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Death Toll Climbs to 59 in California Wildfires. TRANSCRIPT: 11/14/18, The Rachel Maddow Show

Guests: Ron Klain, Ruth Buffalo

CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST:  I looked down and I was like, am I 40 over or am I short?  And then I got panicked that I was over.  And I was like, I just ate up 40 seconds of her show.  I got to go to her and then I came too early. 

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST:  You came to me early.  It`s nice to see you, I`ll just get that out of the way.  No, it`s fine. 

But that was a very nice man who was fixing my earpiece and microphone. 

HAYES:  My bad, America, sorry.  Go watch, Rachel.

MADDOW:  Thanks, Chris.  A little peek behind the curtain there, woo, that`s who you it works.  Earpiece, microphone, nice man who puts it on, and then we start the show.  Now, you`ve been here for that part too. 

All right.  Happy to have you with us here.  Thanks for being with us this hour. 

Heading into last week`s midterm elections, we knew to expect in the news a few different things that would probably happen right after the elections were over.  First of all, we expected that particularly if the Democrats did well in the midterm elections, we would start to see some Democrats making public noises, some Democrats having the first overt public discussions about maybe running for president in 2020. 

Richard Ojeda, an underdog populist Democratic veteran who ran a strong congressional campaign in Virginia, in a really, really pro-Trump district, he did not win his congressional race but he was first out of the gate after the election in saying that he is definitely going to run for president in 2020.  He made it officially official, right away. 

Right at the closing moments of the elections, we also saw a new thinly veiled sort of presidential political ad from billionaire Michael Bloomberg where he speaks at length directly to the camera.  After contributing tons of money to Democratic candidates for this year`s elections, and telling the press that he is definitely a Democrat now and he plans to stay one this time, Michael Bloomberg isn`t explicitly saying yet that he is definitely running for president.  But that is clearly what he is gearing up for, and he made that clear just as people were going to the polls. 

Progressive populist Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio, he won his Senate race on Tuesday night, his reelection race, despite Republicans targeting him heavily and despite Ohio otherwise staying pretty Republican this year.  Senator Brown soon thereafter admitted to reporters that yes, he is thinking about running for president in 2020, he`s talking with his family about it, although in the case of Senator Brown, I think it`s fair to say that for years now, he`s basically been sort of pushed against his will toward a presidential run.  I mean, not necessarily against his will, but it`s been other thing who think he would be a good candidate, who think he would be a good president, who have been asking and asking and asking him for years whether he might be a candidate. 

It`s not that he`s been stoking that interest himself.  He has just been the subject of that interest for a long time.  But after all those years, people pressing him and asking him about the subject, now it is notable that he and his family are admitting that, yes, OK, finally, they are thinking about it. 

Former San Antonio mayor, former secretary of HUD under President Obama, Julian Castro, he held a high profile, big meeting with his supporter and his donors in his home city of San Antonio, on Monday of this week to talk about the prospect of him making a run for the presidency as well in 2020. 

Congressman Eric Swalwell spent the weekend after the election, this past weekend, in Iowa.  Eric Swalwell is not a congressman from Iowa.  He is a congressman from California.  But it is now a matter of not just rumors but actual headlines that this impressive young former prosecutor and a key member of the intelligence committee, Congressman Swalwell Pretty clearly is going to make a run for president as well. 

We knew that the Democratic field of presidential candidates would start to take shape pretty soon after the midterms.  I can honestly give you another ten names off the top of my head of Democrats who I`m pretty sure are pretty sure that they`re going to run too, even if they haven`t made it public yet. 

But just as we expected, that process is quite clearly in motion now, in the wake of the midterm elections.  And every day from here on out, the Democratic Party`s field of potential presidential contenders for the next elections in 2020, that is going to get bigger and more interesting with each passing day.  So, we knew that would start to happen.  That is definitely now happening. 

Another thing we thought might happen very quickly right after the election is that we thought the president might move very quickly to do something new and controversial while the election news was still hot, while election news was still dominating the headlines.  So, among other things, the impact of his latest controversial move would be dulled or at least muddied by the election results.  It`s quite clear what that was. 

We saw in bright relief the intent of the president when he fired the Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the very morning after the midterm elections.  He replaced him with a handpicked replacement who was best known as an anti-Hillary Clinton, anti-Mueller investigation cable news pundit.  The Justice Department is now being run by that Trump appointee, Matthew Whitaker.  Today, the Justice Department Office of Legal Counsel published a memo arguing that it was in fact legal for President Trump to appoint Matt Whitaker to be acting attorney general, even though that is a matter of considerable controversy even in conservative legal circles.

Today, the incoming Democratic chairman of key committees in Congress announced that they are already launching an investigation right now into Matt Whitaker`s involvement in a sham Florida company that was essentially a long running criminal fraud scheme.  And I don`t say that as an insult.  I say it because the company has already been shut down by the federal trade commission and was ordered to pay a $26 million settlement against these fraud claims from the federal government. 

Matt Whitaker among other things is believed to have defied that settlement, to not pay back his own share of the proceeds from the fraud.  He`s also reported to have dodged a subpoena for his own records and communications with the company at the heart of the fraud.  "The Wall Street Journal" has also reported that the scheme is now the subject of a criminal investigation by the FBI, which is particularly awkward since Trump has just installed Matt Whitaker to supervise the FBI. 

Matt Whitaker also reported in "The Washington Post" tonight to be considered a material witness, in the FTC part of the case against this company that he has bee involved with.  He was considered to be a material witness.  And the FTC in their investigation of this firm was apparently looking at Whitaker personally and specifically as to whether he had been involved in issuing legal threats to defrauded customers of this sham company who threatened to complain or make public their experience being ripped off by this firm with which Whitaker was associated. 

Matt Whitaker, of course is also apparently supervising the Russia investigation now being carried out by Robert Mueller`s special counsel office.  Despite Whitaker`s extensive public remarks criticizing that investigation and despite his own close relationship with a key player in the Russia scandal, the Trump campaign national chairman, Sam Clovis, who hired and supervised both Carter Page and George Papadopoulos during the time period when their behavior attracted so much attention from the FBI and ultimately the special counsel. 

He was a campaign chairman for Sam Clovis and Clovis still described him as a friend.  That sort of personal connection to that ongoing investigation would usually require the recusal of anybody at the Justice Department from overseeing that kind of investigation.  Apparently, Matt Whitaker, as far as we know, does not see the need to recuse. 

Today in the Senate, outgoing Republican Senator Jeff Flake whose Senate seat in Arizona was just won by Democrat Kyrsten Sinema, Senator Flake today once again pushed a bipartisan bill to try to protect special counsel Robert Mueller from getting fired.  Republican Senate leadership quickly blocked the bill.  Senator Flake then announced that his fellow Republicans can`t count on his vote for any more judges or anything else until they pass the protect Mueller bill. 


SEN. JEFF FLAKE (R), ARIZONA:  I would like to take this opportunity to say a few words about what special counsel Mueller and his team have been investigating and why, as the point of this vital investigation seems to have been purposely confused and maligned by the White House in a rather alarming way.  This bill was designed to do one thing, protect the integrity of the special counsel`s investigation and spare it of any influence and interference from the executive branch, including from those who may themselves be the subjects of that investigation.  This special counsel was appointed to thoroughly investigate the attacks on our electoral system by elements of the Russian government during the lead-up to our 2016 general election. 

One would think that there would be unanimous national resolve to get to the bottom of such aggression from an enemy foreign power.  This is not a moment for our national leadership to be weak or irresolute or compromised in any way.  But some of us in Washington have seemed strangely incurious about just what the Russian malefactors did to America in 2016 at the direction of Vladimir Putin. 

With the firing of the attorney general and in my view, the improper installation of an acting attorney general who has not been subject to confirmation by this body, the president now has this investigation in his sights and we all know it on this unanimous consent request that has just failed today.  Senator coons and I are prepared to make it again and again until there is a vote on this vital bipartisan legislation on the Senate floor. 

And I have informed the majority leader that I will not vote to advance any of the 21 judicial nominees pending in the judiciary committee or vote to confirm the 32 judges awaiting confirmation on the Senate floor until S2644 is brought to the full Senate for a vote. 


MADDOW:  Senator Jeff Flake saying he has told the Republican leadership they can`t count on his vote for 53 different judicial nominees, either in the Judiciary Committee or on the floor of the Senate, until they vote on this bill to protect Mueller.  Republican Senator Flake speaking late this afternoon on the floor of the Senate.  He spoke alongside Democratic Senators Chris Coons and Cory Booker. 

Now, the Republican line up until now has been that there`s no danger to the Mueller investigation whatsoever, so why would anybody take any steps to protect it?  That`s been the line.  Now that the attorney general has been pushed out and the deputy attorney general has been pushed aside and the president has instead installed his own guy to take over, it is hard to see how that Republican argument still holds about Mueller being totally safe and sound. 

But Senator Flake today was trying to push the issue to its limit on his way out the door in the U.S. Senate.  So we will see what the Senate reaction is to Flake throwing down that gauntlet. 

That said, the other thing that we sort of expected to see happen right after the midterm elections is that we expected the Mueller investigation itself to spring back to life in a visible way.  Justice Department rules discourage public action by prosecutors just before election time if those actions might be construed to have an effect on the elections.  And so we saw almost no publicly observable actions from the special counsel`s office at all in the lead-up to last week`s midterms. 

Well, now the midterms are over, now that it`s been a week, we`re of course wondering if Matt Whitaker has already been able to delay or divert or flat-out block any actions that Mueller`s office might already otherwise have taken.  How would we know? 

One of Mueller`s prosecutors did appear in court last week, after the election, to argue a case before a federal appeals court where the plaintiff is trying to have Mueller`s office shut down.  Reporters who watched the federal courthouse in D.C. where the grand jury convenes that`s being overseen by Mueller, those reporters say there has been plenty of activity in that grand jury room in recent weeks.  And so, leading up to the election, it did appear like Mueller`s team was quite busy preparing something.  What might it have been? 

Well, now, tonight, we`ve had another sign of life, a one-page sign of life from the special counsel.  The president`s deputy campaign chair Rick Gates is still out on bail right now awaiting sentencing after he pled guilty to multiple felonies and entered into a cooperation agreement with the special counsel`s office.  While Gates continues to cooperate with prosecutors, his lawyers and Mueller`s office periodically need to check in with the judge in his case to keep that judge apprised of their progress, basically, to let the judge know when Rick Gates` cooperation period might be coming to an end, when they`re done with him, so the judge can go ahead and move forward with sentencing Rick Gates for his crimes. 

That`s where tonight`s news comes in.  The last time Robert Mueller`s office and Rick Gates` lawyers had to check in with the judge in his case about his cooperation deal and how it was going and when they might be ready to finish his cooperation so they can move on with sentencing him, the last time they checked in before today was in August, August 10th. 

At that time, Mueller`s office told the judge that Rick Gates continued to meet with the special counsel`s office, that he continued to cooperate, and that they therefore were not ready to go ahead with sentencing him yet.  They said specifically, quote, the investigation which includes the possible continued need for assistance from the defendant, the investigation is ongoing. 

The investigation he is helping with ongoing.  So they told the court in August that they would need another 90 days before they check in again.  Well, that 90 days is now up. 

And now, today, Mueller`s office filed a new update with the court about Rick Gates.  And in the new update just filed, Mueller`s office says they still are not ready to finish with Rick Gates.  They`ve asked the court for another 60 days with him.  They want to check in with the court about him again in mid-January. 

But this time, this is interesting, this time they say the reason they need more time with him is because Rick Gates, quote, continues to cooperate with respect to several ongoing investigations.  Oh.  So, 90 days ago, the investigation Rick Gates was helping them with was ongoing, "the investigation."  Now, today, it`s "several investigations" that he is helping them with, and they are all still ongoing. 

So we don`t know what those investigations are that Rick Gates` cooperation is helping the special counsel with.  We have no transparency at all as to whether the newly installed Trump loyalist at the top of the Justice Department is already messing with the special counsel investigation somehow, right?  But today, the special counsel`s office did pop its head above water to tell the court about its several ongoing investigations, and to tell the court that they expect to be working with one of their major cooperators at least until 2019. 

So, a lot of things are sort of percolating, even boiling over all at once, right?  Today, the Republicans in the House picked their new leadership, now that they`ve been booted down to the minority and now that outgoing House Speaker Paul Ryan has quit Congress altogether, the new Republican leader in the House, no surprise, will be Kevin McCarthy of California. 

The Republicans are going to be down to single digits in terms of their congressional delegation in California.  California has 53 members of the House, less than ten of them are going to be Republicans.  But one of those ten is going to be the top Republican in the House of Representatives. 

In terms of all the rest of Republican leadership in the house, everybody else is sort of musical chairs, they all move around, except for the one new person they have named to the number three position for House Republican leadership, their number three leadership job will now be Congresswoman Liz Cheney, daughter of Dick Cheney, the former vice president, which is something. 

Today, House Democrats made noise about the possibility of choosing someone other than Nancy Pelosi to be the Democratic leader and the speaker of the house in the new Democratic controlled Congress when they all get sworn in early next year.  Now, it`s not clear who else the Democrats might consider for the top job if not Nancy Pelosi.  But this, of course, would be a classic Democratic Party move, right? 

I mean, the party loses seats in the senate, and so they make zero changes to their Senate leadership.  At the same time, in the same election, on the same night, the party picks up more seats in the House than at any time since the immediate aftermath of Watergate.  And the party responds to that by maybe turfing out their leader in the House? 

We just had the biggest gain since Watergate.  Pelosi must pay.  Schumer, you guys are good.  I mean, nothing against or for Schumer or against or for Pelosi, but how does that math work? 

It`s not clear how this leadership fight on the Democratic side is going to play out over the next few days.  But it does appear that Nancy Pelosi is going to have a fight on her hands to see if she`ll get the speaker`s gavel again, which is pretty amazing. 

And meanwhile, the election that set all this stuff into motion itself is not over yet.  The certification of the vote in the Georgia governor`s race between Brian Kemp and Stacey Abrams, that has been delayed until at least Friday as the campaign of Stacey Abrams says there are tens of thousands of votes left to be counted but the office of Secretary of State Brian Kemp who is the Republican candidate against Abrams, his office says that far fewer votes remain and there are definitely not enough to get Abrams to a recount or to a runoff. 

The wrangling over this election, this undecided election in Georgia now is happening in the courts.  It`s also happening in protests like these that resulted in arrests at the Georgia state capitol including of at least one state lawmaker. 

Now, in Florida, there are recounts under way in three statewide races, including the state agriculture commissioner, the U.S. Senate race, and the governor`s race.  The deadline for the machine recount in Florida is tomorrow.  It looks like they will probably hit that deadline.  But court hearings happen today in Florida.  There will be more court hearings tomorrow.

There are multiple lawsuits on both sides of this issue, both statewide and in specific counties, including a bizarre allegation today in which, I kid you not, Republicans accused Democrats of deliberately advising Democratic voters to send in their ballots after the deadline, so those Democratic ballots wouldn`t be counted.  Why would the Democrats want to do that?  How is that a nefarious scheme on the part of the Democrats?  Choose your own adventure.  I don`t know. 

But there`s a couple of things you should know about how this is proceeding in Florida right now.  We`re coming up against that deadline for the recount tomorrow.  But there`s a couple of things I think to see from a sort of wider lens here about what`s happening in Florida, as we come up against that deadline tomorrow, and especially as we focus on that Senate recount, which is exceedingly a close race and obviously were the ultimate balance of power in the Senate will hang in the balance in terms of who ultimately wins. 

Now, as you may have seen, President Trump and the Republican Senate candidate in Florida Rick Scott and the Republican Party nationally, they`re all now exclusively making this one argument over and over and over again.  Their whole approach to what`s going on in Florida is this argument that the only reason there`s a recount, the only reason it`s close, the only reason that Rick Scott might not win, is rampant voter fraud, is illegal activity by the Democrats.  Democrats stealing the election.  That is their unified, single argument about what`s happening in Florida now. 

Now, to state the obvious, that is not setting the conditions for the Republicans ever accepting the outcome of these elections in Florida if they don`t end up winning them, right?  That is a big hairy deal for our democracy in general.  But it`s also what we worried might happen with Trump in 2016, had he not won the presidential election against Hillary Clinton. 

You might remember in the lead-up to the 2016 election, this flamboyant Trump campaign associate, former Paul Manafort business partner named Roger Stone.  He formed a political organization called Stop the Steal.  And you might have seen press about it in advance of the 2016 election.  One of the things they said they were going to do is that they were going to do their own basically fake exit polling after the presidential election in case Trump lost, because they would want to be able to show in their fake exit polls that really Trump won and the whole thing had been stolen and that could be a basis for contesting Hillary Clinton`s legitimacy as president. 

That plan by Stop the Steal and Roger Stone happened to dovetail exactly with what the Russian military intelligence campaign that targeted our election planned to do in the event of a Trump loss as well.  You might remember, in the intelligence community assessment about Russia`s election interference, it said explicitly that Russian intelligence planned to shift its messaging if Trump lost and Clinton won, to say that the Democrats had stolen the election and Trump was the real winner.  The idea was that would sow chaos in the United States, it would undercut Clinton`s legitimacy as president hopefully in an ongoing way.  It could potentially even lead to political violence in the United States. 

According to the intelligence community assessment of what Russia did to interfere with our election, that was Russia`s 2016 plan if Trump didn`t win.  It was also the Stop the Steal Roger Stone plan. 

Well, ultimately, Trump did win.  But the special counsel`s office started looking into what exactly happened in the campaign between the Trump camp and the Russian interference campaign.  And as part of that investigation, political entities that Roger Stone created around the Trump campaign started getting subpoenaed, as did lots of the people who worked for them.  Stone himself right now is widely believed to be awaiting his own indictment by Robert Mueller. 

But the angry Republican protests outside the elections offices in Florida right now, they are being organized under that same Stop the Steal banner that Roger Stone for the Trump campaign and apparently Russian intelligence both prepped in 2016 in case Trump hadn`t won the presidential election.  They didn`t end up having to use it in 2016 but they`re trying it on now to see how it works in Florida. 

And as far as we can tell, it`s not just the same signage and the same slogan.  At least on the Republican side, it appears to be the same people personally who are involved in trying to pull this off. 


TRMS PRODUCER:  So you gave out these stickers yesterday, you gave out the stickers today.


TRMS PRODUCER:  You told me last night you guys work for Roger Stone. 

ENGELS:  Roger is a good friend.  He`s a good friend. 

TRMS PRODUCER:  But you are good friends?  Is that the extent to which you`re working for him, just as friends? 

ENGELS:  Excuse me, who are you? 

TRMS PRODUCER:  We met last night, I`m the MSNBC producer. 

ENGELS:  I`m sorry, I didn`t know how it was with the glasses.

  TRMS PRODUCER:  That`s OK.  I`m different in the daytime. 

ENGELS:  Roger`s a good friend.  He`s kind of a mentor. You know, he`s mentored a lot of people.  But he`s a freedom fighter. 

TRMS PRODUCER:  Did you talk to Roger today about coming to Broward? 

ENGELS:  Did I speak with Roger?  I don`t know why that`s relevant.  Yeah, I spoke with Roger. 


MADDOW:  Yes, yes, that`s not relevant.  Yes, I spoke to him. 

The elections` consequences are still unfolding.  The election itself is still happening.  The playbook for how to try to declare the election results invalid, to try to declare the election stolen by Democrats, that is what we`re seeing right now, something very much like what they developed in 2016 that they never had to put in place because Trump won. 

But they do appear to be putting it in place at least in Florida now, in places where Trump allies are still facing recounts. 

Hold on.  More to come. 


MADDOW:  A week and a day after the election, we`re still wait to go find out how the movie ends in a bunch of races big and small.  We have some news from a few outstanding races for Congress. 

In New Jersey, NBC News has just declared Democrat Andrew Kim to be the apparent winner over Republican incumbent Tom MacArthur.  So, that is a Democratic pickup. 

Same story in California tonight where NBC News now says that Democrat Josh Harder is the apparent winner over Republican incumbent Congressman Jeff Denham.

Democrats also like their chances in other California congressional races that are as yet uncalled.  Democratic challenger Gil Cisneros is within 150 votes of Republican Young Kim.  This is a seat that`s open.  It was previously held by Republican Congressman Ed Royce who retired.  So, if Gil Cisneros wins there over Young Kim, that would be a Democratic pickup as well. 

Same story in the 45th district in California, where there`s an incumbent Republican Congresswoman Mimi Walters who now trails her Democratic challenger, Katie Porter.  Porter is now up by just under 4,000 votes or so over Mimi Walters.  I should tell you that Mimi Walters has now started saying Democrats are stealing the race from her.  But the vote count just proceeds. 

There may be literally millions of votes left to count in California even now, in part because the state is so darn big but in large part because so much of the state now votes by mail and it takes a while for the ballots to get delivered.  There may be over 3 million ballots yet to be counted in California. 

In Utah tonight, Republican Congresswoman Mia Love continues to make up ground on her Democratic challenger Ben McAdams.  Mia Love has already been proclaimed the loser of this race by President Trump, which was weird.  Right now, she does trail in that race but she trails by less than a thousand votes. 

We also have a hard fought, high profile contest in the Georgia governor`s race.  That remains too close to call.  And, of course, we have Florida -- perhaps the biggest fight of all, with no winner yet in either the governor`s race or the Senate race, with the challenges in the courts and the protests on the ground now hitting eight days and counting after the election. 

The person I wanted to talk to about this tonight is Ron Klain.  He`s an attorney who worked on behalf of Al Gore in the nightmare 2000 Florida presidential recount. 

Mr. Klain, thanks very much for joining us.  It`s nice to have you here.


MADDOW:  One of the reasons I wanted to talk to you about this is because I know you have voiced this interesting idea that what is happening in Florida right now with the legal challenges, with the physical protests that are happening in the street outside elections offices, and with the sort of PR campaign being waged by the president, by Rick Scott, by the Republican Party.  You`ve described this as something that we should maybe see as a kind of dry run for how the president might contest his own election results if he lost in 2020. 

As a veteran of all the things you`ve been involved in and you`ve seen, why do you make that case about what`s happening in Florida now? 

KLAIN:  Look, we have to separate what`s really happening on the ground in Florida, which is a process whereby ballots are being counted, they`re being recounted pursuant to law, that`s what it should be, from what Donald Trump and Rick Scott are trying to spin as the narrative of what`s happening in Florida, that`s this completely baseless claim of voter fraud, votes being made up, this sort of thing. 

And, look, as you said in the intro, Rachel, Trump kind of ran a version of this in 2016 including in the last presidential debate, saying he wouldn`t accept the results of the election if he lost.  And now I think, you know, how did he finally win?  He won by razor thin margins in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Michigan on Election Day.  If those states go against him by razor thin margins in 2020, I think he`ll try to discredit those results, he`ll claim fraud, he and Roger Stone will be working on this Stop the Steal thing and try to turn the tables on democracy and suggest that the candidate who got the most votes shouldn`t win. 

And by the way, this isn`t a new tactic.  Roger Stone and his people all the way back in 2000 organized a fake riot to stop the vote counting in Miami-Dade County in 2000, an incident known as the Brooks Brothers Riot, a bunch of Washington conservative staffers flown in, organized by Roger Stone, who shut down a legal vote count in Miami-Dade County.  That`s one reason we`ll never know who would have won if all the votes had been counted in 2000. 

MADDOW:  Well, given that experience, given what you went through in 2000, given your Washington experience -- I mean, you were chief of staff to Joe Biden, you were chief of staff to Al Gore, given what we`ve seen telegraphed in the Russian interference campaign and what Trump telegraphed in 2016 ahead of that election that I think even they thought that they were going to lose, what`s the way to fight it or what`s the remedy to that?  I mean, having been through it before and knowing that it`s coming doesn`t necessarily prepare you to stand up against it when it does happen. 

KLAIN:  I think there`s three things we need to do, right?  The first is we`ve got to get the partisans out of the vote counting.  The outrage in Florida is that Rick Scott is the chief legal officer of Florida.  He`s also the Republican nominee for senate.  He sent police in to try to investigate the recount. 

And as you said, over in Georgia, even more outrageous situation.  Brian Kemp, the secretary of state, the chief elections officer in the state, declined registrations, purged the rolls. 

Having these partisans involved in this voting process is bad news, there`s no question about it.  Secondly, we have to invest in better -- investments in the election infrastructure.  Part of the problem here is it takes a long time because machines are old, particularly in large counties, the count is slow, that adds to this doubt. 

But most of all, Rachel, there`s a political answer.  Democrats have to win by a large enough margin to shut this down.  And, you know, that`s ultimately what Barack Obama did in 2008 and 2012.  And frankly, that`s one thing we`re just going to have to do in 20.  We`re going to have to win by enough of a margin that these tactics really will be ineffective. 

MADDOW:  I mean, heading into what`s about to happen in Georgia and Florida, though, all of those things you just described would work great if there was a Superman somewhere who could run backwards on the equator and make us all go back in time, right?  I mean, we`re now, you know, facing what`s about to happen in Georgia and what`s about to happen in Florida in terms of these deadlines and the resolution of these fights, with the vote counts being what they are, with the protests being what they are, with the strategic arsenal being what it is on the Republican side, where they`re flat out saying they`re not going to accept it if the Democrats turn out to be the winners here. 

Given that that`s where things are now, what do you think Democrats should do overt next two days as we come up against these deadlines in Georgia and Florida? 

KLAIN:  Well, I think she should do what they are doing, an excellent legal team on the ground in the Senate race led by Marc Elias, the best recount lawyer in the country.  And, again, as I said at the outset, Rachel, notwithstanding on this noise that Trump is making, the recount is proceeding.  The machine recount should be done shortly.  Some problems in Palm Beach, Marc is in court fighting that, making sure there`s enough time, and then a hand recount to reveal what happened to those 30,000 mystery ballots in Broward County that had no Senate votes even though they had down-ballot votes. 

So, you know, following the law, pursuing the law, getting the votes counted, that`s what they`re doing on the ground.  I do think at the end of that process, we will have a final tally and the candidate with the most votes will be sworn in. 

That`s different than in 2000.  In 2000, because of the looming deadlines at the Electoral College, the Supreme Court just ended the recount before it could be finished.  I believe that with the leadership we have on the ground in Florida, notwithstanding Mr. Trump`s tactics, this recount will be completed and we`ll know who actually got the most votes on Election Day. 

MADDOW:  Ron Klain, who`s chief of staff to both Vice President Biden and Vice President Gore, veteran of the 2000 recount and a lot of other interesting political fights besides -- Ron, it`s really nice to have you here.  Thanks for being with us. 

KLAIN:  Thanks, Rachel. 

MADDOW:  All right.  Stay with us.


MADDOW:  OK.  Update to a straight up bizarre story we brought you last night about the first lady of the United States publicly proclaiming that it was the position of the office of the first lady that the deputy national security adviser should be fired.  No, you weren`t drinking.  That happened in yesterday`s news. 

Deputy national security adviser Mira Ricardel was hired at the National Security Council by national security adviser John Bolton.  Yesterday, we saw this flurry of reports that Mira Ricardel had essentially been frog marched out of the White House on the orders of the first lady amid some unspecified tensions between her and the first lady`s office. 

The first lady`s office really did put out this totally unprecedented statement which said, quote: It is the position of the Office of the First Lady that she, Mira Ricardel, deputy national security adviser, no longer deserves the honor of serving in this White House. 

Despite that statement, by the end of the day yesterday, Mira Ricardel apparently she still had her White House job.  She also reported for work this morning as well, but by this evening, it appears the first lady has gotten her scalp, I mean her way.  The White House announcing this evening that, quote, Mira Ricardel will continue to support the president as she departs the White House to transition to a new role within the administration. 

What that new role is, we have no idea.  But we now know that yes, there may have been a one-day delay, but the first lady did indeed fire the deputy national security adviser, which honestly is -- I mean, I usually have so many words.  I have the best words.  For this, I have no words.  Seriously, this just happened. 

Stay with us.


MADDOW:  So one thing went according to plan.  The Democratic senator from North Dakota, as you know, did not win reelection last week.  Heidi Heitkamp lost her seat in North Dakota by double digits.  A Democrat winning reelection in a state that went for Trump by dozens of points, it was always going to be an uphill climb. 

But Republicans in North Dakota have been laser focused on making that climb as steep as possible for Heidi Heitkamp since basically the day she was first elected.  Their plan, their mission was to make sure Heitkamp would never win statewide election in their state again.  And that plan started with a bill.

We`ve talked about it a ton on this show.  Right after Heitkamp was elected with a ton of rock solid support from Native American voters, Republicans in the North Dakota state legislature pushed through a bill that made it a new law in the state that in order to vote, you would need an ID that had a street address on it.  What that bill was quite clearly designed to do was to choke off the Native American vote in North Dakota. 

Thousands of Native Americans in North Dakota live on rural reservations where they don`t have street addresses.  They use P.O. boxes instead.  So, that voter ID law was aimed right at them.  It made it next to impossible for them to vote, especially in the kinds of numbers they have voted in in the past. 

Native Americans generally form a pretty strong vote for Democrats in North Dakota.  Their support absolutely made it possible for Heidi Heitkamp to squeak out a win for her Senate seat in 2012 in that state.  That`s very clearly why Republicans wrote that bill, to stop Native Americans from voting in large numbers, to basically put a ceiling on the number of Democratic voters in North Dakota and specifically to prevent Heidi Heitkamp from ever getting reelected. 

Well, in the end, last week, Heidi Heitkamp did lose.  In that sense, Republicans in North Dakota got what they wanted from their plan.  But they may have gotten not what they wanted in terms of that bill. 

I want you to look at this in terms of the results we`ve got now about how that bill ultimately played out in North Dakota.  Compared to the last midterm election, turnout was up double digits this year in these majority Native American counties.  In one instance, triple digits.  That voter ID bill may have been aimed at stopping Native Americans from voting, but by so clearly trying to stop native Americans from voting, they appear to have really mobilized Native American voters. 

This bill, this effort to suppress the Native American vote appears to have driven Native Americans to the polls, galvanized them.  The bill made Native American voters so mad that they turned out to vote in numbers we have never seen before, numbers that even outpaced a presidential year, which is unheard of.  That`s one unintended consequence of that blatant effort to block Native American voters from the polls this year in North Dakota. 

But here`s one other consequence.  This is Randy Boehning.  He`s a state legislator from Fargo in North Dakota.  He was the primary sponsor of that voter ID bill to block Native Americans from voting. 

Randy Boehning last week just lost reelection.  His constituents did not want to send the stop Native Americans from voting guy back to the statehouse.  Instead they picked this woman, her name is Ruth Buffalo. 

She`s a Native American.  She`s the first Native American Democratic woman ever elected to the North Dakota state legislature.  Ms. Buffalo says her mom, her sisters, her aunt, her uncle, her cousins, they all live on reservations in the state, all places very much affected by Randy Boehning`s voter ID law.  But Randy Boehning no longer has a seat in the state legislature because Ruth Buffalo now has his seat.

Joining us now is Ruth Buffalo.  She`s the newly elected state rep from North Dakota`s 27th district.  Tonight, she joins us from the state capital in Bismarck where she is attending legislative meetings. 

Ms. Buffalo, really appreciate you`re taking time for us.  Thank you for being with us tonight. 

RUTH BUFFALO, STATE REP-ELECT, NORTH DAKOTA:  Thank you.  Thank you, Rachel, for having me on.  I appreciate it. 

MADDOW:  I wanted to ask you about basically the introduction that I just gave and asked your take on it.  It was our impression, covering this North Dakota fight from across the country, that there was a galvanizing effect of this voter ID law, that the apparent effort to make it more difficult or outright block a lot of Native Americans from being able to cast their votes this year, that it may have had a galvanizing effect. 

Again, that`s how it looks from here.  Is that how it felt to you in the state? 

BUFFALO:  Yes, it did.  This law was purposely written to disenfranchise our voters proportionately across the board.  But within every negative, we can find a positive, and we definitely saw our Native American communities turn out the vote in record numbers in this election. 

MADDOW:  I wonder how you feel like your election in particular and the reaction, both nationwide reaction and reaction within the state, to what happened with this voter ID law, I wonder if you feel like it`s going to affect the state legislator?  Obviously, it was the state government that passed this bill and fought for it through all these court challenges.  The main author of the bill is the man who you have replaced in the state legislator. 

BUFFALO:  Well, what we are seeing is communities are being energized, voter engagement has increased, civic engagement has increased.  We see our youth that are still continuing to lead the way.  So, it`s a very energizing time right now, and we`re definitely looking forward to some good things to happen in the future in our legislator across our state. 

MADDOW:  You obviously have a big victory that you just celebrated.  Already at the state legislator tonight, I recognize to be able to talk to us this evening, I just have to ask you given the landmark nature of your win, you`re the first Native American Democratic woman to serve in this legislator.  You obviously beat somebody in a way that has national resonance and symbolic value as well.

What are your priorities?  What are you hoping for now that you`ve taken the seat? 

BUFFALO:  Well, first of all, I want to learn the processes of how the process works in the legislature.  I`m a freshman legislator.  I also want to continue the good work of many others that have gone before me.  Definitely looking at health care, access for all people, making sure that our education system is well funded and that our communities are safe especially for our women and children. 

MADDOW:  Ruth Buffalo, the first Native American Democratic woman to be elected to the legislator in her state in North Dakota after this incredible fight that got so much national attention and has some really remarkable results.  Congratulations on your victory and stay in touch.  We`d love to know how things go for you as you settle in. 

BUFFALO:  Thank you. 

MADDOW:  All right.  We`ll be right back.  Stay with us. 


MADDOW:  We`ve got some breaking news tonight from California.  Just moments ago, Cal Fire officials announced that the death toll from multiple fires across the state has risen again to 59.  Fifty-nine fatalities thus far in Paradise, California, the catastrophic Camp Fire has now burned over 138,000 acres.  This is now the deadliest fire in California state history. 

That fire, the Camp Fire, is currently 35 percent contained as it continues to burn in northern California.  Nine thousand firefighters were dispatched across the state today.  There are several fires that are still burning, including one big one in Los Angeles and Ventura Counties.  It`s called the Woolsey Fire.

In the Woolsey Fire, three people have died.  That has destroyed more than or burned through 98,000 acres.  The Woolsey Fire has reached 52 percent containment at this point, but dangers remain even for areas that have been cleared of immediate fire danger.  Authorities in Malibu, California, today warned residents who are returning to their homes that they need to be wary of potential flooding and mud flows. 

Early forecasts for next week do show potential rain in the area, and I know water at this point sounds like a very good thing, but in these areas that have already been burned through, burnt soil and critically dry vegetation create a perfect storm for a new potentially huge natural disaster in the form of mud slides and flooding. 

But again tonight, we are just getting word from cal fire that the death toll across California now stands at 59 and still burning. 

Stay with us. 


MADDOW:  Tonight, we got news that attorney Michael Avenatti was arrested in L.A. on suspicion of felony domestic violence, domestic abuse.  You know who Michael Avenatti is.  He represents Stormy Daniels, the woman whose silence the president tried to buy, a controversy that led to felony charges against the president`s attorney, Michael Cohen. 

Mr. Avenatti is what we call unavoidable for comment.  He`s been a guest on this show and many others.  Tonight, he`s disputing any allegation he was physically abusive to anyone.  He called the allegations that led to his arrest tonight, quote, fabricated and meant to do harm to my reputation. 

I should tell you the initial media report about the arrest said the alleged abuse involves his estranged wife.  Mr. Avenatti`s wife then issued a statement saying it wasn`t her and there was never any violence in their relationship.  Her attorney also said her client wasn`t involved in any of this. 

The news outlet that gave that initial report initially then retracted that claim.  So, we don`t exactly know what happened, but it does appear the police were involved here and we do not yet know what.  We know police responded to an incident involving him, and they did take him into custody and he was released on bail of $50,000. 

But right now, as I said, he absolutely disputes whatever led to this arrest.  I imagine we will learn more in the coming days.  Watch this space. 

That does it for us tonight.  We will see you again tomorrow. 


Good evening, Lawrence. 

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