Show: THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW Date: November 2, 2018 Guest: Emily Jane Fox
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: That was awesome, Chris. That was riveting. Well done, man.
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST, "ALL IN": Some real legends there.
MADDOW: Yes, amazing. I was just thinking like, I`m not sure I would be able to hold my own in that same company, let alone accept the compliments at the end.
HAYES: I just listened mostly.
MADDOW: Yes. Well, it was great. Well done. Thanks.
And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour. Happy to have you with us there.
There is a lot to get to tonight. And because it`s Friday -- for all the other things it is, it`s Friday. And as we have learned in this era, anything can happen on a Friday night at any moment. So, it`s good that you`re here.
No matter how the elections go on Tuesday night, there are a few things we know to expect pretty much as soon as the elections are over. In electoral politics, for example, one of the things that will probably start happening really soon after the elections next week is that Democrats who are considering running for president in 2020, Democrats will start declaring their intentions to do so.
We already have a pretty good idea about a pretty long list of Democrats who are thinking about running. All of them have more or less been holding back I think in order to focus on these very, very important elections next week. But once those elections are over next week, I think we should probably expect to see that dam break.
Also after the elections, we expect the Republican Party in Congress, whether they`re able to hold on to the House or not, we expect the Republican Party to move fairly quickly to pick their new leadership. Remember, that Paul Ryan, speaker of the House, the leader of the Republicans in Congress, he`s out. He is not running for reelection this year. There will be somebody new from his district in Congress. Republicans will need to pick a new speaker and all new leadership once those elections happen next week. We will get the Republican leadership in Congress as well.
Also, two days after the election, we`re expecting to see some very public signs of what Robert Mueller is doing, what the special counsel`s office and its investigation have been up to for these last couple of months when they have been publicly quiet in the lead-up to the election. Literally two days after the election on Tuesday next week, on Thursday next week, we expect to see a senior prosecutor who works for Robert Mueller, a sort of feared and revered Justice Department appellate expert named Michael Dreeben, next Thursday, we expect to see him arguing an important constitutional case related to the special counsel`s office in federal court in Washington, basically defending the existence of Robert Mueller`s appointment and the special counsel investigation as a whole against a particular witness who has been subpoenaed by the special counsel but who has been refusing to show up and testify in response to that subpoena.
So we`re expecting that big court fight next week. It should be fascinating.
We are also expecting shortly after the elections, we`re expecting that President Trump`s national security adviser, Mike Flynn, will learn how much time he is going to get in prison, if any. I mean, it`s sort of amazing from a big picture perspective, right? We are heading into the first election after President Trump was elected, and at the time of this first midterm election, it is less than two years since he was elected. Already his campaign chair is convicted on multiple felony and is awaiting sentencing. His deputy campaign chair pled guilty to multiple felonies and is awaiting sentencing. His personal lawyer has pled guilty to multiple felonies and is awaiting sentencing, and his national security adviser has plead guilty and is awaiting sentencing.
Of that delightful cast of character, Mike Flynn and then actually maybe Michael Cohen will learn shortly after the elections what their sentences are going to be. So, all of that stuff we`ve known to -- sort of had on the calendar. We know all that stuff is on tap for once the elections happen for a while now.
But there is another thing that we`re pretty sure is going to happen as soon as the election takes place next week. And it is something that we just got some important news about tonight. The president himself, and even some Senate Republicans used to warn him against this, used to tell the president that he definitely shouldn`t do this. Some Senate Republicans and the White House now all seem in agreement and on the same page and no longer fighting about the fact that once next week`s elections are over, President Trump is going to fire the attorney general.
He is going to fire Jeff Sessions, or Jeff Sessions will resign. And as you know, there is so much to say about Jeff Session. But just focusing in on one particular consequence of the prospect of him getting fired or leaving office as soon as the elections wrap up next week, which seems like a very real possibility, you may recall that around the time he became Trump`s nominee for attorney general, Jeff Sessions lied both to the Senate and to the public about his own contacts with Russian government officials during the Trump campaign, when he was a top official in the Trump campaign.
When those lies by Jeff Sessions were revealed by "The Washington Post," by then newly minted Attorney General Jeff Sessions, he had to announce that he would henceforth be recused from any Justice Department matter related to the 2016 campaign, including anything related to the Russia investigation. Because of that recusal, it is not Jeff Sessions, it`s the Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein who oversees the Mueller investigation at the Justice Department. That means Mueller and his prosecutors all have to notify Rod Rosenstein of any significant advance or significant decisions in their investigation.
Rosenstein also substantially controls the budget for Mueller`s investigation. If Jeff Sessions is fired or resigns right after next week`s election, that would leave Rod Rosenstein still in charge of the Mueller investigation temporarily until a new attorney general could be confirmed and sworn in. At that point, the new attorney general, which presumably would have no reason to recuse him or herself from the Russia investigation, so once the new attorney general was sworn in, at that point, Rod Rosenstein presumably would have to hand over the reins overseeing that investigation to whatever the new attorney general was.
That said, this Rod Rosenstein is fired too, or if he too is forced to resign, boom, right? That`s it right away. As soon as that happens, the Mueller investigation would instantly become somebody else`s property.
Now, we have known about this possibility for a long time. Just as a technical matter, we have known how this would work. When a special counsel is appointed, Robert Mueller, right, the special counsel`s office is supposed to be overseen by the number one official at the Justice Department, that`s attorney general. In this case, the attorney general is recused. So it goes down to the number two official in the department, Rod Rosenstein. He has been doing it.
If Rod Rosenstein is gone, if they fire him or make him resign after the election too, technically control of the Mueller investigation is supposed to then go to the number three official in the Justice Department, but for months now there has been nobody in the number three job in the Justice Department. And so therefore, if Rosenstein goes and control of the investigation does half to get kicked down the hierarchy, the place it lands, the person who gets the gig would be the number four position in the Justice Department, which in this instance would be defined as the solicitor general of the United States.
OK. Before tonight, before this new news that has just broken this evening, it has previously been assumed or has at least seemed like if this happened, if Rosenstein goes, the solicitor general would be in line to oversee the Mueller investigation, but this particular solicitor general, the guy who is in the job right now, he too would have to be recused from the Mueller investigation because he has a very specific conflict.
The solicitor general of the United States is Noel Francisco. Before becoming solicitor general, he had circulated at the rich upper edges of Republican lawyering for a long time. He served in the George W. Bush administration.
Newly obtained e-mails just published by "The Guardian" newspaper show he was part of the secret elite all male dinner club with newly minted Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. Boys only. Nobody was able to ask Kavanaugh about that at his confirmation hearings, but they both were apparently part of a secret, elite all male Republican lawyers dinner club.
But Noel Francisco was also a partner at the cream of the crop big Republican law firm called Jones Day. There`s nothing at all scandalous about that. Jones Day is a big prestigious law firm.
The problem it poses here is that if Noel Francisco wants to take over supervision of the Mueller investigation, he really can`t, because Jones Day, his law firm, represents the Trump campaign in the Mueller investigation. They represent the most important client in that investigation. They represent the most important client in that fight.
All right. How can a guy who is a partner at this law firm, who still has an ongoing financial relationship with that law firm, how could he objectively on behalf of the United States oversee this big consequential criminal counterintelligence investigation and prosecution when the central subject of that investigation is a client of his law firm, right? You just can`t do that. It`s a clean, pure conflict of interest. It makes no sense.
That brings us to tonight`s news. CREW, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, big ethics watchdog group in D.C., tonight, they have obtained this -- it is a short document. It fits on a quarter page. Actually looks more like a permission slip than an actual government form. But that`s basically what it is.
What CREW has just obtain and published tonight is this short document which shows that in spring of this year, in April of this year, the Trump White House issued a secret permission slip to Solicitor General Noel Francisco which excuses him from the ethics rules that would otherwise block him from being involved in any legal matter involving the law firm at which he was a partner, Jones Day. You can see the title there of the document. Executive order 13770, a waiver for Noel Francisco.
It appears to be signed by White House counsel Don McGahn. I know you can read that, but I`m told, trust me that`s his signature, signed on April 24th this year.
It`s basically very simple language. I grant a waiver for Noel Francisco, solicitor general, to participate in matters in which Jones Day, his former law firm, represents a party.
Now, why does he get permission to do that? Why is he excused from the ethics rules that otherwise block him from doing that for good reasons? Don`t know. It doesn`t say. No reasons given. There is just this terse pronouncement that he is excused.
And this document until today has been a secret, which itself is a story. The White House is supposed to maintain an online list where they essentially make a public notice of things like this. For some reason, the one they did for Noel Francisco wasn`t put on the list. These are all of the things they have posted online. You can see they`re posted alphabetically. Noel Francisco should be there between Forsgren, Dennis and Gordon-Hagerty, Lisa, but he is not there.
Nevertheless, CREW, to their credit, obtained this document. And so, as of tonight, we can now tell, we can now see for the first time that the Trump White House has been maneuvering so if Rod Rosenstein is fired or quits, the guy from the law firm that is representing the Trump campaign in the Russia investigation will be allowed to oversee, to take over the whole Russia investigation.
Now, we have posted that document online if you want to see it at our website, MaddowBlog.com, but it is CREW that obtained this for the first time. And credit to them for getting it and for making it public.
And it`s worth knowing about, right? It`s worth knowing about it in its own right. I also think this is just a good reminder at this point in the news cycle and in this moment in history, just in general, keep your headlights on right now. Keep your headlights on for this next week, even after the election.
I mean, even just this story here about the solicitor general, about the guy who would take over the Mueller investigation, if they fire Rod Rosenstein. I mean, this is already looking a little bit nuts, right? And they may try to do some nut stuff. They may try to make some of these big controversial moves all of the sudden before the confetti has hit the ground next week.
And with this one, honestly, I don`t know how this gets resolved. I mean, I have a feeling I know why they kept it secret all these months, but I don`t know how this gets fixed. Particularly if they`re going to try to sort of spring this sort of thing on us, so nobody knows until it happens that the solicitor general is going to be allowed to do this once they fire Rosenstein. I mean, this just -- whether or not you have any sense of how the legal ethics on something like this would honestly work, this is like THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW is in big trouble. THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW is involved in some big, like, financial scandal, and there`s going to be an investigation, and then I go and get a waiver so that I am allowed to oversee the investigation into this big scandal at THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW.
It`s like why? What`s the problem? I got a waiver. It turns out it`s fine. I can be impartial. Why wouldn`t I be able to investigate this fully?
But that`s what they may be trying to do, to put the whole Mueller investigation into a whole different kind of control in very short order. So watch that.
We are now four days out from the election. It does almost feel more like a presidential election this year, right, even though there is no presidential race on the ballot this year. And as we`re getting down to the wire here, down to the last four days, we are seeing a lot of legal wrangling related to the election as well.
Last night on the show, we highlighted two big standout voting rights cases, voting rights crises really where federal judges decided at the last minute that they would not weigh in to help. Both in majority Hispanic Dodge City, Kansas, where the Republican county clerk decided that this year there will be no polling place, no voting place in all of Dodge City for its 13,000 registered voters. Not a single polling place in the whole town.
Both there and in North Dakota where a newly implemented law passed by the Republican dominated state government appears to be on track to block thousand of Native American voters from casting a vote in this election. In both of those cases that we`ve been following closely, federal judges issued rulings last night in which they each voiced serious concerns and seemed rather horrified by the actions of Kansas and North Dakota officials who put these voter suppression policies in place and what the effects was turning out to be on voting rights in these communities.
But in each case, these judges both said last night basically, sorry, it`s too late, even though these are egregious situations in which something clearly has been done and the voters who are suing for relief, they`ve got a very good case to make. Both judges, even as they expressed deep concern, the both said they felt bound by precedent to not intervene, to try to fix those problems because too late, it`s too close to the election.
And that is definitely an established way out for the courts when it comes to all sorts of legal wrangling around voter suppression and election disputes. Yes, the courts acknowledge that Americans have important constitutional rights that are particularly easy to see and well-defined when it comes to the right to vote, except based on Supreme Court precedent, when it gets to be a few days before the election, the courts are pretty much willing to turn out the lights now, so they can`t see any of those brightly defined lines.
We knew this heading into this. We were warned at the outset in particular of this election season. By all these experts and election law that the closer we got to voting day, the harder it would be to get any relief from the court, even in really, really egregious situations. We are seeing that discouraging pattern all over the country when it comes to voter suppression, when it comes to people trying to get help from the courts to protect their rights.
The courthouse doors essentially, when it gets close to the election, the courthouse doors are essentially close. Even when judges know what they have discovered and what they have been given evidence of is wrong and what needs to be fixed, too close to the election, close the doors. We`re not doing it.
But because that is the general pattern, and we see it all over the place, it makes it all the more interesting. It makes it stand out all the more when the pattern breaks, when a judge breaks with that pattern and decides, you know what? Even though it is late, even though this is the proverbial eve of the election, what I`m seeing here is bad enough, and I am going to stop in. I am going to step in and stop it here.
It is rare for a judge to do that. It is rare for a judge to say, you know what? I understand the precedent here, but this time I got to get in here, I got to fix this. And that just happened today in the great state of Georgia.
In Georgia, as you know, they`re having a rock `em, sock `em robots very exciting election. Top of the ticket in the Georgia`s governor`s race, Republican candidate Brian Kemp, currently the secretary of state. The Democrat candidate Stacey Abrams, who until recently was the Democratic leader (AUDIO GAP). The last few Georgia governor`s races have been close. They`ve all been decided by roughly 200,000 votes.
Heading into this election, though, as Georgia`s secretary of state, Brian Kemp has taken a meat ax to the voter rolls in Georgia, trying to disqualify as many potential voters as possible. I said the last races in the state were decided around 200,000 votes. Last year alone, Brian Kemp took 670,000 people off the voting roles.
And as we headed into this election season with him as the Republican candidate for governor, and with him and his office still administering this election, even though he is running in it, we learned that his office had taken more than 50,000 new applications for voter registrations and essentially just stuck them in a desk drawer somewhere in his office, put them all on hold in pending status, more than 50,000 registrations.
That led to calls not just from his opponent Stacey Abrams, but also from former Georgia governor and former president, Jimmy Carter, that Brian Kemp should step down as secretary of state while he is running for governor so he will not be in the position of both umpiring this match and competing in it at the same time. Kemp, of course, refused to step down. So he is still in that dual role in the state. But the courthouse doors apparently are still open, and the courts still have the lights on in Georgia.
Today, a subset of those 50,000-plus voter registrations that his office had put on ice, about 3,000 voters who are recently naturalized U.S. citizens who Kemp`s office was blocking from voting, a court in Georgia today ruled that those thousands of Georgia residents must be allowed to vote, even though Kemp`s office has been blocking them from doing so up until now.
And like I said, judges generally don`t weigh in to fix even really bad voting rights abominations if it`s too close to the election. But in Georgia, what Brian Kemp was trying to do here was bad enough to overpower that controlling precedent. I mean, it was sort of remarkable what they were trying to get away with.
Kemp`s office had taken these 3,000 plus voters who had cast absentee ballots or applied to register to vote, and they`d all been flagged and set aside, flagged as potential noncitizens. These people had then shown up with their citizenship paperwork, showing that they have become citizens. Here is my naturalization certificate. This proves I`m a citizen.
And even still, even with that official paperwork, Kemp`s office was still saying, no, no, we still choose to believe you`re not a citizen, despite you proving to the contrary, because we have you flagged that way. That`s what they were trying to get away with.
Until as of today, this court in Georgia now ruled that that cannot stand. Those people must be allowed to vote. Kemp`s office can no longer block them from voting. That happened this afternoon. And now, tonight, it`s just happened again. Another court ruling in Georgia just as I was walking to the studio getting on the air tonight, this is a new one just tonight blocking Brian Kemp`s office from rejecting voters because of a supposed mismatch in their signature on file.
They can no longer block people from voting if they think the signature doesn`t match the signature on file unless and until they give the voter a chance to prove his or her identity, give the voter a chance to contest their ballot being thrown out by proving their own name, which means -- I mean, yes, it has to be really, really, really, really, really bad, but sometimes judges don`t close the courthouse doors and turn out the lights just because it`s time to actually use our rights instead of just talking about them in the abstract.
Those two voting rights rulings even tonight, Friday night, as we head towards Tuesday`s election. Today was the last day of early voting in Georgia. For the last day of early voting today, people were lined up before dawn, lined up in the dark to cast their ballots. That enthusiasm we`ve been seeing in Georgia in particular, but it really is remarkable the number of people voting all around the country.
You might have seen these numbers today, but I just find them kind of amazing. Last time we had an election where there wasn`t a president on the ballot, the last time we had a midterm election like this one was four years ago in 2014. When we were four days out from that election when we were at this point in the 2014 election, this is the number of people who had voted. Now, in this year`s election, with us four days out so, it`s apples-to-apples comparison between the two elections, look at that. That`s how many people have already voted nationwide, nearly double. It`s just stunning.
NBC broke out these key eight states, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Montana, Nevada, Texas, all states where they`re really interesting and important races this year. And in all of them, look at that, from 2014 to 2018, in every single one of them, you see that same pattern where the total early vote at this point in the race in 2014 is just dwarfed by the number of people who have turned out this year, four days out from the election.
And here`s one really interesting thing that we`ve noticed in the voting patterns this year so far. We noticed this in part because we`ve been so interested watching what`s been going on in Georgia. And Georgia, like all these other states, Georgia has seen a huge increase in the number of people voting early, ahead of Election Day. Today is the last day of early voting in Georgia. And look, they have way more than doubled their early vote this year come fired this time four years ago.
I mean, with this kind of advantage from the early vote, it`s not inconceivable that Georgia is going to end up, you know, totally doubling the number of votes they had in the last election in 2014. They may get up to 2016 numbers.
But when you look at who is turning out in Georgia, who is turning out to vote, what we found is that as far as we can tell, Georgia voters so far show the biggest gender gap that we`ve seen anywhere else in the country. Basically, every state in the country, we looked at, more women than men, but in Georgia, it is the biggest gap that we are seeing anywhere.
So far, 56 percent of people turning out to early vote in Georgia, 56 percent are women, 44 are men. That`s a total 12-point gender gap, as big as we have seen in any state of the country, and it`s bigger than anything we saw in any state that we looked from in 2014.
I don`t know if it`s a symptom of that or a cause of that when the Democratic Georgia governor candidate Stacey Abrams holds a blockbuster political event like she had yesterday in Georgia with Oprah Winfrey, right? If there was not already a 12-point gender gap in the vote in Georgia, that might have helped create one. But that was yesterday in Georgia.
Tonight, it was Congressman John Lewis and former Attorney General Eric Holder and Barack Obama all at a gargantuan event, again, for Stacey Abrams in Georgia. Her Republican opponent Brian Kemp now doing events with Vice President Mike Pence a couple days ago. He`ll be with the president later on this weekend.
I know technically there is not a presidential race on the ballot on Tuesday night, but people are so psyched for these elections this year. It really does feel like a presidential, doesn`t it? And if the voting numbers stay as high through Tuesday as they have been thus far in the early voting, it`s starting to look like even the numbers are going to look like a presidential race, which has never happened before.
And, you know, with everything that we have been through over the past two years since our last election which was a presidential, this one does sort of feel like the consequences might be just as big.
In any case, final sprint. Everybody go. We`ve got to lot to get to tonight. Stay with us.
MADDOW: Best in the game today, best ever, best whoever played the game? Don`t let me get in the middle. You guys can duke it out amongst yourselves.
Recently, ESPN tried to break down all the reasons why LeBron James is so dominant in the NBA. Obviously, his size does not hurt. Both his height and his strength, being ambidextrous does not hurt. His work ethic does not hurt.
But what ESPN is sort of pitching as LeBron James` real secret weapon is his mind, and not in like a glossy generic, he is a real smart cookie kind of sense. Specifically, the ESPN case for LeBron James as the greatest ever is that he has something called eidetic memory, which is essentially the medical term for crazy, crazy freakish recall, which is sometimes called photographic memory.
And the mental edge that that gives him in practice and in prep and on the court at all times, that is priceless. It`s interesting, right?
ESPN did that thing on LeBron James and his mental trump card, they did that in may of this year. By August of this year, Mr. James was facing a new public attack from the president of the United States. He made an appearance -- Mr. James made an appearance on CNN. Afterwards, the president tweeted that CNN`s Don Lemon, who had interviewed Mr. James for the segment, Don Lemon had, quote, made LeBron look smart, which isn`t easy to do. The president said Don Lemon is himself, quote, the dumbest man on television.
According to the president, who spends his time saying stuff like this, the nimble, intelligent, immensely capable Don Lemon at CNN, he is, quote, dumb. LeBron James almost inarguably the greatest basketball player of all time is just not smart. Everybody knows it, and the president is happy to say it.
The president has also frequently targeted his ire, one of his favorite targets, for example, at his rallies is a specific member of Congress who he always, always, always brands as, quote, low I.Q. or extraordinarily low I.Q. Congressman Maxine Waters of California.
Well, now four days out from the election, and two of the most hotly contested governor`s races in the country in Georgia and in Florida, the president is hurling his very specifically targeted brand of insult at the Democratic candidates in those two races. In Florida, quote, Trump, showing no evidence calls Andrew Gillum a thief. Now that was from Monday.
And in Georgia, quote, Trump offering no evidence, calls Stacey Abrams, quote, unqualified. He said that about her yesterday, actually said it at the White House. How exactly is she unqualified? Yale-trained attorney, former leader of the state legislature, successful in business and in public life, leader of -- I mean.
But you line them all up, right? The insults and the insultees, the way that the president likes to approach this particular issue in American -- in American life. It`s not subtle, right? The president likes to insult people in politics, but he reserves a special brand of insult for African Americans, for prominent black officials and black athletes and black journalists. He says they are dumb, have a low I.Q. they`re unintelligent, they`re unqualified and criminal. It`s basically everything that he says about prominent African Americans who he targets.
Well, now tonight there is new reporting based on allegations from the president`s long-time personal attorney Michael Cohen who is an interesting source here, right? He, as we know, pled guilty to eight federal charges not long ago. He has spent we`re told dozens of hours with Robert Mueller`s team and with other federal and state prosecutors. Mr. Cohen is due to be sentenced we think next month.
Tonight, Michael Cohen tells Emily Jane Fox at "Vanity Fair" that in his experience, working with Donald Trump at the Trump organization, he has witnessed multiple times President Trump using that same kind of racist language about black people for decades, but using terminology, language and insults in private that go far beyond what he has been willing to say in public.
One example in particular from Emily Jane Fox`s reporting really sticks out. See if this rings a bell. This was after a campaign rally.
Cohen, quote, offered his observation to his boss. Quote, I told Trump that the rally looked vanilla on television. Trump responded, quote, that`s because black people are too stupid to vote for me.
Now, the White House did not respond when asked for comment on these allegations, but that sentiment, that too stupid sentiment, that very much echoes the kinds of things he is willing to say in public. So what do we make of these new allegations, particularly given who they are coming from?
Emily Jane Fox joins us here next. Stay with us.
MADDOW: In late August, the president`s long-time personal attorney and a long-time Trump Organization executive, a man named Michael Cohen, he pled guilty to eight federal felony charges. Two of them he said were felonies that he committed because he was directed to commit those felonies by President Trump. Since then, we know that Cohen has spent more than 50 hours with Robert Mueller`s team and with other prosecutors.
And in less than six weeks, Michael Cohen is likely to be sentenced. Well, now tonight, why now? Tonight, Michael Cohen has something else that he wants you to know. With four days to go before the crucial, crucial, crucial midterm elections that will absolutely determine what happens in the Trump administration for the next two years.
Michael Cohen is making new allegations about his decades working elbow to elbow with Donald Trump. This is provocative stuff. But he tells Emily Jane Fox at "Vanity Fair" that Donald Trump has been using racist slurs, racist language about black people for years, including from Emily`s piece tonight, quote, after Nelson Mandela`s death, Trump said to me, name one country run by a black person that is not an s-hole. And then added, quote, name one city.
Also, in the late 2000s while they were traveling to Chicago for a Trump International board meeting, quote, we were going -- quote, Cohen here, we were going from the airport to the hotel. We drove through what looked like a rougher neighborhood. Trump made a comment to me, saying that only the blacks could live like this.
As I said, provocative stuff. Very provocative timing, and a very provocative source. Joining us now is Emily Jane Fox, senior reporter at "Vanity Fair" who`s reported this tonight.
Emily, thank you for being here.
EMILY JANE FOX, SENIOR REPORTER, VANITY FAIR: Thank you for having me.
MADDOW: This is a very uncomfortable story.
FOX: It is. And hearing them retold to me earlier this week wasn`t comfortable. These are incredibly charged and loaded and frankly unpleasant to hear someone alleging that our president has said in the past.
MADDOW: I don`t know why I should believe Mr. Cohen about these things. Obviously, Mr. Cohen has just pled guilty to multiple felonies. He has previously insisted in public that Donald Trump is not a racist. He has backed him up specifically on racism issues. He has since his life has been turned inside out by his legal situation.
He has said openly that he really wants the world to basically think the worst of Donald Trump. He wants people to definitely vote against him, and he wants to do as much as he can to cast him in as negative a way as possible. I feel like all of that goes against believing these assertions from him.
FOX: Sure. As you played leading into this, this is the kind of language that the president has used about black people and about people in general. The S-hole line is something that we had heard reported that the president had said earlier this year. Now the White House sort of denied it earlier this year, but these are tones that the president has struck before.
I will say that since I published a piece this afternoon, I have gotten calls from two people who worked with the president formally, and they said to me this is very close to language and scenarios that they had said to him in a private conversations as well.
MADDOW: Wait. Since -- I mean, this piece of "Vanity Fair" just went up today. Since you published?
MADDOW: You got calls from two people who work with Trump who heard this same language?
FOX: Very similar language if not identical language to this. So this is something that other people who have worked with him have heard from the president before.
MADDOW: They`re not willing to put their names to it? They`re not willing to go on the record?
FOX: No. And frankly, one of the reasons that this particularly struck me from Michael Cohen was that Cohen has said relatively nothing since the FBI executed search warrants on his home, office and hotel room in April. He has gone on the record once, and that was this summer to just say my loyalty is not with the president anymore. It`s with my family and my country.
He is very close to his sentencing. Anything he says now could put him potentially in a danger zone. So, the fact that he would now put himself on the record and come out with these allegations to me was striking. When I asked him why go on the record with this now, why do you want to say these things now, he was very clear to me that, look, he could have spoken up and slammed the president two months ago when the president was actively slamming him.
MADDOW: Right. Especially because these are all allegations about things that Cohen says the president a long time ago.
FOX: Years ago. The most recent is during the campaign. So the explanation that I got was he, like the rest of us, have watched the president ratchet up his language over the last few weeks, particularly surrounding race and nationalism and race baiting and dog whistling, and there is a very important election on the line that he feels very passionately about, and this was something he did not want to hold in any longer ahead of the election.
MADDOW: Did you go to the White House for comment on this?
FOX: I went to the White House repeatedly to many people asking for comment and I receive no response.
MADDOW: I know it`s not fair to characterize the type of no comment that you get. I mean, a no comment is a no comment. But are they upset about this reporting?
FOX: I got no response from them.
MADDOW: Emily Jane Fox, senior reporter at vanityfair.com with this. This is a distressing and difficult material, again, both because of its source and because of its substance. Thanks for helping us understand it. Much appreciated.
FOX: Thank you.
MADDOW: All right. Much more to come this Friday night. Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MODERATOR: It is possible to cut a deal with the Democrats on the minimum wage?
LARRY KUDLOW, NATIONAL ECONOMIC COUNCIL DIRECTOR: My view is no. My view is a federal minimum wage is a terrible idea. Terrible idea.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Minimum wage? What a terrible idea.
That`s Larry Kudlow. That is the head of the president`s national economic counsel speaking yesterday, talking about how the minimum wage frankly ought to be abolished. It`s a terrible, terrible idea.
That might not be exactly what you`d want to say as the president`s top economic adviser just a few days out from a hugely important election, because whether you`re a Republican or Democrat or of no party at all, historically, people like the minimum wage. It`s definitely better than the alternative.
Also, if you ask people whether the minimum wage should be higher, people not only always say yes, they tend to flock to the polls to say yes.
This year, raising the minimum wage is going to be on the ballot both in Arkansas and in Missouri. In Arkansas, the minimum wage, if this thing pass, it would raise from $8.50 to where it is now to $11 by 2021.
In Missouri, voters will be deciding whether the minimum wage goes from $7.85 which is what it is now, to $12 an hour by 2023. In that state, in Missouri, of course, there is also a really big, really close Senate race on the ballot.
Incumbent Democrat Senator Claire McCaskill is going for her third term. It`s a super tight race. She supports raising minimum wage. Her Republican challenger, Josh Hawley, is against it. But here`s the interesting thing, beyond just this as a policy matter in itself, history has shown that voters really like the minimum wage, that it sometimes makes them turn up to vote even in races that they wouldn`t otherwise have turned up for, because they want the vote for the minimum wage.
This is the kind of thing that could have real implications in the voting booth, particularly when things are as tight as they are right now.
Here to help us make some sense of this is the great Steve Kornacki, MSNBC national political correspondent and elections guru who has already stopped sleeping.
Steve, thank you for being here.
STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESONDENT: Thanks, Rachel. Yes, well, you`re right. Look, the minimum wage across the board always popular.
The question is does it rub off on candidates for other offices. Let me give you some examples, the history you`re talking about here. Let`s go back to 2006 that is the last time Democrats flipped the Senate from Republican control to Democratic control, in 2006.
This idea in Missouri which was a battleground Senate race that year, Claire McCaskill was running against an incumbent Republican, Conrad Burns. They put this on the ballot in Missouri that year, proposition B, raise the minimum wage. Look at that, three to one, the thing passed.
KORNACKI: The idea was, would that get some extra voters to the polls? Maybe lower income voters less likely to vote, but if they turn out, they`d vote Democratic. Well, in the Senate race that year in Missouri, Claire McCaskill, of course, was elected. The margin was very small. That was about a 50,000 vote for McCaskill.
Also that year, Democrats tried the same thing in Montana. They put it on the ballot, minimum wage, passed three to one. Very close Senate race in Montana that year. Remember, this one, Jon Tester got elected for the first time, defeated Conrad Burns, a one-point victory for Tester.
Democrats took the listen, hey, this works. You can get inroads in red states maybe by doing this. So, they tried it in 2014, Arkansas. They were defending a Senate seat, put it on the ballot, passed overwhelmingly, but didn`t work. Mike Pryor still got blown out.
You saw it as well, 2014, Alaska put it on the ballot, passed, didn`t work.
So here we go. It`s 2018, Missouri. We`re back where we started. McCaskill you just said in that very close race. What can we read into this history? Well, it`s not necessarily a game changer. Clearly, just putting it on the ballot doesn`t win the election for Democrats.
But the question is, does it have a marginal impact? If the race is really close. It`s an otherwise close race, could that give you a bit of an extra edge, I think this is an interesting test this year because Missouri is one of the closest Senate races there is on the board this year. It`s almost the closest thing to a tie when you start to look at it.
So, this is on the ballot and we may get election day to see if it could get 10,000, 20,000 extra votes, this is the kind of race where it could make a difference.
MADDOW: Yes, even with Claire McCaskill running as a centralist, which is what she is and she`s highlighting that right now in this tight race, because there is that clear split between her and holly on this, where she is definitely in favor of that race, and he`s definitely against it, even though she`s otherwise running as a real centrist, that might -- you know, to the extent that kind of boost in turnout might attach to her, she`s given reasons to voters to attach that to her.
KORNACKI: And the other interesting thing in Missouri I think Republicans aware of what you`re saying, there was a move this year to put right to work on the ballot in Missouri. It was unpopular, and Republicans made sure to get it on the primary ballot this year where it went down. Not wanting that on the general election ballot because it might have the kind of effect you`re describing.
MADDOW: Fascinating, Steve Kornacki, MSNBC national political correspondent, thank you. And I look forward to spending the next few days with you.
KORNACKI: I`m looking forward to it, too, Rachel.
MADDOW: All right. We have actually what we like to call here a bullpucky alert coming up just ahead. Stay with us.
MADDOW: You may have seen this cross your news feed earlier this evening. The Reuters News Agency was first to report tonight that Twitter has just announced this evening that they`ve deleted more than 10,000 Twitter accounts. These were accounts sending out tweets ahead of the election to discourage Americans from voting. The messages were made to appear falsely that they were from Democrats, and they were definitely targeting Democrats.
Now, we can show you some of what these messages look like. We got this from a tech firm based in Austin, Texas. A firm called New Knowledge. They tell us they`ve been tracking this campaign since roughly mid August.
The effort has been targeting Democratic men, trying to get Democratic men not to vote. So, it`s stuff like this. Democrats win when only women vote. Or this one where men say, we are making a woman`s vote worth more by staying home.
The idea being that if you`re a man who supports Democrats and supports Democratic women, the best way you can help is not to vote and be gullible enough to fall for this self evident nonsense. This company new knowledge, that tracked these phony fake Democratic messages, they tell us this effort has not been especially effective as far as they can tell. But interestingly even though these things seem sort of off, like sort of idiomatically wrong, this campaign does appear to have originated in the United States, specifically it appears to have grown up from the danker right wing corners of the U.S.-pro-Trump Internet where some people think it`s fun to essentially pretend they`re Russian, pretend they`re foreign government trolls while doing their best to mess with the election for real.
So, the stuff is out there. They are trying. It is quite absolutely absolute bullpucky.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT: If you are aspiring to the highest office in the state in which you pledge to look out for the people of your state, then how can you actively try to prevent the citizens of your state from exercising their most basic right?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: President Obama losing his voice tonight in Georgia, campaigning for Georgia gubernatorial candidates Stacey Abrams. Election Day is four days away. You need to cancel your normal Sunday night plans because you need to be here with me.
My weekend plans now include spending Sunday here. I`ll be here live Sunday night at 9:00 p.m. We`re going to have the whole gang here covering the latest movements before the midterms, breaking it all down. Even before then, tomorrow night, special election coverage kicks off here on MSNBC at 6:00 p.m. Eastern with a fantastic line-up. Look at that crew.
So, I will see you here on Sunday. You`ll be watching MSNBC both Saturday and night this weekend.
Next four days are huge. Your county needs you. Eat your Wheaties. It`s going to be a long four days.
That does it for us for this second. See you soon.
It`s now 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
Copy: Content and programming copyright 2018 MSNBC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Copyright 2018 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.