Show: THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW Date: November 9, 2018 Guest: Mark Maremont, Leonard Samuels
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Thanks to you at home for joining us this hour.
It`s Friday. Fridays are often a little nutty. This is one of those Friday nights when so many different kinds of big news stories are happening and developing all at once. This is going to be a busy show. There is a lot going on.
As you have probably been following in the news today, nearly a quarter of a million people have been evacuated out of their homes in California as of this evening because of fires that are burning out of control in that state, including in fairly densely populated parts of California. One of the more terrifying scenes from the current California fires happened in Butte County, where communities like Paradise, California, in the Sierra foothills was just completely overwhelmed by fire with terrifying speed.
We have now learned that at least five people died while trapped in their cars, trying to escape that fire in Paradise, California. That one is called the camp fire. It`s burning in that part of the state. But there are multiple large and dangerous fires burning right now in a bunch of different parts of California.
Compounding the tragedy, one Southern California community that has been evacuated tonight because of the fires is Thousand Oaks, and this is the same Thousand Oaks, California, where Wednesday night`s mass shooting at a bar just killed 12 people. In the immediate wake of the shooting, a local community center in Thousand Oaks was used as a hub for families and friends of shooting victims. That was as of yesterday.
Today that same location, that same community center had to be repurposed so it could be used to house people in the same community who have now been ordered out of their homes to escape these fires. So, a compounded tragedy in Thousand Oaks and statewide. Just an incredibly dangerous and fast- moving situation with these large California fires today and into tonight. So, we`re keeping eyes on that.
Today is Friday, November 9th, which means this weekend on Sunday, it will be November 11th. It will be Veterans Day, and Veterans Day is always a big deal in the United States. This is not a somber day like Memorial Day. It is a celebratory day when we celebrate the veterans among us.
But this year, Veterans Day is also the 100-year anniversary of what gave us Veterans Day in the first place, the armistice that ended World War I, 100 years since the end of World War I. Now, you now might remember that President Trump had initially demanded his own U.S. military parade through the streets of Washington, D.C. on the occasion of this year`s Veterans Day. The pentagon appears to have put him off that very expensive North Korean style dream, and instead this weekend, the president will be in Paris for the commemoration of the end of the Great War.
And I mention that in particular because you should know that we are also expecting the president to do something during that Paris trip that the White House is sort of desperately trying to play down. We are pretty sure that President Trump is going to be meeting one-on-one with Vladimir Putin of Russia during this trip to Paris, even though the White House has announced no such meeting.
The reason we`re pretty sure it`s going to happen is because the Kremlin says it`s going to happen. And you know what? Frankly, the Kremlin tends to be right about President Trump`s movements and actions when it comes to Russia, even when our own White House isn`t.
So keep your eyes open for that. Expect that, even though the White House has not told us to expect anything like that. We`ll have more coming up on that a little later on this hour as well.
So, there is a lot of big news going on, and this is probably going to be a very busy news weekend as well. The overarching story we`re still very much in middle of, though, is, of course, the election and its aftermath. There remain whole bunch of races that have not yet been called -- five congressional races in California alone as of tonight.
So, the final balance of power in Washington after this week`s elections doesn`t yet have a fine point on it. But what is clear already is that in this election, the Democrats have gained more seats. The Republicans have lost more seats than any other midterm election since 1974.
Now, hmm, 1974. What was going on then, right? The 1974 midterm election was the immediate aftermath of President Nixon resigning the presidency, right?
Republicans have not lost this many seats in Congress in a midterm since that occasion. So that historic margin by the Democrats, historic gains by the Democrats, historic losses by the Republicans, that narrative about what happened this week is further bolstered by the Democrats having done exactly what they wanted to do this week with key constituents, with key constituencies that will determine, frankly, how Democrats are going to do in every election from here on out.
You might remember there was a lot of hand-wringing ahead of the election in Democratic circles as to whether or not Latino voters would be motivated to turn out this year. It turns out Latino voters were motivated to turn out this year. In the last three midterms, in 2006, 2010 and 2014, the Latino vote was about 8 percent of the electorate. This time, it jumped all the way up to 11 percent of the electorate.
That is the kind of jump that Democrats have been trying to achieve for years. That`s the kind of thing they have been looking for. They didn`t get it until this year.
And, you know, Latino voters are certainly not monolithic. There`s still plenty of, you know, Latino Republicans and Latino conservatives, but overall, Latinos did go for Democrats by a roughly 2-1 margin. And so, that`s a crucial part of this year`s election results and us understanding what it means and what it might mean for future elections.
There was also lots of hand-wringing ahead of this election in Democratic circles about whether or not young people would turn out. Well, new data just released about turnout in this week`s election shows that a turnout of voters between the ages of 18 and 29, it actually spiked in this year`s midterm election, well above anything we have seen in decades for previous midterms.
So, Democrats flipping more seats than they have since the immediate aftermath of Nixon`s resignation in Watergate, and Democrats turning out key constituencies they had really worried about, like young voters and Latino voters, that is a worst case scenario for Republicans. It is a best case scenario for Democrats. It looks like Democrats are on track to pick up something on the order of about 37 seats in this week`s elections in the end. That`s in the House.
Now when it comes to the Senate, Republicans have been buoyed that they were able to turf out some incumbent Democratic senators where Trump had had double-digit victories in 2016. Not to take away from that at all, but there are a couple of Senate races still to be decided where on election night, Republicans really thought they won where now a few days after the election looks like Republicans might not have won those seats, both in the Arizona Senate race between Republican Martha McSally and Kirsten Sinema, and in the Florida Senate race between Democrat Bill Nelson and Republican Rick Scott. In both of those Senate races, we don`t yet have a winner. We`re in overtime in both states in terms of getting all the ballots counted and figuring out who won those exceedingly close contests.
But Republicans are starting to freak out a little bit about maybe having lost both of those seats. As of tonight in Arizona, Democrat Kyrsten Sinema appears to be ahead by 20,000 votes, 20,000 plus. If you want to measure of how freaked out Republicans are about how that Arizona race is going and how it look likes it may be going to Kyrsten Sinema, the president today freaked out online and demanded that there be a new election held in Arizona. A new election, really? That`s even before they are done counting the ballots.
In Florida, things are way more off the hook than that. We saw fairly ugly protests today at the board of elections in Broward County, Florida. Multiple lawsuits were filed on both sides yesterday and today in Florida. Emergency hearings were held on some of those lawsuits today.
The Florida governor who, of course, is one of the candidates in this disputed Senate election in Florida, he has been threatening to use Florida law enforcement to settle the election to investigate or do something to the counties that are continuing to count votes. It`s getting crazy quickly. It`s getting crazier quicklier. Quicklier?
It`s getting -- it`s getting nuts in Florida. And we can see it going this way sort of as of last night. We are looking at recounts in Florida of both the Senate race between Rick Scott and Bill Nelson and the governor`s race between Republican Ron DeSantis and Democrat Andrew Gillum. Both of those races are going to be recounted.
And things are crazy enough down there today that our show actually sent two producers down to Palm Beach and Broward Counties today so we can have some of our own staff on the ground there just able to see with their own eyes what`s going on to help us get our arms around this story, help us rankle people to talk, to help us understand both the legal fight and what`s happening in terms of protests. So, we`re going to be checking in with our own producers who we sent down there today as well as a lawyer involved in one of the legal fights. That`s coming up in just a minute.
But there is one more thing we have to talk about tonight on what is pretty unbelievably busy news day, and that is the now intertwined story of the president`s own legal trouble and the election drama from this week. The reason these are intertwined, right, is because, as you know, the morning after the election, President Trump fired the attorney general and installed a hand-picked replacement. Now, the means by which the president did that and what we know now about the person who he installed as the acting attorney general, both of those stories have led to stronger and stronger suspicions, stronger and stronger appearances that the president may have made the sudden post-election move out of self-preservation, so this hand-picked acting attorney general could interfere with or potentially shut down investigations that are threatening to the president.
We got Jeff Sessions fired two days ago, replaced with this new guy Trump picked for the job. Now, all of the sudden, we have all this new reporting on what kind of legal jeopardy the president might actually be in that might potentially have led him to make this sudden move so this new guy at the Justice Department might be able to protect him from the jeopardy he finds himself in.
On the front page of the "Wall Street Journal" right now, there is detailed new reporting about the president`s direct personal involvement in the campaign finance felonies to which his personal attorney Michael Cohen pled guilty in August. This is a major new story from "The Wall Street Journal." They found that, quote: Mr. Trump was involved in or briefed on nearly every step of the campaign finance felonies to which Cohen plead guilty.
In addition to these published details, newly published details in "The Wall Street Journal" about Trump`s direct involvement in those crimes, which of course were -- are things that are hinted at in Michael Cohen`s statements in court when he pled guilty to these felony, when he said he had been directed to commit these felonies by a candidate for federal office, in addition to that, "The Wall Street Journal" further reports tonight that, quote, the U.S. attorney`s office in Manhattan has gathered evidence of Mr. Trump`s participation in the transactions.
So, it`s not just that this is in the paper. It`s not just that Michael Cohen has alleged this in court, it`s that prosecutors have all this information. Now, according to the story in "The Wall Street Journal," had Michael Cohen not pled guilty in August, what he would have been hit with is an 80-page detailed indictment that would have spelled out not only his crimes, it would have spelled out granularly what President Trump`s involvement was in these crimes.
The only reason that indictment never saw the light of day is because Cohen instead plead guilty and then started cooperating with prosecutors as they continued to pursue elements of this case. Well, now we can add this from NBC News. Current and former law enforcement officials tell NBC News that when it comes to these campaign finance felonies to which Michael Cohen has already pled guilty, if it were not for Donald Trump being the president of the United States right now, current and former law enforcement officials tell NBC News that Donald Trump almost certainly would have been indicted himself in this matter.
Now, as you know, there is very controversial Justice Department policy that arguably precludes the criminal indictment of any sitting president or vice president. Were it not for that Justice Department policy, these law enforcement sources are telling NBC News that the president would have already been criminally charged.
Well, now we know from history that when prosecutors discover clear evidence of criminal behavior by a sitting president or a sitting vice president, when they believe that the evidence they have uncovered would warrant criminal charges, but they can`t bring those criminal charges only because the president is president, or the vice president is vice president, one of the other options that prosecutors have in terms of what to do with that evidence they`ve collected about a president`s criminal behavior, one of the other things they can do is they can put that evidence together in a report, and they can convey that report to Congress. So Congress can consider whether or not that evidence of criminal behavior by the president or vice president should be used as the basis for impeachment proceedings.
And that is what brings us back to the election this week. Because the Democrats did just clearly win control of the House, that means the Democratic-controlled Judiciary Committee would be there to accept such a report from federal prosecutors if prosecutors decided to convey information about the president`s criminal behavior to Congress for potential impeachment investigations. That said, as soon as the president learned that the Democrats would take control of the House, he put someone new in charge of the Justice Department, who would now arguably be in a position to block any federal prosecutors, including Robert Mueller and the special counsel`s office from doing that.
He presumably would be in the position to prevent prosecutors from collating the evidence they have gathered about the president`s crimes so that that information could be conveyed to Congress.
Now, it is hard to know whether Attorney General Jeff Session or Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein in the role he used to have overseeing the Mueller investigation, it`s hard to know whether either of them would have blocked prosecutors from conveying information to Congress, or I guess conceivably to the public, about evidence of the president`s crimes. But it seems pretty clear that Matt Whitaker, the president`s hand-picked new guy at the Justice Department, he might have been installed specifically for that purpose, specifically to block prosecutors from doing anything with the evidence that they have collated about the president`s crimes.
Again, the "Wall Street Journal" reporting tonight that federal prosecutors have direct evidence of the president`s personal involvement in federal campaign finance felonies to which one person, Michael Cohen has already pled guilty. And so, this Matthew Whitaker appointment right after the election ends up being very, very important, right? One of the things that quickly came to light about Matt Whitaker once the president announced that the president would be installing him as acting attorney general is that Whitaker has been extensively involved with a Florida-based company that got busted earlier this year as a gigantic fraud.
It`s a company called World Patent Marketing. Matt Whitaker was apparently on their advisory board. The company bragged about him being on the board as a way to try to lure potential clients and reassure potential clients that the company was aboveboard, almost in comical language. In December 2014, the company issued a press release that quoted Matt Whitaker as saying, quote, as a former U.S. attorney, I would only align myself with a first class organization. World Patent Marketing goes beyond making statements about doing business ethically and translates them into action.
Federal Trade Commission filed a civil suit against this World Patent Marketing company, describing it as, quote, an invention promotion scam that has bilked thousands of consumers out of millions of dollars. The company was shut down last year, and then arrived at a settlement with the FTC to pay $26 million for having been caught as a fraudulent scheme. Now, the Federal Trade Commission, the FTC paper trail about this scam company that Matt Whitaker was involved in, it`s provided a number of interesting leads for enterprising reporters.
"The Guardian" newspaper tonight, for example, published follow-up reporting on a number of veterans, including disabled veterans who lost their life savings to the World Patent Marketing scam, right, what amounts to a nice story for Veterans Day. Whitaker`s scam company appears to have specifically promoted itself to veterans and thereby targeted veterans for exploitation. And a number of veterans, including disabled veterans, are the named victims in the FTC`s civil lawsuit against the company that resulted in the company being shut down and having to pay $26 million.
Following up with the victims of this scam also led "The Wall Street Journal" to a second major scoop tonight. Check this out. This is almost unbelievable. Quote: The Federal Bureau of Investigation is conducting a criminal investigation of a Florida company accused of scamming millions of dollars from customers during the period that Matthew Whitaker, acting U.S. attorney general, served as a paid advisory board member. According to an e-mail sent to an alleged victim last year by an FBI victim specialist, the investigation is being handled by the Miami Office of the FBI and by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.
Quote: A recording on a phone line set up by the Justice Department to help victims of the scam remains active. Quote, the FTC`s action against the company that resulted in the company shutting down was a civil proceeding. The existence of a continuing FBI investigation suggests that authorities are also looking into potential criminal charges.
Think about this for a second. The guy has been installed by President Trump on President Trump`s say so alone to go run the entire Justice Department, which includes, of course, the FBI. The FBI is criminally investigating a multimillion-dollar fraud scheme that he appears to have been a big part of. Huh?
It`s all happening. The reporter who just broke this rather incredible story joins us next.
MADDOW: We are covering this breaking news tonight that the president appears to have put someone in charge of the justice department who is part of a multimillion-dollar fraud scheme, a fraud scheme that is now the subject of an FBI criminal investigation.
The acting attorney general apparently wasn`t just adjacent to this company either. This wasn`t some affiliation at a distance. A part of this company`s scam, according to the Federal Trade Commission when they shut down this company wasn`t just that the company took people`s money. They took their clients` money and didn`t do anything in exchange for that money.
According to the FTC, the other part of their scam was when their customers started to complain about having been defrauded, about having had all their money taken for nothing, about having been scammed, this company that Whitaker was a part of, World Patent Marketing would then threaten their customers. This is from the FTC complaint page 10 about the blunt nature of some of the company`s threats to its disgruntled customers.
Quote: Defendants also cultivate a threatening atmosphere through e-mails to would-be complainants. For example, complainants distributed to their existing customers a blog post discussing an incident that purportedly occurred in defendant`s offices.
A consumer who wanted to speak with the head of the company about an invention idea was stopped, detained and expelled by defendant`s intimidating security team, all ex-Israeli special ops and trained in Krav Maga, one of the most deadly of the martial arts.
They`re sending this out to their customers.
"The Post" continued, quote: the World Patent Marketing Security Team are the kinds of guys trained to knock out first and ask questions later. This is part of why this outfit was sued by the FTC and shut down.
These threats to their customers, some of their threats were that their security team would come beat you up if you complain order showed up at the offices. The other way they threatened people was by having people affiliated with the company like Acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker, who was on their board, they`d have people like Matt Whitaker, write threatening e-mails to customers who might be willing to complain about having been defrauded by the firm, including one letter sent by Matt Whitaker in which he cited his status as a former U.S. attorney and then threatened the disgruntled customer with, quote, serious civil and criminal consequences if he dared to complain.
We have asked the Justice Department tonight if Matt Whitaker has been advised by the FBI as to whether or not he personally is a target or subject of the FBI`s criminal investigation in this matter. We did not get an answer from the Justice Department on that question in time for us to air it tonight. If they tell us, we will tell you. We have also asked the Justice Department tonight if Acting Attorney General Whitaker is recused from overseeing this matter at the FBI given that it seems like it might kind of be about him.
"The Washington Post" further reports tonight that as part of the FTC case against the company, Whitaker himself was sent a subpoena demanding all of his documents and records regarding the company. Whitaker appears to have ignored the subpoena.
"The Wall Street Journal" further reports that other board members from this company forfeited the money that they were paid by the company when the company got shut down and fined by the FTC. Mr. Whitaker, though, apparently received the demand notice from a court-appointed receiver who was set up to oversee the settlement between the FTC and this company. He received a demand notice asking him too to forfeit the money he had been paid by this fraudulent scheme. He apparently ignored that demand letter and just kept the money.
And now, he is running the Justice Department, including the FBI. Is that okay?
Within the Justice Department, does somebody squawk about this? If the FBI wants to arrest him in this criminal probe, does he have to sign off on his own arrest? Think he would if they asked him?
Joining us now is one of the reporters who broke this story tonight, Mark Maremont, who`s a senior editor and investigative reporter for "The Wall Street Journal".
Mr. Maremont, congratulations on this scoop. Thank you for joining us tonight.
MARK MAREMONT, SENIOR EDITOR, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: Thank you for having me, Rachel.
MADDOW: We asked the Justice Department tonight if Mr. Whitaker would be recused from overseeing this investigation since he was affiliated with this company that you`re reporting is now under investigation. We got no answer. It is clear to you if he is recused?
MAREMONT: We asked the same question, Rachel, and they said that he would seek the advice of ethics officials and do whatever they suggested in this case, and in any case. So --
MADDOW: Do we know or were you able to determine as part of your recording whether he has sought ethics advice on this matter? Obviously, a lot of people are curious to whether he sought ethics advice on overseeing the Mueller investigation and other things that he`d now be in charge of.
MAREMONT: We -- we were not able to ascertain that yet, although I think it`s early days. But I suspect that it`s a pretty bright line situation. The rules are very clear that if he is personally involved in the case like this, that he can`t be involved in overseeing it or anything related to this particular investigation. So I suspect he will be recused.
MADDOW: I don`t know very much about FTC civil lawsuits and how they are resolved and having a court-appointed receiver implementing the terms of the settlement, and how these things actually shake out on the ground. I was surprised in the journal`s reporting to read that Mr. Whitaker had ignored a subpoena that had essentially told him to hand over documents and communications related to his involvement with the firm. I was more surprised to read that he was essentially directed to hand over the money that he made as part of this scheme. Other board members did so, but he did not.
Were either of those things optional, or is he in trouble for not doing either of those things?
MAREMONT: I mean, it`s a civil demand letter from the receiver of -- the court-appointed receiver. So I think, you know, it was not a huge amount of money, and you would they somebody would respond by returning the money. It`s not clear exactly why he hasn`t.
In fact, it`s not clear to me how he, you know -- why he was so involved in this. The other advisory committee members had a much more limited role than he appeared to have had. I mean, he was in two promotional videos for this company, they put out a picture of him with the founder, he wrote that threatening e-mail you referenced to a customer who complained that he was, of all things go to go to the Better Business Bureau and some other, you know, things.
So it seemed odd that he was so invested or involved in this company when the other advisory members some of said who they didn`t even know their names were on the committee or didn`t do anything, just took the money, or inner some cases didn`t get any money at all. So the whole thing is a little strange, I think. This is -- I think the key question is whether Mr. Whittaker knew that there was a fraud going on and somehow abetted it, which he denies very strongly to us, which I can talk about in a minute.
But if he didn`t know about it, this is a guy who was a U.S. attorney overseeing fraud investigations.
MAREMONT: How it is -- it`s a question of his judgment. How is it that he got duped, shall we say, into being part of this thing? I mean, some questions that I would hope he would answer.
MADDOW: Right. Best case scenario in this case he was duped, and that in itself would be a problem for somebody who has just been invested with the kind of judgment -- indicted with the kind of responsibility he has given.
Mark Maremont, senior editor and investigative reporter with "The Wall Street Journal," congratulations on this scoop. Thank you for helping us understand it.
MAREMONT: Thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: I will say the threatening e-mail that Matt Whitaker wrote as part of his involvement in this company, it does seem logical that the company, the scam, threatening customers who -- especially threatened that they were going expose the scheme and go to the Better Business Bureau and make public complaints how they have been defrauded by this company, threats against customers who were going to expose the scheme is the kind of stuff that you would expect to be a part of the criminal side of the investigation of a fraud like this. That is the part of this fraud that Matt Whitaker was involved in personally.
It`s just a remarkable story. How can this person be running the Justice Department right now?
Big news day, like I said. More to come. Stay with us.
MADDOW: So there is an ongoing, very fluid, very much active fight tonight in Florida over that state`s Senate race, which is still not decided, and also its governor`s race. Late on election night, it looked like the Republicans had prevailed in both Florida`s Senate race and the governor`s race. But as more and more votes have been counted since election night, the leads for both Republican candidates have narrowed.
Here`s the Florida governor`s race as of tonight. NBC news still has Republican Ron DeSantis as the apparent winner, but he is only ahead now by 36,000 votes, which is within the margin to trigger a recount, though that call will not officially be made until tomorrow. Democrat Andrew Gillum did, you might remember, give a speech conceding the race on election night, but now not so fast. Andrew Gillum just announced tonight that he is going to talk to the media tomorrow with his attorney at 3:00 p.m. Eastern time.
But now, check out the Senate race. Republican Rick Scott`s lead over Democrat Bill Nelson has shrunk and shrunk and shrunk. It`s down to now 15,000 votes, which is well within the margin to trigger a hand recount of all the votes in the state.
As he saw his lead slipping away last night, Rick Scott kind of freaked out. He is the sitting governor of Florida, and last night he gathered reporters at the governor`s mansion to accuse the election supervisor in Broward County of engaging in, quote, rampant fraud. Rick Scott said he will not let, quote, unethical liberals steal this election. He then announced that he filed lawsuits against Broward County and Palm Beach County, and he announced that he had asked the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to investigate the vote count in his own election.
Once you`ve got the state`s governor threatening to sick law enforcement on vote counters in his own race, it is probably time to send some folks down there to see what the heck is going on. And so, we sent two of our own intrepid producers, Julia Nutter and Lisa Ferry, down to Florida this morning on zero notice. We decided last night during the show somebody`s got to go. Julia and Lisa were we`re tired, but we`ll go.
Sure enough, as soon as they got there, things in Florida went nuts right on cue. This was the scene today at the door of the Broward County office where they were counting votes.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CROWD: Lock her up! Lock her up! Lock her up! Lock her up! Lock her up!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: We think they are chanting for the election supervisor in Broward County, Brenda Snipes, to be locked up since she has been singled out personally for vitriol by Rick Scott and President Trump, but who knows? Who knows, really?
This evening, Florida Republican Congressman Matt Gaetz showed up to cool the passions of the crowd, urge restraint and respect. Yes, right. Or to yell at police officers and elections officials.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. MATT GAEZ (R), FLORIDA: This is not a safety hazard, for us to here. That`s outrageous. That is not a safety hazard.
The safety hazard is they`re in there storing ballots and won`t tell us what`s going on. That`s the safety hazard.
GAETZ: The right to inspect.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You`re saying what the court order said. I`m clarifying what is missing here. So in order to comply, I need to clarify what is missing, right?
GAETZ: Yes, but we`re going to continue to inspect, right?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And you don`t have to raise your voice.
GAETZ: I`m not raising my voice. We going to be able to go in and inspect.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I need to figure out what`s going on.
GAETZ: After you figure that out, are we going to be able to go in and inspect?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Once I figure out what`s going on, I should have answer to your question. Not before.
GAETZ: Why don`t you (INAUDIBLE) now?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you done?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: When you saw Congressman Gaetz haranguing that Broward election official there, what she was trying to do was talk with Rick Scott`s lawyers. Those are the guys on the left. Because this story is also playing out in the courts. Earlier today, Rick Scott`s campaign won a ruling in his lawsuit to try to force the Broward elections supervisor to try to turn over information about their vote tallies.
Broward County was ordered to turn over that information by 7:00 tonight. Scott`s lawyers were there at the election office to receive that court- ordered information, but it doesn`t appear they got the data they came for. There have been fast-moving developments on this front in the last hour or two.
Fortunately, we have our crack sleepless team down there to fill us in.
Joining us now outside the Broward County vote tabulation center were the protests have continued tonight are two of my colleagues, two producers from THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW, Julia Nutter and Lisa Ferri.
You guys, thank you for being there. Much appreciate it.
JULIA NUTTER, TRMS PRODUCER: Any time.
LISA FERRI, TRMS PRODUCER: Happy to do it.
MADDOW: Very good.
All right. Julia, let me start with you. Julia, I know you have been in the middle of the Broward County protest since this morning. Can you just tell us about the character of the protest and how it changed throughout the day?
NUTTER: Yes, I mean, when I first got here, I just came because I wanted to see what it looked like to tabulate votes in Broward County, particularly in like a fraught time as this. I didn`t expect there to be much of a protest at all. And it turns out when I arrived there were about 150 to 200 protester here loudly chanting. I heard them across the parking lot when I arrived.
And I -- it was a little -- it was a little jarring at first. And then when I saw that the elections officials weren`t letting anyone in the doors, not just protesters and media, I saw why it was starting to get very fraught. This was before the ruling in the Rick Scott case. I think at that time people were still a little unsure as to what might happen. So, there were something like mild discussions between people who disagreed.
It was mostly supporters of Scott, and a lot of supporters of DeSantis, a lot of supporters of Trump, a lot of chants of "Trump 2020" and lock her up, as you heard there, which was a little unexpected. I think on my part, but then after the ruling, people started to come back in, particularly supporters of Andrew Gillum, and I think that sort of set up a bit of a tense standoff at times, which was a lot more heated than originally in the day. And so, it`s just dissipated now within the last few minutes.
As you can see, police have been out for the most part all day, and they`ve put up these barricades right around the time that the ruling started happening, the hearing started happening today in expectation that it would get worse. And they`re kind of keeping it up right now.
MADDOW: OK. And so, you`re saying that it was pretty much an all-day-long affair, but it has dissipated this evening --
MADDOW: -- as we`ve gotten into later hours.
Julia, can you tell me if it seemed like the people who were there were trying to be intimidating to the people who were trying to do the counting. Was this actually an effort to try to push the elections workers to do one thing or another, or was this just people expressing themselves?
NUTTER: I think it definitely -- the air that I felt from people I was talking to, the reason why they were here, and many whom don`t even live in Broward County, many just heard this was happening and have come from all over the state, they wanted to make it clear that they were watching, and that someone was watching the people doing the counting. And that was really -- that was really why they were here. That`s why they were crowding the door. That`s why they were here trying to get among journalists, because they wanted to be a part of watching that go down.
And so, yes, it was absolutely here to be intimidating, and I felt that walking in, that that was the feeling. That was what they were trying to convey.
MADDOW: Lisa Ferri, I know that you have been following the legal battle today. I know you were in the courtroom and now at the Broward election center. From what you have seen, including today`s court hearings, how should we expect this fight to play out now? Julia is talking about the kind of interplay between the protests on the street and what`s happening in the courtrooms. Given what you saw today, what should we expect?
FERRI: Well, that ruling from the judge today set up a really dramatic couple of hours. The judge ruled two things had to happen. One, data about the volume of votes had to be handed over from county officials to Rick Scott`s lawyers, depending on who you ask that did or did not happen. They handed over a drop box of information. But the second thing that was supposed to happen was this laying eyes on the actual ballots.
So, Rick Scott`s attorneys were supposed to be allowed into that building over our shoulder to look at the data, and that did not happen. And that is the standoff that happened. You had Rick Scott`s attorneys huddled up here watching their watches, waiting to get in and counting down to the 7:00 p.m. deadline. Officials would come out and talk to them, but they were not allowed in.
I spoke to Rick Scott`s attorneys, and they said we are contemplating actually holding them in contempt of court. Forty-five minutes after that deadline, they came to this compromise, that nobody saw coming, which is 10:00 a.m. tomorrow, Rick Scott`s attorneys are going to be allowed into the room and they`ll be able to lay eyes on those ballots. And that means tomorrow`s really big split through the day, 10:00 a.m. tomorrow behind our shoulders, they`re going to be looking at the ballots.
And in Palm Beach, you`re going to have this hearing about the other Rick Scott case about duplicate ballots. So buckle up. Tomorrow is a big day.
MADDOW: Lisa Ferri, Julia Nutter, my buddies, it has been great to have the two of you on the ground there for us gathering the news, talking to people, trying to get our arms around this story. I owe you both a couple of days off. I am very grateful that you guys are there today. Thank you so much, my friends.
FERRI: Thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: We are going to be sticking on this story. Actually one of the people who Julia and Lisa found for us to talk to us today who has absolutely the most perfect experience for this fight is going to be joining us live next when we come back. Stay with us.
MADDOW: The so-called Brooks Brothers riot, when hundreds of Republicans descended on the Miami-Dade elections offices while Florida votes were being counted after the 2000 presidential election. At the time, they claimed it was a spontaneous grassroots protest by George W. Bush supporters. But it later turned out that at least some of those people storming the elections offices were paid, paid by the George W. Bush recount committee.
It was physical intimidation of a fairly base sort. It was muddying the waters for the press, creating the impression of malfeasance on the part of the election clerks, and it became Republican Party lore, Republican Party legend for how you get your way when the vote count is close and contested. You show up and you push people around and you scream.
Today, different groups of protesters descended on the election headquarters in Broward County, Florida, making claims of illegal votes and a stolen election. They chanted "stop the steal" and "lock her up". And just like in 2000, those protests used their physical presence to try to push for the outcome they want.
Joining us now is Leonard Samuels. He represents the Florida Democratic Party. He represented them in one of today`s case, and he represented them in the 2000 recount as well. He is a partner at Berger Singerman.
Mr. Samuels, I appreciate you being with us tonight. Thank you.
LEONARD SAMUELS, ATTORNEY, FLORIDA DEMOCRATIC PARTY: Happy to be here. Thank you.
MADDOW: Are you drawing the parallels between now and 2000, or is that just me?
SAMUELS: I absolutely am drawing the parallels, and the exact parallel that I`m drawing is that we continue to want all legal votes counted. That was our goal in 2000. That is our goal now, and we`ll be keeping a very careful eye on all of the proceedings, and we`ll be fighting any efforts to stop the counting of lawful ballots.
MADDOW: The president has weighed in on this, disparaging some of the Democratic lawyers who are involved in fighting on the Democratic side of this. Rick Scott has weighed in, said that he was going to use Florida law enforcement to investigate the vote count, and he too casting aspersions on Democratic lawyers who are involved in fighting for this. Can you tell us a little bit about how the two sides are lining up on either side, what kind of firepower is being brought to bear here?
SAMUELS: Well, all I can tell you is the Democratic lawyers that I know, myself included, have the highest ethical rating in the ratings services as we are judged by our peers in the community. So I don`t think that we`re unethical lawyers here who are doing this. We simply want to have the votes counted and we`ll be working towards that.
You know, we will be keeping eye on it. Governor -- Senator Scott, I`m sorry, Senator Nelson received 69 percent of the vote here in Broward County, and we think that they`re making allegations outside of the courtroom of fraud because of that. They are disparaging Dr. Brenda Snipes, who by the way, was appointed by Governor Jeb Bush to her position. They are disparaging her, claiming fraud.
There is not a single iota of evidence of fraudulent conduct brought into the courtroom today. It is being done outside by others with no evidence to stir up opposition to Dr. Brenda Snipes, who is trying to do her job unobstructed at the moment.
MADDOW: So what you`re saying is they`re making fraud claims in the streets. They`re making fraud claims on Twitter and press conferences and out loud. And that has been used to essentially excite some of the crowds that we saw today in Broward County.
But you`re saying they`re not making fraud claims in the courtroom where they`d actually have to prove them.
SAMUELS: Not one single iota of fraud has been brought to the court`s attention today. I am not aware of any fraudulent conduct. And I don`t think that people who are in there counting the votes who are working people and doing their best job are really interested in committing fraudulent acts. I don`t think that Dr. Brenda Snipes who was appointed by Governor Bush is interested in committing fraudulent acts.
We want to get the votes counted here in Broward County. We got all the votes counted and recounted when the recount was in effect. In Broward County, we did our job. We would like to do our job again. And the Florida Democratic Party is going to do its very best to make sure it`s not stopped, it`s not obstructed with false allegations.
MADDOW: Leonard Samuels who represents Florida Democratic Party in -- was involved in the 2000 recount and is also involved in today`s case. Thank you, sir. Much appreciated.
SAMUELS: Thank you.
MADDOW: We will stay -- this story in Florida, one of the things to watch here is it looks like we`re going to have a Senate recount and a gubernatorial recount. There may also be another statewide race that`s recounted. Something about those multiple recounts may not be replay of 2000, but something that`s basically unprecedented. It may be its own level of complication.
This Florida story is going to get even crazier than it is right now over the course of this weekend. Sorry, you`re going to have to pay attention to the news this weekend.
We`ll be right back.
MADDOW: You ever had a CD and it had a scratch and you`d play it and it`d just stick those same two seconds over and over in a loop? This is the Trump version of that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Matt Whitaker, I don`t know Matt Whitaker. Matt Whitaker worked for Jeff Sessions. I didn`t know Matt Whitaker. He worked for Attorney General Sessions. You didn`t have any problem with Matt Whitaker when he worked for Jeff Sessions. I didn`t speak to Matt Whitaker about it. I don`t know Matt Whitaker. Again, he worked for Jeff Sessions. Now, in all fairness to Matt Whitaker, who again I didn`t know, OK?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Who is this Matt you keep talking about? I don`t know a Matt. I`ve never spoken to a Matt. I don`t even have a doormat. Now that I think about it, I don`t think I`ve met a Matt ever. I don`t know.
This is thing the president does, right? When he says a thing that`s not true he doesn`t say it once, he likes to say it a lot over and over again. It`s one of his tells. The more times he says a thing, the less true it tends to be.
It`s sort of a good short cut way to fact check the president. There`s also another way.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
TRUMP: I can tell you Matt Whitaker is a great guy. I mean, I know Matt Whitaker.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MADDOW: I know Matt Whitaker. Look at the date on that. That was 29 days ago. I mean, I have stuff in my fridge older than the president`s recollection of his own new attorney general. I mean, the glass half full version of this story is great.
The president has admitted he knows the person he picked to lead the U.S. Justice Department. But the glass half empty version is what`s going on with the president right now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I don`t know Matt Whitaker. I don`t know Matt Whitaker. I didn`t know Matt Whitaker. I didn`t speak to Matt Whitaker. I don`t know Matt Whitaker. Matt Whitaker, who again I didn`t know, OK?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: The president not being on the top of his game, repeating himself insistently and contradicting himself that is of interest to us as Americans on the daily basis because he`s the president. But it is perhaps of more interest right now because of what he`s about to do. That`s next.
MADDOW: Here`s your weekend news heads up, the Kremlin says President Trump is about to have a meeting with Vladimir Putin in Paris. The White House is not saying that. Past experience tells us that the Kremlin will probably be right about this.
So, keep your wits about you, and watch this space. That does it for us tonight. Now, it`s time for "THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL".
Good evening, Lawrence.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END
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