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The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 11/29/2016

Guests: Nancy Northup, David Graham

Show: THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW Date: November 29, 2016 Guest: Nancy Northup, David Graham

JOAN WALSH, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: So, do you think that people should be voting for Tim Ryan? I mean, you sound like it.

NINA TURNER (D), FORMER OHIO STATE SENATOR: Look, the caucus makes the decision, Joan. I don`t have a vote in that. What I really want to see is Democratic Party do, whether it`s the caucus or the DNC, is really stand up for the people and let`s start winning some seats.


WALSH: Agreed.

TURNER: We only have five states where we control governors mansions and legislatures. We need a change.

HAYES: Joan Walsh, Nina Turner, thank you both. Appreciate it.

That is "ALL IN" for this evening.

THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts right now. A little late, sorry, Rachel. Good evening.

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: You know what, Chris, I`ve given so much extra time to the gods of karma here. You`ve only just started to scratch it back. Thank you, friend.

And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour.

Of all the attractive and in some cases alluring governors that we have in these 50 fine states in our country -- and honestly, they`re an unusually handsome bunch of governors that we have in this country. Of all the governors that we`ve got in this country, you would not necessarily expect that the one governor of all the 50, the one governor who would be living through an ongoing, raging sex scandal right now, complete with sex tapes you wouldn`t expect that the one with the sex scandal would be this handsome devil.

But he is the governor of Alabama. And his ongoing lurid sex scandal continues to be one of the weirder side bar stories in American politics right now. It`s fairly lurid stuff. His amorous discussions with one of his top advisers were published, were broadcast by the "Birmingham News" website earlier this week. They`re all about what he`d like to do with her and how he hoped his secretary couldn`t hear too much from outside the governor`s office door when they were in there doing -- yeah.

You might remember the tapes. I don`t really feel like playing them anymore. But last night, we reported on a new wrinkle in this story, a new unlawful dismissal lawsuit that was filed against the governor and against his alleged mistress. This is a lawsuit that the governor is dismissing as street gossip and internet rumors. But this new lawsuit from his former body man, his former chief of security says that his former chief of security was basically fired from the governor`s administration in Alabama because basically he wouldn`t go along with the governor`s effort to cover up this affair and to cover up the illegal use of state resources that were being employed to perpetuate the affair.

The lawsuit alleges that one of the ways this alleged affair came to light is that the governor`s staff had the bright idea that they should have Governor Bentley start using an iPad for some of his work. And the governor, according to the lawsuit, he didn`t understand that his new iPad would be linked to his iPhone. And so, darn that Cloud, his sexy messaging with his alleged mistress ended up popping up in plain view on the iPad, which apparently other people had access to besides just the governor. He thought it was private and just on his phone, but it was not private.

Now, the governor`s marriage is over. We know from his own words on the sex tape exactly what he likes to do with his hands even when he`s in his office. The governor`s facing possible impeachment in Alabama. He`s facing a state investigation by the attorney general even as that same attorney general is trying to get the governor to appoint him to the U.S. Senate seat that`s about to be vacated by Senator Jeff Sessions when Jeff Sessions goes to Washington to join Donald Trump`s cabinet. Yuck.

So, it`s just this lurid story that continues to spin out in Alabama. It now has national implications because of its links to the Trump administration. And one of the truly strange lingering storylines in that whole sordid, ongoing story in Alabama is the question of how exactly the alleged mistress got into the governor`s office in first place. Because by all accounts, she was the top adviser to the governor, traveled with him everywhere, was at all of his events. Multiple legal complaints that have arisen around this affair have described her as the de facto governor, described her as the person who was actually making decisions in Governor Bentley`s office while Bentley was allowing her to run the place behind the scenes.

And all along through this story, there`s been this interesting question of where exactly she came from. Who was paying her salary? Because it`s undisputed that she was working with the governor`s office every day, undisputed that she was his closest staff member, at all of his events, involved in all his high ranking decisions, but she was never a government employee.

It`s really weird fact in this lurid story. The taxpayers of Alabama were not paying her salary. And whether or not she was shtupping the governor, that`s kind of weird, right? To have somebody working in the governor`s office every day who was not a government employee?

Well, the group that apparently was paying her is called the Alabama Council for Excellent Government. was their website.

But when the alleged relationship between the governor and this mysterious aide became a national sex scandal, they disappeared their website. This is their website today. It`s just nothing. It`s just a little place holder, in case you might want to build something at because there`s nothing there now.

So, in the middle of this raging story with national implications, there`s this black hole, there`s this group that was apparently paying this woman who was in the governor`s office every day, this group does not answer its phones, they don`t have a physical presence anywhere. You can knock on the door. They don`t respond to requests for comment. If they were paying her that money, we have no idea where that money comes from, or what the group was trying to do.

We have not idea what gave them the right to pay somebody to be in the governor`s office working full time alongside the governor, let alone allegedly shtupping him. We just have no idea, except for one thing -- we do have one piece of information. We do have one thread to pull.

Because we can see, thanks to a bunch of do-gooder, modern-day librarians a thousand miles away, we can see today how this mysterious group that tried to disappear itself once the scandal broke, we can see how they used to represent themselves to the world before they suddenly went dark. We can see how they used to present themselves when they use to have a public face before this sex scandal happened and they decided that they better go away.

And we can see that because this is an old version of their website from before they took it down and tried to disappear it from memory. And these screen shots of their old website were taken by the Wayback Machine. By the Internet archive, which is a nonprofit based in San Francisco that`s been around since 1996. The Wayback Machine.

It is a national treasure. It`s an international treasure. We`ve used it hundreds, probably thousands of times in the preparation of this show.

Anytime somebody tries to make something go away, that`s the first place you look to see if you can find it, despite the efforts of the person who tried to disappear that information. It`s always the first place you go.

I mean, just take stuff in current news right now, I can give you a whole bunch of stories that we`ve got cooking right now, stuff that`s going on in the current news cycle that we really only know about because of the Wayback Machine.

That`s how we know, for example, that when the vice president-elect first ran for Congress, he ran on a platform that the government should take back all the money it was spending to combat HIV and AIDS and the government should instead spend that money on curing people from being gay. Quote, "Resources should be directed towards institutions that provide assistance to those seeking to change their sexual behavior." Mike Pence ran for Congress saying let`s not try to cure AIDS. Let`s try to cure gay instead.

And Mike Pence may not be interested in showcasing that part of his politics now that he`s about to be vice president of the United States, but he should still answer for it. Does he still think that? I mean, the only reason we`ve got a record of him running on that as a political position is because the Wayback Machine archived his whole website from back when he was running for Congress back in the day. They screen shotted it. They saved it. And so, we can look at it today.

It`s the same way that we as a nation, incidentally, also have proof that on the very first day that he could, the new president-elect started using the resources of the federal government in his position in the White House to enrich himself, to promote his family business interests.

Now, they have since taken this down, but the very first thing they built online after the election, the very first thing they built online for President-elect Trump was this meet the president-elect webpage on the transition website that was provided to the Trump folks by the federal government. It`s a dot-gov website, this is something you and I pay for.

And what they put up on that website right after the election was a run- down, like an exhaustive list of all of the, quote, "world`s top properties that Donald Trump owns, including the world renowned Fifth Avenue skyscraper Trump Tower, plus Trump Park, Trump Palace, Trump Plaza, the Trump World Tower, Trump Park," on and on and on. But wait, there`s act now and we`ll send you some knives. Quote, "In addition to properties that occupy the Manhattan skyline, Mr. Trump also owns many of the premier golf clubs around the world, some of which include Trump National Golf Club in Westchester, New York, Trump National Golf Club in Los Angeles" blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.

That advertisement for Trump properties, that was the very first thing they put up day one on the very first federal government website they had access to.

[21:10:04] Advertisements for Trump properties and golf courses. That is not like some threat that the president-elect might use his new office to enrich himself. That`s him doing it. That is using the resources of the federal government to promote the personal business interests of one very important federal officeholder.

And as I have said, they`ve since taken that down, but we`ve got it on record because of the Wayback Machine. Because the Internet archive grabbed it and saved that and will not let it be disappeared. Thank God for them.

And tonight, I can report they are moving to Canada. The Internet archive, the people who run the Wayback Machine as well as lots of other free archives and resources, I mean, the Wayback Machine alone has archived a billion pages of history on the web, the internet archive, folks who run this, they made this announcement today.

Quote, "On November 9th in America, we woke up to a new administration promising radical change. It was a firm reminder that institutions like ours, built for the long-term, need to design for change. For us, it means keeping our cultural materials safe, private and perpetually accessible. It means preparing for a web that may face greater restrictions.

The history of libraries is one of loss. The Library of Alexandria is best known for its disappearance. Libraries like ours are susceptible to different fault lines, earthquakes, legal regimes, institutional failure.

This year, we`ve set a new goal, to create a copy of the Internet archives digital collections in another country."

They`re calling it the Internet Archive of Canada. They already have mirrors of some of their content in a few other countries around the world, but they don`t have a complete additional copy of what they have built anywhere. They don`t have a backup. They don`t have a completely mirror of the servers and the data library that they have built, and that they house now mostly in United States, in San Francisco, where they`re headquartered.

And the internet archive folks have been around for a couple of decades now. They have been around since the dawn of commercial access to the Internet. But now, because of what happened in the last election, they now feel like the only way they can keep their entire historical library safe, the only way they can protect this resource that they`ve built, this history that they have archived, they feel like the only way they can ensure its safety is to build a complete mirror of it outside the reach of what is about to be our new federal government.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT-ELECT: We`re losing a lot of people because of the Internet and we have to do something. We have to go see Bill Gates and a lot of other people that really understand what`s happening. We have to talk to them maybe in certain areas, closing that Internet up in some way.

Someone will say, "Oh, freedom of speech, freedom of speech." These are foolish people. We have a lot of foolish people. We have a lot of foolish people. We`ve got to maybe do something with the internet.


MADDOW: Nobody really knows what the president-elect meant that when he said what he did this time last year about closing off parts of the Internet. We`ve got to do something with the Internet. We`ve got to maybe in some areas close that internet up in some way. Nobody knows if he meant that when he said that during the campaign.

But some of the most important public service-oriented, keep information free parts of the Internet, they`re not waiting around to find out. They`re going to Canada. That happened today.

And it`s interesting. There are these First Amendment worries about the new incoming president, right? There are corruption worries about the new incoming president. And those things feel like show stoppers in some ways.

But it turns out, one monkey don`t stop the show. Turns out those things don`t bring everything to a halt. The show goes on. And frankly, the show gets some new element of weirdness every day.

Today, while the president-elect was tweeting threats about flag burning apparently in response to a FOX News Channel segment on the topic, he was also simultaneously announcing his new secretary of transportation and alongside all these other, you know, worries about Trump and transparency, worries about Trump and the First Amendment, worries about Trump and the press, that announcement today about the transportation secretary, it also points out a really interesting pattern that "The Washington Post" picked up on this morning because Elaine Chao, in addition to all the other interesting things that she is, Elaine Chao tapped today to be cabinet secretary in the Trump administration, Elaine Chao is also a former FOX News Channel contributor.

Last night, we led this show talking about the newly announced deputy national security adviser for the incoming administration. She, too, is a FOX News Channel personality. We finished the show last night talking about the meeting the president-elect would have today with this very controversial activist who has made it his life`s work to abolish the V.A., to privatize the V.A. He also it turns out a FOX News personality.

And when you start looking for it, it`s kind of remarkable this pattern, it`s kind of remarkable the number of points of overlap between who the president-elect is meeting, who he`s floating for top jobs in his administration, who he`s appointing to top jobs in his administration, the points of overlap between that roster of people and the roster of people who are contracted to appear on cable news, specifically on the FOX News Channel, which the president-elect does sometimes like to criticize but we know he apparently never likes to turn it off.

The pattern is amazing. I mean, all those folks also, you know, Ben Carson, has reportedly been offered the Housing and Urban Development job in the cabinet, he`s a former FOX News contributor. Newt Gingrich, as you know, considered until the last second for vice president in the Trump administration, former FOX News contributor. Scott Brown who has also met with Trump about the V.A. job apparently, FOX News contributor. Laura Ingraham and Monica Crowley both apparently considered for White House press secretary, both FOX News contributors.

John Bolton reportedly under consideration for secretary of state, FOX News contributor. I mean, there`s Mike Huckabee, right? There`s Jeanine Pirro both meeting with the president-elect in this weird runway camera thing that we do at the elevators of his apartment building because he hasn`t moved to transition offices, right? Both FOX News contributors.

The First Amendment may or may not be safe under this president. It has now been four months since the president-elect has answered questions from reporters. Four months. You`d have to go back more than 30 years to find a president-elect who has gone this long after an election was settled, without giving at least one formal press conference during the transition but Trump apparently has no plans.

The Internet archives may or may not raise the millions of dollars they need in order to build a complete mirror of the Internet archive outside the bounds of the United States. And honestly, they may or may not need that geographic protection from a new president who really has said that he wants to close off parts of the Internet. But we do know that the incoming president watches FOX News and he likes it now, apparently. He likes it enough that he`s picked it up by the ankles, give it a good shake and started to move its whole roster off of Rupert Murdoch and on to the taxpayers of the United States.

What a time to be alive. I hope somebody`s writing all this stuff down as it happens, because if anybody ever succeeds in disappearing this history of what we`re going through right now, people will not believe it in the future when you tell them this is how it happened. I hope somebody`s writing this all down. Screen shot this.

Lots to get to tonight. Stay with us.


MADDOW: Chautauqua County is the furthest county west in the state of New York. If you look at this map, it`s all the way over on the left. It borders Pennsylvania and Lake Erie way over there on the west side of New York.

And that little red dot in Chautauqua County, that is the town of Jamestown. Population, roughly 31,000.

In the year 2004, a doctor practicing out of little Jamestown, New York, an internist named Dr. Rudolph Mueller, received a kind of amazing honor. He was named Physician of the Year. Congratulations. Physician of the Year. Obviously, a very big deal.

He got the good news in the form of a fax from a high ranking congressman in Washington. Which is kind of an unexpected, unsolicited weird way to hear, but the Physician of the Year award, which is a nice thing, then you got down to the fine print. You got to the question of what exactly this Dr. Mueller would have to do to collect this prestigious award.

It turns out that to get that award, the National Republican Congressional Committee would need the doctor to write them a check for about $1,200. He told ABC News` investigative unit at the time, quote, "to actually buy your award and it`s not from your peers or from your patients or from the community that you serve, it`s really deceptive. It`s not being honest. It`s just not right."

But Dr. Mueller was not the only one. Hundreds of other doctors were also told that year that they had just won Physician of the Year. And it was all part of the same scam. It was a scam run by Republican congressman named Tom DeLay. The scam targeted doctors, told them they`d won this prestigious award, told them that because they were so famous and so well- regarded that they were being invited to join something called the Physicians Advisory Board, which is a very prestigious thing.

In order to go to events for this fake prestigious advisory board they`d just been signed up to, though, they would have to shell out something like $5,000 and again that money would go to the National Republican Congressional Committee.

It was a scam. It`s a fund-raising scam run by then-House Majority Leader Tom DeLay back in the early 2000s.

Now, Tom DeLay eventually left Congress in an ethics scandal that led to him being convicted and then his conviction being overturned. We do still have the lasting benefit of this amazing mug shot from that time in his life.

But Tom DeLay`s time in Congress had to come to an end. His doctor scam did not end, though. He passed it on, apparently.

In 2009, a congressman out of Georgia started running the same con, under a different name. He created what he called the Physicians Council for Responsible Reform, and he sent out these faxes, sent out these letters. He promised doctors who joined his exclusive group that they would be, quote, "receiving special briefings and providing input to Republican members of Congress." The congressman promised that these select physicians on this council would be providing input to House Republican Leader John Boehner, Congressman Eric Cantor and others.

None of that was true. This was just the same con that Tom DeLay used to use. All they were doing was raising money. They`re basically shaking down doctors for donations.

And in some instances, this congressman even used the names of his marks, used the names of these physicians he`s targeted on this fake press release, he would actually put those out, put the doctors` names out publicly as if they were in support of this mission even though he`d never gotten those doctors` permissions to raise funds in their name.

Since June 2009, this congressman raised more than a million dollars for the National Republican Congressional Committee, but it was a scam. It was a scam run by a Republican congressman from Georgia.

And that`s the same guy that Donald Trump just tapped to be his Health and Human Services secretary. His name is Tom Price. He`s an orthopedic surgeon by trade. He`s been in Congress since 2005. Before that, he served in the Georgia state Senate.

As a congressman, he`s known for being very anti-gay. He co-sponsored a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. During the BP oil spill in the gulf, he was very famous for siding with BP who spilled the oil. He was a founding member of the Tea Party Caucus. At one point he said he considered running against John Boehner for speaker because he didn`t think John Boehner was right wing enough.

But the thing he`s most made his mark on in Congress is for being the number one anti-Obamacare congressman among the Republican caucus. In January 2010, you might remember during the State of the Union that year, President Obama talked about how he want to work with Congress. He promised to talk to the other side after the Republicans had had such strong resistance to the Obamacare legislation.

Two days after the State of the Union, you might remember then-Congressman Mike Pence who was then the third ranking Republican in the House, he helped coordinate President Obama`s taking a visit to the annual House Republican meeting. And attending the opposite party`s meeting is not an unprecedented thing. George W. Bush did it. President Obama had gone to the Republican meeting in 2009.

But in 2010, there were cameras there. It was going to be televised live. It was at that meeting that Tom Price of Georgia decided he would go head- to-head with President Obama on Obamacare.


REP. TOM PRICE (R), GEORGIA: You have repeatedly said most recently at the State of the Union that Republicans have offered no ideas and no solutions in spite of the fact --

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don`t think I said that. What I said was it would -- within the context of health care. I remember that speech pretty well. It was only two days ago.

I said I welcomed ideas that you might provide. I didn`t say that you hadn`t provided ideas. I said I welcome those ideas that you`ll provide.

PRICE: President, multiple times from your administration, there have come statements that Republicans have no ideas and no solutions, in spite of the fact that we`ve offered, as demonstrated today, positive solutions to all of the challenges we face, including energy and the economy and health care.

OBAMA: Tom, look, I have to say that on the -- let`s just take the health care debate. It`s probably not constructive for us to try to debate a particular bill, that this isn`t the venue to do it. But if you say we can offer coverage for all Americans and it won`t cost a penny, that`s just not true. You can`t structure a bill where suddenly 30 million people have coverage and it costs nothing. It can`t just be political assertions that aren`t substantiated when it comes to the actual details of policy because otherwise we`re going to be selling the American people a bill of goods.


MADDOW: Selling the American people a bill of goods. President Obama responding to Georgia Congressman Tom Price in 2010.

Tom Price did release his own alternative Obamacare. It was never endorsed by any of his party`s leaders. But now, he is up to run Health and Human Services for the next administration.

I should note that his views aren`t even mainstream even within his own party. Take for example the part of Obamacare that says insurers have to accept everybody regardless of preexisting conditions. A lot of Republicans say they agree with that part of Obamacare. President-elect Donald Trump says he agrees with that part.


INTERVIEWER: Let me ask you about Obamacare. Which you say you`re going to repeal and replace. When you replace it, are you going to make sure that people with preconditions are still covered?

TRUMP: Yes, because it happens to be one of the strongest assets.


MADDOW: Happens to be one of the strongest assets, says the president- elect.

Tom Price on the other hand thinks that that strongest assess is, quote, "a terrible idea". A week after the election, he told reporters he expects Republicans to move forward on changes to Medicare in the next six to eight months, including quite possibly privatizing Medicare by the summertime he wants to get ready to do that.

On women`s health, he has exactly the record you might expect. He introduced a 2015 budget that would defund Planned Parenthood entirely. Planned Parenthood gives him a zero rating. He thinks that employers should be allowed to fire their workers if they use birth control or if they have an abortion.

He famously said Obamacare shouldn`t require coverage for birth control because as far as he`s concerned not one woman in the entire United States of America has any trouble affording contraception.


REPORTER: Obviously one of the main sticking points is whether or not contraception coverage is going to be covered under health insurance plans and at hospitals, and whether or not they`re going to be able to pay for it, especially for low income women, right? I mean, I guess where do we leave these women if this rule is rescinded?

PRICE: Bring me one woman who has been left behind. Bring me one. There`s not one.


MADDOW: Birth control. Nobody has any trouble getting birth control.

What should contraception -- why should contraception be part of health coverage? Bring me one woman.

President-elect Trump`s nominee to be in charge of Health and Human Services -- I have just the person you want to hear respond to that here next. Stay with us.



REPORTER: Obviously one of the main sticking points is whether or not contraception coverage is going to be covered under health insurance plans and at hospitals, and whether or not they`re going to be able to pay for it, especially for low income women, right? I mean, I guess where do we leave these women if this rule is rescinded?

PRICE: Bring me one woman who has been left behind. Bring me one. There`s not one.


MADDOW: Congressman Tom Price of Georgia now slated to be secretary of Health and Human Services in the incoming presidential administration.

Joining us now for her take on this is Nancy Northup. She`s president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights.

Nancy, it`s nice to have you here. Thanks for being here.


MADDOW: Planned Parenthood has put out a statement in opposition, in sort of an alarmed statement in opposition to Congressman Price being slated for the HHS job. Do you have a reaction to the nomination?

NORTHUP: Well, it is an alarming nomination. I mean, Health and Human Services exists as an agency to promote the well-being and the health of the American people. And President-elect Trump has just nominated someone who wants to take away health care, not provide it.

As you pointed out in your earlier segment, he is against the Affordable Care Act. And that has really important provisions for co-pay contraceptive provision, the no preexisting conditions means, you know, they can`t bar you from pregnancy coverage if you, you know, had a C section.

And the fact that women can`t be charged than men for their insurance. He wants to take that away. He wants to defund Planned Parenthood, a place that millions of women go a year to get birth control, to get STD testing, to get cancer screening. He`s about taking away healthcare, not promoting it and it makes him an inappropriate choice.

MADDOW: Well, he says that what he proposes is basically a market-based alternative approach to meeting the country`s health care needs. He thinks that Obamacare is a disaster. He says the Affordable Care Act -- all the things that went wrong with it that he said would go wrong with it and he thinks that his proposal for replacing it is something that would suit the country better.

Do you see any room for working with him in terms of what he`s proposed for replacing Obamacare? He is one of the people who says he has a replacement.

NORTHUP: He has demonstrated he doesn`t understand the reality of women`s lives. So, when he makes the comment that no women can`t afford birth control, that`s just not true. I mean, under the Affordable Care Act, with the no co-pay for contraception, a huge increase of women who were in insurance programs that are private are now able to get no co-pay. Things that are expensive, like IUDs, very effective long-term contraceptives out of reach for many women without that no co-pay provision.

So, he doesn`t understand the reality of, you know, women`s lives. He`s also, of course, very anti-choice. He doesn`t accept the Constitution, which protects women`s rights. Just won a Supreme Court case four months ago that said women have to have access to safe and legal abortion and the government can`t use fake reasons the take it away.

And so, it is very alarming to have somebody appointed to be secretary of health and services who would like to take away that constitutional right of women.

MADDOW: One of the things on which he is kind of -- I don`t want to describe him as out there on a limb because I think a lot of the Republican conference is moving this way. But he has said that employers should be able to fire you if your employer learns that you have had an abortion or if your employer learns that you are using birth control and your employer disapproves of that for whatever reason.

Is that something on which you expect to actually have to be litigating? Is that something where you expect him to actually move? Or is that a fantasy on the right?

NORTHUP: Well, I would -- hopefully, it`s not something that they would try to do. I mean, for heaven sakes, discriminating about health care that only women need is clearly sex discrimination. Women have worked long and hard to be in the workforce, to be able to control their reproductive lives and the notion that their employers can fire them about their choices about family planning is outrageous.

MADDOW: Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights -- hank you for being here. Appreciate it.

NORTHUP: Thank you.

MADDOW: All right. We`ll be right back. Lots to come tonight. Stay with us.


MADDOW: I have to tell you there is some noise tonight, sort of inchoate noise that we may be waiting on another announcement of some kind from the Trump transition effort.

Now, I`m telling you it`s noise. I don`t actually know if we are going to hear something. I can just tell you that there`s hustle and bustle inside the news business right now tonight with people expecting to hear something but they`re not sure what. And I can`t tell you conclusively if we are going to hear something or not.

But there`s noise. Now you know what I know.

One thing I can show you is this picture, which we just got tonight from a reporter from Yahoo News. This is obviously Donald -- Donald Trump and Mitt Romney at dinner tonight. They`re at a fancy, expensive restaurant in a Trump Hotel in New York. Sort of both faces tell you all you need to know.

Presumably, they`re talking about the secretary of state job that has been dangled but apparently not promised to Mitt Romney who was such an outspoken critic of Mr. Trump`s during the campaign. We don`t yet know what the outcome of this meeting but this picture alone is sort of worth many thousands of words.

We did hear on camera a moment ago from Mitt Romney, but he didn`t say anything definitive about that job or whether it`s been offered to him or whether he`s taking it. We`ll keep an eye in case there`s something more definitive tonight out of the transition effort. There is still noise that we might hear something.

Stay with us.


MADDOW: On election night, the word from North Carolina`s governor was -- wait.


GOV. PAT MCCRORY (R), NORTH CAROLINA: There is a process for these types of things. So, we`ve got to let that process work. And we`ve got to respect the election system because no one respects democracy more than Governor Pat McCrory and Ann McCrory. OK?


MADDOW: To be clear, he`s talking about himself in the third person and his wife who is right there.

So, here we are, three weeks later and the people of North Carolina still don`t have a winner in that race. North Carolina, they don`t know who their governor`s going to be.

The Democrat Roy Cooper has declared victory. The incumbent Republican Governor Pat McCrory is refusing to concede still. McCrory has been alleging voter fraud on a large scale in the race. His campaign has claimed that dead people voted and felons voted and people voted multiple times.

Now, for the most part, these claims are just claims, they`ve not produced any evidence of fraud. But part of what`s making the story crazy is that in North Carolina, one of the privileges of being governor is you get to appoint the members of all the elections boards around the state. And yesterday, there was this remarkable turn in what`s going on in North Carolina because the Republican-controlled state election board handpicked by Governor McCrory, yesterday, they essentially instructed most of the local election boards around the state that they should go ahead and dismiss the protests filed by Governor McCrory`s campaign against the vote count, which is a big deal. Unexpected and it is a big deal.

I mean, basically, unless those local boards have enough challenged votes in their counties to affect the outcome of this race, the counties are being told they`re just supposed to just go ahead and finish up, finalize their numbers.

Now, the state election board is still looking into these McCrory campaign allegations in a couple of counties. They`re scheduled to meet again tomorrow to discuss allegations in one heavily Democratic county, Durham County. So, there`s that to watch for.

But in the three weeks since Election Day, the vote margin separating Governor McCrory and Democratic Attorney General Roy Cooper, the vote margin in favor of the Democrat has only gotten bigger since Election Day. It`s doubled.

As of the start of this show tonight, Roy Cooper was ahead by 9,800 votes. And to be sure, 9,800 votes out of more than 4.7 million votes in that cast, it`s a razor thin margin, but that many votes, more than 9,000 votes, that`s less than 100 votes from the point where Governor McCrory would no longer even legally be entitled to mount a statewide recount. He`s this close to game over, but he`s still not conceding.

So, what`s the endgame here? North Carolina, how does this get resolved and how long does everybody have to wait and at what cost are we going to finally get a result in this case?

North Carolina`s Attorney General Roy Cooper declared victory over Pat McCrory nine days ago, but this one isn`t done.

Joining us now is David Graham. He`s a staff writer with "The Atlantic" who has been covering this story since the election.

Mr. Graham, thanks for joining us tonight. Nice to have you here.


MADDOW: Why is it taking so long for this race to be resolved? We`ve had close races in other places, but this one really seems to be quite a ping- pong match.

GRAHAM: Well, it`s all these protests and challenges. The McCrory campaign and the Republican Party and some allies have been filing these claims saying there are questions about the vote totals in certain counties and pushing the process back and delaying both counties getting their specific counts, then the state certifying the totals overall. That just pushed everything back.

MADDOW: Have they been producing compelling evidence that there is widespread fraud, widespread illegal voting of the type and the magnitude that would overturn this result?

GRAHAM: Not really. And you see that in the case that these county boards of election, which are all controlled by Republicans, have generally been rejecting the complaints and saying they`re unfounded or they`re too late.

You get claims that there are felons voting, but when you look at those claims, many of the actual names that are brought up tend to be duplicates or people with similar names or people that committed misdemeanors but not felonies. And so, there`s not really -- and even those cases are fairly limited. We`re not looking at huge numbers, certainly not 10,000 votes it appears in aggregate that would shift the race.

MADDOW: It was an interesting development for me. I`ve been sort of watching this in a tertiary way. There`s a lot going on in the news, lots to keep an eye on right now.

But this North Carolina race, what really pinged for me there yesterday was the decision by the state to tell all these county election boards, you know what? Unless you`re dealing with a huge number of contested ballots, you should basically start to be almost done with this now. They seem to - - even though these are Republican-controlled board, they seem to be getting to a place where they`re going to wind it down.

But what about these couple of outstanding counties including Durham County, that they`re going to be focusing on tomorrow?

GRAHAM: Yes, Durham is the one to watch. And today, the chair of the state Republican Party said basically either Durham will do a recount or else, we`re going to demand a recount for the full state. So, that`s really what we`re looking at.

You know, Durham is a case on Election Day there were a lot of national stories about problems there. There was a problem with computer systems for logging voters in, it pushed the results back. So, you had about 90,000 votes that came in late.

McCrory says that that suggests that there may be some chicanery, something is up and they want a full recount there. You know, Durham County tends to be a big Democratic stronghold. There are a lot of black voter. It`s also a place where McCrory outperformed Donald Trump who won the state.

So, you know, there`s not really any evidence of fraud there. And the chair at the county board, who, of course, is a Republican, also says you count all the votes and it adds up. This is all clean.

MADDOW: David Graham, staff writer at "The Atlantic", thanks for helping us sort of disambiguate this story. Appreciate your help tonight.

GRAHAM: Thank you.

MADDOW: Thanks.

All right. We`ve got more to come tonight. Stay with us.


MADDOW: Hold on a second, I`ve got to click this thing in order to make this work. Ready? I think I can do it. All right, do we have it?

Yes. Got it. First of all, we got the inadvertently hilarious picture of the Mitt Romney/Donald Trump dinner picture tonight. That`s so perfect.

Now, because I just clicked that thing, now we`ve got Mitt Romney in his own words talking about how awesome it was to sit down and dine with the man who he quite recently denounced as fundamentally dishonest, a con artist, and an embarrassment to the nation.


MITT ROMNEY (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Like old times. I had a wonderful evening with President-elect Trump. We have another discussion about affairs throughout the world, and these discussions I`ve had with him have been enlightening and interesting and engaging. I`ve enjoyed them, very much.

I was also very impressed by the remarks he made on his victory night. By the way, it`s not easy winning. I know that myself. He did something I tried to and was unsuccessful in. He won the general election, and he continues with a mission of inclusion and bringing people together and his vision connected with people in a very powerful way.


MADDOW: Mitt Romney at length and in great detail and with a lot of attention denounced Donald Trump as fundamentally a phony and a danger to the nation and the world, but now, he`s just another part of the show and tell transition that happens in the gold, gilt lobby of Donald Trump`s apartment building as everyone turns up to kiss the ring and apparently beg for a job.

We don`t know yet the status of whether or not Mitt Romney is going to be joining the Trump administration he is so enamored with. But even just tonight, there`s an interesting chapter in what will be his biography.

Stay tuned.


MADDOW: When the mortgage crisis hit in 2008, when banks started collapsing under the weight of the terrible mortgage scam they had been getting rich off for years with no regard for consequences. When the crisis hit, and Wall Street started to crater and firms started to collapse and the economy started to go off the cliff and everybody else was trying to figure out what we should do to save the economy, there were a few really rich guys who looked around at that ongoing nuclear economic disaster and thought -- I bet I can make a buck here.

One California billionaire decided he would make his buck in the great financial catastrophe of 2008 by getting together with a few other billionaires and buying one of the banks that had collapsed. Now, once they had that bank, they then proceeded to kick 35,000 families out of their homes before selling that bank back to the government at a profit.

There were a lot of villains in the financial crisis and its aftermath. Not all of them were villainous enough to get their own Bel-Air mansions picketed by throngs of angry people who were being thrown out of their homes. But that was what happened in 2008. It was this 23,000 square foot, $26 million Bel-Air mansion set upon by angry protesters.

The protests eventually waned, though. And more recently, that same guy has been popping up at Trump Tower, a lot.

And as of tonight, NBC News reports that that guy, his name is Steve Mnuchin, is being tapped by President-elect Donald Trump to be our nation`s new treasury secretary. And this official means that nobody is allowed to call Donald Trump a populist anymore.

This ex-Goldman Sachs, the hedge fund billionaire, a guy who`s literally described in the headlines as a foreclosure machine, that`s who Donald Trump is putting in charge at Treasury. Drain the swamp, baby. I mean, Democrats are not in any position to put up much of a fight about anything right now in Washington, but it is possible to believe that Mr. Got Picketed for Kicking 35,000 Families out of their Homes, it`s possible to believe that he might encounter more widespread opposition than Washington is counting on.

We`ll see. Watch this space.


MADDOW: Nine a.m. tomorrow, something important is going to happen in politics that we are not going to be allowed to watch. As you know, Democrats are out of power as of January in Washington in a big way. There are three big Democratic leader jobs that will still exist as of January. Leader of the Democrats in the Senate, that will be Schumer. The leader of the Democratic Party, the fight is on in a big way for that, gazillion people running. And leader of the Democrats in the House, which now is Nancy Pelosi. That`s likely to continue to be the case.

But 9:00 a.m. tomorrow, there will be a secret ballot election on House Democrats to decide whether to keep Pelosi or whether to choose her challenger, Ohio Congressman Tim Ryan. Pelosi is widely and highly favored to hold on to that seat, but secret ballot, we`ll see, 9:00 a.m. tomorrow, Eastern Time.

That does it for us tonight. We will see you again tomorrow.


Good evening, Lawrence.