Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe to step down Transcript 12/26/17 The Rachel Maddow Show
Show: THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW
Date: December 26, 2017
Guest: Del Quentin Wilber, Michael McFaul, Jacqueline Charles, Bruce Bartlett
JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chris. Thank you very much. Have a
All right. And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour. Rachel has
a well-deserved night off tonight.
So, I want to take you back to March of 2004 when CIA Director George Tenet
appeared before Congress to present his annual testimony on worldwide
threats facing the U.S. At that time, the lion`s share of the testimony
and resulting headlines focused on terrorism and the insurgency in Iraq.
But buried in that report, the CIA also had another warning. CIA says
Russia could try to reassert itself after a Putin victory. The CIA warned
of a greater assertiveness as well as a far more robust approach toward
neighboring countries like Georgia and Ukraine should Russian President
Vladimir Putin be elected to a second term.
That victory was never really in doubt Putin took percent of the vote a few
days after that assessment to win that second four-year term.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: At election headquarters, early results flowed in, showing
President Putin`s massive popularity and easy victory. Casting his ballot
earlier today, the president urged Russians to think about their future,
and tonight in a live TV address, he promised to improve Russians lives.
But his challengers take another view that four more years of Putin is a
return to the past. During the campaign, they accused the Kremlin of
manipulating state control TV dominated by the president, and they say
Putin leaned on loyal regional governors to turn out the vote for him.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: During the last few weeks, it is completely impossible
for me to appear on the TV news.
REPORTER: International election monitors agrees, saying the control of
state airwaves kept key issues like corruption, the war in Chechnya and a
rise in terror attacks off the ballot.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: The Russian Constitution barred Putin from seeking a third
consecutive term in 2008. So, Putin`s Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry
Medvedev served as a caretaker president for four years with Putin running
things behind the scenes as prime minister. One of the first laws Medvedev
signed upon entering office – surprise – it was one extending the term of
the next president from four years to six, beginning in 2012 when Putin
would be eligible to run for the top job once again.
And despite wide scale nationwide anti-government protests leading up to
the vote in 2012, Putin`s iron grip on power resulted in him being re-
elected overwhelmingly to a third term in 2012, beating token opposition at
the ballot box despite widespread anti-government feeling throughout the
country. Today, Putin was formally nominated as a candidate for a fourth
term, ahead of Russia`s presidential election in March and it came one day
after Putin officially barred his most serious challenger in all of his
years of power from opposing him in the upcoming election.
Yesterday, opposition activist Alexei Navalny, one of the leading
organizers behind those protests back in 2011 was officially ruled
ineligible to run in the upcoming election by Russia`s Central Election
Commission. While that move has been telegraphed for months, the formal
elimination of Putin`s only serious challenger meanings we, meaning the
world and not just the Russian people will have to get used to another six
years of Vladimir Putin in power. We can also likely anticipate six more
years of continuing Russian attack on our democracy.
Yesterday, “The Washington Post” published an opus detailing Russian
attacks on American democracy both during the 2016 campaign and since
Putin`s preferred candidate Donald Trump was elected. Today, former acting
CIA Director Mike Morell and former Republican chairman of the House
Intelligence Committee, Mike Rogers, reminded us that those Russian attacks
They write that this month, Kremlin-linked accounts have been used to
discredit the FBI after it was revealed that an agent had been demoted for
sending anti-Donald Trump texts. Russian active measures are being
deployed right now to enflame tensions and exacerbate the already polarized
debate taking place in our domestic intelligence agency. That was easily
anticipated. What was not was that Kremlin efforts to discredit us law
enforcement would be echoed by an American political party, let alone by
the American political party that for decades has wrapped itself in the
notion of respect and even reverence for law enforcement.
And yet those Kremlin attacks are being echoed in an escalating drumbeat of
attacks on the FBI and the Robert Mueller investigation by conservative
news outlets Republicans in Congress and by the president himself. As
former FBI agent Clint Watts told the Senate Intelligence Committee in
March, Russian active measures are especially effective when those same
lines of attack are being employed by the current Oval Office occupant.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JAMES LANKFORD (R-OK), INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: This is not new for
the Russians. They`ve done this for a long time across Europe but he was
much more engaging this time in our election. Why now? Mr. Watts?
CLINT WATTS, CYBER AND HOMELAND SECURITY EXPERT: I think this answer is
very simple and is what no one is really saying in this room, which is part
of the reason active measures have worked in this U.S. election is because
the commander-in-chief has used Russian active measures at time against his
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: The president`s opponents now include special counsel Robert Mueller
and career officials at the FBI. After being grilled for over 17 hours by
Republican lawmakers last week, deputy FBI director and career public
servant, Andrew McCabe, let it be known that he plans to step down from his
role and retire next year. That announcement led to another torrent of
attacks from the president who spent the holiday weekend railing at McCabe.
Now, today, despite Congress being out of session, we continued to see more
calls from Republican lawmakers to, quote, purge the ranks at the FBI,
along with attempts to discredit special counsel Mueller.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, I would like to see the directors of those
agencies purge it, and say, look, we`ve got a lot of great agents, a lot of
great lawyers here, those are the people that I want the American people to
see and know the good works being done, not these people who are kind of
the deep state.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He can`t go fast enough, anybody that has that much
disrespect for the Republican Party, for the president of the United
States, Mueller I have said since day one, since he was appointed, he`s bad
news, he`s out for a scalp, he would love to get Trump`s scalp, he would
love to be the hero of the left to take out Donald Trump, he will do
everything he can to do that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: So following that segment on Fox this morning and another
discrediting the Trump-Russia dossier, Trump leveled another barrage of
criticism at the FBI, calling it tainted. But while the president
continues to lay into the agency, “The Wall Street Journal” reports that
associates of Chris Wray, Trump`s hand-picked successor to Jim Comey to
lead the FBI say that Wray has confidence in Mr. McCabe and admire how he
ran the bureau after Comey`s firing. And that associates of Wray tell “The
Journal” that the FBI director does not want to appear to have buckled
under pressure from the president or Republicans.
The paper reports that such a move, i.e., forcing McCabe out, would likely
irritate the FBI`s 13,000 agents, many of whom are upset about how Trump
has criticized the agency.
Now, tonight, NBC News reports that the FBI agents association which
represents more than 14,000 current and former special agents have reports
that they have seen a, quote, significant uptick in donors and donations
for their two charities in the month of December.
Joining us now is Del Quentin Wilber, one of “The Wall Street Journal”
reporters who wrote that story about the FBI, who covers Justice Department
in federal law enforcement.
Thank so much for being here.
DEL QUENTIN WILBER, REPORTER, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: Thanks for having
REID: So, let`s start with the sort of top line of your story that was
updated on Christmas Day, that Trump`s attorneys are sticking to their idea
that somehow this probe is going to be wrapped up soon. Could you get a
sense of upon what they`re basing that? Is it because they now have sort
of a – you know, freestanding that Trump doesn`t even need to assist
onslaught going on against the FBI by Republican lawmakers and Fox News, et
WILBER: You know, I think it`s probably a lot more complicated than that
and these lawyers they`re good lawyers and they worked very hard for the
president and they`ve been talking to Mueller and his team. I think
they`ve – they`ve gone actually out of their way in many ways to cooperate
as far as we can tell. They`ve transferred lots of documents over to
Mueller and they`ve worked very closely with him.
And they`ve been saying for a long time they expect it to wrap up pretty
quickly. So, I don`t – I take them at face value that they actually
believe that will happen whether it does or not, we don`t know. I mean,
these types of investigations are very complicated. You`ve had many
experts on your shows over the last year talking about it and you know that
these are financial involvement. You have a lot of counterintelligence
work, intelligence work, it`s all highly secretive.
Most legal experts think it`s going to take a lot longer than Mr. Trump`s
lawyers do, but that`s what they`re sticking to.
REID: And do you get a sense that Trump`s attorneys have take any pause in
the fact that while they`re as you said attempting to cooperate with Robert
Mueller, Donald Trump is on Twitter, including over this holiday weekend,
attacking the FBI, attacking Bob Mueller, attacking individual members of
the FBI leaders by name. That cannot be helpful to their defense strategy.
WILBER: You know, I think it complicates it. I think all you have to do
is go on Twitter to see the reaction to it all and what legal experts say
about Mr. Trump`s tweets at times and I`m sure there have been a lot of
stories about how, you know, his advisers would wish he would tweet less.
And in this case, you know, he attacked you know the deputy director of the
FBI, he attacked others. And not that long ago, he said the FBI was in
tatters, quote, tatters.
And I think that wears an agency down as you were talking about. A lot of
agents that I know that I`ve spoken to don`t really appreciate why the
criticism, and you know, they`re all trying to move forward and you know
help with this investigation more and do their jobs. You know, there are
13,000 agents, they do a lot more than just this investigation.
REID: Well, beyond not appreciating it, do you detect among the FBI agents
that you talk to any alarm about the fact that, you know, Donald Trump, as
well as Republican lawmakers and, you know, conservative media are making
these tax attacks on the FBI really in tandem with what the Kremlin is
WILBER: Not so much. I haven`t picked up on in tandem as in historically
what the Kremlin has done or what –
REID: No, meaning that both are doing. Meaning that Kremlin is putting out
disinformation attacking the FBI and those attacks are essentially being
echoed by Republican lawmakers, and the president in the United States.
WILBER: Well, you know, no, not – not in particular. I think they, you
know, most the agents that I`ve talked to, you know, keep their heads down
and do their jobs. They`re a little flummoxed by, you know, some of the
becoming drawn into this political sphere. You know, Republicans and, you
know, Trump allies have or you know have legitimate questions they could
raise about how the bureau treated this investigation.
I mean, you have – you know, the lead agent on the Hillary Clinton
investigation and then on Trump`s investigation, you know, saying some
pretty attacking like things on text messages with a colleague, you know?
And that got him removed from the probe as you said, and Andy McCabe had
the deputy director – had some real questionable, you know, he was
attacked this last year during the campaign for not stepping aside from
overseeing a Hillary Clinton investigation because his wife had run for a
state house race and got a lot of money from a close Clinton ally for that
And so, I mean, they have legitimate – their legitimate questions to be
raised. It`s – it`s that – it`s the overall volume of it I think that is
causing agents and a lot of Democrats concerned. There, you know, Adam
Schiff and others have raised a lot of worries that this is part of an
effort not to get rid of Mueller, but to kind of blunt any findings he
releases in the end.
REID: Well, just to be clear. You`re reporting – you had a piece that
was out, I believe, on December 18 that talked about – I think you were
talking about Peter Strzok and the text messages that he was sharing with a
colleague that he was also having an affair with him, Ms. Page.
But you reported that, specifically, the texts about for instance – and
this is one of the ones that`s been banded a lot by Republicans about this
insurance policy and worried about Donald Trump, we`re not intended to
suggest some secret plan to harm the candidate, but rather to address with
a colleague who believed the FBI could take could take its time because the
Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton might win, but that in fact
there was concern that anybody that might have been in collusion during the
Trump campaign could actually get jobs in the administration.
Wasn`t that an expression of concern that people who might have colluded
would get in the administration rather than just, you know, ad hominems
against Donald Trump? That`s your reporting.
WILBER: Oh, right, well, no. I mean, but there are 375 texts that the
Justice Department released, and I read all of them and they spent a lot of
time – you know, complaining about Eric Holder and Chelsea Clinton and
Bernie Sanders. And in it, they talked a lot about Donald Trump. They
called him a douche. They call him – they used a lot of harsh words, much
harsher for Trump.
And in that insurance text, you know, is exactly how you characterize it,
how are reporting – they verified what they had said about it. It was not
like, hey, there`s some secret plan the FBI has to either derail a Trump
candidacy or to wreck his presidency. It was more, we want to get this
done quickly for the reasons that you said.
And so, it`s – but there are other texts in there that you just – you –
it does not just that one. If you add them all up, I think you could ask
legitimate questions about, like, you know we don`t usually see that happen
in criminal investigations, and when it does happen, often prosecutions get
I`ve covered a case in involving a bunch of FBI texts that came out. They
were bantering about all kinds of crazy things, and the jury acquitted the
guys. And so, you know, these were all serious things to look at, it`s
just the volume and how serious you need to look at it and in the
motivations of people behind it and in – which you`ve you know fairly
REID: Yes, absolutely. Well, I appreciate your time. I wish we had more
“Wall Street Journal” reporter Del Quentin Wilber, thank you very much for
WILBER: Thank you.
REID: All right. And joining us now is Chuck Rosenberg, the former U.S.
attorney for the eastern district of Virginia and he was also the counsel
to the FBI when Robert Mueller was director and James Comey`s chief of
staff at the Justice Department.
Thank you for joining us.
I want to pick up on the thread that we were just talking about with “Wall
Street Journal” reporter Del Quentin Wilber.
On the question of whether or not the background conversations between
Peter Strzok and the sort of furious volume of attacks on Andrew McCabe
legitimately in your view as a former prosecutor raised doubts about the
fairness or legitimacy of the Mueller investigation?
CHUCK ROSENBERG, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY FOR EASTERN DISTRICT OF VIRGINIA:
Well, first point, Joy – and by the way, thank you for having me.
First point, Joy – when Bob Mueller found out about the text, he had Pete
Strzok removed from the investigation, exactly what he should do. Hard to
criticize Bob for not removing Pete any earlier than when Bob found out.
Putting that aside for a moment though, there is a concern that it gives
rise to an appearance that investigators may not have been playing it right
down the middle. But there`s a more important way to look at it and it`s
this – is the outcome fair, right? At the end of the day, in whatever
forum Mueller brings charges or reveals the fruits of his investigation,
was the outcome fair? Did he find the facts? Did he apply the facts to
And if he did, then all this other stuff, Joy, they`re just distractions.
REID: Yes, and it`s interesting that these distractions are, they`re sort
of mirrored on either side of the dime here, right? On the one hand, you
have the Kremlin orchestrating these attacks, you know, sort of using
they`re sort of typical cybersecurity methods and disinformation methods on
the FBI. But you have that being echoed by Republican lawmakers, then
echoed by Fox News and other conservative media, you know, I`m wondering if
in your experience, that is a typical scenario?
ROSENBERG: Well, it`s not a typical scenario. Nothing about this seems
particularly typical. But these attacks are really playing to one
particular venue and that`s a political venue. At the end of the day, if
this turns out to be something that`s handled politically and by that I
mean, you know, in the Congress, perhaps by impeachment or some other
means, then that`s where these criticisms might resonate.
But if Bob Mueller brings additional charges in addition to the ones he`s
already brought, these criticisms really, Joy, have no meaning. They don`t
matter in a court of law. They don`t matter to the judge. They don`t
matter to the jury. They don`t matter to the prosecutors.
I can assure you that if the venue we`re talking about is federal district
court, in a criminal trial, it`s meaningless. And in terms of that, in
terms let`s say that we`re in a federal district court at a certain point,
will Donald Trump, specifically Trump`s attacks on individual members of
the FBI on Jim Comey, on Mr. McCabe, will those wind up being material in
any future case should a case ever arise?
ROSENBERG: Not in a court of law, Joy. And look, I was privileged for
many years to work at the FBI, the DEA, in the Department of Justice, in
the U.S. attorney`s office, I`ve never worked with anybody who was perfect,
but I worked with lots and lots of people who are really darn good. They
care. They work hard. They try to get things, right, and they play it
down the middle.
And so, at the end of the day, if you`re talking about federal agents and
federal prosecutors bringing a case in federal district court, this stuff
does not matter. A judge will find a jury and will instruct them to put
everything that they think they may know about this case aside and only
focus on the facts that are reduced in court. That`s all that matters at
the end of the day.
REID: All right. Chuck Rosenberg, former U.S. attorney and former counsel
to the FBI when Robert Mueller was director and James Comey`s former chief
of staff at the Justice Department – thank you so much. I really
appreciate your time.
ROSENBERG: Thank you.
REID: Thank you.
And much more to come here tonight. We`re going to talk with one of the
first Americans to come under cyber attack by Russia and a reporter who`s
been doing some excellent work looking at how the Trump administration`s
policies are affecting one particular group of vulnerable people in this
So much to get to tonight. Stay with us.
REID: We have plenty of evidence now that Russia`s interference in our
election last year was not a singular event but rather part of a long-
running and fairly refined pattern. In fact, “The Washington Post” reports
that Russia has been using the same playbook to meddle in American politics
as far back as 2012, when it aggressively trolled the U.S. ambassador to
Russia on Twitter.
The cyberattacks, the misinformation, the undermining of its chosen
enemies, we`ve seen all of that in the Russian attacks on U.S. democracy
and we`re seeing it again in Russia`s own election season ahead of the vote
for Russian president in March, where the only real opposition to Vladimir
Putin has just been barred from running.
And joining us now is Michael McFaul, former U.S. ambassador to Russia and
the same man who was targeted by Russian trolls back in 2012.
Ambassador McFaul, thanks for being here.
And were you able to discern what the purpose of trolling it was?
MICHAEL MCFAUL, FORMER UNITED STATES AMBASSADOR TO RUSSIA: Well, there`s
several objectives and I think they`re relevant to the situation today in
America. The first was to discredit what our mission was, what our
statements were from the Obama administration. And so, they wanted to
sideline me as a spokesperson for the Obama administration.
The second was more profound I would say. It was to create a myth that
President Obama sent me to foment revolution against Vladimir Putin. That
was a message that they started from day two, once I showed up in Moscow,
and that was to mobilize his electorate against those that were protesting
So, the message was those people are funded by the United States. They`re
marionettes. They`re puppets of the West. They need to be discredited and
I became unfortunately the poster child for that campaign.
REID: You know, it`s interesting that, you know, just –
MCFAUL: Literally the poster child, by the way.
REID: Literally, right, on posters.
MCFAUL: Yes, on posters, yes.
REID: You know, and it`s interesting sort of the, you know, I was thinking
a lot say about the parallels between sort of Vladimir Putin`s attitude
toward governing and toward his enemies and the president United States,
and going back to when he first ran back in 2000. This is a platform
letter from his campaign that was published in three newspapers in February
It says: True, Russia has ceased to be an empire but it has not wasted its
potential as a great power. The new generation has got a historic chance
to build a Russia that it will not be ashamed to pass on to its children.
His message basically was make Russia great again, and he`s kind of carried
out this idea that the only weight can remain great because soon he thinks
he`s made it that way is for him to stay in power, right?
MCFAUL: Correct, it`s just that simple. He thinks that he is the one, he
is the savior, he is the one that brought Russia from its knees to be a
great power again. Number two, he believes that it has to be a strong fist
autocracy, is part of what you make Russia great again within – first
within Russia and now within the international system.
And third, if before back in 2000, he was on the defensive today. He`s on
the offensive. Today, he`s going after Western liberal institutions. He`s
going after alliances like NATO, and he`s going after America`s democracy.
That`s part of the strategy of making Russia great is to make us weak in
the international system.
REID: You know, they`re just epic peace but Julia Ioffe in “The Atlantic”
and it talks about this sort of a dilemma of the dictator that are that
Putin faces, that essentially he has no successor in strategy, he has no
exit strategy. Are we looking at Donald Trump attempting to be president
MCFAUL: Well, he definitely doesn`t have a strategy. He doesn`t have a
political party. He hasn`t named a successor and he`s afraid of
I mean, as you said in the opening piece that you did, he`s running against
nobodies. There`s been no competition forever. Mr. Navalny, the one guy
that has some kind of grassroots support, he`s just banned.
And when you don`t have competition you`re not as sharp. You don`t have
people that can replace you. So, in the long run, not having competition I
think is bad for the political system in Russia, not good for that system.
REID: And you think that the same sort of cyber warfare that was used
against our election will be deployed by Vladimir Putin just in case
Navalny gets traction.
MCFAUL: Absolutely. Of course. I mean, disinformation, stretching the
facts, distorting things that`s all in the Putin playbook, whether it`s
inside Russia or in the United States. And until he is deterred from doing
that or until he`s stopped from doing that either in the United States and
Russia he`ll continue to use all those methods to try to achieve victory.
REID: Well, Michael McFaul, former U.S. ambassador to Russia, thank you
very much. Thanks for your time tonight.
MCFAUL: Sure. Thanks for having me.
REID: Thank you.
And still ahead, one very real unfinished piece of business in Washington
that could change many lives very soon if it`s not dealt with ASAP. We`ll
be right back.
REID: It happened in the U.S. Capitol a few days ago.
(VIDEO CLIP PLAYS)
REID: That was the U.S. Capitol last week, as hundreds of protesters
descended on D.C., occupying the offices of more than a dozen lawmakers to
remind them that time is running out for the young immigrants known as
DREAMers. In September, the president killed the DACA program that shields
hundreds of thousands of DREAMers from deportation. The deadline for
Congress to offer up some kind of fix is March 5th.
As Congress was rushing to get out of town last week after passing their
massive tax cuts for corporations and wealthy, DREAMers held a die-in at
Senator Mitch McConnell`s office. They chanted in front of a reception in
Democratic Senator Tom Udall`s New Mexico`s office. No papers, no fear.
Senator Michael Bennet talked to the protesters in his lobby where DREAMers
press the Colorado Democrat for a firm commitment not to vote for a
spending bill without protection for DREAMers. They did not get that
commitment from Senator Bennet.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PROTESTER: We want you to publicly come out and say that you are willing
to withhold your vote from any spending bill that does not include a clean
SEN. MICHAEL BENNET (D), COLORADO: I will do everything I can.
BENNET: I will do everything I can to pass the DREAM Act that I have
worked on so hard for so many years.
PROTESTER: You Congress people get to home on Christmas, on the Christmas
Day. Y`all get to spend it with your family. Y`all get to go have fun,
eat dinner, sing, dance, Christmas carols. We don`t. Us people go home
and we fear.
Go home knowing that your family`s not going to be there. Go home, fearing
that your parents, the people that have been there, are going to be there
anymore. Why? Because you can`t keep the DREAM Act, and you can`t keep it
now. We don`t need it next month. We need don`t need it next year. We
need it now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: Well, Michael Bennet wound up voting no on the spending bill last
week, but it passed anyway, with no provision to protect the DREAMers. And
so, the clock keeps ticking.
We`ve not had much good news this year for immigrants, from stepped-up
deportations to ending the DACA program, to more recently separating young
children and even babies from their families as a way of discouraging
people from coming to the U.S. undocumented. One mother in that position
described it as a form of torture.
The year began with desperate immigrants fleeing on foot across the border
to Canada in hopes of greater safety from Trump`s stepped-up deportation
force, handing babies and strollers across the snowy border. That exodus
was still going on this summer with Haitians worried Donald Trump would
revoke temporary protected legal status for people who`ve been allowed to
remain in the U.S. in the wake of the deadly 2010 earthquake. Many of the
families crossing the border are of mixed status with kids born in this
country who are U.S. citizens and parents who are at risk of deportation.
In August, “The Miami Herald” sent reporter Jacqueline Charles to Montreal.
One mother who had made the crossing said she had no choice, saying, quote,
the president doesn`t want the immigrants to stay. As the mother feared,
Trump last month revoked the temporary protected status of some 60,000
Haitians in the U.S., putting all of them at risk for deportation.
Over the weekend, “The New York Times” provided a disturbing look inside
the White House where this policymaking is taking place. In reporting the
White House flatly refutes, the paper describes an Oval office meeting in
June where “The Times” says Trump was fuming about the number immigrants
who have received visas this year despite his promise to crack down on
people coming into the country.
Handed immigration statistics by senior staffer Stephen Miller, Trump
reportedly complained about the 2,500 Afghans who got visas, calling
Afghanistan a, quote, terrorist haven. Two unnamed officials said he
complained about the 40,000 Nigerians who`d gotten visas, saying once they
got a taste of America, they would, quote, never go back to their huts in
And then there are the 15,000 Haitians who received visas. According to
one in unnamed official, Trump heard that number and said the Haitians,
quote, all have AIDS.
Now, again, the White House denies these accounts, though I`m not sure that
denial carries much weight in the communities affected, not just why Trump
is reported upset about immigrants, but why what he has done as president.
Joining us now is reporter Jacqueline Charles, Caribbean correspondent for
“The Miami Herald”.
And, Jackie, you know, the images of immigrants fleeing the United States
for Canada is a jarring one, as jarring as the images of parents being
dragged away from children, of children being separated from their parents,
of babies being separated. But before we come to the comments that the
president reportedly made in the White House, I want to talk about DACA for
a minute. Just to put up on the screen like the top countries of DACA
recipients, Mexico is at the top, but you also have El Salvador, Guatemala
Honduras, Peru. And between that and TPS, we`re talking about more than
700,000 immigrants who are facing potential deportation now.
How afraid quite frankly are immigration rights activists that they cannot
save those people?
JACQUELINE CHARLES, CARIBBEAN CORRESPONDENT, THE MIAMI HERALD: Immigration
rights activists are very afraid, as well as members of these communities.
I attended a meeting just a couple of weeks ago where we had people with
TPS, as well as DACA recipients who were just pleading for some kind of
help, but every time you see the administration take a position on
immigration, a little bit of that hope that they have that something`s
going to change, it just cuts away.
So, with DACA, we`re definitely going to have to wait until January. I`m a
little hopeful, but I think with DACA, it`s really going to be a question
of what does this look like. DREAMers, as well as your supporters, they
want a clean bill. They don`t want restrictions on legal immigration.
They don`t want a southern wall in that legislation.
But we know that members of the Republican Party, especially conservatives,
that they are pushing for that is part of any sort of deal.
REID: And you report in south Florida where, of course, the three Congress
– members of Congress, including the Republican Ileana Ros-Lehtinen who is
a leaving office, you know, even Carlos Curbelo, both of them Republicans,
are very supportive of the idea of renewing DACA or doing something about
DREAM Act recipients.
Was there any horse trading that you`ve heard of in getting the votes for
the tax bill for instance and giving them – giving maybe Marco Rubio who`s
claimed – he`s sort of been on both sides the immigration deal – have any
you know of those south Florida Republicans done any deal making to try to
get DACA through or to get TPS through?
CHARLES: Well, right now with the DACA, we`re not aware of any. But we do
know that Carlos Curbelo has said he`s not going to sign any spending bill
unless we get something with DACA. He has his own bill, but he says that
he`s willing to sign anything that comes on the floor that will protect
those DREAMers. Ileana has signed on to DACA. She`s been pushing this and
we know that Diaz-Balart is part of this negotiating team.
I think, really, we just have to wait a little bit next couple of days to
see what comes out of that. And as far as TPS, what`s interesting is, you
know, the people who are pushing for TPS was really hopeful that maybe they
can get some sort of language for TPS as part of DACA. But what we`re
seeing – we`re hearing a lot about DACA. We`re not hearing about TPS, and
there`s still almost 200,000 Salvadorians who are waiting to find out what
their fate is going to be.
We`ve already had a decision on the Haitians last month. We had the
Nicaraguans. There was a hole to pause on the Hondurans. We saw what
happened with Honduras` election. There`s still a lot of debate about that
election and they will come back up for a decision soon as well.
REID: And your piece last summer was very jarring talking about Haitians
who are fleeing to Canada and finding that they don`t necessarily –
they`re not necessarily entitled to asylum there either and sort of trying
to figure out where they`re the most safe. Donald Trump during the
campaign told Haitians in Miami and South Florida that he wanted to be
their advocate. You know, is the community they`re feeling betrayed by him
number one? And number two, is Haiti prepared to receive 60,000 people is
its infrastructure et cetera, you know, capable of handling that?
CHARLES: Well, I`ll take your second question. I mean, Haiti is not
prepared to receive 60,000 people. I mean, today, we have Haitians who are
fleeing daily, they`re headed to Chile and other places in South America.
You have a country that`s running in a deficit and I know that U.S.
government likes to point out that the United Nations peacekeepers will
they finally left. Well, they left under pressure from the United States
that wanted to see the U.N. cut back its budget, and they do have a smaller
I mean, the reality is, yes, Haiti just had an election earlier this year.
It`s going to need time. The economy has been shot and you just don`t grow
Even the United States government which made a lot of promises to Haiti
after the January 12th, 2010 earthquake has not been able to deliver on
many of those promises. The biggest of which is a new $85 million hospital
that the U.S. agreed to build with France. It would be the biggest public
hospital in that country. And until this day, that hospital still is not
So, you`re going to send back 60,000 people to a country that doesn`t even
have proper medical facilities to receive them.
REID: Jacqueline Charles, Caribbean correspondent to “The Miami Herald” –
thank you very much. I appreciate your time.
CHARLES: Thanks for having me.
REID: Thank you. I`ll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I`m running to be president
of all Americans. That`s everybody. And whether you vote for me or you
don`t vote for me, I really want to be your greatest champion, and I will
be your champion, whether you vote for me or not.
I`m running to represent Haitian-Americans and African-Americans and Asian-
Americans and everyone who lawfully resides in our borders.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My taxes help to support the public institutions, which
I`ve mentioned, and they cost enough. Those who are badly off must go
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Many can`t go there and many would rather die.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If they would rather die, perhaps they had better do so
and decrease the surplus population.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: Ebenezer Scrooge showing us how he earned a visit of all those
ghosts of Christmas past and present. Well, tonight, a modern day take on
that Christmas classic, but this version isn`t set in 19th century England,
it`s set in Florida, at Donald Trump`s private membership club, Mar-a-Lago,
where the dues do not come cheap.
Initiation fees will set you back $200,000. Annual dues, 14 grand. A
ticket to New Year`s Eve with the Trumps, 600 bucks. But the chance to
hear the president of the United States uncensored, priceless.
Case in point: this report from CBS News citing two friends who were dining
at a table near the president on Friday night. Dinner conversation had
turned that massive tax cut package, the one his administration keeps
insisting will help not the rich but the middle class. When Trump talking
to some pals at a nearby table reportedly boasted, quote, you all just got
a lot richer.
NBC News not independently confirmed that report, but there`s a growing
backlash against this president and his Scrooge-like circle of friends.
REID: (AUDIO GAP) Lakers lost to the Minnesota Timberwolves. It was the
first ever Christmas win for the T-Wolves and their fourth straight win in
But even an exciting game like that could not distract basketball legend,
sports commentator, and wealthy American Charles Barkley from the goings on
in the country right now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHARLES BARKLEY, SPORTS COMMENTATOR: At least we got our tax break.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Please don`t go down that road again.
BARKLEY: We can buy Rolexes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We heard it the other night.
BARKLEY: Hey, I just want these poor people to wait on this to trickle
down. Wait for like 400 years.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: Yes, Republicans gave themselves and Charles Barkley an early
Christmas gift last week, when they passed the first major legislation to
hit Donald Trump`s desk, thus delivering on the explicit orders of their
donors. Not only do Republicans finally get to bask in the success of
finally slashing corporate tax rates, a long-held dream of Republicans
since many of them were devouring Ayn Rand novels in their college dorm
rooms. In a Congress that`s more than half millionaires, some of them are
going to get personally even richer because of it.
Take Republican Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee who owns large real estate
holdings and will now get a sweet 20 percent deduction on income earned
through those holdings. He had quite a merry Christmas.
But when Senator Corker posted his cherry video message on Christmas on
Twitter and Facebook last week, he got quite a response. For every nice
message like, “Merry Christmas Senator and Mrs. Corker”, there are like
times as many messages along the lines of “shame on you” or merry
Christmas, please resign and enjoy your newfound gains, hopefully your
replacement will value the interests of their constituents over their
wallet. Ouch. Or, I would give you cold for your stocking but it`s bad
for the environment, or I hope the cash cow you will be getting was worth
stabbing the people in the back who once supported you.
And those are just the TV-friendly insults. Merry Christmas indeed.
Other Republicans have received similar responses since the tax bill
passed. Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah received a Christmas Day surprise on
Monday when he was named Utahan of the Year by his home state paper. What
the senator may not have immediately realized when his staff tweeted out
the article was that “The Salt Lake Tribune” named him Utahan of the Year
because among other things, his very important role as chairman of the
Senate Finance Committee in passing this new Republican tax bill, in
addition to his quote utter lack of integrity that rises from his
unquenchable thirst for power.
Even Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is feeling the backlash from the
Republican tax cuts for the super-rich. On Saturday morning, someone left
him a gift outside his home a large box of manure wrapped in Christmas
It`s still early but this new gilded age under Donald Trump and his fellow
Republican blue buds is not exactly having the glorious effect Republicans
hoped it would. In fact, even results of the tax bill that seems positive
at the outset like AT&T`s announcement that after the tax bill passed, that
it was giving bonuses to 200,000 workers have failed to stay sunny for
long. It turns out AT&T also plans to layoff over a thousand workers early
Meanwhile, Democrats are wringing their hands with glee at the growing
number of opportunities to capitalize on the unpopularity of tax cuts for
the super-rich in states where the Republican Party was already beginning
to look vulnerable after their repeated attacks on health care.
So, how will Republicans react to the gilded age backlash? And will it
give them pause as they pursue parts two and three of the driving
Republican dream, ending the Affordable Care Act and slashing away at
Medicare and Medicaid?
Joining us now is Bruce Bartlett, former domestic policy adviser to
President Ronald Reagan, one of the architects of supply-side economics and
author of the book, “The Truth Matters”.
So, Mr. Bartlett, Bruce, the Trump`s – you know, you`re about – you`ve
just got a bunch of richer telling that to his Mar-a-Lago friends, is that
tone deafness at the way that that`s going to come across to the American
people or is that a recognition that it doesn`t matter what the American
people say, his supporters don`t care if Republicans just enrich themselves
and their friends?
BRUCE BARTLETT, REAGAN DOMESTIC POLICY ADVISER: I think to a large extent,
they don`t care because what they know what they have done is set fiscal
policy on course in a way that it won`t even matter next year if the
Democrats get control of the House and Senate because they`re going to
inherit a huge deficit caused by a massive tax cut, a completely
unnecessary tax cut. There`s absolutely no economic justification for what
– for it whatsoever.
And the fiscal responsibility groups that used to be so powerful and said
absolutely nothing during the tax debate are suddenly gearing up to say,
oh, we must reduce entitlement programs and we must scale back on welfare
and food stamps and all of these programs that help ordinary Americans
because of the deficit. So, it`s all part of a plan, you see, to inflate
the deficit and then use the deficit as an excuse to slash spending.
REID: And, you know, Utah`s Orrin Hatch you know who`s been just brimming
with praise for Donald Trump very obsequious personal praise for Donald
Trump in that editorial just scorching him on their – on not wanting to
leave office among other things, “The Salt Lake Tribune” reported this
about tax reform. It said: For a very long time indeed, Hatch has said his
desire to stick around long enough to have a say in what indeed will be
long overdue overhaul of the nation`s byzantine tax code is the primary
reason he`s run for reelection time after time.
Are Republicans who unlike you have not lost their religion on supply-side
economics and trickle-down, is that the reason they hang on and praise
Donald Trump because they did part one with the tax cuts and now they
really dearly want to cut Medicare and Medicaid?
BARTLETT: I think that`s part of it, but the larger picture is that the
Trump supporters, alt-right or whatever you want to call it, these people
still control the Republican primaries. And so, even in a state like Utah
that is very, very Republican, a guy like Orrin Hatch still has to worry
about getting the nomination. Just a few years ago, his – Robert Bennett,
the other senator from Utah, was defeated in the primaries or the or a
convention by right-wingers who didn`t think he was right wing enough.
And I think that inch and Trump`s Twitter account I think just scares the
heck out of them.
REID: Yes, and to that very point, Jeff Flake was actually retiring as the
junior senator from Arizona, said the following on this week, this past
weekend: When you look at some of the audience`s cheering for Republicans,
sometimes you look out there and say, those are the spasms of a dying
party. And yet, Flake was an enthusiastic voter for the tax cuts. He – a
lot of these guys seem to be willing to do that part of the agenda, meaning
slashing away at taxes for the super-rich, but then he turns around he says
the party is dying.
Can you make sense of that?
BARTLETT: No, not really. I mean, as you pointed out, Flake is leaving.
Perhaps his concern is to be able to become a lobbyist. I have no idea
what his post-Senate plans are, but there`s that – the thing is that
there`s such a vast amount of money sloshing around on the right side of
the political spectrum and that includes, you know, very high paying
engagements as Fox commentators and things of this sort, that that you can
make a really, really good living for yourself just by being obsequious and
sucking up to Trump and praising him to the to the heavens.
REID: One might call that cashing in.
Bruce Bartlett, thank you so much. Former domestic policy adviser
President Reagan and author of “The Truth Matters”. Thank you so much for
your time. I really appreciate it.
BARTLETT: Thank you.
REID: Thank you.
We`ve got one more story for you tonight, that is next. But first paging,
Sigmund Freud. Just a few minutes ago when I was talking with Ambassador
McFaul I meant to ask whether Vladimir Putin is attempting to be Russian
president for life, but what I said is President Donald Trump and is he
attempting to be president for life. Clearly, that is not what I meant to
We`ll be right back.
REID: OK. Here is something that may motivate you to get out there and go
Christmas caroling next year. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT: I didn`t realize there was champagne to go
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We love you.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you so much.
OBAMA: Merry Christmas!
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you so much.
OBAMA: Well, I hope you guys have a wonderful Christmas.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you, sir. Love you! We love you!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: As you can see, that was former President Obama there in his first
Christmas since leaving office, being serenaded in Hawaii where he spends
Now, those aren`t just any carolers. They`re members of the Resistance
group Windward Resisters based in Hawaii.
They put on their Santa hats and their pink Resistance hats and offered up
some Christmas cheer in the hopes of getting a little face time with the
president. Christmas wish granted.
And that does it for us tonight. We`ll see you again tomorrow.
Now, it`s time for “THE LAST WORD.” Ari Melber is in for Lawrence tonight.
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