The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell, Transcript 11/15/2016

Guests:
Jeremy Bash, David Corn, Betsy Woodruff, Charlie Sykes, George Mitchell, John Koza
Transcript:

Show: THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL
Date: November 15, 2016
Guest: Jeremy Bash, David Corn, Betsy Woodruff, Charlie Sykes, George
Mitchell, John Koza

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: That was quite a revolution we had –

MADDOW: Yes –

O`DONNELL: In that election night, Rachel, when you put it that way, what
happened to the revolution? What happened to all the angry voters who
wanted to drain the swamp and –

MADDOW: Yes –

O`DONNELL: What`s going on?

MADDOW: Exactly, remember how both parties were going to separate their
parties from these unpopular presidential candidates and pick off their
senate votes.

O`DONNELL: I remember some of that –

MADDOW: Yet, it didn`t happen anywhere –

O`DONNELL: Yes, I do, I do –

MADDOW: Yes –

O`DONNELL: Thank you, Rachel.

MADDOW: Thanks, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: So, Donald Trump has over 4,000 jobs to fill and he has to do
it fast and that includes thousands of jobs that he has never heard of.

Jobs that no president has ever heard of before they had to fill those
jobs. It is one of the enormous challenges that every incoming president
faces.

And so far, the Trump team is failing miserably.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Welcome to the dawn of a new
unified Republican government.

JOHN BOEHNER, FMR. SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Donald Trump is not an ideologue,
he`s barely a Republican.

SETH MEYERS, COMEDIAN & TELEVISION HOST: Let`s give him this fresh start.
Let`s give him a chance.

SEN. HARRY REID (D), NEVADA: He appoints a man who seems a champion of
white supremacy as a number one strategist in the White House.

MEYERS: Well, we gave him the chance, bye chance, thank you for stopping
by.

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D), MASSACHUSETTS: This is a White House that will
embrace bigotry. I don`t think it`s possible to stand on the sidelines and
be quiet about this.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So, no defense of Bannon then?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right, that`ll do it, thank you.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We are going to have to
guard against a rise in a crude sort of nationalism or ethnic identity.

REID: I say to Donald Trump, rise to the dignity of the office instead of
hiding behind your Twitter account.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT-ELECT OF THE UNITED STATES: It`s a great form of
communication. I think I picked up yesterday a hundred thousand people.

TREVOR NOAH, COMEDIAN & TELEVISION HOST: No, dude, you`re going to be
president of the United States. You picked up 300 million followers –

(LAUGHTER)

And we can`t block – oh, and follow you, but –

(LAUGHTER)

We can still troll you and we are going to troll you hard.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: We have breaking news at this hour on the incoming Trump
administration and of course that news comes from Twitter.

Donald Trump tweeted just a few minutes ago saying: “very organized process
taking place as I decide on cabinet and many other positions.

I am the only one who knows who the finalists are.” And that explains one
of the reasons why this process is going so badly for team Trump.

That he is the only one who knows who the finalists are. If that`s true,
that is not the way this is supposed to work, it`s not the way to get it
done and it will take forever to get it done. Last week, Donald Trump
wisely fired the transition team head that he never should have hired.

And as on Donald Trump`s TV show, we are using the terms hired and fired
figuratively because Chris Christie has what is supposed to be a full-time
job as governor of New Jersey.

So, he was never really hired to run the Trump transition, he was just
appointed to that. And Donald Trump relieved him of that responsibility
last week and handed it to Mike Pence.

That then delayed the already-delayed transition. Mike Pence had to sign a
White House document that makes the transition operation official.

A document that Chris Christie had already signed, Mike Pence just got
around signing that document today.

But the transition can still not get underway until Mike Pence provides the
Obama administration with the full list of all of the transition team
members.

And a White House spokesperson said today: “once we have received those
names and related materials, those individuals will be able to receive the
full briefing materials we have prepared and begin to communicate with the
Obama administration agency counterparts.”

The Trump transition team is supposed to actually take up residents inside
each agency with a counterpart from the Obama administration inside that
agency.

Every single department and agency of the government has to have an
authorized transition team member from the Trump team to interact with, and
so far none of them have that.

You have to have one for the State Department, Transportation Department,
Agriculture Department, Housing and Urban Development, Defense, Energy.

I could go on and on, it`s an endless stream of these people you have to
have. And it is best to choose people who are familiar with those
departments.

Because each agency has way more jobs for the president to fill than any
civilian realizes and way more than any one in Trump Tower realizes even
tonight.

Mike Rogers has a pretty good familiarity with the intelligence agencies
because he was the Republican Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee
until he left the Congress two years ago.

He was also working on the Trump transition team until he resigned today.
It`s not clear why he resigned or if he was dismissed but that is going to
slow down the Trump staffing in the intelligence agencies.

And the slower the Trump transition goes, the better it is for the country.
Because when Obama appointees leave their jobs, their duties will fall to
the permanent government that stays in place.

The professionals, the civil service employees, and that is no doubt a much
better thing for America than the Trump appointees who will eventually find
their way into government.

The federal government of the United States is the single most complex
organization in the history of the world.

To run that organization, the president of the United States has to choose
a top layer of personnel to fill over 4,000 jobs.

And of those 4,000 jobs, the general public and the next president of the
United States have never heard of more than maybe just a couple of dozen of
those jobs.

The next president is going to have to fill thousands and thousands of jobs
he`s never heard of. Here they are, they`re right here.

This is the Plum Book. For the last year until about 8:00 p.m. on election
night, Democrats have been studying the plum book.

It lists every job the president of the United States has to fill. Its
technical name is United States Government, Policy and Supporting
Positions.

It`s called the Plum Book because when your party wins the presidency and
you have some connections and expertise, you flip open the Plum Book to
find the job you want, the plum you want.

You want to be the Department of Agriculture state director in California?
The biggest farming state in America?

It`s right here. It`s right here on page 13, right there. Pay grade is
there, everything you need to know about it.

The name of the person who currently has the job is there. Now, let`s just
randomly flip it open to where I left my little placeholder, OK?

The Department of Health and Human Services Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention, that`s right in the middle of the page and there`s of course
the director and then there`s an associate director.

And there`s a director of Human Capital and Resources Management Office.
There`s chief information officer, chief security officer, a senior adviser
to the director of the Chief Human Capital and Resources Office.

And there`s a deputy chief operating officer, there`s a chief information
officer and that`s just this little highlighted spot right here.

That`s this tiny little yellow spot in the middle of a page that just keeps
going and going and going.

And that is just the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention which is a
very big operation inside a giant operation called the Department of Health
and Human Services.

Which is inside that giant thing called the government of the United States
of America. This is all areas of government that Donald Trump has never
thought about.

No administration ever has these jobs filled in the first week. It takes
months to get them all filled.

And sometimes with the hundreds of jobs that require a Senate confirmation
it can take a whole year, more than a whole year if you include all the
ambassadors.

Because the Senate confirmation jobs all require an FBI background check,
and of course the disclosure of the tax returns of everyone being confirmed
by the Senate.

And the incoming Trump administration is approaching this gigantic task
with less professionalism and speed than we have ever seen.

They are far behind schedule already and that`s good news for America.
Because the longer it takes the Trump team to fill up this Plum Book, the
longer the professionals will be in charge.

Joining us now, David Corn; Washington Bureau Chief for “Mother Jones” and
an Msnbc political analyst.

Also with us, Jeremy Bash; a former Chief of Staff for Leon Panetta at the
CIA and the Defense Department.

Jeremy, I wanted to get your impression of what does this mean that Mike
Rogers is leaving the transition team?

That`s one of the people who you look at on the transition team and say OK,
he makes sense. That`s someone who you think makes sense to be in there,
and now he`s gone.

JEREMY BASH, FORMER CHIEF OF STAFF, UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE &
THE CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY: Well, former Congressman Rogers is a
highly capable national security professional.

He was a former FBI agent, walked the beat, conducted an array of law
enforcement operations and then when he run for Congress, really said he
wanted to be involved in national security.

He rose in the ranks of the House Intelligence Committee, I was the chief
counsel for the Democrats on the committee when he was a very formidable
Republican adversary. And he ran the committee very capably. And I think
he has immense stature.

And it`s a tremendous loss really for the country because all of us who
were vested in national security want the new administration to put in
place people who know the agencies, know the departments and know the
issues.

And Mike Rogers was definitively one of those people.

O`DONNELL: Jeremy, are you picking up any word as to whether he quit in
some form of disgust or whether he was pushed out?

BASH: I don`t know, Lawrence. I think we`ll find out maybe over the next
couple of days. But I do think this time period is incredibly important.

Because I was involved in the transition in 2008 when the Obama team came
in. I was also working on the intelligence transition at the time. And if
you`ll recall in 2008, there were two major national security crisis during
the transition.

First, the Mumbai terrorists attacks that happened in Mumbai, India, in
November 2008. And second, a major war launched by Palestinians in Gaza
against Israel causing an Israeli reaction and invasion.

There was an open war in Israel and Gaza, and there was a terrorist attack
underway for several days in India.

And that was just during the transition. I think the most important point
here is that our adversaries are watching and they are testing this new
national security team to see if they understand the issues.

If they`re capable, if they`re responding quickly and if they are organized
enough to take on the major challenge they will face when he enters the
Oval Office.

O`DONNELL: David Corn, I just want to take another look at this tweet from
Donald Trump. And this – but – and because, I mean, here`s –

DAVID CORN, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, MOTHER JONES: Yes –

O`DONNELL: The only transition where they`ve had to, you know, get rid of
the guy who is running the transition.

And then others quit and some are calling it – sources inside are calling
it a stall in this purge. And so –

CORN: Yes –

O`DONNELL: This is the first transitioning president-elect to tweet about
how well his transition is going. Saying very organized process taking
place as I decide on cabinet and many other positions.

I am the only one who knows who the finalists are. Now, I know that sounds
great to Trump voters but what he`s –

CORN: Yes –

O`DONNELL: Saying is, if it`s true, I am creating a bottleneck, the likes
of which you have never seen in the transition process.

CORN: You know –

O`DONNELL: I am the only one who knows who is on the shortlist.

CORN: I mean, a couple of points. It also means he`s not talking to
advisors about who is on the shortlist.

So, you know, again, it`s like I have the best brain, I have the best
words, I can do this on my own.

What does he know about Agriculture – you know, Department and the Labor
Department? You know, has he thought about that?

If he is the only one who knows the finalists, that`s a big problem. But
going back to the Mike Rogers thing, which is I find tremendously
interesting.

You know, Mike Rogers as Jeremy said is a national security professional.
Now, he`s Republican, he`s taken positions that, you know, some of us may
not agree with.

Although, he was much better on Benghazi than the House Republicans wanted
him to be in terms of saying it wasn`t a conspiracy.

But that was – it was a good sign that he was involved because we have had
concerns that Donald Trump and the people around him are too close to
Putin.

Their foreign policy ideas are, you know, are wobbly, sometimes they`re
hawkish, sometimes they`re not hawkish, they`re inconsistent.

Here at least was somebody with a little bit of an – of an independent
perspective and was not part of the inside Trump coterie of folks who might
be too kind or too keen on Putin because he`s been, you know, courting
Trump and now boom, he is out.

And I`ve talked to people in the Trump world who say that regardless of
this tweet, it is turning into a bit of a blood bath with different camps
coming out and people accusing others of not being loyal enough to Trump.

As they all try to get those plums that you spoke of in that great civics
lesson that you gave us at the start of the show.

O`DONNELL: Jeremy, having worked on transitions as you have, I mean, to
see any bumps in the road on the transition, you can tell that`s going to
create a wave effect through the process that will be delay.

Because even a well-run transition, as you and I know inside a well-run
transition, the party in power, everyone in it is complaining about how
slow the transition is.

When are you going to get this confirmation done? When are you going to –
you know, pick the United States trade representative?

All these jobs, many of them that people don`t know exist. When are you
going to choose the chief counsel for this agency, this department and all
of that?

And everyone who is pushing for those jobs, everyone who is pushing
candidates for those jobs, they all think it`s taking forever in the best
case.

BASH: Yes, that`s right. But you don`t want to have chaos out of the
blocs. I mean, again here, hours after Vladimir Putin and President-elect
Trump spoke by phone, Russia unleashed a major air assault on eastern
Aleppo.

They sent the Admiral Kuznetsov aircraft carrier into the eastern Med. The
Admiral Grigorovich frigate into the eastern Med to fire cruise missiles
into eastern Aleppo.

You have a major Russian bombardment of Syria underway. And this morning,
as was reported earlier on Nbc, President-elect Trump received his first
full scale presidential daily brief.

That book or that iPad with all the most sensitive intelligence reports,
and I would bet, I don`t know definitively, but I would bet that one of the
first articles in that book was about the Russian bombardment of Aleppo.

So, he needs to have people around him in those briefings that he can turn
to and say now, what would we do about this?

Let`s formulate some ideas coming into office about how he would respond.
What signals do we want to broadcast to the world when I come into office
after I`m sworn in?

How should I respond to this unbelievably terrible crisis in Syria? And if
you don`t have people around you, if you`re just dialoguing with the
briefer, it`s really not going to serve him very well.

And so chaos out of the blocs, I think is a disservice to him and it`s a
disservice to our national security.

O`DONNELL: David Corn –

CORN: And Lawrence –

O`DONNELL: Go ahead –

CORN: Look who he wants to have in those meetings that Jeremy just talked
about. Jared Kushner, his son-in-law, I mean, he`s trying to get top
security clearance.

He`s spending time on this for all of his kids and his son-in-law because
you know, he thinks they`re the best advisors.

So, we`re kicking out Mike Rogers who has spent years looking at this
stuff, and we`re bringing in his son-in-law who is a real estate developer
and trying to get top – you know, secret security clearance for him.

It really is looking very clownish. And if I were in the “Kremlin” or any
other place around the world where I wanted to test the United States or I
thought I was competing with them, I would say this is to our advantage.

O`DONNELL: Jeremy Bash and David Corn, thank you very much for joining us
tonight, really appreciate it –

BASH: Thank you.

CORN: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, Steve Bannon wanted Paul Ryan driven out of office
as Speaker of the House.

And today, Paul Ryan was easily endorsed by House Republicans once again to
be Speaker of the House.

A big loss for Steve Bannon and that side of Trump world. And Donald Trump
once tweeted that the electoral college was a disaster for democracy.

That he is losing the vote by a wider margin every day. We will consider
the electoral college and what it has done to this democracy coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: Life here in Midtown, Manhattan, has become stressful for
anyone trying to move in a motor vehicle since Donald Trump won the
election.

And tonight, Donald Trump spontaneously without any announcement decided to
go to dinner in the neighborhood just a few blocks from his home on 5th
Avenue. But of course for security reasons he had to go in a motorcade,
that very short distance.

He went down to 52nd Street to Club 21. Hallie Jackson managed to get into
the restaurant while Donald Trump was there and captured this video.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(CROSSTALK)

(APPLAUSE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you, thank you, have a good deal, thank you –

TRUMP: Thank you –

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you, thank you –

TRUMP: We`ll get your taxes down, don`t worry –

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you –

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) –

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you –

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: President Trump –

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President-elect –

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President-elect –

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you –

TRUMP: Thank you –

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thanks, Donald –

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President-elect –

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you –

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No heads up for the media, sir?

(CROSSTALK)

(APPLAUSE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes!

(WHISTLING)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Donald Trump managed to find a place in Manhattan where he
could get applause which is not easy these days with constant protests in
front of his building.

And managed to get those applause by going into a restaurant filled with
very rich people and promising them tax cuts. That should work any time,
we`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: Democrats are now demanding that Donald Trump take back the
appointment, I guess, you could say disappoint his campaign CEO and former
head of “Breitbart” Steve Bannon, to not give him that position of chief
strategist in the White House.

This afternoon a group of Democratic senators held a press conference,
featuring a sign that read “fire Bannon”. And outgoing Senate Minority
Leader Harry Reid said this on the Senate floor.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REID: You appoint a man who seems a champion of white supremacy as a
number strategist in the White House.

Number one, if Trump is serious about seeking unity, the first thing you
should do is rescind the appointment of Steve Bannon.

Rescind it, don`t do it. Think about this, don`t do it. As long as a
champion of racial division is a step away from the Oval Office, it will be
impossible to take Trump`s efforts to deal with the nation seriously.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: At moments like those, usually, the leader of the other party
in the Senate takes to the Senate floor to refute everything you just
heard.

That didn`t happen today. Senate Majority Leader Republican Mitch
McConnell was asked about Steve Bannon this morning, this is how he
reacted.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Senator McConnell, Steve Bannon has taken a lot of flak
from the left, and Senator Reid is going to go to the floor today and
apparently, really blast him for his connections in the past.

Now, I want to know, are you comfortable with him having such a high level
position in Trump administration?

MCCONNELL: It`s great to see you guys today.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So, no defense of Bannon then?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right, that will do it, thank you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Joining us now, Charlie Sykes; a radio host on “Wtmjam” in
Milwaukee and an Msnbc contributor.

And Betsy Woodruff; a politics reporter for “The Daily Beast”. Betsy, you
have some reporting on Steve Bannon and issues that could affect the
legality of how he was paid during the campaign.

WOODRUFF: Correct. The campaign legal center which is an independent,
non-partisan watchdog group that monitors the way that campaigns pay their
staff.

Keeps a very close eye on FEC filings, et cetera. They argued about a
month ago that they believed Steve Bannon was being paid by the Mercers.

Who are a –

O`DONNELL: Yes –

WOODRUFF: Billionaire family that`s donated very generously to Trump`s
campaign efforts. They thought Bannon was being paid by the Mercers
through a Super PAC and through other outside organizations.

That of course, if that`s correct would raise serious legal questions. So,
they filed a complaint with the FEC.

We haven`t seen evidence yet that the FEC is acting on that complaint.
However, new FEC filings show that a company that we can now report is
linked to Steve Bannon.

Was paid upwards of –

O`DONNELL: Yes –

WOODRUFF: Two hundred thousand dollars from a Super PAC about the Mercer`s
bag in the final weeks before the election.

In other words, that means that this billionaire family may very well have
been directing substantial sums of money to a company that`s basically
controlled by Steve Bannon through a Super PAC while Steve Bannon was the
chairman of Donald Trump`s campaign.

Now, look, we can`t – we don`t know if anything illegal happened. We
don`t know if there was a fire wall up in that company.

We don`t know the nature of the set-ups here. Part of the reason for that
is that our campaign finance disclosure laws are so toothless and vague
that we can`t get much information on this.

But to put it quite shortly, this situation and the evidence that we find
in these filings has independent watchdogs deeply concerned.

O`DONNELL: And the law is simply that if you`re working for the campaign,
you have to be paid by the campaign.

You cannot be paid by the Super PAC and you can`t coordinate or even
communicate with the Super PAC in any way. Charlie Sykes, I want to
consider Paul Ryan`s situation here. You know his district there –

CHARLIE SYKES, RADIO HOST: Yes –

O`DONNELL: And Steve Bannon – for Steve Bannon, Paul Ryan has been public
enemy number one for –

SYKES: Yes –

O`DONNELL: A long time. And – let`s listen first of all to Paul Ryan
being asked today about Steve Bannon.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Steve Bannon has personally come after you. His
publication has tried to unseat you in your primary.

He`s written about your children in the past or his publication has written
about your children and questioned your school decisions. He`s mocked your
Catholicism. Do you think at any point he`s crossed the line?

RYAN: I`m not worried about – I`m not looking backwards, I`m looking
forward. I`m looking to the future and I`m looking forward to how we make
this work for the American people.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Charlie, Paul Ryan smiles throughout that whole –

SYKES: Yes –

O`DONNELL: Question. And –

SYKES: Yes –

O`DONNELL: My question to you is, can Steve Bannon do damage to Paul Ryan
in his district?

He already tried to unseat him in the primary. Can he make any headway in
doing that from the White House?

SYKES: Oh, no, he can`t hurt Paul Ryan in this district. He already –
you know, took his best shot.

But his website is still obsessively attacking Paul Ryan which is
interesting. I mean, you know, here`s the dilemma for this White House.

You`re not dealing with a journalist or a typical political adviser. He is
a self-described (INAUDIBLE) in terms of his revolutionary tendencies.

He`s a propagandist. He has his own agenda, he has his own media weapon
and he`s going to use it in this particular way.

So, I mean, I think also keep in mind, this very close relationship between
Reince Priebus and Paul Ryan.

So, you know – you know, in the internal White House knife fight that is
now beginning this war with Ryan is kind of a proxy war between Bannon and
“Breitbart”. And boy, this is – this is “Game of Thrones”, “Hunger
Games”-type stuff.

O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to what Elizabeth Warren said about Steve Bannon.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WARREN: This is a man who has white supremacist ties. I mean, that`s what
he does. This is a man who told his ex-wife that he didn`t want his
children going to school with Jews.

This is a man who ran a news organization, and ran headlines like “would
you rather your children have feminism or cancer?”

This is a man who says by his very presence that this is a White House that
will embrace bigotry.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Betsy, what his wife swore to under oath in their divorce case
about not wanting the children to be near Jews in school would be enough to
completely end any possible discussion of someone taking a position in any
other presidential administration prior to the Trump administration.

WOODRUFF: Right, exactly, but this is the Trump administration. And
remember, if there`s one thing that Donald Trump learned a week ago on
Tuesday is that you can survive massive amounts of pointed fact-based
accurate criticism that you cannot just survive being in charge with racism
and sexism and bigotry, but that those charges don`t necessarily preclude
you from having enormous power in the American political system. Trump has
been through over the last year and a half on the campaign trail exactly
what Bannon is going through right now.

While he was campaigning Trump learned that there is a cohort of American
voters that will not be moved by this kind of criticism. So, it will be
really unusual for Trump to abandon Bannon because Bannon faced very
similar criticisms and it seems like very similar fact based criticisms to
the ones that Donald Trump himself faced on the campaign trail.

O`DONNELL: Betsy Woodruff and Charlie Sykes, thank you very much for
joining us tonight. Really appreciate it. Up next, Senator John McCain is
already worried obviously about Donald Trump being soft on Russia and
Vladimir Putin. Former and democratic senate majority leader George
Mitchell will join us next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: Here is candidate Trump talking about Vladimir Putin.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT-ELECT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: If he says
great things about me I`m going to say great things about him. I`ve
already said, he is really very much of a leader. I mean you can say, oh
isn`t that a terrible thing? The man has very strong control over a
country. Certainly in that system he has been a leader far more than our
president has been a leader.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Today John McCain issued a statement saying, with the U.S.
Presidential transition underway Vladimir Putin has said in recent days
that he wants to improve relations with the United States. We should place
as much faith in such statements as any other made by a former KGB agent
who has plunged his country in to tyranny, murdered his political
opponents, invaded his neighbors, threatened America`s allies and attempted
to undermine America`s elections.

Joining us now is former senator George Mitchell who was President Obama`s
special envoy to the Middle East and the senate. Senator Mitchell served
as the democratic majority leader during the Clinton presidency. Senator
Mitchell, thank you very much for joining us tonight. I wanted to get your
impression of where we stand with Russia tonight as we approach the
transition to a Trump presidency and what you will be looking for as
signals about how the trump administration is dealing with Vladimir Putin
and Russia?.

GEORGE MITCHELL, FORMER UNITED STATES SENATOR: Well first Lawrence some
context. When Putin first took national office he said that his greatest
fear is that for the first time in 300 years Russia thinks the possibility
of in his words, sliding into the second or third echelon of nations. He
understood what`s happening, the population is declining, the percentage of
the population that is Muslim is rising creating more problems for him.

The national budget is seriously out of balance, it requires oil at $110 a
barrel to be balanced and its way out of balance with no prospect any time
soon. Their bleeding reserves – financial reserves rapidly and the
economy is contracted in two of the last years. Russia`s economy is
smaller than Canada`s, smaller than South Korea`s, much smaller than
California`s. It poses no direct threat to the United States except that
it has a very large nuclear arsenal and a very substantial military and
their people have gone through a couple of decades of enormous humiliation.

The fall from being one of the world`s two super powers to the current
status was steep and very, very concerning to their people. Now, the
threat is in the countries that lie near Russia that once were behind the
Iron Curtain and subjugated by the Soviet Union. They want to be part of
the western world. Putin, fearing the western world particular our
European allies and the United States wants to keep them under his control.
Thus Crimea, thus Ukraine, the Middle East is a separate especial issue.

Russia has had a huge base in Syria for 50 years. It provides access to
the Mediterranean for the Russian navy. There are thousands of Russian men
married to Syrian women who came as military intelligence and otherwise.
So while I think it`s a good idea the United States to have good relations
with as many countries as we can, I think Senator McCain is making a point
that the problems in the U.S.-Russian relationships do not stem from the
United States.

They stem from the reactions within the Soviet Union lead by Putin, which
is in a system that is the facade but of course totally controlled by the
government and by a single individual.

O`DONNELL: And senator, everything you just said there indicates that
there is a level of complexity to dealing with Russia, to contemplating
Russia`s next moves, the range of possibilities that we never saw the Trump
candidate and candidacy recognize. There was just no hint in Donald Trump
as a candidate that he grasped anything like the complexity that you just
described?

MITCHELL: Well, Lawrence, let`s hope that since he has been elected he
will acquire the knowledge and complexity – of the complexities and act
upon it. He certainly will be reminded by Senator McCain as a senator
today and by many, many republicans, including his vice president-elect who
share views regarding relations with Russia that are completely different
from those expressed by the president-elect. Those will have to be
reconciled.

But what is important is that the American people understand that while
there is a very serious issue here, it`s a matter of high importance to the
United States. The problem in the relationship does not stem entirely from
the United States side. Although we have taken some actions that the
Russians may legitimately regard as threatening. The fact of the matter is
the problem lies within the context of Russia itself.

O`DONNELL: Senator Mitchell could you stay with us across the commercial
break because I am really eager to ask you what the democrats do now in
the senate, in that senate minority with your unique experience having been
the mastermind of the senate for the democrats for years. They`re now in a
tougher spot than they`ve ever been. And I`d love to just ask you what you
see coming there. So, we`re going to come back right after this break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN BOEHNER, FMR, HOUSE SPEAKER OF THE UNITED STATES: Presidents have
limited power as President Obama found out. And if you`re really want to
get big things done, you`ve got to have a real relationship with the
congress. And I mean just democrats and republicans on Capitol Hill. Big
things typically dont happen on a partisan basis. They happen on a
bipartisan basis.

And Chuck Schumer`s the new democratic leader in the senate. Thankfully
they have a relationship because he`s going to play a key role in terms of
what they`re able to produce on the Hill.
(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: We`re back with Senator George Mitchell, a former majority
leader of the United States Senate. Senator Mitchell since election night
when I saw what the shape of the government was with the democrats clinging
to minority status in the senate, I thought I want to hear from Senator
Mitchell about what the democrats can do in the senate. That`s the only
place they have any maneuver room at all.

They`ve got the filibuster rule on their side. What can the democrats
achieve by way stopping the worst elements of the Trump agenda as they see
it?

MITCHELL: when I was senate majority leader we confronted a similar
although not exactly the same situation with the election of President
George H.W. Bush. And I told my democratic colleagues in the senate and
while we had an obligation to our party we had a higher obligation to the
country. And I said my intention was to seek common ground where possible.
To work together with the president, and republicans in senate and the
administration in trying to achieve those policies that would help improve
the situation for most Americans. And we did that and I said where we
believe his policies will be adverse to the interest of the American people
we`ll oppose them vigorously but fairly and within the confines of the
Democrat system. I think that`s what should happen now. And Lawrence, I
believe that there is plenty of room for actions that will be beneficial.
Indeed I think what Mr. Trump is doing is setting up a massive stimulus to
the U.S. Economy that will increase jobs and create the appearance at least
that he has come through on his major campaign promises.

The Democrats have long favored a massive infrastructure program.
Republicans in the Congress have opposed it on fiscal grounds. Trump`s
made it clear he wants it. I believe the Republicans will fold on that
issue and there will be a major infrastructure program. They all want
massive defense spending. They all want massive tax cuts.

The combination of those three things will provide a substantial joke to
the economy. And will threaten the economy down the road with inflation
and massive deficits. But in the mean time it will produce a jobs effect.
I think Democrats ought to move in that area to the extent they can do so
in good conscience to support the infrastructure program. They`ve been for
it to moderate the tax cuts to the extent they can to see to it they are
not just massive reductions for the highest income levels but a distributed
throughout the economy particularly to those most in need and to deal with
all of the other issues in the same way. And where they think he is
wrong, as they clearly do on immigration and some of the other issues they
will take him on vigorously but fairly and within the confined of the
system. I think in the end that`s the winning formula.

O`DONNELL: It`s going to be amazing to see if they can reach any kind of
compromise negative Democrats and Republicans on taxes. That`s seems to be
a very big separating (INAUDIBLE).

MITCHELL: Well Lawrence, one area I don`t think they will on individual
tax rates but in terms of corporate tax reform I think there is a
possibility.

O`DONNELL: Senator George Mitchell thank you very much for joining us
tonight, really appreciate it.

MITCHELL: Thank you Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, there is a way to in effect eliminate the Electoral
College or eliminate the effect of Electoral College without the long
crusade of a constitutional amendment. And that effort is already underway
to make the President of the United States a truly democratically elected
office. That`s coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: Donald Trump might have to take an oath before he takes the
oath of office. The class action lawsuit in California against Trump
University for fraud is scheduled to begin the Monday after thanksgiving.
Donald Trump would of course be a witness in that trial and he is now
asking the court to delay that trial until after the inauguration. Thanks
to Kellyanne Conway`s husband Donald Trump will not be able to delay to
trial until after his presidency which is what President Bill Clinton tried
to do when Paula Jones tried to sue him for sexual harassment.

The Jones versus Clinton case went all the way to the Supreme Court with
the President Clinton arguing that the President shouldn`t be subjected to
civil lawsuits while the President is in office. The Supreme Court
unanimously disagreed. Kellyanne Conway`s husband the known Paula Jones`
legal team was the successful author of the argument about why presidents
should be subjected to civil lawsuits while they are in office. And so
Donald Trump has Kellyanne Conway`s husband to thank for several trips to
court in several civil lawsuits currently pending against him. Coming up,
what if you could virtually eliminate the Electoral College without a
constitutional amendment? It turns out you can.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: Four years ago Donald Trump twitted that the Electoral College
is a disaster for democracy. And then last week he proved it. That`s
next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: Tonight the Presidential Election is getting crazier and
crazier. Hillary Clinton`s lead in the vote has now passed the 1 million
vote mark as absentee ballots continue to be counted. Dave Wasserman of
the Cook Political report tweeted today that Hillary Clinton`s lead
surpassed 1,150,000 votes. Hillary Clinton currently has 62.3 million
votes, Donald Trump has 61.1 million votes. Hillary Clinton`s lead is
likely to continue growing as there are millions more ballots to be
counted many in Democratic leaning states like Washington and California.

Today Donald Trump praised the Electoral College tweeting if the election
were based on total popular vote I would have campaigned in New York,
Florida and California and one even bigger and more easily. Of course he
did campaign in Florida. He campaigned there more than any other state.
Today retiring California Senator Barbara Boxer introduced a constitution
amendment in the senate to abolish the Electoral College. Senator Boxer
said this is the only office in the land where you can get more votes and
still lose the Presidency. The Electoral College is outdated, undemocratic
system that does not reflect our modern society and it needs to change
immediately. Every American should be guaranteed that their vote counts.

Joining us now John Koza creator and chair of National Popular Vote. John
please explain what is National Popular Vote

JOHN KOZA, CREATOR AND CHAIR OF NATIONAL POPULAR VOTE: Well National
Popular Vote is state legislation that would guarantee that the President
is the candidate who received the most popular votes of the people in all
50 states in the District of Columbia. The states have the power to award
electoral votes in the manner they see fit. And the National Popular Vote
Bill uses this exclusive state power to award the electoral votes in a
manner that would parallel the national popular vote.

So it simply says that a state that participates in this will in effect
order it`s electors to vote according to – for the person who got the most
votes in the United States of America?

KOZA: That`s correct Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: And how many states have adopted this so far?

KOZA: 11 states with 165 Electoral Votes. And these laws will go into
effect when states with 105 more electoral votes pass the same law. And we
naturally hope that`ll happen in time for the 2020 election.

O`DONNELL: So one of the beauties of this is that you do not need all 50
states or even necessarily a majority of states to approve this. You just
need enough states to get to 270 electoral votes?

KOZA: that`s correct. It would be a combination of states that would get
– have 270 Electoral Votes which in practice would be a majority of the
state.

O`DONNELL: Yes, let`s listen to what Elizabeth Warren said today about
this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ELIZABETH WARREN, UNITED STATES SENATOR FROM MASSACHUSETTS: And I want to
be clear. I think Hillary Clinton ran on very much the same argument I
just think Donald Trump made it aggressively. And do remember at the end
of the day Hillary Clinton actually got more Americans to vote for her than
Donald Trump did.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: That is what needs to be remembered in every discussion of this
election. Hillary Clinton got more votes. John, the world looks at us and
cannot fathom what is this Electoral College and how does the person who
came in second win the presidency?

KOZA: Well, it comes about because of existing state laws called winner
take all laws which award all of the states electoral votes to the
candidate who gets the most votes inside the state.

O`DONNELL: And that could also be changed so there`s a proportional
representation of the vote within the state for the electors?

KOZA: You could change it that way. But to achieve a national popular
vote you want to change it in the manner that the National Popular Vote
bill does which would award all of the electoral votes to the candidate who
gets the most popular votes in all 50 states.

O`DONNELL: John Koza, thanks for joining us tonight. Appreciate it.

KOZA: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: Live coverage continues now into “THE 11TH HOUR” with Brian
Williams. That`s next.


END

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