Show: THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW Date: November 8, 2017 Guest: Ned Price, Dan Rather
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBCH HOST: And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour.
So, it has been an unexpectedly difficult year for the Republican Party since they won complete control of Congress and the White House one year ago today on election day last year. I mean, we`re year on from that triumph from the Republican Party, but one year on from that election day, Republicans in Washington have passed zero major legislation nothing, despite controlling both Houses of Congress and the White House.
One year on, the president`s campaign chairman is out on $10 million bond and wearing an ankle bracelet, as is another Trump campaign official who`s out on $5 million bond and wearing an ankle bracelet. And that`s not even counting the Trump campaign advisor who`s already pled guilty and is cooperating with the ongoing criminal and counterintelligence investigation of this president and his campaign and potentially of his administration.
One year on, the Republican Party is already on the hook for at least hundreds of thousands and maybe millions of dollars in legal fees for the president and his family. But it`s not just them, criminal defense lawyers have been hired by everybody from the vice president to the White House communications director, to even the White House counsel, even their lawyers have had to get lawyers this past year.
But unlike the president and the president`s son, everybody else in the Trump administration is having to pay for their lawyers themselves.
Just one year on from that big victory, the White House has already lost to communications directors, a chief of staff, a deputy chief of staff, a national security adviser, a deputy national security adviser, a press secretary, a deputy press secretary, a chief White House strategist, a confirmed cabinet secretary, also an FBI director, which may end up being the most consequential loss of them all.
But while the administration has been flinging off senior officials over the course of this past year like a big hairy dog shaking himself after a swim, that phenomenon isn`t just limited to the Republicans in the Trump White House. On Capitol Hill, at least serving Republican members of Congress have resigned already or have declared that they will leave office, including a number of committee chairs in Congress.
One year on from that big Republican victory, this president is viewed more unfavorably by the American public than any president in the last 70 years. And the one great hope for a Republican accomplishment in this first year of theirs, their one great hope, tax reform, that is already hemorrhaging even Republican support amid reports that the bill they`re advertising is a tax cut bill will actually raise taxes on nearly half of America`s middle class families.
The latest reports from Republicanville are that Republicans in the Senate may not even want to try on this taxes thing anymore, at least not anytime soon.
So, that`s been the year they have had in power. It`s been 365 days. It`s been one year since they won. That`s what happened since they won.
The biggest parliamentary wonder in Washington is who else is going to get arrested. They`ve accomplished nothing in terms of holding the reins of power in government, right?
Given those prevailing winds, you can understand why Republicans generally might have felt disconcerted about the fact that yesterday, in states all over the country, it was time for Americans to go to the polls again. You can understand why Republicans might have been a little apprehensive about yesterday being Election Day.
But their worst fears really did come true last night. They lost the Republican super majority in Georgia. They lost legislative seats in Georgia that they had gerrymandered to be so Republican, Democrats hadn`t even tried to contest them as recently as last year. This year, Democrats decided heck why not, let`s contest them anyway and the Democrats won those seats.
Republicans lost control of the last legislative toehold they had in the entire West Coast of the United States. Democrats now control the governorship and the entire legislature in all of the states on the West Coast, from the Mexican border up to Canada.
The last Republican candidate for governor in New York state lost his seat in Westchester County, to a Democrat.
The legislature in Maine has five times voted to expand Medicaid, to get 70,000 people in Maine onto health insurance, five times they voted for it, the Republican governor has vetoed it all five of those times. Well, last night, it wasn`t the legislature, it was the people of Maine who voted to do that by a huge margin. The governor up there says he`s going to try to basically veto the people`s vote for that too, but he is going to lose that fight and 70,000 to 80,000 people in Maine who currently do not have health insurance are going to get it despite the best efforts of Maine Republicans.
Democrats unseated Republican mayor`s in cities like Manchester, New Hampshire, and Fayetteville, North Carolina. In Brook Park, Ohio, the mayor there had switched to the Republican Party and endorsed Trump for the election last year, that mayor lost his seat last night in Ohio, to an independent who`s a union auto worker in the UAW.
Republicans also lost the governorship last night in New Jersey. New Jersey`s Trump supporting Republican Governor Chris Christie will leave office as the least popular governor not just in the history of New Jersey, he`ll leave office as the least popular governor in the history of polling the approval ratings of governor`s in any state.
Christie`s lieutenant governor got trounced last night. Democrats returned to control in New Jersey.
And speaking of New Jersey, just for good measure, the Trump supporting city councilor who posted this online on inauguration weekend this year, it says, will the women -- will the woman`s protest be over in time for them to cook dinner? The city councilman in New Jersey who posted that lost his seat last night to a Democratic woman Ashley Bennett, who was 32 years old, who has never run for office before but who found something inspiring in the way this year is gone in America, and presumably should be on something inspiring as well in the character of her local officials, one of whom she has now retired whereupon hopefully he may learn to feed himself.
The biggest loss of the night for Republicans was and they lost the governor`s race in Virginia. Democrat Ralph Northam beating Republican Ed Gillespie easily. And, yes, that means a Democrat is just succeeding as a Democrat as governor of Virginia, but when Terry McAuliffe won that governor`s race four years ago in Virginia, he won places like Loudoun County and Prince William County by single digits. Last night, Ralph Northam won those counties by more than 20 points. He won by nine points overall. He won by more than any Democratic governor has won in a generation.
When the polls all said it was basically a toss-up that last night it was anybody`s guess and you know when the polls are that wrong when they say it`s going to be a time the Democrat ends up winning by nine points the way polls are usually wrong in that way is that they miss turnout because they miss enthusiasm. And I don`t know if Democratic enthusiasm was motivated by Ralph Northam being at the top of the ticket or not, but Democrats nearly/maybe taking the state legislature last night in Virginia, that is something that really nobody thought was possible.
So, in Virginia, they`ve got a state senate and a state house. The state senate wasn`t up last night, but this was the partisan balance in the house, in the statehouse heading into last night`s voting. The House of Delegates, 66 Republicans and 34 Democrats heading into last night. That means Republicans would have to lose 16 seats they currently hold to their Democratic opponents for the Democrats to take control.
The last time they -- 16 seats, come on, that`s ridiculous. Last time Democrats picked up more than one seat in the House of Delegates in a single election was a decade ago and that one they only swung four seats.
I mean, Democrats as recently as last week in Virginia we`re saying if they picked up six seats or eight seats, they would see that as a huge victory, is a huge validation of their strategy. The most optimistic, naive Democratic activists were aiming at 10 seats as their dream pick up last night.
Well, they took at least seats last night. The Democratic Party in Virginia is claiming they actually took 16, but 15 right now looks like a safe call with probably four seats going to a runoff.
So, this was just an unimaginably good night for Democrats in the sense that nobody he predicted that it was possible Democrats could take that legislature. It was an unimaginably good night for Democrats and it was the kind of bad night that the Republican Party might have most feared, after the kind of year that they have had since their big election day one year ago today in 2016.
I think though that it`s worth seeing this as more than just a pendulum swinging back sort of thing. If you look at the specifics of what happened last night, I think there`s a there`s something important to see about the difference between the parties, but there`s also something important to say about the difference in what each of the parties is trying to do right now with Trump in the White House.
We have a major party system, we have two major parties. You`d think they`d both be sort of approaching the same thing just from different angles? No, they both have totally different agendas right now, and they`re also very different animals as parties. Here`s one way to see the difference in the parties right now. I said there are seats in Virginia where the incumbent office holder or in the case of an open seat, the previous office holder was a Republican. There are of those seats in Virginia last night where the Republican lost his seat to a Democrat.
This is half of those seats. We organize them in numerical order by their district number these are Republicans who were all turfed out last night. Here are the Democrats who did the turfing out. As you can see it`s kind of a different looking bunch. This giant swing to the Democrats last night is going to make the Virginia legislature a very different place.
Here`s the other half of those Republicans who lost their seats last night. These are Republican incumbents or in the case of open seats. The guy with the asterisks there`s a guy -- it was the last person to hold that seat, all Republican dudes all lost their seats last night all saw them flip to these Democratic candidates, right?
So, even before the recounts are factored in the Democrats took seats held by Republican men last night and now, 11 of those seats will be held by Democratic women.
Virginia Democrats have put the first Latina candidates in their state legislature. They`ll be seating the first openly transgender state legislator anywhere in the country. And that kind of diversity, those first -- none of that`s a gimmick. It doesn`t appear to be the products of some special effort on the Democrats behalf. It`s just that that`s what happens when lots and lots of different kinds of people decide to up and change their lives and run for office.
And that`s really, really new. That`s really important to thinking what happened last night. This isn`t just same old Republicans versus same old Democrats and the pendulum went Republican last time, so it`s going Democratic this time. That`s not what happened.
That`s what it looks like sort of if you squint, you don`t pay attention to who actually ran in who won. So, this was not bad, this was a whole new crop of people. In the last legislative election in Virginia in 2015, Democrats didn`t even contest enough elections in the legislature to even try to win back the House.
Two years ago, there were these same hundred seats up, a hundred seats available, a hundred seats in the legislature. Two years ago of those hundred seats, Democrats only ran candidates. Last night, they ran 90.
And despite nobody in the entire state expecting it, they may have actually won the whole legislature because of it. The Democratic leader in the legislature told the "Richmond Times-Dispatch", quote, the day after the Trump election, it began raining candidates for us in Virginia.
They didn`t just have all the same old people run. They had a whole new crop of candidates, people who became inspired, regular people, people who didn`t previously think of themselves as politicians before this remarkable year that we have had. Tons of people who ran for the first time last night because they for some reason have been moved by what has happened in this country in the past year.
And in a lot of cases, there were people who ran even when it turned out to be really hard personally for them to run.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WENDY GOODITIS, EDUCATOR AND COMMUNITY LEADER: I had a brother who struggled with alcoholism and PTSD for decades. I lost him in March, two weeks after I announced for this. It was devastating and hard to go on, but there are others like him and I intend to make sure that they have more chances than he had.
In Virginia, we`re paying Medicaid taxes that go out of state. We are turning away $6 million a day. We need this. We need it badly.
That money could so help the people in our state who need it, but only if backed by a government who believes that people like my brother worth saving and worth helping, and that`s why I`m here.
My name is Wendy Gooditis, and I`m the Democratic nominee for delegate in Virginia House district 10.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Wendy Gooditis won that seat last night. She`s up against the Republican incumbent we`ve been in the seat for three terms already and he was not perceived as in danger. He won re-election in the last election by 25 points. But last night, Wendy Gooditis beat him, first time candidate.
By the way, just for reference sake, here`s Wendy Gooditis at the women`s march last year.
And here`s Jennifer Carroll Foy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Jennifer Carroll Foy loves a challenge. She was one of the first African-American women at VMI, first in her family to graduate from college and law school. And in January, this public defender announced her candidacy for a house seat that covers part of Prince William and Stafford. She had concerns about policies she viewed as anti-women.
JENNIFER CARROLL FOY: I said, you know, why not me and if not now, when?
REPORTER: But a few weeks later, a new challenge. She learned she was pregnant with twins. The day before the June primary, she was put on bed rest. Her husband worked the polls for her.
FOY: My husband -- I am so blessed I have a wonderful husband who really picked up the slack and he was out there an election day for 13 hours in 93 degree heat.
REPORTER: Carol Foy won the Democratic Party`s nomination then, an even bigger challenge, the babies, identical twin boys came very early. Born at 23 weeks, Alex and Xander each weighed in at a pound and a half.
FOY: I was very nervous to be honest with you, but I have I`m a woman of extreme faith and so, I said, well, what happened will happen, but I believe my babies are going to be born and are going to be born healthy. And that miracles will happen here, and that`s exactly what happened.
REPORTER: The boys are now three pounds, still in the NICU though at Inova Fairfax Hospital. That`s where Carroll Foy and her husband spend evenings after a full day of campaigning and work. She says she never considered dropping out of the race. She wants more women in the general assembly.
FOY: And I want to help usher in this new change where people understand that women are multi-faceted, multi-dimensional and we can do all things that we focus to put our minds to.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: She and her husband spent every night of the campaign in the NICU with their premature twins who she did not know she was pregnant with until three weeks after she declared she was running for the first time she`s ever run for anything in her life. She was consigned to bed rest for the primary so her husband had to take off work and show up for her that day at the polls.
Jennifer Carroll Foy last night won that race first-time candidate.
After Hillary Clinton lost the presidential election to Donald Trump last year, young people who had worked on the Clinton campaign started a simple group with a simple slogan it`s called run for something to get young progressive people who`ve never run for anything before to run for something it`s easy to remember the mission, right?
The idea was to run for something at the local level or at the state level. Start as small as you feel you need to.
They supported ten candidates last night for the Virginia House, six of them won. After Trump was elected last year, young Democratic congressional staffer started a group or a really a concept called "Indivisible" to get people to organize locally in their home districts, to pressure their own locally elected officials to say no to the Trump agenda.
There are nearly two hundred Indivisible groups in Virginia alone. One of those indivisible groups was started by Wendy Gooditis. Now, she`s just been elected to a seat that may result in Virginia turning its legislature blue.
After the presidential election last year, Bernie Sanders supporters started out evolution to promote progressive candidates and races at every level. Jennifer Carroll Foy is one of their candidates, so they have bragging rights about electing today, as is Elizabeth Guzman, one of the pioneering Latinas, who took an incumbent Republican seat in the Virginia legislature last night as well.
And I just mentioned those few groups that have sprung up since the election last year, in this remarkable year that we`ve had, I mentioned those the handful of groups just because those are the ones off the top of my head, but there are a gazillion of them. And this whole idea of Democratic organizing over the past year hasn`t been like a theoretical exercise this has not been political science the Democratic year of organizing that we`ve just had has resulted in a lot of individual Americans changing their lives and becoming political actors in ways they never had before.
And it turns out it can be a big life upending deal for Americans to get moved not just from citizen to voter and voter to marcher and marcher to activists, but from activists to candidates. And sometimes after you declare, you find out you`re pregnant and you have premature twins and sometimes right after you declare, you lose your brother to mental illness and PTSD, but you`re running now so that`s your life now.
And I just well -- will add one last point here in terms of how this last year has changed us as a country and has changed us as political animals.
On the Republican side, the Republicans, obviously -- I mean, just don`t make bones about it, right? The Republicans -- Republican -- the best way to say this is the Republicans have the Trump issue to deal with as the alpha and the omega of their 2017 problems.
We`re going to be talking tonight about some of the latest sworn testimony that has just emerged in the scandal that increasingly appears to be subsuming this presidency.
We`re going to be talking about the latest member of the Trump administration to receive subpoenas from law enforcement.
But the Democrat -- while Republicans are dealing with that very unusual situation, for the Democrats, right, last night is the first manifestation we`ve seen of how much Democrats have been organizing. Democrats and progressives been organizing over the past year to run candidates, to recruit candidates, to make people think of themselves in our political system differently than they used to, to make people think of themselves as political actors and not just political observers, to recruit huge new crops of new candidates and new activists, to build new support for new candidates in myriad grassroots ways, and to win elections because of it. We saw that last night in spades.
But last night also showed why it is that the last Democratic president, Barack Obama, and his former Attorney General Eric Holder have decided to spend the last year working on something very different. What they`ve been working on the last year is this obscure seeming thing redistricting, right? Why did they choose that to work on in the first year of the Trump era?
Well, just look at Virginia. There are 11 congressional seats in Virginia. Last November, November 2016, a year ago tonight, right, there were roughly equal numbers of votes cast by Virginians for Democratic congressional candidates and Republican congressional candidates.
In terms of congressional races, this night a year ago about 3.7 million votes were cast in Virginia, and it was almost even. Democrats got a few more. Democrats got about 16,000 more votes for congressional candidates than Republicans did. But even despite that even vote in 2016, a vote which actually favored Democrats a little bit. Even so, of the eleven congressional seats in Virginia, Republicans took seven of the eleven. The votes were even but Republicans got all the seats.
And that`s because of redistricting, gerrymandering, right? To tilt the playing field toward Republicans even when Democrats get more votes right that was last year last night Democrats ran the table in Virginia beyond their wildest dreams. If you look at the votes cast for the state legislature last night in Virginia, we`re still looking for final totals. But from our estimates right now with what we`ve got, about 54 percent of the votes last night will cast for Democrats in the legislature versus about 44 percent for Republicans. That`s based on the vote totals we`ve got so far.
But even with that Democratic advantage, that Democratic 10-point advantage in the number of votes cast last night for the legislature, that doesn`t necessarily translate to the Democrats taken over the legislature, and that`s because Republicans redistricting. They redistricted the legislature. They gerrymandered those districts so that even when Democrats win in a landslide like they did last night, Republicans worst nightmare, Democrats did better than they ever imagined -- even on a night like last night, Republicans maybe still hold on to control maybe. We don`t know yet, I`ve got to see about the recounts.
This is how well they gerrymandered it in Virginia, when it`s even Republicans win by a lot. When Democrats get more votes Republicans still win. When Democrats get tons more votes, Republicans still win.
The only way Democrats can maybe win is to absolutely completely demolish the Republicans like they did last night and then still it`s a maybe as to whether or not Democrats are allowed to get control. Wait for the recounts.
Lots of Democrats have done lots of things over this past year to organize and to try to win and their results last night were very impressive. But President Obama and Eric Holder started working on this boring redistricting thing to try to get Democrats to win legislatures and to win governor`s races, to undo the Republican gerrymandering.
And last night, for all those Democratic victories, last night is a perfect, perfect example of why that`s time well spent.
MADDOW: OK. Here`s some news that is not getting a lot of attention but I think it`s potentially a huge deal. This summer, the same day the White House senior strategist Steve Bannon resigned from the White House and that took up all the oxygen in the room, on that same day, this guy also resigned from the White House. His name is Carl Icahn, and he had been serving as a special advisor to the president for regulatory reform, been serving there since the transition.
Carl Icahn was an advisor to the president on regulations and around the time that he got that White House advisor gig, Carl Icahn, also started effectively putting bets in the markets on one of the issues that he was advising the president on. In August, Patrick Radden Keefe reported for the "New Yorker" magazine on the kinds of bets that Carl Icahn was making in the markets and how his advice to the White House could conceivably earn him hundreds of millions of dollars if the White House took that advice and then those bets accordingly paid off for his businesses.
That obviously is a crime. There`s a federal statute that makes it illegal for executive branch employees to work on any matter in which they may have a direct financial interest which Carl Icahn clearly did. So, that reporting on Carl Icahn`s business behavior while serving in the White House, that`s that was a real problem potentially both for him and for the White House and that Friday night this summer in August, I remember "The New Yorker" posted that piece by Patrick Radden Keefe and basically at the same moment, like minutes before "The New Yorker" posted that piece on the same day that Steve Bannon was resigning and so nobody noticed, Carl Icahn quit.
And then immediately both he and the White House started to insist that actually there`s nothing to quit, actually he`d never had that job at all. That job that he just quit, he never had that. The White House literally started to say that Carl Icahn had never had a formal appointment or title even though they had formally announced his appointment and his title. They started saying that Carl Icahn was just a private citizen.
Now at the time the former director of the Office of Government Ethics, Walter Shaub started sending out a series of emergency flare tweets, calling on the Justice Department to investigate this alleged criminal behavior on the part of the president`s advisor, the New York attorney general`s office later told us that the Carl Icahn matter was, quote, on their radar. And that`s where we left things in August, seeing Carl Icahn quit and sensing that law enforcement authorities were following behind him very closely at the door.
Since then, we`ve continued to call the New York attorney general`s office to talk about this matter. They`ve only just told us that it`s still on their radar. We`ve called Carl Icahn`s office enough to make me start to worry that we`re being rude, but we`ve had no formal response from them. It`s been almost 12 weeks now since Carl Icahn stepped down, and we haven`t heard anything more formal about whether or not law enforcement authorities were chasing him down on this matter, which we hadn`t heard anything until now.
Started to get some rumblings on Wednesday of last week when "Reuters" reported that Carl Icahn`s oil refining company had significantly unwound a large short position in the U.S. biofuel credit market. What they mean there is that Carl Icahn dumped out of that bet. He dumped more than half his financial stake in this matter that he had been betting on while advising the White House on that same matter.
So, remember Carl Icahn stepped down in August, why`d you then dump out of those bets, Mr. Icahn? We learned about that on Wednesday. Then on Friday, Icahn Enterprises filed a quarterly report with the SEC and way down on page of their quarterly report, under item five, which is headlined "other information", they revealed something else going on here that is as serious as a heart attack.
They revealed that the federal prosecutors and the U.S. attorney`s office for the southern district of New York, quote, recently contacted Icahn Enterprises, seeking production of information pertaining to our and Mr. Icahn`s activities relating to the renewable fuel standard, and Mr. Icahn`s role as an adviser to the president. The company told regulators, quote, we are cooperating.
So, that SEC filing, that other information note on page 59 of the quarterly filing went sort of under the radar until today when "Bloomberg News" broke the news of federal investigators issuing subpoenas for Carl Icahn and his company. Icahn Enterprises wants you to know that the U.S. attorney for the southern district of New York has not made any claims or allegations against us or Mr. Icahn. So, there`s that.
But the southern district of New York now has subpoena the heck out of Carl Icahn, Trump`s special advisor on regulatory affairs, and what he -- what they are demanding information about is what was Carl Icahn doing in the markets while he was advising the president on matters that could affect the price of his behavior in the markets.
The Carl Icahn story is the most banana republic corruption story we have in the Trump administration and it`s now involving subpoenas and a federal prosecutor`s office. And I can`t say we didn`t see it coming. Watch this space.
MADDOW: This is man named William Binney. He used to work for the National Security Agency back in the day, left that job 17 years ago.
He`s kept very busy though. Here he is on Russian state-sponsored TV, RT. This is him less than a year ago, explicating his theory that the whole idea that Russia hacked anybody`s emails as part of the 2016 election, he expounds the theory that that is a hoax. He says the hack of the Democratic National Committee was actually an inside job, the DNC hacked itself, to make itself lose.
Here`s Bill Binney, not on Russian television but on "Info Wars" with host Alex Jones, the guy who says among other things that the Sandy Hook shooting was a false flag operation with child actors and that the government is turning us all gay with chemicals in our juice boxes.
On the Alex Jones show, Bill Binney laid out his case that the DNC didn`t just hack itself, actually happens was that the DNC was hacked by the intelligence community itself to make Donald Trump look bad. And what, no, that doesn`t make sense but it`s a very baroque sort of plot if you think about it, or if you don`t think about it. You just let it wash over you.
Also, he insists that the NSA is working to establish a world government. Of course.
So, Bill Binney. Last month, Bill Binney was personally interviewed one on one for an hour by the director of the CIA, because the director of the CIA apparently felt that Bill Binney`s theories which he is expounded upon on RT and "Info Wars", the director of the CIA felt that Bill Binney`s theories merit the attention of the head of America`s premier spy agency for an hour, one on one.
What why would he do that? Well, according to Bill Binney, the CIA Director Mike Pompeo called him in for this meeting. This was first reported by "The Intercept". It`s now been confirmed by NBC News. And Bill Binney tells NBC News that Mike Pompeo told him, he called him up, asked him to come into Langley for his meeting, quote, at the urging of President Trump.
So, President Trump has asked the CIA director to take that meeting with Bill Binney. If only Donald Trump and Mike Pompeo had liked intelligence resources, some sort of intelligence community they could call on to gather factual evidence about whether Russia hacked the DNC, guess they don`t, so instead they just get the guy from RT and "Info Wars". Why not, he probably knows better than anyone.
This is a strange story that is broken over the last couple of days, but it`s also potentially quite a serious story particularly for the Robert Mueller special counsel investigation and I`ll tell you why that is, next.
MADDOW: Last month, CIA Director Mike Pompeo told a national security summit that the U.S. intelligence community`s assessment is that the Russian interference in the election last year didn`t affect the outcome of the election. That is not the U.S. intelligence community`s assessment of what happened last year. The intelligence community in act made no assessment on that point whatsoever. They didn`t check. The CIA had to rescind director Mike Pompeo remarks after he made them.
That incident followed "The Washington Post" scoop this summer that Mike Pompeo has reorganized the CIA internally so that one part of the agency that didn`t used to report to the director now reports directly to him. It`s the CIA`s counterintelligence mission center. That incidentally is the part of the CIA that turned up evidence of Trump campaign officials making contacts with Russian officials. That`s the part of the CIA that produced intelligence information which helped lead to the whole Russia investigation in the first place. That part of the CIA now has been reorganized even internally so that it has to report directly to Mike Pompeo.
Former U.S. attorney Barbara McQuade recently made a public argument that sometimes wakes me up in the middle of the night. It was titled: Mike Pompeo could stop Robert Mueller in his tracks. She argued that the CIA director could potentially deny the Robert Mueller special counsel investigation, could deny them access to classified intelligence that the special counsel might need to make his case.
She said as a former federal prosecutor who worked on terrorism cases, there were a number of times in her prosecutorial career where she would have to go to the CIA for permission to use classified intelligence in a case. It`s the CIA`s call whether or not they give it to you, and if you can`t make your case without that intelligence, you don`t have a case.
Well, now, we have this reporting that in addition to the other things that Mike Pompeo has done this year since the Russia scandal has broken wide open, the president recently ordered his CIA Director Mike Pompeo to take a one-on-one hour long meeting with a guy who goes on Russian media peddling conspiracy theories about the Russian attack on the election that contradict everything Pompeo his own agency has concluded.
The president directed the CIA director to do that and the CIA director took the meeting, you know, to get the real facts.
I know this is as weird as it seems my question is whether this is potentially not just weird but dangerous.
Joining us now is Ned Price. He spent over a decade at the CIA. He was a spokesman at senior director at the National Security Council under President Obama.
Mr. Price, thank you for being here. I really appreciate it.
NED PRICE, FORMER NSC SPOKESMAN: Thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: I laid out a few things about Mike Pompeo that have appeared in the news in recent months. His misstatements about Russia`s interference definitely not affecting the outcome of the election. This reorganization that he made at the CIA in terms of who has to report to him directly and now this meeting that he took with Bill Binney, a guy who has spun conspiracy theories, including on Russian TV and "Info Wars" about Russia not hacking the American election at all.
I`m picking those things out of the air because I`ve seen them in the press and they bother me, just as a lay observer. As somebody with CIA experience, do those things seem like a part of a pattern to you?
PRICE: Well, they bother me too, and I can tell you, Rachel, that I have heard from former colleagues, individuals who are still on the inside that they bother them, too. Look, the fact of the matter is that ever since the CIA was founded in 1947, there has been an understanding that intelligence and politics don`t mix, that CIA needs space to provide policymakers with a sort of unbiased, unvarnished intelligence analysis that they need and deserve.
That`s why it`s been so troubling to see President Trump time and again put his finger on the scale, on the intelligence scale, whether it was as the Republican nominee sent casting aside the intelligence community`s high- confidence assessment that Russia was actually behind this, or in this case, asking Mike Pompeo to meet with Bill Binney at CIA headquarters. That was an implicit signal that Donald Trump himself believes in this crazy theory.
And to me, Rachel, the most proximate analogy I`ve been able to think of is if President George W. Bush had asked then director of central intelligence, George Tenet, to meet with a 9/11 truther in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks. That would be on the same scale as what we`ve just seen.
MADDOW: Barbara McQuade has made the case that this if CIA director is sort of a worst case scenario, think of all these things that he has done that have emerged about his leadership at the CIA point in the worst possible direction in terms of his politicizing intelligence, that it`s possible that he could interfere with law enforcement looking into justice issues and in the Russia scandal because he could conceivably block intelligence from being used by prosecutors to make their various legal cases as more and more people get indicted.
Does that seem far-fetched to you, or is that something that the CIA could do if it chose to under leadership that had that inclination?
PRICE: Not far-fetched at all. It`s all too real. Look, at its heart what Mueller is involved in is a counterintelligence investigation, and the CIA is our preeminent espionage agency collecting foreign intelligence, some of which is going to be of a counterintelligence flavor.
So, there are really two ways that CIA Director Pompeo could impede this investigation. One is when it comes to what`s already in CIA`s holdings. He could deny a request on the part of Mueller`s team to hand over intelligence that CIA has collected over the past couple years ever since these so-called Russian active measures have gone into effect.
Now, the good news is that there was a pretty comprehensive intelligence assessment done at the beginning of this year, and in the production of that, intelligence was analyzed and the report was produced, a public version of which was released on January 6th.
To me, the more the more concerning element of this is the prospective information, the information that CIA could come into possession of in the coming weeks, months or even years if this drags on. Now that Mike Pompeo is the person to whom the head of the counterintelligence mission center reports directly, there is a concern, including a concern among current CIA officers that Mike Pompeo could take that information and run to the White House not in a way to speak truth to power but in a way to muffle that information, to make sure that it never sees the light of day and to make sure especially that it never sees the hands of Mueller`s prosecutors.
MADDOW: Which means that Mueller wouldn`t even know to ask for it, to be declassified for use in a court setting if you didn`t know it existed.
Ned Price, veteran of CIA and the National Security Council -- thank you very much for being with us tonight. I really appreciate it.
PRICE: Thank you. Appreciate it.
MADDOW: All right. We got a lot more to get to this busy night. Stay with us.
MADDOW: I have a new idea for you. On the one-year anniversary of last year`s presidential election, after a night last night when the Democrats ran the table in off year elections in Virginia and across the country, if you are looking for a little steadiness, if you are looking for a little measure of perspective, if you`re looking for inspiration when it comes to your beloved country in this era, I commend to you, Dan Rather`s moving, short, resonant new book, which has just come out.
It`s called "What Unites Us: Reflections on Patriotism". And the great Dan Rather joins us now, so I can congratulate him on the book.
Mr. Rather, it is very nice to see you. Thank you for being here.
DAN RATHER, AUTHOR, "WHAT UNITES US": Always a pleasure to be with you, Rachel. Thank you very much.
MADDOW: Dan, I want to ask you what you thought we actually thought we were going to have you on the air last night for the -- which was the first night that your book launched and then things went crazy in terms of breaking news. What were you thinking last night watching that split screen of the president in South Korea and watching the Democrats roll things up at home here in terms of last night`s elections? What do you make of this moment we`re in right now?
RATHER: Well, obviously, there are two of the biggest headlines of the week so far. The president`s language for the most part in his visit to South Korea moving on to China, it`s been more muted than his language before, and how he said some terrible things about North Korea accurate things. But, you know, he`s handled himself very well.
I noted and I think I mentioned to you, Rachel, that he delivered the speech after getting off your shaky start very well -- the one in South Korea. But it`s hard to make out what the policy is, you know, where he -- from time to time, he makes these threats to North Korea. But I think if you look at the North Korea -- the South Korea visit and then moving over to China, the following things are pretty obvious: number one, we`ve said it before, it bears repeating, that China is the key, if there`s going to be any real progress toward getting the North Koreans to at least slow their nuclear development, the Chinese have got to be a major player and I think that`s one things come clear from this.
The other is that the president has been at least in his rhetoric zigzagging some on North Korean policy. But having said all that, it would be mistake not to recognize because it`s so that we`re probably closer to an outright war with North Korea than we have been in a very, very long time.
Now, as for domestic policies and politics and the vote last night, clearly, a sweep of nearly -- a sweep for the Democrats where their best night since when Obama`s election I guess in 2012. However, what I noticed that the Democrats were celebrating naturally they`d be celebrating because in some ways they were surprised by that margin that they won in some races.
And the message was clearly a repudiation of the tone if not indeed the actual substance of the Trump presidency.
And, you know, part of what I want to try to write and what unites us, the book was -- we need to light the embers of hope and have some optimism and I find it -- at least some bit of that in these election returns, it`s a reminder that votes count and in the end, you can march, you can protest, you can say you`re part of the resistance. But the biggest thing you can do is organize and get out the vote. The Democrats did that very well this time.
And I -- there`s no other analysis available other than the one that will make many Republicans up for re-election next year, make their fingernails sweat, these returns from last night. But it`s a little early for the Democrats to be moonwalking in the end zone. They`ve made a start, but it`s going to take a while to reverse the trend started with Trump`s election.
MADDOW: Dan Rather`s new book is called "What Unites Us: Reflections on Patriotism". Dan, I want to thank you in particular for your reflections on the idea of steadiness that has been helpful to me in terms of thinking about our politics right now just -- not just as a pendulum swinging back and forth, but us being steady as a country. You`re an inspiration, sir. Congratulations on this good book. Thanks for being with us tonight.
RATHER: Thank you very much. Rachel.
MADDOW: Nice to see you.
All right. We`ll be right back. Stay with us.
MADDOW: Hey, at the top of the show, I talked about the New Jersey county counselor who posted this response to the big women`s march in January. This is what he posted. Will the woman`s protest be over in time for them to cook dinner?
That New Jersey politician who posted that, last night, he lost his seat to a rookie Democratic woman. Thirty-two-year-old woman Ashley Bennett, who never run for anything before, and found inspiration in her local public officials.
Tonight, on "THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL", he is speaking with among other people that woman, Ashley Bennett. I`m telling you, for real. He`s got her.
That does it for us tonight. See you again tomorrow.
Now, it`s time for you to watch "THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL."
Good evening, Lawrence.
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