The Last Word With Lawrence O’Donnell, Transcript 1/20/2017
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: That does it for us tonight. We`ll
see you again Monday. Now it`s time for “THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE
Good evening, my friend, Lawrence O`Donnell.
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Rachel, how`s that for a long work day for
MADDOW: I don`t even know what you`re talking about. Besides I have a co-
host now made of wax.
O`DONNELL: Yes. The 12-hour work day helps to have a co-host.
MADDOW: Yes, thank you, my dear. Good luck tonight.
O`DONNELL: Thank you, Rachel. Thank you.
Well, the Trump White House has already issued its first executive order
about the Affordable Care Act. We will have the details on that and much
The dancing is already underway at the inaugural balls. The first dance is
over. Donald Trump and the first lady appeared at the Liberty Ball a few
minutes ago. The president thanked his supporters. We are awaiting their
second appearance of the evening. This will happen at the Freedom Ball.
The president is expected to speak again. We will bring the remarks to you
live when that happens.
And so the Trump TV series has a title, “American Carnage,” a phrase that
appeared in today`s inaugural address and has of course never appeared in
any other speech by any other American president in history. You can think
of a presidency as a TV series, four years is considered a successful run
for a TV series. Eight years is considered a hit.
The TV series that I wrote for the longest, “The West Wing” lasted seven
years. What usually happens in the fifth or sixth year of a hit TV series
is some audience fatigue begins to set in and the ratings start to turn
down. That`s what happens to presidents. They tend to leave at a low
point in their favorability ratings.
That didn`t happen with the eight years of the Obama TV series titled “Hope
and Change.” It is usually the presidents themselves who speak the best
titles for their series. The Obama series is one of the few presidencies
that ended strong with polling indicating the audience wanted more.
There is much talk these days about how sharply divided American opinion
is, but there is a clear majority agreement on approval for Barack Obama
and an equally strong agreement about disapproval of Donald Trump. There
will be polling next week to tell us if Donald Trump reversed any of that
disapproval with his inaugural address today that seemed written to please
only the 32 percent of America that currently has a favorable opinion of
James Fellows has written presidential speeches. He`s a road scholar who
has written countless thoughtful articles, essays and books. He has read
every presidential inaugural address, all 57 of them. Today`s was number
James Fellows tells us that all presidential inaugural addresses have a –
have common elements until today. This one was different. Unlike anything
that any president had ever said in an inaugural address, James Fellows
says that every inaugural address before today had, quote, “sobriety,
humility, conciliation, respect and an opening to the tens of millions of
Americans who wished the other side had won.”
Not today. Donald Trump presented a picture of the United States of
America as a weak, crumbling country, ravaged by crime, impoverished by
losing the worldwide competition for jobs and defended by a weak military.
An almost uninhabitable place. He promised all of that would end today and
it will, because it was never true.
Donald Trump`s descriptions of America have always been false. It is the
richest country in the world, it has benefitted more from international
trade than any country in the world. This country`s poorest people would
be among the wealthier people in many other countries of the world. Our
crime rates have been going down for decades and our military is the
strongest and most professional, most lethal and most effective on earth.
The final line of today`s inaugural address was unsurprisingly make America
great again. Donald Trump has always told his followers that all we have
to do to make America great again it to make him president and he`s been
right about that in that all he has to do to make America great again in
the eyes of his followers is to simply start calling America great again.
[22:05:09] And America has been the greatest country on earth by every
measure that Donald Trump and his followers actually care about but Donald
Trump has simply refused to call it great. Now that Donald Trump is in
charge of fixing all the things that he says are wrong with America, you
can be sure that he will soon start calling America great again, especially
after he signs that massive tax cut that he`s been promising to his family
and all of America`s richest people.
The final speaker at today`s ceremonies at the capitol was the only one who
is not a partisan. Father Patrick Conroy is the Catholic chaplain of the
House of Representatives appointed to that position by former speaker John
Boehner. He offered a prayer for a man who has shown the world the worst
of himself, a man who has shown little understanding of the difference
between good and evil, the man who was now sitting – who was at that
moment sitting at lunch with the nuclear launch codes in his pocket.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FR. PATRICK CONROY, CHAPLAIN, HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES: We ask a special
blessing upon our new president, Donald Trump. Give him an understanding
heart to discern between good and evil. May he be strengthened in his work
and grow in understanding as he proves ever attentive to the American
people. We pray that he might become his best self.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining us now, Ana Marie Cox, political correspondent for MTV
News, Charlie Sykes, editor-in-chief of “Right Wisconsin” and an MSNBC
contributor, David Corn, Washington bureau chief, “Mother Jones,” and MSNBC
political analyst is with us, and Yamiche Alcindor, national political
reporter for the “New York Times” and an MSNBC contributor.
Here`s Donald Trump at the Freedom Ball.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Thank you very much. Hello,
folks. Our first lady.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
TRUMP: Well, we just want to thank everybody. This has been an amazing
journey for all of us, not just me and not just Melania. It`s been an
amazing – it`s been an amazing journey. And now the work begins. We have
to get it done. And we`ll get it done.
There is so much spirit in our country. This is such a great country. And
we are going to do things. We will not be taken advantage of anymore. OK?
We will not.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
TRUMP: We`re going to have those companies come pouring back in. You see
what`s been happening over the last three weeks. And we are going to have
a lot of things happen. And you`re going to read about them and – I don`t
know. Let me ask you, should I keep the Twitter going or not? Keep it
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
TRUMP: I think so. I think so. You know, the enemies keep saying, oh,
that`s terrible, but you know, it`s a way of bypassing dishonest media,
right, to go, so – but, I just want to thank you. We started out – we
weren`t given a great chance, but we knew we were going to win. And you
know, it took two weeks before we went to number one. Not a long time.
And the first week was composed in terms of the phony polls, was composed
of two days.
So we were at number one and we stayed there the entire route during the
primaries and then, boy, did I work. Those last four weeks I worked. Aye,
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
TRUMP: That was some job. We did a good job together. And I`ll tell you
what, many of the people in this room went to those rallies with us, right?
They went to those rallies. I saw one person on television tonight,
incredible family. Her and her husband, she said we`ve gone to 42 Trump
rallies. I said 42? 42. But we did. We had a lot of people that went to
a lot of the rallies and they showed up.
And you know, when we went in, I really felt that last week in particular,
I said, how are we going to lose? How can we lose? It is just too much.
There has never been a movement like this anywhere in the world. There`s
never been anything like this. So I am so looking forward. I`ve already
just – I just left actually the Oval Office because –
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
[22:10:02] TRUMP: Because our great General Mad Dog Mattis was approved –
was approved tonight. The Senate approved. He was first, and I went to
sign and Mike Pence, who`s coming out in a second, you saw what happened,
right? He just swore him in. And General Kelly, the border – the border.
Oh, that border. We`re going to have a border again. And he was approved
tonight by the Senate. So we`re starting to work and we`re going to do a
We are not going to let you down. Remember the theme, make America great
again and make America great again. I`ll tell you what, I have added since
I got to know so many people in this country, greater than ever before. It
will happen. So I want to thank everybody for being with us and for
sticking with us. It`s been an amazing experience. Now the fun begins,
OK? Now this fun begins. We`re going to do a really good job and I will
be fighting every single day for you.
Thank you, everybody. Thank you and have a great time. Thank you.
ANNOUNCER: And now the president and first lady of the United States will
take their first dance.
Ladies and gentlemen, the first couple, Donald and Melania Trump.
O`DONNELL: NBC`s Katy Tur is at the Freedom Ball. Katy?
KATY TUR, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: Hey there, Lawrence. I`ve got to tell you,
this feels a lot like a campaign rally. Donald Trump talking about his
poll numbers. Talking about his win. Asking the crowd what he should do
at one point. You just heard him ask the crowd if he should keep on
tweeting. They overwhelmingly responded yes with cheers. There were some
no`s in front of me, behind this camera and Donald Trump said the enemy
doesn`t want me to keep tweeting, saying that it`s his way to bypass the
I`ve got to say it`s interesting to hear the now president call those who
disagree with him his enemy. Of course that`s not the first time we`ve
heard him do that. He did that while he was president-elect as well during
Whether – many had hoped that Donald Trump would come out today and give a
unifying message during his inaugural, a unifying message that would able
to bring the two sides of this country together. It`s been a very divisive
campaign. It was a divided day here at the capitol with protests breaking
out along the parade route. Some protesters trying to get on to the mall.
We heard boos during Senator Schumer`s remarks during the inauguration. At
one point, right after Mike Pence was sworn in as the vice president, as he
was shaking hands with the then former vice president Joe Biden, a man in
the crowd right below the dais yelled, “lock her up.” This is about 200
yards, 300 yards from where Hillary Clinton was sitting. Loud enough for
the cameras to pick it up. Likely loud enough for Secretary Clinton to
hear it, as well.
But I will say this, Donald Trump knows the crowd he is speaking to. And
today he delivered a speech that was directly to his face. Tonight, here
the same thing at this inaugural ball. He was a little bit different at
the luncheon which is attended by a number of politicians, including
Secretary Clinton. That`s where he did thank her and talked a little bit
about this contentious campaign.
He`s able to adjust to the room he`s in. He`s something of a chameleon in
that way. And I think that`s part of the reason during the transition you
saw so many folks that didn`t necessarily agree with him come out of his
office and say that they had a great meeting. We saw Al Gore do that.
They were talking about the environment. We saw MLK III do it, as well,
talking about how Donald Trump is helping specific inner cities and race
relations, but then Donald Trump goes out and does things that are kind of
contrary to – or very contrary to what the meeting, the spirit of the
meeting seemed to be.
He appointed somebody who is a disbeliever in global warming, to the EPA,
and right after that meeting with MLK Jr. III he continued to get into a
fight with civil rights icon John Lewis. So what I`m saying here is this.
Donald Trump knows what to say to the people that he is saying it to while
he is doing so, when he`s in front of that room, and I think that`s why
you`re seeing such different tones in front of different crowds here today
at the inauguration. Lawrence?
O`DONNELL: NBC`s Katy Tur, thank you very much.
Ana Marie Cox, apparently Donald Trump doesn`t understand there are TV
cameras in the room and he will never again in his life be speaking to a
[22:15:06] He speaks to the entire nation. This is national coverage for
every one of his words. And the idea that I`m going to do this speech for
this room doesn`t understand the audience at all.
ANA MARIE COX, POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, MTV NEWS: He also doesn`t
understand that when you say something, as a president, as an elected
official, and you say you are going to do it, it`s not a starting point.
It`s not like a bargaining chip. It`s not like the first price that you
offer. When you say things like I`m going to eliminate ISIS or eliminate
crime, like – I seem to recall some people in the U.S. making a big deal
about a certain president saying if you could like your – if you like your
health care you could keep it? Like that was the worst kind of like,
awful, hyperbole in the world. You know, I mean, this is going to be so
interesting to try and keep – trying to keep his promises.
O`DONNELL: Charlie Sykes, to Donald Trump and his followers, it seems
words have meaning only if Barack Obama says them, or a Democrat says them,
then they must be held to those every word, every syllable of the word.
But when Donald Trump says, as Ana Marie just mentioned, that he`s going to
eliminate ISIS and Islamic terror from the face of the earth, there won`t
be one person with any such thoughts left on earth, he won`t achieve that
and no doubt will not be held to account for having said that.
CHARLIE SYKES, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, RIGHT WISCONSIN: Well, this is the new
phase of his presidency. Right? Because he`s never actually been held
accountable for either being factual or having to deliver anything, you
know, tangible results. And it will be interesting to see whether in fact
he does think that he can bull tweet his way through the presidency of the
But yes, it`s almost a tenant now of the Trump – of Trumpism that he
doesn`t mean that, don`t hold him to that. But I got to say I`m hoping
that people in Congress were paying attention to that speech today because
it was dark, it was divisive, it was populist, it was nationalist but it
was not conservative. This was a guy who I think mentioned freedom once.
Ronald Reagan mentioned it nine times. He did not talk about shrinking
government. He did not talk about working with other branches of
They need to take that message seriously because this is not the guy I
think that they`ve been trying to rationalize was going to become president
on January 20th.
O`DONNELL: And, Yamiche Alcindor, when you speak to people at the Trump
team, do any of them know that polling indicates two-thirds of America
wants Donald Trump to stop tweeting and so when Donald Trump refers to
tonight as he did the enemies want him to stop tweeting, the enemies in
that description are two-thirds of America.
YAMICHE ALCINDOR, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, NEW YORK TIMES: Well,
here`s the thing. The Trump team might want him to stop tweeting and the
aides might understand what people want but Donald Trump is going to be led
by his own interests and he`s going to – kind of talk to this room. And
if he feels as though people are responding in a positive way and he feels
like he can bypass the media and that is something that he has done pretty
People have been writing story after story and creating segments around his
tweets. So he`s doing that. If he feels as though he can continue to do
that then that`s what he`s going to do. So it doesn`t really matter what
poll or what survey comes out that says people really don`t like this, as
long as it works for Donald Trump he`s going to continue to do it.
O`DONNELL: David Corn, I want to get your reaction to the inaugural
DAVID CORN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: You know, it`s hard to go beyond what
other people have said already. It was dark. It was divisive. There was
almost no graciousness to it. There were also no compound sentences. And
it was one slogan, one meme, one theme after another. It was like a mash-
up of the campaign and he went kind of dark. You know, you I think rightly
zeroed in on that term he used, carnage. You know, and then, you know,
again, I was standing sort of near Katy Tur in the VIP section right behind
the press section and he went on about how America is sort of a hell hole
and the establishment is sucking the roofs of middle America and all these
VIPs around me who were big donors were cheering that on.
It was kind of rather disgusting. They jeered Chuck Schumer when he talked
about gender identity equality. But I think the – the big point here is
Donald Trump still is a salesman, maybe a con man but at heart he`s a
salesman. And he – he just wants to keep pitching, pitching, pitching,
and I think one question is, how long his die-hard followers will believe
the sales pitch if he doesn`t deliver on any of it. And it may be quite a
O`DONNELL: That is the question. I think we`re going to be able to
squeeze in a break now that I believe we have seen every one of Donald
Trump`s dance moves and Mike Pence`s dance moves. Yes, I think that`s just
about every one of them.
All right. We`re going to squeeze in a break. We`ll be back with the
executive order issued tonight on the Affordable Care Act. President
Obama`s former secretary of Health and Human Services says it is designed
to dismantle the Affordable Care Act and put it into a breakdown state
before they even repeal it.
[22:20:00] We`ll be right back.
O`DONNELL: The group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington
filed a complaint today with the General Services Administration arguing
that by taking office Donald Trump violated the lease on his Washington,
D.C. hotel. Donald Trump`s lease agreement says that no elected official
of the government of the United States shall be admitted to any share or
part of this lease or to any benefit that may arise there from.
The group is asking the GSA to notify Trump`s company that it is in breach
of the lease, end quote. The present Trump company does not resolve this
breach GSA should exercise its rights to terminate the lease or take other
We`ll be right back with more from our panel.
O`DONNELL: We`re back with our coverage of inauguration night. That is
the Salute to the Armed Services ball, where they are awaiting Donald
Trump`s next appearance. That should be minutes away. These balls are
fair – reasonably close together in Washington, D.C.
And Charlie Sykes – back with the panel. I want to get your reaction to
what you`ve been hearing from Donald Trump tonight. What we`ve been
hearing from him since his inaugural address.
SYKES: Well, I mean, it`s interesting. I mean, the last segment you had,
he`s still talking about himself. He`s still re-litigating the campaign.
I mean, he`s the president of the United States. And you know, for – I
don`t know why anybody actually – any of us thought that he was ever going
to pivot, but, you know, I do think it`s fascinating that he has not moved
the dial at all.
[22:25:05] That the inaugural speech was a campaign speech and he`s still,
you know, treating the inaugural balls like campaign rallies. But I think
it`s going to be fascinating what he does in the next couple of days with
his executive orders, what actually he`s going to do on Obamacare. Whether
or not he and the congressional Republicans are on the same page. I mean,
right now, you know, he is the president of the United States and no one
has any idea I think what lies ahead.
O`DONNELL: Ana, in his verbal record of the day, so far the high point for
him was at the luncheon where he was very positive, very complimentary to
Bill and Hillary Clinton, and really a completely different tone from the
COX: Well, yes. Because he doesn`t realize he has no different room.
That it`s all one room. It`s the U.S. It`s the media. There`s no way to
separate what he says in private and what he says in public unless it`s
literally like a secure room, right? And I think the Bill and Hillary
stuff, you know, I almost want to give him some points for graciousness but
what he was thanking him for is paying him homage. Right? Like that was
what he was saying why he was so gracious is because they bowed before him.
So he gets – you know, he says thank you for that.
And that reminds me of what he said about Obama. He thanked Obama for a
good transition and then went on to describe America as a hell hole, a
carnage, and tombstones and blood. The violent imagery of that speech.
We`ve been talking about how dark it was but the violent imagery is really
what struck me. And I think that what makes that especially eerie and odd
and frankly terrifying is the way that it was a campaign speech. Because
that`s sort of rhetoric of violence being directed at the people who voted
for him. Giving them agenda and not trying to get them to think any other
way about their fellow Americans.
O`DONNELL: Yamiche, in his election night speech, it was a completely
different tone. It was by far his most gracious speech. I read passages
from it today on the air and no one could remember where it came from
because it was such a stark contrast to today. It contained all of the
elements that James Fellows says inaugural addresses normally have,
including a very humble and clearly written reach out by Donald Trump on
election night to people who did not vote for him, as well as that
graciousness to the Clintons, which he showed today. And it was just
striking that those passages from election night couldn`t find their way
into today`s address.
ALCINDOR: It`s very striking and odd. But the interesting thing to me,
the passages that people are talking about today, they`re talking about it
being dark, the idea that he is talking about American carnage, that he`s
talking about American factories as tombstones across the country, these
are also the same lines that his supporters were cheering very loudly
about. And as someone who was out on the campaign trail, I should say that
a lot of people have that kind of dim, depressed view of America right now.
And when I say a lot of people, I mean Trump supporters who catapulted him
into office even if he lost the popular vote. And – so I think he is in
some ways speaking to his base and speaking to the reason why he won.
O`DONNELL: David Corn, the pivot that you would expect is not so much a
behavioral pivot or a stylistic pivot but you would expect, at some point,
when you look at these sinking poll numbers for Donald Trump that the staff
will say, we must in public comments now be reaching out to people beyond
our base. The people who we can`t lose no matter what we say.
CORN: I think from day one of the campaign, I, for one, have not ever
expected a pivot. Donald Trump, in my estimation, is somewhat of a
disturbed personality who does not always do what people around him might
counsel in terms of just being decent, whether it`s even worthwhile
politically. Picking a fight with John Lewis, picking a fight with Miss
Universe. You know, going on and on again about how he can`t stand Alec
Baldwin. It`s a terrible show, no one watches, yet he is watching it every
night rather than dealing with the affairs of state.
This is not a person who I think we can judge by standard norms on a great
variety of matters. So, yes, you know, he should have given the speech
election night part of that today. Yes, he should be gracious, but he
can`t bring himself to do that.
This is a guy who`s obsessed, literally obsessed with getting revenge
against his enemies. I don`t think that`s going to change. He`s been
talking about it for 20 years or longer. It`s not going to change because
he proved himself right by being elected president.
O`DONNELL: But I just want to go to Charlie quickly before we go.
O`DONNELL: Charlie, we have seen him do it. We`ve seen him to do it
twice. We saw him do it at the lunch today. We saw him do it on election
O`DONNELL: He can do it. And what`s striking is, why wouldn`t the staff
urge him to do it more and make sure that it happens more?
[22:30:09] Have we lost Charlie Sykes` connection? I think we have.
There`s a control room now? OK. All right. Well, we`re going to have to
go to a break. We`ve lost Charlie`s connection.
When we come back we`ll be covering some of the demonstrations that
happened and most importantly this executive order that President Trump
O`DONNELL: That`s the Salute to Armed Services ball, the inaugural ball of
the – I believe it`s the final stop for President Trump and Vice President
Mike Pence tonight on their tour of the inauguration balls. We have seen
them already at the other balls. We`ve seen these two dancing appearances.
This will be the third one.
And we`re joined now by Rick Wilson, Republican strategist, contributor to
“The Daily Beast.”
And Rick, when we look at this relationship, this president and vice
presidential relationship, it seems like Donald Trump will be relying on
Mike Pence, will need to rely on Mike Pence. And as we watch it publicly,
everything we can see in the public face of it, that relationship seems to
RICK WILSON, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, I think right now that Trump
realizes that he has to use Mike Pence as a sort of liaison and go between
with Congress because Pence speaks their language, he understands the
culture of the folkways, has these relationships that Trump won`t
necessarily have and won`t have the attention span to maintain.
[22:35:11] But I think that – I think that Mike Pence will be a power
center in the administration right up until he crosses the more
ideologically hot nationalists, which he had never really been described as
before this election, like Bannon and Miller and Flynn and the others.
That`s where the test – that`s where rubber will hit the road I think with
O`DONNELL: We are looking at now taped of the president and vice president
dancing at the Liberty Ball. These balls tend to blur together as you
watch this coverage. We`re awaiting their arrival at the Salute to Armed
Services ball. They`ve already left this one, I believe.
And Yamiche, to that relationship of president and vice president, we`re
coming off eight years of a very strong relationship of president to vice
president, one that built rather quickly. That was preceded by a very
close relationship between George W. Bush and Dick Cheney. And will we
expect this strong president-vice president relationship to continue to
three presidencies in a row?
ALCINDOR: I think it will continue in that Mike Pence has shown that he
really defers to Donald Trump when asked about any number of things. And
he really I think will give Donald Trump pretty much all credit for
anything that happens in the government, anything positive that happens.
So I think in some ways that if he continues to be deferential to Donald
Trump, there`s that. But I should add that there`s so many competing
people. There you have Jared Kushner who obviously has family ties and
super close to him, but then you also have Steve Bannon and the others that
are going to be, I guess, vying for that attention. So I think it`s going
to be really interesting to see how much power Mike Pence actually has once
we`re there behind closed doors.
O`DONNELL: Between the inaugural parade and the inaugural balls the
president signed an executive order on health care directing the secretary
for Health and Human Services and the heads of all executive departments to
use all of their authority and discretion available to them, quote, “to
wave, defer, grant exemptions from or delay the implementation of any
provision of the Affordable Care Act, especially any provision that would
impose a fiscal burden, any kind of – as this executive order says, any
cost, fee, tax penalty or regulatory burden on individuals, families,
health insurers, health care providers, makers of medical devices.”
And so, Ana Marie, this basically gives the secretary the discretion to
relieve anyone of the obligations of the individual mandate right away, the
thing that Democrats – Republicans object to the most.
COX: Yes. It seems to be designed to put Obamacare in to the death –
Obamacare or the ACA into the death spiral that a lot of people have said
it`s already in. But really only happens actuarially if you take the
healthy people out of the insurance pool.
I am really curious about how this is going to play out exactly. It was,
you know, grimly amusing during Sean Spicer`s press conference when he
announced this. He said we`re going to tell regulators and states to do
whatever they can to ease the burden of the Affordable Care Act. In
unison, the entire press corps said, what does that mean?
COX: And it wasn`t clear that Sean Spicer knew or that anyone did, right?
On Twitter you have the health care policy experts before they actually saw
what the language was wondering about it, as well. And seeing how Obama –
still getting used to it.
O`DONNELL: Discriminate people out.
COX: Only even made 29 of his 690 appointments to federal agencies, I
don`t know exactly what this means for us.
O`DONNELL: Yes. It`s probably not going to happen fast. But former
Health and Human Services secretary Kathleen Sebelius who was there for the
implementation of the Affordable Care Act issued a statement tonight. The
last line of which, “If this is executed in the most harmful form to the
Affordable Care Act,” she says, “The result will be a market collapse on a
rapid basis and many individuals and families will lose their health
coverage long before any replacement is proposed.”
And David Corn, it seems if this executive order can achieve that
Republicans would count that as helpful momentum, pushing their repeal and
replace because if they can say the Affordable Care Act has collapsed the
case for their intervention becomes stronger.
CORN: And let`s dispel the notion that there is a replace at this time.
They have had years and years and years to come up with their replacement,
and they don`t have a plan. Donald Trump said the other day he wants
everyone to have insurance. And then he backed away from that but that`s
never been part of any Republican plan, a plan that would guarantee or make
sure that everybody has insurance.
[22:40:14] And federal agencies do have, as you know, Lawrence, having
worked in the government, a lot of leeway in terms of what they do with
regulations. Now often those actions can be challenged in court if the
agency goes too far in trying to do something that it doesn`t have the
authority to do. So this could lead to a complete mess for the ACA. It
could lead to lawsuits. And just tremendous confusion which no doubt will
probably help the Republican case that Obamacare is an abomination.
But what will happen when millions of Americans stop – start to lose their
care and their coverage? Who will they blame?
O`DONNELL: Yes, this is – President Obama himself issued some executive
orders, very carefully carved waiver and deferments and delays of some of
these burdens as they put it. But this is a wholesale, anything that any
head of any department feels they have the discretion to do, this
authorizes them to do it.
We`re going to have to take a quick break here as we await the president
and vice president`s arrival at the Salute to Armed Services ball. This is
the final inaugural ball appearance that the president and vice president
will make tonight.
O`DONNELL: That`s the Salute to Armed Services inaugural ball. That is
the final stop for president and vice president tonight.
Hallie Jackson is in the ballroom. Hallie Jackson, what can we expect?
Presumably another dance and another short speech?
HALLIE JACKSON, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: Yes. And this was a little bit
different, though, Lawrence.
[22:45:02] So yes, we do expect to hear from the president, to hear from
the first lady. There will be a dance but then after that both the
president and the first lady, and then the vice president and the second
lady will split off and they`ll dance with different members of the
military who will also be on stage with them.
Remember, this is the Salute to the Armed Services ball. And in front of
me here are members of this military from all different branches. At one
point we even had some service members from Iraq screened in live to speak
with the crowd here.
The people are excited. Folks have been waiting. As you know the
president is running a bit behind schedule. So there is a sense of
anticipation for him to get here and for him to do these dances. So,
again, I think it`ll be a little different from what you`ve seen earlier in
the night at the Liberty and at the Freedom balls. This is the last
official ball of the night. After this, it caps what has been an
extraordinary long but obviously historic day for President Trump and his
first lady, too.
Lawrence, really a remarkable day.
O`DONNELL: And Hallie, two things about this ball. He`s in no hurry to go
anywhere else after this one so that`s one reason why he might spend a
little more time here. And of course, the military audience has always
been very special to him as a campaigner and we – I think we can expect
something more specifically targeted to them in his comments.
JACKSON: I think so, too. And I`ll tell you what, earlier tonight, when
there were remarks being made by different dignitaries here, the reference
to General James Mattis who is just sworn in today as the new secretary of
Defense got a huge cheer from this audience, the biggest cheer that we
heard all night. I think that you will hear from Donald Trump, you know,
what we`ve seen from him on the campaign trail and during this transition,
he loves to talk about General – as he like to call him, General Mad Dog
Mattis, although it`s all right to day that maybe he`s not so crazy about
that nickname, Mattis himself.
So I do think you`re going to hear the president talk about his Cabinet,
talk about John Kelly who was also sworn in tonight, and yes, direct this
more to members of the military who are here with him.
You are right that he`s in no hurry to go anywhere. And interestingly, you
know who one of the performers was here tonight? Tony Orlando, who you
might be familiar with. I Googled some of his songs. They were
entertaining to the folks here. But Tony Orlando was talking about how he
and Donald Trump had been friends for a long time dating back to Atlantic
City days so if the entertainer is still here and the president sees him
perhaps they`ll have some moments that are on stage or backstage, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Hallie, in your new mission as a White House correspondent,
you`re going to be the first person we turn to to find out what is the
president doing tomorrow.
JACKSON: Yes, sir. Tomorrow, he`s got a pretty busy schedule. We`re
going to be at the National Cathedral first thing in the morning because he
wakes up early and heads there for a prayer service. That is tradition.
You see that from presidents right after inauguration. After that we
expect that he`s going to do some work. It is possible. There was some
discussion that he would visit maybe the CIA, but that was before it became
clear that incoming CIA chief Mike Pompeo would not be confirmed today.
And instead it looks like that has been delayed until Monday.
So could we see Donald Trump make his stop at another department, for
example, another agency, perhaps the Pentagon, one of his Cabinet members
who has been sworn in? That is still a potential, still up in the air.
The other big thing happening tomorrow, of course, near the White House
will be that women`s march, that big protest march that is set to happen
and if the president, as he will be – he`ll be out in Washington tomorrow,
the National Cathedral, as you know, is not too, too far from the White
House, just up northwest a little bit. He will run into potentially road
closures and traffic and protesters, you know, along his motorcade route.
O`DONNELL: NBC`s Hallie Jackson, thank you very much for joining us.
We`re going to take a break.
[22:51:43] O`DONNELL: President Trump will soon appear at his last
inaugural ball of the evening. This is the Salute to Armed Services ball.
Hallie Jackson is there covering it for us. We expect him to do the
standard turn on the dance floor, along with Vice President Mike Pence and
his wife. And then we do expect President Trump to make comments at the
Salute to Armed Services ball, comments no doubt tailored specifically for
that audience there.
Ana Marie Cox, we learned from Hallie Jackson that Tony Orlando was
singing. And we learned that Hallie had to Google him to figure out who he
COX: Yes. And she did seem to assume that you knew who he was.
O`DONNELL: And I don`t – who could the guy be?
COX: You know, I think it`s sort of interesting that we`re expecting Trump
to do tailored remarks at the Armed Services ball because, you know, he
hasn`t really listened to the Armed Services veterans very much. As I`m
sure you know that that`s one of the groups of people he hasn`t met with
during the transition. So – and I know there are various veteran service
organizations that were pretty concerned about that.
I mean, basically we all know this about Trump but I will say it again, he
talks a good game about veterans and the military but he failed to actually
serve in it. And he didn`t do a very good job of actually fulfilling his
promise to donate very much money to veterans. He seems to really like
uniforms I think more than the people in them. That`s my –
O`DONNELL: And Yamiche, this is the time is running out on making promises
about fixing veterans health care and all the other issues that he has
raised in terms of Armed Services personnel. So this is one of the moments
where he will be able to make those promises again, but pretty soon it`s
going to be time to deliver.
ALCINDOR: It is going to be time to deliver. The question I have and I
think the question that a lot of journalists have is what time and when is
his Teflon I would say like abilities to say something and then kind of
back pedal and still be able to get the admiration of his supporters? When
is that going to run out? I think Veterans Affairs is a really clear
thing. You either – the V.A. either starts servicing people more and
they`re either – and there are shorter lines or it doesn`t.
I think Affordable Care Act is another place where people either lose their
health insurance and get a better plan or get something that is great,
that`s replaced by Republicans or they lose their health insurance and get
really sick and they can`t go to a doctor. They ended up in an emergency
radio. So I think time is running out. That`s my gut feeling. But really
Trump supporters could say, you know, the Democrats are the ones that are
holding things up even though at this point, the Republicans have all this
power. I can`t imagine I`m not being said – people not feeling like they
need to use it.
O`DONNELL: All right. We`re going to squeeze in a quick break here as we
await the president and vice president`s arrival at the final inaugural
[22:56:45] O`DONNELL: That is the shot of the final stop for President
Trump and Vice President Pence tonight. The Salute to Armed Services
inaugural ball. This will be their third stop. We will see their third
turn on the dance floor and surely the president will make remarks here
that will be specifically targeted to the military audience. That`s the
president there. He is minutes away. There are reports that he is close
to or in the building. So this will be very soon and these will be his
final – no doubt final public comments for the night.
And Rick Wilson, I wanted to get your reaction to the president`s comments
tonight at the inaugural balls. What they have added to the day.
WILSON: Well, look, I mean, this is a guy who`s – this is the high school
quarterback circling the parking lot in his Camaro. You know, five years
later, he`s reliving the campaign glory. And he`s doing the things that,
you know, have become sort of typical of Donald Trump. The referring to
his fellow Americans as his enemies, the vengeance fantasies, the sort of
pettiness that should make everybody sleep easier knowing he`s got the keys
to the nuclear weapons as of tonight. So –
O`DONNELL: And –
WILSON: Go ahead.
O`DONNELL: And David Corn, these will be his final public comments of the
night. And –
CORN: Well, maybe. Lawrence, we don`t know.
CORN: He can still tweet. You know, maybe he`ll be up at 3:00 a.m., you
know, going up after Alec Baldwin again. But I do hope when he comes out
tonight at the military ball here, he reminds people that he said he knew
more than the generals, that he reminds them that he said – that he
compared the intelligence community who worked in the military community to
WILSON: To Nazis.
CORN: I hope he, you know, really hammers those points hard and doesn`t
just, you know, doesn`t just go with the fluffy rhetoric about how much he
loves the military.
O`DONNELL: And Ana, there is the possibility that he reaches back to the
rhetoric that he used at the luncheon today, which was his best received
comments of the day generally. And this could be the audience that get
that out of him.
COX: And you are a man of boundless hope and optimism. I don`t know where
WILSON: Lawrence, even with Donald Trump being – even when Donald Trump
is being better for a few minutes he is not always better for very long.
And that`s – the theory there`s no better Trump is that he always reverts
to the mean and the mean is pretty mean is generally proven out. So I
think the luncheon today was probably an exemption and the rules, you know,
a lot uglier than one would hope.
COX: Yes, and he is really the Matthew McConaughey of presidents at this
point. Like dazed and confused Matthew McConaughey in his Camaro. He`s
going to tell stories about his crowd for – and the crowds are going to
get bigger for as long as he is president. So I`m not optimistic, but it
makes me feel happy. I think –
O`DONNELL: All right. I`m going to –
ALCINDOR: I think he`s just going to go ahead and talk about –
O`DONNELL: I`m placing a $1 bet that he`s going to go back to positive.
That`s $1 bet.
O`DONNELL: We`re going to leave it there. Ana Marie Cox, David Corn, Rick
Wilson, Yamiche Alcindor, thank you all for joining us tonight. Really
MSNBC`s live coverage continues into “THE 11TH HOUR” now with Brian
Williams. That`s next.