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Calls for Virginia Governor Northam to resign. TRANSCRIPT: 2/1/19, The Rachel Maddow Show.

Guests: Larry Sabato, Karine Jean-Pierre, Jamie Harrison, Elliot Williams

CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST:  That is ALL IN for this evening. 

"THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" starts right now with Joy Reid in for Rachel.  

Good evening, Joy.

JOY REID, MSNBC HOST:  Thank you very much, Chris.  Have a good rest of your night.  

HAYES:  You bet.

REID:  All right.  Appreciate you guys for joining us.  Rachel has the night off. 

We have had a very busy news day that has now turned into a very busy news night with a lot to cover.  There`s Donald Trump pulling the U.S. out of a major Reagan-era arms treaty with Russia and the rather odd statement the white house put out about it.  We will bring you the latest news from the Russia investigation, including Trump adviser Roger Stone back in court today. 

And the 2020 field got even bigger today when Senator Cory Booker announced that he is running for president and made that announcement on the first day of black history month.  But we begin with the news still breaking out of Virginia tonight, where the Democratic Governor Ralph Northam is facing growing calls to resign after a yearbook photo showing some truly offensive content surfaced. 

This page from a yearbook belonging to Northam first surfaced on a right- wing news site but very quickly made its way to the mainstream press.  Northam was a pediatric neurologist before he was a politician.  The page was from his medical school yearbook in 1984 when Ralph Northam was 25 years old.  It shows Northam and a friend, one dressed in blackface, the other dressed as a member of the Ku Klux Klan. 

The photo was posted late this afternoon on a right-wing Web site called Big League Politics.  It`s part news source, part political operation.  The guys who run the site used to run Roy Moore`s Senate campaign.  After they posted the photo, it was quickly verified by the mainstream press. 

"The Washington Post" and "The Virginian Pilot" were the first news organizations to authenticate the yearbook.  The medical school says, yes, this really is the 1984 yearbook, though I should tell you we still don`t know which person in this photo is Northam and which is his friend.  Whether he`s the person in blackface or the person dressed up like he`s in the KKK, because the governor has not said. 

Governor Northam released this statement tonight, first in print and then moments ago on video. 


GOV. RALPH NORTHAM (D), VIRGINIA:  My fellow Virginians, earlier today, I released a statement apologizing for behavior in my past that falls far short of the standard you set for me when you elected me to be your governor.  I believe you deserve to hear directly from me.  That photo and the racist and offensive attitudes it represents does not reflect that person I am today or the way that I have conducted myself as a soldier, a doctor and a public servant.  I am deeply sorry.

I cannot change the decisions I made, nor can I undo the harm my behavior caused then and today.  But I accept responsibility for my past actions and I am ready to do the hard work of regaining your trust.  I have spent the past year as your governor fighting for a Virginia that works better for all people.  I am committed to continuing that fight through the remainder of my term and living up to the expectations you set for me when you elected me to serve. 

Thank you. 


REID:  That`s the Virginia governor tonight.  He amended his earlier printed statement for that extraordinary statement you just saw on video, saying clearly there he does intend to serve out his term, so apparently he does not intend to step down.  Governor Northam released that video amid growing calls for his resignation and questions about whether this governorship can survive. 

Shortly after the news broke, the Republican Party in Virginia called for the governor to resign.  Quote: What Ralph Northam did was unforgiveable given his statements on the Right to Life coupled with the most recent revelations.  He has lost the moral authority to continue to govern and should resign immediately, unquote. 

This Virginia story is also reverberating at the national level.  The Democratic presidential primary kicked into another gear this week and the contenders are beginning to weigh in.  Democratic candidate Julian Castro, the former housing secretary and former mayor of San Antonio, posted this just after 7:00 p.m., quote: It doesn`t matter if he is a Republican or a Democrat, this behavior was racist and unconscionable.  Governor Northam should resign. 

That was followed by Senator Kamala Harris of California who announced her candidacy on Martin Luther King Day.  Senator Harris wrote, quote: Leaders are called to a higher standard and the stain of racism should have no place in the halls of government.  The governor of Virginia should step aside so the public can heal and move forward together. 

We`ll be watching tonight for more of this national reaction and there is lots of it.  At the state level, as you can imagine, the debate is also heating up.  The Virginia Legislative Black Caucus issued a statement condemning the photo without recommending what the governor should do.  Quote: We are still processing what we have seen about the governor but unequivocally say that what has been revealed is disgusting, reprehensible and offensive.  We feel complete betrayal.  The legacy of slavery, racism and Jim Crow has been an albatross around the necks of African-Americans for over 400 years.  These pictures rip off the scabs of an excruciatingly painful history and are a piercing reminder of this nation`s sins.  Those who would excuse the pictures are just as culpable.

The Democratic leader in the Virginia state Senate expressed support for Governor Northam tonight, saying in part that: While the photo is, quote, very poor taste, I would think no one in the general assembly who would like their college conduct examined.  I would hate to have to go back and examine my two years in the army.  Trust me, I was 18 years old and I was a handful, OK? 

He said that Governor Northam`s life since that picture has been the opposite of what you see in that yearbook.  Quote: It`s been a life of helping people and many times for free. 

A very different take tonight from the newspaper in Virginia`s capital city.  "The Richmond Times Dispatch" has just published an editorial calling for Governor Northam to step down. 

Quote: It is the revolution of a photo from his medical school yearbook page showing a man in blackface standing next to someone dressed in Ku Klux Klan robes, that injures his standing and reputation beyond repair.  We all act foolishly in our youth, but a college graduate studying to be a physician in a state with Virginia`s troubled racial history should know better than to reduce that history to a callous joke. 

The photograph reveals a lack of adult judgment that is disturbing.  It does not erase Northam`s service in the military or his compassion as a physician.  It does, however, strongly suggest that he should for the good of Virginia step down from its highest office and allow Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax to succeed him. 

And that brings us to the Democrat who would take over if Governor Northam did resign.  That would be Virginia`s Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax.  If Governor Northam resigns, it would be Lieutenant Governor Fairfax who would serve out his term and be eligible to run for a full term in 2021. 

Now, it should be noted there have just been two African-American governors in the entire history of the United States.  If Ralph Northam would have resigned over the scandal, Justin Fairfax would become the third.  And that fact and the potential history to be made cannot be helpful to Northam`s bid to hang on. 

This story is developing quickly tonight as reactions continue pouring in.  The NAACP has joined in the call for Governor Northam to resign.  Republican Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina condemned the photo and said the people of Virginia will make their voices heard. 

Meanwhile, amid the calls for Northam`s resignation over a photo in his medical school yearbook, since the governor apologized the first time in print and then without -- and then in video without saying which of the two people he was, a yearbook from his college years at the Virginia military institute has also hit the interwebs, showing what appear to be two nicknames under his real name. 

Now, we`ve reached out to the governor tonight for comment.  We have not yet heard back.  Like I said, lots and lots and lots of rolling developments. 

Joining us now are Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia Center for Politics.  And Karine Jean-Pierre, public affairs officer for 

Thank you both for being here.

And, Larry, I want to go to you first.  Two things.  One, are you surprised that Governor Northam has come out on video saying that he intends to stay on?  And can he hang on? 

LARRY SABATO, DIRECTOR, UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA CENTER FOR POLITICS:  Well, not really.  You know, most elected officials do try and hang on until there is no other possibility.  That`s been true in our history.  You know, the #metoo movement changed that for awhile, but this is a very different circumstance. 

And we don`t know for sure that he will be forced out, but I can tell you the people I`ve talked to tonight both national and state were unanimous, many of them Democrats, were unanimous that he could not survive this because if he did he would be hobbled for the remaining three years of his term and not be of use to his party.  There is a legislative election for all 140 states in the legislature coming up this November. 

REID:  And not only that, but there is also a major race obviously coming up in 2020 in which Democrats hope to carry Virginia, you know, not that Virginia is necessarily less blue-ish purple than it was before, but I wonder if Northam is getting pressure both because Virginia`s so important to the 2020 campaigns and also because Justin Fairfax is not a Republican.  He`s an African-American who would make history if he became the governor and might be a better look in terms of the 2020 picture.  Is that putting more pressure on him?

  SABATO:  Well, Joy, that`s an interesting way to put it, good way to put it.  Look, you are too young, but those who are older like me remember that Nixon hung on as long as he did because he had Spiro Agnew.  He had an insurance policy in his vice president. 

Well, Ralph Northam is much less lucky.  He doesn`t have an insurance policy because Justin Fairfax is a very intelligent able guy who would make a good governor.  He is African-American, which would help to heal the wounds caused by this terrible incident, which has floored all of us, by the way, who know Ralph Northam.  I could not have imagined that this could have been a part of his past, but there you go. 

So, yes, I think Justin Fairfax makes it easier for those who want to call on Northam to step aside.  It would make it easier for Northam to step aside if he decides to resign because a Democrat will succeed him and an African-American.  Joy, I have to put in a word for my state.  You know, Virginia`s taken a lot of knocks and rightly so over the years, but we would be the only state with two African-American governors in our history.  Doug Wilder from 1990 to 1994 and Justin Fairfax. 

Who would have ever believed Virginia might have provided two African- American governors? 

REID:  Yes, indeed, there have only been three in the entire country, I think we should note that Massachusetts had the third.  That`s in the entire 241-year history of the country as an official entity. 

Let me go to you, Karine, because the context in which this is happening, the things building up.  Whether it`s Charlottesville which was started a conflagration over the statue of Robert E. Lee.  You recently had Justin Fairfax refuse and stand down, the head of the state senate, refused to preside over it while a commemoration which is done every year for Robert E. Lee, he refused to participate in that.  So he`s made a statement on that. 

Of course in Florida, I think he was secretary of state for like a day, secretary of state had to resign after blackface pictures of him surfaced where he was mocking Katrina victims. 

Does all of that, you know, all of that that surrounds this make it harder and harder for Northam to hang on? 

KARINE JEAN-PIERRE, SENIOR ADVISOR, MOVEON.ORG:  Absolutely.  I believe Ralph Northam needs to resign tonight.  You`re talking about two states, Florida and Virginia, Joy, who have a dark history of racism, as we know.  It came -- it`s -- it came in full view, especially with Charlottesville in the fight with the Robert E. Lee statues and the other white supremacy -- supremacist statues as well. 

Here`s the thing, Joy, today we watched the second prominent African- American presidential candidate jump into the race on the first day of the Black History Month.  Days ago on Martin Luther King Day, we watched the first prominent African-American jump into the presidential race in this cycle. 

We are in a different time and this is not -- in many ways this isn`t about politics, it`s about what we saw -- these pictures with Ralph Northam when he was 25 years old in 1984 is incredibly disturbing, it`s shameful, it`s horrific, because one of the things I really agree with the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus, the statement they put out, is that it is a scab, it is a reminder of the racism, the slavery, Jim Crow, this country`s original sin, and that`s why Ralph Northam cannot make it through the weekend.  I do not believe that is going to happen. 

And let`s not forget, one of the constituencies that got him into office in November 2017 was the high turnout with black voters.  Can you imagine the betrayal that you possibly may feel as a Virginia voter, black voter who went out in November 2017 to vote for him?  So I just don`t see it.  I don`t see how he can last. 

Not only that, it`s just what`s right and what`s wrong.  And it is about racism and it is about making the right choice.  He needs to resign.  He cannot be taken seriously anymore.  And it`s just the right thing to do. 

REID:  Does it matter in your view, Karine, very quickly that the origins of it came from this site that is obviously hunting for dirt, you know, that is coming from the world of Roy Moore.  Does that matter? 

JEAN-PIERRE:  You know, it`s clearly, he was -- it was some intense opposition research and he was targeted.  Absolutely.  They found something.  They put it out there. 

But he admitted to it.  He said, yes, that`s him.  He doesn`t tell us which one it is, but it`s him.  And that is just problematic. 

REID:  Yes.

JEAN-PIERRE:  Larry Sabato, just to go really quickly. 

You`ve had Senator Mark Warner come out, his statement -- the Virginia senator.  This photo is shocking and deeply offensive.  All the more so because of Virginia`s long and painful history of racism and violence toward African-Americans.  The governor must now listen to the people in communities he`s hurt and carefully consider what comes next.  Not an outright call to resign.

Yet, Tim Kaine, who is the vice presidential candidate in the preceding presidential cycle, saying this racist photo from Governor Northam`s 1984 yearbook is horrible.  This causes pain and state in a country where centuries of racism have already left an open wound.  I hope the governor`s career as an army officer, pediatrician and public official has always manifested a commitment t justice and equality of all.  Now takes the time to listen to those he has hurt and reflect on how to move forward.  Not direct calls for him to resign. 

I wonder who the state becomes the deciding factor.  Who in the state has the pull if, in fact, the party decides its time no Northam to go.  Is it Terry McAuliffe?  Who has the sway that could potentially force him out? 

SABATO:  Well, you were right to mention Terry McAuliffe, the immediate past governor.  Northam was his lieutenant governor, so he might have something to say about it. 

And Warner and Kaine left themselves open there.  They can come back with a second statement.  I also know of a very senior well-known African-American elected official in Virginia, I don`t want to give his name because he can make his own announcement, but he`s going to call for the governor`s resignation and people will know who he is right away. 

So, look, I just think things look dark for Northam.  Maybe he can muddle through but it means his governorship is in shambles, and, frankly, he`s going to be a drag on his party for the remaining three years of his term. 

REID:  I wonder if this causes some reflection, Larry, on the commemoration of things like Robert E. Lee because these things are still going on in the state of Virginia, despite it being seen as maybe one of the last new South states. 

SABATO:  Yes, well, you`ve hit a nerve with me.  Of course, I`m from Charlottesville.  If I had my way, they`d all be gone.  I`m shocked that -- I`m not shocked that the Virginia general assembly has done absolutely nothing about allowing at least local choice do removing these statues. 

And I have to say, again, not defending Northam at all.  What he did was horrible.  But he was terrific on Charlottesville, as was McAuliffe and others. 

So, you have to look at the whole record, but I have a hard time getting that image out of my head.  It`s just so terrible.  And that was the mid- `80s, Joy. 

REID:  Yes. 

SABATO:  That wasn`t the `50s with massive resistance.  That was the mid- `80s.  There is no excuse for it. 

REID:  Last one to you, Karine Jean-Pierre.  Let`s talk a little bit -- it seems early to be jumping into how this affects 2020, but you`ve already had two of the announced candidates come out and make statements.  Do you expect more, Cory Booker I don`t believe has made a statement yet, but does this become an issue among the 2020 candidates where weighing in on Northam is important?  I mean, this is a very important 20 state. 

JEAN-PIERRE:  Yes, it is absolutely important.  Look, we have a diverse -- incredibly diverse 2020 primary field.  We have a Latino.  We have two African-Americans.  We have an openly gay candidate.  And also we have women. 

So issues like this do matter.  They need to speak up and they need to talk about this.  And they can`t stay silent on this at all.  We are in a different time. 

Yes, we have Donald Trump in the White House who is a bigot and a racist, but at the same time our country is moving forward.  Just look at what we did in November 2018 where we elected an incredibly diverse house, a house -- the most diverse house that we`ve had in history.  So we have to really speak up and speak out against this. 

This is racism.  He was 25 years old.  This was 1984.  It is not OK.  We have to send a message. 

REID:  Larry Sabato, the dean, really, of the Virginia political world, the University of Virginia Center for Politics. 

SABATO:  Oh, oh. 

REID:  The person I love to talk to about Virginia politics. 

Karine Jean-Pierre, chief politics officer for  Thank you both very much.  I really appreciate it.  Thank you. 

Stories like this one in Virginia tonight tend to move very, very quickly.  So, we`ll keep or eyes on develops this hour. 

But up next, the Democratic 2020 field, yes, indeed, got a little more crowded with the latest entrant kicking off his campaign on the first day of Black History Month.  We`ll talk about that when we come back.


REID:  Today, New Jersey Senator Cory Booker became the latest Democrat to jump into the increasingly crowded 2020 presidential poll.  Like the already announced candidates, Booker is hoping to take advantage of the favorable political climate and relishing the prospect of taking on an unpopular divisive incumbent president with low poll numbers. 

Two months ago, Democrats vote a tide of anti-Trump sentiment to sweeping victories at the ballot box, resulting in a newly emboldened Democratic house.  Also, this is the time to do it, and by historical standards, it`s really not that early. 


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Congressman Morris Udall, a Democrat, today announced that he will seek the party`s presidential nomination.  That really isn`t unusual, but Udall has done it two years before the presidential election, and that is unusual. 


REID:  The 1976 race for president actually got under way in the fall of 1974, two full years before the election.  President Ford had been in office for less than three months when his party got a shellacking in the 1974 midterms.  Republicans lost 49 seats in the House and four in the Senate, as punishment for the Watergate scandal and Ford`s subsequent pardon of Richard Nixon two months earlier. 

Just eight days after those crushing `74 midterms, see the date there, November 13th, 1974, the first Democratic contender was already in.  A month later before the year was even up, Democrats had a second candidate.  You might remember him. 


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  A second Democrat announced today that he is a candidate for president.  He`s the outgoing governor of Georgia, Jimmy Carter.  Here is part of Carter`s announcement of his candidacy. 

JIMMY CARTER, THEN-PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  As of this time, here in the state that I love, surrounded by friends of mine from all over the nation, in fact even from the moon, I`d like to announce that I am a candidate for president.



REID:  That guy, Jimmy Carter, would come out on top of a record field of 17 Democratic candidates and then ride the anger and revulsion over Watergate to a drubbing of Gerald Ford in the general election. 

The same kind of post-1974 political environment that we find ourselves in today, which is perhaps why we`re seeing more than 20 Democratic candidates who have either announced they`re running or are currently thinking about jumping into the race. 

Cory Booker announced his candidacy today in his hometown of Newark.  He also released an announcement video, which has become a staple of the modern day campaign. 


SEN. CORY BOOKER (D-NJ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  In America, we have a common pain, but what we`re lacking is a sense of common purpose. 


BOOKER:  What`s up?  Amen. 

I grew up knowing that the only way we can make change is when people come together.  We are better when we help each other.  The history of our nation is defined by collective action, by interwoven destinies of slaves and abolitionists, those who were born here and those who chose America as home, those who took up arms to defend our country and those who linked arms to challenge and change it. 

Together, we will channel our common pain back into our common purpose.  Together, America, we will rise. 

I`m Cory Booker and I`m running for president of the United States of America. 


REID:  Booker announced his candidacy on the first day of Black History Month.  Never hurts to get a little symbolism in. 

Last month, Kamala Harris, the other African-American candidate in the field, launched her campaign on Martin Luther King Day.  Today, Harris marked the start of black history month by noting the legacy of congresswoman and 1972 presidential candidate Shirley Chisholm.  Quoting her, quote, you don`t make progress by standing on the sidelines, wondering and complaining, you make progress by implementing ideas. 

Harris noted that she stands on the shoulders of giants like Congresswoman Chisholm. 


REP. SHIRLEY CHISHOLM (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  Not only am I literally and figuratively the dark horse, I`m actually the poor horse.  The only thing that I have going for me is my soul and my commitment to the American people. 

The United States Constitution stipulates that anyone that is 35 years of age or over and is a natural born citizen can run for the presidency.  All of us meet that criteria.  The people will make a decision. 


REID:  The people will make a decision.  Shirley Chisholm came up short in 1972, and although she did win 28 delegates. 

Now her legacy is inspiring Democratic campaigns almost 50 years polarity when once again the people will make a decision.  Democrats already have a good roster to choose from, even as another big name candidates continue to ponder their electoral futures and map out a path to victory.  Each candidate will have to choose their particular path.  In the past, Iowa and New Hampshire have received the lion`s share of the attention.

But in recent years, it`s increasingly the Palmetto State, South Carolina, that has played kingmaker air campaign stopper in this process.  In 2008, it was South Carolina that rejuvenated Barack Obama`s campaign after he lost New Hampshire to Hillary Clinton.  Today, "The New York Times" reports that Booker will likely focus heavily on South Carolina and other southeastern states with large black voting populations.  He`ll be just one of a flood of candidates competing in a state that`s becoming a bigger prize with every election cycle, and which the African-American vote accounts for a whopping 60 percent, 6-0 of the Democratic primary electorate. 

And we have someone here who understands South Carolina politics inside and out.  Jamie Harrison joins us next.


REID:  We have two stories today that are not interconnected. 

We have a burgeoning Democratic primary field.  Senator Cory Booker jumped in today as the newest candidate.  And we have the governor of Virginia, Democrat Ralph Northam, turning up as either the man in black face or the one in the KKK outfit.  Governor Northam apologized tonight, but he`s not clear that he survives the calls for his resignation.

And now, Republican Senator Tim Scott of that all important early primary state of South Carolina is speaking out about the Virginia governor, saying the governor`s quick apology is good but the people of Virginia will make their voices heard.  I`m betting the people of Senator Scott`s South Carolina will have opinions, as well. 

And joining us now is Jamie Harrison, the associate chairman of the Democratic National Committee and former chair of the South Carolina Democratic Party.  He`s also the author of "Climbing the Hill: How to Build a Career in Politics and Make a Difference". 

Thank you so much for joining us tonight, Jamie.  Good to talk to you. 


REID:  Thank you very much.

So, we have lots and lots of statements coming out.  Senator Kamala Harris has called.  I`ll go to the Northam story first.  Senator Harris called on Governor Northam to resign.  You`ve got 2020 candidates weighing in.  I believe Elizabeth Warren also weighed in. 

How do you think this winds up playing out?  A lot of these candidates are practically living in your state in South Carolina trying to appeal to an electorate that is about 60 percent African American.  Does their stand on Northam become a litmus test or a factor in how much support people can gain in South Carolina? 

HARRISON:  Listen, Joy, I think that this will be one of the many factors that some of the folks in South Carolina will look and gauge where our candidates are in terms of Democratic Party.  I fervently believe that, you know, they are stupid, there is dumb and unconscionable, and these images and the things that we`re seeing with coming up with the nickname, those things are unconscionable.  And it`s in the best interest, I think, for the people of Virginia for the nation, for the governor to just step down. 

REID:  I mentioned the statement by Elizabeth Warren.  I`ll read the statement that just came out.  These racist images are deeply disturbing and hatred and discrimination have no place in our country and must not be tolerated and must resign.  We know that Elizabeth Warren is spending a lot of time in your state and Cory Booker is prepared to spend a lot of time in your state. 

Let`s talk about what this race is going to look like in South Carolina.  Obviously, you have to win, place or show to come out of South Carolina with at least something, some momentum.  Is there a candidate in particular that`s got an early good read on the electorate? 

HARRISON:  Well, I can tell you the actions that I`ve seen so far in South Carolina, Joy, one, Senator Harris and Senator Booker have been spending a lot of time down there.  They are talking to a lot of staffers or potential staffers and with a lot of the community leaders in South Carolina.

But, you know, this is also a state with strong dies to Vice President Joe Biden.  And so -- and I also have seen a lot of action lately from Senator Warren.  You know, Eric Swalwell was just down there.  You have all this action in South Carolina.  It not clear at this point whether there is a definite front runner in the state, but nonetheless, you know, everybody is doing a little dating right now --

REID:  Yes. 

HARRISON:  -- to gauge and see where these candidates really are on the issues that are most important to them. 

REID:  Let`s go through a couple of them quickly.  Senator -- Congressman Clyburn who you know well, very important politician there in South Carolina said Biden is the candidate to beat.  And at the same time, Kamala Harris had some challenges with some parts of the African American electorate because of her background as a prosecutor. 

Biden helped with the crime bill.  How does it play out between his ties to a bill that`s unpopular for Hillary Clinton and Kamala Harris` time as a prosecutor?  Are either of those going to become problematic for voters in Palmetto State? 

HARRISON:  You know, one of the things, the crime bill was front and center in the 2016 race.  You know, that was an issue that Bernie Sanders brought up repeatedly in the contest with Hillary Clinton.  And I see that that particular issue breaks down on -- there is some differences generationally.  A lot of younger people, this is an issue they are very fervent about and believe it.

Whereas, there are a lot of older African-Americans that I talked to in South Carolina that have an approach where the bill is considered.  On that particular issue, you`ll see some generational divides, but in the end of the day, you know, for any of those, the senators or anybody that actually voted on that bill is working in the criminal justice space, they`re going to have to talk about their stance and the things that they have done previously because for a large section particularly the up and coming African-American electorate, that is a very, very important issue for them. 

REID:  Yes, I`m sure there will be a lot of talk about the issues of crime, tough on crime, mass incarceration, big issues.

Jamie Harrison, associate chairman of the Democratic National Committee.  Thank you so much.  Really appreciate your time. 

HARRISON:  Thank you, Joy.  It`s good seeing you. 

REID:  Good to see you, too.  Thank you.

And when we come back, Trump associate Roger Stone goes before a judge and she`s not here for his signature antics.  More on that just ahead.


REID:  The one-man show that is Roger Stone had a court episode today but you might want to binge watch it while you can, because the president`s longtime associate maybe about to get muzzled.  Stone was in court for a status hearing on the case charging him with seven counts of lying to Congress, obstruction of justice and witness tampering. 

Judge Amy Berman Jackson is considering Stone with a gag order and she wasted no time laying out why.  Quote: I noticed there is considerable publicity fueled in large part by the extrajudicial statements of the defendant himself.  I recognize that the arrest and indictment were public and the defendant may have justifiably felt the need to get his story out but there is no question at this point he certainly had that opportunity. 

Quote: And since this is a criminal proceeding and not a public relations campaign, I believe that it behooves counsel and the parties to do their talking in this courtroom and in their pleadings and not on the courthouse steps or on the talk show circuit.  She reassured Stone that the gag order would only prevent him from taking to his case and Stone would still be able to quote discuss foreign relations, immigration, or Tom Brady as much as he wanted. 

We love a little judge humor. 

Judge Jackson warned Stone treating the buildup to the trial like a book tour could taint the jury pool and offered this ominous warning for the famously loose lipped self-described dirty trickster.  Quote: The defendant should be aware to the extent any public pronouncements turn out to be inconsistent with each other or bear on the facts of the case in any way, the Office of Special Counsel will be free to introduce any of them as evidence against him at trial. 

Maybe Roger Stone wants that gag order after all.  Remember, this is the same Judge Amy Berman Jackson who presided over Roger Stone`s old pal, and one-time business partner, Paul Manafort, second trial.  She sent Manafort to jail because Manafort was contacting potential witnesses and today the judge warned Stone not to pull any of what Manafort did. 

Quote: It`s a condition of your release you may not contact any of those individuals or any individuals that you believe are witnesses in the case in person, by mail, by phone, electronically, that includes e-mails, text messages, instant messenger, Instagram, WhatsApp or any other encrypted or unencrypted app.

And the ban on contacting directly including communication through any intermediary other than counsel that entered an appearance in this case.  Quote: Is that understood, Mr. Stone?  And Roger Stone replies: Yes, your honor. 

The other order of business was figuring when Stone`s case can go to trial.  The government wants October.  The justice is thinking late summer.

And here`s why that`s notable.  For all the reporting special counsel Robert Mueller is about to wrap up, the Roger Stone time frame would suggest maybe not. 

And joining us now is Elliot Williams, former deputy assistant attorney general. 

Mr. Williams, thank you for being with us. 


REID:  So, let`s talk about the timeline first.  There is all of this scuttlebutt and it happens every couple weeks I feel like, it`s almost over, the Mueller investigation is going to wrap up and interim A.G. Whitaker kind of hinted at that, but if the judge says October as a date for the Stone trial, does that mean by default this is not ending any time soon? 

WILLIAMS:  Right, we don`t know what this is going to end and could take a significant amount of time.  Now, under the law, you know, Mr. Stone would be entitled to a trial within 70 days but because of all of the evidence that was uncovered, you`re talking about terabytes of data and hard drive information and e-mails and texts and so on.  The government felt they needed more time to go through it.  So, you know, presumably -- Mueller could have been wrapping up but they need more time or might still be going on. 

Remember, let`s not forget in the grand scheme of special counsel and independent counsel investigations, this hasn`t gone on for that long.  We`re really only at the two-year mark and if you think about Whitewater, which is the big one from, you know, most of our lives, that started in 1994 and didn`t wrap until 2001. 

So, you know, and given that, I think 33 or 34 individuals have already been charged.  This has been a hugely successful investigation thus far.  So, even if, you know, the end isn`t coming tomorrow, you know, it may be at some point in the relatively near future and following a great deal of success. 

REID:  Yes, and the judge was very pointed and trying to warn Roger Stone not to hurt himself by speaking out of turn and potentially contradicting either his own statements or statements by other witnesses.  We know that Michael Cohen has not been subpoenaed by the Senate Intelligence Committee for closed door sessions on February 12th, that is going to happen.  We know that per a CNN article, the House Oversight Committee is in talks to bring Cohen in on February 7th and that would actually be an open session, that`s the day he was originally slated to testify. 

How much jeopardy does that in your view put really either Roger Stone or even Donald Trump in because now you can have Cohen telling one story and Roger Stone putting himself all out there in television and interviews and talk a lot.  If anything, Cohen says, he says -- disagree, could that be problems? 

WILLIAMS:  Yes, it puts potentially all of them in jeopardy.  Number one, every time one of these individuals opens their mouth, they seem to tell more lies.  Cohen has been charged with lying.  Roger Stone has been charged with lying.  Paul Manafort has been charged with lying. 

If you notice there is a trend here and frankly, they are tied to a president that I believe in 2018 was found to have lied 15 times a day over the course of 2018.  And so, the jeopardy is number one they can contradict themselves, which that becomes evidence at court.  They can commit acts of perjury that is a new crime and so, yes, every time they talk, they seem to get themselves in more trouble. 

The other thing is that Congress as a body can also hold them in contempt for lying or prosecute them for lying and this can mess up the prosecutions, too, because they are running mouths and getting themselves in more trouble.  You know, again, it`s -- when people are path logically untruthful, they are going to get themselves in more trouble the more they testify and the more they speak and they are jeopardizing frankly their own chances of getting fair trials. 

Like every time Roger Stone opens his mouth and this is what the judge is trying to protect him from.  He`s harming chances of getting his own fair day in court. 

REID:  Yes, I`m not sure who told him to go to the media tour.  The judge even tells him, don`t do any more of that.  It`s not a good idea. 

Thank you very much.  Appreciate it. 

And coming up, the president checks off yet another item on Vladimir Putin`s wish list. 

Stay with us. 



UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  The president of the United States and the general secretary of the communist party of the Soviet Union signed the INF treaty. 

RONALD REAGAN, FORMER PRESIDENT:  Today, I for the United States and the general secretary for the Soviet Union have signed the first agreement ever to eliminate an entire class of U.S. and Soviet nuclear weapons.  We have made history. 


REID:  In December of 1987 Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev came to a dramatic agreement.  At the height of the Cold War, they agreed that the United States and the soviet union would eliminate all land-based missiles with ranges between a few hundred and a few thousand miles.  After the treaty was signed, more than 2,000 missiles were destroyed between the two countries. 

For over 30 years the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty or INF has served as a check on ambition goes of the two largest nuclear powers on earth, until today when secretary of state mike Pompeo announced that the Trump administration is suspending the treaty effective tomorrow.  In six months if they don`t find that Russia has come into compliance with the terms of the INF, they will terminate the treaty all together.  The president managed to put pa positive stand on the affair saying, we stand ready to engage with Russia on arms control negotiations that meet these criteria, and, importantly, once that is done, develop, perhaps for the first time ever, an outstanding relationship on economic, trade, military levels.  This would be a fantastic thing for Russia and the United States, and would also be great for the world, unquote. 

European allies are understandably very, very nervous.  After all, the missiles regulate it out of existence by the treaty could reach Europe within minutes from Russia.  Now, it is widely acknowledged Russia is violating the terms of the treaty and it was the Obama administration who first confronted Putin about missile tests back in 2014. 

But it is the response to that violation where things get more complicated.  I mean why not work harder to get Russia back into compliance rather than issue ultimatums?  Who will benefit most from demise of the treaty and are we headed for a new arms race? 

Joe Cirincione, a nuclear weapons policy expert and president of the Plowshares Fund argued in an op-ed in "The Washington Post", that, quote, when someone breaks the law, the answer is not to repeal the law.  There are well-established methods of bringing an offending nation back into compliance. 

And he joins us tonight. 

Mr. Cirincione, thank you for joining us. 

Let`s answer the last three questions.  Who benefits most by the U.S. backing out of the treaty? 

JOE CIRINCIONE, NBC NEWS NUCLEAR SECURITY ANALYST:  Vladimir Putin.  This is a gift to Vladimir Putin.  He`s the one that gets to deploy as many weapons as he wants because there are no longer or won`t be in six months limits on what he can do.  It, of course, produces great strains in the U.S./European alliance system.  That is also to Putin`s favor.  And the U.S. kicks the blame for this also to Putin`s favor. 

So, this is not standing up to Russia.  This is a gift to Russia. 

REID:  Was there some other way that the U.S. could have encouraged compliance if the Obama administration was also complaining that they were not complying? 

CIRINCIONE:  Absolutely and Ronald Reagan showed us the way.  Treaties often have violations in them.  One state or the other accuses another party of violating the treaty.  When Ronald Reagan became president, he accused the Soviet Union of violating another treaty, the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, but he didn`t pull out of that treaty.  He didn`t kill that treaty.  He pressed the Russians for six years.  In fact, while he was pressing them, he negotiated with them this INF treaty. 

And after Mikhail Gorbachev and Reagan signed that treaty, the Soviets admitted that they were in violation of the ABM Treaty and think tore down the offending radar.  That`s the way you get somebody into compliance.  You don`t let them off the hook, you press them into they give in. 

REID:  Joe Cirincione, president of the Plowshares Fund, kind of scary news.  Thank you for breaking it down for us.  We appreciate it. 

CIRINCIONE:  Thank you, Joy. 

REID:  Thank you.

And still ahead tonight, something you want to keep your eyes on this weekend.  Stay with us. 


REID:  OK.  One quick thing.  I said at the top of the show there have been two African-American governors in history of this country.  I was wrong.  During reconstruction, P.B.S. Pinchback served as governor of Louisiana for about a month.  Since then we had Governors Deval Patrick in Massachusetts and Douglas Wilder from Virginia, as well as I can`t believe I forgot David Paterson, David Paterson from this great state, great state of New York. 

So, if the governor of Virginia resigns and his Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax takes over, Mr. Fairfax would be the fourth African-American governor in modern times and the fifth in our nation`s 242-year history.  Got to make that correction. 

But let`s talk about an historic first.  This Tuesday for the first time in its more than 50-year history, a black woman will deliver the response to the president as State of the Union Address.  I`m, of course, talking about former Democratic nominee for Georgia governor, Stacey Abrams, who emerged as one of the 2018 cycles Democratic stars. 

She lost her race in a nail biter and wasted no time after the race getting back to her life`s work, fighting for voting rights and against voter suppression by starting her own PAC dedicated to increasing voter accessibility called Fair Fight.  She is gearing up for this Tuesday for what could be the biggest speech of her career so far and she`s also going to make an appearance at another one at the biggest television events in the year, the Super Bowl in an ad that will air on Georgia stations. 



NATALIE CRAWFORD, COUNTY COMMISSIONER, NORTH GEORGIA:  I`m Republican Natalie Crawford, county commissioner in North Georgia. 

ABRAMS:  And I`m Democrat Stacey Abrams from Atlanta. 

CRAWFORD:  We don`t agree on everything. 

ABRAMS:  But we love Georgia. 

CRAWFORD:  And want fair elections. 

ABRAMS:  Every vote should be counted from every corner of our state. 


REID:  OK.  So, counting first, I think it will make Abrams first person ever to deliver the State of the Union response less than 48 hours after appearing in her own Super Bowl ad.  Fact check that, Twitter. 

And that does it for us tonight.  I will see you to on my own show "A.M. JOY", that`s tomorrow morning at 10:00 a.m. Eastern. 

But now it`s time for "THE LAST WORD".  Ali Velshi is in for Lawrence tonight. 

Good evening, Ali.

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