Trump in China after visit to South Korea Transcript 11/8/17 The Rachel Maddow Show
Show: THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW
Date: November 8, 2017
Guest: Ned Price, Dan Rather
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBCH HOST: And thanks to you at home for joining us this
So, it has been an unexpectedly difficult year for the Republican Party
since they won complete control of Congress and the White House one year
ago today on election day last year. I mean, we`re year on from that
triumph from the Republican Party, but one year on from that election day,
Republicans in Washington have passed zero major legislation nothing,
despite controlling both Houses of Congress and the White House.
One year on, the president`s campaign chairman is out on $10 million bond
and wearing an ankle bracelet, as is another Trump campaign official who`s
out on $5 million bond and wearing an ankle bracelet. And that`s not even
counting the Trump campaign advisor who`s already pled guilty and is
cooperating with the ongoing criminal and counterintelligence investigation
of this president and his campaign and potentially of his administration.
One year on, the Republican Party is already on the hook for at least
hundreds of thousands and maybe millions of dollars in legal fees for the
president and his family. But it`s not just them, criminal defense lawyers
have been hired by everybody from the vice president to the White House
communications director, to even the White House counsel, even their
lawyers have had to get lawyers this past year.
But unlike the president and the president`s son, everybody else in the
Trump administration is having to pay for their lawyers themselves.
Just one year on from that big victory, the White House has already lost to
communications directors, a chief of staff, a deputy chief of staff, a
national security adviser, a deputy national security adviser, a press
secretary, a deputy press secretary, a chief White House strategist, a
confirmed cabinet secretary, also an FBI director, which may end up being
the most consequential loss of them all.
But while the administration has been flinging off senior officials over
the course of this past year like a big hairy dog shaking himself after a
swim, that phenomenon isn`t just limited to the Republicans in the Trump
White House. On Capitol Hill, at least serving Republican members of
Congress have resigned already or have declared that they will leave
office, including a number of committee chairs in Congress.
One year on from that big Republican victory, this president is viewed more
unfavorably by the American public than any president in the last 70 years.
And the one great hope for a Republican accomplishment in this first year
of theirs, their one great hope, tax reform, that is already hemorrhaging
even Republican support amid reports that the bill they`re advertising is a
tax cut bill will actually raise taxes on nearly half of America`s middle
The latest reports from Republicanville are that Republicans in the Senate
may not even want to try on this taxes thing anymore, at least not anytime
So, that`s been the year they have had in power. It`s been 365 days. It`s
been one year since they won. That`s what happened since they won.
The biggest parliamentary wonder in Washington is who else is going to get
arrested. They`ve accomplished nothing in terms of holding the reins of
power in government, right?
Given those prevailing winds, you can understand why Republicans generally
might have felt disconcerted about the fact that yesterday, in states all
over the country, it was time for Americans to go to the polls again. You
can understand why Republicans might have been a little apprehensive about
yesterday being Election Day.
But their worst fears really did come true last night. They lost the
Republican super majority in Georgia. They lost legislative seats in
Georgia that they had gerrymandered to be so Republican, Democrats hadn`t
even tried to contest them as recently as last year. This year, Democrats
decided heck why not, let`s contest them anyway and the Democrats won those
Republicans lost control of the last legislative toehold they had in the
entire West Coast of the United States. Democrats now control the
governorship and the entire legislature in all of the states on the West
Coast, from the Mexican border up to Canada.
The last Republican candidate for governor in New York state lost his seat
in Westchester County, to a Democrat.
The legislature in Maine has five times voted to expand Medicaid, to get
70,000 people in Maine onto health insurance, five times they voted for it,
the Republican governor has vetoed it all five of those times. Well, last
night, it wasn`t the legislature, it was the people of Maine who voted to
do that by a huge margin. The governor up there says he`s going to try to
basically veto the people`s vote for that too, but he is going to lose that
fight and 70,000 to 80,000 people in Maine who currently do not have health
insurance are going to get it despite the best efforts of Maine
Democrats unseated Republican mayor`s in cities like Manchester, New
Hampshire, and Fayetteville, North Carolina. In Brook Park, Ohio, the
mayor there had switched to the Republican Party and endorsed Trump for the
election last year, that mayor lost his seat last night in Ohio, to an
independent who`s a union auto worker in the UAW.
Republicans also lost the governorship last night in New Jersey. New
Jersey`s Trump supporting Republican Governor Chris Christie will leave
office as the least popular governor not just in the history of New Jersey,
he`ll leave office as the least popular governor in the history of polling
the approval ratings of governor`s in any state.
Christie`s lieutenant governor got trounced last night. Democrats returned
to control in New Jersey.
And speaking of New Jersey, just for good measure, the Trump supporting
city councilor who posted this online on inauguration weekend this year, it
says, will the women – will the woman`s protest be over in time for them
to cook dinner? The city councilman in New Jersey who posted that lost his
seat last night to a Democratic woman Ashley Bennett, who was 32 years old,
who has never run for office before but who found something inspiring in
the way this year is gone in America, and presumably should be on something
inspiring as well in the character of her local officials, one of whom she
has now retired whereupon hopefully he may learn to feed himself.
The biggest loss of the night for Republicans was and they lost the
governor`s race in Virginia. Democrat Ralph Northam beating Republican Ed
Gillespie easily. And, yes, that means a Democrat is just succeeding as a
Democrat as governor of Virginia, but when Terry McAuliffe won that
governor`s race four years ago in Virginia, he won places like Loudoun
County and Prince William County by single digits. Last night, Ralph
Northam won those counties by more than 20 points. He won by nine points
overall. He won by more than any Democratic governor has won in a
When the polls all said it was basically a toss-up that last night it was
anybody`s guess and you know when the polls are that wrong when they say
it`s going to be a time the Democrat ends up winning by nine points the way
polls are usually wrong in that way is that they miss turnout because they
miss enthusiasm. And I don`t know if Democratic enthusiasm was motivated
by Ralph Northam being at the top of the ticket or not, but Democrats
nearly/maybe taking the state legislature last night in Virginia, that is
something that really nobody thought was possible.
So, in Virginia, they`ve got a state senate and a state house. The state
senate wasn`t up last night, but this was the partisan balance in the
house, in the statehouse heading into last night`s voting. The House of
Delegates, 66 Republicans and 34 Democrats heading into last night. That
means Republicans would have to lose 16 seats they currently hold to their
Democratic opponents for the Democrats to take control.
The last time they – 16 seats, come on, that`s ridiculous. Last time
Democrats picked up more than one seat in the House of Delegates in a
single election was a decade ago and that one they only swung four seats.
I mean, Democrats as recently as last week in Virginia we`re saying if they
picked up six seats or eight seats, they would see that as a huge victory,
is a huge validation of their strategy. The most optimistic, naive
Democratic activists were aiming at 10 seats as their dream pick up last
Well, they took at least seats last night. The Democratic Party in
Virginia is claiming they actually took 16, but 15 right now looks like a
safe call with probably four seats going to a runoff.
So, this was just an unimaginably good night for Democrats in the sense
that nobody he predicted that it was possible Democrats could take that
legislature. It was an unimaginably good night for Democrats and it was
the kind of bad night that the Republican Party might have most feared,
after the kind of year that they have had since their big election day one
year ago today in 2016.
I think though that it`s worth seeing this as more than just a pendulum
swinging back sort of thing. If you look at the specifics of what happened
last night, I think there`s a there`s something important to see about the
difference between the parties, but there`s also something important to say
about the difference in what each of the parties is trying to do right now
with Trump in the White House.
We have a major party system, we have two major parties. You`d think
they`d both be sort of approaching the same thing just from different
angles? No, they both have totally different agendas right now, and
they`re also very different animals as parties. Here`s one way to see the
difference in the parties right now. I said there are seats in Virginia
where the incumbent office holder or in the case of an open seat, the
previous office holder was a Republican. There are of those seats in
Virginia last night where the Republican lost his seat to a Democrat.
This is half of those seats. We organize them in numerical order by their
district number these are Republicans who were all turfed out last night.
Here are the Democrats who did the turfing out. As you can see it`s kind
of a different looking bunch. This giant swing to the Democrats last night
is going to make the Virginia legislature a very different place.
Here`s the other half of those Republicans who lost their seats last night.
These are Republican incumbents or in the case of open seats. The guy with
the asterisks there`s a guy – it was the last person to hold that seat,
all Republican dudes all lost their seats last night all saw them flip to
these Democratic candidates, right?
So, even before the recounts are factored in the Democrats took seats held
by Republican men last night and now, 11 of those seats will be held by
Virginia Democrats have put the first Latina candidates in their state
legislature. They`ll be seating the first openly transgender state
legislator anywhere in the country. And that kind of diversity, those
first – none of that`s a gimmick. It doesn`t appear to be the products of
some special effort on the Democrats behalf. It`s just that that`s what
happens when lots and lots of different kinds of people decide to up and
change their lives and run for office.
And that`s really, really new. That`s really important to thinking what
happened last night. This isn`t just same old Republicans versus same old
Democrats and the pendulum went Republican last time, so it`s going
Democratic this time. That`s not what happened.
That`s what it looks like sort of if you squint, you don`t pay attention to
who actually ran in who won. So, this was not bad, this was a whole new
crop of people. In the last legislative election in Virginia in 2015,
Democrats didn`t even contest enough elections in the legislature to even
try to win back the House.
Two years ago, there were these same hundred seats up, a hundred seats
available, a hundred seats in the legislature. Two years ago of those
hundred seats, Democrats only ran candidates. Last night, they ran 90.
And despite nobody in the entire state expecting it, they may have actually
won the whole legislature because of it. The Democratic leader in the
legislature told the “Richmond Times-Dispatch”, quote, the day after the
Trump election, it began raining candidates for us in Virginia.
They didn`t just have all the same old people run. They had a whole new
crop of candidates, people who became inspired, regular people, people who
didn`t previously think of themselves as politicians before this remarkable
year that we have had. Tons of people who ran for the first time last
night because they for some reason have been moved by what has happened in
this country in the past year.
And in a lot of cases, there were people who ran even when it turned out to
be really hard personally for them to run.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WENDY GOODITIS, EDUCATOR AND COMMUNITY LEADER: I had a brother who
struggled with alcoholism and PTSD for decades. I lost him in March, two
weeks after I announced for this. It was devastating and hard to go on,
but there are others like him and I intend to make sure that they have more
chances than he had.
In Virginia, we`re paying Medicaid taxes that go out of state. We are
turning away $6 million a day. We need this. We need it badly.
That money could so help the people in our state who need it, but only if
backed by a government who believes that people like my brother worth
saving and worth helping, and that`s why I`m here.
My name is Wendy Gooditis, and I`m the Democratic nominee for delegate in
Virginia House district 10.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Wendy Gooditis won that seat last night. She`s up against the
Republican incumbent we`ve been in the seat for three terms already and he
was not perceived as in danger. He won re-election in the last election by
25 points. But last night, Wendy Gooditis beat him, first time candidate.
By the way, just for reference sake, here`s Wendy Gooditis at the women`s
march last year.
And here`s Jennifer Carroll Foy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Jennifer Carroll Foy loves a challenge. She was one of the
first African-American women at VMI, first in her family to graduate from
college and law school. And in January, this public defender announced her
candidacy for a house seat that covers part of Prince William and Stafford.
She had concerns about policies she viewed as anti-women.
JENNIFER CARROLL FOY: I said, you know, why not me and if not now, when?
REPORTER: But a few weeks later, a new challenge. She learned she was
pregnant with twins. The day before the June primary, she was put on bed
rest. Her husband worked the polls for her.
FOY: My husband – I am so blessed I have a wonderful husband who really
picked up the slack and he was out there an election day for 13 hours in 93
REPORTER: Carol Foy won the Democratic Party`s nomination then, an even
bigger challenge, the babies, identical twin boys came very early. Born at
23 weeks, Alex and Xander each weighed in at a pound and a half.
FOY: I was very nervous to be honest with you, but I have I`m a woman of
extreme faith and so, I said, well, what happened will happen, but I
believe my babies are going to be born and are going to be born healthy.
And that miracles will happen here, and that`s exactly what happened.
REPORTER: The boys are now three pounds, still in the NICU though at Inova
Fairfax Hospital. That`s where Carroll Foy and her husband spend evenings
after a full day of campaigning and work. She says she never considered
dropping out of the race. She wants more women in the general assembly.
FOY: And I want to help usher in this new change where people understand
that women are multi-faceted, multi-dimensional and we can do all things
that we focus to put our minds to.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: She and her husband spent every night of the campaign in the NICU
with their premature twins who she did not know she was pregnant with until
three weeks after she declared she was running for the first time she`s
ever run for anything in her life. She was consigned to bed rest for the
primary so her husband had to take off work and show up for her that day at
Jennifer Carroll Foy last night won that race first-time candidate.
After Hillary Clinton lost the presidential election to Donald Trump last
year, young people who had worked on the Clinton campaign started a simple
group with a simple slogan it`s called run for something to get young
progressive people who`ve never run for anything before to run for
something it`s easy to remember the mission, right?
The idea was to run for something at the local level or at the state level.
Start as small as you feel you need to.
They supported ten candidates last night for the Virginia House, six of
them won. After Trump was elected last year, young Democratic
congressional staffer started a group or a really a concept called
“Indivisible” to get people to organize locally in their home districts, to
pressure their own locally elected officials to say no to the Trump agenda.
There are nearly two hundred Indivisible groups in Virginia alone. One of
those indivisible groups was started by Wendy Gooditis. Now, she`s just
been elected to a seat that may result in Virginia turning its legislature
After the presidential election last year, Bernie Sanders supporters
started out evolution to promote progressive candidates and races at every
level. Jennifer Carroll Foy is one of their candidates, so they have
bragging rights about electing today, as is Elizabeth Guzman, one of the
pioneering Latinas, who took an incumbent Republican seat in the Virginia
legislature last night as well.
And I just mentioned those few groups that have sprung up since the
election last year, in this remarkable year that we`ve had, I mentioned
those the handful of groups just because those are the ones off the top of
my head, but there are a gazillion of them. And this whole idea of
Democratic organizing over the past year hasn`t been like a theoretical
exercise this has not been political science the Democratic year of
organizing that we`ve just had has resulted in a lot of individual
Americans changing their lives and becoming political actors in ways they
never had before.
And it turns out it can be a big life upending deal for Americans to get
moved not just from citizen to voter and voter to marcher and marcher to
activists, but from activists to candidates. And sometimes after you
declare, you find out you`re pregnant and you have premature twins and
sometimes right after you declare, you lose your brother to mental illness
and PTSD, but you`re running now so that`s your life now.
And I just well – will add one last point here in terms of how this last
year has changed us as a country and has changed us as political animals.
On the Republican side, the Republicans, obviously – I mean, just don`t
make bones about it, right? The Republicans – Republican – the best way
to say this is the Republicans have the Trump issue to deal with as the
alpha and the omega of their 2017 problems.
We`re going to be talking tonight about some of the latest sworn testimony
that has just emerged in the scandal that increasingly appears to be
subsuming this presidency.
We`re going to be talking about the latest member of the Trump
administration to receive subpoenas from law enforcement.
But the Democrat – while Republicans are dealing with that very unusual
situation, for the Democrats, right, last night is the first manifestation
we`ve seen of how much Democrats have been organizing. Democrats and
progressives been organizing over the past year to run candidates, to
recruit candidates, to make people think of themselves in our political
system differently than they used to, to make people think of themselves as
political actors and not just political observers, to recruit huge new
crops of new candidates and new activists, to build new support for new
candidates in myriad grassroots ways, and to win elections because of it.
We saw that last night in spades.
But last night also showed why it is that the last Democratic president,
Barack Obama, and his former Attorney General Eric Holder have decided to
spend the last year working on something very different. What they`ve been
working on the last year is this obscure seeming thing redistricting,
right? Why did they choose that to work on in the first year of the Trump
Well, just look at Virginia. There are 11 congressional seats in Virginia.
Last November, November 2016, a year ago tonight, right, there were roughly
equal numbers of votes cast by Virginians for Democratic congressional
candidates and Republican congressional candidates.
In terms of congressional races, this night a year ago about 3.7 million
votes were cast in Virginia, and it was almost even. Democrats got a few
more. Democrats got about 16,000 more votes for congressional candidates
than Republicans did. But even despite that even vote in 2016, a vote
which actually favored Democrats a little bit. Even so, of the eleven
congressional seats in Virginia, Republicans took seven of the eleven. The
votes were even but Republicans got all the seats.
And that`s because of redistricting, gerrymandering, right? To tilt the
playing field toward Republicans even when Democrats get more votes right
that was last year last night Democrats ran the table in Virginia beyond
their wildest dreams. If you look at the votes cast for the state
legislature last night in Virginia, we`re still looking for final totals.
But from our estimates right now with what we`ve got, about 54 percent of
the votes last night will cast for Democrats in the legislature versus
about 44 percent for Republicans. That`s based on the vote totals we`ve
got so far.
But even with that Democratic advantage, that Democratic 10-point advantage
in the number of votes cast last night for the legislature, that doesn`t
necessarily translate to the Democrats taken over the legislature, and
that`s because Republicans redistricting. They redistricted the
legislature. They gerrymandered those districts so that even when
Democrats win in a landslide like they did last night, Republicans worst
nightmare, Democrats did better than they ever imagined – even on a night
like last night, Republicans maybe still hold on to control maybe. We
don`t know yet, I`ve got to see about the recounts.
This is how well they gerrymandered it in Virginia, when it`s even
Republicans win by a lot. When Democrats get more votes Republicans still
win. When Democrats get tons more votes, Republicans still win.
The only way Democrats can maybe win is to absolutely completely demolish
the Republicans like they did last night and then still it`s a maybe as to
whether or not Democrats are allowed to get control. Wait for the
Lots of Democrats have done lots of things over this past year to organize
and to try to win and their results last night were very impressive. But
President Obama and Eric Holder started working on this boring
redistricting thing to try to get Democrats to win legislatures and to win
governor`s races, to undo the Republican gerrymandering.
And last night, for all those Democratic victories, last night is a
perfect, perfect example of why that`s time well spent.
MADDOW: OK. Here`s some news that is not getting a lot of attention but I
think it`s potentially a huge deal. This summer, the same day the White
House senior strategist Steve Bannon resigned from the White House and that
took up all the oxygen in the room, on that same day, this guy also
resigned from the White House. His name is Carl Icahn, and he had been
serving as a special advisor to the president for regulatory reform, been
serving there since the transition.
Carl Icahn was an advisor to the president on regulations and around the
time that he got that White House advisor gig, Carl Icahn, also started
effectively putting bets in the markets on one of the issues that he was
advising the president on. In August, Patrick Radden Keefe reported for
the “New Yorker” magazine on the kinds of bets that Carl Icahn was making
in the markets and how his advice to the White House could conceivably earn
him hundreds of millions of dollars if the White House took that advice and
then those bets accordingly paid off for his businesses.
That obviously is a crime. There`s a federal statute that makes it illegal
for executive branch employees to work on any matter in which they may have
a direct financial interest which Carl Icahn clearly did. So, that
reporting on Carl Icahn`s business behavior while serving in the White
House, that`s that was a real problem potentially both for him and for the
White House and that Friday night this summer in August, I remember “The
New Yorker” posted that piece by Patrick Radden Keefe and basically at the
same moment, like minutes before “The New Yorker” posted that piece on the
same day that Steve Bannon was resigning and so nobody noticed, Carl Icahn
And then immediately both he and the White House started to insist that
actually there`s nothing to quit, actually he`d never had that job at all.
That job that he just quit, he never had that. The White House literally
started to say that Carl Icahn had never had a formal appointment or title
even though they had formally announced his appointment and his title.
They started saying that Carl Icahn was just a private citizen.
Now at the time the former director of the Office of Government Ethics,
Walter Shaub started sending out a series of emergency flare tweets,
calling on the Justice Department to investigate this alleged criminal
behavior on the part of the president`s advisor, the New York attorney
general`s office later told us that the Carl Icahn matter was, quote, on
their radar. And that`s where we left things in August, seeing Carl Icahn
quit and sensing that law enforcement authorities were following behind him
very closely at the door.
Since then, we`ve continued to call the New York attorney general`s office
to talk about this matter. They`ve only just told us that it`s still on
their radar. We`ve called Carl Icahn`s office enough to make me start to
worry that we`re being rude, but we`ve had no formal response from them.
It`s been almost 12 weeks now since Carl Icahn stepped down, and we haven`t
heard anything more formal about whether or not law enforcement authorities
were chasing him down on this matter, which we hadn`t heard anything until
Started to get some rumblings on Wednesday of last week when “Reuters”
reported that Carl Icahn`s oil refining company had significantly unwound a
large short position in the U.S. biofuel credit market. What they mean
there is that Carl Icahn dumped out of that bet. He dumped more than half
his financial stake in this matter that he had been betting on while
advising the White House on that same matter.
So, remember Carl Icahn stepped down in August, why`d you then dump out of
those bets, Mr. Icahn? We learned about that on Wednesday. Then on
Friday, Icahn Enterprises filed a quarterly report with the SEC and way
down on page of their quarterly report, under item five, which is headlined
“other information”, they revealed something else going on here that is as
serious as a heart attack.
They revealed that the federal prosecutors and the U.S. attorney`s office
for the southern district of New York, quote, recently contacted Icahn
Enterprises, seeking production of information pertaining to our and Mr.
Icahn`s activities relating to the renewable fuel standard, and Mr. Icahn`s
role as an adviser to the president. The company told regulators, quote,
we are cooperating.
So, that SEC filing, that other information note on page 59 of the
quarterly filing went sort of under the radar until today when “Bloomberg
News” broke the news of federal investigators issuing subpoenas for Carl
Icahn and his company. Icahn Enterprises wants you to know that the U.S.
attorney for the southern district of New York has not made any claims or
allegations against us or Mr. Icahn. So, there`s that.
But the southern district of New York now has subpoena the heck out of Carl
Icahn, Trump`s special advisor on regulatory affairs, and what he – what
they are demanding information about is what was Carl Icahn doing in the
markets while he was advising the president on matters that could affect
the price of his behavior in the markets.
The Carl Icahn story is the most banana republic corruption story we have
in the Trump administration and it`s now involving subpoenas and a federal
prosecutor`s office. And I can`t say we didn`t see it coming. Watch this
MADDOW: This is man named William Binney. He used to work for the
National Security Agency back in the day, left that job 17 years ago.
He`s kept very busy though. Here he is on Russian state-sponsored TV, RT.
This is him less than a year ago, explicating his theory that the whole
idea that Russia hacked anybody`s emails as part of the 2016 election, he
expounds the theory that that is a hoax. He says the hack of the
Democratic National Committee was actually an inside job, the DNC hacked
itself, to make itself lose.
Here`s Bill Binney, not on Russian television but on “Info Wars” with host
Alex Jones, the guy who says among other things that the Sandy Hook
shooting was a false flag operation with child actors and that the
government is turning us all gay with chemicals in our juice boxes.
On the Alex Jones show, Bill Binney laid out his case that the DNC didn`t
just hack itself, actually happens was that the DNC was hacked by the
intelligence community itself to make Donald Trump look bad. And what, no,
that doesn`t make sense but it`s a very baroque sort of plot if you think
about it, or if you don`t think about it. You just let it wash over you.
Also, he insists that the NSA is working to establish a world government.
So, Bill Binney. Last month, Bill Binney was personally interviewed one on
one for an hour by the director of the CIA, because the director of the CIA
apparently felt that Bill Binney`s theories which he is expounded upon on
RT and “Info Wars”, the director of the CIA felt that Bill Binney`s
theories merit the attention of the head of America`s premier spy agency
for an hour, one on one.
What why would he do that? Well, according to Bill Binney, the CIA
Director Mike Pompeo called him in for this meeting. This was first
reported by “The Intercept”. It`s now been confirmed by NBC News. And
Bill Binney tells NBC News that Mike Pompeo told him, he called him up,
asked him to come into Langley for his meeting, quote, at the urging of
So, President Trump has asked the CIA director to take that meeting with
Bill Binney. If only Donald Trump and Mike Pompeo had liked intelligence
resources, some sort of intelligence community they could call on to gather
factual evidence about whether Russia hacked the DNC, guess they don`t, so
instead they just get the guy from RT and “Info Wars”. Why not, he
probably knows better than anyone.
This is a strange story that is broken over the last couple of days, but
it`s also potentially quite a serious story particularly for the Robert
Mueller special counsel investigation and I`ll tell you why that is, next.
MADDOW: Last month, CIA Director Mike Pompeo told a national security
summit that the U.S. intelligence community`s assessment is that the
Russian interference in the election last year didn`t affect the outcome of
the election. That is not the U.S. intelligence community`s assessment of
what happened last year. The intelligence community in act made no
assessment on that point whatsoever. They didn`t check. The CIA had to
rescind director Mike Pompeo remarks after he made them.
That incident followed “The Washington Post” scoop this summer that Mike
Pompeo has reorganized the CIA internally so that one part of the agency
that didn`t used to report to the director now reports directly to him.
It`s the CIA`s counterintelligence mission center. That incidentally is
the part of the CIA that turned up evidence of Trump campaign officials
making contacts with Russian officials. That`s the part of the CIA that
produced intelligence information which helped lead to the whole Russia
investigation in the first place. That part of the CIA now has been
reorganized even internally so that it has to report directly to Mike
Former U.S. attorney Barbara McQuade recently made a public argument that
sometimes wakes me up in the middle of the night. It was titled: Mike
Pompeo could stop Robert Mueller in his tracks. She argued that the CIA
director could potentially deny the Robert Mueller special counsel
investigation, could deny them access to classified intelligence that the
special counsel might need to make his case.
She said as a former federal prosecutor who worked on terrorism cases,
there were a number of times in her prosecutorial career where she would
have to go to the CIA for permission to use classified intelligence in a
case. It`s the CIA`s call whether or not they give it to you, and if you
can`t make your case without that intelligence, you don`t have a case.
Well, now, we have this reporting that in addition to the other things that
Mike Pompeo has done this year since the Russia scandal has broken wide
open, the president recently ordered his CIA Director Mike Pompeo to take a
one-on-one hour long meeting with a guy who goes on Russian media peddling
conspiracy theories about the Russian attack on the election that
contradict everything Pompeo his own agency has concluded.
The president directed the CIA director to do that and the CIA director
took the meeting, you know, to get the real facts.
I know this is as weird as it seems my question is whether this is
potentially not just weird but dangerous.
Joining us now is Ned Price. He spent over a decade at the CIA. He was a
spokesman at senior director at the National Security Council under
Mr. Price, thank you for being here. I really appreciate it.
NED PRICE, FORMER NSC SPOKESMAN: Thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: I laid out a few things about Mike Pompeo that have appeared in
the news in recent months. His misstatements about Russia`s interference
definitely not affecting the outcome of the election. This reorganization
that he made at the CIA in terms of who has to report to him directly and
now this meeting that he took with Bill Binney, a guy who has spun
conspiracy theories, including on Russian TV and “Info Wars” about Russia
not hacking the American election at all.
I`m picking those things out of the air because I`ve seen them in the press
and they bother me, just as a lay observer. As somebody with CIA
experience, do those things seem like a part of a pattern to you?
PRICE: Well, they bother me too, and I can tell you, Rachel, that I have
heard from former colleagues, individuals who are still on the inside that
they bother them, too. Look, the fact of the matter is that ever since the
CIA was founded in 1947, there has been an understanding that intelligence
and politics don`t mix, that CIA needs space to provide policymakers with a
sort of unbiased, unvarnished intelligence analysis that they need and
That`s why it`s been so troubling to see President Trump time and again put
his finger on the scale, on the intelligence scale, whether it was as the
Republican nominee sent casting aside the intelligence community`s high-
confidence assessment that Russia was actually behind this, or in this
case, asking Mike Pompeo to meet with Bill Binney at CIA headquarters.
That was an implicit signal that Donald Trump himself believes in this
And to me, Rachel, the most proximate analogy I`ve been able to think of is
if President George W. Bush had asked then director of central
intelligence, George Tenet, to meet with a 9/11 truther in the aftermath of
the 9/11 attacks. That would be on the same scale as what we`ve just seen.
MADDOW: Barbara McQuade has made the case that this if CIA director is
sort of a worst case scenario, think of all these things that he has done
that have emerged about his leadership at the CIA point in the worst
possible direction in terms of his politicizing intelligence, that it`s
possible that he could interfere with law enforcement looking into justice
issues and in the Russia scandal because he could conceivably block
intelligence from being used by prosecutors to make their various legal
cases as more and more people get indicted.
Does that seem far-fetched to you, or is that something that the CIA could
do if it chose to under leadership that had that inclination?
PRICE: Not far-fetched at all. It`s all too real. Look, at its heart
what Mueller is involved in is a counterintelligence investigation, and the
CIA is our preeminent espionage agency collecting foreign intelligence,
some of which is going to be of a counterintelligence flavor.
So, there are really two ways that CIA Director Pompeo could impede this
investigation. One is when it comes to what`s already in CIA`s holdings.
He could deny a request on the part of Mueller`s team to hand over
intelligence that CIA has collected over the past couple years ever since
these so-called Russian active measures have gone into effect.
Now, the good news is that there was a pretty comprehensive intelligence
assessment done at the beginning of this year, and in the production of
that, intelligence was analyzed and the report was produced, a public
version of which was released on January 6th.
To me, the more the more concerning element of this is the prospective
information, the information that CIA could come into possession of in the
coming weeks, months or even years if this drags on. Now that Mike Pompeo
is the person to whom the head of the counterintelligence mission center
reports directly, there is a concern, including a concern among current CIA
officers that Mike Pompeo could take that information and run to the White
House not in a way to speak truth to power but in a way to muffle that
information, to make sure that it never sees the light of day and to make
sure especially that it never sees the hands of Mueller`s prosecutors.
MADDOW: Which means that Mueller wouldn`t even know to ask for it, to be
declassified for use in a court setting if you didn`t know it existed.
Ned Price, veteran of CIA and the National Security Council – thank you
very much for being with us tonight. I really appreciate it.
PRICE: Thank you. Appreciate it.
MADDOW: All right. We got a lot more to get to this busy night. Stay with
MADDOW: I have a new idea for you. On the one-year anniversary of last
year`s presidential election, after a night last night when the Democrats
ran the table in off year elections in Virginia and across the country, if
you are looking for a little steadiness, if you are looking for a little
measure of perspective, if you`re looking for inspiration when it comes to
your beloved country in this era, I commend to you, Dan Rather`s moving,
short, resonant new book, which has just come out.
It`s called “What Unites Us: Reflections on Patriotism”. And the great Dan
Rather joins us now, so I can congratulate him on the book.
Mr. Rather, it is very nice to see you. Thank you for being here.
DAN RATHER, AUTHOR, “WHAT UNITES US”: Always a pleasure to be with you,
Rachel. Thank you very much.
MADDOW: Dan, I want to ask you what you thought we actually thought we
were going to have you on the air last night for the – which was the first
night that your book launched and then things went crazy in terms of
breaking news. What were you thinking last night watching that split
screen of the president in South Korea and watching the Democrats roll
things up at home here in terms of last night`s elections? What do you
make of this moment we`re in right now?
RATHER: Well, obviously, there are two of the biggest headlines of the
week so far. The president`s language for the most part in his visit to
South Korea moving on to China, it`s been more muted than his language
before, and how he said some terrible things about North Korea accurate
things. But, you know, he`s handled himself very well.
I noted and I think I mentioned to you, Rachel, that he delivered the
speech after getting off your shaky start very well – the one in South
Korea. But it`s hard to make out what the policy is, you know, where he –
from time to time, he makes these threats to North Korea. But I think if
you look at the North Korea – the South Korea visit and then moving over
to China, the following things are pretty obvious: number one, we`ve said
it before, it bears repeating, that China is the key, if there`s going to
be any real progress toward getting the North Koreans to at least slow
their nuclear development, the Chinese have got to be a major player and I
think that`s one things come clear from this.
The other is that the president has been at least in his rhetoric
zigzagging some on North Korean policy. But having said all that, it would
be mistake not to recognize because it`s so that we`re probably closer to
an outright war with North Korea than we have been in a very, very long
Now, as for domestic policies and politics and the vote last night,
clearly, a sweep of nearly – a sweep for the Democrats where their best
night since when Obama`s election I guess in 2012. However, what I noticed
that the Democrats were celebrating naturally they`d be celebrating because
in some ways they were surprised by that margin that they won in some
And the message was clearly a repudiation of the tone if not indeed the
actual substance of the Trump presidency.
And, you know, part of what I want to try to write and what unites us, the
book was – we need to light the embers of hope and have some optimism and
I find it – at least some bit of that in these election returns, it`s a
reminder that votes count and in the end, you can march, you can protest,
you can say you`re part of the resistance. But the biggest thing you can
do is organize and get out the vote. The Democrats did that very well this
And I – there`s no other analysis available other than the one that will
make many Republicans up for re-election next year, make their fingernails
sweat, these returns from last night. But it`s a little early for the
Democrats to be moonwalking in the end zone. They`ve made a start, but
it`s going to take a while to reverse the trend started with Trump`s
MADDOW: Dan Rather`s new book is called “What Unites Us: Reflections on
Patriotism”. Dan, I want to thank you in particular for your reflections
on the idea of steadiness that has been helpful to me in terms of thinking
about our politics right now just – not just as a pendulum swinging back
and forth, but us being steady as a country. You`re an inspiration, sir.
Congratulations on this good book. Thanks for being with us tonight.
RATHER: Thank you very much. Rachel.
MADDOW: Nice to see you.
All right. We`ll be right back. Stay with us.
MADDOW: Hey, at the top of the show, I talked about the New Jersey county
counselor who posted this response to the big women`s march in January.
This is what he posted. Will the woman`s protest be over in time for them
to cook dinner?
That New Jersey politician who posted that, last night, he lost his seat to
a rookie Democratic woman. Thirty-two-year-old woman Ashley Bennett, who
never run for anything before, and found inspiration in her local public
Tonight, on “THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL”, he is speaking with
among other people that woman, Ashley Bennett. I`m telling you, for real.
He`s got her.
That does it for us tonight. See you again tomorrow.
Now, it`s time for you to watch “THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL.”
Good evening, Lawrence.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
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