Show: THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW Date: October 28, 2016 Guest: Elijah Cummings, Bill Burton
CHRIS HAYES, "ALL IN" HOST: That is "ALL IN" for this evening.
THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts right now.
Good evening, Rachel.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chris. Thanks my friend. Happy weekend.
HAYES: You too.
MADDOW: And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour.
The last speaker of the House who left Congress under pressure from the hard liner wing of his own party, the last speaker of the House, a named John Boehner. Boehner is spelled b-o-e-h-n-e-r. Now, everybody gets to pronounced their own name the way they want to pronounce it. And if John Boehner says his last name is pronounced Boehner, then it is pronounced Boehner.
That word, however, does not look like it would be pronounced Boehner. And before he was super famous in politics, before he was speaker of the House, even his own Republican colleagues sometimes would screw up and say his name the way it looks rather than the way it is supposed to be said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The gentleman from Florida is recognized.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I yield two minutes to the gentleman from Ohio, Mr. Boner.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The gentleman from Ohio is recognized for two minutes, without objection.
REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R), OHIO: Mr. Speaker, today by our votes and our words, we will send a message.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: The gentleman from there Ohio, Mr. Boner. And Boehner gives this long pause at the beginning.
In my mind, he`s standing there saying should I correct this guy, tell him that`s not how you say my name? But he doesn`t correct the guy. He moves on.
I don`t think John Boehner has been particularly oversensitive to people getting his last name right or wrong. And, you know, because of that, because he hasn`t made a big deal of it, over time I think it became a mark of immaturity, became a mark of childishness for anyone to deliberately say his name wrong or to tease him about what his last name looks like.
Once John Boehner was speaker of the House, I think the only person who ever effectively teased him about his last name was the only other member of Congress who actually had standing to tease John Boehner about his last name, and he had that standing because of his own last name.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FORMER REP. ANTHONY WEINER (D), NEW YORK: It is true, it`s difficult having this name. I admit it. It is something that caused me a lot of ridicule and hardship. It is simply in my neighborhood not easy to be named Anthony.
But in fairness, I did hear the last original Weiner joke in like the fifth grade. So, now, I embrace it. I freely embrace it. By the way, I do the Weiner jokes around here, guys. Really, who is Boehner fooling? What am I, like Anthony Weiner? What I am? I`m serious, brother, just embrace it, you know -- I mean.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That clip is proof of two things. Number one, there`s a one in three shot of any archived clip you need to look up for any reason inexplicably having Andrea Mitchell in it. At any time, no matter what the subject is, you`re going to find Andrea Mitchell. There she is, randomly I didn`t expect that, at the congressional correspondents dinner in 2011.
That clip also proves that only a guy named Anthony Weiner can really go there in terms of making fun of a guy whose last name looks like boner but he wants you to pronounce it Boehner.
And looking back on that, that was five years ago. That was the spring of 2011. That is still funny.
But hearing Anthony Weiner tell lots of Weiner jokes, it`s now got kind of a different vibe to it, given what we have learned about him since then.
Once upon a time, Anthony Weiner was basically unavoidable for comment, right? He was this pugnacious, fast-talking partisan. He was a great fighter as a Democratic partisan. He was a great fighter as an advocate for New York.
In Congress, he gave floor speeches that were absolutely designed to be clipped and shared. He made news with his floor speeches at work. He would then come home to New York and make more news with his acerbic, flagrant commentary on TV news. He loved to be on TV news shows.
And on top of all that, he was connected. He was married, of course, to Hillary Clinton`s top aide, Huma Abedin.
Anthony Weiner won seven terms in the House. His visibility was rising on a meteoric arc and then -- boom, it all got super creepy, super fast with what initially seemed like a private matter, a personal matter if a somewhat strange one.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LUKE RUSSERT, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Congressman Anthony Weiner may have just been another political victim of the pitfalls of social media. Washington is buzzing about whether or not he sent a lewd photograph to a young woman knowingly. The normally blunt Weiner was quite shy -- shied away from even the most basic of questions.
This is the picture sent to a 21-year-old female college student in Seattle from Anthony Weiner`s Twitter account. An anonymous man wearing briefs.
The congressman says his account was hacked and he is the victim of a prank.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: May 2011 is when the first report surfaced of Congressman Anthony Weiner basically having the online equivalent of phone sex with women who he met through Twitter and over social media. When those initial reports surfaced, Anthony Weiner in his typical pugnacious style, he denied all of it, including here on this show. He was a guest on this show during this scandal. And he looked me in the eye and he told me that his account had been hacked and none of this was true. He was lying to me.
Within two weeks, June 2011, he had admitted that actually, yeah, that stuff was him. He had apologized for his denials and he resigned his seat in Congress. Ultimately, they held a special election to fill that seat and it went to a Republican.
Then, two years later, in the spring of 2013, Anthony Weiner decided that he had been in the penalty box long enough, by his own estimation. He decided people were ready to have him back, he was sure of it. He jumped back into politics to run to be mayor of New York City. He jumped into that race in April, April 2013.
By July 2013, oh, wait, there`s more. More explicit pictures of him emerged, seeming to indicate that he had not stopped cheating on his wife with random strangers who he met online.
He still did not drop out of the race, though. When New York Democrats held their primary for the mayor`s race in September of that year, September 2013, he got 4-point something percent of the vote and that was it. That was three years ago when he was still running for mayor.
But as of this summer, this thing with him was apparently still going on. In August, more new pictures and new sexually explicit messages were reported and linked to Congressman Weiner and these ones took a darker, creepier, more unsettling turn. One of the images and one of the streams of messages showed the former congressman with his young son next to him in bed while he was communicating apparently with a young woman online.
It was also reported that some of his explicit sexual messaging was with a girl in North Carolina, and I say girl because reportedly she told him that she was 15 years old. At that point, when this round of allegations and stories emerged this summer, Anthony Weiner`s wife, Huma Abedin, Hillary Clinton`s top aide, she announced that she and her husband were separating. It`s also at that point that the New York Police Department and the FBI reportedly started looking into this as a potential criminal matter, not just as a gross, sad, personal matter that ended a political career and a marriage.
But that is the path that brought us to today`s bombshell political news 11 days before the presidential election, because the cops and the FBI looking into Anthony Weiner`s online sexual behavior to see if he behaved criminally apparently that resulted in the FBI coming into possession, we`re not sure exactly how, coming into possession of what is described by one source as a laptop computer that was used by both Anthony Weiner and his wife, Huma Abedin. And that, according to NBC News sources is what led to this letter today from FBI Director James Comey. The letter is addressed to eight Republican committee chairmen in the House and Senate. It says the FBI discovered new information that may be pertinent to its previous investigation of Hillary Clinton`s use of a private e-mail server when she was secretary of state.
It says the FBI is reviewing these e-mails that they have come across in this totally unrelated investigation. They are reviewing them to, quote, "determine whether they contain classified information as well as to assess their importance to our investigation." So, basically, this letter says, "I`m just writing to let you know that we`re doing that." Quote, "The FBI cannot yet assess whether or not this material may be significant."
So the material in terms of Hillary Clinton and this previous investigation and everything may be totally insignificant as far as that investigation is concerned. This stuff may mean nothing. This may be totally valueless. It may not even be connected.
But the FBI is looking at it and so they have written this letter to the chairs of eight congressional committees to let them know they`re looking at something that really might be nothing. We don`t know.
But sending a letter like this 11 days before a presidential election, a letter with no actual information in it, with no actual allegation in it, with not even a description of what might be potentially wrong here, giving people no information on which to judge for themselves the significance of this information or whether it even reflects poorly on Hillary Clinton by proxy, giving people absolutely nothing, that is something the FBI had to know would land like a lightning bolt in a swimming hole.
And, of course, it has. And so now, everybody has got their hair on fire and this is a huge hullabaloo for Hillary Clinton`s campaign as once again her political life has been turned upside down because of the sexual misconduct of someone who is not her.
And, naturally, we`re back to the Boehner jokes. This is the cover of "The New York post" tomorrow. Are you ready to cover your child`s eyes? Here it is, "New York Post" tomorrow. The word in the upper left corner there in red. Yes, that word is Dickileaks.
I should say the rest of that part -- first of all, this isn`t WikiLeaks. And second of all, the rest of that part of the headline actually isn`t true. The FBI didn`t reopen the e-mail case. The case was never technically closed. They just say they`re looking at this other material in conjunction with that case and maybe it`s nothing.
But because of the origin of this material, the reported origin of this material which the FBI isn`t even confirming, you also get the obligatory shirtless picture of Anthony Weiner and the headline "Stroking Gun." We`re going to have Hillary Clinton`s response coming up for you in a couple of minutes. We also have the response from her running mate, Tim Kaine. They both responded tonight on camera.
We`ve also got legal analysis ahead from NBC`s justice correspondent Pete Williams and from Ari Melber. I should tell you Pete Williams has been Johnny on the spot on this story from the very beginning, from the very first moments when it broke. So, looking toward to hearing the latest developments from him tonight.
But in political terms, Democrats and supporters of Hillary Clinton are reacting to today`s news mostly with anger. Specifically with anger and bewilderment at the FBI for how they handled this today and for this decision to send this remarkable, inflammatory, content-free letter.
Joining us now is Democratic Congressman Elijah Cummings of Maryland. He`s the ranking member on the Committee of Oversight and Government Reform, so he was one of the Democrats to whom this letter from the FBI director was copied.
Congressman Cummings, I know it was hard for you to get to us tonight. I really appreciate you making the time, sir.
REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS (D), MARYLAND: My pleasure.
MADDOW: So, you have put out a statement tonight along with the ranking member on the judiciary committee, Congressman Conyers, calling for the FBI to release more information. Why are you calling for that?
CUMMINGS: Well, Rachel, because Director Comey when he put out this statement, I`m sure he knew that the Republicans would do what they always do. They took this statement and you`ve adequately described it. It does not say what the e-mails are, doesn`t tell me -- doesn`t cover the length of time that they`re talking about. We don`t know whether these were e- mails from Hillary Clinton or Ms. Abedin, we don`t know.
And so, he should have known they would do what they always do. They would spin it to make it look as if it was more than what it was. There is no reopening of a case. It`s -- the case has never been closed.
And again -- but what we`ve seen, Rachel, is that after Director Comey made his decision three months ago or so and said that no reasonable prosecutor would recommend charges in this case, the Republicans who before that time had applauded him as one of the most wonderful, most filled with integrity type people that they know, suddenly when they didn`t get the decision they wanted, they then began to beat up on him. As I have said, they put him on trial. That is director Comey and the FBI.
And so, they beat up on him and they had basically subpoenaed almost every single document, every single syllable that might have been brought up in this investigation. And that`s -- by the way, that`s very unusual.
So, I think what happened to Director Comey is that he knew that whatever he did, there was going to be a microscope placed on whatever came up. So he said, well, let me make sure that I make them aware of what is going on. It may not be anything here. And yet he had to notify them.
As soon as they got the notice, they ran to the press and said, oh, the case is being reopened and after they had then vilified the commissioner, then they came back -- the director, then they came back and said -- Trump and others are saying, oh, he`s okay with us now.
But that`s not how justice works. Justice is a process. And you -- just because you don`t get the result you want does not mean it`s a bad thing. The fact is, is it`s a process. You want it to be filled with integrity and fairness.
I think basically what we have here is unfair to Hillary Clinton. And I`m asking the director right now that he should not let this weekend go by without providing clarification as to what this letter means, because I think that would be fair to Mrs. Clinton and fair to the American people.
MADDOW: Congressman, clearly you fault the Republicans for the way they have responded to this letter today.
Do you fault the FBI? Do you fault Director Comey for the vagueness of this announcement? You obviously want him to add more to what he has said, to put out more information. Do you fault him for releasing this letter without any information?
CUMMINGS: Rachel, I understand -- I think that commissioner -- basically what the commissioner did from the very beginning when he came out with this statement explaining why he was not recommending charges, at that point, I knew it was all downhill.
And so, I`m not upset with him because after he did that, I even told him when he came before our committee several months ago, I said what is going to happen now, the Republicans are going to never be satisfy. They`re going to investigate you and they`re going to investigate the FBI. And they -- and that`s exactly what they`re doing.
So basically what I saw today was the director basically knowing that if he did not give them a heads up, they would say, oh, the day after the election, they`d say -- oh, it was rigged or the process was rigged or that it was unfair or that he did something wrong and the next thing you know, they might be trying to impeach him like they`re trying to impeach the IRS commissioner.
So, I can kind of understand what happened, but once he opened that door, I think basically what he`s doing is trying to make sure that when they put a microscope on this process, that he can say that I gave you a heads up and it was not rigged.
MADDOW: Congressman Elijah Cummings --
CUMMINGS: But still --
CUMMINGS: But still, I`m hoping that he will provide this information before the weekend is out.
MADDOW: Congressman Elijah Cummings of Maryland, sorry for the interruption there. Thank you for making time for us tonight.
CUMMINGS: My pleasure.
MADDOW: I appreciate it.
CUMMINGS: Thank you.
MADDOW: So, Congressman Cummings is, as I said, the ranking member on the House Oversight Committee. He`s the top Democrat on that committee. This is a very pointed thing that he is calling for.
He and the top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, John Conyers, are calling for the FBI director to make a statement before the weekend is out, adding to this letter, saying what it is that they mean. What is the content of this stuff rather than let everybody decide whatever is in these e-mails that they`d like to decide based on the absolute lack of information that`s been provided by the FBI in this letter. Don`t let the weekend pass, he said.
All right. Still ahead tonight, there is more on this. We`ve also got some big dollar news from the campaign and some non-campaign news ahead tonight.
Stay with us.
MADDOW: Here was Hillary Clinton`s response today to this remarkable letter from the FBI announcing that it might be nothing, this might be nothing at all, we don`t know if they have got anything significant whatsoever but we`re reviewing more e-mails just in case they`re important but they might not be. But we want to tell everybody exactly that amount of information 11 days before the election.
Here was Hillary Clinton`s response to that today.
HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Good afternoon. I`d like to say a few words and then take your questions.
I have now seen Director Comey`s letter to Congress. We are 11 days out from perhaps the most important national election of our lifetimes. Voting is already under way in our country.
So, the American people deserve to get the full and complete facts immediately. The director himself has said he doesn`t know whether the e- mails referenced in his letter are significant or not. I`m confident whatever they are will not change the conclusion reached in July.
Therefore, it is imperative that the bureau explain this issue in question whatever it is without any delay. So, I look forward to moving forward to focus on the important challenges facing the American people, winning on November 8th and working with all Americans to build a better future for our country.
REPORTER: Secretary Clinton, have you or any of your advisors heard from Comey or anyone else at the FBI today? And are you concerned at all that these new e-mails that they say will found will in any way reveal classified information that you sent or received?
CLINTON: No. We have not been contacted by anyone. First we knew about it is I assume when you knew about it. When this letter sent to Republican members of the House was released.
So, we don`t know the facts, which is why we are calling on the FBI to release all of the information that it has. Even Director Comey noted that this new information may not be significant. So let`s get it out.
REPORTER: You have 11 days to go. What would you say to a voter who right now will be seeing you and hearing what you are saying? Saying, I didn`t trust her before, I don`t trust her any more right now and they are heading to the ballot box tomorrow?
CLINTON: You know, I think people a long time ago made up their minds about the e-mails. I think that is factored into what people think. And now they are choosing a president.
So I would urge everybody to get out and vote early in all the states that have early voting. Because I think Americans want a president who can lead our country, who can get the economy working for everyone, not just those at the top and you can bring our country together.
I offer that. I can do that. And I`m very confident that the American people know that and we`re going to continue to discuss what`s at stake in this election because I believe that it`s one of the most consequential elections ever.
REPORTER: Thanks very much. Secretary Clinton, there are some reports that these e-mails were found on devices that belong to your aide Huma Abedin and her husband Anthony Weiner. Have you spoken to Huma? Was she able to give you any information about that?
CLINTON: You know, we`ve heard these rumors. We don`t know what to believe. And I`m sure there will be even more rumors.
That`s why it is incumbent upon the FBI to tell us what they are taking about, Jeff, because right now, your guess is as good as mine. And I don`t think that`s good enough.
So we`ve made it very clear that, if they are going to be sending this kind of letter that is only going originally to Republican members of the House, that they need to share whatever facts they claim to have with the American people. And that`s what I expect to happen.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. Thanks very much, everybody.
CLINTON: Thank you all.
MADDOW: Hillary Clinton speaking today saying that the FBI needs to share whatever facts they claim to have with the American people. That was her response today to this remarkable letter from the FBI announcing that they are reviewing more e-mails that they have come across just in case they`re important, but they might not be.
Joining us now is NBC News justice correspondent Pete Williams.
Very busy day for you, Pete, I know. Thanks for joining us tonight.
PETE WILLIAMS, NBC NEWS JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: You bet.
MADDOW: Is there any more reporting, any fuller understanding than we have at this point as to how the FBI uncovered these e-mails and what the character is of this new information they have got?
WILLIAMS: I think it`s pretty straightforward. They were investigating Anthony Weiner on allegations that he was sending illicit text messages and photographs to an underage girl. And so, they seized his laptop computer.
After examining the computer, they discovered that Huma Abedin had also used the same laptop computer to e-mail Hillary Clinton at the Clinton private server e-mail address. So, that opened up the possibility that there might be a universe of e-mails that they had not looked at. So, that is where the -- that`s where it stands right now.
They found these e-mails. They believe that their mission in investigating the Clinton e-mail case was to look at all the e-mails that went through her private server. They thought they had done that. Now they have these new e-mails that they`re going to look at and see whether any of them are ones that they haven`t seen before.
It`s very possible that many of these if not all of them are duplicates with the ones they have already seen from examining the e-mails that Hillary Clinton turned over to the State Department, others that the FBI found. Some may be new, some may not be, but that`s going to take time to work all that through.
So, the reason, as I understand it, that Comey says in the letter that these e-mails are pertinent to the investigation is not because the FBI knows what`s in them but because if their mission was to look at all the e- mails that went through the server, they have got to look at these now too.
MADDOW: It`s rare for the FBI in the normal course of events to make public statements about investigations that are midstream, about investigations while they are ongoing. At this point, is there any sense that within the FBI, any reporting that can tell us if there were sensitivities within the FBI about putting out a statement this vague, this tentative, saying this information may not necessarily even be significant, but obviously the statement, the letter from the FBI would have a political impact this close to the election?
WILLIAMS: They`re fully aware of that. I guess two things I would point out. I think the reason they don`t say this is the Anthony Weiner investigation is what you just said, they don`t make statements about investigations that are in progress. And they didn`t all the time during the Clinton investigation until it was in essence over.
What the FBI says is that Comey, having told Congress we`ve looked at the e-mail servers, we`re pretty well done with that, he felt he had to tell them, well actually, hold the phone, we are now looking at more e-mails that may or may not be relevant.
But they were fully aware and they just felt that there was no good answer here, that it was the choice of the lesser of two evils. They either say it now and take the firestorm that they have got or wait until after the election when they know people would criticize them then too saying, well, wait a minute, you knew about this before the election and you didn`t tell us. So they knew they were going to take heat no matter what and they decided this was the right course to be transparent or at least as transparent as they are.
MADDOW: Obviously, we`ve just heard Congressman Elijah Cummings and others demanding that the FBI offer more information about, this it`s too vague and lending to too much supposition.
Do we have any sense of how long this review of the FBI will take? Will they actually release any more information? Will they complete anything before Election Day?
WILLIAMS: Well, I can`t imagine they`re going to complete this before Election Day. There are thousands of e-mails here. Think of the process the FBI went through in looking at this the first time around.
You got an e-mail. It might have classified information in it, so you have to refer it to the agency that originated that information and say, is this classified now? Was it then based on the -- and that takes a long time. That`s one of the reasons why the Clinton e-mail investigation took so long.
So, we`re told that there are thousands of e-mails on this computer. To do all of that, there`s no way that`s going to be done before the election. So --
WILLIAMS: And they`re just getting started with this now. I`m told earlier today, earlier this evening that they don`t have any idea what`s on these e-mails yet, they`re just getting to them. So, will they say more about what we`ve been talking about, why they are here, what we know and don`t know, I don`t know. We`ll have to wait and see if the FBI director changes his mind after all that`s being said.
But my impression is the sort of things being said now are not surprising to the FBI, they assume this is the sort of reaction they were going to get.
MADDOW: NBC News justice correspondent Pete Williams -- Pete, I really appreciate your time tonight, thank you.
WILLIAMS: OK, you bet.
MADDOW: It`s remarkable. Yeah, what Pete is saying about it not being done, they won`t have anything further to report until after the election, that just means that this huge political brick has been thrown into the pool and that`s it.
Everybody go vote now, we`re not going to say what any of it means. Think what you want. Remarkable.
All right, much more to come tonight, stay with us.
MADDOW: So, we`ve got Ari Melber on deck. We`ve also got Tim Kaine tonight reacting to this letter from the FBI that has driven everybody around the bend in politics. That`s all still coming.
But if the FBI director had not decided to make himself the mysterious news of the day today, that honor would have probably otherwise have gone to Meg Whitman. I mean, Donald Trump, sorry.
Meg Whitman is one of the high-profile Republicans who this year supports Hillary Clinton for president. But in 2010, Meg Whitman was the Republican candidate for governor in the great state of California. 2010 was a huge Republican year but things just got away from her in that race. Starting in mid-September, the polls just turned against Meg Whitman and they never came back.
But deep into October in that race, she tried one big last move. She wrote her campaign a check for $20 million in October before the election. Now, Meg Whitman is a zillionaire, she was mostly self-funding her campaign anyway, but that late infusion of $20 million of her own cash, that was her showing confidence, right, full commitment right at the finish line. Darn the polls, I`m all in, I believe I can win this thing and I`ll put my money where my mouth is.
It`s kind of a great move politically if you`ve got the cash to spend, right? Still lost. Meg Whitman still lost by double digits, by 13 points, even with that last $20 million of her own money that she threw on fire -- set on fire and then threw down the well.
Well, today, Donald Trump pulled a Meg Whitman sort of. He has said repeatedly over the course of the campaign that he will spend $100 million of his own money trying to get himself elected president. Today, he announced that he wired $10 million, $10 million of his own money into his campaign.
And, you know, we know what kind of move that is, right? It shows incredible confidence. It makes it look like he`s putting his money where his mouth is.
Except even with this $10 million splash that Donald Trump made today and all the headlines he got for it, he`s still $34 million short of the $100 million he was prepared to pony up for his campaign.
So, today`s $10 million personal transfer from Trump, it`s a nice distraction from the amount of money that he hasn`t spent on his campaign. It`s also half the size of Meg Whitman`s similar stunt in 2010.
And thanks to the FBI letter today, the stunt by Trump today landed with sort of half of the splash of what Whitman did back in 2010. But still, this is a patented trick -- the patented last-minute cash infusion from the wealthy candidate confidence trick.
It has now been played by Donald Trump. We`ll see if it works.
MADDOW: Friday night programming note. We have had an avalanche of political news all day today. First with the inexplicable random totally inflammatory FBI letter about the Clinton campaign, and then the Republican attempts to make very gleeful hey out of it. The story is clearly still cooking.
I want to tell you that tonight, in addition to live coverage from Lawrence O`Donnell right after the show on "THE LAST WORD", after that my colleague, Brian Williams, is going to be here live, which is unusual on a Friday night. But he`s going to be here to bring you the latest developments at 11:00 Eastern here on MSNBC.
And we have coming up some crazy and important numbers from one American state.
Stay with us.
MADDOW: Election Day is always on a Tuesday. In 1992 on the Friday before the election, so four days out from voting day, there was a big bombshell in that election, a legal bombshell.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
TOM BROKAW, NBC NEWS ANCHOR: Tonight, new material that directly contradicts President Bush`s claim that he was out of the loop in the Iran Contra affair. A handwritten note from former Defense Secretary Casper Weinberger.
REPORTER: In the final days of the campaign the last thing George Bush needs is a reminder of the arms for hostages deal with Iran.
REPORTER: While Bush was trying to convince voters they can`t believe Bill Clinton, his own credibility was in question. Bush has always said he was out of the loop of information when President Reagan approved the arms for hostages swap. But a federal indictment of former Defense Secretary Casper Weinberger places Bush at a key meeting. The Bush camp hopes the Weinberger note will not slow down the president`s advance in some polls.
BROKAW: Now to NBC`s Andrea Mitchell who`s with Bill Clinton in Pittsburgh where the Iran Contra affair became the campaign theme of the afternoon -- Andrea.
ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Tom, the Iran Contra developments were a gift to Bill Clinton who had been struggling to counteract Bush`s attack on his credibility.
Campaigning in Pittsburgh, Clinton quickly interrupted his schedule to pounce on the revelations in the Weinberger indictment.
BILL CLINTON, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: Today`s disclosure that President Bush knew and approved of the arms for hostages deal with Iran not only directly contradicts the president`s claims, it diminishes the credibility of the presidency.
MITCHELL: In Maine, Al Gore also attacked.
AL GORE, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT: I think it`s a real bombshell. The memorandum is a real smoking gun. I think it devastates his claim to the trust of the American people.
MITCHELL: The news comes at a good time for Clinton. His lead was narrowing.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
MADDOW: I told you Andrea Mitchell is in every single clip, right? She`s like a person who has been a great witness to history, Andrea Mitchell is history. Just follow Andrea Mitchell`s life and you`ll know everything important that`s happened in America over that time span.
Just four days before the 1992 election, we think of the Iran Contra scandal as a 1980s thing. But four days before the election in `92, the special prosecutor brought a new criminal charge against the former defense secretary, and it made that one paragraph note public, which tied president bush to Iran Contra in a way he hadn`t been tied to it before and threw the George H.W. Bush campaign into flux.
Bill Clinton, of course, went on to win that election in 1992. And then right after the election, that Casper Weinberger indictment that had come down four days before the election, it got thrown out a month later. Before President Bush left office, it got thrown out on December 12th, 1992.
As for whether that story and that indictment, that new indictment right before the election, as to whether that actually hurt President George H.W. Bush and his chances of re-elected, we cannot know that for sure, but he thought it did.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE H.W. BUSH, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: I actually thought I was going to win in spite of the polls a few days before the election. I must say when that Mr. Walsh came out with some indictments of --
INTERVIEWER: Of Weinberger on the Friday before.
BUSH: Of Weinberger Friday before the election, brought by his aide who was a big donor to the Democratic Party and a big Democratic operative on the West Coast, brings the indictment against Weinberger and, heck, I`d talk about we`re changing, the polls are closing, CNN has us only four points back or eight points back. And all these reporters want to talk about is the new indictment and whether that made me look like I hadn`t told the truth, which I had told all along.
But, you know, you talk about a politically timed indictment. And I didn`t say it then. Don`t blame somebody else, just get on about your business, but that was a cruel blow.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: A cruel blow. That Cap Weinberger indictment was the late October surprise in the 1992 election.
Legally in the end turned out to be nothing. It was gone before Christmas. But not before its political impact was felt on Election Day. At least that`s how the guy who lost that election saw it.
How will FBI Director James Comey`s announcement today play out in this campaign? How will it impact Secretary Clinton and her chances just 11 days out from this election?
There is actually sort of a way to know that, and that`s next.
MADDOW: Politico.com tonight is quoting former federal prosecutor saying that what the FBI did in this letter today is out of line. One former prosecutor telling "Politico", quote, "I`ve got a lot of respect for Jim Comey but do not understand the idea of dropping this bombshell which could be a big dud. It just invites speculation. I question the timing of it."
Another former federal prosecutor saying, quote, `this is particularly egregious since Secretary Clinton has no way to respond to what amounts to nebulous and speculative innuendo."
Nebulous and speculative innuendo. When I hear those words, I want to speak with Ari Melber, MSNBC chief legal correspondent.
Ari, I know this has been a long day for you. Thanks for being here, I appreciate it.
ARI MELBER, MSNBC CHIEF LEGAL CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, Rachel.
MADDOW: So, you said actually on Twitter just a few minutes ago that this may be proper as a legal matter but distorting as a political matter. What do you mean by that?
MELBER: What I mean is that Jim Comey testified under oath they weren`t looking at any more e-mails. So, if they are looking at more e-mails for any reason he feels he needs to update that testimony, so it is fully accurate. When the facts change, you change your testimony to Congress and he says as much in the letter.
But the way he wrote the letter and what is happening in response, which you and others have been reporting on and documenting suggests that this is confusing, cryptic, distortive even if people given a cryptic set of messages think this is bigger than it is. Jim Comey may have been trying to do the right thing legally, but has done it so poorly and so vaguely that practically it is a mess and distortive and something he may ultimately feel he needs to clean up in the next 11 days which in itself would invite more scrutiny.
So, I`ve never seen anything quite like this. That`s why it is so concerning, and to give you one specific example, the letter could have said, we are looking at e-mails that we believe we already reviewed or that don`t involve new actions by Secretary Clinton but we are looking at them, a sentence or two to give people context. That letter doesn`t give any context.
MADDOW: When Elijah Cummings earlier this hour said he wants the FBI before the weekend is out to give additional information, is that sort of clarifying statement the sort the FBI would be saying? To be clear, we have not reviewing anything that indicates any new malfeasance or blah, blah, blah, could they issue that kind of statement, recognizing the political impact of what they`ve done?
MELBER: Well, I know we live in a world of hyperbole, but I would say as a lawyer and journalist, we don`t know because this is so unprecedented. Jim Comey`s original presentation was a departure from procedure. He explained why he though he had to do it.
Then having given what had now amounted a half a briefing, he felt he had to complete it. So, is he going to give another half briefing after that because of the blow back to the blow back? It`s possible. All of it would be unusual.
Whether it is unusual bad let alone unusual criminal or just unusual because of all the pressure and scrutiny he`s under both from within his agency and as well as the political climate, we just don`t know. I think based on what we know, it`s unlikely that there`s information that would change the legal conclusions. That`s why people are so upset, but we don`t know.
MADDOW: Ari Melber, MSNBC chief legal correspondent, thank you.
MADDOW: We appreciate it.
All right. We`ll be right back. Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. TIM KAINE (D), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: When you do this 11 days before a presidential election, and you don`t provide many details, but details are apparently being given by the FBI to the press, this is very, very troubling, and we hope that the director and really think that he should give a clear accounting of what`s going on right now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine speaking today, saying the FBI ought to give a clearer accounting as to what`s going on right now.
Joining us now is Bill Burton, former deputy press secretary in the Obama White House. He served in a similar capacity during the `08 campaign.
Bill, it`s nice to see you. It`s been a long time.
BILL BURTON, FORMER OBAMA DEPUTY PRESS SECRETARY: It`s been a long time. Good to see you, Rachel.
MADDOW: I know you are not impartial when it comes to Democratic politics and to who you want to win the election, but tell me how you think the Clinton campaign and their press operation in particular is doing with this tonight?
BURTON: I think they`re doing a very good job. I think they`ve stayed on message, kept the pressure on Comey to release more information, and they`ve pointed at what a stupid thing this was for Comey to do right before the election.
I mean, if Jim Comey wants to get involved in this election, here`s a memo, Russia is on a crime spree, stealing e-mails from the Democrats and releasing them. Focus on that if you want to focus on emails. But don`t just jump into the election and throw everything into chaos just because you can.
MADDOW: That said, Jim Comey is not on the ballot. He`s not a house hold name. Picking a fight with the FBI is a hard fight to win, even if you`re really good at spinning the press o it.
I mean, is that really all she should do here? I think what the FBI did here, personally seems absolutely ridiculous to me, but in terms of how you handle this, I don`t know how you win a fight in the press against the FBI.
BURTON: Well, here`s the other thing Hillary Clinton did in her statement. She turned it towards, the American people have a right to have a conversation about the issues that really matter in their lives, and Donald Trump has robbed the American people of that experience. And we have debates where you didn`t talk about climate change, jobs, barely, didn`t talk about immigration or education.
And in these final days, we`re talking about something that has been litigated and decided by the American people. So I think when Hillary Clinton turns her positive vision for the country, which she did in that statement today, I think that`s leading us down a track to her closing argument and the American people picking who they want to be commander in chief.
MADDOW: Bill, one of the things that the Clinton campaign has played with a very wide margin. They`ve swung far in both directions on this front, is the question of how much they make their candidate available to the press? We had Hillary Clinton not taking very many questions, not doing a lot of press conferences early on in the campaign, and they took a lot of heat for that, then she was doing press availabilities, every day, sometimes more than once a day.
She did do this press conference this afternoon. She answered just a couple of questions from the press, and the whole thing was over in about five minutes. Should she get out there and take a lot more questions about this? Should she do an exhaustive press conference where she answers questions until nobody else as anymore? Should she engage on this?
BURTON: Well, the unfortunate reality for Hillary Clinton is there does not become a moment where people don`t have any more questions for her.
BURTON: She`s targeted by Republicans in a way where they constantly hit her with questions. I`m glad she did this availability today. There`s not that much you can say about such a vague, unspecific letter that Comey sent up to Capitol Hill. I think she needed to address it, she knew the news would be focused on it, but now she needs to turn the page and focus on what is important to the American people as they are picking their commander in chief right now.
MADDOW: We saw Chairman Podesta today released -- chairman of the Clinton campaign -- released a statement going after the FBI really hard, "It is extraordinary we would see something like this 11 days out. The director of the FBI owes it to the American people to provide the full details of what he is now examining."
You heard that echoed by Congressman Elijah Cummings. We`ve heard it from John Conyers, these demands that the FBI should say more. What happens politically if they do? If they did say more, I imagine they`d still be leaving us with something that Republicans would make a lot of hay out of.
BURTON: Yes, I mean, who knows what it`s even possible for them to say at this point. But Podesta`s comment that the FBI should do more and they shouldn`t have engaged in this way is important. You know, look, Comey was originally appointed by George W. Bush. He`s a partisan Republican, he showed that when he made his comments about not indicting Hillary Clinton the first time around.
I think this time he did something that was particularly sloppy and reckless. And it`s fully within the rights of the Clinton campaign to call him out on it, because ought to know that this is beyond the norms that -- of what the FBI would do in a normal situation.
MADDOW: Bill Burnett, former deputy press secretary in the Obama White House. Bill, it`s nice to see you, thanks for your time tonight.
BURTON: You too, Rachel.
MADDOW: All right. I want to show you something different, something totally unrelated to this maddening, ridiculous FBI letter today. I want to show you something real out of swing state North Carolina.
You may remember policy fights over North Carolina dramatically cut the number of polling places. And with fewer polling locations we have seen really, really long lines, but people have been determined to wait. We`ve also seen, that sort of proves when you cut down the places where people can vote, that really does have an effect. You step on the neck, in terms of people having an opportunity to vote, and it does reduce the number of people who vote.
Consider for instance, Gilford County, North Carolina. For the first week, they had a single location serving over 500,000 people. Turnout in Gilford County for that week was down 85 percent from 2012. But yesterday, Gilford add 24 more polling sites, and watch what happened. Guilford County set a one-day record for a number of people voting.
People want to vote. And that`s just true in Gilford County. It`s also true statewide. For the first seven days, early voting in North Carolina, with these very few locations open, early voting was way below 2012 numbers. Yesterday, the state finally expanded the number of polling places, and look.
Turnout yesterday in North Carolina was up. It was up big, so much so that North Carolina is now ahead of where it was four years ago. That happened in one day, once they finally opened polling places. North Carolina`s expecting even bigger numbers this weekend when more people are off work. It`s amazing.
It turns out, when you don`t actively try to make it hard and inconvenient for people to vote, they vote. I have a feeling the people who made it hard and inconvenient for people to vote up until now, I have a feeling they knew that.
That does it for us. We will see you again Monday.
Now, it`s time for "THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL".
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END