means is, if you`ve got a preexisting

condition of any kind, get ready to go back to the time when you can be

denied health insurance for that, or at least charged more for your

coverage. 

 

Reacting to tonight`s announcement of a vote, House Democratic Leader Nancy

Pelosi said, quote, “Tomorrow, House Republicans are going to tattoo this

moral monstrosity to their foreheads and the American people will hold them

accountable.”

 

Assuming the Republicans are right and they do have the votes to pass

healthcare tomorrow, constituents will have immediately 11 days at home

with their member of Congress starting the end of the week to start that

holding accountable process. 

 

Joining us now is Jonathan Chait from “New York Magazine”.  He`s the author

of “Audacity: How Barack Obama  Defied His Critics and Created a Legacy

That Will Prevail.”

 

Mr. Chait, it`s nice to see you.  Thank you for being here. 

 

JONATHAN CHAIT, NEW YORK MAGAZINE WRITER:  Thank you so much for having me. 

 

MADDOW:  Is the Affordable Care Act going to be a legacy that will prevail? 

They seem closer than ever right now to killing it. 

 

CHAIT:  They are, although the Senate is not going to pass the bill going

into the House tomorrow.  And it`s not clear they will pass anything, and

whatever they do, if anything, I think is going to will be much weaker,

it`s going to leave a large chunk of the ACA`s achievements into place. 

 

But again, we`ll have to see how it plays out.  I wouldn`t rest everything

on that.  And I think you should hope that this bill fails in the House,

they don`t even get the chance.  But the House was always going to be the

easy part of this process for them. 

 

MADDOW:  Do you that the House will pass?  Do you think Kevin McCarthy is

right that whenever they put this, that, A, they will it up tomorrow and

that when they do put it up, it will be because they`ve accurately counted

the votes and it will pass? 

 

CHAIT:  I think so.  You know, they`re bad at counting votes.  I would

never stake my life on them being right on it.  I would stake my life on

Pelosi.  She would never ring up a bill where she didn`t have the votes. 

The Republicans, they lose these votes sometimes but I would bet on them

winning. 

 

MADDOW:  In terms of the political fallout of this, one of the things we`ve

seen, Jon, is the home state resistance to this specific thing that the

Republicans are doing right now.  And it resulted in Republicans not just

moderate and swing state Republicans, but Republicans of every stripe sort

of being a little shaken in their conviction that they thought this I

think, previously, it might have been an easy vote, that Republicans have

been saying for six or seven years that they wanted to repeal Obamacare and

they`ve been voting impotently to do that over and over again while they

were in opposition.  But the home state dynamics, the home district

dynamics changed since they`ve actually had the power to do it.  What

happens to that now? 

 

CHAIT:  That`s a great question.  Just like you say, I think they really

sort of sold themselves.  They drank their own Kool-Aid on this.  They

convinced themselves the bill was unpopular, would always be unpopular, no

one really benefitted from it.  And then they came face-to-face with all

kinds of people who are benefitting from it. 

 

Obamacare became popular and their bill was below 20 percent.  And that was

before they took out the most popular part that was still in the bill.  It

was at 20 percent and it still protected people with preexisting

conditions, at least on paper.  Now, they`re vulnerable to say, now, you

know, insurance companies can discriminate against people who get sick. 

 

So, I think they just decided their political interest lies in being seen

as strong.  The worst thing for them is to be seen as failing.  And then,

that overrides any of the specifics of this really terrible piece of

legislation. 

 

MADDOW:  To be clear, Jon, just on that last point, on preexisting

conditions, obviously, that is a heartrending thing for all sorts of

people.  You watch those confrontations to people and their member of

Congress, and it`s people who, you know, are born with genetic disorders,

people who have cancer.  It`s people who have every gamut, run the entire

gamut of things that could have gone wrong in their life through no fault

of their own that make people insurable or  that make their insurance

absolutely unaffordable. 

 

The Republicans all day long today have been saying, “We fixed that, we`re

taking account of that.  We know you like that in Obamacare and we`re

keeping that here.”

 

They`ve been saying that from President Trump to Paul Ryan all the way on

down.  What`s the rebuttal to that and will this actually be one of those

alternative facts fights where nobody agrees on what`s really in the bill? 

 

CHAIT:  Right.  Well, it will be to some extent.  And their solution is

shunt people into preexisting conditions special pools that only sell

policies to people who are very sick.  But those pools have never worked. 

They`ve always been, number one, underfunded.  They have a small number of

people and they have terrible limits.  They have limits who can get in and

how much money can be spent on them and there`s waiting lists and all kinds

of problems, and they just don`t nearly enough money to make that any kind

of workable solution. 

 

So, the two sides will argue about whether it works.  But people are

cynical about Washington and I think people aren`t going to believe the

Republicans when they say they`re going to take care of sick people because

people don`t believe the Republicans like to do things like that because

they don`t. 

 

MADDOW:  Jonathan Chait, “New York Magazine” writer in Washington with us

tonight, thanks, Jon.  Appreciate it you being here.

 

CHAIT:  OK, thank you.

 

MADDOW:  All right.  Again, in terms of timing there, the Republicans are

saying that vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act will happen between

12:30, 1:30 Eastern Time tomorrow.  Do expect that that might change,

though.  They are close in terms of their votes here.  They are not good at

counting their votes, which we`ve seen multiple times.  And as soon as they

think they have got it, you can expect them under the rules to rush it to

the floor at a moment`s notice. 

 

So, a lot of people are going to be on the tenterhooks overnight and

through the early morning tomorrow.

 

Stay with us. 

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

MADDOW:  We have couple different presidential versions of signing things

now.  We have three versions actually if you count the one where the

president signs your hat and then tosses it to other people in the crowd. 

No, no, you were supposed to give it back to me. 

 

When it comes to signing government business this president likes to make a

show of it.  He likes to have cameras, likes to have a crowd around to

watch.  He likes to hold up the big executive order in the menu thing and

show off his signature.  Look, would you like the Chianti?  Would you like

the claret? 

 

And then, sometimes, he doesn`t like to do it that way at all.  Sometimes

he likes to sign things but not make a big show of it, like, for example,

when he is making it`s easier for seriously mentally ill people to buy

guns, or when he tries again to pass another Muslim ban after the first one

got stopped in the courts.  These kinds of signings he tends to do without

a crowd and without a menu.  He does them behind closed doors, no cameras,

no showing off the signature, just get it done, ship it out later, post it

on the website. 

 

We`re waiting to see which version of the presidential signing might happen

tomorrow when reportedly the president is going to sign at least one, maybe

two, new executive orders.  The first one to allow churches and religious

groups to endorse candidates, to overtly get involved in politics without

endangering their tax-exempt status.  This is something that the religious

right has been fighting for, for a very long time now.  There are First

Amendment worries this is basically a way to turn churches into dark money

laundering institutions for campaigns and candidates. 

 

The second executive order rumored to be on the president`s desk for

tomorrow is a sweeping executive order.  They`re calling it a Religious

Liberty Executive Order.  The bottom line of which would be that it would

make it easier to discriminate or cut off coverage for contraception. 

 

If you`re having deja vu right now about forthcoming religious freedom

order, it`s because we`ve seen this before.  In February, a draft of this

supposed executive order in the works was leaked.  Even though it was

leaked though, it basically disappeared thereafter.  And if you believe the

contemporaneous reporting, the folks we can reportedly thank for

disappearing it back in February are Ivanka Trump and her husband, Jared

Kushner. 

 

Quote, “Mr. Kushner, a life-long Democrat, and Ms. Trump, an independent,

travel in liberal social circles and have long supported LGBT rights and

neither had seen the order before details were leaked, and expressed their

dissatisfaction to Mr. Trump`s other advisors and then weighed indirectly

with the president,” and then it was gone. 

 

Until now, when it is possibly back and he`s going to sign it tomorrow. 

 

I mean, from the outside, it can be hard to know whether the president`s

daughter and her husband are pulling the president anywhere because the

whole time they have been this supposedly moderating influence in the

administration, the administration has been doing a lot of things that

don`t seem all that moderate, right?  I mean, the Justice Department rolled

back protections for transgender kids in school.  President Trump`s nominee

to be the next army secretary has a history of making super anti-gay and

anti-trans comments.  And the now, the future of his confirmation is in

question.

 

The president`s pick to head up public affairs and messaging at the

Department of Health and Human Services is a long-time anti-abortion

activist who maintains abortion gives you breast cancer.  The person he has

put in charge of the federal government`s family planning efforts says she

does not believe contraception works.  She`ll now be in charge of

contraception for the federal government. 

 

Ivanka Trump and her husband have reportedly been lobbying the president to

make sure the United States stays in the Paris climate change agreement. 

It`s looking more likely each and every day that the president will choose

to exit the Paris climate agreement anyway. 

 

So, where is this moderating influence manifest?  Does it exist?  How does

it work on a daily basis out of sight in the White House if it is working? 

And if it is working, how would we know?  What should we watch for? 

 

We`re going to have somebody here on this show next who actually knows the

answer to that question.  Stay with us.  

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

MADDOW:  Quote, “The two trade thoughts from morning until late at night,

according to aides.” 

 

Quote, “Even though she has no government or policy experience, she plans

to review some executive orders before they are signed, according to White

House officials.  Some earlier orders have set off a firestorm.”

 

Quote, “She calls cabinet officials on issues she is interesting in,

recently asking the United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley about getting

humanitarian aid into Syria.  She set up a weekly meeting with Steven

Mnuchin, the treasury secretary.”

 

And she tells “The New York Times”, quote, “I`m still at the early stages

of learning how everything works.  But I know enough now to be a much more

proactive White House.”

 

It`s one thing to think about it from her perspective.  Think about that

from the perspective of the other people who work in the White House,

having your boss`s daughter set a weekly meeting with you when your boss is

the president of the United States.  This is not something there is much

precedent for in American history. 

 

There are not many, if any people, who cabinet members can call to get

advice on, right?  What`s the precedent in American history?  And are any

of those people able to comment on how you say no to the president`s

daughter? 

 

Just one of the many brand new worlds we have stepped into for this

administration. 

 

Joining us now is Jodi Kantor, one of the people who wrote this jaw-

dropping piece for the “New York Times”, someone who has been given access

to the first daughter. 

 

Jodi, it`s great to have you here.  Thank you for being here. 

 

JODI KANTOR, NEW YORK TIMES REPORTER:  Thank you so much. 

 

MADDOW:  We have interesting reporting about the White House sending their

kind of minders out into the agencies.  They sent somebody from the

campaign to the EPA.  They sent somebody to Steve Mnuchin`s office. 

There`s funny reporting about how the agencies were like annoyed.  The guy

at the EPA piped up too much at the meetings, and they wouldn`t let him

come to anything anymore.  Steve Mnuchin put his minder in the basement of

the Treasury. 

 

If a person in the federal government does not want to be working with

Ivanka Trump, does not want her making decisions in her area of expertise,

how is that handle?  She`s such a different kind of senior advisor? 

 

KANTOR:  So, when we saw her last week in the White House she`s open about

the fact that she really doesn`t know government, that she`s a newcomer in

Washington, that she doesn`t have legislative experience, et cetera, et

cetera, et cetera. 

 

So, I think on the one hand it could be very disconcerting with somebody

with really no subject matter experience, 35 years old, is sort of asking

you very consequential questions about your job.  On the other hand, I

think it honestly could be helpful because I think if you want to have

influence with the president, get through to his daughter could be very

effective for cabinet secretaries. 

 

MADDOW:  Or the opposite.  I mean, right?  If you can`t get along with his

35-year-old daughter – 

 

KANTOR:  Sure.

 

MADDOW:  – who has no subject matter expertise, who comes to this with an

inherited real estate business background in jewelry marketing and all this

stuff, and she doesn`t like your idea for the Federal Reserve restructuring

or something, I mean, that – she`ll never be fired. 

 

KANTOR:  She will never be fired. 

 

I think one of the big questions here is what the accountability level is

with both Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner.  For most senior White House

staff, if you don`t do a good job however you define good job, the

president let`s you go either gently or harshly or whatever.  The

likelihood that Ivanka Trump or Jared Kushner will ever be treated that way

seems very, very small. 

 

You know, what we were really struck by in our visits with her were the

lack of parameters on her portfolio.  It`s really wide-ranging.  She did

not appear to see any limits on sort of what subject matter she would deal

with.  I thought part of this sort of headline of our story was that she

was going to review executive orders before they were signed. 

 

MADDOW:  To see if she thought they were a good idea?  I mean, to what end? 

 

KANTOR:  Well, part of this is a reaction to Bannon, right?  Part of it is

sort of like her presenting herself as the anti-Bannon in the White House. 

 

She was pretty open with us about the idea that she is there to be a kind

of moderating force.  She said, look, even if I can`t kill certain

policies, even if I can`t stop certain things, I can sand down the edges of

these policies. 

 

So, we said, OK, please give us examples because if we`re going to

represent that in the “New York Times”, we really need to know what you`re

talking about.  She said, oh, no, no, no.  I can`t because my influence is

contingent on me doing it silently.  If I went out and spoke out against

what the administration is doing, I would not be able to be effective with

my father. 

 

So, the thing people say is kind of unique in the Ivanka Trump-Donald Trump

relationship is that apparently, she is able to give him criticism.  This

is not a president who is very open to criticism at all.

 

Probably one of the most interesting moments in our reporting was Maggie

Haberman and I were on the phone with Jared Kushner talking about this. 

And we asked him to describe the interactions in the West Wing between the

president and Ivanka Trump.  And he said they go into the Oval Office

together and talk.  They`re alone together. 

 

His implication and other aides supported this was that basically nobody

really knows what`s going on there in between father and daughter. 

 

MADDOW:  And if she`s the only person who can criticize her father, she`s

the only person who can deliver a no or a sharp criticism to her dad, that

makes it really important that we know if she`s getting good information,

if she has true beliefs about the world, if she has conflicts of interest

that are driving her to advise her father in a way that aren`t in the

country`s best interests.  I mean, what do we know about what she knows and

where she comes from? 

 

KANTOR:  So, she describes herself as a not particularly ideological

person, as kind of a pro-business, socially liberal moderate.  That`s an

important question and the other important question is, is she really able

to challenge her father?  With that, we kind of went to biography, right? 

Because there are no answers in the White House, this is only her second

week in the West Wing. 

 

So, we took a look at kind of her lifelong trajectory.  This is not a kid

who has ever really distanced herself from or visibly challenged her

father.  Plenty of people grow up and have a moment when they say to their

parents, I`m not like you in some way, I`m going to live my life

differently, I`m going on my own path.  Ivanka Trump did not have that. 

She kind of nestled within the Trump family brand, the Trump family name.

 

Even her own company which, by the way, is interesting in terms of what

we`re talking about as well.  It was sort of adjacent to the Trump

organization. 

 

(CROSSTALK)

 

MADDOW:  She used their payroll and internal resources.  She essentially

set herself up as a part of the Trump Organization, in what is supposedly

an independent business environment. 

 

I mean, I struggle with this because I`m not a biography-driven political

analyst, like I don`t believe you can look into anybody`s eyes or look into

their biography or look at their parents and determine – you know, divine

whether or not they`re good for the country or not.  Like I tend to believe

you have to judge people by their actions, not who they are. 

 

And with her, she has no overt actions.  With Jared Kushner, he has no

overt actions other than what they have done in the business world.  And

what Ivanka Trump has done in the business world, I mean, she`s supposedly

the champion of women`s rights, like you document how she wasn`t offering

maternity leave, she wasn`t offering benefit packages, she wasn`t doing

anything that would have marked her as some sort of feminist, or somebody

who cared about gender issues in the only thing she`s ever done which is

run a subsidiary business of her dad`s organization. 

 

KANTOR:  So, I want to tell you a story reported by my colleague, Rachel

Abrams.  We did exactly what you said.  We said, let`s look back at her

support for women`s issues, she`s saying that she wants gender her thing in

the White House, that she`s going to fight for family leave, for paid

childcare. 

 

And, by the way, I want to stipulate there are a lot of people out there

who want paid family leave and affordable childcare by any means necessary. 

They do not care who passes it. 

 

So, the question here I think is, does she believe in it and can she

execute it, right? 

 

MADDOW:  Does she get it?

 

KANTOR:  Or does she have the legislative skills to move on something like

this?

 

So, we went back and looked at her first issue – first interest in gender

issues.  What it was is that when she launched her own kind of apparel

brand and other brands, she wanted to become more relatable to regular

women, and so, she launched this sort of Women Who Work initiative.  The

Sheryl Sandberg book had just come out, these ideas were very popular. 

 

But it was really a branding campaign.

 

MADDOW:  Yes.

 

KANTOR:  It was a hashtag. 

 

And, as you say, behind the scenes, she initially had not offered maternity

leave to her employees who wanted it.  She later came up with a plan.  And

this hashtag didn`t involve any policy, there wasn`t like some great

philanthropic activity. 

 

MADDOW:  Advocacy agenda? 

 

KANTOR:  Yes, exactly.  It really had nothing to do with improving women`s

lives in a substantive way, it was about the image of being a contemporary

working woman. 

 

MADDOW:  Yes, aligning herself with that as an idea for branding purposes. 

 

KANTOR:  It`s – 

 

MADDOW:  Literally for branding purposing. 

 

KANTOR:  It`s just an incredibly curious trajectory from feminism as kind

of marketing campaign to supposedly feminist policy.  One really striking

thing, by the way, about her with our encounter with her in the White

House, is that some of her words sounded so surprisingly like Hillary

Clinton`s. 

 

A lot of the classic Clintonisms don`t belong to Hillary only.  When, you

know, people talk about wanting to empower women, obviously, that`s very

broad language.  But some of the things she said about the way women could

power the economy and how women had to live up to their full economic

potential, it was – the language was so close that I think the skeptical

question there is, is she trying to appropriate Clintonism, even though, of

course, Hillary Clinton has been an advocate for women her entire life? 

And is – are people going to be happy with that? 

 

For people who are really upset that Clinton lost, is Ivanka`s work on

gender in the White House going to be at all a satisfying substitute? 

 

MADDOW:  Particularly as, you know, contraception coverage is going to get

gutted tomorrow by this executive order that her dad is about to sign. 

 

It`s a fascinating – again, biographical approaches to this kind of stuff,

is not usually the way I approach these things.  But with the children as

presidential advisers, it`s the only way in.

 

Jodi Kantor, co-author of this remarkable new piece on Ivanka Trump in “The

New York Times” – it`s great to see, my friend. 

 

KANTOR:  Thanks.

 

MADDOW:  Thanks. 

 

We`ll be right back.  Stay with us. 

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

MADDOW:  So, this new administration famously is having trouble filling a

lot of key positions.  There are hundreds of Senate confirmable senior

positions for which they not only don`t have someone in place yet, they

haven`t even nominated anyone yet. 

 

Well, tonight we can report that in one of the major senior jobs in the

government that already had its first nominee pulled and replaced, we can

report tonight that the replacement nominee now looks like he too may be

about to get yanked.  This is a very important senior job.  They really

cannot afford this. 

 

But that story is next. 

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

MADDOW:  This is Tennessee State Senator Mark Green.  Until recently, he

was running for governor in Tennessee.  But he quit that race because he

got a better gig. 

 

Donald Trump nominated him to be the new secretary of the United States

Army.  That nomination coming after the first Trump nominee for that job

dropped out amid conflict of interest concerns and after news that he

recently punched a guy out at an expensive horse auction.  Huh?  I know. 

It`s kind of weird. 

 

But now, it looks like Trump`s Plan B pick to be secretary of the army

looks like he may be in serious trouble as well.  Since he was tapped for

this gig last month, his past public statements have made for fun reading. 

 

Mark Green, for example, has said that being transgender is a disease.  He

has said the reason more Latinos are registering to vote in his state is

because they are, quote, “being bussed here probably.” 

 

He has been an outspoken crusader against evolution, which he destroys in

arguments with – he destroys in arguments with metaphors like these. 

Quote, “If you put a lawnmower out in your yard and 100 years come back,

it`s rusted and falling apart.  You can`t put parts out there and 100 years

later, it`s going to come back together.”  Boom, evolution, dead. 

 

But the pressure against his nomination is now mounting on Capitol Hill. 

Reporting today is he may be withdrawing from consideration any minute now. 

Senator John McCain heads up the Senate Armed Services Committee that will

have to sign off on and approve his nomination.  Senator McCain says Mark

Green`s recent comments are, quote, “very concerning.”

 

Today, Elizabeth Warren became the first member of the Armed Services

Committee to outright oppose his nomination.  The Democratic Senate Leader

Chuck Schumer also came out against him.  He`s urging colleagues on both

sides of the aisle to do the same. 

 

Mark Green, it should be noted doesn`t even yet have a date for his

confirmation hearing.  He has been put forward as the next army secretary,

but his name has not even been formally submitted to the Senate for

consideration.  With each day that goes by, and with each new revelation of

stuff he said, it`s starting to look like those formal notifications may

not end up being necessary in the end.

 

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.

 

 

END

 

 

                                                                                                               

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY

BE UPDATED.

END   

 

Guest: Jodi Kantor

 

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

the next hour. 

 

Sibenergo (ph) Group, Sibenergo Group.  I`ve been practicing all day, I –

still a mouthful.  Sibenergo Group. 

 

Here`s their website, Sibenergo Group.  It`s hard.  I`ve been practicing

all day, still hard.  Roughly translates to Siberian Energy Group. 

 

But the key word there is “roughly”.  Roughly translates.  There is also

this other totally separate dead thing that is also called the Siberian

Energy Group, and it`s a totally different thing. 

 

And thanks to the priceless national treasure that is the Internet Wayback

Machine, even though their Siberian Energy Group website is now dead, we

can use the Wayback Machine to lay eyes on it today. 

 

Now, the reason I raise this is that one night last week, we were talking

on the show about the Siberian Energy Group on the right and we

accidentally showed the website of the Siberian Energy Group on the left. 

I`m sorry about that.  But you can understand why we might mix those up. 

The live Siberian Energy Group versus the dead Siberian Energy Group. 

 

It`s interesting, though, the reason we even know we made that mistake and

put up the website is because of this article at politico.com concerning

the murky origins of the more than half a million dollars that was paid to

former security advisor Mike Flynn while he was working on the Trump

campaign. 

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

CNBC ANCHOR:  David Zaikin is CEO of Siberian Energy Group, it`s the only

publicly traded oil and gas exploration company in the U.S. that has 100

percent of its assets in Russia. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MADDOW:  OK.  Siberian Energy Group.  Part of what “Politico” reported last

week and what we told you about when we talked about this here on this

show, is that there is a link between the CEO of that now defunct Siberian

Energy Group and the guy who paid Mike Flynn more than half a million

dollars, which Mike Flynn did not disclose on his security clearance

application in Washington. 

 

This is the money that was paid to Flynn that later caused him to

retroactively register as an agent of a foreign power after he was fired

from the White House as national security adviser.  The guy who paid Flynn

that money has his own business history in Russia as reported by

“Politico,” including at least one financing deal that was personally

approved by Vladimir Putin. 

 

This is an interesting thing about the Flynn story, right?  That link from

the guy who paid Flynn to his Russian business dealings that personally

involved Putin, does that mean that the money that was used to pay national

security advisor Mike Flynn might have its origins in Russia, while Russia

at that very time was also attacking the U.S. election to help Trump win? 

 

That`s the question.  People who are trying to figure out the Trump-Russia

story by following the money, that`s what makes this whole question red

hot.  That`s why this is so important.  The prospect that when Flynn was

being paid during the campaign, there is – this possibility has been

raised that maybe who was paying Flynn, maybe the source of his foreign

money were the same people who were attacking the election on Trump`s

behalf. 

 

I mean, it`s a red hot question and it`s an important question particularly

as there is this new observable phenomenon in Washington, D.C. where

Republicans in positions of authority who find themselves getting up close

and personal to the Flynn side of the Trump-Russia investigation, those

Republicans keep poofing.  They keep finding reasons to absent themselves

from the investigations. 

 

Congressman Devin Nunes got the hearing cancelled where Sally Yates was

going to testify in open session as to what the Justice Department

discovered about Mike Flynn and what they told the White House about Mike

Flynn, Devin Nunes canceled that hearing and he got himself kicked off that

investigation entirely, whew. 

 

Then, Congressman Jason Chaffetz, his committee turned up new information

about Mike Flynn not disclosing the money he took from foreign sources. 

Before that could go any further, Jason Chaffetz announced that he was

quitting Congress, and that even more unexpectedly, he up and left town

without any warning to go get foot surgery for an old injury and said he

wouldn`t be back for weeks. 

 

Then„ right after that, the day after it was made public that the

Department of Defense inspector general was undertaking its own independent

investigation of Mike Flynn and those foreign payments, the day after that,

the attorney general of the United States, Jeff Sessions, announced for the

first time that he was out of this, too, that he would recuse himself from

any Justice Department investigation that touched on Mike Flynn. 

 

Something about the investigation into Mike Flynn that makes Republicans

turn tail and run away from these investigations.  Like the question of

Mike Flynn and particularly these foreign payments appears to just make

Republicans faint. 

 

And that makes the question of Flynn`s foreign payments very interesting. 

I mean, it is extraordinary enough the national security advisor was fired. 

It`s extraordinary enough that the national security advisor was fired for

lying about his contacts with the foreign government.  It is extraordinary

enough he did not report his payments from foreign sources on his security

clearance application. 

 

It is extraordinary enough as NBC News reported Friday night that the Trump

transition knew about Mike Flynn`s foreign payments and they hired him as

national security advisor anyway.  It is extraordinary enough that the

sitting attorney general and the sitting vice president, who was head of

the transition, they both now deny there was any way they could have known

about those foreign payments to Mike Flynn at the time.  Even though it`s

clear the White House and transition absolutely did know about those

foreign payments to Mike Flynn at the time. 

 

I mean, the whole thing is extraordinary enough already, even before you

get to the question of whether or not the foreign payments that came to

Mike Flynn during the campaign might have come from Putin connected

sources. 

 

Now, the guy who paid Mike Flynn denies that the money came from Putin

connected sources, although he himself has had Russian business dealings

directly with Vladimir Putin.  The link between that guy, the guy who paid

Flynn and the Siberian Energy guy is through a couple of D.C.-based

nonprofit groups that lobby on Turkish interests.  Both of these men have

loose ties to those Turkish organizations, both of them deny having played

a key role in founding them. 

 

The ex-Siberian Energy Group CEO denies any connection to Flynn, denies any

connection to the man who paid Flynn.  He denied having anything to do with

Vladimir Putin.  He also tells us he doesn`t want anybody to think of him

as a Russian-linked oligarch.  That said, he was the CEO of an oil and gas

exploration company with extensive holdings in Russia. 

 

And even as his lawyers wrote to us to convey his denials and to tell us

that his company`s exclusive contact with the Russian government was just

bidding at a public auction, they left out from their defiant lawyer letter

to us all the stuff from this is old bio-on his Siberian energy company

website about all the years he spent working with the Russian government,

including the part where he literally brags about his, quote, “extensive

ties” to Russia`s business community as well as federal government and

regional authorities. 

 

So, whether or not he is ultimately going to turn out to be tied to these

payments to Mike Flynn as “Politico” suggested and we talked about last

week, he says he`s not.  His denial to “Politico” and now to us he has any

connections whatsoever to the Putin government, his denial to us that he

has any connections to the Putin government is a little bit undercut by his

previous public boasting about his extensive ties to the Putin government. 

 

So, the Mike Flynn story kind of pulls it as red hot at the center of this

bullseye.  And the official story about it is getting more and more

upsetting to more and more people.  And we`re hearing about it in more and

more different kinds of ways every day.  But the central story of what

happened to Mike Flynn and where that money came from and why he was paid

and who he told about it and how it affected his employment at the White

House and how the White House responded when they were told what they were

told about his contacts with foreign government and Russian officials –

none of that, none of the official version of that makes any sense yet. 

 

FBI Director James Comey testified to the Senate today that he was

nauseated by the knowledge that the election result in our presidential

election might have been affected by his choice to talk before the election

about the FBI investigation into Hillary Clinton`s e-mail server and his

choice to not talk until after the election about the FBI`s counter-

intelligence investigation into the Trump campaign and the possibility that

they colluded with the Russian attack. 

 

Tomorrow, James Comey and Mike Rogers will testify behind closed doors to

the House Intelligence Committee.  That`s the Intelligence Committee

investigation from which Chairman Nunes has now been recused. 

 

Then, on Monday, there will be another open hearing in the Senate.  That

one will involve Sally Yates who`s fired by the Trump White House for

refusing to defend the Muslim ban in court, just a couple of days after she

went to the White House to tell them about Mike Flynn`s contacts with the

Russian government, and the fact that he was lying about those contacts and

was thereby potentially vulnerable to Russian blackmail.  That Mike Flynn

issue is what she is going to be testifying about in the Senate on Monday. 

 

And depending on how that hearing goes, maybe we will learn more at that

hearing about the murky origins of the foreign funding that went to Michael

Flynn during the campaign while Russia was attacking our election on behalf

about in the Senate on Monday.  Depending how that hearing goes maybe we

will learn more at that hearing about the murky origins of the foreign

funding that went to Michael Flynn during the campaign while Russia was

attacking our election on behalf of Trump`s interests.  Maybe we`ll hear

more about why the White House story about that money and Michael Flynn

just doesn`t add up. 

 

If we do get closer to the truth on that and to figuring out why the White

House has not been telling the truth about that thus far, I fully expect we

will see at least one more D.C. Republican faint from the shock, thus

requiring him or her to be immediately excused from this investigation.  At

that point, I will also fully expect more threatening letters from lawyers. 

 

Even so, we will stay on it, no matter what, I promise. 

 

But, today, we also got a grand new display how the Trump party will fight

against the Trump-Russia investigation. 

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

SEN. CHUCK GRASSLEY (R-IA), JUDICIARY COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN:  So, where is all

this speculation about collusion coming from?  In January, “BuzzFeed”

published a dossier spinning wild conspiracy theories about the Trump

campaign.  “BuzzFeed” acknowledged that the claims were unverified and some

of the details were clearly wrong.  “BuzzFeed” has since been sued for

publishing them.  Since then, much of the dossier has been proven wrong and

many of his outlandish claims have failed to gain traction. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MADDOW:  Republican Senator Chuck Grassley today trying to make the annual

FBI oversight hearing this year focus on what he`s now characterizing as a

scandal, the fact the FBI has used the dossier, the intelligence gathered

by former MI6 agent Christopher Steele as part of its Trump investigation. 

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

GRASSLEY:  The public needs to know what role the dossier has played and

where it came from.  We need to know more about it, how much the FBI relied

on it.  According to press reports, the FBI has relied on the document to

testify its current investigation.  There have been reports the FBI agreed

to pay the author of the dossier. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MADDOW:  The author of the dossier is someone who does have a longstanding

relationship with the FBI.  He was a key investigator who worked with the

FBI on investigation that led to multiple arrests and multiple indictments

of international soccer executives in the global FIFA corruption scandal. 

Remember that?  The big soccer scandal? 

 

This, of course, is a scandal that happened all over the world, but it was

substantially prosecuted here in the United States the least soccer major -

- least soccer crazy major country that there is – was prosecuted here

because the FBI and the U.S. Justice Department nailed the corruption in

that multibillion dollar organization, in significant part because the FBI

worked with MI6 agent Christopher Steele to do it.

 

Well, the Republican Party has just taken a turn on the Trump Russia

investigation.  They have decided to defend against the Trump Russia

investigation by attacking Christopher Steele and by attacking the FBI for

working once again with this British intelligence officer with whom the FBI

has had a longstanding and productive intelligence relationship, that in

the past has led to very high profile criminal indictments. 

 

But in order to make that turn, in order to try to discredit and turn

against the Trump-Russia investigation on this basis, Republicans have

really got to reach, because actually, since the dossier came out, piece

after piece of it have been corroborated by the free press, which is very

inconvenient for them for this argument, right?  I mean, here`s CNN, “U.S.

investigators corroborate some aspects of the Russia dossier.”  Here`s the

BBC, “Trump Russia dossier key claim `verified`.” 

 

One of the claims in the dossier was a Trump advisor`s trip to Moscow

during the campaign.  It was the Trump campaign itself verified that one. 

 

“The New York Times” reported that key American allies, including the

British and the Dutch corroborated the information about Trump campaign

figures having meetings during the campaign with Russian officials.  CNN

reported parts of this dossier passed muster even in federal court when the

dossier was used in part to justify a secret FISA court warrant for U.S.

surveillance on a Trump campaign advisor. 

 

So, it`s going to be an uphill battle for Republicans to try to make the

pivot on this, right, to try to denounce and defend against the whole

Trump-Russia investigation as if it is somehow tainted or suspicious

because it includes this dossier. 

 

The Republican claim today was that the dossier has been increasingly

discredited.  That`s not true in terms of the public record about the

dossier.  In fact, it`s quite the opposite.  As time goes on, more and more

pieces do get independently corroborated. 

 

But that`s apparently what they decided on.  And in fact, what has to be

one of the greatest political smoke bombs of all time, the Republicans

today started today to claim the dossier itself – the claim that there was

collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians, Republicans started

to claim today that that claim itself is a Russian op. 

 

What?  That`s what they`re going to say now. 

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA:  Are you familiar with Fusion? 

 

JIM COMEY, FBI DIRECTOR:  I know the name. 

 

GRAHAM:  OK.  Are they part of the Russian intelligence apparatus? 

 

COMEY:  I can`t say. 

 

GRAHAM:  OK.  Do you agree with me that if Fusion was involved with

preparing a dossier against Trump, that would be interfering in our

election by the Russians? 

 

COMEY:  I don`t want to say.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MADDOW:  The FBI director does not want to say anything, anything at all

about the Trump-Russia investigation in open, unclassified session, but the

Republicans on the committee want to let you know that their new defense

against the Trump-Russia investigation is that the Trump-Russia

investigation is a Russian operation, which is amazing.  But that really is

what they started arguing publicly today. 

 

On Monday, next week, Lindsey Graham will be the one chairing that

committee hearing in the Senate where Sally Yates is due to testify about

what she and the Justice Department found out about Mike Flynn and his

foreign contacts and his foreign conversation and how the White House

handled that information. 

 

Lindsey Graham also apparently invited former Obama National Security

Advisor Susan Rice to testify at that same hearing because why just have

the hearing on the Trump-Russia investigation when you can also muddy the

waters with the president`s claims that the Obama administration was

secretly wiretapping Trump Tower and Susan Rice must have been up to no

good. 

 

Susan Rice is declining to testify at that hearing on Monday.  She called

the request a diversion from what is supposedly the topic of the hearing,

the Trump campaign and Russia.  She also noted that the invitation came

just from the Republican side of that committee, and the ranking Democrat

of the committee, Sheldon Whitehouse, backed her up on that, saying it was

not actually a bipartisan request for her to come testify and he said he

supports her decision to say no. 

 

So, there`s a lot going on right now.  There`s a lot going on even just in

Washington right now.  The House vote on repealing Obamacare is likely to

take place sometime early tomorrow, early to midday tomorrow.  We have the

latest on that coming up next. 

 

The Trump administration may also be about to lose yet another senior

nominee for the new administration.  This is somebody who replaced their

previous nominee.  They may be losing their new nominee for that same job

as well.  That story ahead tonight as well. 

 

But on the Trump Russia investigation, all of a sudden, we are in full

pushback mode in terms of the other side of this.  The smoke bombs are

flying, counter-allegations and diversions are flying, Republicans with

ambitions are jumping out of the investigation anywhere they can, the

lawyer letters are coming down like rain. 

 

This is a new phase of this game here.  This took a turn today. 

Republicans are no longer just saying if Trump and Russia colluded, that`s

a serious thing, that`s a game changer, we need to get to the bottom of it. 

Now, they are starting to push back on the very concept of this being

investigated.  This took a turn today.  Everybody, on your toes now.

 

We`ll be right back.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

MADDOW:  At the end of this week, Congress leaves for 11 days off.  An 11-

day weekend, yeah.  That`s the only thing that`s ever made me want to run

for Congress.  I`m never going to want to run for Congress. 

 

But, still, think about it – 11-day weekend.  And it`s not even like for a

thing.  It`s just, why do we have an 11-day weekend?

 

Before their next taxpayer-funded vacation.  The question is, will House

Republicans try again for a third time to kill Obamacare?  Tonight, we

learned that the answer is very likely yes. 

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

NBC NEWS:  Going forward tomorrow? 

 

REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA), HOUSE MAJORITY LEADER:  We`re going tomorrow,

yes, we are. 

 

NBC NEWS:  Do you have the votes? 

 

MCCARTHY:  Yes, we do. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MADDOW:  Yes, we do.  Yes, we have the votes.

 

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy telling NBC News tonight that

Republicans think they do have the votes to kill the Affordable Care Act. 

Congressman McCarthy said the vote is expected to occur between 12:30 and

1:00 p.m. Eastern Time tomorrow. 

 

But I would caution that that is probably subject to change depending on

how confident they are in vote total and where they are in their twisting

of arms. 

 

Now, one remarkable thing about this planned vote, they are not going to

get the bill scored before they vote on it.  You might remember that the

last time they tried to appeal Obamacare, the CBO score came back and said

that the Republican bill would result in 24 million Americans losing health

insurance. 

 

And that`s kind of a hard thing to sell, right?  So, that effort failed

very shortly after the score came in.  But now, they`re going back at it. 

And in order to win over more conservative votes, they`ve actually made the

bill even more draconian this time, raising the possibility that when the

score does come in on this one, we could be looking at even more than 24

million Americans losing their health insurance because of this iteration

of the Republican bill. 

 

But the Republicans apparently learned their lesson.  They have decided to

solve that particularly problem this time by just not waiting for the score

before they go ahead and vote on this version of the bill. 

 

This new version of the bill allows individual states to opt out of the

coverage requirements that were mandated by the Affordable Care Act.  And

that sounds boring.  But what it means is, if you`ve got a preexisting

condition of any kind, get ready to go back to the time when you can be

denied health insurance for that, or at least charged more for your

coverage. 

 

Reacting to tonight`s announcement of a vote, House Democratic Leader Nancy

Pelosi said, quote, “Tomorrow, House Republicans are going to tattoo this

moral monstrosity to their foreheads and the American people will hold them

accountable.”

 

Assuming the Republicans are right and they do have the votes to pass

healthcare tomorrow, constituents will have immediately 11 days at home

with their member of Congress starting the end of the week to start that

holding accountable process. 

 

Joining us now is Jonathan Chait from “New York Magazine”.  He`s the author

of “Audacity: How Barack Obama  Defied His Critics and Created a Legacy

That Will Prevail.”

 

Mr. Chait, it`s nice to see you.  Thank you for being here. 

 

JONATHAN CHAIT, NEW YORK MAGAZINE WRITER:  Thank you so much for having me. 

 

MADDOW:  Is the Affordable Care Act going to be a legacy that will prevail? 

They seem closer than ever right now to killing it. 

 

CHAIT:  They are, although the Senate is not going to pass the bill going

into the House tomorrow.  And it`s not clear they will pass anything, and

whatever they do, if anything, I think is going to will be much weaker,

it`s going to leave a large chunk of the ACA`s achievements into place. 

 

But again, we`ll have to see how it plays out.  I wouldn`t rest everything

on that.  And I think you should hope that this bill fails in the House,

they don`t even get the chance.  But the House was always going to be the

easy part of this process for them. 

 

MADDOW:  Do you that the House will pass?  Do you think Kevin McCarthy is

right that whenever they put this, that, A, they will it up tomorrow and

that when they do put it up, it will be because they`ve accurately counted

the votes and it will pass? 

 

CHAIT:  I think so.  You know, they`re bad at counting votes.  I would

never stake my life on them being right on it.  I would stake my life on

Pelosi.  She would never ring up a bill where she didn`t have the votes. 

The Republicans, they lose these votes sometimes but I would bet on them

winning. 

 

MADDOW:  In terms of the political fallout of this, one of the things we`ve

seen, Jon, is the home state resistance to this specific thing that the

Republicans are doing right now.  And it resulted in Republicans not just

moderate and swing state Republicans, but Republicans of every stripe sort

of being a little shaken in their conviction that they thought this I

think, previously, it might have been an easy vote, that Republicans have

been saying for six or seven years that they wanted to repeal Obamacare and

they`ve been voting impotently to do that over and over again while they

were in opposition.  But the home state dynamics, the home district

dynamics changed since they`ve actually had the power to do it.  What

happens to that now? 

 

CHAIT:  That`s a great question.  Just like you say, I think they really

sort of sold themselves.  They drank their own Kool-Aid on this.  They

convinced themselves the bill was unpopular, would always be unpopular, no

one really benefitted from it.  And then they came face-to-face with all

kinds of people who are benefitting from it. 

 

Obamacare became popular and their bill was below 20 percent.  And that was

before they took out the most popular part that was still in the bill.  It

was at 20 percent and it still protected people with preexisting

conditions, at least on paper.  Now, they`re vulnerable to say, now, you

know, insurance companies can discriminate against people who get sick. 

 

So, I think they just decided their political interest lies in being seen

as strong.  The worst thing for them is to be seen as failing.  And then,

that overrides any of the specifics of this really terrible piece of

legislation. 

 

MADDOW:  To be clear, Jon, just on that last point, on preexisting

conditions, obviously, that is a heartrending thing for all sorts of

people.  You watch those confrontations to people and their member of

Congress, and it`s people who, you know, are born with genetic disorders,

people who have cancer.  It`s people who have every gamut, run the entire

gamut of things that could have gone wrong in their life through no fault

of their own that make people insurable or  that make their insurance

absolutely unaffordable. 

 

The Republicans all day long today have been saying, “We fixed that, we`re

taking account of that.  We know you like that in Obamacare and we`re

keeping that here.”

 

They`ve been saying that from President Trump to Paul Ryan all the way on

down.  What`s the rebuttal to that and will this actually be one of those

alternative facts fights where nobody agrees on what`s really in the bill? 

 

CHAIT:  Right.  Well, it will be to some extent.  And their solution is

shunt people into preexisting conditions special pools that only sell

policies to people who are very sick.  But those pools have never worked. 

They`ve always been, number one, underfunded.  They have a small number of

people and they have terrible limits.  They have limits who can get in and

how much money can be spent on them and there`s waiting lists and all kinds

of problems, and they just don`t nearly enough money to make that any kind

of workable solution. 

 

So, the two sides will argue about whether it works.  But people are

cynical about Washington and I think people aren`t going to believe the

Republicans when they say they`re going to take care of sick people because

people don`t believe the Republicans like to do things like that because

they don`t. 

 

MADDOW:  Jonathan Chait, “New York Magazine” writer in Washington with us

tonight, thanks, Jon.  Appreciate it you being here.

 

CHAIT:  OK, thank you.

 

MADDOW:  All right.  Again, in terms of timing there, the Republicans are

saying that vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act will happen between

12:30, 1:30 Eastern Time tomorrow.  Do expect that that might change,

though.  They are close in terms of their votes here.  They are not good at

counting their votes, which we`ve seen multiple times.  And as soon as they

think they have got it, you can expect them under the rules to rush it to

the floor at a moment`s notice. 

 

So, a lot of people are going to be on the tenterhooks overnight and

through the early morning tomorrow.

 

Stay with us. 

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

MADDOW:  We have couple different presidential versions of signing things

now.  We have three versions actually if you count the one where the

president signs your hat and then tosses it to other people in the crowd. 

No, no, you were supposed to give it back to me. 

 

When it comes to signing government business this president likes to make a

show of it.  He likes to have cameras, likes to have a crowd around to

watch.  He likes to hold up the big executive order in the menu thing and

show off his signature.  Look, would you like the Chianti?  Would you like

the claret? 

 

And then, sometimes, he doesn`t like to do it that way at all.  Sometimes

he likes to sign things but not make a big show of it, like, for example,

when he is making it`s easier for seriously mentally ill people to buy

guns, or when he tries again to pass another Muslim ban after the first one

got stopped in the courts.  These kinds of signings he tends to do without

a crowd and without a menu.  He does them behind closed doors, no cameras,

no showing off the signature, just get it done, ship it out later, post it

on the website. 

 

We`re waiting to see which version of the presidential signing might happen

tomorrow when reportedly the president is going to sign at least one, maybe

two, new executive orders.  The first one to allow churches and religious

groups to endorse candidates, to overtly get involved in politics without

endangering their tax-exempt status.  This is something that the religious

right has been fighting for, for a very long time now.  There are First

Amendment worries this is basically a way to turn churches into dark money

laundering institutions for campaigns and candidates. 

 

The second executive order rumored to be on the president`s desk for

tomorrow is a sweeping executive order.  They`re calling it a Religious

Liberty Executive Order.  The bottom line of which would be that it would

make it easier to discriminate or cut off coverage for contraception. 

 

If you`re having deja vu right now about forthcoming religious freedom

order, it`s because we`ve seen this before.  In February, a draft of this

supposed executive order in the works was leaked.  Even though it was

leaked though, it basically disappeared thereafter.  And if you believe the

contemporaneous reporting, the folks we can reportedly thank for

disappearing it back in February are Ivanka Trump and her husband, Jared

Kushner. 

 

Quote, “Mr. Kushner, a life-long Democrat, and Ms. Trump, an independent,

travel in liberal social circles and have long supported LGBT rights and

neither had seen the order before details were leaked, and expressed their

dissatisfaction to Mr. Trump`s other advisors and then weighed indirectly

with the president,” and then it was gone. 

 

Until now, when it is possibly back and he`s going to sign it tomorrow. 

 

I mean, from the outside, it can be hard to know whether the president`s

daughter and her husband are pulling the president anywhere because the

whole time they have been this supposedly moderating influence in the

administration, the administration has been doing a lot of things that

don`t seem all that moderate, right?  I mean, the Justice Department rolled

back protections for transgender kids in school.  President Trump`s nominee

to be the next army secretary has a history of making super anti-gay and

anti-trans comments.  And the now, the future of his confirmation is in

question.

 

The president`s pick to head up public affairs and messaging at the

Department of Health and Human Services is a long-time anti-abortion

activist who maintains abortion gives you breast cancer.  The person he has

put in charge of the federal government`s family planning efforts says she

does not believe contraception works.  She`ll now be in charge of

contraception for the federal government. 

 

Ivanka Trump and her husband have reportedly been lobbying the president to

make sure the United States stays in the Paris climate change agreement. 

It`s looking more likely each and every day that the president will choose

to exit the Paris climate agreement anyway. 

 

So, where is this moderating influence manifest?  Does it exist?  How does

it work on a daily basis out of sight in the White House if it is working? 

And if it is working, how would we know?  What should we watch for? 

 

We`re going to have somebody here on this show next who actually knows the

answer to that question.  Stay with us.  

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

MADDOW:  Quote, “The two trade thoughts from morning until late at night,

according to aides.” 

 

Quote, “Even though she has no government or policy experience, she plans

to review some executive orders before they are signed, according to White

House officials.  Some earlier orders have set off a firestorm.”

 

Quote, “She calls cabinet officials on issues she is interesting in,

recently asking the United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley about getting

humanitarian aid into Syria.  She set up a weekly meeting with Steven

Mnuchin, the treasury secretary.”

 

And she tells “The New York Times”, quote, “I`m still at the early stages

of learning how everything works.  But I know enough now to be a much more

proactive White House.”

 

It`s one thing to think about it from her perspective.  Think about that

from the perspective of the other people who work in the White House,

having your boss`s daughter set a weekly meeting with you when your boss is

the president of the United States.  This is not something there is much

precedent for in American history. 

 

There are not many, if any people, who cabinet members can call to get

advice on, right?  What`s the precedent in American history?  And are any

of those people able to comment on how you say no to the president`s

daughter? 

 

Just one of the many brand new worlds we have stepped into for this

administration. 

 

Joining us now is Jodi Kantor, one of the people who wrote this jaw-

dropping piece for the “New York Times”, someone who has been given access

to the first daughter. 

 

Jodi, it`s great to have you here.  Thank you for being here. 

 

JODI KANTOR, NEW YORK TIMES REPORTER:  Thank you so much. 

 

MADDOW:  We have interesting reporting about the White House sending their

kind of minders out into the agencies.  They sent somebody from the

campaign to the EPA.  They sent somebody to Steve Mnuchin`s office. 

There`s funny reporting about how the agencies were like annoyed.  The guy

at the EPA piped up too much at the meetings, and they wouldn`t let him

come to anything anymore.  Steve Mnuchin put his minder in the basement of

the Treasury. 

 

If a person in the federal government does not want to be working with

Ivanka Trump, does not want her making decisions in her area of expertise,

how is that handle?  She`s such a different kind of senior advisor? 

 

KANTOR:  So, when we saw her last week in the White House she`s open about

the fact that she really doesn`t know government, that she`s a newcomer in

Washington, that she doesn`t have legislative experience, et cetera, et

cetera, et cetera. 

 

So, I think on the one hand it could be very disconcerting with somebody

with really no subject matter experience, 35 years old, is sort of asking

you very consequential questions about your job.  On the other hand, I

think it honestly could be helpful because I think if you want to have

influence with the president, get through to his daughter could be very

effective for cabinet secretaries. 

 

MADDOW:  Or the opposite.  I mean, right?  If you can`t get along with his

35-year-old daughter – 

 

KANTOR:  Sure.

 

MADDOW:  – who has no subject matter expertise, who comes to this with an

inherited real estate business background in jewelry marketing and all this

stuff, and she doesn`t like your idea for the Federal Reserve restructuring

or something, I mean, that – she`ll never be fired. 

 

KANTOR:  She will never be fired. 

 

I think one of the big questions here is what the accountability level is

with both Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner.  For most senior White House

staff, if you don`t do a good job however you define good job, the

president let`s you go either gently or harshly or whatever.  The

likelihood that Ivanka Trump or Jared Kushner will ever be treated that way

seems very, very small. 

 

You know, what we were really struck by in our visits with her were the

lack of parameters on her portfolio.  It`s really wide-ranging.  She did

not appear to see any limits on sort of what subject matter she would deal

with.  I thought part of this sort of headline of our story was that she

was going to review executive orders before they were signed. 

 

MADDOW:  To see if she thought they were a good idea?  I mean, to what end? 

 

KANTOR:  Well, part of this is a reaction to Bannon, right?  Part of it is

sort of like her presenting herself as the anti-Bannon in the White House. 

 

She was pretty open with us about the idea that she is there to be a kind

of moderating force.  She said, look, even if I can`t kill certain

policies, even if I can`t stop certain things, I can sand down the edges of

these policies. 

 

So, we said, OK, please give us examples because if we`re going to

represent that in the “New York Times”, we really need to know what you`re

talking about.  She said, oh, no, no, no.  I can`t because my influence is

contingent on me doing it silently.  If I went out and spoke out against

what the administration is doing, I would not be able to be effective with

my father. 

 

So, the thing people say is kind of unique in the Ivanka Trump-Donald Trump

relationship is that apparently, she is able to give him criticism.  This

is not a president who is very open to criticism at all.

 

Probably one of the most interesting moments in our reporting was Maggie

Haberman and I were on the phone with Jared Kushner talking about this. 

And we asked him to describe the interactions in the West Wing between the

president and Ivanka Trump.  And he said they go into the Oval Office

together and talk.  They`re alone together. 

 

His implication and other aides supported this was that basically nobody

really knows what`s going on there in between father and daughter. 

 

MADDOW:  And if she`s the only person who can criticize her father, she`s

the only person who can deliver a no or a sharp criticism to her dad, that

makes it really important that we know if she`s getting good information,

if she has true beliefs about the world, if she has conflicts of interest

that are driving her to advise her father in a way that aren`t in the

country`s best interests.  I mean, what do we know about what she knows and

where she comes from? 

 

KANTOR:  So, she describes herself as a not particularly ideological

person, as kind of a pro-business, socially liberal moderate.  That`s an

important question and the other important question is, is she really able

to challenge her father?  With that, we kind of went to biography, right? 

Because there are no answers in the White House, this is only her second

week in the West Wing. 

 

So, we took a look at kind of her lifelong trajectory.  This is not a kid

who has ever really distanced herself from or visibly challenged her

father.  Plenty of people grow up and have a moment when they say to their

parents, I`m not like you in some way, I`m going to live my life

differently, I`m going on my own path.  Ivanka Trump did not have that. 

She kind of nestled within the Trump family brand, the Trump family name.

 

Even her own company which, by the way, is interesting in terms of what

we`re talking about as well.  It was sort of adjacent to the Trump

organization. 

 

(CROSSTALK)

 

MADDOW:  She used their payroll and internal resources.  She essentially

set herself up as a part of the Trump Organization, in what is supposedly

an independent business environment. 

 

I mean, I struggle with this because I`m not a biography-driven political

analyst, like I don`t believe you can look into anybody`s eyes or look into

their biography or look at their parents and determine – you know, divine

whether or not they`re good for the country or not.  Like I tend to believe

you have to judge people by their actions, not who they are. 

 

And with her, she has no overt actions.  With Jared Kushner, he has no

overt actions other than what they have done in the business world.  And

what Ivanka Trump has done in the business world, I mean, she`s supposedly

the champion of women`s rights, like you document how she wasn`t offering

maternity leave, she wasn`t offering benefit packages, she wasn`t doing

anything that would have marked her as some sort of feminist, or somebody

who cared about gender issues in the only thing she`s ever done which is

run a subsidiary business of her dad`s organization. 

 

KANTOR:  So, I want to tell you a story reported by my colleague, Rachel

Abrams.  We did exactly what you said.  We said, let`s look back at her

support for women`s issues, she`s saying that she wants gender her thing in

the White House, that she`s going to fight for family leave, for paid

childcare. 

 

And, by the way, I want to stipulate there are a lot of people out there

who want paid family leave and affordable childcare by any means necessary. 

They do not care who passes it. 

 

So, the question here I think is, does she believe in it and can she

execute it, right? 

 

MADDOW:  Does she get it?

 

KANTOR:  Or does she have the legislative skills to move on something like

this?

 

So, we went back and looked at her first issue – first interest in gender

issues.  What it was is that when she launched her own kind of apparel

brand and other brands, she wanted to become more relatable to regular

women, and so, she launched this sort of Women Who Work initiative.  The

Sheryl Sandberg book had just come out, these ideas were very popular. 

 

But it was really a branding campaign.

 

MADDOW:  Yes.

 

KANTOR:  It was a hashtag. 

 

And, as you say, behind the scenes, she initially had not offered maternity

leave to her employees who wanted it.  She later came up with a plan.  And

this hashtag didn`t involve any policy, there wasn`t like some great

philanthropic activity. 

 

MADDOW:  Advocacy agenda? 

 

KANTOR:  Yes, exactly.  It really had nothing to do with improving women`s

lives in a substantive way, it was about the image of being a contemporary

working woman. 

 

MADDOW:  Yes, aligning herself with that as an idea for branding purposes. 

 

KANTOR:  It`s – 

 

MADDOW:  Literally for branding purposing. 

 

KANTOR:  It`s just an incredibly curious trajectory from feminism as kind

of marketing campaign to supposedly feminist policy.  One really striking

thing, by the way, about her with our encounter with her in the White

House, is that some of her words sounded so surprisingly like Hillary

Clinton`s. 

 

A lot of the classic Clintonisms don`t belong to Hillary only.  When, you

know, people talk about wanting to empower women, obviously, that`s very

broad language.  But some of the things she said about the way women could

power the economy and how women had to live up to their full economic

potential, it was – the language was so close that I think the skeptical

question there is, is she trying to appropriate Clintonism, even though, of

course, Hillary Clinton has been an advocate for women her entire life? 

And is – are people going to be happy with that? 

 

For people who are really upset that Clinton lost, is Ivanka`s work on

gender in the White House going to be at all a satisfying substitute? 

 

MADDOW:  Particularly as, you know, contraception coverage is going to get

gutted tomorrow by this executive order that her dad is about to sign. 

 

It`s a fascinating – again, biographical approaches to this kind of stuff,

is not usually the way I approach these things.  But with the children as

presidential advisers, it`s the only way in.

 

Jodi Kantor, co-author of this remarkable new piece on Ivanka Trump in “The

New York Times” – it`s great to see, my friend. 

 

KANTOR:  Thanks.

 

MADDOW:  Thanks. 

 

We`ll be right back.  Stay with us. 

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

MADDOW:  So, this new administration famously is having trouble filling a

lot of key positions.  There are hundreds of Senate confirmable senior

positions for which they not only don`t have someone in place yet, they

haven`t even nominated anyone yet. 

 

Well, tonight we can report that in one of the major senior jobs in the

government that already had its first nominee pulled and replaced, we can

report tonight that the replacement nominee now looks like he too may be

about to get yanked.  This is a very important senior job.  They really

cannot afford this. 

 

But that story is next. 

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

MADDOW:  This is Tennessee State Senator Mark Green.  Until recently, he

was running for governor in Tennessee.  But he quit that race because he

got a better gig. 

 

Donald Trump nominated him to be the new secretary of the United States

Army.  That nomination coming after the first Trump nominee for that job

dropped out amid conflict of interest concerns and after news that he

recently punched a guy out at an expensive horse auction.  Huh?  I know. 

It`s kind of weird. 

 

But now, it looks like Trump`s Plan B pick to be secretary of the army

looks like he may be in serious trouble as well.  Since he was tapped for

this gig last month, his past public statements have made for fun reading. 

 

Mark Green, for example, has said that being transgender is a disease.  He

has said the reason more Latinos are registering to vote in his state is

because they are, quote, “being bussed here probably.” 

 

He has been an outspoken crusader against evolution, which he destroys in

arguments with – he destroys in arguments with metaphors like these. 

Quote, “If you put a lawnmower out in your yard and 100 years come back,

it`s rusted and falling apart.  You can`t put parts out there and 100 years

later, it`s going to come back together.”  Boom, evolution, dead. 

 

But the pressure against his nomination is now mounting on Capitol Hill. 

Reporting today is he may be withdrawing from consideration any minute now. 

Senator John McCain heads up the Senate Armed Services Committee that will

have to sign off on and approve his nomination.  Senator McCain says Mark

Green`s recent comments are, quote, “very concerning.”

 

Today, Elizabeth Warren became the first member of the Armed Services

Committee to outright oppose his nomination.  The Democratic Senate Leader

Chuck Schumer also came out against him.  He`s urging colleagues on both

sides of the aisle to do the same. 

 

Mark Green, it should be noted doesn`t even yet have a date for his

confirmation hearing.  He has been put forward as the next army secretary,

but his name has not even been formally submitted to the Senate for

consideration.  With each day that goes by, and with each new revelation of

stuff he said, it`s starting to look like those formal notifications may

not end up being necessary in the end.

 

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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