Two Trump aides indicted Transcript 11/9/17 The Rachel Maddow Show
Show: THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW
Date: November 9, 2017
Guest: John Archibald
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I), VERMONT: So I think what was very exciting, you
see people of all colors, all backgrounds, all sexual orientations getting
involved in the political process. That`s what the Democrats have got to
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST, ALL IN: New blood.
Senator Bernie Sanders, thanks for your time.
That is “ALL IN” for this evening.
THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts right now.
Good evening, Rachel.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chris. Thank you, my friend.
HAYES: You bet.
MADDOW: And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour.
There`s a lot of news tonight.
If you have been following this remarkable story today broken by “The
Washington Post” about Alabama Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore, we`ve
got something important to add to that disturbing news broken today by “The
Washington Post”, namely, we`ve got the person in Alabama who I think is
the best equipped person in that state to tell us what is likely to happen
here in light of this remarkable news, whether Roy Moore will be pushed out
of the race because of these reports, whether he might still win that
Senate race despite this news if these reports don`t push them out of the
race. We`ve got that discussion coming up in just a couple of minutes.
If you care about that news today and it`s a big deal for the United States
Senate. It`s a big deal in its own right. You will want to stick around
for a few minutes to hear that interview, I promise you.
We`ve also got some news tonight about a new pin in the map for the Robert
We`ve also got some very surprising new poll numbers to report. It`s been
a long time since we had poll numbers on this show, but when you get to
these ones tonight, you will know why these ones are on the air tonight.
So, like I said, there`s lots going on in the news tonight, but I want to
start somewhere different.
In 2008, at the end of the George W. Bush years, Democrats knew they had a
pretty good chance to win the White House that year if they played their
cards right. And so, lots of Democrats ran, and a bunch of them did well.
Senator Joe Biden made a good run for it for a while, but he didn`t make it
too far into the calendar year.
Senator John Edwards made a run for it and he did great for a long while.
Ultimately, John Edwards did not make it to the finish line. That didn`t
seem like a particularly momentous thing at the time, but a couple years
later when we all learned about John Edwards` secret second family that
he`d been hiding the whole time he was on the campaign trail, when he was
running back in 2008, well, yes, then it seems like kind of a propitious
thing that John Edwards didn`t in fact end up going the distance in 2008.
The two Democratic candidates who did go the distance, all the way to the
bitter, bitter end in 2008, of course, were Barack Obama and Hillary
Clinton. We just saw Bernie Sanders speaking with Chris Hayes last hour on
this network. I mean you think the Bernie Sanders/Hillary Clinton primary
was a long drawn-out affair in 2016, that was nothing compared to
Clinton/Obama in 2008.
Clinton/Obama was both a closer race and it was one that went on way longer
into the primary season. And given how things turned out ultimately, it`s
sort of easy to forget now, but the extended knife-edge acrimony of that
long, long, very hard-fought primary between Clinton and Obama, that made
it a really big deal when as president-elect, Obama asked Hillary Clinton
to join his cabinet as secretary of state. It was a big deal that he asked
her and it was a big deal when she said yes. I mean, it was a big deal in
terms of their personal and political ability to bury the hatchet, and to
start working together after what they had been through and fighting each
But it was also a big deal in terms of the State Department, because after
that 2008 race, right, after having been first lady, after having been
senator, after having almost been the Democratic nominee in 2008. I mean,
Hillary Clinton after that race really was the most famous woman in the
world. She still is now for different reasons all these years later,
But putting the most famous Democrat in the world not named Barack Obama,
the most famous American politician of all I`d say, the most recognizable
woman in the world, putting her at the State Department for the first term
of the Obama administration, that was a huge investment, a huge spotlight
on the importance of the State Department, right? The importance of
American diplomacy in the world, the importance of that kind of power.
And aside from convincing Hillary Clinton, this political rock star, to go
to the State Department, the other politically important high-profile
cabinet decision that Obama made was to keep on the defense secretary who
had been appointed in the later years of the George W. Bush administration,
Now, Barack Obama ran for president as much against George W. Bush as
against anything, and you know, even though John McCain seems like a fine
Republican candidate to a lot of the country, honestly, the country was so
well and truly over George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, any Republican
candidate was going to have a hard time after that.
I mean, Cheney in particular left office with so much antipathy against
him, he could have floated home to Wyoming without an airplane, just riding
the thermals of the billowing repugnance the American people had for him
when he finally left office.
Chris Christie right now is leaving office with a 14 percent approval
rating in New Jersey right now. Vice President Dick Cheney would have
killed or died four numbers that good. His numbers were even worse than
that when he was finishing his time as vice president.
But despite that, despite the way that Bush and Cheney were going out, this
new Democratic president kept on one of the Bush/Cheney cabinet members,
kept on Bob Gates, and that had really strong political resonance because
of how unlikely it seemed in the abstract, because of what it meant for the
politics of the moment. But it also had the more pedestrian effect of
making Bob Gates also kind of a rock star in the Obama cabinet, right? And
that was a rock star cabinet, it also included Hillary Clinton.
But it was an interesting thing. Once they were both sworn in, these two
incredibly high-profile, politically resonant figures, Hillary Clinton and
Bob Gates, they decided to go on the road together. At the very start of
the Obama administration, Bob Gates and Hillary Clinton did what was
basically a traveling road show all over the country. They made joint
appearances where he a secretary of defense and she a secretary of state,
they made this joint pitch that we should stop counting on the military for
everything, and we should instead build up the State Department – more
resources, more staff, more prestige. We should recognize as a country
that actually it`s the State Department that needs to do most of the heavy
lifting in terms of America`s role in the world. And in particular in
managing conflicts with other countries, because not all conflicts with
other countries are managed by firing weapons.
They had this great line in these joint appearances that they made about
how the military has more people in military bands than the State
Department has foreign service officers serving overseas, right? They have
this whole show, they have this pitch. And they used that to do what they
could just to try to boost diplomacy, to boost support for the State
Department, specifically to boost support and recognition for the foreign
And I don`t know that you can attribute it to any one thing like that, but
I`m sure that helped and by the end of the Obama administration, by 2016,
applications by young ambitious Americans to join the foreign service, to
join the incredibly selective, incredibly important foreign service of the
United States, those applications were through the roof. In 2016, State
Department accepted a class of 366, 366 new foreign service officers were
accepted last year – 366. Seventeen thousand people applied to take the
foreign service exam to try to get one of those jobs. That`s how
prestigious it was.
And we know those numbers because the head of the American Foreign Service
Association bragged last year about those numbers, bragged about there
being 17,000 applicants to take the foreign service exams.
This year, one year later, less than half that many people are applying to
take the foreign service exam, and they`re apparently only taking a hundred
foreign service officers.
The head of the Foreign Service Association is Ambassador Barbara
Stephenson. And this isn`t getting a ton of attention but I think this is
really important. She has just posted what I see as a distress call. This
is being published in the “Foreign Service Journal” next month and it
details what she calls, quote, the mounting threats to our institution and
to the global leadership that depends on us.
Quote: There is no denying that our leadership ranks – she means in the
foreign service – are being depleted at a dizzying speed. The Foreign
Service Officer Corps at State has lost 60 percent of its career
ambassadors since January. Ranks of career ministers, our three-star
general equivalents, are down from 33 to 19. The ranks of art two-star
general equivalents, our minister councilors, have fallen from 431 right
after Labor Day, to 369 today and still falling.
Were the U.S. military to face such a decapitation of its leadership ranks,
I would expect a public outcry. Like the military, the foreign service
recruits officers at entry-level and grows them into seasoned leaders over
decades. The talent being shown the door right now is not only our top
talent, it`s also talent that cannot be replicated overnight. The rapid
loss of so many senior officers has a serious, immediate and tangible
effect on the capacity of the United States to shape world events.
Now, we have heard over the course of the Trump administration, thus far,
right, we`ve heard about the State Department being hollowed out under
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. For example, it`s reported now that
there are 74 top positions at the State Department, top positions, that
aren`t just vacant, there`s no nominee to fill them and maybe there won`t
What`s new here from Ambassador Stephenson is this veteran State Department
career official laying out what`s going on, laying out these details that
she knows of what`s going on, but then doing this. This is the headline
that she put on this distress signal, that she has just set up. Time to
ask why, and that`s a really important leap here.
I mean, if you think about it, ideologically, we know why the Trump
administration is eviscerating the EPA, right? Ideologically, we know why
the Trump administration is emptying out the Education Department.
Ideologically, we know why they put a guy like Ben Carson in charge of
Housing and Urban Development, whereupon he promptly hired Eric Trump`s
wedding planner to run that whole part of the federal government in the
northeastern United States, right?
If you don`t believe in protecting health and safety or in protecting the
environment or in helping the poor or in ensuring safe housing for all
Americans or in public education, if you don`t believe in any of those
things – they don`t believe in any of those things – then sure, a Trump
administration is going to do whatever they can to dismantle, discredit,
even corrupt the agencies who are tasked with doing that work. They`re
burning them down because they don`t think they should exist. At least we
knew that they`re going to do that.
What`s the ideological interest, what`s the Republican, even Trumpian
interest behind eliminating the ability of the United States to project
power around the world and to get our way with other countries, and to
uphold our standing among nations? Who ideologically wants that?
Rex Tillerson was a surprise choice for secretary of state. You know, he
had never met Donald Trump before the election. He was CEO of Exxon. As
such, he had been this interesting strategic wildcard in American
diplomacy. When the U.S. led the world in putting sanctions on Russia for
invading Ukraine, Rex Tillerson of Exxon became a very interesting wildcard
in terms of whether or not America was going to be able to punish Russia
and get its will.
When we put those sanctions on Russia, Rex Tillerson had just done the
largest oil deal in the history of the world with Russian President
Vladimir Putin and Russian state-run energy companies. Through those
negotiations and through making that gigantic deal, the mother of all oil
deals, Rex Tillerson was thought to have become personally closer to
Vladimir Putin than any other private citizen in the United States. He
closed that oil deal at Putin`s personal home in Sochi.
Rex Tillerson was awarded Russia`s highest civilian honor, which was given
to him personally, pinned on him personally by President Putin.
But then, down came the American government`s sanctions against Russia,
which shut down that gigantic half trillion dollar deal. And soon
thereafter, Rex Tillerson found himself leaving Exxon and they paid him
several hundred million dollars on the way out the door and he became the
new secretary of state for a president who had been elected we now know
with substantial illegal Russian government help, in a campaign that would
later be found to have had multiple officials at multiple levels engaging
in repeated secret communications and meetings with the Russian government.
And once Trump was elected, for some reason, he picked this guy he didn`t
know from Adam. He picked Rex for the State Department. Why is that? And
how is that working out since?
With 74 top positions left vacant, with the ranks of the foreign service
equivalent of two-star in three-star generals falling off a cliff, that
irreplaceable top leadership, people just being cut off and pushed out with
the new class of foreign service officers being cut by more than two-
Here`s how Ambassador Barbara Stephenson ends her distress call that she
just published, the one that`s titled “Time To Ask Why”. She says, as the
shape and extent of the staffing cuts to the foreign service at State
become clearer, I begin we must shut – I believe we must shine a light on
these disturbing trends and ask why, and to what end?
Why such a focus on slashing staffing at State? Why such a focus on
decapitating leadership? Nine in 10 Americans favor a strong global
leadership role for our great country, and we know from personal experience
that such leadership is unthinkable without a strong professional foreign
service deployed around the world, protecting and defending America`s
people, interests and values.
Where then does the impetus come from to weaken the American foreign
service? Where is the mandate to pull the foreign service team from the
field and forfeit the game to our adversaries? Time to ask why.
Sincerely, Ambassador Barbara Stephenson.
We asked Ambassador Stephenson to come talk with us last night, she said
no. We asked her to come talk with us tonight, she said no. I think she
wants to let this speak for itself. Although, Ambassador Stephenson, if
you`re watching, love to have you.
“Time to ask why” seems like the right title, though. It seems like it`s
time to stop being agog at what`s happening there and start asking who
When the president travels abroad, our State Department is supposed to be
at its peak power, right? Making sure that presidential trip abroad
doesn`t do anything to undermine America`s standing or contradict our
stated policies or undercut our national leadership, right? When the
president goes abroad, the president has to look good because the president
represents this country and stands for us on other countries turf.
I mean, nobody likes to talk about it, but the State Department helps
manage important foreign trips in part to make sure the president of the
United States does not embarrass himself abroad and thereby embarrass and
reduce the standing of our country.
The president today was in China. The president`s past remarks and
therefore his known positions on China are clear. They`re hostile,
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: China`s upset because of the
way Donald Trump is talking about trade with China. They`re ripping us
off, folks. It`s time. I`m so happy they`re upset.
We can`t continue to allow China to rape our country and that`s what
they`re doing. It`s the greatest theft in the history of the world.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: China is raping our country. That is the president`s on-the-
record position. I`m glad they`re upset. Yes, they`re upset with me, I`m
glad they are, because I`m the only one who`ll tell them true. They`re
raping our country. That`s the president`s stated position on China.
In China, this week, with the opportunity to say that, with the opportunity
to confront China on the basis of that public position, President Trump
instead choked, I don`t – folded, I don`t know. But what he did caused an
audible gasp in the room.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: You`re a very special man.
My feeling toward you is an incredibly warm one. As we said, there`s great
chemistry and I think we`re going to do tremendous things for both China
and for the United States.
But, but I don`t blame China.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: The room is like you don`t blame China, I thought were the
The room reacts like that because the president of the United States said
in the United States that China is our enemy, that he`s happy to upset
them, that China is raping us. It`s the greatest theft in the history of
Then, to the face of the Chinese president, he tells him how great he is he
tells him how he has nothing but warm feelings with him, he tells him that
there is nothing to blame China for at all.
You know, even if you`re 100 percent agnostic on China, I mean, no matter
what you think our relationship should actually be with China, that youii
(ph) by an American president that`s slinking away from his own past
statement, that`s sort of visible gutlessness on foreign soil earning gasps
and laughter from a room of Chinese diplomats, that`s an embarrassing act
of deference and supplication and basics suckuptitude for the United States
of America, in the person of the president of the United States.
I should also tell you the president did not take questions from reporters.
The White House explained that the Chinese government insisted that they
didn`t want reporters to be able to ask questions. Now, all previous
modern American presidents have stood on principle on visits to China when
China has said no questions from reporters, previous American presidents
have forced the issue and have taken questions from the press. Not this
one, whatever China wants, China gets.
And so, that left American reporters shouting after the president while he
smiled and complimented the Chinese president and walked away from their
Watch this. We put subtitles on this so you can see what the president
wouldn`t answer here. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: President Trump, questions?
REPORTER: Are you taking questions, Mr. President?
REPORTER: Do you still believe China is raping the United States?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Do you still believe China is raping the United States?` Mr.
President, Mr. President, or not so much anymore, not that you`re here and
you have to say it to their face or be humiliated by your fear to do?
So, we only have one president. All of us Americans we have one president
we off the same one. Whatever you think of this one it is bad for the
United States of America when an American president humiliates himself
abroad and weakens the standing of the United States with the respect to
other countries in the world and gets laughed at for his cowardice.
A good State Department is a pretty good defense against something like
that happening, but instead, we`ve got this State Department now and maybe
that`s not an accident, and maybe it`s time to ask why.
MADDOW: If you know anybody who lives in the great state of Alabama, now
is your turn to be kind to them. If you live in Alabama and you`re
watching this show right now, first of all, hey, you guys, I know you`re
out there. Nice to see you.
I also want you in Alabama to know that I am hereby declaring national be
kind to an Alabamian day, because my God, what your politicians have been
putting you through. And I realized that the people of Alabama have a role
in choosing their own politicians but I am not in the mood to blame the
victim on a day like today.
Two years ago in Alabama, the person who realistically is the most powerful
politician in the state because the way their state government is set up,
really the most powerful politician in real terms is the speaker of the
house. And two years ago, the sitting speaker of the House in Alabama was
charged with 23 felony corruption counts.
And that seemed like a crisis at the time because he was indicted on those
felony corruption counts two weeks before election day, and he was up for
re-election, and that speaker of the house decided that he would not drop
out of the race. And our first clue that something had shifted off its
axis in Alabama Republican politics was when the guy who just been indicted
on felony corruption charges not only did drop out of the race, he won. He
won his race for re-election by a lot.
And then, his fellow Republicans in the state legislature elected him again
to be their leader, to be their speaker, despite the fact that he was
currently under indictment on 23 felony corruption counts. That did not
bother them. It only became truly inconvenient for them when he was
sentenced last summer to four years in prison. Ultimately, it took that as
a crowbar to get him out of the top job in state government.
But it turns out, that was just the start. The year after their house
speaker was indicted and then re-elected and then reinstalled in leadership
before being sent to prison, the year after that in 2016, Alabama`s other
most powerful political figure, the state`s governor, Robert Bentley, he
ended up in what I – what I have to say was an unexpected type of scandal
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SPENCER COLLIER, FORMER ALABAMA SECRETARY OF LAW ENFORCEMENT: On August
5th, Chief Lewis came into my office and played me parts of an audio
recording in which Governor Bentley and Rebekah Mason were participating in
an inappropriate sexual conversation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Right after the Alabama speaker the house scandal, there was the
Alabama governor scandal, which started with that whistle-blowing state
employee who had once been very close to the governor, so close to the
governor in fact that he ended up listening in on gubernatorial behavior of
a nude nature. That whistleblower and his evidence set off a hard push
from Alabama reporters to figure out what was going on while the governor
steadfastly denied everything.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Governor, there`s a portion of that recording in which you were
saying how I have to walk up behind to touch you and put my hands on your
breast. How would you say that if you are not involved in a physical
FORMER GOV. ROBERT BENTLEY (R), ALABAMA: Well, what I`m saying is there
was no sexual activity.
REPORTER: Have you entertained the idea of stepping down?
BENTLEY: No. I have not.
REPORTER: Thank you, Governor.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Thank you.
So, the whistleblower talking about there being a tape, we`ve got reporters
talking about and quoting from the tape, ultimately inevitably, we`re all
going to hear the tape, right? And this is the point where I have to
interject to say if you are watching with a kiddo right now and depending
on how you handle issues like this in your family, you may just want to hit
pause or hit mute or go do something distracting for the next 35 seconds or
It`s not the worst thing in the world but in order to understand what
happened in Alabama over the last couple of years, you sort of have to hear
this and it`s a little. But this was this was the next thing that happened
in Alabama politics in the spring of 2016.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
BENTLEY: You`d kiss me, I love that. You know I do love that.
That, when you know what, when I stand behind you, and I put my arms around
you, and I put my hands on your breasts. And I put my head on your
(INAUDIBLE), and just, and pull you in real close, I, hey, I love that too.
Putting my hands under you. That did you in? Oh, babe, I know, I`m
thinking about that right now, so I better quit. (INAUDIBLE). You were
thinking about it? Yes, I could tell you were thinking about it last
Hey, I love you. I love you touching you. I do. Hey, I do, I do love
putting my hands (INAUDIBLE) and just putting your in real tight. I do. I
do. I do enjoy that.
But, baby, let me tell you what we`re going to have to do. We`re going to
have to start locking the door. If we`re going to – if we`re going to do
what we did the other day, we`re going to have to start locking the door.
You know, it is – you know what, it is kind of a scary. Somebody open
Yes, I know. He came this morning before I had my clothes on.
(INAUDIBLE). He just got to se my boxer shots. No. Hey – hey, you`ve
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MADDOW: Hey, hey, you seen those, state office worker.
We`ve all seen much more than we ever wanted to of Alabama Governor Robert
Bentley, at least in our minds eye, because that tape became public in the
spring of 2016.
And despite the scandal swirling around him because of that, despite those
tapes ended up becoming very public about his relationship with one of his
top staffers who incidentally was mysteriously being paid by some dark
money private organization, even though she worked in the governor`s
office, the governor insisted that there`s nothing sexual going on
whatsoever there. And he refused to go.
The tapes came out in March 2016. The governor insisted there was nothing
going on whatsoever. He stayed in office for more than a year after that,
and I said at the top of this segment that it`s be kind to an Alabamian
day, this is why.
So, the sex scandal thing with the governor, this relationship with the top
staffer is being paid off the books through some mysterious organization,
that scandal leads to impeachment proceedings against the governor in 2016.
Those impeachment proceedings get stopped though, they get stopped because
the attorney general of the state steps in and basically tells the
legislature, hey, back off. Stop with this impeachment proceeding, I
understand what this is about. This is a law enforcement matter and as the
top law enforcement official in the state of Alabama, I will take this
over. I will handle this in the attorney general`s office.
Whoo, sounds bad for the governor, right?
No, that was great news for the governor because the attorney general never
actually investigated anything. Totally let it go.
So, he blocked the impeachment proceedings in the legislature and then did
nothing out of his own office. So, the governor stayed.
That attorney general who did that was named Luther Strange. And when it
came time for all of America to be blessed by one of Alabama`s finest, Jeff
Sessions is our attorney general of the United States, and the sex tape
governor needed to appoint somebody to sit in Jeff Sessions` seat in the
United States Senate, he looked around decided to appoint Luther Strange,
the attorney general who had made sure that the governor would not get
impeached for his sex scandal. It was very tidy.
So, the top legislative official in the state is indicted for two dozen
felonies. The top executive branch official in the state is embroiled in a
blistering sex scandal he then appoints to the top federal office
representing Alabama the guy who saved him from being impeached for his sex
scandal, and meanwhile, the top official in the judicial branch of
government in Alabama, the chief justice of the state for the second time
gets thrown off the bench and removed from the court for violating judicial
And God bless you, Alabama. Time comes for Luther Strange to face the
voters and finally get formally elected to this Senate seat that he`s been
appointed to by the sex scandal governor. And wouldn`t you know it, Luther
Strange losses that Senate seat. He gets voted out in favor of the chief
justice who just got kicked off the bench for judicial misconduct.
And now, today, that disgraced ex-chief justice in Alabama is the
Republican Party`s official nominee for Senate in the state of Alabama for
a general election that happens next month. And that candidate, that ex
chief judge, Roy Moore, has just been accused of child molestation.
Since he has been running for Senate, Roy Moore has enjoyed shocking people
around the country and even his potential Republican Senate colleagues with
his patented brand of Roy Moore far-right provocateur neo confederate
politics. But all that`s on purpose, that`s his whole brand. Less to his
liking has been the controversy of his over his apparent fake charity in
Alabama, which he`s used to pay himself in his family hundreds of thousands
of dollars while doing nothing that appears to be charity work, but it did
true to be – turned out to be truly impressive means of avoiding taxation.
But that charity scandal is nothing compared to this 3,000-word blockbuster
in “The Washington Post” today reported by Stephanie McCrummen and Beth
Reinhard and Alice Crites. They interviewed 30 sources, including four
women who say they were teenagers as young as when Roy Moore, then a man in
his 30s, made aggressive sexual advances to them.
Roy Moore denies the charges. Alabama Republicans now have to decide if
they will stand with Roy Moore, or if this headline might be too much even
for Alabama Republicans, even given what Alabama has been through just over
the last couple of years.
Anybody who bets on what`s going to happen here with this, I can tell you
already, they`re too confident by half, given what`s happened in Alabama
over the last couple of years.
But we are going to speak with one of the best political reporters in
Alabama live next. He actually broke a lot of the salacious news that has
broken in that state over the last couple of years, and if anybody knows
how this is going to work out in Alabama and how this is going to work out
for the United States Senate, it is him and that`s next.
MADDOW: When the Alabama speaker the house was indicted on 23 felony
counts two weeks before election day a few years ago, Alabama political
reporter John Archibald warned us that indictment or no indictment, that
house speaker is probably going to get reelected. John Archibald was right
about that. However improbable it seemed, John Archibald was right.
When Alabama`s governor meandered into one of the weirdest sex scandals
I`ve ever covered in all my years of covering weird sex scandals, I asked
John Archibald in Alabama whether or not the governor would ultimately have
to resign because of that sex scandal. John Archibald cautioned that
ultimately in the end, the governor would probably have to resign, but it
would at least take a while.
John Archibald was right about that too.
When Luther Strange was appointed to the us Senate by that sex scandal
governor, I got on TV for my comfortable perch in New York City and said,
oh, now that Luther Strange has been appointed to that Senate seat, he
could have that seat for life. I was absolutely wrong about that.
John Archibald came on this show and told me that Luther Strange would not
be elected to hold on to that seat once the Alabama voters got a hold of
him. I was totally wrong, John Archibald was totally right.
Now, “The Washington Post` has broken a stomach-churning story about the
man who Alabama Republicans have chosen to stand for that seat in the U.S.
Senate. You see the headline there, woman says Roy Moore initiated sexual
encounter with her when she was 14 and he was 32. It`s been a chorus today
of Republican U.S. senator saying, if this report is true, Roy Moore should
step down and drop out of the race.
Whether it`s true – well, I mean, “The Washington Post” reporting on this
appears to be quite solid, in saying that, I mean not only that they`ve got
30 sources and four named women, I also mean specifically that they don`t
yet know of – we don`t yet know of any credible basis for Roy Moore`s
denials tonight that that he had anything to do with this behavior given
that the behavior is described in detail in “The Washington Post” by
multiple sources who have put their names to the allegations and those
allegations have been corroborated by this reporting.
But, you know what, if you wanted me to take a guess as to what`s going to
happen here now that this story is broken and Roy Moore is denying it and
the Senate races next month, you know, there was a time in my life when I
might have predicted what would happen next, but I have grown. And I have
learned at times like this to shut up, and to ask John Archibald.
Joining us now is John Archibald, columnist for al.com.
John, it`s really nice to have you with us again tonight. I expect that
you will humble me on this story.
JOHN ARCHIBALD, BIRMINGHAM NEWS COLUMNIST: Thank you, Rachel. I`m after
listening to your recap, I`m really glad I don`t cover politics in the
MADDOW: Well, because you don`t. We really need to count on you to
understand how these things are going to go.
First, I have to ask you just when this “Post” story came out, was this –
was this a shock in Alabama? Is this the sort of story that other people
have chased over the years? Was this – is this brand new news?
ARCHIBALD: It is brand new. I had heard almost nothing about this ever
over the course of covering Roy Moore for two decades, I heard a whisper
about a week ago of something about it, but there were no – no facts
associated with it and it reminds me of the first time I`ve heard – I
heard of Robert Bentley having that affair, it just seemed too far-fetched
to believe. But as more and more comes out, the more we all learn we don`t
MADDOW: Now, Roy Moore is not just denying the allegations in “The
Washington Post” report, he`s being very aggressive on it. He`s
fundraising on “The Washington Post” report tonight, which is amazing, but
he said: these allegations are completely false. They`re a desperate
political attack by the National Democrat Party and “The Washington Post”.
Are there any holes being poked in “The Washington Post” reporting?
Obviously, he`s objecting, but has anybody raised any serious factual
issues or credibility issues with what they`ve reported?
ARCHIBALD: The only one – the only issue of fact that heard disputed was
there`s a point in there at which he is said to be buying wine for a young
girl in the late `70s, or early `80s in Gadsden, which would – it is being
alleged would have been a dry county at that time, which I have not yet had
a chance to find out when they voted to sell alcohol.
So, that is being debated but that is – that is the crux of it.
MADDOW: And that would have been part of the power of that allegation is
that this young woman would have been not a legal drinking age at the time
that she alleges Roy Moore was buying her wine.
MADDOW: What do you think is – what do you think is going to happen? Do
you think that Roy Moore will drop out of the race? Do you think there
will be anybody who has the power to take him out of this race who tries to
ARCHIBALD: Roy Moore will absolutely not drop out of the race. He can`t
be removed from the ballot. He would have to go on his own volition and
that will not happen.
The election itself, you know, it may give Doug Jones a little more of a
chance, but based on Republican reaction today, I kind of doubt that that`s
going to happen. It may actually invigorate Roy Moore`s base, and he may
win by a bigger margin.
MADDOW: Why would this invigorate his base?
ARCHIBALD: Because all I`ve heard today is how this is a Democratic plot
or even worse, in Alabama, a Mitch McConnell plot to discredit Roy Moore
because he`s afraid of what Roy Moore might bring.
And the most disturbing parts of this are a lot of Republicans who aren`t
just saying we can`t know, who aren`t just saying it was a long time ago
and we haven`t seen evidence, but who are actually saying it does not
matter. These are typically – I mean, these are conservative law-and-
order, bible-thumping Republicans like the state auditor who basically
said, oh nothing illegal or immoral happened here, which apparently he did
not read the same story some of us did, because a 32-year-old prosecutor
assaulting a 14-year-old girl would be both illegal and immoral in most
Alabamians minds if you remove politics.
MADDOW: John Archibald, columnist for al.com – really appreciate your
time tonight. I have a feeling this will be not be the last time we talk
about this. John, thank you for being here.
ARCHIBALD: Thank you.
All right. Much more ahead tonight. Stay with us.
MADDOW: When`s the last time you heard me do poll numbers on this show for
anything. I mean, it`s two days after election day, even that special
Senate race, the Roy Moore/Doug Jones Senate race in Alabama isn`t for a
month and any polling done on that race before the Roy Moore child
molestation report ran in “The Washington Post” tonight, any polling that
had previously been done before that report that have to be thrown out the
window anyway and redone.
So, I know you`re thinking, what could there possibly be pulling on right
now that would be real national news right now? That`s next.
MADDOW: Twenty-seven percent. Pollsters this summer asked Americans how
concerned they were about reports that the Trump campaign had had contact
with suspected Russian operatives and pollsters gotten sort of
underwhelming number for the number of Americans were very concerned about
that. Only 27 percent of Americans said they were very concerned. So,
again, that was this summer.
Politically, maybe, it`s true. When Republicans said their constituents in
particular didn`t care about the Trump-Russia investigation all that much,
maybe that was true.
But you know what? A lot has happened since that CNN poll was taken in
Por ejemplo, the Trump campaign manager has been indicted on multiple
felony counts and is wearing an ankle bracelet while he`s out on $10
The Trump campaign managers deputy is out on $5 million bond and also
wearing an ankle bracelet. He`s also been indicted on multiple felony
counts. Also a Trump foreign policy adviser pled guilty to lying to the
FBI about his Russia contacts which included them offering dirt on Hillary
Clinton and thousands of stolen emails.
So, I mean, all that stuff and more has happened since this poll last ask
the American people whether or not this thing being investigated by Robert
Mueller seems like a big deal. Only 27 percent we`re very concerned about
that earlier this summer.
Well, now, we`ve had the indictments and all. Pollsters went back with the
same question. It`s the same question.
How concerned are you about reports that people associated with Donald
Trump`s campaign had contact with suspected Russian operatives during last
year`s campaign, how concerned are you? Now, remember in July, very
concerned was only 27 percent.
As of last week, after those arrests and the indictments and the guilty
plea, very concerned went from 27 percent to 44 percent. Also, 44 percent
say Russia`s attempt to interfere in our election is itself a major
problem. On top of that, an additional 22 percent of Americans say it`s
not just a major problem, it`s a full-on crisis.
So, ask Americans about Russian influence on the election as described by
U.S. intelligence, 66 percent of Americans, two-thirds of Americans say
it`s either a major problem or a crisis.
Now, in terms of the president himself, this poll also asked: do you think
that Donald Trump knew during last year`s campaign that anyone associated
with this campaign had contact with suspected Russian operatives, or do you
think he did not know this?
Here`s the result: a clear majority says, yes, Trump knew. Fifty-nine
percent of Americans say yes, the president knew that people associated
with the same camp – his campaign were having contact with Russian
operatives despite the fact that the president denies knowing that.
With all the other things going on in the Mueller investigation, the
congressional investigations, the indictments, the guilty plea, all of the
other elements of this scandal and this crime being pursued, politically,
the Republican strategy for defending the Republican president in the midst
of this biggest presidential scandal of all time, the Republican strategy
has been to try to hurry up, hurry this stuff up to its conclusion.
They`re really rushing the congressional investigations now. They`re
trying to pressure the Mueller investigation to end as quickly as possible,
They want things wrapped up on Capitol Hill. They`re trying to either
discredit or pressure or maybe defund Robert Mueller.
They`re calling the whole thing witch-hunt. It`s a nothingburger. By the
way, nobody cares. Nobody cares. That`s how they`re trying to deal with
But that is not how Americans feel, and with this kind of response from
American voters, Republicans politically are not going to be able to win
this just by saying this is no big deal and nobody cares. However you feel
about this story, your fellow Americans care about it a great deal.
O`DONNELL: Our last story tonight is not so much a story as it is a public
service announcement – public service announcement.
Do you know where your teeth are right this minute? Now, I can feel like
do you know where they are because it`s two days since election day and I
think this is going to be an essential part of winding up our election
coverage for 2017, because I`m really not comfortable leaving this part of
our election coverage unsettled.
Quote: if you voted in Portland, Maine, and you`re looking for your teeth,
we read this. “The Portland Press Herald” reporting tonight that false
teeth were discovered by an election clerk left behind in a voting booth on
Quote: The choppers – sorry. Quote: The choppers are now in a plastic bag
in the city clerk`s office at city hall waiting to be reunited with the
owner of the appliance.
First of all, doesn`t that make you want to be a city clerk? Second of
all, public service announcement, if you cast your vote and your dentures
in Portland, Maine, on Tuesday night, don`t despair. The clerk has them at
That does it for us tonight.
Now, it`s time for “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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