tv The Rachel Maddow Show MSNBC November 25, 2017 4:00pm-5:00pm PST
happy friday. still full? welcome to a special edition of the rachel maddow show tonight. a few days after the presidential election in 2016, something quite unexpected happened. planned parenthood started getting a flood of donations from mike pence, from all over the country, mike pence was donating, the new vice president elect. once it became clear that republicans would soon control the white house in both chambers of congress, americans felt an urge to donate to civil rights and reproductive health organizations like the aclu and planned parenthood and when people started donating to planned parenthood in particular, a good number of them did so under the name "mike
pence." it was just a little dig at the very anti abortion conservative incoming vice president. please send certificate of receipt for my donation to the indiana state house. when liberals and democrats try to figure out what to do next in the aftermath of the 2016 election, troll mike pence was a funny option. a huge influx of people chose to donate to progressive rights protection groups that presumably would be working over time in the election. -- overtime in the new administration. by the end of the transition and start of the new administration, the next widely chosen option was for people to march. the women's marches in new york city and washington, d.c. made national news for days, in part for their sheer size. some of the biggest demonstrations we've ever had in this country. women's marches turned up in pockets of the country really
all over the place. places like jackson, mississippi, or fairbanks, alaska. almost 2,000 people braving snow and sleet in fairbanks. salt lake city, utah, thousands of people took over the capitol building in utah, in the snow. the monday after inauguration. nobody really knew at the time that energy would become after the women's marches were over, whether it would be harnessed and turned into something tangible and long-lasting but those marches definitely helped shift the national tone in that direction and then the first big electoral test of that was in the commonwealth of virginia. >> jennifer loves a challenge. she was one of the first african african american women at vmi, first in her family to graduate from college and law school. and in january, this public defender announced her candidacy for a house seat that covers part of prince william and stafford. she had concerns about policies she viewed as anti women. >> i said, you know, why not me
and if not now when? >> my youngest elyce was just 7 months old. elyce was inspired by alice -- ellis island. it is vietnamese for bright bell and that was inspired by the liberty bell. her name is to ring the bell of liberty and champion opportunity for all. i made the decision to run when she was about a month old. i had given a very aspirational name to this tiny baby and i couldn't rest upon her shoulders that responsibility. i had to stand up and fight for those values myself. i had a brother who struggled with alcoholism and ptsd for decades. i lost him in march, two weeks after i announced for this. it was devastating, and hard to go on, but there are others like him and i intend to make sure that they have more chances than he had.
>> the women featured in that footage there, jennifer carol foi, kathie tran, they ended up being some of the first time candidates in virginia who flipped 15 seats in virginia's house of delegates from republican to democrat. it's been decades since democrats flipped more than one seat in that legislature and they just flipped 15 in one night at least. those democrats include the first latino woman in the house of delegates, the first asian american woman in the house of delegates and the first openly transgendered person to sit in any state legislature. that night they won the governorship in virginia and new jersey. and then a week later democrats in oklahoma flipped a very unlikely seat. they flipped a state senate seat that had gone for trump by 40 points in november. the woman that won it is a democrat, a woman and mother of three and she's 26 years old,
and she's openly gay. hello, oklahoma. right now democratic women are having a moment which is all the more remarkable given what happened to the nation's first female presidential candidate just a year ago. >> one of the things you deal with in a surprisingly straightforward way is people are obsessed with your human nature. >> yes. >> everything from sort of deep thing that you point out, which is that people needed to be told again and again why, why truly do you want to be president when nobody ever asked marco rubio or ted cruz that question in exactly that same way but also, the really human stuff. this is what you write in the opening of chapter five in the book. what i ate, who did my hair and makeup, what my mornings were like. it may seem strange but i get asked about these things constantly. philippe reines, who played trump in the debate prep sessions has my favorite explanation why. he calls it the panda principle.
pandas just live their lives. they eat bamboo, they play with their kids. but for some reason, people love watching pandas, hoping for something, anything, to happen. you marveling at people having that interest but concede you learned that's what people want to know. and chapter five of the book, here's what time i get up, yes, i hit the snooze button. yes, i exercise. yes, i love my husband. here is mystery novels i like. yes, i like hot sauce. do you wish people didn't want to know you in that way and do you understand why they do? >> well, you know, i've stopped asking both questions because i've concluded that it's just a part of our lives now. and i think i was slow to accept that and i believe that i'm pretty straightforward and pretty ordinary in most of my
human existence, and so i think, though, that people were a little bit intrigued, maybe even obsessed because of when i burst into the public awareness, you know. bill was the first baby boomer president. i was the first professional wife first lady, and, you know, there was just this insatiable curiosity and i've said many times before, i became like a national rorschach test, you see what you want to see in you. but i wanted it in this book because it is true people ask me these questions all the time and i thought well, you know what? i want to embrace it and go ahead and tell you what i had for breakfast and all the rest of it and maybe it will give people a little bit of satisfaction they know me better than they thought they did. >> do you feel like it's that sort of interest and that sort
of almost that sort of no win situation about your privacy? is something that is inherent -- that any woman who runs for president is going to face? is it inherently gender dynamic going forward? did you face it more than anybody else because you were the one trying to break the glass ceiling twice? >> i think there is a lot of truth to that. i think that just being a woman at that high level of politics is still so unusual and people are sorting it out. i have some fascinating statistics in there about how there is a big difference between democrats and republicans in terms of wanting to see a woman be president. lots of good research that i put into the book about how difficult it is because as a man gets more professionally successful, he becomes more likeable. as a woman gets more professionally successful, she becomes less likeable. i really wanted to pull the
curtain back and talk about this, because i hope through my experience, and the fact that i'm trying to have this conversation with the american public, that people will begin to be more self-aware. because also in the chapter i have on being a woman in politics, where i talk about endemic sexism and misogyny. i say, it's not just about me. that thing, i would have voted for another woman, but not this woman. i ran for the senate, i was elected twice. i know how people can get to know you and respect you and support you. but because we've never had a woman president, the barrier is so high, that glass ceiling is so hard. and now that some of the potential 2020 candidates are starting to get public attention, they are getting hit from both the left and the right and sometimes when it comes from the left, you're not sure whether it's a russian pretending to be an american on the left or not. so i want to raise the visibility of these issues so
that if women run for president in 2020 or 2024, whenever it might happen, you know, more americans will say hey, you know, maybe i should actually listen to her and see what she has to say rather than say i don't like her hair or why is she wearing that color. the kinds of things that get in the way of giving women candidates the serious consideration that we deserve. >> i hear your optimism about how that can get better. >> i hope so. >> by talking about it and naming it you give people away -- a way to discuss it and maybe combat it. i also feel like the sexism that you faced as a political barrier in 2016 was considerably worse than the sexism you faced as a bear in 2008. and i know in 2016, you got further, but i feel like what i saw directed at you as a public
figure was more vitriolic and frankly more violent than what i saute years earlier. which implies to me, maybe that's the general election versus the democratic primary, but i like to think things get better over time and i don't see that as having happened with you. >> i think there were several different conditions that had to be dealt with for the first time the internet was going but social media was not as unleashed in 2008 as it was in 2016. i ran against someone who demeaned women, degraded them, attacked them and again, not just me but ms. universe contestants and republican women that dared to run against him and interviewers who question him. it was so rhetorically vile, what he said about so many women and that kind of lifted the top off of what had been much more
restraint. because i did feel like in '08, there was a lot of it, it was out there, but by years that followed, i thought, okay, people are coming to grips with the fact that you don't about women like that. you may think it but you don't talk about it anymore. and you have to at least try to give lip service to women being treated equally. trump threw that out the window. >> you think he changed the weather? he changed what was possible in -- >> i think he -- >> -- in american politics? >> he gave permission for people to be much more sexist and ma -- misogynistic, which is much more generalized hatred of women. for me, i was taken aback by some of what he would say and the fact that people would vote for him including women after
the hollywood access tape. it just had a different feel to it. so yeah, i think he was in large measure the determining factor that made it so much worse in 2016. >> hillary clinton speaking very bluntly there about who made things worse and how. former attorney general eric holder has some thoughts on that, too. that's next. h me when this guy got a flat tire in the middle of the night. hold on dad... liberty did what? yeah, liberty mutual 24-hour roadside assistance helped him to fix his flat so he could get home safely. my dad says our insurance doesn't have that. don't worry - i know what a lug wrench is, dad. is this a lug wrench? maybe? you can leave worry behind when liberty stands with you™. liberty stands with you™. liberty mutual insurance. whfight back fastts, with tums smoothies. it starts dissolving the instant it touches your tongue. and neutralizes stomach acid at the source.
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in the middle of the nuttiness i went to alaska to cover the race and there unexpectedly in the street in anchorage is where i learned any political conversation with a stranger at any point might veer into in a -- into untrue nonsense about eric holder. you just have to be ready for it at any time. >> good luck, you guys. >> eric holder and we disagree. >> why is that? >> she voted to confirm eric holder. >> and why are you against that? >> he's the most anti-gun -- >> what has he done against guns? let's ask that question. let's look at his voting record. >> eric holder wasn't an elected official. >> all i'm asking is look at what he's done with obama. >> what has he done on guns that you're upset about? >> i honestly i'm not -- i don't know enough about him to answer that truthfully.
>> can i ask why you're upset about eric holder? >> because he's anti-gun. >> what has he done that's anti-gun? >> what? >> i just know he's anti gun. >> look at his press releases and where he's coming from. >> i will, but what press release, like about what? >> anything -- >> that was in alaska in 2010. eric holder, the nation's first african american attorney general had only been serving in that role since the previous year, but by 2010, he was already the object of ornate fantasies by people who were really invested in hating him even for things he hadn't done. eric holder served from 2009 to 2015 where the republican controlled senate finally consented to swear in loretta lynch as his successor. eric holder served for 12 years in the justice department's integrity unit before becoming a superior court judge in d.c. and then becoming the u.s. attorney in d.c., and then becoming
deputy attorney general and then becomi becoming attorney general. since leaving office as a.g., he has returned to private practice. tonight he's here for his first live tv interview since president trump was sworn into office. mr. attorney general, thank you for being here. >> good to be here. >> have you seen that clip before? >> i have seen that clip. i saved it. i saw it on youtube and it's now saved and i watch it every now and again. >> i wonder if now that you are no longer the lightning rod you once were, do you miss that or get and perverse satisfaction from the inchoate hatred that you attracted? >> not really. actually, it was something that baffled me. i never understood, like that piece that you showed, what was the nature and the depth of the negative feelings that i generated in people on the other side. i never quite understood that. >> in your time as attorney general all those years it didn't become more clear? >> no, no, never did.
i said things in support of the program of the president but there seemed to be a special animus that political washington and people like that had for me and, you know, i'm not totally sure what that was all about. >> there had been -- by the time you were sworn in there had been 82 attorneys general? >> yes. 81. i was the 82nd. >> 82nd. so 80 of them, 79 of them had been white men. >> right. >> alberto gonzalez had a term as attorney general that didn't end well. janet reno was the only woman that served as attorney general before you and you're the first african american man to serve. the only vitriol that i've seen directed at a public official that was so divorced from that public official's record, other than to a president, was against janet reno. and my theory about that has always been that the nation's top law enforcement officer is someone who evokes a different
kind of emotional reaction out of particularly paranoid slice of the public. and it's therefore, just a hard place to be first, and break any sort of barrier. >> yeah, the attorney general sits at the conjunction of law and policy, and the justice department is in so many parts of so many people's lives, from national security things to civil rights, voting, that you are a presence in a way that other cabinet members are not. that's at least one of the reasons why, perhaps, i could engender those kinds of negative feelings. those people saw me as representative of the obama administration. and for some, for some. not for all, but for some, i think there were probably some racial issues. >> the attorney general of the united states is often a lightning rod for criticism of the president in the united states. eric holder said he understood that to be just part of the gig. now we have that gig inverted
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this january, cory booker made history when he became the first sitting united states senator to testify against another sitting u.s. senate. >> i know that some of my many colleagues aren't happy i'm breaking with senate tradition to testify on the nomination of one of my colleagues but i believe why perhaps all of my
colleagues in the senate, in the choice between standing with senate norms or standing up for what my conscious tells me is best for our country, i will always choose conscience and country. >> that senator who cory booker was breaking precedent for in the united states senate, it was republican senator jeff sessions of alabama. jeff sessions was a senate back bencher, a man whose nomination to be a district court judge had failed years before after accusations of racism against him. session was never a particularly senior senator or particularly influential senator but the hard line nature of his views did stand out over time. not just against illegal immigration but against immigration. full stop. not just in favor of the drug war but wanting one specifically against people who smoked pot. that made him a favorite of the breitbart.com hard line part of the american conservative media. he then became the first u.s.
senator to endorse donald trump for president. and then once trump was president, sessions became the nation's attorney general. now jeff sessions' days may conceivably be numbered even there as every day presents a new opportunity for the president to pick a fight with him. former attorney general eric holder explains why that dynamic might actually be something dangerous for the country. >> in terms of the justice department as a national security agency, which in many ways, it is, i've always wondered if it fits the line of national security policy making, in the sense that it's less partisan than other types of domestic policy, what i mean by that is in my job i'm often looking back into sometime in the last couple of generations, looking for historical context for things that are happening now, and if public officials who i'm talking about are national
figures, i often have to look up what their partisan affiliation s because it's just often not that important. and there's a certain continuity and inertia in national security that transcends partisan wins. is that also true at justice? >> yes. and justice department officials have gotten in trouble, attorneys general have gotten in trouble when they have forgotten that the justice department really is different from other cabinet agencies. i remember senator lahey said during confirmation, you're not the secretary of justice. you're the attorney general of the united states and there has to be a wall between the justice department and the white house even though you're a part of the administration. put kind of an interesting thing between me and a president who i was a friend with, certain things we couldn't discuss and certain things we didn't discuss but i think that's an appropriate way for an attorney general to think of himself or herself and it's an appropriate way for the justice department to be run. >> is there more discontinuity between jeff, the justice
department under jeff sessions and the justice department under president obama than there has been between previous administrations? >> i'm looking from outside but sure seems that way to me. there have been statements that this attorney general has made, attorney general sessions has made. the interactions he had with the white house that are inconsistent with the way in which i conducted myself as attorney general and frankly the way in which my plredecessors, many of my predecessors conducted themselves. certainly the berating that he reportedly took by the president is totally inconsistent with my experience and again, i think, inconsistent with all the previous attorneys general that i'm aware of. >> is that just a matter of personality and washington personal drama or do you think that there is national consequence of risk associated with that strange thing that we saw unfold with the president berating his attorney general? >> i think that actually worries
me because i think it betrays a lack of understanding on the part of the president about what the role of the attorney general has to be. you can't go at the a.g. in that way. if you truly understand the independent role that he should play within the administration. there are things an attorney general is going to do that the president isn't going to agree with and the president is going to suck it up and say that the a.g. has the responsibility to enforce the laws, he's got national security responsibilities, and he's an independent actor in the way that other cabinet officials are not. >> unless the president doesn't treat him that way. >> unless the president doesn't treat him that way. history has shown us that when that wall is too low, that's when justice departments get in trouble. during the nixon years, during the bush years, when you have white house contacts with the justice department in channels that are not approved. >> what's the directcorrector ft
when it goes bad? >> resignations, investigations, public outcries, you know, there are really no formal things that condone -- ultimately impeachment of an attorney general, something along those lines, but it really is a question of having a vibrant press focused on these issues and the american people keeping track of what is going on between doj and the white house. >> a vibrant press, last line of defense. both eric holder and clinton in their interviews, warned about shifting norms under president trump, affecting our government's institutions. secretary clinton had some insider information to offer on that front. that's coming up next, stay with us.
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so it keeps me dry and protected. go to depend.com - get a coupon and try them for yourself. you've said that it seems to you that defense secretary jim mattis may be effectively operating as defense secretary and secretary of state. you of course are one of the highest profile secretaries of state we've ever had. rex tillerson is among the lowest, certainly the lowest in modern times. he's advocated a 30% cut to his own agency. he's left dozens of senior jobs upfilled -- unfilled. he told state department staff that his biggest goal for the state department is efficiency and that's why he wants to shrink the state department so much. they've even stopped doing daily press briefings. given the risk of nuclear war with north korea, given the sorts of diplomatic challenges that we've got around the country and around the world, why do you think they are
hollowing out the state department? >> well, i think they came in with pre-existing conceptions about the state department and about diplomacy that were not particularly well founded. it's not that you don't want to be more efficient. i actually had a process to try to make sure we became more efficient. but they came in with a bias against diplomats and diplomacy. now the good news, rachel, is that the budget that tillerson's been promoting has been rejected in the senate appropriations committee on a bipartisan basis. the members of the senate have said, look, we've traveled the world. we know what our diplomats do on the front lines and we are not going to give you a 30% cut. they basically came up with about the same amount of money. so the congress is even recognizing that there is no strategy. there's no real plan. what i hear from inside the department because i still have a lot of communication coming to
me, is that there's a very small group of people around tillerson, none of them experienced diplomats, that he has brought in, to be his palace guard, so to speak. they don't even reach out into the state department to talk to the people who have studied north korea for years. so they are not getting the expertise and experience that is still at the state department -- >> because you think they're disdainful of expertise? >> i think they're disdainful. i think they don't know what they don't know, to be honest. i think they had views that were superficial and i think the perspective of secretary tillerson was as a chief executive officer where you tell people what to do, you tell kim jong-un what to did, you tell people that, you know, you have a different plan. you know, the world is a really complex place and it's about a lot of things that people in the state department have had experience with and at least
should be brought to the table and listened to, which i don't think is happening. >> do you think that it was inherently a bad idea to take somebody who had been a lifer at exxon, somebody who only worked at exxon in his adult life, the immediate past ceo of exxon, to put him immediately in charge of dip diplomacy and the state department. when you were secretary of state in 2011, rex tillerson went to vladimir putin's house on the black sea to celebrate exxon and russia signing a half trillion dollar oil deal which is the biggest oil deal in the history of oil. >> right. >> putin later awarded him the russian order of friendship when another part of that deal closed. was he a strange choice for the job as being the ceo of exxon inappropriate experience to bring to the job he's trying to do now? >> it's very limited experience. i think there have been in our past people with extensive business experience, ceo positions, other kinds of
private sector work that i believe could have gotten into this position and had a better understanding of what is required in the 21st century. i don't know that he was a particularly bad choice from the very beginning. i mean, i didn't know anything about him other than what you said basically, but he's never reached out to anybody. he's never asked people, you know, there used to be a tradition. republican, democratic administrations, you would come in and the prior secretaries of state would all get together and have a dinner and talk and often times you would be on the other end of a phone call saying, what did you deal with on this, or, can you tell me some more about that? i've talked to a few of the other secretaries of state that are still around and nobody's heard anything, whether they were republican or democrat. >> and you haven't had any communication with them? >> no, none.
i met him at the inauguration lunch, and that was it. then you've got somebody like steve bannon who clearly is wielding influence from the outside who recently just spewed contempt about some excellent american public servants, including two prior republican secretaries of state, and one prior republican national security adviser. so the attitude was so negative and, you know, why take a job that you're not willing to really dive into and learn about and you come in with preconceptions and you have a model that you're trying to put on top of a institution that has so much inherent strength. even though, yeah, does it have problems? yeah. everything in government does. that's not a big surprise. but then not to want to learn. i kept waiting for the ah-ha moment where you hear the secretary actually called in people and said hey, tell me what i don't know.
tell me what i need to know. let's listen, but from what i hear, that doesn't happen and in fact there is a concerted effort to prevent that from happening. . and then you totaled him. you two had been through everything together. two boyfriends, three jobs... you're like nothing can replace brad. then liberty mutual calls... and you break into your happy dance. if you sign up for better car replacement™, we'll pay for a car that's a model year newer with 15,000 fewer miles than your old one. liberty stands with you™. liberty mutual insurance. [lagale force winds,s absolute chaos out here! accumulations up to 8 inches... ...don't know if you can hear me, but [monica] what's he doing? [lance] can we get a shot of this cold front, right here. winter has arrived. whooo! hahaha [vo] progress is an unstoppable force. brace yourself for the season of audi sales event.
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domination as a tactic of control and he acted out in the national stage first in the republican primary and continuing into the general election. and i think for a lot of people watching, the public and the press, it was hard to turn away from. you haven't seen somebody at that high a level aiming for a job that's the most important in the world, who behaves like that, who says what he says, who delights in mocking people, attacking people. so i think that's pretty deeply embedded in his character. and i think going forward any effort to try to contain him, which i know some in the white house and in the broader administration have been trying to do, is especially important
when it comes to consequential decisions. i think the goal might have been psychologically to make jeff sessions, who is a proud man, i served with him in the senate, i didn't agree with him on anything, but i did serve with him, to make him just be more dependent on pleasing the president. whatever he can do, delivering that speech about daca only to have trump a few days later to say, hey, just kidding. we're going to do something that will keep these young strivers in our country. it's all part of his manipulation. that is who he is. that's how he behaves. so i'm hoping that the people who have a mature view of the exercise of power when it comes to something like north korea, life or death, when it comes to something that would be incredibly stupid, given north
korea, pulling out of the iran deal so we'd have a second nuclear crisis to contend with, i'm hoping that on the really big issues, there's enough authority to be able to restrain and contain the president. that's what we all have to hope because i think this president and some of the people around him pose a clear and present danger to our country. domestically, to our nutio institutions of democracy, our self-governance, our rule of law. nationall nation internationally because of the unpredictability, the fact that there's no strategic plan, just a reactional, emotional, visceral kind of behavior. so i can only hope and i think every american who thinks about this, can only hope that people who know better, who have experience, and who realize that, you know, this country of ours is really worth defending and protecting, would be able to
prevent anything really bad from happening. it's a horrible thing to have to say about anybody in that office. >> on the question of the challenge that this presidency and this president chose, proves for american norms, for the rule of law, i want to ask you about the "lock her up" thing, which started off as sort of astonishing and became this regular daily feature of the campaign, the president and his supporters, you know, calling for your arrest, calling for you to be jailed. he's kept up his rallies as president, and that's still a regular thing that they chant when he mentioned you derisively as he always does. do you take that literally? do you worry they might at some point try to gin up a prosecution against you? >> well, i know there is nothing there so i don't take it substantively as much of a worry. but here's what i do believe. i believe that trump admires
authoritarians. he doesn't just like putin. he wants to be like putin. he wants to have that kind of power that is largely unaccountable, unchecked. and when i first heard that, especially at these rallies that, you know, were inciting violence and insulting people and all the rest of it, i thought it was bizarre kind of, really unbecoming somebody who's running for president. then when they moved it into his convention and it was being done from the platform and people were chanting it and screaming it, i thought, wow, this is unlike anything i have ever read about or seen in presidential conventions. every kind of political barrier that should have restrained this president and those urging him on was broken through. and so i don't personally worry.
i have no doubt that if he got into serious political trouble, he would try to gin something up, you know, about me or president obama, we're his two favorite obama, we are his two favorite targets. i worry it is indicative of the kind of self-image that he has not only of himself but of what the president should be able to do. and that's why it's really imperative that the republicans in congress reign that in. that's part of the reason i mentioned on the state department, standing up to some of these very foolish plans they have. why the press has to hold him more accountable than it did during the campaign. and why the people around him have to be our first line of defense against him doing something that could have serious repercussions. >> placing a lot of hope for the
country in the wisdom of the people who surround him. >> well, it's not -- we don't have much else to place it on right now, he is somebody who doesn't listen. and pursues his own interests as he perceives them. and is very emotionally reactive. so on the small stuff, you know, they may not be able to stop him, they may need to hold their fire till something is serious enough to intervene.
your body was made for better things than rheumatiod arthritis. before you and your rheumatologist move to another treatment, ask if xeljanz xr is right for you. xeljanz xr is a once-daily pill for adults with moderate to severe ra for whom methotrexate did not work well. it can reduce pain, swelling and further joint damage, even without methotrexate. xeljanz xr can lower your ability to fight infections, including tuberculosis. serious, sometimes fatal infections, lymphoma and other cancers have happened. don't start xeljanz xr if you have an infection. tears in the stomach or intestines, low blood cell counts and higher liver tests and cholesterol levels have happened. your doctor should perform blood tests before you start and while taking xeljanz xr, and monitor certain liver tests.
tell your doctor if you were in a region where fungal infections are common and if you have had tb, hepatitis b or c, or are prone to infections. xeljanz xr can reduce the symptoms of ra, even without methotrexate. ask your rheumatologist about xeljanz xr. -oh! -very nice. now i'm turning into my dad. i text in full sentences. i refer to every child as chief. this hat was free. what am i supposed to do, not wear it? next thing you know, i'm telling strangers defense wins championships. -well, it does. -right? why is the door open? are we trying to air condition the whole neighborhood? at least i bundled home and auto on an internet website, progressive.com. progressive can't save you from becoming your parents, but we can save you money when you bundle home and auto. i mean, why would i replace this? it's not broken. are you ever going to run for office? >> i don't know. i'm focused on this national
democratic redirecting committee. i want to make sure we repell these attacks on our democracy. end political gerrymandering to the extent we can, and then i'll see. i'm not saying no at this point, that's not the focus of what i'm concentrating on there. >> you're not working on the redirecting project because it's part of a larger project in terms of you getting back into public life in an electoral way? >> no, i'm not being hyperbolic here, i think our democracy is under attack, if you look at gerrymandering in the way in which politicians are picking their voters as opposed to citizens picking their representatives, if you look at the way in which these voter suppression laws have been pass passes. the notion of one man, one vote is really under attack. i'm bound to do all i can to
reverse all that's happened, especially over the last decade. >> i think you and president obama surprised a lot of people, in part because redirecting and gerrymandering is an old political problem, it's not novel, and each party has used it to their own advantage in different ways and times, people have sort of been better or worse at it, in different parts of the countries and in different eras. are you and president obama working on this because you want democrats to compete better at this time? at the old project of redirecting and gerrymandering? or are you trying to eliminate it in general? >> first, princeton did a study and said what the republicans did in 2011 when they drew the lines was the worst partisan gerrymandering of the last 50 years, what we are engaged in, this sounds inconsistent, is a partisan attempt at good government, all i want to have done in 2021 is the lines drawn in a fairway, make this a battle
between republican ideas, liberal ideas and conservative ideas. if that's the case, i think democrats will do just fine. what i do not want to have happen is for this to be a successful effort and have democrats do in 2021 and have them do what republicans did in 2011. >> you feel like republicans ran the tabling on this during the obama administration, that set them up in a way that tilted the playing field? you want them to tilt it back and fix the system? >> yes, not tilt it back to favor democrats, just to get it to a place where the lines are drawn in such a way that people truly have a choice, have more competitive districts at the congressional level, to have representation at the state level that's consistent with the wishes of the voters. if you look at wisconsin, it's about a 50/50 state, republicans control two thirds of the state assembly, when you control for everything else, it's really
just a function in the way in which the lines were drawn in 2011. >> i know that in this project you're working on ballot initiatives in some places where they're going to try to do nonpartisan redirecting. you're working on public consciousness and awareness around these things, you're working on litigation strategy. you're working on supporting individual democratic candidates in legislatures whose campaigns would be key. that's a comprehensive strategy that does get at all the elements that makes this a make or break strategy. what i don't get is why this effort is going to succeed. i've heard so much democratic hot air on this -- i feel like there's been so many projects launched that were going to do this, that never seemed to. why is yours going to have traction? >> ours is organized, it's the only thing within the democratic
party that has sole responsibility, this whole notion of redirecting. i think the other reality is in the trump era, i think people have seen over the past decade what partisan gerrymandering on the republican side has meant. you have state legislatures that pass these crazy gun laws. these anti-choice laws. voter suppression laws. not necessarily supported by the people in those states. we have seen a congressional congress, and because of gerrymandering you're in in a safe seat, you're more worried about being challenged by a person on the right, you're more worried about being primaries. people don't have to talk to one another. they don't have to compromise. that's a bad thing for someone who is in a gerrymandered district. i think dissatisfaction with the dysfunction, the concern about what trump -- the trump administration has been doing, and the way in which this thing
is constructed within the party. and the support, frankly, that we have gotten, in having -- >> raised more than $10 million the first half of the year. >> and having a president of the united states support this. i think this can be successful. i should mention that in the wake of the statewide election of virginia earlier this month. the richmond times dispatched, published an editorial about the fact that democrats earned a majority of votes. over 200,000 more votes for democrats in republicans. if you only look for votes cast for the two major parties, democrats won 55% of the vote in virginia's legislative races this month. republicans won 45% of the vote. and yet, despite democrats winning so many more votes than the republicans. despite democrats beating the republicans by almost 10 points. democrats are still fighting to win enough seats to control the house of delegates. this year, a democratic tidal
wave erased much of the gop's gerrymandering advantage. but not entirely. that does it for us tonight, we will see you again next week. now, it's time for the last word with lawrence o'donnell. have a great weekend. good evening, i'm lawrence o'donnell and this is our special thanksgiving week edition of the last word, featuring conversations with rachel maddow and stephen colbert, as well as the economist i most want to hear from before the impact of the trump tax cuts. as president trump gets ready for his first semester final exam on tax cuts, how does the rest of his report card look. >> people filled the streets of america's cities and capitals around the world. >> far more people marching for women's rights than