IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

State of the Union Coverage hosted by Rachel Maddow and Brian Williams. TRANSCRIPT: 2/5/19.

Guests: Claire McCaskill, Amy Klobuchar, Ana Maria Archila, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Katie Hill, Katie Hill, Rashida Tlaib, Michael Steele

CLAIRE MCCASKILL, (D-MO) FORMER U.S. SENATOR:  It will become clear.  The strongest candidates will emerge in relatively short order.  It will feel like tomorrow.  It`s probably going to be six or nine months down the road.  Grassroots support will be everything in this particular cycle.  But whoever is nominated, I think, will be able unite the party because of who they`re going to be running against and because what that election means to the country.

BRIAN WILLIAMS, MSNBC HOST:  We have just passed the top of the hour.  We want to welcome our viewers, and this is part of our ongoing post State of the Union, post response coverage, what was, I think, properly billed as a unique evening at the top of the night.

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST:  It was a unique evening.

WILLIAMS:  Unusual.

MADDOW:  Quite a night.


MADDOWS:  It was quite a night.  The President gave one of the longest State of the Union addresses ever.  He also last year gave one of the longest State of the Union addresses ever.  The word count is going to end up being somewhat similar.  We don`t have an exact word count because the President had lots of ad libs.

But for me, again, the takeaway was the President almost odd, but we know scripted aside, about how there cannot be investigations.  If there is going to be peace and legislation, there cannot be war and investigation, criticizing ridiculous partisan investigations.  That`s sticking out from the speech, in a way that I think will be remembered beyond anything else that he got to tonight.

But I want to bring in to the conversation now a very important U.S. senator, very influential senator, senior senator from Minnesota, Senator Amy Klobuchar.

Senator, thank you so much for being with us.  We know you`re in the room.


MADDOW:  We saw your reactions, but now you have to tell us what you were thinking beyond what we could see.

KLOBUCHAR:  First of all, I thought Stacey Abrams` response was incredible.  The warmth, you could just see the positive, optimistic agenda that she has, that all of us have that we want to bring forward.  But when I was in the room today, of course the president took a different tone than he does, say, at his political rallies.  But what I kept thinking is he was honoring these incredible heroes, rightfully so.

But each of these heroes had risen to the occasion in their own time.  Whether they were soldiers, whether they were officers, they rose to the occasion.  And he hasn`t done that.  You think about the challenges in front of us right now, the challenges of law and order when it comes to those investigations and that he was calling them partisan and our Republican colleagues were clapping while the Mueller investigation is coming to a head.

You think about climate change, our work force, immigration reform, the things that we should be truly dealing with instead of the chaos that we`re in.  And so that`s what really bothered me about it.  I thought it was wonderful to honor those heroes, but those heroes were heroes of their time.  And we need someone in the White House that is a hero for our time.

MADDOW:  We have thought, Senator, heading into tonight speech that there might be a considerable sort of substantive olive branch offered by the President, not just for him saying we should all get along and all put partisanship aside, except for those partisan investigations and all that stuff.  We have thought that there might be some substance of politics from him on health care, on infrastructure, on other issues where there might potentially the room for moving ahead in a bipartisan way or sort of a post partisan way.

We didn`t hear much in the substance from the President at all on infrastructure, and his comments on health care were in some ways skewed.  I eman, the fact checkers are having a field day already on his assertions that we need to protect health insurance coverage for people with preexisting conditions when, of course, his administration has fought against that in the courts.  I wonder if you expected more than you got on that front, or if this is what you wanted -- what you expected to hear from the President.

KLOBUCHER:  No, it was not what I wanted, because I kept thinking, and I know clear remembers these days of Barack Obama`s speeches, of substantive policy proposals that are put out there.  And we should be governing from opportunity right now.  So prescription drugs, remember the proposal he put out there?  Prescription drug prices, and the stocks went up, and today he claimed that the people were benefiting from his policies when we still have doubling, tripling of our prescription drug prices.

No specific infrastructure proposal, no working together when it comes to immigration reform.  And you can just march through these issues that we`re dealing with, privacy issues.  He goes after every regulatory issue you can find, and then we still have got big Facebook and tech companies, you know, being able to basically run all over us and we don`t have any privacy policies in place.  So that`s what really bothered me is that he had some rhetoric in there and he honored some wonderful people, but he wasn`t moving us forward and rising to the challenges of the day.

MADDOW:  Senator, in terms of rising to the challenges of the day, you have said that you are considering or thinking about a run for president.  Today, reported that you are headed to Iowa later this month and home state paper of Minnesota has also reported that a staffer of yours has applied for an event permit in Minneapolis this weekend.  And those were the sorts of tea leaves we have been trying to read about your own future.

KLOBUCHER:  It`s called investigative reporting.


KLOBUCHER:  So, here Rachel, you`ve asking me this.

MADDOW:  I am asking you.

KLOBUCHER:  You have been asking me this forever.


KLOBUCHER:  OK, so Sunday, come to Boom Island, Minneapolis, as in Boom Island drop the mic and then you`ll find out.  It`s going to be a little cold, 20 degrees.  Wear warm clothes.  Maybe have, you know, a little heat warmers with you, but then you`ll find out my decision.

MADDOW:  On Sunday, Boom Island in Minneapolis, you are going to announce your decision.

KLOBUCHER:  I am.  We`ve had so many discussions about this.  So I thought, well, here you go.  That`s the moment.

MADDOW:  Thank you.  I`ve been trying to pry this out of you for years.

KLOBUCHER:  Minnesota very used to cold (ph).

MADDOW:  Senator Klobuchar --

KLOBUCHER:  We`re going to have hot chocolate, campfires, be there.

MADDOW:  OK.  We will be there.  Senator Amy Klobuchar, thank you for letting us know and appreciate you being here tonight.

KLOBUCHER:  Thanks, Rachel.  Thank you, everyone.

MADDOW:  Joining us now is Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Democrat from New York.

Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez is a first-term congresswoman.  She`s among the highest profile members of the freshman class.  I should mention with her tonight is her guest, Ana Maria Archila.  She is an activist who confronted former Senator Jeff Flake last year in an elevator.  She asked him to vote against Brett Kavanaugh for the U.S. Supreme Court, at the time in emotional terms telling Senator Flake about her own experience with sexual assault.

Welcome to both of you here tonight.  Thank you so much for making time to be with us.



MADDOW:  Congresswoman, let me ask you first just for your response to what you heard tonight from the President.  Obviously this is the first State of the Union you`ve attended as a member of Congress.  What was your experience tonight and what did you think of what you heard?

OCASIO-CORTEZ:  You know, I think that the President was unprepared.  I don`t think that he did his homework.  I -- you know, we`ve seen States of the Union addresses delivered by many presidents, Democrat and Republican.  They almost always have substantive policies that are offered.

I agree with Senator Klobuchar that there was no plan.  There was no plan to address our opioid crisis, there was no plan to address the cost of health care, there was no plan to increase wages.  It was -- you know, I had to ask myself, is this a campaign stop or is this a State of the Union?

MADDOW:  Can I also ask about your decision to bring your guest with you here tonight?  Obviously, you have the choice about how to attend in your own right but also who to bring with you and why and what message you were trying to send.  I ask you to talk us through that as well.

Oh, we`ve lost them.

WILLIAMS:  Yes.  Audio is becoming an issue tonight, but apparently we -- they could hear us right up until the second question.  So we`ll try to get that --

MADDOW:  We`ll try to get that back.

WILLIAMS:  -- squared away on Capitol Hill.  They are back.

MADDOW:  Oh, wait, they`re back.

OCASIO-CORTEZ:  Yes, we`re back.

MADDOW:  I am very sorry about that.  We`ve been having little gremlins like that all evening.  But I appreciate you sticking with us.

Ana Maria, I was asking about your decision to be there tonight and the Congresswoman`s decision to ask you, I wonder if you could both talk to us about this decision, how you came to it together.

ARCHILA:  Well, I was very honored when my Congresswoman asked me to join her.  And I understood it as an invitation that was not just for me but really was an invitation for people across the country to tell their stories, to join in protest, to make democracy come alive, to breathe life into it by making sure that their demands, their aspirations are at the center of our debates.

And I understood that was the message that you wanted to send that you cannot do this alone, that you have this bold vision, but that you actually need everyone outside making a forceful demand of our members of Congress.

OCASIO-CORTEZ:  Absolutely.  And I think that Ana Maria represents something so special about American democracy, which is that any normal person in any one moment has the courage inside them to step up in a critical moment that could change our -- the course of our country.

And I think that`s that what Ana Maria did in that moment in the elevator, and it did change the proceedings of the votes.  Senator Flake, as a result of her testimony and the way that she expressed her story, asked for a further FBI investigation before the vote proceeded.

WILLIAMS:  Ana Maria, it`s Brian Williams in New York.  I have to ask you because I was wondering this in realtime what it was like to be in the same chamber tonight as now Justice Kavanaugh, because we all came to know you in that videotaped moment as emotional as it was in the argument in realtime.

ARCHILA:  It was sad.  I am sad that the Supreme Court is tainted by a process that put someone accused of sexual assault in the highest court of the land.  I think he represents in many ways the inability of many politicians to actually understand that their role is to govern by listening, and to actually allow themselves to be moved by the experiences of people that are different from them, who are trying to, with their stories, educate them.

And in many ways, I feel sad for the many decisions that Kavanaugh is going to make that are going to impact many, many people, millions of people, my children, probably.

OCASIO-CORTEZ:  And women.

ARCHILA:  And women, LGBTQ families, workers, all of us.  And those decisions are always going to be tainted by a process that I continue to believe was irresponsible and the people deserve better.

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC ANCHOR:  Congresswoman, thank you.  Congratulations, by the way.  We`ve never met but congratulations on your upset victory in the primary.

OCASIO-CORTEZ:  Thank you.

MATTHEWS:  What did you make of the President side that pretty aggressive statement about Venezuela tonight?


O`DONNELL:  And he talked about being a socialist country and how we`ll never be a socialist country.  It was pretty truculent but it tied the notion of socialism to that particular regime.  How you -- what do you think about the President, why he did that?

OCASIO-CORTEZ:  Well, I think that he needs to do it because he feels like -- he feels himself losing on the issues.  Every single policy proposal that we have adopted and presented to the American public has been overwhelmingly popular, even some with a majority of Republican voters supporting what we`re talking about.  And we talked about a 70 percent marginal tax rate on incomes over $10 million.  Sixty percent of Americans approve it.

Seventy percent of Americans believe and approved an expanded Medicare for all.  A very large amount of Americans believe that we need to do something about climate change, and that it is an existential threat to ourselves and our children.

And so, I think he sees himself losing on the issues, he sees himself losing on the wall in the southern border, and he needs to grasp at an odd comment of attack and this is his way of doing it.  Although we really need to realize that what is happening is that this is an issue of authoritarian regime versus democracy.  And in order for him to try to, you know, dissuade or throw people off the scent of the trail, he has to really make and confuse the public.  And I think that that`s exactly what he`s trying to do.

O`DONNELL:  Thank you.

WILLIAMS:  Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez, and Ana Maria Archila, thank you both very much.  Congresswoman, thank you for sharing your guest with us here tonight on the broadcast.  Appreciate your time.

OCASIO-CORTEZ:  Thank you.

MADDOW:  It was great to have you both here.  That was great.

And we should not let the moment pass that just before we brought on Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez and her guest, --

WILLIAMS:  Boom Island.

MADDOW:  Boom Island in Minnesota -- in Minneapolis became a very important place for this upcoming weekend.  It sounds like Senator Klobuchar is going to jump.

MCCASKILL:  We have gone from having a hand fortunately of women senators to having four women senators running for president at the same time.  This is a remarkable moment in history.

MADDOW:  The first three Democrats to declare from -- who are already holding federal office were all three women senators, Warren, Gillibrand and Kamala Harris.  Now we`ve got -- Cory Booker has also announced in the interim.


MADDOW:  But now we`ve got Senator Klobuchar seeming like she`s going to take the plunge too.  Are you surprised that she`s going too?

MCCASKILL:  Oh no, no.  I think she`s been working on this for a long time -- I assumed all four of them were going to run for probably a year or more.  And it`s going to be very interesting.  It`s very hard for me, because, you know, it`s like when one of your kids go, who do you love more, come on.  Who do you love more?  And you go, no, no, no, I love you all the same.

This is going to be -- I have so many former colleagues running that it`s going to be tough, particularly the four women that are going to be going head to head.

MADDOW:  And this -- I mean, these are all progressive senators of different stripes.

MCCASKILL:  Of course they are.

MADDOW:  And, I mean, that`s an interesting prospect in its own right.  This is not a year when the Claire McCaskills and the Joe Donnelly`s and the Joe Manchins are considered to be the top contenders in the Democratic field.  This is Cory Booker, Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren, Kirsten Gillibrand, now maybe Senator Klobuchar as well and there will be others, we`re looking potentially of candidacy from Senator Sherrod Brown.  Again, there maybe others, but we are seeing more progressive stripe Democrats immediately form that top tier.

MCCASKILL:  It will be interesting to see with all of the candidates veer hard to the left lane of our party.  It will be interesting to see if Amy decides that she is going to lead with some of the more progressive ideas or maybe stick to a really pragmatic agenda about --

MADDOW:  Her reputation is quite pragmatist.


MCCASKILL:  Correct.  So, that`s really going to be what I think we can watch for is how many candidates will be going for a segment of the Democratic Party that is more left of center.  And how many will be going towards a more centrist position with the idea that history has shown that centrist positions have sometimes more success in general elections?

MADDOW:  This is the lesson of Barack Obama`s victory though, that you can do both.

MCCASKILL:  Absolutely.  And that`s Chair Graham (ph) is going to say over and over again.  You can be progressive.  And by the way, and he`s a good example.  I mean, frankly, my voting record was pretty darn good on the environment and on all the issues that the Congresswoman likes to talk about.

But it`s what you emphasize and what you lead with and whether or not you talk about what we can get done as opposed to let`s go with the ultimate at the beginning, like free college as opposed to let`s figure out a way to make college more affordable for most families.

MATTHEWS:  Manner and tone, I think, are very important.

MADDOW:  Right.

MATTHEWS:  We watched all three on a Senate Judiciary Committee, you know, Cory Booker, and of course and Kamala and Amy.  And Amy came off as much more mild mannered, she wasn`t aggressive.  A lot of people like that more.

And I think I`m not sure what`s going to sell in the darn criteria primes (ph), and maybe anger is important, passion is important.  But I do think you have a real choice among the progressives in tone and manner.

MADDOW:  Range and capacity.  Being able to do more than one thing.  Being able to speak more than one language.


MADDOW:  Being able to compete on more --

MATTHEWS:  We should, we should.

NICOLE WALLACE, MSNBC ANCHOR:  But I wonder how much is -- I mean, so the Republican primary had 17.  You may end up having twice that many in the Democratic primary, but one of the ways Trump beat all 16 was that no one - - there was never -- no one settled on a way to beat him.  So Jeb Bush started out talking about policy and was branded low energy and done with him, you know.

And how much is the toughness and the ability to not get in the gutter but take the fight to Donald Trump in ways that wound him, and in ways that step him off his game the way he steps his opponents off their game?  How important is that to Democratic primary voters?

MCCASKILL:  Well, the hard thing about this is I think the successful candidate is going to have to inspire, is also going to have to take it to Donald Trump which means you`re going to have to uplift people and make them feel optimistic and hopeful at the same time you`re trying to land a punch as hard as you possibly can on a guy that we can`t stand.

WALLACE:  But Pelosi does it better than anyone I`ve seen so far.

MCCASKILL:  She`s done really well.

WALLACE:  I mean, she`s tough but she still protects the dignity of the institution.

MCCASKILL:  She`s a very experienced warrior.  She is.

WILLIAMS:  Also, think of her choice on islands.  You know, here in New York, we have Long and Staten, but she`s going to Boom Island.  I don`t think you do that if you`re just going to end with a whimper.

MADDOWS:  Unless you know that it`s funny off the butt, which is important.

WILLIAMS:  Boom Island --


MADDOWS:  But don`t underestimate the importance of a sense of humor.

WILLIAMS:  All of our friends in the twin cities.  Another break for us.  Our thanks to our panel.  We`ll be back with continuing coverage right after this.


DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  If there is going to be peace and legislation, there cannot be war and investigation.  It just doesn`t work that way.



WILLIAMS:  Welcome back.  Our live coverage continues on the lot of the speech tonight dealt with America and our place in the world, and that made us think of our MSNBC National Security Analyst and former Director of the CIA, John Brennan, who was here with us and watched the speech along with us.

And Director Brennan, in that area, your area of dominant influence where this speech intersected with all of it, what was your leading reaction to what you heard from the President tonight?

JOHN BRENNAN, FORMER CIA DIRECTOR:  Good evening, Brian.  Let me just say as an American citizen, one of the things that I noticed was looking out of that House chamber how white and male the left side was and how diverse, inclusive and representative of 2019 the right side was.  It`s just that contrast was stark. Sort of stark in terms of the same thing that I saw with Donald Trump and Stacey Abrams in terms of the look, the style, the vision.

But I think all presidents use the State of the Union address to score political points and to bring to mind our history, a lot of our experiences and that was certainly true tonight.  But I think Donald Trump raised to a new level the demagoguery, the hyperbole, the show chauvinism and even the misrepresentation on a lot of the issues including on the foreign policy and national security front.

WILLIAMS:  Oh, I have -- go ahead.

BRENNAN:  He said that if it wasn`t for his election, we would be at war with North Korea today.  Well, nothing could be further from the truth.  He, in fact, helped to increase the tension between the two countries last year when exchanging the rhetorical broadsides with Kim Jong-un.

One thing is pretty sure since his election is that Kim Jong-un in North Korea continues to have the nuclear weapons and ballistic missile arsenals that they had when he entered office.  And so now with this, you know, second photo op has come up in Vietnam, I think there`s still has not been any meaningful change in North Korea`s disposition as far as its nuclear and ballistic missile programs.

WILLIAMS:  I was going to ask you in follow up, also, as an American citizen, how did you take to the showstopper portion of the speech that`s getting all the attention that was something less than the showstopper in the chamber in effect all that`s standing between us peace and prosperity are this continued partisan investigations of the President?

BRENNAN:  Yes.  Well, that was Trumpian.  And clearly, I think, he is increasingly worried as well he should be about where the Special Counsel`s investigation is going and what is going to be coming down still down the pike that could implicates people close to him if not him himself.  And that`s why I think he uses every opportunity to denigrating the investigation that is underway.

But clearly, we need to be able to have these investigations move forward, while at the same time taking care of our domestic needs and challenges as well as the international challenges.  But Donald Trump continues to be consumed by what is affecting and threatening him personally which is why he continues to focus on the investigations.

WILLIAMS:  My colleagues want to jump in here, but one more from me, and it`s about optics and housekeeping.  And that is we saw Director Haspel and DNI Coats more than one occasion tonight applauding something in the speech.  Is that something you did, would you make a game time decision on whatever it was you were applauding, or did you choose, like the Joint Chiefs, like members of the court, to not applaud at all?

BRENNAN:  Well the CIA director and the Director National of Intelligence were not members of the Cabinet during the Obama administration, so we didn`t attend the State of the Union address.  But I look to the Joint Chiefs of Staff, all of those generals and admirals that were there, who remained stoic when there are any type of policy pronouncements made by the president.  And I think that if the Intelligence chiefs are going to be in that forum that they should basically do the same.

WALLACE:  Director Brennan, it`s Nicolle Wallace.  I agree that the line about everything standing between prosperity has to do with these partisan investigations.  This is the most calling thing the President said.  But equally galling with the responds from Republicans in the chamber, they clap, some of them stood.

So while I think you reassured us about the sanctity and the caliber of Robert Mueller`s work, what do you think happened with that investigation if you got, basically a political hack as acting A.G. right now that could try to stymie Mueller`s work, you`ve got everyone that stood and clap when Donald Trump said all that standing between us in peace and prosperity are those partisan investigations.  You could take a picture of all those spaces.  You know what side they`ll be on if the (INAUDIBLE) to rode (ph) with Mueller.  Where are we as a country in terms of doing anything about what Mueller finds in terms of potential conspiracy within the Trump campaign and Russia and ever finding out about it if that investigation and that evidence exists?

BRENNAN:  Well, I think that`s one of the most disappointing aspects of what we have seen over the last two years is how the Republican members of Congress, many of them who I work with and know and even respected, have stooped to such a level to -- of craven politics that supports Donald Trump and his continued trampling of our democratic institutions and institutions of government, and they have just, you know, kowtowed to them.  And I think history will show that they have been complicit in what Donald Trump has been involved in.  They have not stood up.

And those that have stood up, I think unfortunately they have left the halls of Congress.  But at some point, I am very much hoping they are going to come to their senses and realize that Mr. Trump`s, again, demagoguery as well as his continued denigration of our democratic system and institutions needs to come to a halt.

WILLIAMS:  A man who has never held back with us, and we appreciate you taking our questions this night of the State of the Union, former CIA Director Brennan.  Thank you very much.

BRENNAN:  Thanks, Brian.

MADDOW:  I want to bring in to the conversation now another first year member of Congress.  Katie Hill is a Democrat of Southern California.  She is the first Democrat to represent her district in Congress in court of century.  She`s the first woman ever from that district, and she was just named vice chair of the powerful House Oversight Committee.

Congressman Katie Hill, thank you so much for joining us tonight.  I really appreciate you making the time.


MADDOW:  So I am super interested in your vice chairmanship of the Oversight Committee.  This is a change that we`re seeing from Democratic leadership, that freshmen members of Congress are being named subcommittee chairs and vice chairs of committees.  The Oversight Committee, of course, it self has a huge remit and is very important heading into this next couple of years with a Democratic Congress and this scandal-ridden administration.

I just want to ask how that came to be, how you positioned yourself for this kind of a leadership role, and what you anticipate heading into your first year in Congress with this big responsibility that you`ve been given?

HILL:  Yes, it`s a great question.  In terms of how I position myself, I mean, I just went in to Congress with a plan of being as effective as I possibly could, and I ended up getting the leadership rep role, the freshman leadership representative role.  And so I`ve gotten to spend a fair amount of time with some of the other members of leadership.

And Oversight was one of my priority committees.  It was one of the top ones that I wanted to work on because of the broad range of issues that you could focus on.  And I met with Chairman Cummings, and he ended up suggesting this as a possible opportunity.  He nominated me, I guess, and there was -- it went through and I was really excited for the opportunity.

He is an incredible person to learn from, and I`m just, you know, it`s going to be a lot of work.  It`s kind of -- I don`t know if intimidating is the right word, but I certainly have my work cut out for me and I`m really looking forward to it.

MADDOWS:  Given the President`s remarks in his State of the Union address tonight where he said that the partisan investigations must end and we can have peace and legislation or war and investigation, obviously part of that is about what you and Chairman Cummings will be doing on the Oversight Committee.  We also saw a great reaction shot of Chairman Schiff from Intelligence Committee tonight where he appeared to be quite taken aback by the President`s respond to the point where he laughed a little bit.  Did that -- was that an important moment or was that sort of --

HILL:  Oh, yes.

MADDOW:  -- par for the course moment from this President tonight?

HILL: No, I mean that was the moment where I actually got my notebook out of my purse and started writing things down, like, wait, did he just say that?

The people sitting near me, we were like, did he really just say that, that we can`t have investigations? I mean, it`s just so blatant.  You`re like, what?  I guess it is par for the course in terms of the other things that he said, but to me that is -- it`s just scary, right?

Like this is the kind of dangerous rhetoric that we`ve been hearing over and over again.  You touched on it with the director previously that this is the complicity from the Republicans that we`ve seen over the last two years, and among those who are still in the House and in the Senate.

It`s frankly a national security crisis, as far as I`m concerned, and I think that that`s the way we need to be looking at this.  We need to be asking the tough questions about where his foreign policy decisions are actually taking us, how that factors into our place in the world, and frankly, what his ties are to these foreign entities and where that leaves us.

And I think that it`s really something that we need to be paying more and more attention to from the real risk standpoint.  So I work in armed services, too, and we`re going to be having more and more hearings and I think there will be a lot of connection between those two committees.

MADDOW:  One last brief question for you.  Up until recently we had been expecting the President`s long-time personal lawyer Michael Cohen to be giving public open door testimony before your committee in a couple of days.

Mr. Cohen then expressed concerns that his family might be in danger if he proceed with that.  Can you give us any update in terms of whether or not Mr.  Cohen is expected to testify in a public session before your committee?

HILL:  I don`t have a specific update yet, but I know it`s a high, high priority for the chairman to make sure that does happen, and I share the belief that it does needs to happen in an open setting.  The American people deserve to hear directly, and I know he`s going before the intelligence committee, but that`s going to be behind closed doors, and I just think this is something that our job on the oversight committee is to find the truth and share it with the American people, and we really need to do that.

That`s how we`re going to be able to move the needle on really bringing all of this out into the light and making sure people understand the risks that we are exposed to because of this President and do ultimately what needs to be done.

MADDOW:  Congresswoman Katie Hill, freshman Democrat from Southern California, defeated two-term Republican Steve Knight to get that seat, is now vice chair of the Oversight Committee as a freshman.

Congresswoman Hill, I really appreciate you being with us, and I look forward to you keeping us apprised as things mover forward in this session.

HILL:  Thank you. 

MADDOW:  Thanks a lot.

WILLIAMS:  as we said the tonight, we were covering the midterm election the winds of change.

Speaking of which, people come and go so quickly around here.  Our family has contracted and now expanded by two.  Lawrence O`Donnell and Michael Steele have joined our family.  They`re going to join our discussion after we come back from this break.

We promise to have four freshman members Congress of the start of the evening.  Our fourth is coming up.  She made a lot of news on day one, as I recall.  Please stay with us.

We`re come back, right after this.


WILLIAMS:  As we mentioned, our fourth member of the Democratic freshman class is waiting to talk to us, but first, as we also mentioned, two more members of our family have joined us, Lawrence O`Donnell and Michael Steele.  Out of deference, because your title is Mr. Chairman.

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC ANCHOR:  Which out ranks, Mr. Anchorman.

WILLIAMS:  I`ve always called you senator.  The great senator from Massachusetts.  Mr. Chairman, what did you make of your fellow Republican president`s State of the Union?

MICHAEL STEELE, FORMER RNC CHAIRMAN:  Yes, I`d honest.  I came at this from a slightly different perspective.  I mean, I think a lot of what`s already been said is basically true.  But this speech struck me in two quarters.

The first was that the absence of any conversation reference to the shutdown and the idea that you had so many federal workers and families impacted that there was no sort of smoothing over that moment with them, with those -- with the American people who had been impacted.  So it was completely forgotten and set aside.

MADDOWS:  That`s because we might be between two shutdowns.

STEELE:  And particularly with that fact looming a week from now.  And I thought the President would have a moment where he could just say, almost in a Clintonian way, I felt your pain, OK.  And then move on to something else, but that struck me.

The other part I thought was very interesting was the fact that he laid out a social agenda that I know made the hearts of a lot of conservatives in this country leap, when he talked about jobs, drug prices, HIV, childhood cancer.  When he got to school choice, and of course the abortion section of the speech was probably the most impactful for that base.

What struck me about the way the President delivered the speech was he talked largely to his Republican audience, all right, represented by the Republican members there, with an occasional reference to the Democrats.

This speech was more to them, those Republicans out around the country and those independent in the right-leaning individuals than it was to the American people.  And so that struck me the most about this speech.

MADDOW:  I thought that the HIV plan was going to be a substantive thing and it was just a line with no explanation and no details.  You can`t be an administration , just making sure there`s no Medicaid in coverage and what`s driving the insurance numbers down and say you`re going to stop HIV transmission doesn`t make any sense.  I suspected there would be something there.

NICOLLE WALLACE, MSNBC ANCHOR:  Why did you think there would be something there?

MADDOW:  Because they were hyping it.  Honestly because they were --


WALLACE:  He did a press conference today and attacked the late John McCain.  I wasn`t surprised there wasn`t any substance.  I think the last point to what you`re saying is because he`s so weak.

The reason he was pandering to the Republicans in the room is because he`s so politically weakened.  Most State of the Union addresses have something for everyone because you`re trying to grow your coalition.

STEELE:  Right.

WALLACE:  He can`t do that, he`s passage to the base.

STEELE:  Well, to your point.  His goals is not to grow the coalition, it was the whole number of the coalition that we got.

WALLACE:  To bring it back home.

MADDOW:  To try to keep, yes.

STEELE:  Because it`s the number have been showing since the shutdown.  Those folks have been peeling off or at least softening their support for him, so the President, I think in that sense, did what he had to do tonight.

I think you`re going to see an uptick in his numbers after this.  I think he going to particularly run this abortion question, he boxed that point in extremely well with the governor of Virginia and he made it as graphic as you could in that moment.  And I thought it was a very powerful -- one of the most powerful points in the speech. 

WILLIAMS:  As graphic as I remember in any kind of setting like this.

STEELE:  Absolutely. 

WILLIAMS:  Lawrence, since the chairman invoked Bill Clinton, I`ll do it again.  Bill Clinton couldn`t stand Newt Gingrich, and yet, when he gave the State of the Union after Gingrich`s ascension as speaker of the house, he did the right thing, turned and saluted the new speaker of the house. 

O`DONNELL:  Well, every previous President thought the norms really mattered and thought that the culture of the interaction between the presidency and that body mattered a great deal.  This President doesn`t know any of that history, he has no respect for it, he doesn`t care.

It is a speech with so many hugely extraordinary lines that it`s hard to isolate.  And you`ve isolated a bunch and I`m really glad John Brennan brought up the one where he said, if Hillary Clinton had been elected president, and he didn`t use the name, but said, if I had not been elected president, we would right now tonight have "A major war with North Korea with millions killed."

There is no president in our history, who has ever said if you had not elected me, the other one would have us in a war right now with millions killed.  That would be the most outrageous statement of the night if he had not asserted that it is impossible to have investigations -- he didn`t say investigation on the president, but investigation of the president while we are waging war anywhere.

You`re going to have to explain that to Richard Nixon, because the helicopter he got on to fly him away from the White House forever was exactly the same kind of helicopters being used in the Vietnam War that very same day.

The Vietnam War was going on every day of the Watergate investigation and was not over until the year after it.  And so that`s another extraordinary line that has -- is an A historical reference by him.  These things go on and on.

To Michael`s point about the shutdown, the shutdown was about the wall.  What was the wall in this speech?  It was less than it`s ever been.  It`s see-through, and in the end, the final line on the wall was, I will get it built.

And then he says, after that he says, let`s work together to a Congress who has said we are not building the wall.  And there is no ultimatum.  There is no ultimatum in that spot.  There is nothing he said in this speech about how this wall will be built, other than asking the Congress to work with him, and they`ve already refused to work with him.

WILLIAMS:  He also added in a new caveat to my ears and that was having this see-through steel barrier erected where the need is.

O`DONNELL:  Yes, very limited location.  Right, yes.

WILLIAMS:  Let us bring in our next guest because she has been very patient waiting for us.  She is freshman member of Congress Rashida Tlaib representing the area around the Detroit`s suburbs in the great state of Michigan.

Congresswoman, you are our fourth and final freshman member of Congress, all of them women, all of them Democrats who have been kind enough to join us tonight.  We saw some snippets of you reacting during the speech.  We saw how especially the Democratic women hijacked the President`s congratulations of the new members of Congress as you did the number of women in the work force.  Very basic question to start off, what was it like witnessing your first State of the Union?

REP. RASHIDA TLAIB (D), MICHIGAN:  It was a bit surreal.  I mean, it was sitting in the moment and actually being actually present in the room when it actually happened is pretty surreal.  I`m still always I can`t believe I`m a congresswoman.  I think a lot of people don`t realize just how incredible this is for me and many of the women, for many of us that ran for office.

  Even at one point Ilhan Omar goes to me, did you ever think that you would be sitting in this chamber looking at him.  And he`s currently the president and sitting in here as the member of Congress.  I said, never.

So it was a very humbling experience but also, just a moment to kind of just pause and say, OK, it just sunk in, just a little bit more that I`m a member of Congress now.

WILLIAMS:  Nicolle Wallace.

WALLACE:  Congresswoman, it`s Nicolle Wallace.  I want to read you the line of Brian is talking about, because I don`t think Donald Trump intended it to be received in this way.  I think the moment was lost on him.  Hopefully someone will explain it to him when he gets home tonight.

So he said, no one is benefited more from our thriving economy than women, who have filled 58 percent of the new job is created in the last year.  All Americans can be proud that we have more women in the workforce than ever before.

And then you all stood up and started clapping.  Yes, there are women in Congress largely in reaction to.

TLAIB:  Yes.

WALLACE:  I think a lot of passions that were stirred when a man who could say the things he said on the Access Hollywood tape ascended to the most powerful office in the land.  Is that how it felt?  Did you get the sense that it was lost on him?

TLAIB:  Absolutely.  I mean, I think a couple of them turn around.  Some of my colleagues and said, I don`t think he gets it.  But it really was this moment.  There were all kind of looking at each other.

Even though we obviously are look differently as members of Congress, we hope that he honors this diversity, not just say that he`s acknowledging this new incredible wave of new women in Congress but actually put us at the table when you talk about the issue of our bodies, when you talk about pay equity, when you talk about women, let`s actually have them at the table -- have with that table.

So honor and respect the fact there are so many women now as members of Congress and actually help us make -- let us make decisions as much as anybody else.

WALLACE:  I think Joy Reid has a question for you. 

JOY REID, MSNBC ANCHOR:  Hi, congresswoman, thanks very much.  So I guess the question I would have, I know this is something very personal to you, to your family.  I wonder what you made of the fact that typically in these speeches there are at least some perfunctory nods toward the idea of trying to achieve peace between the Israelis and Palestinians.

That wasn`t in this speech, nor there even any nods at all to acknowledging violence against Muslims that has taken place during this President`s term.  What did you make of that?

TLAIB:  I mean, you have a President talking about unity or saying that`s what he wanted to talk about during his State of the Union.  And of course there were words there, but understand that we`ve seen on high rise of hates crimes toward American Jews, African-Americans, LGBTQ community, the Muslim community, the Latino immigrant community.

There are so many of us that actually are feeling this increase of discrimination and targeting of our communities of color across this country.  So much of what he was saying didn`t translate in his actions.

I mean, even when he talks about the wall, he talks about criminalizing so many people, immigrants.  Many of them are my neighbors at home.  I think for us at that moment we felt it.  We felt like, the trait you want to unity, you wanted bipartisanship, but let`s not shut down the government again.

Let`s actually talk about fixing the immigration system and make it humane.  You all know, I mean 10 years ago all of you were there.  We were talking about a path way to citizenship, Dreamers, we were talking unifying families.

Now we were talking about criminalization of immigrants.  We`re talking about separation of family.  We were talking children in detainment camps.  I mean, it has drastically changed.  And under this leadership it actually has translated into so much hate rhetoric coming out of the White House.  It`s causing so much fear and anxiety for many communities across this nation.

WILLIAMS:  One of the new members of Congress representing one of the great cities in this country, Detroit, Michigan.  Congresswoman, thank you so much, and thanks for your patience as we were trying to get to you.  Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib of Michigan.

Another break for us.  When we come back a fact check from the border in El Paso, Texas, since their name was invoke tonight.


WILLIAMS:  We are back and we have a segment with fact checks in three separate areas prepared for you.  First, we go to our southwestern border to El Paso, Texas.  Cal Perry, who was with us as a speech preview.  Cal, of course, you predicted we would hear El Paso mentioned, and it was.  And talk about context.

CAL PERRY, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT:  So, Donald Trump says that El Paso has become a safe city after the wall.  Here`s what we got from Sheriff Richard Wiles directly after the speech.  "It is sad to hear President Trump state falsehoods about El Paso, Texas, in an attempt to justify the building of a 2,000-mile wall.

The facts are clear, while it is true that El Paso is one of the safest cities in the nation, it has never been considered one of the nation`s most dangerous cities.  And El Paso was a safe city long before a wall was built.  He finishes by saying, President Trump continues to give false narrative about what a great city that truly represents what this great nation is all about.

The facts and statistics on this are clear.  Crime was falling in the years before the wall went up in this part of Texas, in El Paso, in 2008.  What you hear there from the sheriff of El Paso County has been echoed by sheriffs all across Texas.

We met with a sheriff of Hidalgo County last week.  He said one of the President`s biggest problems is when he visits down here, he is not meeting with sheriffs on the counties, those 31 counties in Southern Texas that border Mexico.

The sheriff said when he came down here for his meeting in McAllen, you know.  He simply didn`t speak to any of them, Brian.

WILLIAMS:  It`s just been unbelievable.  The state and local politicians who`ve been forced to make statements during this era vehemently disagreeing with the President of the United States.  We`ve just never seen it before.

Stephanie Ruhle, who is time shifting to the max, way off her shift in the morning, is with us tonight to talk about some of the other fact checks based on some of what the President said tonight.  Steph?

STEPHANIE RUHLE, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT:  We have got to talk about the economy and jobs.  The President has said he has unleashed jobs, created the most beautiful economy.  Here`s the thing, he walked into the presidency in the eighth year of an economic expansion.

While the picture is pretty, it`s not quite what he painted.  In terms of jobs, he said he created 5.3 million jobs.  That`s not the case.  The number`s 4.9 million.  In terms of manufacturing jobs, he said many people said he could never create 600,000.

Well, they said he couldn`t because he didn`t.  According to the bureau of labor and statistics, the number is 454,000.  Now, he`s right that we`ve got more women in the workforce.  Rock on.  Than ever.  But that number went up with the U.S. population.

Something else that he said that didn`t make any sense is that we are the number one oil and gas producer in the world.  It has been a revolution.  Well, that happened seven years ago.  In 2015, President Obama talked about it in his State of the Union address.  So, yes, the U.S. economy is strong.  It is not stronger than ever but it is pretty good.  He just didn`t have his numbers right.

MADDOW:  Stephanie Ruhle, thank you for that.  We also want to go to NBC Presidential Historian Michael Beschloss who has been watching along with us tonight.

And Michael, we wanted to ask you particularly about the strange way this started tonight.

Nancy Pelosi was supposed to introduce the President.  She did not.


MADDOW:  She looked briefly bewildered.  The President jumped in and started without her.  He then did not acknowledge her the way previous presidents, we think, have when new speakers have been named.  Did that strike you as a historical anomaly?

BESCHLOSS:  Knocked me out of my chair.  I`m used to these historical traditions, and that`s what usually happens, as you well know, Rachel, is that the speaker says I have the distinct honor and the great pleasure of introducing the President.

So what was going on here was Donald Trump startled and sort of forgot that was supposed to happen.  Well, that did happen with Harry Truman, his first speech to Congress in August -- in April of 1945, after Franklin Roosevelt died and Sam Ervin (ph) and the speaker actually interrupted him and said, Harry, I`ve got to introduce you.

Or was this something that was intentional from Donald Trump?  He did this deliberately as sort of a power play against Nancy Pelosi.

MADDOW:  Michael, we`re also interested in the President having made those sort of jarring remarks about how there can be no investigations.


MADDOW:  Obviously I think everyone immediately thought of Nixon in 1974 saying one year of Watergate is enough.  Is that the right parallel here?


MADDOW:  Or is this a standalone?

BESCHLOSS:  Although Nixon showed a little bit more self-restraint, he didn`t say that until late in the speech and he just said, one year of Watergate is enough and called on Congress to close down the investigations.

Donald Trump, as he has before, went Richard Nixon one further and came up with what I think is one of the weirdest things I have ever heard in the State of the Union address, which is this thing about if there`s going to be peace and legislation, we can`t have wars and ridiculous partisan investigations.

Number one, that`s sort of a threat, which Nixon never did to try to get out of Watergate.  And the other thing is that you`re linking about four different things that normally do not connect.  So not something that I think should fill us with a great sense of reassurance.

WILLIAMS:  Since we think of you all during these speeches, it`s such a tremendous luxury to have Michael Beschloss to talk to --

MADDOW:  Whenever Beschloss uses the word weirdest in talking about things in historical context.

WALLACE:  I`m scared.

  WILLIAMS:  Our live coverage continues throughout the evening tonight.  Please stay with us.


  THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.                                                                                                     END