The Last Word With Lawrence O’Donnell, Transcript 3/7/2017

Guests:
Rick Wilson, Evelyn Farkas, Nicholas Confessore, Al Franken, Jared Bernstein, Eve Ensler, Saru Jayaraman, Sean Spicer
Transcript:

Show: The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell
Date: March 7, 2017
Guest: Rick Wilson, Evelyn Farkas, Nicholas Confessore, Al Franken, Jared Bernstein, Eve Ensler, Saru Jayaraman, Sean Spicer

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC: Intelligence committee – I don`t want to leave –
I`m going hand-off here to Lawrence O`Donnell. I want to mention one thing
as we go, something that`s happened on this show tonight that we made some
news.

Congressman Adam Schiff is the top Democrat on the House Intelligence
Committee.

I just don`t want to leave without noting here that he just told us that
he`s determined that the House Intelligence Committee that`s investigating
the Trump campaign and its ties to Russia, he`s determined that they should
talk to the British former MI-6 officer who compiled that dossier of
alleged Russian dirt on Donald Trump.

The author of that dossier has been in hiding since January. Today, he
surfaced in London, and apparently, at least the ranking Democrat on the
House Intelligence Committee which is leading that investigation into Trump
and Russia.

He says he will go to London. He`ll do whatever it takes to make sure they
get his testimony – oh, really?

That does it for us tonight, we`ll see you again tomorrow, now it`s time
for THE LAST WORD with Lawrence O`Donnell, good evening, Lawrence.

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, HOST, THE LAST WORD: Hey Rachel, we have an open
invitation to Jeff Sessions to come on the program.

He has not made it yet, but tonight we do have Senator Al Franken whose
question created this gigantic Jeff Sessions controversy.

Is it perjury? We`ll ask Senator Franken if he believes it`s perjury, we
will roll the tape of exactly what was said.

Which today, as you know, in the judiciary committee, they had a fight, the
chairman arguing about what was actually said in the video where Al Franken
asked that question –

MADDOW: As if we don`t have a record of it, as if we can`t all check it –

O`DONNELL: Yes, and in the hearings, Senator Franken said to the chairman,
showed – just check the video.

Of course, they don`t have video at the hearings, but we have video here.
So, it will all – this is how – we will complete the judiciary committee
hearing here tonight with judiciary committee member Al Franken.

MADDOW: Earning your Senate pension.

O`DONNELL: Yes, exactly –

MADDOW: Well done, my friend, well done.

O`DONNELL: Thank you, Rachel –

MADDOW: Well done.

O`DONNELL: Well, tonight, as I say, we will ask Senator Al Franken if
Attorney General Jeff Sessions perjured himself at his confirmation
hearing.

And Congressional Republicans and conservatives are in revolt, open revolt
over the new Trumpcare bill which ran into fierce conservative resistance
on its first day on Capitol Hill.

But first, is Donald Trump fit to serve as president of the United States?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JIMMY KIMMEL, COMEDIAN & TELEVISION HOST: What is the point of wiretapping
Donald Trump? Every crazy thought he has he puts on Twitter.

(LAUGHTER)

He`s wiretapping himself.

(LAUGHTER)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Has the White House come up with any evidence
whatsoever?

SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We were asking the House and the
Senate Intelligence Committee to look into this concern.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: I think that the president of the United
States should come forward with the information that led him to that
conclusion.

STEPHEN COLBERT, COMEDIAN & TELEVISION HOST: So where did Trump get his
info? From the CIA? From the FBI, out of his a-s-s?

(LAUGHTER)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There`s no one that he is willing to spare and
defending to distract us from the uncomfortable questions around Russia?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Senate Democrats press for answers from Sessions.

SEN. AL FRANKEN (D), MINNESOTA: I don`t understand how we`re supposed to
draw any other conclusion than he was lying under oath.

REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), SPEAKER, UNITED STATES HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES:
This bill, the American Health Care Act, it keeps our promise to repeal and
replace Obamacare.

SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: We are divided on replacement. We are
united on repeal, but we`re divided on replacement.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Republicans know it`s a disaster.

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK: Trumpcare is a mess for the American
people.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: There are two ways to remove the president of the United
States. We have already more than once on this program examined the 25th
Amendment, which allows the vice president to remove the president with the
support of a majority of the cabinet in writing.

The vice president then becomes the acting president. The vice president
can initiate this action whenever he believes the president is “unable to
discharge the powers and duties of his office.”

The president can appeal that action only to the Congress and then a vote
of the House and Senate will settle the matter.

The 25th Amendment does not specify what it means for the president to be
unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.

It could obviously be for health reasons, the president has fallen into a
coma or is otherwise physically ill.

The 25th Amendment was actually used to make Dick Cheney the acting
president for a matter of hours when George W. Bush got a colonoscopy.

The 25th Amendment could obviously be used to remove a president whose
mental health is in doubt. And as the world knows now, that is the current
condition of the American presidency.

The president`s mental health is in doubt here and around the world for the
most inexplicable statements any president has ever made.

Mike Pence could invoke the 25th Amendment because the president of the
United States is a pathological liar. The vice president and the majority
of the cabinet can remove the president for any reason.

This could be that reason. Here you have a deranged president or a
pathologically lying president lying about the operations of the American
government and lying about the previous president of the United States.

That`s enough to invoke the 25th Amendment. But Mike Pence and the cabinet
are not there yet. That tweet is also enough to impeach the president of
the United States. The last time a Republican Congress impeached a
president, it was for lying under oath in a civil deposition unrelated to
the governing of the United States.

Perjury. President Clinton was disbarred as a lawyer for that perjury, but
he was not convicted in the United States Senate and removed from office.

Many of the Democratic senators who voted against removal of the president
conceded that he was actually guilty of that perjury.

But they felt that the president`s lie did not merit removal from office
because it had nothing to do with the governing of the United States.

The most simplistic version of President Clinton`s defense that you would
hear from Democrats in those days was that he was only lying about sex.

Look at what Donald Trump was lying about in that tweet. He was lying
about the activities of the branch of the government that he now heads, the
executive branch.

He was lying about the former president of the United States. He was lying
about the FBI. He was lying about the surveillance systems of the
government that he now heads and he was lying under oath.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN ROBERTS, CHIEF JUSTICE OF THE UNITED STATES: I, Donald John Trump, do
solemnly swear.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I, Donald John Trump, do
solemnly swear –

ROBERTS: That I will faithfully execute –

TRUMP: That I will faithfully execute –

ROBERTS: The office of president of the United States.

TRUMP: The office of president of the United States.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: The president of the United States is under oath 24 hours a
day. He was lying under that oath.

Faithfully execute the office of the president of the United States. He
was unfaithfully manipulating the office of the president of the United
States. He was violating that oath. He was defying that oath. He was
disgracing that oath.

He was disgracing the office of the presidency and he finds new ways to do
that virtually every day. And in lying under that solemn oath, Donald
Trump accused President Obama of committing a crime.

The founding fathers put the impeachment process in the constitution to
deal with violators of that oath, people who do not faithfully execute the
office of the president.

The tweeting fool now living in the White House violated that oath with
that tweet Saturday morning.

That tweet fits the Republican definition of an impeachable offense more
fully than what Bill Clinton was actually impeached for by a Republican
Congress, lying under oath.

The president isn`t the only one who takes an oath of office. The vice
president does. Every member of the House and Senate does.

Every member of the House and Senate staff takes the same oath of office as
a member of those bodies.

I took that oath when I worked on the Senate staff. The receptionists in
the Senate take the same oath of office as a senator.

They all raise their right hands and solemnly swear that I will well and
faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter,
so help me God.

What Donald Trump did on Saturday morning was an offense to anyone who has
ever taken an oath of office, and it should be an offense to everyone else.

Whether he lied about President Obama because he is simply a buffoon,
whether he accused President Obama of committing a crime because he is a
mad man.

Whether he sent that tweet just to have fun does not matter. Each of those
reasons amounts to the same thing in the words of the 25th Amendment.

Donald Trump is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.
In the words of his oath, Donald Trump is clearly unable to faithfully
execute the office of the president.

Donald Trump clearly has no idea what it means to solemnly swear. The word
faithfully means nothing to him. Violating his oath of office is no longer
enough for a Republican Congress to impeach a president.

Lying under oath is no longer enough. Not yet. How long? How long will it
take before the Republicans in Congress realize that something has to be
done about a president who violates his oath of office publicly?

The oath that members of Congress take themselves. That oath that says, “I
will well and faithfully discharge the duties in office on which I am about
to enter.”

Those officers, those Congressional officers with that oath have been
entrusted by the constitution with the impeachment process.

How long will it take for them to well and faithfully discharge that duty?
We are 46 days into the Trump presidency.

We`ve already seen a national security adviser forced to resign because of
lying. We now have an attorney general caught in apparent lie in his
Senate confirmation hearing by Senator Al Franken, who will be joining us
in a moment.

We have multiple investigations of Donald Trump`s connections to Russia, of
his campaign`s connections to Russia.

We have never discussed the 25th Amendment or impeachment in the first 46
days of a presidency.

That`s where we are now, 46 days. The Republicans are as baffled by what
they`re seeing as the rest of the world is.

They are just pretending to be keeping calm and carrying on. We don`t know
how long the Republicans in Congress can continue to defend the
indefensible, and they don`t know how long they can keep doing that either.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MCCAIN: I think that the president of the United States who has stated
categorically that Trump Tower was wiretapped.

That he should come forward with the information that led him to that
conclusion. It`s a very serious charge against the previous president of
the United States.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: That was Senator John McCain today. That is what hope looks
like. The cracks in the Republican wall are already there.

They will only get bigger. Joining us now Rick Wilson; Republican
strategist and contributor to “The Daily Beast”.

Also with us, Nicholas Confessore; Pulitzer Prize-winning political
reporter for the “New York Times” and an Msnbc contributor.

And Evelyn Farkas; Senior Fellow at the The Atlantic Council and a former
deputy assistant secretary of defense responsible for policy toward Russia.

She`s also now an Msnbc security analyst. And Rick, I want to go to you as
someone with our best contacts here among Republicans.

And just for a moment, we all know the face that they`re putting on this.
We all know the kind of spin that members of the House and others do when
they`re forced to answer a question about this and how they try to side-
step it.

What are you hearing from Republicans about just how chaotic their lives
have become when they wake up on Saturday mornings to these kinds of tweets
that they know are going to rock their world because they`re going to have
to come up with some kind of response to it?

RICK WILSON, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Look, this is a ride. This is a
roller coaster ride that doesn`t end.

And a lot of these guys, particularly in the leadership live in absolute
terror every day that Donald Trump is going to say the thing that blows up
their holy grail agenda items.

They`re terrified he`s going to blow up something on the tax cut. They`re
already looking at today with the Obamacare repeal bill.

They`re dreading the tweet that goes wrong. They`re terrified that they`ll
get way out on this issue and that he`ll pull a rug out from under them.

So, every single day is a stress test for these guys. And yes, you`re
right. Most of them now are living in absolute terror.

They know this train is headed towards the cliff. They`re probably 60
members of the house and a half a dozen in the Senate, you know, who would
strap on a bomb vest for this guy still.

But most of them and certainly almost all the ones in leadership, they
recognize that Donald Trump is a guy who is unstable and who is mentally
unfit and who is a danger to the republic. They recognize that. They
won`t give it up. They don`t understand what else to do.

They have boxed themselves into a – into a dead-end here with Trump. And,
you know, it`s – the problem is, you know, that Donald Trump isn`t –
they`re not trapped in here with Donald Trump.

He`s trapped in there with them, and they are the ones who have to make a
decision on something to do about how to respond to this.

O`DONNELL: Evelyn, how is the defense community, the intelligence
committee, responding to this part of the Trump presidency?

The wild tweeting about their activities? I mean, this notion of this
wiretapping would certainly involve at least the FBI, possibly more than
that.

EVELYN FARKAS, SENIOR FELLOW, ATLANTIC COUNCIL: Well, first of all, it`s a
continuation of the assault that Donald Trump, that president Trump has
essentially committed against the intelligence community since the day he
became a candidate almost when he was disparaging the professionals, saying
he didn`t want to listen to their intelligence briefings, et cetera.

But the bigger problem is that there`s a national security issue here.
Russia is our adversary. They do not mean the United States well.

And the first thing that the congressional Republicans can do is do a real
investigation, start a real investigation on the Hill –

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Absolutely –

FARKAS: On what Russia did to interfere in our elections. They can set up
a select committee or an independent bipartisan commission, but they`ve got
to do it fast because this is not going away.

O`DONNELL: Nick, Donald Trump did not get a majority of the vote when he
ran for president. Presidents normally, their political calculation is the
majority. They`re always looking for the majority.

When they`re under the majority in polling, they don`t like that. Did the
Republican Congress notice that he is not close to a majority in polling?

He has not – he hasn`t converted anyone since the election, and therefore
the health of this presidency going forward is not good.

NICHOLAS CONFESSORE, NEW YORK TIMES: Absolutely. Look, his entire agenda
and their agenda all rest on his ability to be a tent pole for the party.

To persuade the wavering members on something complicated and dangerous
like ACA repeal or tax reform.

And if the president is unpopular so early, it`s very hard for the
president to coax these members into doing things that are risky and half
the things that he wants them to do are risky –

O`DONNELL: So, for example – which we are going to get to later in the
program. The – I was surprised that the number of Republicans who came
out on day one of this healthcare bill today opposing it and opposing it
very specifically.

And you could see there wasn`t a bit of fear of Donald Trump, Paul Ryan,
Mitch McConnell, and them coming out here and saying, you know, this is
disastrous for the deficit.

You`re saying this – that will infect more of the legislative process.

CONFESSORE: Well, ACA reform is an elbow of wax.

O`DONNELL: Yes –

CONFESSORE: Yes, there`s different camps of lawmakers –

(CROSSTALK)

O`DONNELL: I mean, I don`t mean to get into it specifically –

CONFESSORE: Right –

O`DONNELL: But there are so many other things coming along that you`re
going to need – Paul Ryan is going to need to call up the president –

CONFESSORE: Yes –

O`DONNELL: And say, hey, I need you to lean on Joe from – you know,
wherever because –

CONFESSORE: Right. Think of how you pass a big piece of legislation,
right?

O`DONNELL: Yes –

CONFESSORE: You have a coordinated attack by the President`s Office of
Legislative Affairs. You have him lobbying people. You have his people
lobbying people. It`s very difficult.

It takes a lot of energy and capital. And if you`re squandering your
capital and efforts every day on responding to tweets, on moving the entire
federal government around to justify something you came up with on a
Saturday morning, you can`t get anything else done.

O`DONNELL: Yes, so –

CONFESSORE: Yes –

O`DONNELL: Rick Wilson –

WILSON: That`s right –

O`DONNELL: The way this – maybe some people in the Republican Congress
thought that it was going to work is if Congressman X gets out of line on
this bill, he has to live in fear of a Donald Trump tweet flying through
his district, saying something nasty about him.

But does he have to live in fear of that tweet now, now that the madness of
Donald Trump is flying out in tweets constantly against in every direction.

Lying about President Obama. The currency, the political currency of these
tweets has been able to damage people seems to me to have declined.

WILSON: Look, a lot of these guys still live in fear of the mean tweet
from Donald Trump. A lot of them still conform their behavior accordingly.

But the difficulty is the dynamic in the Congress and House specifically is
in order to get things done in this large set of complicated legislative
agenda items Paul Ryan wants to do, he has to have Donald Trump basically
stay in a lane where he`s not completely acting like a raging lunatic every
day.

The problem is about 60 members of Paul Ryan`s caucus want Donald Trump to
go out and set Washington on fire and dance in the rubble.

And those guys want to see – you know, they want to see the stunts and the
yelling and the screaming and the crazy talk and the accusations.

They want that. That`s their idea of what the Republican base has become,
and there`s a big part of it that has become that, frankly.

But in order to achieve these things and then move things and past them to
them in the Senate, you have to have the adults in the room actually keep
Donald Trump locked in his skinner box for a while and try to train him
into being a more presidential character.

Which is the best-case scenario they have. I mean, the worst case scenario
is he`s dragged out in a white suit.

The best-case scenario is they can train him somehow to not blow everything
up. It`s a difficult path, and I think Paul Ryan is the heart of shoving
in Washington right now because of it.

O`DONNELL: Evelyn, Donald Trump has said in the past that he loves
Wikileaks. He said that during the campaign.

Thought WikiLeaks was doing a great job as it was leaking material about
Democrats.

Today, we have a report indicating WikiLeaks is leaking material about the
CIA, about the CIA`s current methodologies involving things like their
ability to surveil people, listen to things through their smart televisions
at home.

And Donald Trump now, the organizational head of the CIA, the head of the
CIA reports to him within the executive branch.

This is his agency to protect. No reaction from Donald Trump yet about
that. What`s the reaction in the community?

FARKAS: I mean, I think the reaction in the community is if you say you
love WikiLeaks, you might as well say you love Vladimir Putin again.

I mean, WikiLeaks has become an arm – whether it started that way or not
is irrelevant. It`s become an arm of the Kremlin.

And when they publish something, you notice they don`t publish disparaging,
you know, secret information about what Russia is doing or for that matter
what China is doing.

Although maybe one day the Kremlin will want to. You know, it`s just about
us, and you know, throwing out there the CIA tool is a very negative thing
because it`s not just giving away our secrets to the world.

But you`ll see, they`ll start to turn it around and try to divide us from
our allies, the Europeans, the Japanese, others.

They`ll try to show somehow that maybe the CIA used these tools against our
friends or God forbid the American people, which I don`t believe again
because that would be breaking the law.

But unfortunately, you see the Russians spreading this information and it`s
done willfully or not together with the president.

O`DONNELL: Evelyn Farkas, Nick Confessore, Rick Wilson, thank you all for
joining us tonight, I really appreciate it.

CONFESSORE: Thank you.

FARKAS: Thank you.

WILSON: Thanks, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, our next guest Senator Al Franken, he will complete
some of the points he was making in the judiciary committee today.

And later, how much trouble is the Republican healthcare bill in? It looks
like a lot. And tomorrow, Donald Trump might see the biggest protest since
the inauguration protest.

Eve Ensler(ph) will join us tonight with what`s happening tomorrow,
tomorrow`s women`s protest.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FRANKEN: I think Senator Sessions should come back. I think he owes it to
this committee to come back and to explain himself.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Senator Al Franken is back. He will join us next here on this
program, but he`s been around TV long enough to know the commercials come
first. We`ll be right back after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: Our next guest is Senator Al Franken who is at the center of
the controversy surrounding Attorney General Jeff Sessions` testimony
during his confirmation hearing in which he clearly did not tell the full
truth about his contact with Russian officials.

In fact, Senator Franken`s question to Jeff Sessions created this
controversy. Here`s what Senator Franken had to say today after the
confirmation hearing for the deputy attorney general who will now supervise
any investigations of the Trump campaign now that Jeff Sessions has recused
himself.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you believe that he perjured himself in the
hearings?

FRANKEN: I said that it`s hard to come up with any other conclusion. He
said that he didn`t correct the record in regards to the ambassador from
Russia because that wasn`t in the question.

He answered a question I didn`t ask. If there`s a gotcha question, it`s
the question he invented to ask himself.

What I believe is that he should come before the committee. I want to give
him the benefit of the doubt, but it is hard to come to any other
conclusion then that he has been – that he was deliberately not telling us
the truth at that time.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Joining us now, Senator Al Franken, Democrat from Minnesota,
member of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Senator, thank you very much for
joining us tonight. Really appreciate it.

FRANKEN: You bet, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: To the controversy as it was described today in your hearing –
and I say this almost every night, I`ve never seen anything like it.

A judiciary committee hearing that – just for the audience, senators do
not commonly characterize other senators` questions or behavior in
hearings.

We seem to be seeing a lot more of it nowadays. But Senator Grassley, the
chairman today, accused you of using a gotcha question to try to trap Jeff
Sessions.

You insisted it wasn`t a gotcha question that started off this whole thing.
What does it matter whether it was a gotcha question or not? Sometimes in
the hearing, people are trying to get you and you`ve got to tell the truth.

FRANKEN: At the time I asked that question, I asked him what he would do
if it turned out that it were true that members of the Trump campaign had
met with Russians.

What would he do as attorney general? And he didn`t answer that question.
What he did say was that he had not met with the Russians and that wasn`t
true.

And – but it was hardly – as they say, if it`s a gotcha question, it`s a
question he asked himself that he answered.

O`DONNELL: Yes, so, that`s your point that you`ve been making is that,
that notion of he – the question he answered was one that he asked himself
because he didn`t directly answer your question.

And in the hearing today, when your conflict erupted with Chairman
Grassley, I saw you say at a certain point, well, just show the tape of
what you actually said.

And in the middle of your question, you actually say to Jeff Sessions, I
know you aren`t prepared on this new material because it just came out.

FRANKEN: Right.

O`DONNELL: And we now admit we have the capacity to show the tape. And so

FRANKEN: Really?

O`DONNELL: What I`d like to do now is actually show that tape –

FRANKEN: OK –

O`DONNELL: You with Chairman Grassley, accuses you of an unfair gotcha
question, blind-siding the witness.

However he wants –

FRANKEN: Yes –

O`DONNELL: To put it. We will show your question and Jeff Sessions`
answer and we will –

FRANKEN: OK –

O`DONNELL: Work off of that on the issue of did – is what we just heard
perjury. Let`s watch this now.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FRANKEN: CNN has just published a story – and I`m telling you this about
a news story that`s just been published, so I`m not expecting you to know
whether or not it`s true or not.

But CNN just published a story alleging that the intelligence community
provided documents to the president-elect last week that included
information that, “Russian operatives claimed to have compromising personal
and financial information about Mr. Trump.”

These documents also allegedly stated, “there was a continuing exchange of
information during the campaign between Trump`s surrogates and
intermediaries for the Russian government.”

Now again, I`m telling you this as it`s coming out, so you know – but if
it`s true, it`s obviously extremely serious.

And if there is any evidence that anyone affiliated with the Trump campaign
communicated with the Russian government in the course of this campaign,
what will you do?

JEFF SESSIONS, UNITED STATES ATTORNEY GENERAL: Senator Franken, I`m not
aware of any of those activities. I have been called a surrogate at a time
or two in that campaign, and I did not have communications with the
Russians and I`m unable to comment on it.

FRANKEN: Very well.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC ANCHOR: Was Jeff Sessions` response to you
perjury?

FRANKEN: It is hard for me to draw any other conclusion given the letter
that he wrote. We asked him, the democrats on the committee, asked him why
he didn`t in the seven weeks after he misled us there, why he didn`t
correct it. And the response is absurd.

He said having considered my answer responsive and no one having suggested
otherwise, there was no need for a supplemental answer. We, of course,
didn`t know he was giving us misinformation, so of course we wouldn`t have
asked for a supplemental response. Look, this is very, very serious stuff.

He`s the second administration official who has lied about contact with the
Russians, and this all goes to the fact that the Russians interfered with
our elections. And the question here is did the Trump campaign and their
people collude with the Russians, and this is extremely serious stuff.
What do the Russians have on Trump?

Why did Trump continually say all these good things about Putin? What is
in his taxes that he`s so afraid of releasing and why does he lie about his
taxes? As you have said on your show, you can release your taxes if you
are under audit. And we don`t know if he is under audit because he hasn`t
released any letter from the IRS saying you`re under audit.

This is getting more and more disturbing all the time, and this is very
serious. And I – you know, I don`t think that was a gotcha question. In
fact, I thought I was – set that up in a way that he could have responded
which would have – what I was asking him is if you were attorney general,
would you recuse yourself is really basically where I was going.

And Instead he chose to answer his own question which is, no, I haven`t met
the Russians, and of course it turns out he has. I would like him to come
and talk to the committee. Testify again in front of the committee. And I
think maybe chairman Grassley was feeling defensive about the fact that he
won`t call him to do that because it`s – I think, pretty clear now that
there`s something wrong here, something desperately wrong.

O`DONNELL: In Jeff Sessions` letter to the committee, he said my answer
was correct. Now that means that if he was lying in his answer, then he`s
lying again in his letter?

FRANKEN: Yes. The letter really is just sort of insults your intelligence
in a way that is just mind boggling. He – that`s why I say there`s no
other conclusion that can you can come to other than that he was lying and
was committing perjury. I would like to give him the benefit of the doubt.
I was giving him the benefit – this weekend, I was on a Sunday show and I
was asked is he lying?

I`d say, well, he should come and talk to us. I hope he isn`t. I hope he
wasn`t, but I don`t know how to conclude from his letter the same thing.
But the main thing to focus on here is that this is about whether the Trump
campaign collaborated with the Russians, a foreign power, to interfere with
our elections and undercut our democracy, which is the fundamental –
fundamental basis of our democracy, of our republic.

O`DONNELL: So just to clarify your own thinking on Jeff Sessions`
testimony, you were given reason to suspect that there was perjury once it
came out that he indeed had contacts with Russian officials, but it`s his
letter to the committee combined with his testimony that then leads you to
the actual conclusion that he committed perjury?

FRANKEN: Yes. I can`t come up with any other conclusion, but I would like
him to come and testify before the committee, before – so he can at least
explain this, but this letter is just ridiculous and insulting to anyone`s
intelligence. I mean, he says, I did not mention communications I had with
the Russian ambassador over the years because the question did not ask
about them.

I didn`t ask about the Russian ambassador. I have nothing – there was
nothing in my head about a Russian ambassador. He`s the one who brought up
that he did meet the Russians. I was asking what he would do as attorney
general.

O`DONNELL: He brought it up under oath of his own volition. He made it
material in the hearing, and he was under oath when he did that and you
discovered after the fact it was not true.

FRANKEN: Yes. And then he had seven weeks in which to correct the record.
And this explanation about why he didn`t correct the record makes no sense
whatsoever, so this is just getting stranger and stranger. And we are –
this is – the plot thickens. Was the Trump campaign colluding with –
with the Russians to change our election or to interfere with our election?

O`DONNELL: We will all be pursuing the answer to that question. Senator
Al Franken, thank you very much for joining us tonight. Really appreciate
it.

FRANKEN: Thank you Lawrence. It is Lawrence, right?

O`DONNELL: Yes, it is. Thank you. Coming up, how conservatives and
congressional republicans reacted today to the new Trumpcare bill.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: The republican leadership has introduced their bill to replace
the Affordable Care Act. Donald Trump`s secretary of health and human
services proudly described the bill to the White House press Corps today
right up until he was asked if he actually supports everything in the bill.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REPORTER: Do you support everything that`s in the bill that`s on sitting
on the table, sir?

TOM PRICE, UNITED STATES SECRETARY OF HEALTH AND HUMAN RESOURCES: Well
this is a work in progress. And we work – we`ll work with the house and
the senate in this process as you know, it is a legislative process that
occurs.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Best question of the day. That`s how to ask a question in the
White House press briefing room, and you can take that answer as a, no, he
does not support everything in the bill. Apparently no republican does.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JIM JORDAN, UNITED STATES REPRESENTATIVE: There`s a leadership plan that
was brought forward, which I believe when you look through it is Obamacare
in a different form.

MIKE LEE, UNITED STATES SENATOR: What`s been introduced in the house in
the last 24 hours is not the Obamacare replacement plan, not the Obamacare
repeal plan we`ve been hoping for. This is instead a step in the wrong
direction.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: The conservative groups Heritage Action, The Club for Growth,
Freedom Partners, and Americans for Prosperity all came out against the
house republican bill today. Breitbart called it – and this is Breitbart
– Obamacare 2.0. Breitbart, the place that takes dictation from the White
House and enough republicans have come out against the bill to kill it in
the senate, which will have a contagious effect on the House of
Representatives.

Republican house members will not want to vote for a dangerous piece of
legislation that is only going to die in the senate. Then republican house
members alone would have to answer for it in their re-election campaigns.
So if you have health insurance through the affordable care act now, how
worried should you be about losing it? We will answer that question next.
How much trouble is the republican health care bill in?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MO BROOKS, U.S. REPRESENTATIVE: There are a lot of things that have to be
looked through. In short though it appears to be the largest welfare
program ever proposed in the history of Republicans in our country.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: And that`s Republican Congressman Mo Brooks review of the new
House Republican Healthcare Plan. Joining us now Jared Bernstein Senior
Fellow at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities and MSNBC Contributor.
Jared, I have a feeling you have a different view of what the Republicans
released tonight. But you probably agree with some of these Conservative
Republicans on several points including the explosion in the deficit this
would be and the increasing debt. Go ahead.

JARED BERNSTEIN, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Yes. You know one thing that hasn`t
really been appreciated is that in cutting all of the taxes that support
the Affordable Care Act these are very progressive taxes. And you`re
talking about a transfer of hundreds of billions of dollars from moderate
and low-income people who benefit from the premium subsidies that are part
of the ACA, a critical part. Their taxes go up under this plan because
they take those subsidies away while tax cuts for millionaires and
billionaires are in the hundreds of thousands.

So yes, this is robin hood in reverse big time. But, you know, I think the
key here, Lawrence, is that the Republicans are struggling with a very
concrete problem. Say what you want about Obamacare. But Obamacare has set
a health care baseline. It is now the benchmark against which all these
other plans are going to be judged.

And the President Donald Trump consistently said we`re not just going to
hit that benchmark. We`re going to improve upon it. So when they cut –
as they come out with plans that increase the cost sharing, increase the
burden, lower coverage, get rid Medicaid. That`s not hitting the baseline.
That`s coming in way below it.

O`DONNELL: And there was a lot today that I heard from the Republicans in
the House who are trying to push this bill about Medicaid and every word
they said about Medicaid was as if it was this dysfunctional program that
didn`t work for anyone. The Republican Senator – some republican senators
who are opposing this bill are opposing it in defence of Medicaid and
that`s when you see a collision that is not solvable.

BERNSTEIN: Yes, that`s a really important and pretty fascinating point.
There`s something like 20 Republican Senators who come from states that
took the Medicaid expansion, OK? That`s 11 million people with coverage
now, and you can say what you want about Medicaid. It`s a very valuable
insurance program for these folks.

O`DONNELL: And it works in a very simple and understandable way for them.
Jared Bernstein, thank you very much for joining us tonight, really
appreciate it.

BERNSTEIN: Exactly – my pleasure.

O`DONNELL: Tomorrow is International Women`s Day. For Donald Trump, that
could mean the biggest day of protests since the Women`s March, the day
after his inauguration, the biggest inauguration protest in history.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: Women made history the day after Donald Trump took office with
the biggest inauguration protest in history. Tomorrow on International
Women`s Day organizers of January`s women`s march are planning a day
without women. Women will be asked to take part in a general strike to
stay away from work and avoid shopping in stores and online. Also tomorrow
one billion rising, the organization founded by Tony Award Winning
Playwright Eve Ensler is holding a women workers rising rally to call
attention to the working rights of women including a protest at the Labor
Department in Washington. And joining us now Eve Ensler, author of the
Vagina Monologues along with Saru Jayaraman and the co-founder and co-
director of Restaurant Opportunities Centers United, which is a cosponsor
of tomorrow`s rally. Eve, what are you expecting tomorrow?

EVE ENSLER, PLAYWRIGHT: Well, I`m very, very excited.

O`DONNELL: You`re easily excited.

ENSLER: No, no, I`m very excited because I think we`re going to see stage
two of this ever evolving burgeoning women`s movement and focusing on
workers, which is where we need to be focusing. I think with 1 billion
rising we`ve been really thinking this year and focusing on solidarity
against the exploitation of women really looking at women workers. And
we`ve been working for six months and a wonderful coalition of labor rights
group, union work advocates and artists.

Saru being one of the people we`ve been working with – with restaurant
workers looking at what`s really going on with women workers and the
violence they are suffering for example at the workplace. It turns out one
out of three women, just like one out of three women in the world report
they have suffered rape or battery. One out of three women in the
workplace report or don`t report. But have suffered sexual intimidation,
sexual assault, unwanted touching, and it`s a serious, serious issue in the
workplace.

And I was looking at, you know, looking at the members of our coalition,
whether they be nurses, where I think it`s 88 percent of them suffer from
verbal violence, 74 percent physical violent. Restaurant workers 90
percent of them suffer sexual harassment because they rely on tips. You
can go through migrant workers, farmers. across the board what women are
facing in the workplace in terms of violence is outrageous.

And I think one of the exciting things that`s going to be happening at our
rally at the Department of Labor tomorrow, not only are we going to
encircle the building and how that it belongs to the workers. It is the
workers building. But at our rally women workers have prepared skits and
performances and videos and songs and dances that represent the struggles
they`re going through and what they would like to see changed.

O`DONNELL: Saru, what about women who for whatever reason cannot take off
work, cannot miss work tomorrow? How could they participate in the spirit
of what`s going on?

SARU JAYARAMAN, INDIAN AMERICAN ATTORNEY: Well we represent 12 million
restaurant workers across America. A majority of them are actually women
working for the tip minimum wage of $2.13 an hour still the federal minimum
wage for tipped workers suffering from terrible sexual harassment. Most of
them aren`t going to be able to participate because they have to go to work
to actually earn their income entirely in tips.

They don`t actually get wages from their employer, and they can participate
still by sharing their stories online. Many workers are wearing red
tomorrow to show their support. Many workers are sharing their stories on
social media or on the women workers rising website. We`re lifting up the
stories of restaurant workers, servers, tipped workers, servers across
America. There are lots of ways for people to participate. But I will say
despite all of the difficulties, we have hundreds of restaurant workers who
are here in D.C. tonight preparing to be with us tomorrow afternoon at the
Department of Labor speaking up for one fair wage, the elimination of the
lower wage for tipped workers, and to resist the Trump agenda.

O`DONNELL: Saru Jayaraman and Eve Ensler thank you both for joining us
tonight and good luck tomorrow at the Labor Department. Thanks for being
here.

JAYARAMAN: Thank you.

ENSLER: thank you.

O`DONNELL: We`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: breaking news tonight. Hawaii is the first state to challenge
President Trump`s revised travel ban in court. Hawaii will file its
complaint in court and seek a temporary restraining order tomorrow.
Arguments are expected in court next week. We`ll be right back with
tonight`s Last Words.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: And at the Whitehouse today Press Secretary Sean Spicer
explained the single most important difference between the Republicans new
health care bill and that old Affordable Care Act the Democrats passed.

SEAN SPICER, PRESS SECRETARY: Look at the size. This is the Democrats.
This is us. You can`t get any clearer.

O`DONNELL: Size matters. In the Trump Whitehouse nothing else does. The
Eleventh Hour with Brian Williams

END

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