Trump approval rating Transcript 12/13/17 The Rachel Maddow Show
Show: THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW
Date: December 13, 2017
Guest: Merika Coleman, Eric Swalwell
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST, ALL IN: Black PAC, a really fascinating
organization, also did work on the ground.
Cornell Belcher and Amanda Litman, thank you for joining me tonight.
That is “ALL IN” for this evening.
THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts right now.
Good evening, Rachel.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chris. Thanks, my friend.
HAYES: You bet.
MADDOW: And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour.
If you watched our coverage last night of the U.S. Senate election in
Alabama, I hope you were still watching, not just for my hour, but I hope
you were still watching right up until the moment the race was actually
called by NBC. Did you watch that late?
News organizations all make different determinations as to when they think
enough of the vote is in for them to be able to comfortably project who
wins a race. Every news organization has its own approach to that.
Everybody takes it very seriously and operates with rigorous independence
on stuff like that. Last night, that resulted in calls for that Senate
race coming in at different times.
“The Associated Press”, I think, called the Senate race for Doug Jones at
around 10:30 p.m. Eastern Time. Here at MSNBC, we take all of our election
calls from NBC News, in any election where NBC does a call.
Last night, NBC`s projection in the Alabama Senate race took a few minutes
longer than the “A.P.`s” did. It was still before 11:00 Eastern Time, but
later than the “A.P.” and some other news organizations had called it. And
I`m not complaining about that. That is more than fine by me, as far as
I`m concerned, the rule there is, better right than first.
And that is true in all aspects of this business and in life. It`s
particularly important when it comes to calling an election. So, I tell
you all of this because the way that worked, logistically around here, last
night, while we were continuing to watch the vote come in, my hour was
over, Lawrence was hosting. It was starting to look like things were
really going in Doug Jones` direction, but it wasn`t over yet.
And in the 10:00 hour, at one point, Joy Reid and I were both on set with
Lawrence, as we were all watching those numbers come in, we`re commenting
on what we understand those numbers mean, this is a very exciting
culmination of the race. And we could see where things were going, right
and we`re wondering when people are going to start making calls. We don`t
control that. We`re wondering what we`re going to hear.
And we had two things on screen simultaneously. Did you see this last
night? On the right side of the screen, we had Steve Kornacki in his
patented khakis and his oxford shirt, right? He has this big red and blue
touch screen map of Alabama. And Steve was sort of frantically and
expertly refreshing that map in real-time, going county by county by county
to process all the results as they`re coming in.
So, Steve is a fixture now on the right side of the screen. We`re never
taking him off-camera. Lawrence just keeps going back to Steve over and
over again, every time new numbers come in. That`s on the right side of
On the other side of the screen, by then NBC had not called it, but we
could all see where the numbers were going, we were aware that some other
news organizations had started to call it. We have good reason to believe
it`s likely going to be a Doug Jones victory.
Honestly, the shot that we had of Roy Moore`s campaign at the same time
looked like an oil painting, right? Nobody was moving. Everybody had very
long faces. They were obviously very worried.
Doug Jones` campaign headquarters, that equivalent shot was starting to
look like a party. You know, they`re getting to the point where they`re
starting to be convinced that Doug Jones had won. So, at that point, as
we`re getting really close to a call, we started keeping up on the left
side of the screen, just a fixed camera shot of the crowd at Doug Jones`
headquarters in Birmingham. And Steve Kornacki`s on the right with the
This is what it was like in studio to be covering this on TV last night.
And that shot of Doug Jones` Birmingham headquarters living on the left
side of our screen and not being taken down, that is how we met the hero
kid of the Alabama United States Senate special election of 2017. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That`s going to be put off until next year, until after they can
count on Luther Strange to vote for their tax bill and the spending bill
and anything else they want. When he put out that announcement, that
whoever wins wasn`t going to get sworn in, I wondered if McConnell had some
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST, THE LAST WORD: I saw your tweet about
that. And I jumped on that, because oftentimes, they are sworn in, within
a day or two, sometimes, of these elections. But it`s – for the Senate,
it`s all about getting certified results from a state, and Alabama can be
relied on to drag its feet, on certifying this new Democratic senator.
Go ahead, Steve Kornacki, we`re back at you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: So real-time in the studio, Lawrence starts talking, and I`m look
– what is that kid doing?
And, in fact, right at that moment, we went back to Steve Kornacki and then
Doug Jones won the election and that kid got swamped. All right? But that
kid clearly was our sign from the heavens that something big was about to
happen, right? This young man, too young to vote, but too amazing not to
win the night, random flexing superpower kid, you were the best thing on
television last night.
For a Democrat to win a U.S. Senate seat in Alabama does feel like a
miracle. And I mean that not like in the sense that it feels like, oh, a
political anomaly. I mean, it feels like a religious miracle, where the
heavens had to shift and we had to get otherworldly signs to brace
ourselves that something unreal was about to happen. We know in fact that
what happened was not technically miraculous.
It was the rational product of a lot of flesh and blood work by a lot of
real human beings. But it did feel miraculous last night, and it has felt
miraculous all day, even as the defeated Republican candidate is now going
on 24 hours and trying to claim that last night never really happened. As
I mentioned with, the A.P. called the race at around 10:30 Eastern Time
last night. Everybody else had called it within a half an hour.
Doug Jones then soon came out and gave his victory speech in Birmingham.
And soon thereafter, we got word that despite the fact that everybody had
called the race for Doug Jones and it seemed like a clear win, despite the
fact that Doug Jones had declared victory, despite the fact that President
Trump had even congratulated Doug Jones on his victory, despite all of
that, word came down that Roy Moore was not planning on conceding.
Now, at around 11:30 Eastern last night, Roy Moore came out to address the
people who remained at his very quiet headquarters, but he only came out to
tell them that he was under the impression that this race was not over.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROY MOORE (R), ALABAMA SENATE CANDIDATE: Realize when the vote is this
close, that it`s not over. And we still got to go by the rules, about this
recount provision, and the secretary of state has explained it to us, and
we`re expecting that the press will go up there and talk to them to find
out what the situation is. But we also know that God is always in control.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: God may always be in control, but whether an election is over or
not, whether there`s going to be a recount or not, the way that God
controls that, if God is controlling that, is with a number of votes you
In refusing to concede last night, Roy Moore said something specific about
why he wasn`t conceding. He said his campaign was conferring with the
secretary of state about the recount provision. And after Roy Moore raised
that possibility, that`s when things got really weird. Because the Alabama
secretary of state did then go on national television to try to explain to
the country what the recount provision is in Alabama.
And that exercise could not have been more awkward in the moment, but what
the secretary of state said, what he explained to the country was also just
totally legally wrong.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Kaylee Hartung from CNN is with the secretary of
state of Alabama. And maybe can help clear some of this up. Kaylee, do
you – take it away, Kaylee.
KAYLEE HARTUNG, CNN REPORTER: Thank you, Jake.
Secretary Merrill, Roy Moore, we just heard from him. He`s on his way
here. What do we need to understand about the conversation that will take
place when he arrives?
JOHN MERRILL, ALABAMA SECRETARY OF STATE: I don`t know that Judge Moore is
coming here, I`m not expecting that. I`m expecting other people from the
media to come here. I`m not very comfortable in visiting with Judge Moore
or anybody in his campaign tonight.
HARTUNG: So, at this point, do you believe there is a chance of a recount?
MERRILL: Well, there`s always a chance of a recount, because any candidate
can ask for a recount, and if they pay for it, they can receive a recount.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That was the Alabama secretary of state last night on CNN,
explaining, awkwardly, in his own words, what he believed to be the recount
provision in Alabama. It`s important, because that`s what Roy Moore is
citing to explain why he is not conceding this race.
I have to tell you, what the secretary of state just said there about
Alabama`s recount provision is not true. Can we run just that last little
bit of tape, just one more time?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MERRILL: Any candidate can ask for a recount, and if they pay for it, they
can receive a recount.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That is not true, as a matter of Alabama law.
Under Alabama law, as explained in the Alabama election manual and as
shouted from the rooftops by election expert Rick Hasen today, what she
just explained there about getting a recount if you pay for it, that`s only
true if you run for state office in Alabama. That is not true if you are
running for a federal office like, say, U.S. senator.
So, confusion about the law has been a pronounced feature of the Roy Moore
candidacy, and indeed, his entire turn in public life. He has maintained,
for example, that a person can be banned from public office on the basis of
his religion, when he said Muslims shouldn`t be allowed to serve in
Congress. For example, he was twice thrown off the bench in Alabama for
refusing to obey federal court orders, because he thought he didn`t need
Well, arguably, there was also a legal understanding, a legal
misunderstanding at work when the Moore campaign seemed to apply that it
was all right for a grown man to have sexual contact with a 14-year-old
girl, provided the girl`s parents handed her over to the grown man. I
mean, there`s been a lot of legal misunderstandings when it comes to the
high points of the Moore candidacy.
But, right now, in the wake of this loss by Roy Moore, this stunning
Democratic victory last night in Alabama, we are in sort of a weird legal
situation because Roy Moore still isn`t conceding. And he says he`s not
conceding because he believes he`s entitled to pay for a recount in the
race. And he says he believes that because he conferred with the secretary
of state. And it may be that the secretary of state has told him that is
the case. But the secretary of state is wrong.
I mean, had this race been closer than a half percent between Doug Jones
and Roy Moore, yes, there would have been an automatic recount paid for by
the state. But Roy Moore lost by more than three times that margin to
Jones. And he can`t just pay for a recount if he wants one. There`s no
provision for that in Alabama law.
But the secretary of state doesn`t appear to know that. So, what next?
I mean, on its face, this race does appear to be over. It`s just a matter
of the state certifying the vote. But 22 1/2 hours on from that little kid
dancing into my heart, there has been no concession from Roy Moore. And
there`s – actually, there`s been no word from Roy Moore whatsoever.
The secretary of state has misstated the recount law in his own state on
national television. And although this particular secretary of state in
Alabama makes a practice of frequently issuing clarifications on legal
matters on his Website on all sorts of election-related stuff, today he has
apparently issued no clarification whatsoever. So, it`s this weird thing
that`s now sort of feels like background music to this big national story,
There is this national furor, national excitement over what happened last
night in Alabama, but technically, last night in Alabama is not settled, if
you ask one side in that contest.
Now, that may end up having implications both in Alabama and in Washington,
D.C. We`re going to be talking about both of those prospects over the
course of this hour tonight, which means we`re going to be going back to
Birmingham tonight. Alabama, I`m sorry, you are not yet free of the plague
of national media that has descended upon you.
In the wake of last night`s shock results, the country has today learned a
lot more about Doug Jones, this life-long Alabamian Democratic prosecutor
who beat Roy Moore last night. In the wake of last night`s shock results,
the Democratic Party has once again affirmed the importance and the
centrality of the African-American community within the Democratic
In the wake of last night`s shock results, the Democratic Party – excuse
me – the Republican Party has spent the day fighting about whose fault it
is that Roy Moore was nominated in the first place, let alone that he was
beaten in a state like Alabama. But in the wake of last night`s shock
results, the bigger electoral question, bigger political question for
everybody after these results came in last night is what does this mean
about what`s going to happen next? How worrying should last night`s
results be for the Republican party going forward?
I mean, it`s one thing for them to be having their day-long recriminations
today about what just happened and who`s to blame and how terrible Steve
Bannon is, right? It`s one thing for them to talk about why this went
wrong. It`s another thing for them to try to figure out if what happened
last night is foreshadowing about what`s about to happen to the Republican
Party over the next year and into the next elections and what may happen to
the Trump presidency.
All right, how worried are Republicans after last night? If you are trying
to quantify that, if you`re trying to figure out how to measure the amount
of national Republican worry over the past 24 hours, there are a couple of
pieces of data that you should factor in there that did not get a lot of
attention today. But that`s what they mean, and we`ve got that, next.
MADDOW: Do you know about the other election that happened last night,
other than the Doug Jones Roy Moore race in Alabama? Obviously, a U.S.
Senate race is always going to be a big deal special election, but you
know, there was also another one that was a state senate election last
night in the great state of Iowa.
In northwestern Iowa, a district that includes parts of Sioux City, it`s a
very, very Republican part of Iowa. It`s a very Republican district. In
that district, Republicans outnumber Democrats two to one among registered
voters. Donald Trump`s margin of victory over Hillary Clinton in that
district was 41 points. Not that Trump got 41 percent of the vote. He got
41 points more than Hillary Clinton did. He just won there in a gigantic
Well, last night there was a special election to fill the seat from that
district in the Iowa senate. And a Republican still won, but that seat
last night swung 31 points in the Democrats` direction compared to last
November. And that kind of Democratic gain, a 31-point gain, it might be
tempting to dismiss that as a political anomaly, as well.
I`m told the Democrats ran a particularly good and effective and well-known
candidate in that race, but it turns out what happened in Iowa last night
wasn`t a one-off. There have been four contested special elections in Iowa
since the 2016 election. Last night was a 31-point shift to the Democrats.
The one before that was also a 31-point shift to the Democrats. The one
before that was a 34-point shift to the Democrats. And one before that was
a 32-point shift to the Democrats.
Now, I mean, some legislative districts, some congressional seats, even, in
some states, are going to be so partisan that that`s, you know, still a
comfortable margin for Republicans, right? There are some places that are
going to lean so Republican that you can have a 32 or 34-point swing toward
the Democrats and the Republican will still hold on to power. There are
places like that, but there are not that many places like that.
I mean, if you extrapolate dynamics like that to the whole country, 30, 32,
34-point swings. And not in just one night, like, in every – that`s the
range of outcomes there have been in Iowa since the election, four
different elections. Seeing the winds blowing in that direction, Texas
Democrats yesterday announced that for the first time in years, they will
run a Democrat to contest every single congressional seat in the Lone Star
state in 2018. They don`t usually do that, first time in 25 years.
They`re not doing it to make a point. They`re doing that because they
think they`re going to win some of those seats, because they think the win
winds right now are blowing so hard in the Democratic Party`s direction.
Then this morning, as the country was still absorbing the news that the
number of Republicans in the U.S. Senate is going to go down to 51, because
a Democrat is being added to the rolls from Alabama. What? As people were
reading three-inch headlines to that effect over their breakfast cereal all
over the country today, Republicans got something else to worry about that
is specific to the U.S. senate. What Senator Al Franken announced that he
would resign six days ago, we knew then that Democratic Governor Mark
Dayton in Minnesota because of the chance to choose Al Franken`s
replacement in the senate.
And there were considerable worries that Mark Dayton`s plan, his priority
was to pick somebody for the Franken seat who would be just a placeholder,
a person who wouldn`t run to hold on to that seat when it goes to the
voters next November 2018 on election day. The reason that was worrying to
Democratic political observers is because, frankly, incumbency helps. It`s
not everything, just ask Luther Strange, right? But generally speaking, in
the absence of some personal scandal affixed to that person, generally
speaking, it`s easier to hold on to a Senate seat you already have than it
is to win an open race for that seat.
So given the choice, why would Democrats only appoint a placeholder who`s
going to give the seat up? Thus, setting up their own party for what would
certainly be a hotly contested Democratic primary to pick a new Democratic
candidate to replace the appointee. And whoever won the primary would then
have to run against a Republican in the general election in a state that`s
really purple right now and that happens to have a lot of semi-popular,
well-known retired Republicans who are sitting around being bored in their
private sector jobs and want to get back into the U.S. Senate. Why only
appoint a placeholder?
Well this morning, Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton made his announcement
that his appointee to fill the Al Franken seat in the Senate would be
Minnesota`s Lieutenant Governor, Democrat Tina Smith. Tina Smith has long
experience in Minnesota state politics. She is apparently widely
respected. She`s definitely very well-connected.
But then she soon announced that she is not going to be a placeholder.
Despite those early reports, Tina Smith says she will accept this
appointment and she will run to hold on to Franken`s seat next year.
So, if you were tracking the Republican worry factor in the wake of the Roy
Moore/Doug Jones race last night. If you`re tracking that on a little
gauge today, the little spike mid-morning when it went like that is when
they found out the news about what`s happening to Al Franken`s seat. With
somebody being appointed to hold that seat who could very plausibly win it
in a general election with somebody who`s not just going to be a
placeholder, as had been previously reported, that Al Franken seat is not
nearly so up for grabs in 2018 as it seemed just one day ago.
And then as the day progressed, we got two other very blunt signs of
Republican worry in the wake of Roy Moore`s loss. Obviously, the Alabama
loss was bad news, not just for the president`s party, but for the
president himself. That has implications in terms of his political power,
President Trump had gone all in and campaigned for and endorsed and tried
to get Virginia to elected Gillespie, went all in for Ed Gillespie to be
Republican governor of Virginia. Ed Gillespie lost. Then the president
endorsed and campaigned for and tried to elect Luther Strange in the Senate
primary in Alabama and Luther Strange lost. And then the president went
all in and endorsed and campaigned for Roy Moore in the Senate election
last night in Alabama. And Roy Moore, too, lost, in Alabama, to a
And for a president who doesn`t come from his party in any real sense, who
is not of and for the Republican Party and doesn`t have a long track record
there with the party and therefore hasn`t built up a lot of trust and a lot
of relationships with them – I mean, he doesn`t really have independent
powers of persuasion when it comes to his party on Republican policy
issues. Really, the way that he gets his own way, the way that he gets his
party to do what he wants in Washington, is by them fearing or desiring his
political power, right? When they fear his political power, they fear what
it might mean to have the president against you. You know, for him to
direct his followers or his loyalist media, to criticize you.
When the president has political juice, that means he has the ability to
cause political outcomes. And the president`s political juice is really
all he`s got in terms of getting Republicans in Washington to go along with
him on anything.
Well, his political juice is at a low ebb right now. And so, as the result
of Alabama Senate election last night rolled into Washington like a fog,
Republicans announced, coincidentally, that they are rejecting, they are
pulling the plug on two of Trump`s most, forgive me, most embarrassing
When you have no fear of any political consequences that your president can
rain down on you, you are less willing to do something embarrassing on his
behalf, right? Like approve some of these lifetime appointment federal
judge nominees who have never tried a case and who have been rated
unqualified by the American Bar Association, two of the president`s most
embarrassing judicial nominees. People who were viewed as the most
blatantly embarrassing and dis – and unqualified for the job got yanked
today. They got yanked by the Republicans, because Republican senators
decided they were going to stop taking those particular risks for this
Your favor, sir, is no longer worth it.
The other sign of Republican worry today, and I will leave you with this,
was the surprise news that they have moved up the speed by which they
intend to pass their big tax bill. In terms of external constraints,
there`s no reason they need to be rushing to pass this, which would be the
biggest change to the tax code in 30 years. There`s no legislative
deadline. There`s nothing going on in the world that would require this to
happen so fast.
But nevertheless, today, surprise, within hours of the Roy Moore Senate
race results being announced, Republicans rushed to the microphones to tell
the media that they have a final version of their tax bill. They`re ready
to vote on it. They`re ready to get it done. They appear to be rushing to
do that for two sort of blatant reasons.
First, they now want to vote on it before Democrat Doug Jones gets sworn
in, in the Senate. They can count on a Republican vote for their tax bill
from Luther Strange, before Luther Strange goes home to Alabama. But the
other reason it seems they are rushing this thing is because this is what
it looks like on Capitol Hill pretty much every day now.
(VIDEO CLIP PLAYS)
MADDOW: These were protesters today in the office of Alaska Republican
Senator Lisa Murkowski. These were protesters today at the offices of
Kansas Republican Senator Jerry Moran. These were protesters today at the
offices of Maine Senator Susan Collins.
The only senator who got a different reception from these crowds of
protesters on the tax bill today was Senator Bob Corker, who is – you can
hear them here, Bob Corker is short, forgive me, so you can`t see him
walking through the middle of this crowd, but he happened to wander down
this hallway while these people were at another senator`s office. He voted
against the tax bill, so Senator Corker in the middle of all of these
protesters were greeted with cries of, thank you, thank you, senator.
The pressure on this tax bill is intense. It`s not getting a lot of
Beltway media coverage for some reason. But the protests against this tax
bill are intense on Capitol Hill. They`re also intense at the home offices
of members of Congress and senators.
The reconciled version that the Republicans announced today of their tax
bill gives even more tax benefits to corporations and rich people than the
last iteration of it that they voted on. So you can tell who they`re
really feeling the pressure from. But now, they`ve decided they need to go
even faster with. When protesters today were leaving Lisa Murkowski`s
office, their chant at one point changed to this.
(VIDEO CLIP PLAYS)
MADDOW: What they`re saying there is no Jones, no vote. In other words,
stop rushing to get this done. Why are you pushing ahead with this? Doug
Jones is going to be here soon enough to take a seat in the senate. Let`s
see how he wants to vote on this.
It was a nearly miraculous hard-work miracle last night for Democrats in
Alabama, but the Republican worry of the implications of what happened last
night, that is something Republicans are feeling coast-to-coast, and
definitely in Washington, D.C.
MADDOW: (AUDIO GAP) back the best thing that happened all night? Just for
a second, put it up. You guys have it.
Yes. Thank you, exuberant young person in Alabama politics. You were
great to see last night. You are very strong, you are great to see again
Aside from this kid superhero, there is one more thing from Birmingham that
you need to see about what happened last night and we`ve got that for you
next. Stay with us.
MADDOW: Here in one map is how Doug Jones became a United States senator
last night. This map does not show that Alabama is a blue state. What
this map actually shows is county by county, the Democratic shift in voters
in Alabama from the 2016 presidential election to the Senate special
election that took place last night.
So, the darker the blue color in each of these counties, the more
Democratic the vote was last night compared to what it was in the
Trump/Clinton election in 2016. Every single county, right? I mean, the
remarkable thing about this map is regardless of how each of the two
candidates did last night in each individual county, the story is the same
overall. In every one of these 67 counties of Alabama, every single county
in the state voted less Republican and more Democratic last night. Every
And when you have a uniform trend like that, it`s enough to overcome a 28-
point margin by which the Republican candidate won that statewide election
last fall. And part of that may be that Alabama doesn`t like Donald Trump
anymore. They obviously liked him a ton last year, but he was a clear
endorser and supporter of the Republican who lost the primary to Roy Moore
and then he was a clear endorser and supporter of Roy Moore last night.
The president`s White House senior strategist, Steve Bannon, was down in
Alabama multiple times, including on election day, rallying with Roy Moore.
Moore`s campaign was very much associated with Trump and Trumpism. Turns
out Trump and Trumpism are less popular in Alabama than they used to be.
Recent Fox News poll in Alabama had Donald Trump less favorable than Barack
Obama in Alabama. Exit poll data last night showed that the same
percentage of people viewed Trump unfavorably as they did favorably. From
a guy who won that state by 28 points.
So, from a national perspective, that`s one way to understand why the U.S.
Senate is about to get one more Democrat from this most unlikely of states.
But here`s one other way to look at it. This is the same voter data from
last night`s election viewed through a slightly different lens. This was
put together by Miles Coleman, who was an election analyst at Decision Desk
This shows how Alabama voters voted last night in each congressional
district in the state. There are seven congressional districts. And this
is what the vote last night looks like if you assign them to each of their
congressional districts. And you will notice here that only one of those
districts is blue, is Democratic.
What that means is that even with the gigantic every county in the state
shift in the Democratic Party`s direction last night, even with the
Democratic candidate getting a statewide win last night, outside the
recount margin, even with the Democratic candidate winning by huge margins
in every large population center in the state, he won Montgomery, he won
Birmingham, he won Mobile, he won Huntsville. Even with that huge shift
towards the Democratic Party and their candidate last night, had the same
people who turned out last night been casting those same votes, except they
counted for Congress instead of for Senate, that vote last night would have
still sent only one Democrat to Congress, and six Republicans, which is
what Alabama sends to Congress right now.
How is that possible? How do you get a vote that Democratic and it turns
in all of those Republicans and only one Democrat. What?
It`s because of something that the Republican Party did in 2010, which was
a plan called Red Map. It was a national program, but in places like
Alabama, it was very local, very practical, and it ended up being a big
deal for a long time.
The top Republican in the Alabama legislature later wrote a book about it,
explaining how the Republican Party did in 2010, which was a plan called
red map. It was a national program, but in places like Alabama, it was
very local, very practical, and it ended up being a big deal for a long
time. The top Republican in the Alabama legislature later wrote a book
about it, explaining how it worked in that state, which is part of why we
have an inside peek at what happened here. He`s now in prison, which is an
awkward footnote, but that`s how it goes. It`s Alabama.
It`s pretty simple, though, the plan. The National Alabama Party quietly
solicited funding from rich Republican donors from all over the country and
they secretly funneled the those donations into individual low-profile
statehouse and state senate races in Alabama. And they picked the races
they were supporting with this national money with the specific goal of
winning control of the state legislature for the Republican Party, right?
We think of Alabama as a red state, as a state that`s almost unilaterally
Republican controlled and has been for a long time. But that`s not true.
Before 2010, Democrats had held at least the House or the Senate or both
since after the civil war, since reconstruction. Republicans used this
national Red Map strategy to secretly fund a bunch of their legislative
candidates in 2010 and that is the only way they were able to win control
of the state legislature for the first time in a dog`s age.
It was 2010. That was a census year, which meant once they got control of
the legislature, they would then be in charge of redistricting. And that`s
when they drew these districts. They drew these districts for themselves
in the legislature and they drew districts for congressional seats.
And the way they drew all of those districts is to guarantee that even on a
huge Democratic night, like Democrats had last night in Alabama,
Republicans still get to hold on to power in the legislature and in
We talked to one of the Democratic leaders in the Alabama legislature last
night, Representative Merika Coleman, who told us that last night didn`t
just look like a win for Doug Jones, it looked to her like a real
opportunity for Democrats in Alabama in the 2018 elections next year, a new
start, a show of strength for a renewed, smart, vigorous Democratic Party
in her state. She made a very compelling case for it.
But now, here`s the test. Because this is the tilted playing field that
Democrats are playing on. They can have a night as good as the left side
of your screen, and it would still result in a balance of power like the
one you see on the right side of your screen. That is a tilted playing
But that is not made in nature, right? That was not handed down from God
or the Constitution. That is a reality that Republicans created through
their own political planning and execution. They weren`t even in charge of
the whole state, as recently as eight years ago.
But now that this Democratic Party in this Deep South state got up last
night and threw its head back and roared, the question is, is what the
Republicans have done in Alabama undoable? What would it take for
Democrats to be strong enough to tilt this playing field back to level? To
actually win any lasting power in that state? And what can Democrats in
the rest of the country learn from this miracle that they did pull off last
Joining us again tonight is Alabama Democratic State Rep. Merika Coleman.
Representative Coleman, it`s great to have you back. I knew as soon as I
said good night last night, I was hoping you could come back tonight.
STATE REP. MERIKA COLEMAN (D), ALABAMA: Great to be back. Thank you so
much for the invitation.
MADDOWE: Well, let me first ask you about your reaction. When we spoke
last night, you were confident, but we did not have final results. How do
you feel? I know you supported Doug Jones very fervently. How do you feel
and what`s the reaction you`ve seen in your state today?
COLEMAN: Well, with I`m in awe of the state of Alabama today. I am just
so excited that Alabamians across the state of Alabama, both Democrats,
Republicans, and independents alike, black, white, young, old, rich, poor,
went out to show the rest of the country that we are the type of Alabama
that is an inclusive Alabama and we have this coalition of folks that went
across the state that worked together and got Doug Jones elected.
And I`m just excited to show the country that we are not what some people
refer to as Bama or backwoods, when they use that derogatory term. That we
are that great state that is diverse and we`re excited about the leadership
of Doug Jones in the U.S. Senate.
MADDOW: Well, tell me about that coalition and that diversity that you`re
talking about, the kind of effort that you saw last night. I mean,
obviously, there was a lot of national interest. There was a lot of
national money that came into this race. It`s a race with big national
Do you feel like the Democratic Party in Alabama has been strengthened by
this process and has learned anything going forward in terms of trying to
reclaim more power at the state level and more congressional seats and all
the kind of things that would show off in the future the kind of strength
that we saw last night?
COLEMAN: Yes, 100 percent. Again, this is a coalition and the Democratic
Party nationally now sees that in the state of Alabama, we do have this
coalition of communities of color, of the LBGTQ community, of, again,
different people from social – different social and economic backgrounds,
that actually do come together around issues and that`s what you saw.
I was listening to your intro about Alabama and what are the opportunities
in the 2018 election. Of course, I`m the eternal optimist and very excited
about the opportunities. Although the Republicans tried to do everything
to stack and pack – that`s what we refer to as stacking and packing. When
they take all of the African-Americans or people in communities of color
and stack those in particular districts.
My district went from being 59 percent African-American to 69 percent
African-American under the Republicans` initial plan. The Alabama
legislative black caucus sued and we won. So, 12 of those districts were
deemed by that three-judge panel that they were actually drawn for racial
intent. Because those 12 we are identified that way, all 35 of the
districts that were leaning or majority/minority districts that lean
African-American, lean Democrat, had to be redrawn. So now we have more
So those influence districts are those districts that at least 25 percent
of African-American in other communities of color are within those
districts and they have the opportunity to influence the outcome. Now, it
might not be a Democrat that wins that election. But it might be more of a
centrist Republican. And not someone that is so far to the right, Tea
Party Freedom Caucus that we literally can`t have a conversation with them
So, again, I`m still very optimistic about 2018. I think that we`re going
end to up with a Democratic governor, when we had a governor in the state
of Alabama who said that she believed these women, but she was going to
choose to vote for Roy Moore. There is a target on Kay Ivey`s back and
we`re going to run with it and make sure that a Democrat is elected as
governor of the great state of Alabama.
MADDOW: Alabama Democratic State Representative Merika Coleman, thank you
very much for helping us understand your perspective on this and how this
is resonating in the state. A lot of focus tonight on how this is
resonating around the country, but how you`re talking about how it`s
resonating inside your own state I think is just as important and
fascinating. Thank you. Good luck to you.
COLEMAN: Yes, we`re excited today but we`re working already today.
MADDOW: I can tell you. Thank you, ma`am. Appreciate it.
More to come here tonight. Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D), CALIFORNIA, JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: Your testimony
today is that you believe Bob Mueller is a person of high integrity. Is
ROD ROSENSTEIN, DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL: Yes.
SWALWELL: You also believe his investigation is being conducted fairly.
SWALWELL: You also believe that – and you understand that he`s publicly
indicted two individuals with respect to his investigation.
SWALWELL: He`s also obtained two guilty pleas with respect to his
SWALWELL: Is there good cause to fire Bob Mueller as we sit here today?
ROSENSTEIN: Not to my knowledge.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein today tersely saying that
he sees no good cause to fire the special prosecutor, Robert Mueller.
Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein was in Congress testifying in the House
at a hearing where most of the Republican members of the committee wanted
to use that occasion to express their outrage about the terribleness of the
Robert Mueller investigation and what feels like an orchestrated effort to
set up the country for the fact that Robert Mueller is going to be
undermined or perhaps fired by the White House. That`s what it feels like
at least from a distance.
But joining us is Congressman Swalwell, Democrat of California, member of
the Judiciary Committee that heard that testimony today.
Congressman, thank you very much for being here tonight. Much appreciated.
SWALWELL: Of course. Thank you, Rachel, for having me back.
MADDOW: So, the Justice Department has released two reporters` text
messages of people that no longer work on the Mueller investigation in
which they discussed political reactions to things going on during the
campaign. Republicans focused on their texts that were critical of Trump.
But we have seen from the released messages that they were also critical of
Clinton, of Congress, of Bernie Sanders.
Do you understand what they`re so upset with about this alleged bias and
what do you make of their complains?
SWALWELL: Rachel, it seems they`re upset that Bob Mueller is making
progress in the investigation. And I hear on the Judiciary Committee an
ominous drumbeat to continue to discredit Bob Mueller and his team, and I
believe that drumbeat is a signal to the president because many expressed
that firing Bob Mueller without cause would be clearly obstruction of
justice. However, obstruction of justice referred to the House Judiciary
Committee. And if the Judiciary Committee members and if they signal they
themselves have problems with Bob Mueller like President Trump expressed
that the investigation is a hoax, then you can clearly see that there`s
little deterrent for President Trump from firing Bob Mueller. That`s the
real concern right now is that he may have a permissive environment from
MADDOW: In terms of the – I guess, the other side of the environment that
the president may be considering here is what the reaction would be within
the Justice Department if he ordered Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein
to fire Bob Mueller. Clearly, in his response most directly to you and
also in the rest of the responses today even to Republican members seemed
like Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein had no interest in entertaining the
idea that Mueller is not only fireable, he didn`t seem to want to entertain
any idea of bias or any sort of impermissible behavior or personnel
involved in the Mueller investigation.
SWALWELL: That`s right. I told Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein we`re
all counting on him. This investigation is a very narrow bridge and the
most important thing he can do is to not be afraid and fearlessly walk that
bridge and show independence, because he may be asked to fire Bob Mueller
and the best thing he can do is to refuse to do so until the president`s
able to find someone who can and then I think that would warrant
obstruction of justice proceedings.
MADDOW: Congressman, let me ask you about one substantive piece of this
investigation that I just don`t get. I`m asking you about this as a
judiciary committee member and an intelligence committee member. National
security adviser Mike Flynn pled guilty of lying to the FBI about talking
with the Russian ambassador about sanctions. We now know from good
reporting that`s not contested from the White House that a lot of other
Trump transition officials knew that he had had the conversations with the
Russians about sanctions.
Several of them who were told about those conversations then publicly lied
about it. There`s been reporting that the special counsel`s particularly
interested in felony`s firing, whether there were attempts to obstruction
the investigation into him. Given all that, do you have any sense,
anything you can speak about publicly as to why so many people in the Trump
administration publicly lied about Mike Flynn and the fact that he was
talking to the Russians about sanctions? Do you have any sense of what was
SWALWELL: Yes. Rachel, the pattern here, whether it`s around Michael
Flynn or anyone else with contacts of Russia protect candidate or President
Trump and then the protect themselves and only when the FBI or our
investigation or reporting confronted them with conflicting evidence have
they sometimes come around.
But also, the other question I have is, why did they allow Michael Flynn to
stay on for so long once they knew that he had lied? Now, Bob Mueller to
contrast with President Trump when he found out he had the agent with a
perception of favoritism for a person investigated he was fired
immediately. He was let go and president Trump only fired Michael Flynn
once it became a public relations problem for him if you want to compare
the two as far as their with the character.
MADDOW: Congressman Eric Swalwell of California, Judiciary Committee
member, Intelligence Committee member, really appreciate your time tonight,
sir. Nice to see you.
SWALWELL: My pleasure. Thanks, Rachel.
MADDOW: All right. We`ll be right back. Stay with us.
MADDOW: Doug Jones election on the 12th. Rosenstein testimony on the
13th. Tomorrow on the 14th, remember when`s happening? Federal
Communications Commission is expected to repeal net neutrality. An
important rule put in place by the Obama administration to ban Internet
service providers from basically controlling what you see on the Internet
and what Internet based services you can use.
That would be the practical affect if service providers pick and choose
which traffic goes fast and which traffic goes slow online for their own
commercial purposes. That vote is expected tomorrow.
But now, in the final hours before that vote, a group of state attorneys
general has asked the FCC to not take that vote, to delay it because
according to an analysis of New York State Attorney General Eric
Schneiderman, there have been as many as 2 million public comments
submitted to the FCC about this decision under stolen identities. This all
happened in the FCC`s public comment period, real people whose names used
to post these comments have been objecting but it really happened on a very
Here`s the kind of example. This fake comment is purportedly from my
father. The problem is, the comment was posted more than a year after his
death. People complain to the FCC about what appears to have been a
corruption of the public comment period here.
The 19 state attorneys general who are pushing for a delay say the comment
faking is an attack on the integrity of the democratic process. They say
any decision the FCC makes on the basis, even the partial basis of these
fake comments would be an illegitimate decision. Again, as of now, the FCC
is still scheduled to take this vote tomorrow. If they do, expect it to be
the subject of a lot of lawsuits immediately.
But with this request from 19 different states for a delay, I`m not sure we
have seen the end of this fight.
Watch this space.
That does it for us tonight. We will see you again tomorrow.
Now, it`s time for “THE LAST WORD” with the great Lawrence O`Donnell.
Good evening, Lawrence.
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