Show: THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW Date: October 19, 2018 Guest: Eric Swalwell, Karine Jean-Pierre
JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: Thank you at home for watching us this hour. I`m Joy Reid. Rachel has the night off, and she will be back on Monday.
OK. So now it is Friday, and you know what that means, news avalanche! We have more on the shocking but not unexpected news out of Saudi Arabia regarding the death of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Much more on that coming up with Congressman Eric Swalwell.
But first, today Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort was back in court in the Eastern District of Virginia. Now, we knew that Manafort would be dressed in his green prison uniform. He had been convicted on eight felony counts of tax fraud and bank fraud this summer, after all. And so, when his lawyers requested that he be allowed to show up in more dignified threads, the request was denied by the judge.
So we knew what he would be wearing. But who knew Paul Manafort would show up in a wheelchair? Witnesses in the courtroom also observed that a visibly grayer Manafort was also missing his right shoe.
In arguing today for a swift sentence on those eight guilty counts, Manafort`s lawyer, Kevin Downing, told the court that there are, quote, significant issues with Mr. Manafort`s health right now. And a lot of it has to do with the terms of his confinement. Manafort`s lawyer requested that the judge pick a sentencing date as soon as possible so that he could be moved to a facility better equipped to deal with his health issues, whatever they may be.
Now in any case, the judge set a sentencing date of February 8th. The judge also announced that he would drop the ten charges on which the jury hung at Manafort`s trial. Paul Manafort also avoided a second trial in Washington, D.C. by pleading guilty to the charges there and signing a cooperation agreement with Robert Mueller`s prosecutors. So that was that.
Now, we also recently learned that as part of his cooperation agreement, Manafort has met with Mueller`s team nine times in the past month. In court today, we were looking to see if the government gave us any hints as to the extent or the topics of that cooperation.
We did not get any details from Mueller`s team other than it`s ongoing. Far from the courtroom, we did get a sense of what else special counsel Robert Mueller is looking into. "The Wall Street Journal" reported today that Mueller is probing WikiLeaks contacts with conservative activists. "The Journal" reports that Mueller`s team has recently requested witnesses about the activities of long-time Trump confidante Roger Stone, including potential contacts with WikiLeaks.
"The Journal" further reports that investigators have obtained evidence that one of those conservative activists, the late Peter W. Smith, may have had advanced knowledge of details about the release of e-mails from a top Hillary Clinton campaign official by WikiLeaks.
Now, because this is your normal crazy Friday, today we also got a rare joint statement from the director of national intelligence, the Justice Department, the FBI, and the Department of Homeland Security. The subject? Combating for an influence in U.S. elections.
Quote: We are concerned about ongoing campaigns by Russia, China, and other foreign actors, including Iran to undermine confidence in democratic institutions and influence public sentiment in government policies. These activities also may seek to influence voter perception and decision making in the 2018 and 2020 U.S. elections.
And we don`t know whether the next piece of news is connected to that, but the U.S. intelligence statement pointing the finger at Russia, China, and other foreign actors was followed about 45 minutes later by the first criminal charges related to Russian interference in the 2018 midterm elections.
Now, one interesting thing here, this indictment does not come from the special counsel`s office. This is a 39-page complaint filed in the Eastern District of Virginia, the same venue where Paul Manafort appeared today. In which federal prosecutors charged a 44-year-old Russian national who works for an oligarch close to Vladimir Putin. They`ve charged her with conspiring to interfere in the upcoming elections through the use of rhetoric and disinformation on social media. Sound familiar?
Well, you may remember that back in February of this year, special counsel Robert Mueller charged 13 individuals and three companies, most notably the Russian troll farm called the Internet Research Agency with using social media to deliver propaganda into the news feeds of ordinary Americans, encouraging them to vote for Donald Trump and against Hillary Clinton.
While today`s criminal complaint was not brought by Robert Mueller, it is related to that earlier indictment. Specifically, prosecutors charged Elena Khusyaynova of St. Petersburg, Russia, of being the chief accountant and overseeing all the finances related to that scheme as well as acting in concert with other conspirators.
We learned a few important things today from this court filing. The first being that the Russian attack on our democracy did not end in 2016. Rather, it continues to be very active to this very day. As prosecutors wrote, quote, the conspiracy has a strategic goal, which continues to this day to sow division and discord in the U.S. political system, including by creating social and political polarization, undermining faith in democratic institutions and influencing U.S. elections, including the upcoming 2018 midterm election.
Today`s complaint also gave us details regarding the financing of that scheme. We learned that while Russia spent approximately $12 million on this effort in calendar years 2016 and 2017, or about a million dollars a month, that figure began to rise in 2018. By June of this year, the monthly operating budget was $1.9 million. In the first half of the year alone, the Russians had spent $10 million, which puts them on pace to nearly double the total from 2016 and 2017.
As for the content of those social media posts, U.S. prosecutors allege that Russia aimed to sow division in the United States by posting on various topics, including immigration, gun control, the second amendment, the Confederate Flag, race relations, LGBT issues, the women`s march, and the NFL national anthem debate. We also got a look at some of the images and the memes that Russians wanted injected into the U.S. political discourse, and what prosecutors show that Russia sought to inflame both ends of the political divide, most of what prosecutors cite in the complaint is clearly intended to benefit Donald Trump.
The criminal complaint notes that in August of last year, members of the conspiracy analyzed a large quantity of U.S. news articles, summarized the substance of the article, and outlined ways for the conspiracy to promote them. It then lists some of the articles that the Russian sought to promote. Now as you can see, these would be conservative outlets like Breitbart and "The Daily Caller" and Fox News, as well as even further right wing outlets like Infowars.
According to the complaint, the Russian working for Internet Research Agency were given detailed instructions on how to post and share these articles for the best results. For example, the eight dirtiest scandals of Robert Mueller no one is talking about. Reading from the complaint, quote, a member of the conspiracy directed that the article be messaged in the following way. Special prosecutor Mueller is a puppet of the establishment, lists scandals that took place when Mueller headed the FBI.
State the following, it is a fact that the special prosecutor who leads the investigation against Trump represents the establishment, a politician with proven connections to the U.S. Democratic Party. Never mind that Robert Mueller is a Republican.
It goes on to emphasize that the work on this commission is damaging to the country and is aimed to declare impeachment of Trump. Another article to be shared was one of the from "Daily Caller" where the headline "McCain thinking a wall will stop illegal immigration is crazy." Instructions for sharing that article, quote, state that dishonorable scoundrels such as McCain immediately aim to destroy all of the conservative voters` hopes as soon as Trump tries to fulfill his election promises. Or take this Infowars article. "Civil war if Trump taken down."
Russians were instructed that when sharing that article, they should, quote, name those who oppose the president and those who impede his efforts to implement his pro-election promises.
So here we are now 18 days from the midterm elections today, and we got a new in-depth look at how Russia is working to shape that debate right here in the U.S. It is not subtle, and neither was the reaction of the president today when asked to comment.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Mr. President, today the justice department unleashed -- unsealed an indictment against a Russian national who was accused of trying to influence the election --
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It had nothing to do with my campaign. All of the hackers and everybody that you see, nothing to do with my campaign. If the hackers -- a lot of them probably like Hillary Clinton better than me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: A lot of them probably like Hillary Clinton better than me.
Well, today`s indictment told awes lot of things. It certainly did not tell us that.
Joining us now is Barbara McQuade, former U.S. attorney from Michigan.
Barbara, I appreciate your time tonight.
BARBARA MCQUADE, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY FROM MICHIGAN: Thanks, Joy. Glad to be with you.
REID: So let`s go back and talk about the money. This is the financing of the efforts to do disinformation in the U.S. Does it surprise you that that particular indictment, which is sort of related to when we saw the 13 Russians indicted didn`t come from the Mueller world, it came from a different place?
MCQUADE: Yes. At first, yes. I think if you look at it carefully, you can see a couple of things that might suggest why that might be. One is that Robert Mueller`s mission is solely related to the 2016 presidential campaign, and this one goes beyond that, including the 2018 campaign. So I think trying to keep his focus narrow, especially as he gets closer to the end I think.
And the other is that Robert Mueller himself is named in this initiative. And so, the extent he a victim of this crime, maybe it is cleaner to have other prosecutors be prosecuting it.
So, those may be a couple of reasons this is a stand alone case. But I was surprised to see it come down. It shows that the influence campaign is not over. It continues, it persists and remains a threat in the upcoming elections.
REID: Well, that -- and that is the point. I`m wondering if as a prosecutorial matter, it is possible then to build a bridge backwards from the financier, from the amount of money being spent, if a lot of the actors overlap with what happened in 2016, can you build a prosecutorial bridge between the 2018 and 2016 efforts?
MCQUADE: Yes, absolutely, it`s a possibility. And following the money is so often a strategy that prosecutors use to try to link together individuals, initiatives, groups. And so, I`m sure they`ll be looking at that, the money trail if they haven`t already to see what links exist between this individual, the group that was indicted in February.
And then, again, if they should find any links to the Trump campaign, they could certainly always bring it together with what Robert Mueller is looking at, because it is all one Justice Department. And so they share information with each other, even though this case came out of the eastern district of Virginia.
REID: Right. Let`s go around just a little bit, because there is also the WikiLeaks piece of it. I`m wondering if it`s possible to prosecute people who are related to or just sympathetic to the Trump campaign, just for knowing that WikiLeaks is going to drop stolen e-mails. Is that a crime?
MCQUADE: You know, mere knowledge is probably not enough. There is a crime called misprision of a felony where you`re aware of a felony and you failed to report it. It`s very rarely charged, though. I would think there would have to be some criminal act besides knowledge to make it a crime.
But it`s a fairly easily satisfied element in crimes of aiding and abetting or conspiracy. If you show that someone assisted in any way and could even be providing advice about the timing of dissemination of stolen e-mails, or to even encourage the commission of a crime could be enough for conspiracy. So it doesn`t take much, but probably a little more than mere knowledge.
REID: Right. Now back to where we started with Manafort, we don`t know what his cooperation entails. What we do know is he probably knows a lot. I mean, this is a guy who probably knows a little something about election interference. He probably had a little something to do with it in Ukraine.
If you`re looking at this from the outside looking in, what kind of a big picture is Manafort best able to provide? Is it on the financing of the overall operation? Give us your prognostication on what it is he could be giving up.
MCQUADE; Yes, it was the fact that as you reported, he has met with Mueller`s team nine times, and I`ve also read reporting that each of those meetings has lasted at least six hours. So, you know, doing the math, 54 hours that he has sat down with them. My guess is that they are showing him all kinds of documents and asking him to explain them.
I think he can certainly explain the money trail in all of these things. But I think the most valuable thing he might be able to provide is the role of some of these Russians oligarchs. To what extent were they doing the bidding of Vladimir Putin to influence elections?
And I think that piece is the part that`s probably been missing from what Robert Mueller had access to, and Paul Manafort is likely a person who can provide that in light of what we already know about his connections with some of these Russians oligarchs. So. imagine that is some of the ground that they`re covering in those sessions.
REID: Absolutely. And a lot of Americans are waiting with baited breath to find what it is that Mueller is going to put together and how he sort of draw that whole picture together.
Barbara McQuade, former U.S. attorney from Michigan, thank you very much for your time tonight.
MCQUADE: Thank you, Joy.
REID: Thank you.
And joining us now is Michael McFaul, former U.S. ambassador to Russia.
Ambassador McFaul, always good to talk to you.
MICHAEL MCFAUL, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO RUSSIA: Yes. Thanks for having me, Joy.
REID: So I want to go back and start with the Manafort piece of this, because, you know, before he was associated with the Trump campaign, Paul Manafort did have that experience in Ukraine. This is not an unknown area to him, this idea of interference. What do you make of the fact that he -- he has given such fulsome cooperation. Who do you think he puts the most risk with the things he might know?
MCFAUL: Well, as you were just discussing, the sheer number of hours that they are spending with him suggests that he knows some things. Otherwise, why would they be spending all that time?
It`s right. Paul Manafort has been in that world. He has been dealing with Russian oligarchs, Ukrainian oligarchs. People closely tied to Putin. I`ve known about him for years, well before 2016 in the work I used to do both in the government and as an analyst.
And so, he can pull on those threads of who might know whom, and who might have ordered these certain things to happen. You know, this indictment today is of the Internet Research Agency, an oligarch Mr. Prigozhin. But no one should have any illusions that these are some kind of rogue elements acting on their own interest. Obviously, these millions of dollars are being spent for Russian national interest, for things that Putin thinks should be done, and maybe Manafort can help tie and tie the knots between Prigozhin, this woman who was indicted today, and the Kremlin.
REID: And just to talk about Prigozhin for a moment. This is a guy who is called Putin`s chef, I believe that, you know, is involved with the other 13 Russians that were indicted.
MCFAUL: He is.
REID: It gets very confusing with all the names. But is he somebody who could have independently done an operation of this sort without Putin having any knowledge?
MCFAUL: Not in my wildest dreams. You know, that`s not the way that system works, first of all, and it`s reminding me of the discussion we`re having about the Saudi regime too. There`s not like there is a lot of independent civil society out there, independent business people. Everybody especially at his level of wealth is tied to the Kremlin, number one.
Number two, Mr. Prigozhin is a friend of Putin`s. He is not some rogue element, and I just think it would be -- I mean, I`m willing to accept the possibility as a hypothesis. But my working assumption, of course, this would be coordinated with the Kremlin because, remember, we`re talking about things that have big implications for foreign policy, right?
Russia now has intervened in our elections, and we`ve done nothing to stop them. Let`s be clear about that. What`s really striking about the indictment is it`s increasing, not decreasing, because our president doesn`t seem to think this is an issue. That is not done unless the Kremlin is involved, in my opinion. I don`t know that for a fact. But my opinion is pretty well-informed.
REID: Right. And in terms of the risk aversion of the Kremlin, had the United States actually had a robust response to their interference in 2016, would they be doubling their spin on our upcoming election?
MCFAUL: No. And I think that was the giant strategic mistake that President Trump has made all along, that he just doubled down, tripled down, quadrupled down today. Had he said in 2016, I had nothing to do with this, but of course we need to protect American sovereignty, that`s his language, by the way. He talks about that all time. He chose not to do that because he is worried about the legitimacy of his 2016 election.
And just the opposite. He gives Vladimir Putin the green light. He gives him a bear hug. He talks about what a great guy he is. Well, that creates the permissive conditions for this to continue.
And so, this is on President Trump. He is in part responsible for allowing them to continue. There are lots of options he could have taken, sanctions he could have put in place to say knock it off. He has chosen not to do that.
REID: Yes, indeed. And we now know the result. Michael McFaul, former U.S. ambassador to Russia -- Ambassador McFaul, thank you very much. Thank you for your time.
MCFAUL: Sure. Thanks for having me.
REID: Thank you.
And we will be right back. Friday nights time telling you, so much news.
REID: So you could see this coming a mile away. It started on Monday when Donald Trump decided to trial balloon one of the newest Saudi talking points to try to explain what happened to "Washington Post" columnist Jamal Khashoggi, who went into the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2nd and never came out. Trump said, quote, it sounded to me like maybe these could have been rogue killers. Who knows?
Ah, yes, the rogue killers defense.
And then on Wednesday, we got the name of a fall guy, the name of the general who the Saudis planned on pinning the blame on for Khashoggi`s killing, calling it an operation gone wrong.
That was followed by a whisper campaign against the dead journalist that started in Saudi Arabia state controlled media and made its way like clockwork to right wing media here in the U.S., and then to the Trump uber loyalists in the Republican Congress. We went from the trial balloon about rogue killers, the floating of the name of a fall guy, to smearing Khashoggi, like one, two, three.
And tonight, Saudi Arabia made it all official. The kingdom is now acknowledging that Jamal Khashoggi is dead after insisting for weeks that he left the consulate that day. They now make the incredible claim that an argument broke out in the Saudi consulate between Khashoggi and presumably the 15-member Saudi team that had just flown into Istanbul with a bone saw. And that 15 on one argument, quote, led to a fight between them and led to his death. They add, "May God rest his soul."
They dismissed the deputy head of the Saudi intelligence services, the general who we knew earlier this week would be the fall guy, and they arrested a bunch of Saudis.
Tonight, the White House put out a statement acknowledging the Saudi statement that progress is being made, and not saying much more than that. You really could see all this coming.
But what`s important to watch is what happens next. Saudi Arabia claims that the crown prince, known as MBS, knew nothing about any of this. But according to "The New York Times," the CIA is convinced MBS is culpable in Mr. Khashoggi`s death.
The NSA, on the other hand, reportedly collected communications of Saudi officials discussing a plan to lure Mr. Khashoggi back to Saudi Arabia and detain him. "The Times" says those NSA intercepts does not reveal whether MBS directly ordered the killing of Mr. Khashoggi.
And then there is what`s happening in Congress. We`re learning the Trump administration, quote, clamped down on sharing any intelligence surrounding the Khashoggi case earlier this week, including cancelling an intel briefing for members of Congress. Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker said he was told no additional intelligence would be shared with the Senate for now.
So that`s where we stand, with the Saudi government blaming a quarrel gone bad, conflicting reporting about the U.S. intelligence, and a clamp down on sharing intelligence with American lawmakers. So, what happens next?
Joining us now is Congressman Eric Swalwell, member of the House Intelligence Committee.
Nice to have you with us, sir.
REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D-CA), HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: You too, Joy. Thanks for having me back.
REID: So, let`s talk about this. You have the rare sliver of distance between Donald Trump and a handful of Republicans in Congress about what the Saudis have done, but does that translate in any way into Congress demanding the information that`s being withheld from them by the White House?
SWALWELL: I`m not seeing that at all, joy. Again, this is so familiar, right? You see the feigned outrage from my Republican colleagues, and once Donald Trump firmly takes a position, the sycophants start to come out, and they start to back off and they abdicate their principles to get behind the president. And that is so disturbing.
But to just take a step back here, I don`t want to lose the humanity in all of this because I think the first thing we should demand is that the remains of Mr. Khashoggi be turned over to his family. He had a fiancee. He had a family. He had a presence in the United States, and we should be demanding that first, especially if the Saudis are acknowledging that he did indeed die at their consulate in Istanbul.
REID: And you have members of Congress who presumably would like to have more information, and you make an excellent point because this was a U.S. resident. If your colleagues on the other side of the aisle were amenable to or were of a mind to try to demand information, what should the Congress be entitled to here? This man was a U.S. resident.
SWALWELL: That`s right. A U.S. resident working for a U.S. media outlet murdered by a U.S. ally. We have deep interest in knowing what happened.
And here`s what we can do. We can, one, demand that the FBI formally investigate this. We have what`s called legal attaches over in Istanbul and Ankara, and they have partnerships with the security services in Turkey, and, of course, Saudi Arabia.
Two, what we can do is also, if the Saudis are not going to cooperate, if the administration is not going to give us information through legislation, we can demand the suspension of arm sales to the Saudis. That I think would get their attention.
So we`re not helpless. We`re not a kingdom. Saudi Arabia is. We are a democracy, and we should start acting like one and start checking this president.
REID: Yes, and lastly, what do you make of some of your colleagues joining in with right wing media in the United States in sort of singing the Saudi line, smearing Mr. Khashoggi, the late Mr. Khashoggi?
SWALWELL: Yes, I won`t even say it`s a Saudi line, joy. I would say the originator, the O.G. in this smear campaign against the press is Donald Trump himself. We saw that on display last night at a rally where he went back, and again, defended Mr. Gianforte, one of my colleagues who had assaulted a reporter.
So, you know, smearing the press is a Donald Trump tactic that I think the Saudis are actually now employing, not the other way around. I`ve written legislation called the Journalist Protection Act about six months ago as the president`s rhetoric was escalating and I saw many of my colleagues also starting to act the same way. So, I`m very concerned about that too, but again, I think the best thing we can do, demand the remains be turned over to the family, have the FBI get involved, and put the brakes on any future arm sales to the Saudis until we get answers.
REID: All right. Congressman Eric Swalwell, thank you so much, member of the House Intelligence committee.
SWALWELL: My pleasure.
REID: Appreciate your time tonight. Have a good weekend.
SWALWELL: You too.
REID: Don`t go away. Thank you.
We`ll be right back.
REID: There may be 18 days left before November 6th, but ballots are already being cast in several states, and all week THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW has been looking at the turnout numbers for clues about voter enthusiasm for this year`s midterms. Early voting started on Wednesday in Tennessee, where Republican Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn is fating Democrat Phil Bredesen in a Senate race that has been one to watch all season.
And so far, we only have two days worth of data to look at, but take a look. On day one of early and absentee voting in Tennessee this year, nearly 121,000 voted were turned in. Roughly four times as many people as voted in 2014. Day two, more than 110,000, nearly four times as many as 2014.
No word on how many of those voters are Taylor Swift fans, by the way. Don`t tweet me. We can only tell you so much.
Meanwhile, in Georgia, THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW has been tracking the early turnout numbers all week, and with that red hot governor`s race between Stacey Abrams and Secretary of State Brian Kemp.
So here is the Georgia early vote and how it`s look over the past four days. More than 70,000 on Monday. More than 76,000 on Tuesday. Nearly 77,000 on Wednesday. And nearly 79,000 yesterday.
Each of those days the turnout is roughly triple what it was in the corresponding date four years earlier. And what we`re hearing is that turnout is high across the board in blue Georgia counties and in red Georgia counties. We can see enthusiasm, but is it possible to see anything more?
Joining us now is Karine Jean-Pierre, senior adviser and national spokesperson for moveon.org and my friend.
Always happy to see you.
When you look at those Georgia numbers, they are big.
KARINE JEAN-PIERRE, NATIONAL SPOKESPERSON, MOVEON.ORG: Yes, yes.
REID: They`re close to presidential year big.
REID: But does it tell you anything about whose up?
JEAN-PIERRE: So in those numbers in Georgia, they said it`s up in African American voters. You see an uptick for sure in early voting in African- American voters. So I think that`s a good sign for Democrats, absolutely.
And I think, Joy, we have to -- there is a history here too. Not too long ago in post 2016 after President Trump won his election, we saw voting turnout increase in special elections, in New Jersey and Virginia elections. And it stayed steady.
JEAN-PIERRE: And so, that is what I`m looking at, right. So, we see the generic polling. We see the enthusiasm, we see the numbers of fundraising.
So this is what it`s doing is telling us a story. It`s continuing that story of what we`ve been seeing for the last two years. So, I think it`s promising. I think we still need to go out and early vote and not sit on our laurels.
And also, let`s not forget. In midterms, Republicans do well.
JEAN-PIERRE: Why do they do well? Low turnout.
JEAN-PIERRE: Why do we do well in presidential? High turnout where base comes out.
So there is a story here that`s really interesting with these levels, these potential presidential levels that I think benefits Democrats, and also, the reason why we have voter suppression, the reason why Republicans make it so hard is because of things like early voting, right?
REID: That`s what I want to talk about, because you have counties like Jefferson County. A good friend of mine from Georgia who is an elected official down there, we`ve been texting back and forth about that race. And, you know, she has been making the point, look, don`t be too lulled into a false sense of security by those numbers. You have huge numbers in the black belt, in some cases 200 plus percent increases which then triggers the backlash on the other side.
Remember you have a black woman trying to run for governor of Georgia you. Be real. The race in terms of the voter suppression, but also in terms of the backlash the other way.
REID: So that is out there too.
JEAN-PIERRE: And I think that`s exactly right. And I think that`s why I always say, and I think I said this last time I was with you, ignore the polls. Don`t pay attention to the polls.
It`s a ground game. We have to continue to push out voters and to vote early. It`s so important to get voters to vote early. It`s all about the ground game at this point.
JEAN-PIERRE: And, you know, this is something that Obama did in 2008. It went up. Early voting went up 30 percent, because that was the idea trying to do these rallies around these states to make sure who came out? Young people, people of color came out and voted. And it worked. In 2012 it went up nor than 40 percent, so there has been a pattern with early voting that`s really important for Democrats.
But we should not sit on our laurels. I completely agree with her. We have to -- I can`t even say you got to come out and vote. We got to get people to come out and vote early.
REID: After President Obama won in 2008, you know what Republicans tried to cut back? Early vote. They went right after it.
JEAN-PIERRE: They went right after it. And let`s not forget, they gutted the voting ID law in 2013, the Supreme Court, the Voting Rights Act, right? So that really affected and we saw all these awful voter suppression laws which is really racism across the country.
REID: It`s a reaction to the fact that people are voting. So keep voting. Don`t -- react to that by voting more.
Karine Jean-Pierre of moveon.org, always great to see you.
JEAN-PIERRE: Thanks, Joy.
REID: Great having you on tonight.
Next up, the election where get the heck out of dodge is not just a saying, it`s how you`re expected to vote. That story is next.
REID: OK. I`ve got an update for you on a story that Rachel brought you last night. Proof that sometimes sunlight even works on the Trump administration.
Quick recap. You`ll recall that earlier this year, we learned that Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson wanted a $31,000 dining set for his office. And a career official at HUD said no, you can`t spend that much money on your office furniture. So that official was replaced by a lawyer from Queens who had worked on the Trump campaign and had no relevant experience whatsoever.
And Ben Carson got his dining set. Sadly, he later had to return it. Sorry, Dr. Ben Carson.
So ever since then, this woman from the Trump campaign has been an official on Ben Carson`s staff at HUD. Then just a few days ago, "The Hill" was first to report on an e-mail from Secretary Carson congratulating this woman, her name is Suzanne Israel Tufts, on her new job at a different agency.
Congratulations on becoming the new inspector general of the Department of the Interior.
Now inspector general of an entire cabinet agency is a big huge important job, but especially at the Interior Department where Secretary Ryan Zinke is under four separate ongoing ethics investigations by the current inspector general. That current inspector general, by the way, the one currently investigating Ryan Zinke for his spending of taxpayer dollars of travel on private jets to things like a snorkeling tour in the U.S. Virgin Islands and his involvement in a Montana land deal.
That inspector general, she found out that Ben Carson`s staffer was getting her job when a colleague showed her Ben Carson`s e-mail. She had no idea she was going anywhere.
This whole thing was so shady, an inspector general running four serious investigations into a cabinet secretary suddenly gets cashiered and replaced by a totally unqualified political appointee. And there was so much beltway outrage and apoplexy, that the Trump did a complete U-turn on the entire thing, caught. They dropped the plan. Now, they still have not totally figured out what their explanation is for what happened.
Yesterday they said it was all Ben Carson`s fault. That e-mail from Ben Carson was, quote, 100 percent false information when he said his staffer was becoming the new I.G. Today, they said it was all just a big misunderstanding. A HUD official saying, quote, due to a recent miscommunication at the staff level, HUD mistakenly announced that Ms. Tufts was going to be detailed to another agency.
But it turns out the story is not in fact over. In fact, it`s just getting weirder. "The Washington Post" reports tonight that Suzanne Israel Tufts was scheduled to be interviewed this morning for another inspector general position at another agency, but she did not show up for the appointment. And now, instead of being the inspector general of the Interior Department or some other cabinet department, she has resigned from the government entirely.
What`s more, three people tell "The Post" tonight that Ms. Tufts has not even been at work for the last two months, even though she remained on the payroll.
So we don`t really know what`s going on here, but there is definitely something going on here that we do not yet understand. I`m telling you, Friday nights, it`s when all the weird stuff happens. We`ll be right back.
REID: Dodge City, Kansas was a city founded mostly out of convenience on a stretch of land located at the mid point between the Arkansas -- of the Arkansas River and the historic Santa Fe trail. In the mid 1800s, Dodge City became a place for frontier travelers and cattle traders to rest her herds and grab a drink at the famous Long Branch Saloon and maybe get in a bar fight or worse.
Nowadays. when people think about the Wild West, it`s Dodge City, Kansas, that they`re often thinking about. But the Democrats of the Dodge City have changed dramatically since those olden days. Think less cowboys and cattle ranchers and more blue collar jobs and industrial plants.
Two decades ago, the population and the economy of Dodge City began booming, in part thanks to an influx of Hispanic workers coming in for jobs in the local meat packing plants. "The New York Times" reported at the time that the workers had revitalized the town, which began to adapt to the changing population.
Quote, more than half the home purchases last year were by Hispanic buyers. Banks and stores are looking for bilingual employees. The local paper now publishes a tabloid weekly in Spanish. The school superintendent is studying Spanish.
A decade after that report was published, Dodge City became a full-fledged majority-minority city. And since then, the population of Dodge City has grown to a robust diverse size of 27,000 people, and everyone seemed to have adjusted.
Well, not everyone. Among those 27,000 people living in Dodge City are 13,000 voters, and when it came time to vote, all 13,000 of them are expected to go to the same exact polling location. There is only one polling place for all of Dodge City, and it`s been that way for the past 20 or so years. It`s been that way for the past 20 or so years.
The ACLU of Kansas says the average polling of the state serves 1,200 people. Dodge City`s voting population is ten times that. And yet they only still have the one polling place which is conveniently located in the predominantly white part of town.
And these constraints have had an affect. Again, most of the people who live in this town are Hispanic. Dodge City makes up most of the county`s population. But in the last nonpresidential election, 2014, Hispanic turnout in that country was just 17 percent, compared to 61 percent turnout for white voters.
So, voting in Dodge City, Kansas, particularly for Hispanic voters was already an issue. And now, it`s even worse because that one polling location in Dodge City just got moved, moved outside of the city limits. And this new location is a mile from any local bus stop. The county clerks say they had to make this last move because of the construction going on at the old location.
After some prodding from the ACLU this month she finally agreed to arrange for a special bus service that day to help transport people to the new location, which you can reserve on a first come/first serve basis. The school district in Dodge City already noticing the problem here have said they are more than willing to open up the schools to create more polling locations in Dodge City. But the county clerk so far has refused.
The chairman of the local Democratic Party told the "Associated Press" today that the lone polling place in Dodge City has contributed to a quote, way below average Hispanic turnout in voting there. And this latest shift is happening at a really crucial time.
In Kansas, the Republican secretary of state already in trouble with the ACLU this year for making it harder for people to vote in his state is in a tight campaign for governor with the Democrat nominee, State Senator Laura Kelly. And Kansas is coming down to the wire.
The concern about that, about what will happen to Latino voters this year extends by the way beyond Dodge City. There are also the headlines popping up in the last couple of weeks in which Democratic strategists are airing their concerns that the population may not be doing enough to mobilize Latino voters nationwide. Particularly in competitive seats in states like Texas and Arizona and Nevada, where Democrats are actively trying to flip blue. But also have large Hispanic populations.
So, if Democrats are trying to reach Latino voters who they`re going to need in order to win those competitive elections, are they doing enough with 18 days to go?
Joining us now is Voto Latino president and CEO, and MSNBC contributor, Maria Theresa Kumar.
Maria Theresa, great to see you tonight.
MARIA THERESA KUMAR, PRESIDENT AND CEO, VOTO LATINO: Great to see you, Joy.
REID: So, I think, MTK, that the Dodge City --
KUMAR: You`re using my code name.
REID: Sorry about that. So I think the Dodge City story -- it probably answers the question, I think you and I probably have this conversation every two years approximately is why is it that the Latino vote is so far under its population. At least in Dodge City, Kansas, it`s by design, apparently.
But is that the case nationwide or is there something else going on?
KUMAR: A couple of things. First of all, everyone looks at the Latino vote in comparison to 2014 where every single American across demographics, our voting population was down in 70 years. Part of it was because it was the very first time there was a Voting Rights Act, basically slaughtered by the Supreme Court.
Folks don`t realize that Shelby County that brought the case to the Supreme Court to gut the Voting Rights Act was because Shelby County had experienced close to 100 percent population boom in the last census of Latinos and they decided that`s they wanted to restrict. And every single jurisdiction afterwards literally had a 25 percent increase in Latino vote. So, part of it is definitely by design.
The other is that sadly, the way both the Republican and Democratic Party decide to go after midterm election voters disproportionately they identify high frequency voters, people who vote all the time. Most Latino voters have literally probably only voted once or twice because they`re new voters. Sixty percent of Latinos are under the age of 33, Joy.
So, unless vote parties redesign how they contact their voters, you`re not going to miss not only the youth vote, but completely the Latino vote because they are disproportionately just young. And what we encourage folks to do is not only encourage conversations with their neighbors and basically tell them that if you vote in this midterm election, Joy, you basically provide -- you basically provide a check on power.
Most Latinos because they`re so young, there`s no civic education in the school. In fact, only eight states out of 50 states require civic education in order to graduate from high school. We don`t have the basic civic education. So, if you basically tell folks, look, the White House and the Congress have the same power, so if you basically encourage people to vote your values, you can actually check what`s happening in the White House if you don`t like it.
And if you do -- but that is the lack of information. I`m sick and tired of folks saying that Latinos don`t care. Eighty percent of Latinos once they actually register, they actually vote. Our job though is to encourage that. We are literally looking -- expecting 4 million new young Latinos to become of age in the next ten years. There`s going to be a million Latinos becoming of age every single year for the next 10 years.
REID: Thanks you for making the point about the youth, right, because young people of all ages don`t really vote in high numbers but more Latinos are in younger population.
NALEO has done, a Latino Decisions tracking poll that shows that of those who have said they`ve been contacted by a political party and asked to register only 45 percent of Latinos reported they`d been contacted. Is this partly because in the Democratic Party, the sort of focus on voter registration has not been on strong as the focus as you said getting out high frequency voters?
KUMAR: That`s exactly right. And we have to change the model. What you also see is that the majority of how people invest in the Democratic Party is it`s often identifying where is there a union stronghold. The union strong hold is in the Midwest.
The opportunity, the marketplace, the new opportunity for voters is all of the South. Not just because of the Latino boom, but you have jobs going to the South and you have a lot of young professionals moving into the South. And when I say the South, I`m talking Georgia, I`m talking North Carolina, Florida, Texas, Arizona, and that is how you have to reimagine how you actually look at the political map.
We are literally experiencing a huge shift in that map. And we haven`t modernized fast enough. And I think right now, we have to make sure we don`t leave any voters on the table, and we talk to everybody and it`s up to us as citizens to have those conversations with our friends.
REID: Yes, rediscover the south. The Democrats need to relook the South again.
REID: Maria Theresa Kumar, president of Voto Latino, thank you very much. I`ll see you more this weekend. Thank you.
KUMAR: Thank you.
REID: Take care.
More news ahead on a busy night.
REID: That does it for us tonight. I will see you tomorrow morning for "A.M. JOY" live from Los Angeles, where we are here for Politicon. You will not want to miss it. We`re going to dive deep into the upcoming elections looking at the races for governor, all the issues that are driving the votes.
So, I will see you tomorrow morning on "A.M. JOY."
And now, it is 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
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