The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 12/1/2016

Guests: Tom Steyer, Michael McFaul

Show: THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW Date: December 1, 2016 Guest: Tom Steyer, Michael McFaul

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chris. Can you come over?

CHRIS HAYES, "ALL IN" HOST: I`m on my way.

MADDOW: Thank you very much. We`ll see Chris Hayes in a different light, literally, in a moment.

Thanks to you at home for staying with us this hour.

It`s a weird night. We`re officially having a weird night in the news.

First of all, we just, through the last hour, just covered this. And it was interesting. The chyron at the bottom of the screen, that`s like the - - see, there it is, the lower third thing, the red banner. The chyron on the screen for most of our coverage for that live event tonight said, "Trump holds first rally since election."

And that`s just weird. I mean, I`m not criticizing the producers who wrote that headline. It`s true. It`s just weird, right? It`s weird.

You have to sort of caption things that way as if it is a normal thing that there would be rallies since the election, right? As if this is the first one that we`ve been waiting for, as if it`s a normal thing that a president-elect would keep holding campaign rallies after the campaign was over, after the election.

I mean, presidents definitely hold big public events, right? Presidents all the way back to the beginning of their being presidents, they have done big public events for their own re-election efforts or to try to elect other candidates who they support in other American elections, or frequently presidents have done big public events after they`re elected to try to sell the country on a specific idea, like supporting the privatization of Social Security, we`ll do rallies for that or supporting the auto bailout or something, right?

Presidents do public events. But this tonight, this Trump thing that we just saw, this really isn`t something that we`ve had before in American politics. This tonight, which we just covered, this was a campaign rally. This was Trump holds first rally since election.

This was a campaign rally. This was just a rally in support of Donald Trump. This was for no other purpose. It was not for an election, it was not for another candidate, it was not for a policy, not to get the country to do any specific thing. It was just a rally for him.

And as a country, this is not something we have a tradition of. I mean, outside of campaigns, we`re not a country that is usually asked to convene a mass rally in support of our leader, in the absence of any other organizing imperative. But apparently, now, we`re a country that does that. At least we did that tonight in Cincinnati.

And we`re told that this rally for the new president, for the president- elect, this will be the first of many rallies like this that he holds. So, that alone, just covering that, rallies since the election, that makes for a weird night.

We have not heard from the president-elect for 3 1/2 weeks, since the election, until tonight. Now that he has done this event, now we know what he has had on his mind all this time, what he`s wanted to talk about all this time. Turns out what he really wanted to talk about all this time is how much he won the election by and also how terrible the media is.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT-ELECT: Remember when they said, he cannot win North Carolina. So we had just won Ohio, Iowa, and we had just won Florida. Breaking news, Donald Trump has won Florida. They say, whoa.

And we won it big. But then the people back there, the extremely dishonest press said -




Very dishonest people.

How about when a major anchor who hosted a debate started crying when she realized that we won? How about it?



No. Tell me this isn`t true.

Remember, you cannot get to 270, the dishonest press. Remember when they said Donald Trump is going to lose to some guy I never even heard of. Who is that guy?

He is going to lose to this guy. They go, for weeks, Texas is in play. Then you turn on the television like two minutes later. Donald Trump has won Texas. You know.

These are very, very dishonest people.

The bottom line is we won. We won. We won big.


MADDOW: We have not heard from him in 3 1/2 weeks since the election, but now we know what`s been on his mind ever since that he`s been waiting to talk to us about.

Joining us now is my friend Chris Hayes, the host of "ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES."

Chris, I feel like I have to have another reality check with you.

HAYES: I know.

MADDOW: Thank you for being here.

HAYES: I`m glad to be here because I was so processing what I had just seen on my own show that I had a hard time putting words to it.

MADDOW: I should say just logistically, first of all, it was late.


MADDOW: He was supposed to speak at 7:00, he didn`t start speaking until an hour late. So, it ended up eating most of your show.


MADDOW: But you watched in real time.

HAYES: I watched it in real time and part of -- look, this is something that is evident early on, which is the man is who he is, temperamentally, personality wise, that was never going to change. People would always be talking about pivots. There would always be this kind of intense desire from the Republican establishment parts of the punditry to will him to be a different person.

MADDOW: Once he`s elected, he`s going to be sobered and changed.

HAYES: Yes, that is not true. That`s what tonight was. The campaign will continue for four years, the rallies will probably continue. The presidency will look different than it has in modern time times perhaps --


HAYES: Ever. It will look different than it ever has.

It will be this kind of, you know, Berlusconi is probably the best analog in Italy. This kind of a constant, every day is a national drama with him at the center. The thing you said about kind of, you know, a rally to sort of luxuriate in the leader --

MADDOW: For him, for him, yes.

HAYES: -- and to sort of pursue his vendettas against -- I mean, it`s just all new. I mean, it has a lot of the features of kind of cults of personality, authoritarian populist leader in other places, Erdogan, Putin, Berlusconi --

MADDOW: Orban, yes.

HAYES: -- Viktor Orban in Hungary. I mean, that`s what we saw. You know, that`s what we saw --

MADDOW: During the campaign and we`re still seeing it now. No change.

HAYES: No change. I mean, the other thing, we saw the division, right, between like he wants to talk about the media and how much he won by and he wants to relive election night, which he did, and then he`ll go back to the prompter and the prompter is all Steve Bannon`s vision of sort of American first nationalism, this sort of new ideological core for the Republican Party.

It`s an ideological core that in many ways comes from the John Birch Society, like circa 2005, 2006, when I was reporting on them opposing the NAFTA superhighway, which didn`t exist, which is like, sort of get our troops out of the Middle East, stop spending money there, shut down the wall with immigrants, stop these trade deals. This kind of -- the question of what this looks like as a governing strategy or whether it`s just Ryanism (ph) because Donald Trump is out doing rallies --


HAYES: -- that`s the big unanswered question right now.

MADDOW: Well, I do think that there`s an interesting question, though, as to what`s going on with the media, right? So, part of what you and I have to deal with is like, well, this is happening in our hours.

HAYES: Right.

MADDOW: He`s the president-elect. How much --

HAYES: This is first appearance.

MADDOW: This is the first appearance. Obviously, it`s important what he says. We haven`t heard from him in 3 1/2 weeks. There`s so much media gnashing of teeth over whether or not Trump has too much of just a camera just put on him. And that`s -- I think there`s a good argument to be had about that. I think there`s good argument on both sides as to why that happened during the campaign.

But now that he`s president, the sign that says you should put the camera on him wins, right? Once he`s president, now that he`s president-elect, he`s going to be president, you just put the camera on the president when he speaks. That`s generally how these things go. That feels different for him as a president than it does for anybody else that`s had that job since we`ve been in media.

HAYES: Absolutely.

MADDOW: There`s also a question of what`s going on with him attacking the media the way he is and what that means for the First Amendment, what that means for the kinds of journalistic coverage he`s going to get.

HAYES: Absolutely. Today we know today for instance at the Carrier factory, one of the investigative reporters, local reporter who had been looking into Carrier was denied credentials. Now, it looks like Carrier was the one that denied him credentials during this visit, but that`s not good. I mean -- and you know, the Trump people are very clear it wasn`t them, so be clear about who did that.

MADDOW: But then he gets up at the podium and he goes after an anchor who hosted a debate who cried, I mean, to personally single out somebody -- to intimidate somebody like that in the press, I mean, that`s just --

HAYES: I don`t have --

MADDOW: You don`t have that.


HAYES: -- to essentially get rid of the White House press corps. All of these traditions might fall by the wayside. We don`t know. But the fact of the matter is he feels confident that he has a channel to talk to the people he needs to talk to without, you know, the, quote, "dishonest media."

At the same time he also loves the media playing the foil. One of the things that the press is in the midst of figuring out is, are you playing the role of the heel in the wrestling match to his face even if you`re mixing it up with him?

MADDOW: Mm-hmm.

HAYES: Because there`s some way in which this national psycho drama around him has been constructed when he`s fighting with the press, even if the press are fighting with him over legitimate things and really trying to hold him to account, which happens often, it is still this spectacle of this kind of psycho drama, this kind of professional wrestling enterprise that he has kind of created. Berlusconi was the same way.

I mean, I know Berlusconi better than other leaders because I spent time in Italy and I study here and I have Italian friends and Italian relatives, and he really did do the same time. There was this constant soap opera around Silvio and what he was doing, and who he was fighting with. And most of the time, he was fighting with the media and then the other half he owned, and they were broadcasting Silvio`s message.

MADDOW: Right. And the only thing he couldn`t frame at the end was the child prostitution prosecution.

HAYES: Yes, that`s right.

MADDOW: Yes, the bunga bunga.


MADDOW: Chris Hayes, host of "ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" -- thank you for staying late, my friend.

HAYES: Anytime.

MADDOW: Good to have you here.

All right. It`s interesting, in terms of how they are handling this coming out day for the president-elect. They`ve done this unprecedented campaign rally as Chris was just saying, a campaign rally basically without a campaign.

They also had the president-elect give victory lap remarks today at a company that is about to send 1,300 American jobs to Mexico. We`re going to have more on that later on in the show.

But this is the coming out day for the new president-elect. The first we`ve heard from him since the election. First, we heard from him for 3 1/2 weeks. And for 3 1/2 weeks, they presumably have been planning this return to the stage for him.

But in the middle of all that tonight, in this very carefully messaged day, this big day, he`s back in the middle of all that, we also got an interruption. We also got a big, new, totally unrelated announcement unexpectedly. Trump has chosen retired Marine General James Mattis for secretary of defense, leaked to "The Washington Post" tonight by people, quote, "familiar with the decision."

OK, that`s a big deal. Secretary of defense. This is one of the biggies. This is huge news. Or maybe not.

After "The Washington Post" published that scoop tonight, the Trump folks took it back. The Trump transition spokesman tweeted out quickly -- no, no, a decision has not been made with regard to the secretary of defense. OK, right?

So, the article is wrong, the choice has not been made, at least not yet. Good thing because that big news, of course, would step all over everything else they were so carefully trying to convey today. But then it was back on. Then Donald Trump`s son who is involved in the transition at the highest levels, then he tweeted a link to the article that said Mattis would be the choice.

OK. So, maybe Mattis is the choice. And then Trump`s son deleted that tweet. So, OK, maybe it`s not -- so the message of the day is victory lap and for a minute, it was also we have a secretary of defense and then they took it back and said, no, we do not have a secretary of defense, then maybe we do, maybe we don`t.

And then tonight, in Cincinnati, turns out we do have a secretary of defense after all.


TRUMP: I don`t want to tell you the this because I want to save the suspension for next week.

So, I will not tell you, I refuse to tell you -- and don`t let it outside of this room. Do you promise? Raise your hand. Promise, promise.

So, I will not tell you that one of our great, great generals -- don`t let it outside, right? And, of course, the press is very honest, so they`ll never let this go. Even though it`s all live. We`ve got about seven stations live.

We are going to appoint Mad Dog Mattis as our secretary of defense.


But we`re not announcing it until Monday, so don`t tell anybody. Mad Dog. He`s great. He is great.


MADDOW: Marine General James Mattis not formally announced as the new administration`s pick for secretary of defense. Not announced yet, but also announced by the president-elect as that news, which is really big news, right? That news was breaking then unbreaking, then breaking again tonight.

I have to tell you, MSNBC also tonight reported some truly astonishing news about the other most high profile job in the new administration, about which the transition has yet to make an announcement. You`ve probably noticed there`s been an incredible amount of attention to the meetings, funny and otherwise, between Mitt Romney and the president-elect after Mitt Romney spent the whole campaign denouncing Donald Trump as a fraud, a conman and fundamentally dishonest person and a danger to the public.

It`s been a spectacle to watch that same Mitt Romney fawn over Donald Trump now that he`s president-elect and now that the Trump folks have been publicly musing about whether or not Mitt Romney might conceivably make a good secretary of state.

The other named candidates, possible candidates for the secretary of state job have been former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and former General David Petraeus, which would be an unusual choice right now if only for the sheer fact that Petraeus is literally on probation right now after pleading guilty to mishandling classified information and lying to the FBI about it. It`s hard to say I`ve got to go to my confirmation hearings but I`ve got to check with my probation officer to see if I`m cleared to cross state lines.

I mean, the three biggest jobs in the cabinet are attorney general, that`s going to be Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions, secretary of defense, we have learned tonight that`s going to be General James Mattis. But the third one is secretary of state, still outstanding.

And tonight, after all the attention to the Romney thing, Giuliani, lately Petraeus, tonight, MSNBC reports that the secretary of state search is no longer confined to those candidates that have been previously named by the Trump folks. Believe it or don`t, MSNBC reports there are two new men being considered for the secretary of state job.

Are you ready?

Recognize either of these two guys? If you don`t, the good news is that even though you are going to have to memorize their names, you`re only going to have to memorize one job title between them because MSNBC reports tonight that the two new people in contention for secretary of state are the current CEO of ExxonMobil, Rex Tillerson, and the former CEO of ExxonMobil, Lee Raymond. Really?

Joining us now on short notice, I should say, because we just got in this news. Joining us now, I`m very pleased to say, is Tom Steyer. He`s founder and president of NextGen Climate.

Mr. Steyer, thank you very much for your time, particularly on short notice.


MADDOW: When I heard this news tonight, I have not been reporting on every name that`s been floated for every job including the secretary of state job. But when the current and former CEO of ExxonMobil were reported tonight as possibilities, I feel flabbergasted. I wanted to get your response to this news.

STEYER: I think this is completely chilling news. The idea that we with turn over the secretary of state to the head of, the head of or the former head of the largest private oil and gas company in the world, a company which is a partner with Vladimir Putin in Russia, which is currently being investigated criminally for misleading the American public about climate change is something that should scare every American.

MADDOW: How do you see the issue of climate change, the issue of ExxonMobil`s business? How do you see that fitting into international diplomacy? Obviously, if we were talking about energy secretary, this might be a different discussion. This would, I think, flabbergast different people.

But how does Exxon function in international relations?

STEYER: Well, the largest agreement ever was the Paris agreement on climate last year. A hundred ninety-four countries agreed that we needed to control greenhouse gas emissions for the safety and welfare of people around the world. To basically throw that agreement away, to say we`re going to follow the lead of international oil, the interests of international oil and Vladimir Putin is to take American leadership of the world and oppose it to 193 other countries. It`s to isolate us and to basically give up our leadership around the world. It`s a chilling prospect.

MADDOW: Steve Coll, one of the great journalists of our time, he wrote a book called "Private Empire" about Exxon, which is one of the best books I read in the last decade. And one of the things I found absolutely striking and sort of paradigm changing for me, in his portrayal of Exxon, was that they basically -- if they look around the world at their international interests and their basic take on it as a company is, you know, governments come and go. Countries come and go, but Exxon is forever. International oil interests transcend countries, outlast countries, are bigger and richer than most of the countries we have to deal with. We are in that, words of his title, a private empire.

That`s the sort of thing I feel like, I wanted to talk to you as an expert on climate issues and the politics of these things, that`s the part of it that I feel I can`t grasp. How a company that sees itself as bigger than countries could represent our country in any way that made any sense for the people of the United States of America.

STEYER: The idea that a company based in the United States of America would put itself ahead of the interests of its fellow citizens I find shocking and awful. The idea that somehow an oil company has interests that go further than the interests and are deeper than the interests of the American people, I find shocking. And the idea that they can ignore science and proceed to line their own pockets and make as much money as possible, regardless of the impact on their fellow citizens, I find shocking.

MADDOW: Tom Steyer, founder and president of Nextgen Climate -- thanks for joining us tonight.

STEYER: Thanks, Rachel.

MADDOW: Nice to see you. I appreciate it.

Again, that news tonight from MSNBC, reporting that the secretary of state job is wide open, that the names that you`ve heard before tonight are not necessarily the only names in contention and that the two new names that should be seen as in the hopper for secretary of state are the current and immediately past CEO of the largest oil company in the world, ExxonMobil.

Much more to come on this very strange news night. Stay with us.


MADDOW: Do you recognize this foot? Do you recognize that? See right now that smudge. Do you recognize this very famous foot? The very famous blotch of blood on that ankle?

The owner of this very famous foot and bloody ankle, I`m telling you, explains what went wrong today on what was supposed to be a big political victory lap through the heartland. He explains why it didn`t work. That story is next. Stay with us.


MADDOW: The New England Patriots football team used to be called the Boston Patriots. And while they were base in Boston, they played at a whole bunch of different fields including Fenway Park. They never had a regular home stadium when they were the Boston Patriots.

But in the early `70s, they finally got a stadium in a suburban town outside Boston called Foxborough. Nobody thought they should change their names to the Foxborough Patriots, though, in part because even until today, nobody can spell Foxborough.

But that is when they got their new name. They didn`t become the Foxborough Patriots. They stopped being the Boston Patriots, but they started being, instead, the New England Patriots.

That made sense not just for spelling purposes because New England is easier to spell than Foxborough. It made sense because they`re the only NFL team in the whole region of New England.

Now, the Red Sox baseball team, they still call themselves the Boston Red Sox. They do have a home field in Boston where they play. But like the Patriots, the Red Sox are the only pro team of their kind in all of New England. They`re the only major league baseball team in the whole region.

And as a person who lives in New England, I`m a Massachusetts resident, I can tell you culturally it`s a bonding thing that there`s just the Red Sox and they`re just the Patriots for all of New England. It`s a defining thing about that whole region of the country that we all, for rooting in baseball, we all root for the Red Sox. And if we`re rooting in football, we all root for the Patriots.

It`s this one small thing that holds that whole region of all of different states together culturally. Even though both of those teams are headquartered and play all their home games in Massachusetts.

I think, though, I think the desire of the other New England states who love their pro-teams, right, but they know that Massachusetts is home field, right, I think the desire of the other New England states to exert a little ownership, right, to stake a little claim to these beloved New England pro sports teams, I think that desire on the part of non- Massachusetts New England states, I think that might have played a little bit of a role in one really, really, really stupid thing that Rhode Island did in 2010.

There`s a famous former Red Sox pitcher named Curt Schilling and Curt Schilling had retired from baseball and decided what he wanted to do was start a videogame company. And as of 2010, they hadn`t yet released a single game. They were not making any money. But they were headed up by this famous pitcher from the Red Sox.

And they were operating out of Massachusetts. They had their headquarters for this video game company in Maynard, Massachusetts.

Well, in 2010, the state of Rhode Island pounced. They decided they would steal this company out of Massachusetts. They would lure Curt Schilling and his embryonic video game company to leave Maynard, Massachusetts, and instead plant their roots in Rhode Island. In order to get them to that, in order to get that company out of Massachusetts and into Rhode Island, they threw a ton of money at him. The state did.

The taxpayers of the state of Rhode Island took on loan guarantees of $75 million. So, this company is borrowing money. The taxpayers of the state of Rhode Island said, we`ll guarantee your loan. If you can`t pay it back, we`ll be on the hook -- $75 million to bring this one baseball pitcher`s video game company over to their state. And it was a terrible idea. It was a disaster.

The company did release one video game once and then they went bankrupt. And they fired everybody who worked for them. They got all that money in Rhode Island in 2010 by the spring of 2012, they were out of business, bankrupt, employing zero people. And the taxpayers were left holding the bag.

And eventually, there were lawsuits to try to get some of the money back, but those suits were able to recoup like a couple of million dollars here, a couple million dollars there. In the end, bottom line, Rhode Island got zero company, zero jobs, zero former Red Sox pitchers to claim as a business tycoon or whatever. They got no company, no jobs and the taxpayers of the state were on the hook for tens of millions of dollars in this freebie money that they gave to this pitcher and his dumb failed company.

Incidentally, that same pitcher says he wants to run against Elizabeth Warren for her U.S. Senate seat. Why not? You know, the public sector`s been great to him already. Is there free money when you run for the Senate, too?

This kind of thing happens all over, though. One of the stories that Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker dragged into his presidential run like a big old paint can tied on to his bumper with string was the story of how he also found ways to give tens of millions of dollars in taxpayer money to give those tens of millions of dollars away to companies that were either moving into his state or that he wanted to keep from moving out of his state.

Scott Walker had a particular knack as Wisconsin governor for giving taxpayer money to companies that would take the money and then leave the state anyway. It didn`t help him that companies he did that for tended to be run by his campaign contributors.

It especially did not help when local reporters in Wisconsin turned up the fact that with one of those companies, Scott Walker gave them a ton of taxpayer money, they pocketed the taxpayer money, then they outsourced their jobs to another country anyway and then after the fact, after all of that, after they took all this money from Scott Walker and then fired their Wisconsin workers. After they did that, Scott Walker then gave them more money, gave them more Wisconsin taxpayer money. Gave them a second grant since they`d been so good.

This is a thing that politicians do now. It`s not actually a Republican or a Democrat, not a very partisan thing. Politicians do this all over the country. Any time you hear some Midwestern governor waxing rhapsodic about the beauty of the free market, ask them how this works in their state, ask them whether they`ve been part of these schemes. They do it all over.

And I got to say, credit where credit`s due. During the presidential campaign, this was actually one of the economic arguments that was made by Donald Trump that made some sense. And I`m not kidding. I`m not being sarcastic. The arguments that he made about that particular scam in policymaking, there was something to it.


TRUMP: I`ve watched as politicians talked about stopping countries from leaving. Here`s a zero interest loan you don`t have to pay. Here`s tax abatement of any kind you want. We`ll help your employees, because it weren`t folks, that`s not what they need. That`s not what -- they have money. They want to go out. They want to move to another country and because our politicians are so dumb, they want to sell their product to us and not have any retribution, not have any consequence. So, all of that`s over.


MADDOW: All of that`s over. Our politicians are so dumb. They want to give these companies a zero interest loan, you don`t have to pay this, you want to give them a tax abatement. That`s so over, that`s so dumb.

That is exactly what Donald Trump announced today at the Carrier plant in Indiana where he did his big victory lap about saving jobs. He had campaigned throughout his entire campaign on how he was going to stop companies from shipping jobs overseas. Specifically, he campaigned on how he was going to stop Carrier from shipping jobs overseas and a very specific way he`d stop them in doing it.

Not one of those dumb ways like other politicians had tried. He had his own way. His way would work.


TRUMP: I will call the head of Carrier and I will say, I hope you enjoy your new building, I hope you enjoy your stay in Mexico. Every single air conditioning unit that you build and send across our border, you`re going to pay a 35 percent tax on that unit.

You`re going to pay a damn tax.

If companies want to fire their workers and leave for Mexico or other parts of the world, there will be a tax of 35 percent for any product they want to ship into this country. We will charge them a 35 percent tax where they want to ship their products back into the United States. And they won`t leave. Believe me. Those companies will not leave.

And if you think you`re going to make an air conditioning unit, Carrier, you know about Carrier, they`re moving to Mexico. Think they`re going to make air conditioners and send them right back into our country. No tax, no tariff, 1,400 people gone.

Not going to happen. Because I`m going to just say very simply, you got a 35 percent tax to pay.

With me, they have repercussions. OK? With me, they have repercussions. With me, we inform them that if you move, you`re going to pay a 35 percent tax on every single air conditioner that pours across our now very secure borders.


MADDOW: With him, it turns out they don`t have repercussions. None of that is what he did. There`s not going to be some new tax on Carrier air conditioners being shipped from Mexico, first of all. Second of all, those units still are going to get shipped back to the United States from Mexico because Carrier is still sending 1,300 jobs down there, and shutting down their Huntington, Indiana, plant in order to do it.

And third, what Donald Trump did to convince the company to keep some of the jobs here that they were going to ship to Mexico, what he actually did was think Curt Schilling video game studio. That`s what he did. He got Mike Pence to write them a check from the general fund of the state of Indiana. He put Indiana taxpayers, state taxpayers on the hook for $7 million that`s going to be paid to this company, even though they`re still sending 1,300 jobs to Mexico.

Trump got elected for inveighing against that, for saying, oh, you give these companies zero interest loans, tax abatements, you -- all these dumb politicians do that. It`s dumb. That`s a terribly stupid thing that all of our terrible politicians have done in the past. It would not happen anymore under him. He would play hard ball. With him, there would be repercussions.

But you know what? The only repercussion for Carrier is that they got $7 million in taxpayer money while still moving more than 1,000 jobs to Mexico and closing a plant in Indiana. That`s what he took his victory lap for today in Indiana, for mostly not succeeding at doing the thing he said everybody else was stupid to ever do. Tada!


MADDOW: Rand Paul once spent 13 hours asking essentially one question over and over and over again.


SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: The main thing we`d like is a public acknowledgment from the president or from the attorney general saying that their policy is not to kill noncombatants in America. We`d like them to say that they don`t have a legal authority to kill Americans on American soil. I don`t think that they have the legal authority nor the constitutional prerogative to do this and they just need to admit to that.


MADDOW: Rand Paul did that for 13 hours. The day after Rand Paul did that for 13 hours, this 13-hour filibuster in 2013, he got an answer to his question. The attorney general wrote to him and answered him. Quote, "Does the president have the authority to use a weaponized drone to kill an American not engaged in combat on American soil? The answer to that question is no. Sincerely, Eric H. Holder Jr."

Two sentences. Two sentences in total in response to 13 hours of him asking the question. Sometimes in politics the shorter the message, the bigger the impact, or at least the bigger the drama.

And that happened today, too, with a very, very, very short and very dramatic message. And that`s next.


MADDOW: Behold the great Kremlin Palace. Today emerging from behind those gigantic gold plated doors -- wait until we get those at the White House -- was Vladimir Putin. Today was Vladimir Putin`s annual state of the nation address. He said he looked forward to mutually beneficial relations with the next American administration.

He also said that the new U.S./Russian relationship he`s looking forward to could only work, quote, "on the basis of equality, mutual respect for interests and noninterference in the internal affairs of each other." Noninterference in each other`s internal affairs like each other`s elections?

In October, the month before our presidential election, the Department of Homeland Security and the Director of National Intelligence officially and formally declared that Russia was meddling in our election by, among other things, hacking into the Democratic Party`s servers. Then, right after the election, the head of the NSA put a pretty fine point on it. He publicly affirmed unequivocally that Russia, yes, did hack into the U.S. election in order to achieve a specific result.


ADM. MICHAEL ROGERS, NATIONAL SECURITY AGENCY DIRECTOR: There shouldn`t be any doubt in anybody`s mind. This was not something that was done casually. This was not something that was done by chance. This was not a target that was selected purely arbitrarily. This was a conscious effort by a nation state to attempt to achieve a specific affect.


MADDOW: Conscious effort by a nation state, Russia, to attempt to achieve a specific effect in our election.

That`s what we`ve got publicly from the U.S. government about Russia messing with our presidential election this year, which is honestly profoundly unsettling even at this distance. And it still raises the question about what we as a country are going to do about it.

But now, today, we got an amazing new mysterious plot twist. And it came from the Democratic senators who are on the Intelligence Committee. Look at this. They today released this cryptic, very short open letter to the president. The whole thing is three sentences long. One of them is just "thanks."

Look, this is the whole thing, ready? Quote, "Dear Mr. President, we believe there is additional information concerning the Russian government and the U.S. election that should be declassified and released to the public. We`re conveying specifics through classified channels. Thank you for your attention to this important matter." And that`s it. Signed by seven Democratic senators on the Intelligence Committee.

What is this additional information concerning the Russian government and the U.S. election that they want declassified? They say they`re sending specifics through classified channels. What is this about?

We can report tonight that the Republican senators on the Intelligence Committee were also invited to add their names to this very short, very intriguing letter but all the Republicans declined. The architect of this letter is Oregon Senator Ron Wyden.

Today, we spoke with Senator Wyden`s office to basically try to pry some more information out of them on this to try to figure out what this is about, but that was a total no go. They were 100 percent tight lipped with us. Whatever they`re referring to here is classified, they`re keeping it classified but they`re letting us know through this open letter that they have sent it to the president and they want him to talk about it to the rest of us.

What`s this about? What could this be about?

Joining us now is Michael McFaul. He`s former U.S. ambassador to Russia. He`s now professor of political science at Stanford University.

Mr. Ambassador, it`s nice to see you. Thanks for being with us tonight.


MADDOW: What do you make of this three-sentence letter from these senators tonight? What`s your reaction to this?

MCFAUL: Well, first of all, I don`t know the intelligence that they`re referring to, right? I`ve been out of the government for a couple of years.

But it`s rather unprecedented that they would go public to ask the executive branch to declassify information like this. I can`t remember ever that happening when I was in the government. It obviously means that they have read intelligence because they have clearances that is deeply disturbing about what Russia did during our election. And while the president, President Obama, is still at the White House, they want to get that information out to the American people.

I could speculate about different hypothesis about it, but it seems to me it must be something serious. They wouldn`t do it otherwise.

MADDOW: It seems to me two possibilities here. One, they know something that is so materially different than what has been disclosed so far by the head of the NSA, by the director of national intelligence, homeland security director, they know something so materially different that it will change the conversation and really sort of wake people up to the magnitude of what Russia did here.

The other possibility is that they`re just frustrated that there hasn`t been more of a public response to what the government has already said about Russian intervention in the election and they`re hoping to keep the story going or at least draw more attention to it by getting some more information out there even if it`s not materially different.

On that latter point, have you been surprised that there hasn`t been more of a reaction in the public and in our political system to what we know about what Russia did?

MCFAUL: Yes, of course. I think -- I mean, I`m so glad you read that statement by President Putin because that`s a statement they`ve been reading for 30 or 40 years, by the way. It goes back to Soviet times this noninterference clause. And already, we do know that they intervened.

I mean, there`s no doubt that they hacked the DNC and stole that information from a party and then that had political consequences because of what WikiLeaks did with it. And because of the partisan electoral nature of the debate before the election, we could never talk about the national security implications of this in a serious way, but now is the right time to do it. I`m glad they`re putting pressure on the administration.

I know they didn`t want to do it. The White House did not want to do it during the election because they, ironically, if you think about what happened over with the FBI, but they did not want to put their thumb on the scale one way or the other in the electoral process. But now, it`s over. We should be able to know what these representatives know and then make our own decisions about what happened with the Russian interference.

MADDOW: To be clear, you`re saying the White House didn`t want to talk about this more publicly during the election because they felt like it would essentially be intervening on Hillary Clinton`s behalf in the election, because it would be implicating Russia in trying to help Trump win?

MCFAUL: Correct.

MADDOW: Dramatic stuff. Michael McFaul, former U.S. ambassador to Russia, now professor of political science at Stanford -- appreciate your time tonight sir. Thank you.

MCFAUL: Thanks for having me.

MADDOW: That`s kind of a dramatic revelation, isn`t it? I`m not sure if that`s been reported elsewhere, but we will see what becomes of the new administration and the Russian government, but what we know already, even without new disclosures that have been asked for by these Democratic senators, what we know already about the way Russia tried to help Trump win is something that we haven`t reckoned with as all at citizens, let alone as a political system. I feel like this is step one in a 50-step process.

We`ll be right back.


MADDOW: As of tonight, Hillary Clinton`s total vote count for the presidential election is now 65.2 million. Donald Trump`s total vote count for the presidential election is 62.7 million, which means, doing the math, carry the one, which means she leads by 2.5 million votes and counting. That`s about four times the margin that Richard Nixon won the presidency with in 1968. It is more than 10 times the margin by which Kennedy won in 1960. Of course they also won the Electoral College.

On the other hand, it should be pointed out here, all the smack talk about polls and the polling being wrong in this election, if you average the national polls in terms of what the national lead was for Hillary Clinton heading into election day, the national average of national polls that Hillary Clinton was leading nationally by about 2 points, those polls were right. She`s leading nationally by two points. Awesome!


MADDOW: Today, President Obama became the first U.S. president to publicly support expanding the military draft to include women. The military, of course, opened combat roles to women late last year. Once that happened, the next question was, what about the draft? Would the draft include women as well?

Quoting the president`s National Security Council, quote, "As old barriers for military service are being removed, the administration supports -- as a logical next step -- women registering for the Selective Service."

The Pentagon has issued a statement of the policy -- statement of support for that policy now as well. Quote, "It makes sense for women to register for selective service just as men must."

The timing on this, that statement from the White House and the statement from the Pentagon, it`s kind of fascinating timing. It`s not an accident. This week, Tuesday of this week, Congress dropped a measure in a defense bill that would have required women to register for the draft. "Military Times" reporting that conservatives in the House and Senate took that out of the defense bill on Tuesday of this week, now two days later, President Obama and the Pentagon have come out in favor of leaving that in, women in the draft. If women are in combat roles, women should be able to be drafted too.

The president now openly supports women registering for the draft with the backing of the Pentagon. Of course, the president does not have much time left for policy matters like this. He knows he can`t necessarily get something like this done before he leaves, particularly if Congress is opposed. But he is sending this message to Congress and to the public, don`t go backwards now. Don`t back up on this.


MADDOW: Last hour, President-elect Donald Trump made a surprise announcement that he is naming Marine General James Mattis as his nominee for secretary of defense. There`s a legal wrinkle with that, because there`s a federal law that says, we`ve got civilian control of the military, you can`t be secretary of defense if you were on active duty anytime within the last seven years. General Mattis only retired three years ago. Congress would have to pass a waiver to that law in order to approve him for that job.

We`ve got a little bit of breaking news right at the end of the show tonight. Democratic U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, she`s on the Armed Services Committee. She has just put out a statement saying, "While I deeply respect General Mattis` service, I will oppose a waiver. Civilian control of our military is a fundamental principle of American democracy, and I will not vote for an exception to this rule."

We`ll see if that catches on, but that could be a big deal for a really big nomination.

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


Good evening, Lawrence.