Show: THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW Date: October 5, 2018 Guest: Patty Murray, Richard Blumenthal
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: That is "ALL IN" for this evening.
"THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" starts right now. Good evening, Rachel.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: That was one of the best discussion I have seen on this topic not only today, but since the Kavanaugh nomination started. That was brilliant. Well done, my friend.
HAYES: It`s all the guests.
MADDOW: Thank you.
And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour. Very happy to have you with us. It is Friday night. This is live, as always, that means anything could happen.
Friday nights do tend to be news nights these days. But even though that is in the back of my mind at all times on Fridays now, I do want to start tonight with a little bit of a story. Realize today has been a big day.
We`ll start with a story. It is a story about a dude you may not know. His name is Alan Dixon. And Alan Dixon passed away a few years now. He is somebody who in his time everybody really liked.
He had a nickname in politics. His nickname was Al the Pal, which was not tongue-in-cheek, not satirical. He was kind of everybody`s pal. He was a go along to get along politician and proudly so.
He wrote a memoir about his time in politics. He was unsentimental and forward about it. He said, quote, generally speaking, my political career was built on good will and accommodation. Good will and accommodation.
By all accounts, he was a great guy. Tons of friends, and good will and accommodation was a great political strategy for him. Alan Dixon first ran for elected office. He ran for police magistrate in Belleville, Illinois at the ripe old age of 21.
And he wasn`t running for like the kids` seat on the police magistrate board or something. He was running for real office. He won that first seat at age 21, and then he spent the rest of his adult life continually winning elections, one after another. Two years after he first won elected office at the age of 21, at the ripe old age of 23, he got elected to the state legislature. And then he got re-elected and re-elected and re- elected again, served a whole bunch of terms in the legislature.
Then he moved up and he ran to be a state senator. And again he won and he was reelected and re-elected and re-elected again. He served a whole bunch of terms in the Senate.
Then he moved up again and he ran for straight treasurer. And he won the race for state treasurer. And then he moved up again and he won the race for secretary of state.
This guy was totally unbeatable. By the time he was running for reelection as secretary of state, he did something that no other statewide elected official had ever done before in the history of that state. He won all 102 counties in the state of Illinois in that race. Nobody had ever done that before in any statewide race.
But he was Al the Pal. I mean, who could be against him? He was the consensus choice. No matter what he was running for, for decades from these little municipal posts, all the way up through everything in state government, he was totally absolutely unbeatable.
And in a sort of methodical way, as he was working his way up to higher and higher office, it ultimately became sort of inevitable that he would end up being a U.S. senator from Illinois. In the United States Senate, Alan Dixon was still Al the Pal, but he was not a really high profile senator.
You know how there are all those little sidebar stories today about the timing of the Brett Kavanaugh vote this weekend might be upended because Senator Steve Daines of Montana has his daughter`s wedding to go to? With every story there is a picture of Steve Daines, but literally that picture could be any guy on earth that could just be clip art because you have never seen Steve Daines before, and there`s no way you would know he was a senator without Google.
Yes, that was Alan Dixon. He was like not a household name, not a recognizable figure. He -- and part that of is because he wasn`t controversial at all. He was go along to get along.
He was a centrist. He was a moderate. He was sort of low profile.
Now, the other senator from Illinois while Alan Dixon was there was Paul Simon. He was very high profile. He was liberal. He wore a bow tie. He was instantly recognizable. Paul Simon was the one from Illinois who ran for president.
Al the Pal, the other senator from Illinois, he was never going to run for president. But he was everybody`s friend. He was considered also to be a senator who really delivered for his constituents back home in Illinois.
When it came time for Al the Pal to run for reelection as a U.S. senator, there was no question, he got reelected in a landslide. He won by more than 30 points.
And that wasn`t because he was some Democratic Party icon, he wasn`t. He was a Democrat, but he was a moderate, go along to get along, Al the Pal. He very happily made friends across the aisle. He was friendly with President Reagan, who, of course, is a Republican. He was known to go golfing with Dan Quayle.
Meanwhile, his fellow Democrats, they all loved him. They chose to elevate him into leadership by the end of just his second term in the Senate. He was the number three Democrat in the whole Senate. Everybody liked him, got along with everybody, Al the Pal.
In 1991, when President George Bush nominated Clarence Thomas to the Supreme Court, this Democratic senator from Illinois, Alan Dixon, he made a personal promise to President Bush that he would vote yes. That he would vote for that Supreme Court nominee.
It`s interesting. Senator Dixon didn`t make that promise public at the time. Years later he would explain that when the nomination was initially made, he had made that promise to the president, but his constituents didn`t know that at the time.
And it probably wouldn`t have been an issue. What ultimately made it a problem is that Al Dixon had made that promise to President Bush for how he would vote on Clarence Thomas before he had all the information about Clarence Thomas, before the Thomas confirmation process got upended and the nomination hearings had to get reopened, all because of serious sexual harassment allegations against Thomas, allegations that had been known internally at the Judiciary Committee and kept quiet and confidential there, but then the allegations leaked to the press.
NPR`s Nina Totenberg obtained the affidavit from Professor Anita Hill in which Hill laid out her allegations against Thomas. That became public through Nina Totenberg`s reporting. A big firestorm ensued. And those confirmation hearings were reopened and the consideration of Clarence Thomas was delayed and the country honestly went nuts with the drama of all of it.
Here is a brief news clip from the time, from right when the Thomas nomination was being stopped and reopened to consider these new allegations. Just listen to the howl of anguish here from Senator Alan Dixon, from Al the Pal, this back bench low profile go along to get along everybody likes him senator.
Listen to his anguish when the time came for the Senate to figure out what they were going to do with these allegations against that nominee.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TOM BROKAW, NBC NEWS ANCHOR: Good evening. Clarence Thomas swears he`s not guilty. His accuser is standing by her charge, and tonight, the United States Senate decided to delay a vote on his Supreme Court appointment to try to resolve what has become a super heated Washington controversy.
The specific issue is sexual harassment, but it goes well beyond that. NBC`s Andrea Mitchell is on Capitol Hill now -- Andrea.
ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Tom, one of the most emotional days in recent Senate history has resulted in a delay of Thomas` confirmation vote. With his confirmation slipping away, Tom has authorized his chief sponsor to agree to a delay so that he could try to clear his name.
SEN. THOMAS DANFORTH (R), MISSOURI: I act as his spokesman again with great pain and great anger at an injustice which is being perpetrated on him. And I ask for a delay.
MITCHELL: Danforth was bowing to the inevitable. Some of Thomas`s supporters in both parties were wavering. They were under heavy pressure from angry women.
SEN. ARLEN SPECTER: Senator Danforth took the floor and suggested a delay, said that Judge Thomas wanted to have his name cleared. I think a delay is a good idea.
MITCHELL: Key Democratic supporters also wanted more time to check the facts.
SEN. RICHARD BRYAN: If I do not have the opportunity to do that, then this senator would regrettably be in a position that he would vote against the nomination of Judge Clarence Thomas.
SEN. ALAN DIXON (D), ILLINOIS: The people have the right to know, Mr. President. The people have the right to know.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: The people have the right to know. That was Al the Pal. That was Alan Dixon.
And the Clarence Thomas hearings were reopened, and law professor Anita Hill testified about what she experienced in terms of sexual harassment and sexual humiliation from her boss, Clarence Thomas. For her trouble, Professor Hill was berated by the all male Judiciary Committee. She became an object of derision and defamation for Clarence Thomas supporters. She became something between a hero and a cautionary tale for women of all persuasions across the country as they saw how Professor Hill was treated.
But Hill`s testimony put Senator Alan Dixon, Democrat of Illinois in a little bit of a personal pickle, because he had made that personal promise to the Republican President George Bush before Anita Hill ever came forward with this accusation. He had promised that he would vote yes on Thomas before he ever heard of any of these allegations from her.
What would he do now, now that he had heard what she had to say?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DIXON: Professor Hill`s testimony was moving and credible. Judge Thomas`s denial was forceful and equally credible. So what should the Senate do?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: What should the Senate do? Senator Alan Dixon decided that what the Senate should do is confirm Clarence Thomas to the Supreme Court.
Thomas, of course, did get confirmed by a very narrow vote. It was only 52-48. That was generally along party lines, but not entirely. Alan Dixon, Al the Pal was one of the Senate Democrats who voted yes on Clarence Thomas.
And then after casting that yes vote, he had to go home to Illinois. Now at this point in his career, Alan Dixon had won 29 consecutive elections, 29 in a row, starting with the first one he ever ran in at age 21. He had never lost an election. When he won his U.S. Senate seat in the first place, he won it in a walk, by nearly 15 points. When he got re-elect six years later, in 1986, he won by 31 points.
By the time he was ready to run for a third term in 1992, he honestly didn`t even expect anyone to run against him. At the time he cast that yes vote for Clarence Thomas, there was no challenger declared to run against him, either from his own party or from the Republican Party.
He cast his vote for Clarence Thomas on October 15th, 1991. Two days later, on October 17th, 1991, Senator Alan Dixon went home to Illinois to a Democratic Party fundraiser at the navy pier in Chicago, and much to everyone`s surprise, hundreds of women showed up to picket that Democratic Party fundraiser, and they were all carrying the same sign, "Dump Dixon."
You can actually still see the "dump Dixon" pins they made for that protest. They`re in political history collections now. But the first dump Dixon protest was two days after Dixon`s yes vote for the Clarence Thomas nomination. Two days after that protest, it`s clear that Senator Al Dixon, Al the Pal, was starting to have a little bit of an uh-oh moment about what that vote might cost him.
This is from "The Daily Dispatch", a newspaper from Moline, Illinois, from October 19th, 1991. So this is four days after Dixon`s yes vote on Thomas. It`s only two Davis after he got picketed by women protesters holding the "Dump Dixon" signs at a Democratic fundraiser. This is two days after that.
And you see Stevenson referenced in the headline there. That`s former Illinois Senator Adlai Stevenson. The reason Stevenson is in the headline next to the picture of Alan Dixon because Alan Dixon at this point was scrambling to shore up all his endorsements, to shore up his position in the party, to shore up his position for reelection, which is something he had never thought he would have to worry about.
The lead of the article is about him lining up support both personally and specifically for his Clarence Thomas vote from former Senator Adlai Stevenson. It also shows him getting the explicit endorsement for reelection from Illinois`s other U.S. senator, the liberal Paul Simon, who importantly had voted against Clarence Thomas.
Al Dixon would quickly go on to line up basically every other endorsement in Democratic Party politics, including from Richard Daley, the all powerful mayor of Chicago. I mean, ostensibly, Dixon at this point is a completely bulletproof candidate. He`s got the entire Democratic Party apparatus lined up behind him, doesn`t have an enemy in the world, has never lost an election, his whole politic political career has been based on the fact that everybody likes him, and seemingly everybody does. He has a track record of delivering for his state.
He is sitting on $2 million in campaign funds for that reelection race that year. For a race like that, that was a fortune. Nobody even thought he`d have to tap it. But you can tell four days, less than a week after that yes vote on Clarence Thomas, you could tell he could sense something out there rumbling that was not going to be good for him.
Quote, Dixon said Friday, he is not afraid of a primary challenge and warned possible opponents he will be a tough candidate as he seeks a third term in the Senate. Quote: Dixon warned one issue challengers he will fight for renomination, telling a local radio station, quote: I would appreciate not having a primary battle, but it`s up to those in the women`s groups who are expressing deep displeasure with this vote.
My favorite part of this whole moment in this little morality play is this line right at the end of this local story, from four days after his Clarence Thomas vote.
After Cook County recorder of deeds Carol Moseley-Braun was mentioned as a potential challenger to Dixon in the March primary, quote, a Dixon aide took Carol Moseley-Braun to lunch.
I don`t exactly know what the lunch was for. I can imagine. I`m not sure the wisdom of letting local reporters know that you`re doing that, you`re having your staff try to talk this would-be primary challenger out of what she is thinking about doing.
But the lunch apparently did not work. Alan Dixon voted yes on Clarence Thomas` Supreme Court nomination in October 1991, mid-October. By the following month, November 1991, Carol Moseley-Braun had entered the race to run against him in the Democratic primary. That would follow several months later in March of 1992.
Now, again, at this point, Alan Dixon had won 29 straight elections. He had never lost. He was the number three Democrat in the United States Senate.
He had the support of every element of the Democratic power structure. He was sitting on millions of dollars to run ads and to run his get out the vote operation which was finely honed after decades in Illinois politics, accruing friends and allies and people who owed him favors around the good will of the people of his state.
Carol Moseley-Braun didn`t have enough money to run a single ad on TV until the week before the election. And she beat him. She beat him by kind of a lot. She beat him by 50,000 votes.
And then that November she went on to win that U.S. Senate seat by a big fat ten-point margin. And that is how Carol Moseley-Braun became the first African-American woman ever elected to the United States senate.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Carol Moseley-Braun becomes a one of a kind in the U.S. Senate. Earlier tonight, she gave her victory speech in Chicago. Here is part of it.
SEN. CAROL MOSELEY BRAUN (D), ILLINOIS: And so in closing, I would like to, quote from another Illinoisan, a great 16th president, Abraham Lincoln.
Let us have faith that right makes might and that in faith, let us to the end dare to do our duty as we understand it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Carol Moseley-Braun on election night, 1992. That`s the same night that a young Democrat named Bill Clinton turfed out the incumbent Republican president of the United States, making George H.W. Bush a one- term president.
Today, Maine Republican Senator Susan Collins appears to have sealed the confirmation prospects for Brett Kavanaugh for the U.S. Supreme Court after he faced more serious sexual misconduct allegations than even Clarence Thomas faced as a nominee. Unless things change between now and tomorrow afternoon when the final vote is expected, the vote on Kavanaugh looks like it will be 51-49. Actually, technically, it will be 50-48-1 because Senator Murkowski is going to vote present instead of no because Senator Daines is at his daughter`s wedding. Basically, it`s going to be 51-49, which would put it even closer than the Thomas vote, which is 52-48.
In our time this year, this vote on Kavanaugh is happening right before the midterm elections. The midterms will be held on November 6th, exactly one month after tomorrow`s vote. Back in 1991, the Thomas vote happened not in an election year, but at the time it happened at a time that gave women plenty of time to decide that they might want to run for office themselves in response to what they had seen happen with that nomination.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Women who say they`re new to political activism and planning to get involved in this year`s elections for many reasons.
WENDY FINE: This year just took on a whole new tone with the changes in the Supreme Court and the big elections this fall and the chances that we have to really turn the tide.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Many women were enraged last fall at how Anita Hill was treated by an all-male Senate committee after accusing Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment. Within days, this ad placed by a woman`s group posed the question, what if? What if women had sat on the committee instead?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.
As Republicans crow tonight over their apparent victory with Kavanaugh`s nomination, as Democrats plan to hold the floor of the Senate through the night and even overnight and into tomorrow, even as more witnesses are still coming forward tonight saying they have information about Kavanaugh for the committee or for the FBI that may corroborate sexual assault allegations against Kavanaugh, and as NBC News reports tonight, witnesses are coming forward with information that may indicate Kavanaugh`s involvement personally in trying to quash one of the allegations from his Yale classmate Deborah Ramirez before that allegation ever became public last month, as those machinations continue, among Democrats and among those who have tried to sound the alarm that Kavanaugh has lied to the committee and that the allegations against him are corroborated, as we head toward what we still expect to be tomorrow`s final vote, tonight`s glee from Republicans is definitely the current news cycle.
But history might be the best help tonight in trying to figure out what is likely to happen next.
Joining us now is my friend Michael Beschloss, NBC News presidential historian.
Michael, it`s great to have you with us tonight. Thanks for being with us on a really big night.
MICHAEL BESCHLOSS, NBC NEWS PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Thank you. It is a big night. Thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: In terms of the vote here, I want to mention one little historical piece of trivia here. I mentioned that it doesn`t look like --
BESCHLOSS: Can`t wait.
MADDOW: Technically 51-49. It looks like it will be -- if Kavanaugh is confirmed with 50 votes, we think that means it will be the lowest total for a confirmed justice since the Senate went to 100 members. It would be the narrowest vote since James Garfield nominated Justice Stanley Matthews in 1881.
So, I mean, that`s trivia in terms of the numbers here. But how do you see this as a historian in terms of the context of other very controversial nominations?
BESCHLOSS: Well, it isn`t trivia because it does show close this is and how little real support, little enthusiasm there is for Kavanaugh. And, you know, I think this is by far the most controversial nomination in modern times. We always thought in recent years that would be true of Clarence Thomas, but take a look at what Thomas said. You remember he was saying this is a high-tech lynching. He was quite indignant.
That was nothing like Kavanaugh`s rant when he came back to testify and was talking about the system being changed, the search and destroy, and saying that this was politics, you know, revenge on behalf of the Clintons. That was much more angry, much more lack of judicial temperament, a lot more partisan.
You know, compared to Clarence Thomas in terms of the relationship with the president who selected him, Clarence Thomas had a courtly relationship with George H.W. Bush, but Kavanaugh has been spending weeks at the White House, weeks closeted with Donald Trump`s people trying to get this nomination through. And he goes to court in a situation in which he is going to be very indebted to Donald Trump.
And one other thing, Rachel, you know, there is no law that says members of the Supreme Court have to be independent or they have to be nonpartisan or they have to show judicial temperament. The fact that Kavanaugh is now being sent presumably to the Supreme Court with all these things as they are as we`ve seen the last couple years -- couple of weeks, that could suggest that the court is going to go in a very different direction.
MADDOW: If the court does go in a very different direction, if Kavanaugh does behave on the court and the way that he seemed to be threatening in that angry statement last week, where he is talking about goes around, comes around.
BESCHLOSS: What goes around, comes around.
MADDOW: Inveighing against Democratic senators and the left, and the Clintons, and that sort of statements that you correctly say, very different even than what Clarence Thomas was criticized --
BESCHLOSS: Much more severe.
MADDOW: -- in terms of the anger in his statement, if that`s born out in terms of his behavior on the court, if he goes up there for revenge, some of the Republican commentators today are crowing about the fact that they`re pleased, that they believe Kavanaugh has been radicalized by this experience, and they hope he behaves as a anti-Democratic vengeful radicalized judge on the bench, what should we look to in history in terms of understanding how the public may view the court in that context? Because it`s still our Supreme Court, even if it does change with his elevation.
BESCHLOSS: Yes. The court loses respect for itself, it loses legitimacy. Oftentimes that happens when the court comes up with a ruling like Plessy versus Ferguson saying that you can have separate and equal and, you know, segregation in American life is fine.
And the other thing that I think lowers respect for the court, Rachel, is the fact that Kavanaugh goes to the court with much more serious allegations against him than was the case with Clarence Thomas. And this is not in 1991. This is in the age of the #metoo movement.
So in this age, given people`s sensitivity and how hurt and angry people feel about the kind of behavior that was described during these hearings, this is a much bigger statement by the Senate to the rest of the country. And I think it could actually radicalize a lot of voters who will say, I`m frustrated by what`s happening in the Supreme Court. This is a backlash against the social progress that`s been made since the 1950s, and therefore those voters may well say you were talking about 1992. This could be an avalanche compared to that.
They may say this is going to make me quadruple my efforts to elect a new president in 2020 and elect a new Congress a month from now.
MADDOW: Michael Beschloss, NBC News presidential historian, the man I most wanted to talk to on this subject all day today. You can tell when you`re living history because it makes you want to talk to Michael Beschloss.
BESCHLOSS: Thank you so much, Rachel. You be well.
MADDOW: Appreciate you being here.
All right. One of the senators who ran for the Senate as a result of the Clarence Thomas nomination, who has now ended up in the middle of this fight herself, she joins us next.
Elections have consequences.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Two women, new senators, Dianne Feinstein and Carol Moseley-Braun were named to the Senate Judiciary Committee, the all male panel which conducted the Clarence Thomas/Anita Hill hearings.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BROKAW: Overall, 11 new faces in the Senate, including four women, two from California. Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein. Patty Murray won in Washington. Carol Moseley-Braun became the Senate`s first black woman.
SEN. PATTY MURRAY (D), WASHINGTON: And I think we are going to continue to see the policies that are passed here reflect America much better as we diversify our Congress and Senate.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That`s what they call the year of the woman, 1992. Women all over the country so moved by what they had seen during the Anita Hill/Clarence Thomas hearings in the fall of 1991, that they took the next chance they had to run for office themselves to try to reshape Congress. Part of the reason the number of women in the U.S. Senate tripled that year is because of Senator Patty Murray of Washington. She won election to the Senate for the first time that year, replacing in the Senate a Democrat named Brock Adams who had been accused of sexual assault by multiple women.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MURRAY: I was just a mom at home in 1991. I was a state senator, but really not interested in what was happening here at all. My interest came because I watched the Clarence Thomas/Hill hearings, and I watched how a woman shared a very difficult story with an all male panel of the judiciary committee at the time, and she was disbelieved. She was swept aside.
And I was angry. And I went to a gathering that night, and I told some of my friends back in 1991, the night of the hearing, I`m going have to run for U.S. Senate because I need to be inside that to speak up for these women. That`s what motivated me to run.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That was Senator Patty Murray speaking today.
The vote on Brett Kavanaugh is tomorrow. Election Day is one month from tomorrow.
Joining us now is Senator Murray of Washington. She ran and won her seen in 1992. Senator Murray, it`s nice to have you with us tonight. I know this is a big night in the Senate. Thank you for being here.
MURRAY: Thank you so much.
MADDOW: I haven`t had the chance to talk with you during the course of this nomination. We`re now at the very home stretch. I just want to get your overall reaction to what this experience has been like for you and what you think this experience has been like for the country, what the consequences are here.
MURRAY: I`m reliving 1991 where we are watching a woman come forward with a courageous story to do her civic duty, to let us know something about the man that may become a Supreme Court justice and feeling it`s so important we know about what happened to her. And a very powerful group of people on the other side who this time listened a little more respectfully, but at the end of the day said go away, don`t worry, go back to your little house. You`ll be fine. We`re going put this man on the court.
So, the deja vu in me is saying more people are listening to you. We respect you. There are women on the court on the Democratic side this time listening to you.
But I think the result will be the same. That women will listen to this as I did back in 1991 and realize that elections matter. Who is in charge matters.
And that today in this year in 2018 the year of the #MeToo movement, we are not going to sit at home and be quiet and just let it happen. We`re not back to our houses. We`re not going to not tell our stories.
We are going to tell our stories. We will be believed. And we will make this country into a place that we are proud of.
MADDOW: Are you pleased with the way that your party, the Democratic Party fought for this nomination? Obviously, this was a very closely fought nomination. Senator Manchin crossed over, appears to be a yes vote tomorrow as well as yes vote for cloture today. Other than that, all Democrats held together against this nomination, there was a very fierce fight in the judiciary committee every step of the way over this nomination. Democrats I think went as hard as they could against this nomination. It does not seem to have been successful in the end.
Are there other things that you think Democrats could have done or should have done better? Was this a winnable fight?
MURRAY: Well, it`s hard to win when you`re not in the majority. And that`s why elections matter. I will tell you what was so inspiring to me is my daughter was 8 years old with me back in 1991 watching Clarence Thomas/Anita Hill hearing.
And today, she is a mother with two young daughters. And she sent me a text during the first hearing and said to me, mom, look at the Democratic side. Unlike when you and I were watching it many years ago, I can turn to my young daughters and say there are women on the Democratic side.
There are diverse voices. They are listening and they are fighting. Don`t ever think we haven`t made progress. And I keep that in my heart.
MADDOW: When I think about the Democratic Party and its efforts, honestly, to capitalize on this fight and the frustration that people fear -- people feel who were against Kavanaugh and people who thought that the Democratic fight might succeed and now today they realize it hasn`t, I do wonder about Senator Manchin. I know that he is a beloved colleague for both Republican and Democratic senators. I know that he is a friend to a lot of senators, as well as being a colleague.
Him crossing over and deciding to vote for Judge Kavanaugh, I have to ask if that was the subject of a lot of interparty discussion, if he was lobbied hard, if this is going to be an issue in terms of support for his reelection effort in West Virginia, how that proceeds? Because the Democratic Party can`t say as a unit, as a unified force, we were all opposed to this.
MURRAY: Well, I have to tell you that each senator has to make their own decision, and we certainly understand that in our caucus. But I can tell you how I feel, which is that this motivates me more than ever to get out and help some of our great candidates who are running, the courageous candidates like Heidi Heitkamp, who this was not an easy vote for but did the right thing in her heart. I think that sells most of all.
But what inspires me is all of the women running across the country today are candidates who are out there saying we can be a better country. We have a better vision. We want something better for our young daughters, and we do not want the message sent to them that they have to not share their story, and we don`t want the message to our sons that they can get away with this.
MADDOW: Senator Patty Murray, Democrat of Washington. Senator, I hope that you`ll come back more frequently than we`ve had the chance to talk to you in the past. I really enjoy having you here on the show and I appreciate you taking the time to be with us.
MURRAY: Thank you.
MURRAY: You bet.
MADDOW: All right. We`ve got much more to come here tonight. Stay with us.
MADDOW: You know how certain anniversaries seem to accrue baggage over time? Every year that anniversary comes around, you just feel weirder and weirder about it every time?
We`re getting to be that way when it comes to October 7th. We`re coming up on the October 7th anniversary date. It was October 7th, 2016. So, two years ago this weekend, two years ago Sunday.
It`s become sort of commonplace to describe what happened on that date, October 7th, 2016 as oh, wow, that was a big day. All these things happened at once.
The Obama administration put out an unprecedented statement from the Department of Homeland Security and the intelligence community declaring that the Russian government was behind the hacking of the Democratic Party and the public distribution of those hacked e-mails to try to warp our presidential election, and then WikiLeaks started releasing the e-mails that Russian intelligence had stolen from the Clinton campaign.
And, of course, the "Access Hollywood" tape came out, the grab `em by the - - that tape, where the president -- the future president of the United States was heard on tape bragging about how he was able to get away with sexually assaulting women because when you`re a star, they let you.
And a lot of people thought that would be the end of the Trump campaign. Of course, that was only the beginning. This weekend will mark two years since the day the "Access Hollywood" tape came out. It`s almost become a point of pride in the Trump campaign. When Trump campaign veterans look back at this anniversary, as they certainly will this weekend.
They look back at it now as the moment when you either became a Trumpee or you unfortunately decided that you couldn`t be one. It was sort of a trial by fire date for them, in a good way.
Well, this weekend on the occasion of that anniversary, the Senate is all but certain to confirm Trump Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, who has responded to several credible allegations of sexual assault by raging at senators and blaming a left-wing conspiracy and implying he would take revenge on those who wronged him once he was on the court. This is Trump`s Supreme Court justice, and this anniversary this weekend, now it`s getting loaded up with even more stuff that we can all tack to that landmark moment.
So what happens next here? Richard Blumenthal, member of the Senate Judiciary Committee has been grappling with these questions in a pretty specific way, and he will join us next.
MADDOW: It is an old saying, but in this context, it definitely was new.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JUDGE BRETT KAVANAUGH, SUPREME COURT NOMINEE: This whole two-week effort has been a calculated and orchestrated political hit, fuelled with pent-up anger about President Trump and the 2016 election, fear that has been unfairly stoked about my judicial record, revenge on behalf of the Clintons, and millions of dollars in money from outside left-wing opposition groups.
And as we all know, in the United States political system of the early 2000s, what goes around comes around.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: What goes around, comes around. We have never seen a Supreme Court nominee come out swinging like that against his perceived political enemies.
We`ve never seen a Supreme Court nominee come out and name his political enemies, and furthermore warn them, what goes around, comes around. We certainly haven`t seen someone naming his political enemies and promising his revenge against them to be followed by that person actually getting voted on to the court.
So, now, we have new questions. Nobody can force a Supreme Court justice to recuse from any particular case. I mean, whose going to tell them to do anything, right? They`re the Supreme Court.
But how does anybody, any American with any connection to what he`s now named as his political enemies, how do they handle a potential case before him at the Supreme Court? It`s not like there is an alternate court you can go to that doesn`t have a justice on it whose declare you`d his enemy, and that what goes around, comes around.
Here`s another new question. Right now, there are more than 2400 law professors who have signed their names to a letter arguing that Kavanaugh shouldn`t be on the Supreme Court because of what he displayed in his confirmation hearing in terms of his judicial temperament. What will Justice Kavanaugh do to them the next time they bring their business before the court? Law professors have business before the court all the time. Have they just created their own blacklist?
There`s also, of course, Christine Blasey Ford. What will Brett Kavanaugh do to her if she asks local police to investigate her claim that he assaulted her? There is no statute of limitations for felonies in Maryland. What if she decides to file a civil suit against a sitting Supreme Court justice? What will justice Kavanaugh do? What could he do given the position to which he`s about to ascend?
And then there is the flip side of this. What happens if Democrats gain control of one or both houses of Congress and they follow through on their threats to continue to investigate Kavanaugh, not only for the sexual assault allegations, but for potential perjury, for potentially having lied under oath to the Senate during this confirmation process? How would he deal with that? How would he deal with that kind of -- what did he call it? Orchestrated political hit once he`s sitting on the court?
Joining us now is Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, a member of the judiciary committee. Senator Blumenthal, I know this has been a difficult and intense week.
Thanks for making time to be here.
SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D-CT), JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: Thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: First, let me just get your response to the state of play right now and what we`re expecting in terms of that confirmation tomorrow afternoon.
BLUMENTHAL: I have never been angrier or sadder as a member of the United States Senate because it is the result of a cover-up, beginning with the concealment of millions of pages of documents, a sham straitjacketed investigation, of course, the refusal to give Merrick Garland even a hearing. And now, a moment of direct threat, that sickening and frighten moment that caused John Paul Stevens, a former justice of the United States Supreme Court to say it was disqualifying.
And as you mentioned, 2,400 lawyers and professors to say that he was unfit. I`ve been emphasizing this point about temperament, which I do think is disqualifying. It was unaddressed by Senator Collins this afternoon. It`s really the elephant in the room, and the prospect of a Supreme Court justice having in effect an enemies list I think is truly petrifying for our democracy.
MADDOW: And what`s the remedy? If you are worried that he`s going to follow through on what he was threatening there, obviously, the judge has written an op-ed in "The Wall Street Journal" in which he says he regrets some of the things he said. He didn`t specify what things he said that he maybe shouldn`t have said. Maybe that threat was one of the things that he regrets.
Is there any way to try to assuage these concerns or to try to have any sort of corrective if he chooses to follow through?
BLUMENTHAL: "The Wall Street Journal" op-ed was in effect an attempt to offer cover for senators like Collins and Flake and Manchin, but here`s the awful truth, that the testimony he gave before our Senate Judiciary Committee was not some spontaneous outburst. He had written it, and he read it word for not some spontaneous outburst. He had written it word for word and it was calculated and premeditated.
And what we can do now is very limited. First, there is the request for recusal that can be made by any litigant. But the Supreme Court is not subject to the same rules that the court of appeals are. So, they have placed themselves above both the financial rules and other recusal rules.
The prospect of a continuing investigation, I think, is very real because there are means that we have to expose the truth. I have in court right now a lawsuit to force disclosure of those millions of pages of documents that reflect on potential perjury and earlier wrongdoing in his career. And there`s also an investigation that should be undertaken of the way the FBI was straitjacketed, very likely by the White House.
MADDOW: NBC News I was struck reporting even reporting this evening that witnesses, people who say they have corroborating information particularly around the allegation that Deborah Ramirez made from Judge Kavanaugh`s time at Yale are still tonight bringing forward new information, still offering to speak with the Judiciary Committee ahead of tomorrow`s vote, still offering to speak with the FBI, even without that investigation being open in an ongoing way.
Witnesses are still coming forward.
BLUMENTHAL: The truth has a funny way of coming out, even in Washington, D.C. It`s only a matter of time.
And the report, an excellent report relating to Kerry Berchem who sought to be interviewed by the FBI again and again, and my office, as a matter of fact, tried to intervene to help her earlier on was never interviewed, just one of probably of the 40 people who should have been interviewed, who never were. They have knowledge. That knowledge eventually will find its way to public disclosure, and I think will lead to continuing questions and potential investigation of Justice Kavanaugh if he`s confirmed.
MADDOW: Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, member of the Judiciary Committee -- thank you. Thank you, sir. And good luck over the next 24 hours. Much appreciated.
BLUMENTHAL: Thank you.
MADDOW: All right. We get to interview senators here, which is privilege. Very rarely get to interview a senator who is plainly livid as Senator Blumenthal was right there tonight.
And we`ll be right back. Stay with us.
MADDOW: Susan Collins was first elected to the U.S. Senate in 1996. She got elected in `96 with a very specific promise to the voters of the state of Maine.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If elected would you vote for congressional term limits, and I`d like to have an answer from each of you.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Let`s start with Sue Collins.
SEN. SUSAN COLLINS (R), MAINE: I do support term limits, and I have pledged that if I`m elected, I will only serve two terms regardless of whether term limits law, a constitutional amendment passes or not. Twelve years is long enough to be in public service, make a contribution and then come home and let someone else take your place.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That was 1996. Susan Collins did get to the Senate that year, which means her 12 years were actually up a decade ago in 2008, but she`s still there.
And today, she cast the deciding vote to put Brett Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court. She gave a lengthy speech explaining her vote including her conviction, her conviction explained at length that she is sure that Brett Kavanaugh is definitely not anti-abortion rights and he will definitely not overturn Roe versus Wade, which to put it mildly is an unusual take on the judicial prospects for Justice Kavanaugh.
The whole country was waiting to hear what her vote would be. Kavanaugh critics were suitably appalled by/outraged by/resigned to her decision.
But one very unexpected person was apparently quite energized by Susan Collins today. And this is a huge curve ball. That story is next.
Stay with us.
MADDOW: So, Senator Susan Collins gets up today, gives her speech explaining she`s a yes vote for Kavanaugh on the court. People opposed to Kavanaugh realized that with that vote from her, the fight is lost, which means always don`t despair. That just means time for a new fight.
Former Obama administration official Jen Psaki says on Twitter, who wants to run for Senate in Maine? And there`s this response: Me, from former U.N. ambassador, former national security adviser Susan Rice, me.
So, then, we get the responses like a wave. Please, right, someone says, please run. Also, please, please, please. Obama staffer Ben Rhodes says, let`s do this.
From me and my startled pundit seat, I just say, oh, does Susan Rice really mean that? She wants to run against Senator Collins in Maine?
It turns out Ambassador Susan Rice, former national security adviser Susan Rice, has family roots in Maine, and she might. At least that`s how I`m reading this.
She, after seeing this response today on Twitter, said, quote, many thanks for the encouragement. I`m not making any announcements. But like so many Americans I`m deeply disappointed in Senator Collin`s vote for Kavanaugh. Maine and America deserved better, period.
Now, to be clear, Susan Collins is not running for reelection next month, but she is up in 2020. Like I said, oh.
Watch this space.
That does it for us tonight. We will see you again on Monday.
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