Show: THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW Date: December 13, 2016 Guest: Loretta Lynch
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chris. Thanks, my friend.
CHRI HAYES, "ALL IN" HOST: You bet.
MADDOW: And thanks to you at home for staying with us for the next hour.
We have got Attorney General Loretta Lynch joining us this hour tonight for the interview. I`m very, very excited about that. Did you hear? Loretta Lynch, attorney general of the United States, right here. This in just a few minutes.
All right. Are you ready?
The nation of Chad is landlocked. It`s right smack dab in the heart of Africa. If you are in Chad and you want to go to the ocean, it is a very, very long way.
And honestly, that`s the least of Chad`s problems. Chad is with one of the poorest countries on earth. It`s considered to be one of the most corrupt countries on earth in terms of its government. It`s been run by the same dictator for more than 25 years.
And the rest of the world, sadly, has never much cared no matter how bad things were, no matter how bad things got in the nation of Chad. But in the early 2000s, it suddenly became a huge, urgent deal with, of international concern that Chad was landlocked. That Chad doesn`t touch the sea.
It`s already -- it`s always been true, but that became a huge new international crisis that all sorts of people were paying attention to in the early 2000s because in the early 2000s, that is when Chad struck oil. And that changes everything. Usually, it doesn`t change things for the better.
Over and over and over again, all over the world, you know, on the surface, you`d think that discovering oil, discovering gold, discovering some other thing that makes people rich, you think that would be a good thing for a poor country to discover. More often, though, when a poor country discovers a resource like that, it actually makes things worse in that poor country. That happens enough that that phenomenon has a name. They call it the resource curse. It`s a known thing.
And so, when one of the poorest countries on the planet, when Chad struck oil, big-time, in the early 2000s, there was an effort to help them avoid the resource curse. To have Chad do it right. And so, they made a deal.
If Chad agreed that all of its soon to be new oil money, its new oil revenue, if they agreed that that money wouldn`t just be taken by the dictator and his family, if they agreed the dictator wouldn`t use all the new oil money to build himself a big new army and buy lots of weapons to wage war on his enemies and keep himself in power, if Chad agreed to that, if Chad agreed to spend constructively for the benefit of the people of that country when it got its new oil money, then they would get this great deal.
And that great deal would start with Chad no longer being landlocked. It would start with the oil companies building Chad a pipeline to the sea. So, at least, its oil would to longer be landlocked.
Chad would let oil companies like Chevron and Exxon come in and drill oil. The country would get a big cut of the oil revenue. You mix that in with a big financial aid package for the country as well and you ultimately get a big, happy deal, right?
Think about the components of this deal. The previously untapped oil gets drilled. The oil gets piped through the new pipeline to the sea. So, it can be shipped out to market, so the oil companies make a killing on that.
The government gets a whole bunch of international aid as part of this deal. And, of course, they get lots of new oil revenue. And because of the deal, the people of the country are guaranteed by the terms of this deal that all the new oil money, all these new oil revenues coming into the country, they won`t just go into the dictator`s pocket, they won`t just turn into tanks and weapons, they`ll be spent on things like education and hospitals and basic infrastructure to improve people`s quality of life.
So, for the oil companies, for the government, for the people, right? Great deal. The World Bank and the U.S. government brokered it because the U.S. had a stake in this as well. The U.S. has a stake in poor countries of the world, particularly unstable parts of world where there`s a lot of extremism. It has a stake in those countries developing and those countries being more stable and those countries doing more for their own people.
And so, the World Bank and the U.S. government brokered this deal once that oil was discovered in Chad. And the oil started pumping in 2003. And when you compare the numbers from before they started pumping the oil, and after, Chad`s GDP quintupled within ten years.
But you know what happened there? Once all that money started flowing in, the dictator in Chad decided that he didn`t actually really like this deal anymore because, yes, health and education for the people might be nice ideas for America and the World Bank -- all right, who are pushing this deal, but if you`re a dictator in your second decade in charge and you`re planning on many more decades in charge, you may not be nearly as psyched as America is about, you know, prioritizing the education of your people over what is your priority, which in this case, was weapons.
He wants a bigger military. He wants more firepower. He wants more guns. Yeah, yeah, yeah, there was this deal that you have to spend the money on education and hospitals and stuff, but if there really is a big faucet of oil money flowing into his country, what the dictator really wanted, what he really wanted for that money, what he really wanted to spend it on was guns.
And that was prohibited by the deal and so, he threw the deal out the window. Forget the deal. Forget the World Bank and the United States that brokered the deal. You know, forget you. The deal`s off. Or at least we`re going to do a New Deal.
And on August 26th, 2006, the dictator of Chad told these two oil companies, told Chevron and Petronas, two of the three oil companies that were in on this giant deal, he told them they had to get out of Chad. In fact, he gave them one day to get out of Chad.
He said they had to be gone within 24 hours. But it`s interesting -- he only kicked out two of the three companies that were pumping oil in his country. The other company, they could stay. Really? Yes.
And say it with me now, that company was Exxon. Because the new deal that he was making, after throwing out this old deal, the new deal he wanted to make was really just with Exxon. Exxon basically told the dictator in Chad, hey, listen, we`re not -- the World Bank -- we`re not the United States. Do a deal with us, right?
You get oil money from us pumping out your oil, we`re not going to tell you where to spend it, how to spend it. Screw the deal that you had to make with these other people. You just deal with us. We`ll get the oil, you can have the cash. Call the deal off.
You can, you know, pay off whatever loans you agreed to as part of this deal, we`re happy for your business. We`re Exxon. We`ll take your oil, we will give you money for your oil and then once you`ve got that money, you get your guns or whatever it is you want. That will be the term of the deal.
And so, that was the new deal. And the United States of America was left standing on the sideline because what`s the United States of America going to do in this instance? I mean, they were up against the Death Star. Steve Coll points out in his book "Private Empire" that the total of U.S. aid in Chad, the total of American aid that we spend in that country, foreign aid and military aid, the total less than $20 million, while Exxon is paying them more than $500 million a year in oil revenue. So, yes, guess who gets to make the deal in that country?
And there are humanitarian concerns there. There`s an opportunity there to help one of the ten poorest nations on earth in one of the most volatile and dangerous regions on earth. Screw that, are you kidding? Move over, bacon, now there`s something meatier.
And that whole Exxon move, that happened in 2006, that happened right after this guy took over as the head of Exxon. This deal in Chad -- screw the U.S. government, screw what the United States of America is trying to accomplish in that part of Africa, in that critical part of the world. Chad borders Libya and Nigeria and Sudan, right?
Screw whatever that little country means to the United States and screw whatever that other little country, the United States, is trying to do here. Get out of the way. There`s money to be made here for Exxon.
And now, more than a dozen years into its new life as an oil-producing nation, if you look at the human development index of nations, Chad ranks fourth from the bottom, out of 188 countries. Remember, I said their GDP quintupled. Didn`t do much for the people. Fourth from the bottom. It`s 188 countries ranked, they`re 185th.
Chad is also officially considered to be a failed state. Chad remains one of the ten poorest nations on earth, remains one of the most corrupt nations on earth. In fact, the single poorest inhabited region on earth is a part of Chad. A region in Chad that`s called Salamat. See down in the lower east, southeast corner there?
Salamat, the poorest region on the face of the globe that is inhabited by humans. Salamat is just a hop, skip and a jump from Exxon`s largest oil field in Chad. But Exxon is doing great in Chad. Their latest corporate report says that just in that one field in Chad that`s next to the poorest region on the face of the earth, they`re producing 29 million barrels of oil.
And under the new deal that Exxon cut, that oil flow out of the ground in Chad, which has been so good for Exxon, it has led to Chad`s dictator spending at least $4 billion on weapons. And that is something that the United States government saw coming and tried to prevent because it is not in the interest of the United States. The reason it happened, anyway, is because it was in the interest of Exxon.
And Exxon has its own foreign policy that is frequently at odds with the United States. And that foreign policy is the only foreign policy with which our new nominee for secretary of state has any experience whatsoever. Today, the transition made it official that the president-elect has chosen Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson as his nominee to be the next secretary of state of America. There was this hilarious period today when there was all this breathless reporting that former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and former Defense Secretary Bob Gates were both vocally onboard with this controversial nomination.
Wow, maybe it`s not that controversial after all. Maybe it`s not that weird that the CEO of Exxon would get a job like this. After all, Condi Rice and Bob Gates say they are on board.
This hilarious period today between the start of the reporting and the moment when everybody finally Googled it and noticed, oh, yes, Condoleezza Rice and Bob Gates are both consultants for Exxon now. They`re both on the Exxon payroll.
In fact, "Politico" reported not long ago that the whole reason the Exxon CEO even got a first look from the Trump transition, even got his first introduction to President-elect Donald Trump is because Condoleezza Rice and Bob Gates made that introduction. They work for Exxon.
Do you think Exxon`s getting its money worth for their consulting contract with Condi Rice and Bob Gates? They just got them a secretary of state. So, that`s our new nominee for secretary of state. In the wake of the formal announcement, there was obviously a lot of attention today to Rex Tillerson`s exceedingly close relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
There was also starting to be some attention to the fact that while American soldiers were fighting and dying in Iraq, to try to stand up an Iraqi government that could hold that country together after we deposed Saddam, while American soldiers are fighting and dying in Iraq to stand up an Iraqi government that can hold that country together, Exxon defied an explicit request from the U.S. government to please only work with the government in Baghdad.
Exxon responded to that request from the U.S. government by saying, screw that. In fact, who cares what American soldiers are dying for, we`re going to do our own deal, our own oil deal with just the Kurdish government in the northern part of Iraq because that may be terrible for America, but that`s easier for us.
In the wake of the president-elect nominating this man who has never worked anywhere else in his life other than Exxon, there are a lot of interesting questions now as to whether he`ll be confirmed. There are concerns about how much his life`s work has had him working alongside and helping America`s adversaries.
But I think there`s another point here that deserves a look, which is that what his history really is is foreign, foreign to the United States. I mean, the case the incoming administration is trying to make for Rex Tillerson as secretary of state is that he`s somehow perfectly suited to being America`s top diplomat because he has been operating in other countries for a long time. As if he and Exxon have been some sort of private sector adjunct to the work of the foreign service and the State Department and the U.S. government, so clearly it will be easy for him to step in to running the State Department.
But what he has actually been in country after country, in story after story, in war after war, in deal after deal, what he`s actually been, really, is an adversary of the United States. Exxon has its own foreign policy. That doesn`t mean it`s a good place to get training in how to do America`s foreign policy. They compete with America.
I mean, in lots of places, Exxon is anti-American. Exxon under Rex Tillerson has frequently and repeatedly and reliably actively worked to oppose the interests of the United States of America. In countries large and small, even in countries where we are actively at war, even in countries most Americans couldn`t find on a map. No nominee for secretary of state has ever been rejected by the U.S. Senate, nor has any secretary of state nomination ever been withdrawn since the secretary of state position was created in 1789.
Then, again, we`ve also never tried to put anybody in that job whose experience for the job is a long list of him defying and opposing and undermining and fighting against the United States of America. That we`ve never tried before. But, apparently, that`s what we`re going for now.
A lot of people are saying Rex Tillerson`s nomination won`t pass. It`s too controversial.
I think it will pass. I think Republicans will take a look at the patriotic implications of this and the partisan implications of this and decide they will go with partisanship. If I`m proven wrong, I`ll be delighted. But in this case, looking at somebody who has worked against the United States of America will freak them out less than the prospect of angering our alienating the incoming president of their own party. Mark my words.
Lots to come tonight, including Attorney General Loretta Lynch who`s here for the interview. Stay with us.
MADDOW: I don`t want to jinx it but we`re on a little bit of a roll here on this show. We just found out that we`ve got a really big-deal interview next week right before Christmas on what I think is going to be our last show before Christmas. We`ve got a big-deal interview. I`m not going it tell you who it is, but it`s a big deal.
Also last night, we had the first interview since the election with one of the top staffers on the Hillary Clinton for president campaign, Jen Palmieri.
But tonight, tonight is a really big deal because tonight, the sitting attorney general of the United States, Loretta Lynch, is here for "The Interview" and that is coming up next. Holy mackerel. Stay with us.
MADDOW: I do not have to tell you that time is running out for this era and our national politics. Next month, we`ll get a new president with new priorities. And when it comes to law enforcement and civil rights, we`re going to get a new attorney general to carry out those new priorities.
And as hard as it is to imagine the country switching gears from Barack Obama to Donald trump, my God, think about the transition we`re about to have between Attorneys General Loretta Lynch and Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III.
That particular change in American government is less of a gentle transition, more of a wheel screaming, use the hand brake, smoke belching U-turn. It`s a little unsettling. Are you feeling at all unsettled?
Yesterday, our outgoing Attorney General Loretta Lynch visited a mosque and Islamic center in Virginia. Today, she came to New York. She visited the Harvey Milk School. And also, the new national monument in New York City, which commemorates the birth of the modern gay rights movement.
And then while she was at Stonewall, she sat down at the Stonewall Inn for an interview with me.
MADDOW: Attorney General Lynch, thank you for making time to do this. I appreciate it.
LORETTA LYNCH, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: Thank you for having me.
MADDOW: Is this, in fact, your first interview in a bar?
LYNCH: It is my first interview in a bar.
MADDOW: Well, I particularly appreciate it then.
This, of course, is Stonewall, newly designated national monument.
MADDOW: And the -- what is commemorated here is basically an uprising --
MADDOW: -- by gay men and lesbians and with a lot of trans people in the lead, in 1969, they physically fought the police, they rioted because they were fed up with having their lives criminalized and I was thinking about that today.
I mean, you`re the top law enforcement official in this country and I wonder how that squares for you in terms of this -- I mean, this is a site of police violence. This is a site we commemorate because of the riot that happened here.
How does this square for you from law enforcement perspective?
LYNCH: You know, what this site means to me is this is a site, not much (ph) an uprising, but a night when ordinary people decided that they were entitled to live their life fully and openly as Americans, and they publicly stated that and they faced a great deal of resistance, as every group who`s made that statement has throughout the history of our country and they did not give up when they started a movement.
So, I think also, the opposition of the forces of law enforcement at that time not supporting that right for people to express themselves and be who they are and simply live their lives is emblematic of a lot of things we`re still struggling with in this country. We`ve come a long way in all of these various movements.
But these tensions are still here. I spent a great deal of my tenure dealing with the tensions between law enforcement and the communities that we serve. And so, when you look back at a movement like Stonewall and the fact it did start as an uprising and opposition to the police, or the expression of the government, that they weren`t supporting these individuals, I think it`s very symbolic. I think it`s very poignant and frankly, I think it`s very, very educational and inspirational.
MADDOW: And on -- I mean, you have been acutely cognizant of that point about what it means particularly to, you know, to limited populations -- populations who feel they have things stacked against them.
MADDOW: During your tenure as attorney general, you have gone out of your way to say your government is not against you. Law enforcement is not against you.
I was struck if particular when your department sued South Carolina over your bathroom bill that went after trans people. You made this passionate statement. You said, "I want to speak directly to the trans community," you said, "No matter how isolated or scared you may feel today, know this, the Department of Justice and the entire Obama administration wants you to know that we see you, we stand with you, we will do everything we can to protect you going forward, please know that history is on your side."
You saying that direct to camera, speaking to that community that has -- I mean, the murder rates against trans women --
MADDOW: -- African-American trans women in particular, were so important to the history of this place, means a lot to hear the Department of Justice is on your side. It also feels like the Department of Justice may not necessarily still be on their side in the next administration.
Do you -- do you feel like you can really say history`s on your side, things are bending in your direction?
LYNCH: Well, I think that, look, obviously, a lot of things change with the turn of the electoral wheel, but history is bigger than just the electoral wheel. History is bigger than any one administration or even one attorney general.
History encompasses all of the change and the progress that we`ve made and history is on the side of marginalized people who speak up for themselves, of people who feel isolated and left out, who speak up for themselves. It doesn`t mean that there won`t be challenges but I will tell you, Rachel, this work has always been hard.
There have always been challenges to this work. There have been times when the structure of government has been more opposed to different groups than it is now. We have had state-sanctioned discrimination in this country for years and the civil rights movement, itself, was about breaking down those barriers, breaking down those laws and giving us the Civil Rights Act of `64 and `65 and the Voting Rights Act.
MADDOW: The movements came first.
LYNCH: The movements came first and the movement, Rachel, are composed of people. They`re composed of people who are living their lives and who look up and say, this is not fair, this is not right, and they may have been struggling alone and in isolation for some time, but when they come together, and there`s a movement, whether it`s here in Stonewall, whether it was in Selma, that`s when you see change.
Change comes from up. It moves up the ladder.
MADDOW: On the issue of LGBT law and policy, so much has changed and gotten better for the LGBT community --
MADDOW: -- under the Obama administration. "Don`t ask/don`t tell" being repealed. Hate crimes bill being signs. Marriage equality becoming national law, of course.
MADDOW: I`m going to say this, I`m not going to ask you to endorse my view, but I`m going to state this as my own view, that there are a number of very high-profile people in the incoming administration, particularly including the incoming vice president, and the man who will be the nominee for your job, Senator Sessions, who I think, in my view, have really made their political nut in part on hostility to LGBT people, on hostility to LGBT rights. That`s part of how they got the power and the prestige that they`ve had over the course of their lives.
Do you in any way see this last election putting guys like that in a position to do what they`re going to be able to do, was it a backlash? Was it a backlash to the progress that was made on LGBT issues, in particular, during the Obama administration?
LYNCH: Yes, you know, I`m not sure if we`re far enough away from the election yet to really, really quantify it and describe it. That will go on for some time. And I look forward to that analysis also on a host of issues in the election.
I think that whenever you look at history, as I said, it is larger than one administration, one attorney general. You do see periods of progress followed by periods of repression of those particular rights that were advanced, or even others, you do see a backlash in some times, in some situations.
But I think that while people may fear a backlash, the issue is are we going to allow it to occur? Are we going to allow it to actually come across the nation? And I think that people now, in all groups, who deal with all issues, have been energized in a way that they will keep raising these issues to the new administration. And I think it`s going to be in a way that cannot be ignored.
MADDOW: Are we going to allow a backlash to occur? Attorney general basically saying that whether the civil rights gains of the Obama presidency get rolled back, that depends on some part on whether regular Americans allow it to happen. Are we going to allow a backlash to occur?
I also asked the attorney general today about one of my biggest worries, one of the biggest worries that I hear from other people about the incoming president.
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MADDOW: Could a president with that mindset use the DOJ to hurt his enemies? Could the DOJ essentially be weaponized by a president who wanted to use law enforcement to hurt people who are his critics, if you had top brass, had an attorney general and other people who felt supportive of that use of the department? Is it possible?
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Attorney General Loretta Lynch answers that question, next.
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LYNCH: I know that so many Americans are feeling uncertainty, or feeling anxiety, are feeling fear, frankly, as we witnessed this recent eruption of divisive rhetoric.
I also know that we have come, as we say in my church, a mighty long way. And there was nothing preordained about it. There was nothing guaranteed about our march toward a more just and peaceful future, and there never have been guarantees. This has always been hard. It always has been hard.
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MADDOW: Attorney General Loretta Lynch speaking at a mosque, an Islamic center, in Sterling, Virginia, yesterday. And those aren`t words you often hear from nation`s top law enforcement official, but this is the kind of work that she`s been doing in public lately. Not a pep talk, exactly, but what she`s been saying is basically designed to steel people`s spines a little bit. For what may be ahead.
MADDOW: I think a lot of people are worried when you look at the incoming president that he seems to really relish going after his enemies in ways large and small, going after the press, going after protesters at his events, going after critics of all kinds, going after -- it`s part of what he likes about public life.
Could a president with that mindset use the DOJ to hurt his enemies? Could the DOJ essentially be weaponized by a president who wanted to use law enforcement to hurt people who are his critics, if you had top brass, if you had an attorney general and other people who felt supportive of that use of the department? Is it possible?
LYNCH: Look, I think, I don`t want to speculate on that issue. But what I will say is the Department of Justice has a history of independence that is longstanding, it is cherished by the career people who are the heart and beating -- beating heart and soul of that department and who take that independence very, very seriously, and who are never shy about making sure that senior leadership, regardless of what chairs we sit in or whether there`s a "D" or an "R" in front of our name, keep that in mind and keep that at the forefront of what they do.
But as I said before, this is also the responsibility of everyone. To watch what`s going on, to raise issues, to raise questions. I know the press will continue to raise questions about all of the branches of government.
You know, it`s happened to me. I welcome it because it`s part of what holds us accountable and keeps us accountable to the American people. That`s a very important role to play as well.
You know, I think that, you know, people have concerns, but, and I know that they do, but what I would say is as I`ve said whether it`s a situation of a terrorist attack or anything else, don`t let fear determine how you behave or how you act. You know, let`s live up to the best of ourselves and our country and let`s push everyone to do that. And I mean everyone to do that.
MADDOW: In terms of the transition so far, it`s been a little bit hard to get reporting on how the transition is going in individual departments. I know that under the Obama administration, there was an unprecedented effort to prepare systemically for the transition, to have briefings ready, to have -- has the transition been what you expected it to be in terms of the Trump folks coming in? Has the -- is the transition effort under way and are you confident in how it`s going at DOJ?
LYNCH: Well, certainly -- I can only speak for DOJ -- but certainly, for DOJ, the transition effort is under way. As you noted, the president wanted us to be prepared, to be professional and to be supportive and provide as much information as the incoming team needed, to give them all the assistance they wanted.
He received a transition like that from the outgoing Bush administration. He`s determined to make sure it is a similarly smooth and seamless transition for the incoming team as well. And we`ve been working on that.
We have received our transition team. They`re working on all the things that they do in terms of reviewing the department and getting ready to make those changes. And so, we will have that transition ready to go.
MADDOW: Has it not started yet?
LYNCH: Well, the transition, itself, is obviously, January, but the preparation for it begins in the weeks after the election.
MADDOW: They`ve got, like, a landing team there. You`ve got people --
LYNCH: There`s a group of lawyers who come to the department --
LYNCH: -- and start meeting with components and reviewing issues, how things work in the building, how does paper move in the building. All those fun things about bureaucracy that you want someone to know on their first day.
So, they`re there. We`re working with them. And it will be a smooth transition.
MADDOW: I was worried for a second you were saying there that you`re still waiting for them, that nobody has shown up yet.
LYNCH: No, no. Don`t want to give that misimpression.
MADDOW: I was going to excuse myself, run out to the street and hail a cab and go to the end of the world.
MADDOW: She scared me there are for a minute, clarifying, the transition is under way, not that it hasn`t started yet. It`s under way at the Justice Department. So, that`s normal.
Not much else about what`s going on, though, since the election feels normal and on that subject, we`ve got more with Attorney General Loretta Lynch still to come.
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MADDOW: Are you going to run for president in 2020?
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MADDOW: Another election issue which I did not expect to have to ask anybody about ever, is now what`s been reported about Russian interference in the election. There`s this interesting precedent from a couple years ago where Justice Department brought criminal charges against five Chinese nationals who were allegedly part of a military unit within the Chinese army designed to hack into U.S. assets and steal stuff. And criminal charges were brought.
And now, there`s been no trial. Those --
MADDOW: -- Chinese nationals have not been here to be under trial, but they have been indicted.
Should we expect that there will be a DOJ component, that there will be a law enforcement component, to the investigation, potentially prosecution, of this Russian hacking into the election?
LYNCH: So, we`ve talked about this as well. As you know, over the summer, we did discuss the fact that the FBI was looking into the leaks into the DNC and the DCCC as well. Then, the intelligence community released their assessment a month before the election that, in fact, it was the assessment of the intelligence community that the Russian government was behind those hacks as well.
So, a lot of that is still an ongoing investigation, an ongoing matter. We aren`t able to comment on where that`s going to lead. What I can tell you, as has been reported, the president has asked us to review efforts to interfere or hack into the electoral process not just for this election but the last two major elections, `08, `12 and `16, so that we can have a full and fair assessment of those efforts, particularly now using technology that we have now to look back at `08 and `12 and assess whether there were efforts made there to interfere or in any way get into campaigns or the election system.
A lot of this is going to be to educate people. We will try and make, keep this information public to the extent that we can so people are aware of these efforts. That`s part of why the intelligence community released their assessment back in October so the American public would be aware of what we knew so we could talk about it.
Cases -- can`t say right now what will develop there, but obviously, it`s being looked at and reviewed from a variety of angles.
MADDOW: Do you think it`s fair to say that this was a major national security failure on the part of the United States to protect ourselves? I mean, if what the intelligence community, what`s been reported about their conclusions about this, if Russia was able to materially interfere in our elections in order to achieve a specific result, whether or not they succeed in achieving that result, isn`t that on the head of the Obama administration really for not protecting the country well enough to stop that from happening, to recognize that there was a threat and to take steps in advance of the election to protect our -- to protect our democracy?
LYNCH: Well, I think that one of the steps we did take was releasing information as to the attribution of who was behind the attacks, at least of the DNC and DCCC, and also going -- continuing that investigation from the intelligence side as well as from the investigative side.
Cybersecurity is taken seriously at all levels of the administration. That`s part of why the president wants the review as well to make sure that we know how to better defend ourselves. We also reached out to all the states, to make sure they knew they could come to the federal government, DHS, if they had concerns about their systems.
A lot of work was done to get information out, to reach out to the electorate, to reach out to the electoral systems, to provide as much protection as we could. We are, of course, in a world where cybersecurity is a huge issue and a huge concern. And it will continue be a huge concern, whether it`s this administration or the next. We want to make sure that we provide them all the information also so they can keep these efforts up.
MADDOW: Ask you one last question on something very specific, which is sort of becoming an emerging political issue, particularly, I think, among Democratic members of Congress seem to be most energized about this, and it`s about these young immigrants who came forward because the Obama administration said they should.
The Deferred Action, the DACA kids, the DREAMers --
LYNCH: The DREAMers.
MADDOW: -- they came forward and they -- about more than 700,000 of them.
MADDOW: And they registered with the government, which is something we don`t ask people to do in very many circumstances in this country.
LYNCH: That`s true.
MADDOW: But they registered, made themselves known, they`re on record officially as being in this country without proper papers.
Now, that would seem, I would imagine, that a lot of those people feel like they`ve got a real target on their forehead in terms of being targeted for deportation or other enforcement actions by this incoming president given his attitude toward immigrants and undocumented immigrants, in particular. Some members of Congress have argued that the White House should issue a pardon to those kids for any past immigration violations or any future immigration violations, and that maybe that would prevent them from being deported, because these kids did come forward with these assurances they`d be OK. Now they might not be OK.
Would -- would the pardon work? Is there something else that could be done to protect those kids given the circumstances into which they came out?
LYNCH: Yes. Look, that`s a question that has a lot of different layers to it. The issue of whether or not someone gets a pardon is really actually an individualized decision the president makes person by person.
So, you know, there`s no process set up to pardon a group of people en masse. So I think people are going to have to look towards making sure that their policy interests are really heard by the incoming administration, that the same policy interests that prevailed to provide the whole status in the first place are carried forward as well and make sure that those voices continue to be heard also.
And I understand that concern. I understand --
MADDOW: It`s heartbreaking.
MADDOW: To think about the roller coaster that they`ve been on.
LYNCH: Yes, yes, yes. No, I think it`s clear, I think you outlined it very well.
But I think that they`re going to have to look to this new administration, try and find people there within that group with whom to speak, to raise those same issues that convinced the Obama administration to support them.
And look, I don`t think -- I think there are a lot of issues that we don`t know what the future holds. We don`t know what the future is going to bring. But certainly I would hope that the record that they have built would be taken into consideration, as anyone would consider how to handle people in that situation.
MADDOW: Attorney General Lynch, thank you for this time. I really appreciate it. I know you have -- this is a lot to do in these last days.
Are you going to run for president in 2020?
LYNCH: No, I am not.
MADDOW: Are you going to run for anything?
LYNCH: No, I am not.
MADDOW: Is that definitive?
LYNCH: That is definitive.
MADDOW: Well, that was the easiest part of this interview then.
Thank you, ma`am.
LYNCH: Thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: I really appreciate it.
LYNCH: Thank you.
MADDOW: Loretta Lynch not running for office, not running for president, not running for anything -- a definitive statement which is a rare occurrence in politics.
We`ve actually got more from my interview with the attorney general on whether she expects the next iteration of the justice department to prosecute hate crimes in this country, hate crimes surging right now. We`ve got also more from her on James Comey, director of the FBI and what he did just before the election which the Clinton campaign blames for their loss in this election. Her comments on what James Comey did, we`re going to be airing those juicy portions of my Loretta Lynch interview tomorrow night, which means you have to be here.
Turns out the stuff you got to cover when you interview an attorney general just keeps expanding every day.
We`ll be right back.
MADODOW: Behold, the throwing of shade at Rick Perry.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOSH EARNEST, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: This is a principle that presidents of both parties have abided by, is that we should observe the protections that are in place that ensure that a career civil servants are evaluated based on merit and not on politics. And I`m sure that the president-elect used the same criteria when choosing his new Department of Energy secretary as well. Don`t you think?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Former Texas Governor Rick Perry is reportedly the new administration`s choice for energy secretary. And that does have a lot of funny things about it, but it also comes with one giant fight. In fact, the first fight, the official first fight just happened as of today. That story`s next.
MADDOW: First fight! It has begun.
Last week, "The Washington Post" reported that the incoming administration had done something that slightly freaked out the Department of Energy. It was an unexpected turn.
The Trump transition folks sent a pointed list of 74 questions, asking officials at that agency to identify which specific employees and contractors had worked on international climate issues and domestic efforts to cut our nation`s output. They want a list of names.
And we`re talking about nonpolitical employees. We`re talking about, you know, career staffers and contractors and scientists at the national labs, people who are not political appointees, people whose jobs generally carry over from one administration to the next.
Why does the incoming administration want those people`s names? The implication or at least the worry was that the Trump folks are trying to identify specific employees who`ve worked on climate change so they can somehow root those people out.
One former energy staffer said to politico.com, quote, "Sounds like a freaking witch hunt."
So, that was last week. Now, today, we have our first fight because now we`ve got the response from the Department of Energy, and it`s amazing. We got this statement from the Department of Energy today.
Quote, "The Department of Energy receives significant feedback from our workforce throughout the department following the release of the transition team`s questions. Some of the questions asked left many in our workforce unsettled. We`re going to respect the professional and scientific integrity and independence of our employees. We will, of course, be forthcoming with all publicly available information with the transition team."
But then look at this last line, we did not bold this last part, this was already bolded by them when we got the statement. Quote, "We will not be providing any individual names to the transition team."
So, the Obama Department of Energy says no to the Trump transition. No, we`re not going to give you the names of everybody who worked on climate change.
This is the first big fight between Trump transition team and a sitting cabinet agency, even before they formally announced that Rick Perry is their choice to replace the nuclear physicist who have been running the place until now, even before that inevitable fight. This is a big deal. This is the first fight.
Watch this space.
MADDOW: OK, this one has an interesting payoff at the end. Look at this.
During the Trump presidency, should something happen to Mr. Trump, God forbid, Vice President Mike Pence would, of course, take over, he`d be next in line. After him, it would be Speaker of the House Paul Ryan. Next, it would be the Senate president pro temp of the Senate, which would be Senator Orrin Hatch, most senior member of the Senate majority, that makes him third in line to the presidency.
Then would come the secretary of state, who would be Rex Tillerson, who`d be followed by secretary of the treasury, Steven Mnuchin, then secretary of defense, James Mattis, sixth in line to the presidency. Then would come Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Then, it would be secretary of the interior, we`re told tonight the pick for that job is Montana Congressman Ryan Zinke.
Next after him, in line of succession, would be secretary of agriculture, we don`t know who that is yet, but that person would be ninth in line to the presidency. Then, there would be secretary of commerce, Wilbur Ross, after that, tenth in line to the presidency. Then, the labor secretary, Andrew Puzder.
If you`re looking for an even dozen, that brings you to Tom Price, secretary of health and human services, he fills out the first 12 people in line to succeed Mr. Trump.
Do you notice anything about this picture? Do you notice a trend?
If the president-elect gets his cabinet nominations and unless he names an unexpectedly diverse secretary of agriculture, the line of succession to the presidency is about to be 12 white guys in a row. Not that there`s anything wrong with that.
Who says there`s been any sort of backlash to the Obama administration? What`s your data for that?
That does it for us. We will see you again tomorrow.
Now, it`s time for "THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL".
Good evening, Lawrence.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END