Show: THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW Date: October 21, 2019
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Yes, that`s exactly the point. And that`s why we do the Rudy Giuliani/Fred Thompson gut check to remind people of that. Cornell Belcher and Ryan Grim, thank you both for being with me.
By the way, if you are here in L.A., where I am, I`m heading over to the Theatre at the Ace Hotel to do a live WITHpod recording, come on by. There`s still a few tickets left.
That is ALL IN for this evening.
"THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" starts right now.
Good evening, Rachel.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Have an amazing time. I`m so jealous.
HAYES: Thank you.
MADDOW: I wish I was there. It`s going to be amazing.
HAYES: I`m really looking forward to it. Thanks a lot.
MADDOW: OK, bye, good luck. I know, traffic. He has to rush.
HAYES: Yes, exactly.
MADDOW: Thanks to you at home for joining us this hour. Hope you had a great weekend.
I did my best. I will say, this was one of those weekends, though, where the news kept creeping in. I feel like we don`t get weekends off anymore in terms of big news developments.
You probably heard this weekend that the president had a change of heart. He decided that holding next year`s G-7 summit at his private resort this Florida maybe wouldn`t be such a good idea after all, especially because it left Republicans in Congress feeling a little queasy at a time when they were already having a hard time defending him in these impeachment proceedings.
Even though the president blamed Democrats and the media for this change of heart, it`s quite clear that the reason that he changed on this is because Republicans were not standing by him on though decision. And the big open secret of the Trump presidency is that this president cannot bear even the smallest amount of pressure from Republicans. Any pushback from Republicans, particularly Republicans in Congress, and instantly, he caves.
And so, he caved on bringing the big international summit to his own golf club and forcing foreign governments to pay him, if they want to come to that summit. It`s a very big story all weekend and into today, as well.
One story you might not have heard that much about alongside that big story is a story that is actually a much bigger story. Remember Hillary Clinton`s e-mails? It turns out the investigation into Hillary Clinton`s e-mails is no more. After four and a half years, it appears the national media obsession with Hillary Clinton`s State Department email management or at least the investigation into her email management, that has now finally, finally drawn to a conclusion, after four and a half years.
And in the end, what do you know, turns out there was nothing there after all. We got these almost word-for-word headlines in "The New York Times" and "The Washington Post" over the weekend. As "The Post" put it, State Department probe of Clinton e-mails finds no deliberate mishandling of classified information. As "The Times" puts it, State Department inquiry into Clinton e-mails finds no deliberate mishandling of classified information.
Oh, good to know! Where do we go to get the last four and a half years back?
I mean, here was "The New York Times," March 2015, right? Reporting that Hillary Clinton had, quote, possibly broken State Department rules. And the entire Democratic presidential primary, the story of Hillary Clinton`s email hygiene and whether it had been somehow something bad, whether she had broken any laws about classified information during her time as secretary of state, the story about her private email server, it was just headline after headline after headline after headline after headline, oftentimes to the exclusion of anything else you might have been interested in during that campaign.
And that was true even when her main opponent in the Democratic primary, the person who had the most to gain from promoting the story, declared the story to be nonsense. In one of the most memorable moments from the whole Democratic primary in 2016.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT): Let me say -- let me say something that may not be great politics, but I think the secretary is right. And that is to the American people are sick and tired of hearing about your damned e- mails.
HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: Thank you. Me too! Me too!
SANDERS: Enough of the e-mails. Let`s talk about the real issues facing America.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: It was not an issue that was being driven by the competition of the Democratic primary. That was, what you just saw there, the competition in the Democratic primary, right? The way the primary was going was, enough of the damn e-mails. But you ask the media and you certainly ask the conservatives and Republicans, never enough of the damn e-mails.
Republican-led Congress, the FBI, the State Department, each launched separate investigations into the e-mails. Republican attacks on Secretary Clinton and her e-mails escalated and escalated and escalated. Things reached a particularly creepy crescendo at the 2016 Republican convention, when Trump advisers like Chris Christie and Mike Flynn led the crowd in chants of "lock her up, lock her up."
And what did they want to lock her up for? For her e-mails.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), FORMER NEW JERSEY GOVERNOR: As a former federal prosecutor, I welcome the opportunity to hold Hillary Rodham Clinton accountable for her performance and her character.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
(CROWD CHANTING: LOCK HER UP!)
MIKE FLYNN, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN ADVISER: Lock her up! That`s right. Yes, that`s right. Lock her up! I`m going to tell you what. It`s unbelievable.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: This didn`t come from the Democratic primary. But all through the general election, right, candidate Trump would get as much mileage as possible out of the ongoing, not just conservative, but especially the media obsession Hillary Clinton`s e-mails.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP (R), THEN-PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This is bigger than Watergate.
We have only seen the tip of the iceberg. She should be in prison. Let me tell you.
She deleted the e-mails. She has to go to jail.
She shouldn`t be allowed to run.
(CROWD CHANTING: LOCK HER UP!)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: She was allowed to run. Sorry.
But the State Department investigation into Hillary Clinton`s e-mails, behind the scenes, has been continuing all this time, not only through the election, but since the election. All right, even as the conservative media`s obsession with Clinton`s e-mails had been parodied into oblivion, right, embodied by the "but her e-mails" memes, right? Nuclear apocalypse, but her e-mails, right?
The obsession with the emails, the conservative media, Republican Party, the Trump campaign, the mainstream media, but her e-mails, right? Even as that became a pretty standard punch line that you could apply to almost any joke about things being blown out of proportion, all of this time, all of these years now, the State Department has been investigating it. The State Department under Rex Tillerson. The State Department under Mike Pompeo. They continued to investigate Hillary Clinton and her e-mails.
I mean, just as recently as last month, we were getting headlines like these, saying the State Department probe into Hillary Clinton`s e-mails was intensifying. As many as 130 officials have been contacted in recent weeks by State Department investigators. That was last month.
And then we get the findings. You know, someone, clear some space on page A-16 of the Saturday edition of the print paper. Because there will be no fanfare here, no blaring of Trumpets, not even a whimper here. We will just learn quietly that, oh, by the way, that investigation is over and it didn`t find anything.
In a nine-page letter to Congress announcing the end of the years-long State Department investigation, we learn that despite thousands of person hours of review and investigative effort including statements from hundreds of department of state employees, past and present, in conclusion, there was no persuasive evidence of systemic deliberate mishandling of classified information.
No persuasive evidence. No deliberate mishandling of classified information. None.
After all of the buckets and buckets and vats and factories full of ink devoted to this supposedly earth-shattering scandal, we have reached the end and it turns out, there was nothing there. As "The Washington Post`s" write-up concludes, quote, the report appears to represent a final and anticlimactic chapter in a controversy that overshadowed the 2016 presidential campaign and exposed Hillary Clinton to fierce criticism, which she later cited as a major factor in her loss to President Trump.
So that happened this weekend. You might not have noticed on page A-16 of the front section of the smallest paper of the week on Saturday. You might not have noticed the blanket coverage that didn`t exist of the ending of this scandal that was the most important thing, according to the media, in 2016, that you needed to know about Hillary Clinton and her candidacy.
So part of what we need to reckon with here is about whether we`re about to do this haul again as a country, right? Whether we are going to slog through another campaign season in which there are super serious scandals and corruption issues involving one of the candidates. And so, perversely, on the other side, whatever smudges and insinuations can be smeared under the other candidate, those will be evaluated into things that are supposed to look just as bad or maybe even worse than what Trump is dragging around behind him in plain sight.
I mean, it happened in 2016, in large part off a media environment where we`re all supposed to pretend that bad news and scandal are evenly distributed between the two sides. Even when on one side, you`ve got basically a normal candidate. On the other side, you`ve got a walking, talking crime wave.
It happened because of that media environment, which still plagues us. It also happened because the side supporting the crime wave guy knows how to play this game. And they are playing it again already for the next election.
And some of it is happening just like it did in 2016. And some of it is worse and I think it`s going to be more powerful than it was in 2016. In part because this is a second draft for these guys, right? They ran this play in 2016. They worked out some of the kinks.
Now they`ll do it again with the benefit of knowing what worked for them and what didn`t work the first time around. It`s a second draft. It`s going to be better and more polished.
More seriously, though, I think some of this is also going to be worse this time around, because this time, the intended beneficiary of this same play. This slime and false equivalency play is -- this time, he`s not just a candidate, he`s a president, with the resources of the U.S. government at his disposal and his own willingness to use the resources of the U.S. government to benefit himself politically.
Let me show you what I mean. You might have seen this headline today in "The New York Times." Facebook finds new disinformation campaigns. "The New York Times" reporting somewhat generically today that Facebook says the disinformation campaigns it removed on Monday included content that touched on conflict in the Middle East, racial strife, and posts involving Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a Democratic congresswoman from New York. The posts crossed categories and ideological lines, seemingly with no specific intent.
Seemingly with no specific intent? Why would they even bother then? If they have no intent behind these foreign influence things that they`re doing online -- they have no intent behind them?
Maybe it`s just a glitch in the system. Maybe it`s just ghosts in the machine. Nothing to see here.
Actually, yes, it turns out, there is something to see here. Here`s a different take. Facebook takedowns show new Russian activity targeted Biden, praised Trump. Oh, well, that does seem like there`s some intent there, then. Quote, Facebook on Monday said it removed a network of Russian-backed accounts that posed as locals, weighing in on political issues in swing states, praising President Trump and attacking former vice president Joe Biden.
The network bears the hallmark of the same Kremlin-backed group that interfered in the 2016 election, by sowing social discord, boosting Trump and attacking Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton. The new disinformation campaign appears to follow the same playbook. This time, a coordinated group of Russian accounts appears to show some links to the Internet Research Agency, just like in 2016. This time, they took largely to Instagram to post content this year about U.S. politics and memes targeting Democratic presidential contenders.
Quote: The operation demonstrated a sophisticated understanding of the schisms within the Democratic Party, as it labors to choose a nominee to face Trump next November. One Russian account, which portrayed itself as a black voter in Michigan used the hashtag black lives matter to hammer Joe Biden for his gaffes on racial issues. Some of the accounts boosted one of his left-wing rivals, Senator Bernie Sanders.
Among the accounts posing as backers of the political and social causes in the U.S., the largest cluster was conservative and in support of Trump. Numerous accounts aimed their fire at Democratic candidates, namely Biden, but also Senator Elizabeth Warren and Senator Kamala Harris.
Biden came under attack from accounts that positioned themselves on both sides of the political spectrum. One account re-posted a tweet from a right-wing political commentator, parroting Trump`s rebuke of Biden, while another posted a meme showing a road diverging and a car swerving to choose the path representing Bernie 2020 over Joe Biden.
Four years earlier, in 2016, Russian-backed Facebook accounts similarly promoted Bernie Sanders during the Democratic primary against Hillary Clinton.
So, they`re doing it exactly the same way. I mean, that`s exactly what the Russian social media campaign that worked so well for Trump in 2016 did, right? I mean, the Senate Intelligence Committee led by the Republicans, just within the past two weeks, put out their bipartisan report on what Russia did in 2016 with social media.
According to the Republican-led Senate Intelligence Committee, the bottom line was crystal clear. Quote, at the direction of the Kremlin, the Internet Research Agency in Russia sought to influence in 2016 U.S. presidential election by harming Hillary Clinton`s chances of success and supporting Donald Trump. And how did specifically they did that? Did they do that?
Well, here was their specific play. Quote, Clinton`s candidacy was targeted by both the IRA`s left and right personas and both ideological representations were focused on denigrating her. The IRA`s left-leaning accounts focused their efforts on denigrating Clinton and supporting the candidacy of either Bernie Sanders or Jill Stein, at the expense of Clinton. Posts from the IRA`s right-leaning accounts were unvaryingly opposed to Clinton`s candidacy.
So, in 2016, we saw the Internet Research Agency, directed by the Kremlin, playing both left-wing and right-wing fake American personas. Hitting Hillary Clinton from the left, hitting Hillary Clinton from the right. Both to the benefit of Donald Trump.
Now, in 2020, we`re seeing the exact same thing. Internet Research Agency directed by the Kremlin, using fake personas, fake American personas that appear to be from the left, from the right, particularly ones that seem to situate themselves in swing states and they`re hitting Joe Biden, both from the left and from the right, both to benefit Donald Trump. Sometimes they`re hitting the other Democratic candidates, too, just in case Biden doesn`t get the nomination, but it`s the exact same play.
Russia right now today is playing it online exactly the same way they did in 2016. I mean, it`s literally today, Facebook took down these Russian meme-making anti-democratic online personas. These pro-Trump online engines.
So, that part is in place again, just exactly like it was before. I mean, why wouldn`t the Russians do it again, right? It`s not like they got in trouble for doing it the first time.
And we`ve got this president who was in the middle of impeachment proceedings, like he did in 2016. He wasn`t under impeachment proceedings then, but we had this sort of scandal-ridden candidate in 2016 who was very busy in 2016 trying to make it seem like the other side had the scandals. Now, he`s the president of the United States, not only facing scandals, but facing impeachment proceedings and similarly, he`s running the same play.
He`s trying to say, it`s the Democrats who have the ones with all the big scandal to contend with, particularly scandals involving foreign countries and interfering in the elections, right? He keeps saying, it`s not him who has the corruption problem, he`s the corruption fighter. The Democrats are the ones with the corruption problem.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Corruption, we are looking for corruption. Tremendous corruption. Beyond corruption. We are looking at corruption.
I don`t care about politics. I don`t care about anything. But I do care about corruption.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: I bet you do. No puppet, no puppet, you`re the puppet! I`m rubber, you`re glue.
We have seen this before. Except this time, he`s doing it as the president of the United States. So, this time it`s not just him and his campaign, this time it`s also the power of the White House that`s being put behind this tactic.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICK MULVANEY, ACTING WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: Did he also mentioned to me in the past the corruption related to the DNC server? Absolutely, no question about that. But that`s it, that`s why we held up the money. But there was a report --
REPORTER: So the demand for an investigation into the Democrats was part of the reason that he ordered to withhold funding to Ukraine?
MULVANEY: The look back to what happened in 2016 certainly was part of the thing that he was worried about in corruption with that nation.
REPORTER: Withholding the funding?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Withholding the funding for that? Yes, yes.
And the president is in the middle of impeachment proceedings right now because of him telling the government of Ukraine to investigate his political opponents, to give him something he could use in U.S. politics. But what they have also been spelling out is not just a campaign effort here. It`s a whole of the Trump administration effort here to come up with some kind of foreign influence scandal to pin on the other side.
What he`s in trouble for, let`s make it the Democrats` problem instead. I mean, the new iteration of the Hillary`s e-mails lock her up nonsense, which the media ran with it like it was real for years, this time the equivalent of that is this allegation that it`s the Democrats, it`s Joe Biden, that somehow they`re the ones who have got the real scandal here.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MULVANEY: There`s an ongoing investigation by our Department of Justice into the 2016 election. I can`t remember the person`s name. Durham. Durham, OK? That`s an ongoing investigation, all right?
So you`re saying the president of the United States, the chief law enforcement person, cannot ask someone to cooperate with an ongoing public investigation into wrongdoing?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Behold the Hillary`s e-mails story of this election cycle. Yes, it must be the Democrats who have a scandal here.
And you know, it is bad to have apparently corrupt actors around the presidency who are generating stuff like this, right? Bloomberg reporting on Friday night that a Ukrainian oligarch close to the Kremlin who`s said by U.S. prosecutors to be highly connected to Russian organized crime, he`s been paying assorted Trump-world figures to try to get the Justice Department to drop their efforts to extradite him to this country to face bribery charges and one of the ways he`s been paying is with ginned up allegations against Joe Biden, that he thinks might be valuable to President Trump and the Trump campaign.
All right, it`s bad enough to have stuff like that around the presidency with dollar signs hanging off of it. But it`s a whole different level of dangerous when one of the actors you`re able to employ in schemes like this is the U.S. justice department. That is a much, much bigger, much more worrying problem.
Quote: Review of Russia inquiry grows as FBI witnesses are questioned. Did you see this this weekend? Closely overseen by Attorney General William Barr, federal prosecutors are -- federal prosecutors reviewing the origins of the Russia investigation have sought help from governments in countries that figure into right-wing attacks and unfounded conspiracy theories, stirring criticism that they are trying to deliver Mr. Trump a political victory rather than conducting an independent review.
Comments from the White House chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, have put the spotlight on the fact that Ukraine is one country that prosecutors have sought help from. According to people being questioned in the investigation, lead prosecutor John Durham`s questions seem focused on elements of the conservative attacks on the origins of the Russia inquiry.
Oh, that was Saturday in "The New York Times." This was NBC News with a follow up. A review launched by Attorney General William Barr into the origins of the Russia investigation has expanded significantly amid concerns about whether the probe has any legal or factual basis, according to multiple, current, and former officials. A Western intelligence official familiar with what Durham has been asking of foreign officials says his inquiries track closely with the questions raised about the Russia investigation in right-wing media.
Quote: A Justice Department spokeswoman said the list of countries being examined includes Ukraine, but she declined to say whether the Durham investigation is looking at corruption related to the DNC, as Mick Mulvaney put it in his news conference last week. Under that discredited theory, Ukraine, not Russia, hacked the Democrats in 2016. To believe that, one would have the doubt the unanimous assessment of the intelligence community and the findings of congressional intelligence committees who have examined the classified evidence.
Yes, you`d have to doubt the actual factual record here, but that won`t be a problem. I mean, to step back from this for a second, right? The industrial strength, foreign-boosted online noise machine, right, to boost Trump, denigrate the Democrats, demoralize and split the left -- check. Russia in particular is doing it exactly the way they were in 2016, using exactly the same actors, doing exactly the same way, just a little slicker this time. That`s back.
The counter-narrative from the conservatives about the real scandal being on the other side, never mind what you can see plain as day when it comes to Trump, that`s back, too. Except this time, it won`t just be something shopped by the conservative media and Trump supporters and swallowed whole by the regular media. This time, it will be amplified not just by the candidate and the campaign, this time it will be amplified by the White House. And this time its apparent source will be the U.S. Justice Department.
William Barr, the attorney general, was mentioned over and over again by the president in the call for which he is being impeached, call to the president of Ukraine. The president repeatedly describing the attorney general on that call as the person Ukraine should work were to provide him what he wanted. The attorney general, or forgive me, a person familiar with the attorney general`s thinking, told the "Associated Press" soon after we all got the transcript of that call, that William Barr was, quote, surprised and angry to find out that he had been mentioned so frequently by the president as a key part of this scheme that the president was trying to work out with Ukraine.
Then, the Justice Department, nevertheless, did have to admit that, yeah, him and Durham, this prosecutor he assigned to look into the 2016 election, yes, they have been talking to people in Ukraine about this conspiracy theory that the Trump campaign has tried to gin up about the Democrats. Despite William Barr`s implication in this scandal, the president, again, repeatedly citing him as the person that Ukraine should work with to carry out this scheme, when the Justice Department received multiple criminal referrals about the president`s behavior when it came to Ukraine, William Barr decided he would not recuse himself from the Justice Department`s decision-making in this matter.
The Justice Department`s criminal division then looked at those criminal referrals and decided they would not open any kind of investigation into the matter, despite the fact that they got multiple criminal referrals for it, from inside the administration.
And now, bizarrely, this weekend, the same head of that same criminal division at the Justice Department has released a bizarre statement in which he admits that, yes, he has been meeting with the president`s personal lawyer, who`s been running this Ukraine scheme, Rudy Giuliani. He`s met with him to talk with him about at least one foreign bribery case that`s being prosecuted by the Justice Department, where Giuliani is right to get defendants off in that case. The head of the criminal division releasing a strange statement this weekend that that meeting with Giuliani was a mistake. He only took that meeting because he didn`t know at the time about Rudy Giuliani`s own legal troubles, including the arrests of his clients/associates and the multiple reports that Giuliani himself is under investigation by federal prosecutors.
"The Times" now describing the president`s current personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, as a, quote, person of interest in at least two federal investigations. Head of the criminal division has been meeting with him about specific cases anyway. Said he had no idea that he, the head of the criminal division, was overseeing -- that the Justice Department was investigating -- that Giuliani at SDNY was -- he had no idea. He`s only the head of the criminal division. How could he know?
So we know politically that things going to get weird, right? We are going to have -- we already have more foreign interference, weaponizing social media in favor of Trump and against the Democrats and particularly trying to divide the left and the center against itself. We`ve got that already.
We`re also going to have another run of the no puppet, no puppet, you`re the puppet, blame the other side stuff, from Trump and from the conservative media and from Trump supporters.
What is new is that this time it really does seem that they are going to use the power of the U.S. Justice Department to help them make that case that the Democrats are the real source of the scandal here. And that is what is new about what is coming and what we are already starting to live through for the 2020 campaign.
And because the Justice Department will be the source of these claims that the Democrats are the real scandal here, that will be irresistible to most of the media. If they stay anywhere -- if they stay half as gullible as they were in 2016. All right? If they refuse to learn from the truth of what the Hillary email story was all about, now that it`s been revealed to have been nothing. Nothing on which they spent years of coverage to the exclusion of everything you might think the 2016 campaign coverage perhaps should have been about, now that we can look back at it with clear hindsight and see what was really going on.
But I have to say, this is not like getting the Agriculture Department involved here, right? Or even getting the State Department involved here, as dangerous as that was. Getting the Justice Department involved here is a dangerous new thing for the power of that part of the state, the power of that part of the government to be brought to bear against the president`s political enemies. To be brought to bear, to gin up something for his political benefit.
Authoritarian leaders, the world over, tend to get re-elected specifically because they bring the power of the state to bear on the election machinery that keeps them in power. U.S. Justice Department being employed here to try to rerun that part of the 2016 campaign, where they ginned up a fake scandal and tried to pin it on the Democrats, so that the media and all its both-sides-ism would make that supposed Democratic scandal out to be as big or bigger than the plain as day scandals on Trump side, the Justice Department being part of that play, part of that re-run in 2020, that`s a bad thing for 2020.
But it is also a bad thing for the country. That`s a big, bad red flag sign about the way this government can be used for the personal benefit of one man. And with what William Barr and this prosecutor Durham that he`s leading around world to do this thing for, with what Barr and Durham appear to be doing here to try to boost the president`s campaign, they are crossing a bit of a Rubicon in terms of what the U.S. government is for. And part of what we`ll have to figure out when this is all over is how we cross back over it.
We`ll be right back.
MADDOW: Update for you tonight in the criminal court offshoot to the ongoing impeachment proceedings against President Trump. As you know, four guys have been charged in that criminal case for allegedly illegally funneling foreign money to Republican candidates and campaigns.
As of Friday, we were able to report that three of them had made bail. Only one guy, the guy on the far left of your screen, Lev Parnas, the guy who went as Rudy Giuliani`s date to President George H.W.`s funeral, as of Friday night, Lev Parnas was only one who was still in custody while the others have bailed out. Well, now, we can tell you as of today, Mr. Parnas is also out.
He was released this morning on al $200,000 cash bond. He is reportedly under house arrest. He has to submit to GPS monitoring.
Mr. Parnas, Lev, and the man he was arrested with, Igor Fruman, the two of them are due in court in New York the day after tomorrow to be arraigned. And that`s when they`ll both enter a plea for the first time. That said, tomorrow on Capitol Hill, the impeachment proceedings will proceed right alongside this. Veteran U.S. State Department official Bill Taylor expected to testify before the impeachment committees tomorrow. Ambassador Taylor is the guy when they convinced to pinch hit at U.S. embassy in Ukraine after that campaign by Rudy Giuliani and, according to prosecutors, some of these defendants, to fire the existing ambassador, Marie Yovanovitch, after that campaign was successful and they ousted Yovanovitch, Ambassador Taylor was sent in to kind of, again, pinch hit for her.
Ambassador Taylor`s real claim to fame, though, may be as the author of the most refrigerator magnet friendly text from this whole scandal. He`s the one who said, quote: I think it`s crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign.
Ambassador Bill Taylor is not just going to be a fact witness here. That text message is now important evidence in these impeachment proceedings.
Joining us now is Congressman Jim Himes. He`s a member of the Intelligence Committee, one of the committees that will be hearing that deposition tomorrow.
Sir, thanks very much for your time tonight.
REP. JIM HIMES (D-CT): Hi, Rachel.
MADDOW: So we`ve watched the deposition schedule change a little bit and we`ve watched as the sort of calendar has shifted in terms of who`s actually expected to turn up.
Do you think that the State Department will try to block Ambassador Taylor from being there tomorrow?
HIMES: Well, they may. But, you know, what`s remarkable about the last couple of weeks is despite the three or four-page letter that Congress got from the White House saying, we`re not helping you, this is a fake inquiry, it turns out that actually State Department people, retired and not retired are showing up for their depositions.
So, I do imagine that Mr. Taylor will show up and I do imagine that the rest of the witnesses will. Obviously, we got delayed a bit because my colleague, Elijah Cummings` memorial service will be at the end of the this week. But things are moving along, despite that bizarre letter from the White House saying they weren`t cooperating.
MADDOW: In terms of Ambassador Taylor and what you`re going to ask him. I know this is a closed-door deposition and it hasn`t happened yet, but obviously, his texts, which we`ve now seen, I think it is crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign, the reason that is so striking, the reason that has become the refrigerator magnet of this -- of this scandal thus far is because it really appears like he was putting that in writing in order to make sure there was a record of what was going on. At least from what we can see from the outside, it appears that`s what the implication was of that text.
From all you have seen thus far, from being inside these proceedings, are we interpreting that the correct way?
HIMES: I think that`s right. And, you know, I think it`s important that we understand why it was that Bill Taylor, a professional diplomat, a guy with, you know, diplomacy to do, not anybody`s political interests to look after, twice in two separate texts said, my god, what are we doing here? Some version thereof.
We need to understand why he got that impression. Why did he think there was a quid pro quo? I would point out that, Rachel, that -- you know, when the chief of staff gives a public press conference in which he says, yes, sure, there was a quid pro quo, and where the American people can read the transcript where the American president says, hey, will you do me a favor, though?
You know, the facts are not really in dispute. So, when you step away from tomorrow`s testimony, I do think we`ve got a little bit more work to do to understand exactly who helped implement the orders to withhold the military aid, to withhold a White House meeting for the new president, who was in that line of command?
And by the way, we don`t talk about it much, but one of the truly bright lights of the diplomatic service, Marie Yovanovitch, was dismissed from her post in Ukraine. The dismissal of an ambassador is a pretty big deal. The secretary of state would generally know about that sort of thing. That is also a very significant abuse of power if it was undertaken because Giuliani is running around spreading rumors that she`s not on the team.
So, we do have a little bit more work to understand exactly who is in the line of decision making of these uses of American public resources to accomplish this bizarre and seedy aim for President Trump`s re-election.
MADDOW: Congressman Jim Himes, a member of the House Intelligence Committee, thanks for your time tonight, sir. I know it`s going to be a very, very busy week. I appreciate your making time for us.
HIMES: Thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: All right. Much more to get to tonight. Stay with us.
MADDOW: We`re less than a month away from the next Democratic debate, which will be in Georgia. Whether you are tracking the repercussions of the last debate or just the compounding circumstances of the whole small D democratic process right now, it`s been really interesting over past week or two to see which candidates are on the move.
Over the weekend, it was Senator Bernie Sanders who held a huge rally in New York. He got a crowd of more than 25,000 people. That`s the largest crowd at a Democratic primary so far.
Sanders also raised most money of anyone in the Democratic field last quarter. And he is now in the privileged position of celebrating a high- octane endorsement from the very high-profile, very influential freshman congresswoman, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. So, that was the scene this weekend in New York for Bernie Sanders.
In Iowa, one candidate who seems to be on the move is Pete Buttigieg. He cracked the top tier in an early state poll for the first time today. In a new Suffolk University/"USA Today" poll puts Mayor Pete Buttigieg at 13 percent, in third place, right behind Joe Biden at 18 percent, Elizabeth Warren at 17 percent. That is a surge of seven points for Mr. Buttigieg from June, which, of course, is real movement. Again, that`s an Iowa poll.
But if you`re looking for sort of multiple metrics for somebody who is ascending, particularly coming out of the last debate, which may have been a very important moment for her, you`ll want to check out what`s happening with Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar. In a new poll out today of the senator`s home state, which is becoming something of a battleground state, she beats President Trump in a head-to-head match up by the largest margin of any candidate. She beats him by 17 points.
Next door in the all-important early state of Iowa, the senator also got big local endorsements this weekend, including from State Rep Andy McKean, who left the Iowa Republican Party this year and became a Democrat in a very high-profile switch.
In that same Suffolk/"USA Today" poll of Iowa, Klobuchar got one step closer to qualifying for the November debate. She`s already hit the fundraising threshold. Now with this Iowa poll as a qualifying poll for her, she`s just two polls away from making that stage next month.
Senator Amy Klobuchar joins us here live, next.
MADDOW: Joining us now is Senator Amy Klobuchar, Democrat of Minnesota, 2020 presidential candidate.
Senator, it`s great to see you. Thank you for being here.
SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, thank you, Rachel. It is great to be on.
MADDOW: You have had a busy few weeks. You have been getting some good poll numbers and you had a debate performance that you are proud of that seems to have done you some good.
KLOBUCHAR: Yes. We`ve had so much momentum since then. We went on a major bus trip in Iowa and before that, every county in New Hampshire.
KLOBUCHAR: And I`ve been picking up more and more endorsements. I have the most endorsements of any of the candidates, for electeds and former electeds in the state of Iowa.
KLOBUCHAR: And since then, from regular people, just going into our website at amyklobuchar.com, we have now raised $2 million since the debate.
MADDOW: Since the debate?
MADDOW: OK. So in terms of your strategy here, you have not been up there with Biden and Warren and Sanders as a top-tier candidate, but you have been steady. Again, as I`ve talked to you about this before, you have said, basically, you`re on track that this is the way that you had planned to do. It`s sort of slow and steady wins the race.
MADDOW: Can you put some -- can you put some detail on that? Can you explain to me how this works?
KLOBUCHAR: Well, yes. I mean, I knew that I wasn`t the one that was going to start out with all of the name identification. And I also knew that I would slowly but surely gain. That`s what we`re doing. And part of this is that I believe in politics the way I think you should do it, which is, meeting people, getting people onboard, and getting that kind of support that`s going to last you until the end.
It might not be a viral moment, but that`s just a moment. What really matters is can you build the coalition? And for me, that is our fired up base, but it`s also bringing in independents, who are more and more, as you know from the 2016 election when we took back the House of Representatives and won in all of these places, like the governor`s race in Wisconsin and Michigan and Kansas.
They came over to us. And I think for them, it`s an economic check. They`re afraid of this guy. They`re afraid of what he`s going to do to the underpinnings of our economy and how things are still getting more expensive, like pharmaceutical prices.
But it`s also a value check. And that`s why I have been so surprised at the number of people that have showed up at our events who say, look, I didn`t vote last time or I voted independent. Or a few of them, one guy in line in New Hampshire, everyone had "I`m a climate change voter" sticker. You know, "I`m a Supreme Court voter" sticker.
And this guy comes up and he whispers, I voted for Donald Trump. Don`t tell anyone here. And I go, no, I won`t, I won`t. And he goes, I`m not doing it again, you know?
MADDOW: Is your pitch to Donald Trump voters pitch different than your pitch to base voters? I mean --
KLOBUCHAR: Not really, no, because, you know, I am what I am. And to me this isn`t a strategy. And it`s a way I have won big and brought people with me and won up and down our ticket when I lead the ticket, and that is by simply meeting people where they are, going not just where it is comfortable, but where it`s uncomfortable, and making the pitch that we clearly need someone who`s in it for the long haul when it comes to our economy. That we`ve got to match our education system with the jobs we have now and in the future.
That we need to respect the dignity of work -- as my friend, Sherrod Brown says -- by making sure that people can get child care and can retire in peace and can have a good family leave when something goes wrong. That`s what they need.
And to talk about that in addition to wanting to have a president that when they`re on TV don`t have to turn the volume down in front of your kids because you don`t know what he`s going to say.
So, I think she could do much better as a president and not do that. And that`s the point I`ve been making.
MADDOW: Stay right there. We`ll be right back with Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota right after this.
MADDOW: Joining us once again is Senator Amy Klobuchar, Democrat from Minnesota, 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, having a bit of a moment right now in her campaign.
Senator, let me ask you about something you were just talking about in terms of reaching base voters also needing to reach the voters who didn`t vote either for the Democrat or at all last time. You have been stinging in your critique for Medicare-for-All. You described it as a pipe dream in the last debate, fiercely critical, in particular, of Senator Warren for not talking about how she was going to pay for it.
It`s entirely possible that one of the people who likes Medicare-for-All is going to be the nominee or would be your running mate if you`re on the ticket. Have you given the Republicans basically a bunch of great talking points against something that a lot of Democrats like?
KLOBUCHAR: No, I don`t think so. I`m open to all ideas. I am just being very focused on what I think we can get done and what`s the best idea right now and that idea to me is the public option.
And think about what that would mean. It`s what Barack Obama wanted to do to begin with. It does not trash the Affordable Care Act. It builds on it by simply saying, OK, we`re going to have an option that`s non-profit for a change, and it can be Medicare/Medicaid, but what it means is that you will be able to have a less expensive good option to compete with private insurance, and then people can start buying into it using their Affordable Care Act subsidies.
And, yes, I have shown how I`m going to pay for it and how I`m going to pay for everything I`ve proposed, including mental health treatment and long- term care, improving that, because I think that`s really important right now and that`s my difference. And I know that Senator Warren said that she`s going to come out to explain how she is going to pay for it. I think that`s good.
I just think we have a president right now that has added trillions of dollars to the debt by giving money to his rich friends, that tax bill when he goes down to Mar-a-Lago and says, hey, I just made you a lot richer. To me, that`s the best political ad of all because he basically has shown where his heart is and what he`s doing with the policies. And that`s why I think it`s just important that we say how we`re going to pay for things.
MADDOW: I think we`re in this a little bit of a trap, though, in terms of what you care about with policy because Democratic voters, I think voters across the country of all stripes really, really care about health care and it being so expensive.
MADDOW: And about health care delivery. Big question. It`s really, really a top priority issue.
And Republicans have been very busy trying to take health coverage away from many Americans as possible.
KLOBUCHAR: Agree. Right now in Texas in a lawsuit.
MADDOW: Democrats, on the other hand, are all in agreement that there should be universal coverage.
KLOBUCHAR: We are.
MADDOW: Because Democrats are willing to talk about it, you guys spend all your time --
KLOBUCHAR: Good point, right.
MADDOW: -- fighting about it, tearing each other down about it.
KLOBUCHAR: Good point. I try to point out when I can -- and one of the reasons I came out strong on my plan in showing the differences is there have been some statements like you don`t fight -- you`re not going to fight for it, or statements -- and my whole point was there is not a monopoly on good ideas. We can have different ideas.
And I think we`ve been very clear what unites us is stronger than what divides us. Bernie and I have worked together. We`ve done joint amendments on pharmaceuticals, on bringing less expensive drugs in from safe countries like Canada, or I lead the bill and a number of my colleagues up on that stage are on it to allow -- lift that ban to allow Medicare to negotiate less expensive drugs.
What happened was pharma got that provision written into that law. That`s what it says. They can`t negotiate. It`s crazy.
So, I think in the end, yes, there`s vigorous debates. That`s what our party`s about. But I still believe there`s respect on that stage. I certainly respect my colleagues.
MADDOW: Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, it`s great to have you here.
KLOBUCHAR: All right. Thanks.
MADDOW: Good to see you.
KLOBUCHAR: Great to see you, Rachel.
MADDOW: We`ll be right back. Stay with us.
MADDOW: Little breaking news before we wrap tonight. The House Impeachment Committees just announced they`re starting to schedule weekend proceedings. Weekend depositions. Starting with Phillip Reeker, who is the acting assistant secretary of European and Eurasian affairs at the State Department.
New report from "Bloomberg News" said that although Reeker had been initially scheduled to testify the day after tomorrow, on Wednesday, now his deposition is expected this weekend, on Saturday.
We did know that several depositions were being rescheduled because of memorials planned for Congressman Elijah Cummings later this week. But this is the first report that we`ve had that the House impeachment proceedings intend to start stretching through the weekend.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had alerted the Republicans in the Senate that they could ultimately end up working six days a week on impeachment after the House gives them articles to vote on, but it sounds like the house is going to weekend work already.
Watch this space.
That does it for us tonight. We`ll see you again tomorrow.
Now, it`s time for "THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL".
Good evening, Lawrence.
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