The Last Word With Lawrence O’Donnell, Transcript 3/20/2017

Guests:
John Heilemann, David Corn, Jackie Speier, Rand Paul, Steve Beshear
Transcript:

Show: The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell
Date: March 20, 2017
Guest: John Heilemann, David Corn, Jackie Speier, Rand Paul, Steve Beshear

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC: Questioning portion of the – today was day one of
the confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch.

Tomorrow, the questioning portion of the hearings will start. We don`t yet
exactly know what path the Democrats will focus on with Gorsuch.

There`s also the question of why Democrats are there at all for the
hearing. Today, a lot of the Democrats on the committee highlighted the
fact that President Obama`s nominee for that seat, Merrick Garland never
got a hearing in the Senate.

That question is still unanswered and looming over all of this. Why are
the Democrats participating in a process that Republicans would not allow
under President Obama?

But nevertheless, tomorrow`s hearing begins at 9:30 a.m. Eastern. You, of
course, can watch it all here live on Msnbc.

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

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, HOST, THE LAST WORD: Hey, Rachel, two big losses this
weekend, Chuck Berry and –

MADDOW: Yes –

O`DONNELL: Jimmy Breslin and turns out they were the same age. I mean,
Chuck Berry was 90 and Jimmy Breslin was 88. I never thought of them in
the same sentence.

But –

MADDOW: Yes –

O`DONNELL: They kind of came together this weekend. Guess which one of
them gave me great career advice?

MADDOW: Chuck Berry or Jimmy Breslin?

O`DONNELL: Yes, all right, here`s a hint. I met him on a park bench in
Manhattan.

MADDOW: I`m going to go with Jimmy Breslin –

O`DONNELL: Yes, Jimmy –

MADDOW: Yes –

O`DONNELL: Breslin. Jimmy Breslin.

MADDOW: Well done –

O`DONNELL: He was really quite amazing, and I`m going to –

MADDOW: Yes –

O`DONNELL: Tell that story tonight on Facebook live after the show.

But Jimmy Breslin is going to get the last word tonight, some very special
words from Jimmy Breslin directly to Donald Trump, both of them, by the
way, from Queens.

Two guys from Queens turned out very different.

MADDOW: Well, one of the greats. I look forward to it.

O`DONNELL: Thanks, Rachel.

MADDOW: Thanks, man.

O`DONNELL: Well, today, the resistance came to Congress as we witnessed
the first ever congressional hearing about a tweet.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAMES COMEY, DIRECTOR, FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION: The FBI is
investigating the Russian government`s efforts to interfere in the 2016
presidential election.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Russia, if you`re listening,
I hope you`re able to find the 30,000 e-mails that are missing.

COMEY: And whether there was any coordination between the campaign and
Russia`s efforts.

SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The answer is, continues to be
no. And at some point, take no for an answer.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is Paul Manafort a subject in your investigation?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not going to comment on that.

SPICER: Paul Manafort who played a very limited role –

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was the chairman of the campaign. He literally was
running the thing.

SPICER: There was a question about what leaks occurred?

TRUMP: Wikileaks, I love Wikileaks.

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D), CALIFORNIA: Was the president`s statement that Obama
had his wires tapped in Trump Tower a true statement?

COMEY: I have no information that supports those tweets.

SCHIFF: So President Obama could not unilaterally order a wiretap of
anyone?

COMEY: No, president couldn`t.

JONATHAN KARL, JOURNALIST: Is the president prepared to withdraw that
accusation and apologize to the president?

SPICER: No.

REP. JACKIE SPEIER (D), CALIFORNIA: We now know that the real fake news
was coming out of the tweets from the president.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Today, the resistance to Donald Trump`s lies moved to a hearing
room in the House of Representatives where the intelligence committee
managed to conduct two separate hearings at the same time.

The Democrats conducted the first congressional hearing in history about a
tweet. A tweet written by the president of the United States at 6:35 a.m.,
and that is the time of day that has produced some of Donald Trump`s most
insane tweets.

Some of his most offensive tweets. Judging by Twitter alone, that may be
the hour of the day when after what he, himself, describes as mostly
sleepless nights.

The tempest within him rages to its most uncontrollable point. And it is
the last hour of the day before he will be surrounded by people whose job
it is to protect him from himself.

That is every White House staff`s job to protect the president from his own
worst impulses and worst ideas. The few or bad impulses and bad ideas the
president has, the more the White House staff can concentrate on governing.

President Trump has kept the White House staff in damage control mode for
every one of the 60 days of his presidency. Here`s another look at that
6:35 a.m. tweet that was the subject of the hearing today.

We`re going to look at it again because every time I see this tweet, it
feels like the madness is leaping out at you with every word, with each
quotation mark.

“Terrible. Just found out that Obama had my wires tapped in Trump Tower
just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!”

The FBI director and the director of the National Security Agency testified
today that there is nothing in that tweet that is true. Nothing.

They made it clear that it would be impossible for the president to have
ordered a wiretap or any similar form of surveillance on Donald Trump or
Trump Tower.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SCHIFF: Director Comey, was the president`s statement that Obama had his
wires tapped in Trump Tower a true statement?

COMEY: With respect to the president`s tweets about alleged wiretapping
directed at him by the prior administration, I have no information that
supports those tweets.

And we have looked carefully inside the FBI. The Department of Justice has
asked me to share with you that the answer is the same for the Department
of Justice and all its components.

The department has no information that supports those tweets.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: There was a lot of important testimony in that hearing today.
A lot of important questions. But it may be that the most important thing
that happened in that hearing is what was not said in that hearing.

We`ll come to that in a moment. At the same time that the Democrats were
conducting a hearing that was about the president`s tweet, the Republicans
were conducting a hearing about Michael Flynn.

The adviser who Donald Trump used throughout his campaign. The man who
President Trump made national security adviser for three weeks before he
had to fire him.

And none of the Republicans in the hearing were scandalized or even
slightly bothered by the reason that Donald Trump fired Michael Flynn.

Let`s listen to the senior Democrat on the committee tell the story of what
happened to Michael Flynn.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SCHIFF: In December, Michael Flynn has a secret conversation with
Ambassador Kislyak about sanctions imposed by President Obama on Russia
over its hacking designed to help the Trump campaign.

Michael Flynn lies about the secret conversation. The vice president
unknowingly then assures the country that no such conversation ever
happened.

The president is informed that Flynn has lied and Pence has misled the
country. The president does nothing. Two weeks later, the press reveals
that Flynn has lied and the president is forced to fire Mr. Flynn.

The president then praises the man who lied to Mr. Flynn and castigates the
press for exposing the lie.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: The most important line in there, “the president does nothing.”
The Republicans or the committee were not investigating why the president
did nothing.

For two weeks after discovering Michael Flynn`s lie, the Republicans on the
committee were not investigating why the president only fired Michael Flynn
after the lie became public in press reports.

Republicans on the committee were outraged. Outraged by the press reports
themselves that revealed Michael Flynn to be a liar. The outrage was that
those press reports were based on leaks.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. PETER KING (R), NEW YORK: Talking about the significance of leaks and
how important it is we stop them. And to me – and I`ve been here a while,
I`ve never seen such a sustained period of leaks.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: He didn`t pay much attention to the Benghazi Committee which
was leaking constantly. The Republicans spent the entire time condemning
the leaks and throwing out names of Obama administration officials just as
wild guesses for who might be responsible for those leaks about Michael
Flynn`s lie.

And the Republicans did not spend one minute on Michael Flynn`s lie and why
the president covered up that lie for two weeks until the press exposed the
lie.

Now as unbalanced as the hearing appeared to be, here are the most
important things to keep an eye on when you really take a look at that
hearing.

In terms of Donald Trump`s relationship with the Congress and how far
Republicans in Congress are willing to go in defending the president or not
defending the president.

First of all, the Republicans allowed this hearing to take place. Paul
Ryan could have stopped it and he didn`t. The Republican Chairman of the
Committee Devin Nunes agreed to have the hearing. He did not have to do
that.

He knew that the Democrats were going to use the hearing exactly the way
they did. He knew they were going to use the FBI director and the director
of the NSA to prove that Donald Trump lied about President Obama and he let
that happen.

Republican Chairman of the committee never once defended Donald Trump`s
tweet. He made no attempts to do that. He did what a lawyer representing
a guilty client does, he changed the subject.

And the rest of the Republicans changed the subject with him to the outrage
of the leaks about Michael Flynn. Consider where those Republican members
of the House were sitting today in the 60th day of the Trump presidency.

Many of them in districts that Donald Trump won overwhelmingly. None of
those Republicans are brave members of Congress. They`re not going to take
any chances alienating all those Trump voters in their districts and so
they didn`t say anything about the tweet.

Because they couldn`t. They couldn`t find a line of defense for Donald
Trump on the tweet. They treated him as if he was guilty of lying in the
tweet and there was nothing they could do about it.

But they were going to let their constituents hear them attacking the
Democrats in some way. They were going to let their constituents hear them
complaining about something.

They wanted to do what Donald Trump always does when backed into a corner.
Complain of unfairness. And so the Republicans in that committee said
nothing today that sounded like agreements with the Democrats.

Everything they said was a complaint against the most unfair force in
Donald Trump`s world, the news media. That terrible dishonest media that
accepts accurate leaks.

Whenever they can get them from the intelligence community, from others in
the government, from anywhere. Not one of those Republicans raging about
the leaks that took down Michael Flynn actually said one word in defense of
Michael Flynn.

So every member of that committee, Republican and Democrat, treated
President Trump as guilty of lying about President Obama in that 6:35 a.m.
tweet.

And when you watch Congress closely, you always have to watch what they do
and what they don`t do. What they say and what they don`t say.

And what they don`t say is as important as what they say. Frequently, the
most important thing will be the thing that they don`t do or the thing that
they don`t say.

No Republican on the committee sounded like Sean Spicer did today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KARL: He said that there`s no information to support the allegations that
the president made against President Obama –

SPICER: At this time.

KARL: So is the president prepared to withdraw that accusation, apologize
to the president? –

SPICER: No, we started the hearing, it`s still ongoing, and then as
Chairman Nunes mentioned, this is one in a series of hearings that will be
happening.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Chairman Nunes has already said Donald Trump was not telling
the truth in that tweet. Said it before the hearing.

Sean Spicer is never going to admit that. Donald Trump is never going to
admit that. If you want to know how bad a day it was for Donald Trump in
the Republican House of Representatives today, ask yourself, what would
Donald Trump have done if he was chairman of that committee and the
Democrats wanted to have that hearing?

Do you think that Chairman Trump would have allowed them to have that
hearing? Chairman Trump never would have allowed them to have that hearing.

If Donald Trump were chairman of that committee, he`d know he was going to
get one of two stories. Going to have to live with one of two stories.

The story of the Democrats complaining that he wasn`t having the hearing or
the story we got today of the FBI director and the NSA director exposing
the president`s lies.

The Democrats and the FBI director and the NSA director did the work today
in that hearing of exposing those lies, but the Republicans let them do it.

And that is the most important political piece of the drama that played out
in that hearing room today. The Republicans are not attacking Donald
Trump, but they`re not protecting him either.

And they could have. They could have prevented that hearing. Instead,
they had that hearing on the day when Donald Trump`s job approval rating
according to Gallup is the lowest in the history of a two-month presidency.

Thirty seven percent approve of the job Donald Trump is doing. Fifty eight
percent disapprove. That is a significant drop from just a week ago when
45 percent approved and 49 percent disapproved.

And what did Donald Trump do in a week to get his disapproval rating to
skyrocket? He just kept being himself. That`s what he`s going to keep
doing.

If those numbers were reversed, if Donald Trump had a 58 percent approval
rating and a 37 percent disapproval rating, his health care bill would be
sailing through the House of Representatives and Republicans in the house
would be defending his most insane tweets.

But that`s not where we are tonight. And so there is hope that the
resistance to President Trump`s lies is now growing stronger.

So, that`s what began the day after his inauguration as a women`s march now
has many active and effective branches including what we saw today in that
hearing room in the House of Representatives.

We`re going to be joined next by John Heilemann, David Corn, they were both
in that hearing room today.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COMEY: I have been authorized by the Department of Justice to confirm that
the FBI as part of our counterintelligence mission is investigating the
Russian government`s efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential
election.

And that includes investigating the nature of any links between individuals
associated with the Trump campaign and the Russian government and whether
there was any coordination between the campaign and Russia`s efforts.

As with any counterintelligence investigation, this will also include an
assessment of whether any crimes were committed.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: We will be joined by Democratic Congressman Jackie Speier who
was at that hearing today. She is on her way to join us.

We`re joined now by John Heilemann and David Corn, they were both in
attendance at the hearing. John Heilemann is co-author of “Game Change”
and executive producer and co-host of “The Circus” on “Show Time”.

David Corn is the Washington Bureau Chief for “Mother Jones” and an Msnbc
political analyst. John Heilemann, what did you score as the most
important moment in the hearing?

JOHN HEILEMANN, AUTHOR & EXECUTIVE PRODUCER, THE CIRCUS: Well, I think,
you know, you just played it, Lawrence, and it was – that we got the big
shock was the way the hearing started.

I think for every member of the committee, they were – they were all
expecting Jim Comey to come in and say, to say that Donald Trump had lied
about – or had spoken falsely about President Obama`s wiretapping.

But on the question of ongoing investigations of collusion between the
Trump campaign and Russia, they expected him to say we don`t talk about
ongoing investigations.

And so when we came out and said what he said, that there have been –
there`s an ongoing investigation and it`s been going on since July of 2016,
there was a palpable electric jolt in that committee room as every one of
those members who did not expect him to confirm that and did not know about
the investigation with the exception, I believe, of the chairman and the
ranking minority member.

The only two in the room I believe who knew about the investigation had
been briefed prior by Comey. Everyone else in the room was shocked both by
the existence of the investigation and more importantly by Comey`s
willingness at this point to step forward and confirm that it existed.

O`DONNELL: And he did present a significant preamble about –

HEILEMANN: Right –

O`DONNELL: The normal practice being we do not discuss ongoing
investigations.

HEILEMANN: Correct.

O`DONNELL: He alluded to the exceptions that we saw in the past including
during the campaign and that exceptions occur only in extraordinary
circumstances.

Very careful about ramping up to that and then giving us another giant
exception to the comment – and to the not-commenting on ongoing
investigations.

David Corn, what did you see as the most important moment?

DAVID CORN, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, MOTHER JONES: Well, I hate to agree
with John, but I think he nailed it.

O`DONNELL: You can do that.

CORN: It`s – but you know, he also said in that statement that he had
been authorized –

O`DONNELL: Yes –

CORN: By the –

O`DONNELL: Right –

CORN: Justice Department to make that statement. That means it wasn`t
just him doing it on his own, there were deliberations within the Justice
Department – and of course, Jeff Sessions, the Attorney General has
recused himself so that he could not be a party to this decision-making.

You know, you spent a lot of time, rightfully so, Lawrence, in talking
about how Donald Trump`s lie was exposed, but it was a lie that you and I
and John and others have talked about for weeks now.

We knew there was really nothing to it. But to have it come from Comey
was, indeed, significant. But now to know that this investigation started
in July and it`s still ongoing.

So think about it, the FBI chief today came out and essentially said, my
boss, the president, doesn`t tell the truth, and my boss, the president,
was elected president with people who I`ve been investigating since July to
see if they`re coordinating with a foreign power that waged a political
attack against the United States.

The stunning thing was, as you noted, the Republicans only focused on the
leaks. It was as if Comey said nothing about this investigation and said
nothing about Trump`s, you know, false leak.

They were in on another alternative reality and I think it`s going to take
some time for this to fully resonate that the president got elected in a
campaign that is now being investigated by the FBI.

O`DONNELL: Yes, and in terms of what the Republicans were up to in the
hearing, as I watched them and saw what they were doing, it seemed to me
that this was basically an agreed-upon tactic –

CORN: Oh, yes –

O`DONNELL: We`re going to let the Democrats have their hearing and we`re
not going to do a thing to defend Donald Trump on that tweet, we`re not
going to step into that at all.

We are not ready to come out here and attack Donald Trump. I mean, maybe
if they get a few more of these polls showing his disapproval rating in
their own districts, they might be able to do that.

But they basically let this hearing go on. They had their separate hearing
where they could make noises that sounded like outrage and objection and
John Heilemann, like they`re objecting –

HEILEMANN: Right –

O`DONNELL: To something –

HEILEMANN: Right, yes –

O`DONNELL: But they weren`t objecting to anything that the Democrats were
actually saying –

HEILEMANN: Right. Well, just remember, Lawrence, I think it`s as
important in this context we`ve just been discussing that it was as much of
a shock to the Republicans –

O`DONNELL: Yes –

HEILEMANN: That Comey confirmed the existence of the ongoing investigation
as it was to the Democrats. So, yes, it`s clear that they had decided en
masse beforehand that all they were going to do was talk about leaks.

And that they weren`t going to address any of the real substantive issues
that the committee is meant to be investigating.

But I think – they assume that they would be able to do that in the
context of Comey not discussing and confirming the existence of the
investigation. So suddenly their tactic which was very disciplined, but
their tactic made them look completely –

O`DONNELL: Yes –

HEILEMANN: Unhinged and foolish in the context of the news that had just
broken at the top of the –

O`DONNELL: Yes –

HEILEMANN: Hearing. And the other thing –

O`DONNELL: And there were other procedural things in the hearing that the
chairman agreed to that was quite striking. He, himself, made a very short
opening statement.

He then allowed the senior Democrat to make a 15-minute opening statement
that was –

HEILEMANN: Right –

O`DONNELL: Bigger than any other opening statement there and he knew that
if he does this, this is going to be Adam Schiff`s absolutely best case
laid out which it was.

And if he only gave him a five-minute opening, he wouldn`t have been able
to do that. And so what I was struck by was all of the procedural
cooperation that the Democrats were –

HEILEMANN: Yes –

O`DONNELL: Getting from the chairman on this.

CORN: Well, one reason I think this is happening and it`s happening on the
Senate side as well, is that there`s a very strong move to create an
independent commission and the – you know, Republican Chairman of the
House Intelligence Committee and the Republican Chairman in the Senate
Intelligence Committee, Senator Richard Burr, they`re both trying to hang
on and hold on to this.

You know, and not have – you know, go to an independent commission beyond
their control. And so, they have to make some concessions at this point in
time.

I mean, the thing that also I found, you know – and I – maybe I`m naive,
Lawrence, but what I found also stunning was that Chairman Nunes and none
of the Republicans even went through the motions of denouncing Moscow`s
meddling in the election and the hacking.

They didn`t do the usual – this is terrible, it didn`t affect the
election, but we`re going to make sure this doesn`t happen again to protect
the integrity of our elections.

They just made believe as if none of that has happened, if there have been
no intelligence community assessments and that the only terrible thing that
has happened in the last year was that there was a leak about Michael Flynn
lying to the vice president.

I mean, I thought that was a missed – a misstep on their – on their part.

O`DONNELL: The never naive David Corn gets the last word in this segment
tonight. David, thank you very much for joining us, Jonathan –

CORN: Sure thing –

O`DONNELL: I`m going to need you later in another bit we`re going to do.
Coming up, some of the toughest questions today came from Congressman
Jackie Speier, she will join us next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is it fair to say that you`re still relatively early in
your investigation?

COMEY: It`s hard to say because I don`t know how much longer it will take,
but we`ve been doing this – this investigation began in late July, so for
counterintelligence investigation, that`s a fairly short period of time.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Joining us now, Congressman Jackie Speier, Democrat from
California, a member of the House Intelligence Committee.

Congressman Speier, there`s some speculation here that only the chairman
and ranking member knew that that investigation had been going on since
July. Were you aware of that before you heard that answer today?

SPEIER: No, I wasn`t. It was news to most of us on the committee.

O`DONNELL: And so did that – was that one of the powerful moments in the
hearing today? That was certainly the observation that was made by some of
the reporters we just heard from who were in the audience that they felt
like they were watching the committee learn that this serious investigation
has been going on since July and kind of processing the implications of
that.

SPEIER: Yes, and what was really very important was the fact that it was
also very specific that Director Comey spoke about the investigation
including Trump operatives and their involvement in any interference with
our election.

O`DONNELL: You kept the focus on the bigger picture of this Russia
investigation and Russia`s intent in its influence on this election. And
what were you – what was – what was the main point you were trying to
make as you proceeded in that direction?

SPEIER: Well, first of all, I thought it was very important that we make
it clear that Russia is an adversary and that is – underscores our concern
with them interfering with our elections.

And then you look at the web of relationships that exist in the Trump
administration, both during the campaign and now in the cabinet.

And it makes one a little uncomfortable that our adversary has such close
ties with so many people associated with President Trump.

O`DONNELL: Apparently, the White House believed that they found the gold
in the hearing and the president tweeted in the middle of the hearing, “the
NSA and the FBI tell Congress that Russia did not influence the electoral
process.”

That tweet, of course, was immediately read in the hearing and Director
Comey said, “we did not find that”, we don`t have an opinion about whether
they affected the electoral process.

SPEIER: You know, it`s just another example of how the president will take
fact and turn it into fiction. And the real fake news in all of this is
coming, unfortunately from our president.

O`DONNELL: And there are two big questions. One is, did all of that
Russian interference affect the final outcome? That is – that is a
question that we may never have a direct answer to.

But the larger question of how long has Russia been doing this? What are
their incentives? And the clear incentive that you helped bring out was
they had a candidate who they wanted to win, and that candidate won.

SPEIER: That`s right. And in fact, there was at different times during
the campaign that they thought he was actually going to win and then not
going to win.

But it was very clear that they were going to injure and wound Hillary
Clinton so that if she did win, she would come into the White House at a
disadvantage.

O`DONNELL: Congresswoman Jackie Speier, thank you very much for staying
with us this late tonight after that long hearing. Really appreciate it.

SPEIER: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, we have breaking news tonight. The house of
representatives is trying to salvage the Trump healthcare bill. Trump
health care 2.0 has just hit the congress.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: The House Republican leadership has just released a new version
of the Trump health care bill. For the only reason you release new
versions of a bill at the last minute. They know they cannot pass the bill
as it stood today. Before the new bill came out tonight, the president of
the United States flew to Kentucky today to change one vote on his
struggling healthcare bill and it didn`t work because Senator Rand Paul
left town before the president got there.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REPORTER: Is there a reason why you`re not sticking around for President
Trump`s visit?

RAND PAUL, UNITED STATES SENATOR: I got to work. I got to get to
Washington so I can work on the coalition that is trying to defeat the
bill. So we`re not exactly on the same page on this.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: The congressional district that the president visited tonight
is represented by a congressman who is also voting against the bill.
Democratic John Yarmuth. So here is the president wasting his time tonight
in Louisville, Kentucky.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: As we move toward the
crucial house vote on Thursday, the seventh anniversary of Obamacare`s very
painful passage, this is our long-awaited chance to finally get rid of
Obamacare. It`s a long-awaited chance.

We`re going to do it. What`s the alternative? The alternative is what you
have. What you have is nothing. The worst, it`s the big lie.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: And here is Donald Trump attacking Rand Paul and ridiculing
Rand Paul in front of his Kentucky constituents for Rand Paul`s failure to
support the Trump bill.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I happen to like a lot, Senator Rand Paul, I do. I do. I like
him. He`s good. He`s a good guy.

And I look forward to working with him so we can get this bill passed in
some form so we can pass massive tax reform which we can`t do until this
happens. So we got to get this done before we can do the other.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: So Donald Trump`s opponent on his health care bill gets
applause at Donald Trump`s rally for his healthcare bill. The powerless
president went to Kentucky and couldn`t think of a single word to say to
threaten or persuade Rand Paul to vote for his health care bill. And I
Remember how every member of congress was supposed to live in fear of a
Donald Trump tweet, if they disagreed with Donald Trump in any way?

That`s not happening. Turns out Donald Trump is more afraid of Rand Paul
than Rand Paul is afraid of Donald Trump. Yet another example of how
Donald Trump`s influence over congress is weaker than we have ever seen
this early in a presidency with his own party in control of the congress.

After this break, we`ll talk about what Kentuckians and everyone else have
to lose in the new version of the Trump health care bill that was just
released tonight. And will that change be enough to pick up Rand Paul`s
vote?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: In fact, to counter my speech two weeks ago in congress, I don`t
know, did anybody see that speech? They used the former governor of
Kentucky and the plan doesn`t work in Kentucky.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Joining us now, that former governor of Kentucky, Steve
Beshear, also back with us, John Heilemann. Governor, what does Donald
Trump not know about how the affordable care act works in Kentucky?

STEVE BESHEAR, FMR. GOVERNOR OF KENTUCKY: Well, it`s obvious that the
press has made Kentucky ground zero in this battle over the future of
healthcare in our country. I`m glad he has because he can come as many
times as he wants and it doesn`t change the facts of what has happened in
Kentucky. People now have coverage, over 500,000 of them that didn`t have
it before.

They`re accessing that care. They`re getting healthier and our economy is
benefiting from it. So it`s been a huge success story here and I`m glad
he`s calling attention to it because the people around this country need to
see that success story.

O`DONNELL: Governor, let me read to you so the three items that are in the
new version of the healthcare bill that`s just been released within the
hour by the republicans. They`re going to have a work requirement for
able-bodied Medicaid beneficiaries. That will be optional for the states
to have a work requirement. There will be an option of a lump sum block
grant to fund Medicaid programs instead of a per capita allotment.

There will be more generous tax credits for older Americans. That we saw
some tables that showed people over 60 paying $15,000, where now they`re
paying hundreds of dollars under affordable care act. And then finally,
there`s an item on there that`s unique to New York state, shift the
Medicaid costs from New York counties to its state government.

And do you see anything in that package of changes that could get Rand
Paul`s vote?

BESHEAR: Not that I see it because quite honestly, Rand Paul wants to go
farther backward than even this republican plan goes. You know, this whole
Medicaid expansion block grant idea is nothing but a Trojan horse. You
know on the outside, they have written flexibility and every governor`s
eyes light up when they see the word, flexibility.

But inside that horse is nothing but less money. And you know, when you
have to have a balanced budget and every state has to have one, when you
get less money, the only flexibility a governor is going to have is to
decide how many people to throw off the program or how much to reduce the
benefits and that`s going to destroy the Medicaid system as we know it.

O`DONNELL: John Heilemann, the thing that jumps out here is we have a deal
in this new bill for exactly one state. They`ve written a deal that
applies only to New York state in order to get upstate New York republican
members of congress to vote for this thing. That goes back to the deal
Harry Reid tried to make on the Medicaid expansion.

JOHN HEILEMANN, AMERICAN JOURNALIST FOR NEW YORK MAGAZINE: Right.

O`DONNELL: Uniquely, uniquely with Louisiana.

HEILEMANN: Yes. Yes.

O`DONNELL: Everybody said that was terrible and scandalous.

HEILEMANN: Right.

O`DONNELL: And before you knew it, he had to make that deal with all 50
states.
HEILEMANN: Right.

O`DONNELL: And so these kinds of deals when exposed for one state are
usually very unpopular in the delegations of 49 other states.

HEILEMANN: Yes, and you remember I think, Lawrence, there was another one
for Ben Nelson, right?

O`DONNELL: Yes.

HEILEMANN: The was a court – that court has to compromise.

O`DONNELL: Yes. They were trying to pick one vote at a time when they
making these deals. Yes.

HEILEMANN: Yes. I mean look –

BESHEAR: And you know, I don`t – I don`t see anything that changes a sad
fact, and that is that about 24 million Americans are going to lose their
healthcare coverage under this plan. And you know these are not some
aliens from some distant planet. They`re our friends and neighbors.

You know, we – we go to church with them on Sunday we sit with the
bleachers with them on Friday night. And these folks before the affordable
care act got up and went to work every day just hoping and praying that
they didn`t get sick because they that they were just one bad diagnosis
away from bankruptcy.

And now with the affordable care act they`ve got the security knowing that
they can keep their families healthy. And it is unconscionable for people
to be thinking about throwing 24 million Americans out of healthcare
coverage.

O`DONNELL: John, quickly before we go –

HEILEMANN: Yes.

O`DONNELL: A Thursday night vote they`re hoping for on this new bill that
will just be over 48 hours old at that point.

HEILEMANN: Right.

O`DONNELL: Your – your bet on Thursday night, do we have a vote, first of
all, at all, and what happens?

HEILEMANN: Well, it`s possible that as they get closer to the date,
Lawrence, they realize it`s not going to make it that they will cancel that
vote and push it off for another week. Right now I think they`re headed
towards a vote. I think that Speaker Ryan is reconciled to the notion he`s
going to go to the floor something like six or eight votes short. And that
he`s going to have to just have to roll the dice and put pressure on mostly
conservative members and say, look, if you don`t vote yes for this, this is
going to go down and maybe take the Trump Presidency in terms of its
legislative agenda with it. And he`s going to hope that he can pull that
off. I don`t know that it will work.

O`DONNELL: Live coverage of the House Floor right here on The Last Word
Thursday night. Former Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear, thank you very
much for joining us. John Heilemann, thank you for joining us, appreciate
it.

BESHEAR: Thank you.

HEILEMANN: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, we got a preview of President Trump`s Supreme Court
nominee today. The real hearing starts tomorrow and a special Last Word
tonight from Jimmy Breslin.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: Today was just the day for opening statements in the Senate
Confirmation Hearing for President Trump`s Supreme Court nominee, Neil
Gorsuch. No questions asked today. Tomorrow, members of the Senate
Judiciary Committee will get their first chance to question the nominee.
The hearing starts at 9:30 a.m. Coming up, a very special Last Word
tonight from Jimmy Breslin about Donald Trump.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: Jimmy Breslin and Donald Trump both grew up in New York City in
Queens and there the similarity ends. Jimmy Breslin has a few Last Words
tonight that Donald Trump really needs to hear. That`s next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: Now for tonight`s Last Word. Jimmy Breslin has a few things to
say to Donald Trump. Actually, he has a lifetime worth of things to say to
Donald Trump. But we`ll limit ourselves tonight to just a couple. If you
Google the name, Jimmy today, just Jimmy. Breslin was the first name that
popped up. Not Jimmy Fallon, not today. Today was Jimmy Breslin`s Day to
lead all the Jimmy`s on Google.

Jimmy would like that, going out on top. His obituary on the front page of
today`s New York Times, the only newspaper in New York that never hired
him. He would like that too. You`ve all read Jimmy Breslin even if you
never held the words of Jimmy Breslin in your hands because Jimmy Breslin
is the most imitated big city newspaper columnist in history. He changed
how that work is done. He taught reporters and columnists what to look
for.

You know it was a big story that everyone was covering, Jimmy looked for
the smallest story inside the big story, the human story. He didn`t win
his Pulitzer Prize until 1986 but he deserved it in 1963 when he covered
the most shocking story of the century, the assassination of President John
F. Kennedy. He wasn`t a Washington Reporter.

He traveled down to Washington from New York after the assassination and
found the story nobody else looked for. The New York Times did him the
honor today of quoting one of those paragraphs from 1963, on the front page
of The Times. Pollard is 42. He is a slim man with a mustache. He was
born in Pittsburgh and served as a private in the 352th Engineers Battalion
in Burma in World War II.

He is an equipment operator, grade 10 which mean he gets $3.01 an hour.
One of the last to serve, John Fitzgerald Kennedy who was 35th President of
this country was a working man who earned $3.01 an hour and said it was an
honor to dig the grave.

Jimmy wrote a book about the end of another presidency, about the
impeachment case built against Richard Nixon which forced Nixon`s
resignation. Jimmy called the book How the Good Guys Finally Won. In the
chapter titled The Night School Students are Saving the Country, Jimmy
balanced Peter Rodino, the Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee who
was leading the investigation against James St. Clair, the President`s
Defense Lawyer.

Peter Rodino went to law school at nights and James St. Clair went to
Harvard Law School. And the night school guy was beating the Harvard guy
and Jimmy loved that. Another big bear of a character in that book was
someone who started attending Boston College nights, Tip O`neill. Who had
then worked his way up to majority leader of the House. This is what jimmy
saw and only Jimmy would have seen when he attended Tip O`neill`s 33rd
wedding anniversary party during Richard Nixon`s last summer in the
Whitehouse.

After watching Tip O`neill have a couple of Manhattans and then boom out
the song I`ll be with you in Apple Blossom time to his wife, Millie, Jimmy
wrote, you thought automatically of Nixon and his Haldeman and Ehrlichman
standing in the doorway of the amber light of the room smirking and
starting to leave, secure in the absolute belief that no such open old-
fashioned people could be dangerous. If O`neill was Congress` idea of
leader, how could day be hurt? How could a man who sings to his wife in
public ever qualify as an opponent?

Jimmy would have much to teach Donald Trump about how Congress brings down
a President when it has to. And Jimmy has much to teach Donald Trump about
their old neighborhood, Queens. Jimmy Breslin and Donald Trump are both
from queens. When jimmy was born 88 years ago, Queens was filled with
waves of Irish immigrants and immigrants have never stopped coming to
Queens and that scares Donald Trump.

Donald Trump tries to scare the country about that now. Jimmy Breslin has
always known why people are afraid of immigrants, why they were afraid of
Jimmy Breslin`s ancestors and jimmies always known why they shouldn`t be.
Here`s Jimmy Breslin in queens in 1986 talking about all the new arrivals
in his neighborhood, what they`re hoping for and what they`re worried
about.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JIMMY BRESLIN, JOURNALIST: What are they worried about? They`re worried
about education. They`re worried about jobs. They`re worried about
housing. They`re worried about the things they came to America for 200
years ago, 100 years ago, 50 years ago and this week.

The opportunity and if this continues, if we can keep a place like this
going with all these different people learning to live, it will be a
greater monument to the human race than anything they`ve erected in a
harbor, any statue, any monument, any faces they`ve carved on the side of
the mountain. They`ll be as of nothing compared to two people living side
by side who go out to work each morning and their children go to school and
their wives take care of things or go to work. People who come here today
work.

People who came here never waited referentially. They got off the boat
from (INAUDIBLE), my people did decades and decades ago and they pushed.
Today they get off the plane from South America or from Korea and they
push. No one waits.

You push. And the sounds that this pushing causes, the jostling, the elbow
out, to get ahead, they may sound as conflict to others. But if you know
anything about this place, Queens, you know anything about your country
that sound of discord is a beautiful long, sweet trump pet note.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Jimmy Breslin gets tonight`s last word. I will have more to
say about Jimmy Breslin tonight on Facebook live after the show. The 11th
Hour with Brian Williams starts now.

BRIAN WILLIAMS, 11TH HOUR ANCHOR: Tonight the FBI confirms for the first
time it`s investigating possible links between Russia and the Trump team
while also shooting down the President`s wiretap accusations.

President Trump defiant tonight ignoring the bombshell after the Whitehouse
offers a new defense and distances itself from the former campaign chairman
and Ivanka Trump making a move tonight into the West Wing.

The 11th Hour begins now.

END

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