Elizabeth Warren interview. TRANSCRIPT: 1/6/20, The Rachel Maddow Show.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: And thanks to you at home for joining us this
Senator Elizabeth Warren is here with us live in studio tonight. I`m very
much looking forward to speaking with her. You`ll recall just a few days
ago, we were joined here on set by former Housing Secretary Julian Castro,
who did an exclusive interview with us on the day he announced he was
ending his own campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination this
Well, today in a surprise, Secretary Castro announced that he is making an
endorsement in the presidential race now that he has left it himself. I`m
not sure anybody saw this coming.
Most candidates who dropped out, especially if like Secretary Castro, they
are considered to still be strong contenders for potential vice
presidential nod, most contenders of that order, you`d expect them to maybe
stay out of the fray during the rest of the primary, keep every iron in the
fire, don`t burn any bridges. Don`t hurt your chances for any potential
nominee down the road picking you to be their running mate.
But today, despite that common wisdom political science, Julian Castro
endorsed Elizabeth Warren for president, which is super interesting. I`m
looking forward to asking Elizabeth Warren about that.
The latest polling within the past days from CBS News and YouGov, those
polls put senator warren at 16 percent in Iowa and at 18 percent in New
Hampshire. That puts her behind this interesting trio of Sanders and Biden
and Buttigieg in Iowa. It put herself behind Sanders and Biden in New
Hampshire. That said, all of the national poll:00 in the Democratic
presidential contest going back for the past several weeks at the national
level has Warren well ahead of Mayor Buttigieg nationally, has her battling
it out at the top three with Sanders and Biden.
So, polling is interesting both nationally and in terms of the early
states. This endorsement, late-breaking endorsement from Julian Castro
super interesting. We`ll be speaking with Massachusetts Democratic Senator
Elizabeth Warren here live in just a moment.
And there is no shortage of news to ask her about, including tonight the
increasingly intriguing question of what did the vice president know and
when did he know it. Yes, the vice president. In the midst of this very
high stakes, increasingly scary escalation between the U.S. government and
the nation of Iran, where millions of people filled the streets today for
the funeral of Qassem Soleimani, who was essentially seen as the second
ranking official in that country, second most powerful position in that
country at least, Soleimani was killed in a U.S. airstrike last week.
Today, the Trump administration announced that they will soon have a public
explanation for what exactly they`re doing and what exactly they`re
thinking when it comes to Iran, what the whole idea is in terms of
explaining their actions and their strategy toward Iran in the wake of this
targeted killing. Now, this explanation from the Trump administration as
to what their strategy is for Iran, this explanation from the
administration is not going to come for another week or so, and it will not
be President Trump who gives the country this explanation on this critical
matter of the utmost and deadliest urgency.
They`re going to put off this explanation about what`s going on between the
U.S. and Iran until next week, and it`s going to be Vice President Mike
Pence who gives the speech that is supposed to lay out U.S. policy toward
Iran and what exactly is going on and what the strategic thinking was
behind this killing of this incredibly revered figure inside Iran. Why
they think the country should wait a week to get that explanation, why it
should be Vice President Mike Pence who gives that explanation to us rather
than the president himself, that remains to be seen.
But if the idea is that there might be less impeachment baggage trailing
around after Vice President Mike Pence than there is after President Trump
and therefore maybe Vice President Pence might have a sort of cleaner shot
at this issue in the public`s minds – well, maybe that`s not true. The
question of Vice President Mike Pence`s own implication in the impeachment
scandal is both unresolved and now is sort of back on the front burner.
It has been 19 days since the House voted to impeach President Trump for
trying to get Ukraine to help him out against Joe Biden for the 2020
election. He wanted an announcement from Ukraine that they had Biden under
investigation. The impeachment inquiry also found that President Trump
pressured Ukraine to do that, to make that announcement about those
investigations by making contingent on the announcement of those
investigations a whole bunch of things that Ukraine wanted, including a
White House visit for their new president.
The impeachment inquiry also found that president Trump held up military
aid to Ukraine for months while he pressured them to do this domestic
political favor for him. I honestly can`t believe it`s only been 19 days
since the House impeached Trump. Doesn`t it feel like it`s been 19 months?
It`s been 19 days.
And in that brief period, in the less than three weeks it has been since he
got impeached, we`ve continued to get new evidence and new information
about the scheme for which the president was impeached, including a
reported communication from the Office of Management and Budget in the
White House to a Pentagon official in which the White House, the OMB
official, assured DOD that it was President Trump personally who was
insisting on holding up Ukraine`s military aid.
The communication reported by Kate Brannen at Just Security that OMB
official tells the Defense Department, quote, clear direction from POTUS,
meaning President of the United States, to hold the Ukraine aid.
Since the House vote to impeach President Trump, we`ve also seen new
evidence and new documentation of this intense conflict and intense concern
within the administration that President Trump ordering a hold on that
military aid to Ukraine was in fact illegal. So here, for example, is that
same defense official who was just assured by the White House that the
money was being withheld on direct orders from the president, here is that
same defense official writing thereafter to the Office of the Secretary of
Defense, to the defense secretary`s chief of staff.
She says, quote: Do you believe DOD is adequately protected from what may
happen as a result of the Ukraine obligation pause? As in we all know this
is illegal. Are we prepared for what`s going to happen to us at the
Defense Department here if we do this illegal thing that has been directly
ordered by the president?
So here`s what`s fascinating. In response to that email, which was sent
from somebody in the Pentagon comptroller`s office to the defense
secretary`s chief of staff, this are we adequately protected from what may
happen as a result of this, right, in response to that email to the defense
secretary`s chief of staff, the defense secretary`s chief of staff writes
back, and he says this.
Quote: The Ukrainian P.M. speaks with the Vice President of the United
States, VPOTUS on Tuesday. We expect the issue to get resolved then.
Really? Why do you expect the issue to be resolved then? In fact, the
Tuesday following that email, September 1st, Vice President Mike Pence did
meet with the leader of Ukraine. They met in Europe. They met in Warsaw.
That`s where we got this incredible footage of that room and who was there
where you can see all of these people in that room whose careers have blown
up and whose lives have changed a lot as a result of this scandal. You can
see them all in the same shot.
I mean, in that meeting, on the American side of the room, there is Energy
Secretary Rick Perry, who, of course, suddenly submitted his resignation
right as the scandal broke open. Right next to him is national security
adviser John Bolton, who also suddenly submitted his resignation right as
the scandal broke open. Right next – oh, yes, same row. There is
Ambassador Gordon Sondland who became a star witness in the impeachment
inquiry, testifying under oath that oh, yes, there was a quid pro quo and
it was ordered by President Trump.
Just behind him in the second row, there is Jennifer Williams, who was the
top Ukraine adviser to Vice President Pence, who also became a star
impeachment inquiry witness. Also in that same row, Tim Morrison, the top
Russia expert on the National Security Council, who then himself suddenly
announced his resignation on the eve of him also becoming an impeachment
inquiry witness. And next to him back there in the corner, national
security official named Earl Matthews who also worked on Ukraine issue, who
also suddenly left his post as this scandal broke open.
I mean, who`s left? Within a few weeks of this meeting, in some cases
within a few days this meeting, like everybody in that room had their life
changed and/or their career ended.
And now we know from these internal administration documents and
communications that have been revealed in the 19 days since the impeachment
vote, we now know that after weeks of freak-out inside the administration
over President Trump holding up this military aid, after President Trump
asking questions about that military aid, after him directing the holdup of
the aid, after him being advised by everybody in the national security
apparatus that he himself appointed that he had to let go of that hold in
the military aid, but he still refused to do so, after all of the explicit
arguments that we know happened within the administration, to hold up that
aid much longer would constitute a criminal act, we now know after all
those weeks of consternation and concern and CYA inside the administration,
we know right before Vice President Pence went and took this meeting at the
highest levels of the Defense Department, the chief of staff to the
secretary of defense was reassuring other officials inside the Pentagon oh,
don`t worry. This is all going to be over soon. When Mike Pence takes
that meeting with Zelensky on Tuesday, it`s all going to get sorted.
Why did he think it was all going to get sorted? I mean, President Trump
was just impeached for demanding that Ukraine give him investigations into
Joe Biden that would help him in his 2020 reelection effort and him
conveying to Ukraine that they wouldn`t get their much needed military aid
until they made that commitment to do those investigations, right? You
won`t get the military aid unless you agree to do those investigations.
Announce publicly you`re doing those investigations or you`re never going
to see that military aid.
We now know in the defense secretary`s office, they thought that that would
all click into place as soon as this meeting between Mike Pence and the
Ukrainian president took place. So, it was Mike Pence who was supposed to
personally get the assurance from the Ukrainian government at that meeting
that they were going to announce the investigations?
Because that was the deal, right? That`s what everybody was waiting on.
They can`t get the military aid until they announce the investigations.
Don`t worry. They`ll be able to get the military aid as soon as Mike Pence
has that meeting.
I mean, that`s what they were waiting on, right? At least according to the
chief of staff to the secretary of defense, a man whose name is Eric
Chewning. He put it in writing. Don`t worry. This will all end once Mike
Pence takes that meeting, so says Eric Chewning, defense secretary chief of
staff. Eric Chewning, the defense secretary of staff, has just suddenly
resigned his job.
His resignation announced today on the same day that former national
security adviser John Bolton, who, again, is right there in the room for
that meeting and who again resigned suddenly without much explanation right
in the middle of the scandal, right as the Ukraine aid was finally being
released and the whistle-blower complaint was finally being processed and
heading towards Congress, John Bolton today released a statement saying if
he is subpoenaed in the impeachment trial of President Trump, he will
appear and testify.
Well, the Senate is now back in session. We don`t yet know how the Senate
is going to proceed with the impeachment trial for President Trump, but
obviously, John Bolton`s declaration that he will testify if summoned, he
will testify at the president`s impeachment trial in the Senate if they
send him a subpoena, that obviously raises the stakes on the Republican
efforts in the Senate to try to hold the impeachment trial without hearing
from any witnesses, particularly witnesses like John Bolton or White House
Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney or the OMB official who told the Defense
Department clear direction from POTUS to continue the hold.
I mean, they don`t want to hear from these witnesses, clearly. I mean, now
that the chief of staff to the defense secretary has suddenly announced his
own resignation, I suppose he is also a potential witness, particularly
given what seems to be his very specific knowledge about what was expected
of Vice President Mike Pence in his own dealings with the Ukrainian
president and why there was an expectation at the highest levels of the
Pentagon that Pence is the guy who would be able to deliver, that Pence
would be able to deliver whatever quo was needed so the Ukrainian military
could finally get their quid.
I will just note one other thing here which is whether or not the U.S.
Senate actually conducts a real impeachment trial for the president and
whether or not the Republican leader in the Senate Mitch McConnell is able
to figure out some way to prevent witnesses from giving any testimony in
that trial, even though the House has already impeached President Trump,
lawyers representing the House as a whole and lawyers representing the
Judiciary Committee in the House, both told a federal appeals court as
recently as last week that there`s no reason to expect that they might not
bring additional articles of impeachment against President Trump on top of
the two they`ve already passed.
And so, whether or not the Senate is going to subpoena John Bolton or any
of these other witnesses, conceivably, the House could, particularly if
they thought the evidence they might be able to get from these witnesses
might be sufficient to write a third article of impeachment against
President Trump. I mean, I don`t know if the Senate is going to hear from
witnesses, invite testimony from witness, let alone subpoena them. But the
House could issue additional subpoenas.
John Bolton`s statement today that he would testify if subpoenaed was
specific to the U.S. Senate giving him a subpoena, but when reporters asked
if that meant Bolton would also testify if he were subpoenaed by the
Democratic-controlled House, his spokesperson didn`t answer, which means
that`s a live question. Bolton says he will testify to the Senate if
subpoenaed. Sir, will you testify to the House if subpoenaed? No answer.
And, you know, when it comes to this most recent sudden resignation from
the Trump administration, there`s not only this live question now as to
whether or not there will be additional witnesses in the impeachment
proceedings against President Trump, there is a particularly interesting
live question about whether or not there might be additional testimony or
witnesses who could speak to the involvement of the vice president of the
United States in this scandal, Vice President Mike Pence.
Now I should mention that Eric Chewning, the defense secretary`s chief of
staff, him resigning today suddenly unexpectedly, it`s interesting in the
context of the impeachment scandal, particularly given what we know about
his specific knowledge of events during the impeachment and how they relate
specifically to the vice president, but it should also be noted that Mr.
Chewning is the seventh high-ranking Pentagon official to either quit or
leave just since December 1st. And that counts five senior pentagon
officials who all left within the same week in December.
And, you know, hey, no biggie. It`s not like there is anything going on
right now for which we might need a fully staffed Pentagon. Even just
since the airstrike that killed Qassem Soleimani in Iraq, we have seen the
sudden and unexpected resignation of the U.S. ambassador to neighboring
Afghanistan. That was announced this weekend. We`ve also seen the sudden
and unexpected resignation of the top Iran coordinator on the National
Security Council. That happened this weekend. And now, today we`ve got
the defense secretary`s chief of staff.
Worries about how well the Trump administration might be handling this
incredibly dangerous and incredibly delicate situation they have set off
with Iran, those worries were not helped today by the bizarre double take
walk back oops we didn`t really mean it announcement, and then un-
announcement from the Pentagon that all U.S. troops were leaving Iraq.
This was so – I mean, this would be so bad and so worrying and so weird
under normal circumstances. But for this to have happened today in the
midst of everything else that is going on, it`s just absolutely mind-
bending. I mean, you sort of worry about the White House, you know, in
terms of the White House having their act together and knowing what they –
whether they actually mean what they say and understand its implications.
This is the Pentagon, which sort of makes it – I mean, it puts it at a
different orbit of worry. This weekend in the wake of that airstrike that
killed this Iranian general just outside the Baghdad airport, you have
probably seen the Iraqi parliament voted on a resolution that declared that
all U.S. troops should leave Iraq.
The prime minister of Iraq had made this impassioned plea to the Iraqi
parliament that they must act immediately to get all U.S. troops off of
Iraqi soil. All of the members of parliament who showed up for that vote
unanimously voted yes, they want to do that. They unanimously passed this
resolution to tell U.S. troops to get out, right? That happened this
And then this was today in Iran. Millions of people in the streets in
Tehran, the third national day of mourning for this top Iranian military
official who the U.S. killed last week in this airstrike, was the supreme
leader of Iran openly weeping over the body of General Soleimani, this
general who was just killed in this targeted air strike. The general who
was killed, Soleimani, has officially been replaced as head of the Quds
Force by his deputy.
Deputy leader of the Quds Force who worked with Soleimani for years, that
successor who has now taken over the Quds Force with all of its proxy
forces all over the world, he told Iranian state TV in an interview today
that his new mission as head of the Quds Force now that hazy taken over in
the wake of Soleimani`s death, his mission is clear. He told Iranian state
TV today, today, quote: We promise to continue down martyr Soleimani`s path
as firmly as before, with the help of god and in return for his martyrdom,
we aim at getting rid of America from the region.
So, on state TV in Iran, we got the Iranian official who replaced the guy
we just killed who said my goal now is god willing to get America out of
the region, to get America out of the Middle East. Within hours of that,
we get reports from Baghdad that the U.S. military has written to the Iraqi
Ministry of Defense to alert them to the fact that in fact U.S. troops are
leaving the Middle East. Hey, we are leaving the region. This is the
letter dated 6th of January, 2020. It`s directed to the deputy director of
the Combined Joint Operations Baghdad at the Iraqi Ministry of Defense.
Your Excellency, sir, in due deference to the sovereignty of the Republic
of Iraq and as requested by the Iraqi parliament and prime minister, we,
using the acronym for U.S. forces in Iraq, we will be repositioning forces
over the coming days and weeks to prepare for onward movement. In order to
conduct this task, coalition forces are required to take certain measures
to ensure that the movement out of Iraq is conducted in a safe and
efficient manner. During this time, there will be an increase in
helicopter travel in and out of the international zone in Baghdad. This
increased traffic will include these three different kinds of helicopters.
Coalition forces will take appropriate measures to minimize and mitigate
the disturbance to the public. In addition, we will conduct these
operations during hours of darkness to help alleviate any perception that
we may be bringing more coalition forces into the international zone.
As we begin implementing this next phase of operations, I want to reiterate
the value of our friendship and partnership. We respect your sovereign
decision to order our departure. Very respectfully, the Marine Corps
commanding general for Task Force Iraq.
So, this letter was delivered from the U.S. military to the Iraqi military
today saying, hey, you know what? We respect your decision. You want us
out. We`re out.
This is what it`s going to look like while we leave. We don`t want any
misunderstandings. We`re definitely not bringing in any more troops, and
we don`t want it to look like that by accident.
We are in fact leaving. We are leaving because you told us to leave. We
respect that. We hope you respect us with respect, bye. Right?
So this letter gets delivered to the Iraqi military, and then it gets
published by Iraqi sources and then it gets published by U.S. reporters,
and then the Defense Department, apparently for some reason once this
letter has become public knowledge, decides that they`re going to take it
I mean, the letter is real. Multiple reporters confirmed the authenticity
of this letter with the U.S. military. But then the chairman of the Joint
Chiefs of Staff, General Mark Milley, and Defense Secretary Mark Esper
tried to basically play it off like this was a goof, you know, a fat finger
error. Oops, I meant to hit delete and I hit forward. How to back it out
there. We didn`t mean that at all.
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, General Milley, telling reporters that the
letter was a draft. He said, quote, it was a mistake. He said that part
of the letter was poorly worded. That was his phrase, poorly worded,
implying withdrawal. Quote, that is not what is happening.
I mean, to be clear we can all see the letter. It does not imply
withdrawal. It concedes that the United States is withdrawing all troops
from Iraq on orders from the sovereign Iraqi government, and it explains
exactly how this is going happen.
This is not like I said inflammable when I meant flammable. Or I said
imply when I should have said infer. I can never keep those straight. I
mean, this is delivered from the U.S. military to the Iraqi military, and
now at the level of the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the
defense secretary, they`re trying to pretend like it was a big mistake and
nobody`s quite sure what happened there. Oops! We`ll take that back.
I mean, broad strokes, we do not know what`s going to happen next here.
Obviously, most importantly, we don`t know what Iran is going to do next
here. As the supreme leader of that country and millions of people in the
streets demand direct revenge against America for this air strike that we
took against the second most powerful official in their government.
We don`t know what is going to happen next here. We don`t know what Iran
is going to do next here. We also do not know what our own government is
going to do next here, or what they will try to pass it off as once they
actually do it. And that includes not just this White House and all of its
tendentious and mendacious word salad which we`re all used to, it`s now
apparently the Pentagon too. It is every part of the administration that
this presidency has touched and thereby changed.
And it is all happening at once, including the election to try to replace
this president. Senator Elizabeth Warren is a top contender for that job,
and she joins us next.
MADDOW: Former Housing Secretary Julian Castro made news last week when he
decided that he was – he would end his own race for the presidency. The
day that he announced he was getting out of the race, he came on this show,
Thursday night, to talk about his decision.
And I got a chance to ask him what was next for him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JULIAN CASTRO, FORMER HOUSING SECRETARY: I`m going to find way to make
sure that, number one, we replace Donald Trump with a good president in
2021. I`m going to do everything that I can to support the Democratic
nominee to make sure that a Democrat wins in November 2020, and to
encourage others to run. So, we`ll figure that out.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: So that was Thursday.
I`m going to do everything that I can to support the Democratic nominee to
make sure that the Democratic win – the Democrat wins in November of 2020.
Number one, we must replace Donald Trump with a good president in 2021.
That was Thursday. That was the day he got out of the race.
It appears in the days since then, Julian Castro has figured out what he
specifically means by that. He`s at least decided to get more specific and
much more vocal about who exactly he wants to see replace Donald Trump.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CASTRO: There`s one candidate I see who`s unafraid to fight like hell to
make sure America`s promise will be there for everyone, who will make sure
that no matter where you live in America or where your family came from in
the world, you have a path to opportunity, too.
SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Julian! Come on in.
CASTRO: Hello. How are you? Good to see you.
That`s why I`m proud to endorse Elizabeth Warren for president.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Julian Castro not only endorsing Elizabeth Warren, his spokesman
saying today he is also planning to join her for campaign events starting
Joining us now for “The Interview” is Massachusetts senator and Democratic
presidential candidate, Elizabeth Warren.
Senator, thank you so much for coming in.
WARREN: It`s so good to be here. Thank you.
MADDOW: So tell me about this endorsement. Is this something that`s been
in the cards for a while? Can you tell us how this came about?
WARREN: So, you know, I`ve known Julian for a long time. We`ve been
friends. We`ve worked together. Really, I describe it as from the heart.
I knew Julian when he was secretary at Housing and Urban Development, and I
just started out as a senator.
And we had a lot of overlapping work about the importance of safe and
affordable housing for working families, for the poor, for the homeless,
for people with disabilities, for seniors that want to age in place, and a
lot of things that we could do in this country to provide that. And then
after that, we stayed in touch, and we`ve worked on a lot of the same
You know, ultimately, Julian is a – he is a good man. He is a decent man.
And he got into public service because he truly believes that we can build
a country that isn`t just about rich people, that isn`t just about folks
who were born into privilege get an opportunity, but that we could build a
country where everybody gets an opportunity, where everybody`s voice
So, we`ve had lots of conversations over a very long period of time about
that, and very specific things that he`s put together on child care and on
the importance of making sure that the disability community gets heard, and
that we – we rethink many of our policies in ways that lift up many, many
people who too often in this economy and this country and this democracy
get left behind.
So, we`ve been there for a long time.
MADDOW: And it sounds like from this, we`re told by his spokesperson today
that he is planning on joining you on the campaign trail, including at an
WARREN: Oh, you bet.
WARREN: That`s the fun part with Julian. It`s – you know, he`s not just
dial – phoning it in. He – he`s going get out there. He`s going to keep
his voice right in the center.
MADDOW: So he is going to be a significant part of your campaign?
WARREN: You bet he is.
MADDOW: Are you considering him as a potential running mate if you get the
– the nominee?
WARREN: That would be presumptuous to talk about that. But Julian is a
great partner in these fights. And I`m glad to be there with him.
MADDOW: Let me ask you about something that we talked about at length when
he was here on Thursday night, which is the issue of diversity in the
field. Obviously, the Democratic field this year started out gigantic –
MADDOW: – and also the most racially diverse field in history.
MADDOW: As we get closer to Iowa and we get further along in the debate
schedule, that diversity is becoming less so.
MADDOW: Senator Harris dropping out. Secretary Castro dropping out. The
qualified candidates for the next debate at this point, it`s five white
candidates who are qualified.
He was very harshly critical of the process, saying that there is something
wrong with the way that the Democrats are sort of winnowing the field, if
this is part of the way that it`s working out.
MADDOW: What`s your reaction to that?
WARREN: You know, I think Julian raises significant concerns here.
And think of this this way. This is – this for me was like one of those
moments where you just – the same day that Kamala Harris who has this
vigorous voice and her own set of experiences that she brings to this
Democratic primary, the same day that she`s forced out of the primary, and
she says it quite flatly because of money, is the day that a billionaire
buys his way onto the Democratic stage. And this is –
MADDOW: Mike Bloomberg joining the race?
WARREN: Well, and Tom Steyer made it onto that stage because he could
reach in his own pocket and fund his campaign.
It`s not that I`m cross with Tom Steyer`s politics or it`s about
billionaires. This is about what kind of – what kind of a Democratic
primary we`re going to be if the only way that you can really succeed is
either be a billionaire or go suck up to the millionaires and the
billionaires and the corporate executives. Because if that`s the way we`re
going run a Democratic primary, then buckle up because this is going to be
a country that`s just going to work better and better for billionaires and
less and less for everyone else.
That`s what makes 2020 such an extraordinary moment. So many people off
the sidelines, so many people, who haven`t been in politics before, whose
voices haven`t been heard saying, I get it. Democracy is not a machine
that can run of itself. This is something we`ve all got to be part of.
MADDOW: But the lament that politics could work that way and that it
shouldn`t work that way is almost a more abstract construction than what
you`re confronted with right now. I mean, there is – I mean, Michael
Bloomberg, for example. There is obviously Mr. Steyer who`s been in the
debates and he`s doing his own campaign.
Michael Bloomberg is running a campaign right now where he is spending
potentially hundreds of millions of dollars.
MADDOW: Over $100 million in ads already. He`s not planning on running in
the first four early states.
WARREN: Yes. He`s – he`s skipping the democracy part of this.
MADDOW: He`s also not planning on being in the debates because the way you
qualify for the debates is with a donor class as well as polling. He is
not taking donations.
MADDOW: Lamenting that billionaires have a lot of power is something
different than beating them in the primary.
How do you strategize to beat something like that when they have infinite
resources and they`re really not running in the same kind of – running in
the same kind of race that you are?
WARREN: Yes, that is the fundamental question here.
So I made the decision when I got in this race, not just who I`d be
fighting for. I`d be fighting for the folks I`ve been fighting for all my
life – for hardworking people – and what I`d be fighting for, for
universal child care and cancelling student loan debt, but how I`d be
That I wasn`t going to do this with fundraisers. I wasn`t going to do this
with sucking up to corporate executives. I was going to do this
And the first dollars I got in, I turned around and spent on organizing, on
trying to get more people in.
And, you know, all I can say is – I say this to everybody – if you think
that`s the right way to run a campaign, go to elizabethwarren.com and pitch
in 5 bucks. You know, pitch in 20 bucks. Volunteer an hour. Volunteer to
do some phone banking.
But get in this fight, because the alternative is Michael Bloomberg`s
version of democracy. And that is billionaires who decide among themselves
who`s going to reach in a pocket and throw a few hundred million on the
table and buy what? A nomination? Buy an election?
If that`s the case, then our democracy becomes something that only works
for a tiny number of people, and it`s going to shut everybody else out.
MADDOW: I have a lot more questions to ask you. Stick with us.
WARREN: Thank you (ph).
MADDOW: Elizabeth Warren is our guest. We`ll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WARREN: Immediately after they announced that they had killed this
general, they had multiple different stories on why. They couldn`t keep
their stories straight. They pointed in all different directions.
Why didn`t this happen a month ago? Why didn`t it happen a month from now?
Why right now, as Donald Trump faces a potential impeachment trial in the
United States Senate next week?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Speaking to reporters after her 100th town hall in Iowa last
night, Senator Elizabeth Warren questioning the motivation behind the
timing of last week`s airstrike that killed Major General Qassem Soleimani,
the head of the Quds Force in Iran`s Islamic Revolutionary Guard.
We`re back again with Senator Warren.
Senator, thank you again.
WARREN: Thank you. And by the way, I think that was the about 190th town
hall. I think we`re just shy –
MADDOW: A hundred and ninetieth?
WARREN: – of 200.
MADDOW: I am very sorry. Thank you for correcting me.
WARREN: No, no. Only to say this is one of the best parts about
campaigning, 29 states, Puerto Rico, and almost 200 town halls now. And
best of all, over 100,000 selfies. It`s the – it`s the out there with
MADDOW: Which gives you more energy or less energy other time? Do you
feel like it`s making you stronger?
WARREN: Oh, are you kidding? It`s making me better. You want to check
out my energy?
MADDOW: No, I believe you. I`m – I`m scared.
Actually, well, today, let me ask you, Georgia – you announced a number of
new staffers in the state of Georgia.
MADDOW: Georgia is not any time soon. Georgia is deep into the process.
Is that a bet that the Super Tuesday contest, which happens right after
Nevada and South Carolina, that everybody thinks is going to be sort of a
cleanup contest, you think that that`s only the start? You think that`s
not going to be (INAUDIBLE).
WARREN: My campaign is built for the long run. I believe in democracy,
and that`s the investment I`m making.
I`m reaching out – and here`s the thing. You reach out and do this
organization from the grassroots –
WARREN: – sure, it`s about me. I`m running in the primary and I want to
have the chance to beat Donald Trump in November 2020.
But it`s also about building our team and strengthening our team up and
down the ticket. We need to win the White House. We also need to take
back the Senate and put Mitch McConnell out of a job. We need to hang on
to our majority in the House.
And we need the state races. We need to be in the governor`s races. We
need to be in the state legislative races. We need to be in these
Shoot. We need to be strengthening at the city level and county level
because 2020 is this extraordinary opportunity. If we do this grassroots,
not just billionaires and TV ads, because all those TV ads help the
billionaire, but they don`t help much of anybody else – if we really do
this grassroots, if we`re doing that knocking on doors and the face-to-face
part of this and the handshake part of this, this really is the chance to
truly have a transformational election, one that says enough of a country
that works better and better and better for those at the top, and leaves
more and more Americans behind.
MADDOW: We`ve never before had a president, incumbent president running
for reelection having been impeached.
MADDOW: It has never happened before. And so, obviously, that has
political implications that are uncertain.
I mean, there`s a lot of people who argue that the president`s raising more
money than he would otherwise be raising now because of that, that it would
maybe be a good thing for him. Obviously my take on it, it`s hard to say
it`s a good thing for a president to be impeached politically.
But you have – you raised this very pointed questions over the weekend
that we should look seriously even at something like this Iran airstrike,
killing General Soleimani as something that could potentially have been
driven by the president`s political interests against this impeachment.
Do you think that is the reason why he did it?
WARREN: Well, like I said, look at what happened. He orders the killing
of Soleimani and then the administration can`t get their story straight.
They still can`t get their stories straight on what was going.
Remember the last time this happened? When people started asking questions
about the president talking with – the president of the United States
talking with the president of Ukraine and then holding up aid to Ukraine.
And you may remember what did the White House do? They all have different
stories on what had happened. Everyone is pointing in every which
We then peel back the layers and find out pretty quickly what was really
going on was not Donald Trump trying to advance the foreign policy
interests of the United States, Donald Trump trying to protect Ukraine from
What was really going on was Donald Trump was trying to put the pressure on
the Ukrainian president in order to help Donald Trump politically.
So, you know, this is an administration that has no credibility – no
credibility for doing anything other than what is in Donald Trump`s
political interests. They have no credibility domestically. They have no
So, they want to make the case that no, no, no, here was our goal
internationally, and that`s all we were taking a look at. I say the burden
of proof is on them. Come up with the evidence.
MADDOW: You will be effectively a juror when – if and when the
president`s impeachment trial begins. Presumably, there will be some hard
decisions at some point, depending on what they decide to do at the Senate
trial as to whether or not you should be out campaigning in these early
states, or whether you should be in the Senate being one of the people who
is making a decision based on that evidence.
How do you plan to weigh that when it arises?
WARREN: You know, they are just some things that are more important than
politics. And one of them is constitutional responsibility.
I took an oath to uphold the Constitution of the United States of America.
And if we`re in the middle of an impeachment trial, then I will be there
and be part of that.
MADDOW: I have more questions for you. Senator Elizabeth Warren is our
guest. We`ll be right back.
MADDOW: We`re back now live with Senator Elizabeth Warren, a candidate for
president in the Democratic primary.
Senator, thank you again.
WARREN: Thank you.
MADDOW: Let me ask you about an admittedly boring topic, which is
fundraising. In the fourth quarter, you raised more than $21 million,
which is a ton of money.
MADDOW: Less than Senator Sanders who raised an astronomical amount of
MADDOW: A little behind Biden and Buttigieg as well. It`s also
interesting, though, less than you raised in the quarter before.
MADDOW: Why is that and what`s your plan to turn that around?
WARREN: So, I actually don`t know why the numbers are a little bit off.
But I will say this – what`s been happening is we just keep building on
it. You know, I was at a standing stop a year ago when I first got in this
race and built this from scratch. And we are now closing in on nearly a
And the donations are modest. They`re small. A lot of grassroots
You want to know the best part about the fundraising, or at least one of
the best parts? Is I actually do call time just like the other guys do,
only the folks I call are true grassroots donors.
So I was making calls a couple days ago. I called people who pitched in 5
bucks, people who pitched in 10 bucks, 20 bucks.
I called someone who put in $2 who said they were unemployed. You know,
that was what they could do, but wanted to be part of this fight.
MADDOW: And are those conversations valuable to you in part because they
are two-way conversations –
MADDOW: – because you are hearing from your donors and what their
WARREN: That`s right.
You know, here`s the number one thing I hear. You give me hope. I`m in
this fight because you get what`s broken, you`ve got plans to fix it, and
you give me hope that we can get this done. It is the hope borne of a
belief in our democracy.
You know, everybody who truly engages in democracy, who pitches in 5 bucks,
who even shows up to vote, there`s that spark of hope that all of us
together can bring our voices to our democracy and make our government work
for us. And that`s why I say I think that`s the heart of what 2020 is all
MADDOW: What do you tell people who believe that President Trump is going
to be reelected?
They don`t want him to be reelected, they want him out of office, but they
look at the state of the country. They look at the fact that the country
elected in 2016. They look at what`s going on in terms of politics, in
terms of the Democratic primary, and they don`t feel hopeful that he`s
going to be a one-term president.
WARREN: I say to folks like that, think about what was so badly broken in
this country that we would elect Donald Trump, start there. And think
about where Donald Trump right now.
He ran on corruption, right? He ran on he was going to drain the swamp.
He ran on the fact that the whole process was broken.
And that excited enough people across the country to carry him across the
finish line. Oh, let`s never forget, three more – million more people
voted for Hillary Clinton than for Donald Trump, but it was enough to get
him across the finish line. And then he turned around and broke every one
of those promises.
But that fundamental question about who government works for, whether it`s
on your side or it`s just on the side of the big donors and the corporate
executives, that is the fundamental question in America today, and that`s a
question that`s not Democrat versus Republican. It`s a question that
people across this country ask.
In fact, just look at the numbers around this. When I asked people,
Democrat and Republican, about corruption, both sides want to see real
change. They want to see a government that doesn`t just work for giant
drug companies. They want to see a government that works for people who
are trying to get prescriptions filled. They want to see a government that
works for them.
When you ask people about my 2 cent wealth tax, you know, this tax on top
of 1/10 of 1 percent, Democrats and Republicans across the country support
that. A majority say, yes, let`s do that. Not the folks in Washington but
across this country.
When you look at the plan, like I`ve got to expand Social Security so that
it`s financially viable for decades to come, but we increase Social
Security and disability payments, 200 bucks a month. And pay for it by
just asking those at the top 2 percent to pay a little more into the
system. That`s supported by Democrats and Republicans.
So I look at this as look at why he got elected. He got elected because we
have a country that`s been working better and better and better for those
at the top and worse and worse and worse for everyone else.
That`s why 2020 is our chance. We can turn that around. It`s just going
to take enough of us to get in this fight.
MADDOW: Senator Elizabeth Warren, thank you for being here tonight. I
really appreciate it.
WARREN: Thank you.
MADDOW: We`ll be right back. Stay with us.
MADDOW: That is going to do it for us tonight. One thing to watch for in
tomorrow`s news at midday noon Eastern Time, the government, prosecutors
are due to tell a federal judge in Washington what they believe former
national security adviser Mike Flynn should get in his sentence in his
criminal case. We`ll be watching for that filing by midday tomorrow.
We`ll see you again tomorrow night.
Now it`s time for “THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL”.
Good evening, Lawrence.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
Copyright 2020 ASC Services II Media, LLC. All materials herein are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of ASC Services II Media, LLC. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content.>
Copyright 2020 ASC Services II Media, LLC. All materials herein are
protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced,
distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the
prior written permission of ASC Services II Media, LLC. You may not alter
or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the