Show: THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW Date: October 21, 2016 Guest: Andrea Bernstein
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC ANCHOR: You`re almost home. You`re almost there.
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC ANCHOR, "ALL IN": I`m almost home. Happy Friday.
MADDOW: Happy Friday, my friend. Well done. Have a good weekend.
And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour as well. Happy Friday. It`s nice to have you here.
In November 2008, at an open air plaza on a beautiful night in Arizona, Republican Senator John McCain gave a speech that his supporters did not want to hear.
His supporters loved him. They supported him. But he was there to do something they did not want. And you could almost see in him the almost physical strain it took for him to keep a lid on their emotions. For him as a leader, to stop the raging sentiment and upset and emotion on that plaza among his supporters, to stop it from boiling over.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: My friends, we have come to the end of a long journey. The American people have spoken and they have spoken clearly. A little while ago, I had the honor of calling Senator Barack Obama to congratulate him --
Please. To congratulate him on being elected the next president of the country that we both love.
In a contest as long and difficult as this campaign has been, his success alone commands my respect for his ability and perseverance. My heart is filled with nothing but gratitude for the experience and to the American people for giving me a fair hearing before deciding that Senator Obama and my old friend Senator Joe Biden should have the honor of leading us for the next four years.
Please. Please. I would not -- I would not be --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: The start of John McCain`s concession speech on election night 2008, his crowd is Arizona is booing every time he mentions Senator Obama, booing the idea that McCain is conceding. By the end, though, Senator McCain has mostly gotten that under control, scattered boos.
But you notice the very end of that piece, the crowd starting to take a little turn at the end not to just booing Obama but at the end there they started yelling "Sarah, Sarah, Sarah".
We didn`t know that night, but we know now after the fact that Governor Sarah Palin actually wanted to give her own concession speech that night in 2008 and that`s a thing that running mates don`t do.
But she apparently had a speech written. She thought for sure she was going to give her own concession. She would have her own moment in the spotlight, but the whole idea apparently was definitively and firmly kyboshed by our own Steve Schmidt who told her, "no, you will not be speaking tonight."
In the end, Sarah Palin was not given a speech, but she was allowed to stand on stage with her husband and with Senator McCain`s wife Cindy, while the presidential candidate himself, while Senator McCain gave what was really a nice noble speech.
And the crowd didn`t necessarily receive it all that well. They still booed and hollered against Senator Obama a lot, at the beginning of the speech. Even a little by the end.
But that crowd had a totally different, totally opposite unforced positive reaction any time Senator McCain mentioned his running mate. No wonder she thought she ought to be able to give a speech that night.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MCCAIN: I am also -- I am also, of course, very thankful to Governor Sarah Palin, one of the best campaigners I`ve ever seen.
One of the best campaigners I have ever seen and an impressive new voice in our party for reform and the principles that have always been our greatest strength.
Her husband Todd and their five beautiful children for their tireless dedication to our cause and the courage and grace they showed in the rough and tumble of a presidential campaign. We can all look forward with great interest to her future service to Alaska, the Republican Party and our country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Yea, crowd goes wild. Crowd goes as positive as they went that whole night.
The night of the John McCain concession speech in 2008, that crowd was very bummed out. There was a lot of open container in that crowd. People were not happy. It was late. They were turning to drink and sadness and booing.
But they, you know, they loved John McCain. Sad and angry that he lost. They were not psyched about Senator Obama, this new president.
But Sarah Palin, that was an unreserved high point. Applause every time Sarah Palin was mentioned and sometimes shouting of her name whenever anybody needed something positive to yell.
And when John McCain was looking forward with great interest to her future service of Alaska, the Republican Party and our country, I`m pretty sure he couldn`t have known that that service he was referencing of hers would actually be over within just a few months.
That concession speech by John McCain was November 2008. By the following summer, by the following July, Sarah Palin was out of public office. She gave this announcement on the Fourth of July weekend in 2009 that it was not the easiest thing to figure out.
She convened reporters at her home in Alaska on short notice and sounded like she might be announcing a very, very, very early run for president herself in 2012, then it sounded like she might be announcing like a different office in Alaska, maybe Alaska Senate for a while in the speech it sounded like she was going to make her re-election announcement, that she would stand for another term as Alaska governor.
But then, the speech took another term and she announced she wouldn`t run for another term as governor, and then not only was she not running for another term as governor, she was quitting right then that day, good-bye. It was very hard to figure out. It was hard to follow her logic. It was hard to follow the plot.
But we now know, based on the fact that she never went back to work again, we now know that what she meant when she said this, what she meant by this was, I quit.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SARAH PALIN (R), FORMER ALASKA GOVERNOR: Though it may be tempting and more comfortable to keep your head down and plod along and appease those who are demanding, hey, just sit down and shut up, but that`s a worthless easy tap-out, that`s the quitter`s way out. And I think the problem in our country would be apathy. It would be apathetic to just hunker down and go with the flow. We`re fishermen. We know that only dead fish go with the flow.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: The dead fish thing and the quitter`s -- what she meant there, we now know was I am quitting today my job as governor.
Within a few months, she had a new job, the now former governor was on the air with her new reality show, incidentally produced by the same people who made "The Apprentice." It was called "Sarah Palin`s Alaska". It ran for a grand total of nine episodes before it got canceled.
Governor Palin also started doing a recurring branded segment, Sarah Palin`s segment on the FOX News Channel. It was "Real American Stories with Sarah Palin". That recurring series or segment, that also got canceled. Then just her regular contract as a FOX News contributor also got canceled.
Eventually, she landed at the Sportsman Channel hosting a show called "Amazing America." Now, I will tell you we spent some time on this today. We do not exactly know the fate of Sarah Palin`s "Amazing America". There`s no new episodes and it`s not scheduled to run anywhere in the Sportsman`s Channel`s lineup.
I want to tell you, though, it was fun to look around on that channel to try to find it. I don`t know how they`re categorizing it, but if Sarah Palin`s Sportsman Channel TV show still exists and if it`s still called "Amazing America", that would put it up in the listings next to "Arrow Affliction" and "Adventure Bow Hunter".
If it`s an alphabetical listing, and if that`s wrong, if it`s not "Amazing America", if it`s actually listed as "Sarah Palin`s Amazing America", then she`ll be way further in the listings, next to "Sheep Shape", which is a TV show about shooting sheep.
I share Governor Palin`s affection for fishing. I do not know very much about hunting. I had no idea that shooting sheep was so dangerous, but having watched the clips from "Sheep Shape", I can tell you, it`s thrilling. Seriously, the sheep thing can be super scary.
That said, "Sheep Shape" is still on. "Sarah Palin`s Amazing America", I cannot tell.
Governor Palin`s shot, as it were, at the White House did not kindle in her an ongoing desire to do more public service. I mean, quite the opposite. In fact, going back and reading her resignation speech as Alaska governor, going back and reading that again today, the dead fish speech. I mean, it`s fine on its own terms, it`s kind of fun.
But she also does make pretty clear if you read between the crossing lines that if she hadn`t been picked as John McCain`s running, had she not been in the national campaign as a vice presidential candidate in 2008, she probably would have finished out her term as governor, she might have run again. She would have spent more time as a public servant.
But that time in the national spotlight with John McCain, competing for the vice presidency, that is what led her to quit public service and instead try her luck at various potential TV careers. And now that we`re a five years out from her trying to start that part of her life, we know that none of those seem to have stuck.
In terms of her continuing role in politics now, I think it would be a stretch to call it even tertiary. In this current campaign, she did do an event with Donald Trump at the outset of the primaries. She endorsed him in Iowa. That endorsement was honestly a little odd. It did not seem to bring out the best in either of them.
We have thought -- we had actually been advised the two of them would do events together. We thought she was maybe going to be a big Trump surrogate. The Breitbart folks including the current Trump CEO, they`ve been huge boosters of Sarah Palin. Steve Bannon once made a movie about how great Sarah Palin is, the movie was called "Undefeated", which was not meant to be an ironic title. It`s just deeper than anyone can understand about how she`s undefeated.
But it just -- in the end, despite the enthusiasm for a Palin/Trump matchup, it didn`t work out for her to be a part of the Trump campaign. Palin and Trump did not go on to do joint appearances. She did not do anything for that campaign after that initial endorsement announcement that got so weird.
When it came time for the Republican National Convention this past summer, Donald Trump had a very transparently awkward explanation for why Governor Palin would not be appearing at the convention for him, even though everyone from Scott Baio to all of his children would be.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
REPORTER: I noticed that Sarah Palin wasn`t on the list. Did she not ask for a speaking role?
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: No, she was asked -- it`s a little bit difficult because of where she is. We love Sarah. A little bit difficult because of, you know, she`s got a -- it`s a long ways away. But Sarah will always be with us, and Sarah`s involved. And very much involved in the campaign.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MADDOW: Sarah will always be with us. Alaska is very far away from Cleveland, particularly if you walk. But, you know, it`s not like Alaska to Ohio is an insurmountable physical barrier to someone participating in the -- I mean, other people came from Alaska for the --
Trump almost made it sound like she was dead, right? She will always be with us. She`s fine. She`s just not put on stage or welcomed to that convention.
And in fact, we haven`t seen anything from Governor Palin in conjunction with the Trump campaign until two nights ago at the last Republican debate when Sarah Palin was brought to the event by the Trump campaign, brought to the debate. She was used as a surrogate in the spin room for Donald Trump after the debate for about three minutes before she took off.
But even that brief return of now reality TV personality, former Governor Sarah Palin, it`s interesting and it`s potentially important because that coincided with the Trump campaign on Wednesday night also debuting what might be their own version of a TV channel.
You heard about them doing this on debate night, right? Thirty minutes before the debate and 90 minutes after, they ran a Facebook video stream featuring Trump campaign staffers and surrogates. This is the second time they`ve done a Facebook video stream for the Trump campaign. The first was just before the second debate when they used that same medium to broadcast Trump`s weird little press conference with women who had made accusations about Bill Clinton in the past.
That was the first time they did a Facebook live thing. The second time they did it was after -- before and after this week`s debate. And this one was set up not exactly to be a press conference. It was more like fake news coverage of Donald Trump`s debate performance and the fake news coverage by the Trump campaign was interspersed with fake ads. I mean, not like joke ads that were advertising fake stuff. It was just they weren`t ads for anything other than Donald Trump.
In between their fake news coverage, they ran ads for Trump. They ran requests for donations in particular.
And I know by now you have heard that Donald Trump did this Facebook live video thing in conjunction with the debate and people have been talking about it as Trump TV. There`s been funny jokes about it looking like a mix of QVC and authoritarian state television from somewhere you never visited. I know you`ve heard all of that.
But what you may not have heard was this Trump TV thing after the debate, 30 minutes before, 90 minutes after, it was a huge success. Serious, serious. They say that they had millions of people tune in and watch that stream. They might have. That`s essentially unverifiable from an outside perspective.
But we were able to see the numbers to see who was watching at any one time, at least the counter they had online. It seems totally plausible that over the course of the two hours of coverage that night, they did get millions of people to tune in.
What we have official numbers on, though, is another metric that is maybe even more important if this is the first draft of what`s going to happen next. What we have official numbers on is money. The amount of money they raised from those ads asking for donations from people who tuned in to watch the Trump campaign`s fake news show that night online. And these are real numbers because they had to report them to the FEC.
According to what they told the FEC, they said they raised 9 million in that one night. What? That`s a ton of money. They raised $9 million over the course of two online segments 30 minutes before the debate and 90 minutes after.
And that is freaking great news for them. I mean, that is a ton of money. It`s great news of two different levels. I mean, $9 million is $9 million for running these last couple of weeks of the campaign.
But it`s also proof of concept for them, right? If Donald Trump does, in fact, lose the election and he decides he wants to follow the Sarah Palin path, hey, Sarah Palin, what were you doing back at this third debate when we`ve only seen you once this whole time on the campaign trail?
If he decides her path is the one he wants to follow, maybe he can do it better than she has. If he wants to follow her path, not taking a run like this and turning the it into more public service, but instead turning it into ditching the idea of public service and instead just getting on TV, well, then raising $9 million in two hours of this terrible version of their emoji-strewn online cable access stream where the audio and the video didn`t link up -- I mean, $9 million that will make a great pitch for them doing some more professional form of TV that might really try to monetize Donald Trump`s political support in his next act after this election.
That pitch will be bolstered by the true blue evidence that Donald Trump does attract viewership as a political figure. We just got in the final viewing numbers for Wednesday night`s debate, 72 million people. The combination of him and Hillary Clinton is a very popular thing on TV. That`s a really, really, really large number for a third presidential debate.
I mean, the most watched presidential debate in history was the first Clinton/Trump debate this year. Second most watched presidential debate in history was 1980, Carter/Reagan. They only had one debate that year. But the third most watched debate ever was this one we just had on Wednesday night.
So, two of the three most watched debates in history were Clinton/Trump. They`re blowing the roof off. So, if you`re looking at numbers like that and you`re also looking at the polls right now, you got to think that like the Sportsman Channel is super psyched.
They`re imagining like Donald Trump in a duck blind might be coming soon and it`s going to be mammoth. I mean, if he does want this to be a prelude to some new TV career, today`s news was really, really good news for Donald Trump.
If, however, he wants this campaign to be the lead-up to not a TV career but to a public service career, today`s news was basically as bad as it could be. And some of that we`ve got exclusively here, next.
MADDOW: More than 4 million Americans have already voted in the presidential race. Really. Two days ago, it was 2 million, now it`s 4 million. Early voting in 34 states is already under way this week saw long early voting lines in North Carolina and that`s kind of a good news, bad news thing, right?
It is inspiring. It`s exciting to see people so psyched to vote. See these big long lines, high voter enthusiasm, high voter determination.
Also, however, it indicates a shortage of polling locations for the first week of early voting, right? It`s exciting that the lines are long and it`s also not necessarily good that the lines are so long. They ought to make it easier for people to vote.
This week, we also saw long lines of people. Look at that, turning out in the heat to cast ballot ballots for the first week of early voting in Georgia.
But we do have early voting data from the more than 4 million votes that have been cast around the country. You can`t open up those ballots. We can`t tell you who those votes are for literally, but based on party registration and modeling data, the basic consensus from everybody who is looking at the 4 million early votes cast thus far is that it`s really good news for the Democrats.
The Clinton campaign, quote, "has a greater percentage of banked votes," meaning votes already cast than President Obama did at this point four years ago. Looking at the swing states for which we`ve got early voting data already, Clinton, that means has a higher proportion of the votes that have been cast already than Obama did at this point in the race in 2012.
You might remember that Obama won the race in 2012 by kind of a lot. So, that`s good news for the Clinton campaign. It`s terrible news for Donald Trump, right? There`s no way to undo that. Those votes are banked, they`re sunk, they`re cast. Nothing else in the campaign can happen that can affect the advantage that Hillary Clinton has already apparently racked up at a faster clip than Obama banked votes against Romney in 2012.
So, that`s one piece of bad news today for the Trump campaign, no matter what they`ve done, they`re already losing.
There`s already a mysterious -- there`s also a mysterious piece of bad news for them, and this -- I don`t raise this as a mystery just to pique your interest. I legitimately don`t know what`s going on here. If know, sendittorachel.com, please.
But the mysterious news in the last 24 hours is their national political director has quit and nobody seems to know why. His name`s Jim Murphy. I don`t know very much about him as a political operative. He says he is not technically resigning from the Trump campaign but he`s taking, quote, "a step back" from the campaign for what he describes as personal reasons. He`s not elaborating on what his personal reasons are. Honestly, if they are personal, they`re none of our business.
But it is a big deal for a presidential campaign to lose its national political director 18 days before the election. Doo-wop, right? It`s a big deal. This is sort of being treated like a side bar human interest, you know, human relations story for the Trump campaign. Flashing red lights, bells and whistles, this is not a normal thing.
Philip Bump put it this way at "The Washington Post" today, quote, "For another campaign, this would be a crisis, but for this campaign it`s a crisis that`s somewhere toward the middle of a long line of crises. It`s the guy who lost a finger walking into an emergency room filled with people who have lost both legs and arms. It`s a problem and a big one, but it`s not their worst problem."
But, seriously, that news -- the Trump campaign losing its national political director 2 1/2 weeks before the election, that news arrives on the same day that we have just learned, that the Clinton campaign has moved five full-time staffers into the now toss-up swing state of Utah.
That doesn`t make the loss of Trump`s political director any worse of a story, but that`s a terrible story of competing narratives, right? Trump loses national political director and no one notices while Clinton staffs up in Utah because she thinks she can win there. That`s a bad news day for the Trump campaign.
In addition, we have been monitoring this ongoing interesting sort of unprecedented saga of newspaper endorsements for this year`s campaign. I want to again reiterate our request to you, our fair viewers, if you know of a daily newspaper endorsement for Donald Trump in the general election, if you know of one anywhere in the country, please sendittorachel.com.
So far, we`ve only been able to find three Trump endorsements from three obscure little newspapers. One in Santa Barbara, California, one in St. Joseph, Missouri, and one in Waxahachie, Texas.
Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton has locked up just about every other newspaper endorsement in the country including the ones from Republican papers and now newspapers and magazines are having to get creative in order to try to stand out among the crowd as they endorse Hillary Clinton and come out against Donald Trump.
Today -- did you see this today? The "New York Daily News", they did not just reiterate their endorsement of Hillary Clinton today. They decided to write a 14-chapter long, multi-thousand word indictment of Donald Trump.
I mean, I brought the physical paper so you can get a grasp of this. So, I want you to see all the pages it takes up in the paper. It`s here on the front here, right, "Bury Trump in a Landslide," then on all of these other pages.
Look, this is where they start. They basically -- wait, there`s more. Oh, wait, there`s more. I mean, they basically unload everything they`ve ever thought or reported against Donald Trump. They say that they hope that this opus from them will be his political obituary.
It takes up -- I mean, I`ve never seen anything like this. And from the cover, I mean, they`re not just calling for his defeat, they`re calling for a landslide destruction of him.
Now, I can also report exclusively that on Monday, the "New Yorker" magazine is going to publish their own epic statement of condemnation for Trump and support of Hillary Clinton. The newsy non-feature part of the magazine is called "Talk of the Town". "Talk of the Town" usually consists of four or five pieces of news on culture and politics and art.
But in the addition of "The New Yorker" that comes out on Monday, this is the cover of it we can show you. They have given over the entire section of the "Talk of the Town" to one big, long article on their feelings about Trump and their feelings about Clinton. And they denounce Trump with all of the fervor that almost every other publication in the country has now.
I think what sets apart what the "New Yorker" is about to do is the thoughtfulness with which they sing Hillary Clinton`s praises.
I`m going to quote from it here and again, we`ve got this exclusively. You can`t get this anywhere until it comes out on Monday. But we obtained a sneak preview of it tonight.
Quote, "On November 8th, barring some astonishment, the people of the United States will, after 240 years, send a woman to the White House. The election of Hillary Clinton is an event that we will welcome for its immense historical importance and we`ll greet it with indescribable relief. It will be especially gratifying to have a woman as commander in chief after such a sickeningly sexist and racist campaign.
On every issue of consequence, including economic policy, the environment, foreign affairs, Hillary is a distinctly capable candidate: experienced, serious, schooled, resilient.
Hillary Clinton`s vision and temperament are the opposite of her opponents. Her story is about walking through flames and emerging changed, warier and more determined. We wish that Clinton faced a worthy opponent. She deserves a less sullied more substantive win.
Electing a female president means imagining new possibilities that a woman might survive that gauntlet of derision to hold power with confidence, without apology, to enlarge our notions of authority and hasten an age when a female president will no longer be exceptional."
They conclude with. "That is a thrilling possibility for all Americans."
So again, that`s the "New Yorker" which will publish on Monday. We`ve got that exclusively tonight.
So, Donald Trump, I think, credit where credit`s due. I think he had a good Trump TV day. He had a good Trump TV day. A lot of people gave him money when they watched his web stream on Monday night. Also, a lot of people watched the debate.
But even though it was a good Trump TV day, it was a terrible, terrible day in terms of his chances a the presidency, even down to terrible local news in a New Jersey courtroom today. If Donald Trump somehow defies the towering odds and does end up getting elected president on November 8th, the additional bad news he got today, about that prospect of him winning is about the guy charged with staffing up his administration, his transition chief has been told that he`s due to testify just after the election in the criminal trial of two of his top appointees and he was explicitly named in open court today as basically complicit in the crime for which they are on trial.
So, even if Donald Trump wins, today is still bad news for him because it`s probably going to be kind of a big distraction, right, for his guy who is supposed to be in charge of staffing up your under-secretaries of pencils and whatnot.
But that story and much more is still ahead tonight. Stay with us.
MADDOW: So, we`re just talking about how this was a day of very bad political news for the Trump campaign. There`s actually one other piece of news to add to that list that you may not have heard today. Weirdly, it is from the Al Smith dinner last night. The Al Smith dinner not technically part of the political contest between Trump and Clinton. It`s actually supposed to be kind of a nice thing. A memento detente, levity, as the two candidates gibe each other and themselves in this room of incredibly rich people in penguin suits.
That was last night. But even, I should mention, it didn`t go well for Trump. The room reacted poorly to a number of the shots that he took at Hillary Clinton. He ended up getting heckled and jeered and booed as he finished up his remarks.
It didn`t seem like it went all terribly for Trump last night, though. Last night on this show we had Minnesota Senator Al Franken, "Saturday Night Live" veteran Al Franken here. He complimented Mr. Trump in particular for one of Trump`s jokes that involved Mr. Trump talking about his wife. And Senator Franken is a guy who knows these things.
This is what Senator Franken said was Donald Trump`s best joke last night.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: You know, the president told me to stop whining, but I really have to say the media is even more biased this year than ever before. Ever.
You want the proof? Michelle Obama gives a speech, and everyone loves it. It`s fantastic. They think she`s absolutely great.
My wife Melania gives the exact same speech. And people get on her case.
And I don`t get it. I don`t know why.
And it wasn`t her fault. Stand up, Melania, come on. She took a lot of abuse.
Oh, I`m in trouble when I go home tonight. She didn`t know about that one. Am I okay? Is it okay? Cardinal, please speak to her.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Overall, it was a bad night for Donald Trump, but the al smith dinner, he did get booed and heckled, but that joke, that joke about his wife`s plagiarism in her Republican convention speech, that one really did go over great in the room. Al Franken thought it was a great joke, went over great in the room, everybody laughed.
It turns out that joke appears to itself be plagiarized. Ahh! This comic from RJ Matson was done for "Roll Call", the Capitol Hill newspaper. This summer, "Michelle Obama gives a speech and everybody loves it. But Melania gives a speech word for word and somebody -- everybody hates it. Why the double standard?"
It`s pretty much the exact same joke that Trump told last night about plagiarism. I told you that Donald Trump was having a really bad day. I told you.
MADDOW: So, coming up, we`ve got the details on this very, very bad news today for the would-be Donald Trump campaign presidential transition chief.
But honestly, I`ve got to tell you, we feel like we`re also waiting on news tonight from the vice president`s office. And it`s because of this. At a campaign event in Wilkes-Barre, this afternoon, Vice President Joe Biden had this to say about Donald Trump when he was talking about the "Access Hollywood" tape.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOSEPH BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: He said, because I`m famous, because I`m a star, because I`m a billionaire, I can do things other people can`t.
What a disgusting assertion for anyone to make. The press always asks me, don`t I wish I were debating him. No, I wish during high school I could take him behind the gym. That`s what I wish.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: I wish we were in high school and I could take him behind the gym. Apology presumably coming from the vice president`s office in three, two -- we`ll be right back.
MADDOW: You know, they`re already building the platform for the inauguration of the next president of the United States. The election is two weeks from Tuesday. No matter who is elected two weeks from Tuesday, that person will be sworn in on that platform on Friday, January 20th, in Washington, D.C.
In between the election and inauguration day, the candidate who wins will have to go into overdrive in the transition process. They`ll work with President Obama`s outgoing administration, they`ll staff up the new administration, pick up everything from cabinet secretaries to the color of the new drapes in the Oval Office.
If Donald Trump is the one who wins the election two weeks from Tuesday, there`s a problem with the person he`s put in charge of what would be his transition process.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Governor, can you say with certainty that someone else didn`t, on your staff or in your administration, act on your behalf to order those lane closures for political retribution?
GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: Yes, I have absolutely, absolutely no reason to believe that, Angie, and I`ve made it very clear to everybody on my senior staff that, if anyone had any knowledge about this, that they needed to come forward to me and tell me about it and they`ve all assured me that they don`t. Oh, yes, I`ve spoken to Mr. Stepien who is in charge of the campaign and he`s assured me of the same thing. I`ve spoken to everybody on my staff and asked anybody around here and my campaign manager if they knew anything more about this that we didn`t already know and they told me no.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Told me no. I`ve spoke with everybody on my senior staff and my campaign manager Bill Stepien, and nobody knows anything. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie fending off reporters` questions in the middle of what`s become known as the Bridgegate scandal, the scandal for which three of his top staffers or appointees, were hit with felony criminal charges.
Well, today, at the trial for two of those staffers and appointees, a longtime Chris Christie adviser testified that he told Governor Christie before that press conference that, in fact, his stop staff did know about what was happening on that bridge. He says he told Governor Christie that his deputy chief of staff and his campaign manager both knew about it.
And he says he told Christie that right before Christie told the public that they didn`t know anything about it.
His deputy chief of staff also testified herself today. She says before she sent that e-mail that said time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee, before she sent that e-mail she testified she got the okay to do so from Governor Christie himself, personally and directly. She ran it by him.
She also testified that she is personally physically afraid of Governor Christie. She broke down in tears on the stand while she recounted him swearing at her and throwing stuff at her, and that`s next.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
REPORTER: It was a story of what happened after the huge boardwalk fire in Seaside Heights. Kelly at the governor`s side, told to arrange a roundtable with hurting businessmen. As she briefed the governor beforehand, Kelly, quote, "He had a water bottle in his hand and said what do you think I am, an F-word game show host? And he threw the water bottle," she says. "And I moved out of the way. He, meaning the bottle, hit my arm."
The attorney, "a big tough guy, right?" Kelly crying, "Yeah".
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MADDOW: There are no cameras in the courtroom, so we count on excellent reporters to read us out on what happened. Dude, what happened here?
Joining us now is Andrea Bernstein for WNYC News. She was there in the room.
Andrea, thank you for being here.
ANDREA BERNSTEIN, WNYC: Sure.
MADDOW: I know throwing the water bottle thing is essential here. What`s up with throwing the water bottle?
BERNSTEIN: So, throwing the water bottle was meant to show that Christie - - she was afraid of Christie.
MADDOW: This is deputy chief of staff.
BERNSTEIN: It is his deputy chief of staff and the incident was at this event, where she had organized some businesses and commissioners and she was briefing him beforehand. She said, "Governor, I think you should welcome everybody, then let the commissioners talk to the businessmen who have just lost everything again for the second time." And he said, "What do you think I am, an f`ing game show host," according to testimony and threw the bottle. She was just sobbing throughout this.
I mean, she was mostly composed. There were times when she choked up during her testimony. But she was just crying right to the jury when she said this.
MADDOW: She also testified that before she sent what is the most famous piece of evidence in this scandal, "Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee," that e-mail. She said she ran it by Governor Christie.
BERNSTEIN: She did. She said it was a very poor choice of words. That she had been parroting David Wildstein who was the mastermind behind all of this, and he was cooperating, the prosecutors. She said -- he had raised the idea that he wanted to do a study and it was going to cause big traffic jams and could she tell the governor.
She said she was afraid not to, that if there was a problem, it would be blamed on her. She went to the governor that day and said that David Wildstein wanted to do a study in Fort Lee and it was going to cause traffic jams and he said, OK, fine. What`s our relationship with the mayor? And she said she was embarrassed because she actually didn`t know what the relationship at that time was with the mayor of Fort Lee.
MADDOW: So what this means in terms of sort of culpability on who knew what when is that Christie knew ahead of time that there were going to be traffic problems in Fort Lee.
MADDOW: That they were man made traffic problems.
BERNSTEIN: Which is contra to everything he said.
MADDOW: In addition, another Christie staffer or top ally of Governor Christie testified today that before Christie went out and told reporters in December, I`ve checked with all my senior staff on the governor`s side and I checked my campaign manager, nobody knew anything about this. He says that he told Governor Christie right before that, actually senior staff --
BERNSTEIN: Minutes before it.
MADDOW: Minutes before it.
BERNSTEIN: Minutes before the press conference when Governor Christie went out and said that, four minutes before that, he went out and said that there were e-mails that had his staffers name on it, including his campaign manager Bill Stepien, who is now national field director for Donald Trump.
But his testimony was eclipsed by the testimony of Bridget Kelly, who has flipped the narrative. And she said, I was the one without the power here. I was the one who wasn`t told this was a retaliatory scheme.
BERNSTEIN: They put me in the position of sending these e-mails and carrying it out, but I didn`t know what was going on. And it was big guys, according to her testimony, the governor, his chief of staff and his campaign manager who were ordering retaliation, and she described in detail a retaliatory scheme against another mayor, the mayor of Jersey City, in which the governor allegedly said he doesn`t, he`s not entitled to an f-ing meeting. A lot of cursing in the Bridgegate trial.
MADDOW: I`m shocked by.
MADDOW: I`m not shocked by the cursing. I am shocked by the throwing.
BERNSTEIN: If it`s true, not only were the governor`s top aides involved, but they have participated in a big cover-up of what happened.
MADDOW: And he lied about it directly.
BERNSTEIN: Andrea Bernstein, WNYC News senior editor and Bridgegate trial watcher for us this evening -- Andrea, thanks for being here.
MADDOW: Thank you.
Lots ahead tonight. Stay with us.
MADDOW: You know what? It`s Friday. We`re going to end the show with something weird tonight. It`s something we have never done before. I`ve never done it in my life before, let alone on TV before.
It`s taken me a couple of days to get the nerve for it. I have 50 percent confident it`s going to work. But you know what? It`s Friday. We`re going to try. OK? OK.
MADDOW: OK. You`re one of those families that has a big, extended family, and you do a big extended family reunion every year, and it`s always a little nuts. It doesn`t sound like a prison riot or anything, but it may vary either, it`s the managed chaos of a big sprawling family reunion with lots of activities for everyone.
There`s always a big tug-of-war every year, where we always do a treasure hunt for the kids, somebody always organizes a pie-eating contest, which is always a mess. Everybody gets family reunion t-shirts.
But then one year, a cousin who everybody`s aware, but has never been to a family reunion before, that cousin decides to show up for the first time, and that`s nice. It`s a big extended family after all. It`s to have new folks show up who you have not gotten to know before.
But then it gets a little weird with the new cousin. The new cousin, for example, sees what`s going on with the t-shirts and the pie-eating contest and he decides, oh, this is sort of transactional and he decides he`s going to start trying to sell people stuff, like cheesy pyramid scheme stuff like grow-well or whatever.
And everybody thinks, oh, that`s tacky, you know, your family reunion, kind of brush him off. But then he starts swearing at the kids who are doing the treasure hunt, making fun of the kids, calling the kids insulting nicknames, not in a cute way but a mean way.
And then the tug-of-war starts, he doesn`t take a side on the tug-of-war. He waits until everybody starts, and then he comes up and he cuts the rope. He thinks that`s hilarious, ruins it for everybody.
This new cousin, he`s starting to sort of change the whole vibe of the whole thing. But, you know, you`ve been doing this for years and you think one creepy cousin can`t stop this whole event, something always goes a little weird. Sometimes people get drunk, sometimes people have family fights. It`s not like you can`t take a little bad behavior in our rambunctious family reunion every year.
But then, you know, it just keeps taking darker turns, because then the guy makes a pass at somebody`s wife, he gets called out on it, laughs it off and says he was joking. Then he goes up to another woman and grabs her, tries to kiss her. And it`s starting to get to the point where nobody knows what to do with this guy, and he`s yelling, what are you going to do? Call the cops on me?
This is a family reunion. I`m family. You can`t call the cops on me. This whole family has always rejected me and hated me. You`re biased against me, and everybody feels bad for a second, right? Family reunion, you wonder if somehow you`re not giving him a fair shake because you`re not used to this guy.
But then you know what? He pulls out a weapon. In this story, he pulls out a blender for your fruits and vegetables family. And so, yes, you have to call the cops.
And that`s my best explanation for what happened this week in the presidential campaign when Donald Trump said he refused to say if he would accept the results of this year`s presidential election when he said on election night, quote, "I`ll just keep you in suspense."
The democratic process of choosing our leaders in this family, it`s not a family reunion, right? It`s more contentious than that. And sometimes it does feel more like a riot than a tug-of-war.
But we conduct ourselves and our democratic process, with an understanding that we are part of an ongoing chain of events, an ongoing permanent process that preceded us and will continue much like this when we`re gone. We can handle bad behavior. We can handle somebody peeing in the proverbial punch bowl one year.
What we cannot handle is somebody threatening to kill what we have built. We cannot incorporate someone in this process who wants to end this process, who wants to make this event something that might never happen again because who`s going to bring their kids and their families and old folks and their real problem-solving needs into something that is dangerous or somebody`s going to end in jail or in the hospital by the end of it.
When you jeopardize this event from ever happening again, that`s it. We can all stop feeling bad about the fact that you are never, ever getting invited back, extended family or not. That`s the way I understand it.
And that does it for us tonight. We will see you again.
Now, it`s time for "THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL."
Good evening, Lawrence. THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END