Interview with Cory Booker. TRANSCRIPT: 1/13/20, The Last Word w/ Lawrence O’Donnell.
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Cornell Belcher, Dave Weigel, thank you very
That is ALL IN for this evening.
“THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW” starts right now.
Good evening, Rachel.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Oh, sure, like it`s that simple, Chris.
HAYES: It`s not that simply and I totally get people`s, like, they`re in
their head about it because it is a complicated set of questions. But
like, you just got to do – vote for the person you like.
MADDOW: I know – and it`s hard to remember, wait, I`m supposed to wait
for the person I like?
HAYES: I`m going to mentally model the internal life of a person who works
in Ohio who has a certain job?
HAYES: Figure out what they like? I don`t know.
MADDOW: Combination of game theory and impersonation is the best way to
MADDOW: Yes. Thank you, my friend. Much appreciated.
HAYES: All right.
MADDOW: And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour. Very happy to
have you with us.
We`ve got a really, really, really big, exciting show tonight.
Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey today announced that he is ending his
campaign for the Democratic nomination for president. There is nobody quite
like Cory Booker, senator from New Jersey in U.S. politics. Tonight, we`re
going to be joined live here on set by Senator Booker for an exclusive
interview about his decision to end his campaign and what this past year
has been like for him in this roly-poly, topsy-turvy, rollercoaster of a
Democratic presidential primary.
Before we bring on Senator Booker, though, tonight, we are also going to
speak with the leader of the Democrats in the United States Senate. Senator
Chuck Schumer is here tonight at a very crucial time.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi now confirming that she`s going to take one last
occasion to consult with all the Democrats in the House as to how they`re
going to proceed with the articles of impeachment against President Trump
and the impeachment process. That Democratic caucus meeting will convene in
Washington tomorrow morning at 9:00 a.m. Eastern.
After that last opportunity for discussion and consultation among all of
the Democratic members of the House, the House will then vote on a
resolution that will name the impeachment managers who will act as
prosecutors in the Senate trial of President Trump. That resolution will
also formally convey the impeachment articles over to the United States
Now, we have sort of talked about here from the beginning, I`ve sort of
tried to advise here from the beginning that we should all be very humble
when it comes to predicting anything about how a presidential impeachment
is going to do. There have been very few presidential impeachments. They`ve
all happened in different centuries. They`re all very different from one
Impeachment is a big enough, weighty enough, frankly scary enough deal that
I think we should be humbling about talking about how we`re sure it`s going
to go. I think impeachment is rare enough and strange enough that it should
be seen as a little bit of a wild beast.
So to that end, tonight, we`re going to talk with Senator Schumer about
what he is planning and what he thinks will happen in terms of the start of
this Senate impeachment trial. But, you know, stay humble.
Even just today and into tonight, we`ve got really interesting new
reporting that is totally recalibrating all the Washington common wisdom as
to what we`re about to see as President Trump`s impeachment moves into the
Senate. For example, because Mitch McConnell controls a 53-seat Republican
majority in the Senate, from the very, very beginning of even the prospects
of impeachment, people have pontificated that McConnell might just decide
to technically convene the Senate impeachment trial, but then instantly
take a vote to dismiss the articles, dismiss the charges, and that would be
He could just gavel it open and boom, vote, gavel it closed. The trial
would be over. The whole thing could be done in five minutes.
That prospect has loomed large since it became even remotely possible that
President Trump was going to face an impeachment trial before the Senate.
Well, take that common wisdom and educate it, because tonight, CNN is
reporting that according to Republican sources, there are not enough votes
in the U.S. Senate. Even with that Republican majority, there are not
enough votes to pass a motion to dismiss the charges against President
Trump, without moving ahead with at least some version of a trial.
If that reporting is accurate, and if that math is accurate and McConnell
does not have the votes to pass a motion to dismiss – well, Senator
McConnell will have to decide whether he even wants to bother or risk
taking that vote, which he will probably lose, whether he might just skip
that, which would be a departure from how they handled it in the Clinton
impeachment, and he`s been saying he wants to follow the same rules that
they had during the Clinton impeachment.
So that`s interesting enough. McConnell might not have the votes to
dismiss. McConnell does not believe he has the votes to dismiss.
Does he even bother putting dismissal on the table then? Interesting.
And around the same time that CNN broke that story, CBS News broke a story
that is even more surprising and may mean that we`re about to have a way
more interesting January than you were planning on. CBS reporting tonight
that the Trump White House believes senior officials in the Trump White
House believe that not only does Mitch McConnell not have the votes to
outright dismiss the case against the president in the Senate, but at least
senior White House officials believe that Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer
in fact has the votes to insist that the impeachment trial of President
Trump not only go forward, but that it include testimony from witnesses.
Quote: Senior White House officials tell CBS News they increasingly believe
that at least four Republicans and likely more will vote to call witnesses.
And remember, four is the crucial number. If all 47 Democratic senators
vote that they would like to hear witnesses, they only need four
Republicans to join with them to put together a majority vote that would
result in their being witnesses at the president`s impeachment trial in the
And CBS again tonight is reporting that there are at least four, quote, and
likely more, at least in the estimation of White House officials who, of
course, are following this closely, as if their careers depended on it,
because maybe they do.
So if Mitch McConnell isn`t going to be able to gavel open and then gavel
shot the impeachment trial immediately, and if McConnell is not going to be
able to stop witness testimony at the trial, and if all of that is about to
start imminently, because the House tomorrow is preparing to send the
articles over to the Senate – well, yes, then, the person I want to talk
to about all of that is Chuck Schumer, the top Democrat in the United
States Senate. He will join us here live momentito.
But before we bring Senator Schumer on board – we told you it was a big
show. Before we bring Senator Booker on. Before we bring Senator Schumer
on, told you it is a big show.
We are going first to go to Congressman Adam Schiff. He is the head of the
Intelligence Committee. He, of course, led the impeachment investigation in
the House. And there`s a lot to ask him about.
But most urgently, as of tonight, there is this really remarkable new
reporting in “The New York Times,” and maybe we should have seen this
coming. I didn`t. This is like welcome to the “50 Shades Darker” remake of
the 2016 Russian election interference effort to reelect Donald Trump,
because you can see the headline here from “The New York Times”: Russians
hacked Ukrainian gas company at center of impeachment.
Quote: With President Trump facing an impeachment trial over his efforts to
pressure Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son
Hunter, Russian military hackers have been boring into the Ukrainian gas
company at the center of the affair. The hacking attempts against Burisma,
the Ukrainian gas company on whose board Hunter Biden served, began in
early November as talks of the Bidens, Ukraine and impeachment was
dominating news in the United States.
It`s not yet clear what the hackers found, or precisely what they were
searching for, but the experts say the timing and scale of the attacks
suggest that the Russian could be searching for potentially embarrassing
material on the Bidens, the same kind of information that President Trump
wanted from Ukraine when he pressed for an investigation of the Bidens and
Burisma, which, of course, set off a chain of events that led to his
Quote: The Russian tactics are strikingly similar to what American
intelligence agencies say was Russia`s hacking of emails from Hillary
Clinton`s campaign chairman and the Democratic National Committee during
the 2016 presidential campaign.
It is 2016 redux. It`s even the same units. The GRU, the Russian military
intelligence hacking units, a specialized hacking group nicknamed Fancy
Bear. It`s the same units that carried out the 2016 attack.
Security researchers describing this attack on Burisma as a cookie-cutter
version of the 2016 Russian hack to hurt Clinton and benefit Trump. The
Russian government hackers used fake websites and spear phishing emails
designed to steal usernames and passwords, just like they did targeting the
Clinton campaign and the DNC in 2016.
With those purloined usernames and passwords, they apparently were
successful. They apparently did get themselves inside Burisma`s servers to
dig up or unleash, what? You know, who knows?
Stay tuned. The Iowa caucuses are in three weeks. We`ll presumably find out
at some convenient time.
I mean, this is remarkable. You might remember on Friday night`s show, we
covered this sort of vague but still alarming report from “Bloomberg News”.
Reporter Chris Strohm reporting at “Bloomberg” on Friday that U.S. law
enforcement and intelligence agencies were investigating some sort of
effort by Russia to try to target Joe Biden, to try to mess with the Biden
presidential campaign, much as Russia messed with Clinton`s campaign four
We highlighted this report on Friday night`s show, saying that there`s not
much detail here, but it`s obviously of concern if U.S. officials, law
enforcement and intelligence, are monitoring or investigating if Russia is
I don`t know if this is what “Bloomberg News” was referring to on Friday
night, but this new reporting tonight on the front page of the “New York
Times” says at least that Russian military intelligence hackers are at
work. Perhaps trying to dig up for President Trump`s benefit the stuff he
wasn`t able to leverage out of the government of Ukraine by force.
I mean, the House has already passed its impeachment articles against
President Trump already. But, I mean, what happens next here?
I mean, here is evidence of Russian government hackers, potentially trying
to deliver for Trump the deliverable that he was trying to pry out of
Ukraine for which he got impeached.
Here`s also an alleged participant in the Ukraine scheme for which the
president got impeached, Lev Parnas is currently under indictment in the
Southern District of New York. Here is Lev Parnas now delivering the
contents of his iPhone to the House Intelligence Committee this weekend and
the contents of another one of his phones apparently today that reportedly
includes thousands of pages of material, including this lovely new picture
we hadn`t seen before of Mr. Parnas and President Trump. This is reportedly
from March 2018 in Florida.
Also, here is the Department of Energy telling a federal judge as of today
that they will finally agree to hand over some of Energy Secretary Rick
Perry`s communications around the Ukraine scandal. You may remember him as
one of the three amigos in the middle of that scheme.
Here also is the Government Accountability Office, the nonpartisan
investigative arm of Congress, reportedly about to publish their own
findings as to whether President Trump holding up the military aid to
Ukraine violated the law. That GAO report is expected within the next few
So, I mean, if you`re Adam Schiff on the Intelligence Committee, you`ve
just completed an impeachment investigation which resulted in two articles
of impeachment already being conveyed, or they`re about to be conveyed to
the Senate. And that raises fascinating issues about how the Senate is
going to handle this.
But if you are the guy who just headed up the impeachment inquiry, and you
remain responsible for leading congressional oversight of the intelligence
community by running the intel committee, I mean, what do you now do with
this rising tide of new material and alarming new reporting that is
absolutely all about the scandal you have already turned into articles of
Joining us now live is Congressman Adam Schiff, chairman of the House
Sir, really appreciate you making time to be with us tonight. Thanks for
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): My pleasure.
MADDOW: So let me get your top-line reaction to this new report from “The
New York Times” this evening that just as the impeachment investigation was
starting up in November, Russian hackers from the GRU reportedly started
targeting Burisma, the Ukrainian energy company whose board Hunter Biden
served on. This is the company that President Trump wanted investigations
about that he thought he could use against Biden and the campaign.
What`s your reaction to this new report?
SCHIFF: I have several reactions.
First, that it would not at all surprise me. This is indeed exactly what
Bob Mueller warned about in his testimony that the Russians would be at
this again. Director Wray has said the same thing, and they appear that
this reporting is correct to be in the midst of another hacking and
potentially another dumping operation designed to influence another
election in Donald Trump`s favor.
It is clear if that`s the case that once again they have a favorite. They
don`t want Joe Biden, it would appear from this target, and this would help
And I think the other thing that`s apparent from this, if this reporting is
correct is the message that Vladimir Putin has gotten is not to stay out of
American elections but you`re welcome to get involved in American elections
as long as it helps Donald Trump. It seems to be the message that President
Trump has conveyed, and – at least the message that Vladimir Putin has
So, you know, we`re going to start by finding out what our intel agencies
know about this. I have to say, Rachel, I`m a bit distressed to see this
for the first time in a newspaper report. If the intel committee –
community is aware of this, that should have been brought to our attention
But I don`t find it surprising. I do find it deeply disturbing, and I would
hope that maybe both parties can get out ahead of this, even if the
president won`t, and condemn any Russian effort to influence the next
MADDOW: It is disturbing to hear you say that you learned about this first
in “The New York Times” and that the intelligence community hasn`t come to
you and your committee with this.
According to “The Times” and to the private security firm, which is called
Area 1, that reportedly detected this attack, they say that whatever was
going on here with these GRU hackers and the other hackers who were
involved in the DNC attack and the Hillary Clinton campaign attack in 2016,
they`re saying it was successful, that they did get into Burisma`s servers,
although there is no report what they actually did once they were in there.
If these Russian hackers stole stuff, or if they`re otherwise going to try
to release stolen information or disinformation to try to affect the
campaign, to try to hurt Vice President Biden, are we at all inoculated
against that now? I mean, does the intelligence community have a plan for
that, given what we went through in 2016?
SCHIFF: Well, you know, we`re really not inoculated against it because
what would have provided the inoculation is if during the first time it
happened or thereafter, the president led a national consensus to reject
But, of course, all he has done is to invite foreign help. The very subject
of the impeachment went beyond they`re trying to invite Ukrainian
interference in the next election, but to coerce Ukraine by withholding
hundreds of millions of dollars of military aid, a White House meeting by
using the power – abusing the power of his office to solicit and coerce
that kind of foreign interference.
So, we`re not inoculated. We have a president who`s made it abundantly
clear time after time he is more than happy, more than willing to make use
of foreign help.
Now, what we can do about it is we can expose it. And so, if indeed the
intelligence community has been on top of this, if there are reports of the
Russians doing this, if there is evidence that they intend to use this in
the U.S. election, we can do our best to inoculate the public by telling
the public about it.
Indeed, you know, one of the qualms I had about the Obama administration`s
handling of this back in the last election was they didn`t make a more
full-throated attribution directly from the president about Russian
interference. So, we`ll have to do the best we can. But unfortunately,
we`re not nearly as inoculated as we should be.
MADDOW: It is also striking that a lot of this new reporting material
turned up by FOIA lawsuits, witnesses coming forward, new public source
reporting as we see tonight in “The New York Times” does feel directly
linked to the scandal for which you led the investigation that resulted in
articles of impeachment passing the House against the president.
What happens to this subsequent material, the stuff that comes up since
you`ve drawn up and passed the articles?
Lev Parnas, who was part of the Ukraine scheme with July over the weekend,
his lawyer says he delivered data from Mr. Parnas` iPhone to your
committee, and more is on the way. These FOIA lawsuits have turned up
Pentagon and White emails and communications that you didn`t have access to
during your investigation, but since shined much more of a light in terms
of the president`s direct involvement here.
Will you continue to interview witnesses or do depositions or otherwise
sort of work on this case, despite the fact that the articles have already
SCHIFF: The answer is yes. And, in fact, that`s exactly what we`ve been
doing. We have received extensive documents now for Mr. Parnas. We have
received extensive, new and incriminating evidence come out of these FOIA
public releases of document releases.
And it underscores something very important that I don`t think the public
has heard enough about. And that is even as Senator Schumer, and you`ll
hear from him shortly, has been sounding the alarm about the need to make
this a real trial, make it a fair trial, make sure there are witnesses like
in every other impeachment in history, it`s also important to get the
The president withheld every single document. None of the documents we have
obtained came from any administration agency except through some of these
FOIA requests. And as we see as these documents come out, they are deeply
incriminating of the president. Those OMB documents disclose and
corroborate what we knew already, that the order to hold back the aid came
directly from the president.
The people didn`t know why it was being withheld. That in fact the Defense
Department was concerned that merely withholding it, not knowing of the
corrupt purpose the president had, but merely withholding it violated a
different law, the Impoundment Act. So, it`s as I think important that the
Senate get all of those documents as it is that we get the witnesses.
And one last point I`ll make, and that is if we`re following the Clinton
model here, and clearly McConnell really isn`t, but if we were, all of the
documents in Clinton were turned over before the trial. And that would make
sense to do here as well.
MADDOW: Let me just ask briefly, sir. A lot of people are expecting that
when the intelligence – excuse me, when the impeachment managers are
named, that you will be among them. And I realize you`re not going to get
out ahead of Nancy Pelosi, Speaker Pelosi in any sort of announcement in
But is it your understanding that once there are impeachment managers
chosen, once the impeachment trial has started, will the managers be
constrained from presenting information to the Senate, presenting their
case? Will they be constrained to confine the evidence that they present
and that they discuss only to what your committee turned up as part of its
investigation? Or if there`s additional evidence that has come to light,
additional witness testimony or documents that have come to light, will the
impeachment managers be able to present that material, too? Or is this sort
of a prosecution frozen in time from before Christmas?
SCHIFF: Well, that`s a very good question. I think the answer is we don`t
know because we don`t know what`s in the McConnell resolution, because
McConnell has not negotiated with Chuck Schumer in good faith. This is
going to be a partisan resolution by Mitch McConnell, and I`m sure it will
be drafted with the White House lawyers to give the president every
I will say this, though. It`s going to be hard for the Senate to ignore
information that comes into the public record and say we`re not going to
consider that, even though it`s directly relevant, even though it`s
directly incriminating. We`re just going to turn away from it.
Now, one thing I am concerned about, Rachel, is the White House has not
turned over a single document. The White House should not be permitted to
introduce selectively documents to mislead the public about the documents
it has withheld.
You can obviously cherry-pick certain documents from OMB or other agencies
and suggest to the public or the senators during a trial that they`re
somehow representative when they`re not. If they intend to introduce any
document, they need to introduce all the documents so that we have the
MADDOW: Congressman Adam Schiff, chairman of the House Intelligence
Committee – a lot going on, sir. Thanks for joining us tonight. I really
appreciate you making time.
SCHIFF: Thanks, Rachel.
MADDOW: All right. We have two big guests still to come here tonight.
Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer joins us next as the articles of
impeachment against President Trump are being conveyed to his place of
work, the United States Senate.
Also, Senator Cory Booker is going to be here for his first TV interview
since ending his campaign for president today.
It`s a big night here. Stay with us.
MADDOW: So, House Democrats are all getting together tomorrow morning, a
full Democratic Caucus meeting, 9:00 a.m. at the Capitol. We expect – we
can`t know anything for certain these days, but we expect that Speaker
Pelosi will come out of that meeting with a plan to send over to the Senate
the two articles of impeachment that were approved last month by the House.
Now, once that ball is rolling, once impeachment moves over to the
Republican-controlled Senate to start the trial, anything could happen.
CBS News reporting tonight that Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader in
the Senate, has apparently not been able to cobble together enough votes to
block all witnesses from testifying at the impeachment trial. Hello, John
CBS reporting that per senior White House officials, at least four and
likely more Republican senators will vote with the Democrats to have
witnesses testify at the trial. That would be enough for a majority vote if
they`ve in fact got four Republicans who will take that vote with the
Democrats. That would be enough to ensure that there would be witness
testimony. That`s a really big deal for how this month is going to go if
that reporting bears out.
And now that this is all becoming very real and is proceeding in a way that
lots of people did not expect, there is also this really specific issue
faced by the multiple sitting U.S. senators who are running for president
right now at this crucial phase of the campaign as we are headed into Iowa,
where the latest Iowa polling from Monmouth today shows the top four
contenders bunched tightly enough together that they`re all within the
margin of error.
How did the four Democratic senators running for president right now
balance the requirements of this Senate trial that`s about to start with
what they`re all trying to do with their campaigns at this critical moment?
There is only one person in the country who has questions like those
directly on his plate, and he`s the one who has to come up with answers for
all of them. He is Chuck Schumer, the Democratic leader of the United
States Senate, a man whose life is about to be even busier than usual.
Sir, thanks for making time to talk to us tonight.
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): Thank you. Good evening, Rachel.
MADDOW: Let me start with this CBS reporting tonight, that despite his
best efforts, it appears that the Republican leader in the Senate, Mr.
McConnell, has not been able to cobble together enough Republican votes to
block witness testimony in the trial.
Do you believe that that is true? And how significant is that if it is
SCHUMER: Well, I think the momentum is growing for witnesses and
documents. Three weeks ago, I sent a letter to Leader McConnell saying, to
have a fair trial, a real trial, you need to get the truth. The only way to
get the truth is witnesses and documents.
And he`s resisted constantly, but the American people have not. The
overwhelming majority of Americans believe that you need witnesses and
documents. What kind of a trial is there without witnesses and documents?
And, you know, frankly, Rachel, we don`t know what these witnesses and
documents will say. They`re hardly Democratic appointees. They`re Trump
And what they say may be exculpatory. It may be further incriminating. But
the truth on something as weighty as this impeachment must come out.
If you can`t have a fair trial for impeachment, which is the ultimate power
the Founding Fathers gave the Congress to keep an overreaching, a law-
breaking president in check, then our Constitution is fundamentally flawed
and – well, not flawed. The Constitution is not flawed, but the
implementation is way out of balance.
MADDOW: The last time you were here on this program and we talked about
these matter, you said that you were involved in trying to essentially
lobby Republicans, speak with your Republican colleagues across the aisle
on this matter about the way the trial was going to be conducted, the need
to have witnesses and documents.
We`ve also heard Senator Susan Collins of Maine tell her hometown paper on
Friday that she was meeting with a small group of Republican senators to
try to ensure that there would be a vote for witnesses and documents.
Can you tell us at all about how this has come together and how confident
you are that the votes are there?
SCHUMER: Well, you can`t be confident at all.
I can imagine that the president and Mitch McConnell are going to put
tremendous pressure on these senators to have a cover-up, to not tell the
truth, to hide what actually happened, because if you`re – if you are what
Donald Trump says, he did everything right, everything was perfect, why
would you be afraid of witnesses and documents?
So they`re going to put a bee (ph) under a lot of pressure and making a
prediction is difficult to do.
I can tell you this: the case for witnesses and documents which I began
making three weeks ago is now gaining momentum in the Senate. It`s gaining
momentum throughout the country, and I am more hopeful than ever that we
can actually get a fair trial.
We haven`t overreached. We haven`t asked for a long list of witnesses to be
dilatory. We haven`t asked for truckloads of documents. Only the things
that would be eyewitness to what happened on this most serious charge that
the president actually withheld aid from Ukraine to get them to influence
You know, when I read the Constitution in high school and then again in
college, and they said the Founding Fathers were worried about foreign
interference in our elections, I sort of shrugged my shoulders and I said,
what`s that all about? Well, once again, the Founding Fathers were a lot
smarter than me and all of us.
This is very serious stuff. It weighs on different shoulders when it`s so
profound in different ways, and I am feeling a little better than I did a
days ago that we might actually get a fair trial.
MADDOW: Senator, I have to ask you about some breaking news that we`ve
been reporting tonight from “The New York Times.” “The Times`” headline
is: Russians hacked the Ukrainian gas company at center of impeachment.
“The Times” is reporting and they`re citing security experts who apparently
monitored this attack that Russian military intelligence hackers, some of
the same units that were involved in the 2016 attack on the Clinton
campaign and the DNC, when the impeachment scandal heated up in November,
they apparently attacked Burisma, this company that the president was
demanding investigations of because he thought he could use it against Vice
President Joe Biden in the 2020 campaign. Russian hackers have apparently
been hacking into Burisma and getting into their servers and rummaging
The intelligence chairman in the House, Chairman Schiff, just told me that
this is news to him, that he did not learn this in his role as the
Intelligence Committee chairman. He is learning this in “The New York
I know as Senate minority leader, you also tend to have access to sensitive
material. I have to ask if this – if this is news to you as well tonight
from “The Times”?
SCHUMER: It is.
MADDOW: Or if you had any inkling of this?
SCHUMER: No, it is news. And it shows the great need for election
security. Again, to have the Russians interfere on the side of the same
person that intelligence agencies showed they interfered in the 2016
elections for President Trump is appalling and eats at our democracy.
And as you know, Rachel, this president has fought our efforts for election
security. Mitch McConnell has been his complete ally. We need to pass the
bipartisan legislation on the Senate floor – the House has passed a lot of
it – to deal with election security and provide the money so that our
elections are not manipulated by a foreign power. And that foreign power,
Russia seems to be gaining everywhere.
I want to make one other point because we`re going start debating this
tomorrow. So, it`s not exactly on topic, but it`s important, which is the
War Powers Act.
Russia and other countries are gaining.
The president`s foreign policy can be described in two words, erratic,
impulsive. He could get us into a war. He could even bumble us into a war.
And everywhere his foreign – in his foreign policy pursuits, whether it`s
North Korea or Syria or Russia, he makes us a lot – more weaker than we
were before, and there`s no strategy.
I am worried that we could have, as he once called it, an endless war in
the Middle East. We are getting close to getting enough votes to enact the
War Powers Act, which says that the Congress shall have to approve any war
in Iran. There`s another bill coming up, Bernie Sanders`s bill, to cut off
any funding for any war in Iran. I`m proud to be a sponsor of that.
And I hope we can get a few more Republican votes on this issue. We need
two more. We have two. We have all 47 Democrats.
The risk of war with this president is greater than it`s been in a long
MADDOW: I have to ask on that point, sir – I don`t make a habit of
reporting on detail on the president`s accusations and insults and tweets
and things – but part of the way that he has essentially whipping on the
issue that you just described there is by distributing an image today, a
doctored image that made both you and Nancy Pelosi wrapped up in the
Iranian flag and looking like mullahs in the Iranian regime.
I just have to ask your reaction to the president targeting you in that
SCHUMER: You know, it`s amazing how low this president can go, and it`s
amazing how our Republican colleagues – I haven`t heard hardly any
criticism of what he did – can go along with him.
But it`s the broader point. This is the way the president is conducting
foreign policy. This may well be the way he is conducting our interaction
with Iran right now – impulsive and erratic, no strategy. And that`s why
this war – even this cartoon makes the – or what he tweeted, rather,
makes enacting a War Powers Act so important, because it shows that this
president, when it comes to things like this, is almost out of control.
MADDOW: U.S. Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer – sir, thanks for
making time to be with us tonight. I know it`s going to be a grueling few
weeks ahead. Good luck, sir.
SCHUMER: Yes, thank you.
MADDOW: All right. Up next, New Jersey Senator Cory Booker left the race
for the Democratic presidential nomination today, said he did so with a
full heart. He is going to be here for his first interview since that
We`ll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. CORY BOOKER (D-NJ): Today, I`m suspending my campaign for president
with the same spirit with which it began. It is my faith in us, faith in us
together as a nation, that we share common pain and common problems that
can only be solved with a common purpose and a sense of common cause.
So, now, I recommit myself to the work. I can`t wait to get back on the
campaign trail and campaign as hard as I can for whoever is the eventual
nominee and for candidates up and down the ballot.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Today, Senator Cory Booker announced that he is ending his bid for
the presidential nomination of the Democratic Party, leaving the Democratic
primary field today with that same call back, the same vision of national
unity and common purpose that he outlined when he first launched his
campaign and that he ran on relentlessly for this entire past year.
Joining us now for “The Interview” is Senator Cory Booker, Democrat of New
Sir, it`s good to have you here.
BOOKER: It`s great to be back. Thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: So this is a day like no other.
BOOKER: It is like no other.
MADDOW: How do you feel?
BOOKER: Today – you know, there`s obviously a sadness, you know, mourning
(ph) when a year-long effort comes to an end. But the experience itself,
the people I met, the rationally committed folks to the vision and the
mission that we had in this campaign, I was (ph) listening, and my heart is
MADDOW: In terms of the inevitable magic wand question.
MADDOW: If Cory Booker today could go back and say something to Cory
Booker on February 1st last year before you made this announcement, what do
you wish you had known? Is there any bit of this that you felt would have
changed the way you ran?
BOOKER: No. This was one of those races that before we did a poll or
anything, I said this is why I`m running to my team. I think we`re getting
to this point of tribalism in our country where we agree on a lot of
things, values that our politics doesn`t reflect, and we want to speak to
that, that sense of severed belonging we have in this country, this sense
of shared values, shared pain, but not somehow having a larger American
mission in a sense.
So, this is one of those strange campaigns where I wouldn`t change things.
I think there`s a lot in the atmospherics that the message and the person
wasn`t the right time, and I had funny moments where I saw – I learned –
my first trip to Iowa, I learned I was going have to bring people to my
message, where I was running for a debate stage and a big guy grabbed me
and says, dude, I want you to punch Donald Trump in the face. And I looked
at him and go, dude, that`s a felony.
BOOKER: Let me explain to you that that`s the exact way to lose and we`d
never beat demagogues and bigots with that spirit. We beat Bull Connor not
by bringing bigger dogs and bigger fire hoses but by bringing love, and a
artist of activism that inspired other people to come. And that`s what I
was seeking to do, to show folks that we can beat Donald Trump, but that is
the floor, not the ceiling.
The call of our country right now is to mobilize this nation to deal with
problems that are bigger than our partisanship. And in fact, I still
remember with climate change talking to some scientists that said to me,
we`re going have to have a World War II type mobilization nationally to
deal with this problem.
And I remember my 4`11” grandmother talked to me about beating the Nazis.
I`m like you did not serve in the military, but she had her victory garden.
She had her war bonds.
BOOKER: And so, somehow if we`re going to deal with these problems, we`re
to have to pull together.
And there is a silent hurting in our country because of a need for more
courageous empathy, that we`re dealing with mental illness and addiction,
and our prison system, that we lead industrial nations in infant mortality
and maternal mortality. This doesn`t reflect our values. Our civic spaces
don`t reflect the best of who we are, and we have to change that.
And it`s not about beating somebody else. It`s about winning this nation,
which means, you know, bringing us together.
MADDOW: Because you embody that, because these aren`t just your campaign
lines, everybody who knows you or follows you at all knows this is real.
I`ve known you long enough and said this to your face before. So I won`t
embarrass you. But you really are this earnest and this idealistic and this
idea of courageous empathy is core to you.
And because your campaign I think showed enough people in the country that
about you, there`s a different type of reaction to you leaving the race
Karen Tumulty wrote a piece in “The Washington Post” today where she had –
she described you as a candidate of grace in an ugly political climate.
What was misplaced, sadly, she says, was the faith that his uplifting
message could be heard in the ugly moment that we are in.
People are mourning not just you leaving the race, but the fact that you
leaving the race makes us worry that an inclusive, positive, relentlessly
earnest message about empathy and love doesn`t have any room in American
BOOKER: Look, I – clearly, I was not good enough to get that message
through. My experience is in the toughest of all environments, I ran for
mayor of a city that I was not originally up from, having my death threats,
thuggery, violence, a lot of challenges, and we were able to emerge and
ultimately win. There is an Oscar-nominated movie about it called “Street
BOOKER: So, an egregious (ph), toughest place to win an election, we won
by showing and calling to the dignity of our community, and that we could
be a city that can find uncommon coalitions and produce uncommon results.
And it was great experience. I took it into the Senate and did things that
I felt were the best to reflect the best. Passing criminal justice reform -
MADDOW: In the Trump era.
BOOKER: In the Trump era.
And the necessity doing things to me that often my side of the aisle
doesn`t like. Like I became friends with the Koch brothers` general
counsel, Mark Holden. He is a friend. We disagree on so much, but he helped
me get that bill to the floor when Mitch McConnell`s instincts were not to
put it there.
I told stories on the campaign trail about, you know, Brene Brown says it`s
hard to hit up close, pull people in, and talked about how my relationships
across the aisle with people I disagree with helped me get things done that
for an inner city and low income neighborhood like mine, literally, is
liberating people from prison.
So I`m in this to win, and I want to beat Donald Trump. I want to send
Mitch McConnell back to the back benches. Nobody is more competitive than
this former Stanford football player.
But, ultimately, how we win just as important as winning, because you can`t
campaign wrong and think you`re going to govern right.
BOOKER: If the country needs to heal, if we need to create bigger bridges,
new American majorities that aren`t partisan majorities, but God, what my
grandparents told me about or my parents told me about the most wretched
moments of our history, four girls dying in a bombing in Birmingham
ultimately brought new coalitions together to lurch our nation forward.
And what ails me now, and I would say, if America hasn`t broken your heart,
you don`t love her enough, is we now see children dying all the time, from
Newtown to Parkland to neighborhood streets like mine, and it is not
creating that yet – it`s not stimulating that moral outrage that makes us
drive our country forward in new coalitions, even though 86 percent of gun
owners, NRA members, rather, agree with a lot of the common sense changes
we need to do.
So something is broken in our politics, and I was hoping this would be an
election that we could find some new healing, that it wouldn`t be a
partisan victory we seek. But the end of the Democrats, the call of my
party cannot just to beat Republicans. At the end of the day, it needs to
be about uniting Americans to a larger purpose. And that`s my prayer for
MADDOW: I have nuts and bolts questions for you about what is next, both
for you and for your party, and what`s next in the U.S. Senate. Can you
stick with us?
BOOKER: Yes, please.
MADDOW: Senator Cory Booker is our guest. We`ll be right back.
MADDOW: Back with us now for “The Interview” is New Jersey Senator Cory
Booker who was running for president in the Democratic primary until he
announced today that he is suspending his campaign.
Sir, thanks for staying with us. Appreciate it.
BOOKER: Thank you very much.
MADDOW: Let me ask you about this – the record diversity in the
Democratic presidential field this year. It started out as the most
racially diverse field either party has ever run. The candidates on the
debate stage tomorrow night in Iowa are going to be six white candidates.
Tom Steyer was the last person to get on that debate stage. He did so on
the strength of two early state polls in which he was 83 percent of the ads
in one of those states and 90 percent of the ads in the other one. He`s
just able to spend so much money that he dominated early states in that way
and got himself on the stage as you`re leaving.
What`s your reflection on that?
BOOKER: Well, I want to remind – and you know this – that we are a party
that will succeed by not how much we can put down the people who aren`t
voting for us but how much we can inspire the people that will – want to
vote for us but often don`t come out. And the short way of saying that is,
African-American voters alone, if the same amount who voted in 2016 that
voted in 2012, it would be President Hillary Clinton right now.
BOOKER: It is such a critical voting bloc.
And so, to not have candidates that can speak to that lived experience,
that can inspire that populace could end up being a disaster for us.
So, whoever it is, diversity is critically important, and a perception of
fairness. I remember when Kamala Harris dropped out, women in my life were
telling me how much they felt offended that someone with such a record that
she had couldn`t make it to Iowa because at the end of the day, she ran out
So, this is something we have to understand, that we have to inspire record
black and brown turnouts. The last time we won the presidency, we did that.
We won North Carolina when we did that, that Senate seat.
The path way to getting Mitch McConnell to back benches is black and brown
voters, the full Obama coalition.
So, I just will do everything I can to support our nominee, but as I`m
running for reelection in the Senate, I`m going to be doing everything I
can for people all over this country, because I will run myself ragged
because we have to get everyone out.
This is not about those 60 million Americans that voted for Donald Trump.
This is about the tens of millions of Americans who didn`t vote at all who
would be with us if we could just inspire them to the polls.
MADDOW: Are you going to make an endorsement during the primary? I was
surprised that Secretary Julian Castro made an early endorsement of Senator
Warren just a few days after he got out. Are you planning on doing anything
BOOKER: I don`t know yet. I`m taking a break for a little bit.
MADDOW: Yes, yes.
BOOKER: I literally have to pull a quick turn into the Senate race, which
we are starting from scratch. And forgive me for this, but anyone who
wants to go to corybooker.com now and help me for that, because we have a
lot of money to raise at the start to make sure my seat in the Senate is
But this is going to be one of the busiest years in my life just because of
everything that`s at stake and the amount I`m going to give not only to my
own reelection, but to helping this country.
MADDOW: One of the things you mentioned in your announcement today that
you`re getting out was that you didn`t – you thought you were
disadvantaged in the prospect of raising enough money to compete from here
on out in part because your presence is going to be required in the Senate
for the Senate trial that is starting likely this week.
Do you have any advice or any reflection on that for the four members of
the U.S. Senate who are still in the race who are going to be facing that
BOOKER: Well, the – everyone except for Michael Bennet, who was one of
the most exceptional leaders I`ve ever worked with, have a tremendous
amount of money, stock up (ph) I think, that will help them be on TV ads
and the like.
For us, it was a perfect storm. There was not making a debate stage, it was
being off the field for a week or two. We just got hit with everything at
once and we had to make the call.
But this is going to be difficult, and I hope it`s really going to rely on
Iowa voters being even more engaged even if you can`t see the candidate
right in front of you.
MADDOW: Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey, just almost exactly a year into
his presidential run, announcing today that he is suspending his race.
You`re here at the very beginning of your campaign which I am indebted to
you for it. I really appreciate you being here on this day of all days.
BOOKER: No, thank you very much. I appreciate you more than you know my
BOOKER: Thank you. Thank you.
MADDOW: All right. We`ll be right back.
MADDOW: Thanks for being with us tonight. It`s going to be a big week.
We`ll see you again tomorrow.
Now, it`s time for “THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL”.
Good evening, Lawrence.
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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