Show: THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW Date: November 9, 2017 Guest: John Archibald
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I), VERMONT: So I think what was very exciting, you see people of all colors, all backgrounds, all sexual orientations getting involved in the political process. That`s what the Democrats have got to encourage.
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST, ALL IN: New blood.
Senator Bernie Sanders, thanks for your time.
That is "ALL IN" for this evening.
THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts right now.
Good evening, Rachel.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chris. Thank you, my friend. Appreciate it.
HAYES: You bet.
MADDOW: And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour.
There`s a lot of news tonight.
If you have been following this remarkable story today broken by "The Washington Post" about Alabama Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore, we`ve got something important to add to that disturbing news broken today by "The Washington Post", namely, we`ve got the person in Alabama who I think is the best equipped person in that state to tell us what is likely to happen here in light of this remarkable news, whether Roy Moore will be pushed out of the race because of these reports, whether he might still win that Senate race despite this news if these reports don`t push them out of the race. We`ve got that discussion coming up in just a couple of minutes.
If you care about that news today and it`s a big deal for the United States Senate. It`s a big deal in its own right. You will want to stick around for a few minutes to hear that interview, I promise you.
We`ve also got some news tonight about a new pin in the map for the Robert Mueller investigation.
We`ve also got some very surprising new poll numbers to report. It`s been a long time since we had poll numbers on this show, but when you get to these ones tonight, you will know why these ones are on the air tonight.
So, like I said, there`s lots going on in the news tonight, but I want to start somewhere different.
In 2008, at the end of the George W. Bush years, Democrats knew they had a pretty good chance to win the White House that year if they played their cards right. And so, lots of Democrats ran, and a bunch of them did well.
Senator Joe Biden made a good run for it for a while, but he didn`t make it too far into the calendar year.
Senator John Edwards made a run for it and he did great for a long while. Ultimately, John Edwards did not make it to the finish line. That didn`t seem like a particularly momentous thing at the time, but a couple years later when we all learned about John Edwards` secret second family that he`d been hiding the whole time he was on the campaign trail, when he was running back in 2008, well, yes, then it seems like kind of a propitious thing that John Edwards didn`t in fact end up going the distance in 2008.
The two Democratic candidates who did go the distance, all the way to the bitter, bitter end in 2008, of course, were Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. We just saw Bernie Sanders speaking with Chris Hayes last hour on this network. I mean you think the Bernie Sanders/Hillary Clinton primary was a long drawn-out affair in 2016, that was nothing compared to Clinton/Obama in 2008.
Clinton/Obama was both a closer race and it was one that went on way longer into the primary season. And given how things turned out ultimately, it`s sort of easy to forget now, but the extended knife-edge acrimony of that long, long, very hard-fought primary between Clinton and Obama, that made it a really big deal when as president-elect, Obama asked Hillary Clinton to join his cabinet as secretary of state. It was a big deal that he asked her and it was a big deal when she said yes. I mean, it was a big deal in terms of their personal and political ability to bury the hatchet, and to start working together after what they had been through and fighting each other.
But it was also a big deal in terms of the State Department, because after that 2008 race, right, after having been first lady, after having been senator, after having almost been the Democratic nominee in 2008. I mean, Hillary Clinton after that race really was the most famous woman in the world. She still is now for different reasons all these years later, right?
But putting the most famous Democrat in the world not named Barack Obama, the most famous American politician of all I`d say, the most recognizable woman in the world, putting her at the State Department for the first term of the Obama administration, that was a huge investment, a huge spotlight on the importance of the State Department, right? The importance of American diplomacy in the world, the importance of that kind of power.
And aside from convincing Hillary Clinton, this political rock star, to go to the State Department, the other politically important high-profile cabinet decision that Obama made was to keep on the defense secretary who had been appointed in the later years of the George W. Bush administration, Bob Gates.
Now, Barack Obama ran for president as much against George W. Bush as against anything, and you know, even though John McCain seems like a fine Republican candidate to a lot of the country, honestly, the country was so well and truly over George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, any Republican candidate was going to have a hard time after that.
I mean, Cheney in particular left office with so much antipathy against him, he could have floated home to Wyoming without an airplane, just riding the thermals of the billowing repugnance the American people had for him when he finally left office.
Chris Christie right now is leaving office with a 14 percent approval rating in New Jersey right now. Vice President Dick Cheney would have killed or died four numbers that good. His numbers were even worse than that when he was finishing his time as vice president.
But despite that, despite the way that Bush and Cheney were going out, this new Democratic president kept on one of the Bush/Cheney cabinet members, kept on Bob Gates, and that had really strong political resonance because of how unlikely it seemed in the abstract, because of what it meant for the politics of the moment. But it also had the more pedestrian effect of making Bob Gates also kind of a rock star in the Obama cabinet, right? And that was a rock star cabinet, it also included Hillary Clinton.
But it was an interesting thing. Once they were both sworn in, these two incredibly high-profile, politically resonant figures, Hillary Clinton and Bob Gates, they decided to go on the road together. At the very start of the Obama administration, Bob Gates and Hillary Clinton did what was basically a traveling road show all over the country. They made joint appearances where he a secretary of defense and she a secretary of state, they made this joint pitch that we should stop counting on the military for everything, and we should instead build up the State Department -- more resources, more staff, more prestige. We should recognize as a country that actually it`s the State Department that needs to do most of the heavy lifting in terms of America`s role in the world. And in particular in managing conflicts with other countries, because not all conflicts with other countries are managed by firing weapons.
They had this great line in these joint appearances that they made about how the military has more people in military bands than the State Department has foreign service officers serving overseas, right? They have this whole show, they have this pitch. And they used that to do what they could just to try to boost diplomacy, to boost support for the State Department, specifically to boost support and recognition for the foreign service.
And I don`t know that you can attribute it to any one thing like that, but I`m sure that helped and by the end of the Obama administration, by 2016, applications by young ambitious Americans to join the foreign service, to join the incredibly selective, incredibly important foreign service of the United States, those applications were through the roof. In 2016, State Department accepted a class of 366, 366 new foreign service officers were accepted last year -- 366. Seventeen thousand people applied to take the foreign service exam to try to get one of those jobs. That`s how prestigious it was.
And we know those numbers because the head of the American Foreign Service Association bragged last year about those numbers, bragged about there being 17,000 applicants to take the foreign service exams.
This year, one year later, less than half that many people are applying to take the foreign service exam, and they`re apparently only taking a hundred foreign service officers.
The head of the Foreign Service Association is Ambassador Barbara Stephenson. And this isn`t getting a ton of attention but I think this is really important. She has just posted what I see as a distress call. This is being published in the "Foreign Service Journal" next month and it details what she calls, quote, the mounting threats to our institution and to the global leadership that depends on us.
Quote: There is no denying that our leadership ranks -- she means in the foreign service -- are being depleted at a dizzying speed. The Foreign Service Officer Corps at State has lost 60 percent of its career ambassadors since January. Ranks of career ministers, our three-star general equivalents, are down from 33 to 19. The ranks of art two-star general equivalents, our minister councilors, have fallen from 431 right after Labor Day, to 369 today and still falling.
Were the U.S. military to face such a decapitation of its leadership ranks, I would expect a public outcry. Like the military, the foreign service recruits officers at entry-level and grows them into seasoned leaders over decades. The talent being shown the door right now is not only our top talent, it`s also talent that cannot be replicated overnight. The rapid loss of so many senior officers has a serious, immediate and tangible effect on the capacity of the United States to shape world events.
Now, we have heard over the course of the Trump administration, thus far, right, we`ve heard about the State Department being hollowed out under Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. For example, it`s reported now that there are 74 top positions at the State Department, top positions, that aren`t just vacant, there`s no nominee to fill them and maybe there won`t be.
What`s new here from Ambassador Stephenson is this veteran State Department career official laying out what`s going on, laying out these details that she knows of what`s going on, but then doing this. This is the headline that she put on this distress signal, that she has just set up. Time to ask why, and that`s a really important leap here.
I mean, if you think about it, ideologically, we know why the Trump administration is eviscerating the EPA, right? Ideologically, we know why the Trump administration is emptying out the Education Department. Ideologically, we know why they put a guy like Ben Carson in charge of Housing and Urban Development, whereupon he promptly hired Eric Trump`s wedding planner to run that whole part of the federal government in the northeastern United States, right?
If you don`t believe in protecting health and safety or in protecting the environment or in helping the poor or in ensuring safe housing for all Americans or in public education, if you don`t believe in any of those things -- they don`t believe in any of those things -- then sure, a Trump administration is going to do whatever they can to dismantle, discredit, even corrupt the agencies who are tasked with doing that work. They`re burning them down because they don`t think they should exist. At least we knew that they`re going to do that.
What`s the ideological interest, what`s the Republican, even Trumpian interest behind eliminating the ability of the United States to project power around the world and to get our way with other countries, and to uphold our standing among nations? Who ideologically wants that?
Rex Tillerson was a surprise choice for secretary of state. You know, he had never met Donald Trump before the election. He was CEO of Exxon. As such, he had been this interesting strategic wildcard in American diplomacy. When the U.S. led the world in putting sanctions on Russia for invading Ukraine, Rex Tillerson of Exxon became a very interesting wildcard in terms of whether or not America was going to be able to punish Russia and get its will.
When we put those sanctions on Russia, Rex Tillerson had just done the largest oil deal in the history of the world with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Russian state-run energy companies. Through those negotiations and through making that gigantic deal, the mother of all oil deals, Rex Tillerson was thought to have become personally closer to Vladimir Putin than any other private citizen in the United States. He closed that oil deal at Putin`s personal home in Sochi.
Rex Tillerson was awarded Russia`s highest civilian honor, which was given to him personally, pinned on him personally by President Putin.
But then, down came the American government`s sanctions against Russia, which shut down that gigantic half trillion dollar deal. And soon thereafter, Rex Tillerson found himself leaving Exxon and they paid him several hundred million dollars on the way out the door and he became the new secretary of state for a president who had been elected we now know with substantial illegal Russian government help, in a campaign that would later be found to have had multiple officials at multiple levels engaging in repeated secret communications and meetings with the Russian government.
And once Trump was elected, for some reason, he picked this guy he didn`t know from Adam. He picked Rex for the State Department. Why is that? And how is that working out since?
With 74 top positions left vacant, with the ranks of the foreign service equivalent of two-star in three-star generals falling off a cliff, that irreplaceable top leadership, people just being cut off and pushed out with the new class of foreign service officers being cut by more than two- thirds.
Here`s how Ambassador Barbara Stephenson ends her distress call that she just published, the one that`s titled "Time To Ask Why". She says, as the shape and extent of the staffing cuts to the foreign service at State become clearer, I begin we must shut -- I believe we must shine a light on these disturbing trends and ask why, and to what end?
Why such a focus on slashing staffing at State? Why such a focus on decapitating leadership? Nine in 10 Americans favor a strong global leadership role for our great country, and we know from personal experience that such leadership is unthinkable without a strong professional foreign service deployed around the world, protecting and defending America`s people, interests and values.
Where then does the impetus come from to weaken the American foreign service? Where is the mandate to pull the foreign service team from the field and forfeit the game to our adversaries? Time to ask why. Sincerely, Ambassador Barbara Stephenson.
We asked Ambassador Stephenson to come talk with us last night, she said no. We asked her to come talk with us tonight, she said no. I think she wants to let this speak for itself. Although, Ambassador Stephenson, if you`re watching, love to have you.
"Time to ask why" seems like the right title, though. It seems like it`s time to stop being agog at what`s happening there and start asking who wants this?
When the president travels abroad, our State Department is supposed to be at its peak power, right? Making sure that presidential trip abroad doesn`t do anything to undermine America`s standing or contradict our stated policies or undercut our national leadership, right? When the president goes abroad, the president has to look good because the president represents this country and stands for us on other countries turf.
I mean, nobody likes to talk about it, but the State Department helps manage important foreign trips in part to make sure the president of the United States does not embarrass himself abroad and thereby embarrass and reduce the standing of our country.
The president today was in China. The president`s past remarks and therefore his known positions on China are clear. They`re hostile, confrontational, bellicose.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: China`s upset because of the way Donald Trump is talking about trade with China. They`re ripping us off, folks. It`s time. I`m so happy they`re upset.
We can`t continue to allow China to rape our country and that`s what they`re doing. It`s the greatest theft in the history of the world.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: China is raping our country. That is the president`s on-the- record position. I`m glad they`re upset. Yes, they`re upset with me, I`m glad they are, because I`m the only one who`ll tell them true. They`re raping our country. That`s the president`s stated position on China.
In China, this week, with the opportunity to say that, with the opportunity to confront China on the basis of that public position, President Trump instead choked, I don`t -- folded, I don`t know. But what he did caused an audible gasp in the room.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: You`re a very special man.
My feeling toward you is an incredibly warm one. As we said, there`s great chemistry and I think we`re going to do tremendous things for both China and for the United States.
But, but I don`t blame China.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: The room is like you don`t blame China, I thought were the rapists.
The room reacts like that because the president of the United States said in the United States that China is our enemy, that he`s happy to upset them, that China is raping us. It`s the greatest theft in the history of the world.
Then, to the face of the Chinese president, he tells him how great he is he tells him how he has nothing but warm feelings with him, he tells him that there is nothing to blame China for at all.
You know, even if you`re 100 percent agnostic on China, I mean, no matter what you think our relationship should actually be with China, that youii (ph) by an American president that`s slinking away from his own past statement, that`s sort of visible gutlessness on foreign soil earning gasps and laughter from a room of Chinese diplomats, that`s an embarrassing act of deference and supplication and basics suckuptitude for the United States of America, in the person of the president of the United States.
I should also tell you the president did not take questions from reporters. The White House explained that the Chinese government insisted that they didn`t want reporters to be able to ask questions. Now, all previous modern American presidents have stood on principle on visits to China when China has said no questions from reporters, previous American presidents have forced the issue and have taken questions from the press. Not this one, whatever China wants, China gets.
And so, that left American reporters shouting after the president while he smiled and complimented the Chinese president and walked away from their questions.
Watch this. We put subtitles on this so you can see what the president wouldn`t answer here. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: President Trump, questions?
REPORTER: Are you taking questions, Mr. President?
REPORTER: Do you still believe China is raping the United States?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Do you still believe China is raping the United States?` Mr. President, Mr. President, or not so much anymore, not that you`re here and you have to say it to their face or be humiliated by your fear to do?
So, we only have one president. All of us Americans we have one president we off the same one. Whatever you think of this one it is bad for the United States of America when an American president humiliates himself abroad and weakens the standing of the United States with the respect to other countries in the world and gets laughed at for his cowardice.
A good State Department is a pretty good defense against something like that happening, but instead, we`ve got this State Department now and maybe that`s not an accident, and maybe it`s time to ask why.
MADDOW: If you know anybody who lives in the great state of Alabama, now is your turn to be kind to them. If you live in Alabama and you`re watching this show right now, first of all, hey, you guys, I know you`re out there. Nice to see you.
I also want you in Alabama to know that I am hereby declaring national be kind to an Alabamian day, because my God, what your politicians have been putting you through. And I realized that the people of Alabama have a role in choosing their own politicians but I am not in the mood to blame the victim on a day like today.
Two years ago in Alabama, the person who realistically is the most powerful politician in the state because the way their state government is set up, really the most powerful politician in real terms is the speaker of the house. And two years ago, the sitting speaker of the House in Alabama was charged with 23 felony corruption counts.
And that seemed like a crisis at the time because he was indicted on those felony corruption counts two weeks before election day, and he was up for re-election, and that speaker of the house decided that he would not drop out of the race. And our first clue that something had shifted off its axis in Alabama Republican politics was when the guy who just been indicted on felony corruption charges not only did drop out of the race, he won. He won his race for re-election by a lot.
And then, his fellow Republicans in the state legislature elected him again to be their leader, to be their speaker, despite the fact that he was currently under indictment on 23 felony corruption counts. That did not bother them. It only became truly inconvenient for them when he was sentenced last summer to four years in prison. Ultimately, it took that as a crowbar to get him out of the top job in state government.
But it turns out, that was just the start. The year after their house speaker was indicted and then re-elected and then reinstalled in leadership before being sent to prison, the year after that in 2016, Alabama`s other most powerful political figure, the state`s governor, Robert Bentley, he ended up in what I -- what I have to say was an unexpected type of scandal for him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SPENCER COLLIER, FORMER ALABAMA SECRETARY OF LAW ENFORCEMENT: On August 5th, Chief Lewis came into my office and played me parts of an audio recording in which Governor Bentley and Rebekah Mason were participating in an inappropriate sexual conversation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Right after the Alabama speaker the house scandal, there was the Alabama governor scandal, which started with that whistle-blowing state employee who had once been very close to the governor, so close to the governor in fact that he ended up listening in on gubernatorial behavior of a nude nature. That whistleblower and his evidence set off a hard push from Alabama reporters to figure out what was going on while the governor steadfastly denied everything.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Governor, there`s a portion of that recording in which you were saying how I have to walk up behind to touch you and put my hands on your breast. How would you say that if you are not involved in a physical relationship?
FORMER GOV. ROBERT BENTLEY (R), ALABAMA: Well, what I`m saying is there was no sexual activity.
REPORTER: Have you entertained the idea of stepping down?
BENTLEY: No. I have not.
REPORTER: Thank you, Governor.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Thank you.
So, the whistleblower talking about there being a tape, we`ve got reporters talking about and quoting from the tape, ultimately inevitably, we`re all going to hear the tape, right? And this is the point where I have to interject to say if you are watching with a kiddo right now and depending on how you handle issues like this in your family, you may just want to hit pause or hit mute or go do something distracting for the next 35 seconds or so.
It`s not the worst thing in the world but in order to understand what happened in Alabama over the last couple of years, you sort of have to hear this and it`s a little. But this was this was the next thing that happened in Alabama politics in the spring of 2016.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
BENTLEY: You`d kiss me, I love that. You know I do love that.
That, when you know what, when I stand behind you, and I put my arms around you, and I put my hands on your breasts. And I put my head on your (INAUDIBLE), and just, and pull you in real close, I, hey, I love that too.
Putting my hands under you. That did you in? Oh, babe, I know, I`m thinking about that right now, so I better quit. (INAUDIBLE). You were thinking about it? Yes, I could tell you were thinking about it last night.
Hey, I love you. I love you touching you. I do. Hey, I do, I do love putting my hands (INAUDIBLE) and just putting your in real tight. I do. I do. I do enjoy that.
But, baby, let me tell you what we`re going to have to do. We`re going to have to start locking the door. If we`re going to -- if we`re going to do what we did the other day, we`re going to have to start locking the door.
You know, it is -- you know what, it is kind of a scary. Somebody open that door?
Yes, I know. He came this morning before I had my clothes on. (INAUDIBLE). He just got to se my boxer shots. No. Hey -- hey, you`ve seen those.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MADDOW: Hey, hey, you seen those, state office worker.
We`ve all seen much more than we ever wanted to of Alabama Governor Robert Bentley, at least in our minds eye, because that tape became public in the spring of 2016.
And despite the scandal swirling around him because of that, despite those tapes ended up becoming very public about his relationship with one of his top staffers who incidentally was mysteriously being paid by some dark money private organization, even though she worked in the governor`s office, the governor insisted that there`s nothing sexual going on whatsoever there. And he refused to go.
The tapes came out in March 2016. The governor insisted there was nothing going on whatsoever. He stayed in office for more than a year after that, and I said at the top of this segment that it`s be kind to an Alabamian day, this is why.
So, the sex scandal thing with the governor, this relationship with the top staffer is being paid off the books through some mysterious organization, that scandal leads to impeachment proceedings against the governor in 2016.
Those impeachment proceedings get stopped though, they get stopped because the attorney general of the state steps in and basically tells the legislature, hey, back off. Stop with this impeachment proceeding, I understand what this is about. This is a law enforcement matter and as the top law enforcement official in the state of Alabama, I will take this over. I will handle this in the attorney general`s office.
Whoo, sounds bad for the governor, right?
No, that was great news for the governor because the attorney general never actually investigated anything. Totally let it go.
So, he blocked the impeachment proceedings in the legislature and then did nothing out of his own office. So, the governor stayed.
That attorney general who did that was named Luther Strange. And when it came time for all of America to be blessed by one of Alabama`s finest, Jeff Sessions is our attorney general of the United States, and the sex tape governor needed to appoint somebody to sit in Jeff Sessions` seat in the United States Senate, he looked around decided to appoint Luther Strange, the attorney general who had made sure that the governor would not get impeached for his sex scandal. It was very tidy.
So, the top legislative official in the state is indicted for two dozen felonies. The top executive branch official in the state is embroiled in a blistering sex scandal he then appoints to the top federal office representing Alabama the guy who saved him from being impeached for his sex scandal, and meanwhile, the top official in the judicial branch of government in Alabama, the chief justice of the state for the second time gets thrown off the bench and removed from the court for violating judicial ethics.
And God bless you, Alabama. Time comes for Luther Strange to face the voters and finally get formally elected to this Senate seat that he`s been appointed to by the sex scandal governor. And wouldn`t you know it, Luther Strange losses that Senate seat. He gets voted out in favor of the chief justice who just got kicked off the bench for judicial misconduct.
And now, today, that disgraced ex-chief justice in Alabama is the Republican Party`s official nominee for Senate in the state of Alabama for a general election that happens next month. And that candidate, that ex chief judge, Roy Moore, has just been accused of child molestation.
Since he has been running for Senate, Roy Moore has enjoyed shocking people around the country and even his potential Republican Senate colleagues with his patented brand of Roy Moore far-right provocateur neo confederate politics. But all that`s on purpose, that`s his whole brand. Less to his liking has been the controversy of his over his apparent fake charity in Alabama, which he`s used to pay himself in his family hundreds of thousands of dollars while doing nothing that appears to be charity work, but it did true to be -- turned out to be truly impressive means of avoiding taxation.
But that charity scandal is nothing compared to this 3,000-word blockbuster in "The Washington Post" today reported by Stephanie McCrummen and Beth Reinhard and Alice Crites. They interviewed 30 sources, including four women who say they were teenagers as young as when Roy Moore, then a man in his 30s, made aggressive sexual advances to them.
Roy Moore denies the charges. Alabama Republicans now have to decide if they will stand with Roy Moore, or if this headline might be too much even for Alabama Republicans, even given what Alabama has been through just over the last couple of years.
Anybody who bets on what`s going to happen here with this, I can tell you already, they`re too confident by half, given what`s happened in Alabama over the last couple of years.
But we are going to speak with one of the best political reporters in Alabama live next. He actually broke a lot of the salacious news that has broken in that state over the last couple of years, and if anybody knows how this is going to work out in Alabama and how this is going to work out for the United States Senate, it is him and that`s next.
MADDOW: When the Alabama speaker the house was indicted on 23 felony counts two weeks before election day a few years ago, Alabama political reporter John Archibald warned us that indictment or no indictment, that house speaker is probably going to get reelected. John Archibald was right about that. However improbable it seemed, John Archibald was right.
When Alabama`s governor meandered into one of the weirdest sex scandals I`ve ever covered in all my years of covering weird sex scandals, I asked John Archibald in Alabama whether or not the governor would ultimately have to resign because of that sex scandal. John Archibald cautioned that ultimately in the end, the governor would probably have to resign, but it would at least take a while.
John Archibald was right about that too.
When Luther Strange was appointed to the us Senate by that sex scandal governor, I got on TV for my comfortable perch in New York City and said, oh, now that Luther Strange has been appointed to that Senate seat, he could have that seat for life. I was absolutely wrong about that.
John Archibald came on this show and told me that Luther Strange would not be elected to hold on to that seat once the Alabama voters got a hold of him. I was totally wrong, John Archibald was totally right.
Now, "The Washington Post` has broken a stomach-churning story about the man who Alabama Republicans have chosen to stand for that seat in the U.S. Senate. You see the headline there, woman says Roy Moore initiated sexual encounter with her when she was 14 and he was 32. It`s been a chorus today of Republican U.S. senator saying, if this report is true, Roy Moore should step down and drop out of the race.
Whether it`s true -- well, I mean, "The Washington Post" reporting on this appears to be quite solid, in saying that, I mean not only that they`ve got 30 sources and four named women, I also mean specifically that they don`t yet know of -- we don`t yet know of any credible basis for Roy Moore`s denials tonight that that he had anything to do with this behavior given that the behavior is described in detail in "The Washington Post" by multiple sources who have put their names to the allegations and those allegations have been corroborated by this reporting.
But, you know what, if you wanted me to take a guess as to what`s going to happen here now that this story is broken and Roy Moore is denying it and the Senate races next month, you know, there was a time in my life when I might have predicted what would happen next, but I have grown. And I have learned at times like this to shut up, and to ask John Archibald.
Joining us now is John Archibald, columnist for al.com.
John, it`s really nice to have you with us again tonight. I expect that you will humble me on this story.
JOHN ARCHIBALD, BIRMINGHAM NEWS COLUMNIST: Thank you, Rachel. I`m after listening to your recap, I`m really glad I don`t cover politics in the normal state.
MADDOW: Well, because you don`t. We really need to count on you to understand how these things are going to go.
First, I have to ask you just when this "Post" story came out, was this -- was this a shock in Alabama? Is this the sort of story that other people have chased over the years? Was this -- is this brand new news?
ARCHIBALD: It is brand new. I had heard almost nothing about this ever over the course of covering Roy Moore for two decades, I heard a whisper about a week ago of something about it, but there were no -- no facts associated with it and it reminds me of the first time I`ve heard -- I heard of Robert Bentley having that affair, it just seemed too far-fetched to believe. But as more and more comes out, the more we all learn we don`t know.
MADDOW: Now, Roy Moore is not just denying the allegations in "The Washington Post" report, he`s being very aggressive on it. He`s fundraising on "The Washington Post" report tonight, which is amazing, but he said: these allegations are completely false. They`re a desperate political attack by the National Democrat Party and "The Washington Post".
Are there any holes being poked in "The Washington Post" reporting? Obviously, he`s objecting, but has anybody raised any serious factual issues or credibility issues with what they`ve reported?
ARCHIBALD: The only one -- the only issue of fact that heard disputed was there`s a point in there at which he is said to be buying wine for a young girl in the late `70s, or early `80s in Gadsden, which would -- it is being alleged would have been a dry county at that time, which I have not yet had a chance to find out when they voted to sell alcohol.
So, that is being debated but that is -- that is the crux of it.
MADDOW: And that would have been part of the power of that allegation is that this young woman would have been not a legal drinking age at the time that she alleges Roy Moore was buying her wine.
MADDOW: What do you think is -- what do you think is going to happen? Do you think that Roy Moore will drop out of the race? Do you think there will be anybody who has the power to take him out of this race who tries to do so?
ARCHIBALD: Roy Moore will absolutely not drop out of the race. He can`t be removed from the ballot. He would have to go on his own volition and that will not happen.
The election itself, you know, it may give Doug Jones a little more of a chance, but based on Republican reaction today, I kind of doubt that that`s going to happen. It may actually invigorate Roy Moore`s base, and he may win by a bigger margin.
MADDOW: Why would this invigorate his base?
ARCHIBALD: Because all I`ve heard today is how this is a Democratic plot or even worse, in Alabama, a Mitch McConnell plot to discredit Roy Moore because he`s afraid of what Roy Moore might bring.
And the most disturbing parts of this are a lot of Republicans who aren`t just saying we can`t know, who aren`t just saying it was a long time ago and we haven`t seen evidence, but who are actually saying it does not matter. These are typically -- I mean, these are conservative law-and- order, bible-thumping Republicans like the state auditor who basically said, oh nothing illegal or immoral happened here, which apparently he did not read the same story some of us did, because a 32-year-old prosecutor assaulting a 14-year-old girl would be both illegal and immoral in most Alabamians minds if you remove politics.
MADDOW: John Archibald, columnist for al.com -- really appreciate your time tonight. I have a feeling this will be not be the last time we talk about this. John, thank you for being here.
ARCHIBALD: Thank you.
All right. Much more ahead tonight. Stay with us.
MADDOW: When`s the last time you heard me do poll numbers on this show for anything. I mean, it`s two days after election day, even that special Senate race, the Roy Moore/Doug Jones Senate race in Alabama isn`t for a month and any polling done on that race before the Roy Moore child molestation report ran in "The Washington Post" tonight, any polling that had previously been done before that report that have to be thrown out the window anyway and redone.
So, I know you`re thinking, what could there possibly be pulling on right now that would be real national news right now? That`s next.
MADDOW: Twenty-seven percent. Pollsters this summer asked Americans how concerned they were about reports that the Trump campaign had had contact with suspected Russian operatives and pollsters gotten sort of underwhelming number for the number of Americans were very concerned about that. Only 27 percent of Americans said they were very concerned. So, again, that was this summer.
Politically, maybe, it`s true. When Republicans said their constituents in particular didn`t care about the Trump-Russia investigation all that much, maybe that was true.
But you know what? A lot has happened since that CNN poll was taken in mid-July.
Por ejemplo, the Trump campaign manager has been indicted on multiple felony counts and is wearing an ankle bracelet while he`s out on $10 million bond.
The Trump campaign managers deputy is out on $5 million bond and also wearing an ankle bracelet. He`s also been indicted on multiple felony counts. Also a Trump foreign policy adviser pled guilty to lying to the FBI about his Russia contacts which included them offering dirt on Hillary Clinton and thousands of stolen emails.
So, I mean, all that stuff and more has happened since this poll last ask the American people whether or not this thing being investigated by Robert Mueller seems like a big deal. Only 27 percent we`re very concerned about that earlier this summer.
Well, now, we`ve had the indictments and all. Pollsters went back with the same question. It`s the same question.
How concerned are you about reports that people associated with Donald Trump`s campaign had contact with suspected Russian operatives during last year`s campaign, how concerned are you? Now, remember in July, very concerned was only 27 percent.
As of last week, after those arrests and the indictments and the guilty plea, very concerned went from 27 percent to 44 percent. Also, 44 percent say Russia`s attempt to interfere in our election is itself a major problem. On top of that, an additional 22 percent of Americans say it`s not just a major problem, it`s a full-on crisis.
So, ask Americans about Russian influence on the election as described by U.S. intelligence, 66 percent of Americans, two-thirds of Americans say it`s either a major problem or a crisis.
Now, in terms of the president himself, this poll also asked: do you think that Donald Trump knew during last year`s campaign that anyone associated with this campaign had contact with suspected Russian operatives, or do you think he did not know this?
Here`s the result: a clear majority says, yes, Trump knew. Fifty-nine percent of Americans say yes, the president knew that people associated with the same camp -- his campaign were having contact with Russian operatives despite the fact that the president denies knowing that.
With all the other things going on in the Mueller investigation, the congressional investigations, the indictments, the guilty plea, all of the other elements of this scandal and this crime being pursued, politically, the Republican strategy for defending the Republican president in the midst of this biggest presidential scandal of all time, the Republican strategy has been to try to hurry up, hurry this stuff up to its conclusion. They`re really rushing the congressional investigations now. They`re trying to pressure the Mueller investigation to end as quickly as possible, right?
They want things wrapped up on Capitol Hill. They`re trying to either discredit or pressure or maybe defund Robert Mueller.
They`re calling the whole thing witch-hunt. It`s a nothingburger. By the way, nobody cares. Nobody cares. That`s how they`re trying to deal with it politically.
But that is not how Americans feel, and with this kind of response from American voters, Republicans politically are not going to be able to win this just by saying this is no big deal and nobody cares. However you feel about this story, your fellow Americans care about it a great deal.
O`DONNELL: Our last story tonight is not so much a story as it is a public service announcement -- public service announcement.
Do you know where your teeth are right this minute? Now, I can feel like do you know where they are because it`s two days since election day and I think this is going to be an essential part of winding up our election coverage for 2017, because I`m really not comfortable leaving this part of our election coverage unsettled.
Quote: if you voted in Portland, Maine, and you`re looking for your teeth, we read this. "The Portland Press Herald" reporting tonight that false teeth were discovered by an election clerk left behind in a voting booth on Tuesday.
Quote: The choppers -- sorry. Quote: The choppers are now in a plastic bag in the city clerk`s office at city hall waiting to be reunited with the owner of the appliance.
First of all, doesn`t that make you want to be a city clerk? Second of all, public service announcement, if you cast your vote and your dentures in Portland, Maine, on Tuesday night, don`t despair. The clerk has them at city hall.
That does it for us tonight.
Now, it`s time for "THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL".
Good evening, Lawrence.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END
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