The Last Word With Lawrence O’Donnell, Transcript 11/17/2016
Show: THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL
Date: November 17, 2016
Guest: Steve Schmidt, Eugene Robinson, Rick Wilson, David Frum, J.D.
Vance, George Takei
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC: That does it for us – somebody who read much,
including the approximately 14 zillion of you to whom I sent the book and
demanded that you must read it.
John Lewis, national book award recipient, best new thing in the world.
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, HOST, THE LAST WORD: Rachel, hold on a second, let me
just check on my volume here because something`s got to be wrong.
I heard you say, you sent the book to 14 zillion people, right?
MADDOW: I was rounding down, so my accountant wouldn`t hear me, but yes.
O`DONNELL: I don`t seem to have it anywhere here. I – Rachel, I`m a
floor away. I just – I –
MADDOW: I`ll hook you up.
O`DONNELL: OK –
MADDOW: I will hook you up.
O`DONNELL: All right, so, I didn`t mishear at this 14 zillion –
MADDOW: No –
O`DONNELL: And I wasn`t one of the 14 zillion, OK? –
MADDOW: No, I will hook you up –
O`DONNELL: OK –
MADDOW: Before I leave the building tonight.
O`DONNELL: Thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: Thank you, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Thank you. Well, Mitt Romney called Donald Trump a phony and a
fraud and now Mitt Romney has been called to Trump Tower to meet with the
man himself about the possibility of being his Secretary of State.
Because if you`re trying to choose a cabinet from Republicans who haven`t
called Donald Trump a phony and a fraud, there just aren`t enough people.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHEN COLBERT, COMEDIAN & TELEVISION HOST: I see from the level of my
Xanax bottle, it`s been a week since the election of Donald Trump.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT-ELECT OF THE UNITED STATES: Thank you very much
ANGELA MERKEL, CHANCELLOR, GERMANY (through translator): In the United
States of America, eight years, and that`s it, out goes the president and a
new one comes in.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: She ran an extraordinarily
TRUMP: We`re going to build a wall!
OBAMA: He now has to transition to governance.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think that these –
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Keep running your mouth –
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Conversations are always best in private –
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes!
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Particularly when you`re forming a cabinet.
JIMMY KIMMEL, COMEDIAN & TELEVISION HOST: And it`s going to be a solid,
gold cabinet, full of all the finest snacks.
SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D), MASSACHUSETTS: Trump is not draining the swamp,
nope. He`s inviting the biggest, ugliest swamp monsters in the front door.
MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT-ELECT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: It`s
just very humbling to me to be back in a room I spent 12 years as a member
of Congress in.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No disrespect for the sensitivity and knowledge of
TRUMP: Bing-bong –
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You know the territory, so in that territory, we will
try to find our common ground where we can and for extended ground when we
JON STEWART, COMEDIAN: This fight has never been easy.
OBAMA: Do not take for granted our systems of government and our way of
STEWART: We`re fighting against thousands of years of human behavior and
history to create something that no one`s ever – that`s what`s exceptional
about America, it`s an incredible thing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Donald Trump and his transition team are doing everything they
possibly can to change the message about what they`re looking for during
With the appointment of Reince Priebus and Steve Bannon to the White House
staff, and the “Ap” reporting tonight that Donald Trump has offered General
Michael Flynn the job of national security adviser.
The message has been clear – loyalty is everything. When the Trump team
floated the name Rudy Giuliani for Secretary of State, it was obvious that
loyalty meant everything because Rudy Giuliani has no qualifications for
Secretary of State.
Has no foreign policy experience. But today, the Trump team dramatically
reversed that message by floating the name Mitt Romney for Secretary of
Mitt Romney is scheduled to meet Donald Trump on Sunday. The same Mitt
Romney who did everything he could to prevent Donald Trump from becoming
president of the United States.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MITT ROMNEY, FORMER GOVERNOR OF MASSACHUSETTS: He`s not of the temperament
of the kind of stable, thoughtful person we need as leader.
His imagination must not be married to real power. Think of Donald Trump`s
The bullying, the greed, the showing off, the misogyny, the absurd third
grade theatrics. Donald Trump is a phony, a fraud.
His promises are as worthless as a degree from Trump University.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: And here`s what Donald Trump had to say about the man who might
be his Secretary of State.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I backed Mitt Romney, I backed him, you can see how loyal he is.
He was begging for my endorsement.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, yes –
TRUMP: I could have said, Mitt, drop to your knees, he would have dropped
to his knees.
He was begging – true.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: So, is Mitt Romney going to have to drop to his knees on
Sunday? Isn`t that going to be the first question asked about the meeting
after it happens?
Did Mitt Romney drop to his knees? And does Donald Trump mean drop to his
knees or does Donald Trump mean – is the meeting with Mitt Romney Donald
Trump`s way of trying to show that he`s not as bad a person as the
character he played during the campaign?
The character he played for all those gullible voters who believe Mexico is
going to pay for the wall? Is that why he met with South Carolina Governor
Nikki Haley today?
After Donald Trump won her state primary, Governor Nikki Haley said,
“Donald Trump is everything we teach our kids not to do in kindergarten.”
Initial rumors indicated that Nikki Haley might be up for Secretary of
State, but new reporting from Nbc News is that she might be up for Health
and Human Services or Education Secretary.
Which makes a lot more sense for someone with no foreign policy experience.
The Obama administration confirmed today that “the Trump transition team
has officially authorized individuals to begin receiving briefings and
other materials from our transition teams at select agencies.
We respect to receive additional names for a wider range of agencies.” The
Trump transition team is now officially represented at the State Department
and the Department of Defense.
But the Trump team has no one at the Treasury yet, no one at the Department
of Labor, the Commission on Civil Rights.
The National Transportation Safety Board or the Office of Government Ethics
or the Securities and Exchange Commission or the Social Security
Administration or the Commission on International Religious Freedom.
Now, I didn`t know that there was a Commission on International Religious
Freedom until I found it – here we go, in my plum book, the book I`ve been
showing you all week that contains all the jobs subject to presidential
Slang term for it in Washington is the plum book. You`re supposed to look
through it and find the plum you wanted.
The agencies I just mentioned are the tip of the iceberg of all of the
places in the government that the Trump transition is so far ignoring.
And it`s hard to imagine anything good for America is going to happen when
the Trump team does invade the equal employment opportunity commission or
the Securities and Exchange Commission.
So, let`s not complain about how slowly the Trump team is moving to take
over the executive branch of government.
Newt Gingrich finally killed speculation today that he might be in line for
a cabinet post. I have long said that Newt Gingrich could not survive the
Senate confirmation process. And you will know much of the political news
media doesn`t seem to understand that.
It`s very clear that Newt Gingrich now does. Today, he confirmed to Nbc
News that he will not be in Donald Trump`s cabinet.
He said, “I want to focus on strategic planning for the emerging Republican
majority from local government through the executive branch.”
Translation? Newt Gingrich will be watching the Trump administration from a
“Fox News” studio between adventures on the paid lecture circuit.
Newt Gingrich was reprimanded by the House Ethics Committee while he was
speaker of the house in 1997.
The first speaker of the house to be punished by the house for an ethics
violation. Newt Gingrich taught a course at Reinhardt College in Waleska,
Georgia, while he was a member of Congress.
And he accepted campaign contributions on the condition that he would teach
certain ideas, favored by the industry group that made that contribution.
A Republican-controlled House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly to
reprimand their own Republican speaker.
The vote was 395 to 28 to reprimand Newt Gingrich and fine him $300,000.
Newt Gingrich`s marital life has been a repeated cycle of marriage affairs,
divorce, marriage again, then another affair.
Then another divorce, then another marriage to the person he was just
having an affair with and so on.
It is unlikely that any of that would come up at a confirmation hearing,
but would all be detailed in the FBI background check report about Newt
Gingrich that members of the committee would read. But there would be no
reason to mention it at the confirmation hearing.
Because when you have someone who was reprimanded and fined by the House of
Representatives sitting in your confirmation hearing, that`s pretty much
all you`re going to talk about.
Which is why we have never had someone who`s been reprimanded by the House
Ethics Committee and fined sitting nominee to a president`s cabinet because
no president has ever been that crazy.
We don`t know if Donald Trump is that crazy because the most likely
scenario here is that Newt Gingrich knowing more about the Congress than
anyone else on the Trump team figured this out for himself.
Whether he heard me say it on TV or not, he figured out for himself that
there`s no way he could get through a Senate confirmation.
Cabinet nominees like Nikki Haley and Mitt Romney would probably have
smooth confirmation hearings right up until the Democrats got to ask
And ask them about what, if any, contact they have had with Steve Bannon,
who is never going to become old news for opponents of the Trump White
Joining us now, Eugene Robinson; Pulitzer Prize-winning opinion writer for
“The Washington Post” and an Msnbc political analyst.
Also with us, Steve Schmidt, a Republican strategist and an Msnbc political
analyst. Steve, it looks like there`s a message shift here away from
loyalty is everything.
STEVE SCHMIDT, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: No, there is. Look, one of the
promises that Donald Trump made during the campaign was that he was going
to fill the government with the very best people in the country.
And one of the things that he said in his election night speech was that he
was going to be president for all of the people including people who
disagreed with him.
Including people that were opponents. Now, when you look at the first
prospective 100, 150 days of the administration, they can pass a
legislative agenda or they can be in a nominations quagmire if they
nominate some people that may not get through the process.
The Republicans are in the majority, but it`s a small majority. They can
afford to lose three votes. And you can think of any of a dozen of the
names that have been floated for Attorney General, for Secretary of State,
for Secretary of Defense.
They just may not have the votes on the Republican side to be able to make
it through. So, if he nominates people of exceptional quality, and I`d put
Governor Romney squarely into that category.
He would be a fantastic pick to be the United States Secretary of State.
This is going to be a good sign.
It`s a good sign for the administration, it`s a good sign for the country.
I do think that you`re seeing him play like a cat does with a mouse with
the – with the media on this –
O`DONNELL: Yes –
SCHMIDT: As they`re floating everybody out there. The truth of the matter
is, we just don`t have any idea who`s going to be nominated for what in any
of these positions. And I think soon enough, we`ll find out.
O`DONNELL: Gene Robinson, the notion of Mitt Romney is one of the first
that makes sense. He would have been on any Republican`s list for very
high-level cabinet posts. And is it – will it be – will it prove to be a
shift away from the Bannon approach to staffing?
EUGENE ROBINSON, OPINION WRITER, WASHINGTON POST: Well, I guess, it could
be. I am extremely skeptical that Mitt Romney will ever be nominated by
Donald Trump to be Secretary of State despite the meeting.
I`ve been proved wrong about Donald Trump before, so maybe he will. But
can you imagine the discussion they would have, for example, about Russia
and Vladimir Putin?
O`DONNELL: Yes –
ROBINSON: Mitt Romney, if you recall four years ago, said, you know,
Russia is the number one threat to U.S. security and was laughed at.
He turned out to have a point. And Donald Trump, of course, says, hey,
let`s get together with Putin and we can work together and sing kumbaya and
it will all be fine.
So, just on that basis alone, I don`t see how these two men could work
together, and I don`t see how Mitt Romney would agree to subsume his views
about foreign policy to Donald Trump`s ignorance about foreign policy.
O`DONNELL: Now, we`re going to listen to something Steve Bannon said about
Mitt Romney a couple of years ago.
And I just want to stress to everyone listening that this is about Mitt
Romney. He is not talking about Donald Trump, just remember that.
He`s – Steve Bannon is talking about Mitt Romney, listen to this.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
STEVE BANNON, EXECUTIVE CHAIRMAN, BREITBART NEWS: This is a guy who
avoided military duty in Vietnam, who has five sons who look like movie
stars who have not served their country one day.
Oh – but by the way –
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Right –
BANNON: All of them did – all of them did their two years of Mormon
missionary work, every one of them.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: So, Steve, he could have said the same thing about Donald Trump
who avoided military duty during Vietnam and Donald Trump`s sons.
But he could not say that Donald Trump`s sons ever did any kind of
missionary duty for anyone.
SCHMIDT: No, he couldn`t. You know –
O`DONNELL: But –
SCHMIDT: I mean, Donald Trump had a serious bone spur issue.
O`DONNELL: Right, but I mean, this is – this is the team that they`re
talking about the possibility of assembling.
Putting Mitt Romney in the same room as a guy who has said this about him.
Mitt Romney in the same room with the president who he has said is a fraud.
SCHMIDT: Sooner or later in this administration, if it has any chance to
be successful, there will be people in the cabinet, maybe not in the first
wave and maybe not in the second wave.
But certainly by the third wave, who have said bad things about Donald
Trump and were skeptical about his presidency, about his candidacy.
And I think that Donald Trump would be well served to show in victory
magnanimity, to be able to reach out to those who opposed him.
And also, I think to work with Democrats in the Congress, for example, on
the infrastructure package.
I mean, one of the things that`s very clear is that when he talks about a
trillion-dollar infrastructure package, he may not have met very many
members of the Republican conference.
But they are – they`re not for that stuff and he`s going to have to work
with Democrats to get that part of his agenda done.
So, he`s going to be reaching out to a lot of people who have been very
critical of him if he`s going to get anything done.
O`DONNELL: OK, we got some breaking news, we`re going to go by phone to
“Cnbc`s” Phil LeBeau. Phil, what are you reporting tonight?
PHILIP LEBEAU, REPORTER, CNBC: Well, Lawrence, this has to do with a tweet
that was sent out by President-elect Donald Trump.
And essentially what he said in the tweet is, “had a pleasant conversation
with Bill Ford, who is the Chairman of the Ford Motor Company. Good news,
they`re not moving Lincoln production to Mexico, staying in Kentucky.”
At first blush, if you saw this tweet, you would think that Ford, which has
been bashed over the last year by Donald Trump for its plans to move small
car production to Mexico.
At first blush, you would think that Ford is reversing course. Is deciding
that, you know what? Instead of building these small cars in Mexico, we`re
going to build them in Kentucky.
Well, we`ve chased this down, and most people that we`ve talked to in the
Ford Motor Company, they`re scratching their heads because the plan for
future production of vehicles in Mexico never involved moving a Lincoln
model down there.
It involves moving a couple of small cars from a plant in Mexico or – I`m
sorry, outside of Detroit and then taking those assembly lines and building
a new SUV and a new small pickup, not losing any jobs in Michigan.
So, near as we can tell, this is a tweet where Donald Trump is perhaps
taking a congratulatory call from Bill Ford, and in the course of that
conversation, this is purely deduction.
In the course of that conversation, perhaps Bill Ford said, look, we have
no further plans than what we`ve already announced to move any other
production to Mexico.
These vehicles that are built in the U.S. are staying in the U.S. that
includes X, Y, and Z. The Lincoln MKZ is built at the Louisville assembly
plant, it`s staying there.
And perhaps Donald Trump said, oh, great, I`ve made my point. That`s as
much as we can tell at this point, Lawrence.
Because it`s one of those tweets that have people in the auto industry
tonight scratching their heads a bit, because Ford never said it was moving
the Lincoln SUV out of Kentucky and down to Mexico.
O`DONNELL: Phil, thank you for this because this tweet came out just as I
was walking into the studio.
And my first reaction to it was, I don`t remember Ford ever saying that
they were moving any assets out of Kentucky or closing any assets in
Kentucky or any assets having to do with Lincoln.
And so, those are the two specifics in the tweet, is Lincoln and Kentucky,
and you`re telling us that there`s never been a Ford Motor Company plan to
LEBEAU: Correct –
O`DONNELL: Anything from there.
LEBEAU: Correct. The Lincoln MKZ is built at the Louisville assembly
plant, it`s where they build their SUVs, not just for Lincoln, but for Ford
And the plan is to continue building those there. Unless something radical
has changed in the last couple of hours.
And believe me, you would start to hear from union representatives and
other people if that were the case. Near as we can tell, there is no plan
to move Lincoln production down to Mexico, never was.
O`DONNELL: “Cnbc`s” Phil LeBeau, thank you very much for chasing that one
down, Phil. This confirms what I suspected as I was walking into the
studio tonight, really appreciate it, thank you, Phil.
LEBEAU: You bet.
O`DONNELL: Eugene Robinson, so, this is one of the reasons why a White
House very carefully monitors any outgoing messages about –
ROBINSON: Yes –
O`DONNELL: Anything in the world. Whether it`s in Kentucky or whether
it`s in a foreign country, but Donald Trump with the Twitter machine just
let`s it fly.
ROBINSON: Yes, you know, imagine if he`s president of the – you know,
when he`s president of the United States.
And if he sends out a tweet like that about where missiles are being moved
in Europe, for example.
You know, and – oh, you know, no missiles in Poland or something like
that. And it`s – you know, this is not the first time Donald Trump has
used Twitter to take credit for things that he had no involvement in or
things that indeed were of his imagination.
And I anticipate, and I certainly hope that once he gets to the White
House, they`ll get the phone away from him and we won`t have to risk
international incidents over this sort of thing.
O`DONNELL: But Steve, in the new world order, does this do Donald Trump
any harm at all with his millions of Twitter followers who get this?
Most of them won`t –
SCHMIDT: Right –
O`DONNELL: At this moment be watching this show and see a correction of
it. They may never see a correction of it. They – this tweet is their
SCHMIDT: Here`s the larger issue I think. And this hasn`t been reported,
and I don`t mean to come on the show and break news.
But this is not the first CEO he has had conversations with as president-
elect regarding offshoring jobs outside of American jurisdiction.
I think you`re going to see a president of the United States when he reads
in the paper the company X is moving Y jobs to Mexico, to Vietnam.
The CEO is going to get a call from the president of the United States and
say don`t do it. And I think he`s going to be very interventionist in a
very unusual way in this space.
And he`s already made some of these calls to some CEOs as president-elect.
And this aspect of his candidacy, fighting for these blue-collar jobs in
states that have been forgotten, have been left behind.
Whose voters have been paid lip-service by politicians of both parties. I
think it`s going to be exciting for these voters, it`s going to be
invigorating to them, and I think it`s going to fuel his popularity with
O`DONNELL: We`re joined now by Rick Wilson joining this breaking news
conversation about the news that Donald Trump`s announcement tonight that
Ford Motor Company will not be moving the Lincoln plant in Kentucky to
Is not news since Ford Motor Company never had any intention of making such
And I just wanted to get your reaction to this cycle where Donald Trump
tweets something out to his followers –
RICK WILSON, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: True –
O`DONNELL: Who don`t have fact-checking tools immediately handy at home.
The fact-checking is done, turns out to be false, but in Trump world, what
is the truth?
WILSON: Everything is in the rear view mirror in Trump world. And, you
know, I`m sure he had a conversation.
I think your – I think the characterization of it is – was someone made a
moment ago was correct, it was a congratulatory call and he decided he
would make himself the hero of this little narrative, even though there was
no basis of it.
Either he misinterpreted it or he`s being a fabulous – either one of those
things is easily believable. But you know – but I think Steve is largely
You know, that`s a narrative that he`s going to want to push out there,
truth or not, because he recognizes that a lot of the blue-collar workers
that have come out for him, particularly in the Midwest and in the – and
in the industrial belt are going to find this story very appealing, even if
it wasn`t real.
O`DONNELL: Eugene Robinson, the other piece of the story is that by the
time Donald Trump, you know, as Steve describes it, reads a piece in the
“Wall Street Journal” about a plant that`s going to be closing down in some
state and they`re going to open another one in Mexico.
It`s too late for the president to do anything about that, and his dream of
suddenly imposing a tariff on that one company –
ROBINSON: Yes –
O`DONNELL: In that one country is impossible. And it`s not a presidential
power, and Congress has never imposed a tariff on an individual company nor
can they do that. And so, the power that he imagines he has, he doesn`t
ROBINSON: No, he doesn`t have the power to do that. He does have the
bully pulpit or will have the bully pulpit of the presidency.
And you know, as Steve Schmidt certainly implied, and I think was saying,
you know, that`s a powerful thing.
If you get a phone call from the president of the United States saying
don`t do this, you know, you have to pay attention.
Even if that president is Donald Trump and even if the decision is already
made. And enough of those phone calls and that just becomes a factor.
It becomes another data point. It becomes something that`s in a CEOs mind
that OK, we`re going to do this but I`m going to get a phone call or maybe
there`s another way to – you know, another way to handle the issue we`re
trying to deal with here.
Maybe we can compensate somehow by creating some jobs in the U.S. I don`t
know, ideally, that`s how this approach from Trump would work out, we`ll
have to see.
SCHMIDT: Yes, look, here`s the policy implication for this. You know,
it`s been bankers who have been the target.
The target of a regulatory machine –
O`DONNELL: Right –
SCHMIDT: You know, believed – you know, that Elizabeth Warren was
ascendant. Bankers are going to do great.
Large multi-nationals, offshoring jobs are in the crosshairs of the
president-elect, of the Democratic Congress, and corporate America has got
a big-time target on its back and they have low thresholds for pain.
Low thresholds for pain.
O`DONNELL: All right, we`re going to leave it there, Eugene Robinson,
Steve Schmidt, thank you for joining us, really appreciate it.
Coming up, the president-elect who campaigned that he would be better than
Hillary Clinton at protecting America`s secrets has been talking to world
leaders on his unsecured personal cellphone.
And a Donald Trump supporter justified a Trump proposal to create a
registry of Muslims by citing the United States` internments of Japanese-
Americans during World War II.
George Takei was one of those Japanese-Americans, he will join us later.
O`DONNELL: Big surprise. Donald Trump is now doing something that he
condemned Hillary Clinton for doing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Clinton and her cronies have sacrificed your security, your
family`s safety and your country`s safety as though it meant nothing at all
Hillary is the one who endangered national security for you and your family
by sending classified information on an insecure server.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: You can do the same thing on an insecure telephone, and that is
what Donald Trump has done.
The Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull called Donald Trump on his
personal cellphone number. The Australian Prime Minister got that number
through very unofficial channels.
He got it from the Australian professional golfer Greg Norman. “News Corp
Australia” reported Mr. Turnbull`s office confirmed Greg Norman passed on
Donald Trump`s private mobile number to the Prime Minister.
The “New York Times” this week reported American allies were blindly
dialing into Trump Tower trying to reach the soon-to-be-leader of the free
Donald Trump met with his first foreign leader today, Japan`s Prime
Minister Shinzo Abe. No word yet on how many American jobs Japan agreed to
return to the United States. Joining us now, Rick Wilson, Republican
strategist and contributor to the website “Heat Street”.
Also with us, David Frum, senior editor for “The Atlantic” and former
speechwriter for President George W. Bush.
So, Rick, there`s Donald Trump not following protocol. There`s a
transition protocol for president-elect having any kind of telephone
communication with foreign leaders and we`re way outside the protocol.
WILSON: You know, I am sure by now someone is offering him the right
crypto and the right equipment but, obviously, he`s a creature of great
habit. And I`m sure he`s going to just do what he wants to do, regardless.
But, you know, national security, although a lot of people think that`s
where he`s going to be strong, it looks increasingly like that`s where he`s
not going to be as strong.
O`DONNELL: And David Frum, there`s a new report tonight, the latest rumor.
It`s hard to even call them leaks, because you`re not sure where they`re
coming from, but the latest rumor, The Guardian reporting that David
Petraeus is in the running to be Donald Trump`s secretary of state. Of
course David Petraeus, a former CIA director who pleaded guilty to
mishandling classified information. And David Frum, after a campaign where
you attack Hillary Clinton every day for being reckless with classified
information, David Petraeus?
DAVID FRUM, SENIOR EDITOR, THE ATLANTIC: Look, I`ve been saying this all
week, people have to stop being so fussy. And you have to stop worrying
about little ethical inconsistencies. If you can get David Petraeus into
the Trump cabinet, be grateful. Because the situation is so dangerous,
that`s the same thing with Mitt Romney. There are people who watch the
show, I`m sure who have many criticisms of Mitt Romney.
If you could get him, if we could explain to the president-elect that the
job of the president is to tweet while the secretary of state runs the
country that would be a miracle and a blessing. It`s really – the new –
the likely new national security adviser, Michael Flynn, was a paid agent
of Russia and Turkey and took intelligence briefings while being a paid
agent. As called for the deportation almost led to his death of a person
who has received shelter in the United States and the Turks want to kill.
We have a foreign intelligence penetration of the upper branches of
American government gathering. If David Petraeus will do this job, forgive
him his e-mail infractions, please.
O`DONNELL: All right. You win that round –
FRUM: He`s a patriot.
O`DONNELL: You win that round David Frum. Anything is better than Donald
Trump. And whoever those generals are who Donald Trump thinks that he`s
way smarter than, we don`t want any of them. Rick Wilson, what about
Lieutenant General Flynn and his selection, which doesn`t require senate
confirmation to be the national security adviser?
WILSON: As David just pointed out, General Flynn is regarded by a lot of
folks in the intelligence community as the tip of the spear on what is
basically a de facto intelligence penetration by the soviets of our
government at the highest level. This is a guy who has, you know, had cozy
dinners with Putin. This is a guy who the intelligence agency regards not
only as temperamentally unsuited for the job, but possibly compromised.
And this is – he`s a danger in a number of areas.
Like I said, the intelligence community is blowing up tonight over the
possibility of Michael Flynn being in one of the most senior and most
sensitive positions who has access to literally every bit of intelligence
product this country produces.
O`DONNELL: David, you tweeted today that we should all be studying the
FRUM: Presidents can be removed in two ways. By impeachment of course or
high crimes and misdemeanors and we have a pretty high bar for what
constitutes that. But if somebody is simply psychologically or physically
incapable, there`s also a process in the constitution, article 4, section 4
of the 25th amendment that says it`s a complicated process, it`s difficult
to do. I don`t predict that this will happen at all.
But I do think we`re going to be talking about it more and more as we
wonder about the mental state of the president-elect.
O`DONNELL: All right. We`re going to have to leave it there for tonight.
David Frum and Rick Wilson, thank you both for joining us tonight. Really
FRUM: Thank you.
WILSON: Thanks Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Coming up, Trump supporters are going to be disappointed if
they`re expecting Donald Trump to keep those promises. Most of them are
impossible promises. How many broken promises will it take for them to
turn on Donald Trump? That`s next.
O`DONNELL: Here is one of the very important promises that Donald Trump
made to his voters. It was about a complicated subject that most voters,
Trump voters, Clinton voters, most voters across the country do not
understand, but he repeated it constantly, and it`s the way he has promised
to bring lost American manufacturing jobs back. Here is that promise.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT-ELECT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: We`re also
going to stand up to foreign currency manipulation, which is the single
greatest threat that we have on our trade, and there is nobody, nobody that
does it better than China. They are grand masters. And we`re going to
apply tariffs and taxes to countries that cheat.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: It wasn`t one of the big applause lines at the rallies, the
whole foreign currency manipulation thing, but during the time Donald Trump
has been running for president, the Chinese currency has dropped more than
dramatically than it has in years. It has dropped very steeply in recent
days, since Donald Trump won the presidency, and this is not good news for
American manufacturing, because it makes Chinese goods cheaper on the
international market, so it`s not good news for people who are afraid of
losing manufacturing jobs in the United States, or the Trump voters who
want to bring manufacturing jobs back to the United States.
It`s also not good news for the Chinese people. It`s very bad news for the
Chinese people who have money, because the value of their money is going
down every day. Imagine a savings account, where the value of it goes down
every day and you haven`t withdrawn a penny. And the only way to hold on
to that value for the Chinese is to use their money to buy something
outside of China. In effect, to put their money in a savings account in
another currency or as the very rich Chinese do, buy a piece of property in
United States, like maybe an apartment.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I love the Chinese. They buy my apartments for millions.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: So, the sharp drop in the Chinese currency is bad for American
manufacturing, but American manufacturing jobs, it`s bad for the Chinese,
and it`s good for Donald Trump. And Donald Trump`s children, and his
grandchildren but because Donald Trump is now the President-Elect Of The
United States, of course he must already be doing battle with the Chinese,
against his own interests. Doing battle with the Chinese over this drop in
their currency even though this drop in their currency is due to economic
pressures and market forces within china, it does not appear to be a
manipulated drop in currency, manipulated by the Chinese government.
It is, in the view of today`s Wall Street Journal, the most important thing
in the world. The most important economic story in the world and there it
is on the front page of the Wall Street Journal, the number one story.
Right beside the picture of the of the current vice president shaking hands
with the next vice president, there is no comment from Donald Trump in that
story, on the front page of the Wall Street Journal.
But when you follow the story over to page eight, you discover down deep in
the middle of the story, this sentence. Representatives for Mr. Trump
could not immediately be reached for comment. That`s all it has. All the
article has about Donald Trump. Could not immediately be reached for
comment, because, why? They`re busy selling apartments to the Chinese?
Donald trump is going to do absolutely nothing about fluctuations in the
Chinese currency, despite what he said at his rallies, nothing. Both
because he was never telling the truth about it and because the American
president doesn`t have the power to do what Donald Trump wanted to do. The
president cannot raise tariffs on Chinese goods. Only the congress can do
that and they won`t. And they won`t do it because tariff legislation is
too complicated, too complex, it will immediately get bogged down in
hundreds of amendments about other trade issues and get trapped in
gridlock, and they also won`t even attempt to do it, because it will be a
Because if we raise tariffs every time a currency fluctuated, we would be
raising tariffs every single day, every day. And then every country in the
world would do the same to us. Then international trade would grind to a
halt and we would have a worldwide depression and that`s why we won`t do
Donald Trump`s childish idea. So what happens when Donald Trump`s voters
discover that Donald Trump wasn`t telling them the truth about that, about
the thing they won`t even remember, the Chinese currency manipulation?
What happens when they discover he`s not going to put any tariffs on
Chinese goods? That he`s not going to bring steel manufacturing jobs back
from China, that`s not going to happen. Donald Trump has already abandoned
the idea that Mexico will pay for the wall, he`s asking congress to pay for
his wall. What the Trump voters think about that. How long will it take
for them to feel betrayed? How many broken promises will it take for Trump
voters to feel betrayed?
How long will it take for them to turn on him? That`s next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT-ELECT UNITED STATES OF AMERICA builds the wall.
Build the wall. Build the wall. Build the wall.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Listen I`m a Texan and I realized that rural areas have
no point using the money on the fence.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There are (INAUDIBLE) for two vials of wall, you can
get a predator drone.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining us now, J.D. VANCE the author of Hillbilly Elegy: A
Memoir of a Family and culture in Crisis. .J.D., you know the Trump voter
that has become the most interesting Trump voter. The one who gave him the
Electoral College, in those manufacturing states where they`ve suffered
losses at manufacturing jobs over decades and they heard a lot of promises,
an awful lot of promises like that one, the build the wall thing, where,
and China`s going to pay for the wall. He`s already asking Congress to pay
for the wall. How did they hear the wall story? Is Mexico paying for the
wall an important part of that story or not?
J.D. VANCE, AUTHOR, HILLBILLY ELEGY: I think maybe it`s an important part
of this story just because it can show, you know, it shows that Trump is
willing to say things that are controversial and willing to go after the
people who are taking our jobs and so forth. But I actually don`t think
that among the core sort of average Trump voter, that the wall was that
important of a part. Obviously, it was important for the rallies, as we
just saw. But i don`t think most people who are voting for Trump, average
voters, were that concerned about that.
O`DONNELL: Let`s focus on the ones that could go the other way, because
Republicans have a certain vote they`re going to get no matter what. And
they tend to get 100 percent of the racists vote all the time. So it
doesn`t matter how much racist stuff the Republicans candidate actually,
you know, gives off. But that voter who voted for Obama four years ago in
some of these manufacturing states, that went with Trump this time,
apparently over Hillary Clinton being too closely associated with NAFTA and
policies like that, that they believe hurt them. What do they need to see
Donald Trump do?
VANCE: Well, I think of it along a couple of dimensions. So over the
medium term, what they really need to see is some improvements. So
obviously, Trump wasn`t super specific about policy
VANCE: So the question is does these opioid crisis get better? Do wages
start to grow? Do jobs become a little easier to come by. That`s the
first dimension. I think the second dimension at which it`s going to be
really interesting to watch on the domestic policy front is this core
tension between 1980s-style conservatism and Trump`s populism as it unfolds
in Congress and actual policies that get enacted, because I think if Trump
becomes too much of a 1980s-style Republican in a 21st century that
requires much more complex solutions, I do think that voters may penalize
him for that.
O`DONNELL: How much time do you think they give him?
VANCE: Well I think they`ll give him a few years, at least. So one of the
things we`ve seen in this consistent wave of swing elections from 2000 to
2008, and from 2008 to 2016, there is a bit of a grace period for the
President who comes and folks only really start to penalize that President
when it`s very clear that things aren`t better. Nut I do think that serves
as a cautionary note for Republicans because in but in 2020, 2024, if these
problems, if the trend line continues to get worse then I think they are
going to penalize.
O`DONNELL: there`s a very fragile line of support. both Hillary Clinton
and Donald Trump got a significant vote from people who don`t like – don`t
like either one of them.
O`DONNELL: But of the voters who didn`t like either one of them, Trump got
the bigger share of that group and that seems to me to be his most fragile
VANCE: Well that`s absolutely right because that would suggest they voted
for Trump not because they liked him but because they liked Hillary Clinton
even less, right? So I do think that there are – one of the takeaways from
the Republican election or that the Republicans success should not be that
this coalition is super stable, because it obviously isn`t.
O`DONNELL: J.D. Vance, thank you for coming in. I really appreciate it.
VANCE: Thank you so much.
O`DONNELL: Coming up, George Takei gets the last word tonight on Donald
Trump`s campaign promise about a registry for Muslims.
O`DONNELL: Donald Trump hasn`t mentioned his idea for a national registry
of Muslims recently, but here`s what he said about it last year when he was
running for the Republican Presidential Nomination.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Should there business a database that tracks Muslims
here in this country?
TRUMP: There should be a lot of systems, beyond databases. I mean we
should have a lot of systems. And today you can do it. But right now, we
have to have a border. We have to have strength. We have to have a wall.
And we cannot let what`s happening to this country happen –
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But it`s something your white house would like to
TRUMP: I would certainly implement that, absolutely.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Now a Trump supporter and a co-chair of a super PAC that
supported Donald Trump said that Japanese American internment in this
country in World War II is a legal precedent for the government maintaining
a Muslim registry.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CARL HIGBIE, TRUMP SURROGATE: We`ve done it with Iran back a while ago, we
did it during World War II with Japanese, which, you know, call it what you
will maybe wrong –
MEGYN KELLY, AMERICAN JOURNALIST, FOX NEWS CHANNEL, come on, you`re not
proposing we go back to the days of internment camps, I hope.
HIGBIE: no, no, I`m not proposing that at all, Megyn.
KELLY: You know better than to suggest that. That`s the kind of stuff
that gets people scared, Carl.
HIGBIE: Right. I`m just saying, there is precedent for it. I`m not saying
I agree with it. But in this I absolutely believe –
KELLY: You can`t be citing Japanese internment camps as precedent for
anything the president-elect is going to do.
HIGBIE: Look, the president needs to protect America first. Now if that
means having people who are not protected under our constitution have some
kind of registratry so we can understand – until we can identify the true
threat and where it`s coming from, I support it.
O`DONNELL: Joining us now, George Takei. He`s an actor and director and
human rights activist. He and his family were held in Japanese American
internment camps. George, thank you very much for joining us tonight. We
wanted to hear your reaction to this as soon as it happened.
GEORGE TAKEI, AMERICAN ACTOR: It was shocking but was not unexpected from
a Trump surrogate. Mr. Higbie used the imprisonment of innocent Japanese
Americans as a precedent. Yes, it happened. But it is not a precedent.
It is the most disgraceful chapter of American history. This is a country
that believes in order, law. It`s a nation of law. We believe in due
process. And all of that disappeared. As a matter of fact, in 1988,
President Ronald Reagan had to apologize for the imprisonment of innocent
Japanese Americans during the Second World War.
We were totally innocent. And yet we were imprisoned, because of racist –
race, bigotry, war hysteria, and the failure of political leadership. That
is what happened that made this happen. And here again, they`re talking
about the political leadership that`s about to be is talking about the very
same thing, and using us as a precedent. It was a disgrace and a shameful
chapter of American history.
O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to some hr of Donald Trump`s specifics about how
he would register Muslims in this country.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Specifically, how do you actually get them registered?
TRUMP: It would be just good management. What you have to do is good
management procedures. And we can do that. That`s nice.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Would you go to mosques to sign these people up?
TRUMP: Different places. You sign them up at different places, but it`s
all about management. Our country has no management.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: George, obviously he has no idea what he`s talking about. You
sign them up at different places. He wasn`t asked how he would be able to
tell what someone`s religion is.
TAKEI: Yes, he`s going to go by a faith of a people. And register them.
Registration of any group of people, and certainly registration of Muslims,
is a prelude to internment. This is something that we cannot have happen
again. It is dangerous and it is a moral bankruptcy. We`ve got to stand
up and resist this. And I would urge all good Americans to write to your
congressional representatives and the president-elect and tell them that
this is not what we stand for as a nation.
We are – we go by the rule of law. And a registry is this simple
categorization of a people of one faith. In our case it was people of one
ancestry. We were American citizens, and yet we were – because we looked
like the enemy, we were treated like the enemy and imprisoned. And this is
what`s going to happen with a Muslim registry. And we as Americans will
not tolerate that again. And we en masse will oppose that.
O`DONNELL: And this is something the president-elect could clear up
instantly. He could easily issue a statement, a written statement, just
saying, there will absolutely no registry by religion of any kind in this
country of any time. He has people living in fear, American citizens
living in fear in this country since election night because of this.
TAKEI: What he has to know is that we are a nation of due process. We are
a nation that believes that there has to be charges that can be challenged
in a court of law and then whatever happens, whether it`s those people
being put on a list. But we do not believe in a sweeping registration
simply by faith. In the same way –
O`DONNELL: George, I want to you quickly before we go, prior to this
presidential campaign, did you ever dream that you would be publicly
discussing something like this, a registry, something like this, in this
country? That this country hadn`t learned its lesson in World War II?
TAKEI: I just spoke here at Penn State, on the internment of Japanese
Americans. I`ve been doing this all my life, in order to prevent that from
recurring again. and yet, you know, deep down inside, I thought I was doing
this, planting seeds, so that we won`t have this happen again. But now
they`re saying that this is a precedent. It is not a precedent. It was
when our nation was disgrace. Our good democracy was smeared and we will
not allow that to happen again. This must not happen again. And we
should all let Donald Trump know in no uncertain ways.
O`DONNELL: George Takei gets tonight`s last word. Thank you, George.
MSNBC`s live coverage continues now into `The 11th Hour` with Brian
Williams. That`s next.
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