Show: THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW Date: December 12, 2016 Guest: Jennifer Palmieri
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC ANCHOR: Happy Monday night. Thank you for joining us this hour. Very happy to have you here.
We`ve got a big show tonight. We`ve got a bunch of exclusive stuff.
First of all, tonight in just a couple of minutes, we`re going to have the first interview since the election with Jen Palmieri. Jen Palmieri was the indefatigable communications director for the Hillary Clinton. She was a senior player, a key player in that campaign, very close to the candidate herself.
I say she was indefatigable in the campaign, but I should tell you that Jen Palmieri quite literally worked herself so hard during the campaign that at one point she ended up in the hospital with exhaustion.
It is just over one month since the election happened. Tonight, Jen Palmieri is here to do her first interview since the election. She`ll be here with me live in Washington, D.C. I`ve been looking forward to this conversation for a very long time. We`ve been working hard to make it happen.
But given what is going on in the news right now, it turns out this conversation I`m about to have with Jen Palmieri can`t just be a look back at Trump versus Clinton because there are a bunch of things cooking in the news right now tonight that put the Clinton folks in a very different position than they were in even just a few days ago. The Clinton campaign basically resurfaced today for the first time since November 8th. They resurfaced because they are now making some demands in conjunction with this newly reported interference by Russia into the presidential election. That story is red hot right now.
You want just a little taste of that? The former acting director of the CIA is saying that foreign interference in an American presidential election, this Russia story, he says this is the political equivalent of 9/11. We will have more on that. In fact, we`ve got a bunch of news coming up on that sort of harrowing subject this evening, including our interview with Jen Palmieri from the Clinton campaign.
But before we get to that, we need to start tonight with some news that we alone can break right now, right here. Kurt Eichenwald, investigative reporter at "Newsweek" magazine, he has struck again. We`re reporting this exclusively. This is not out tonight. This is going to be out tomorrow, but we`ve got an advanced peek and what "Newsweek" is about to publish.
I have to tell you, this is not an NBC or MSNBC work product. We are not in a position to independently confirm this reporting on our terms. But what I can show you tonight exclusively is what "Newsweek" is going to break, what they are going to break as of tomorrow morning.
I think we have -- do we have a picture of the cover that we can put up there? Yes. You can see that better rather than me just waggling it around. This is the cover. This is going to press tonight, the cover of "Newsweek" tomorrow morning.
You see the inset there in the yellow dot says, "How Trump`s business ties have put America in a bind."
Now, Kurt Eichenwald, of course, is a veteran investigative reporter. He has done a lot of investigative work in particular on business scandals, including Enron. And with that skill set as a reporter, he has gone hammer and tongs at the intersection of the president-elect as a politician and what the president-elect is dragging into the political field from his business life, including his active business ties with foreign governments and his alleged breaking of the Cuba embargo through his business and more. Kurt Eichenwald has been on a sort of a tear over the course of the campaign.
Well, now, as of tomorrow, Eichenwald was about to publish new allegations that in at least one case, a foreign government may have already taken action to threaten the private business interests of the president-elect as a way of trying to get something that that foreign country wants from the U.S. government.
Again, this is "Newsweek" -- "Newsweek" reporting. It`s not out yet. We have an advanced preview. This is exclusive to us.
And this is a serious allegation, but it`s not a complicated one. It starts with something called the Trump Towers, towers, plural, a twin building complex in Turkey that the president-elect didn`t build himself but he`s being paid a lot of money to allow his name to be put on the building, Trump Towers. The company that built the towers is being called Dogan. At least, I think that`s how you pronounce it. Forgive my pronunciation if I`m getting that wrong from the Turkish. But this is the Dogan family.
The guy who`s right next to Trump in the front row there, that`s the patriarch. He`s the founder of the company. He`s described now mostly as sort of a figure head, even though he founded the company. He`s basically passed the business onto his family.
The other guy in the other picture who`s not Trump, the gun on the second row, looking away from the camera, he is the son-in-law of the founder. He`s married to the founder`s daughter. He has a key operational role in the company now, particularly since the patriarch has sort of moved into semi-retirement. But that, the son-in-law there who`s circled there, he had the biggest role in this Trump-branded twin tower complex in Istanbul.
And now we get to the nut of it, because the day after our presidential election in this country, one of the world leaders who called up Trump Tower and spoke with the president-elect was the president of Turkey. And one of the perk up your ears strange things reported about that call is that while Donald Trump was on the phone taking that congratulatory phone call from the president of Turkey, in that same call, Mr. Trump brought up to the president of Turkey by name that executive from the Dogan company, the guy who was the key guy on Trump`s big twin towers business deal in Istanbul.
Mr. Trump reportedly named that executive and specifically praised this guy, this executive at the Dogan Company. He praised him by name to the president of Turkey while taking he`s this political congratulations call from the country`s president.
Well, now, "Newsweek" reports that Turkey has figured out how to turn that to their advantage and how to put the president of the United States over a barrel in the process. On December 1st, the top representative of the Dogan Company in Ankara, which is Turkey`s capital city, got arrested by the Turkish police.
Again, Trump as president-elect had taken an official call from the Turkish president, and used that occasion to tell the Turkish president how much this one particular company meant to him, going so far as to name specific executives and then the Turkish president had one of the top executives from that company arrested, on the basis of what "Newsweek" described as threadbare allegations. The Turkish president is claiming that the executive from this company that`s doing business with Trump, says the executive from that company that they arrested and the founder of the company as well, the Turkish president says they are both tied to the attempted military coup that happened in Turkey this summer.
Turkey desperately wants the U.S. government to extradite a Turkish imam who lives in Pennsylvania now. He`s a legal permanent U.S. president. They want to blame him for that coup. They want the U.S. to ship him over to Turkey. So far, the U.S. government has said no to that, they`re not extraditing him.
But if that`s what you wanted, what if you could squeeze the personal financial interests of the American president as a way to get what you want from the American government? I mean, the Trump family and the president- elect himself, they stand to make millions of dollars from their relationship with the Dogan Group in Turkey. That will presumably stop if the Dogan Group in Turkey all gets locked up. So, they started locking them up. Nice leverage, right?
It would be one thing if it was business leverage, but it`s leverage against all of us as Americans. Quoting from this "Newsweek" article that is out tomorrow, quote, "If the Turkish government puts more pressure on the company that`s paying millions of dollars to Trump and his children, revenue flowing from the tower complex in Istanbul could be cut off. That means the Turkish president has leverage with Trump, who will soon have the power to get the Turkish imam from Pennsylvania back to Turkey."
A financier with contacts in the Turkish government explained the dynamic to Newsweek" as follows, quote, "The Turkish president has something he believes Trump wants, namely, money, and Trump has someone the Turkish president desperately wants."
So it`s kind of what we`ve been expecting to roll out, right? As "Newsweek" tells it, the president-elect has business interests in Istanbul. Those private business interests appear to be getting scoused by the Turkish government to try to make the United States of America do what Turkey wants.
That is the explosive claim, among several, actually, that "Newsweek" is due to publish tomorrow morning in this cover story that we got a sneak peek at. So, there`s that. It`s starting.
In not unrelated news, there`s also late breaking word tonight that Donald Trump is postponing his long-planned announcement about what he plans to do with all of his business interests while is he president. That announcement had been schedule for Thursday. It was also billed as a press conference, which would have been his first press conference since I believe July -- the last press conference was the one where he invited Russia to please hack Hillary Clinton`s e-mails. He hasn`t given a press conference since the summer.
If he was going to give one this Thursday, that would have been the first one since the president-elect and a long time before. But Bloomberg News first reported tonight and NBC News has now confirmed that the announcement about what he`s doing with his business ties, that`s being pushed back. It`s being pushed way back. It`s being pushed back to sometime next month.
Trump transition officials say the president-elect has been occupied filling out his cabinet. So, no time to work on this stuff. No plan yet on how our next president may try to keep, say, foreign governments from leveraging his private business interests against him and his family in order to get the United States government to do stuff it might not otherwise do. Eh, that can wait until next month.
There`s news tonight as well that a secretary of state announcement will come tomorrow morning from the transition. Jennifer Jacobs at Bloomberg News reporting tonight that it`s not Mitt Romney. That Mitt Romney got a call from the president-elect tonight telling him that he`s not getting it. We`ll have more on that later on in the show tonight.
We`re also tonight still learning about sort of coming to grips with this big story that broke while we were on the air on Friday night. "The Washington Post" reporting that the CIA has concluded that Russia intervened in the 2016 presidential election, specifically with the intention of helping make Donald Trump the next president.
The CIA believes the Russians weren`t just trying to create chaos and, you know, undermine faith and Democratic institutions. The CIA believes that the Russians were actively trying to get Trump elected by hacking the Democratic Party, hacking the Clinton campaign, releasing those documents through WikiLeaks. That story broke on Friday night. It has not gotten anything since then because CIA report on the Russian intent. That was only half the story.
The other really jaw-dropping part of the report from "The Post" on Friday is that the White House, the administration, presented evidence about the Russian hacking to a bipartisan group of congressional lawmakers and they did it before the election. They wanted to make a public bipartisan stand against this foreign government intervening to affect our election. And Democrats were all for it, but Republicans, in particular, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, said no.
According to the reporting from "The Post." Mitch McConnell told the White House if they publicly challenged the Russians on them hacking into our election, McConnell would consider it an act of partisan politics designed to help Hillary Clinton. He wouldn`t sign off of it and so, nobody said anything.
It`s a legit like mind-blowing scandal. I mentioned at the top we got a very dramatic pronouncement from the former acting director of CIA, Mike Morell. Mike Morell`s quote on it is this, "This is the political equivalent of 9/11." That`s from the man who was George W. Bush`s CIA briefer on 9/11. He says, "A foreign government messing around in our elections is I think an existential threat to our way of life."
Members of Congress in both parties are now saying there should be an investigation into the Russian hacking, but what do you mean by an investigation? Democrats are calling for an independent commission, like the one that examined the 9/11 attacks where you`ve got independent, unimpeachable blue ribbon panelists appointed by both Republicans and Democrats. And if you can`t have a blue ribbon panel like that, how about at least a bipartisan House and Senate panel into this extraordinary allegation against Russia?
Well, Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan said today, as far as they`re concerned, the Republican chairmen of the two intelligence committees, they can handle this just fine, thank you.
Also today, a group of presidential electors, the members of the Electoral College, who are the people who actually vote to elect the next president of the United States, ten of the 538 of them have now written an open letter to the director of national intelligence asking that the intelligence community give the electors their own intelligence briefing on this Russian hacking issue.
Quote, "We require a briefing on all investigative findings, as these matters directly impact the core factors in our deliberations of whether Mr. Trump is fit to serve as president of the United States."
Five hundred and thirty-eight members of the Electoral College vote a week from today. These ten electors are asking for that intelligence briefing before then. It seems unlikely that ten electors, most of them Democrats anyway, are going to be able to do anything to change the outcome of that vote, whether or not they get an intelligence briefing. But, hey, this is the year of the "don`t bet on it" in politics.
And now, the Clinton campaign itself has taken a remarkable step. They have broken their silence, specifically to speak out on this issue and they have thrown their support behind this effort by these electors to at least get briefed by the intelligence community on this issue of Russia interfering in the presidential election that we just held.
The Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta, his Twitter account, has been inactive since November 7th, since the day before the election. But today, it came alive. His first post-election tweet today, quote, "The bipartisan electors letter raises very brave issues involving our national security. Electors have a solemn responsibility under the Constitution and we support their efforts to have their questions addressed."
Also, do you remember that, like, mysteriously, spooky, weirdly vague letter, really, really short letter that the Democrats from that intelligence committee, the Senate Intelligence Committee, sent to President Obama earlier this month? Remember, it was really short. The whole letter was this, "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 are conveying specifics through classified channels."
That was the whole letter. Spooky. What were they talking about?
Well, today, the Clinton campaign also came out in support of that effort, asking the Obama administration to declassify the information that they`ve got around Russia`s role in the election. Just make that available to the public. People ought to know.
As I said, this is today. This is the first that we have heard from the Clinton campaign on this issue or really on any issue since the election. But tonight, on this show, we`re going to hear much more.
Clinton communications director Jen Palmieri joins me for her first interview since the election right after this. I`m very eager to ask her about this and much more. Please stay with us. Straight ahead tonight.
MADDOW: The Electoral College is not really a college, but they meet one week from tonight. And election after election after election, the Electoral College does what everybody expects with a few surprises. It`s a weird vestigial thing that many people understand in our election system, and mostly it doesn`t matter.
But they do literally elect the president-elect, and tonight, the Clinton campaign has sort of put a new ore in the water on this one, and we`ve got a key figure from the Clinton campaign here with us exclusively right here, we will ask all about it. I`m very excited about this conversation.
We`ll be right back.
MADDOW: This is an interview that we really wanted to get for a long time. I did not think that we were going to get it but the news gods have smiled upon us.
I`m very pleased to say, joining us now for the interview is Jennifer Palmieri. She`s the communications director for Hillary Clinton`s 2016 presidential campaign.
Jen, thank you very much for doing here.
JENNIFER PALMIERI, COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR FOR HILLARY CLINTON 2016: I am happy to be here.
MADDOW: I know this is your first media interview since the election.
MADDOW: I appreciate you doing it here. How are you?
PALMIERI: I`m glad it`s December. November wasn`t the best month. So, yeah, glad to be moving on.
MADDOW: Do you know what you`re doing next?
PALMIERI: I don`t, but I -- I have options, so, you know, I`m grateful for that. But it`s been -- yes, as a -- I definitely would not want to live through that night again, Tuesday, November 8th.
MADDOW: Was -- how -- on a scale of 1 to 100, how much of a surprise was the overall result?
PALMIERI: It was definitely a surprise. I would say I probably went into that night thinking there was a 35 percent chance that we would not win, but I`ll tell you, throughout the entire 18 months, there`s probably something you saw every day in America that made you understand that it was possible that we were going to lose.
So, I always had this sense -- you always saw the numbers, everything looked fine, everything looks like we were going to win, but it`s also true throughout the 18 months, we`re all -- I had a sense that, you know, it`s possible that it just might not -- it just might not be there. It`s obviously a very different year. It felt to me, being on the campaign trail, you know, most days, like it was a reckoning. There were these tensions in America just across the board every age group, every demographic that have roiled to the surface, and I think those are the fissures that laid bear. I do think that Donald Trump, the Trump campaign bears some responsibility for empowering some bad voices that assisted that --
MADDOW: That explained those fissures?
PALMIERI: Yes. But it`s happening everywhere and you see it with Black Lives Matter, you see it with Hispanic families that aren`t willing to live in the shadows, that are demanding that there`s some means for their parents to stay here and not be worried about being deported. I saw it with, you know, women on a rope line with Hillary who are crying because they remembered a sexual assault that they put aside for so long, like it`s just all coming to the surface.
And I choose to be optimistic about it because I think for each of these groups -- and that also include as lot of people who are just frustrated about the lack of opportunity.
PALMIERI: I saw Chris Hayes` town hall that he did with Senator Sanders in Trump country, which I thought was terrific.
MADDOW: Yes, riveting.
PALMIERI: There`s no bad conversation you can have right now. We should all be talking to each other. I`ve certainly learned a lot by talking to Republicans in the last couple of weeks.
But this is -- I do think that all of this tension, all of this roiling to the surface is happening because people understand we can do better in America. So, Black Lives Matter activists, they`re not satisfied with systemic racism that exists in this country, they want that addressed, because we`re America and that`s not -- to live with systemic racism is to reject some core tenets of our -- of what we hold true as Americans.
And there`s a lot of people frustrated, the lack of economic opportunity. It`s not what they were promised as part of the American dream. It`s part of the compact. You work hard, you should be able to succeed and do better than your parents.
So, I think that the fact that it`s all coming to the surface now means we`re strong enough to deal with it but obviously I`m very disappointed that -- and very concerned that it`s not Hillary Clinton that`s going to be president of the United States during this difficult time.
MADDOW: The thinking about -- the town hall that we both just watched, the Bernie Sanders and Chris Hayes event, a woman who spoke toward the end who said that she believes that her -- she can`t get paid enough to live on because of undocumented immigrants. She believes that undocumented immigrants don`t have to pay their traffic tickets, she believes they don`t have to pay their taxes, she believes that there`s basically a conspiracy against her economically and that undocumented immigrants is why she doesn`t have an economically viable life in Kenosha, Wisconsin. She believes it`s true, that undocumented immigrants don`t have to pay traffic tickets.
Do you think that the Trump campaign essentially sold folks like that that bill and ratified those beliefs and told them those things were true, while you guys were trying to tell them that those things were not true, you were trying to correct a perception and they were trying to exploit a perception?
PALMIERI: I do. And they -- and I had -- I`ve heard that some representatives of the Trump campaign say -- you know, mock us, even, mock the Clinton campaign for taking what Trump said literally and my reaction is, you don`t take Trump`s words literally?
White supremacist, Hispanic families that are worried that their families are going to be deported, Muslim-Americans who are concerned that they are not going to be welcomed in this country, and the -- to perpetuate lies like they do, you know, means you end up with a lot of voters that believe because the Republican presidential nominee for president said so. They believe what he said.
And I think that, you know, that`s why, on all of these matters, from the economy and questions about, you know, why that woman -- what`s really holding that woman back? What`s that barrier? To questions about race. I think that, now, president-elect needs to face up to that.
You need to understand that the words that you used during the campaigning mattered, and he said on election night he wants to be the president for all of America and I was -- I wasn`t encouraged to hear very much on Tuesday night, but when I saw that on the next day, I was relieved to see that. But that means understanding that what he did say in the campaign had an impact and it -- both people who were repelled by what he said and Americans that were energized by what he said.
MADDOW: Took him seriously.
PALMIERI: And basically needs to address that.
MADDOW: Jen Palmieri, I have questions for you about what has surfaced over the last few days about Russia in the election.
MADDOW: Will you sit there for one moment, and we will take a quick break and back to talk about that.
MADDOW: OK, right.
Jen Palmieri was communications director from Hillary Clinton`s presidential campaign. This is her first media interview since the election. We`ll be right back.
MADDOW: On Friday night, "Washington Post" broke the news that the CIA reported that Russia interfered in the election, not just to cause chaos or mess with American democracy. They did to hurt Hillary Clinton`s chances at beginning president, and helped Donald Trump`s chances.
Joining us once again for her first interview since the election is Jen Palmieri. She`s Clinton campaign communications director.
Jen, thank you again.
When that story came out on Friday night, you responded by tweet. You said, quote, "Soul crushing".
PALMIERI: I don`t even remember that.
MADDOW: It came from the bottom of a glass.
MADDOW: "Soul crushing are the only words I have. Can barely stand to read this story."
MADDOW: What did you mean by that?
PALMIERI: I mean, it`s helpful to have it out there that even the CIA has resolved that it was not just an effort to interfere with our election, but this is an effort to assist Donald Trump and becoming president. It is soul crushing because it`s a little late to be learning this and also because during the campaign, particularly the month of October, we -- the Clinton campaign tried a lot to get more attention paid, particularly during what we were dealing with WikiLeaks and John Podesta`s e-mails being released, and tried to get more focus in the campaign trail and the press on the fact this was happening because -- at that point, we already knew -- because on October 7th, the DNI, the Director of National Intelligence, put out a statement saying Russia is interfering in our election. These hacks were done by the Russians and these likes are being done at the direction of the Russians.
You know what else happened on October 7th? The "Access Hollywood" tape.
PALMIERI: So, this just -- words we never thought would come out of our mouths, the Russians were trying to influence our election. We knew that. We knew that ahead of the election, but it never got the attention that I think it should. And so, it`s pretty soul crushing to have that come out now and confirm that they were, in fact, trying to help Donald Trump.
And just as an American in the year 2016, 30 years after the Cold War, not something I ever imagined we`d have to worry about.
MADDOW: Do you think they succeeded?
PALMIERI: I think that -- yes. I mean, I think -- they certainly succeed in interfering.
MADDOW: Did they succeed in electing him?
PALMIERI: That`s hard to know. That`s hard to know but I think it`s compelling that senators that have been briefed on this information, that have heard from the administration, the members of the Senate Intelligence Committee have heard -- gotten this briefing, that they asked the White House to declassify it, that`s also something we supported happening and they thought it could be done in a manner that doesn`t jeopardize national security.
I don`t know what material they have but I trust that they know that it`s worthy for the public to know about and could be done in a responsible way.
MADDOW: The Podesta statement today about -- in response to this note from these electors, it`s only 10 electors of the 538, but they say they want an intel briefing before they cast their votes as electors a week from today and Podesta came out and said the Clinton campaign supports that.
What`s your take on it?
PALMIERI: So, I would just note that Hillary Clinton conceded the election and that has not changed but -- and there are a lot of activities happening around the Electoral College, there`s a lot of groups have self-formed to pursue lawsuits and the like and those are all activities that we have chosen not to be involved with. But --
MADDOW: Are you opposed to those activities?
PALMIERI: You know, that is up to the electors and we just are --
MADDOW: Staying out of it?
PALMIERI: We are not taking a view and we have not chosen to get involved.
But this we felt, particularly since there was new information that we learned on Friday night about the intent of Russia, we thought this was a worthy -- this was a worthy effort for us to weigh in on. You know, the Electoral College -- and I have learned a lot in recent weeks about it, it was intended that the electors deliberate. That`s among the reasons why it happens a month later and Alexander Hamilton looms so large in our life right now and his federal essay on Electoral College noted they -- it`s supposed to be a deliberative process and one of the reasons why it exists is to protect against a foreign government from interfering in our elections. So, pretty stunning and --
MADDOW: And you raise that because do you think the electors, essentially the way the electors function right now, they don`t take a deliberative role?
PALMIERI: They haven`t. And I didn`t know -- we -- I did not know this and, you know, I work in politics. We`ve had dozens of academics and legal scholars that have come our way, shared a lot of information, a lot of thoughts about this, and, you know, that`s where I first understood what that process was really supposed to be and what the role of the elector was supposed to be.
And we respect these -- I`ve seen some of the electors who signed this letter on television today and they are very passionate about, this is their patriotic duty, to -- this is part of the theory is they meet a month later. So, if there`s a new development, such as this, the electors have an opportunity to consider that.
So, it is -- we have -- as you know, we have not had much of a public posture in the last month, but this is something that we really thought was important to weigh in.
MADDOW: Jen Palmieri was communications director for Hillary Clinton`s 2016 presidential campaign. If you check the bottom of your chair, you`ll find that I have secured your ankle to the chair.
MADDOW: Sorry. I will not let you leave. I have two more questions for you.
MADDOW: Jen Palmieri, we`ll be back with her in a few moments. Stay with us.
MADDOW: In the 2012 presidential election, Barack Obama spent a record- breaking amount, about $1.1 billion. Mitt Romney spent about a billion. We`ve now got the final spending numbers in terms of the 2016 race. It turns out Hillary Clinton broke the record, raised and spent $1.2 billion. That`s the combined campaign and its super PACs and supporters, $1.2 billion. We also now know that Donald Trump came in at almost exactly half that.
In political science, they tell you cynically that money is power. In this case, it was a two to one spending advantage for the Clinton campaign.
Joining us once again for her first interview since the election is Jen Palmieri, Clinton campaign communications director.
Thank you again, Jen.
MADDOW: I promise I`ll let you go after this.
PALMIERI: I`m really -- I`m very happy to be here.
MADDOW: Good. You guys did outspend -- outraise and outspend Trump two to one. How could you have taken better advantage of your cash advantage?
PALMIERI: There is a -- there`s so many -- you know, when you lose three states by less than 70,000 votes, you can spend -- you do spend a lot of time thinking about what you could have done differently that would have made that difference and when there`s only 70 votes, there are a lot of things that we could have done differently that probably would have of difference. We only lost Michigan by 10,000 votes. Wisconsin by 20,000.
So, you know, we made the best decisions that we could based on the data that we had at the time about where we needed to be and, you know, and then we got the result that we did.
And it was not that we expected. We found -- I`ll tell you what we found on election night was, in all -- basically, all the battleground states, we ended up being anywhere from five to two points lower than what we had predicted. And in some states, like Virginia and Colorado, that was OK because our cushion was bigger than that. But in Florida, North Carolina, Iowa -- excuse me -- Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin, it wasn`t enough.
So, more time in those states. We spent a ton of time in Pennsylvania and we spent a lot of money in Pennsylvania and we still loss. Actually, we lost that state worse than Wisconsin and Michigan.
MADDOW: We just got the recount numbers from Pennsylvania today. They showed actually with the new total from the recount, which has only changed a little bit, but one notable finding in that is that Jill Stein got more votes than the distance between Trump and Clinton and that ends up being true in Pennsylvania, and in Wisconsin and in Michigan.
MADDOW: So, those are the states where she tried to get a recount. Had her votes gone to Clinton, Clinton would have won.
PALMIERI: If her vote had gone to Clinton, you know, we would have won. If we had, maybe our travel schedule had been different, we could have won.
But what we think -- what we think accounts for the big drop-off -- I`m talking about a big drop-off, like five to two points in each of these states, is the Comey letter. And that isn`t to say that there`s not things that our campaign could have done better or differently or in retrospect that we would do differently. I have dreams that we understand we have a problem, we have a week to fix them and then I wake up and it`s not true.
So, there`s a lot more that we could have done but we had accounted for all of our challenges and our problems and we were positioned to win and I think that Comey letter was just -- it was one thing too many to absorb.
MADDOW: What is your opinion of why Director Comey did what he did?
PALMIERI: I do not know. I really do not know.
MADDOW: Do you think he was trying to skew the vote toward Trump?
PALMIERI: I don`t -- I don`t personally want to believe that and I don`t personally -- I do not believe that. But it had that impact. I understand that it`s possible. I think that he was probably most likely just trying to cover himself with Republicans on Capitol Hill who had been giving him a lot of pressure if, you know, it -- if after the election, he was in a position of having to disclose more.
But it was, you know, unprecedented, irresponsible and it had -- regardless of what his intentions were, had a devastating impact.
MADDOW: Mostly when you and I had any contact during the campaign, it was because I was trying to finagle an interview with your candidate. So, for old time`s sake, I`m just going to try once again --
PALMIERI: OK, great.
MADDOW: Can I talk to Secretary Clinton?
PALMIERI: Tonight? Probably not.
PALMIERI: But I`m sure at some point, some day, but I don`t know that right now is the -- you know, is the time where we need to be -- you know - -
PALMIERI: Here. December, I wouldn`t count on it.
MADDOW: Jen Palmieri, communications director for Hillary Clinton`s 2016 presidential campaign -- I know that, A, you don`t have to do any interviews at all and you certainly didn`t have to do this one here with me. I`m very thankful for you being here.
PALMIERI: It was my pleasure.
MADDOW: Thanks, Jen.
PALMIERI: Thank you.
All right. Lots more to come tonight. Stay with us.
MADDOW: It`s official -- at least as official as Mitt Romney`s Facebook page gets. At the very top of the show, I told you that there was some new reporting from Jennifer Jacobs, a very good reporter at "Bloomberg News". She said that Mitt Romney got a call tonight from the president-elect telling him that the secretary of state job is going to be announced tomorrow and it`s not going to be Mitt Romney.
Now, Governor Romney has made it official for Facebook. He has posted this on his own Facebook page, quote, "It was an honor to have been considered for secretary of state of our great country. My discussions with President-elect Trump have been enjoyable and enlightening. I have very high hopes that the new administration will lead the nation to greater strength, prosperity and peace."
Of course, this brings to a close a remarkable pageant where Mitt Romney, who had been so strongly opposed to Donald Trump and to denounce -- had denounced him in such certain terms during the campaign, was nevertheless paraded back and forth through the lobby of Trump`s apartment building and propped up in front of the cameras and made to say nice things with Donald Trump about the expectation that if he did so, it would result in him getting secretary of state.
In the end, what he got is an erasure of his principled stance against Donald Trump and no new job.
We`ll be right back.
MADDOW: Here`s some live breaking news: NBC News has just confirmed within the last few moments, confirmed through multiple sources that the nominee from the Trump administration to be the new secretary of state will be the CEO of Exxon, Rex Tillerson.
Obviously, this is a very controversial choice for a number of reasons. Number one, it`s an unorthodox choice. Mr. Tillerson not only has no background in government or diplomacy. He literally has never held a job as an adult that was not at Exxon. He has only worked at Exxon for his entire career since the 1970s.
The reason this Tillerson announcement, this Tillerson nomination is so controversial is because Rex Tillerson is believed to be the human being who has American citizenship who is closer to Vladimir Putin than any other citizen. He`s received the highest award that Russia gives to non-Russian citizens and has brokered deals thought to be as large as a half trillion dollars between Exxon, his company, and Russia`s government-owned oil and gas giant, Rosneft.
He has repeatedly defied explicit requests from the U.S. government to do Exxon`s business with Russia, including attending events in Russia that the U.S. government asked him not to attend, and speaking out against Russian - - U.S. government sanctions against Russia because they were bad for Exxon`s bottom line. But now, he`ll be America`s man in the world.
Joining us now on the phone is NBC News correspondent Kristen Welker.
Kristen, I understand we`ve just confirmed this news within the last few minutes. Is this a done deal? Is this a certainty?
KIRSTEN WELKER, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (via telephone): It sounds like a done deal. According to multiple sources, President-elect Donald Trump has tapped Rex Tillerson as you just said, and the official announcement is going to come as early as tomorrow morning. And, of course, for all of the reasons that you just laid out, he is a controversial pick, particularly because of his close ties to Russia, to Vladimir Putin, he is someone who the Trump transition team spent the weekend defending vigorously, the president-elect himself, defending his record, calling him a deal maker and really touting his relationship with Russia and Vladimir Putin, as a good thing, as something that is a strength, something that will help the United States move its relationship forward with Russia.
But you have disagreement and dissension within the Republican ranks this weekend. John McCain saying that he wanted to know more about Rex Tillerson`s ties to Russia. And, of course, Marco Rubio, Senator Marco Rubio saying that having a friendship with Vladimir Putin is not exactly a quality that he would want to see in the secretary of state.
So, it is possible. It is likely that you are going to see contentious confirmation hearing. Rachel, I would add one more note that also just moments ago, our Peter Alexander reported that Mitt Romney got a phone call saying it was not going to be him. And he posted on a Facebook page, "It was an honor to have been considered for secretary of state of our great country. My discussions with President-elect Trump have been enjoyable and enlightening. I have very high hopes that the new administration will lead the nation to greater strength, prosperity and peace."
So, those are the breaking developments at this hour, and, again, we are anticipating an official announcement as early as tomorrow morning, Rachel.
MADDOW: Kristen, let me just ask you. Internally, and I don`t know if you can say this in terms of sourcing and stuff, but there have been some interesting internal dynamics within the Trump transition, the president- elect`s own feelings in terms of having favorites for cabinet positions and other jobs.
Do we know if Rex Tillerson, such an unorthodox choice, do we know if he had a particular champion among those closest to the president-elect? Is this somebody who Steve Bannon wanted to pick or Reince Priebus wanted to pick or the president-elect decided on his own? Do we know any of that?
WELKER: Well, it`s a great question. I think those three people thought very highly of Rex Tillerson. That is my understanding, and that certainly helped the president-elect get to yes on Rex Tillerson.
I do think he was giving Mitt Romney a very serious look, but, Rachel, you`ll recall over these past several days, so much of our reporting has been about the internal divide within Trump world, over Mitt Romney, was he someone who could ultimately be trusted, given that he was one of the first top Republicans to criticize then-candidate Trump so vigorously. And that was a real concern and ultimately a real concern for the president-elect.
So, I think that those people who you just named closest to him, Steve Bannon, Reince Priebus, it is my sense that they felt as though this was a good pick and that the president-elect agreed. And you keep hearing this word over and over again, "deal maker." You talked about how unorthodox he is as a pick. But from the perspective of President Donald Trump, who`s really looking to so many of his fellow colleagues in the business world, this is something he sees as a virtue, someone who has done deals not only with Russia but other countries all over the world including places like Yemen.
And so, I think that`s one of the arguments that you`re going to hear from the transition team as they try to defend this pick.
MADDOW: NBC News correspondent Kristen Welker -- Kristen, thank you very, very much. Appreciate you being with us on short notice.
WELKER: Thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: Again breaking news tonight that we just received, Donald Trump intends to pick the CEO of Exxon to be his secretary of state, probably the only American company big enough to have its own policy, often at odds with American foreign policy. But now, he`ll be in charge of all of ours.
We`ll be right back.
MADDOW: OK. It`s live TV. A few things have just happened. Number one, NBC News has just confirmed that Rex Tillerson, the CEO of Exxon, will be Donald Trump`s choice for his secretary of state. That means if he`s confirmed, we`ll have a president with no governing and diplomatic experience, a national security the adviser with no diplomatic or governing experience, and a secretary of state with no governing or diplomatic experience.
Rex Tillerson, we keep hearing he may have a bumpy ride for his confirmation process. I would not place a bet on that, though. Patriotism and partisanship have been having a fight in this town for a long time, and it has not been a fair fight.
But that does it for us. We will see you again tomorrow. But I have to tell you, tomorrow night, I`m going to have an exclusive interview with Attorney General Loretta Lynch, for real. Loretta Lynch will be here for the interview tomorrow night on this show. I hope you will join us for that.
Now, it`s time for "THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL".
Good evening, Lawrence.
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