The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 12/14/2016

Guests: Michael McFaul, Richard Painter, William Barber, Loretta Lynch

Show: THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW Date: December 14, 2016 Guest: Michael McFaul, Richard Painter, William Barber, Loretta Lynch

CHRIS HAYES, "ALL IN" HOST: THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts right now with the one and only Joy Reid, in for the evening.

Good evening, Joy.

JOY REID, MSNBC GUEST HOST: Thank you very much, Chris.

HAYES: You bet.

REID: Thanks to you -- thank you. And thanks to you at home for staying with us for the next hour. Rachel has the night off but we`ll hear from her a little later in the hour.

We do have breaking news for you tonight about the story that`s been dominating the headlines. It began on Friday night with a blockbuster report by "The Washington Post." Secret CIA assessment says Russia was trying to help Trump win the White House. "The Washington Post" reported last week that Russia was not just out to disrupt the election but that the Russians did it because they wanted Donald Trump to be president.

Quote, "Intelligence agencies have identified individuals with connections to the Russian government who provided WikiLeaks with thousands of hacked e-mails from the Democratic National Committee and others including Hillary Clinton`s campaign chairman."

That reporting was followed up yesterday with an in depth accounting of how the Russian operatives hacked into the Democratic computer systems and stole those documents, including the sad and sorry tale of a Clinton campaign worker whose advice for warding off an attack included a typo that opened the door to the hacker. And at one level, there`s been the conversation over this story, the Russian government interfering in the U.S. elections for the purpose of trying to elect Donald Trump as president, followed by the split between Republican leaders in Congress over how to handle it and how independent the investigation should be.

Senate Leader Mitch McConnell says that he wants the regular committee on intelligence to lead the investigation while Republican Senator John McCain among others says the Russian interference needs to be heard by a special select committee to help keep it clear of partisanship.

But at the center of this extraordinary conflict inside the Republican Party has been the Republican standard-bearer himself, the president-elect who ran as someone who wanted to get look with the Russian president.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT-ELECT: I think I would have a very, very good relationship with Putin and I think I would have a very, very good relationship with Russia. I`ve already said he is really very much of a leader. You can say, oh, isn`t that a terrible thing. The man has a very strong control over his country. Now, it`s a very different system and I don`t happen to like the system. But certainly in that system, he`s been a leader far more than our president has been a leader.


REID: Donald Trump campaigned as an admirer of the Russian president. He talked openly about Vladimir Putin as a strong leader with strong control over his country.

Now, over the summer when there was talk of Russia being involved in the leaked Democratic documents, Donald Trump joked openly about it, asking for Russia to please hack Hillary Clinton`s e-mails. It was an astounding moment for an American presidential campaign.

And this week, as this news about Russia disrupting the U.S. election to help Donald Trump has grown in volume and intensity -- the response from Trump world has been: we don`t believe it.


TRUMP: I think it`s ridiculous. I think it`s just another excuse. I don`t believe it. I don`t know why. And I think it`s just -- you know, they talked about all sorts of things. Every week, it`s another excuse.

They have no idea if it`s Russia or China or somebody. It could be somebody sitting in a bed someplace. I mean, they have no idea.

CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: So, why would the CIA put out the story that the Russians wanted you to win?

TRUMP: I`m not sure they put it out. I think the Democrats are putting it out because they suffered one of the greatest defeats in the history of politics in this country. And frankly, I think they`re putting it out. And it`s ridiculous.


REID: That in and of itself is amazing, a president-elect dismissing and mocking the assessment of the intelligence services that he`s about to be in charge of, saying they have no idea if it`s Russia or China or somebody sitting in a bed someplace.

Those are fighting words. And the White House press secretary today went at it head-on.


JOSH EARNEST, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: There`s ample evidence that it was known long before the election and in most cases long before October about the Trump campaign in Russia -- everything from the Republican nominee himself calling on Russia to hack his opponent. It might be an indication that he was obviously aware and concluded, based on whatever facts or sources he was -- he had available to him, that Russia was involved. And their involvement was having a negative impact on his opponent`s campaign. That`s why he was encouraging them to keep doing it.


REID: So, OK. Now we have multiple reports that U.S. intelligence says that the Russians interfered with the election specifically to help Donald Trump. We have Donald Trump saying that he doesn`t believe it. And U.S. intelligence has no idea what they`re talking about.

And we have the White House suggesting today that quite possibly, Donald Trump was aware of Russia`s involvement during the campaign.

Tonight, this story has taken yet another turn. Tonight, NBC News is reporting exclusively that not only did Russia interfere in the U.S. election by hacking into campaign servers and then posting Democratic documents, citing U.S. intelligence officials, NBC News is reporting exclusively that Russian President Vladimir Putin was directly involved in the operation.



CYNTHIA MCFADDEN, NBC NEWS SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: Tonight, NBC News can report that Vladimir Putin was personally involved in the Russian attempt to disrupt the U.S. election. Two senior intelligence officials with direct access to all the information tell NBC News the new intelligence is derived from diplomatic sources and others including spies working for America`s allies. Specifically, a high level intelligence official tells NBC News Putin`s role was directing the use of the hacked material.

Putin`s objective was multifaceted. What began as a vendetta against Hillary Clinton morphed into a campaign to show corruption in American politics, and to split off key American allies by creating the image that other countries couldn`t depend on the U.S. to be a credible global leader anymore.


REID: That was NBC News senior investigative correspondent Cynthia McFadden reporting tonight that Russian President Vladimir Putin was personally involved in the, quote, "directing the use of documents stolen from the Democratic campaign servers." The documents, of course, ended up published on WikiLeaks.

NBC News is reporting tonight that Putin acted as part of a vendetta against Hillary Clinton that became an effort to portray the U.S. as no longer a credible global leader. Wow.

Joining me now is Michael McFaul, former U.S. ambassador to Russia and a professor at Stanford University who has been in a room with Vladimir Putin and knows more about U.S./Russia relations than just about anybody.

All right, Mr. Ambassador. Thank you for being here tonight.


REID: I want to start by asking to react to this news, that Vladimir Putin, former KGB agent, now the leader of Russia, was personally involved in directing the hacking to get Donald Trump elected.

MCFAUL: Well, my first reaction is this is great investigative reporting, exactly what we need to deal with this crisis right now.

My second reaction is there`s nothing surprising about it to me. Most certainly in our country, in a democratic country in the Obama administration, to run this kind of operation would have required presidential approval. And in Russia, a country run by one man, there`s just no question in my mind that he would have been involved. Remember, he`s a former KGB officer himself.

But what is surprising about it, of course, is that we have evidence to support that hypothesis.

REID: So, I want to go down two tracks here. The first would be the present administration, the current president of the United States, Barack Obama. You saw his spokesperson, Josh Earnest, be very aggressive about some allegations that maybe Donald Trump knew. But how would you advise the current administration to deal with what certainly looks like a cyberattack on the United States to disrupt our election?

MCFAUL: Well, first, two things about that clip. The president-elect just has to start respecting the intelligence community. When he says they have no idea, that`s just not true. There`s overwhelming evidence already in the public domain that they have some idea.

And I would advise him to do what we used to call a deep dive for a PDB. Get the facts, Mr. President-elect, that`s what the intelligence community is there to give you.

He doesn`t seem to understand how hacking works either. They can provide that to him. And he needs to get smart on this stuff because it`s creating tension among the very people that are sourcing some of these stories. He needs to understand that. With respect to the --


REID: We still have a president in office, though. Is there something that he can do now with the waning weeks of his power, somebody who does respect and listen to the intelligence services, is there something that the current president, Barack Obama, can do now?

MCFAUL: I think two things. One, declassify as much information as possible. That is in the president`s power. The more facts we know before January 20th, the better. And two, he should endorse the idea that some members of Congress have put out now for a bipartisan independent commission, a 9/11-like commission to investigate this. Because if it does not get set up, it`s not going to be enough for the intelligence community to look at that. In part, they have to be investigated themselves about how they use this information during the presidential election. I have a lot of questions about what they did and did not do.

And two, with all due respect to members of Congress, I`ve testified many time, but I`m skeptical that a few hearings will get to the bottom of this. We need a comprehensive investigation and the president should endorse that idea.

REID: And very quickly, does it compromise the integrity of any potential investigation for Mitch McConnell, according to other reports in "The Washington Post," to have known about this intelligence before the election and refuse to participate in any bipartisan effort to publicize or thwart it? Is he credible as somebody to launch an investigation now?

MCFAUL: That`s why I want it to be a bipartisan independent commission. The 9/11 Commission, they were chosen by Democrats, chosen by Republicans, but they were not a congressmen, they were not senators. And they had authority to investigate.

We got a good report out of that. That`s what we need here, because if it`s over there and it`s in the partisan way, we`ll never get to the bottom of this.

And, by the way, I think President-elect Trump himself has an interest in getting to the bottom of this. Because if we don`t, moving forward, every time he does some policy with respect to Russia, critics are going to be saying, well, that`s because they stole the election for him. I think it`s in his own interests to wrap it up and have an independent investigation take care of it.

REID: And we are out of time, sir. But can I ask you quickly is the nomination of Rex Tillerson, a reported friend of Vladimir Putin, who got a friendship award from him, does this take that nomination and taint it in a way that in your view should take him off the table as the next secretary of state?

MCFAUL: Right now, I don`t think it`s a good appointment, but I`m going to keep my mind open and look for new evidence to suggest that it might be a good nomination.

REID: All right. Well, Michael McFaul, former U.S. ambassador to Russia and professor at Stanford University -- thank you very much.

MCFAUL: Thanks for having me.

REID: Thank you. And we have a lot more to come tonight.

For as starters, as you know, yesterday, Rachel sat down with Attorney General Loretta Lynch. Well, it turns out we did not bring you the full interview. There`s more. And it`s juicy. We have it tonight.

Plus, there`s something playing out in North Carolina that could have huge implications for the entire Democratic Party. Start the hamster wheel spinning on what that might be.

Stay with us.


REID: Today, President-elect Donald Trump met with all the big tech leaders. The CEO of Apple was there. So, was the head of Amazon, the representatives from Facebook and Tesla.

But as for Twitter, it did not make the cut. Maybe the president-elect was just trying to make room for someone else at the table. That story up next.


REID: Only two U.S. elections have ever been decided by the House of Representatives. The most recent was nearly 200 years ago in 1824. Four candidates ran that year and none of the four received the needed 131 electors that at that time were needed to win. Andrew Jackson did get the majority of the electoral votes but 99 was not enough to win.

So, it went to the House of Representatives, and they picked John Quincy Adams, who was secretary of state to President James Monroe. The electors felt that JQA was the most qualified to be president, and so, he became the sixth president of the United States.

Andrew Jackson was not amused nor did he give up. Four years later in 1828 he ran against John Quincy Adams and won, becoming the seventh president of the United States and a founder of the Democratic Party.

It turns out that part of the reason Andrew Jackson won that race in 1828 was because of his populist rhetoric. And so, now, fast forward to 2016, one of the things that the right wing loves to do is compare Donald Trump to Andrew Jackson.


RUDY GIULIANI, FORMER NYC MAYOR: This is like Andrew Jackson`s victory.

NEWT GINGRICH (R), FORMER HOUSE SPEAKER: He has the disruptive patterns of Andrew Jackson.

REP. PETER KING (R), NEW YORK: He`s going to do things different from other presidents, maybe like Teddy Roosevelt or Andrew Jackson, and he`s going to get it done.


REID: That is what Trump supporters have been saying, which is honestly strange because history doesn`t have many positive things to say about old Andrew Jackson. Sure, he`s on our money. But she was also a notorious vicious slave owner. He owned hundreds of people that he kept on his plantation in Tennessee. He was behind the ethnic cleansing of thousands of Native Americans in what is referred to as the trail of tears, where he forcibly removed Native American tribes in the name of progress and making room for the expansion of slavery in the South.

So it`s kind of an unhelpful comparison, to say the least, if your goal is to say something positive about Donald Trump. But there is one way in which Donald Trump could be very much like a new Andrew Jackson.

This is Rachel Jackson. She is Andrew Jackson`s wife. Jackson`s election was really tough on her because she was previously married and her divorce was not final by the time she married Andrew.

So, opponents of Andrew Jackson seized on this during the campaign and painted her as an adulterer. They called her a bigamist, the prospect of having to move to the White House was so stressful to her that just days after Andrew Jackson won the election, she promptly died.

And so, when Andrew Jackson went to the White House he named his niece as first lady of the United States. She served as the White House hostess.

Which brings us to this reporting today that Donald Trump`s daughter Ivanka is getting an office in the same space reserved for first lady in the White House according to a transition source. NBC News is pushing back on this. A source familiar with Ivanka Trump`s planning has told the news that the CNN report is, quote, "not true."

But there are two things I will say. One, the idea of the first lady not being the wife of the president might seem really odd, but it`s not new. There have been other instances where this has happened. Thomas Jefferson had his daughter. James Buchanan had his niece. Grover Cleveland had his sister before he got married.

And point number two, Donald Trump has expressed wanting his daughter to be involved in his administration. He`s not been shy about this. He`s been talking about it and was doing so just this weekend.


WALLACE: Are your daughter, Ivanka and her husband Jared Kushner, are they moving to Washington?

TRUMP: Well, we`re working that out right now. They`re both very talented people. I won`t be involved in my business at all, even though I have a legal right to be under the laws, as you know, because the president has a certain doctrine that he can do things. But I just don`t want to do it. Even if I could do it, which I`m allowed to, I don`t want to do it. I want to devote my time --

WALLACE: What about them? Are they moving now?

TRUMP: Well, theirs is a little bit different. And I think we`ll have to see how the laws read. I would love to be able to have them involved.

If you look at Ivanka, you take a look. She`s so strong as you know into the women`s issue and child care and so many things, she`d be so good. Nobody could do better than her. And I just have to see whether or not we can do that. And she would like to do that.

And I`d love to have Jared helping us on deals with other nations and see if we can do peace in the Middle East and other things. He`s very talented. He`s a very talented guy.

So, we`re looking at that from a legal standpoint right now.


REID: You see? His people are looking at it from a legal stand point, trying to figure out if Ivanka Trump and her husband Jared Kushner can be involved in a Trump administration. Peace in the Middle East.

This is all a little bit strange because a few weeks ago, Donald Trump announced that he would hold a major news conference with his children to discuss him leaving his business and passing along the business stuff to his kids. That press conference was supposed to be today. It has since been postponed for some time in January. Assuming it happens.

Presumably they`re still trying to work things through, maybe trying to figure out if Ivanka is going to be in the administration or in the business or maybe in a little bit of both. Because the truth is whether or not Ivanka has an office in the White House, she and her brothers are already actively involved in the transition process and in the president- to-be`s business prospects.

For example, today, top tech leaders from Silicon Valley made their way to Trump tower to meet with Trump -- well, except for Twitter which was banned for not allowing a crooked Hillary emoji, according to "The Hill" -- those who were invited sat down with Trump for a two-hour meeting where they discussed things like jobs, immigration, China, cyber security.

Guess who else sat in on the meeting? President-elect Trump`s kids, they were right there at the table, all three of them.

Now, I should tell you, Ivanka`s husband was also present at the meeting. You can`t see him, because he`s sitting across from Donald Trump.

Here`s another one. Yesterday, we learned that first term Montana Congressman Ryan Zinke has been tapped for interior secretary. They were a number of people being considered for the post. People like Cathy McMorris Rodgers, she is in the sixth term as congresswoman. She`s also the fourth- ranking member of House leadership. She was the leading contender for the gig, but she did not get the post.

Now, I`m going to read you directly from "The Washington Post." quote, "Although Congressman Cathy McMorris Rodgers was a leading contender to lead Interior in recent days, Zinke hit it off with Trump`s oldest son Don Jr., an avid hunter."

The Trump transition, the Trump administration, the Trump businesses, it`s all starting to feel like one big thing. It`s unclear who has roles in what and it seems like they all do a little bit of everything. Today, the four ranking house Democrats wrote in a letter that the deputy commissioner of the General Services Administration told them that Donald Trump will be in violation of his lease at his D.C. hotel, which is a lease with the U.S. government on the very day that he becomes president unless he divests himself of the lease.

Now, I should note that the spokesperson for the agency has since pushed back on that letter but the agency is actively working to sort things out with the Trump Organization. The top official they`re working with from the Trump organization to clear this stuff up? It`s Ivanka Trump.

And so, whether or not she gets an office in the east wing is really not an issue. She`s clearly intricately involved in the transition and the administration and in the business.

Joining me now is Richard Painter, who was chief White House ethics lawyer for George W. Bush. He met with Democratic members of the House Oversight Committee today.

And, Mr. Painter, thank you so much for being here.

So, let`s talk about your meeting today. How did it go and what did you learn?

RICHARD PAINTER, BUSH ADMINISTRATION CHIEF ETHICS LAWYER: Well, Congressman Cummings led the discussion and we spent quite a bit of time going through the issues that President-elect Trump will face once he takes office.

And the most critical concern for us was that the president needs to be able to focus on doing his job and serving the interests of the American people. And he should not be beholden to foreign powers and founders when they drafted the Constitution were well aware of this problem, that other countries would try to manipulate our government and determine who our leaders are and then try to reward them.

And the Founders made it very clear, first, that the president has to be a natural born citizen. We`ve heard a lot about that over the past couple of years including a lot of false accusations about President Obama. But then the other thing the Founders did that made it very clear in the emoluments clause of the Constitution that nobody holding a position of trust with the United States government may accept gifts, payments for services or make other profits through businesses dealings with foreign countries. That`s the emoluments clause.

Emolument is a word from Latin for profit or benefit. And we cannot have people in our government who are -- anybody in our government who is making money from providing business deals for foreign countries. And he will be in violation of that clause if he does not sell the businesses that are taking money in for foreign diplomats, hotels or loans from the Bank of China, or whatever it is.

REID: And, sir, you know, Donald Trump made this point and he keeps trying to repeat it over and over again, that, you know, the president can do it because the law says he can still run his businesses. He keeps saying that over and over again. Is that true?

PAINTER: Well, the Constitution applies to everybody including the president. We`ve had presidents who don`t understand that point. And President Nixon had to learn the hard way. And I hope that doesn`t happen to president Trump.

But the Constitution applies to him. And the Emoluments Clause, which is simply a provision that prohibits foreign payoffs, foreign government payoffs for government officials that applies to the president. That means he`s going to have to sell a lot of these businesses including that hotel. The Founders did not contemplate the president would be an innkeeper for foreign government officials coming over here and pay money to his hotel. That type of thing is specifically prohibited.

REID: Let`s talk about the kids being involved in both the transition, potentially in the administration, even sitting in the East Wing and being involved in the businesses. Donald Trump seems determined to make them do all those things. Is that constitutionally sound?

PAINTER: Well, the problem for the children is they can`t accept the positions with the government pursuant to the anti-nepotism statute, that was enacted in late 1960s, and that was after Bobby Kennedy as attorney general. And that statute will prevent his children and in-laws from accepting a lot of positions with the government.

So, they can be informal adviser and other things they can do. But they`re not going to be able work for positions appointed by the president or where he has urged others to appoint them. So, I think their role is going to have to be somewhat limited unless he wants to go back to Congress and try to renegotiate an amendment to that statute.

REID: But even if they don`t have official position -- we`re out of time, because even if they don`t, they can still talk to him and do business deals with the company. It`s very messy.

Richard Painter --

PAINTER: Absolutely. I think that`s a serious problem.

REID: Yes, absolutely. Richard Painter, former chief White House ethics lawyer under George W. Bush -- very much appreciate your time tonight. Thank you very much.

PAINTER: Well, thank you.

REID: Thank you.

And one quick note, that press conference that President-elect Donald Trump had scheduled to talk about his business dealings with, well, that was scheduled for tomorrow, not today, as we said earlier. But either way, it ain`t happening until in theory at least January.

Still ahead, it turns the out that we bought something today that President Obama got rid of. I don`t know how useful the something will be, the purchase, but we did it anyway. More on that after this.


REID: Behold the Fiddling Foresters, the official old-timey string band of the U.S. Forest Service. Now, I don`t know about you, but I personally did not know the U.S. Forest Service has its own string band, but they do, and they are fabulous.

They`re Len, Jim, Tom and Doug and they`re all Park Rangers. They travel around the country performing folk songs about conservation. They are, as far as I am concerned, a national treasure, albeit an obscure one.

But a few years ago, disaster struck the Fiddling Foresters. Until then, their website was paid for by the federal government. But then in an effort to cut waste, President Obama turned the lights off on our scrappy folk heroes. He said the U.S. government would no longer pay the bill for their dot-gov website. That was back in 2011.

The president killed about a thousand government websites to save some money. Take that, Republicans, who claimed Obama would grow government.

And now, the new administration on its way in, people are worried this could happen again but for a much more sinister reason. "The Washington Post" reports this week that scientists across the country are currently in an all-out frenzy, racing to make duplicates of important climate change data that`s currently hosted on a bunch of dot-gov websites.

And what started as a precaution might turn out to be a real necessity as Donald Trump has nominated a climate change denier, an oil tycoon, to a top post in his administration.

And so, this effort by climate change scientists to start protecting their data took off like a rocket this week. They`re keeping track of all the websites that they need to save on a Google doc spreadsheet, and then piece by piece they`re copying it all on to a nongovernment server.

Now, we don`t know what will happen to all these government URLs once Donald Trump is sworn in next month, and more importantly, what will happen to the data and the study of climate change and its effects.

But the nation`s leading climate experts aren`t taking any chances. President Obama has said over and over again since the election that he`s determined to make this transition smooth and peaceful. But that doesn`t mean they`re going without a fight. Some parts of the administration are putting their armor on. We`ve got that story ahead. Stay with us.

But, first, one more thing.

We hear the Fiddling Foresters are in need of a new online home. And we are here to help. The team here in Maddow land bought the website and it`s not as fancy as your old dot-gov digs, but it does do the trick.

So, attention, fiddlers, out there, the domain is yours if you want it. Just let us know. You can e-mail us at

Much more ahead. Stay with us.



MADDOW: Today, the Trump transition team and the soon-to-be Trump administration took a rare loss when it was forced to back down, by of all agencies, the Department of Energy. Last week the transition team circulated this, an eight-page, 74-point questionnaire at the -- to the Department of Energy requesting the names of every employee and contractor who attended climate change events and worked on specific climate change issues.

Yesterday, the Department of Energy sternly rejected that request, citing concerns over political retribution for staffers who would have been singled out. And today, the Trump team disavowed the whole thing completely, saying the questionnaire was not authorized by the transition team.

Sure. Go with that.

But what the government -- the Department of Energy has done here, a department by the way which will be very likely run by Rick Perry, former Texas governor, soon, what they`ve done is shown a blueprint for dealing with combative bullying even authoritarian rule, which is fight it. We`ve seen the same thing play out in North Carolina where a group of concerned North Carolinians spent day in and day out fighting with Governor Pat McCrory on a series of issues, refusing to expand Medicaid, cutting social programs, curtailing voting rights, blocking raises to the minimum wage, the state`s anti-trans bathroom bill, Moral Mondays protesters and activists, met him and publicly fought him every step of the way on all of that.

And that included on Election Day where despite various attempts to overturn the results, Pat McCrory was defeated by his Democratic challenger Roy Cooper. Democrats also gained the majority on the state Supreme Court. Both of which a bigger deal when you consider Donald Trump won North Carolina.

Now, after four years of North Carolina Republicans driving the state to the right, North Carolina Democrats are getting a share of power in the government, with a Democratic governor and a Democratic-leaning state Supreme Court. They`ll likely have their work cut out for them, too, because even tonight, about two weeks from Roy Cooper taking over the governorship North Carolina`s Republican House and Senate have convened special sessions which are supposed to be about things like disaster relief.

And now, Republicans are submitting bill after bill after bill aimed at severely limiting the power of the incoming governor. Bills that would force all cabinet appointments to be confirmed by the Senate, which is not how it currently works, that would merge the state`s election and ethics boards and change their makeup so the governor`s party no longer gets the majority it enjoys under current law.

One bill would even dramatically slash the number of employees that report to the governor by 80 percent.

Joining us is Reverend Dr. William Barber, president and senior lecturer at Repairers of the Breach and the architect of the Moral Mondays Movement.

Reverend Barber, thank you so much for being here. Good evening.


REID: So, let`s talk about the win and then the continuing fight. You were able in the last 24 hours defeat an attempt to pack the Supreme Court. Describe that for us.

WILLIAMS: Say that one more time. I did not hear you.

REID: The Moral Mondays Movement was able to push back or beat back an attempt by Republicans in the legislature to pack the Supreme Court. Explain what they wanted to do.

WILLIAMS: Yes, that was they were really considering going -- doing a legislative trick, taking the pain and the tragedy of people who have been hurt by the hurricane and the flood and using that to cover a trick to stack the courts by adding two slots to the Supreme Court which would put it back into a extremist majority simply because an African-American man won 76 counties over 300,000 votes over his opponent and now the court is a more progressive court.

It`s some of the most cynical stuff, Joy, that we`ve seen. And we had hundreds of people came out on the first day to basically push back against that attempt.

REID: And you now have -- you have Governor Pat McCrory refusing to concede the election, fought it in every way he could. But you now have the Republican legislature, the House and the Senate attempting to essentially make the governorship not worth having and take away all the powers of the governor because a Democrat will have it. What on earth and what are you guys doing to combat that?

WILLIAMS: Well, you know, this is extremism gone amok. I mean, these (INAUDIBLE) Republicans, they are on some other world. I mean, my great grandfather was a Republican. They are not just power hungry.

I just got a report that they have now entered 15 bills. Mind you they came in saying they were concerned about people who were in the floods, but all that was a cover. They introduced 15 bills. One of them actually changes the makeup of the state boards of election and the county boards of election because currently whoever gets elected, the governor, whoever party he`s in, that`s who -- that`s how the makeup of the local boards look like.

And we`re going through all these bills tonight. We`re pushing back hard. Our lawyers are standing ready. This is also why, Joy, we need the Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act because some of the stuff they wouldn`t be able to do in a preclearance state. But we`re even considering civil disobedience. I`m on the phone tonight about that, because this is just wrong.

I call on all national media to get down in these states because the most regressive extremist stuff is happening in our states and this is extremism gone amok. It is ugly, it is mean-spirited, it is unconstitutional and undemocratic.

REID: And, you know, Reverend Barber, we`ve seen throughout not just in North Carolina but other states, Republican legislatures and governors use their power to, for instance, stop cities from removing the minimum wage, taking away local power if it`s local power that would essentially help poor people, draw districts that make it impossible to vote. You are seeing really essentially is trying to strip local communities of power unless it`s Republican power.

What can Democrats outside of North Carolina do to emulate Moral Mondays and fight back the way that you guys are?

WILLIAMS: Well, we certainly have to have a massive moral pushback in every state. We have to have movements indigenously led from the bottom up. We have to fight from day one and we have to understand why this is happening.

It is not because of the weakness of the progressives in the South, it`s because of potential power. If you get blacks and brown people and white people working together around a common moral agenda, we can transform many of these states. They know the only way to hold on to power is through trickery and through these cynical attempts.

So, part of that should inspire us to fight back really. We need to have our best lawyers ready to go because the Constitution didn`t get unelected. Section 2 is still the law of the land. But you have to have a pushback in every level.

And even if you lose, Joy, every now and then, you got to keep pushing and keep raising and keep making the moral issue to change the consciousness of the state. That`s what we have to do and that`s what we`re doing in North Carolina and can be done all over the South, because we can change this country if we change the South.

REID: Yes. Reverend Barber, I know you have events taking place -- you are taking this nationally. You`ll be in Washington, D.C. You have a watch night push back. We`re going to keep reporting on the things that you`re doing.

Sir, thank you so much. We really appreciate you being here.

BARBER: Thank you so much. God bless.

REID: Thank you.

And Reverend Dr. William Barber is the president and senior lecturer of Repairers of the Breach.

OK. You are now in luck. Thanks to the magic of video. Rachel Maddow will be here in just a minute. Stay with us.


REID: In the past few weeks, Minnesota Congressman Keith Ellison has emerged as the frontrunner in the race for DNC chairman. He`s racked up a lot of key endorsements, including two of the big ones, Senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders. In recent days, Congressman Ellison`s stock has also risen given his announcement that he would resign his seat in the House if elected to run the DNC.

But now, it looks like Ellison is getting another major challenger in the race. NBC News is reporting that Labor Secretary Tom Perez will formally declare his bid tomorrow. And while, yes, Congressman Ellison has locked up the support of the more progressive parts of the party let`s not forget that Secretary Perez was appointed by one, President Barack Obama.

And given his tenure as labor secretary, Mr. Perez has also been one of the president`s go-to ambassadors for organized labor groups, a qualification that can only help his bid. According to "The New York Times," Secretary Perez was expected to meet with the president this week to discuss the position. Members of the DNC will elect their next chair at the end of February. And this certainly makes for a much more interesting race.

Watch this space.



LORETTA LYNCH, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: I know that many Americans are concerned by a spate of recent news reports about alleged hate crimes and harassment. We need you to continue to report these incidents to local law enforcement as well as the Justice Department so that our career investigators and prosecutors can take action to defend your rights.


REID: That was United States Attorney General Loretta Lynch last month, encouraging people to not be afraid and continue reporting alleged hate crimes. After the FBI released harrowing statistics showing a 67 percent uptick last year in hate crimes against Muslims in the U.S.

In the wake of those harrowing statistics, Attorney General Lynch`s message has been keep reporting. We`ll be here for you, at least for now.

Yesterday, Rachel interviewed the attorney general at the historic Stonewall Inn in New York city after she visited a mosque in Virginia and the Harvey Milk School for LGBT youth in New York.

And while the attorney general`s core message lately has been to keep fighting and stay active, there is this question as to whether the incoming administration will be as dedicated to that message come January. How do we know those crimes will continue to be prosecuted? And how do we make people feel comfortable reporting hate crimes to federal law enforcement in the age of Trump?

Here`s what the attorney general had to say about that.


RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: One of the things that you`ve been talking about in recent days is hate crimes.


MADDOW: You were at a mosque in Virginia yesterday.


MADDOW: The Harvey Milk School for LGBT kids in New York as well as here at Stonewall. We`ve seen, in terms of anti-Muslim hate crimes, the biggest upsurge since 9/11 last year.


MADDOW: I know that the whole department of justice does not turn over with a new administration.

LYNCH: That is true.

MADDOW: The political appointees move on. The career attorneys and staffers stay. And you have said that we should basically be reassured by that. That the Department of Justice even with new political appointees --


MADDOW: -- will continue to defend people`s rights, particularly on this issue of hate crimes.

How does that work? I mean, if there are career lawyers, career staffers at DOJ who say this ought to be prosecuted as a hate crime and the people at the top of the Justice Department that come in with a new administration say, we don`t like that concept, how does that play out? How does that work?

LYNCH: Yes. You know, every administration is going to pick its own priority, and people will continue to work, you know, consistent with those. Even after 9/11, when we saw the first upsurge in hate crimes against Muslim Americans and people perceived to be Muslim, those cases were prosecuted. Those cases were brought, because it was so clearly against our values and so clearly against not just the law, but the kind of country that we wanted to be.

We certainly have continued that work. We`ve continued prosecuting those cases, but also trying to have initiatives that empower local communities to educate their neighbors, to educate law enforcement and how to deal with these issues.

I think the law enforcement will continue those efforts. They`ve been very responsive along those lines as well. And so, it`s our view that people need to keep raising these issues to the department of justice.

But, by the way, don`t ignore your local prosecutors. Don`t ignore your local community boards. Don`t ignore your neighbors. Don`t ignore your friends in raising these issues. A lot of times, these things develop, and they become so pernicious and so pervasive because people at lower levels have not engaged in them yet.

I`m not saying that to blame anyone. But what I`m saying is we`re talking about educating people. We`re talk about educating communities that Muslim Americans are our neighbors and friends and family members. But LGBT Americans are our neighbors and friends and family members. Having it start there as well is at the higher levels of the Department of Justice is key.

MADDOW: Key in the sense that it makes it sustainable even if there is active resistance.

LYNCH: And you get more support. And you reach out and you garner more support. One of the things I think that has been tremendous over the last couple of years, I`ve been doing a lot of work, as you know, on policing issues and the issues of the relationship between law enforcement and the communities that we serve. And I`ve been traveling the country on a policing tour and talking to community groups and kids and law enforcement.

And when we look at this issue today, look at the protests even, for example, just to get a snapshot of it, look at the diversity of the people who are engaged on that issue alone, this issue has become more than just one cabined off into the minority community. Similarly, LGBT issues, Muslim American issues have become issues larger than just those limited to those communities. Because people are contributing and they are joining the movements. That`s different. And that`s a positive thing.


REID: That was the attorney general of the United States, Loretta Lynch, yesterday, encouraging people to stay alert and to organize in the months ahead when it comes to making sure the Justice Department continues prosecuting cases of hate crimes and harassment.

Again, still a lot of unknowns when it comes to that. And in the meantime, there remains some loose ends to tie up when it comes to the past presidential election. FBI Director James Comey`s decision to release a letter that caused untold consequences for the Democratic nominee 11 days before the election.

More from Rachel`s interview with Loretta Lynch, coming up.



MADDOW: I interviewed the communications director from the Clinton campaign last night. And she told me in unequivocal terms that as far as they understand how the election went, and this has been corroborated by independent pollsters like Nate Silver and others, when FBI Director James Comey sent his letter about Hillary Clinton a week and a half before the election, the Clinton team really believes based on their data that that was decisive, that that more than any other intervention of any kind at the end of the election is why they lost.

And I know this is very well trod ground, I know this is a very controversial issue, but aren`t there Department of Justice rules about not doing things right before an election that are going to be perceived as having either a partisan intention or a partisan consequence? Aren`t there rules in place that should have stopped him from doing that?

LYNCH: Well, this is -- you know, there has been a lot of coverage of this and I`m sure if there will be a lot of coverage and analysis as we look back on the entire election and all the things that occurred. Yes, there are Department of Justice policies, and there are reasons why the director has expressed his reasons why he went the way that he did. I`ll let him speak for himself on that one.

And again, I think this is going to be analyzed in the weeks and months. There will be a lot of writing on this and I look forward to reading it as well.

MADDOW: Were you involved at all in the negotiations internally in terms of whether or not he could or should do that?

LYNCH: Well, I can tell you that the issue was discussed at the highest levels of telephone department. I`m at those levels. You know, we don`t go into our internal discussions and deliberations, of course.

But I can tell you that it was an issue that was taken very, very seriously by department leadership, and I believe very seriously by Director Comey as well. But he has spoken about that. And I`m going let him continue to provide his reasons for that.

MADDOW: Am I right to decide that the bottom line here was that it was an FBI decision to release that letter, it should not be seen as a DOJ decision to release that letter? Was there a difference between the two of you on it?

LYNCH: Yes, I made my views known. And that`s been reported on. And I think that as I said before, everyone I think took all those issues extremely seriously at every level of the department and at every level of the FBI.


REID: Rachel speaking with U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch yesterday. The attorney general refusing to say whether FBI Director James Comey`s decision to release that letter upending the 2016 presidential race in the process was in direct defiance of the Justice Department and of Loretta Lynch herself, though it has been reported as such.

As of now, the attorney general has chosen not to say publicly what happened here or how sharply she rebuked the FBI director when it happened. But Director Comey does remain in his job. And now, there is the matter of not just how much Director Comey`s letter may have interfered with the election. But Vladimir Putin, there is also still a lot to be determined in just how much damage this year has caused to our electoral process moving forward. In the meantime, stay tuned.

That does it for tonight. Rachel will be back tomorrow. And I will see you this weekend on my show, "A.M. Joy."


Good evening, Sir Lawrence.