RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Good evening. Thanks for being with us this hour.
All right, it has only happened six times in history. There have been six times that the Republicans and the Democrats have had their presidential nominating conventions in the same city in the same year.
1884, a former speaker of the House named James Blaine was the Republican nominee for president that year. His convention happened in June at Chicago`s lakefront Interstate Exposition Building. The following month, Grover Cleveland had his convention in Chicago, too, from the competing party but they had the same convention venue, the same building by the lake where James Blaine had had his convention just a few weeks earlier.
And about 50 years later-ish, it happened for a second time, 1932, again in Chicago. Both parties that year rented out a different venue, the Chicago Stadium. Once the Republicans were done with the place in 1932 they just switch over the Hoover signs to Roosevelt signs, rushed in a new set of delegates from the other party and started the whole thing over again.
Twelve years later, 1944, they did it again, again in Chicago, again at the Chicago Stadium.
And then again in 1948, this time it was in Philadelphia. And one more time in Chicago, 1952.
And it makes sense a little bit, right? Logistically two major parties nominating conventions aren`t that different from one another. When you share a venue, yes, I guess you contrast the parties for the voters in terms of their geographical choice for convention, you give that up. But you gain shared bunting. You can keep the same crew for the lighting and the sound and, you know, keep the same hot dog vendors, all the rest of it. So, it sort of makes sense.
There have been a handful of times in history where the two parties shared their venue from their nominating convention, but it hasn`t happened for a while. The last time it happened was 1972 in Miami Beach. The Democrats went first that year. George McGovern officially becoming the Democratic nominee for president on stage at the Miami Beach Convention Center in 1972. After the Dems went in Miami Beach in `72, the original plan was for Nixon and the Republicans to do their convention across the country in San Diego.
Nixon was from Southern California. He loved San Diego. He used to call San Diego his lucky city.
The RNC picked Nixon`s lucky city to host their 1972 convention for the president`s re-election campaign. They had the venue picked out in San Diego. They booked it, they made all the arrangements. It was all set.
But then just three months before it was all supposed to happen, three months before the convention was due to happen, the Republicans announced that actually they changed their mind. They`re yanking the convention out of San Diego.
It was such a late decision it left no time to make all the long lead time arrangements that you need to make for a big, you know, high security political event like this. And so by bailing on San Diego so abruptly and so late, the only option the Republicans had for where else they could do their convention that year on short notice was the other place that was outfitted for a convention that year, a place the Democrats were already planning on using in Miami Beach, for which all the logistics and planning it already been done, even if they`ve been done for the other party. It`s the kind of the Republicans` only option.
And the Republican Party gave a bunch of contradictory explanations for why they had to make this sudden last move. First, they said it was a problem with the venue, with the arena in San Diego. Then they`d thought there would be riots, riots in San Diego specifically. Riots in San Diego specifically that you might not have other places.
Then they said they thought there weren`t enough hotel rooms in San Diego for the Republicans to have a successful convention, which I mean, OK, really? After more than a year of planning, the Republicans realized at the very last second they didn`t book enough hotel rooms so call the whole thing off? Yes.
It turns out that was not the real reason they couldn`t do their convention in San Diego. The real reason was a memo, an incriminating memo and a pushy reporter. February 1972, a few months before the San Diego convention was due to happen that summer, a reporter named Jack Anderson published a memo that had been written by a lobbyist for a big phone company at the time. A company called ITT.
The memo was marked personal and confidential. And in this memo, the phone company lobbyist spelled out how that company had made a secret illicit deal with Richard Nixon`s Justice Department. The Justice Department had been pursuing an anti-trust lawsuit against ITT to stop them from gobbling up other companies and becoming an even larger conglomerate.
To try to evade that legal scrutiny and get out from under that antitrust investigation, ITT made a secret deal with the Nixon administration. The deal was that the Justice Department would basically let ITT go, they`d go easy on ITT for an antitrust case. In exchange, ITT would pay. ITT would help make Richard Nixon`s beloved San Diego convention fantasy a reality because ITT would donate $400,000 to the Republican Party`s San Diego Convention.
And that whole scheme was written down in an internal ITT memo. Jack Anderson published the memo and spelled out how the whole scheme worked. Quote: The memo not only indicates that the anti-trust case had been fixed but that the fix was a pay off for ITT`s pledge of up to $400,000 for the upcoming Republican convention in San Diego.
And again, he reports on the memo but he also publishes it which is how we see that the lobbyist even says in the memo if anybody found out about this scheme -- quote, if the convention commitment gets too much publicity, you can believe our negotiations with justice will wind up shot down. The attorney general is definitely helping us but cannot let it be known.
And the memo ends with an instruction to destroy it. Literally the last line is, quote, please destroy this, huh?
Note to self, if you ever have to say something like that in a memo, this must be destroyed, you probably should not send that memo. You probably shouldn`t have even written it down in any form already you geniuses.
And, of course, in the end, that memo was not destroyed. Jack Anderson dug it up and put it in the newspaper, and so Nixon had to yank his nominating convention out of his home state and his lucky city, and it all had to be kicked over to Florida to the venue Democrats had already just used, because with this sordid scandal out in the open, it didn`t look great that a phone company had helped pay for that stage with a corrupt, secret payoff that was supposed to get the Justice Department off their back, right, in exchange for this monetary favor for the president and his party.
Nixon`s, you know, would have been, could have been San Diego Convention was not the only casualty of the ITT scandal, though. The ITT scandal also led to the first ever criminal conviction of a U.S. attorney general. Nixon`s Attorney General Richard Kleindienst had lied about the ITT scandal when he was questioned about it. He was caught for that, ultimately convicted of it.
But he eventually came around to telling the truth about the scandal. Kleindienst eventually told investigators looking into the ITT matter that President Nixon had personally ordered him to shutdown the Justice Department`s investigation into ITT in exchange for that big fat check. So, it wasn`t something that like Nixon`s guys were doing on speck, Nixon ordered it. And he was caught on tape admitting to it and sort of bragging about it in the Oval Office.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
RICHARD NIXON, FORMER PRESIDENT: And incidentally, Kleindienst has the ITT thing settled. He cut a deal with ITT. Now this is very, very hush-hush and it has to be engineered very delicately and it`ll take six months to do properly. But --
HALDEMAN: Does ITT have any money?
HALDEMAN: Geneen, yes.
NIXON: Oh, God, yes. Does he ever. That`s part of this ballgame. But it should be later.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MADDOW: Does he have any money? Oh, God, yes, that`s part of this ball game but that part is hush-hush. That part comes -- you know there`s a taping system in this room, right, which you installed? Did that just like slip your mind.
Just wild to look back on this, right? I mean, here`s the sitting president of the United States ordering his Justice Department to drop an ongoing investigation into this big company in exchange for that same company giving the Republican Party a whole bunch of money to benefit the president`s re-election campaign. It`s just wildly corrupt, almost unbelievably, explicitly corrupt for a sitting president to step on his own Justice Department to score that cash in that way for his own re-election effort, and getting caught for it on tape and his attorney general being convicted for it, first time in history an A.G. gets criminally convicted, it`s just nuts.
And yet the ITT scandal has become this sort of arcane forgotten footnote to the Nixon presidency. Because as nutty and big as that was, that scandal was swallowed up in our national memory by another corruption scandal of the Nixon presidency, and one for which that president ultimately got impeached, the Watergate scandal that ultimately led to Nixon`s resignation.
And this is the thing about impeaching a president, we have actually brought article of impeachment against so few presidents in our nation`s history that when it happens, it`s so big it ends up being the kind of thing that just sucks all of the light and all of the air out of every other news cycle. I mean, it`s the news cycle version of a black hole.
The Nixon ITT scandal is the great example of that kind of story. It would have been huge news, but actually presidency-ending news had it not been overshadowed and lost down inside the impeachment black hole. Instead, it`s ended up being barely a blip in history.
And now, at the end of this year, now we are living through another impeachment of another president, just the fourth impeachment effort in the history of this country, the third impeachment of a president, we`re seeing that same dynamic at work again now in the Trump administration. Por ejemplo, one of the things that has happened this year which has not even made the cut of being a side line story, it has been marginal, off the edge of this -- it`s been the ongoing and frankly Shakespearean catastrophic collapse of what used to be the most conservative political entity in the United States of America. This is happening all around us, like I can`t focus, too much else to worry about.
The National Rifle Association, the NRA, has been a powerhouse in Washington when it comes to lobbying and influence and especially money in elections, for generation. Its power has been legendary. Politicians cross the NRA at their peril.
But something very different has been happening with the NRA recently. I mean first there was the 2016 election, which was a weird time for the NRA in its own right. For some reason, the NRA in 2016 just exploded its previous spending records. They pumped $30 million into trying to get Trump elected in 2016.
I mean, for context that`s triple what they spent the last time around on Mitt Romney. Triple, almost. Why do that for Donald Trump? I mean, with frankly his ambivalence at best, his disinterests, his ignorance an every issue having to do with guns -- I mean, it`s not like Donald Trump is Charlton Heston, right? I mean, why would the NRA triple down on him, on guns compared to what they`ve done for other Republicans? I don`t know.
And then there was the weird 2016 Russian twist in American gun politics with a Russian agent Maria Butina ingratiating herself into the NRA as a way to gain access and influence in conservative political circles ahead of the 2016 campaign including crazy stuff like an all expenses paid trip to Moscow by a delegation of NRA officials. And Maria Butina`s boyfriend, an American political operative offering the Trump campaign a back channel between Trump and Putin.
And Butina`s handler, senior Russian government official showing up at NRA conferences and chatting up Donald Trump, Jr. It`s been nearly two years since it was first reported amid all of that craziness that the FBI was investigating whether the NRA`s gigantic 2016 campaign spending on behalf of Trump might have been partly foreign money, Russian money illegally funnel funneled through the NRA to support Trump`s candidacy. Whatever happened to that investigation?
And I don`t know if all that weird Russia stuff and the unprecedented campaign spending in 2016, I don`t know if it`s all connected to what has been happening at the NRA more recently. But over the last few months, over the course of this year -- I mean, we have watched this conservative political behemoth with really no equal in conservative politics. We have watched it collapse at breathtaking speed.
Starting in April of this year with this reporting in "The New Yorker," quote, a small group of executives and contractors and vendors have extracted hundreds of millions of dollars from the organization`s budget, from gratuitous payment, sweetheart deals and opaque financial arrangements. Hundreds of millions of dollars they`ve taken out of the NRA? Hundreds of millions?
And that reporting based on federal tax forms and charity records and contracts and corporate filings and internal communications, that reporting appeared to kick off a whole series of lawsuits and counter lawsuits within the NRA itself and between NRA leadership and some of their contractors and former leaders, the organization ousted its president, Oliver North, yes that Oliver North who insisted at the time he was a whistle-blower trying to uncover terrible misbehavior at the NRA. The NRA insisted he was an extortion artist, he was trying to launch a coup with the NRA.
What resulted from all of this drama at the NRA is a cascade of terrible and increasingly damning and embarrassing revelations about what happens to the donations the organization gets from NRA members. The NRA, for example, apparently spent more than $200,000 of its members` donations on tailor made outfits for NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre, including $39,000 spent in one day on Italian luxury suits at one Beverly Hills boutique.
NRA membership dues and donations also bought him more than a quarter million dollars worth of trips to a five-star resort in Lake Como, Italy, and Four Seasons in Budapest, and to a really long, really nice trip in the Bahamas, including more than $200,000 on private jets just for the Bahamas trip and more than $18,000 for a European chauffeur. Plus, there was the 10,000 square foot Texas mansion the NRA very nearly bought for Wayne LaPierre and his wife until at the last minute the organization thought better of it.
But the NRA did decide to spend tens of thousands of their members` dollars flying Wayne`s wife`s hair and makeup artist all around the country and putting them up in luxury hotels. And the reason all of this is not just embarrassing but potentially real trouble is the NRA is a non-profit organization and there are rules, there are laws about how the non-profit can spend its members` money.
Take all of Wayne LaPierre`s spending habit with NRA members` money, add that to evidence hundreds of thousands of dollars flowed through the NRA to its own board members, that`s them paying themselves, adding the red flags about the way the NRA has diverted money from what`s supposed to be its charitable foundation.
But it all together, it`s no wonder the NRA appears to be very worried about a -- ever widening investigation by the attorney general of the state of New York. And it`s New York because New York is where the NRA is chartered.
This summer, New York`s Attorney General Letitia James subpoenaed more than 90 current and former members of the NRA`s board. Just this month, Ms. James issued the NRA itself a new subpoena which according "The New York Times" covers campaign finance payments to board members and tax compliance. If the NRA`s behavior has been bad enough, New York could conceivably revoke its non-profit status and shut it down, which is what the state of New York just did to Donald Trump`s charitable foundation this year. More on that later.
But meanwhile, this is huge deal. This would be like a show stopping deal at any other time. The once fearsome NRA, the most powerful entity in conservative politics, I mean, they`re in free fall.
They shutdown their bombastic pro-Trump TV network this summer. Top officials have resigned. Board members and rank and file members alike are demanding answers.
In the last election cycle, in 2018, it was actually gun reform groups, gun control groups that outspent the NRA for the first time anybody can remember. And I think it`s fair to say at any other time in any other news environment, the implosion of the country`s most fearsome conservative political machines and this maelstrom of self-dealing and petty incrimination and revelations about lavish spending at Beverly Hills boutiques, I mean, we would be watching that slow motion car crash endlessly. That would be the biggest political news story in the country for a long time.
But with this president in the middle of an impeachment, it`s like, you know, just one more tree falling in the forest. And, you know, it`s not just that story -- I mean, there are other stories of that magnitude that have been swallowed by the impeachments and we`ve got more of that coming up.
Stay with us.
MADDOW: There was the $10,000 he spent on a 4-foot tall portrait of himself. There was the $20,000 he spent on a 6-foot tall portrait of himself. There was the $12,000 he spent on a signed Tim Tebow football helmet. There was a quarter of a million dollars he spent to settle legal disputes related to his hotels and other properties.
Before he was president, back when he was just a candidate for president, "Washington Post" reporter David Fahrenthold uncovered the rampant, rank, ridiculous corruption coming out of Donald Trump`s supposed charity, the Donald J. Trump Foundation. For years, the Trump Foundation was founded exclusively with other people`s money, despite the fact that it was called the Trump Foundation for years, the Trump family didn`t put a dime into it.
And it turns out what Trump was actually doing with this charity to which other people had donated money as if was an actual charity, he was actually buying himself fun presents, lots and lots of pictures of himself, for example. He was also paying off legal fines and making illegal political contributions that charities aren`t allowed to make, and ultimately he used it to do a bunch of stuff to promote his presidential campaign, which again is something a charity can`t do.
That reporting in "The Washington Post" landed David Fahrenthold a Pulitzer Prize. It also landed the president and his three oldest children in a middle of a lawsuit filled by the state of New York. The New York attorney general sued the president alleging that his would be charity didn`t function as a real charity and instead it was a vehicle for a campaign of illegal self-dealing and financial misconduct. In the way of that lawsuit, the president shut down his foundation.
But even with it shutdown, a judge agreed with the attorney general about those claims about Trump`s charity. And the judge ordered the president to pay $2 million to actual charities as punishment for him using his own fake charity as his personal checkbook, which is why we have this headline smacked in the middle of the president`s impeachment proceedings, telling us the president did in fact have to follow through that court mandated penalty to pay out those millions of dollars as restitution essentially for the criminal fraud he perpetrated through his fake charity to use it for his own personal enrichment and advantage.
The reporting that ended up shining a flashlight on the corruption within the president`s fake charity started before he was president. The lawsuit was brought more than a year ago. He just paid out that $2 million fine this month in the middle of his impeachment. It`s actually the second multimillion dollar criminal fraud settlement the president has had to pay out since his presidential campaign following the $25 million he also had to pay to settle his Trump University fraud as well.
I mean, this is a remarkable and sometimes overwhelming time in the news right now. There`s a lot going on and a lot to pay attention to. It is hard, believe me, I know.
But big stories, important stories, one of the important things we`re learning about them day in and day out in this administration is that sometimes those important stories have a long half life, right, you follow for a little while and you think what happened to them, go back to them and circle back because they almost always come back. As we enter a new year, as we continue to follow this presidency through its various scandals and now it`s impeachment phase, you know, keep your periscope up, keep paying attention. Chase every story to the end because they do have to end somewhere.
Joining us now is David Fahrenthold. He is "The Washington Post" reporter who first broke open the story about the corruption of the president`s charitable foundation.
David, thank you so much for being here. I really appreciate you making time.
DAVID FAHRENTHOLD, THE WASHINGTON POST: Great to be here.
MADDOW: So, let me ask you about that arc I just described in terms of the timing and your reporting and ultimately the demise of the foundation. Does that hit the high points or are there important parts of that we`re missing out?
FAHRENTHOLD: No, I think you hit all the high points. The one thing I`d go back and say is during the campaign not just president, then candidate Trump but also Mike Pence, Hope Hicks, the campaign spokesperson, they all said, oh, this isn`t true, there`s many factual inaccuracies that we`ll point out at some later date. You know, there`s nothing wrong with the Trump Foundation.
It was a great education for me to see them saying that about something that I actually knew a little bit about to know that they were just wrong. And even more of a vindication now to see two years later, three years later that a judge has felt the same way and imposed this really unprecedented kind of damages on a sitting president.
MADDOW: It is remarkable to me -- I mean, one of the hallmarks of this time is we forget about even really big scandals. Like I try to remember that like yeah, the president`s sister had to resign from the federal judiciary to get out ahead of an ethics probe that was going to look at the tax fraud that she and her family including her brother the president apparently carried out with her parents` money.
Like you can`t even -- things like that just float away. This president has had to pay two major criminal fraud penalties related to the Trump university fraud scam and this charitable scam as well. Do you know of any president of -- any other U.S. president having anything like this type of scandal in their own -- during their own presidency or during their presidential campaign?
FAHRENTHOLD: I don`t know of anything like this. I mean, honestly, this might be sort of unusual for any American to have to pay out two large settlements in fraud cases in the space of three or four years. But certainly, as far as I know, it`s unprecedented for a president.
MADDOW: And, David, one of the things that we`re continuing to watch, and it`s sort of hard to know when we ultimately might get more information about it, but as far as we can tell there are also criminal investigations including state investigations that touch on the president`s business. I wondered if in any of your reporting on the president`s foundation you ever discovered anything or sort of got any sort of indications that anything about the president -- the way the president conducted himself with his foundation might have a bearing on our understanding of the way that he ran his business too?
And that may be important in an ongoing way to the extent there are open investigations into his ongoing business.
FAHRENTHOLD: Sure. The Trump Foundation was a little more transparent than the businesses. Neither one of them was very transparent, but you could see a little more about the workings of the charity. And what struck me there I think was an approach that I think helps you understand everything that Trump does is that he sees honor systems, and a lot of the world is an honor system if you`re a rich person, he sees honor systems as something to be exploited.
Other people follow the law and honor systems not because they`re going to be arrested the next day or because the police are in the next room but because everybody follows the law and you want to sort of do what everybody does and just go along. Trump is often, and he especially did in the case of his charity, he used that to his advantage. If he did what people didn`t expect, if he violated the honor system, it would be years, and in this case it took years and a "Washington Post" investigation for anybody to sort of notice what he`d done and for him to face any consequences.
So understanding that, that`s the way he approaches honor systems and charity and then life, I think it might help you understand why he might be worried about investigations into his business, how did he take that approach and apply it to all the honor systems that govern a big business.
MADDOW: David Fahrenthold, Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter at the "Washington Post" -- David, thank you for being here. Again, really appreciate it.
All right, still ahead tonight another story lost to the impeachment black hole, it`s a big one. Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LESTER HOLT, NBC NEWS ANCHOR: Good evening. Right now, millions are bracing for a hurricane the likes of which we`ve never seen. It`s called Patricia. It is the strongest hurricane ever recorded. Right now, it is now making what is feared to be a catastrophic landfall along Mexico`s Pacific coast.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Hurricane Patricia, it made landfall on the western coast of Mexico on October 23rd, 2015. And it really was a monster storm. In only 24 hours, Patricia whipped itself up from a tropical storm into not just a hurricane but a category 5 hurricane. It was the strongest hurricane ever recorded in the western hemisphere.
Hurricane Patricia ended up damaging or destroying more than 10,000 homes. But because of its magnitude, particularly as it roared ashore, it was feared that it would do even worse.
Before that terrifying hurricane made landfall in Mexico back in 2015, the man who`s now White House senior policy advisor Stephen Miller, e-mailed a reporter about that storm, a reporter from the alt-right news website Breitbart.com. It`s actually the reporter who e-mailed Stephen Miller first, October 23rd, 2015, 2015, 6:10 p.m. So, this is just a few hours before that hurricane makes landfall.
The e-mail says, quote: This being the worst hurricane ever recorded, what are the chances it wreaks destruction on Mexico and drives a mass migration to the U.S. border? Just two minutes later, Stephen Miller replies, quote, a 100 percent, and they will all get temporary protected status, TPS. And all the ones here will get TPS, too. That needs to be the capital B-I-G, big story. TPS is everything.
The reporter responds, quote, wow, OK, is there precedent for this? When Stephen Miller writes back he responds with a link, a link to this article warning people that President Obama might use that hurricane as a convenient pretext to invite, quote, a lot of Mexicans into the United States.
That article that Stephen Miller sent around -- around the time of that hurricane is from a racist anti-immigrant website called VDare. VDare is named after Virginia Dare who was reportedly the first English child, the first white person born in the world, in the 1580s. The romanticized folklore about this first white person in the Americas, this Virginia Dare folklore has become kind of point of worship among American white supremacists and white nationalists.
The founder of VDare has called immigration policy in the United States, quote, Adolf Hitler`s posthumous revenge on America, as in Hitler is inflicting immigrants on America from beyond the grave. Yes, Hitler is dead, sure, but he`s winning his Nazi race war against us because people still immigrate to America and, obviously, that`s terrible.
The founding ethos of VDare is that the United States is explicitly a white nation. Quote: The racial identity of America is legitimate and defensible. Diversity per se is not strengthen but a vulnerability is their mission statement. That`s VDare.
In that e-mail where Stephen Miller flags and sends along that article from VDare something worth paying attention to because of what he expects to be a secret plot by Barack Obama to import Mexicans into America, that was sent by Stephen Miller when he was a staffer working in the U.S. senate, working for then Alabama Republican Senator Jeff Sessions. Ultimately, of course, both Sessions and Stephen Miller would go to work for Donald Trump.
And the VDare thing to the reporter, that`s just one in a big stack of Stephen Miller`s e-mails from that time period. E-mails that were obtained and published last month by the Southern Poverty Law Center. In total, what those e-mails show is that one e-mail was not a copy and paste error. It wasn`t something that stood out from Stephen Miller`s usual correspondence. That`s kind of the guy he was at least at the time.
Here`s another e-mail that Stephen Miller sent in 2015. Quote, did you see the pope saying the West must in effect get rid of borders? Someone should point out the parallels to Camp of the Saints. Sending this along to a reporter.
What`s Camp of the Saints? It`s a grotesquely racist book that spins out this race fantasy plot where terrible basically satanic immigrants from India invade France and violently overthrow white society in France. It`s ridiculous, it`s notorious, it is a popular read among white nationalists because this is their fantasy of white genocide -- this fantasy that white people and other people can`t coexist, it`s a fight to the death and white people must wage war on everyone that`s not white or they`ll go extinct. That`s Camp of the Saints. Stephen Miller wants this real world development to be reported along side it`s parallels to the plot of Camp of the Saints.
In other e-mails, Stephen Miller repeatedly praises President Calvin Coolidge, not because he likes Coolidge like generally as a president. No, Stephen Miller likes Calvin Coolidge specifically for signing a radically restrictionist anti-immigration law in the 1920s, a law that was heavily influenced by the eugenics movement of the time, based on the idea that the gene pool has to be cleansed of the bad types of genes by deliberately controlling breeding.
Calvin Coolidge himself embraced the bogus, racist pseudo-scientific argument that immigrants from the eastern part of the world in particular, his thinking, even from Eastern Europe were genetically inferior to immigrants from more Western parts of the world. I mean, Calvin Coolidge signed this law that severely limited the number of Jews and Italians and Greeks and Eastern Europeans who would be allowed into this country on the basis of their supposedly genetic inferiority they were banned.
One impact of that law signed by Calvin Coolidge was that it prevented hundreds of thousands of people coming to the United States who were fleeing the Nazis in the 1930s.
In one of the e-mails from Stephen Miller that was recently published, Mr. Miller laments that the new immigration gallery at Ellis Island won`t have a Calvin Coolidge exhibit to celebrate.
VDare, Camp of the Saints, Calvin Coolidge`s racial impurity law from the `20s -- I mean, this is like white nationalism 101. Literally, if you were going to take a white nationalism 101 course, this would be the syllabus of crazy, white nationalist stuff you`d have to learn. And what we learned from those emails that were published last month, they`re also the building blocks of Stephen Miller`s world view which he packed up from his Alabama Republican senator`s office job and carried over to his new desk at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue where he now advises the president of the United States.
I mean, in normal times, it would be almost incomprehensible to think that a person who has advanced these kinds of ideas could work in any White House. I mean maybe for Calvin Coolidge with a time machine. But in a presidency where there wasn`t already an impeachment under way and multiple members of the president`s campaign in prison and all the rest of it, I mean, an unapologetic white nationalist working in the White House as an adviser to the president, that would be a stop the presses hold everything kind of scandal. Here in this administration I guess it`s one thing among many?
But in terms of how this one goes down in history, of course, what will all be remembered from this part of this time in history, from this part of this time in history is not just that Stephen Miller worked in the White House at this time while we were all citizens and we all knew it, but Stephen Miller`s specific job at the Trump White House has been that he runs immigration policy for the administration. He is the chief architect of all the draconian Trump immigration policies from taking children away from their parents and child incarceration and trying to end asylum for all refugees. I mean all of it.
The e-mails showing Stephen Miller`s white nationalist group have occasioned no real explanation, definitely no apology from the White House, no firing from Stephen Miller. But those e-mails have led to more than a hundred lawmakers demanding that Stephen miller should resign with more than two dozen senators writing directly to president Trump demanding he fire Stephen Miller. One of the senators who signed that letter joins us next.
Stay with us.
MADDOW: There`s no preamble, it just starts straight in.
Quote: Dear Mr. President, we write to demand the immediate removal of Stephen Miller as your advisor. Recent reports confirm he advanced white nationalist anti-immigrant ideologies. Continuing to employ him as the senior architect of your immigration policies ensures that those policies discriminate against individual of color to advance white nationalist ideals. He must be removed. These e-mails clearly show what is driving Mr. Miller. It is not national security. It is white supremacy.
Simply put, Mr. Miller is unfit to serve in any capacity at the White House, let alone as a senior policy advisor. We demand you remove Stephen Miller immediately.
The letter is signed by 27 Democrats in the United States Senate. It was sent in the wake of the publication of some of Miller`s e-mails -- e-mails that promoted anti-immigrant, white nationalist racist ideologies before he left Jeff Sessions` Alabama Senate office and was brought up to the Trump White House to be put in charge of immigration policy at the highest levels of the U.S. government.
Joining us now is one of the signers of that letter. Senator Mazie Hirono from the great state of Hawaii.
Senator, thank you so much for making time to be with us tonight. I really appreciate you making time to be here.
SEN. MAZIE HIRONO (D-HI): Aloha. Of course, thank you.
MADDOW: So, one of the things we`re trying to do tonight is focus on scandals in and around the Trump administration that would be a gigantic deal in any other presidency.
HIRONO: Where do we start?
And I guess I want to ask you about the premise of this interview and what I`ve been talking about in the last few minutes, which is the prospect that Stephen Miller maybe is that big of a scandal. That if we weren`t dealing with impeachment and all these other things, that this -- the employ of this man under these terms in this White House would be sort of a showstopper.
HIRONO: Well, the thing is that Stephen Miller fits right in with the moral dead zone that is the Trump White House. And we already know the anti-immigrant policies that have been coming out of the Trump White House since day one starting with the Muslim ban and going forward. So, Stephen Miller has been there all this while and his fingerprints are all over these anti-immigrant policies that emanate from the Trump White House.
MADDOW: Since these emails have been published that give a sort of window into the ideological bent that he has, that may lead him toward these policy situations, since you and 26 of your fellow senators sent this letter, have you had any response, do you expect there to be any response?
HIRONO: I expect no response. In fact, I think the president welcomes Miller`s participation in his White House. These are the kind of people that the president surrounds himself with, and so I had said earlier with all of the very harmful hurtful kind of policies separating children at the border, ending DACA, and I said there must be people, probably Stephen Miller and his little group he has there, every day they`re think of new ways to harm and hurt immigrants in this country and migrants to this country.
MADDOW: More than a hundred Democrats in the House have called for Stephen Miller to resign. Of course unlike in the Senate, in the House, Democrats are in control, and they have subpoena power. They, of course, can convene hearings on whatever they want.
Do you think that there should be a congressional inquiry into Mr. Miller`s continued employ at the White House?
HIRONO: Well, there`s so many others there, too, because -- where you do you start? As I said, the president just surrounds himself with yes men and women and so, sure, they can investigate what is going on with Stephen Miller and all the kind of anti-immigrant policies. But right now, we all know that the House is very much involved in the impeachment proceedings.
MADDOW: Senator, let me just ask you as we`re sort of heading towards the end of this remarkable year and heading into the election -- the re- election campaign provided the president isn`t removed from office in the Senate, what do you feel like is foremost in your mind? And what do you think should be foremost in voters` minds when you think about what we`ve been through these past few years, and what these first term has been like, when they think about how politically involved they want to be over the course of the next year and how much the election means?
HIRONO: First and foremost, we have a president who has committed impeachable acts. And I would like the American people to understand it is not OK for a president to shakedown the president of another country for his own political ends, and, in fact, jeopardizing our national security while he`s at it and using $400 million almost in taxpayer money as bait, as a bribe. That is not OK.
And if our country does not recognize that and certainly if the Congress doesn`t recognize that as the House has, and one hopes that the Senate will, but I`m not holding my breath on that, where are we in our democracy that we have a president who thinks that he`s above the law?
So, first and foremost, I think the rule of law is definitely something that we better adhere to, and with this president that pretty much dissolves the window into what we have is chaos and divisiveness and division in our country.
And with the likes of Stephen Miller pushing forth his white supremacist views, it seems -- not it seems. It is not OK for all these people who have these kinds of feelings and harbor these kinds of resentments towards immigrants and LGBTQ people, women, to all come forward and exhibit their hatred, and this is why the hate crimes have gone up. So we have a lot of healing to do in our country regardless of who becomes president. And heaven forbid that it`s Trump once again because the divisiveness and the hatred I think will be compounded.
MADDOW: Senator Mazie Hirono of Hawaii -- thank you so much for being with us, Senator.
HIRONO: Thank you.
MADDOW: It`s great to have you here. Thanks.
All right. We`ve got much more to come tonight. Stay with us.
MADDOW: I`ve got one last thing here tonight. It is an honor and a gigantic privilege to do this job. I`m grateful for it every single day. I`m thankful for having you on my TV and in your house. It is -- I can`t tell you how much it means to me.
But I also want to take a moment for one more thank you. I don`t do this show alone. It takes a village to get me here every night. I am blessed to work with some of the smartest, funniest, most talented, most hardworking, most creative, most straight-up good people in this entire business. This show would not happen without any of them.
So I just want to take a moment to say thank you to all those guys, too. You guys are the absolute best in the business.
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