tv The Rachel Maddow Show MSNBC November 23, 2016 1:00am-2:01am PST
>> masha gessen, great to have you here in person. rachel maddow starts right now with joy reid. >> mr. hayes, great to see you. >> i even gave you the throw early. how about that? >> i love it. we'll use every second of that extra time. thank you, my friend, appreciate it. thank you, chris, and thanks to you at home for staying with us for the next hour. rachel has the night off but she will be back tomorrow. but for now, let me take you back to 2008. it was three days after the historic presidential election in which the country had elected its first black president. the united states senator barack obama was giving his first press conference as president-elect. it was on kind of a gloomy day. the jobs report came out showing the tenth month in a row of catastrophic job losses in the u.s. he began by addressing that news and made a little bit of news saying the country should expect to see a stimulus package sooner rather than later.
in terms of the transition he told reporters that he would take his time choosing members of his cabinet. but the big news that president-elect barack obama made that day, the actual controversy he stirred is up began with this. >> in terms of speaking to former presidents, i have spoken to all of them that are living. obviously, president clinton. i didn't want to get into a nancy reagan thing about doing any seances. >> oh, snap. president-elect obama making a wise crack about former first lady nancy reagan apparently doing seances at the white house. although the former first lady did consult with an astrologier, that's true, the seances had more to do with mary todd lincoln. that nancy reagan seance crack was the big news. he later had to call nancy
reagan to apologize. it was a huge deal at the time. it kind of haunted him any time he had to go see nancy reagan. fast forward to today. donald trump has not had a first press conference. in fact, he's not had any kind of a press conference since back in july during the campaign. instead trump did decide to sit down with "the new york times" at their headquarters for the closest thing the press has gotten to a news conference since last summer. it went about as you would expect. it was on then off because reince priebus said that the time had changed the ground rule. some had suggested that priebus had deliberately lied about the meeting in order to get trump to cancel because he was concerned that trump wouldn't be prepared. then suddenly the meeting was back on with donald trump suddly saying he was looking forward to it. then when he arrived at "the new
york times" he side stepped the front lobby and went in secretly through the back door. there was no video or audio recording of the meeting but the entire sitdown was live tweeted by reporters at "the new york times" who were in the room. the way this all came together today was itself very bizarre. but we did get new information out of it. the big headline of president-elect obama's press conference was that weird nancy reagan seance thing. today's headline topped that by a mile with donald trump insisting he did nothing to regenerate the white supremacist movement. he does not think the person who once ran breitbart, the website that trump chief adviser steve bannon himself, called the platform for the alt right helped perpetuate the white nationalalist movement at all. he made news by backing off some of his previous beliefs.
he said today he now does not want to prosecute hillary clinton over her private e-mail server. saying it's not something i feel strongly about. he led chants of lock her up during the campaign. american presidents don't get to decide whether or not to prosecute people. that's kind of what separates us from nondemocratic countries. the decision to not prosecute hillary clinton was already made by the justice department last summer after the fbi criticized her e-mail use but found nothing to recommend prosecuting her for. trump today also revealed that he now believes that climate change can be man made. it comes as a surprise to his followers. after berating president obama including calling him the father of isis, today he spoke of the president in glowing terms saying he said very nice things the after the meeting and i said very nice things about him. so all of that came out today in the course of this meeting with "the new york times" but perhaps the weirdest thing that donald trump addressed today was the fact that he really does believe
that the rules don't apply to him when it comes to the ways in which he handles his international business dealings moving forward. the law's totally on my side. the president can't have a conflict of interest. in fact, his brand is hotter now. if only there had been cameras at "the new york times" today. alas, they were all downstairs in the lobby waiting for donald trump to emerge paparazzi walk style from a newsmaking meeting that we don't get to see. such a bizarre day. joining us is the media correspondent for "the new york times" who is one of the reporters that met with donald trump today. thank you for being here. >> thanks for having me. >> how weird was it? how long did it take to go from doing it to not doing it to doing it again? >> there's an era we're waking up and having the president-elect tweet that "the new york times" is a failing institution and i'm pulling out
of a meeting with them is definitely unusual. this is now par for the course. the whole setup was as unpredictable from the trump administration which seems to have its power struggles going on. reince priebus gave the president-elect erroneous information hoping that he would cancel on the meeting. but after all that, after all the drama, the president-elect came up to our 16th floor boardroom, shook everybody's hand, sat down and it was actually quite a civil discussion, i would say. >> you know what's interesting because we've had a lot of other news about donald trump sort of going after the media, he does seem to have a particular fixation with "the new york times." he'll either tweet that it's failing but then turn around and give interviews to the times. he seems to want the "times'" approval. he really needs the "times" to like him. >> it's his home town paper. since when donald trump was a young manhattanite on the make trying to build his reputation, he's always been fixated on
getting covered in the times. there was a moment today at the meeting where he said, laying out goals for his presidency, he said to me it would be a great achievement if i could come back to this room two years from now and be told by this group that i did a good job. >> do you get the sense that donald trump understands what the proper relationship is between the president and the press? it does seem if you go by his tweets and that's all you can do, that he thinks the media is supposed to be nice to him and say nice things about him and just write verbatim whatever he says without commentary. is that the way he came across to you in the meeting? >> what's fascinating about the president-elect is his attitude toward the media is sometimes contingent on the audience he's speaking to. certainly at his rallies, when he's whipping up the crowd to jeer at journalists. when people are chanting negative things about cable news networks, that was different from our situation today. he called the times an american jewel, a world jewel.
ha was one of his parting words at the end of the conversation. i think for those of us, there were editors and reporters in the room, about 25 of us. we came in not knowing just how contentious we got. >> not a lot of reporters have written about realizing at some point that they were there to be mocked by the crowd. they were there to be jeered at by the crowd. they were really a prop in his show. how does the media avoid becoming a prop? there's a lot of concern among people out there in the world that donald trump is just going to continue to sort of use the media for his own devices and there won't beau the type of coverage that his conflict was call for. >> one key thing is that the times insisted on this interview being on the record. i would encourage your viewers
to check out our website by tomorrow morning there should be a full transcript available of the conversation. so everyone will have a chance to read the president-elect's words. i do think that donald trump just in attacking the media the way he does wants to create a chilling effect. essentially in some subtle manner warning reporters that if they are too harsh on him, if they are too aggressive, there will be some kind of consequence. it will be up to the washington press corps to american journalism in general to be courageous to perform their role in the democracy. >> one of the questions i get a lot and go around and people have critiques in the media, why isn't there this daily drumbeat, but he hasn't had a news conferences since last summer, why aren't they demanding it? >> there are some who have kept an up clock how many days it's been -- early on in the campaign he'd come out every day and answer questions. seems like his advisers maybe
tamped that down after a while. but americans should expect their president to be willing to come out there to speak on the record to the public and give a full accounting of his views. by the way, youtube video like the one that donald trump put out this week is kind of a one-way street. kind of a way for him to put out his message without coming under any scrutiny. that's problematic. >> very problematic. thank you very much. really great to meet you. >> thanks for having me. >> correspondent from "the new york times." really appreciate you being here tonight. much more to come on this bizarre news day including why the president-elect doesn't think certain rules apply to him and why many democrats are cheering a judge out of wisconsin. stay with us.
right around this time last night at 9:14 p.m., the soon-to-be president of the united states tweeted out the following -- quote, prior to the election it was well known that i have interests in properties all over the world. only the crooked media makes this a big deal. the story on why it is a big deal and not just because the crooked media say so, is next. it would be quite an
holding any office of profit or trust shall without the consent of congress accept any present, emolument, office or title of any kind whatever from any king, prince or foreign state. no u.s. official can profit from other countries, period, end of sentence. turns the out that the founding father who were emerging from a monarchy were worried about the dangers of economic perks be given to u.s. officials by foreign governments. until recently this very idea as it applies to the president was unexplored territory, but not anymore. our soon-to-be president is a businessman, something americans claim they've always wanted in a president. but in trump's case with lots of vested interests in foreign countries and with him saying he'll be handing over his company to his kids to run in a
so-called blind trust, leaders are already getting down to business. for example, in just the last week we've learned that donald trump has been taking meetings with business partners from india who are planning on building a trump-branded tower in mumbai. his new d.c. hotel has also hosted a bunch of foreign diplomats, a hotel mr. trump leases from the federal government. the general services administration, to be exact. even reportedly raffling off stays at other trump properties around the world. we know that even before the u.s. election, the president of the philippines named a new special trade envoy to the u.s. and it just happens to be a real estate mogul who is building a trump tower in, you guessed it, the philippines. we know that donald trump who had been fighting to keep a wind farm from his golf course in scotland brought it up to nigel farage. and we know this because trump said he brought it up telling "the new york times" that today. and it's these kinds of stories, these kinds of obvious conflicts of interest that cause a story like the one out of argentina to
quickly gain traction. this weekend two well known and well respected journalists reported that donald trump during his congratulatory phone call with the president of argentina asked for help in getting permits. they both deny that it happen and the lack of pushback make it seem less solid. but these kinds of conflicts are not figments of our imagination. they're real, they're happening. whatever went on between trump and the leader of argentina, he do know that his daughter, ivanka trump to prevent the appearance of impropriety. we know that she was on that call just like she was in the meeting with japanese prime minister abe.
a meeting that was kept private from the press. we're in uncharted territory here. it's a big deal. just ask everyone's favorite liberal rag, "the new york times," whose editorial came out and said this is a problem and even appearing to monetize the presidency would be outrageous. donald trump, for his part, disagrees, he's been tweeting that the american people knew he had these business interests while he was running and now it's just a crooked media making it into a big deal. the law is totally on my side. the president can't have a conflict of interest. where have we heard that before? >> well, when the president does it, that means that it is not illegal. >> ah, him. the truth is there is no president for a donald trump presidency. we've never had a president running a multinational business that we know very little about where his kids are involved in his transition but also set to run his company when he gets to the white house. we're being forced to search long neglected corners of the institution and forgotten niche clauses and something called emoluments because of it. how do we know the difference?
the first step is to ask an expert. richard painter is chief white house ethics lawyer under george w. bush. thank you very much for being here. >> well, thank you. >> so we've never had a president that has this many foreign entanglements although we don't know all of them because trump never released his tax returns. how do you draw the line between something that just looks bad and could actually violate the emoluments clause. >> you look at the language of the emoluments clause itself. it has a fancy name and some would say obscure, but it's a pretty simple rule that a person holding a position of trust with the united states government may not accept gifts and payments from foreign governments. and that's a rule that really should be quite obvious. we do not want our elected official or anyone working for the united states government
taking money from foreign governments. we fought the war of independence to get away from foreign domination and the last thing the founders would have wanted would have been for a powerful monarchies to be able to back door money into members of congress or the white house or anywhere else in order to in effect buy our government. it's really a quite simple rule and quite intuitive. and we've not had a president that i can recall in recent memory who was taking gifts from foreign governments in excess of those permitted by congress and the emoluments clause does allow congress to make exceptions but those are for gifts up to $385. so the problem we have here with president-elect trump is that there could be a lot of money coming in from foreign governments into his business empire.
if he doesn't take prompt steps to make sure that none of that money gets into the trump organization. it could be money from the back of china which extends loans to some of the trump entities i understand. there may be other, government owned banks. i don't know of their relationships with sovereign wealth funds, but then the issue of people checking into the hotel or diplomats and billing foreign governments and vying for the most expensive sweet to impress the president of the unite. that's clearly not permitted. >> we've never had a president whose name could be plastered on hotels and condos and golf courses all over the world including in countries where we have pressing national interests. we have donald trump meeting with these business partners of his in india to build a hotel in mumbai. you have other properties where he doesn't own the property but he leases his name. he gets a direct payment for
this hotel going up. how would that kind of a conflict be sorted out short of trump divesting himself of those properties and taking his name down? >> well, when i was the chief ethics lawyer in the bush white house, i recall that we wouldn't even let people put president bush's name on a public school until he left office much less a commercial enterprise. i know this is a different situation because the president-elect has his name on a lot of these buildings, but that needs to be changed. his interest in these buildings need to be sold through an initial public offering or otherwise and his name taken off the building. you have buildings all over the world with the president's name on them, those are sitting ducks for terrorist attacks. there's lots of risks associated with that. raise the question of who going to pay for the security for all these trump installations? >> what does it say to you that donald trump friel admitted he talked to nigel farrage of not putting wind farms in front of his golf course.
>> this is the problem. if you have a discussion with anybody else about united states government business, such as diplomacy with the european union or with another country and then you start bringing up personal favors that you want, these discussions can gravitate toward a quid pro quo type of request or understanding and that would violate the bribery clauses, the statutes, and that's a criminal offense. and the president can violate the laws, then so can anybody else. you do not discuss personal business at the same time you discuss united states government business. >> and don't brag about it afterwards. >> not a good idea. >> thank you so much, sir. really appreciate your time. >> thank you.
appeared to reject their governor. appear because two full weeks after the election day the incumbent governor pat mccrory is refusing to concede. he trails roy cooper by over 6,000 votes. a deficit that has only grown since election night. remember, this is a state where, for the past few years, democrats and a coalition of sill civil rights groups have been in a pitched battle including anti-lgbt legislation, the cutting of the social safety net and mccrory's refusal to expand medicaid under obama care hurting some rural hospitals. while those demonstrations seem to have convinced voters to reject the governor, pat mccrory is refusing to go. he's challenging the vote count in over half of the state's 100 counties alleging, you guessed it, voter fraud.
allegations that have been rejected by county boards that have looked into the claims. this morning the state's two largest newspapers weighed in. the raleigh news and observer said that the failed vote challenges show it's time for mccrory to concede while the charlotte observer opined the bigger threat to north carolina election integrity? it's mccrory. mccrory requested a state-wide recount which he's entitled to. due to numerous challenges those results originally scheduled for this friday are now expected some time next week most independent observers leave the lead would be hard to overcome. roy cooper has declared victory and has begun choosing members of his transition team. >> we have won this race for governor. the people of north carolina have made clear that they want a change of leadership.
governor mccrory is doing everything he can to undermine the results of this election and the will of the people, but we won't let him. we came out ahead on election day and our margin has only grown since then. >> the uncertainty caused by a statewide recount allies of the governor have also not ruled out using an obscure state law that allows a close and disputed election to be decided by the republican controlled legislature and add to that talk of republicans convening a special session to pack the court with two justices after the election of a judge tipped the court's balance to the left. some accuse governor mccrory of trying to steal the election. tonight demonstrators have gathered outside the governor's mansion calling on him to concede. judging by today's action, there seems little chance of mccrory doing that any time soon. oh, carolina, watch this space. new york's laguardia airport kind of got its start as a
oh, carolina, watch this space. new york's laguardia airport kind of got its start as a publicity stunt. new york city's mayor threw a tantrum on a flight home from pittsburgh. he refused to get off the plane because even though his ticket lied the destination as new york, the plane had landed in newark, new jersey, the closest commercial airport at the time. mayor laguardia threw a good old fashioned fit. he called for an airport closer to manhattan. you know what? it worked. a few years later they got their airport. in fact, within just a few short years it became the world's busiest airport. at the time it was revolutionary. people used to actually pay a dime to watch planes take off and land. now, i doubt anyone is that
excited about laguardia airport anymore, but back then it was one of the u.s. government's great infrastructure successful stories just like the golden gate bridge and the hoover dam. this country has a long history of big, exciting infrastructure projects that capture the public's imagination, and that's why this got some people really excited when they heard it. >> we will rebuild our roads, our bridges, our tunnels, highways, airports, schools, hospitals. we will rebuild our country, and we're going to put a lot of people to work. our roads are bad, our schools are bad, our highways, our tunnels, our bridges, our bridges are falling down. you see those reports. they're dangerous, many of them. so we're going to get our infrastructure taken care of. we are going to fix our inner cities and rebuild our highways,
bridges, tunnels, airports, schools, hospitals, we're going to rebuild our infrastructure, which will become, by the way, second to none. and we will put millions of our people to work as we rebuild it. >> now, whether or not you like donald trump, that kind of rhetoric appeals to lots of people. even people you would never expect to back a trump policy, people like senator bernie sanders. >> i hope he'll rebuild our crumbling infrastructure and i look forward to working with him if he chooses to do that and create millions of decent paying jobs. >> even house minority leader nancy pelosi issued this statement after the election. as president-elect trump indicated, investing in infrastructure is an important priority of his. we, work together to quickly pass a robust infrastructure jobs bill. now those same leaders are slamming on the brakes because the soon-to-be president's trillion dollar infrastructure plan is starting to look like a big tax cut.
it's in the a plan to borrow $1 trillion and spend it on much needed projects which would be the straightforward obvious thing to do. instead trump's plan would have private investors do the work both of raising money and building the project with the aid of a huge tax credit that gives them back 82% of the equity they put in. and the man who helped implement president obama's infrastructure initiative says it's not so much a plan as it is a tax cut for utility industry and construction tax structures. don't do it. it's a trap. and joining us now is the white house aide who put president obama's stimulus plan into action. all right, thank you so much for being with us tonight. explain to us what you meant by stay away, it's a trap.
>> well, it is a trap because it's not really an infrastructure plan. a plan to give huge tax breaks to investors in the construction industry, the utility industry. it doesn't do anything to fix our municipal water systems, to fix bridges that don't charge a toll, to do the work we need to do. instead it's a tax break for investors in for-profit projects and a huge tax break for contractors, huge handout to contractors who, to get that money, don't have to create a single new job. it's a bad idea. it's just a bad tax scheme and democrats should stay away from it. >> let's go through it. let's say you give a big contractor $100 million for private projects, what's to stop them if they wanted to build high speed rail or bridge or road? couldn't they just do that and use the tax credit to pay themselves back? >> sure, first of all there's no requirement that these go to new projects.
people could just build the things they planned to build anyway and pocket the money. that means we won't get any new projects or jobs. secondly no requirement that any jobs be created out of it. third, the biggest infrastructure needs we have isn't for-profit projects like pipelines or utility upgrades, the biggest are our crumbling water systems, crumbling roads and bridges. this does nothing for those. it only helps for-profit projects. some are good but most because they're for-profit will happen anyway. just a tax break to make those projects more profitable for their investors. >> one thing i've never understood because eisenhower created the big highway system. there were problematic parts to it but he did do it. building things in this country was a good idea. why it is then that republicans seem to reject the idea of publicly funded infrastructure? we saw high speed rail states
like florida said, no thanks, we don't want it. >> we have this polarization where a lot of republicans have become so anti-government, so anti-public sector that they act reflexively against it. the idea of building great national infrastructure projects is a partisan idea. the biggest one we had was named after herbert hoover, the most conservative republican president we've ever had because the dam was started on his watch and finished under president eisenhower. there's no reason why this has to be partisan. donald trump is a different kind of thing. it's an effort to funnel tax breaks to allies of mr. trump's. we don't know if some of his companies will benefit from them. we haven't seen his tax returns, maybe he himself would benefit from these tax breaks he's proposing. it is no more an infrastructure plan than the guy at the end of the macy's day parade is a santa claus. it's just a fake. >> what if somebody wanted to
propose a smart way to rebuild infrastructure? >> i think hillary clinton had a great plan in her campaign. it was a plan to actually impose taxes on the wealthiest americans and use those funds to rebuild our cities and rebuild our infrastructure, particularly roads and bridges. that is the thing. businesses succeed in america because they're connected to a vibrant working infrastructure. it's not wrong to say maybe we should ask those who have done well over the past eight years to pay more in taxes and help fund the projects that increase everyone's prosperity. professor krugman's proposed borrowing money to do that. but we have to invest directly in project, in bridges, roads, water systems, not tax scheme
over the course of the presidential race there's been a lot of really eyebrow raising reporting going on. mr. trump's charitable foundation and its sometimes questionable practice. but today's news will make you do a heck of a lot more than just raise your eyebrows. david farenthold reports that the trump administration has admitted to the u.s. that it violated a legal prohibition to self-dealing which prohibits them from making deals to help themselves or their families. we've officially reached the part of the obama presidency where he's officially doing the last of everything.
he returned from his final trip abroad. he'll pardon the final turkey of his presidency. a president gets eight years at best. this one is leaving with the highest approval ratings of any president since when bill clinton left office in 2000. we have some idea what he wants to do with that popularity after he leaves the white house.
turns out one thing president obama wants to do is work on what's become a generational challenge for his democratic party. he wants to work on congressional redistributing, undo the partisan advantage created under republican control of the states that makes it easier to elect republicans to congress than democrats. that starts with trying to flip state legislatures from red to blue. because they're in charge of drawing the local district. the idea of the new democratic project is to get democrats in the best possible position by the time congressional seats are drawn again after the 2020 census. this was the news before the trump campaign, that obama as an ex-president would take on congressional redistricting by first taking on control of the state. since we got that news, the project has only become more challenging. in the november election republicans won complete control of the legislatures in 32 states, up two from the year before and their most ever. for democrats changing this
already daunting reality got harder not easier. but now democrats have a possible game changer that comes in the form of a federal court ruling on wisconsin. the federal district court in wisconsin looked at the state assembly districts drawn by wisconsin's new republican majority after the 2010 census. republicans have been getting half of the votes but awarded two-thirds of the seats. half of the votes earn them two-thirds of the seats due to gerrymandering. it was not just an accident of geography or the result of the usual partisan strategery, it was unfaired and led them to translate their votes into seats as effectively wisconsin republicans. voters have suffered a personal injury to their equal protection right and declares what they'd
done was unconstitutional. the case is on a fast track. it could up-end partisan redistricting around the country. this is a very, very big deal. joining us is robert barnes who has been reporting on this case. thank you so much for being here tonight. >> my pleasure. >> explain to us just the specifics of this ruling. what in the view of the court did the wisconsin legislature do wrong? >> well, there are a couple of ways that you can reapportion people and put them into districts and there's a thing called packing and there's a thing called cracking. packing means you put all of the members of one party or one race into a few districts, so that they're not voting in other district, and another way is to spread out their influence over many districts so that they're in the a big enough proportion of the vote to actually win the
district. the judges in this case said that the republican legislature in wisconsin had made it too difficult. they had spread out democrats or put them too much in districts together to really let their overall statewide strength translate into seats in the legislature. >> and if this case is upheld, what would that mean or what could it mean for the rest of the country? >> it's really important the supreme court looks at state legislative districts and reapportionment plans all the time to make sure there's no racial gerrymandering. they've said that's unconstitutional. but they've never been able to find a way to say partisan gerrymandering goes too far. if this political -- sometimes they say to the victor goes the spoils, everyone expects that the party in control is going to make it a little easier for their members to get elected.
and during president obama's two terms, he's placed a lot of presidential medals of freedom on a lot of people. 114, to be exact. he's given out more presidential medals of freedom than any other president since it started in the truman administration. in the ceremony is not just an excuse for the president to get to hang out with their favorite actors or rock stars, although that is a perk. revealing. it's a real marker of what they want their legacy to be. he honored 21 individuals today for their contributions to the country, legends like robert de niro, cicely tyson. it's an incredible group of americans who all shared the stage today with the president. >> bruce springsteen has been carrying the rest of us on his the work for us to do in our short time here.
i am the president. he is the boss. [ laughter ] the project that maya lynn designed for her class earned her a b plus, and a permanent place in american history. [ laughter ] so all of you b-plus students out there. has changed the way we think about monuments but also about how we think about sacrifice and patriotism and ourselves. there is a reason you call somebody the michael jordan of --. michael jordan of neurosurgery or rabbis or the michael jordan of outer wear canoeing. ellen degeneris has a way of making you laugh about some thing rather than at someone.
it's easy to forget now when we've come so far, where now marriage is equal under the law, just how much courage was required for ellen to come out on the most public of stages, almost 20 years ago. these are folks who have helped make me who i am and think about my presidency. and what also makes it special is this is america. and it's useful when you think about this incredible collection of people to realize that this is what makes us the greatest nation on earth. >> and you know what? even after all that practice, 114 medals later, sometimes there are some unforeseen obstacles, like feeling like the
having to compete with diana ross's notoriously, fabulous do. and that's it for us. rachel will be back tomorrow. and i will see you on a.m. joy. and ari melber is sitting in for lawrence. will be back tomorrow. "first look" is up next. >> who will serve as donald trump's secretary of state? could it come down to a tug of war between mitt romney and rudy giuliani? plus -- >> if i win, i am going to ask my attorney general to appoint a special prosecutor to look into her crimes. >> it was one of his big campaign promises to lock up hillary clinton, but now donald trump says he won't push for investigations into her use of a private e-mail server. and we're following new details this morning about the driver charged in that deadly school bus crash in tennessee.