CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST, "ALL IN": That is "ALL IN" this evening.
We will see you right back here tomorrow night with a cool thing that we`re doing. For the first time, it`s a live studio audience after debate show with candidates and the voters in New Hampshire. We will be here, so come join us.
THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts now.
Good evening, Rachel.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: That`s fantastic. This is the thing that I have been waiting this whole political season, is you with a live audience after a big political event --
MADDOW: -- so that you can say what you think and you can hear what everybody in the room thinks.
HAYES: There you go. Your dreams are coming true tomorrow.
MADDOW: I love it, I love it. Thank you, my friend. Wonderful. Excellent.
And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour.
All right. 2002 was a sort of atypical year when it comes to midterm elections. In the previous presidential election in the year 2000, George W. Bush had just been elected president, but that was sort of a maybe, right? A contested election result where the ultimate winner of that presidential election was effectively decided at the United States Supreme Court in a 5-4 vote.
All right. That alone would put a little noise in the signal in terms of what you might expect from the next national election following that totally unprecedented debacle of a presidential election in 2000.
But then it was further compounded. In September of 2001, when the 9/11 attacks happened, and whatever shock the body politic had experienced by the contested and indeterminate 2000 presidential election -- well, the 9/11 attacks further scrambled and upended political expectations nationwide.
And so, while the basic political science principle is that the president`s party tends to lose seats in a midterm election, whatever party holds the White House, they tend to suffer in a non-presidential year election following them getting into the White House. That`s the basic principle.
But for a lot of different reasons, that expectation didn`t really take hold in 2002. Really nobody knew what was going to happen in that midterm. And in the great state of New Hampshire, that national uncertainty in 2002, that upending of all normal expectations in 2002 was all funneled in that state, that year, into a very intense competition for a U.S. Senate seat that year in New Hampshire.
The incumbent Republican senator from New Hampshire lost his seat that year, a guy named Bob Smith. He lost his seat in a Republican primary. He lost that Republican primary to a political dynasty inheriter, a kid named John Sununu, who was named after his dad, also John Sununu, who had been George H.W. Bush`s White House chief of staff.
So, the president who just got the presidency after his dad had the presidency, this was the John Sununu who got a Senate seat after his dad had been White House chief of staff. Junior John Sununu was running for that U.S. Senate seat in New Hampshire that year against the incumbent Democratic governor of New Hampshire at the time, Jeanne Shaheen.
So it was a very, you know, interesting, very unpredictable Senate races, one of the most interesting and unpredictable races anywhere in 2002. And it got a lot of national attention, including from one top operative at the Republican National Committee, who ended up taking an active role on how the Republican Party was going to contest that race. He helped the New Hampshire Republican Party specifically line up some national firepower to bring into that race to try to get John Sununu`s son into the Senate.
This operative from the RNC arranged for a national Republican firm to come in from out of state to work specifically on get out the vote operations for that Senate race in New Hampshire in 2002. And to be specific about it, what this group was actually hired to do was not run their own get out the vote operations for the Republican Party but, rather, sabotage and undermine and obviate the get out the vote operation that was being run by the Democrats. It was a criminal scheme, and people ended up going to prison for it.
What this national Republican group did was they hired a call center to jam the phone lines that the Democratic Party was going to try to use to help people get rides to the polls to go hopefully vote for Jeanne Shaheen. These were call centers set up literally at like firefighters union halls and local Democratic Party offices. People would call in to a hotline number, a get out the vote hotline number for the Democratic Party, call in on election day, ask for a ride to the polls.
It`s kind of a tradition in New Hampshire. It`s an option used by a lot of seniors or anybody else who might have trouble driving themselves to the polls, especially in the winter months. But this Republican contractor who worked this specific race in 2002, working for the New Hampshire Republican Party, they hired this call center to basically shut down what the Democrats were doing for their get out the vote. They had this call center send in waves and waves and waves of automatic hang up calls, specifically to tie up all of those phone lines in the Democratic call centers. Hundreds and hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of calls one after the other, totally rendering these call centers useless, totally making it impossible for your average senior citizen in New Hampshire to call and get a ride to the polls.
Election expert Rick Hasen wrote about it in his book which is called "The Voting Wars", great book. In his book, he quotes a Manchester firefighter who was volunteering at the phone lines that day. He said, quote: The phones started to ring. And as I would pick up one phone, it would automatically bump over to another line because there was nobody on any of the phones. The phone lines were all dead once we went to pick them up. The firefighter says, quote, we gave the police department a call.
Yes, calling the police was the right option because even though this sort of seems like a textbook political dirty trick -- we`ll send in automated calls to lock up their get out the vote operations and none of their senior citizens will be able to get to the polls, it seems like the sort of thing you`d invent for teaching people about dirty politics. But this was also a crime, and the police did respond to what happened on Election Day in New Hampshire in 2002.
And people got arrested, and there ended up being a ton of litigation as to how far up the chain this went, how much, for example, the National Republican Party knew about it. Why was it that the operative from the RNC who had set this whole seem in motion was on the phone with the White House dozens of times the whole time while this scheme was underway.
It was a big scandal. A bunch of people got arrested. Multiple people ended up doing serious stints in prison for this.
And even when the litigation was finally over and people had served their prison sentences years down the road, there was still a ton of bad blood as to who was really to blame and who really should have gotten nailed for it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: It all happened during a hard fought battle for the U.S. Senate in New Hampshire, between then Democratic Governor Jeanne Shaheen and Republican John Sununu.
Raymond was running a telemarketing firm. He says an old friend from the Republican National Committee, James Tobin, came to him with an idea. Use nonstop hang-up calls to tie up Democratic phone lines on Election Day.
So, you were trying to create chaos and keep Democrats from getting out their vote?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That`s right. We were trying to create chaos and prevent the Democratic Party from operating efficiently.
REPORTER: On Election Day, the plan worked until nervous state Republicans pulled the plug. And the Republican candidate won, though there`s no evidence that phone jamming made the difference.
Raymond cooperated with authorities and pleaded guilty to conspiring to make harassing phone calls. The Republican National Committee spent an estimated $3 million to defend its high-ranking operative Tobin, who claimed not to be involved but was convicted. Others charged in the scheme including Raymond did not get the RNC`s support.
A lot of folks think that because the Republican National Committee paid $3 million to defend this guy.
UNIDENTIFEID MALE: Mm-hmm.
REPORTER: That they have something to hide.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, that`s a very fair assumption to make, and they need to answer for that.
REPORTER: The RNC declined to comment. Both the RNC and the White House deny authorizing the operation.
Raymond is now shunned by his party and as a felon, unable to vote.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Unable to vote. Now, Iowa and New Hampshire have somehow made it seem inevitable. They`ve somehow made it seem permanent that their presidential nominating contests are the first in the nation, and nobody else is allowed to go first except them, and they deserve all the influence that that brings with it. Woe be unto any other state who tries to take away their status.
But Iowa and New Hampshire have each had their share of problems in terms of the way they have conducted their elections. It is three days now since the Iowa Democratic caucuses of 2020. Today, Bloomberg News was first to report that there appears to have been -- tell me if you recognize this one -- intentional jamming of the Iowa Democratic party`s hotline on Monday night this week. This was the hotline that precinct chairs were supposed to use to call in the results from individual caucuses all around the state to the state party.
Now, a number of things seemed to have gone wrong in the Iowa caucus vote tabulating process on Monday night and since. But when it became apparent that this year`s app for reporting caucus results wasn`t going to work and precinct chairs decided they`d use the backup plan instead, which was to phone in results to the state party using this hotline, well, that backup plan failed too when the hotline was overwhelmed, when precinct chairs couldn`t get through, and they ended up sitting there on hold for a half an hour, an hour, in some cases more than two hours until some of them gave up.
Well, in a closed conference call last night, state party officials reportedly talked amongst themselves about the fact that an excessive number of calls from outside the state started pouring into the phone lines that the party had set up in their headquarters in Des Moines to receive and tabulate the results from around the state. As "The New York Times" put it today, quote, the backup hotline number for caucus organizers to call in results was flooded with nuisance calls after the number was disseminated on social media.
The Iowa Democratic Party treasurer told members of the party`s central committee on the closed conference call last night, quote, all the Trump people from around the country started calling and tearing everybody a new one.
Since that initial reporting, NBC News and other news organizations have tracked down messages like these from pro-Trump political message boards online, which show Trump supporters in real-time on caucus night not only posting and reposting the hotline number that precinct chairs were supposed to use to call in results to the Iowa Democratic Party, but explicitly encouraging one another to call and call and call again, specifically to clog up the lines, specifically to mess with the Democrats` ability to carry out the caucus.
Quote, F them up. Keep clogging the lines. Keep clogging the lines. The results are not being reported because the lines are clogged. Keep clogging the lines.
Now, it is clear that that is not the only thing that went wrong with the tabulation of the Iowa caucus results on Monday, but that, it turns out, is one of the things that went wrong. And it is the kind of thing we have seen before.
The next Democratic nominating contest in 2020 is Tuesday in New Hampshire. New Hampshire state officials today held a press conference to assure everybody in the state and around the country that what happened in Iowa isn`t going to happen there, that they have every confidence that absolutely nothing will go wrong with the primary in New Hampshire on Tuesday.
One reporter asked explicitly whether the 2002 phone jamming scandal from New Hampshire might be a worrying past precedent for that state given what just appears to have happened in Iowa. New Hampshire`s Republican governor responded to that question by dismissing the matter entirely, saying that issue from nearly 20 years ago just doesn`t apply today. It should be noted that the New Hampshire governor right now is a man named Chris Sununu, who is the younger brother of former Senator John Sununu, who is the guy who benefited from the illegal phone jamming scheme for which people went to prison in New Hampshire in that election 18 years ago.
So, I mean, once again, whether it is this administration or this year`s politics, everything I know feels unprecedented. It feels like it`s going off the rails in a way it never has before. But history is here to help. History is never that far behind current events.
And whether it is, you know, Donald Trump in 2016 calling for the Iowa Republican caucus results to be nullified because he said Ted Cruz couldn`t have really won the Iowa caucuses in 2016 because Ted Cruz committed fraud and therefore those results should be erased, or whether it is people in New Hampshire going to prison for a phone jamming scandal in 2002 targeting the Democratic Party`s efforts to carry out its election that day, or whether it is now the emerging evidence of a new phone jamming scandal also targeting the Democratic Party in their election efforts.
I mean, we have been through some of this before, which I think hopefully helps us sort of keep our heads on straight about it and not panic. But the fact that we`ve been through some of this before doesn`t literally make it easier to get through this current iteration of election difficulties that we are seeing right now.
Well, tonight, right before we got on the air, the Iowa Democratic Party posted what they now say are 100 percent of the results from the Democratic caucuses that were carried out in Iowa on Monday night this week. Bernie Sanders remains ahead in terms of the way people voted in stating their initial preference at caucuses across the state.
But the ultimate tally out of Iowa by the Iowa Democratic Party is the delegates, Pete Buttigieg remains very slightly ahead in terms of the total number of state delegates allocated on the basis of the caucuses.
So, right now, again, with what the Iowa Democratic Party says is 100 percent of results in, right now, it is Buttigieg with 26.2 percent of the state delegates. Bernie Sanders with 26.1 percent. Can you get much closer? Elizabeth Warren with 18 percent. Joe Biden with 15.8 percent. Amy Klobuchar with 12.3 percent. Andrew Yang got 1 percent of the state delegates, but nobody else hit even that milestone 1 percent threshold.
On the basis of those results, both today and on the night of the caucuses, we`ve had campaigns proclaiming victory. Both the Buttigieg campaign and the Sanders campaign have now claimed victory in Iowa, which honestly if you ask me, sort of seems fair. They seem pretty much tied.
But concerns about the accuracy of the tabulation remain. You might have seen this on the front page of "The New York Times" today. A troubling litany. Quote: The results released by the Iowa Democratic Party were riddled with inconsistencies and other flaws. More than 100 precincts reported results that were internally inconsistent, that were missing data or that were not possible under the complex rules of the Iowa caucuses.
In some cases, vote tallies didn`t add up. In others, precincts were shown allotting the wrong number of delegates to certain candidates. And in at least a few cases, the parties reported results that don`t match those reported by the precincts. Some of these inconsistencies may prove to be innocuous. They do not indicate an intentional effort to compromise or rig the result.
There`s no apparent bias in favor of the leaders, Buttigieg or Sanders, meaning the overall effect on the winner`s margin may be small. But not all of the errors are minor, and they raise questions about whether the public will ever get a completely precise account of the Iowa results.
Well, compounding that dark assessment from "The New York Times" today, tonight we got the associated press releasing this very blunt statement in which they give up all hope. They give up all hope of calling the race. Quote: "The Associated Press" said that it is unable to declare a winner of Iowa`s Democratic caucuses. They are not saying they are unable to declare a winner right now or that they have thus far been able to declare a winner but bear with us. They`re just throwing up their hands and saying, nope, we`re not picking a winner here. We are not going to try.
In the midst of this, the national chairman of the Democratic Party, Mr. Tom Perez, weighed in with a bit of a bombshell of his own today, saying midday today, quote: Enough is enough. In light of the problems that have emerged in the implementation of the delegate selection plan and in order to assure public confidence in the results, I`m calling on the Iowa Democratic Party to immediately begin a re-canvass. Again, that`s the chair of the national party telling the Iowa Democrats that they should re- canvass their results.
Now, re-canvass and a recount are not the same thing. If they were going to recount, that would mean gathering up and recounting every single one of the ballots, the presidential preference cards that every Iowa caucusgoer filled out on Monday night. That would be a recount, counting all of those.
A re-canvass is less intensive. A re-canvass instead basically checks the math on all of the tally sheets that were created at every precinct in the state. And in terms of the amount of work that those two different things entail, a recount would mean looking at about 180,000 different pieces of paper because there were about 180,000 people that turned out to vote in Iowa. The re-canvass means looking at less than 2,000 pieces of paper. It means looking at about 1,700 pieces of paper, the number of tally sheets there were from each individual precincts.
So, he`s asking for a re-canvass, not for a recount.
Here`s the thing. That was a dramatic step, for the National Democratic Party chairman to call for Iowa to re-canvass its results, right? Three days after the caucuses. Him calling for that even before they put out their final 100 percent results just a few minutes ago. That was a dramatic thing for him to do.
It is even more dramatic that it`s not clear that Iowa will do what he says, nor is it clear, according to them, that they`d even be allowed to do a re-canvass simply on the say-so or the request of Democratic National Party Chairman Tom Perez. Under Iowa Democratic Party rules, it appears to be the case that only a candidate or a campaign can request a re-canvass or a recount, and they have to have a good reason for it, and they have to pay for it themselves.
There doesn`t appear to be any provision for the National Democratic Party to demand that a state re-canvass its results.
So what`s going to happen here? I have many questions about what is going on here and how this is going to resolve. Honestly I would like to ask those questions of Tom Perez, the chairman of the National Democratic Party. He joins us live here next.
MADDOW: Joining us now is a man who, on his best days at work, is a sort of anonymous guy who you wouldn`t recognize. On his worst days at work, everybody in the country knows who he is, and knows his Twitter handled -- chairman of the Democratic National Committee, Mr. Tom Perez.
Mr. Chairman, thank you for being here.
TOM PEREZ, DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: It`s always good to be with you, Rachel.
MADDOW: So everybody is mad at you. Do you understand why that is? Does the buck stop with you? Should people be mad at the National Democratic Party?
PEREZ: Well, listen, I -- I understand that is part of the job.
You know, what happened in Iowa was unacceptable, and the party chair has acknowledged that. He`s apologized for that, and we`ve worked together over the last few days to fix the challenges.
And I`m very relieved that we now have 90 percent -- or 100 percent reported.
At the same time, you know, there have been reports and we have seen in the tabulation process that there are -- there were some questions raised. There was an example of a precinct in Black Hawk County where, I think, 83 state delegate equivalents were apportioned to Deval Patrick, which was a clear error.
And so, I -- we all care. We have a shared interest in making sure we have accuracy.
PEREZ: And, so, what we did today in asking to make sure that people need a recanvas in this precinct or that precinct, that it`s done. Because if people raised legitimate concerns about what happened in this precinct, we care about accuracy. That`s why it took us longer because our North Star was indeed accuracy. But --
MADDOW: Are you calling for a state-wide recanvas?
MADDOW: Or are you calling for a recanvas in individual precincts?
PEREZ: No, we`re calling for the latter, and we`re calling for the latter because there were reports of concerns in a few -- a number of precincts. I don`t know the precise number.
And, you know, one of the things that is important for your viewers to understand is, in the grand scheme of things, you got to get -- 1,991 delegates to the national convention to win the nomination. There are 41 in Iowa. And in all likelihood, you know, given that we have a -- there is a concern here, a concern there in a number of precincts, in all likelihood, that`s not going to affect the national delegate math.
The range of the allocation of those 41 is not likely to be affected by any additional review because there are over 2,000 or so state delegate equivalents.
The reason why I think it`s important is because I want to make sure that every Iowa voter knows that their vote was counted and I want to make sure every voter across this country knows that their vote was counted and that we take our commitment to accuracy very seriously.
MADDOW: The way I understand the rules for the state party, at least as articulated through the press today, is that a candidate or a campaign can ask for --
MADDOW: -- a recount or recanvas. They have to pay -- they have a good reason for it and they have to pay for it if they do it.
There doesn`t seem to be a provision for anybody else, including the national party, to request that.
Is the state party actually going to do what you requested?
PEREZ: Well, we`ve already been working with them on these examples. I mentioned the incident in Black Hawk County. That has been corrected.
And as others come to our attention, I certainly intend to, you know, bring them to the attention of the party. And I`m sure that we`ll be able to get through this.
Listen, you know, I appreciate the fact that the party chair apologized. You know, they -- this was, you know, a major league failure. He owned up to it, and we`ve been there with him ever since because we have to get it right. That`s why we had a team there.
And what we`re doing now, Rachel, is making sure we count every vote, making sure we follow up on every lead, and then make sure we learn from this so that moving forward we are applying these lessons so that everybody will have confidence in every primary or caucus that we -- that we have.
MADDOW: I feel like the national conversation around elections and technology has really been about vulnerability to hacking and bad actors.
MADDOW: After what we just went through in Iowa, though, there`s obviously now this very -- pressing question as to whether or not the election technology just works, period, whether or not there are external actors who are trying to mess with it.
MADDOW: Does the national party, do you as the national party chairman --
MADDOW: -- have a role in that, or is this a -- you know, 50 states, 50 systems, free-for-all?
PEREZ: Yes, we absolutely have a role. And let me give you an example relative to Iowa.
We had -- we had a long conversation beginning in 2017 about reforms in the party. We do that every four years. And make no mistake about it, we`re going to do it again after this cycle.
And two of the conversations were, one, about superdelegates, and we made major reforms in superdelegates, to return power to the people. And the other was about primaries and caucuses. And I believe that when you have more primaries, more people participate. And, so, we created incentives for people to participate in primaries.
There were 14 states in 2016 that held caucuses. Seven of those states took advantage of the incentives and are now primary states. Iowa chose --
MADDOW: So, seven states that used to be caucuses are going to be primary states this year.
PEREZ: Correct. And Iowa chose not to.
And when -- and they gave us a plan. And one of the things -- and this gets to the heart of your question about technology -- one of the proposals in their plan was to have a telephone caucus for people who couldn`t participate. And our rules and bylaws committee said no.
And we said no because we had a red team of cybersecurity experts who concluded that it posed too many problems, and problems of two varieties. Number one, cybersecurity challenges.
PEREZ: And number two, basic operational challenges.
And this gets to your broader issue. You know, the Democratic Party, I think, is at its best when our mission, together with our state party partners, is to help Democrats win up and down the ballot. And we`ve done a pretty damn good job of that since 2017.
You know, we had 15 governors who were Democrats when I got on the job. We have 24 now. We have Speaker Nancy Pelosi. We flipped ten state houses from red to blue.
That is where we are at our sweet-spot. Administering elections is a really challenging thing. I know that because when I was in the Civil Rights Division, I sued professionals, people who did this for a living and screwed it up.
It`s not easy. And I think we have to have a conversation. And we did have that conversation as a party about primaries and caucuses. And what this -- what this experience in Iowa teaches me is that conversation needs to continue because it`s asking a lot for well-intentioned people and the people of Iowa are well-intentioned. The party chair is well-intentioned. Everyone around him is well-intentioned.
But this is hard. And when you factor in, you know, calls being hard and other shenanigans, we need to continue that conversation. And we need to continue the conversation, and we will because every four years, we talk about what -- what we learned and what we need to do differently.
And, you know, in 2004, we added South Carolina and Nevada because we were having a conversation about order. And I know that`s another issue that I`m sure we`ll be revisited after this next cycle.
MADDOW: We`re actually going to revisit that right after this next commercial break if you consent to sit there.
MADDOW: All right. We have more right back with Democratic Party Chairman Tom Perez right after this.
Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Senator, is Tom Perez pouring fuel on the fire by asking for a recanvassing in Iowa?
SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You know, I don`t know. I`m not focused on Iowa now. I`m focused on moving forward. I`m focused on what`s happening here in New Hampshire, and the 55 states and territories we`re going to from -- I think it`s really important as a Democrat that we get this straight and we pull together. That`s our obligation at this point.
REPORTER: And, Senator --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Little glitch in the feed there. We just got that tape fed in from Elizabeth Warren speaking moments ago in New Hampshire.
We`re here back with Tom Perez, the chair of the Democratic National Committee.
She`s being asked there if you poured fuel on the fire for asking for this -- this recanvas.
I mean, how is Iowa going to resolve? We have Mayor Buttigieg and Senator Sanders both declaring victory.
MADDOW: You`re calling for a recanvas, not necessarily a state-wide recanvas, but precinct by precinct.
The party says they`ve released 100 percent of results.
MADDOW: When does Iowa end?
PEREZ: Oh, I think Iowa ends very soon. And, again, I`m very -- and I -- I know Senator Warren shares the desire to have accuracy and we both shared the desire to beat Donald Trump, and I want to learn the lessons from Iowa so that we never repeat the mistakes of Iowa.
And in this recanvas -- and it will be very, very -- assuming no candidate files a request, it will be surgical. Surgical because we want to make sure if somebody raises a question, we have an opportunity to answer that question.
And make no mistake about it, Rachel, we are building an infrastructure across this country because Senator Warren is absolutely spot on. Our mission here is to defeat Donald Trump.
And in 2017, `18 and `19, what they all have in common is Democrats wanted scale, and we built the infrastructure that is going to help Democrats up and down the ticket. That is absolutely our focus.
As I said a couple of minutes ago, you know, I think we`re at our best when we`re working together with our state parties to help elect Democrats up and down the ticket.
MADDOW: Let me tell you, the concern that I have heard voiced about what happened in Iowa this week that is not about the process failures but that is about the prospect of beating Donald Trump in November. And that is that the turnout was flat.
MADDOW: In 20 -- 2008, turnout in the Iowa caucuses was astronomical, it broke all the records and by a lot. 2016, it came back down to Earth.
It appears that the turnout in Iowa this year was back down at that down to Earth level, roughly 2016.
And you can`t extrapolate explicitly, but when I look at the numbers, broadly, Democrat -- big Democratic numbers in Iowa, in Iowa caucuses, tend to translate into Democratic Party wins in the general election.
Are Democrats not enthusiastic enough about voting and is that what those turnout numbers mean?
PEREZ: No, I don`t think so. And I think we need to look at a broader set of data, which is 2017, 2018, 2019.
Look at the Kentucky governor`s race. People don`t know this, but -- not a lot of people know this, but Matt Bevin won something like 200,000 more votes in 2019 than he won in 2015, and he lost because turnout went from something like 850,000 to 1.4 million.
And people came out and they came out in droves. Why? Health care.
MADDOW: But they didn`t come out in droves in Iowa.
PEREZ: Well --
MADDOW: And this was the first chance in the presidential race for Democrats to come show their stuff, and they didn`t turn out.
PEREZ: Well, and we`ll see in New Hampshire and elsewhere. I mean, I don`t -- I don`t extrapolate much from one race. And it`s a conversation.
You know, caucuses -- even though there were satellite caucuses and other opportunities, you know, the reality is, it`s harder for people to vote, you know? If you`ve got a shift job, if you -- if you`re there.
And, you know, make no mistake about it, you know, Barack Obama is a historic figure. And when we benchmark everything against Barack Obama, that is an undeniably high bar.
But, again, when you look at all the turnout successes we`ve had over three years, I`m certainly not going to sit here after one caucus and say, there is a problem, Houston. I`m certainly watching that. But, again, I think the energy is everywhere, and that I see it in all my travels and the candidates as well.
MADDOW: Democratic Party Chairman Tom Perez, a man in high demand right now and somebody who had to go through many planes, trains and automobiles to get here on a difficult travel schedule. Sir, thank you very much.
PEREZ: Oh, a pleasure to be up here with you.
MADDOW: I appreciate it.
PEREZ: Take care.
MADDOW: A big show tonight. The top Democrat in the United States Senate, Chuck Schumer, will be here live next.
Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): You cannot be on the side of this president and be on the side of truth. And if we are to survive as a nation, we must choose truth. Because if the truth doesn`t matter, if the news you don`t like is fake, if cheating in election is acceptable, if everyone is as wicked as the wickedest among us, then the hope for the future is lost.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: It`s the Democratic leader of the United States Senate, Chuck Schumer, addressing his colleagues just before yesterday`s historic impeachment vote, is warning them essentially about what`s at stake. And then, of course, the Senate voted to acquit President Trump.
We can see now that the president is immediately out for vengeance, going after the one Republican senator, Mitt Romney, who voted to convict him. The White House is now officially blasting out anti-Mitt Romney talking points.
That may not be much of a surprise to see the president bent on revenge, but with the president, the White House and increasingly his fellow Republicans on that kind of a warpath, what do the Democrats do next? What do Democratic leaders like Chuck Schumer do now -- now that we have reached the moment that they have been warning about?
Joining us now is U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer, the leader of the Democrats in the Senate.
Sir, thank you for making time.
SCHUMER: Great to be here. Thanks.
MADDOW: I feel like I`m hosting a senior Democratic salon tonight, you and Tom Perez.
SCHUMER: Not that senior.
MADDOW: Well, pretty close.
MADDOW: Well, let me -- let me ask you about what I just set up there.
In the wake of him being acquitted, the president is attacking Speaker Pelosi, continuing to attack the House impeachment managers, going after Senator Mitt Romney in very acute, pointed terms.
MADDOW: This is obviously a warning shot from the president threatening any Republican --
MADDOW: -- who might ever cross him on anything again.
Do you think that sort of thing works?
SCHUMER: Unfortunately, it worked with our Republican colleagues. If you look at what happened, it was so obvious, for instance, that we should have witnesses and documents. That`s truth. Democrats sought truth.
And Republicans were so afraid of Donald Trump, even though a good number of them knew it was the right thing to do, they didn`t do it.
Now, we walk out of this as disappointed as we are in the Republicans and, of course, in Trump, with our heads held high, because our search for truth, witnesses and documents, a fair trial, leaves Trump and the Republicans with a pyrrhic victory.
There`s a giant asterisk next to this so-called acquittal. There were no witnesses, no documents. It wasn`t a fair trial.
You know how much value his acquittal has? Next to zero because everyone knew -- the American people knew it wasn`t a fair trial. We stuck together as a caucus.
Second reason, when you`re against truth in the right, you pay the price. The Republican senators who stuck with Trump, one way or another, will pay a price, all of them with the exception of one, Romney. And there`s going to be a lot more that`s going to leak out over the next few months that shows the kind of cover-up they were involved in, the kind of fear they had with the truth.
And, finally, this is historic in the different way than Donald Trump want to. It`s first time there was a vote to remove the president that was bipartisan. Mitt Romney showed tremendous, tremendous courage.
But also, our caucus showed tremendous courage. There were a whole number of Democratic people in red states who knew they`d pay a political price, but they did the right thing. And that`s why as a united caucus, we are so disappointed in the result, but we do feel we -- we struck a chord for truth and, eventually, that will serve us well.
Where do we go from here? One of the first places we go is election security, OK? This trial showed that Donald Trump wants to do nothing for election security. We`re going to pound the Republicans on it.
As you know, Mitch McConnell has resisted any kind of election security. There were actually bipartisan bills to deal with paper ballots so you could always count if somebody interfered, to harden the machinery so no one -- Russians, right wingers, like you showed before -- could hack it, and we have tough sanctions against Russia or any other country.
We`re going to be putting those out before people, and they`re going to be forced to vote on it. We`re going to push hard for election security.
MADDOW: In terms of --
SCHUMER: As well as going back to some of the issues that really matter to the American people, in addition to election security -- you know, affordable drug prices, preserving pre-existing conditions, fighting those kinds of fights are going to be very important. Next week, different, we have the right, you know, in the minority you don`t have that much, we`re going to put on the floor a resolution that says no war with Iraq unless Congress approves with it.
MADDOW: With Iran.
SCHUMER: With Iran, I`m sorry. With Iran, unless approves it.
And there will be a vote on that. We`re going to keep pushing and pushing these Republicans.
MADDOW: I was struck by the language you used about Senator Romney. Obviously, we see the president attacking him, the White House attacking him. The president`s son calling for him to be expelled from the Republican Party.
Obviously, this is an unusual circumstance, but are you considering asking Senator Romney to switch parties and become a Democrat or an independent?
SCHUMER: Well, I -- I don`t think his ideology would let him switch parties. I mean, our views on so many things, whether it be choice or guns or even the environment, taxes, he was all happily for the tax cuts. It`s very far apart.
SCHUMER: But to work with him in many different ways because he`s shown independence. And my hope was that if one showed independence, a few others --
SCHUMER: -- would glom on. That, unfortunately, didn`t happen. But maybe it will.
Our Republican friend -- you know, if you looked at the body language, we were proud of the arguments we made. We stood up straight. We listened.
When I gave my final speech, you know where all the Republicans were? In the cloakroom hiding. And when McConnell came on, they all rushed out.
Our Democrats sat and listened to every one of them, to first, my speech, you showed a little piece of it, and then they listened to the McConnell speech, which is a diatribe of politics. Not one rebuttal of any of the chargers the House managers so ably made, not one rebuttal of our -- why we shouldn`t have witnesses and documents? Just, oh, let`s blame everybody, you bad Democrats.
They lost with the American people. Eighty percent of the American people said, we want witnesses and documents. But the more astounding thing, 65 percent of Republican rank-and-file -- you know, in these polls the Republican rank and poll marches along with Trump. They didn`t in this case.
SCHUMER: Republicans are going to pay the price for this one way or other. I`m talking about every one of them. And there will be many new things that will be coming out.
MADDOW: In terms of what is newly going to be coming out, Chairman Adam Schiff raised a very provocative prospect about that right here last night on the show. I`d like to ask you about that when we come back.
SCHUMER: OK, great.
MADDOW: Senator Chuck Schumer, the top Democrat in the Senate, is with us. We`ll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): That there were other bodies of intelligence that we have requested that had collected, that were certainly pertinent to our request but we couldn`t tell how pertinent they may be to the trial, and at some point, there were instructions or dictates or requests from up above. And as a result, what was supposed to be turned over to us was withheld from us.
That is particularly an issue with the NSA but maybe an issue with the CIA as well.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Intelligence Committee Adam Schiff here last night saying that there`s basically a new problem to know about, which is that the NSA and possibly the CIA as well have been improperly withholding information about the Ukraine scandal from the Intelligence Committees.
We`re back with Chuck Schumer, the top Democrat in the United States Senate.
Chairman Schiff, obviously, raised this issue during the impeachment trial in the Senate, on the Senate floor. He has raised it in public interviews as well.
But now that the impeachment trial is over, the prospect that the intelligence agencies are taking orders from the White House --
MADDOW: -- about withholding information relevant to the scandal, I have to ask your response to that.
SCHUMER: I think it`s just awful. You know one place that`s been somewhat sacrosanct to all the political winds has been the intelligence agencies and the NSA, because we depend on facts, we depend on truth.
The fact that the White House would interfere, and frankly, the fact that anyone in the NSA and CIA would go along is really, really troubling.
It`s a broader theme. There was an article I think in today`s paper that they`re going to allow documents to go to the Finance Committee and Judiciary Committee, the Treasury Department about Hunter Biden. At the same time, they`re holding back anything about Donald Trump, including his tax returns.
If we have a government -- if we have a government where the president can allow information to come out that only benefits him and even worse thwart -- or much more serious, thwart information, stop it, cover it up, that`s unfavorable to him, that`s like a dictatorship. That`s what dictators do.
In America, we believe in facts. We believe in freedom of speech. We believe in freedom of press. We believe we should all have the same facts. We may come to different conclusions from them.
If we lose that, it`s sort of what I said at the beginning, if we lost facts, if we lose truth, this country is lost.
Now, one thing I would say, for all -- to (ph) everyone who`s so upset, we got -- we can`t lose hope. There is a lot of depth to this country. The Founding Fathers -- they were geniuses.
You know, when I read about in high school, one of the things they were most worried about was foreign interference in our elections. I said, what`s that all about? That`s not going to happen. Well, as usual, a lot smarter than me or you.
And they -- they based everything on that. So, there`s depth here. And if we lose hope, it`s gone. It`s gone.
If, you know, the turnout you talked about continues, if it`s true, I don`t know how emblematic Iowa is for the rest. But if we don`t fight, we can lose this country.
But, conversely, if we do and remember that right succeeds in the long run, the ark of history is long and bends in the direction of justice, the Bible, you know, Amos, justice will flow like mighty waters. If we fight, we can win.
So, I would say to all the people listening -- don`t give up. I`m more invigorated to make this fight in every way we can, not just electorally but as we go through than I`ve ever been because I`ve seen some good things -- the strength of our caucus, the courage of a guy like Doug Jones as well as Mitt Romney. That gives you little faith.
MADDOW: Was it hard to hold your caucus together for the impeachment vote?
SCHUMER: You know, it wasn`t because when you go for truth -- and I told every member, you do what`s right, but we were so united and so strong and everyone was out there.
This is sort of an interesting thing -- you know, the cables, the cable news like you are. We had 340 Democrats on in one week. You know, when you go to -- on your show, there were people lined up behind, only a handful of Republicans in the same pew (ph). They`re embarrassed about their arguments.
SCHUMER: You can win if you stick with what`s right and fight for it. So, please don`t give up, Rachel audience.
MADDOW: Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer, thanks for being here, sir.
SCHUMER: Thank you. Thank you.
MADDOW: I really appreciate it.
SCHUMER: I believe this.
MADDOW: We`ll be right back. Stay with us.
MADDOW: A lot can happen in one hour. We`ve been on the air for one hour, and in that time, we got the 100 percent final results, we believe, from the Iowa caucuses. Again, this is what the Iowa Democratic Party says is with 100 percent of results in.
The delegate allocation in Iowa: 26.2 percent to Pete Buttigieg, 26.1 percent to Senator Bernie Sanders. Both of those campaigns have now declared victory in Iowa. In third place, Senator Elizabeth warren at 18 percent. Joe Biden in fourth place at 15.8 percent. Amy Klobuchar just a couple of points behind him. Again, that`s with 100 percent of results in tonight.
Tonight, in a live interview here just moments ago, Democratic Party Chairman Tom Perez who made a lot of waves today by calling for Iowa to recanvas his results clarified with me on the air what he`s asking for is a surgical precinct by precinct recanvas -- meaning basically checking the map precinct by precinct and anyplace where there are questions or troubles with the results. He`s not calling for a statewide recanvas.
There you have it.
That does it for us tonight. We`ll see you again tomorrow. Whoo!
Now, it`s time for "THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL".
Good evening, Lawrence.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END