Show: THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW Date: October 31, 2016 Guest: Matthew Miller, Jane Mayer
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: Chris, is it true that your daughter is going as an elephant for Halloween?
HAYES: Ryan is an elephant, David is a tiger. I had to tear myself away from the profoundly adorable scene at my house where we had like a thousand pieces of candy to come here. So I`m going to go back and luxuriate over photos of the whole scene.
MADDOW: Well, you know, they`ll be exhausted and down from the sugar high and will need some comforting from dad. So --
HAYES: Hopefully they`ll be.
MADDOW: They will be for wakeful time. Well done, my friend. Happy Halloween.
HAYES: Thank you.
MADDOW: And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour. Happy Monday. Happy Halloween, indeed. Boo.
I`m wearing my same costume. It`s because I have nailed it. Honestly. Come on. Middle-aged, frumpy, underdressed white lesbian. Come on.
I should patent that thing and then they will come up with a sexy version of it. And they`ll be like old, anyway.
OK. One of the spookiest things that I know of in American political history is that the man who was inarguably the greatest American president ever, he was followed in office immediately by a man who inarguably was one of the worst American presidents of all-time. I have always found this very spooky. Abe Lincoln, the greatest, was president number 16, right? President number 17 was this clown, Andrew Johnson, inarguably just a terrible president.
And there were a lot of terrible things about Andrew Johnson but the most important and notably terrible thing for the time in which he served is that Andrew Johnson was really, flagrantly, unapologetically racist. And that was particularly bad for a president at anytime, but it was particularly, particularly bad for him at his time, because he became president upon the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. Right as the north was winning the civil war, right?
And as the war -- the civil war was ending, this guy, Johnson, became president. And Johnson did everything he could to undercut the North victory in the war and to try to undercut the abolition of slavery for which the war had been fought. I mean, luckily for the country, a lot of the worst stuff that Andrew Johnson wanted to do, Congress stepped in and stopped him and Congress was able to pass a bunch of important legislation over Andrew Johnson`s veto. Johnson basically had no support.
But it made Johnson furious, the whole process. Over and over again, Congress would pass these bills to try to recognize and protect, freed former slaves in the South and Johnson would get that legislation and he would veto it and then Congress would override his veto and enact the legislation anyway. It happened over and over and over again and made him absolutely nuts.
And in 1866, he was so mad that he had this genius idea that he would travel around the country and he`d lead campaigns of opposition against everybody in Congress who opposed him. So he would go campaign against all of these members of Congress who he hated. Travel around the country, go to their districts, try to convince people to vote them out.
This turned out to not be a great idea because Andrew Johnson in person came off as such a jerk. He came off as such a frequently drunk jerk while he was out there railing against these people who he hated in Washington, that he basically helped all of his opponents hold onto their seats. In the end, Andrew Johnson himself very narrowly avoided getting thrown out of office himself after he was impeached in the House.
It`s such a spooky thing about U.S. history, that we had this towering, heroic figure in Abraham Lincoln, the man who saved the country and his death gave us immediately thereafter maybe the worst president. We can take little comfort in the fact, though, that people knew at the time that Andrew Johnson was terrible. When it came time in 1868 to hold the first presidential election after the civil war, the first presidential election after the assassination of Lincoln, even though Andrew Johnson was technically the incumbent president at that time, his party, the Democratic Party, didn`t even really consider nominating him to stand for election that year. They didn`t even consider it seriously.
The Democratic Party was a terrible mess at the time. They had this terrible president in Andrew Johnson. They were completely divided along geographic lines, along the issues of slavery and recovering from the war. At the Democratic national convention that year, the party took more than 20 ballots before they finally picked as their presidential nominee and obscure former governor.
And that poor sap, that poor guy, Horatio Seymour, they put him up against the man who had been the commanding general of the Union Army. They put him up against the guy who won the war, who happened to be from Lincoln`s party. This was at a time when Texas and Virginia and Mississippi, they weren`t even back in the Union yet. So, they didn`t even get to participate in the Electoral College for picking the president.
This was the first post civil war presidential election, and Ulysses S. Grant from Abraham Lincoln`s Republican Party, he won that election running away. And it was then left to him after the few terrible years that were wasted under the previous terrible president, it was then left to Grant to try to get the post-civil war riotist raging South under control.
And part of the way Grant tried to do that was a new set of laws called the Enforcement Acts. I mean, by that point, we had the Emancipation Proclamation, freeing the slaves, right? We had the Civil War, we had the 14th and 15th Amendments that were supposed to free the slaves, give everybody the right to vote, make men at least all equal in the South. Despite those rights existing on paper, though, they absolutely didn`t exist in real life and in a lot of places in the country, particularly in the former Confederate States, it was a reign of terror.
I don`t mean that hyperbolically. I don`t mean that as a metaphor. I mean, literally thousands of Americans were killed in political and racist violence after the end of the civil war in the lead-up to that 1868 election. And in the end, it wasn`t close. Grant won it.
In 1870 to 1871, he signed these Enforcement Acts. Those Enforcements Acts were designed to make the promise of freedom and equality, in the South, in particular, into a reality. And one of the Enforcement Acts had the memorable name of the Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871.
The basic idea of the Ku Klux Klan Act was that if the Southern states wouldn`t corral the KKK, they wouldn`t corral the KKK`s invisible empire of terroristic, racist violence, if the Southern States wouldn`t police that, well, then the federal government would. The Klan Act for a time, it essentially banned the Ku Klux Klan as a terrorist organization, it federalized their crimes. Parts of it were struck down under the First Amendment ultimately because, frankly, freedom of assembly gives you freedom to assemble for all sorts of terrible reasons.
But parts of the clue Ku Klux Klan Act still survives today. And the original law does date all the way back to those terrible years after the civil war and after the assassination of Abraham Lincoln and how badly things went in those years. But the Klan Act still survives and Klan Act even today specifically makes it illegal to conspire to intimidate voters.
I mean, trying to keep somebody from voting, trying to scare somebody into not voting, that`s illegal anyway. But what the Klan Act does it bans any private conspiracy to intimidate voters. That conspiracy itself, cooking up a plan to intimidate voters. That itself is a crime. Once you cook up that plan, you work with others to concoct a scheme like that and then you start to put it, try to put it into action, that conspiracy is a crime.
Still today, thanks to the Klan and what they did in the years after the civil war, that`s a crime today and that law, the Klan Act of 1871 was cited today as a basis for a whole new raft of lawsuits filed by the Democratic Party against the Donald J. Trump for president campaign, as well as a Trump-supporting organization and the Republican Parties in the states of Nevada, Arizona, Pennsylvania and Ohio. The lawsuits are about the loosely organized poll-watching efforts that have been promoted by Trump and his campaign and in some cases by the Republican Party.
Volunteer to be a Trump election observer.
One of the groups named in these lawsuits today is one that we reported last week, was running the website where you could upload and name in a photo and print yourself out a fake but official-looking badge that you could wear to the polls to do Donald Trump poll watching. The contention of these lawsuits filed in four states today is that that kind of organizing isn`t just about monitoring the polls for some anodyne purpose. The contention of these lawsuits today is that that poll monitoring effort is a conspiracy to intimidate voters. And a conspiracy to intimidate voters is illegal under the Klan Act.
Because of its history and because it`s still called the Klan Act, the law sounds almost vestigial, right? It sounds like it`s based on something that really only is ancient American history. But if you want to know how wild this election is getting in these closing days, I tonight can prove to you that something called the Klan Act is not just vestigial, it`s not just about ancient history because tonight we just got ahold of this disgusting development.
This is the newspaper of the Ku Klux Klan today. It`s "The Crusader," the political voice of white Christian America, the premier voice of white resistance. They`ve got -- you see the white power symbol in the right- hand corner.
They got the whole media operation going on apparently. Watch white pride TV. Listen to KKK radio 24 hours a day.
This newsletter is about 12 page pages long, features article on the threat of nonwhite immigration. They got a very subtle feature on black people committing terrible crimes against white people.
There`s an article by the founder of the America First Party, which is all about the terrorist Jews. He brags that he`s the man who David Duke credits for awakening him to the threat of Jewish supremacism, exactly what you think from the Ku Klux Klan newspaper, if you knew there was a Ku Klux Klan newspaper these days.
But the front page, full page story is "make America great again" with a big featured center photo of Donald Trump. It`s one of several articles in the paper about Trump, including this in-set article about how Trump`s candidacy is moving the dialogue forward.
I should tell you, this is a copy. We got a PDF scan of this. You see the picture there? That inset picture is actually a still from a "Saturday Night Live" skit about seemingly normal Americans talking about how much they like Donald Trump and then slowly they reveal themselves to be like ironing their sheets because they are Klan members.
Well, that was a "Saturday Night Live" skit a couple months ago. This is the Klan newspaper and they are basically, yeah, that skit kind of nailed it. Look at the caption on that still from "Saturday Night Live." Quote, "Saturday Night Live produced a mock campaign ad voters for Trump in which voters explained why they were Trump supporters. Then, viewers learned that the supporters were affiliated with organizations such as the Ku Klux Klan. In truth, many do share the same concerns."
The Klan is like, congratulations, "Saturday Night Live," you nailed it. According to the Klan, you got it exactly right.
The Donald Trump endorsement version addition of the Klan newspaper, this has been turning up on front lawns in the great state of Georgia. This one, we just got a scan of. We obtained this tonight after it was picked up off a front lawn in Cartersville, Georgia, which is northwest of Atlanta. We think that we`re actually going to get a physical copy of the Klan paper that`s being distributed in Georgia over the next day or two. Right now, this is just the scan. I`ll let you know when we get the original.
If that`s not a wild enough development in today`s presidential politics, today is also the day that this guy came back.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
WHITE NATIONALIST ROBOCALLS: The American National Super PAC makes this call to support Donald Trump. The white race is dying out in America and Europe because we are afraid to be called racist. Donald Trump is not afraid.
The white race is being replaced by other peoples in America and in all- white countries. Donald Trump stands strong as a nationalist. The American National Super PAC makes this call in support of Donald Trump.
My name is William Johnson. I`m a farmer and a white nationalist.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MADDOW: Those are a couple of the many, many robocalls made during the Republican primary campaign on behalf of Donald Trump`s candidacy, calls made by a white nationalist group. They call itself the American National Super PAC.
Now, the Trump campaign doesn`t appear to have anything to do with these calls. They reportedly returned a donation from the white nationalist guy who you hear on the call when it was first reported that he was making these calls and that he was a Trump donor. It was further embarrassing to the Trump campaign when this guy, this farmer and white nationalist who does these robocalls, he was initially picked to be a Trump delegate at the convention this year before his delegate status got yanked once it was widely reported.
"The Daily Beast" reports today that, I should mention this guy, and after that first donation that he made to Trump that got returned, "The Daily Beast" says he`s since made subsequent donations to the Trump campaign of at least a couple other donations totaling $1,500. "The Daily Beast" reports today that those donations have not been returned by the Trump campaign, at least not yet. I have to expect that they will be now that this is being reported publicly.
But part of the reason it`s being reported publicly again is that this guy is back on the air making pro-Trump robocalls and it`s starting to make news. These new white nationalist robocalls for Donald Trump, this time they are running in the great state of Utah and the new calls for Trump are not just in favor of him. These new racist nationalists calls are pro Trump but specifically against the third-party guy who`s doing so well in the Utah polls right now. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAM JOHNSON: Hello. My name is William Johnson. I`m a farmer and a white nationalist. I make this call against Evan McMullin and in support of Donald Trump.
Evan has two mommies. His mother is a lesbian married to another woman. Evan is okay with that.
Evan is over 40 years old and is not married and doesn`t even have a girlfriend. I believe Evan is a closet homosexual. Don`t vote for Evan McMullin. Vote for Donald Trump.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Subtle, right?
I do not know conservative candidate Evan McMullin at all. Honestly, just as a human being, I hope he takes it as a badge of honor that he`s doing so well enough in the polls in at least one state to have attracted a freakin paid homophobe robocall from a racist white supremacist farmer who loves Donald Trump.
Also, Trump campaign, you should send that guy`s money back.
In an election that has gotten this sick, that call against Evan McMullin, he should take that as a badge of honor. That`s a sign of making it, I think.
I told you that we`re getting to the really nuts part of this election in the last days. The really, really nut stuff is it ahead tonight.
Stay with us.
MADDOW: Hey, speaking of the throwback racist part of this election, a Louisiana blogger named Lamar White tonight posted this picture of another apparent outreach measure by the Ku Klux Klan near where he lives in Louisiana. Early voting has been really, really popular. Early voting ends in that state tomorrow.
Apparently, the freaking Ku Klux Klan are among the organizations that want you to make sure you get yourself to the polls this year in Louisiana. Although the way they put it, they want you to get out to the pole, the poles.
I should also mention you`ll have fresh breath when you get there provided you take advantage of your very own white lifesaver, free with every misspelled flyer, one at your house in Rue, Louisiana. Would you eat that from the KKK?
Stay with us. Lots to come. Boo.
MADDOW: The reason there was such a furor on Friday about FBI Director James Comey sending this letter to Congress, saying that the FBI wasn`t sure if they had anything of significance but it wanted to let Congress know that it was looking into e-mails on a computer of the estranged husband of one of Hillary Clinton`s staffers. The reason there was such a furor over that incendiary non-acquisition from the FBI director on Friday is that there`s a longstanding precedent, a longstanding rule that the Department of Justice and FBI, that the bureau and the DOJ more broadly, they will take great care in the lead-up to elections to avoid being seen as a partisan political player.
Federal prosecutors, the FBI, the whole federal law enforcement apparatus generally tries to avoid doing anything that would be seen as attempting to influence the election for a couple of months leading up to that election. It`s a hard and fast enough rule that every four years, the attorney general circulates a memo to DOJ staff reminding them that this is the rule of thumb and this is should how they should comport themselves.
That rule is why the Department of Justice officials told Director James Comey it would be improper for him to make the kind of vague pronouncement about Hillary Clinton that he did with this letter on Friday. Director Comey, nevertheless, for his own reasons, went ahead and did it.
Well, now tonight, there are two incendiary reports of their own that are about the FBI. They are from CNBC and NBC News and they concern what else the FBI might be working on that could conceivably impact this election even though we haven`t heard beep from Director Comey about either of these.
This was on "Nightly News" tonight. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CYNTHIA MCFADDEN, NBC NEWS REPORTER: Law enforcement and intelligent sources tell NBC News today the FBI has been conducting a preliminary inquiry of Donald Trump`s former campaign manager Paul Manafort and his foreign business connections. When NBC asked the FBI to comment on the inquiry, the FBI did not respond. Paul Manafort was reportedly paid $12.7 million in cash by pro-Russian politicians in the Ukraine and NBC News can also report what some call disturbing ties to two oligarchs, one Ukrainian, one Russian, both billionaires. American officials say both have ties to the Russian mafia.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it does raise serious concerns about the policies that Trump would pursue if he were president.
MCFADDEN: While an inquiry is a preliminary look and falls short of a criminal investigation, in this highly charged atmosphere, it has some arguing that Comey is using a double-standard.
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA), SELECT INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Here where the director has discussed an investigation involving one candidate, it opens the director up to claims of bias if he doesn`t discuss other potential investigations.
MCFADDEN: Paul Manafort tells us tonight none of it`s true, "There`s no investigations going on with the FBI that I am aware of."
As for Donald Trump, tonight his spokesperson told us Mr. Trump severed his ties with Mr. Manafort many months ago. Mr. Trump has no knowledge of any of his past or present activities.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: No knowledge of any of the past or present activities of his former campaign manager. That was Cynthia McFadden reporting tonight for "NBC Nightly News," reporting that the FBI has opened a preliminary investigation into Donald Trump`s former campaign manager and Paul Manafort`s ties to Russia.
Because of the longstanding Department of Justice policy against announcing anything or giving the appearance that the FBI is trying to influence the election, it makes sense that we`re only getting anonymous leaks about that, right, that the FBI is not officially commenting on that. That would make sense, right, if the FBI wasn`t also commenting officially on preliminary inquiries into Hillary Clinton`s aide`s estranged husband`s laptop, which might be nothing.
And that brings us to tonight`s CNBC report from Eamon Javers. Eamon cites a single source, a former FBI official on the subject of another reported U.S. government investigation into the Russian government`s alleged actions to try to influence and hack into the U.S. election.
CNBC reports tonight that FBI Director James Comey personally insisted that the FBI wouldn`t put its name on any public pronouncement that said Russia was hacking into American computers and trying to influence the American election.
You`ll remember, October 7th, there was this extraordinary statement released that blamed Russia for trying to influence the U.S. election, for hacking the U.S. election. The statement was issued in the name of the director of national intelligence and Department of Homeland Security. It did not include the FBI. And according to CNBC tonight, that`s because Director James Comey insisted that the FBI would not take part in such a statement because, quote, "FBI director James Comey privately argued it was too close to the Election Day for the United States government to name Russia as meddling in the U.S. election."
And under longstanding Department of Justice rules and precedent, that too close to Election Day standard, that`s a totally reasonable, historically well-supported excuse for not shoveling some half digested information out to the American public. The question is why that standard would apply to information about Russia hacking the U.S. election and potentially the Donald Trump campaign while for some reason this year, this FBI director doesn`t feel bound by that same standard when it comes to public pronouncements, however vague, about Hillary Clinton.
Things are getting wild in this election. There are eight more days and it`s probably going to get wilder still from here on out.
Joining us now is Matthew Miller. He`s a former Department of Justice spokesman under Attorney General Eric Holder.
Mr. Miller, thank for being here tonight. I really appreciate your time.
MATTHEW MILLER, FORMER DOJ SPOKESMAN: Thank you.
MADDOW: So let me ask about the reasons that you have objected to Director Comey`s statement here. I`ve heard well-reasoned arguments that he may have felt constrained by the law, at least constrained by his own prior conduct, that he had to go to Congress on this. What`s your assessment of whether or not it was proper for him to send this note to Congress?
MILLER: It was absolutely improper. I`ve heard his defenders say that. I think if you go back to his press conference in July, which is when he started down this road of providing more information about the case than the FBI or the Department of Justice ever provide, you know, he kept making a series of mistakes. And this is the latest one and the most egregious ones, and I think this logic that because you`ve made mistakes in the past, because you`ve given Congress information that they are not supposed to get about investigations, that you`re then required to come tell this about this now and violate another department rule about not disclose something close to an election that could be seen as influencing the election I think doesn`t really make a lot of sense.
You know, he`s -- time after time, in this process, he`s just kind of substituted his own judgment for the longstanding rules that are supposed to govern people with great power like him.
MADDOW: What about the accusations or the suggestions of a double standard that are being raised now? We`ve got this report from "NBC Nightly News" tonight that the former Trump campaign manager, there`s been an FBI political inquiry opened into him and his connections to the Russian government. There`s also this reporting from CNBC, single-source reporting tonight from CNBC that Director Comey himself said that he didn`t want the FBI`s name on anything this close to the election that might suggest anything about Russian efforts to interfere in this election. Is it fair to look at those reports and see a kind of double standard?
MILLER: Yes, I think those are really troubling. It`s been clear for some time that the FBI is investigating the Trump campaign. It wasn`t really confirmed until now with this report about Manafort and another one breaking tonight. And they weren`t commenting on that, as they shouldn`t. It`s been clear that there`s a double standard.
But I think the CNBC report is especially troubling, that he wouldn`t even name -- never mind, he wouldn`t put his name on something naming Trump. He wouldn`t even sign on to a statement that Russia was involved in trying to influence the election.
You know, I`ve not questioned his integrity up until now. I`ve questioned his judgment. I`ve questioned his motivation for doing some of this.
But it`s harder and harder when you see how he acted with this statement about Russia hacking and how he then came out and was so quick to send a letter to Congress about Hillary Clinton. It`s really getting harder and harder to give him the benefit of the doubt.
MADDOW: Given what he`s done thus far, do you expect that he has to continually give a blow-by-blow updates to Congress and to the public which each new things that emerges, whether its exculpatory or damning?
MILLER: I mean, it`s hard to say. I mean, at some point, you know, this thing I said earlier about, you know, you shouldn`t let one mistake justify another, but he`s really -- there`s no perfect solution to get out of the mess that he`s created now.
He`s come out and, you know, colored the election 11 days before the election, now eight days before the election and he does have some obligation to explain to the public, I think, what exactly it is that the FBI is being looking at. If after raising all of these expectations and inserting innuendo and speculation of the campaign, it turns out that these emails are duplicates or they`re things that don`t involve Secretary Clinton, he really does have an obligation to come out and clear the facts.
MADDOW: Matthew Miller, former DOJ spokesman under Attorney General Eric Holder, appreciate your time tonight, Mr. Miller. Thanks for being here.
MILLER: Thank you.
MADDOW: All right. Lots more to come tonight, busy night. Stay with us.
MADDOW: Today, we saw two prominent Americans cast their early ballots and they were both hilarious. One was Ohio Governor John Kasich. Governor Kasich cast his absentee ballot for -- Arizona Senator John McCain, which must feel great if you`re John Kasich or if you`re John McCain but I have to tell you, that vote literally will not be counted in the great state of Ohio. That`s not how it works there.
Also, voting today, Florida Senator Marco Rubio. Asked who he voted for early today, the senator told reporters, quote, "Nothing`s changed on that." We think that means he voted for Donald Trump but he still doesn`t want to say, I voted for Donald Trump. We think that is what hasn`t changed. Courage.
There are mysteries in some of the early voting this year but some of the mysteries in early voting we have solved and some of that is ahead tonight. Stay with us.
MADDOW: Over 23 million lucky Americans are now free to move about the country and to move about your daily life without paying minute-by-minute attention to all of the things that will happen in the election, because for over 23 million Americans, there is no next thing in this election. Their vote is already cast. Well done. Mazel tov.
Now, taken as a whole, if you look at the early vote numbers, if you had to choose, you`d probably rather be Hillary Clinton than Donald Trump, early turnout toward Democrats in swing states.
State by state, though, the numbers are way more interesting than that generic look. If you`re watching the early voting numbers to figure out which way the election is going, what you want to look at who is not just leading the ballot count in any particular state, what you really want to look how each party is doing with their own numbers compared to four years ago because we now how every state went four years ago, right? We know what those results were. That makes for a really useful benchmark and that makes for the most helpful comparisons.
Take, for example, Nevada. Registered Democrats currently lead registered Republicans by about 34,000 early votes in Nevada. Now, 34,000 votes, that means nothing in the abstract but look at four years ago and compare. That number, that lead by the Democrats, 34,000 votes, that almost exactly matches where Nevada was at this point four years ago and that turns out to be great news for Democrats because four years ago in Nevada, Obama beat Romney by six points.
So, if Democrats are on pace to do that again, we know how that ends. Democratic turnout looks good so far in Clark County, which is Las Vegas, also Wausau County, which is Reno, bottom line in Nevada, according to Mr. Nevada Politics Jon Ralston is this, quote, "Trump is almost surely losing Nevada and remains likely to lose it. Trump appears to have no path here."
Another state that makes Democrats happy right now, if not this year, then at least in the long run, is the state of Texas. The big story this year in Texas is huge voter turnout in early voting. Texas early voting is up 42 percent over this time in 2012. What? Turnout is up in the counties that Mitt Romney won in Texas, but it`s especially up in the counties that Barack Obama won in Texas.
In Travis County, for example, which is Austin, which is a Democratic county, turnout has nearly doubled since 2012. Now, Texas doesn`t track party affiliation so it`s hard to say exactly who is turning out to vote and what this all means. People who we spoke to in that state who are real experts on Texas voting told us today they do think we are probably seeing a Democratic surge in Texas, although they don`t think it`s probably a big enough surge to turn the state blue yet. But there`s reason that Democrats are being looking at those numbers and feeling good, if not about this year, then maybe next time.
Now, let`s look at Florida. In Florida, turnout is up. Democrats and Republicans are both voting early in greater than expected numbers this year. In Florida, the main story line turns out to be the Hispanic vote. Last election, the early in-person vote in Florida, it was just under 10 percent Hispanic.
Look, look at it this time. It`s up over 14 percent this time. Because of that increase in the proportion of the early vote being cast by people of Hispanic origin, Democrats think they`ve got a slight edge in Florida. Now, on the flip side, one thing that`s unnerving Democrats and giving the Clinton campaign a little heartburn right now about Florida is unreturned ballots.
In terms of people requesting mail ballots but then not turning them in, not actually filling them in, submitting them, 70,000 more Democrats than Republicans have requested mail ballots but just having them sitting in a pile somewhere and haven`t turned them in. So that is one big Florida worry on the Democratic side. Democrats are also pacing over Iowa. By all accounts, Democrats are underperforming 2012 pretty dramatically in that state.
Also, Ohio. In Ohio, Democrats did reportedly have a very strong turnout weekend this past weekend. But that hasn`t so far been enough to catch them up to Democratic turnout in 2012 in Ohio.
Last state to look at is North Carolina. In North Carolina, fascinating, and there`s a ton of mixed signals. A quarter of all of the ballots cast so far in forth Carolina are from unaffiliated voters.
Now, unaffiliated doesn`t mean independent. Voters who call themselves independent tend to skew Republican. But voters who call themselves unaffiliated, that`s a different story. And in North Carolina, voters who call themselves unaffiliated, they tend to be younger and more likely to be nonwhite than your average voter and that might mean that unaffiliated voters lean Democratic. We don`t know. But a ton of them are voting early. One in every four early votes is from an unaffiliated voter.
The foremost expert and authority on North Carolina early voting is Catawba College`s Michael Bitzer. He tells us today that these North Carolina unaffiliated voters, one out of four early voters so far, they are the, quote, "great wild card in this election season."
So bottom line, Ohio and Iowa, Republicans are psyched so far. Nevada, Democrats are really, really psyched. Democrats in Florida are sort of cautiously optimistic. Democrats are excited about Texas for next time around, but North Carolina, which has had so much attention this year and so much attention in the next few days, including from people like the president of the United States on campaign visits, North Carolina right now, nobody knows a great wild card -- but nationwide, 23 million votes already in the can.
Watch this space.
MADDOW: The top Democrat in the Senate, Nevada Senator Harry Reid, is never subtle. But he`s now sent a red hot firecracker of a letter to the director of the FBI. Quote, "In my communications with you and other top officials in the national security community, it`s become clear that you possess explosive information about close ties and coordination between Donald Trump and his top advisers and the Russian government. The public has a right to know this information. There`s no danger to American interests from releasing it and yet you continue to resist calls to inform the public of this critical information."
Quote, "The clear double standard established by your actions strongly suggests that your highly selective approach to publicizing information, along with your timing, was intended for the success or failure of a partisan candidate or political group."
That from Harry Reid to the FBI director after the FBI director brought his -- can we call them concerns -- about Hillary Clinton`s e-mails to leaders of congressional committees on Friday.
Now, we`ve also got the former top ethics lawyer from the George W. Bush White House filing a formal complaint against the FBI director with the office of special counsel. He`s accusing the FBI director of, quote, "highly unusual public statements while voting is under way about the status of an investigation concerning a political candidate, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton."
In terms of where this James Comey story is going to end and whether the FBI is just going to leave it like this or if they are going to try to clean it up, I think it`s helpful to know that the criticism here of the FBI director isn`t just from Democrats or even just from Republicans and Democrats. The criticism here is also from inside the Justice Department.
Jane Mayer reporting for "The New Yorker," that former Justice Department officials say they can`t believe what FBI Director James Comey has done in this case. Quote, "You don`t do this. It`s aberrational. It violates decades of practice." Quote, "It impugns the integrity and reputation of the candidate, even though there`s no finding by a court or in this instance, even an indictment."
Another former Department of Justice official telling Jane Mayer, quote, "Put it this way, it`s not what previous administrations have done."
Joining us now is Jane Mayer, staff writer for "The New Yorker" magazine.
Jane, it`s nice to have you with us tonight. Thanks for being here.
JANE MAYER, THE NEW YORKER STAFF WRITER: Great to be with you.
MADDOW: So, is it only -- I shouldn`t ask this that way. I`ll ask about your sources in a way that you`ll just rebuff me.
Let me ask it this way. Is the resistance an upset to the way that Jim Comey has handled this, is this a widespread feeling among senior officials in justice or former senior officials in justice or is this a few people who are upset and most people don`t mind?
MAYER: I think it`s almost universal. I mean, this is really a tremendously surprising thing that the director of the FBI did. And it`s not because it`s kind of a meaningless rule that you don`t talk about investigations that are ongoing or that you don`t talk about them especially right before an election. Those are the rules. But they have a lot of meaning.
It`s about justice and fairness and about the problem that the accused in this case, the candidate, doesn`t know what the bill of goods is against this person and they have no ability to defend themselves. It just -- it throws the sort of cloud of innuendo over everything and that`s why it`s not done.
And so, everybody recognizes that almost in the legal business. You see all kinds of law professors and people across the political spectrum are just saying, what? You know, why did he do this?
MADDOW: In terms of the accountability here, obviously the FBI director can, to a certain degree, do what he wants. He can act independently. We`re not told that he was ordered by the attorney general to handle this in any different way, although we are told that he was informed that this would not be a good idea and that he shouldn`t do this. He appears to have gone ahead and done it himself.
Are there issues that are ongoing here, however this is resolved, in terms of the independence of the FBI, in terms of the leeway afforded to the director, in terms of the relationship between the attorney general and somebody like Director Comey?
MAYER: Well, listen to me, one of the things, because of the strangeness of the FBI director, they have a ten-year term and so, the FBI director will continue on whereas it`s likely that the attorney general will end her, her time in office, you know, in just a couple months, in January. So, there`s going to be a change in the cast of characters here.
But the questions raised really are, it`s another area in this campaign where we`re seeing all of the customs and kind of the niceties of how the process is supposed to work have sort of hit rock bottom. And Comey`s just put things on a very slippery slope here. So, now, you have the Democrats saying what about these other investigations? Aren`t you going to talk about those? Aren`t there investigations of Trump`s campaign?
So, he`s in a position, is he going to talk about every half-baked investigation going on in the FBI? It`s really a mess.
MADDOW: And the pressure on him there and also the question on him there and the question of what happens in terms of leaking out of that agency. I mean, the bureau has always been a special animal in terms of talking to the press, in terms of what actually gets out that`s supposed to be secret. But in this point, the pressures there are going to be intense.
MAYER: I mean, one of the things that is worrisome is there`s been reports that as one of the pressures that made Comey come forward at this point was he was afraid it would leak out of agency if he didn`t. So, it raises, are there -- there have been reports that there are disgruntled agents working under him who really wanted to go after the Clintons more and were told there`s nothing there, but they were still dissatisfied. So they`re talking about trying to leak it out and get it out in public, and that is really improper. It raises questions, who`s in charge here?
MADDOW: Jane Mayer, staff writer for "The New Yorker" magazine and in my humble opinion, national treasure of a reporter.
MAYER: Thank you.
MADDOW: Jane, thank you for being here. I appreciate it.
MAYER: Glad to be with you.
MADDOW: We`ll be right back.
(VIDEO CLIP PLAYS)
MADDOW: Hey, Macarena.
You do not have to be good at it. In fact, no one is good at it. You just have to be willing to do it in a way that makes you look funny.
The "Macarena", hey, Macarena, first became a hit in 1995. And that helps to explain why in this photo, look on the right there, this photo from 1996, Donald Trump is attempting his version of hey, Macarena.
We know, thanks to a story from "The Washington Post", that Donald Trump had showed up at this charity event in October 1996 for the ribbon cutting on a new nursery school for little kids who were living with HIV. He did glad handing with other famous people there, he did the "Macarena" I`m sure as best he could.
But Donald Trump did not belong on that stage with the other people who had helped that AIDS charity for kids, because Donald Trump had not helped that charity at all. He had not given them a single dollar. He had sort of busted his way into the ribbon cutting. He took a seat on the stage that had been saved for an actual donor. He sat down next to Rudy Giuliani.
The charity`s director tells "The Post", quote, "Frank Gifford turned to me and said, `Why is he here?`"
Again, Donald Trump had not given a single cent to that children nursery, he just showed up when the credit was to be doled out, did the "Macarena" and wanted to be seen as a donor, which he was not. Great story, terrible story, lured in several of the best ways.
You might have heard a little of that lurid story. The reporter who got it from "The Washington Post" is, say it with me now, David Fahrenthold. He has given the Trump campaign fits with this entire election, including with this new story today. He`s going to be on with Lawrence O`Donnell in the next hour.
You will want to stick around for that. It`s going to be a big night. Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You don`t hear that from these dishonest people back there, meaning the media. Look at `em. Look at `em. Most dishonest people. They are the most dishonest people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: We have to put up a little blurry thing on the screen, because we can`t show you some of that. That was a Trump rally in Newton, Pennsylvania, a few days ago. On cue, everyone at the rally whenever Trump denounces the media, everybody at the rally pivots toward the media pen, toward all the TV cameras and starts booing and yelling and flipping the bird after Trump gets to this point in the speech, it`s a regular thing at Trump rallies.
And this is also starting to be a regular thing at Trump rallies too. This is a sign. Do we have this sign? Hello? A swastika left on the media table at a Florida Trump earlier this month. That says media, swastika.
Last week, "BuzzFeed" posted a video of two shouting a word "Lugenpresse" at members of the media, even though only one of them knew what it meant.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That`s what you are -- Lugenpresse.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Lugenpresse!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You say it right. That`s right. You`re all in bed with the Clintons.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Lugenpresse is a Nazi propaganda term that means lying press. It`s a little jarring to hear Nazi propaganda in the original German in the United States.
And this weekend in Arizona, one Trump supporter didn`t bother trying to code is message into the original German.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You`re going down. You`re the enemy. You`re the ones working for the devil.
CROWD: USA, USA, USA, USA, USA, USA, USA
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Jew-S-A, Jew-S-A!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Jew-S-A, Jew-S-A, you`re going down. You`re the enemy. You`re the ones working for the devil.
The man said that at the end of that, "We`re run by the Jews, OK? We`re run by the Jews. Jew-S-A."
Eight days left, eat more protein. Get some sleep.
That does it for us tonight. We`ll see you again tomorrow.
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