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The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 1/4/2017

Guests: Ezra Levin, Gerry Hebert

Show: THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW Date: January 4, 2017 Guest: Ezra Levin, Gerry Hebert


And good evening, Rachel. I`m quite sure that Beyonce would perform two times at your inaugural!


RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Depending on what I was being inaugurated to, Joy.

REID: That is true.

MADDOW: Depending.

REID: To anything. Have a good show.

MADDOW: Good to see you.

And thanks to you at home for being with us this hour.

There`s a lot going on. It`s going to be an exciting show.

Before Barack Obama had his first inauguration as president eight years ago, before him, the president who turned out the biggest crowd ever to witness his inauguration was LBJ in 1965. Not what you would imagine, right? But it`s true.

He held the record, more than a million people turned out to see Lyndon Baines Johnson inaugurated in January of 1965 that was interestingly his second inauguration, right? Of course, his first inauguration happened under very different very extreme circumstances. President Kennedy was assassinated and vice president Johnson had to become president Johnson, had to be sworn in as the new president on an airplane. That was his first inauguration.

1963, of course, under terrible circumstances. But then he won a huge election victory in his own right in 1964, and then a record crowd of Americans, the biggest crowd ever in D.C. for anything turned out to see him inaugurated for the second time. That record for the largest crowd ever for an inauguration stood for 44 years, until Barack Obama. Yeah. Remember that?

This was Washington, D.C., January 20th, 2009. Barack Obama being sworn in as president for the first time. It`s interesting. We don`t have a hard- and-fast crowd estimate for how many people were there but nobody disputes he beat the record, that he beat LBJ`s record.

And a big part of that undoubtedly was the historic nature of his election as the first African-American president. But, you know, another part of it was the momentum coming out of his victory in the 2008 election. I mean, he won election in 2008 by 10 million votes. The Electoral College was 365-173.

The Democrats added 21 seats to what was already their majority in the House. They went all the way up to a super majority in the Senate and, yeah, the 2008 election had been hard fought and they had called him every name in the book. But by the time Barack Obama stood there on the dais to have Chief Justice John Roberts screw up his oath of office, he had a 67 percent approval rating. That was January 20th, 2009. That then became the most attended event ever in the history of Washington, D.C.

And at the time, I mean, Democrats were on top of the world and the Republicans were the exact opposite. I mean, the Republicans controlled nothing in Washington at that time. They had just been shellacked. Their outgoing president was so unpopular, their candidate against Barack Obama wouldn`t even appear with them during the campaign.

Who is going to be the leader of the Republican Party after that? They just got shellacked, and the Democrats brought this incredible head of steam with them into January, 2009, in Washington with what was it, two million people turning out to see the new Democratic president sworn in, January, 20th, 2009.

But you know what? By February, 2009, by the very next month, the turn had started in the other direction. Less than a month after President Obama was sworn in in Washington, protests started against him. These are not campaign events from McCain versus Obama, these are protests against the new president, the new very popular president and against specifically the stimulus bill he got passed in order to try to stop the freefall of the economy at the start of the Great Depression.

Obama inaugurated January 20th. By February 16th, there were protests in Seattle. Then, the next day, they were in Colorado and then they were in Tampa and then they were in Nashville and then Atlanta. There were little pitiful protests in D.C.

But they were building. And at first, nobody called them the Tea Party, but they started in February. By April, by Tax Day 2009, they were calling them the Tea Party. And by the summer, members of Congress went home for the summer recess, did these town hall meetings and suddenly they found town hall meetings all over the country filled with anti-Obama protesters demanding to be heard, not leaving, holding their member of Congress`s feet to the fire.

This anti-Obama movement that started basically as soon as he was sworn in and had blown up by the summer. And, you know, yeah, the Democrats had good numbers in Washington. They had won the election by a lot, but the whole political discussion in the country by late spring early summer that year was about this resistance, this movement that sprung up apparently out of nowhere, that members of Congress were facing at home in their districts, in their faces every time they popped their heads up about absolutely anything.

And I`m not telling you anything you don`t know, right? This isn`t ancient history. We all remember this happened at the start of the Obama presidency.

But what I think is hard to remember about it is how quickly it started. It started so fast. It started basically as soon as he got to Washington. Even though he came in with so much Washington power because of the election results in 2008, Washington power only goes so far, even in electoral politics. That`s what happened the last time we got a new president of a new party.

And now, it remains to be seen if there will be an anti-Trump movement during this next presidency. But we`re starting to figure out what at least the first shoots of it might look like.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All right, guys, we just came from visiting Congressman Goodlatte`s office. We had 12 people, we delivered new year`s cards. It was easy, it was fun and hopefully he will hear our demands that he represent us and our issues going forward here in Roanoke.


MADDOW: You do not recognize these people because these are not famous people. This is three people from Roanoke, Virginia. Because they`re from Roanoke, that means their congressman is Republican Congressman Bob Goodlatte, and he is the Republican congressman who wrote that amendment this week to gut the independent ethics office. There`s been this big controversy this week as the first order of business for the new Republican-led Congress, Bob Goodlatte`s amendment would have stripped the office of this power.

And when these folks, these local constituents of Bob Goodlatte`s, when they heard about, when they heard what they had done, when they heard about this controversy, and that it was their congressman that was doing it, they did something that`s not very hard, they went down to his office. As they said, to wish him a happy new year.

They made him a card. We think we have a picture -- yes, this particular one I wanted to show you. See the card, it says there in handwriting "Happy New Year." But then it also says, "We expect better." And what you see there, I think, is him photo shopped into the swamp thing. Which is not threatening in any way but it`s also not subtle. Swamp thing.

And, you know, this is not a lot of people doing this. They did get a little pickup in the local press. Bob Goodlatte`s local staff at his office in Roanoke, they did have to deal with them for doing this office visit, but it`s not like one action like this is going to change the course of Congressman Goodlatte`s political trajectory.

But that one action doesn`t exist on its own. Doesn`t exist in a vacuum. What we`re covering tonight at the top of the show is that there is something bubbling out there. I know this is not a mainstream story yet, but I`m telling you, this is going on and it`s about to be a mainstream story sometime soon.

The reason that amendment killing the ethics office died, the reason it had to get rescinded and turned the whole first day of the Republican Congress into a circus and a farce, the reason that thing turned back on them and they had to stop doing what they were otherwise going to do is because of what Robert Costa at the "Washington Post" describes as "a blizzard of angry con stitch when calls." That`s what Republican members of Congress told him they got after this news broke about them trying to kill the ethics office.

After the news broke, look at this. Look at this. Google -- look at this -- Google says searches spiked online for the phrase "who is my representative?" Something`s going on. Something is bubbling out there.

"The Washington Post" just profiled the retired lawyer in Hawaii, 60- something woman lives in Hawaii, never been particularly politically active in her life. She had never set up a Facebook event page before.

But she decided she wanted to do something. She asked a friend to help her set up a Facebook event page for a march on Washington after Donald Trump`s inauguration. Didn`t put too much thought into it, but decided she`d do what she could do. When she went to bed that night after she made the Facebook event page, there were 40 people who said they were interested. When she woke up the next morning, 10,000 people had RSVP`d and said they were going, overnight.

You probably heard about this march by now. Donald Trump`s inauguration will be January 20th. This march will be the day after, January 21st. It`s on, they`ve got a permit. They need to raise a million or two bucks in order to pay for the sound system and port-a-potties and all that stuff.

But right now, they have 166,000 people who say they are definitely coming. They`ve got a quarter million people who say they are interested. Over a thousand buses are already booked to take people to this event.

And you can tell from their organizing materials that however lackadaisically this might have started, even though this may have been a leap in somebody`s heart in terms of how they started it, you can tell from the organizing materials they`re getting this thing together.

Right now, if you go to their web site, you say you`re going to go, you get a little questionnaire, how are you getting to D.C.? Are you taking a bus? Are you taking a plane? Are you taking a train? Are you walking? When you get here, will you be using the metro system? They`re trying to figure out the logistics in case they get a few hundred thousand people.

And this is interesting. What level of communication do you want from the march organizers? As much as possible? The bare minimum about the most important event details? You know, just important event information, some updates? Then give us your e-mail, give us your mobile phone.

That`s what happens when you sign up and say you`re going to this march. It`s happening, it`s being organized, it`s getting increasingly organized. It`s on. That`s the day after the inauguration, that`s January 21st, the women`s march on Washington.

But there`s marching on Washington -- which happens a lot for a lot of different reasons -- there`s also marching at home. And this I think is particularly invisible and particularly interesting. What those women did at Bob Goodlatte`s office in Roanoke, Virginia, this morning, and what these folks did at Senator Corey Gardner`s office in Colorado yesterday with the sad dead plant in his lobby, this kind of small scale home state stuff where you act, where you live already, where you don`t travel to some other place to make a symbolic case, but you travel to your local elected official, you make a stand where you are, you work with the people who have to be accountable to you.

That kind of local action is what leading Democrats are now saying will help the most with what`s happening in Washington.


SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I), VERMONT: On January 15, for the first time in the modern history of the Democratic Party, Democrats are going to bee organizing rallies all across this country in opposition to the Republican budget, which calls for throwing 30 million people off of health care, throwing their insurance away, privatizing Medicare, making massive cuts in Medicaid and at the same time giving huge tax breaks to the wealthy. So, what I think Chuck understands and what Democrats increasingly understand is you can`t just go to fund-raisers with wealthy people, you`ve got to get out in the real world.

MADDOW: This January 15th plan, this will be the weekend before the inauguration, you`re not expecting people to convene in one place? Not telling everybody to come to Washington. You`re telling people to rally in their home districts, in their home states.

SANDERS: Right. What we`re asking is U.S. senators, members of the House, labor unions, environmental groups, senior groups, ordinary people to come together and tell the Republican Party that their priorities are absolutely backwards.

MADDOW: In addition to that role that you`ve gotten, Senate leadership and the kind of demonstrations you`re calling for there, it`s interesting for calling for members of Congress themselves and senators themselves --

SANDERS: Yeah, ain`t it?


MADDOW: The Democratic Party with Senator Bernie Sanders as their new director of outreach in Senate leadership, they are calling for people to rally over Martin Luther King weekend. The Sunday before the inauguration, January 15th.

It`s interesting to know. We`ve got this big march on Washington plan which had apparently is going to be hundreds of thousands of people if people show up like they say they`re going to, that`s going to be the day after the inauguration but the weekend before that, not in Washington but at home, where you live, wherever you live, that`s where the Democratic leadership is calling for people to get together to start showing their faces.

And it`s interesting, right? Bernie Sanders, in terms of his organizing background, the way Bernie Sanders is trying to change the Democratic Party right now, is by getting Democratic actual elected leaders, members of Congress, members of the Senate. He`s trying to get them to actually go help organize in their home states, in their home districts, and lead events like this all over the country. That, of course, would be a new role, a new goal for the Democratic Party and what their elected officials do. That would be a new thing, that would be a new way of organizing if the Democrats can actually do it.

But whether or not they can do it, whether or not the Democratic elected officials of this country decide that`s what they`re going to do, try to get people out there showing their faces and making themselves known, whether or not the party pulls it off, regular people are starting to do it on their own. We saw in that avalanche of calls to Congress yesterday. That really did force the Republicans to drop that ethics thing that they were otherwise going to do.

But we`re also seeing some signs about something that is going to build on itself in the way this goes forward in the next really few days, couple of weeks.

Watch this. I showed you that selfie video those women shot in Roanoke this morning? Watch the end of this.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And we had about how many news organizations covering this event?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Three. We had cameras from TV, we had newspapers, our media release went out an hour before our event. There is a lot of interest in covering this kind of groundswell organizing.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So great job today. Effective?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yeah. Read "Indivisible". It really works.


MADDOW: Read "Indivisible". What is "Indivisible"? This is "Indivisible." It`s kind of the secret sauce that explains what is bubbling up as what may be the start of the anti-Trump movement. It`s called "Indivisible."

And you should know this is out there because if there is going to be an anti-Trump movement in this country, particularly one akin to the kind of anti-Obama movement that afflicted the last presidency at the outset of their time in Washington, if there is going to be an anti-Trump movement, I think right now, this is going to explain a lot about what its early stages look like over the next couple weeks.

This started as an online Google document last month. It has now evolved into this slim little 25-page organizing guide. It`s not a complicated thing. It was written, interestingly, by former congressional staffers basically advising people all around the country who are anti-Trump for whatever reason that they should learn from the tactical success of the Tea Party as they went up against Barack Obama.

I`m going to quote from the guide here, "The authors of this guide are former congressional staffers who witnessed the rise of the Tea Party. We saw these activists take on a popular president with a mandate for clang and a supermajority in Congress. We saw them organize locally and convince their own members of Congress to reject President Obama`s agenda. Their ideas were wrong, cruel, and tinged with racism and they won."

So, the reason I`m talking about this tonight and the reason we`re going to talk about one of the authors of this guide in just a moment is because this has not been cooking openly, right, in the Beltway media and cable TV news and places we usually look for news about politics. It has really been looking online where it has taken off.

It has already led to hundreds of local groups being registered online around this idea and springing up all over the country. I think that`s in part because this is very practical. It makes the whole idea very easy.

For example, this is a sample call script for what you should say how you should expect it to go when you call your member of Congress to complain about something. There`s very, very practical information.

Should I bring a sign to my member of congress`s town hall event? Should I bring a sign? Answer, a blunt answer. Signs can be useful for reinforcing the sense of broad agreement with your message. However, if you are holding an oppositional sign, staffers will almost certainly not give you the chance to get the mike and ask a question. Right.

And then this, if you have enough people to both ask questions and hold signs, though, you should go for it.

Or this, a practical question. Help, my members of Congress are actually pretty good. The answer to that is, in part, congratulations. But also this, "do not switch to targeting other members of Congress who don`t represent you. They don`t represent you and they don`t care what you have to say."

Did I mention this was written by former congressional staffers who know of what they speak? Who know how members of Congress react to all sorts of various stimuli?

We`re going to know a lot over the next couple weeks about whether or not there will be a big anti-Trump movement in this country. It started almost immediately against Barack Obama in 2009. It started way sooner than you remember, started within a couple weeks of him being inaugurated.

Part of the reason why if the anti-Trump movement does emerge, part of the reason why will be the Democratic Party`s determination to try to stop what Trump says he wants to do in Washington. And you see that in different ways around the country. You see that, for example, in the Democrat- dominated state of California with them hiring former Attorney General Eric Holder today to advise them on their legal strategy as a state against the Trump administration today. That will be part of the anti-Trump movement.

You`ll see it in the Washington like with what Chuck Schumer told us last night on the show about the Democrats in the Senate and their determination to hold that Supreme Court seat open if they have to and if they have and to slow down the confirmation process for the cabinet appointments if they have to and if they can.

So, you see these things in government and you`ll see these things with elected officials and legislatures and legislators in Washington but the more invisible and bigger force already out there, which really already does look like the start of an anti-Trump movement is regular people already starting this organizing themselves. More ahead.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And we had about how many news organizations covering this event?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Three. We had cameras from TV, we had newspapers, our media release went out an hour before our event. There is a lot of interest in covering this kind of groundswell organizing.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So great job today. Effective?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yeah. Read "Indivisible". It really works.


MADDOW: Read "Indivisible", it really works. "Indivisible", this document that its creators hope will be a how-to guide for resisting the Trump agenda. It`s basically the thing you need to know about in politics right now if you are looking for signs of whether there will be a significant anti-Trump movement in this country.

Part of that we will see in terms of the big Washington mobilization that is expected the day after the Trump inauguration, but part of it will happen in a disambiguated way all around the country. We`re seeing the first signs of that now. We`re definitely seeing the organizing to try to make that happen as we speak.

Joining us now is Ezra Levin. He`s a former policy adviser to Congressman Lloyd Doggett. He`s one of the authors of "Indivisible."

Ezra, thanks for being here. Appreciate it.

EZRA LEVIN, "INDIVISIBLE" CO-AUTHOR: Thank you so much for having me. Glad to be here.

MADDOW: Did I get anything wrong in terms of explaining what you`re trying to do?

LEVIN: No, I don`t know what else to say now. It seems like you covered it all.

MADDOW: Well, good night. Nice to see you.

Why did you decide to do this and how many people were involved in creating this?

LEVIN: There were at least two or three dozen people involved. We decided to do it because we were going through the stages of grief, as many liberals were after the election, and we were also hearing these stories of people starting up new organizations to actually push against Trump. There are secret Facebook groups or their mailing lists and trying to figure out what can we do to make sure that Congress doesn`t enact Trump`s agenda. They knew about petitions and calling their members of Congress but they didn`t know what the next step was beyond that.

As a former congressional staffer, I have basically no skills but I do know how Congress works and I and a lot of other congressional staffers got together and said, look, we know what works, we saw the Tea Party rise up, we saw them implement really effective strategies and tactics to prevent an incredibly popular president`s agenda from being implemented. This can work for us, the progressive movement, today if it worked for the Tea Party eight years ago.

MADDOW: It seems to me in reading this, I feel like you`re trying to sort of gently dispel some popular myths about what must affect members of Congress. You`re basically saying, listen, form letters, don`t bother, online petitions, nice, but it`s not the thing that actually makes a difference to the member of Congress on the ground. Is that fair to say?

LEVIN: That`s absolutely right.

So, the Tea Party really understood a couple things about how their members of Congress thought. One, they understood that their members of Congress cared about them, their constituents, and not other people. And, two, they understood that they weren`t setting the agenda for the next eight years, the Democrats controlled the House, they controlled the Senate, they had the presidency, but the Tea Party could play defense. They could respond to everything coming down the pike and say no.

MADDOW: So that`s a crucial strategic point you make. You basically say, listen, as liberals we would love to focus on a positive agenda for how we would like to do things different, but as long as there`s zero power in Washington to do that, there`s no point in focusing on that now, let`s instead focus on saying no to what people in power are going to do. Exclusively.

LEVIN: Yes, I don`t think progressives should give up the idea of a bold progressive future. I think that`s important. But if you`re an advocate on the ground and you`re talking to Representative Goodlatte or anybody else, what you`re going to be doing is be responding to what Congress is doing today. Yesterday, it was trying to make Congress even more corrupt than Congress already is. Tomorrow, it`s going to be something bad, too.

So, you have the power to just say this is unacceptable and we`ve seen that happening all over the country now. You`re talking about a bubbling up movement. We`re seeing it. Yesterday was the first proof of concept and I think we`re going to see a lot more of that.

MADDOW: Have you seen in terms of the direct response to this, enough posted online so you know how many people have downloaded it. You know how many people have read it. But are you seeing in terms of groups forming or other people using this work?

LEVIN: It`s phenomenal. I`ve got to say. We`ve been blown away. We put up a Google doc two and a half weeks ago, Google immediately crashed.

We threw up a web site so people had a way to download it and get the information. In the last two weeks that we`ve had this up, there have been over 600,000 page views, there had been 130,000 people have downloaded the guide. But like you said the really exciting thing is that there are all these groups spreading out all across the country and popping up.

We`ve had in the last 24 hours since we`ve been collecting groups that are trying to resist Trump, 350 folks register. My phone --

MADDOW: Three hundred fifty groups?

LEVIN: Groups, 350 groups all over the country. My phone buzzes every time a new one goes in and it`s been vibrating since we`ve been talking. Every few minutes, more people are coming online.

And what they look like is what the "Indivisible" Roanoke group looks like. They`re in Milwaukee. They`re in Florida. They`re in New York. They`re in California. They`re in Pennsylvania.

We`ve covered just about every single state and we have subscribers in literally every single congressional district in the country.

MADDOW: Pretty good for a Google document you whipped up with a few friends. Yes.

LEVIN: It`s not what we did. The movement already existed. We`re just speaking to it a little bit.

MADDOW: Ezra Levin, former policy adviser to Congressman Lloyd Doggett and a man involved in a phenomenon I`m not sure the beltway has caught on to yet, but I think they`re about to hear from soon. Good luck. Thanks.

LEVIN: Thank you so much.

MADDOW: All right. Lots to come, lots going on in the news tonight. Stay with us.


MADDOW: Confirmation hearings start next week for the people who have been tapped for the new administration`s cabinet offices. They`re going to be really stacked up.

In the middle of it all, President Obama is going to be giving his farewell address. Donald Trump is going to be giving his first press conference since the summer. We`re going to have the secretary of state, the attorney general, the secretary of education, all these very controversial nominees coming up all at once. We are about to start seeing the parade of people who have been tapped by the president-elect to run the federal government.

There is a huge mystery, though, about one person who was very, very, very close to the president-elect, who was expected to get a very, very big job, who so far has not just been blanked, has been worse than blanked. Why is that? And when are we going to get the answer to that mystery? That`s next.



DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT-ELECT: They never said, "Hey, boss, we`re closing up the George Washington Bridge tonight." No, they never said. They`re talking about the weather, right?


Then, so that -- he knew about it, he knew about it. Totally knew about it.


MADDOW: You know who`s having a hard time right now?

Chris Christie is having a hard time right now. Right before the holiday break, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie tried to get the state legislature to pass a new law that would allow him to personally profit from a book deal while he is still in office. Amid public outcry, they said no.

He also tried to get them to pass a bill that was apparently designed to bankrupt newspapers all over the state of New Jersey. Again, amid more public outcry, they said no.

When there is a public outcry about any politics in New Jersey these days, it`s generally against that state`s wildly disliked governor. It was a particularly bad batch for him last month when he got not just his usual terrible local press, he got a nice big round of terrible national press, that was because his approval ratings went so low he not only became the most-disliked governor in the country, he became the most-disliked governor in any state in 20 years, in any state. In 20 years.

And just think about the year he`s had. I mean, this is where his road to the White House was going to start. Remember, he basically skipped Iowa, went straight to New Hampshire. Moved to New Hampshire, bet his whole presidential campaign on New Hampshire and he got absolutely creamed in New Hampshire. Didn`t even hit double digits, came in sixth.

Since then, it`s been disaster on disaster. After he came out and decided he would support Donald Trump instead, during the election campaign, during the general election, the Trump campaign decided to put Chris Christie in charge of the transition that was until, oh, my God, it looks like there`s going to be a transition, at which point they quickly, quickly fired Chris Christie from the transition.

They fired him. They fired his best political friend from home who was working with him on the transition. They fired his chief of staff who he had also had working with him on the transition.

And if that wasn`t humiliating enough, then came the true humiliation, reports that Chris Christie asked the president-elect for the post of attorney general. The answer was no. That`s going to be Jeff Sessions.

Reports that Chris Christie asked to be chair of the Republican Party. No, that`s going to be Mitt Romney`s niece?

Reports that Chris Christie recommended Mike Rogers to be national security advisor. The answer to that one is no as well.

Reports that Chris Christie recommended a lawyer friend of his who was linked to the Bridgegate inquiry, recommended her for SEC chair. The answer to that one also no, it`s going to be some lawyer guy who was a lawyer for Goldman Sachs, naturally.

It`s just been no, no, no, no, no. He have has been kicked so hard by Trump since the election, it`s kind of hard to see what bones might be left for Trump to break. But today, they found another one.

Part of the received wisdom of why Chris Christie couldn`t win the presidency in his own right, why he couldn`t be on the Trump ticket as a running mate, why the Trump folks have been shedding him like water off a duck ever since Trump won, the common received wisdom is because -- Bridgegate has a stink, right? Four of his top aides and appointees convicted or pleading guilty. The scheme to snarl traffic on purpose for days in order to enact petty political revenge against some small-town mayor. That`s been the supposition, right?

This bridge thing stinks. It was such an ugly, petty, Nixonian criminal vicious dirty political trick, that you can`t somewhere have somebody associated with that around, you can`t have Christie around because the stink is still on him. That`s been the wisdom of maybe what happened here.

No. Apparently, the stink of Bridgegate is not a problem at all because today the new White House political director was just announced. This is like the Karl Rove job in the Trump White House and the political director in the Trump White House is going to be Chris Christie`s former campaign manager, who was all caught up in Bridgegate.

According to witnesses, he knew about it while it was happening, he was described as having been in on it, he was one of the only people in Christie`s whole circle who Chris Christie actually threw under the bus and publicly shamed and fired for Bridgegate. That guy got a job, but Chris Christie apparently doesn`t.


GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: I was disturbed by the tone and behavior and attitude, callous indifference that was displayed in the e- mails by my former campaign manager, Bill Stepien. And reading that, it made me lose my confidence in Bill`s judgment. And you cannot have someone at the top of your political operation who you do not have confidence in.

As a result, I`ve instructed Bill Stepien to not place his name in nomination for state party chairman and he will not be considered for state party chairman and I`ve instructed him to withdraw his consultancy with the Republican governors` association. If I can not trust someone`s judgment, I cannot ask others to do so and I would not place him at the head of my political operation because of the lack of judgment that was shown in the e-mails that were revealed yesterday.


MADDOW: The main thing here is that Bill Stepien is going to be White House political director. We are all now about to experience what it means to have someone at the heart of a nationally notorious act of criminal political revenge acting from here on out as the political director at the White House, right? That`s something.

And it tells you something about the new administration and how they intend to operate that that`s who they are putting in charge of their political operation in the White House.

But also, just at a human level, at a Shakespearean drama level, this is a little bit astonishing, right? I mean, at a human level, this tells you just how many shovels of dirt they are willing to shovel on to Chris Christie.

No to him, a thousand times no. No to everyone he promised a job to, no to everyone he recommends, no to anyone associated with him except the guy he tried to publicly shame for the bridge scandal. Yeah, we`ll take him.

My only question now is after you treat a guy this badly, after you humiliate him this much, what`s his revenge going to be? Because you know he`s got something in mind.


MADDOW: Yesterday, this is what the visible resistance looked like to the pick of Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III to be the next attorney general of the United States. But if you thought the organized protest against his nomination was going to be like this, was going to be activists by the handful staging a sit-in at one of his offices, your count of that opposition would be off by roughly a gazillion jillion.

The Jeff Sessions nomination today, it all started coming together. This appears to be the cabinet nomination that`s going to reap the whirlwind and that kind of remarkable story is next.

Stay with us.


MADDOW: Even though senators are always supposed to be super nice to other senators, it`s starting to look like the most contentious confirmation hearing of the whole new administration might be for a sitting senator, for Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III, the Trump nominee to be attorney general.

Yesterday, activists, including the sitting national president of the NAACP, they sat in at Jeff Session`s district office in Mobile, Alabama, and got arrested in protest of his nomination to be attorney general, given his dismal civil rights record. Also, over 1,300 law professors, including some of the biggest names in academic law in this country have come out publicly against his confirmation, that`s a lot and they are big names.

The judiciary committee yesterday received an eloquent and scathing letter from the immediate past governor of Massachusetts, Deval Patrick. He was part of the defense team when Jeff Sessions prosecuted three black civil rights activists in the most infamous prosecution from his time as U.S. attorney in Alabama back in the 1980s. Deval Patrick is now describing that experience and pleading with the judiciary committee that Sessions should not be attorney general.

The Sessions confirmation is officially red hot. It`s scheduled for Tuesday, but Dianne Feinstein, ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, she has asked for a delay. You know, it`s not like the Trump folks didn`t know he`d be a controversial pick. They gave talking points on sessions to Senate Republicans.

In those talking points, they told Republicans that they should praise -- look at this -- Senator Session`s strong civil rights record, including a host of -- underlined -- desegregation lawsuit he filed in Alabama while he was U.S. attorney. Sessions himself has highlighted several civil rights cases he claimed to have litigated personally in Alabama.

But now, on top of everything else lining up against this nomination, now, this seems like kind of a killer blow. The former federal civil rights lawyers who actually did work on those desegregation cases, who actually did work on those civil rights cases in the 1980s that Jeff Sessions is claiming as part of his great civil rights record, those lawyers who did work on those cases have come forward publicly to say actually Jeff Sessions did nothing on these case which is he is claiming as his great civil rights legacy.

Quote, "We worked in the Justice Department civil rights division which brought those lawsuits. We can state categorically that Jeff Sessions had no substantive involvement in any of them. Sessions has not worked to protect civil rights. He worked against civil rights at every turn. Jeff Sessions knows his real record on race and civil rights is harmful to his chances for confirmation so he has made up a fake one.

But many of us who were there in Alabama in the `80s and `90s and beyond, we`re still around. We lived that story, too, and we are here to testify that Jeff Sessions has done many things throughout his 40-year career. Protecting civil rights has not been one of them."

All these things happening at once. The sit-in, including the president of the national NAACP, the 1,300 law professors, including lots of household names, the Deval Patrick letter telling the scathing story, Dianne Feinstein trying to delay the hearings.

Other civil rights and judiciary groups saying that his submissions to the committee, his questionnaire that he`s supposed to give the judiciary committee is shockingly incomplete. I mean, all of these forms of objection to him, they`re all interesting stories in and of themselves.

What ends up being the most interesting story of all is that they are all happening at once. And this is quite a barrier that he is now running into.

Joining us now is one of the former Justice Department lawyers who`s written this piece now, this op-ed in "The Washington Post" basically debunking Jeff Session`s civil rights claims about his own record.

His name is Jerry Hebert. Mr. Hebert is director of the voting rights and redistricting program at the Campaign Legal Center.

Mr. Hebert, thank you very much for your time tonight. Appreciate you being here.

GERRY HEBERT, CAMPAIGN LEGAL CENTER EXEC. DIRECTOR: Thank you for having me, Rachel. It`s a delight to be on your show, which I consider to be more important than ever now.

MADDOW: Oh, that`s very kind of you to say.

Let me ask you about this remarkable op-ed in "The Washington Post" which in a lot of ways speaks for itself. I sort of quoted the nut of your argument there.

But are you basically claiming that Jeff Sessions is claiming substantive work on civil rights cases that not only he did no substantive work on, but that he was basically opposed to the point of those cases?

HEBERT: Well, he certainly claims that he was involved in prosecuting those cases. He claimed them as his own. The purpose of us writing those words in that op-ed piece were to demonstrate that he is not going to be allowed to stand up and try to take credit for cases that we worked on, and that he really played no significant role in.

I was in Selma, Alabama for a number of years litigating voting rights cases. And he claims that he -- two of the cases that I handled were cases that he takes credit for.

I never saw him in Selma, Alabama, in the federal courtroom. He never appeared with me and really had no substantive involvement in any of those cases. Same thing --

MADDOW: Now, when you say substantive involvement, clearly, as the U.S. attorney here, he would have been signing filings. He would have been putting his name and literally his signature on some of the documents associated with those cases, wouldn`t he?

HEBERT: Actually, no. The way it works, Rachel, is that when the Justice Department files a civil rights case in Alabama, the case is litigated and we, up in Washington put the name of the U.S. attorney on all filings. Oftentimes, the U.S. attorney doesn`t even see the filings. And sometimes isn`t even notified if they aren`t a major filing in the case.

Typically, I would reference my filings with his assistant U.S. attorney, an African-American AUSA named Tom Figures (ph). But Jeff never reviewed any of the briefs and/or was asked to make any substantive comments on any filings. His name as a matter of formal process is simply put on the brief because he is the U.S. attorney for that district.

MADDOW: Do you think the Judiciary Committee and the confirmation process, as you understand it, is capable of teasing out these sort of subtleties? Obviously, the Trump transition believes that his name as U.S. attorney being associated with the filings that you did on those civil rights cases is enough to give him credit for those things. Do you think that the confirmation process is subtle enough and thorough enough that these things will be teased out and that he won`t be given credit for these things that he is claiming credit for?

HEBERT: Well, in 1986 when he was nominated to be a federal judge, the Senate Judiciary Committee, which was then controlled by Republicans also did give the opportunity for issues to be teased out. And when they were teased out, they found out that he had been racially insensitive in a number of comments that he had made, and his civil rights record was really questionable. And some Republicans on the committee made it clear that they just couldn`t support him.

Now, you make a good point that in the Senate, you know, there is a lot of camaraderie among the senators and it`s very difficult. In fact, when I testified in 1986, Senator Biden said he would find it very hard to vote against one of his colleagues if they were up for a federal judgeship. Well, I understand that, but I think they have a responsibility to really listen to all the facts and the evidence.

MADDOW: Gerry Hebert, executive director of the Campaign Legal Center in Washington -- thanks for helping us understand this tonight. Super interesting in the way you put this forward. Thanks. Appreciate you being here.

HEBERT: Thank you, Rachel.

MADDOW: All right. We`ll be right back. Stay with us.


MADDOW: One of the things about this new era that`s dawning in Washington is I`m hoping we get access to a lot more high profile, high power people in the Congress and the new administration than we have been getting in recent years. I`m ever hopeful. We got a good start on it last night with the top Democrat in the Senate, Chuck Schumer, being here. And boy did that cause a lot of reverberations today, including one very, very surprising one, and that`s next.

Stay with us.


MADDOW: A couple of very striking responses with our interview last night with the new Democratic leader in the Senate, Chuck Schumer. First off, it was nice to learn this morning that we apparently have an enthusiastic viewer of this show in the great state of Kentucky.


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), SENATE MAJORITY LEADER: I noticed my counterpart Senator Schumer announced yesterday that their goal was to apparently never fill the Supreme Court vacancy. I think that`s something the American people simply will not tolerate, and we`ll be looking forward to receiving a Supreme Court nomination and moving forward on it.


MADDOW: I didn`t know you were watching, sir. But welcome, Senator McConnell. Please come be a guest on this show. I think we would have a lot to talk about.

And honestly, when people who are pulling the levers of government come talk to us, they frequently say stuff that really matters and makes news. Last night, we got the news from Senator Schumer, about the Supreme Court, whether they would hold open a seat. Today, we got the Republican response to that.

But that was the first bit of news from that interview. Another bit of it was about this.


MADDOW: That actually, this intelligence briefing for the president-elect was always planned for Friday, it hasn`t been delayed. But he is taking these shots, this antagonism, this taunting. Do you think he has an agenda to try to dismantle parts of the intelligence community? I mean, this form of hostility --

SCHUMER: Let me tell you, whether you`re a super liberal Democrat or a very conservative Republican, you should be against dismantling the intelligence community.


MADDOW: That was our hypothetical discussion last night. Do you think that`s what he is trying to do?

Tonight, "Wall Street Journal", "Donald Trump plans revamp of top U.S. spy agency. Will restructure and pare back the nation`s top spy agency. People familiar with Trump`s planning say advisers are working on a plan to restructure the CIA, cutting back on staffing."

We were talking about a hypothetical. Do you think what he was trying to do? That was last night. As of today, that`s exactly what he is doing.

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


Good evening, Lawrence.