The Last Word With Lawrence O’Donnell, Transcript 11/21/2016

Mark Thompson, Yoni Applebaum, Kurt Bardella, Tim Ryan, Kyle Kirchmeier, Paul Butler, David Frum, Jonathan Dienst

Date: November 21, 2016
Guest: Mark Thompson, Yoni Applebaum, Kurt Bardella, Tim Ryan, Kyle
Kirchmeier, Paul Butler, David Frum, Jonathan Dienst

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Good people don`t smoke marijuana. And it`s
not funny, you guys.

That is a thing that happened, and that`s probably our next Attorney
General. That does it for us tonight, we will see you again tomorrow, now
it`s time for THE LAST WORD.

Ari Melber sitting in for Lawrence tonight, good evening, Ari.

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, thank you Rachel –

MADDOW: Thank you –

MELBER: We begin with some breaking news this hour, Donald Trump, yes,
back on Twitter attacking one of the biggest areas of concern surrounding
his presidency.

All of this after unveiling a carefully scripted video that suggest Trump`s
tough talk on the campaign trail is hitting a brick wall of reality.


provide the American people with an update on the White House transition.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A tape produced by his own team, the press not

conference in due course.

ALEC BALDWIN, ACTOR: What`s the matter? Is there something on your

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, all of this.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Trump`s sprawling business ties are coming under
intense scrutiny.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The company is not breaking any law.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All the signs are horrible.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The conflicts are pervasive, they`re obvious, they`re

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We saw another tweet storm over the weekend.

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC: Mike Pence was harassed last night at the theater
by the cast of “Hamilton”.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Donald Trump lecturing anyone on bullying is just a

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You have people, white nationalists congregate a couple
of blocks from the White House.

RICHARD SPENCER, WHITE NATIONALIST: Hail Trump! Hail our people! Hail

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And this is what he`s talking about. This “Hamilton”,
it`s quite alarming, and it`s a bit childish.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Donald Trump is considering splitting his time between
the White House and his Manhattan residence which would cost taxpayers tens
of millions of dollars.

But it`s all worth it to help a billionaire go night in his big-boy bed.



MELBER: Good evening. A late-night tweet from Donald Trump tonight shows
that he doesn`t get it.

Under fire for how he`s mixing his business interests with governing.
Trump is claiming the press didn`t know that he had business interests
abroad at all.

Take a look. Prior to the election, he said, “it was well-known I have
interests in properties all over the world.

Only the crooked media makes this a big deal.” So, Trump is still picking
fights with the press and typing tough from the comfort of his smartphone.

And we know many Trump supporters said they liked that he tells it like it
is, from hammering political correctness to pledging to drain the swamp.

But when it comes to actually governing, Trump is singing a different tune
tonight. He also released a new video that literally dilutes just about
every big, tough promise he made on the campaign trail.

Its video was created and distributed by the president-elect`s transition
team, it wasn`t part of any open press event.

It started with the biggest issue of all – immigration. But tonight,
Trump`s big transition briefing only offered this on immigration.


TRUMP: I will direct the Department of Labor to investigate all abuses of
visa programs that undercut the American worker.


MELBER: That is, of course, a far cry from Trump on the trail in August.


TRUMP: Zero tolerance for criminal aliens. It`s zero.


Day one, my first hour in office, those people are gone.


MELBER: And visa oversights, long ways from that famous wall.


TRUMP: We will build a great wall along the southern border and Mexico
will pay for the wall.

They don`t know it yet, but they`re going to pay for the wall.



MELBER: And here`s Trump`s new transition video on national security.


TRUMP: I will ask the Department of Defense and the chairman of the Joint
Chiefs of Staff to develop a comprehensive plan to protect America`s vital
infrastructure from cyber attacks and all other form of attacks.


MELBER: So, it took less than two weeks for Trump to start mimicking
Washington`s incremental talk of developing plans instead of this.


TRUMP: I would bomb the – out of them. I would just bomb those suckers,
and that`s right.

I`d blow up the pipes. I`d blow up the – I`d blow up every single inch,
there would be nothing left.


MELBER: Now let`s be clear. Any kind of talk might be an improvement over
that kind of rhetoric.

But if Trump`s claim to fame is being tough and stubborn, he is giving up a
lot awfully quickly.

And that`s all before we get to the issue that Trump`s transition
priorities video briefing didn`t even mention it all.

You may have noticed it missing the subject of repealing Obamacare. Let`s
get right to it, Jonathan Alter is with us, the columnist for “The Daily
Beast” and an Msnbc political analyst.

And David Frum; a senior editor for “The Atlantic”. Plenty to keep track
of. But David, let me start with you, was it a very different Trump we`re
seeing in those little incremental statements in that video tonight and
what do you think of it?

DAVID FRUM, SENIOR EDITOR, THE ATLANTIC: Well, it was a breath-taking

My favorite part was where a man who is president of the United States
because of a cyber attack by hostile foreign power promises that from now
on we are going to stand up to cyber attacks by hostile foreign powers.

That was – that was breath-taking. It`s not a surprise that he`s backing
away from a lot of the promises. But the key thing always to keep in mind
is the point of the administration is the graft.

Everything else is decoration. If you try to think about the Trump
administration to be in terms of policy, in terms of intentionality, you`re
really missing the point. All of those are instruments, the central thrust
are going to be the scandals.

MELBER: When you say graft, I just – you`re saying that when you see a
video like this, and you see its lack of purpose or its total contradiction
of everything he ran on for a year, you view that as kind of a sideshow
because you`re concerned that this purpose will actually be corruption and
sort of –


MELBER: Bilking the government by Trump?

FRUM: I don`t think you actually – I think he intends to bilk foreign
governments –


FRUM: More than the American government. Bilking the American government
is hard, it`s got a lot of safeguards and the legal sanctions. So, he`s
not going to transfer Yosemite Park to his own bank account.

What – that would be dangerous. But what he is going to try is to use –
as we`ve seen already, to use his position as president to direct flows of
foreign wealth to himself and to his family.

And without his tax returns, it`s going to be very hard even to know that
is happening and therefore to enforce.

The policy stuff, you know, some of it work, some of it is pretty good
actually, but it`s not the point.

MELBER: Well, let me go to Jonathan, David paints a dark picture. We`re
going to be talking about that later in the hour as well.

Legally, Trump will not have to disclose his tax returns as president. So,
that would be hard to track unless he has a change of heart.

The constitution does bar him taking direct benefits from foreign heads of
state, foreign governments, but your view on what we`re seeing here.

JONATHAN ALTER, COLUMNIST, DAILY BEAST: Well, he`s in real danger of
facing constitutional crisis when it comes to office if he doesn`t sell his

Or according to the constitution, he could get Congress to allow him to be
in business with foreign governments.

Remember with sovereign wealth funds, when you`re in business with
foreigners, you are in business with foreign governments.

The constitution has a flat prohibition on that in any circumstance
whatsoever is the quote from the constitution. Encourage people to look at
the emolument`s clause –

MELBER: Right –

ALTER: Of the constitution. So, this in the same way we have to respect
the constitution when it comes to the electoral college.

You know, it`s not something that`s a convenience. Hillary won the popular
vote, but she lost because of the constitution. The constitution prohibits
him from doing business overseas.

MELBER: Right –

ALTER: So, he will either be facing impeachment or he will have to get
Congress to exempt him, or he will have to sell his holdings, those are his
only options.

MELBER: And David, the other part in this weird video was – people have
heard of two for one deals, he has now, I guess, as of today as president-
elect, a regulatory plan, that`s a one for two deal on –

ALTER: Yes –

MELBER: Removing regulation, take a look.


TRUMP: I will formulate a rule which says that for every one new
regulation, two old regulations must be eliminated, so important.


MELBER: So important. David, what did you think of that, is that a good
way to manage federal regulations?

FRUM: Look, this is a bromide that if you`ve attended as many
conservatives after doing speeches as I have, you heard many times over the
past 25 years. I cannot begin to count the number of – usually – it`s
usually a one-for-one.

Two-for-one is I think – it is an expansion, but it`s usually one-for-one.
I think president – Nicolas Sarkozy when he was president of France made a
similar kind of commitment that would have been a decade and a half ago.

It was not a bad idea, it`s not a bad idea. A lot of the other things
Donald Trump talks about are not bad ideas, they`re just not the point.

ALTER: Well, I think is a dopey idea. You know, it`s the kind of – sort
of simplistic solution to the complicated process of getting rid of some
unnecessary regulations. In other cases regulating more to prevent
another, you know, global recession.

The idea of repealing Dodd-Frank and putting us all at the mercy of these,
you know, these banksters who took us into the – into the dip in 2008, you
know, is not a good idea.

And I think the Democrats in Congress will fight that deregulation. But
the first thing he`s going to have to deal with are all of these little
self-inflicted wounds.

I mean, for people who haven`t read the “New York Times” story today about
“sieg heiling” the alt-right conference.

From now on, the alt-right should be and will be called the Neo-Nazi alt-
right. So, he has this aide, Steve Bannon, who – you know, he`s going to
have to be dealing with this in the next few days.

My understanding is that, tomorrow is going to be a strong push-back on
somebody who used his business “Breitbart” as – by his definition, an alt-
right platform. So, you have a guy who used a Neo-Nazi alt-right platform
right next to the president-elect.

MELBER: Right –

ALTER: The Congress is not going to put up –


ALTER: With this –


FRUM: Jonathan, my strong advice –

ALTER: Yes –

FRUM: To things like that is do not bite at the dog biscuits. Follow the
money. Everything else is just a dog biscuit –

ALTER: Well, you know what? This is – David, when you have been literally
“sieg heiling” – if the “New York Times” reporter hadn`t stayed until the
end on Saturday night, he wouldn`t have seen.

The alt-right is a Neo-Nazi –

FRUM: It`s –

ALTER: Movement.

FRUM: It`s a big –

ALTER: That`s not completely – just look away from and say, oh, that`s –

FRUM: It`s a big –

ALTER: Just a little distraction. It`s a Neo-Nazi –

FRUM: It`s a big –

ALTER: Movement.

FRUM: It`s a big country full of sociopaths, many of them in the greater
Washington area –


Many of them able to rent hotel rooms –


Follow –

ALTER: Neo-Nazi –

MELBER: Well, I`ll tell you what? –

FRUM: Follow the money –

MELBER: Gentlemen, I think you`re both hitting important points. We`re
going to try –

ALTER: Yes –

MELBER: To do both because some of that new video is disturbing, some of
it out just tonight. Jonathan Alter, thank you, David Frum, thank you.

ALTER: Thank you.

MELBER: Coming up, the man challenging Nancy Pelosi to lead the Democrats
against Donald Trump is going to join us to react at these new videos and

And as discussion – as we were discussing the white nationalist who headed
to D.C. to praise Trump and proclaim America is only for white people.

We`ll show you the new video, all while Donald Trump remains personally


SPENCER: To be white is to be a striver, a crusader, an explorer and a



MELBER: Donald Trump has sent dozens of attack tweets until election day.
Six tweets attacking the “New York Times” alone.

Three tweets attacking the cast of the play “Hamilton”. Another tweet
attacking “Saturday Night Live”. But he never found the time to post any
tweets to address this.


SPENCER: Hail Trump! Hail our people! Hail victory!




MELBER: What white nationalist leaders said about Trump`s election this
week, and new video and what Donald Trump has not said in response, that`s
straight ahead.


MELBER: Donald Trump has come under fire for his uncomfortable and at
times disgusting association with the white nationalist movement.

Tonight, there is a new video as I mentioned of a demonstration at a white
nationalist conference that celebrated Trump`s victory this weekend.


SPENCER: Hail Trump! Hail our people! Hail victory!




MELBER: The man in that video is white nationalist leader Richard Spencer.
He defended his remarks to Nbc today saying, “the alt-right is not a Neo-
Nazi movement and that is a non-starter.”

He also said, “there`s an ironic exuberance to it all, I think that`s what
one of the things that makes the alt-right fun, because that we`re willing
to do the things that are a bit cheeky.”

A hateful speech coupled with a spike in hate crimes since Donald Trump`s
election is a problem. The Southern Poverty Law Center accounts more than
700 reports now.

Seven hundred of hateful instance that since election day, leading calls
for Trump to proactively and unambiguously speak out against these types of
attacks as well as this type of speech. It`s not as if Donald Trump hasn`t
found the time to comment on other public demonstrations.

And so, election day, we counted he sent 39 tweets with an attack on the
cast of Broadway`s “Hamilton”, an attack on those protests against him.

And after questions for comment from Msnbc today, the Trump transition
team`s Bryan Lanza issued a response to that video, saying, “President-
elect Trump has continued to denounce racism of any kind.

And he was elected because he will be a leader for every American. To
think otherwise is a complete misrepresentation of the movement that united
Americans from all backgrounds.”

And joining us now is Kurt Bardella, president of Endeavor Strategies, he -
- former client of “Breitbart”.

Also joining us, Yoni Applebaum; politics editor at “The Atlantic”, he has
a documentary in development on Richard Spencer, as well as Mark Thompson;
the host of “Make it Plain” on “Sirius Xm” radio.

Mark, I`ll start with you, your view of what we see in that video, this
celebration by white nationalists of Donald Trump as someone from the so-
called alt-right is his chief adviser in the White House.

And is that statement from a spokesperson enough?

MARK THOMPSON, RADIO HOST: It occurs. I mean, thank you for having me,
Ari. It occurs to me that they`re going to play good cop/bad cop perhaps
throughout his administration.

He`s going to make statements of, you know, slight or meek denunciation.
But his followers are still going to do this.

And that, I guess, he thinks will absolve him or clear him. But we cannot
allow that to happen. We must remind him and the American public that this
comes from him.

It comes from his campaign, its left over from his campaign, canned,
rehearsed statements are not sufficient.

In 2016 going into 2017, we cannot abide people giving the “heil” Hitler
salute to Donald Trump. That is completely unacceptable.

And it really undermines and overshadows this notion, this argument that
this was about a revolt to the white working class and the economy.

That takes all of that away, and it – as much as all know, that this was
really a white lashing about racism.

MELBER: Yes, and Yoni, this is something obviously you`re studying and
something a lot of people don`t really want to see or think about,
especially after an election where there was talk of division.

And so, sometimes there`s a mood of – oh, gosh, can`t we move on or
approach this presidency with an open mind? But this is happening in
Washington without a real confrontation by the new president-elect.

Again, dispatching spokespersons to deal with it. Now, here`s more of Mr.
Spencer talking about the media. I want you to unpack what he said after
we hear it, here we go.


SPENCER: The mainstream media or perhaps we should refer to them in the
original German, lugenpresse.


Indeed, one wonders if these people are people at all.


Or instead soul-less Gollum, animated by some dark power to repeat whatever
talking point John Oliver stated the night before.


MELBER: What`s he conveying here? What is the context?


And he is dredging up words that are well-known to his audience.
Lugenpresse is a term coined during the first world war to refer to the
lying press and then popularized by the Nazis during the second world war.

And he`s referring to reporters as Gollums, dredging up an image from
Jewish history. What he`s trying to do here is to portray the press as
sub-human and alien and the enemies of Spencer and of his movement.

MELBER: Right, and so, do you view it as directly anti-Semitic with all
the Nazi references?

APPLEBAUM: Oh, I don`t think there`s any question about that. And I doubt
Spencer himself would dispute that either. He was fairly forthright in his
speech. He says it was a mood of ironic exuberance in retrospect.

Our producers who were there report that he`s right about the exuberance.
This was a crowd that felt tremendously empowered by Donald Trump`s
electoral win.

And whatever Trump thinks of them, they`re quite clear that they see in his
election the signal that they`ve been waiting for, is that this is an
opportunity for white nationalism.

MELBER: Right, and so, Kurt, let me read to you what the U.S. holocaust
museum says about this.

They do not weigh in on every political debate, far from it. But there is
a time to address these things directly.

And it doesn`t mean waiting until it is too violent or too late. So this
is – this is their words, not mine.

“The holocaust did not begin with killing, it began with words. The museum
calls on all American citizens, our religious and civic leaders and the
leadership of all branches of the government to confront racist thinking
and divisive, hateful speech.”

Your view in terms of the conservative piece of this and the “Breitbart”
piece and the Bannon piece of whether Trump needs to do more, given the
concern from organizations like that.

president is to actually lead.

That so many people in this country take their cues from the person who is
the most powerful person in this country.

And this is a time to be vigilant against hateful rhetoric, against
demonstrations of racism and divisiveness.

And the thing is, Donald Trump got elected on an entire wave of anger, on
being a provocateur, on trying to create divisions within the American

On highlighting and exploiting the worst instincts of humanity to try to
get him into office and then to power. And now you see all of these groups
are going to take their cues from this – from this president.

And if he doesn`t lead and not through a spokesperson, not through a
staffer that nobody knows or no one cares about. If he doesn`t take the
direction to lead, things are going to get so much worse in this country.

So much more hate is going to spread, the vitriol, the normalization of
this will happen. And it`s really incumbent upon all of us now to do what
he won`t.

To stand up and say when something is wrong, and something is hateful, and
something shouldn`t be happening, to be the first to stand up and point it
out and be vigilant about it, and not back down.

MELBER: And you left “Breitbart” when you were there, affiliated with
them. What was your view of Steve Bannon and his orientation towards this
part of the so-called movement?

BARDELLA: Yes, and I – you know, I was their media consultant. And when
I saw, you know, them evolve from being a platform to kind of chronicle the
center-right movement to becoming an active participant and the de facto
propaganda arm of the Trump campaign, I thought that`s just something I
couldn`t be associated with.

That`s why I made the decision to leave. Again, the normalization of this
kind of rhetoric, giving a platform and the sounding board for people who
are racist, who are homophobic, who are sexist, who are xenophobic to
congregate everyday and make it OK to think in advance these types of
ideas, when frankly it`s not.

MELBER: Right, and then there`s the piece that you mentioned, the fact
that they released just a statement when asked, so reactively and not by
Trump himself.

So, then Mark, you think about during the campaign when these things came
up, Kellyanne Conway also said today, oh, he`s addressed this many times.

It`s sort of, hey, he doesn`t have to do it now by the way, he`s president-
elect. You know, he did this before. Then you go back and look at before
and surprised, no, he didn`t know – do it well.

We pulled for example the discussion in February when he was asked on “Cnn”
about his endorsement from or support from a KKK leader David Duke. And
this was his bizarre, non-answer, take a look.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Will you unequivocally condemn David Duke and say that
you don`t want his vote or that of other white supremacists in this

TRUMP: Well, just so you understand, I don`t know anything about David
Duke, OK?

I don`t know anything about what you`re even talking about with the white
supremacy or white supremacist.

So, I don`t know – I mean, I don`t know, did he endorse me or what`s going
on? Because you know, I know nothing about David Duke.

I know nothing about white supremacists. And so, you`re asking me a
question that I`m supposed to be talking about people that I know nothing


MELBER: That was a lot of “I don`t knows”, then later came back and tried
to clean it up.

But the history is not that clear either when they try to cite the history
and say Trump`s always been against this stuff.

THOMPSON: That`s obfuscation where he probably doesn`t even know the
meaning of, but that`s what he`s doing. And it`s not enough.

He`s got to come out strongly against it. He probably won`t do, Ari, and
that`s the thing that`s scary.

And if we allow – Spencer said this is fun and cheeky, so, maybe they do
think they`re play-acting and playing dress up, so, they play like Nazis

They`re going to play like slave holders tomorrow or confederates the next
day, or those in the crusades attacking Muslims or those who (INAUDIBLE)
the Japanese.

Are they going to play all of these different roles? It`s not funny, it`s
not fun, it`s not cheeky, it`s offensive. And it continues to divide
America, and we all should stand together against it.

MELBER: And so, Yoni, looking at all this, how big a movement is this?
What are your concerns about where this goes in this current climate?

APPLEBAUM: Look, Spencer himself is leading a relatively small movement.
We`re talking about a couple of 100 participants who were there on

There are thousands around the country who follow this movement. One thing
that I worry about is whether there are others who feel empowered to act on
their own perhaps as a result of this rhetoric.

But really, this should be a softball for any president. When somebody is
quoting Nazis approvingly, that`s one that they should just tee up and hit
out of the bark.

It`s not politically challenging to condemn this sort of thing. And the
fact that Donald Trump has repeatedly been asked to do so, and so far what
we`ve gotten is a statement out of his transition team.

I think it raises some very serious questions about the extent to which he
recognizes the seriousness of what`s going on and whether or not he`s
prepared to act and to do what he needs to do to clearly condemn it.

He didn`t say no, but this is not acceptable.

MELBER: Yoni Applebaum, Mark Thompson and Kurt Bardella, thank you all for
joining me this evening.

THOMPSON: Thank you.

MELBER: Now, coming up, the Ohio congressman challenging Nancy Pelosi to
be the new leader of the Democrats in the House is responding to what
Donald Trump says he`ll do on day one.

Congressman Tim Ryan joins me, that`s next.



DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT-ELECT: On trade, I am going to issue a
notification of intent to withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a
potential disaster for our country. Instead, we will negotiate fair,
bilateral trade deals that bring jobs and industry back onto American


MELBER: Joining me now to react to Donald Trump`s new policy video is the
Democrat now challenging Nancy Pelosi to be leader of the House Democratic
Caucus, Ohio Congressman Tim Ryan. Thanks for joining me tonight.

REP. TIM RYAN (D), OHIO: Thanks for having me.

MELBER: When you look at Donald Trump`s address there, including his
remarks on trade, do you see anything you support?

RYAN: Well, I do think we need to take a look at TPP and reevaluate it. I
don`t think we need to shut ourselves off from the world. We clearly have
to be a player in the world. But I do think we need a new trade model. I
understand that the trade models have been good in the aggregate. But it`s
wiping out towns and communities all across our country. And we need to
take a new look at it and I`m okay with that.

MELBER: So where do you draw a contract?

RYAN: But again, I don`t want to get into the –

MELBER: If you`re the leader of the democrats instead of Nancy Pelosi,
where do you draw a contrast from what we`re seeing with Donald Trump right

RYAN: Well, the devil`s in the details. I mean I`d start with Bannon and
Flynn and some of the appointments he`s made. And I`ve said that those
folks would not be welcome in my office as minority leader. I`m not going
to in anyway normalize this kind of white supremacist behavior and those
kind of things. That`s not going to be welcome in my office and they won`t
be welcome in my office.

And I think you got take it issue by issue. Look, I`ve been in Congress 14
years now. I`ve been long enough to know the devil is in the details. We
want to sit down and we want to hear these proposals. a lot of this stuff
before we can see and hear and then read something on paper is just kind of
preliminary stuff. So we need to wait and see what it actually looks like.

MELBER: Sure, that makes sense. That`s part of Washington. But at the
same time you can`t just wait around, some Democrats say, well, Donald
Trump is kicking into high gear. Bannon`s telling folks he`s going to do a
big infrastructure plan. But Democrat Ron Klain, who oversaw, as you
probably know, the 2009 Recovery Act, which had a lot of spending. He says
Democrats should oppose it out of the gate because it`s mostly moving
around tax cuts for companies that are already doing building but won`t be
making any new buildings. What`s your position on that if you were to be

RYAN: Well, from what I`m looking at, I would be in agreement that we need
to vigorously opposed this because it looks like a shell game. It looks
like it`s gimmicks. And they`re trying to push one, you know, one kind
rhetoric about rebuilding the country and then it`s going to be a give

Look, I was around in the Bush years when we passed the Clear Skies Bill
that was a giveaway to, you know, big energy companies and things like
that. So I understand what we`re hearing here, but we`ve got to actually
see what the proposals are. If we`re going to do an Infrastructure Bill,
it needs to be big. It needs to have Davis Bacon in it and project labor
agreements. And it needs to be paid for. We`re not going to mortgage our
kids` future on a give away that`s a big gimmick to a bunch of
corporations. That`s not going to happen under my watch.

MELBER: There`s also talk about who should run the DNC. I spoke to a
Democratic source this evening that there`s an idea about trying to get Joe
Biden to play sort of an emeritus role, and to have a younger member of
congress, one name floated was Joe Kennedy, do it that way. A, have you
heard discussions on the Hill, and B, are you open to it?

RYAN: I think we need to be open to everything right now. The vote`s not
till February. I love Joe Biden. I think he`s terrific. I have heard
that rumor. And I serve with Joe Kennedy, who I think is a real rock star
in our party, a real up and coming star, and I think, you know, he`s
definitely under consideration.

But let`s see, you know, I`ve heard Tom Perez. I`ve heard others – other
names floated. So let`s see who gets fleshed out here in the next weeks
and months and then start making a decision as to who would be best. But
this is the rebuilding year for the for the democrats. And we`ve got to
do it and do it quickly. We need a quick are turn around moving into `18,
because the Republicans control of everything. So this is our shot to
have a little win at our back because of the natural political cycle when
there`s one party rule. So let`s get our act together. Let`s get new
leaders in place and go at them.

MELBER: Interesting. All right, well, I`m far away in studio. But I
didn`t sense any cold water going over the Biden idea from you. As you
say, months until that final vote.

Congressman Tim Ryan, thanks for spending some time with us.

RYAN: Thank you. Thanks Ari.

MELBER: Absolutely, now coming up, more of that shocking video from
Standing Rock. That is next.



KRISTEN WIIG, AMERICAN ACTRESS: Please stand withstanding rock.


MELBER: Kristen Wiig at the end of this week`s SNL. Members of the
standing Rock Sioux Tribe along with other Native American tribes and other
environmental groups have been camped out for months in North Dakota to
protest the construction of 1,2000 mile Dakota Access Oil Pipeline. And
late last night as well as into this morning, you may have seen some of
this online. Some of those very protesters clashing with local law
enforcement this was after they reportedly tried to remove a police
blockade on a bridge. Now police were calling it a riot and used truck-
mounted hoses to dowse those protesters with water. Keep in mind this was
all while protesters had spent hours in below-freezing temperatures. This
afternoon law enforcement defended those actions taken to end the

KYLE KIRCHMEIER, MORTON COUNTY SHERIFF: It was used at a time to where
they were aggressive towards the officers. In this circumstance, it was
the best option that we had at that point. We`re just not going to let
people and protesters in large groups come in and threaten officers.
That`s not happening.

MELBER: Authorities also used tear gas and feared rubber bullets. This
was an attempt they said to disburse those crowds. Protest organizers say
17 people were taken to local hospitals for both hypothermia as well as
other injuries related to the protest. And the Sheriff says one police
officer was hurt. Meanwhile, we can tell you a tribe leader is saying that
quote the use of water in freezing temperatures goes to show they are being
more aggressive and they`re actually trying to hurt people.

This is far more threatening to human life than any other time of
confrontation with law enforcement. Supporters have been posting reactions
all day. Democrat Senator Al Franken tweeted this, I`ve urged Loretta Lynch
in the Justice Department to protect the safety and first amendment rights
of protesters.

Also this from actor Mark Ruffalo who joined the protest last month. He
wrote “(INAUDIBLE) no Dakota access protester should be treated with
violence. Tell the North Dakota Governor.” Amensty International is
saying today that it will send more human rights observers to monitor these
unfolding protest. A company that`s billing the pipeline meanwhile Energy
Transfer Partners says it will continue to move forward with its
construction. We will keep you posted on that story here on the Last Word.
Now coming up next, all the President-Elect`s business conflicts. Stay
with us.


MELBER: It did not take long for tensions to arise over Donald Trump`s
attempt to be Commander In Chief and CEO all at once once. Consider just
these new reports in meeting with the British politician Trump asked to
wind farms that might hurt his golf course`s business prospects in the
region. He brought up construction project where seeking permits in
Argentina when that country`s President called in him to congratulate him
on his victory. We should note the President office later denied that.
Trump also is still holding business meetings with partners from other
countries recently huddled with Indian executives.

And Trump`s Washington, D.C. hotel put out an odd statement, welcoming
foreign governments to patronize the hotel tonight. That was after
criticism in the Washington Post that foreign diplomats saw that as a
potential chance to curry favor with President-Elect Trump. Now Trump
reacted to those reports tonight in part by tweeting this. Prior to the
election, it was well-known I have interests in properties all over the
world. Only the crooked media makes this a big deal. Now those were just
four examples of the president-elect`s business interests posing potential
conflicts. He can be indirectly enriched to a bribe by foreign governments
or face and kind of attempted leverage or even punishment from countries
that can make or break his many, many foreign businesses.

Is this all legal? I will tell you the answer is yes and no. Yes, many
federal laws governing conflicts do not cover the president, and Trump
doesn`t have to sell anything under law by the way. But that doesn`t mean
that he can be on the take. Our system has something far stronger than
those federal laws you may have heard about, which congress is can always
pass or repeal. We have a constitution.

And while few presidents have tested these types of constitutional rules,
they do exist. In fact, the founders were so concerned about bribes they
barred them in two parts of the constitution. The Emolument`s clause which
bars officials from accepting presents or benefits from foreign influences
and then the impeachment clause, the founders reserved impeachment to
address high crimes by presidents, and they only listed two of them by
name, treason and bribery.

The foreign governments think they can bribe our president? They`re not
doing him a favor. If he went along, they would be setting him up for one
of the most blatant impeachable offenses on the books. Joining me now, two
people who understand all this, Paul Butler who`s a Georgetown law
professor and a former federal prosecutor specializing in corruption and
back with me David Frum who was all over this story earlier tonight.

Starting with you Paul, The constitution cares a lot about the notion of
bribing the president.

here`s a president-elect who has a hundred business interests in 18
different countries. There`s not a law against a rich guy becoming
president. The question is, can he set aside his personal interests and
simply pursue the interest of the United States. So when we see instances
like the ones you outlined. When we see his daughter who`s going to be
running his business empire, sitting in a meeting with the Japanese prime
minister, no security clearance, that raises questions.

So we`re a long way away from any kind of suggestion of bribery or unjust
enrichment. But the point is you still will avoid the appearance of
impropriety. And so far the president-elect isn`t doing a good job of

MELBER: And David what is so strikingly problematic is this is a man who
ran on saying, I don`t need donors, I won`t owe anyone because I`m rich.
And then his 60 minutes interview, the only interview he has done since his
election, he spun that further out and saying it`s a big deal he`s not
taking a salary. Take a listen.


breaking any laws here as many –

salary? The president`s salary?

never commented on this, but the answer is no. I think I have to by law
take one dollar. So I`ll take one dollar a year but it`s a – I don`t even
know what it is. Do you know what the salary is?

STAHL: 400,000 you`re giving up.

TRUMP: I am not going to take the salary, I`m not taking it.


MELBER: So, David he doesn`t even know what it is, but we`re hearing
multiple independent and international reports that he has his all his
business interest on the brain. He seems to know what they are?

DAVID FRUM, SENIOR EDITOR, THE ATLANTIC: Well as Dr. Evil put it, why make
billions when you can make trillions? Why make a lousy $400,000 when you
can set up your affairs in a way to make money on a Putin-like scale. What
you talked about the constitutional implications here. When the founding
fathers talked about impeachment at the constitutional convention and in
federal at 65, 69 and 70, these are the classic text. The paradigmatic
example of the impeachable offense, the thing they had most in mind was
that the president or other high officers would receive presents or
payments from foreign powers.

And the reason they were so concurrent was in the time of the writing of
these document, in the 1770s, 1780s, 1790s, the last republics they knew of
on earth were being snuffed out one by one by one in every case because
powerful, wealthy foreign neighbors were intervening in the affairs of
those republics bribing factions and purchasing power within the republic
with foreign presidents. That is exactly the core evil that the
impeachment clause was designed to prevent.

MELBER: Right, so you look at say, the most recent reporting on Nigel
Farage, the British politician`s discussion with Trump. This is in –
Nigel, this is in the Times Tonight. I`ll read from it.

FRUM: Yes.

MELBER: When President-elect Donald J. Trump met with the British
politician Nigel Farage in recent days, he encouraged him and his entourage
to oppose the kind of offshore wind farms that Mr. Trump believes will mar
the pristine view from one of his two Scottish golf courses, that`s
according to one who is directly inside the meeting according to Times.
That`s what we call a decent source. And David that is in a sense a flip
side of what you just articulated. Not that the foreign governments are
bringing it up.

Here we have a president-elect reportedly –

FRUM: Yes.

MELBER: – bringing up a benefit that would directly enrich him.

FRUM: Well what`s even more an appetizing but this, is in the time of the
founders, the United States was a small, weak republic, surrounded by
powerful enemies or potential enemies. Today the United States is the
strongest country in the world. So, what`s happening here is not that the
president is being bribe. The president is turning to an extortionist.
The president saying I control the most powerful state in the world, and I
am going to deploy the assets of the United States to incentivize or
intimidate people into paying me.

If the story from Argentina is true, he is pressuring the Argentines to
help him with the construction problem. If the report on Nigel Farage is
true, he is trying to immobilize people in Britain to curry his favor by
making his golf course nicer. But in every case he is taking something
that belongs to the American people, the strength of the American state,
and use it for his purposes.

MELBER: Let me go to professor and former prosecutor Butler. Because
everyone understands when you prosecute this kind of cases, it`s not always
a bag of cash, right? If Ted Stevens got the benefit of work done on a
house he owned, an indirect financial benefit and lost his (INAUDIBLE) that
was indicted over it.

BUTLER: That`s right.

MELBER: How do you view this as the prosecutor, How would you even enforce
this against a president who would do the investigating?

BUTLER: It was completely unchartered territory. It would be a conflict of
interest, again, for the attorney general who is appointed by the president
to do the investigation. So an independent prosecutor would have to be
appointed. The question is, this is so easy to avoid.

All he has to do is liquidate his holdings.

MELBER: Right.

BUTLER: Which again that might be a lot for him. But at least put them in
a blind trust.

MELBER: But if he doesn`t liquidate, because he`s basically made it very
clear repeatedly, that is not what he intends to do.


MELBER: And a senator session is going before the senate. What`s the
question of senators should be asking him about patrolling this.

BUTLER: Yes. They should ask, do you have a legal counsel, a White House
counsel who is going to give you independent advice that you will take.
Because as long as that`s in place, again people will say you can`t do
this. The question is whether when someone tells the Donald you can`t do
this, whether he will listen. You know, when we look at sessions.

The person he appointed to be Attorney General, he`s not a person who seems
to be all that independent. You know, he said about the sexual – he said
about the groping allegation, I don`t see that as sexual assault. He`s got
to know better, so the question is whether the Donald –

MELBER: Right.

BUTLER: Is appointing people who will do his will. We don`t need a legal
counsel who does that. That`s the only person at this point who`s standing
between us and a president with an amazing number of conflicts.

MELBER: Well and you put it well, that`s important for folks to consider
because the position of attorney general is not the president`s personal
lawyer. It`s the people`s lawyer.

BUTLER: That`s right.

MELBER: Paul Butler and David Frum, thank you both on an important topic
that I suspect we`ll be covering again. Now coming up, a man allegedly
caught talking about attacking Times Square is charged – new tonight with
supporting terrorism, we have the latest on that, next.


MELBER: Now coming up next, that deadly terror attack in Nice, France this
summer was a frightening low-tech operation, a truck that was driven just
right into a crowd. Now we can tell you prosecutors are charging a suspect
who allegedly talked about conducting or exploring a Nice-style attack
right here in Times Square, we have the details, that`s next.


MELBER: 86 people were killed in that terror attack in Nice, France on
Bastille Day on July 14th. A Brooklyn man now is allegedly caught talking
on social media about trying or hoping to conduct a similar attack in Times
Square, New York that would be on behalf of the Islamic state. Now today
federal prosecutors charged him Mohammad Naji, a permanent legal resident
from Yemen with material support for terrorism.

He has not entered a plea yet. Joining us now, WNBC Chief Investigative
correspondent Jonathan Dienst who is all over these stories, how did
authorities find out about this?

been tracking his travels five times, they say he tried to go overseas to
try get into Syria, he failed. But they say he was successful getting into
Yemen, meeting with known radicals, and they did have an informant and it
was an informant who helped make some of the recordings of some of the
alleged statements including statements about how he wanted to drive a
truck through Times Square targeting the crowds and people who are in them.

MELBER: The travel obviously key because it shows effort, How did they
define whether this travel is somehow okay or just going somewhere versus
travel in an effort to make contact with ISIS?

DIENST: They say through his social media, through his travels in terms of
where he was trying to cross, who he was in contact with overseas, these
were repeated efforts to try to join the ISIS terror group, that according
to FBI officials. He is from Yemen originally, the defense has claimed
that, look, he was just going there to visit family. The FBI had
informants in place and had been tracking him, and especially once he came
back here, he allegedly continued his radical views and some of his radical

And that`s when they decided, hey, it`s time to move in, especially with
the Thanksgiving Day Parade coming up.

MELBER: Right. And so, legally, if they can prove that that`s enough
because material support for terrorism means you`re trying to help but it
doesn`t mean you pulled off the attack. Now talk to us about this security
side for folks New York (ph) Times Square. What was the space between
where this person was and any kind of operational ability?

DIENST: Right. As of now, he didn`t have much money, but there was
aspiration, not operations.

MELBER: Got it.

DIENST: So he apparently made these comments about how he wanted to target
Times Square, but the governor today and FBI officials and NYPD officials
said look there was no specific plot in the works, we were monitoring him
the whole time, and we just felt now was the time –

MELBER: No active plot?

DIENST: No active plot, to strike at Times Square. The criminal charges
deal with his travel overseas and his attempts to join with ISIS and this
continues to be a concern. There are more than 250 Americans who the FBI
and NYPD believe have traveled from the U.S. to try to join ISIS and are
trying to come back to this country, and this they say is one example of

MELBER: Those are individuals that they are tracking but haven`t
prosecuted and the fear is they return back as a greater danger.

DIENST: There are some who they have prosecuted, that is a total number of
about 250, and of course there are those they don`t even know about.

MELBER: Right. Well it is always harrowing and appreciate your reporting
on to get a sense of it. You look at Times Square, you look at iconic
places in New York, it raises concerns, and yet as your context and nuance
shows, it is not something where people should worry about going to Times
Square this week. It is not that kind of threat that we`ve heard.
Jonathan Dienst, thank you very much.

We are out of time. I want to tell you, MSNBC`s coverage continues right
now into “THE 11TH HOUR” with Brian Williams. Stay tuned, that is next.


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