The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell, Transcript 11/23/2016
Show: THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL
Date: November 23, 2016
Guest: David Corn, Liz Mair, John Allen, Michael Moore, Catherine Rampell,
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: That does it for us tonight, happy Thanksgiving.
Now, it`s time for THE LAST WORD, Ari Melber sitting in for Lawrence
tonight, good evening Ari.
ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Rachel, happy Thanksgiving to you.
MADDOW: You too, my friend, well done.
MELBER: There is a win for team Trump, as a rising Republican star
Governor Nikki Haley accepts their offer to be U.N. ambassador.
Plus, Michael Moore is here tonight with a must-see reality check on
Trump`s pick for Education Secretary, billionaire Betsy DeVos. And how to
talk to your relatives who might have voted for another candidate.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHEN COLBERT, COMEDIAN & TELEVISION HOST: When not berating the media
from his golden tower, the president-elect has been busy filling his
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He turned to two prominent Republican women.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Trump has elected South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley
to serve as his ambassador to the United Nations.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It`s a mixed foreign policy picture, and no foreign
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He`s also tapped Betsy DeVos to be his Education
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Two of the biggest teachers unions are already
speaking out against her.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mitt Romney they say tops the list for Secretary of
MITT ROMNEY, FORMER MASSACHUSETTS GOVERNOR: Donald Trump is a phony, a
MIKE HUCKABEE, FORMER ARKANSAS GOVERNOR: You`ve got to surround yourself
with people who will take a bullet for you rather than put the bullet in
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Dr. Ben Carson has confirmed he has been offered a
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I take him at his word. He is not qualified to run a
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT-ELECT OF THE UNITED STATES: I will not say that
Ben Carson suffers from pathological disease. I`m not saying it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Based on the low expectations the Trump campaign
created for Trump, it could be worse.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Happy Thanksgiving
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Good evening and welcome to THE LAST WORD from Seattle,
Washington. Donald Trump is working on what his transition team promises
will be a diverse cabinet.
But today he also is facing unexpected resistance from within the ranks of
his own supporters after rumors that Donald Trump is considering one of his
harshest critics Mitt Romney to be Secretary of State.
Today, two of Donald Trump`s biggest supporters blasted the idea.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HUCKABEE: And when you go after a person who is the nominee of your party
who has been duly nominated by the voters, and then you`re savaging the
You`re not just savaging Donald Trump. And so it would be a real insult to
all those Donald Trump voters –
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes –
HUCKABEE: Who worked really hard.
NEWT GINGRICH, FORMER SPEAKER, UNITED STATES HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES: He
was Trump`s most vicious and most explicit opponent all through the
campaign on the Republican side.
And you have to list all the things he said and think gee, is this guy
really going to be loyal? But also, you know, Governor Romney wanted to be
president, not Secretary of State.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right –
GINGRICH: And you have to ask the question when he goes overseas, is he
going to be the Secretary of State for President Trump or is he going to be
Mitt Romney`s own Secretary of State –
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sure.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Tough talk. But there was little Republican opposition to
President-elect Trump naming two cabinet picks today as he announced his
first appointments who are not we should note white males.
President-elect Trump named Betsy DeVos; a Republican donor and advocate
for school choice and vouchers as Education Secretary and the other one
you`ve heard so much about, South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley.
She is the first minority governor in her state`s history, a daughter of
Indian immigrants and she will be ambassador to the U.N.
Governor Haley notable Trump`s – among his appointments I should note, for
another reason, she is of course a young rising star of the GOP.
And has been embraced by the party establishment, even though she was also
all along a critic of Trump.
Now, before eventually backing him, she criticized him in her high profile
State of the Union response, you might remember that. She endorsed Marco
Rubio. And in February, she said this about Donald Trump.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. NIKKI HALEY (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: I will not stop until we fight a man
that chooses not to disavow the KKK, that is not a part of our party,
that`s not who we want as president.
We will not allow that in our country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Strong words, Trump criticized Haley, tweeting in March, “the
people of South Carolina are embarrassed by Nikki Haley.”
Well, today, he was praising her, “proven track record of bringing people
together and saying she is a proven deal maker.
And we look to be making plenty of deals.” But Donald Trump and the
Republicans, if you look closely, are doing something else here that is
actually just weird.
They are all acting like the U.N. ambassadorship is this really big
appointment. Now a lot of people do think that, but Republicans
In fact, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N. is a cabinet level position right
now only because President Obama made it a cabinet level position.
A change that he made when he took office as the president does have the
power to do. But keep in mind the last two Republican administrations,
George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush actually demoted the U.N. ambassador
from a cabinet position.
George W. Bush is U.N. ambassador, John Bolton even once said this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN BOLTON, FORMER UNITED STATES AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: There
is no United Nations.
There is an international community that occasionally can be led by the
only real power left in the world, and that`s the United States.
When it suits our interest and when we can get others to go along.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: So on what`s shaping up as something of an informal U.N. day for
the Trump administration, it`s worth keeping in mind they`re trying to use
this appointment to promote Haley as a big new face for the party.
And it`s a long ways from what top Republicans actually thought about
promoting the U.N. post itself.
The substantive thing everyone claims to be talking about. And then there
is Donald Trump, he has been plenty critical of the U.N. as well.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: The United Nations is not a friend of democracy. It`s not a friend
It`s not a friend even to the United States of America where as you know,
it has its home.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Joining us now, David Corn, Washington Bureau chief for “Mother
Jones”, an Msnbc analyst.
Liz Mair; Republican strategist and a former online communications
strategist to Governors Walker and Perry as well as John Allen; head of
community and content for “Sidewire”.
Good evening everybody, David –
DAVID CORN, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, MOTHER JONES: Yes –
MELBER: Starting with you, is this just a lot of excitement about the post
because of who is filling it?
CORN: Well –
MELBER: Or do you see anything else substantive with the U.N. going on
CORN: Well, I have to say, it seems we`re in the Roseanne Roseannadanna
phase of the transition which is when everybody says never mind.
Never mind what I said before, never mind that I vowed to fight you for all
of eternity because you`re a racist, you`re a bigot, or that I thought you
were an embarrassment to your state.
Never mind. Those words didn`t make a difference. And on to the U.N.
post, well, yes, I mean, we will have to see if it remains a cabinet
But, you know, Nikki Haley is an impressive governor, a politician. But
she also has absolutely no foreign policy experience other than maybe
trying to get business into South Carolina.
So, putting her in this position, unlike what President Obama and Bill
Clinton did with some of their choices shows that Donald Trump really
doesn`t care about the ideas the person has holding this job.
And again, we see in his foreign policy world, there is no coherent view,
no coherent strategy.
If you`re talking about going from John Bolton to Mitt Romney as Secretary
of State, it just means you have no there, there.
And we`re going to have to wait to see at the end of the day if there is
anybody within his circle who has an integrated plan for how to deal with
the rest of the world.
MELBER: Yes, I mean, Liz, Nikki Haley is someone that a lot of Republicans
have been excited about for some understandable reasons.
But if you were match-making, it`s hard to follow the match. Newt Gingrich
sort of took his turn at explaining it and saying, well, the U.N. is a
hostile place and she is tough, which is I suppose true as far as it goes.
Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GINGRICH: Well, I think she is a very successful governor. She is a very
And I think she will be very effective at the United Nations, as effective
as any American can be in an organization which has an enormous hostility
to our values and to our interests.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Liz, I guess the point I`m getting at is even if one agrees with
the conservative critique of the U.N. as a place that can be inhospitable
to the U.S. or to our allies or to some of our human rights priorities.
Wouldn`t you then want someone whose got experience cutting their teeth in
international circles to be that tough ambassador?
LIZ MAIR, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, I think the thing that is actually
most important in this job is first and foremost, you need somebody who is
capable of being a uniter, not a divider.
And somebody who is capable of being diplomatic, because this is the role
of a diplomat, and it`s a very important one.
I think that at the moment, you know, maybe past Republican presidents
haven`t treated this role with the sort of the importance that we may see a
President-elect Trump treat it with.
At the moment, we are facing a lot of very serious, grave, complex
challenges around the world. And so this is perhaps going to be a more
And I think if you`re working in that role, I understand the concerns
people are raising about Nikki Haley`s CV.
But I would actually argue that it`s more important that you have somebody
who has been capable of dealing with really tough challenges that go to the
root of people`s emotions, their identities, and overcoming them.
And if you look at how she handled that confederate flag issue, if you look
at how she handled bringing people together after that shooting in South
Carolina, what she may not have in terms of lying items on her CV, she
certainly has in terms of personal qualities.
And I think that will stand her in very good stead. Another quick point
that I would make is I think that there`s a lot of utility in putting
people into diplomatic positions who have personal experiences and
She obviously does in terms of bringing business into South Carolina. But
let`s not also not forget, she does come from a family of Indian
That probably does put her in a better position to understand some of the
concerns that, say, the country of India is actually raising on the world
stage that is going to be important.
They are a very powerful and growing –
JOHN ALLEN, HEAD, COMMUNITY & CONTENT, SIDEWIRE: That`s –
MAIR: International leader –
ALLEN: Wait, that`s pretty –
MAIR: To the U.K. relationship.
MELBER: Let me bring in John Allen and then back to David. John, go
ALLEN: I was just going to say, that`s pretty microscopic, the one
country. So, I mean, Nikki Haley is an American –
MAIR: Well, it`s not just one country –
ALLEN: I will –
MAIR: It`s the United Kingdom also.
ALLEN: Fair enough. Look, the U.S.-U.N. job is one of an agent more than
To come back and carry information to the president, to carry the – carry
out the president`s will at the United Nations. This is not necessarily –
this is not a job where you`re going a whole lot of freelancing.
I think what`s really going on here in a much bigger and more important
thing is that Nikki Haley is being well-positioned for a future run for
president. She doesn`t as has been pointed out by David earlier, doesn`t
have foreign policy experience.
But after this job, she`s going to have foreign policy experience. And
that`s something that`s very difficult for governors to get.
MELBER: Well –
CORN: Yes –
ALLEN: Well –
MELBER: I mean, sort of – but I am sorry –
ALLEN: And done so –
MELBER: It`s a little funny to – it`s just a little funny to say after
she gets the promotion she`ll have the experience. I mean, that sort of –
ALLEN: I`m not saying – I`m not saying –
She is necessarily the right person for the job. But I`m saying –
CORN: Yes –
ALLEN: That there is a political desire on the part of the Republican
Party to elevate her at some point.
MELBER: Certainly –
ALLEN: And this gives –
MELBER: Well –
ALLEN: Gives her a much better –
MAIR: And we have –
MELBER: David, then Liz.
We`re going to go David, then Liz –
MAIR: Yes –
CORN: There probably were more appropriate ways to elevate her. I mean,
it`s not just being a water carrier to and from the U.N.
Susan Rice put together a coalition and got a great vote for President
Obama on how to deal with Libya.
It was a – it took a lot of work, it took a lot of expertise, she was a
ALLEN: Which was a terrible decision.
CORN: Whether –
MAIR: Yes –
CORN: You like it –
ALLEN: She was an agent for that decision –
CORN: She was an agent –
For that decision, but actually, what she did there and working with the
Chinese and the Russians and Germans, Brits and the English and everybody
else was a feat of diplomacy.
Whether you agreed with the policy or not. It wasn`t that she was just
doing what the president wanted.
She had to be very savvy and have really good understanding of the equities
and the histories and the interest of all these other countries.
And she pulled that together. That is just not the same as having the type
of moment that Nikki Haley had after the shooting in the church.
So, it`s not just – it`s an important job, whether you`re dealing with
climate change or not, to know the substance and to know the players.
It`s not just –
ALLEN: Sure –
CORN: Going back and forth to the White House.
MAIR: Last word on this? I think that somebody who comes from an Indian
Given India and Indian`s experience with British colonialism which
continues to exert a major influence on the foreign policy dynamics in the
Actually may be better positioned than what I think David is giving credit
for to understand some of the nuances that are going to be relevant to
Cutting with regard to some of the biggest foreign policy challenges that
this country is facing right now.
But again, I think her personal characteristics also do matter. She is a
very diplomatic person. She is a uniter.
There really isn`t anybody that I`ve ever encountered who`s met her who
hasn`t liked her and hasn`t felt comfortable talking to her –
MELBER: Right –
MAIR: And I think that`s very important.
MELBER: And before we go, John Allen, take a listen to Ben Carson real
briefly when he was asked about again the untraditional style here.
They`re sort of tweeting before the news is out – whatever. Here is Ben
Carson on “Fox” about that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BEN CARSON, AUTHOR & RETIRED NEUROSURGEON: There are a lot of things that
were put on the table, and I`m thinking about them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: John, what do you make of the way they`re sort of releasing out
dribs and drabs of who is going to be in the cabinet?
ALLEN: Well, I mean, they`re trying to signal different things at
You know, I mean, look, the reason the U.S.-U.N. is being talked about
right now is because Nikki Haley was the person who was not a white male
who a decision had been made about.
I mean, the U.S.-U.N. is not one of your top cabinet positions. A Defense
Secretary, we figured is going to be Jim Mattis, has not been named yet.
The top positions in the cabinet, many of them have not been named yet. As
far as Ben Carson goes, who knows what`s going on? Oh, I`m sure on William,
said he wasn`t qualified to head a department after he ran for president.
I mean, this is a circus on the level of Donald Trump`s campaign in terms
of the leaks and the counter-leaks and whatever sort of, as – you know,
counter espionage is going on within that campaign right now, within that
CORN: And what does this guy know about urban policy and housing? I mean,
that`s the other –
ALLEN: As much as we do about brain surgery.
CORN: Or as much as Nikki Haley knows about the U.N. I mean, this –
MELBER: Well, and that`s –
CORN: I mean, this is a real –
MELBER: I think that –
CORN: Problem. It`s not something –
MELBER: Well –
CORN: It`s a circus, but it`s a bad circus.
MELBER: We`re out of time. But it is a circus question of who is
qualified. David Corn, Liz Mair and John Allen –
CORN: Thank you –
MELBER: Thank you for a lively discussion.
CORN: Thank you –
ALLEN: Thank you, Ari –
MAIR: Thank you –
CORN: Happy Thanksgiving –
MELBER: I appreciate it.
MAIR: Happy Thanksgiving –
MELBER: Happy Thanksgiving! I think I learned a few things. Now up next,
I have another question.
What does Michael Moore know about billionaire Betsy DeVos? Donald Trump`s
choice to be Education Secretary?
Also later, new questions about the role of the Trump kids as a report
indicates Trump Jr. was holding talks on Syria with Russian supporters and
that was during the campaign. Stay with us.
MELBER: Donald Trump has another woman to thank for his new U.N.
ambassador Nikki Haley.
Hillary Clinton in a 2012 interview, Governor Haley said “the reason I
actually ran for office is because of Hillary Clinton.
Everybody was telling me why I shouldn`t run, I was too young, I had small
children, I should start at the school board level.
I went to Birmingham University and Hillary Clinton was the keynote speaker
on a leadership institute”, she explained.
“And Clinton said that when it comes to women running for office, there
will be everybody that tells you why you shouldn`t, but that`s all the
reasons why we need you to do it.
And I walked out of there thinking that`s it, I`m running for office.” A
nice, little story there. Now up next, Michael Moore`s must-see reality
check on Trump`s other big appointment today, billionaire Betsy DeVos.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: As president, I will establish the national goal of providing
school choice to every American child living in poverty.
As your president, I will be the nation`s biggest cheerleader for school
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: School choice may be one campaign promise Donald Trump is sticking
to today. He nominated billionaire Betsy DeVos as Education Secretary.
She`s a Michigan Republican, philanthropist and advocate for what
conservative reformers call the school choice movement. Many teachers,
representatives object the choice is usually a cover for privatization.
National Education Association President Lilly Garcia says DeVos` efforts
have actually undermined education by lobbying for voucher programs that
she says takes away funding and local control from our public schools to
fund private schools at taxpayers` expense.
Others note DeVos has no formal work experience in public education. For
her part, she has pledged to “work to make transformational change that
ensures every student in America has the opportunity to fulfill his or her
And joining us now, a guest I`m excited about to have tonight, Michael
Moore; Academy Award-winning documentary filmmaker, and of course a
Good evening, happy Thanksgiving season to you, Michael.
MICHAEL MOORE, FILMMAKER: The same to you –
MELBER: Tell us –
MOORE: And I believe also you`re a University of Michigan graduate, is
that correct, Ari?
MELBER: I am. U of M Ann Arbor.
MOORE: All right, OK –
MELBER: Tell me what – and us, what we should know about this Education
MOORE: Well, this is the – essentially turning the Education Department
over to Amway. The DeVos family is the Amway family in Michigan.
The – her father-in-law founded it, her husband now runs it along with
others in western Michigan there.
They`re very conservative, very Dutch Christian. And they were the type of
Christians that never needed to be born again because they never left the
core values of what they believe in.
And the DeVos family has probably given as much in some elections in the
past, even more soft money, even Betsy DeVos has admitted this to
Republican Party politics than anyone else, any other family in the
And that would at times include the Koch brothers. So, you have a version
of the Koch brothers here.
It would be like one of the Kochs was just appointed Secretary of
Education. This is an awful thing to have happen.
I – we never used the word “choice”, the schools of choice and all of
this. This is all about, as you said, as some union leaders have said, and
when you quoted them, the privatization of our public schools.
And especially taking choice away from poor kids because those tax dollars
go to these privatized schools, these so-called charter schools that then
hurt the kids left behind in the public schools.
So, this is – this again, another one of his appointments that are – is
meant to essentially what he promised to do which is blow up the system.
MELBER: Well, you liken it to the Koch brothers maybe taking over an
industry they would care about.
A lot of the criticism and reporting there has been that in the realm of
policy, they`re just profiteering. And so, it`s all just pursuing profits
on a – on a different terrain. Is that your concern here?
Or is it also that there is a sort of an ideology or an actual policy view
that schools would run better if they were all businesses?
MOORE: It`s both. They are certainly ideologues, the DeVos and Amway,
which essentially is a form of a pyramid scheme, which, you know, I don`t
think we would teach that in school. The values that form that kind of
business, I don`t think we would teach that in school.
But no, these are – the DeVos are ideologues. And the irony of this and
my belief that Donald Trump is not an ideologue.
He has one ideology, and that`s the ideology of Donald J. Trump. And
that`s who he believes in.
That`s everything he believes. Does it benefit Donald J. Trump? And he`ll
make his decisions based on that.
But these are hard-liners that he`s been putting in and nominating into
these – into these initial positions. And this is a really bad one. This
is – they have so ruined things in Michigan.
I mean, they basically bought and paid for a state legislature and Senate
that in 2012 made Michigan the birthplace of the modern labor movement, a
so-called right-to-work state.
MOORE: Taking away the ability of unions to organize and collect their
dues from their members.
And it – for that – for they – they had pulled that off in Michigan and
they`ve used it as a model elsewhere.
And they are – they`ve been on a rampage for a very long time.
MELBER: Well, and Michael, you make that point about Trump and where he
stands. It`s become popular among some circles in Washington to say, oh,
he`s so flexible.
Look what we`re seeing now post election. But all that means to some
degree is that his flexibility would empower the people around him.
And if they`re hard-liners or even radicals on some of these issues, then
that flexibility is going to go that direction.
MOORE: Right, and I think –
MELBER: What I want to do –
MOORE: Yes –
MELBER: Is fit in a – let me fit in –
MOORE: Sure –
MELBER: A break because I know you`re staying with us. So –
MOORE: OK –
MELBER: We`re going to have a lot more with Michael Moore, we`re going fit
in a quick break.
We`re also going to show you how to talk to your family members this
Thanksgiving if they might have voted for another candidate. Stay with us.
MELBER: Here is a fact people keep forgetting about modern elections.
There is no election day anymore.
There are weeks of voting, and in many places weeks of counting. And that
doesn`t change the fact that Donald Trump won.
But that counting does keep shrinking his mandate. Consider this. Donald
Trump right now has a lower share of the vote as counted than Mitt Romney
did when he lost last cycle.
Trump simply did not grow the GOP`s share of the electorate. He managed a
– turnout in the key states that mattered.
And his deficit and total votes to Clinton has now reached 2 million. That
is almost quadrupled the gap between Gore and Bush in 2000.
But don`t get me wrong, we all know Trump is a 100 percent president-elect.
But his second-place finish overall is relevant to how congressional
opponents size up his support out in the country.
It`s relevant to people who want to reform our electoral college. And
apparently, it`s even relevant to Donald Trump who said this.
“I think the popular vote would have been easier in a true sense because
you`d go to a few places.
I think that`s the genius of the electoral college. I was never a fan of
the electoral college until now.”
Now while this is mostly theoretical debate there are calls to dig deeper
into how the popular vote disparity was greater this year than any other
time in history. You may have heard some statisticians want Clinton to
challenge the results if for no other reason than to force an actual
forensics examination of ballot evidence.
We can report to you this evening Green Party Candidate Jill Stein says she
will, “file for a recount of votes in the battleground states of Wisconsin,
Michigan, and Pennsylvania to ensure the integrity of our elections.” Now
elites don`t tend to respond favorably to this kind of thing. You might
remember in Michael Moore`s documentary Fahrenheit 9/11 showing what
happened in 2000 when members of the Congressional Black Caucus were
challenging Bush`s win while Vice President Al Gore presided over a very
unusual joint session of Congress.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AL GORE, AMERICAN POLITICIAN: Is the objection in writing and signed by a
member of the house and a senator?
MAXINE WATERS, FMR. REPRESENTATIVE OF CALIFORNIA: The objection is in
writing and I don`t care that it is not signed by a member of the senate.
GORE: The Chair will advise that the rules do care and the signature is
MICHEAL MOORE, AMERICAN DOCUMENTARY FILMMAKER AND AUTHOR: Not a single
senator came to the aid of the African Americans in Congress. one after
another, they were told to sit down and shut up.
JESSE JACKSON, JR, FMR. REPRESENTATIVE OF ILLINIOS: It`s a sad day in
america, Mr. President, when we can`t find a senator to sign an objection -
GORE: The gentleman will suspend.
MELBER: Michael, why was it so important to you to spotlight that often
forgotten aspect of the 2000 situation, and why do you find that so many
political elites in the establishment I think in both parties and
definitely in Washington are so hostile to any discussion of double-
checking recounts, et cetera?
MOORE: Well, they don`t want their little apple cart upset. They don`t
want – these are the same elites that told us the candidates issue would
be Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton. And Hillary would be the President.
People are sick and tired of this. This is one of the reasons why Trump
did as well as he did because they`re tired of this attitude. And Trump`s
He would probably be the largest advocate of wanting the popular vote, of
course if it didn`t affect him. That would be Donald J. Trump. So what we
have here is a situation where once again we`ve allowed the person that the
majority of Americans wanted. That would be Hillary Clinton, to not take
office. This has happened now twice in 16 years. This has to stop. This
really has to stop.
Trump has no mandate. I agree with the recount. I mean in Michigan
they`re either still counting. And I think the difference is a 0.2 percent
between the two candidates. And Hillary`s count keeps increasing in
Michigan. And it really is – I think it`s down to 9,000 votes now, or
roughly, if two people who voted for Trump had voted for Hillary per
precinct, Hillary would have won Michigan by now.
We wouldn`t even be having this count. So there needs to be these
recounts. We need to challenge the Electoral College. We need to
challenge the conscience of the electors. This needs to be said. Yes, the
elites don`t like it being said. You don`t see many people on TV calling
for this. I think there is a whole host of things here that have to be
There is the states that are passing laws that say their electors have to
follow whoever won the national popular vote. And there is enough states
that passed that law now that equal about 178 electors. They need 270 in
order for it to actually work. So we need to be taking all avenues here.
Trump must be stopped.
And if it`s a legal challenge, if it`s an Electoral College challenge, or
if it`s just the fact that right now people are watching this, there are
literally hundreds and hundreds of rapid response teams of citizens being
formed in every city, village, and town across America. People are coming
out, getting together. There is no central organization of this. It`s
actually just happening on its own. And people are upset. They`re
demonstrating. They`re holding candlelight vigils. They`re contacting
their members of congress. They do not like this.
MELBER: Well, let me ask you this. Well let me ask you this there is a
political piece to this there is the mandate piece. It`s always curious
how Republicans say even when they seem to lose the majority, they claim to
have the mandate. Here the Democrats have more votes, but don`t seem to be
acting like it much yet in Washington. But I want to ask you the democracy
question, which is in your view as someone who is obviously spotlighted a
lot of outsider issues, is there a tipping point in your mind? I mean when
something is close enough that you say oh, it was 100,000 vote difference
on the margin and the Electoral College is the rules versus half a million
versus a million versus now 2 million. I mean in your view, is it a point
where we have a split that is 4, 5, 6 million, at some point there is a
wake-up call and people say wait.
MELBER: Even when it`s not close -
MELBER: we don`t have a democracy?
MOORE: Now, now, I – People – this is center where people stop me on the
streets and say how can this be? How can this be if she won by over two
million votes? We won. We`re the majority. The majority have spoken. And
they don`t want Donald J. Trump as President. So why is this – why is
this happening? because of an archaic law from the 1700s that was set up
essentially to please the slave states.
There is your irony for you. To help a president-elect who spewed racism
throughout his campaign benefits from this law from the 1700s that was set
up to appease the slave states to get them to go along with it because they
had smaller populations. So they invented this Electoral College. You know
lots of times in the past, we said well, just because it`s the law, it`s
not right. Just because the law says if you`re African American, you go
sit at the back of the bus. Well, some laws have to be broken. And some
laws have to be done away with. And some laws have to be ignored when it
goes against the will of the people and against what is morally right.
And this is morally wrong that this man take the office of the presidency
of the United States when more than two million people have said we don`t
want him, over a margin over Hillary, over him. more than two million
MELBER: Right, I think that`s – no, look and that`s one of the big
debates that people don`t even seem to want to touch for all sorts of
reasons. My answer in part is the constitution governs it this way. So
until enough states, as you mentioned in that process earlier, make a fix,
we`re living with this constitution. But it certainly merits discussion.
I want to make what we call sometimes in the news business a hard turn and
ask you what`s the best approach, in your view, as both a politico, but
also an artist, if you will, to have a pleasant thanksgiving that is
meaningful, that has got dialogue, that has honesty but also diplomacy for
people who find they have big political differences tomorrow?
MOORE: Put the stuffing in the turkey and bake with the turkey, first of
all. No stove top stuffing, number one, all right. Let`s take care of
that off the top. I think I mean I`ve been saying this for 20 years. I
wrote this in my first book 20 years ago. This month I wrote a chapter of
How to Talk to your Conservative Brother-In-Law at Thanksgiving Dinner.
And each year I put out a little how to be kind, how to bring them along.
And I believe in all those things. But I think tomorrow, I think it`s
really important that you just identify the people at the table that are of
And if there are representative of the country, that means the majority of
them voted for Hillary Clinton. And talk about what are the things we need
to be doing right now? Do not wait until January 20th. The Republicans on
January 21st are going to be there in Congress. And they`re going to be
passing bill after bill after bill. Law after law that he will sign
immediately. It will be so much damage that will be done so quickly. And
Liberals are going to be whoa, what happened? Wait – wait – wait a
minute. Wait. You know it`s like no. do not wait until then. You must
start tomorrow. You`re with family. You`re with family. Start
organizing. Start contacting your members of Congress. start plan – plan
on going to Washington, D.C. on Inauguration Day. Hold demonstrations now.
Resist Donald Trump. I`m telling you, if you wait, we have to go to
commercial break. I`m hearing in my ear.
MELBER: That`s part of the vid.
MOORE: But thank you for having me on and letting me say that. And Happy
MELBER: Happy Thanksgiving, very interesting to hear from you. And you
brought the stuffing and the heat. Michael Moore, always a pleasure -
MOORE: the stuffing in the turkey.
MELBER: Donald Trump appears to be the only person in America surprised to
hear that a general doesn`t think water boarding is effective. But it may
not have changed his mind.
MELBER: We`ve reports that Donald Trump is prepared to appoint someone who
would advise him against waterboarding, even though Trump`s position on
that issue appears increasingly muddy. In this interview that people have
seen with The New York Times, the President-Elect said he was surprised by
retired General James Mattis` position on water boarding. Trump reportedly
considering Mattis for Secretary of Defense. Now here is what Trump said
exactly to the Times
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT- ELECT UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: General Mattis is
a strong, highly dignified man. I met with him length and I asked him that
question. I said what do you think of waterboarding. He said – I was
surprised. He said I`ve never found it to be useful. And He said I`ve
always found give me a pack of cigarettes and a couple of beers, and I do
better with that than I do with torture.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: And Trump went on the say that when he said that “I`m not saying
it changed my mind. Look, we have people that are chopping off heads and
drowning people in steel cages, and we`re not allowed to water board. But
I tell you what? I was impressed by that answer.” Just think about this
for a second. Based on this interview alone, you would think that Donald
Trump`s conversation with Mattis was the first time he had even really
heard the idea that other types of interrogations work better.
In fact, investigators and intelligence officials have noted for many years
that waterboarding is not only inhumane and under our current laws
unconstitutional. But it is also often ineffective and even
counterproductive. Here is former FBI Interrogator Alley Soufani, who
waterboarded individuals who I should mentioned who used interrogation and
then spoke about the waterboarding of other individuals, including enemy
combatant Abu Zubaida and he testified about what worked better in front of
the Senate Judiciary Committee in May 2009.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALLEY SOUFANI, FORMER FBI INTERROGATOR: From my experience, I strongly
believe it is a mistake to use what has become known as enhanced
interrogation techniques. These techniques from an operational perspective
are slow, ineffective, unreliable, and harmful to our efforts to defeat Al
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: That`s the view from someone who knows. And up next, we`ll hear
from another experienced professional, Former Counterterrorism Intelligence
Officer Malcolm Nance. That`s straight ahead.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
The medieval times, I mean We studied medieval times. Not since medieval
times have people seen what`s going on. I would bring backwater board, and
I would bring back a hell of a lot worse than waterboarding.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Joining me now, Malcolm Nance, Counter Terror Intelligence
Official, an MSNBC Contributor. And also I mention author of Defeating
ISIS. Walk us through how this works and whether Donald Trump is
charitably late to the party on understanding the contours of the debate.
MALCOLM NANCE, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Well, let`s just start this conversation
off correctly because there is a lot of misinformation out there.
Waterboarding is a torture. It is a torture that the United States
government gave capital punishments to in people in World War II who had
tortured our service members. It is a technique used by the Nazi`s. It`s a
technique used by the North Koreans. And now ISIS has actually tortured
captive hostages with this.
So for people who believe this is an effective intelligence technique, it
is not a tool of the intelligence community. I ran one of the last water
boards ever used in the Department of Defense. It is not a system that a
nation that stands for honor and dignity and human rights of its own
service members would ever take as a tool. This is an emotional tool that
Donald Trump is using in order to sound like, you know, a tough hombre.
MELBER: you make - yes, you make such an important point conceptually
because his nominee, Jeff Sessions for Attorney General and Trump have
repeatedly cited the nature of our enemies to justify this conduct.
Conceptually does that make any sense to you as an expert here because
don`t we have to define what we do regardless of what we do to the enemy?
NANCE: You`re absolutely right. I mean this is not a question of what our
enemies do. If we want to start acting like ISIS, we want to start acting
like the Nazi`s, then go ahead and start using those techniques. But what
you do is you fundamentally rip the fabric of America`s stand for honor as
it has stood since 1777 when George Washington issued standing orders for
the campaign in Quebec that prisoners were to be treated with dignity.
Prisoners were to be used for intelligence collection purposes by bringing
them in to our side showing our better angels by not doing that. We would
be actually violating the standing orders of George Washington himself. So
if we don`t even believe in the values that this nation was built on and we
think that just destroying those values and dishonoring every one that has
ever worked in this community is satisfactory in order to get no
intelligence than what we are just fundamentally doing is giving up on what
America stands for.
MELBER: Malcolm Nance, appreciate you sharing both your experience and
your ethical view there. Thank you.
NANCE: My pleasure.
MELBER: We`re going to fit in a quick break and come right back with our
politics panel. You`re watching the Last Word on MSNBC.
MELBER: Coming up a new report Donald Trump Jr. held a meeting on Syria
with Pro-Russian figures and it`s raising questions about the role of
Trump`s children in the Whitehouse and abroad. That is next.
MELBER: Wall Street Journal reports today that Donald Trump`s eldest son
Donald Trump Jr. held some private talks in Paris last month with
diplomats, political business leaders. And the goal is working with Russia
reportedly to end that nearly six year long Civil War in Syria. In an
interview this week with the New York Times editorial staff meanwhile
President-Elect raised some eyebrows by proposing that his Son-In-Law Jared
Kushner could help bring peace as some kind of ongoing to the Middle East.
He said quote Jared is a very smart guy. He`s a quality of person. I
think he can be very helpful. I would love to be able to be the one that
made peace with Israel and the Palestinians. Nobody`s been able to do it.
He knows the region, knows the people, knows the players.
Joining me now is Yamiche Alcindor National Political Reporter for the New
York Times and Catherine Rampell opinion Columnist for the Washington Post.
Catherine, starting with you path special envoy to Middle East have been
people like George Mitchell or Richard Holbrook`s played that roving role.
People who`ve basically been diplomats for decades or held Ambassador post.
What do you make of this idea and the qualifications of the kids here to do
CATHERINE RAMPELL, COLUMNIST, WASHINGTON POST: Yes, generally it is not a
member of the President or President-Elect, his extended family. But it`s
correct. This is a very important role in the administration on the
foreign policy front, on any front recent - to be clear. And the fact that
he is considering delegating these duties to his son-in-law is incredibly
troubling particularly since he said repeatedly there will be a wall
between himself - the soon to be President and his family because members
of his family in this case Jared Kushner`s wife Ivanka, Donald Trump`s
daughter will be running the business. So there are many -
MELBER: Yes. I mean even the wall
RAMPELL: Reasons to believe that this would be a poor choice -
MELBER: Yes, Catherine you raised the wall which is a great important
point. There`s been a lot of reporting on that including in your
newspaper. Even if you put the business wall aside one of the important
things about envoys is you send them usually. They do intense
negotiations. And then sometimes you remove them.
You fire them. You reassign them. All of that as part of the complex
international chess that goes on. It would seem to just at a basic level
be boxing America in - in our strategic options to have a family member
grandfathered into that role because they`re harder to fire, no?
RAMPELL: One would expect I mean maybe Trump can turn to a daughter-in-
law instead or a grandchild or an uncle. I don`t know. I`m sure there are
plenty of members of this extended family who are happy to raise their
hands for this position. I would again, you know, suggest that for the
reasons that we have laid out they would be bad choices as well.
Regardless of how smart they are to be clear.
MELBER: I mean what we`re talking about is not personal attacks on them.
Many of these people especially for their age for people in their 30`s have
achieved a lot. They`re just not subsequently knowledgeable and thus they
like make a normal, you know, background bedding to be a State Department
Diplomat let alone chief Middle East Diplomat.
Yamiche, let me read you the other piece of this puzzle which is reports
that Donald Trump having finally gotten this far to get the intelligence
briefings isn`t taking him very often. President-Elect Trump has received
only two classified Intel briefings we see since the surprise electing
victory. A frequency that`s notably lower so far than out of his
predecessors. U.S. officials note pence me while taking them more often.
Does that matter?
YAMICHE ALCINDOR, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, THE NEW YORK TIMES: It`s
hard to say. In some ways you can judge him and say OK, well he`s not
taking us that seriously. But he`s also in the middle as he says in the
middle filling all these cabinet positions in the middle of transitioning
and is preparing himself and preparing the people around him and take
And so in some ways at least from the reporting it seems as though the
access might be lower than other Presidents but this isn`t something that
historically low if you look at decades of other Presidents. So I think
that it`s hard to say especially as someone who obviously has no idea where
in these briefings you have an idea of course that they are important
developments around the world but this idea that you`ve got to take in
these briefings while doing other work.
I mean of course the Vice President Elect Mike Pence is looking at these
briefings. So I think Donald Trump here is making a judgment that he needs
to be filing these positions instead of doing these briefings.
RAMPELL: Well there`s nothing to say -
MELBER: Go ahead Catherine.
RAMPELL: That he can`t be doing both. There`s nothing to say that he
can`t be doing both of course. And I think what`s especially troubling
about the fact that he has reportedly shown very little curiosity about
getting up to speed on what`s going on in the rest of the world and what
his duties and challenges might be if they lie ahead is that he showed very
little curiosity and insurance in getting up to speed during the campaign
So arguably he`s starting out with a much greater deficit of awareness and
a fluency in many of these foreign policy issues than others have been,
than his predecessors have been.
ALCINDOR: He`s of course taking the time now to be the one defending him
but he`s also taking the time to pick out people who he thinks are going to
be the people that will actually be making those decisions and done those
post in a lot a ways. So of course it`s up to, you know, your viewers and
other people to decide what he`s doing. But I think the idea is that he`s
making this case that he is also busy.
MELBER: Right. Right, well, you know, it`s very popular nowadays. Every
one likes to talk about how busy they are. He certainly is busy. Our
briefing tonight is over though so Yamiche Alcindor and Catherine Rampell,
thank you both for joining.
You`ve been watching THE LAST WORD. I am Ari Melber wishing you and yours
a wonderful Thanksgiving and time with your family. Chris Hayes is up
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