tv All In With Chris Hayes MSNBC November 15, 2018 5:00pm-6:00pm PST
are moving against him and his family. we need not ask what the president's thinking tonight. it's clear that he's thinking about escape. that's "hardball" for now. thanks for being with us. "all in" with chris hayes starts right now. tonight on "all in". >> i said to myself, i said, you know, this russia thing with trump and russia is a made up story. >> donald trump does it again. >> well, matt whitaker, i don't know matt whitaker. >> this time admitting that the appointment of matt whitaker was all about the russia probe. >> matt whitaker's a great agree, i mean, i know ma tt whitaker. >> the push to protect mueller. then, deadline day in the florida recount as democrats keep winning house seats. the new push to regulate facebook in the wake of the "new york times" bombshell. and trouble on trump tv. >> you're not even tired, are you? >> why even donald trump is sick of sean hannity's softballs.
>> i don't think anyone has your energy level. >> when "all in" starts right now. good evening from new york, i'm chris hayes. donald trump sure sounds worried that there are indictments coming very, very soon. the president escalating his attacks today on robert mueller, though with a twist. for the very first time trump claimed to know the "inner workings of the mueller investigation." now, to be fair, the president could just be lying. but this tweet comes just days after trump installed as his acting attorney general matt whitaker, the man who john kelly privately described as the west wing's eyes and ears inside the justice department. robert mueller is now reporting to matt whitaker, the guy who the white house says is basically its informant. and now here we are for the first time the president claiming to know the inner workings of mueller's investigation. all this comes amid reports that new indictments are imminent. as trump's legal team nears
completion of written answers to questions posed by mueller concerning russian interference in the election. it also comes as trump has basically admitted that he chose whitaker to undermine mueller. remember, whitaker does not have the credentials one would expect for the job he's been given. he reportedly first came to trump's attention because trump "liked watching whitaker express skepticism about the mueller investigation on tv." his other appearances include this promotional video for a florida that paid him as an adviser, a company that the fbi says was a straight up scam. before we get to what exactly strup said about whitaker, let's turn back the clock to trump's may interview with lester holt, where he suggested the real reason he fired james comey was because the fbi director wouldn't halt the russia investigation. >> regardless of recommendation i was going to fire comey, knowing there was no good time to do it, and, in fact, when i decided to just do it i said to
myself, i said, you know, this russia thing with trump and russia is a made up story. >> he was not supposed to say that, generally not describe your efforts on national television. he did. now he's at it again. asked by conservative outlet media who he was going to use to replace whitaker, he veered into a de facto admission he hired him to stop mueller. first, he insisted, matthew whitaker is a very respected man, he's very importantly -- he's respected within doj, debatable. whitaker is somebody who's very respected. i knew him only as he pertained, you know, as he was with jeff sessions, and, you know, look, as far as i'm concerned, this is an investigation that should have never been brought. it should have never been had. it's something that should have never been brought. it's an illegal investigation. okay, nobody asked about the mueller investigation. he doesn't even refer to it the first time.
it's floating in his head and he goes there. this might lead reasonable person to believe that he's become essential to protect the president and his newly installed lackey. the top republican in the senate insisted, there's nothing to worry about. >> we know how the president feels about the mueller investigation but he's never said he wants to shut it down. i've never heard anybody down there say they want to shut it down. i don't think it's in danger and no legislation is necessary. >> okay, then, well, if he doesn't think it is. democrats have been pushing for the legislation, along with a handful of republicans, but most republicans refuse to lift a finger, today, perhaps the most ardent staller, senator lindsey graham, the sean hannity of the senate, if you will, even if he supports legislation, he will leave it to mcconnell to decide whether he gets a vote. graham met with whitaker earlier today. >> i don't think he's going to do anything. i have a lot of confidence that mr. mueller will be allowed to do his job and that the legal
process that was in place before mr. whitaker arrived will be followed. he's going to -- i have great confidence he will make reasonable decisions when his time comes and the investigation is not in jeopardy. >> joining me now is richard brum blumenthal. two of your colleagues say, hey, don't worry about it. what do you think? >> well, i am worried about it and so worried about it that we are thinking about ways that we can attach the special prosecutor protection legislation to other bills that may be moving through the united states senate, must pass bills relating to appropriations or the continuing resolution. equally important, we're thinking about legislation to assure there is disclosure of all the findings and evidence in that investigation, in the event that robert mueller is, in fact, fired. so the public knows and so that
the investigators are held accountable. >> what is your interpretation of the president unprompted bringing up the mueller investigation when asked about whitaker? >> it's another one of those lester holt moments where he just says what is on his mind. clearly. and you really understated it. matt whitaker is manifestly unqualified for this job. except that he serves the president's purpose of cutting by a thousand cuts, and dealing death to this investigation, it's the kind of slow motion saturday night massacre. >> my question about that is, what would -- obviously firing mueller, i think, would precipitate some kind of massive crisis, right? but it seems to me that should -- if you believe there's something untoward happening here with whitaker, that they're probably going to do something more subtle, how would your legislation protect that? >> the special counsel protection legislation would prevent the firing.
but the legislation that we're contemplating would require complete disclosure of all the evidence and findings, so it would diminish the incentive for strangling this investigation. >> i see. >> it would also assure more funding so that the continuation of the present appropriation -- the money's been appropriated would be assured. >> so you don't have much leverage in the minority right now in the senate, far less than one used to in the united states senate. jeff flake and coons tried to bring it up, defeated by mitch mcconnell. flake has said he won't vote for a -- lame duck session. are there other republicans who can go the flake route to get you the leverage you would need? >> i think there are other republicans and they need to step forward. the story of this congress has been quite unfortunately the abdication of responsibility by
republicans. i hope jeff flake sticks to that commitment. but we need the legislation -- >> you need more than that, don't you? >> we need more than just him, and we need more than just jeff flake because he's going to be leaving and we need the muscle to make sure that the senate votes on this. >> do you have any doubt in your mind that if the president fired mueller and shut down the investigation that the overwhelming majority of republican colleagues would be fine with it to try to protect the president? >> there will be a fire storm if he fires the special counsel, there will be a constitutional conflict raised. >> don't you think mitch mcconnell is going to huddle the team together and say, look, guys, this is what we signed up for, we protect this guy no matter what and we're the majority and screw them? >> i think they have to take a lesson from this last election, the american people want that investigation completed. >> what do you think about whitaker's status as the acting attorney general? i mean, there's concerns about him. you had harsh words for his qualifications. this is someone who was elbow
deep in this very scammy company, the fdc ordered it to pay become $27 million, i think, the fbi has a criminal investigation. we've got, you know, evidence now that he was active and essentially trying to silence people who pointed out the scamminess of this company. what do you think of whitaker in this role independent of what he's doing to the mueller investigation? >> he is there illegally. >> you think he's illegal there? >> i think that the president's failed to comply with the advice and consent requirement in the constitution. and we are researching and actively considering, i'm talking to a number of my colleagues about legal action that we could take. i think that there will be more challenges to the actions that he may take while he's in office. but here is the bottom line on this appointment. if there is an effort to fire bob mueller, there will be a fire storm. maybe not among my republican colleagues, but among the
american people -- >> right. >> there will be another clear saturday night massacre. that's the strategy here of the republicans to do it in slow motion so as to avoid that overt fire storm. >> senator richard blumenthal, thank you for your time tonight. joined by the incoming chir of the house judiciary committee, congressman jerry nadler. he's asked about mr. whitaker, he responds about the mueller investigation and how it's illegitimate. do you read anything into that? >> well, we read a confirmation of the obvious, that whitaker was placed there to be a hatchet man to subvert or sabotage the mueller investigation. he had only one qualification which was relevant, namely that unlike attorney general sessions, he would not recuse himself. he would not point -- he would ignore his obvious conflicts of interest. so the president is simply confirming that his purpose there is to sabotage the
investigation. >> there's been news that you and your colleagues in the democratic party are going to launch an investigation into whitaker, particularly the role he played with this company that is being investigated by the fbi. there's a quote from someone who was on the wrong end of the scam who is, he says, sort of intimidated by whitaker out of blowing the whistle. he was yelling. whitaker pushed back about early fraud complaints in the "washington post." what do you want to find out about his role in that company? >> well, we want to find out what kind -- whether he was involved in criminal or fraudulent activity because he is supposedly the chief law enforcement officer of the united states and we would simply be doing the due diligence that the senate should do if it were given the opportunity to do what it's constitutionally mandated to do, namely advise and consent on the nomination. we believe this nomination is illegal, that the office of legal counsel's opinion is
nonsense, that the office of legal counsel simply shilling for the president and someone's got to look into his qualifications and his conflicts of interest since the senate is not being given the opportunity to do that. >> i take it you're not impressed with the office of legal counsel decision in the words of kelly ann conway, 29 pages, and the president was impressed, that doesn't convince you? >> length never convinces on anything. his appointment is clearly unconstitutional because it evades the necessity of a principal officer of the government being confirmed by the senate. it cites a general succession law. as any law student knows general laws are trumped by -- >> specifics. >> specific laws. there's a specific law that says the succession for an acting attorney general goes through the deputy attorney general, the solicitor general, and through other people confirmed by the senate. so, no, this is obviously the president reaching for someone who he thinks is a hatchet man,
who can evade judgment by the senate and who will do his job of sabotaging the investigation of which the president has shown very clearly in his latest tweets and comments he is terrified of. >> the conventional wisdom watching the president's behavior from the outside, consulting with the attorneys on questions, activity happening with mueller, vis-a-vis court filings. is your read on the situation the same we tend to have, which is that he looks like a man who's very scared about what mueller is going to do? >> he certainly is giving the impression of someone very scared of what mueller's going to do and he's trying to figure out how to avoid that. remember, his only beef with the attorney general sessions that he kept complaining about was that he didn't recuse himself from the investigation and therefore couldn't stop it. and where's my roy cohn who could in effect protect me
personally? that's not the job of the attorney general. and he's obviously very scared of this. and he has been convinced until now, at least, that he could evade accountability, that he was above the law. and that no one would hold him to the law. but now you've got a democratic congress, or at least house coming in in january that's going to proper oversight, which is our constitutional duty, which is going to hold him accountable and the special prosecutor may very well hold him accountable too. and he's acting very cornered. >> do you have any leverage in this lame duck senator blumenthal was talking about ways of thinking of attaching something that you must pass legislation, obviously the law -- there'd have to be a matching law in the house to get it to the president's desk, do you have any leverage in the minority in this lame duck for something like that? >> working together with my colleagues in the senate we have leverage. they have more leverage because you need 60 votes, basically, to pass any bill.
and we don't need that in the house. but unless you can assume that all the republicans are going to support the budget law, which they may not, not because of this, but for other reasons, for questions of what's in the continuing resolution, what's in the budget, we will have some leverage and certainly the prospect of our becoming the majority in january gives us some leverage too. >> all right, congressman jerry nadler, thanks for being with me. >> thank you. for more on matt whitaker and trump's attacks on mueller today, i'm with betsy woodruff, josh, i'll start with you, very weird time right now, here's the politico story. trump preparing -- mueller anxiety invades trump world. half a dozen people in contact with the white house and other trump officials say deep anxiety is setting in that mueller is about to pounce after his self-imposed quiet period, that any number of allies and family members may soon be staring down
the barr el of indictment. >> i've never seen anything quite like this, all this speculation about sealed indictments waiting to be sprung at some key moment. none of us really know. >> no, plus you have people close, roger stone and corsi going around saying i'm going to be indicted. >> they're unreliable narrators, hard to know what they're saying. it really seems like something is going on. the question i have with the white house is do they know more than we all do? >> that's the big question. >> they're just kind of spooked like, you know, because they see the same things that reporters think is going to happen? >> that's right. never underestimate how much the president just watches cable news. >> yeah. >> betsy, what's your sense as a reporter in washington, d.c., with sources around capitol hill and the white house, about what the -- what general feeling is among republicans in the capital right now about what might be coming down? >> there's clearly a high
anxiety level. that said, there's been anxiety about the mueller investigation since it started more than a year and a half ago. this is something that's always deeply concerned republicans, and in particular, one of the biggest sources of concern, and this has been an enduring one, is that mueller would look at matters beyond just the question of how the russian government interfered in the 2016 presidential elections. the worry was always that mueller would potentially look at financial dealings, look at business ties, look at, for instance, the possibility that jared kushner could have been involved in business dealings that would be of interest to someone in mueller's position. that was always the worry. and it goes back to what republicans know from history, looking at the ken starr investigation. >> that's right. >> that started by looking at real estate deals and ended up with learning about the president's activity with monica lewinsky that precipitated his impeachment. this has always worried republicans, but right now post-midterms, everyone has
indictment jitters. i get texts, is there an indictment today, what are you hearing? i was saying, oh, yeah, i talked about with bob mueller earlier. of course. nobody knows. that has not calmed anyone's nerves. >> people ask me on the streets. to betsy's point, there's two investigations. an sdny investigation, michael cohen -- there's evidence, forget everything having to do with the russians, we know the southern district, according to "the wall street journal," as evidence that the president directed michael cohen to make payments. >> and that he knew, trump knew. >> has nothing to do with russia and that's already on the table. >> yeah. that seems pretty open and shut. i do think there's a question of like, you know, campaign -- how far does that go? >> sure. >> someone who has some unique insight into trump's mind told me something today which really kind of made me think.
and that is that when we think about these indictments and we think about potential indictments, and we think about the president's anxiety, a lot of us, and i mean kind of most people in the media, to include myself, are thinking about what are the things that we think are true, are basically know true, and we think now might be confirmed by bob mueller, or confirmed, you know, in a charge. >> right. >> but the thing is, donald trump knows all sorts of things that he -- >> so true. >> he did that we have no idea about. so the potential -- >> in his own mind as he's combing through, great point. >> his anxiety, it probably goes much further than anything frankly we can imagine. >> excellent point. betsy, i just thought that daily caller interview was such a fascinating tell. he gets asked about whitaker, who are you going to replace for -- midway through he veers
into the mueller attack, almost referring to it as he had already talked about it earlier in the sentence when he hadn't. >> i would recommend everybody read the transcript of that interview because it is a heck of a read. the reality is when you say matt whitaker, donald trump thinks bob mueller. >> that's exactly right. >> he sees those two men in his mind as being linked. looking at the text of the interview, he clearly sees whitaker as someone who can finally be in the position to be a counterbalance to mueller, someone who's going to be at the justice department who he thinks will stick up for him. remember, part of the reason that whitaker rose to prominence in the early days of the trump administration is because he spent so much time on conservative talk radio and on cable news bashing bob mueller. it was just last summer that whitaker said definitively there was no collusion between the trump campaign and russia. this is somebody who wasn't even on the trump campaign and he was presenting himself as this definitive expert about that question.
so, of course, trump -- when trump sees matt whitaker, he thinks bob mueller, he sees those two men as being inseparably connected. >> another dynamic we don't quite have eyes into, whitaker, mueller, rosenstein and that justice department. you've got to imagine there are some interesting conversations happening there, josh. >> yeah, i think, you know, one thing -- everything that everybody says about matt whitaker, why the president put him there, all that stuff, 100% right. but i do think we underestimate to an extent the degree to which rod rosenstein, bob mueller, all these players are big power players who have deep roots in washington, know the bureaucratic angles, and matt whitaker is not from that world and doesn't know the space. he may be more vulnerable. >> that's a good point. josh marshall and betsy
woodruff, thank you both. still ahead, midterm results are still coming in. they're still counting votes. tonight the florida senate race is so closes the officially headed to a hand recount. steve kornacki has the latest in two minutes. don't go anywhere. for each job exxonmobil creates, many more are created in the community. because energy touches so many industries, it supports 10 million u.s. jobs.
my name is mike, i'm in product development at comcast. we're working to make things simple, easy and awesome. another day and another couple of wins for democrats in the midterm elections, andy kim has now unseated the republican incumbent tom mcarthur in new jersey's third congressional district, and in maine, jared golden has defeated the incumbent republican as well. all of new england will be represented by a democrat. there are still six congressional races not yet called by nbc news. a recount in florida is going, and a runoff in georgia's governor's race is still a
possibility. here's steve kornacki. two calls, kind of fate -- six outstanding? >> six left to come. >> the pulled ahead in that vote count. >> she's pulled well ahead, about 4,000 votes, orange county basically coming in, the last few minutes, porter's pulled further ahead, that margin up over 6,000 votes, every day more votes from orange are counted, favoring the democrats and also in 39, which is also orange county, this for the first time tonight in the update the democrat has taken the lead. >> that just happened since i came on air. >> last 20 minutes. >> that's actually -- when i went to air it was about 70 votes for young kim who was -- i think would be the only -- well, aside from mia love, an incumbent, the only woman of color in the republican freshman class, were she to win, there was a lot made of her in the
campaign, the one that survived the wipeout. she's now behind. >> if she loses, historic moment here, there would be zero republicans from the seven-member orange county california delegation in the next congress. >> that is the wildest -- >> the cradle in conservative -- >> let's talk quickly about the seventh in georgia, sort of too close to call. that's probably going to go to a recount. >> they counted a bunch of absentee ballots, the democrat it looks like is going to call for a recount, down 419. that's at that level that's unlikely to change, but what that really speaks to is that the strength of stacey abrams, not looking like she's going to win statewide, but she turned out such democratic enthusiasm in a place like gwinet county. >> georgia has -- there is no recount there. we're still doing the first
count. they're down to absentees and provisionals. what's the deadline for that? >> the counties have already certified -- most counties, and i think gwinet was the last to do this, certifying the count. but there's a court ruling that caused the state to tell the counties go back and look at absentee ballots where there was an issue with date of birth. if it changes, you have until friday to do that. you're probably talking there about hundreds of votes statewide. stacey i stacey abrams would need to knock the margin down to about 18,000. if she did that, kemp would be under 50%, in a runoff. >> she's 18,000 from a runoff. >> yeah, or she also would need to be within a point to call for a recount. but the math is similar there. so it looks like you're talking about hundreds of votes potentially between now and tomorrow. so it doesn't look like that's the issue. but georgia 7, i think there's more suspense there. >> florida is nuts. >> yes. >> i follow this for a living and i'm having a hard time
making sense of it all. the big headline today is there's going to be a hand recount in the senate race. what's that mean? >> it means there's all sorts of small issues jumping around, small but important. but the big one is this, 26,000 votes in broward county, huge, heavily democratic broward county, 26,000 ballots where people voted in the governor's race and no vote was registered in the senate race. it would break 2-1 for nelson if these ballots were cast in the senate race. his campaign says this is a machine error. voters did cast senate votes here. when you have a manual recount they will be caught and nelson will win them overwhelmingly, the statewide gap will close to zero. the other possibility here, this is ballot design, heavily -- voters who -- >> stamped here on the ballot. >> the irony, chris, after the 2000 florida fiasco, a commission was set up to recommend to states how to design ballots.
never put a race underneath a vertical row of instructions. broward county put the senate race under a vertical row of instructions, you have a 26,000 -- the nelson camp is swaing it's the machine. >> we will find out one way or another. >> that's the manual recounts. >> very quickly, they were two minutes late on their deadline for the reporting on their machine recount, but that whole thing ends up not mattering. >> that whole week of people protesting, all under the bridge and now they're going to hand recount. steve kornacki, thank you very much. broward county, what are you doing? still ahead, shocking revelations about facebook's handling of russian interference spark calls for regulation. my next guest could have the congressional power to do something about it.
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facebook began responding today to that scathing report in the "new york times." according to the times facebook slow walked its disclosure of russian activity on its site and went into a war footing against critics. facebook's founder mark zuckerberg faced a call, he would not step down. facebook did cut ties with the opposition research firm definers public affairs, hardly the end of it. facebook is facing scrutiny from every direction, david sisolini from rhode island, putting him into a position to spearhead congressional action on facebook next year. congressman, you issued a very strong statement after "the new york times" story yesterday, what did you learn and what are
your concerns? >> i think the story is very, very disturbing. it's an example of what happens with his tremendous concentration of economic power, which is very often accompanied with a concentration of political power. democrats ran on a commitment to really understand and focus on this issue. we've seen these megamergers continue, this tremendous concentration of economic power. and the impact it's having on consumers and on privacy and on the marketplace are significant. we need to understand what happened here. we need to be doing everything we can to prevent it from happening. there are not easy solutions to this, but we ought to begin with serious hearings to understand exactly what happened here and then we need to begin to really develop some policies that will respond to this. there's a lot of smart people that have begun to think about this. there aren't easy answers, but we should all be very disturbed about the revelations in that reporting about the behavior of facebook and their not only slow walking there, but engaging in the political campaign to distract and dissuade and
minimize what are some very serious issues of misconduct. it's a serious issue and we have to focus on protecting consumers' privacy, think about the rights of consumers to protect their data and we've got to force companies like facebook to be much more transparent about what's going on. >> you talked about economic and political power. i want to get your reaction to the story, the minority leader in the senate for the democrats chuck schumer ran interference for the company as the heat was being turned up on them with members of the democratic caucus, essentially to tamp it down and not go to the heart of facebook. >> i took this important pledge to not take corporate pac money in my reelection. we've got to get money out of our political system so that folks can no longer be influenced by people who are making contributions to campaigns and really focus on developing good public policy. when you have the kind of economic power and the concentration of economic power you cena company like facebook
it's very often accompanied by strong political power. we've got to break the connection and get money out of our political system and, you know, i think that's going to be an important priority for democrats. we've got a whole reform package to really address the issue. but this -- this question about the maibehavior of this companyd the way it's impacting the privacy interests of consumers and make sure their data is protected is serious. >> there's another part of the story i thought was interesting, which is about their ability to kind of get senators to back off. this the senator richard burr, facebook lobbyists, before they -- they had already worked the intelligence committee hard asking that lawmakers refrain from questioning miss sandberg -- determined to avoid a circus atmosphere. a day before the hearing he issued a warning to stipwith the topic of election interference. will you be calling them before your committee to ask questions? >> we need to have comprehensive hearings. you will see democrats take an active role in the house on getting to the bottom of this.
we are responsible to get answers for the american people and to begin to think about solutions. these are disturbing developments. what people expect from us is to bring those individuals before the committee, those companies to learn what happened to make sure we're thinking about solutions proactively to prevent these kinds of things from happening again, to protect data and privacy and competition-based solutions, to work collaboratively to come up with solutions. >> thank you very much. >> thank you. the democrats found a successful midterm strategy in largely ignoring the president. can that be duplicated in the presidential election? tonight's thing one thing two is next. don't let psoriatic arthritis take them away. taltz reduces joint pain and stiffness and helps stop the progression of joint damage. for people with moderate to severe psoriasis, 90% saw significant improvement.
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thing one tonight, it's pretty clear at this point that donald trump actually enjoys his acrimonious relationship with the press. >> i tell you what, cnn should be ashamed of itself having you working for them. you are a rude, terrible person. you shouldn't be working for cnn. go ahead. >> i think that's un -- >> you're a very rude person, the way you treat sarah huckabee is horrible, the way you treat other people are horrible. you shouldn't treat people that way. >> the president likes bashing reporters so much, he actually gets upset when they don't give him the opportunity.
the president complains about sean hannity's softball questions because hannity's slobbering leaves no friction to generate the sparks and drama trump craves. it's like he's not even trying right before the president launched into a -- mannerisms the questions about how great i am give him nothing to work or have fun with. another person who's heard trump make similar comments since his inauguration say they remember the president calling hannity's softball questions "dumb." that seems hash. are hannity interviews really that bad? that's thing two in 60 seconds. billions of mouths.
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you? >> i went out there an hour before the show and the crowd is electric. there's a bigger crowd outside. than there is inside. mr. president, you're dealing with a lot of good economic news today, record low unemployment, hispanic americans, 4.3 million americans off of food stamps, 4 million americans out of the poverty. great news on the economy, better news with kim jong-un, he's not firing rockets over japan. tough sanctions against russia and the iranian economy and the chinese economy are both going down, as you have taken a tough stand. path towards energy independence, you spent $3.5 billion on the border wall. i know you're disappointed, you want the rest. i think everybody's met their match. i don't think anyone has your energy level. you love this, you really love this. (music throughout)
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in one overlooked part of donald trump's interview with the daily caller this week the president encourages some of his more violent followers to go with instincts. the reporters asked him, how do you think they should handle antifa, he responds, they better hope the opposition to antifa decides not to mobilize, if they do, they're much tougher, much stronger, potentially much more violent. wow, that sounds like the response of a fascist. which isn't surprising given the president's clear admiration for
fascists and authoritarians. today, for example, nbc reported the white house is weighing removing an enemy of the turkish president, a man with a united states green card, in order to get turkey to stop criticizing saudi arabia for the murder of another u.s. green card holder. you'll remember "washington post" columnist jamal khashoggi was killed by saudi officials inside the saudi consulate in istanbul last month. turkey hasn't taken too kindly to that. president erdogan has suggested the crown prince is behind it. they're extraditing a turkish cleric in pennsylvania who erdogan blames for a failed -- bipartisan effort to stop u.s. support for saudi arabia's monstrous war on yemen.
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i urged our colleagues not to take the bait on what the president was putting out there. it's a very dangerous issue on the campaign trail because of the misreputations that are put out there. you don't win a fight by fighting that same fight. you win by sticking with the program for the people, lower health care costs, bigger paychecks, cleaner government. that produced a big victory for us in spite of the gerrymandering that the
republicans have done. i have no regret. >> that's house democratic victories continue to mount, it's become increasingly clear that the strategy outlined there by nancy pelosi to not take the bait worked. democrats talked about health care. they talked about oversight, and they did not talk that much about donald trump. i know firsthand we had them on the program. the question now is will that strategy work in 2020 against trump himself? ryan fallon, who is hillary clinton's 2016 press has his doubts, quote, it will not be easy to avoid being sucked into trump's vortex, no matter what a candidate promises himself at the beginning of the race. brian fallon joins me along with joy reid to talk about what might work in 2020. brian, let me get your thoughts on. this i thought what you had to say was really interesting. it comes from sort of hard won wisdom. first, what do you think of the democrats' strategy in 2018 and its replicatability in 2020? >> i thought nancy pelosi's observations were unquestionably the correct ones. democrats were well served by
not taking the bait and getting into a back and forth with donald trump about the caravan, prince. but my point is that that advice is hard to follow in a general election context. >> right. >> it's easier said than done when you move from a congressional midterm election where no candidate is running in a heads-up way against donald trump mano a mano. in 2020 somebody will be competing every day for oxygen in a media cycle with donald trump. and my point is most generic democrats in that scenario will find themselves gasping for air because donald trump sucks all the oxygen out of the room. democrats will find it very hard to make news of their own choosing on bread and butter health issues like health care, as they were able to do in this midterm election. i'll give you an example. coming out of the democratic convention in the summer of 2016, there is nothing more than hillary clinton would have liked to have talked than the economy and her plan for rural america in terms of how to get wages rising again. she went on a bus tour with her running mate tim kaine in the after glow of the convention to western pennsylvania, rural
ohio, places she wasn't given any credit for having gone and visited after the election because no one remembered that trip. and the reason was because donald trump went on the attack against kieser at the end of the convention, and that's all anyone talked about. at first we were disappointed that no one was covering her plan to stop outsourcing. and then we thought this sounds like a 80/20 to 90-10 decision to defend a gold star family against donald trump. that's not a sturdy or durable way for waging a contest against donald trump. >> no, i totally agree. donald trump attempted to shoehorn himself into this midte midterm, but he was the subtext of this midterm. it was also possible in a midterm to draw out the individual issues that people cared the most about, health care being number one. but that was in a way also about republicans tried to take away obamacare. so that really worked. i think for individual democrats running for the united states senate, for instance, yes, they'll be able to pull out some local issues, and they're going
to be swamped again for republicans by donald trump because he'll be both on the ballot and talking, right? so i think that democrats will then be in direct contest with donald trump and what he stands for. >> and he there is also the fact -- well, two things. he'll say anything. if the nominee is cory booker, if he doesn't get a rise, cory booker had someone killed. wait, whoa. what do you do with that? that's a lie, but now you're talking about a thing he said. and there is always the fact that he will always give the media something to cover that is not policy, which is one of the things that really resonated with me about your thread. >> well, i think that the trap that most democrats will fall into is donald trump will purposely choose subjects of controversy to weigh in on because he wants to make the debate on his terms. the media will cover it at face value, and they'll attach the requisite amount of controversy to his statements because his statements are inherently provocative and controversial, but then they have to pivot to then covering the other candidate.
in cable language you guys know, you'll talk about the a block and the b block. in the a block if you're talking about donald trump and what he is saying inherently controversial, you feel a need in order to appear balanced to attach some controversy to whatever the democrat candidate is doing. as a result, it elevates and inflates sort of manufactured controversies as we learned the hard way on e-mails. >> right. because the media's default is to say if we're tough on donald trump on x, we need to find the egive y for the democrat and cover it with the same amount of excite, which is why you got things about the hillary clinton foundation because you got the donald trump foundation, even if it doesn't make sense. by the way, in 2020, what democrats are doing is they are making the country decide do you want this country to be donald trump's america. that actually what the election is going to be about. so whoever the democratic nominee is going to have to try to make themselves a personality because it's a personality contest. that is what presidential races are. and b, litigate donald trump. donald trump is going to make that easy by talking a lot and doing a lot of things the media
won't be able to not cover. but then you're going to have to have a litigation by the democratic candidate. >> i think litigation on policy. >> sure. >> he's the guy that tried to take health care away. >> that's exactly right. >> both as a sort of strategy, but also for the country. >> that's right. >> we should be debating those things. you said this, very similar to what joy just said, a nominee best situated to be able to ignore trump is one who commands a media ecosystem apart from him. >> there are two choices that democratic primary voters can pick in the primary that's about to begin. a no nonsense sort of bland, inoffensive candidate. in most cases it happens to be white male candidates that the media is thinking about in column a. and in column b, more stridently progressive but three dimensional characters in column b. if democratic voters drop to column b because that person is more inspirational, then they'll be less strategic in choosing that path because that person may turn off voters in wisconsin
and michigan. no, the bland inoffensive candidate is more likely to be sucked into trump's vortex because they're not a center of gravity themselves. >> you want younger, you want people of color you better have a personality. >> thank you for joining us. "the rachel maddow show" starts on time. good evening, rachel. >> on time, zero, zero, zero, zero, zero. that was amazing. i have a cast of characters here ready to jump into the frame if need be. thank you, my friend. >> all right, good night. and thanks to you at home for joining us this hour. it's a busy news night. very happy to have you here. we're going to start tonight with a puzzle. do not worry. it's a really easy one. you are definitely going to figure out the answer right away before we even get to the first commercial. in october of last year, october 17th, there was a confirmation hearing in washington for a sort of high profile trump judicial nominee, somebody who the trump administration had picked to be a newh-