The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell, Transcript 8/3/2016
Show: THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL
Date: August 3, 2016
Guest: Dan Zak, Jonathan Alter, Louis Fisher, Rick Wilson, Rory Cooper,
Rick Wilson, Jay Michaelson, David Cay Johnston
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: That does it for us tonight, we will see you
again tomorrow, now it`s time for “THE LAST WORD” with Lawrence O`Donnell,
good evening, Lawrence.
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Rachel, thank you very much.
MADDOW: Thank you, sir.
O`DONNELL: Well, we examined Donald Trump`s mental health last night and
found that he has every one of a long list of symptoms of a personality
And that man with all of those symptoms is now asking American voters to
give him the nuclear launch codes and a new poll shows most voters don`t
trust Donald Trump with nuclear weapons.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: The campaign is doing really well,
it`s never been so well united.
PAUL MANAFORT, TRUMP CAMPAIGN CHAIRMAN: The staff is suicidal.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The campaign is in a very good shape.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This campaign apparently is spiraling out of control.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Crazy town.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Total and complete chaos.
TRUMP: The biggest problem we have is a dishonest press.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Some key allies of Donald Trump are plotting a kind
NEWT GINGRICH, FORMER SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Some of what Trump has done
is just very self-destructive.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The candidate is in control of his campaign.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Would you trust Mr. Trump with the nation`s nuclear
SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: John, I`m here to talk about Zika.
TRUMP: Look, nuclear should be off the table. But would there be a time
when it could be used, possibly.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But the trouble is when you say that –
TRUMP: Possibly –
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What concerns you most about Donald Trump?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How erratic he is.
TRUMP: I have one of the great temperaments.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Inconsistency, unpredictability, those are dangerous
TRUMP: I will not be a happy-trigger like some people might be. I will be
the last to use nuclear weapons.
HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDNETIAL NOMINEE: Do we want his finger anywhere
near the button?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: It`s not a button. President Trump`s finger would not be near
a nuclear button. It`s a briefcase. It`s always within steps of the
It`s the only briefcase in the world with a nickname, “The Football”. The
Football is always carried by a military aide, five of them share this 24-
One from each branch of the U.S. Armed Forces. The briefcase is heavy, 45
pounds. Inside is a very simple manual for starting the most complex
process that any one human being could ever do – conduct nuclear war.
The decision to do that belongs to the one person who can open that
briefcase – the president of the United States. The briefcase, The
Football is not enough to start a nuclear attack.
The President also needs The Biscuit. That`s a nickname, too. The Biscuit
is a card with verification codes for launching nuclear weapons.
When Ronald Reagan was shot and the medical staff at George Washington
University hospital cut off his clothes, The Biscuit fell out of one of his
It was immediately grabbed by the FBI. The President is always supposed to
have The Biscuit. It`s always in his pocket.
In May, when President Obama visited Hiroshima, one of the two places on
earth to be hit with a nuclear weapon, both of them delivered by the United
The President had in one of his pockets The Biscuit; the codes for
launching the world`s third nuclear attack.
On our next inauguration day, The Football will follow President Obama from
the White House to the Capitol, and The Football will then follow the new
president back to the White House.
And the new president will then have The Biscuit. If that new president is
named Trump, America and no doubt the world will worry about nuclear war in
a way it has never worried before.
The new worry will not be Russia or China`s nuclear capability, people
already worry about that. The new worry would be President Trump`s nuclear
It would be the first time the United States of America wouldn`t trust its
own president with The Biscuit and The Football.
A new “Fox News” poll tonight shows that the vast majority of Americans do
not trust Donald Trump to make decisions about using nuclear weapons.
There is only one use of nuclear weapons that has been seriously
contemplated and rehearsed by the American military, and that is the
defensive use of nuclear weapons in the event of a nuclear attack from the
Soviet Union, now Russia or China.
In that scenario of defensive use of nuclear weapons against a nuclear
attack that has been launched against us, the President will have a maximum
decision-making time, maximum of six minutes.
Those six minutes could be cut in half or less if the attack actually comes
from a Russian submarine in the Atlantic West of Bermuda, where Russian
submarines frequently patrol.
Think about Donald Trump in those six minutes or in those three minutes.
In 1979, national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski received the
proverbial 3:00 a.m. call in the middle of the night telling him the United
States appeared to be under nuclear attack from the Soviet Union.
That`s what the early warning monitors in a bunker in Colorado showed.
Before he could tell the president, Brzezinski got a second call confirming
now an all-out attack from the Soviet Union.
And just as Brzezinski was about to wake President Carter so that the
President would have those full six minutes to decide what to do,
Brzezinski got a third call telling him it was a false alarm.
Imagine. Imagine President Trump`s national security adviser in those
minutes, in the middle of the night. The national security adviser is not
confirmed by the Senate.
It can be anyone Donald Trump chooses. Imagine team Trump in the middle of
the night facing what could turn out to be a false alarm or could turn out
to be nuclear war.
For the first time in history, Americans including the Americans serving in
the missile launching sites who would have to insert their launch keys and
turn them, sending millions of people to their deaths, would have to worry
about the possibility of a president of the United States ordering a
nuclear attack without any nuclear provocation at all.
Unlike presidents, soldiers in those missile silos are tested for their
sanity. And in that military test, sanity is defined as the ability to
unflinchingly follow the coded order to launch nuclear weapons without
hesitation and without question.
What would happen to their sanity under President Trump? How many of them
in those silos would be among the vast majority of Americans who would not
trust Donald Trump to make decisions about using nuclear weapons?
The more you think about what`s separating us and what has separated us
from nuclear war, the more you don`t want to think about it. Twenty four
hours a day, the only thing separating us from nuclear war, The Football,
The Biscuit, and ultimately the president`s brain.
After the Nixon presidency, reports emerged indicating we had survived the
most dangerous president of the nuclear age.
In the last year of the Nixon presidency as Congress was moving closer and
closer to impeachment, the president was frequently drunk late at night,
sometimes crying with Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.
At a small dinner party he reportedly said, “I could leave this room and in
25 minutes, 70 million people would be dead.”
Nixon`s Secretary of Defense in those days, James Schlesinger told all
military commanders to immediately alert him if they received any strange
communication or orders from the president.
We were lucky. The world was lucky. We survived a drunken, mournful,
self-pitying president on the verge of impeachment wandering the White
House late at night with The Football always just steps away and The
Biscuit in his pocket.
It might take all the luck we have left as a country to survive a Trump
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE SCARBOROUGH, MSNBC: Several months ago, a foreign policy expert on
international level went to advise Donald Trump, and three times he asked
about the use of nuclear weapons.
Three times he asked, at one point, if we have them, why can`t we use them?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Well, at least Donald Trump doesn`t drink. Joining us now,
Louis Fisher; Scholar in Residence at the Constitution Project and the
former Library of Congress senior specialist in Separation of Powers.
Also with us, Dan Zak; reporter for the “Washington Post” and the author of
“Almighty”, a new book about nuclear weapons.
And here in New York studio, Jonathan Alter, Msnbc political analyst and a
columnist for “The Daily Beast”. Dan Zak, I want to go to those minutes
that have been described in many accounts that a president has and that
some of our presidents have had to decide in the face of what turned out to
be false alarms.
And what it is – how many people are – in the past in these situations,
especially in the false alarms, how many people do we know the president
has had an opportunity to consult with or deal with in the minutes that
they have to make these decisions.
DAN ZAK, REPORTER, WASHINGTON POST: Well, Lawrence, it`s very few, and
that`s the concern here. It`s the amount of time that a commander-in-chief
has to make a decision if there`s an incoming attack.
Even someone who is – does have their wits about them, who is very patient
and very considered in their thinking, even someone like that in the
minutes that are allowed to confer about the legitimacy of an attack and
the options for a counterattack.
Even someone who`s very well qualified is going to be under an enormous
amount of stress. So, the number of people who are involved and the time
involved are both very minimal.
O`DONNELL: And Jonathan Alter, they`re given in that little – in The
Football, there`s a coded menu of choices. You can attack military
You can attack military installations and governing installations, which
in, say, Russia`s case would include Moscow and government buildings.
And there`s at least three different levels of this. And it`s the kind of
thing that when you stop and imagine Donald Trump in these scenarios, it is
truly just unimaginable.
JONATHAN ALTER, COLUMNIST, DAILY BEAST: It`s terrifying, and it`s also
terrifying to me that there are certain people who don`t trust him with The
Football, with the nuclear codes.
They`ve said they don`t trust him, like Marco Rubio, and yet they`re for
him for president.
O`DONNELL: Yes –
ALTER: To me, that`s the combination of –
O`DONNELL: Well, how about in the voters? I mean, we have – we have fewer
voters – more people –
ALTER: Yes –
O`DONNELL: Are voting for him than trust him with the nuclear codes.
ALTER: Yes, see, those people are by my lights unpatriotic. That`s the
definition of unpatriotic. If you want somebody with this awesome
responsibility who you don`t trust to protect the lives of millions of
But the problem goes beyond this. You know, Trump, even his close friends
describe him as impulsive. So, he`s a risk in this moment of nuclear
But you don`t get there in the middle of the night as a bolt out of the
blue. You have deteriorating relationships that usually would precede any,
you know, nuclear exchange.
And this is something that he would also greatly contribute to. He`s
already said that he wants to let South Korea, Japan, and other nations
develop nuclear programs. This would tremendously multiply the odds of a
Not necessarily involving the United States, but somewhere in the world.
So, this danger goes beyond, you know, mental instability or deep
insecurity on Trump`s part.
Because certain policies in breaking down our alliances that will greatly
increase the odds of nuclear war.
O`DONNELL: Mr. Fisher, this is obviously something that the constitution
could not have contemplated obviously for technological reasons.
Where the constitution vests the power to declare war in the Congress. It
also gives Congress the power to make rules about military and how the
military is used.
How did we get to the place legally where there is a general consensus that
one person, one person has the power to make this kind of war without any
consultation with anyone?
LOUIS FISHER, SCHOLAR IN RESIDENCE AT THE CONSTITUTION PROJECT: Well, from
1789 to 1950, any president who wanted to go to war came to Congress either
for a full declaration or statutory authority.
And 1950 was the first time a President Truman went to war on his own,
bypassed Congress. Under law, he had to come to Congress under the U.N.
Participation Act and get authority from Congress, but he violated that
And that procedure of bypassing Congress and going to the U.N. or bypassing
Congress and going to NATO allies was later used by Clinton several times
and again by Obama in Libya in 2011.
So, to me we`ve had presidents from 1950 on acting illegally, going to war,
that`s been the process. Completely against what the framers expected and
completely against what the – what the statute says.
O`DONNELL: But in the contemplation of nuclear war, it`s always been in a
defensive mode. And is the consensus, the legal consensus in Washington
that if the United States is perceived to be under a nuclear attack, the
President has the legal authority to respond immediately with nuclear
weapons without consultation?
FISHER: That`s the understanding, and certainly that was the understanding
under Kennedy is that Soviet Union had launched an attack against the
United States, with the understanding that Kennedy could respond by
The danger to me and is that Presidents had regularly made poor judgments
on the basis of false information. As we all know, George W. Bush claimed
six reasons to go to war against Iraq, Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass
All six claims were false. So, that`s the danger. Not just that a
president is trigger-happy and wanting to go to war but he`s surrounded by
people who give false information.
O`DONNELL: Dan Zak, if Donald Trump is elected president, how quickly
could you expect the Congress might act to pass a new clarifying law that
says nuclear weapons can only be used in defense of a nuclear attack.
ZAK: Well, I can`t begin to predict what Congress – how Congress would
react. But I think even contemplating that scenario, I think illustrates
just how much power we`ve invested in one person.
I mean, that`s really kind of what we`re deciding to do with this election,
what we just do with every presidential election. Which is, there is an
ultimate authority here that we are assigning to one person.
And when that person makes a decision to authorize a nuclear strike,
Congress does not vote, it doesn`t get run by the Supreme Court, the
citizens don`t vote on it.
It`s a decision made by one man or one woman. And so, you know, I can`t
begin to think how Congress would react to a President Trump.
But I think it`s worth thinking about as a society, you know, is it worth
assigning this great responsibility and power to one person who has minutes
to decide what to do.
O`DONNELL: I just want to report that Paul Manafort denied the account
that Joe Scarborough gave on his show this morning about someone discussing
foreign policy with Donald Trump and Donald Trump asking about the use of
But I want to show another very important clip from “MORNING JOE” this
morning involving General Michael Hayden, a former director of the NSA,
former Director of the CIA, let`s watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who amongst your peers that you respect greatly,
whether they think like you or not think like you, did you know that`s
advising Mr. Trump?
MICHAEL HAYDEN, FORMER DIRECTOR OF THE NATIONAL SECURITY AGENCY: No one.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Jonathan, this is a terrible situation because I can understand
why people are boycotting Trump. But isn`t there also a responsibility for
responsible people to try to get to him and teach him how to think about
this if that`s possible?
ALTER: Well, he met with Henry Kissinger, he`s met with some other people,
but the more we learn about the people around him like General Michael
Flynn, who almost ran on the ticket, and you know, he is supposedly a major
Turns out he`s on the payroll of a Russian propaganda television program
that`s basically run by the Russian government. He`s totally compromised.
So, the people around him do not inspire confidence.
O`DONNELL: Jonathan Alter, Louis Fisher, Dan Zak, thank you all for
joining us tonight, really appreciate it.
ZAK: Thank you –
ALTER: Thanks, Lawrence –
FISHER: Thank you, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Coming up, a Trump campaign chaos, more chaos, that is. Trump
allies now openly planning an intervention on the most undisciplined and
mentally unstable candidate in history.
While the campaign staff is reportedly “suicidal”, not literally, of
course, just figuratively. And some Republicans plot to take the
nomination away from Donald Trump.
Is there a legal way to do that? Hint, yes.
O`DONNELL: We have breaking news from London tonight. The London
Metropolitan Police Force are investigating a mass stabbing tonight in
Police were called after – to the scene of a man with a knife attacking
people in Russell Square. Nbc News has confirmed that one woman is dead
and as many as five other people were injured in the attack.
Police have arrested one man, and the police say that terrorism is a
possibility but they aren`t yet certain of a motive.
Up next, Republicans hoping the Trump kids can do an intervention on their
O`DONNELL: Tonight, with a new “Fox News” poll showing Hillary Clinton
with a substantial lead over Donald Trump, it is officially panic time in
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GINGRICH: I think some of what Trump has done is just very self-
destructive. I don`t know if it`s a fixable problem, but I think it`s a
very big moment for Trump. He has got to find a way to slow down, really
learn some new lessons.
I mean, this is a little bit like “The Apprentice”, except he`s the
apprentice, he`s not the boss.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: And that`s a Trump supporter there talking. Reports indicate
that Republicans think Donald Trump needs an intervention to save his
campaign. Sources tell Nbc News that Reince Priebus, Rudy Giuliani and
Newt Gingrich hope to join forces with the Trump children for that
Here`s what Paul Manafort said publicly about the intervention today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MANAFORT: The campaign is focused. I mean, the campaign is moving forward
in a positive way. The only need we have for an intervention is maybe with
some media types who keep saying things that aren`t true.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: With Donald Trump refusing to endorse Speaker Paul Ryan in
Ryan`s re-election campaign, and Trump vice presidential pick Mike Pence
going out of his way to endorse Paul Ryan enthusiastically.
A display of disunity we have never seen in a presidential ticket before.
Donald Trump addressed the unprecedented disagreement with his vice
presidential candidate this way.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I just want to tell you the campaign is doing really well. It`s
never been so well united. And we started on June 16th – I would say
right now, it`s the best in terms of being united that it`s been since we
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus is said
to be “apoplectic” that Donald Trump will not endorse Paul Ryan.
“Politico” reports that Priebus abandoned his softer demeanor when he
called the candidate Tuesday afternoon.
“He lit into him pretty good”, said a source with knowledge of the
conversation who is obviously a Reince guy. “It was basically him saying,
do you realize how badly you`re f-ing this up?”
Joining us now, Rick Wilson, a Republican strategist who is a contributor
to the website “Heat Street”. Rory Cooper, a senior adviser for the “Never
Trump” Super PAC.
Rick Wilson, I don`t know Reince Priebus, I just know the guy who plays
Reince Priebus on TV. I cannot imagine him lighting into Donald Trump on
the phone or anywhere else.
RICK WILSON, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Look, Reince Priebus gave up his
manhood to Donald Trump the day he scurried up to Trump Tower to have Trump
sign that pledge. And I don`t think he`s ever recaptured it.
There is no way that Donald Trump respects Reince Priebus. He doesn`t
respect anyone, much less anyone he`s vanquished. And he looks at Reince
Priebus as someone he has acquired or vanquished.
Priebus may be an interesting pet but he`s not somebody that Trump respects
or listens to.
O`DONNELL: Rory Cooper, we have reports of Paul Manafort having just given
up, that it`s hopeless to try to manage this thing, and that he is phoning
it in. But at least he`s still willing to deny that on TV.
RORY COOPER, SENIOR ADVISER, NEVER TRUMP SUPER PAC: All right, well, I
mean, I think it`s interesting that only in Trump world is Paul Manafort
seen as a voice of reason. If you look at where we are right now, we`re
only 14 days out from the convention.
The idea that we require an intervention for Donald Trump, I frankly don`t
have a lot of sympathy for the Republican leaders who are looking at that
because two weeks ago there were a number of delegates who were looking to
still try and make a change in Cleveland at the convention within the
process and the rules of the committee.
And they were run down by the committee. And now two weeks later, we`re
trying to figure out what to do with the candidate that we`ve got.
You know, if you look at the poll today, 7 out of 10 voters were offended
by how Donald Trump treated the Khan family. And probably, the other 30
percent are either lying to themselves or lying to the pollster.
He`s in bad shape. But it`s nothing new. It`s what everybody in the
“Never Trump” movement has frankly been talking about for six months. The
fact that it`s being treated like a revelation today is a little
O`DONNELL: Let`s take a look at that “Fox News” poll that came out tonight
with Hillary Clinton up nine points.
This is a three-way poll showing Hillary Clinton at 44 percent, Donald
Trump at 35 percent, and Gary Johnson, libertarian, at 12 percent.
What strikes me about that poll, Hillary Clinton at 44 percent in a three-
way race, is that Bill Clinton in 1992 won the presidency in a three-way
race that included Ross Perot with exactly, basically the same number
Hillary Clinton has tonight.
He won it with 43 percent. So, Rick Wilson, that poll we`re looking at
tonight, is an electoral college winning poll for Hillary Clinton.
WILSON: Well, and Lawrence, more importantly, you look at the polls that
have popped out in states since the Democratic convention ended.
You look at the – you look at the shifts in the electoral college numbers,
and right now, it is – she`s putting states like Georgia and Utah into
And Donald Trump is living in a fantasy bubble thinking he`s going to win
Pennsylvania, California, New York, New Jersey.
You know, this is a guy who is completely disconnected from reality. And
these polls, they`re tonight screaming, oh, these are all – these are all
fake polls and they`re wrong, and there`s the conspiracy, it`s all rigged
And this is not a sign of somebody who`s looking at this in a clear-eyed
way. This is a sign of somebody who is – who is absolutely crazed.
O`DONNELL: We have new video today of Donald Trump demonstrating his
symptoms of personality disorder. This is when someone in the crowd, a
woman yells out to him, “thank you for your sacrifice.”
You might not be able to hear the “thank you for your sacrifice” part. But
here you will see Donald Trump`s inability to connect in any way with
Let`s just play this, it kind of speaks for itself.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Now – thank you very much, I appreciate – thank you for your
sacrifice, thank you. Who said that? Who said that statement? Somebody in
there, very nice, thank you very much.
That`s very nice. Well, it is a sacrifice – look, we`re all making
sacrifices. We want our country to be great again.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Rory Cooper, people who spent a lot of time trying to explain
to him the meaning of the word “sacrifice” since Friday when he began
attacking the Khan family, he`s a very slow learner, it seems.
COOPER: Well, I mean, that presumes that he wants to learn. I mean, and
that`s really been the problem that we`ve had for the last year, which is
that there`s this idea that Donald Trump will somehow be coached or taught
into acting like a nominee, acting like a president, acting like someone
that should be taken seriously in the political world.
When in fact he really doesn`t have any interest in learning the policy
nuances that it takes to govern or what the positions are that the
conservative movement have taken, which is why he had a hard time with the
Because when you try to speak to them, he was unable to speak speak their
language on issues like life or guns or taxes or any number of national
And one points to the polls that Rick was pointing out, you know, you look
at where he is with Hispanics in Florida, down where Rick is. He`s doing
horribly compared to where our last three candidates have done. And if you
look at where he is with married woman with a college degree, a demographic
that Republicans have taken since Harry Truman, he`s underwater with them.
But we can talk about polls between now and November, but the numbers are
never going to add up for him, which is why one of the reasons we`ve always
been concerned about him as a nominee, which is because he guarantees
Hillary Clinton presidency.
O`DONNELL: Rick Wilson and Rory Cooper, thank you both for joining us
COOPER: Thanks. Thanks, Lawrence.
WILSON: Thanks, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Coming up, what if the Republican Party decides to actually try
to dump Trump? As some people are reporting, they are studying to dump him
and replace him on the ballot. Is there a legal way to do it? Can they
thread that needle? We`ll go inside the war room for the answer to that
O`DONNELL: With 96 days left before the election, there are some reports
indicating that the Republican Party`s campaign war room is actually
considering ways to drop Donald Trump as their nominee. At the same time,
we have reports that the Trump campaign war room is in chaos. One report
last night indicating that the Trump campaign staff is “suicidal.”
Joining us now, Jay Michaelson, Columnist for the “Daily Beast” who today
wrote, “The RNC can legally dump Donald Trump but it has to act fast.”
Jay, take us through the steps. How do they get rid of this poison in
JAY MICHAELSON, LEGAL COLUMNIST, “DAILY BEAST”: Well, they`ve got to get
super legalistic super quickly. Obviously, if they had a withdrawal so, if
Trump were to resign, which is not in his nature probably, that would
actually be no problem. The ballot rules and then the rules in the
Electoral College would allow the party basically to decide. But if he
doesn`t, if he doesn`t consent, there might just be enough of a loophole in
Rule 9 of the Republican rules which says .
O`DONNELL: I happen to have it right here.
MICHAELSON: I thought .
O`DONNELL: You know what I`ll do? I`ll read it so no one thinks we`re
making this up. It says, “The Republican National Committee is hereby
authorized and empowered to fill any and all vacancies which may occur by
reason of death, declination, or otherwise of the Republican candidate for
MICHAELSON: So that`s the magic word. That word otherwise.
O`DONNELL: Yeah. What does that mean?
MICHAELSON: And it`s not find – there are no, you know, tell like a
government statute where there are a lot of regulations saying what that
means. It`s up in the air. I mean, it`s what lawyers, you know, I was
trained as a lawyer. It`s what we call a weasel word, which kind of allows
you to get in through the back door.
Now, that would be really unusual. It would be obviously unprecedented and
it would be fought, right? Donald Trump would probably sue immediately and
he might have a good case. But it`s not impossible to say, especially when
we hear the language about unfit or, you know, sort of something about his
temperament or mental illness or something like that. You can see the
building of a case if the RNC, the committee wanted to make it.
O`DONNELL: Speaking of mental illness, there is one historical precedent
for this on the other side, 1972. On the Democratic ticket, Tom Eagleton,
it was revealed after he got the vice presidential nomination that he had
undergone some electroshock therapy from a psychiatrist, and people thought
this isn`t going to work. And – but he left the ticket voluntarily, was
replaced by Sergeant Shriver, and that`s another party. So, there`s
nothing on the Republican side to .
MICHAELSON: No, and I think that the key point is that he left.
MICHAELSON: Right? So, this is, you know, it`s kind of difficult to
negotiate with somebody whose negotiation strategy is to just blow up the
O`DONNELL: So assuming somehow they actually made this move, the next
thing you`re up against is getting names changed on ballots in each of the
individual states. And the deadline to do that is different in every
MICHAELSON: That`s right. It`s all over the map. Everywhere or some
deadlines have passed, for example, in Delaware, and some deadlines won`t
pass until the end of September. So you could have a situation where
Donald Trump`s name is on the ballot in some states and let`s just say Paul
Ryan`s name is on the ballot in others.
Even in that case, though, in most states even if Donald Trump`s name is on
the ballot, most states allow the party to really designate who the
electors are at the Electoral College, and so it would still be, again,
let`s say Paul Ryan.
O`DONNELL: So the ballot could have Jay Michaelson on it.
MICHAELSON: I hope so.
O`DONNELL: But then when the Electoral College meets, those electors could
vote for the suggested candidate .
MICHAELSON: For Paul Ryan. So let`s – and let`s say actually – so even
that is a state by state rule. So there are some states, there are about a
dozen states that do require the electors to swear that they`re going to
vote for the candidate.
O`DONNELL: All right. Now, so there`s a less than 10 percent chance of
this happening, would be my estimate. But this is called doing our job,
OK, because there`s usually a zero percent chance of this happening. And
when there`s a 10 percent chance we have to examine the options.
Jay Michaelson has done it for us today. Jay, thank you very much.
MICHAELSON: My pleasure.
O`DONNELL: I really appreciate it.
Coming up, Remember Donald Trump`s tax returns, the ones we`ve never seen
because he says he`s being audited by the IRS? When is the political media
going to understand that there is absolutely no proof that he is actually
being audited? Tax expert David Cay Johnston, the author of “The Making of
Donald Trump,” will join us.
O`DONNELL: Remember the tax returns. That should be a bumper sticker in
the anti-Donald Trump campaign. We`re going to remember the tax returns
tonight with David Cay Johnston, who knows a lot about Donald Trump and
taxes. But first, here`s how it looks today on the campaign trail.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HALLIE JACKSON, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: We start with yet again a phrase
we have heard in this campaign before, “Nearly unprecedented.”
CHRIS MATTHEWS, “HARDBALL” HOST: This campaign seems to be imploding like
some decrepit piece of real estate.
DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: The campaign is doing really well.
KATHARINE BEAR TUR, NEWS CORRESPONDENT: There have been conversations
between officials and the children to try and get Donald Trump on message.
TRUMP: We`ve never been this united.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No rational candidate would pick a fight with the Gold
Star family. It makes no sense.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was very aware of the media reporting about the
TRUMP: Don`t call me Donald. Call me Mr. President.
JACKSON: Let me just point this out, though. Trump supporters don`t care.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is there anything at this point that Trump could do
that would make you not want to support him?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, not really.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Trump can do no wrong.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hillary should have been locked up.
HILLARY SUPPORTERS: Hillary. Hillary.
TUR: The campaign wants Donald Trump to focus on Hillary Clinton.
HILLARY CLINTON, (D) PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: We are not going to let him do
to America what he has done to so many other people.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The Clinton team is actively courting Republicans and
TRUMP: Our biggest obstacle is the press. They`re so dishonest. They`re
disgusting people that work for the media.
CLINTON: When Donald Trump is asked about where he makes things, he makes
them anywhere else but America. Bangladesh, Turkey, Slovenia, Mexico.
TRUMP: I have many Mexican people working for me. They`re fantastic
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: We`re going to make this hotel and casino and resort the most
successful in the world by far. And I look forward to it. We love you.
You`re our family. We`re going to take great care and have a great time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: That was the failed casino operator on the day he was opening
the Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City. Donald Trump put the Trump Taj Mahal
into bankruptcy a year after it opened. The Trump Taj Mahal, which he no
longer owns will close forever in September. Donald Trump`s spectacular
failures in Atlantic City are part of the story told in David Cay
Johnston`s new book “The making of Donald Trump”.
Joining us now, David Cay Johnston and I love the cover but here`s the
thing. I think this line down here, the print should be bigger. The part
where it says “Winner of the pulitzer prize.”
DAVID CAY JOHNSTON, “THE MAKING OF DONALD TRUMP” AUTHOR: Well, thank you.
O`DONNELL: That should be really big.
So if in this era of limited attention spans a voter could take one story
out of this book, one story that a voter should know out of this book, what
is that most important story in this book?
JOHNSTON: That Donald Trump put the life of an infant, his grand nephew,
in jeopardy, to get revenge and he sought mercy for a major cocaine
trafficker who managed his helicopters, supplied him with his helicopters
and moved into Trump tower.
O`DONNELL: OK. Let`s do the helicopter guy first and the baby after that.
JOHNSTON: Well, so a convicted felon, mob guy named Joey Weichselbaum
provided Donald with his helicopters. There are a lot of helicopter
companies that have provide you with service to run the high rollers down
to Atlantic City. Donald chose this guy for reasons that are not at all
clear. They went bankrupt. They were subsidized by the state of New
Jersey. Donald kept hiring him.
He eventually rented an apartment to this guy under unusual circumstances I
describe in the book. When he`s indicted, under your casino license as an
owner you must prove by clear and convincing evidence your character and
honesty. Donald should have cut him off. Donald keeps doing business with
him. And his – the case against him involving as much as 1,500 pounds of
drugs at a time, and this guy physically handled the drugs, is between
Miami and Cincinnati. The guy asked the case be moved to either Miami or
New York City where he lives. Instead it gets moved to New Jersey, where
it comes before Judge Mary Ann Trump Berry.
JOHNSTON: Now, hold on, Lawrence. Imagine you`re the chief judge, and I`m
a judge and I come to you and say, listen, I`ve got to get rid of this
case, you`ve got to assign it to somebody else because my wife works for
Donald and flies in this drug dealer`s helicopters every week, I fly in
them, our children fly in them.
JOHNSTON: How are you feeling, judge, about the danger to the danger to
the integrity of the courts?
O`DONNELL: Wow. OK. And this baby story you`re talking about?
JOHNSTON: So before Fred – Donald Trump has an older brother Fred Jr. who
died many years ago. When the will was opened when Fred Trump Sr., Donald
Trump`s father died. The four surviving children got virtually all the
money and the line of Fred Jr. got bubkes. Not unreasonable.
O`DONNELL: That much I knew.
JOHNSTON: OK. But they – so they went to court challenging the will, and
undue influence case. And Donald`s response was everybody in the Trump
family got medical care from the company.
JOHNSTON: Donald`s a big believer in medical care.
JOHNSTON: They immediately cut off medical care for the family even though
they knew this child was desperately ill and had run up enormous bills.
And when Heidi Evans of the “New York Daily News,” a wonderful reporter got
to Donald about this and said, what about this, he said, “Well, he sued my
father, I have to do this.” And Heidi says, “Well, you know, don`t you
think it`s a little cold hearted?” What else am I supposed to do?
Donald Trump`s motto. Donald Trump who says I`m a Christian, who has all
these pastors supporting him, his motto is revenge. He`s written about it
in chapters of books. He`s given speeches. And he has a word for people
who follow the teachings of Jesus Christ, schmuck.
O`DONNELL: OK. We – you – we just realized in the last few minutes that
we know the tip of the iceberg about Donald Trump. This is all new stuff.
I`m going to take a quick break. We`re going to come back with more.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He can`t do it, can`t release it because he`s under
audit. Now, I`ve got news for him. I`m under audit too. And I would be
delighted to meet him at any place, anytime between now and election. I`ll
bring my tax return. He can bring his tax return. Nobody`s going to
arrest us. It is not – there are no rules against showing your tax
returns. And just let people ask us questions about the items that are on
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: David Cay Johnston, one of the beats you`ve covered better than
anyone is tax policy. The Trump tax returns. I keep trying to get people
to understand, there is absolutely no proof that he`s even being audited.
JOHNSTON: That`s right. That`s right. And if he is being audited, it may
not be for his income tax returns. There are – he has business entities.
JOHNSTON: There are reporting forms. There could be a lot of different
things. But that`s that he .
O`DONNELL: He waved a letter from his lawyers which I have here and they
indicate that some returns are under examination now, but they don`t
indicate whether they`re personal returns or not. All we`re talking about
is his personal tax returns. That`s the first thing we`re talking about.
O`DONNELL: We`d like to see the company tax returns too. But at minimum
the personal tax returns. And this is just a letter – this is not the
audit letter he would get from the IRS which he could easily show us.
JOHNSTON: But Lawrence, let`s take him at his word. He doesn`t feel .
O`DONNELL: OK. If you insist.
JOHNSTON: I .
JOHNSTON: If he says he can`t show us the returns under audit, well,
that`s apparently only 2012 forward. Where are your returns from 1980 to
2011? They`re not under audit. Let`s see those. And we`re never going to
see them because we know that in 1984, and I`ve written about this and it`s
in my book, Donald prepared a tax return that his long-time tax lawyer and
accountant said, well, that`s my signature on the return, put there with a
photocopy machine but I didn`t prepare that return. And he showed zero
income for his freelance business as a consultant and 600 plus thousand
dollars of deductions he couldn`t justify. And this is just one of many
indications that Donald has not paid taxes, in some cases because
government has special rules for real estate people but indications that
he`s cheated on his taxes. So we really need to see .
O`DONNELL: Did we ever get a peek in any litigation about what his
charitable contributions are on his personal tax return?
JOHNSTON: Well, from his foundation reports we know that he`s given
virtually nothing to his own foundation.
JOHNSTON: That his foundation made a campaign contribution to – which is
absolutely illegal, to the attorney general of Florida when he was under
investigation by the attorney general of Florida. And that he has only
made one gift in the last ten years. That`s an indication he has no
income. There`s one other element. He got something called the star tax
credit in New York.
O`DONNELL: The reason it`s an indication of no income is the charitable
contribution wouldn`t be deducted .
JOHNSTON: It would be worthless.
O`DONNELL: . it is not deducted, it`s an income.
JOHNSTON: That`s right.
O`DONNELL: So the cheapest man in the world isn`t going to give you any.
JOHNSTON: That`s exactly right.
JOHNSTON: And in addition to this he got something called the star rebate
here in New York.
JOHNSTON: You have to make under $500,000. Donald spun this as that he
made a mistake. It`s done by computer. And that tells you the computer
said oh, taxable income, anything less than $500,000, you get the check.
That tells you that Donald`s income is nowhere near what he wants you to
think it is, at least as he puts it on the tax return.
O`DONNELL: And we would see all that in the tax returns.
JOHNSTON: Oh, yeah. You give me – ask Hillary Clinton .
JOHNSTON: .about when I reverse engineered her tax returns how livid she
was what I figured out.
O`DONNELL: All right. We are – quickly, what did you figure out in ten
JOHNSTON: Paid more than twice as much federal income tax as the law
required and the process shortchanged charity by the same amount and then
she adopted my tax advice.
O`DONNELL: Shortchanged charity, how?
JOHNSTON: Because the government got the money instead of the charity.
O`DONNELL: Yeah, I search this one. OK. All right. We got to go. We`re
going to do more of this. David Cay Johnston, thank you very much. This
is the mandatory campaign reading, “The Making of Donald Trump” by David
Cay Johnston. We`ll be right back.
O`DONNELL: We have sad news tonight about a friend of the show. Former
Republican congressman and frequent guest here on THE LAST WORD, Steve
LaTourette, has died. Congressman LaTourette was known for being a
moderate Republican in an increasingly conservative Republican Party.
Steve LaTourette grew up in Ohio. Went to the University of Michigan and
then returned to Ohio for law school. He was elected to Congress in 1994
and retired in 2003. At his retirement he said, “I`ve always believed that
the art of being a legislator is finding common ground.” He is survived by
his wife, Jennifer and six children. Steve LaTourette was 62 years old.
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