Interview with John Hickenlooper. TRANSCRIPT: 3/6/19, The Last Word w/ Lawrence O’Donnell.

John Hickenlooper

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST:  Good evening, Rachel. 


You threw me there.  I thought I was being introduced when I heard you say

he`s old – once you said he`s in jail, I went, oh, OK, it`s someone else. 


RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST:  I know nothing about your gout status and I

don`t think you`re that old. 


O`DONNELL:  I am as of this point goutless, and –


MADDOW:  God bless you. 


O`DONNELL:  And not in prison.  And so, that`s a happy day, right? 


MADDOW:  Not miserable.  Not lonely. 


O`DONNELL:  Right. 


MADDOW:  And I don`t even want to talk about the altar boy thing.  It`s



O`DONNELL:  Well, I was an altar boy.


MADDOW:  We`ll see.


O`DONNELL:  And we are going to talk about it, Rachel.




O`DONNELL:  We are going to talk about it.


And completely – I just want on the record, completely happy and positive

experience.  You have to say that now if you say you used to be an alter

boy.  You just have to. 


MADDOW:  I was – growing up as a Catholic kid in California, I was so mad

that I couldn`t be an altar boy.  It wasn`t like a gender justice thing. 

It`s just the altar boys got to handle the wine.  I thought I was going to

be potential good bartender material.  These kids 7 years old and handling

the wine.  I was like –


O`DONNELL:  Rachel, given that the statute of limitations has passed, I can

tell you, I can confess to you that I saw altar boys mishandle the wine

once or twice.  It happened. 


MADDOW:  Save that for our weekend show – 




MADDOW:  – when we can swear. 


O`DONNELL:  We`re going to save that one. 


MADDOW:  Thank you.


O`DONNELL:  Thank you, Rachel. 


Well, Governor John Hickenlooper in his first MSNBC interview since

announcing his candidacy for president on Monday.  He is going to join us. 


And we have the experts we need when it`s an important Michael Cohen day. 


Joining us in our first panel of guests tonight, and there is so much to

report on that.  We learned new things.  That`s what one member of the

House Intelligence Committee said today after Michael Cohen`s second closed

session in a week testifying to that committee.  The member of the

committee – that member of the committee also said that Michael Cohen

brought new documents to the committee today. 


The chairman of the committee, Adam Schiff, said it was a, quote,

enormously productive session.  One of the things the House investigative

committees are trying to learn is whether pump or his lawyers tried to use

the possibility of a presidential pardon to prevent Michael Cohen and

others from testifying against Donald Trump. 


In a breaking news report tonight, “The New York Times” is reporting that

the president`s TV lawyer Rudy Giuliani says that lawyers for several

people approached him about the possibility of presidential pardons.  “The

Times” reports Mr. Giuliani who has been representing Mr. Trump since last

spring says he always insisted to defense lawyers that Mr. Trump would not

consider granting pardons until the investigations were long over.  I

always gave one answer and they always left disappointed, Mr. Giuliani



“The Times” notes tonight that President Trump`s first legal team, headed

by Washington lawyer John Dowd, quote, had discussions with lawyers for

Paul Manafort and Michael T. Flynn in 2017 about pardons. 


ABC News is reporting that in the weeks following the raid on Michael

Cohen`s home, office and hotel room last year, Michael Cohen was, quote,

contacted by two New York attorneys who claimed to be in close contact with

Rudy Giuliani.  Sources described the lawyers` contact with Cohen as an

effort to keep him in the tent. 


NBC News has confirmed that according to a source familiar with the matter,

Michael Cohen provided the Intelligence Committee today with new documents

showing edits to the written statement that he delivered to Congress in

2017 about a project to build a Moscow Trump Tower. 


Here`s what Michael Cohen said about those edits in last week`s public





MICHAEL COHEN, FORMER TRUMP LAWYER:  Mr. Trump`s personal lawyers reviewed

and edited my statement to Congress about the timing of the Moscow Tower

negotiations before I gave it. 


So, to be clear, Mr. Trump knew of and directed the Trump Moscow

negotiations throughout the campaign and lied about it.  He lied about it

because he never expected to win.  He also lied about it because he stood

to make hundreds of millions of dollars on the Moscow real estate project. 


And so I lied about it, too.  Because Mr. Trump had made clear to me

through his personal statements to me that we both knew to be false, and

through his lies to the country that he wanted me to lie.  And he made it

clear to me because his personal attorneys reviewed my statement before I

gave it to Congress. 




O`DONNELL:  Michael Cohen has pleaded guilty to lying to Congress in that

written statement that he now says was edited by Donald Trump`s lawyers. 

Trump attorney Jay Sekulow denied the allegation by Michael Cohen that

Trump lawyers suborned the perjury to Congress that Michael Cohen has now

confessed to and pleaded guilty to. 


Here`s what Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff said about Michael

Cohen`s new testimony today. 





question that was put to him by members of both parties.  He was fully

cooperative with the committee.  We had requested documents of Mr. Cohen. 


He has provided additional documents to the committee.  There may be

additional documents that he still has to offer and his cooperation with

our committee continues.  So I think the members found it an enormously

productive session. 




O`DONNELL:  Some of the additional documents that Michael Cohen submitted

to the committee today no doubt include copies of checks to Michael Cohen

that were published in “The New York Times” today.  In last week`s hearing,

Michael Cohen revealed some checks that he said were part of Donald Trump`s

reimbursement to him for the $130,000 that Michael Cohen illegally paid to

Stormy Daniels during the presidential campaign, a crime that Michael Cohen

says he committed at the direction of then presidential candidate Donald



We now have eight of the checks that were part of that reimbursement

scheme.  The first two of these checks are from the Donald Trump trust

account, an account that was established when Donald Trump became president

and a trust was established by the Trump company that was supposed to

isolate the Trump business from Donald Trump himself during the presidency. 

Those first two checks from the trust are signed by the company`s chief

financial officer, Allen Weisselberg, and Donald Trump Jr.  The next check

in the sequence should be an April check, which we have not yet seen, and

the check after that is a May 23rd check that is the first one in the

sequence that comes from a different checking account.  It appears to be a

personal checking account of Donald J. Trump and it is signed by Donald



Why the change in checks?  Why the different checks from a different

checking account suddenly on May 23rd, 2017?  Why did the Trump business

decide they no longer should be involved in the payments to Michael Cohen? 


Robert Mueller was appointed special prosecutor on May 17th, 2017.  And it

is the very next check after that, six days later.  The May 23rd check that

suddenly comes from a different checking account and is signed by Donald

Trump personally.  And all of the checks reimbursing Michael Cohen for the

rest of the year come from that different checking account now that Donald

Trump and everyone at the Trump business knows that there is a special

prosecutor investing – investigating Donald Trump and the Trump



And all of the rest of those payoff checks to Michael Cohen come from that

Donald Trump checking account with only one signature on those checks, only

the signature of Donald Trump.  Was Allen Weisselberg no longer willing to

sign those checks?  Why did Allen Weisselberg stop signing those

reimbursement checks to Michael Cohen after Robert Mueller was appointed

special prosecutor? 


Surely someone in the House Intelligence Committee today behind closed

doors asked Michael Cohen that question.  Here`s what Michael Cohen had to

say after that closed-door hearing today. 




COHEN:  The hearings went very, very well.  I believe that all of the

members were satisfied with the statements and the responses that I gave to

them.  I told them that any additional information that they would want,

they should feel comfortable to reach out to my counsel and I would

continue to cooperate to the fullest extent of my capabilities. 




O`DONNELL:  Joining us now, friend of Michael Cohen, Donny Deutsch, MSNBC

contributor.  He texted with Michael Cohen before, during and after his

congressional testimony today.  So he has the latest for us. 


And Tim O`Brien, executive editor of Bloomberg Opinion and an MSNBC

contributor.  He`s been reporting on Donald Trump literally for decades. 

He wrote a book about Donald Trump that got him sued by Donald Trump and

Tim O`Brien won that lawsuit. 


Donny, the checks.  Seeing this change where you have – you go from the

two signatures of Allen Weisselberg and Donald Trump Jr.  And suddenly no

one`s willing to sign these checks anymore after a special prosecutor`s

announced and we see one signature on the checks, Donald Trump. 


DONNY DEUTSCH, FRIEND OF MICHAEL COHEN:  Yes.  I think you lay it out

perfectly.  And I think what`s interesting is that Weisselberg, and we

talked last time Tim and I were on, about how he`s going to be such a key

figure.  He was the guy doing everything.  So, it`s fascinating that all of

a sudden, Trump is signing his own checks. 


And one other thing about Trump and checks, Trump does not like to pay

money.  People know who work for Trump in New York over the years. 




DEUTSCH:  Very hard to collect for anything. 


Here now all of a sudden Donald Trump amidst his daily presidential

routines is writing retainer checks to a guy who he says barely even when

he was working for him was his lawyer.  Now he hasn`t worked for him

technically in months just doing some advice and, all of a sudden, urgently

writing him checks on a very, very timely basis.  Very un-Trump-like. 


O`DONNELL:  And, Tim, the – there hasn`t really been a defense offered for

these checks, but what they`ve – what they`ve tried to sort of pump out

there through some of the Republican members of the committee who are

publicly asking questions is that there was a retainer agreement for this

lawyer.  Michael Cohen is indeed a lawyer. 


But you have all these public statements from Donald Trump himself saying

that, oh, Michael Cohen didn`t do anything for me.  He was just this guy I

let hang around.  He didn`t really do anything.  As usual, on the record,

we have Trump statements that contradict a sort of Trump theory of defense. 


But the other issue is if you`re a lawyer in a retainer agreement, those

things are written.  I`ve seen retainer agreements for lawyers.  They`re

pretty simple. 




O`DONNELL:  There`s got to be a retainer agreement that you produce or

there isn`t.  And if Allen Weisselberg can`t produce that retainer

agreement, I don`t know how he justifies signing these checks. 


O`BRIEN:  Well, then we`d be shocked again to discover that members of the

Trump trio are lying about what`s occurred here.  You know, it`s

interesting that that irrevocable trust is in play right here, because they

set that up after Trump became president, and it was essentially this fig

leaf that was established to give the appearance that the Trump family was

insulating the Trump family businesses from the White House because the

president came into the White House as the most financially conflicted

president of the modern era. 


Every president prior to him had released their tax returns.  If they had

business holdings, they either put them into an authentically blind trust

or sold them.  Trump didn`t do any of the above.  That irrevocable trust is

run by Allen Weisselberg, the CFO, and his two eldest sons.  The fact that

the checks were cut of the of the trust presumes that the boys and Allen

knew what the money was being spent on so they are now part of a possible

criminal conspiracy involving the payment of hush money and campaign

finance law violations. 


I imagine at some point, it dawned on them.  This is actually not a

particularly bright group of people.  Probably apparently after the second

or third check, they thought, uh-oh, we`ve been pulled into this and they

tell the president it has to come from elsewhere.  Trump says, OK, I`ll use

my personal checking account. 


Now, he`s also said that he wasn`t really sure where any of these funds

were going or what they were being used for.  It reminded me in the mid-

1980s, “Spy” magazine did this great spoof where they mailed checks.  Fifty

people, including Donald Trump cashed it.  Then for 5 bucks, four people

and Donald Trump.  And then for 50 cents, I think Trump was the only one to

cash final check. 


This is a guy who knows where every dollar is going. 


O`DONNELL:  Donny, one thing Lindsey Graham said in his, you know, defense

of Donald Trump here is, oh, you know, people don`t commit crimes with

checks.  What Lindsey Graham is suggesting in that is that Donald Trump as

president of the United States could somehow get $35,000 over the course of

the year, hundreds of thousands of dollars out of a bank somehow in cash

and deliver these massive piles of cash to Michael Cohen with all of those

cash transactions being illegal. 




O`DONNELL:  All of them. 


Like, so, you know, Lindsey Graham`s defense is, why didn`t he commit the

crime in an even bulkier way that would create even more problems for him?  


DEUTSCH:  We`re not going to find logic in Lindsey Graham.  That would be a

four-hour special. 


But I want to go back to Weisselberg that`s interesting.  I want to draw a

line to Bernie Madoff.  Not that Trump is running a Ponzi scheme. 


But Bernie Madoff had a $50 billion fund and one accountant in a little

strip mall, because when you are doing nefarious stuff, you can`t have a

lot of people involved.  So, what`s going to be sad and tragic as we unpeel

this –


O`BRIEN:  And funny –


DEUTSCH:  Well, sad. 


O`DONNELL:  The audience will decide. 


DEUTSCH:  OK.  It will certainly be interesting.  You`re going to see

everything just went through this little green visor guy where this huge –

supposedly huge corporation, there is no finance department.  There is no

controllers.  There`s no budget directors. 


When you are running either a Ponzi scheme or a dishonest criminal

organization, it`s got to be very, very isolated.  This was very isolated

and you`re starting to see it here. 


O`DONNELL:  Let me get you, Donny, to the pardons, because you would know

more about this than anyone who can talk to us.  These stories that we`re

getting tonight saying that people – lawyers saying we`re close to Rudy

Giuliani are approaching Michael Cohen shortly after the raid and they`re

talking to him about possibilities – staying in the tent, this kind of

code language. 


What do we know about that? 


DEUTSCH:  Well, I`m not at liberty to talk about that, but I will talk

about Trump as an autocrat.  If you`re an autocrat and you also operate

above the law, what is the most autocratic tool a president has?  It`s a





DEUTSCH:  So, you don`t think – you more than anybody understanding Donald

Trump, understanding his constant need to and ability to knock down

obstacles, that in some way, shape or form, in Mafioso way, not a direct

way, that there wouldn`t overtures out there.  It wasn`t make sense if they



So, I`m not at liberty to talk about whether pardons were offered or not

offered.  I do know, though, that common sense tells you that if you`re

Donald Trump and you know that Michael Cohen knows where all the bodies

were buried, at some point, he would have at least wanted to keep him under

the tent until it was no longer an option. 


O`DONNELL:  One more thing about the testimony behind closed doors by

Michael Cohen.  Do you know in if the closed-door testimony Michael Cohen

is in effect allowed by the Southern District prosecutors and by Robert

Mueller to say more –




O`DONNELL:  – than in the public testimony? 


DEUTSCH:  No, he is really bound in terms of these things.  Look, he`s

being very careful.  That`s why I find it laughable when people were

suggesting that he was lying the other day when they were editing this



Yes, this guy if he tells the truth gets nothing.  If he lies, he gets more

jail time.  He`s going in the front of the entire world, oh, this is a good

one.  The lawyers edited my statement.  Yes, I think I`m just going to say

that on my own and it`s not going to be truthful.


So, it`s preposterous to think that`s a lie.  Michael is being very careful

when it comes to any investigation.  The Southern District, Mueller, or

anything that`s going on.  Closed doors or open doors, his line is there

are certain places you can`t go. 


O`DONNELL:  And, Tim, Allen Weisselberg, it just keeps coming down to Allen

Weisselberg.  He`s going to be asked some point probably publicly in these

hearings, was there a retainer agreement?  Can you show us the retainer

agreement, a piece of paper?  Or he`s just going to say, no, there wasn`t,

Michael Cohen is telling the truth, this is our reimbursement method for



I mean, he doesn`t have a lot of range of possibility here. 


O`BRIEN:  Well, that`s probably the least of his worries in the terms of

questions he`s going to get because he`s been there for decades.  They`re

going to ask him about Trump`s tax returns.  They`re going to ask him about

possible money laundering.  They`re going to ask him about whether or not

they committed insurance fraud. 


Which is why I suspect before Allen Weisselberg even lands in Congress,

he`s going to get an immunity deal in order to sit there and talk because

his knowledge is so vast and expansive that I don`t know how he could go in

and not incriminate himself because he`s been tied to the hip with Trump

for decades on this stuff. 


O`DONNELL:  You know, if there were important heavier crimes involved in

all of this, the first thing any accountant would point to in this switch

of checks is a business is paying a business expense to Michael Cohen and

deducting it –


DEUTSCH:  Right. 


O`DONNELL:  – from their taxes and that business suddenly decides it`s not

a business expense and it`s then paid by an individual –


O`BRIEN:  Out of his own account. 


O`DONNELL:  That means the business payments were illegal.  But that is the

tiniest of the possible illegalities in this whole scheme. 


DEUTSCH:  As we talk – this is all very tiny.  This is all scratching the

surface, my friend. 


O`DONNELL:  Your point is there is a mountain, and Michael Cohen is now

just playing around with the tip of the iceberg publicly. 


DEUTSCH:  We see how Trump flaunts the law publicly.  Imagine at the head

of a private company what he was doing in the real estate business, which

is so slippery to begin with.  Any type of fraud, cheating, whether it`d be

insurance, whether it`d be bank, whether it`d be taxes, whether it`d be

philanthropic, that`s what this guy does. 


O`DONNELL:  Donny Deutsch, the guide to the workings of Trump world and Tim

O`Brien, who`s literally written the book about it.  Thank you very much

for joining us. 


And when we come back, President Trump`s secretary of homeland security

refused to call a cage a cage today.  Another Trump official insisted it`s

not his job to worry about children being sexually abused in Trump

administration custody at the border. 


And former Colorado governor John Hickenlooper is the presidential

contender who will join us tonight in his first MSNBC interview since

becoming an official presidential candidate. 


And at the end of the hour tonight, today the Trump administration

announced that President Trump has completely failed to deliver on one of

his most important campaign promises and has in fact done exactly the

opposite than he promised voters he would do.  The Trump administration

didn`t put it exactly that way in those words, but it is new powerful

ammunition that Democrats like John Hickenlooper running for president can

use against Donald Trump.




O`DONNELL:  President Trump`s secretary of homeland security established

her credibility with Congress a year and a half ago when she said this. 




SEN. PATRICK LEAHY (D), VERMONT:  Norway is a predominately white country,

isn`t it? 


KIRSTJEN NIELSEN, DHS SECRETARY:  I – I actually do not know that, sir. 




O`DONNELL:  So the secretary of homeland security with the Scandinavian

last name does not know that all of the countries in Scandinavia are

predominately white.  She`s not that stupid.  She just doesn`t think you

have to tell the truth to Congress, and so no one should have been

surprised today when she refused to call a cage a cage. 





yes or no, are we still putting children in cages? 


NIELSEN:  To my knowledge, CBP never purposely put a child in a cage, if

you mean a cage like this. 


THOMPSON:  Purposely or whatever, are we putting children in cages as of



NIELSEN:  Children are processed at the border facility stations that

you`ve been at, some of –


THOMPSON:  And I`ve seen the cages.  I just want you to admit that the

cages exist. 


NIELSEN:  Sir, they`re not cages. 


REP. BONNIE WATSON COLEMAN (D), NEW JERSEY:  What is a chain link fence

enclosed in a chamber on a concrete floor represent to you?  Is that a



NIELSEN:  It`s a detention space, ma`am. 


COLEMAN:  Does it differ from the cages you put your dogs in when you let

them stay outside?  Is it different? 




COLEMAN:  In what sense? 


NIELSEN:  It`s larger.  It has facilities.  It provides room to sit, to

stand, to lay down. 


COLEMAN:  So did my dog`s cage. 




O`DONNELL:  In that same hearing in the House Homeland Security Committee

hearing, Congresswoman Nanette Barragan of California said this. 




REP. NANETTE BARRAGAN (D), CALIFORNIA:  You said that you waited to give

direction on how to implement the zero tolerance policy because you wanted

to do it with compassion.  Do you know how outrageous that sounds?  You

wanted to separate children and families and you wanted to do it with

compassion?  So, in the meantime, you didn`t do anything at all and you let

kids be separated without tracking them.  Do you know how outrageous that

is, Madam Secretary?  You have no feeling, no compassion, no empathy here. 




O`DONNELL:  In the Senate Judiciary Committee today, Senator Kamala Harris

got one of the most inhumane not my job answers ever given in a Senate

hearing.  The Trump official who disgraced himself in that hearing was

Kevin McAleenan, commissioner of Customs and Border Protection. 




SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D), CALIFORNIA:  Last week, the Justice Department

reported that the Office of Refugee Resettlement received 4,556 allegations

of sexual abuse or harassment of immigrant children in their custody

between October of 2014 and July of 2018.  One hundred and seventy-eight of

these allegations were against staff, of shelters where the children were



I understand that HHS personnel of course do not fall under your direct

authority.  But your agency is nonetheless handing over these children to

HHS.  Do you believe that you have any duty to raise a flag of concern that

when you transfer these children to another agency that they may not be




that`s the duty of the management and leadership of Health and Human

Services, their inspector general or the White House.  Not – or Congress. 

Not mine. 




O`DONNELL:  Not his job. 


Joining us now, Maria Teresa Kumar, the president and CEO of “Voto Latino”

and MSNBC contributor.  And Jason Johnson, politics editor at

and professor of politics and media at Morgan State University.  He`s also

MSNBC political analyst.


And, Maria Teresa, I wanted to get your reaction to – actually, you can

pick whatever you just saw in what we introduced to react to any or all of



MARIA TERESA KUMAR, PRESIDENT, “VOTO LATINO”:  I think, Lawrence, the fact

that she`s individuals are not being held accountable for what they are

doing to these children is atrocious, but it also shows the consequences of

elections.  The American people spoke in November and now you actually have

oversight.  If you recall, about a year ago, we had – six months ago, we

had very similar conversations with Secretary Nielsen where she was rolling

her eyes and didn`t seem to care. 


And now, this is where literally the rubber hits the road and she should

care.  Just today, the Trump administration finally admitted there was over

471 group of parents that have been separated from their children that were

deported without their children, without their consent, 471, Lawrence. 

This is on our watch. 


We also know that the United Nations has declared that what we are doing,

putting children in cages, is in direct violation of universal rights of

children.  The fact that we have over 60 children that are still separated

from their parents, not only is talking to, again, the disservice that this

government is doing to these children, but more importantly, the trauma

they are going to suffer as a result of it.  And that is based on tons of

studies by the American Pediatric Society. 


And, finally, but not least, we are creating, exacerbating a problem that

did not exist.  To remind a lot of the viewers, there was an actual program

in Central America that allowed children to present themselves at U.S.

embassies to be reunified with their families that was done under the Obama

administration, and one of the first things that the Trump administration

did when they basically created their budget in 2017 was zero that out. 


O`DONNELL:  Jason, you know, I saw the cages at the southern border when I

was down there.  No one disputed it. The people working there, they didn`t

dispute that these chain link containment – compartments inside these

buildings were cages.  They didn`t have a problem with that description of

what was there.  They could tell you why it was set up that way and budget

and all sorts of reasons, but they weren`t fighting you on what you were

seeing with your own eyes.


JASON JOHNSON, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  Yes.  It`s like calling a prison

adult condos, right?  Like this is the kind of nonsense that we`re dealing

with.  And Lawrence, what really offends me about this is, what is it about

Republican administrations where we are dragged into these asinine, immoral

conversations to justify behavior that anybody with common sense and two

eyeballs knows is wrong?


Under the Bush administration, we had to argue what`s actually torture.  We

know what torture is.  Torture is something that nobody wants to deal with. 

We know waterboarding is torture.  But we literally have to have

discussions about what is torture.


We now literally have the head of Homeland Security and members of this

administration trying to get to us to debate as to what a cage is.  We all

know what cages is, whether you have a dog or not.  So I`m very happy that

we finally have Democrats who are doing their job in oversight.


But what I really want to see and what`s important is now that these people

have been shamed, what can we do?  What can the voters do?  What will

voters do this fall and in 2020 to get these people out of office?


Because I don`t want to be having these conversations in another two or

three years when we`ve lost more children, when more children have been

sexually abused, and when organizations like DHS and Border Security and

ICE can completely hide what kind of damage they`ve done to these kids

because they don`t have to give that information to the public.


O`DONNELL:  And Maria Teresa, in the Senate, we saw Kevin McAleenan, a name

that should live in infamy, incapable of even expressing concern –


JOHNSON:  Right.


O`DONNELL:  – for children sexually abused who were in his custody once

he`s transferred them to another bureaucratic custody within the structure

of the Trump administration.  As soon as they`re out of his control, he

couldn`t even express concern about what happens to them after that.


KUMAR:  Well, I think the fact that you`re putting children in cages, that

you have babies in cages, that you are OK with children being sexually

abused because it`s not under “above his pay grade” demonstrates how

desensitized this administration is to actually the fault of children based

solely on their race.  And that is the only way that you can justify what

is happening because it is a completely racist policy.


If it were any other person`s child, this would not be – no one would be

alarmed.  We as Americans should be not only outraged but we should be in

front of those detention centers every single day until every single family

is reunified.  The fact that in Tornillo which is under his preview,

Tornillo was the first internment camp for children, they basically waived

background checks for people that were going to work in those detention

centers and those are government employees.


O`DONNELL:  And we have new polling from Quinnipiac shows that 66 percent

disapprove of President Trump`s use of emergency powers to fund the border

wall.  And Jason, that just happens to be exactly the percentage you need

in the Senate and the House to override a presidential veto.


It`s very clear the Senate is going to vote to disapprove of the

president`s emergency declaration, and we just don`t know exactly how big

the vote will be and then whether there will be enough in the House and

Senate to override a veto.


JOHNSON:  Well, that`s the real question, Lawrence.  We know the president

is very likely to veto it.  Does the Senate, do the Republicans have enough

backbone, do they have enough moral spine to say, look, we will even

override the president`s veto?  This is a stain on the entire American

government, not just Republicans, but anybody who is remotely associated

with this should be embarrassed.


We could all be dragged in front of The Hague for engaging in this kind of

behavior.  And I`m not using hyperbole when I say that sort of thing.  And

I really hope that in the future that not only do they think about what

this vote means, but Mitch McConnell and some of these people, they have

got to talk to this president and say, look, these are the kinds of moral

decision that should be made at the top and you shouldn`t be putting this

on Congress at all because the wall and this policy make no sense.


O`DONNELL:  Jason Johnson and Maria Teresa Kumar, thank you both for

joining us tonight.  Appreciate it.


And when we come back, he is the former governor of Colorado, a purple

state that Donald Trump lost.  He was the governor who implemented the

legalization of marijuana in Colorado.  And he is now an officially

declared candidate for president.  Former Colorado Governor John

Hickenlooper will join us in tonight`s contender interview.




O`DONNELL:  There are now officially 12 announced contenders for the

Democratic presidential nomination.  John Hickenlooper was mayor of Denver

from 2003 to 2011.  He then served as governor of Colorado from 2011 until

2018 when he reached his term limit.


And on Monday of this week, he became one of the contenders by officially

announcing his candidacy for president.  And we are glad to have Governor

Hickenlooper joining us tonight in his first interview as a contender on



Governor, thank you very much for joining us tonight.  Really appreciate




Lawrence.  I appreciate being on.


O`DONNELL:  One of the policies that I`ve implemented for my presidential

candidate interviews is to discuss nothing but policy.  I don`t care what

your poll numbers are.  I don`t care how much money you`ve raised this

week.  I`ve read about it.  That`s not for here.


I want to know exactly what you would do and what you would support as

president of the United States.  And so let me begin with taxation.  And

the discussion that we`re – that your party`s now engaged in on what the

top tax rates should be and what the top brackets should be.  What should

the top income tax bracket be?  What should the top income tax rate be?


HICKENLOOPER:  Well, I`m not sure I`ve got a number right off the top of my

head.  That`s not something that we`ve dug down on.  But I think the

process by which we get to that – those different levels of tax rate are

going to be critically important.


I don`t think there`s any question that what`s been going on for the last

several decades that the structure of capitalism in the United States has

slowly but consistently been working against the middle class and for poor



And you look at both in terms of their security and in terms of their

opportunity, they`re not getting a fair shake at creating their version of

the American dream.  So clearly part of the tradition of America is those

that have succeeded find ways to create that opportunity for the next

group, the next generation coming along, and that`s not happening.


O`DONNELL:  The Trump administration cut the top tax bracket – top tax

rate down to 37 percent.  That`s for individual filers at about $500,000 of

income.  Under President Obama, it was up toward 39.5 percent and there`s

some supplementary taxation sometimes occurs above that.  President

Clinton`s rate was also the 39.5 percent.  Would you want to see that 37

percent pushed up to the Clinton/Obama rate?


HICKENLOOPER:  Well, I think that – certainly, I think that`s reasonable

when you look at all the necessities that we have and the places to fund,

especially if you also look at the national debt.  We can`t keep spending

and giving tax breaks to, you know, large corporations and the wealthy.


I think it`s worth taking a moment just – and pointing out that so many

different companies and corporations and enterprises are enjoying tax

breaks and loopholes of all different kinds.  Maybe the first priority

should be to look at how do we tighten up the entire system and then how do

we make sure what we are taxing, we`re getting the maximum benefit for



One place I put out as an example is payroll taxes, right, where we`re

actually penalizing small businesses from hiring new people.  Somehow we

have to figure out some way to replace that money because, again, I don`t,

you know, we can`t willy-nilly go around cutting taxes.  But we`re

certainly in some cases taxing the small businesses and the different

enterprises in a way that makes it harder for them to employ people.


O`DONNELL:  The – with the top tax bracket at $500,000, that means that

someone who is paying – who has an income of $5 million or $500 million

who is paying exactly the same rate as someone at $500,000.  We used to

have a top tax bracket of $5 million under Franklin Roosevelt.


We have incomes now that are astronomical that are in effect treated

exactly the same as the income of say two working physicians who are filing

jointly.  Should there be higher tax brackets like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

talks about on incomes over $10 million and then incomes above that?


HICKENLOOPER:  Yes.  I think the question is figuring out exactly what are

those appropriate levels.  This, again, the tradition in this country –

when I was a kid, the upper tax breaks were 70 percent.


I`m not suggesting that we go back up to those levels.  But there`s got to

be a system that, again, provides that there are sufficient resources so

that we have the creation of opportunity and that, you know, people that

are working their way up the economic ladder have some level of security. 

And we`ve lost that.


You think about it, you know, there are 81,000 different trade

associations.  And I`ve got nothing against that.  Trade associations play

a valuable role.  But almost everyone has a lobbyist.


Those lobbyists go to work every day, every week, every year to try and

find a different benefit.  And sometimes it`s not a tax break, but some way

that all the members of their association can do better relative to what

they pay into government.  And over a period of time that`s pretty – I

think that becomes very damaging, that you end up watering down and filling

with more and more loopholes on our tax system.


O`DONNELL:  Governor, can you stay with us?  Because even though I did work

on tax policy in the Senate, there`s a lot of other things I`d like to talk

about.  We`d like to get in a foreign policy question or two.




O`DONNELL:  OK.  We`re going to squeeze in a quick break.  We`re going to

come back with Governor Hickenlooper.  Thank you, Governor.




O`DONNELL:  And we`re back with former Colorado Governor and Democratic

presidential candidate John Hickenlooper.  And Governor, you are on the

third day of your presidential campaign.  And I`m going to try to get us

through a lot more issues as quickly as we can.  Your position on Medicare

for all?


HICKENLOOPER:  You know I think that the priority is that – I mean I

believe that health care should be a right, not a privilege.  We`ve got to

get to universal coverage.  There are a lot of different ways to get there.


In terms of Colorado, we got to almost 95 percent coverage, almost

universal coverage going through the Affordable Care Act and building a

really innovative way of adding on to the people that have private



O`DONNELL:  So do you see Medicare for all as a possible goal or is it

something you would oppose?


HICKENLOOPER:  I think Medicare has many positive parts, but I probably

would oppose Medicare for all just because there are over 150 million

people, Americans who have some form of private insurance through their

business, and the vast majority of them are happy with that.  I don`t see

how you transition from taking something away from all those people that

are already happy.


O`DONNELL:  What additional gun safety legislation would you support in



HICKENLOOPER:  Well, obviously universal background checks.  You know, when

we actually got the state data for Colorado back in 2012, getting to half

the gun purchases, 38 people convicted of homicide had tried to buy a gun

and we stopped them.  One hundred and thirty-three people convicted of

sexual assault, it was over 3,000 people convicted of violent crimes had

tried to buy guns and we stopped them.


I think that`s going to be true in every single state.  And if we go out

and do state by state by state, literally within six months through a year,

I think we`d have national legislation.


O`DONNELL:  I have one more tax question which is not so much a tax policy

question, and that is that the Democrats in the House are trying to pass a

bill that requires the disclosure of 10 years of tax returns for

presidential candidates.  Would you disclose 10 years as a presidential

candidate?  Would you support it and make it law so that future

presidential candidates have to disclose 10 years of tax returns?


HICKENLOOPER:  I think absolutely having transparency at every level of

elected office is important.  And I believe maybe that the last two year –

last four years of my term since I haven`t been running for anything.  But

before that, I went back 25, almost 30 years.


So I`d be happy to support making sure that everybody has to come clear on

do they have conflicts of interest and what do those look like and how do

we make sure that our elected officials are making decisions for the public

good and not their own.


O`DONNELL:  And Governor, what is your position on what we now know of the

green new deal?  And I just want to specify, it`s not written in

legislative language.  So it`s not the same thing as something that`s

actually been introduced in Congress as legislation.  It`s more a set of

goals.  But what you`ve seen of it, what is your reaction to it?


HICKENLOOPER:  Well, you`re right.  It`s a resolution.  And I think what I

really believe, and I agree completely with the urgency that we see in the

new green deal, it is the time right now that we can`t rely on incremental



You know, I`ve got a Masters in Geology.  I think I`m the only geologist,

professional geologist that`s ever been a governor.  And I look at how far

we have to go and how quickly.


And a lot of the stuff that we`ve done in Colorado where we got the oil and

gas industry to sit down with the environmental community and we got the

only comprehensive methane regulations in the country.  We`ve got to get

methane regulations all over the world.  Fast.  We`ve got to build

international relationships to get that done.


And the green new deal is that opportunity to really look at, you know, how

can we get as fast we can get there.  Some people criticize the universal

working part of it.  But I mean we`re at three percent or four percent

unemployment.  I mean we`ve got almost everybody working already.  So

that`s not as big an issue as some people make it out to be.


O`DONNELL:  And Governor, on the Iran Deal that President Trump has pulled

the United States out of, would you restore American participation in the

Iran deal that was negotiated by the Obama administration?


HICKENLOOPER:  Well, I think at this point you kind of create fractures in

the deal.  I think it`s only prudent to look at ways to improve it.  And

again, I haven`t seen all the details of what are the give and takes.


But we`d be foolish just to go back and sign it if we can see that there`s

a better way of doing it.  That being said, to go backwards on deals that

we have negotiated painfully and worked with our allies to create these,

you know, really meaningful alliances I think is, you know, over the long

term more destructive than constructive.


O`DONNELL:  Governor John Hickenlooper, thank you very much for joining us

tonight.  We really appreciate it.  We hope you come back as your positions

on the issues solidify, as the debate intensifies.  We`re going to want to

hear more from you.  Thank you very much, Governor.


HICKENLOOPER:  You bet.  Thank you, Lawrence.


O`DONNELL:  We`ll be right back with a last word about something President

Trump won`t be able to campaign on this time.  Something he mentioned a lot

in his last presidential campaign.




O`DONNELL:  You remember the trade deficit.




TRUMP:  Today, our manufacturing trade deficit with the world is nearly

$800 billion, $800 billion and going up.  Going up fast.  Unless I become

president, you will see it drop like you`ve never seen before.  You have

never seen before.




O`DONNELL:  That was presidential candidate Donald Trump.  And today,

President Trump`s administration announced America`s highest trade deficit

in history.  The policy of Donald Trump managed to deliver a merchandise

trade deficit of $891.2 billion.


And because Donald Trump understands absolutely nothing about international

trade, nothing the president has done has worked the way he wants it to. 

For example, President Trump illegally used a national security loophole in

trade law to unilaterally impose tariffs on China.  But tariffs on Chinese-

made solar panels, for example, have in fact nothing to do with national



And what happened?  After President Trump used tariffs to try to reduce the

amount of merchandise, China sells to the United States, China ended up

selling more merchandise to the United States.  And the United States ended

up selling less to China.


And now the trade deficit with China alone has hit a new record high of

$419 billion.  And what does President Trump have to say now that he has

completely failed in his promise to reduce the trade deficit and the trade

deficit has actually gone up dramatically to new record highs?




TRUMP:  Thanks to our powerful trade policies, the trade deficit is falling

and falling and falling.




O`DONNELL:  Well, you didn`t expect him to tell the truth about it, did

you?  Now that Donald Trump has completely failed to do what he said he

would do with the trade deficit in the presidential campaign, the only time

you will hear Donald Trump talking about the trade deficit is when

Democrats run negative ads against Donald Trump where they let Donald Trump

do the talking.




TRUMP:  $800 billion and going up.  Going up fast.  Unless I become

president, you will see it drop like you`ve never seen before.  You will

never see before.




O`DONNELL:  Donald Trump, the greatest economic ignoramus in the history of

the American presidency, gets tonight`s LAST WORD.  “THE 11TH HOUR” with

Brian Williams starts now.




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