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The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 01/25/13

Guests: Eliot Spitzer

ED SCHULTZ, "THE ED SHOW" HOST: That is "THE ED SHOW." I`m Ed Schultz. THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts right now. Good evening, Rachel. RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: Good evening, Ed. Thank you, my friend. And thanks t o you at home -- SCHULTZ: You bet. Have a great weekend. MADDOW: I will. SCHULTZ: Thanks to you at home for joining us. Happy Friday. The Detroit Lions used to play in this building, the Pontiac Silverdome in once prosperous Pontiac, Michigan. After the Detroit Lions left the Silverdome in `02 and the Pontiac factory moved and the town of Pontiac went broke, they`re tried to sell the stadium to the highest bidder. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The field has seen monster truck rallies, soccer games. If it can happen on a field, it can happen here. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Out here at the Silverdome, we have anything ranging from your dirt shows, snow cross shows, home and garden shows, trade shows, concerts, all the way down to anything you would like to do on top of a field football, soccer, indoor football, arena football, you could have lacrosse down here. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: A Canadian tycoon eventually bought the Silverdome in 2009. Not for lacrosse, though. The place cost $55 million to build when they first built it. He got it for a half million dollars. The tycoon had wanted to put a casino in there. But last year, voters said no to that. Well, this is Pontiac`s formally $55 million Silverdome right now. Look at that. Over the past week, wind storms have shredded the Silverdome`s inflatable roof. So now the weather comes right in. But do not worry. The new owner said they were going to build a new roof anyway. He said the Silverdome in tatters in the brief Michigan winter is not really the disaster it looks like. It`s more like a very, very rough phase 1, the demo phase for his next big plan to make money ion the dome that nobody wanted and that is so broke and the state that is often really just so much crazy. Michigan is amazing. Michigan Republicans, you in particular are amazing. On Inauguration Day this week, while the president was being sworn in for the start of his second term, Michigan Republicans back home, they spent the day talking about turning an island in the Detroit area into a new independent country. It would be ruled based on the fictional pseudo economic novels of Ayn Rand, the patron saint of Paul Ryan. That`s what they spent Inauguration Day doing. Good luck with that. Right after the election this year, after insisting publicly over and over again that there was no need to strip union rights in the state of Michigan, Michigan Republicans, surprise, passed a bill doing just that, and Governor Rick Snyder signed it. The whole thing was opened, passed, and shut within a week, never mind what we said before, we`re doing it. Surprise. Michigan is amazing, right? I mean, Michigan is the state with the Republican law to let the state fire all your locally elected officials and unilaterally abolish your town if they want to on their own say so, no matter how you vote. In November, this past election, Michigan voters repealed that with a direct vote, the will of the people. The month after that, Governor Snyder and the Republicans in the legislature gave the voters of Michigan a big Michigan Republican one-finger salute. They decided to pass and sign into law a new emergency manager law to replace the one that the voters just killed. Except this new one can`t be killed by the voters. What`s that you say? The will of the who now? I`m sorry, have we met? You know those really funny videos about the honey badger and about how the honey badger don`t give a bleep? Michigan Republicans are the honey badgers of electoral politics. They do not give a bleep. And because Michigan Republicans do not care what anyone thinks of them, certainly not the press, but apparently also not the voters, Michigan is my personal nominee. Michigan is my nominee for the one state that is shameless enough to actually do what a whole host of other states finally today are starting to get too embarrassed to go ahead with. Usually the outlier in American normal politics is Florida, right? Florida`s generally considered to be our weird state. Florida is so weird that on the home page of weird,, the site is divided into sections like sad, strange, weird, scary, or Florida. You can click on the Florida tag and you just get the stuff that it seems could only happen in Florida. Enough said, right? If the headline starts with "naked Florida man" and the story includes doctors being unable to determine what drugs he is on, welcome to your newfound celebrity status, good sir. That one turns out to be the Florida story of an alleged naked burglar who is a carnie whose alleged malfeasance is such that I`m going to let you read the headline itself rather than attempt to say it myself on TV. OK? We expect this from Florida, right? It`s not just true crime, though, that makes Florida so weird. It`s politics too. Florida politics are often the political equivalent of the naked pooping carnie burglar, right? The 2011 debacle, Katherine Harris, the butterfly ballot, all the nice old Jewish people in south Florida inadvertently voting for Uncle Pat Buchanan? Yes. The congressman, David Rivera, his scandal, right? Hiring fake candidates to run in sham elections, and then reporters getting water thrown in their face when they go to investigate. Electing the guy that was forced out of the company with the largest Medicare fraud fine in history because he said as governor he would crack down on all the health care fraud. I mean, that`s Florida, right? Florida has always been seen as the shameless American state. This year in the 2012 election, there were incredibly long lines for voting in Florida, on purpose, because the governor, Rick Scott, signed a law to cut early voting days in half. The latest academic analysis of the impact of that says at least 200,000 people did not vote in 2012, who otherwise would have voted because they couldn`t wait in the eight-hour-long lines that Rick Scott created and then defended as the right thing to do. Florida`s electoral failure this year was so spectacular, it got a shout out from the president on election night, and a huge round of applause when he talked about those long lines and said, "We have to fix that." That same Florida fail has become a rallying cry for the newly Democratic Florida politician Charlie Crist, as he mounts what might be a challenge to Rick Scott as governor. And all that attention, we think of Florida as being un-embarrassable, right? But all that attention has maybe made even unembarrassable Florida little embarrassed about the way they`re doing their politics right now. Since the election, Governor Scott has backed down on his cut in early voting days, which he had previously been defending. He now says he`ll put the early voting days that used to be there back. Florida Republicans actually got embarrassed, and they caved on the early voting thing that same dynamic may now be a work in the latest national shamelessness exercise in electoral tilt the playing field shenanigans. This one started with RedMap. RedMap was the national Republican Party project this past year targeting specific blue states. The plan was to aggressively redistrict those states` electoral maps to make election essentially a lock for Republicans. And the Republicans are not embarrassed by this. They are bragging now that this scheme is the only way they held on to the House, even though more people voted for Republicans than Democrats for the House this year. Since RedMap, Republicans have followed up on RedMap`s success by considering a way to push that scheme even further. They`re trying to change the rules state by state to start electing the president using the same gerrymandered maps that won them the House, even though they got less votes than the other party for the House. They`ve been plotting a way to overturn the Electoral College winner-takes-all system in these blue states, to instead allocate electoral votes by congressional district, by the congressional districts that they have aggressively redrawn to be a lock for Republicans. It`s ambitious, right? It is ambitious, but it started off I`m sure deliberately as a very quiet effort. And because it was being done quietly in disparate states, it was not getting much attention in the national news. Now, though, it has become a front-page story. Now, it`s getting tons of national attention all of the sudden. It was the conservative -- it was the D.C. paper, "The National Journal" that first picked up on this Republican plan last month. It was their reporting that we flagged early last week when we said hey, beltway, wake up. This is happening. Since that, since we`re trying to draw people`s attention to it, the coverage of it really has taken off. It began percolating the very next day on some of the more influential lefty blogs. Think Progress, Daily Kos, Talking Points Memo. From there, it ended up hitting the mainstream. "The Associated Press" ran with this headline late last week, Republicans eye new election laws. The inside the Beltway news organizations then started to run their own stories on this plan. This was the front page above the fold headline in "The Washington Post" today. Look at that. Front page, above the fold, right-hand column. "GOP is pushing electoral changes. Virginia among states at issue." It`s now becoming big national news. And then tonight, the big kahuna, it hit the national newscasts. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BRIAN WILLIAMS, NBC NEWS ANCHOR: Seeing red. A push by Republicans to change the way we elect a president. If these had been the rules across the map in November, we`d have President Romney. REPORTER: If the whole country adopted plans now being considered in Virginia, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, instead of Obama winning 332-206, the electoral map would have gone from blue to red, Romney over Obama. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: As this story goes national, as this story gets national attention and goes sort of big-time as news goes, Republicans in the states that have been pushing this plan seem to be getting a little embarrassed. In Florida, the previously unembarrassable Florida, where Rick Scott backed off the early vote long lines disaster just last week, the Republican speaker of the Florida House now says no way are they going to do this Electoral College rig the vote thing. Do not pin that tail on him. Quote, "To me, that`s like saying in a football game, we should only have three quarters because we were winning after three quarters and they beat us in the fourth. I don`t think we need to change the rules of the game. I think we need to get better." OK. It looks like it`s going nowhere in Florida. How about Virginia, where Republicans moved a bill to act on this change earlier in the week? Well, in Virginia, two crucial Republican senators are now saying no to this idea. Also, Virginia`s governor, Governor Ultrasound Bob McDonnell, he also now definitively saying no, he is opposed to making the change. Republicans floated the idea before in Pennsylvania, before the election. And Governor Tom Corbett in Pennsylvania was enthusiastic about the idea. But now, ah, now, with all this attention, now Republicans in Pennsylvania are sitting on their hands. The chairman of the Pennsylvania Republican Party saying he didn`t really like the idea the first time around either. In Ohio, it was about five minutes after the election when the Republican secretary of state there John Husted began stumping for this idea of making the Electoral College change. Hey, it`s just an idea, right? But now it`s very, very quiet in Ohio. And that leaves Michigan. Oh, Michigan. Michigan, my nominee for incapable of being embarrassed. Move over, Florida. Michigan has a bill on the way with the Republican sponsor who is quite unembarrassed by the attention now or his failure to pass the same kind of bill last year. Quote, "The bill got no traction last year. There were people convinced Romney was going to win. And that might take electoral votes from him." But now, now that Romney lost, now maybe -- even Rick Snyder, the governor is warming up to the idea this week and saying so publicly. Governor Snyder now saying it is fair to change the rules since the election is not for a few more years yet. We started this week with six states on the map where Republicans were talking about changing the rules to elect the president so you could use the gerrymandered congressional maps to make the presidential election go the way the House vote went this year where Democrats got more votes but Republicans still held the office. We started with a map of six. Two of those states have now put the idea in the deepest part of the deep freeze where they can reach without falling in. Most of the other states on this map appear to be putting the idea on ice, putting it on the ice floe, saying, "Good luck, you`re on your own." But Michigan -- in Michigan, they appear to be just warming up. Michigan is my bet for actually doing this thing that most of Republican America is now too embarrassed to go ahead with. Michigan is not like the other states anymore. What will not work anywhere else, they think works there. So what if the Silverdome roof is in tatters or if voters reject a law or if Republicans in those other blue states are suddenly too embarrassed to turn democracy into just another fist for a fistfight. Does even an avalanche of public shaming embarrassed Michigan Republicans? Do they get embarrassed? Or do they just get on with it? Now, that we finally got national attention to this scheme, now we are about to find out just how much of a honey badger Michigan Republicans really are. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: A man named Saxby Chambliss announced that he is retiring today. As a U.S. senator, he is up for reelection in 2014, but he is not going to run. He was about to get primaried, challenged from the right from within his own party. He doesn`t say this is why he is quitting, but now, he is quitting rather than face that challenge. Now, that he is quitting, who is going to be the Republican nominee for that Senate seat in 2014? (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) HERMAN CAIN (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: They asked me who is the president of ubek-beki-beki-stan-stan, I`m going to say I don`t know. Do you know? (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Herman Cain has run before in Georgia. But, alas, he said today that even though everybody is asking him, he is not going to run for Saxby Chambliss` seat. The other names that floated immediately to the top were this guy. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REP. PAUL BROUN (R), GEORGIA: All this stuff I was taught about evolution, embryology, Big Bang theory, all that lies straight from the pit of hell. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Congressman Paul Broun. He is on the House Science Committee, straight from the pit of hell. He also says he does not know if President Obama is a U.S. citizen. Also on everybody`s short list for the Saxby Chambliss Senate seat is this guy, Congressman Phil Gingrey, who says Todd Akin got a bad rap on that whole legitimate rain thing. Todd Akin was pretty much right about that. And rounding out the short list -- remember when the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation decided to go after Planned Parenthood and it was a huge disaster for them? The woman whose that idea that was, she apparently is also on the Republican short list for the Saxby Chambliss Senate seat. So, Republicans are looking at maybe choosing among the birther, "science is a lie from the pit of hell" guy; the one who says Todd Akin was right; and the woman who was so anti-abortion she managed to get a cancer charity in P.R. trouble. Saxby Chambliss would have very likely been re-elected to this seat if he was running for it again. But instead, one of these guys? Seriously? This is the exact Republican strategic formula that resulted in Democratic Joe Donnelly getting the Indiana Senate seat that had been held by Republican Dick Lugar for 35 years. It`s the same formula that got Democrat Claire McCaskill to hold on to her seat in Missouri when nobody thought she could hold on to it. It`s the same formula that got Harry Reid to hold on to his seat when nobody thought he could hold on to his seat that year. And Democrat Chris Coons in Delaware, and Democrat Michael Bennett in Colorado. This is the formula. This is a familiar scenario for a reason. And it is still going on right now in 2013 in the Republican Party. The last Republican presidential nominee did not come to the presidential inauguration this week. Mitt Romney is the first losing presidential candidate since Michael Dukakis in 1989 to not go to the inaugural. He did go to the trouble of leaking to the press that he probably wouldn`t even watch the inauguration on TV, which is classy. But Mr. Romney did actually go to Washington today to attend a luncheon in his own honor at the Washington Marriott Hotel. There`s a certain awkwardness to this trip, right? To come to D.C. not for the inauguration, but for something honoring yourself. That perceived ungraciousness, though, is not just a one-way street there is a certain amount of ungraciousness that honestly is being shown to Mr. Romney right now by his own party. The Republican Party this week has been making a big show of publicly de-Romney-fying themselves, cleansing themselves of all traces of the Romney presidential nomination. Remember the empty chair that Clint Eastwood famously ranted at during prime time at the Republican convention this year? It`s now being used as a physical symbol for the Republicans of what went wrong with this presidential nomination. The chairman of the party told the press this week that he keeps that chair in his office. He pointed it out to reporters as a sign that he is committed to never forget the mistakes of 2012. A Republican strategist telling "The Washington Post" this week, "There is no Romney faction or Romney wing of the Republican Party keeping the flame alive. No one tailors their policies because it was what Romney supported in the 2012 campaign. No one feels like they need to be loyal to the Romney position on any issue." And in the conservative media this week, quote, "Some Republicans believe the RNC ceded too much control of the party`s message to the Romney campaign, which was happy to run the show in the confidence that Romney would soon be elected president. The result was catastrophic." Republicans are even talking about undoing the procedural rules that Mr. Romney established for the delegate process, and they`re putting news of that effort out into the press. The Republicans want you to know that they`re getting rid of everything Romney. They are taking a hot bleach shower. They are making a very public display of expunging all evidence of his candidacy, because he obviously was the problem with the Republican Party. He must have been. Everything else has been awesome. And that`s why they`re keeping everything else. The other thing that happened in Republican politics today is that they reelected Reince Priebus as chairman of the party. Even more amazing, he ran unopposed. It`s the guy who was in charge of the Republican Party is keeping his job, no question about it, nobody even competing with him. And meanwhile, the purification process of killing off, even very conservative Republican incumbents in favor of ever more doctrinaire further right challengers who are further outside the mainstream, that is claiming new scalps even today. Still even in the United States Senate, with Saxby Chambliss, a guy who in his last election year got an A-plus rating from the NRA and a 100 percent rating from the National Right to Life Committee, he is being forced out. He is not far right enough. Thank goodness they got that Mitt Romney guy out of the way. Now, they can go back to all the winning. Joining us now for insight is Michael Steele, MSNBC analyst, former chairman of the Republican Party and as always a good sport. Mr. Steele, it`s nice to see you. MICHAEL STEELE, FORMER RNC CHAIRMAN: It`s good to see you, Rachel. MADDOW: Do you think there is really no imprint at all that Mitt Romney should have left on the Republican Party? They`re just trying to pretend like he was a bad dream. STEELE: Well, that`s just silly. And the fact of the matter is that Mitt Romney went through a primary process in which delegates and activists around the country voted overwhelmingly for him. And so to now sit back and say, well, there may not be a Romney wing of the party, but certainly as our nominee, he did -- he did have some stature. He did leave an imprint and an impression. And you can`t whitewash that. You can`t just say it didn`t happen, it didn`t exist. And if we ignore it and pretend it never did, then everything else we do will be better. And so it`s just silly and it`s just typical crap that these guys throw around to put the blame some place else, instead of looking at the internal processes that are much more focused on anything other than grassroots, you know, would take care of our vendors, we take care of our consultants. What are they doing on the ground with state party organizations? There is no reason, Rachel, why this party was not prepared after everything that we had done between 2009 to elect Chris Christie in New Jersey, Bob McDonnell of Virginia, to pick up those House and Senate seats around the country, that they didn`t have that ground game already in place that they like to vilify before, but got folks elected. MADDOW: Well, when try to understand what is going on in the Republican Party, looking at very broad strokes movements inside the party, I feel like we had Bush and Cheney. We had the McCain/Palin campaign. And that was a primary campaign. That was decided pretty early on. So, the party really unified around McCain and Palin. And then we essentially had the Tea Party movement. The Tea Party movement was manifest as a purification process, primarying even very conservative incumbents for people who were further outside the mainstream, further to the right. I thought that ended with the Romney era. But it seems like Republicans still think that was a good idea. STEELE: Well, actually, Rachel, it ended during the first few months of my campaign, of my chairmanship. We sat down with a lot of Tea Party activists after the Scozzafava race in New York 23 in the spring of 2009. Largely a lot of other nomination processes had started, and that effort was under way. So what we tried to do is get in front and say, look, let`s cooperate, let`s work together, because you can`t go after our incumbents in states like Delaware and Colorado and Utah and elsewhere where, you know, but for this individual, we would not have this seat. And so, we negotiated a peace, if you will, for further campaigns and worked cooperatively with Tea Party activists around the country. That clearly had not happened over the last couple of years. We saw what happened to the Ron Paul campaign and how he was treated at the national convention. Not allowed to speak. His delegates not given a voice on the floor. And now, they`re trying to make nice with these guys and pretend that that didn`t happen. Well, the grassroots activists have very long memories. So your words are nice, but your actions say more. And I think that the party has put itself in a very difficult position, and will see itself challenged if we do not get on the ground and work with these organizations and individuals who are very fired up and passionate, but put that energy in a very constructive way to support incumbents that we have, particularly in those tough districts or states that we can barely hold on to, like a Georgia. I mean, that seat could come in play, depending who that nominee is. And the party has to give that some great consideration. MADDOW: That substantive critique from you and the different strands of substantive critique about what happened in 2012 and what`s wrong inside the party and the structure of the party makes it so remarkable to me that Reince Priebus was unopposed. I just -- I find it astonishing. STEELE: Yes, me too. MADDOW: Yes, I figured. Michael Steele, MSNBC analyst, former chairman of the party -- thank you for your time tonight. It`s great to see you back. STEELE: All right, Rachel. MADDOW: Thanks, Michael. All right. President Obama has made his choice to run the SEC, the agency that is supposed to police Wall Street. There are very few people, like maybe zero people who know more about the nominee or the job of the nominee than our special guest tonight, former New York governor and attorney general, Eliot Spitzer, is here. Yes! Stay tuned. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: Some eye catching reporting this week about anonymous liberals making the case against President Obama`s nominee for defense secretary. Anonymous liberals. Why would they be anonymous? (SIREN) MADDOW: I know what this is. Do not be alarmed. This is a RACHEL MADDOW SHOW bullpuckey alert. Remain calm. We have the situation under control. We`ve been training for this all year. Stay tuned. This is a bullpuckey alert code 3. Stand by. We`ll take care of this shortly. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: November 26th, 2008. We began to hear news late that night about something going very wrong in one of the busiest parts of one of the busiest cities of the world, the city of Mumbai, Bombay in India was under attack. But at least at first, it was hard to figure out what was going on. And once we figured out what was going on, it was hard to believe that it could be possible. There were explosions at a lot of different heavily populated places around the city -- a train station, a cafe, two hotels, a state bank of India building. There were multiple attackers at multiple sites simultaneously, killing people with machine guns and grenades. And it just kept going on and on and on. The gunman had stormed two hotels. They had taken hostages. People were barricaded in their rooms. And when November 26th turned into November 27th, and there was still no end in sight, it was still ongoing -- it became clear that this was an unusually well-coordinated, highly-researched, highly-planned terrorist attack. By the time the three-day siege had ended, 11 different locations had been struck around the city. There were 10 attackers. They killed 166 people. The majority of the people they killed were Indians, but among the dead were six Americans, including a 13-year-old American girl. Even once it was over, it seemed impossible that this had actually happened and had gone on for so long in such a big city in such a cosmopolitan place with so many different attackers and so many targets and so many people killed. It was almost impossible to get your head around. And for Americans, in particular, what remains almost impossible to get our heads around is that one of the main planners of that attack is an American guy. His name is David Headley. He was born in the United States. His mother is American. His father is from Pakistan. The thing that made David Headley most valuable to the terrorist groups that trained him was that he was an American, which meant that he could travel easily all over the world without attracting suspicion -- thanks to his American passport. When the 10 attackers arrived in India for the Mumbai terrorist attack, none of them had ever been to that city before, but they were able to pull off this highly-coordinated, highly-mobile multisite attack in a strange city they didn`t know because of David Headley. They knew exactly where to go because David Headley had scouted everything for them. He had given them meticulously prepared videos and reports and GPS coordinates about how to wage that assault on that city in November 2008. David Headley was not arrested until almost a year after the attack in October 2009. U.S. officials picked him up at O`Hare Airport in Chicago when he was en route to Denmark in the midst of planning a second Mumbai- style attack. The attack in Denmark was going to involve terrorists storming a newspaper office in Denmark, beheading the employees and throwing the heads out of the window of the newspaper office out on to the street. They were going for the highest level of horror possible. That`s the terror in terrorism. American David Headley was in the process of scouting locations for the Danish attack, just as he had done for Mumbai when he was arrested in Chicago. And then, yesterday, David Headley was finally sentenced to 35 years in prison. He was sentenced in Chicago. The only reason he didn`t get life is because he turned state`s evidence in what prosecutors say was a big way. Only one of the actual gunmen from the Mumbai attack survived the attack itself. He was hanged in India last year. But as an orchestrator of the attack, David Headley was tried here in the U.S. and you may recall that precisely nobody complained that it was too dangerous to try David Headley here even though he was a terrorist involved in a complicated international terrorism plot. Arrested here, questioned here, he turned against his former comrades and helped the U.S. catch more terrorists. He even testified against some of his fellow co- conspirators. And now, he has been sentenced here. And he will do what is likely to be the rest of his life in prison here in federal prison. Despite the high-pitched whining about the need for Guantanamo, terrorists get prosecuted here all the time. American prosecutors do it. These cases can take years to build, but they can be done, and people go to federal prison. These things have been done even in the highest profile terrorism cases. And they have often been done by this person. This is Mary Jo White. When it came time to prosecute the people who carried out the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center, the person who led that prosecution was Mary Jo White. That was Ms. White`s first year on the job as the U.S. attorney, the federal prosecutor for the southern district of New York. She is the only woman who have ever had that job in the 200 years that job has existed. One of the first things she did her first year was help prosecute the people who bombed the World Trade Center in `93. That same year, her office prosecuted the Blind Sheik, Omar Abdul Rahman for his role in conspiring to bomb the U.N. and other places in New York City. In the wake of the Blind Sheik case, Ms. White created a terrorism unit in her office. No other U.S. attorneys office had one at the time. She was the first to do that. Mary Jo White also led the prosecution against mob boss John Gotti. She won the conviction that put him in prison for the rest of his life. Several other prosecutors had tried to do that, but had failed to it. She did it. In 1996, she helped convict Ramzi Yousef for his attempt to assassinate the pope and blow up multiple planes in flight. He was the nephew of Khalid Sheik Mohammed. In 2001, her office prosecuted four of the men who`d helped orchestrate the embassy bombings in East Africa. Yesterday, President Obama nominated Mary Jo White to be the next head of Securities and Exchange Commission, which is essentially the top cop of Wall Street. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: As one former SEC chairman said, Mary Jo does not intimidate easily, and that`s important, because she has a big job ahead of her. There is much more work to be done to complete the task of reforming Wall Street and making sure that American investors are better informed and better protected going forward. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: Mary Jo White`s experience as a federal prosecutor of high profile terrorism cases is not the only thing you should know about her career given this nomination. There`s also the matter of her decade as a defense attorney, not a prosecutor, but a defense attorney. When she left the prosecutor`s office in `02, she went to a private law firm. She started prosecuting cases and started defending defendants. Among her areas of focus at that law firm, why collar criminal defense and white collar internal investigations. From that side of the legal aisle, Mary Jo White defended the giant global financial firm Morgan Stanley. She defended the CEO of Bank of America. She defended JPMorgan Chase and cases dating back to the big financial crisis that almost swallowed whole the nation`s economy. If she is confirmed, her new job would be to oversee some of those former clients of hers to make sure they follow the rules. She is an interesting choice, right? A highly qualified but interesting choice. If you are the kind of Wall Street guy who can`t believe you didn`t go to prison for what happened in `08, who can`t believe what you guys got away with when you crashed the national economy by knowingly breaking all the rules -- if you`re that guy on Wall Street tonight and you`re still behaving that way when you go to work every day, are you happy to hear that this Wall Street white collar defense attorney is going to be the new top cop on Wall Street? Are you happy about that? She defended the Bank of America CEO. Or are you scared because the cop who put away John Gotti and the Blind Sheik might be coming for you on Wall Street next? Which is it? Are you bummed or are you psyched? The one and only Eliot Spitzer joins us next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) OBAMA: It`s not enough to change the law. We also need cops on the beat to enforce the law. And that`s why today I am nominating Mary Jo White to lead the Securities and Exchange Commission. Over a decade as a U.S. attorney in New York, she helped prosecute white collar criminals and money launderers. In the early 1990s, she brought down John Gotti, the head of the Gambino crime syndicate. And she brought to justice the terrorists who are responsible for bombing the World Trade Center and the American embassies in Africa. So I`d say that`s a pretty good run. You don`t want to mess with Mary Jo. (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: You don`t want to mess with Mary Jo if you are a terrorist or a mobster. But if you are the CEO of Bank of America, or if you`re JPMorgan Chase, Mary Jo White has not been nearly as scary as she has been to those other different, very different types of bad guys. Does President Obama nominating Mary Jo White to be the top cop of Wall Street at the SEC mean that we`re going to get a new tough cop on Wall Street, or does this mean that Wall Street is still being trusted to police itself? The person I most want to ask about this is the former New York governor and New York attorney general who earned himself the nickname "The Sheriff of Wall Street" while he was in office. He, of course, is Eliot Spitzer. Governor, thank you for being here. ELIOT SPITZER (D), FORMER NEW YORK GOVERNOR: My pleasure. And it`s a joy to be here on the set with you. Thank you. MADDOW: Mary Jo White spent the last two years defending JPMorgan Chase, in cases that dated back to the bank`s behavior during the financial crisis. SPITZER: Right. MADDOW: Now, she is slated to run the agency whose job it would be to investigate JPMorgan Chase if the bank were breaking the law. That really sounds like a problem to me. SPITZER: It sounds like a problem. And to answer your question, are the CEOs thrilled or terrified? The answer is both. MADDOW: OK. SPITZER: Because we don`t know until we watch what she does, whether she has internalized the defenses she made on their and a half. What do I mean by that? She is tough. The president is right. She brought down prosecutors. She brought down John Gotti. She brought down terrorists. She knows how to use the law in a creative, aggressive way. The question is over the years representing the Ken Lewises of the world, the CEO of Bank of America, has she begun to believe her own rhetoric? That`s what happened to Harvey Pitt. Harvey Pitt, former chairman of the SEC, a disaster. He first came in and said, "I want the kinder, gentler SEC." He destroyed the place. Mary Jo has the capacity to step up to the plate and show us that she can turn that broken agency around. Here interest three metrics that I think we judge her by: One, what cases does she bring and bring quickly? Use the Clayton documents which showed the knowledge within the banks of the corruption of what they were doing about the underlying mortgages. Use those documents to make structural cases. Two, seek remedies that go way beyond money. Reorganize the banks and the way they do business. Remedies has been the problem of the SEC, even when they prove guilt, they say pass a little money and we go away. That`s not enough. And, three, the rule-making capacity. And I don`t just mean rules about how they issue their proxy statements. I mean rules that empower shareholders to finally run the companies on the behalf of shareholders, not on behalf of the CEOs. Those are the three different metrics I`m looking for. MADDOW: Two questions about her which I think you know the answer to. One is her organizational capacity. SPITZER: Right. MADDOW: Because it`s not that she is out there, arguing -- litigating every single case inside of the SEC. SPITZER: Right. MADDOW: You need to be able to run the agency. But, two, her understanding of the implications, the moral implications and legal implications of complex financial doings. Is she capable over doing it? SPITZER: Look, she is as smart as you will find anybody to be. She understands all of this. I`ve been on panels with her. We have sometimes jousted about the proper remedies in some of these issues, because she was back at the voice of representing these guys. But she gets it. And I think if she takes that enormous innate talent she`s got to understand what these companies did to the markets and to the economy that we depend upon, she can be a remarkable force at the SEC. MADDOW: I don`t mean raw intellectual power, though. I mean, does she have the technical understanding of what they`re doing? These people have counted on people not understanding their business. SPITZER: Yes. She has that the capacity to understand it the way anybody that smart would. But what you`re saying at a deeper level is she doesn`t make the cases individually. She doesn`t sit behind the desk and say, you know, I`m going to invest A, B or C. She`s got to infuse the organization with the energy, the creativity, the spirit and bring into the organization the people who can do it. Now, a lot of people say revolving door. She comes from the other side of the aisle. Revolving door is a better metaphor than diagnosis. And what I mean by that is we all love the imagery of the revolving door as a major problem. Some of the real dead wood at the SEC are folks who have been there forever. They`ve never been in the private sector, and likewise, some of the best people who have reformed our financial markets like Gary Gensler came from Goldman. So it`s not so much where you came from, it`s what`s up here. In other words, do you have the energy and independence to break with wherever you have been to say this has got to change? MADDOW: Don`t you think the incentive change of the revolving door metaphor, though, makes sense? SPITZER: Yes. MADDOW: That people who are not at the top of the agency, but the agency may be thinking -- you know what, I would love you guys to hire me maybe, later, I want you to have positive associations with me when I give you my resume? SPITZER: Absolutely. But Mary Jo doesn`t respond to that. First, I don`t mean to pass judgment. She is independently wealthy at this point. She`s made a load of money. Her husband is very successful as a lawyer. Money is not what drives Mary Jo. She values the integrity of what she`s going to do. Not to say necessarily she is going to be good. It doesn`t -- but as I said a couple of moments ago, she brings the cases, seeks the remedies and changes the rules to empower shareholders. She can be transformational. She has the intellect and capacity to do it. We will have to wait and see. That`s why being agnostic about what we expect is the better approach. And the CEOs who are out there should be kind of having a drink tonight, saying I don`t know if I should be happy or terrified, in answer to your question. MADDOW: So they should have one, not 10, because they`re not celebrating or drowning their sorrows. They have to work tomorrow to get their act together in case she is coming after them. Fair enough? SPITZER: Yes, I think that`s right. Try to think of something clever, I don`t know what their tolerance is. But you`re right. I`d rather not be drinking at all, when they get drunk, they do dangerous things to the economy. But we`re going to keep them sober. MADDOW: Former attorney general, former governor, Eliot Spitzer, it has been too long since we had you here. I know you had been doing weird stuff. SPITZER: I was on a TV network. I don`t know what happened to it. MADDOW: I don`t know either. I`m glad you`re back. It`s great to see you. Thank you, sir. SPITZER: Thank you so much. MADDOW: All right. So, I`m sorry to say, but there is reporting in respected corners of the news media tonight that seems to me like bullpuckey -- maybe I`m wrong, but maybe it is time to call bullpuckey on TV, with the siren and everything. That`s next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MADDOW: There is something going on in the news right now that I think is bullpuckey. Not that I`m opposed to it or offended by it, but I think it is not true. I think it`s a lie. I think we are being swindled, snookered. And I want to call bullpuckey. So, here it goes: It`s about one of President Obama`s nominees for his second term cabinet. The nominations for key staff in the president`s second term happen just about every day now, usually around lunch time. Yesterday, the president picked Richard Cordray to lead the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. And as we just discuss with Governor Spitzer, he picked Mary Jo White to run the SEC. Today, foreign policy adviser Denis McDonough got the nod to be the president`s chief of staff. He and the president are known to be personally very close. He was physically very close to the president. In the most famous photo from the president`s first term, that`s him two seats over from the president, right next to Hillary Clinton during the raid that killed bin Laden. In his previous life, as senior adviser to then top Democrat in the Senate, Tom Daschle, Denis McDonough helped craft the resolution that authorized the Iraq War, which is the kind of baggage that might prove troubling at a confirmation hearing. But a chief of staff nomination is not the kind that the Senate has not to confirm. Not like, say, secretary of state. John Kerry is the president`s nominee for that post. He had his confirmation hearing yesterday. And a greater love fest has never been seen before in something less than a PG-rating. The full Senate will vote on Senator Kerry`s nomination on Tuesday. Honestly, the only surprise will be if it is not unanimous. And no, Rand Paul`s vote doesn`t count. Really, there are just two nominations thus far that had any suspense with them at all. One is John Brennan, to be director of the CIA. Right now, he is the president`s counter-terrorism adviser. He has many, many allies in the administration. They are lobbying hard against any perceived opposition to his nomination. The reason they worry is that John Brennan is the de facto face of the Obama administration`s drone program. And before that, he was chief of staff to CIA Director George Tenet, in the George W. Bush era, bad old CIA torture days. That`s why John Brennan didn`t get the nomination to run the CIA in the first time around. So his confirmation hearings this time around, on February 7th, should be very interested. So, that`s one where there`s some controversy there. The other nomination, for which there are at least used to be some suspense, is former Republican Senator Chuck Hagel as the nominee for defense. I say there used to be suspense about this nomination because questions about whether there would be a fight against him from the left have largely dried up. Democratic Senators Frank Lautenberg, Joe Manchin, Chris Coons, Jeanne Shaheen all now say they have met with Mr. Hagel this week, and he assuaged their worries about his nomination. Ditto for Senators Kirsten Gillibrand and Charles Schumer of New York. Senator Hagel also directly addressed criticism of his hard-line anti- gay and anti-abortion political past. And he addressed that criticism in which that it`s largely neutralized those objections to him from the left. And so, yes, ahead of his confirmation hearings on Thursday, Republicans are still making noises about Chuck Hagel. But honestly, while John McCain still rooms the earth, those kind of noises are probably inevitable and therefore not that important. The only strange remaining might be evidence of any interesting and therefore important resistance to Chuck Hagel is probably this ad, you might have seen from an unknown group called "Use Your Mandate". (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "USE YOUR MANDATE" AD) AD NARRATOR: Chuck Hagel, he`s been nominated to be secretary of defense. And President Obama nominated him with the best of intentions. But it is still a bad choice. Hagel is anti-woman, anti-choice, anti- Israel, anti-gay, and pro-assault weapons. That`s just not what we voted for in November. Chuck Hagel doesn`t share our values. There are other people who can do the job, why do we need someone like this? (END VIDEO CLIP) MADDOW: So that ad ran on the three-network Sunday shows last week, not to mention this network, MSNBC, apparently multiple times. We don`t see the ads here when we`re on TV, but that`s what they tell me. So, NBC, ABC, CBS, MSNBC -- basically, everywhere but FOX News. It`s not a huge ad buy, but they are counting on lots of free media coverage of this to further their message. Free conservative media coverage, in particular, free enthusiastic conservative media coverage. So, in "The National Review", look, "Liberal Group`s Anti-Hagel Ad Hits TV Screens." At Breitbart, "Liberal Group Releases `No on Hagel` Ad." "The Washington Free Beacon," yes, I`ve never heard of it either, but apparently it`s a right wing thing -- "Democratic Group Airs Ad Blasting Hagel." Supposedly these ads are being run by liberals and Democrats, against Chuck Hagel. But these supposed liberals and Democrats opposed to Chuck Hagel are anonymous. They are telling the press that they are, quote, "allies with the Obama administration," who are staying anonymous because they "fear retribution or fear from the White House." Your Scooby sense tingling yet? This whole thing just seems off, right? I mean there are obviously two intentions with setting it up like this. They`re trying to convey the impression that this is a White House who attacks and ruins anyone on its own side who dares to disagree with them on anything. Yes, right. That`s the way the right likes to think about this White House. That is not the way they actually operate. They may be more effective if they did, but that`s not what they do. More broadly, they`re asserting there is broad Democratic opposition to Chuck Hagel, we`re just not allowed to know who it is. I`m not buying it. I call bullpuckey. I say it`s even money that this is the right running ads against Hagel while pretending to be left. I might be wrong, but I call bullpuckey. And if I am wrong, there`s an easy way to prove it. Come out. Come out, whoever you are. If you`re not Bill Kristol or Liz Cheney or the Log Cabin Republicans or someone like that, I will be the first to admit that I`m wrong. But I do not think I`m wrong. This is not a liberal group. It`s a right-wing group. You`re trying to look like liberals and we can tell. That does it for us tonight. We`ll see you again Monday night. Now, it`s time for "THE LAST WORD." Have a great weekend. THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END