Wikileaks releases hacked DNC documents. TRANSCRIPT: 10/12/2018, The Rachel Maddow Show.

Stacey Abrams, Mike Siegel

Date: October 12, 2018
Guest: Stacey Abrams, Mike Siegel

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: I was going to start the show right now, but
now I`m going to leave to start a multibillion business selling things on
which it says rediscover your moxie. Joy Reid, it`s got you right there,
because you just crowned a million, a million memes, my dear. Well done.
Thank you. Appreciate it.

And following that discussion about Stacey Abrams, one of candidates they
were talk about, we are going to be joined by Stacey Abrams live here in
just a couple of minutes. So, I`m very happy to have you with us. Happy

Because it is Friday and the show is live, that means I can pretty much
promise you that there is going to be some breaking news over the course of
the hour, and I say that with some confidence because I was just advised as
I was running out here to start the show that we are going to be killing a
block that we had previously planned to do a little later on in the show,
killing a story we were previously planning on covering in the middle of
this hour tonight right after we talk to Stacey Abrams, because I have been
told there is some breaking news that we are getting a new guest about.

At this point, I do not totally understand it. I have just been advised.
But I swear by the time we get there, you`ll know what it is and I will

So, Friday nights are just like this now. Bear with me. Things might be a
little hurly-burly.

All right. June 2016, so the summer before the presidential election,
that`s when we first learned that the Democratic National Committee,
Democratic Party had been hacked. This was the first story that ran about
it in “The Washington Post,” which also hopefully made clear based on a
forensic analysis that was done by a computer security firm, that it
appeared that that hack of the Democratic Party was carried out by Russian
government hackers.

That was the first inkling we got about Russia being all up in our
election. That was June 2016. By the time the Democratic Convention
started in late July 2016, Russia had started their first document dumps of
stolen material that they had taken from Democratic Party servers.

And those document dumps caused the intended havoc at their national
convention to nominate the Democratic Party`s presidential candidate. The
Democratic Party also fired the chair of the national party, right? Chaos
in the party. Those leaks were specifically designed and curated to stoke
maximum discontent and dissension among different factions of Democrats, so
that convention wouldn`t unify them and wouldn`t bring them together to
mount a single energized effort for the general election. Desired effect
achieved, Republicans, of course, were ecstatic about it. They loved it.

And soon, Republican candidate Donald Trump was calling on national
television for Russian hackers to please hack and steal Hillary Clinton`s
personal e-mails as well. We found out later in an indictment from Robert
Mueller and the special counsel`s office that, in fact, Russian military
intelligence officers tried to do just that the very day that Donald Trump
asked them to do it.

By the following month, by August, August 15th, we now know the FBI was
investigating not only what Russia was trying to do to intrude in our
election, but also whether the Russians might have any American
confederates who were trying to help them. By August 15th, the Homeland
Security Secretary Jeh Johnson convened a conference call with all the top
elections officials all over the country to give them all an in-person
warning from the secretary of homeland security about security risks to
state election systems. He got on the phone with all the secretaries of
state in the country to talk to them about Russia`s aggression and apparent
willingness to meddle in that particular election and what appeared to be
their designs specifically on our election infrastructure in the states.

Now that call, Jeh Johnson will later explain, didn`t go all that well, but
then three days later, August 18th, 2016, the FBI sent out a secret flash
alert from its cyber division, again, warning state election officials,
warning secretaries of state that they needed to take steps now to beef up
their firewalls, beef up their other security measures because it wasn`t
some vague sense of hostile intentions towards our elections. No, by that
point the FBI cyber division had observed Russian state hackers
specifically targeting multiple U.S. states and succeeding in breaching
security and getting into election systems so conceivably they could mess
with the vote or mess with voter registrations in at least two states.

So, the FBI sent out that flash alert August 18th, 2016, sent it from the
FBI cyber division that was supposed to be a secret alert to all the
states. Of course, it immediately leaked to the press.

But at least at this point, you know, the call from the homeland security
secretary, with the public reporting that it was Russian state actors who
hacked the Democratic Party with this flash secret alert from FBI cyber,
hey, this is happening, they`re really doing it, they`re going after the
states, and they`re successfully breeching security in the states, I mean,
at least to this point it is clear, right, that this is a serious thing.
This is a serious threat, serious measures need to be taken in response.
Everybody at least gets it by this point, right?

No. One secretary of state in particular came out immediately and said,
I`m refusing any offer of assistance to beef up security around the
election in my state. My election systems are fine. I don`t want any help
from the FBI. I don`t want any help from the Homeland Security Department,

I also refuse to accept these warnings, he said. Basically said this is
all a liberal plot. This one Republican secretary of state told the
publication “Nextgov” at the time, quote, the question remains whether the
federal government will subvert the Constitution to achieve the goal of
federalizing elections under this guise of security.

He then told, quote: It seems like it is just the D.C. media
and the Democrats because of the DNC getting hacked. They now think our
whole system is on the verge of disaster because some Russian is going to
tap into the voting system. And that is just not – I mean anything is
possible, but it is not probable at all.

“Politico” published that on the morning of August 28th, 2016. By
lunchtime on August 18th, 2016, literally that same day, within hours of
that “Politico” piece being published, a researcher at an American computer
security firm called up the election officials in that guy`s state to let
officials know just as a courtesy that in case they weren`t aware, their
entire election system was completely open to the public and available
without any hacking at all to any interested person who wanted to look at
it or mess with it.

This is a state where all of the voting on one type of electronic voting
machine with no paper record created at any point in the process. And all
of those election machines, excuse me, all of those election machines, the
whole system is all run out of a centralized election server.

And what this computer security firm was calling to let them know, on the
day that state`s secretary of state was nah, this is ridiculous, we don`t
need your help, on the day he said that, this computer security firm calls
to say, hey, basically, it`s a little weird that you`re the one secretary
of state in the whole country who is saying no, I refuse any federal help,
I don`t need it, and it`s ridiculous to think we`d ever be vulnerable to
any hacking in my state, when his state had left the voting software and
the voter registration information for millions of voters in that statewide
open and available for anybody to take it on publicly facing computers.

And if you didn`t feel like just stealing the information, you could always
leave there it and change it, mess with it a little bit, right? That would
make for a fun election day that would make for fun vote tabulating. Just
a remarkable piece of that moment in modern American history that we have
all lived through now, right? This is the one state where the secretary of
state says he doesn`t need no stinking help from no federalis, right? And
his state appears to be possibly the worst protected state in the whole
country in terms of its voting system.

Just a few weeks later, not long after that, this guy, you know, talks to
“Politico” and says, I don`t need any help, we`re fine. Computer security
researchers, dude, your whole system is public facing. I can access all of
it. A few weeks later, the elections happen.

The Clinton campaign thought they might win in that state. They didn`t
win. In fact they lost by more than they thought possible in that state.
They lost by more than five points.

But Trump wins the election overall. Trump gets sworn in January. And in
February, about a month after Trump`s inauguration, February 2017, another
computer security firm takes another poke at that one state`s election
systems online, and it turns out in that one state, nothing is any better.

Again, this was a computer security firm, calling up the state with kind of
friendly heads up. Hey, I mean you no harm, not doing this to hurt you.
But you should know that you can still get all of the voter registration
information from your voters in your state off of your website. It`s still
just sitting out there for anybody to take or change or mess with. That
was February 2017.

The following month in March 2017, a professor at a local college in the
state, actually the college where the election servers are held for the
whole state, he called up the state as well and said, hey, not only is all
our voter registration information available online, thanks to how we set
up our system, we`ve also got people`s Social Security numbers out there
and exposed for anybody to grab. This doesn`t seem good.

So, a local good government group sues the state in summer of 2017.
They`re basically like wow, given the ongoing and unusually severe problems
here, we, A, want the state to fix this, and B, we`d like there to be a
look at these centralized servers that run our state`s elections. Somebody
should take a look at these things, so we can make sure that there hasn`t
already been a hostile infiltration, no hostile actors either foreign or
domestic steal organize manipulating information about any voters or voter
data given how poorly protected this information is and all of this
infrastructure is in our state, given the fact that our secretary of state
rejected all expert federal help to come in and shore up security.

Well, the state responded to that lawsuit a few months later by admitting
that actually, it wouldn`t do anybody any help to look at the servers to
see if anybody had hacked them or done anything bad because the state had
just wiped them. They just wiped the servers. They erased everything. So
there is nothing to look at now.

That was this time last year. This time last year, despite by then was
pretty considerable concern in the state about what`s going on with their
election system, with their secretary of state in particular who stood
alone in the country in saying no, this isn`t a problem. I don`t want
help. We`re fine.

Russian, are you kidding? Election security? Ours is perfect. We don`t
need any help with that.

When the state kept officially insisting there was definitely nothing to
worry about. This was all being overblown. Everything was fine. But
stuff was obviously weird.

I mean, primaries were held in that state in May of this year. That good
government group, they re-upped their lawsuit because a whole bunch of
weird stuff happened on primary day this year, including my favorite one
from Mud Creek.

On primary day in a county up in the northeastern part of that state, in a
precinct called Mud Creek, the secretary of state`s website said on primary
day in May that there were 276 registered voters in that Mud Creek
precinct. On primary day, though, those 276 voters cast 670 votes. Hmm.

They`re very high output voters? I mean, that`s remarkably good voter
turnout, right? That`s means 243 percent of the registered voters in that
precinct turned out and voted that day. Mazel tov!

I mean, so said the secretary of state with his handy centralized voting
system that he insists he needs no help with whatsoever because it is
perfect, and anybody who tells him otherwise is a liberal who is just
trying to steal stuff.

So the primaries were in May. The summer rolls around. Mid-July this past
summer, July 2018, Robert Mueller and the special counsel`s office indict a
whole bunch of Russian military officers, remember, for their role in
attacking the United States during the 2016 presidential election to try
and elect Donald Trump.

And on page 26 of that indictment of all those GRU officers, this one
somewhat troubled U.S. state – I mean, it`s a great state. It`s a growing
state. It`s a vibrant state. But it does have this problem when it comes
to election security and the people who are in charge of it in their state
who seem to be neglecting that very badly.

On page 26 of this indictment from Mueller in the special counsel`s office,
this one state with all of this trouble in terms of its election security
and its election systems, they get an unexpected little turn in the
spotlight when Robert Mueller and his prosecutors spell out new news we
hadn`t had before about what exactly Russian military intelligence officers
were doing in the immediate lead-up to voting day 2016.

Quoting from the indictment: on or about October 28th, 2016, Kovalev and
his co-conspirators visited the websites of certain counties in Georgia,
Iowa and Florida to identify vulnerabilities. Kovalev in this context is
Anatoliy Sergeyevich Kovalev, an officer in the Russian military assigned
to unit 74455, who worked in 22 Krova Street in Moscow, for Russian
military intelligence for the GRU.

From hi cubicle in Moscow, we learned in that indictment that that Russian
military officer personally targeted election infrastructure in Florida, in
Iowa and in Georgia. And Georgia is the state where the secretary of state
alone among all other states in the country, he alone refused any help when
it came to shoring up the security of his state elections, even after he
was directly warned by homeland security and subsequently by the FBI.

Georgia is the state where the secretary of state said these warnings were
ridiculous. Ridiculous warnings. There is no chance Russia would ever
target his state. Are you kidding?

It turns out his state is one of the states that Russia targeted on October
28th, 2016. And we can name the guy who did it. And the office he was
sitting in when he did it.

Once those Russian military officers start – were targeting Georgia`s
elections system starting on October 28th, 2016, I wonder what they did
with Georgia`s voter systems. We don`t know because under that secretary
of state, rather than let anybody investigate if anything untoward might
have happened, instead they wiped the servers. They erased the servers.
So nothing can ever be checked.

That secretary of state in Georgia is now the Republican candidate for
governor of Georgia. He is presumably running for governor on the basis of
his performance as secretary of state, which honestly, is a performance for
which anybody might rightfully expect to be famous.

Well before the disaster of Georgia election security in the 2016 election,
in his first full year as secretary of state in 2010, he sent armed agents
door to door in black neighborhoods in Brooks County, Georgia. This is
after a big get out the vote effort there among black residents. That big
get out the vote effort led to the first ever majority African-American
school board in their town. Local residents said they`ve been motivated
that year by teacher layoffs in their district, teacher layoffs that were
really unpopular.

And according to one local leader of the voter registration effort, quote,
we`d been bit by the Obama bug. This is 2010. We`d been bit by the Obama
bug, and we knew it was time for a change in Brooks County as well.

They brought criminal charges against 12 local black residents who`d helped
in the get out the vote effort. They brought charges against those 12
residents for things like bringing envelopes containing completed absentee
ballots to a mailbox. They criminally charged this group of local
residents with more than 100 election law violations, including dozens of
felonies. They put them on trial to face more than a thousand combined
years in prison.

And you know what? Not a single one of those charges held up. On every
single one of those charges, the local resident was either acquitted or the
charge had to be dropped by the prosecutors. Not only were there no
convictions, there weren`t even any plea deals. Acquitted or dropped on
every single one, and the attorney general of the state subsequently had to
issue a statement clarifying that actually, none of the actions those
African-American local residents in Brooks County had been charged with,
none of the things they were charged with were actually illegal.

Mailing in absentee ballots is not a crime. Registering your neighbors to
vote is not a crime. But tell that to the people who Brian Kemp sent his
armed agents door to door after in 2010. That`s Brian Kemp, Georgia`s
secretary of state.

He also instituted what`s called an exact match program designed, honestly,
to kill voter registration applications. If there is even one single
digital character difference between your voter registration application
and any other record the state has on file for you.

So, it`s like there is an extra space added by the registrar when she types
in your name or your address, literally an extra space, or if you live on
something-something road and the registrar types in RD period to abbreviate
road instead of RD, which is the way it`s abbreviated without the period in
some other database, then forget it. You`re not registered. Your voter
registration will be held until these irregularities can be sorted, if they
can be sorted.

Brian Kemp invented that. He got sued over that effort, in part because
that unique program he designed and pursued out of his office seems to have
had what everybody understood to be its desired effect. In the initial
iteration of that program which he came up with, 76 percent of the voter
registration applications that got snagged by that new program Brian Kemp
invented, 76 percent of them were from Georgia voters who were black,
Latino or Asian.

So, civil rights groups sued him over that policy in 2016. In the end, he
agreed to end the policy and settle with them. They thought that it was
over and that would lead to reforms. Nope. Instead, Brian Kemp got the
Republican-controlled Georgia legislature to pass a new law, which codified
that policy that he had just been sued over. So, he could put the new
policy into effect under a different statutory framework.

And under the new iteration of that policy, it appears to be even more
racially targeted. Under the old version of the law, the registrations he
was snagging with this policy were 76 percent black, Latino or Asian.
Under the newer iteration of the law, it`s 80 percent black, Latino or
Asian. See? He is getting better at this.

Meanwhile, the “Associated Press” this week revealed under the new
iteration of this policy for Brian Kemp, his office is sitting on over –
excuse me, over 50,000 applications for voter registrations that he has set
aside because of the new iteration of this exact match program that he
invented where you don`t count as registered if there is an extra space
somewhere or there is a period missing or a hyphen missing or somebody
misspelled your name by one letter, more than 50,000.

As we reported at this time last night, the same is civil rights group that
sued Brian Kemp over the last iteration of this policy have now filed
another lawsuit against him to try to basically free those voter
registrations and to get him to stop doing this.

But here`s the question – in the state of Georgia, election systems are
not like a normal level of screwed up. Georgia elections under Brian Kemp
specifically have become special, very special in their big problems. That
would be a big enough problem for the state if Brian Kemp was just running
this year to stay on for another glorious term as secretary of state in
Georgia, running the state`s election infrastructure.

But instead he is both running the state`s election infrastructure,
administering this year`s elections, running this year`s voter registration
process as secretary of state, and simultaneously, he is running as the
Republican Party`s candidate for governor in the same election.

Imagine you`re Stacey Abrams. How do you run against a guy who is holding
that kind of power in this process? How do you run to win, right? How do
you run against a guy when is serving both as your competitor at the top of
the ticket in the election and he is serving as the umpire who has very
specific, very aggressive, very apparently racially inflected ideas about
who gets to vote in his state and how the votes are handled and counted and
who takes care to make sure the system is secure.

His competitor in the governor`s race this year is the former Democratic
leader in the Georgia state legislature. A very effective Georgia leader
named Stacey Abrams. She is a graduate of the great Spellman College. She
is an incredibly effective speaker and organizer.

She is the founder of a voting rights organization that made it its mission
to register minority voters all over the state of Georgia. And you know
what? You need powerful organizations to try to do that work in Georgia
because, boy, are the headwinds strong.

Stacey Abrams is now calling for Brian Kemp to step down from his job as
secretary of state ahead of next month`s election in which he himself is at
the top of the ticket. That demand from Abrams comes as we`re waiting to
find out if Kemp`s office will be subject to a restraining order on the
basis of this new federal lawsuit that`s just been filed against what he is
doing with these tens of thousands of mostly black voter registrations that
he is not letting go.

How do you fight in that sort of a context? And more importantly, how do
you fight to win in that kind of a context?

Stacey Abrams joins us live for the interview, next.





HOLDER: Are we going to win?


HOLDER: Are we going to tell Donald Trump (INAUDIBLE) – are we going to
send a message to Donald Trump?


HOLDER: Are we going to send a message to Republicans in this state?


HOLDER: Are we going to send a message to this nation about what Georgia
is really all about?


HOLDER: We`re proud as hell to be Democrats. We are willing to fight for
the ideals of the Democratic Party. We`re proud of our history. We`re
proud of our present, and we`re proud of the future we can create for this

And we`re not in this just to make a statement. We`re in this to win, all
right? And the reality is if we don`t win, people who are less committed,
less idealistic, less imbued with the values that make this nation really
great will run this country.

Now, I see all these great Stacey Abrams t-shirts. Think what the message
would be to Donald Trump, to the nation and to the world if a black woman,
a black woman was elected governor of this great state. Think about it.



MADDOW: That`s former Attorney General Eric Holder campaigning in Georgia
this past weekend for Democratic candidate Stacey Abrams, who is running
for governor in Georgia. She is running against Republican Secretary of
State Brian Kemp who made this ad during the campaign saying, literally,
that he has a big truck so he can go around and round up the illegals.

He also made a name for himself during the Obama administration by being
the only secretary of state in the country to reject help from homeland
security and the FBI to shore up the election system in his state which he
was running at the time. An indictment from Robert Mueller later revealed
that under Brian Kemp, Georgia`s election system was in fact hit by Russian
hackers, even as Kemp maintained publicly that was impossible and he didn`t
need any help to protect against it.

Kemp is also now embroiled in a new controversy, in a new lawsuit because
he is holding in his office over 50,000 voter registration applications,
the vast majority of which are from African American voters.

I need to tell you that we asked Mr. Kemp if he would please join us on the
program this evening. He hasn`t responded.

But you know who did? Joining us now is Stacey Abrams. She is the
Democratic candidate for governor in Georgia.

Ms. Abrams, I know you are incredibly busy right now. Thank you so much
for taking time out to be here.

having me.

MADDOW: So you are less than a month out now. Polls are showing pretty
much a dead heat between you and your opponent.

What`s your take on how things are going and how you`re going run through
the next three and a half weeks?

ABRAMS: We are incredibly excited about where we are. To be in a dead
heat usually with polls that are looking at likely voters is a great thing
for a Democrat, a great place for a Democrat to be because we`re not just
counting on likely voters. We`re also counting on unlikely voters, those
who don`t normally show up in midterm elections.

And our campaign has been working since June of 2017 to engage and turn
these voters out, and we`ve seen extraordinary numbers. Early voting by
absentee ballots are up dramatically, and they are, including a lot of
people of color who`ve never voted absentee before or participated in
midterms. So, we`re very bullish on our ability to win.

MADDOW: What`s the secret sauce? What`s the magic for making unlikely
voters actually vote? Presumably people don`t vote, not because they`ve
never been asked to, not because – not because it`s something – that they
could go either way about.

Presumably people don`t vote for a reason. What`s the way that you turn
people who haven`t made it a habit into voting for the first time?

ABRAMS: People don`t vote because you don`t ask them, but also, because
they don`t know how their lives improve if they vote. So what we`ve been
doing from the very beginning is talking consistently about education from
cradle to career, early childhood, really strong K through 12 and post
secondary. We talk about creating good jobs in all 159 counties, creating
a thriving and diverse economy where people don`t have to work two or three
jobs to make a living.

And we talk about health care. Expanding Medicaid in Georgia will create
56,000 jobs, save rural hospital, and it will make our state stronger. And
I`ve been talking about these things consistently.

I talk about criminal justice reform and the need to make certain that
being poor is not a crime if Georgia anymore. We talk about the issues
that matter to people, but we also take the time to listen to their issues
and their concerns, and that has a transformative effect on the electorate.

MADDOW: It is hard not to look at your race and think that you are playing
on a tilted playing field. Your opponent obviously is the secretary of
state. You`ve now called on him to step down as secretary of state because
of the conflict of interest in him running at the top of telephone ticket
in this election in his office, he himself administering this election.

There`s been so much controversy over potential voter suppression and the
tactics of his office to try to make it harder to register. As I mentioned
in the introduction, Secretary Kemp did not respond to our invitation to
have him join us tonight, but he did put out a statement in which he blamed
any concerns around voter suppression in this election on, quote, outside
agitators who disparage this office and falsely attack us.

How do you – how do you respond to that?

ABRAMS: Brian Kemp has been an exquisite architect of voter suppression
for the last decade, and the outside agitators he so blithely dismisses
include Asian-American groups based in the state of Georgia, Latino groups
based in the state of Georgia, African-American community organizations
based in the state of Georgia who have been doing this work for decades.
He`s wrong. He`s wrong in how he approaches the right to vote.

He is wrong in his aggressive attempts to dissuade people from voting
because voter suppression works in two ways. One is how he does it, which
is to stop you from actually being able to cast a ballot. But the second
is by creating this miasma of fear where people are afraid to even exercise
their right to vote.

That`s what he did down in Brooks County. It`s what he did in Hancock
County. It`s what he has done all over the state of Georgia.

But our campaign is grounded in the belief if we tell people they have
power and we show them how to use it, they will wield it and we will win
this election.

MADDOW: How do you thread that needle to alerting people of the dangers
and letting them know, you know, don`t leave without at least casting a
provisional ballot, make sure when you turn up, if you got ID, that you
bring your ID. If anybody tells you you`re not registered, you find out
why – you know, how do you steel people for the kinds of suppression they
may fight, fight against those suppressive efforts, but also not contribute
to that miasma you describe, that fear that may actually enervate people
and make people think that it`s not worth it to go out because their votes
are not going to count?

ABRAMS: Well, I`ve been fighting Brian Kemp on voter suppression for more
than four years. In fact, it was my organization, the New Georgia Project
that helped bring to light his problem in 2016. We submitted so many
applications that were held unlawfully that we were able to pull together a
coalition, fight him in the courts and win.

And so, what I tell people is this: we`ve won before and we will win again,
but we beat him first by making sure that the 53,000 have all the good
information they need. And that`s why I`m so proud of this coalition of
organizations that have been sending out this information.

But number two, we tell people turn in your absentee ballots. Beat him by

Number three, vote starting October 15th. Georgia has 21 days of in-person
early voting. We should fill those voting booths every single day. And
turn out on November 6th and bring every friend you have, bring every foe
you have who is going to vote in their best interests and make certain you
don`t let him win.

He wins when we stay home. He wins when voter suppression works, because
people aren`t just looking at these voters, they`re looking at the state of
Georgia. And given all that you described, we know that if Georgia turns
the tide in this election, we change America, and that`s what I want people
to know.

This isn`t about me. This is about them and this is about us. And they
cannot let him steal their votes.

MADDOW: Stacey Abrams, the Democratic candidate for governor in Georgia,
thank you for, again, for taking time. I know that this is crunch time for
you. I know you`re going to be running through the tape over these next
20-something days.

Good luck. Keep us apprised.

ABRAMS: Thank you so much. Rachel, can I add one quick thing?


ABRAMS: I just want to tell people if you have any questions about voting,
please go to 866-OURVOTE. Call that hotline. It`s run by the Lawyers
Committee for Civil Rights Under the Law. They`re one of the folks suing
to stop Brian Kemp. But please make sure you trust that you have the right
to vote and we`ll give you good information. Thank you so much.

MADDOW: That`s a very reasonable thing to have done. Thank you very much.

You know, it`s funny. Sometimes when you good night people in an interview
like this and they ask to say one more thing, I`m always afraid they`re
going to give their website, which they`re like they`re going to do a
fundraising thing, and I`m going to have to figure out the fundraising
website for their opponent and give that to make sure they`re being fair.

No, actually she is giving out the voter suppression hotline, which is the
right thing to do. Again, 866-OURVOTE, which is the voter protection
hotline. It`s amazing that it`s a national story than Georgia race and
about every race in Georgia, that voting rights are as much on the ballot
and as much a potential determinant of what happens as the fight between
the two candidates. But that`s the reality right now.

All right. We`ll be right back. Stay with us.


MADDOW: I mentioned there was going to be some breaking news on the show
this hour. This is about a story we actually covered here last night. You
probably remember the story. It`s out of Texas.

It`s sort of an unbelievably outrageous story. Field director for a
Democratic Congressional candidate in Texas, candidate named Mike Siegel, a
Democrat who is running against Republican incumbent Michael McCaul.

He went to the local county courthouse in Waller County, Texas. He went
there to drop off a letter about protecting the voting rights of college
students at a nearby college, Prairie View A&M, a historically black

This field director for Mike Siegel drops off that letter about the voting
rights of the students at this nearby college. A bailiff and then police
and sheriff`s deputies follow this kid out. They start questioning him.
He explains at one point that he works for a congressional candidate. He
gets the congressional candidate on the phone while he is being questioned
by these officers.

One of the officers then asks the field director oh, you work for a
candidate, a candidate from which party? He tells them the Democratic
Party. And then they arrested him, right after asking the party
affiliation of the candidate who he worked for.

Now, the students that letter was about, the students were again from
Prairie View A&M. Prairie View A&M, the student body, is about 82 percent
black. Waller County, Texas, where that school is, is about 70 percent
white. The college and the county have clashed repeatedly for decades over
whether or not the largely black student population of that college should
be allowed to vote.

This is a battle that at one point went all the way to the Supreme Court,
where I should mention the Supreme Court sided with the students and said,
yes, they can.

Well, now a new chapter in that standoff involves the county instructing
students to use the specific school addresses on their voter registration
forms for this year`s election, and then the county changing its mind and
saying oh, no actually, if those are the addresses you used, your
registration is screwed up. That`s the thing that led to this bizarre
arrest this week at the county courthouse, and now we`ve got this breaking

We just – after we covered this last night, we just got a call that
something big has changed in this case, and I am going to have my next
guest explain that in just a moment.

We`ll be right back.


MADDOW: Joining us now live from the great state of Texas is Mike Siegel.
He is a congressional Democratic candidate in Texas running against
incumbent Republican Mike McCaul.

I should tell you, I asked Mr. Siegel to come back on the show tonight
because apparently the somewhat outrageous problem he joined us to talk
about last night, presto-chango, now looks like it may be fixed.

Mr. Siegel, thank you very much for coming back and joining us.

having me, Rachel. I appreciate it.

MADDOW: So, and I – I don`t mean to make you do all the work here, but
maybe it would be helpful here if you could walk us through the state of
play for the students at Prairie View A&M as of 24 hours ago when we last
talked to you, and how that has just changed, I`m told, just in the last
hour or so.

SIEGEL: Sure, I`d be happy to. So the previous situation which led us to
deliver this letter which resulted in my staffer being arrested was that
the elections official for Waller County was going to require every student
who had registered in accordance with previous county instructions, they
were going to require the students to submit a statement of residency prior
to voting, essentially putting up a barrier to the vote.

And then this afternoon at about 3:00 p.m., I get a call from the Texas
secretary of state, which was interesting news by itself, and he wants me
to join a conference call with county Democratic and Republican officials,
as well as the elections administrator. And the secretary of state
basically asks how can we make sure there are no impediments to voting for
the students, and during the course of this conversation, the elections
official agrees that she will not require any paperwork from the students,
that maybe after the students vote, she will ask them to update their
registration, but that I will they will concede to exactly what we`re
asking for a few days ago.

MADDOW: So the reason the county was planning on making students at
Prairie View A&M jump through these extra hoops is because the county had
told these students how they should register, what address they should put
down. Then the county subsequently changed their mind and said OK, if you
followed our instructions, your registration is bad.

That`s the part of it that seems – it just seemed unsustainable in terms
of why they were going to make this an extra burden for these students.
The county now just concedes that it`s not fair to put that on the students
and it`s their problem?

SIEGEL: Well, I think it`s wonderful. It`s a victory for community
organizing, for the students and community members who fought back on this
issue. Yes, it was absurd, the idea that you`re going change the rules for
voter registration two weeks before the voter registration deadline.
That`s obviously not fair, and against Democratic principles. I mean, I
think big picture, you would agree that the right to vote in a democracy is
the most fundamental right, and what they were putting in danger is the
franchise for students, the ability to vote in a simple and effective way.

And so I`m glad that the secretary of state intervened and now we have the
status quo which is that students can vote without any impediment, and we
can get back to work trying to elect better representatives in Congress and
state government.

MADDOW: It`s just remarkable in particular, sorry to interrupt you there,
just because of the history at Prairie View and how hard students at this
school in particular have had to fight in order to be allowed to vote.

I just want to ask you one last question, Mike, before I let you go.
Obviously you having your field director arrested while trying to give
county officials a letter, speaking up on behalf of these students voting
rights, your field director being asked if you`re a Democrat or a
Republican, when he answered Democrat, he then found himself arrested, that
situation so outrageous and so strange, that`s why I asked you and Jacob to
be here last night. I wondered after I said good night to you last night,
I wished I`d asked you last night, if your Republican opponent, Congressman
McCaul had intervened on Jacob`s behalf at all or had inserted himself into
this process at all as the sitting congressman to try to fix that
situation. Obviously, it`s such an outrageous thing to have happened.

Did you get any help from Congressman McCaul?

SIEGEL: No. Unfortunately, Congressman McCaul is not available to his
voters. He hasn`t held a public meeting in ten years, so he would not be
available on an issue like this.

But big picture, we`re in Waller County. Another thing to note this is the
county where Sandra Bland died in police custody a few years ago. This is
a place of an historic fight for voting rights and civil rights. And so
I`m just very thankful that I`m able to lend a little bit of support to the
people that have been fighting for decades to protect their civil rights,
to protect their right to vote, and now, we`re going get the students out.

I had a friend say to me there is nothing like getting some young person to
do something, then telling them they can`t do it.


SIEGEL: So we`re hopeful that now that students have been discouraged from
voting, they will take it that much more seriously and get involved in this

MADDOW: Democratic congressional candidate Mike Siegel in Texas, running
in the 10th district – sir, thank you. And congratulation on winning this
fight. When I talked to you last night, I didn`t know how it was going to
resolve. I certainly didn`t know you would be back here one day later
telling me that you fixed it. Well done. Thank you.

SIEGEL: Thank you, Rachel. Appreciate your help.

MADDOW: We`ll be right back. Stay with us.


MADDOW: Happy Friday night. Happy 25 days from the big election.

One thing that tends to drive Democratic hopes at this point in an election
season is that women historically have preferred Democrats over Republicans
even when men don`t. We`re seeing that dynamic again this year.

For example, a CNN poll last week found that voters overall support
generically a Democrat over a generic Republican by 13 points. Thirteen
point generic advantage for the Republican, that`s the kind of number
Democrats like to see when they think about their prospects of taking back
the House.

But if you look at that 13 point margin for Democrats, it`s pretty easy to
see what it driving it. Look at the gap among women. Among women, women
prefer Democrats for Congress not by 13 points but by 30 points.

Democrats count on that kind of a gender gap, that kind of disproportionate
support from women every year, especially this year. But there is also a
twist this year in the way Democrats are trying to capitalize on and build
that advantage. And I do not usually show political ads here just because
once you start, where do you end?

But I want to show you this one because I think this will be an important
part of history of this moment in Democratic politics when we`re finally
ready to tell that history. Just – I just want you to see this. Watch
this. I think it`s remarkable.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Before I decided to run for office.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Before I became a combat search and rescue pilot.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I followed my dreams. I wanted to be a fighter

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Before I served eight years in the CIA.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Become a captain in the Air Force.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Before I became a Navy helicopter pilot.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Before I was promoted to commander.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Before I was a CIA analyst in the Middle East.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Before serving three tours.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Aboard the USS Harry S. Truman.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Before I was awarded the Purple Heart.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Or becoming a federal agent.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was the first woman marine to fly in an F-18 in

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Before I served in the Bush and Obama White House.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In the executive office of the president –

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Commanding over 400 combat ready –




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Before I announced my candidacy for Congress.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I chose to serve my country.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I bled on foreign soil for people to have the right
to vote.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is the first time I run for office.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have never run for political office before.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I started realizing maybe I should run.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I felt like, all right, let`s go, let`s do this.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And come November 6th, I will continue to serve the

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The people of Michigan.





UNIDENTIFIED FEMALES: The people of Texas.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I will continue to serve the people of the United
States of America.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you ready to serve America?


MADDOW: Those eight candidates are all Democrats. They`ve all served in
the military or in U.S. intelligence frequently in scary jobs where they
held positions of real power. That ad comes from the Serve America PAC,
which was started by Congressman Seth Moulton of Massachusetts.

If you think Democrats are missing out on the appeal of the strong woman
candidate this year, check your Facebook page because somebody you know
just posted this ad. And yes, before you ask, yes, Bruce Springsteen did
give them permission to use the song.

We`ll be right back.


MADDOW: I mentioned last night that Hurricane Michael seems to have done
some serious damage to Tyndall Air Base in Florida. First flyover footage
we got seemed to corroborate that. A particular concern, of course, were
these massive hangars, with the roof ripped off and what appeared to be
lots of aircraft inside. Many of those hangers had survived other storms
just fine, but obviously not this one.

Ahead of the storm Tyndall said they evacuated personnel and they moved the
aircraft off the base, but apparently, not all the aircraft removed which
makes for a very expensive proposition here.

According to “The New York Times”, Tyndall is home of the nation`s largest
group of F-22 stealth fighters, 55 of them, each costing $339 million. At
least 33 of the planes were flown to safety, but that means 22 weren`t.

F-22s have sort of funny looking tails with the vertical stabilizers that
pop up like bunny ears. You see that? It is an open question whether in
the aerial footage of the hangars, whether you can make out those weird
looking F-22 tails.

In this photo though that we got, you can definitely make out those bunny
ears poking out of that hanger that was shredded by the storm. The Air
Force is not confirming the exact number of F-22s that were left behind or
that were damaged.

“Military Times” is putting it anywhere between 4 and 10. West case
scenario, four f-22s were damaged, worst-case scenario ten, or maybe more
at $339 million a pop.

That does it for us tonight. We will see you again on Monday.

Now, it`s time for “THE LAST WORD”. Ari Melber sitting in for Lawrence

Good evening, Ari.


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