RNC throws support behind Roy Moore Transcript 12/11/17 The Rachel Maddow Show
Show: THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW
Date: December 11, 2017
Guest: Kyle Whitmire
FORMER REP. DAVID JOLLY (R), FLORIDA: Listen, the term gaslighting has
been talked a lot. You know, the idea that Donald Trump is able to create
this alternate reality and convince people that only his reality is true
and it starts with the foundational principle of lying, of blatant lies,
exaggerations, huge lies. That is what he`s engaging in right now
attacking Bob Mueller and it is also that when charges come down, should
they come down, his final closing argument will be you can`t believe Bob
Mueller, he`s not credible.
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST, ALL IN: All right. Sam Seder and David Jolly,
thank you both.
That is “ALL IN” for this evening.
THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts right now.
Good evening, Rachel.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: I am indebted to you, my friend. Thank you
HAYES: Hey, anytime, I always feel good as opposed to guilty if I`m going
over as a collegial act to difference, you know?
MADDOW: I really need Chris to take 29 more seconds and then you just gift
them to me. I really appreciate it.
HAYES: Whatever you need.
MADDOW: Thank you.
And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour. Much appreciated.
All right. It`s been a lot of news today, and there`s been sort of two big
political stories that have been happening simultaneously, and then one
story that is totally off of politics but has riveted the nation`s largest
city and to a certain extent the country. New York City was the target of
a terrorist attack today for the third time in 15 months.
September of last year, it was I pressure cooker bomb that detonated in the
Chelsea neighborhood in Manhattan, which is on the west side of the city,
north of Greenwich Village but south of midtown. That was September last
year. Then, Halloween this year, it was a guy driving a truck down the
west side bike path in Lower Manhattan, deliberately hitting cyclists and
Now, today it was a 27-year-old would-be suicide bomber who appears to have
affixed some kind of homemade explosive device to his torso. He was
apparently trying to blow up the pedestrian passageway between the Times
Square subway station and the Port Authority bus terminal. He ended up
Three other people were injured, although New York police are describing
those thankfully as minor injuries. And New Yorkers are as resilient as
you can possibly imagine, but three al Qaeda or ISIS-inspired attacks in
the space of 15 months, all of which managed to kill or injure innocent
bystanders, it`s getting to be enough to rattle even a big tough city like
Now, in terms of this attack today underground at “Times Square”, the
suspect is in custody. He`s apparently been talking with investigators and
he has reportedly told them that he was inspired by ISIS to carry out this
attack. So, that was the inescapable news in the nation`s largest city
But the political world is focused quite intently on what is about to
happen tomorrow in the great state of Alabama, where honestly nobody knows
what is going to happen in that U.S. Senate race to replace Luther Strange.
Luther Strange was an appointed senator who was installed in that seat in
the Senate to finish out the term of long-time Alabama Senator Jeff
Sessions who is now the nation`s attorney general. Luther Strange had the
misfortune of being primaried by the Yosemite Sam of unreconstructed hard
right Alabama Republican politics, Roy Moore.
Even though lots of people would love to tell you what is going to happen
in this race tomorrow and why, I honestly would not put a bet on it either
way. Special elections are notoriously hard to poll anyway, even in
relatively normal races. This is not a normal race. And last-minute polls
ahead of tomorrow`s balloting show either a big lead for Republican Roy
Moore or a big lead for Democrat Doug Jones. Take your pick, demanding on
Honestly, there`s no use speculating at this point. We will know how it`s
going to turn out by this time tomorrow. One thing you can know for sure
in advance is that tomorrow`s result will all depend on turnout. But
that`s just because it always depends on turnout.
Interesting late development, though, in terms of the relationship of that
Alabama race to our national politics. The national Republican Party, as
you know, recently decided to start supporting Roy Moore again after they
had initially dropped him in the wake of allegations of child molestation
Well, the party is now having a very hard time explaining how it came to
that decision to start supporting Roy Moore again despite those allegations
and despite the fact the allegations were initially enough to sever ties
between the party and Roy Moore. But now on the eve of the election in the
Republican Party`s effort to come up with a narrative explanation that
makes it seem like it`s a good idea for the national Republican Party to be
endorsing him and supporting him, while they`re trying now to come up with
an explanation for why they changed their mind and reversed themselves on,
that the party appears to have blundered into a big fight with someone on
their own side who they really cannot afford to have a fight with on this
So, it`s a bit of an uh-oh story for the National Republican Party on the
eve of that election. It`s a late-breaking story in the Alabama Senate
race. We`re going to have that for you ahead tonight in just a couple
The other big thing going on in national politics right now is a whole
bunch of renewed political drama around the Russia investigation. Over the
weekend and through the course of today and tonight it`s starting to feel
like a switch has been flipped in the fight or flight circuit board that
controls the conservative id on this story. Over the last several days
into today and tonight, a pretty good portion of the American right has
decided to declare that the new conservative crusade in America will be
that former FBI director special counsel Robert Mueller should be fired.
That`s the new crusade. Some switch somewhere flipped.
And now on the American right, we`re getting this deluge of increasingly
excited calls to action that special counsel Robert Mueller must be fired.
And if it takes shutting down the whole FBI to shut down the Russia
investigation, then so be it and good riddance.
And it does almost feel like a coordinated messaging decision on the right.
It`s everywhere from conservative op-ed writer in “USA Today”, to “The Wall
Street Journal” editorial page, which has been leaning in this direction
for a while but they`re getting increasingly strident and insistent on this
The Fox News Channel, honestly, they`ve been spanking this tambourine for a
while now, but as of this weekend and today, they are just really going for
it, all of a sudden. I don`t know what flipped for the right that is
causing this freak-out. But this fire Mueller freak-out on the right has
led in turn to a whole bunch of ominous warnings from some very sober
people about what this might portend, what this might be the preamble for
in terms of action by the president.
Here`s Max Boot writing at “Foreign Policy” today. America is heading for
an unprecedented constitutional crisis. The Republican Party is ready to
serve as an accomplice to the obstruction of justice.
Here`s Jon Chait at “New York” magazine. Quote: The Mueller investigation
is in mortal danger.
Here`s David graham at “The Atlantic.” The partisan nihilist case against
Here`s the good and great E.J. Dionne at the “Washington Post.” Quote,
“The attacks on Mueller push us closer to the precipice.
So, over the past few days, everybody watching this story, everybody
watching this investigation, left, right and center, appears to be feeling
the same sort of tectonic shift, signifying what might be about to happen
next. And I don`t know if the Mueller investigation is now so unnerving
the White House that they are going to try to dismantle it or blow up that
But if we do get to that kind of a crisis point, at least none of us will
be able to say that we weren`t warned. Everybody`s throwing red flags over
the possibility of firing Robert Mueller on both sides of the aisle right
We know that the president`s long-time close aide not just for this year at
the White House but also in the campaign and the Trump organization before
that Hope Hicks, long-time Donald Trump aide, has had a two-day-long
interview with Mueller`s investigators on Thursday and Friday of last week.
“The New York Times” has also since reported that Hope Hicks was given at
least two defensive briefings, both in the Situation Room at the White
House, both from senior counterintelligence officers at the FBI, warning
Hope Hicks about how many Russians were trying to contact her, as the Trump
administration took office. Quote: American intelligence and law
enforcement agencies became alarmed by introductory e-mails that Hope Hicks
received from Russian government addresses in the weeks after Mr. Trump`s
After Trump took office, senior FBI counterintelligence agents met with
Hope Hicks in the White House Situation Room at least twice. They gave her
the names of the Russians who had contacted her and said that they were not
who they claimed to be. The FBI was concerned that the e-mails to Hope
Hicks may have been part of a Russian intelligence operation. The meetings
with Hicks, what the FBI calls a defensive briefing, went beyond the
standard security advice that senior White House officials routinely
receive upon taking office. Defensive briefings are intended to warn
government officials about specific concerns or risks.
So, after Hope Hicks had her two big days of interviews, testimony with the
Mueller investigators Thursday and Friday, that was the reporting from “The
New York Times” that followed.
Now, today NBC news has this scoop. Quote: Special counsel Robert Mueller
is trying to piece together what happened inside the White House what
happened over a critical 18-day period when administration officials were
told that national security adviser Michael Flynn was susceptible to
blackmail by Russia. The questions about what happened between January
26th and Flynn`s firing on February 13th appear to relate to possible
obstruction of justice by President Donald Trump. Quote: Mueller is trying
to determine why Flynn remained in his post for 18 days after Trump learned
of Sally Yates`s warning about him.
Mueller appears to be interested in whether Trump directed Flynn to lie to
senior officials, including Vice President Mike Pence, or if he directed
Flynn to lie to the FBI and if so, why.
If Trump knew his national security adviser lied to the FBI in the early
days of his administration, it would raise serious questions about why
Flynn was not fired until February 13th and whether Trump was attempting to
obstruct justice when FBI Director James Comey says the president pressured
him to drop his Flynn investigation.
So, this is the new scoop from NBC News today. Really important story.
And it`s important for – and I`m not saying it`s important because it`s
NBC News. Like, right? This is important for two reasons.
First this reporting would seem to confirm that obstruction of justice,
including potentially by the president himself, is the focus of interviews
that are being conducted now by Mueller`s investigators. And you know, it
is one thing to sense that might be an area of interest for the
investigation. It`s one thing to know amorphously that the president
didn`t like the Russia investigation, that he tried to figure out ways to
make it go away. It would be a much stickier wicket for the White House
and the president personally if they`re put in the position of having to
explain why the president of the United States kept this national security
adviser in the White House for 18 days after he knew that the national
security adviser had committed a serious crime, a crime for which Flynn has
now pled guilty.
If the president knew, if the president was aware that Flynn had lied to
the FBI and nevertheless kept him on staff as national security adviser, if
the president was aware that Flynn had committed a crime and then he
nevertheless tried to stop the FBI investigation into that crime, that is
easy. That`s easy. That`s like the fifth-grade civics textbook
explanation of obstruction of justice. And that will become very hard for
even the most partisan and ardent admirers of the president to explain
So, on this first important point, the president`s potential culpability
for obstruction of justice. NBC also makes one other factual point which I
think the White House is going to have to sort out soon. Like I don`t know
if they can sort it out in the next day or so, but I can`t imagine they can
let this go that many more days before they just come up with something.
And that is that the White House refuses to answer, refuses to characterize
in any way when the president first learned that Flynn had lied to the NBA.
This is from NBC`s scoop today.
Quote, “Trump`s legal team and senior White House aides are refusing to say
when and how the president first learned that Flynn had lied to the FBI.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders has repeatedly referred
questions to lawyer John Dowd about when Trump knew Flynn had lied to the
FBI. John Dowd has declined multiple requests to answer that question.
So, the first reason this new NBC reporting is really important is the
obstruction of justice issue. The president`s criminal culpability on that
may all hinge on when the president knew that Flynn lied to the FBI. The
White House will not characterize that information. The White House has no
answer to that question. I mean, there is an answer empirically clearly in
the world. There became a time when for some specific reason the president
came to know that Mike Flynn had lied to the FBI. This is a knowable
empirical thing. But they will not say anything. They will not
Why not? And how long can that be left hanging in the breeze? You`re
going to have to come up with some answer. It`s find-outable. Have you
Here`s the second big implication of this NBC story, and I will leave you
with this. Mike Pence is in trouble. Now, it is possible that the vice
president did nothing wrong, nothing criminal. But he really has been left
out in the cold by the White House when it comes to the Michael Flynn story
and Michael Flynn`s guilty plea. The White House is still telling a story
about how and why and when Mike Flynn was fired, a story that all depends
on this account by and about the vice president that is now disproven, that
doesn`t make any sense.
And they are trying I guess to stick with this thing. But they really do
need a new account now of how Michael Flynn was fired and why because the
old one can no longer be operative. I mean, what had been their operative
explanation for why Flynn was fired is that the White House was shocked,
shocked to learn that Mike Flynn had lied to Vice President Mike Pence
about his conversations with the Russian government. That`s their story,
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Did you direct Mike Flynn to discuss sanctions with the Russian
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: No, I didn`t.
REPORTER: – prior to your inauguration?
TRUMP: No, I didn`t. Mike –
REPORTER: And would you have fired him if the information hadn`t leaked
TRUMP: Excuse me. No, I fired him because of what he said to Mike Pence.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That is how the White House up to and including the president
himself have explained the firing of national security adviser Mike Flynn.
Fired him because he lied to Mike Pence. That story has now been
disproven. That account cannot be true.
First of all, Mike Pence himself says he realized with shock, shock, on
February 9th that he had been lied to by Mike Flynn about his contacts with
Russia. The vice president says he realized with shock, realized that he`d
been lied to by Mike Flynn when the “Washington Post” reported on February
9th that Flynn had in fact talked to Russia about sanctions.
If that news was literally news to President Trump and Vice President Pence
and the White House and if that news was shocking and a clear firing
offense for Mike Flynn, then why did they wait another four days to fire
Mike Flynn? They didn`t fire him on February 9th. They fired him four
days later, on February 13th.
But here`s the part that has fallen apart in an even more damning manner.
Since Mike Flynn pled guilty to lying to the FBI about his conversations
with Russia, we have since learned that those conversations he had with
Russia, those were not exactly a personal secret that he was only
whispering about to his diary. Mike Flynn had phone and e-mail
conversations with Trump transition officials about those calls while they
were happening. We know that an e-mail discussing his talks with Russia
about sanctions was sent to Trump adviser Tom Bossert, soon to be White
House spokesman Sean Spicer, soon to be White House chief of staff Reince
Priebus, soon to be White House looming specter Steve Bannon, and others.
In December, they all knew in December the details of Mike Flynn talking to
Russia about sanctions. And then, thereafter, at least some of them
started lying about that publicly.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REINCE PRIEBUS, FORMER WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: The subject matter of
sanctions or the actions taken by the Obama administration did not come up
in the conversation.
SEAN SPICER, FORMER WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: They exchanged logistical
information on how to initiate and schedule that call. That was it, plain
MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They did not discuss
anything having to do with the United States` decision to expel diplomats
or impose censure against Russia. I can confirm that those elements were
not part of that discussion.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Those were all false statements. Sean Spicer and Reince Priebus,
we now know, had been notified otherwise. Had been notified of the truth
of the matter when they made those false public statements about Flynn and
Russia. Why did they then lie about it publicly?
And when it came to the vice president, either he was lying too just like
Sean Spicer and Reince Priebus were, which is possible. And that
possibility shouldn`t be discounted. I think it`s fair to say that the
vice president`s assertion that`s he was telling the truth on that matter
as far as he knew, I think those assertions should no longer be taken at
When it comes to the vice president, there are really only two options, and
neither of them are the White House story about what happened. Either Mike
Pence like Reince Priebus, like Sean Spicer, lied about Flynn and Russia,
he knew the real story and he just told a fake story to the public, or he
thought he was telling the truth.
But if he thought he was telling the truth, he wasn`t just lied to by Mike
Flynn. He was lied to by Mike Flynn and KT McFarland and Tom Bossert and
Steve Bannon and Sean Spicer and Reince Priebus, and who knows who else.
All of whom were in on what Flynn had done with Russia. And all of whom
stood by and let the vice president make all these false statements about
it multiple times on national television, on different networks, with
different interviewers over and over and over again, false statements.
I mean, the White House version of events here has fallen apart when it
comes to the vice president. If lying to Mike Pence is such a shocking
firing offense, then that ought to have been the reason to fire all of
those people from the transition and from the White House. But it wasn`t.
They say that was only a shocking firing offense for Mike Flynn.
That doesn`t make any sense. I mean, choose your own adventure here.
Either Vice President Mike Pence is totally truthful and everyone lied to
him while he was running the transition and all these people who answered
to him, they all lied to him, they all allowed him to take public lies
knowingly and for some reason he has never minded that at all, never
Or the vice president told the same lies to cover up for Flynn that
everybody else did too. In which case, why? Why did he do that? And why
did all these other senior members of the White House staff all tell lies
to cover up what Mike Flynn did when they knew otherwise?
Mike Flynn has now pled guilty to lying to the FBI, and he is cooperating
with the Mueller investigation. The White House explanation for why Flynn
was fired is that he had to be fired because he lied to the vice president.
That explanation is plainly not true. And Robert Mueller`s investigators
are now reportedly on that like lions on a gazelle.
This part of the White House explanation for its own behavior around Russia
has never made sense from the very beginning. But now I at least finally
have a sense that somebody`s going to figure out the real deal.
MADDOW: This past summer, when it was Michigan`s turn to cast their votes
at the Republican National Convention, the actual word, the actual person
speaking to the microphone, the announcement for Michigan came from the
chairwoman of the Michigan Republican Party. A proud, very proud niece of
a former Republican presidential nominee.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RONNA ROMNEY MCDANIEL, RNC CHAIR: Secretary, my name is Ronna Romney
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Ronna Romney McDaniel! Emphasis on the original.
After the election, Ronna Romney McDaniel went on to become head of the
National Republican Party, but as we know that promotion came with a catch
related to her name. According to “The Washington Post”, before she took
the reins at the RNC, President Trump came to her with a request. Would
she be willing to stop using her middle name, please? And Ronna Romney
McDaniel said yes.
To avoid giving Mitt Romney any free advertising in Trump`s new Republican
Party, his niece would drop her name. She dropped the Romney, stopped
using her full name on party communications on the official Republican
Website, and in media appearances.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Joining us now to discuss is Ronna McDaniel,
Republican national committee chairwoman.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ronna McDaniel, thank you very much.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Ronna McDaniel.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ronna McDaniel.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Ronna McDaniel.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ronna McDaniel, GOP chairwoman.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ronna McDaniel, thanks so much.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Ronna Romney McDaniel, poof, now she`s got a new public name.
And now we know a name change for the party chair was not the only awkward
Trump request for the Republican Party. Last month, after “The Washington
Post” published allegations from four named women that Roy Moore had
pursued sexual relationships with them when he was a grown man and they
were teenagers as young as 14, the national Republican Party responded to
that news a few days later by cutting off all its financial and then staff
support for Roy Moore`s candidacy in Alabama. That principled stand from
the RNC lasted all of 20 days.
About a week after Ronna Romney McDaniel was summoned to the White House,
the party decided to jump head first back into that race to support Roy
Moore. We know that decision happened after the RNC chairwoman was invited
to the White House for a meeting. But who ultimately made that decision
about getting back in bed with Roy Moore? On what basis did they make that
decision? Does anybody want to own up to that and explain it?
Before now, we didn`t know. Nobody at the RNC was saying on the record
about how the money for Roy Moore decision was reversed. But now,
politico.com has a report that at a Republican fund-raising dinner last
week when Ronna Romney McDaniel was confronted by a party donor who said
she opposed this decision about Roy Moore, party chair Ronna McDaniel gave
her explanation saying at this fund-raiser that she made the decision,
quote, in agreement with the entire Alabama delegation in the House and
Senate and the Alabama RNC delegation to help fund Moore`s campaign.
The entire Alabama delegation in the House and Senate wanted the RNC to
start funding Roy Moore again? Really? That`s what you`re going with?
Are you sure?
Because those are knowable people. And the senior U.S. senator from
Alabama didn`t want you to do that. And the reason I know that is you can
see and hear for yourself because he speaks for himself.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. RICHARD SHELBY (R), ALABAMA: There`s a time, we call it a tipping
point, and I think so many accusations, so many cuts, so many drip, drip,
drip, when it got to the 14-year-old story, that was enough for me. I said
I can`t vote for Roy Moore.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: The National Republican Party is explaining its decision to
support Roy Moore by saying they started supporting Roy Moore again after
the allegations because Senator Richard Shelby told them to.
That would not seem to be true. Today, we asked both the Republican Party
and Senator Shelby`s office for comment. The party declined the
opportunity to clarify chairwoman Ronna Romney McDaniel`s remarks.
But meanwhile, Senator Shelby`s office disputed her account vociferously
telling us, quote, the senator did not play any role in the RNC`s decision.
Despite the fact that the RNC says he did.
Joining now is Kyle Whitmire. He`s a political columnist for “The Alabama
Mr. Whitmire, thank you very much for joining us. Nice to have you here.
KYLE WHITMIRE, POLITICAL COLUMNIST, THE ALABAMA MEDIA GROUP: Thank you,
MADDOW: Let me ask you about the Richard Shelby factor. Obviously, he`s
the senior senator in Alabama. A well-known figure, a name figure in the
state for decades.
He has said he wouldn`t vote for Roy Moore. He`s now contesting the story
from the RNC that he told them to get back in the race in support of Roy
Moore. What do you think the Richard Shelby effect is going to be if
WHITMIRE: I think it would have been more effective had he come out this
strongly a couple of weeks ago before other state Republicans sort of
retreated to, you know, the nearest corner before – excuse me. I keep
calling her Lieutenant Governor Kay Ivey. She`s now Governor Kay Ivey.
But that`s another story.
Before, you know, she said that even though she believed these women, that
she was going to vote for Roy Moore. But it can have an impact. I mean,
don`t – I`m not trying to dismiss that right now. And it is a pretty
strong stand that he`s taking.
He went on television this weekend. He`s not really one for the Sunday
talk shows. He went on TV with the purpose of – I mean, let`s face it.
He basically cut an ad for Doug Jones with his statements this weekend and
gave a lot of Republicans here in Alabama license or permission to do the
And, you know, even if they don`t want to vote for a Democrat, find
someone, name anyone, maybe, I don`t know, Diane Bentley, someone like
that, to write in as their candidate and not someone like Roy Moore.
MADDOW: You mentioned Diane Bentley, who is the now divorced ex-wife of
the governor of Alabama who was felled by a sex scandal. That`s how
Lieutenant Ivey went from lieutenant governor to being governor. That
followed another scandal that took out the most powerful legislator in the
state. Mike Hubbard who was turfed out of office after being convicted of
multiple felony corruption accounts. And that, of course, followed Roy
Moore being thrown off the bench as chief justice of Alabama not once but
twice for defying federal court orders.
I mean, Alabama has had – I mean, a trifecta is what you`re hoping for
when you`re covering far away stories to make them seem relevant and
scandalous and interesting. Alabama has been suffering under scandal
trifectas upon trifectas for a long time now. That state-based history of
so many things going wrong in the Republican Party at the highest levels,
does that affect the way people are feeling about this vote tomorrow, do
WHITMIRE: I think it certainly affected the GOP primary. I mean, every
Alabama scandal seems to connect in a very tangential way to the one that
came before it. Remember, the reason why Luther Strange lost the GOP
primary was because Alabamians were mad at him because he solicited his
appointment to the U.S. Senate from a governor he was supposed to be
I think there`s fatigue, though. And I think that there are a lot of
voters out there who have just been worn down by one scandal after another
after another, and Doug Jones has an opportunity right now to leverage that
and take advantage of that.
I think just tonight, he has in his final rally Charles Barkley of all
people speaking and basically telling the crowd, Alabama, we`ve got to quit
doing stupid stuff here and put someone in office that we can be proud of.
And, you know, we need a two-party system again in this state if for no
other reason than to keep Republicans here on their toes and let them know
that they can`t get away with anything that they – just to let you know
that people are looking.
MADDOW: Kyle, one last question for you. I know you are a – you are a
keen observer not only of the characters in all these stories but also just
the political dynamics at work. The polls obviously are all over the map,
just wildly different polls. Tonight, we`ve got polls saying one
candidate`s ten points up and another poll says that same candidate is nine
MADDOW: What`s your sense of what`s going to happen tomorrow? You want to
venture a prediction?
WHITMIRE: I think there`s one important thing to point out about the
polls. If you look at the polls that have been taken, the ones they`ve
used, robo polls, auto-dialers, you know, automated polling, all of those
have gone towards Moore.
But those don`t tap into cell phones. They aren`t allowed to call cell
phones on those. And so, only people with land lines get those polls.
Those skew older and they skew more toward white households than people who
just have cell phones only. Those polls that have live people, real people
who are talking to real people and asking them questions, those polls have
all skewed towards Jones.
And so, it`s not just that these polls are all over the board, you have two
distinctly different outcomes in polling based on methodology and maybe
getting a little bit too wonkish here, but I think tomorrow we`re going to
find out which is the best way to poll people in Alabama.
MADDOW: Yes, we`re also –
WHITMIRE: And if I were to –
MADDOW: Sorry, go ahead.
WHITMIRE: Yes. If I were Doug Jones tonight, I would be feeling pretty
good because I think this is at least an even shot and that was not what he
thought he was going to have when he got into it.
MADDOW: Fascinating. Sorry for jumping in on you there at the end. Kyle
Whitmire, political columnist with the Alabama Media Group. Kyle, I
appreciate your time tonight. I know that you guys are going to be really
happy to get the national media off your backs for a while once this race
is gone. Thanks for being with us here tonight.
WHITMIRE: Thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: All right. Much more to come here tonight. Stay with us.
MADDOW: – sure. But tonight, anybody looking for the office of Arizona
Congressman Trent Franks, anybody looking for the Arizona office number or
anything at all from Congressman Franks gets sent instead to the U.S. House
of Representatives list of current vacancies.
The name Trent Franks is supposed to be right here with the names of the
previous two congressmen driven from office by some form of scandalous
behavior. They`re not even listing Trent Franks as gone yet. But he`s
gone. At some point, Congress will get around to adding the name Trent
Franks to this list of vacancies.
It was a very sudden departure. I mean, when we left the story last week,
Congressman Franks had just confessed to my discussion of surrogacy with
two previous female subordinates. Surrogacy as in someone to carry a baby
for the congressman and his wife.
Now, Trent Franks made a vague self-exonerating statement about him seeking
surrogacy for him and his wife from some of his staffers and even though he
said he`d done nothing wrong, he nevertheless announced he would be
quitting. He would leave Congress at the end of next month on January
31st, 2018. That`s where we left it.
But Congressman Franks did not make it anywhere near the end of January.
The very next day, after his self-exonerating statement and his
announcement that he would eventually leave, the next day on Friday, the
Associated Press reported new details of his discussion of surrogacy with
his former staffers. One former aide telling “The A.P.”: the congressman
repeatedly pressed her to carry his child, at one point offering her $5
million to act as a surrogate.
The former staffer said the congressman at least four times asked if she
would be willing to act as a surrogate in exchange for money. The former
aide said the conversations took place in private, sometimes in the
congressman`s car, and that she repeatedly told him she was not interested.
Quoting the staffer: During my time there I was asked a few times to look
over a contract to carry his child and if I would conceive his child, I
would be given $5 million. So, that was from “The A.P.”
Then, according to the “New York Times”, women staffers said they believed
the congressman didn`t just mean surrogacy the way you might be thinking of
involving a doctor`s office. Women staffers say they think he meant to
impregnate them in the old-fashioned way.
And then back to “The A.P.,” quote, the aide cited the surrogacy requests
as a main reason for leaving Franks` office, adding that she felt
retaliated against after turning down the congressman, ignored by Franks
and no longer given many assignments.
As that news was appearing, Trent Franks went from resigning, oh, sometime
next month to gone so fast they couldn`t even add his name to the list of
vacancies before they unplugged his Website.
The Arizona governor did today set the dates for electing a replacement for
Congressman Franks. That Arizona primary will be on February 27th and
general election will be April 24th. Maybe by then, we will all be over
the shock of this particular shock resignation story. Maybe.
MADDOW: We think of U.S. presidents in terms of major world issues they
have to deal with being stuff like wars and recessions and civil rights and
stuff. But often, it is not the macro, you know, big historical issues
that occupy much of their day-to-day time. It`s the micro level business
of staying in power and getting your way. And a lot of times that`s the
micro-level business of counting. How many Republicans in Congress, how
many Democrats on a key committee, how many seats could be flipped to help
you the president or harm you on something important to your presidency.
Two weeks before Richard Nixon resigned from the presidency in 1974, he was
doing a lot of very specific counting. The House Judiciary Committee was
considering articles of impeachment against him to be submitted to the full
house, 38 members of the House Judiciary Committee, 21 of them were
Democrats. Democrats were Nixon`s opposition.
That meant that he really needed some Democratic votes. Four votes or so
could make or break his presidency, could decide if the impeachment went
forward or not.
Well, President Nixon tried to give those votes a little nudge in his
direction. He made a bold decision that he would call up Alabama Governor
George Wallace, a segregationist stalwart who had run for president a
bunch, he still wielded a lot of influence among segregationist
conservative southern Democrats. The president called Governor George
Wallace in Alabama and asked him to persuade certain members of that
judiciary committee to vote against the articles of impeachment.
He asked Governor Wallace, quote: Are you with me?
And this could be the make or break for Nixon`s impeachment, if Wallace
would just swing some Democrats for him. Are you with me, Governor
George Wallace answered, quote: No, Mr. President, I`m afraid I`m not.
Then the president hung up and he turned to his chief of staff Alexander
Haig and he said, well, Al, there goes the presidency.
And two weeks later, he was right. It has been 43 years since that phone
call. Tomorrow, we are facing another collision between national and
Alabama state politics when the Alabama voters will send to Washington,
D.C. a senator who can make or break this president`s first attempt at a
Doug Jones or Roy Moore gets elected tomorrow, tax bill vote could be as
soon as the day after that.
Joining us now is Michael Beschloss, NBC News presidential historian.
Mr. Beschloss, lovely to see you. Thank you for being here.
MICHAEL BESCHLOSS, NBC NEWS PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Thank you. Lovely to
see you, Rachel.
MADDOW: In bringing up the relationship between President Nixon and
Alabama politics at his time of crisis, I am borrowing your attention to
that precedent. What – is that just a historical echo that`s uncanny?
Are there lessons we can take from that?
BESCHLOSS: It really is uncanny. You know, I think the team tonight of
that story is a saying that Nixon knew well, which is: revenge is a dish
best served cold.
Wallace was getting revenge because 1970, Wallace was running in the
Democratic primary for governor against the incumbent Albert Brewer. Nixon
wanted to wipe out Wallace in this gubernatorial primary because he was
worried that Wallace would run third party in 1972 again and rob him of the
presidency as he had nearly done in 1968. So, Nixon poured all sorts of
secret money into brewer`s campaign, gave brewer all sorts of secret help,
which Wallace knew.
And the result was that in the end, Wallace narrowly won the primary for
governor, became governor again, and Wallace remained furious at Nixon so
that, you know, Nixon as you said when he calls Wallace up in `74 and says
please, help me stop impeachment, Wallace says forget it.
MADDOW: Do you think that Wallace – I mean, just for historical purposes
– do you think Wallace could have swayed Democrats if he wanted to on that
BESCHLOSS: Well, I think he certainly could. The key one was a
congressman named Walter Flowers who was an Alabama Democrat who was very
close to Wallace and Wallace could have had a lot to do with that. And as
you suggested, Nixon thought that Flowers and maybe one or two others were
the difference between being impeached or not.
MADDOW: Michael, the president this time around as obviously put his chips
on Roy Moore, endorsing him, making a robocall for him, during campaign
events trying to help him.
BESCHLOSS: That he has.
MADDOW: Is there a – I mean, is there a way to look at this from a
historical perspective to see if there`s likely to be a cost to the
president if Judge Moore loses? Is this basically just a free play for the
president? Do these things pay up instead of just paying down when they go
wrong in terms of endorsements?
BESCHLOSS: Oh, I think they do. And in this case, I think, you know,
Donald Trump may feel that he`s gaining a vote if Roy Moore wins, but I
think during the next year if Roy Moore wins, he`s going to be to many
people the face of the Republican Party with these very weird views that
are racist and, you know, his own background as a child molester by all
That is not something that a wise president would want as the face of the
Republican Party for next year. So, I think Donald Trump, you know, may
think he`s being very shrewd and Machiavellian in trying to help Roy Moore
become a senator. A year from now if that happens, I think he may be
MADDOW: Michael Beschloss, NBC News presidential historian, thank you very
much for your time tonight. And thank you for always – always helping us
connect back to this stuff that makes – today make much more sense. You
are invaluable, my friend.
BESCHLOSS: My pleasure always. Thank you, Rachel.
All right. We`ll be right back. Stay with us.
MADDOW: – connects Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and Kittery, Maine, over
the Piscataqua River. The big chunk in the middle actually lifts up so
boats can go through it. When it`s up boats go through it. And when it`s
down, you can drive across it or you can walk.
This weekend, in the blustery snow, the memorial bridge looked like this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DEMONSTRATORS: Yes, you can! Stop the scam! Yes, you can!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: This was the Maine side of this bridge between Maine and New
Hampshire this weekend in the storm. Protesters marching across state
lines in the wind and the snow to demonstrate against the Republican tax
bill. Hundreds of people gathered in the park just over the bridge to
rally their Senator Susan Collins to vote no on the bill and frankly to
threaten to turf her out of office if she votes yes instead.
This was Oklahoma City this weekend. Better weather. Still a little cold.
Donald Trump won every single county in Oklahoma last year. But on
Saturday, hundreds of Oklahomans rallied outside the Oklahoma state house
against the Republican tax bill.
They wrote down messages in sharpie on a big poster board to send to one of
their Senators James Lankford to let them know how unhappy they are about
his support for that bill.
In Louisville, Kentucky this weekend there was the Trump chicken at their
big rally. There were trash bags full of fake money at the big rally in
Boston. There were a bunch of cold people outside the courthouse in frigid
Milwaukee, Wisconsin, this weekend.
For months now, the Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, the guy in charge of
all the money, he has been insisting that the Treasury Department would
churn out a super-detailed analysis of all the wonderful things this tax
bill would do. He`s been saying for months that hundreds of people at the
Treasury Department had been working day and night, crunching the numbers
for their big report.
Today, we finally got that report. This is it. This is not like the cover
page. This is it. This is the entire analysis from the Treasury
It fits on one page. It is 470 words long. And that`s only if you include
the footnotes. There are no calculations in this report. There are no
statistics of any kind or data to back up anything it says. But obviously
they say it`s going to be awesome.
Their Cracker Jack report looks more like a haiku than a detailed economic
projection, but Republicans in Congress are moving as fast as they can to
try to get this thing passed. The House and Senate are reconciling their
two versions of the bill right now, and when that wraps up, they hope to
put it to a vote next week. We think they will start probably working on
some sort of conferred version of it as soon as the end of this week.
They`ll send it to the president`s desk before Christmas if they get what
they want. But maybe they won`t get what they want. Right now, people at
home will have a lot to lose if this bill passes are letting their
representatives and senators know how they feel about this bill and how
they feel about the people who may vote for it.
Watch this space.
MADDOW: OK. Here`s the thing. I`m going to note this without comment. I
just want you to know that this has just happened.
As you know, as we`ve been talking about tonight, tomorrow is the big U.S.
Senate race in Alabama. Tonight at a rally in Midland City, Alabama
Republican candidate Roy Moore was introduced by his wife, Kayla. And then
this is a thing that happened.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KAYLA MOORE, ROY MOORE`S WIFE: Fake news would tell you that we don`t care
for Jews. I tell you all this because I`ve seen it all. So I just want to
set the record straight while they`re here.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
One of our attorneys is a Jew.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Well, that settles that, then. That just – that just happened.
That does it for us tonight. We wll see you again tomorrow.
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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