Show: THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW Date: December 13, 2017 Guest: Merika Coleman, Eric Swalwell
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST, ALL IN: Black PAC, a really fascinating organization, also did work on the ground.
Cornell Belcher and Amanda Litman, thank you for joining me tonight.
That is "ALL IN" for this evening.
THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts right now.
Good evening, Rachel.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chris. Thanks, my friend.
HAYES: You bet.
MADDOW: And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour.
If you watched our coverage last night of the U.S. Senate election in Alabama, I hope you were still watching, not just for my hour, but I hope you were still watching right up until the moment the race was actually called by NBC. Did you watch that late?
News organizations all make different determinations as to when they think enough of the vote is in for them to be able to comfortably project who wins a race. Every news organization has its own approach to that. Everybody takes it very seriously and operates with rigorous independence on stuff like that. Last night, that resulted in calls for that Senate race coming in at different times.
"The Associated Press", I think, called the Senate race for Doug Jones at around 10:30 p.m. Eastern Time. Here at MSNBC, we take all of our election calls from NBC News, in any election where NBC does a call.
Last night, NBC`s projection in the Alabama Senate race took a few minutes longer than the "A.P.`s" did. It was still before 11:00 Eastern Time, but later than the "A.P." and some other news organizations had called it. And I`m not complaining about that. That is more than fine by me, as far as I`m concerned, the rule there is, better right than first.
And that is true in all aspects of this business and in life. It`s particularly important when it comes to calling an election. So, I tell you all of this because the way that worked, logistically around here, last night, while we were continuing to watch the vote come in, my hour was over, Lawrence was hosting. It was starting to look like things were really going in Doug Jones` direction, but it wasn`t over yet.
And in the 10:00 hour, at one point, Joy Reid and I were both on set with Lawrence, as we were all watching those numbers come in, we`re commenting on what we understand those numbers mean, this is a very exciting culmination of the race. And we could see where things were going, right and we`re wondering when people are going to start making calls. We don`t control that. We`re wondering what we`re going to hear.
And we had two things on screen simultaneously. Did you see this last night? On the right side of the screen, we had Steve Kornacki in his patented khakis and his oxford shirt, right? He has this big red and blue touch screen map of Alabama. And Steve was sort of frantically and expertly refreshing that map in real-time, going county by county by county to process all the results as they`re coming in.
So, Steve is a fixture now on the right side of the screen. We`re never taking him off-camera. Lawrence just keeps going back to Steve over and over again, every time new numbers come in. That`s on the right side of the screen.
On the other side of the screen, by then NBC had not called it, but we could all see where the numbers were going, we were aware that some other news organizations had started to call it. We have good reason to believe it`s likely going to be a Doug Jones victory.
Honestly, the shot that we had of Roy Moore`s campaign at the same time looked like an oil painting, right? Nobody was moving. Everybody had very long faces. They were obviously very worried.
Doug Jones` campaign headquarters, that equivalent shot was starting to look like a party. You know, they`re getting to the point where they`re starting to be convinced that Doug Jones had won. So, at that point, as we`re getting really close to a call, we started keeping up on the left side of the screen, just a fixed camera shot of the crowd at Doug Jones` headquarters in Birmingham. And Steve Kornacki`s on the right with the map.
This is what it was like in studio to be covering this on TV last night. And that shot of Doug Jones` Birmingham headquarters living on the left side of our screen and not being taken down, that is how we met the hero kid of the Alabama United States Senate special election of 2017. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That`s going to be put off until next year, until after they can count on Luther Strange to vote for their tax bill and the spending bill and anything else they want. When he put out that announcement, that whoever wins wasn`t going to get sworn in, I wondered if McConnell had some --
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST, THE LAST WORD: I saw your tweet about that. And I jumped on that, because oftentimes, they are sworn in, within a day or two, sometimes, of these elections. But it`s -- for the Senate, it`s all about getting certified results from a state, and Alabama can be relied on to drag its feet, on certifying this new Democratic senator.
Go ahead, Steve Kornacki, we`re back at you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: So real-time in the studio, Lawrence starts talking, and I`m look -- what is that kid doing?
And, in fact, right at that moment, we went back to Steve Kornacki and then Doug Jones won the election and that kid got swamped. All right? But that kid clearly was our sign from the heavens that something big was about to happen, right? This young man, too young to vote, but too amazing not to win the night, random flexing superpower kid, you were the best thing on television last night.
For a Democrat to win a U.S. Senate seat in Alabama does feel like a miracle. And I mean that not like in the sense that it feels like, oh, a political anomaly. I mean, it feels like a religious miracle, where the heavens had to shift and we had to get otherworldly signs to brace ourselves that something unreal was about to happen. We know in fact that what happened was not technically miraculous.
It was the rational product of a lot of flesh and blood work by a lot of real human beings. But it did feel miraculous last night, and it has felt miraculous all day, even as the defeated Republican candidate is now going on 24 hours and trying to claim that last night never really happened. As I mentioned with, the A.P. called the race at around 10:30 Eastern Time last night. Everybody else had called it within a half an hour.
Doug Jones then soon came out and gave his victory speech in Birmingham. And soon thereafter, we got word that despite the fact that everybody had called the race for Doug Jones and it seemed like a clear win, despite the fact that Doug Jones had declared victory, despite the fact that President Trump had even congratulated Doug Jones on his victory, despite all of that, word came down that Roy Moore was not planning on conceding.
Now, at around 11:30 Eastern last night, Roy Moore came out to address the people who remained at his very quiet headquarters, but he only came out to tell them that he was under the impression that this race was not over.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROY MOORE (R), ALABAMA SENATE CANDIDATE: Realize when the vote is this close, that it`s not over. And we still got to go by the rules, about this recount provision, and the secretary of state has explained it to us, and we`re expecting that the press will go up there and talk to them to find out what the situation is. But we also know that God is always in control.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: God may always be in control, but whether an election is over or not, whether there`s going to be a recount or not, the way that God controls that, if God is controlling that, is with a number of votes you lose by.
In refusing to concede last night, Roy Moore said something specific about why he wasn`t conceding. He said his campaign was conferring with the secretary of state about the recount provision. And after Roy Moore raised that possibility, that`s when things got really weird. Because the Alabama secretary of state did then go on national television to try to explain to the country what the recount provision is in Alabama.
And that exercise could not have been more awkward in the moment, but what the secretary of state said, what he explained to the country was also just totally legally wrong.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Kaylee Hartung from CNN is with the secretary of state of Alabama. And maybe can help clear some of this up. Kaylee, do you -- take it away, Kaylee.
KAYLEE HARTUNG, CNN REPORTER: Thank you, Jake.
Secretary Merrill, Roy Moore, we just heard from him. He`s on his way here. What do we need to understand about the conversation that will take place when he arrives?
JOHN MERRILL, ALABAMA SECRETARY OF STATE: I don`t know that Judge Moore is coming here, I`m not expecting that. I`m expecting other people from the media to come here. I`m not very comfortable in visiting with Judge Moore or anybody in his campaign tonight.
HARTUNG: So, at this point, do you believe there is a chance of a recount?
MERRILL: Well, there`s always a chance of a recount, because any candidate can ask for a recount, and if they pay for it, they can receive a recount.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That was the Alabama secretary of state last night on CNN, explaining, awkwardly, in his own words, what he believed to be the recount provision in Alabama. It`s important, because that`s what Roy Moore is citing to explain why he is not conceding this race.
I have to tell you, what the secretary of state just said there about Alabama`s recount provision is not true. Can we run just that last little bit of tape, just one more time?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MERRILL: Any candidate can ask for a recount, and if they pay for it, they can receive a recount.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That is not true, as a matter of Alabama law.
Under Alabama law, as explained in the Alabama election manual and as shouted from the rooftops by election expert Rick Hasen today, what she just explained there about getting a recount if you pay for it, that`s only true if you run for state office in Alabama. That is not true if you are running for a federal office like, say, U.S. senator.
So, confusion about the law has been a pronounced feature of the Roy Moore candidacy, and indeed, his entire turn in public life. He has maintained, for example, that a person can be banned from public office on the basis of his religion, when he said Muslims shouldn`t be allowed to serve in Congress. For example, he was twice thrown off the bench in Alabama for refusing to obey federal court orders, because he thought he didn`t need to.
Well, arguably, there was also a legal understanding, a legal misunderstanding at work when the Moore campaign seemed to apply that it was all right for a grown man to have sexual contact with a 14-year-old girl, provided the girl`s parents handed her over to the grown man. I mean, there`s been a lot of legal misunderstandings when it comes to the high points of the Moore candidacy.
But, right now, in the wake of this loss by Roy Moore, this stunning Democratic victory last night in Alabama, we are in sort of a weird legal situation because Roy Moore still isn`t conceding. And he says he`s not conceding because he believes he`s entitled to pay for a recount in the race. And he says he believes that because he conferred with the secretary of state. And it may be that the secretary of state has told him that is the case. But the secretary of state is wrong.
I mean, had this race been closer than a half percent between Doug Jones and Roy Moore, yes, there would have been an automatic recount paid for by the state. But Roy Moore lost by more than three times that margin to Jones. And he can`t just pay for a recount if he wants one. There`s no provision for that in Alabama law.
But the secretary of state doesn`t appear to know that. So, what next?
I mean, on its face, this race does appear to be over. It`s just a matter of the state certifying the vote. But 22 1/2 hours on from that little kid dancing into my heart, there has been no concession from Roy Moore. And there`s -- actually, there`s been no word from Roy Moore whatsoever.
The secretary of state has misstated the recount law in his own state on national television. And although this particular secretary of state in Alabama makes a practice of frequently issuing clarifications on legal matters on his Website on all sorts of election-related stuff, today he has apparently issued no clarification whatsoever. So, it`s this weird thing that`s now sort of feels like background music to this big national story, right?
There is this national furor, national excitement over what happened last night in Alabama, but technically, last night in Alabama is not settled, if you ask one side in that contest.
Now, that may end up having implications both in Alabama and in Washington, D.C. We`re going to be talking about both of those prospects over the course of this hour tonight, which means we`re going to be going back to Birmingham tonight. Alabama, I`m sorry, you are not yet free of the plague of national media that has descended upon you.
In the wake of last night`s shock results, the country has today learned a lot more about Doug Jones, this life-long Alabamian Democratic prosecutor who beat Roy Moore last night. In the wake of last night`s shock results, the Democratic Party has once again affirmed the importance and the centrality of the African-American community within the Democratic electoral coalition.
In the wake of last night`s shock results, the Democratic Party -- excuse me -- the Republican Party has spent the day fighting about whose fault it is that Roy Moore was nominated in the first place, let alone that he was beaten in a state like Alabama. But in the wake of last night`s shock results, the bigger electoral question, bigger political question for everybody after these results came in last night is what does this mean about what`s going to happen next? How worrying should last night`s results be for the Republican party going forward?
I mean, it`s one thing for them to be having their day-long recriminations today about what just happened and who`s to blame and how terrible Steve Bannon is, right? It`s one thing for them to talk about why this went wrong. It`s another thing for them to try to figure out if what happened last night is foreshadowing about what`s about to happen to the Republican Party over the next year and into the next elections and what may happen to the Trump presidency.
All right, how worried are Republicans after last night? If you are trying to quantify that, if you`re trying to figure out how to measure the amount of national Republican worry over the past 24 hours, there are a couple of pieces of data that you should factor in there that did not get a lot of attention today. But that`s what they mean, and we`ve got that, next.
MADDOW: Do you know about the other election that happened last night, other than the Doug Jones Roy Moore race in Alabama? Obviously, a U.S. Senate race is always going to be a big deal special election, but you know, there was also another one that was a state senate election last night in the great state of Iowa.
In northwestern Iowa, a district that includes parts of Sioux City, it`s a very, very Republican part of Iowa. It`s a very Republican district. In that district, Republicans outnumber Democrats two to one among registered voters. Donald Trump`s margin of victory over Hillary Clinton in that district was 41 points. Not that Trump got 41 percent of the vote. He got 41 points more than Hillary Clinton did. He just won there in a gigantic landslide.
Well, last night there was a special election to fill the seat from that district in the Iowa senate. And a Republican still won, but that seat last night swung 31 points in the Democrats` direction compared to last November. And that kind of Democratic gain, a 31-point gain, it might be tempting to dismiss that as a political anomaly, as well.
I`m told the Democrats ran a particularly good and effective and well-known candidate in that race, but it turns out what happened in Iowa last night wasn`t a one-off. There have been four contested special elections in Iowa since the 2016 election. Last night was a 31-point shift to the Democrats. The one before that was also a 31-point shift to the Democrats. The one before that was a 34-point shift to the Democrats. And one before that was a 32-point shift to the Democrats.
Now, I mean, some legislative districts, some congressional seats, even, in some states, are going to be so partisan that that`s, you know, still a comfortable margin for Republicans, right? There are some places that are going to lean so Republican that you can have a 32 or 34-point swing toward the Democrats and the Republican will still hold on to power. There are places like that, but there are not that many places like that.
I mean, if you extrapolate dynamics like that to the whole country, 30, 32, 34-point swings. And not in just one night, like, in every -- that`s the range of outcomes there have been in Iowa since the election, four different elections. Seeing the winds blowing in that direction, Texas Democrats yesterday announced that for the first time in years, they will run a Democrat to contest every single congressional seat in the Lone Star state in 2018. They don`t usually do that, first time in 25 years.
They`re not doing it to make a point. They`re doing that because they think they`re going to win some of those seats, because they think the win winds right now are blowing so hard in the Democratic Party`s direction.
Then this morning, as the country was still absorbing the news that the number of Republicans in the U.S. Senate is going to go down to 51, because a Democrat is being added to the rolls from Alabama. What? As people were reading three-inch headlines to that effect over their breakfast cereal all over the country today, Republicans got something else to worry about that is specific to the U.S. senate. What Senator Al Franken announced that he would resign six days ago, we knew then that Democratic Governor Mark Dayton in Minnesota because of the chance to choose Al Franken`s replacement in the senate.
And there were considerable worries that Mark Dayton`s plan, his priority was to pick somebody for the Franken seat who would be just a placeholder, a person who wouldn`t run to hold on to that seat when it goes to the voters next November 2018 on election day. The reason that was worrying to Democratic political observers is because, frankly, incumbency helps. It`s not everything, just ask Luther Strange, right? But generally speaking, in the absence of some personal scandal affixed to that person, generally speaking, it`s easier to hold on to a Senate seat you already have than it is to win an open race for that seat.
So given the choice, why would Democrats only appoint a placeholder who`s going to give the seat up? Thus, setting up their own party for what would certainly be a hotly contested Democratic primary to pick a new Democratic candidate to replace the appointee. And whoever won the primary would then have to run against a Republican in the general election in a state that`s really purple right now and that happens to have a lot of semi-popular, well-known retired Republicans who are sitting around being bored in their private sector jobs and want to get back into the U.S. Senate. Why only appoint a placeholder?
Well this morning, Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton made his announcement that his appointee to fill the Al Franken seat in the Senate would be Minnesota`s Lieutenant Governor, Democrat Tina Smith. Tina Smith has long experience in Minnesota state politics. She is apparently widely respected. She`s definitely very well-connected.
But then she soon announced that she is not going to be a placeholder. Despite those early reports, Tina Smith says she will accept this appointment and she will run to hold on to Franken`s seat next year.
So, if you were tracking the Republican worry factor in the wake of the Roy Moore/Doug Jones race last night. If you`re tracking that on a little gauge today, the little spike mid-morning when it went like that is when they found out the news about what`s happening to Al Franken`s seat. With somebody being appointed to hold that seat who could very plausibly win it in a general election with somebody who`s not just going to be a placeholder, as had been previously reported, that Al Franken seat is not nearly so up for grabs in 2018 as it seemed just one day ago.
And then as the day progressed, we got two other very blunt signs of Republican worry in the wake of Roy Moore`s loss. Obviously, the Alabama loss was bad news, not just for the president`s party, but for the president himself. That has implications in terms of his political power, right?
President Trump had gone all in and campaigned for and endorsed and tried to get Virginia to elected Gillespie, went all in for Ed Gillespie to be Republican governor of Virginia. Ed Gillespie lost. Then the president endorsed and campaigned for and tried to elect Luther Strange in the Senate primary in Alabama and Luther Strange lost. And then the president went all in and endorsed and campaigned for Roy Moore in the Senate election last night in Alabama. And Roy Moore, too, lost, in Alabama, to a Democrat.
And for a president who doesn`t come from his party in any real sense, who is not of and for the Republican Party and doesn`t have a long track record there with the party and therefore hasn`t built up a lot of trust and a lot of relationships with them -- I mean, he doesn`t really have independent powers of persuasion when it comes to his party on Republican policy issues. Really, the way that he gets his own way, the way that he gets his party to do what he wants in Washington, is by them fearing or desiring his political power, right? When they fear his political power, they fear what it might mean to have the president against you. You know, for him to direct his followers or his loyalist media, to criticize you.
When the president has political juice, that means he has the ability to cause political outcomes. And the president`s political juice is really all he`s got in terms of getting Republicans in Washington to go along with him on anything.
Well, his political juice is at a low ebb right now. And so, as the result of Alabama Senate election last night rolled into Washington like a fog, Republicans announced, coincidentally, that they are rejecting, they are pulling the plug on two of Trump`s most, forgive me, most embarrassing judicial nominees.
When you have no fear of any political consequences that your president can rain down on you, you are less willing to do something embarrassing on his behalf, right? Like approve some of these lifetime appointment federal judge nominees who have never tried a case and who have been rated unqualified by the American Bar Association, two of the president`s most embarrassing judicial nominees. People who were viewed as the most blatantly embarrassing and dis -- and unqualified for the job got yanked today. They got yanked by the Republicans, because Republican senators decided they were going to stop taking those particular risks for this particular president.
Your favor, sir, is no longer worth it.
The other sign of Republican worry today, and I will leave you with this, was the surprise news that they have moved up the speed by which they intend to pass their big tax bill. In terms of external constraints, there`s no reason they need to be rushing to pass this, which would be the biggest change to the tax code in 30 years. There`s no legislative deadline. There`s nothing going on in the world that would require this to happen so fast.
But nevertheless, today, surprise, within hours of the Roy Moore Senate race results being announced, Republicans rushed to the microphones to tell the media that they have a final version of their tax bill. They`re ready to vote on it. They`re ready to get it done. They appear to be rushing to do that for two sort of blatant reasons.
First, they now want to vote on it before Democrat Doug Jones gets sworn in, in the Senate. They can count on a Republican vote for their tax bill from Luther Strange, before Luther Strange goes home to Alabama. But the other reason it seems they are rushing this thing is because this is what it looks like on Capitol Hill pretty much every day now.
(VIDEO CLIP PLAYS)
MADDOW: These were protesters today in the office of Alaska Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski. These were protesters today at the offices of Kansas Republican Senator Jerry Moran. These were protesters today at the offices of Maine Senator Susan Collins.
The only senator who got a different reception from these crowds of protesters on the tax bill today was Senator Bob Corker, who is -- you can hear them here, Bob Corker is short, forgive me, so you can`t see him walking through the middle of this crowd, but he happened to wander down this hallway while these people were at another senator`s office. He voted against the tax bill, so Senator Corker in the middle of all of these protesters were greeted with cries of, thank you, thank you, senator.
The pressure on this tax bill is intense. It`s not getting a lot of Beltway media coverage for some reason. But the protests against this tax bill are intense on Capitol Hill. They`re also intense at the home offices of members of Congress and senators.
The reconciled version that the Republicans announced today of their tax bill gives even more tax benefits to corporations and rich people than the last iteration of it that they voted on. So you can tell who they`re really feeling the pressure from. But now, they`ve decided they need to go even faster with. When protesters today were leaving Lisa Murkowski`s office, their chant at one point changed to this.
(VIDEO CLIP PLAYS)
MADDOW: What they`re saying there is no Jones, no vote. In other words, stop rushing to get this done. Why are you pushing ahead with this? Doug Jones is going to be here soon enough to take a seat in the senate. Let`s see how he wants to vote on this.
It was a nearly miraculous hard-work miracle last night for Democrats in Alabama, but the Republican worry of the implications of what happened last night, that is something Republicans are feeling coast-to-coast, and definitely in Washington, D.C.
MADDOW: (AUDIO GAP) back the best thing that happened all night? Just for a second, put it up. You guys have it.
Yes. Thank you, exuberant young person in Alabama politics. You were great to see last night. You are very strong, you are great to see again right now.
Aside from this kid superhero, there is one more thing from Birmingham that you need to see about what happened last night and we`ve got that for you next. Stay with us.
MADDOW: Here in one map is how Doug Jones became a United States senator last night. This map does not show that Alabama is a blue state. What this map actually shows is county by county, the Democratic shift in voters in Alabama from the 2016 presidential election to the Senate special election that took place last night.
So, the darker the blue color in each of these counties, the more Democratic the vote was last night compared to what it was in the Trump/Clinton election in 2016. Every single county, right? I mean, the remarkable thing about this map is regardless of how each of the two candidates did last night in each individual county, the story is the same overall. In every one of these 67 counties of Alabama, every single county in the state voted less Republican and more Democratic last night. Every single one.
And when you have a uniform trend like that, it`s enough to overcome a 28- point margin by which the Republican candidate won that statewide election last fall. And part of that may be that Alabama doesn`t like Donald Trump anymore. They obviously liked him a ton last year, but he was a clear endorser and supporter of the Republican who lost the primary to Roy Moore and then he was a clear endorser and supporter of Roy Moore last night.
The president`s White House senior strategist, Steve Bannon, was down in Alabama multiple times, including on election day, rallying with Roy Moore. Moore`s campaign was very much associated with Trump and Trumpism. Turns out Trump and Trumpism are less popular in Alabama than they used to be.
Recent Fox News poll in Alabama had Donald Trump less favorable than Barack Obama in Alabama. Exit poll data last night showed that the same percentage of people viewed Trump unfavorably as they did favorably. From a guy who won that state by 28 points.
So, from a national perspective, that`s one way to understand why the U.S. Senate is about to get one more Democrat from this most unlikely of states. But here`s one other way to look at it. This is the same voter data from last night`s election viewed through a slightly different lens. This was put together by Miles Coleman, who was an election analyst at Decision Desk HQ.
This shows how Alabama voters voted last night in each congressional district in the state. There are seven congressional districts. And this is what the vote last night looks like if you assign them to each of their congressional districts. And you will notice here that only one of those districts is blue, is Democratic.
What that means is that even with the gigantic every county in the state shift in the Democratic Party`s direction last night, even with the Democratic candidate getting a statewide win last night, outside the recount margin, even with the Democratic candidate winning by huge margins in every large population center in the state, he won Montgomery, he won Birmingham, he won Mobile, he won Huntsville. Even with that huge shift towards the Democratic Party and their candidate last night, had the same people who turned out last night been casting those same votes, except they counted for Congress instead of for Senate, that vote last night would have still sent only one Democrat to Congress, and six Republicans, which is what Alabama sends to Congress right now.
How is that possible? How do you get a vote that Democratic and it turns in all of those Republicans and only one Democrat. What?
It`s because of something that the Republican Party did in 2010, which was a plan called Red Map. It was a national program, but in places like Alabama, it was very local, very practical, and it ended up being a big deal for a long time.
The top Republican in the Alabama legislature later wrote a book about it, explaining how the Republican Party did in 2010, which was a plan called red map. It was a national program, but in places like Alabama, it was very local, very practical, and it ended up being a big deal for a long time. The top Republican in the Alabama legislature later wrote a book about it, explaining how it worked in that state, which is part of why we have an inside peek at what happened here. He`s now in prison, which is an awkward footnote, but that`s how it goes. It`s Alabama.
It`s pretty simple, though, the plan. The National Alabama Party quietly solicited funding from rich Republican donors from all over the country and they secretly funneled the those donations into individual low-profile statehouse and state senate races in Alabama. And they picked the races they were supporting with this national money with the specific goal of winning control of the state legislature for the Republican Party, right?
We think of Alabama as a red state, as a state that`s almost unilaterally Republican controlled and has been for a long time. But that`s not true. Before 2010, Democrats had held at least the House or the Senate or both since after the civil war, since reconstruction. Republicans used this national Red Map strategy to secretly fund a bunch of their legislative candidates in 2010 and that is the only way they were able to win control of the state legislature for the first time in a dog`s age.
It was 2010. That was a census year, which meant once they got control of the legislature, they would then be in charge of redistricting. And that`s when they drew these districts. They drew these districts for themselves in the legislature and they drew districts for congressional seats.
And the way they drew all of those districts is to guarantee that even on a huge Democratic night, like Democrats had last night in Alabama, Republicans still get to hold on to power in the legislature and in Congress.
We talked to one of the Democratic leaders in the Alabama legislature last night, Representative Merika Coleman, who told us that last night didn`t just look like a win for Doug Jones, it looked to her like a real opportunity for Democrats in Alabama in the 2018 elections next year, a new start, a show of strength for a renewed, smart, vigorous Democratic Party in her state. She made a very compelling case for it.
But now, here`s the test. Because this is the tilted playing field that Democrats are playing on. They can have a night as good as the left side of your screen, and it would still result in a balance of power like the one you see on the right side of your screen. That is a tilted playing field.
But that is not made in nature, right? That was not handed down from God or the Constitution. That is a reality that Republicans created through their own political planning and execution. They weren`t even in charge of the whole state, as recently as eight years ago.
But now that this Democratic Party in this Deep South state got up last night and threw its head back and roared, the question is, is what the Republicans have done in Alabama undoable? What would it take for Democrats to be strong enough to tilt this playing field back to level? To actually win any lasting power in that state? And what can Democrats in the rest of the country learn from this miracle that they did pull off last night?
Joining us again tonight is Alabama Democratic State Rep. Merika Coleman.
Representative Coleman, it`s great to have you back. I knew as soon as I said good night last night, I was hoping you could come back tonight.
STATE REP. MERIKA COLEMAN (D), ALABAMA: Great to be back. Thank you so much for the invitation.
MADDOWE: Well, let me first ask you about your reaction. When we spoke last night, you were confident, but we did not have final results. How do you feel? I know you supported Doug Jones very fervently. How do you feel and what`s the reaction you`ve seen in your state today?
COLEMAN: Well, with I`m in awe of the state of Alabama today. I am just so excited that Alabamians across the state of Alabama, both Democrats, Republicans, and independents alike, black, white, young, old, rich, poor, went out to show the rest of the country that we are the type of Alabama that is an inclusive Alabama and we have this coalition of folks that went across the state that worked together and got Doug Jones elected.
And I`m just excited to show the country that we are not what some people refer to as Bama or backwoods, when they use that derogatory term. That we are that great state that is diverse and we`re excited about the leadership of Doug Jones in the U.S. Senate.
MADDOW: Well, tell me about that coalition and that diversity that you`re talking about, the kind of effort that you saw last night. I mean, obviously, there was a lot of national interest. There was a lot of national money that came into this race. It`s a race with big national implications.
Do you feel like the Democratic Party in Alabama has been strengthened by this process and has learned anything going forward in terms of trying to reclaim more power at the state level and more congressional seats and all the kind of things that would show off in the future the kind of strength that we saw last night?
COLEMAN: Yes, 100 percent. Again, this is a coalition and the Democratic Party nationally now sees that in the state of Alabama, we do have this coalition of communities of color, of the LBGTQ community, of, again, different people from social -- different social and economic backgrounds, that actually do come together around issues and that`s what you saw.
I was listening to your intro about Alabama and what are the opportunities in the 2018 election. Of course, I`m the eternal optimist and very excited about the opportunities. Although the Republicans tried to do everything to stack and pack -- that`s what we refer to as stacking and packing. When they take all of the African-Americans or people in communities of color and stack those in particular districts.
My district went from being 59 percent African-American to 69 percent African-American under the Republicans` initial plan. The Alabama legislative black caucus sued and we won. So, 12 of those districts were deemed by that three-judge panel that they were actually drawn for racial intent. Because those 12 we are identified that way, all 35 of the districts that were leaning or majority/minority districts that lean African-American, lean Democrat, had to be redrawn. So now we have more influence districts.
So those influence districts are those districts that at least 25 percent of African-American in other communities of color are within those districts and they have the opportunity to influence the outcome. Now, it might not be a Democrat that wins that election. But it might be more of a centrist Republican. And not someone that is so far to the right, Tea Party Freedom Caucus that we literally can`t have a conversation with them at all.
So, again, I`m still very optimistic about 2018. I think that we`re going end to up with a Democratic governor, when we had a governor in the state of Alabama who said that she believed these women, but she was going to choose to vote for Roy Moore. There is a target on Kay Ivey`s back and we`re going to run with it and make sure that a Democrat is elected as governor of the great state of Alabama.
MADDOW: Alabama Democratic State Representative Merika Coleman, thank you very much for helping us understand your perspective on this and how this is resonating in the state. A lot of focus tonight on how this is resonating around the country, but how you`re talking about how it`s resonating inside your own state I think is just as important and fascinating. Thank you. Good luck to you.
COLEMAN: Yes, we`re excited today but we`re working already today.
MADDOW: I can tell you. Thank you, ma`am. Appreciate it.
More to come here tonight. Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D), CALIFORNIA, JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: Your testimony today is that you believe Bob Mueller is a person of high integrity. Is that right?
ROD ROSENSTEIN, DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL: Yes.
SWALWELL: You also believe his investigation is being conducted fairly.
SWALWELL: You also believe that -- and you understand that he`s publicly indicted two individuals with respect to his investigation.
SWALWELL: He`s also obtained two guilty pleas with respect to his investigation.
SWALWELL: Is there good cause to fire Bob Mueller as we sit here today?
ROSENSTEIN: Not to my knowledge.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein today tersely saying that he sees no good cause to fire the special prosecutor, Robert Mueller.
Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein was in Congress testifying in the House at a hearing where most of the Republican members of the committee wanted to use that occasion to express their outrage about the terribleness of the Robert Mueller investigation and what feels like an orchestrated effort to set up the country for the fact that Robert Mueller is going to be undermined or perhaps fired by the White House. That`s what it feels like at least from a distance.
But joining us is Congressman Swalwell, Democrat of California, member of the Judiciary Committee that heard that testimony today.
Congressman, thank you very much for being here tonight. Much appreciated.
SWALWELL: Of course. Thank you, Rachel, for having me back.
MADDOW: So, the Justice Department has released two reporters` text messages of people that no longer work on the Mueller investigation in which they discussed political reactions to things going on during the campaign. Republicans focused on their texts that were critical of Trump. But we have seen from the released messages that they were also critical of Clinton, of Congress, of Bernie Sanders.
Do you understand what they`re so upset with about this alleged bias and what do you make of their complains?
SWALWELL: Rachel, it seems they`re upset that Bob Mueller is making progress in the investigation. And I hear on the Judiciary Committee an ominous drumbeat to continue to discredit Bob Mueller and his team, and I believe that drumbeat is a signal to the president because many expressed that firing Bob Mueller without cause would be clearly obstruction of justice. However, obstruction of justice referred to the House Judiciary Committee. And if the Judiciary Committee members and if they signal they themselves have problems with Bob Mueller like President Trump expressed that the investigation is a hoax, then you can clearly see that there`s little deterrent for President Trump from firing Bob Mueller. That`s the real concern right now is that he may have a permissive environment from the committee.
MADDOW: In terms of the -- I guess, the other side of the environment that the president may be considering here is what the reaction would be within the Justice Department if he ordered Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to fire Bob Mueller. Clearly, in his response most directly to you and also in the rest of the responses today even to Republican members seemed like Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein had no interest in entertaining the idea that Mueller is not only fireable, he didn`t seem to want to entertain any idea of bias or any sort of impermissible behavior or personnel involved in the Mueller investigation.
SWALWELL: That`s right. I told Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein we`re all counting on him. This investigation is a very narrow bridge and the most important thing he can do is to not be afraid and fearlessly walk that bridge and show independence, because he may be asked to fire Bob Mueller and the best thing he can do is to refuse to do so until the president`s able to find someone who can and then I think that would warrant obstruction of justice proceedings.
MADDOW: Congressman, let me ask you about one substantive piece of this investigation that I just don`t get. I`m asking you about this as a judiciary committee member and an intelligence committee member. National security adviser Mike Flynn pled guilty of lying to the FBI about talking with the Russian ambassador about sanctions. We now know from good reporting that`s not contested from the White House that a lot of other Trump transition officials knew that he had had the conversations with the Russians about sanctions.
Several of them who were told about those conversations then publicly lied about it. There`s been reporting that the special counsel`s particularly interested in felony`s firing, whether there were attempts to obstruction the investigation into him. Given all that, do you have any sense, anything you can speak about publicly as to why so many people in the Trump administration publicly lied about Mike Flynn and the fact that he was talking to the Russians about sanctions? Do you have any sense of what was motivating that?
SWALWELL: Yes. Rachel, the pattern here, whether it`s around Michael Flynn or anyone else with contacts of Russia protect candidate or President Trump and then the protect themselves and only when the FBI or our investigation or reporting confronted them with conflicting evidence have they sometimes come around.
But also, the other question I have is, why did they allow Michael Flynn to stay on for so long once they knew that he had lied? Now, Bob Mueller to contrast with President Trump when he found out he had the agent with a perception of favoritism for a person investigated he was fired immediately. He was let go and president Trump only fired Michael Flynn once it became a public relations problem for him if you want to compare the two as far as their with the character.
MADDOW: Congressman Eric Swalwell of California, Judiciary Committee member, Intelligence Committee member, really appreciate your time tonight, sir. Nice to see you.
SWALWELL: My pleasure. Thanks, Rachel.
MADDOW: All right. We`ll be right back. Stay with us.
MADDOW: Doug Jones election on the 12th. Rosenstein testimony on the 13th. Tomorrow on the 14th, remember when`s happening? Federal Communications Commission is expected to repeal net neutrality. An important rule put in place by the Obama administration to ban Internet service providers from basically controlling what you see on the Internet and what Internet based services you can use.
That would be the practical affect if service providers pick and choose which traffic goes fast and which traffic goes slow online for their own commercial purposes. That vote is expected tomorrow.
But now, in the final hours before that vote, a group of state attorneys general has asked the FCC to not take that vote, to delay it because according to an analysis of New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, there have been as many as 2 million public comments submitted to the FCC about this decision under stolen identities. This all happened in the FCC`s public comment period, real people whose names used to post these comments have been objecting but it really happened on a very large scale.
Here`s the kind of example. This fake comment is purportedly from my father. The problem is, the comment was posted more than a year after his death. People complain to the FCC about what appears to have been a corruption of the public comment period here.
The 19 state attorneys general who are pushing for a delay say the comment faking is an attack on the integrity of the democratic process. They say any decision the FCC makes on the basis, even the partial basis of these fake comments would be an illegitimate decision. Again, as of now, the FCC is still scheduled to take this vote tomorrow. If they do, expect it to be the subject of a lot of lawsuits immediately.
But with this request from 19 different states for a delay, I`m not sure we have seen the end of this fight.
Watch this space.
That does it for us tonight. We will see you again tomorrow.
Now, it`s time for "THE LAST WORD" with the great 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
Copy: Content and programming copyright 2017 MSNBC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Copyright 2017 ASC Services II Media, LLC. All materials herein are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of ASC Services II Media, LLC. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content.