The Last Word With Lawrence O’Donnell, Transcript 3/29/2017

Eric Swalwell, Tim Mak, Ned Price, Mieke Eoyang, Max Kutner, Cecile Richards

Date: March 29, 2017
Guest: Eric Swalwell, Tim Mak, Ned Price, Mieke Eoyang, Max Kutner, Cecile

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: 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, MSNBC HOST: Rachel, remember when some people wondered
why we were spending so much time covering a traffic jam on a bridge which
was so much more than a traffic jam on a bridge?

MADDOW: In the alternate universe where nobody covered it, we`d be talking
about President Christie in all likelihood now –

O`DONNELL: Exactly. And it was just amazing, I mean, how so many people
still after all of that, after everything that came out, they were still –
had him in the presidential sweepstakes as if he ever could have possibly
won a single state.

MADDOW: No, exactly, and as if that scandal was anything to do with
traffic rather than being a gross New Jersey style “Sopranos” episode of
abuse of power.

And people who got that from the beginning were riveted by that story.
People who resisted that central truth of it never understood why traffic
was on the national news, never –

O`DONNELL: And no one was more riveted by it than New Jersey voters with
whom his popularity has – is about like what Donald Trump`s is with the

MADDOW: Maybe even worse, thank you –

O`DONNELL: Thanks –

MADDOW: Lawrence –

O`DONNELL: Thanks, Rachel. Cecile Richards is going to join us tonight
because Planned Parenthood is once again under a new threat directly from
Paul Ryan after his healthcare bill failed last week.

First, we`ll be joined by a member of the House Intelligence Committee,
which has fallen into chaos. While the Senate Intelligence Committee today
showed Washington and the country how a bipartisan committee is supposed to
work. and that was not good news for anyone named Trump.


SEN. MARK WARNER (D), VIRGINIA: We`re here to assure you that we will get
to the bottom of this.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: The Russians interference in our
election, it wasn`t some 400-pound guy on the bed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We`re trying to do this in a serious bipartisan way so
that it has credibility.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you implying that`s not what`s happening in the
House right now?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, I would never imply such a thing.

GRAHAM: It`s just a mess, I don`t like what Nunes did.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Going over to the White House, looking at this stuff
and then telling Donald Trump about it.

REP. JACKIE SPEIER (D), CALIFORNIA: You begin to wonder if the House
Intelligence Committee is an oxymoron now.

INTELLIGENCE: It appears like the Democrats are not very serious about
this investigation.

SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: When and where he shares things,
et cetera, are issues for him and the committee and the House of
Representatives, not for us.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Still refusing to reveal who cleared Nunes in.

SPICER: I have asked some preliminary questions I have not gotten answers

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Any White House official could learn in five minutes
who signed Nunes into the White House.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nunes is like a guy who can`t swim, he`s locked in the
deep-end of the pool.

SEN. RICHARD BURR (R), NORTH CAROLINA: I`ve got a job in the United States
Senate. And I take that job extremely serious. It overrides any personal
beliefs that I have or loyalties that I might have.


O`DONNELL: The president has a problem, and that problem is from North
Carolina. And there`s something reminiscent about that.

Republican Senator Richard Burr; the chairman of the Senate Intelligence
Committee is that problem.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Senator Burr, have you – have you personally
coordinated with the White House at all on the scope of this investigation?
And how do you prevent it from going off track?

BURR: No, sir, I have not. And it`s the relationship and the trust we


O`DONNELL: That was Chairman Burr appearing today with the Vice Chairman
of the Senate Intelligence Committee Democrat Mark Warner.

The working relationship that they displayed today is the exact opposite of
the chaos created in the House Intelligence Committee by its stunningly
unprofessional and obviously incompetent Chairman Devin Nunes.

You just heard former Senator Bob Kerrey say that Devin Nunes is like a guy
who can`t swim locked in the deep-end of the pool.

Senator Kerrey served on the Senate Intelligence Committee, he also served
on the 9/11 Commission. He knows what professionalism looks like in this

He knows that Devin Nunes as we`ve been saying on this program is in way
over his head. Senator Richard Burr shamed Devin Nunes today without ever
mentioning his name.

Senator Burr and Senator Warner specifically said they had no intention of
answering any questions about the House Intelligence Committee, and instead
they tried to restore America`s faith in the Senate Intelligence
Committee`s ability to dig out the facts involving Russia`s interference
in our presidential election.


BURR: We will always say to you this investigation`s scope will go
wherever the intelligence leads it. So it is absolutely crucial that every
day we spend trying to separate fact from fiction and to find some
intelligence thread that sends us to the factual side of all the names and
all the places that you in this room have written about.


O`DONNELL: While all of the Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee
are now calling for Chairman Nunes to recuse himself or resign his
chairmanship, here is what Democrat Mark Warner had to say about the
Republican chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee.


WARNER: Let me just – I have confidence in Richard Burr that we together
with the members of our committee are going to get to the bottom of this.


O`DONNELL: North Carolina has been here before. Richard Burr occupies the
same Senate seat that was occupied by the legendary Senator Sam Ervin, who
in 1973 was the chairman of the Senate Select Committee to investigate
campaign practices.

That was its formal title, it was known as the Watergate Committee. Here
is Chairman Ervin questioning President Nixon`s Commerce Secretary Maurice
Stans who was also the campaign treasurer who after this testimony was
charged with perjury and ultimately pled guilty to accepting illegal
campaign contributions.


SAM ERVIN, LATE FORMER POLITICIAN: You think it`s perfectly normal of the
kind of things you would expect people who had records concerning outlays
of campaign funds to destroy those records after five men are caught in an
act of burglary with money that came from the committee in their pockets?

MAURICE STANS, LATE ACCOUNTANT: The fact that they came to me after the
Watergate was pure and innocent coincidence.


O`DONNELL: That testimony was in the Summer of 1973. In the Summer of
1974, President Nixon resigned and was immediately pardoned so that he
never had to face criminal charges himself.

North Carolina was proud of the work Sam Ervin did on the Watergate
Committee, America was proud of him.

Sam Ervin was in the Senate for 20 years, and he has his place in history
now, thanks entirely to the work he did for one year.

Work he never expected to do, conducting a special investigation of the
president of the United States. The Senator who holds Sam Ervin`s seat now
knows that his entire Senate career will be judged by how he handles his
duties investigating the president of the United States.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He served as an adviser on the Trump campaign, can
you say hand-over-heart that you can oversee an impartial and serious

BURR: Absolutely, I`ll do something I`ve never done. I`ll admit that I
voted for him. We always hide who we vote for, that`s part of the
democratic process.

But I`ve got a job in the United States Senate. And I take the job
extremely serious. It overrides any personal beliefs that I have or
loyalties that I might have.

Mark and I might look at politics differently. We don`t look at the
responsibilities we have on the committee differently. And that`s to earn
the trust and the respect of the intelligence community so they feel open
and good about sharing information with us.

Because that enables us to do our oversight job that much better.


O`DONNELL: Every word of that directly shamed the way Devin Nunes has
conducted himself as chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.

Every word of that shames the way Paul Ryan has worked as a partner to
Devin Nunes` cover-up of how he obtained intelligence information last week
that he first shared with Paul Ryan before sharing it with the president.

And every word of what Richard Burr just said should make Donald Trump fear
him as much as Richard Nixon feared Sam Ervin.

We don`t know where this investigation is going. We don`t know who might
end up in jail because of this investigation the way so many Nixon people

And we don`t know who in this investigation will find a place of honor in
history the way Sam Ervin did.

But we do know that at least on this day, if Sam Ervin could have seen what
we saw today, he would no doubt be proud of the man who now holds the
Senate seat that once was his.


ERVIN: I`m sorry that my distinguished friend from Florida does not
approve of my method of examining the witness. I`m an old country lawyer
and I don`t know the finer ways to do it. I just have to do it my way.


O`DONNELL: Joining us now, Democratic Congressman Eric Swalwell; member of
the House Permanent Select Committee on intelligence.

Congressman, thank you very much for joining us again tonight. I can
imagine if you were watching the leaders of the Senate Intelligence
Committee today, it must have been a difficult thing to watch.

Watching the way this is supposed to be done, watching the way this is
supposed to be handled while your chairman is out there saying the
Democrats aren`t serious. The Democrats don`t want to do this job.

REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D), CALIFORNIA: Good evening, Lawrence. I did watch
that press conference with envy, but also a sense of familiarity.

Our chairman and Ranking Member just weeks ago were working hand-in-hand,
so were all the Republicans and Democrats on the Committee.

We had a pledge to follow the evidence. We had a productive open hearing
as we went down an investigative road together.

Unfortunately, the chairman exited that road to go and work with the White
House, and what`s at stake now is our committee`s independence, credibility
and ability to make progress.

And Lawrence, I`ll give you one other example though that informs me. I
was a 20-year-old intern in Washington on Capitol Hill when September 11th

I saw Republicans and Democrats after that attack stand hand-in-hand on the
Capitol steps saying God bless America, and then went to work to make the
reforms necessary to make sure this never happened again.

And that also I think should be a model of how we can unite around an
attack and protect the American people, and our very democracy that we hold
so sacred.

O`DONNELL: And there was a bipartisan commission investigation of 9/11,
how that happened, how that found its way – how things found their way
through the cracks of intelligence and FBI intelligence collection.

And that was done in a completely bipartisan way. We heard something from
Bob Kerrey who was a member of that commission in the beginning of our show
tonight about your chairman and how disappointed he is in your chairman.

What are you hearing – or are you hearing anything from Republicans,
including Republicans not on the committee who are worried about the way
this is looking for the Republicans in the House of Representatives?

SWALWELL: Yes, Lawrence, I wrote the legislation with Elijah Cummings to
have an independent commission which we thought was the most comprehensive
way to get to the bottom of what happened.

And one Republican Walter Jones who`s also called for Chairman Nunes to
step aside from his investigation, he`s joined us on the independent
commission bill.

And a lot of Republicans have told me, I don`t think we need a commission
because we have a House investigation under way.

They`re rethinking that now. And so I hope they reconsider it. Leader
Nancy Pelosi reminds me often that the September 11th Commission was not
created on September 12th, but it actually was over a year later.

And that`s because people doggedly pursued how we could bring Republicans
and Democrats together to have such a commission.

And it was the appeals of the families who came to Washington that made it
happen. So now we`re hoping that it`s the appeals of our constituents who
care about free and fair elections that also get us to that point.

O`DONNELL: I want to look at another moment in the press conference today
the senators had talking about their working relationship with each other.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is there any circumstance with which you wouldn`t share
with Mr. Warner one of your sources of intelligence on this investigation?

BURR: He usually knows my sources before I do.

WARNER: And let me assure you, I`ve also got his cellphone, which is, he
needs to hear from me more than he sometimes likes.


O`DONNELL: And Congressman Swalwell, we show these little bits simply
because it`s such a stark contrast to the way things are working on your

And you point out it`s the way things were working on your committee two
weeks ago, as recently as two weeks ago.

And what do you believe happened to change all that?

SWALWELL: I believe that after the open hearing, the dots that we were
connecting as far as Donald Trump`s and his team`s personal, political and
financial ties to Russia that were converging with Russia`s interference
campaign were brought to light.

They were validated by FBI directors stating to the world that the
president and his campaign were under federal criminal and
counterintelligence investigations.

And so I believe that the chairman panicked. And the next day he goes to
the White House without telling Democrats, receives classified
information, and then goes back there the day after that to brief the
president when he was just there the day before.

So, it looks like he is now working with the White House rather than
showing the independence we need him to show.

And that`s why, Lawrence, this investigation is bigger than one person, and
he would do us all a service if he just stepped aside and allowed us to
again show progress.

O`DONNELL: What do you think of the point that some people are making
today that, look, it`s actually the road gets crowded when both committees
are doing the same thing.

The Senate investigative process and the intelligence committee, House
investigative process and the same thing at the same time. And it may be
better for one committee to voluntarily step aside.

That wouldn`t be what`s happening here, it would be one committee falling
into chaos while the Senate proceeds.

But could you – what do you say to that point that it may be better to
have one concentrated center of this investigation in the Senate Committee?

SWALWELL: It would be better if we had a joint House and Senate
investigation. That would avoid redundancies. I actually think if we had
done that, that also would have probably prevented the chairman from going
over there, or he would have probably been removed I think from a team
investigation between the House and Senate.

But I`m not going to let this just be a Senate investigation, Lawrence.
Democrats on our committee, we`re going to continue to follow all leads,
receive evidence, and hear from any relevant witnesses.

The question right now though is, will there be an asterisk around our
investigation or can we go back to being one that`s credible, independent
and making progress.

O`DONNELL: Well, give us a quick answer to that. What are the
possibilities for that?

SWALWELL: Recusal from the chairman and then to have that open hearing we
were supposed to have yesterday with Sally Yates, John Brennan and James

That`s a good first step. And then there is relevant witnesses like Carter
Page, Roger Stone, Michael Flynn and Paul Manafort who I think would be
logical witnesses to hear from in the public as well.

O`DONNELL: Congressman Eric Swalwell, thank you very much for joining us
tonight, I really appreciate it.

SWALWELL: My pleasure, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, could Chairman Nunes face an ethics investigation
for the way he has handled classified information?

And we have breaking news. A new report says FBI Director James Comey may
have tried to tell the public about the FBI`s Russia investigation last
Summer during the campaign.



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.



O`DONNELL: After the most embarrassing week in the life of a congressman
since Anthony Weiner, House Intelligence Committee Chair Devin Nunes has
now decided it`s up to him to say who the serious people are.


NUNES: Beginning to figure out who is actually serious about the
investigation. Because it appears like the Democrats are not very serious
about this investigation.

We always have to keep the committee bipartisan. But at the end of the
day, we`re going to do an investigation with or without them.


O`DONNELL: Some legal observers are now saying that Devin Nunes could be
the subject of an investigation himself for something he said last week.


NUNES: In the dozens of reports I was able to see, I was able to
determine that it was – it looks like it was legal collection, incidental
collection, but then made itself into intelligence reports.

So it has to deal with FISA and there`s, you know, multiple number of FISA
warrants that are out there, but there is nothing – nothing criminal at
all involved.


O`DONNELL: Simply by mentioning the existence of FISA warrants, Devin
Nunes may have disclosed classified information breaching an intelligence
committee rule that states “the committee on ethics shall investigate any
unauthorized disclosure of intelligence or intelligence-related

One national security lawyer told “The Daily Beast`s” Tim Mak, quote, “in
my humble opinion, yes, Nunes disclosed classified information that day.

The existence or nonexistence of a FISA warrant is a classified fact.” A
spokesperson for Congressman Nunes said the chairman did not reveal any of
the specific details of the information such as the target of the
collection and did not reveal classified information.

Joining us now, Tim Mak; senior correspondent for “The Daily Beast”, Ned
Price; former senior director and spokesperson for the National Security

Also with us, Mieke Eoyang; she`s a former House Intelligence Committee
staffer and vice president of the national security program at “Third Way”.

Tim Mak, first of this legal question, what did you dig up on whether or
not Devin Nunes crossed a legal line?

TIM MAK, SENIOR CORRESPONDENT, DAILY BEAST: So the House rules states that
if there is an allegation by as few as a single member of Congress, that
the House Ethics Committee shall investigate the issue.

That they shall launch some sort of inquiry as to whether the rules were
broken. This is really different from other house ethics issues.

You know, if there are campaign finance issues or there are other – there
are other situations where people have been suspected of breaking house

There`s usually a committee vote and it gets more complicated. But the
rules are very specific when it comes to classified information.

And it means that there`s mandatory command shall investigate this issue.
And it looks like it`s very possible that such an investigation has
already begun, given the low bar to start such an investigation.

O`DONNELL: Mieke, you wrote when you worked on the committee, you were
subject to those same kinds of rules.

What is your understanding of the rule, and what do you see when you listen
to the Chairman speaking in the White House driveway there?

investigations are very rare because usually members are very careful about
not revealing classified information.

Which is what was so unusual about the chairman`s statement there in front
of the White House. Usually, you don`t talk about these things. You talk
about them behind closed doors.

O`DONNELL: Ned Price, I just want to – there is a point in your resume
that`s pretty unusual. You quit the CIA because of the election of Donald
Trump. Could you just talk about that for a moment?

SECURITY COUNCIL: Sure, Lawrence, this was a decision I came to very
reluctantly over the course of several months.

Having seen President Trump, now President Trump as Republican nominee call
the intelligence community liars, casually cast aside their high confidence
judgment that Russia was responsible for meddling in our election, calling
them Nazis as the president`s-elect.

And then as president on his first day in office, paying a highly
disrespectful visit to Langley where he stood in front of the most solemn
memorial in all of CIA headquarters and talked about the size of the crowd
at his inauguration the previous day.

It was really the culmination of a series of data points, Lawrence, that
led me to conclude that I could not in good faith serve this president as
an intelligence professional.

O`DONNELL: Tell us what you`re seeing in this Devin Nunes story, including
all those details about how he got access to the White House, who would
have given him access?

Why is the White House covering up? Who gave him access to the White House
and why the White House at all – why would the White House grounds be
involved at all in this story?

PRICE: Well, Lawrence, I think that`s exactly it. The focus on Chairman
Nunes in my opinion obscures the key role of the White House in all of

Chairman Nunes is a pawn. He is a puppet. As soon as he confirmed that
his meeting took place in the White House grounds, we knew one of two

The White House was either the source of his information or they played
match-maker, pairing Chairman Nunes with his – with the source who
provided him this information.

You do not gain access to the White House compound without a White House
staff member clearing you in. You do not gain access to a secure facility
on the White House grounds without a staff member escorting you in.

And you do not gain access to a White House electronic network as Chairman
Nunes claimed he did without a White House staff member logging you in.

You know, Sean Spicer said today 72 hours after he was first asked that he
still didn`t know who cleared in Chairman Nunes.

It would take about 120 seconds for a White House staffer to look into that
matter. Look, I know the team there is new, so I will tell them exactly
how to do it.

You go into the waves database and – a database that most people at the
White House have access to. Type in Nunes, n-u-n-e-s, and it will show you
exactly who cleared him in.

And if it`s not in there, that means his name was purged, which I think,
Lawrence, raises even more serious questions about what exactly happened.

O`DONNELL: And Tim Mak, previous White Houses have actually had these logs
of visitors made public on a regular basis.

It wasn`t really a mystery about who was visiting the White House when.

MAK: Certainly the Obama White House decided to make these logs public.
The Trump administration has not made a determination, or at least is
stalling on making a decision on whether to do so.

When asked, White House Spokesman Sean Spicer said they`re still trying to
figure out exactly how that`s going to be done.

If you go to the White House website right now and try to look at the
visitor`s log, it`s empty, there`s nothing there.

So it will be interesting to see whether investigations, the House or
Senate investigations, other investigations looked into this visitor`s log,
tried to obtain who visited the White House.

And that may show the role of the White House behind this whole situation
with Nunes.

O`DONNELL: Mieke, as a former staffer, if a member or the chairman in this
instance called you, told you I`ve just been told about this information, I
now want to go see it and I`m being offered the White House. What would
you have said?

EOYANG: I would have asked who in the White House is organizing this. I
mean, members of Congress don`t go to the White House to review information
usually without clearance from the highest levels of White House personnel
who know what`s going on there.

You don`t just come into the White House grounds without clearance. It`s
really surprising.

O`DONNELL: And Mieke, to the point of Devin Nunes` behavior after all of
this, after that night or that time at the White House where he looks at
this, he then decides that he is going to go tell Paul Ryan.

And after telling Paul Ryan, he then decides he is going to tell the press,
then he is going to go tell the president, then he is going to tell the
press again.

That whole sequence beginning with Paul Ryan as the first stop, what do you
read in that?

EOYANG: What that says to me is that this wasn`t about furthering the
committee`s investigation. If it was about furthering the committee`s
investigation, he would have brought that information back to the
committee, briefed all the committee members about it, shared it with a
ranking member, asked for further information, a follow-up information from
the White House.

It`s one thing to go to the speaker of the House to have a conversation to
seek some guidance. But then to go from there to the press, from the press
to the White House, back out to the public, I mean, that whole sequence of
events I`ve never seen anything like it.

O`DONNELL: And Ned Price, what`s your reading of whether the Chairman
crossed the legal line here?

PRICE: Well, Lawrence, as you – as you played, he certainly referred to
the existence of FISA warrants. Anyone who has worked in the world of
intelligence, whether on Capitol Hill or at Langley or anywhere in between
will know that FISA intercepts are the most sensitive form of signals
intelligence out there.

Not only is it marked top secret, but there are also handling caveats under
that top secret marking.

By revealing the existence of FISA warrants, in my opinion, Chairman Nunes
certainly revealed classified information.

What he said has the potential to tip off subjects of FISA warrants to the
fact that they are being surveilled, which is what this classification
seeks to prevent.

O`DONNELL: Mieke one of the members of the committee, no. Sorry –
Jeremy Bash last night on this program offered the theory that the Chairman
did all of this very deliberately and deliberately, publicly, chaotically.
That he wanted it to be a public mess so that it would completely derail
the house investigation. He sees this as completely willful conduct from
the start that was planned to have the effect that it has had.

EOYANG: If that`s what Devin Nunes is trying to do, I don`t understand
why he is sacrificing the bipartisan relationship that he has with Mr.
Schiff, the relationship of the committee, the committee`s work on all the
other important intelligence issues to be deliberate, to distract from the
underlying issues of Russian interference and cooperation with potentially
members of the trump campaign to undermine our electoral process. I mean,
this is – there is important work that has to happen at the committee.
And all of that son hold while we have to observe this whole sideshow.

O`DONNELL: And Tim Mak, if the house ethics committee is investigating the
chairman, we would not necessarily know that?

MAK: We wouldn`t necessarily know that. And in fact, their findings
wouldn`t be publicized unless they were substantiated. So this
investigation could go on for some time and we would never know about it.
And believe me, it`s very difficult to talk to house ethics committee
members or staff who would ever reveal the nature of such an investigation.

They`re very, very professional. But to Mieke`s point, regarding Chairman
Nunes, it would seem to me very strange that he was actually a mastermind
of this entire thing. The idea that he would sacrifice his reputation, his
committee`s work, and all the other important work that they do, it`s very
strange to me.

He is now seen – he is mocked by a member of his own party. You know
Senator Graham called him Inspector Clouseau yesterday. He seems bumbling.
He seems not being able to have a clear message at a press conference.
It`s not even obvious to people like me who have been following this issue
for days and days and days what he`s actually said.

PRICE: If I might –

O`DONNELL: Go ahead Ned.

PRICE: If I might, it is undeniable that last Monday`s hearing was such an
unmitigated disaster for Republicans and for the Trump Administration that
it is certainly conceivable that the Whitehouse set up Chairman Nunes to do
exactly what he has done. And that is to put the brakes on all committee
proceedings. There has been absolutely no business done in the committee
there has been nothing in public.

There has been nothing in private. And for the past week, jail discussed
is this, Chairman Nunes` antics. So in a way Chairman Nunes working with
the white house were quite successful if that was their goal.

MAK: I`m not sure they would imagine they would be even this successful,

O`DONNELL: Well, there is always the Senate Intelligence Committee. And
so far it`s working. Tim Mak, Ned Price, Mieke Eoyang, thank you all for
joining us tonight, really appreciate it.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, a new report out tonight says the FBI Director James
Comey may have actually tried to publicly reveal that the FBI was
investigating Russia`s interference in the presidential campaign as early
as last summer.


O`DONNELL: The breaking news of the night is Newsweek reporting tonight
FBI Director James Comey attempted to go public as early as summer of 2016
with information on Russians campaigns to influence the U.S. Presidential
election. But Obama administration officials blocked him from doing so.
Two sources of the matter tell Newsweek.

And that well before the Department of Homeland Security and the Office of
the Director of National Intelligence accused the Russian government of
tampering with the U.S. Election. In an October 7 statement, Comey pitched
the idea of writing an op-ed about the Russian campaign.

The other National Security Officials didn`t like the idea, and Whitehouse
officials thought the announcement should be a coordinated message backed
by multiple agencies. Joining us now, the co-author of that Newsweek
report, Max Kutner senior writer for Newsweek. Max, this is a real stunner
because people have already been questioning why the Obama administration
revealed as little as it did when it did. And now it turns out there was a
push to reveal more and reveal it sooner.

MAX KUTNER, SENIOR WRITER, NEWSWEEK: We heard a little bit of information
from the federal government in October. We heard a lot of information in
this declassified report that came out in January. But yes, this would
have been half a year before that. We`re told in June or July

O`DONNELL: And was this part of just a general underestimation of what
Russia was up to?

KUTNER: Hard to say. What I`m told by people who know FBI Director James
Comey and know his leadership style, he is very transparent. That`s what
we saw in July with his press conference over the Hillary Clinton e- mail

That`s what we`ve seen since then. A lot of people say he is actually too
transparent. So this would have been in line with that. He wanted to get
out what he wanted to say perhaps to The New York Times. That`s what we`re

O`DONNELL: Any indication – what are your best indications about why the
Obama administration did not want to make this public earlier?

KUTNER: Sure. We`re told that they wanted a more coordinated effort. And
that`s the kind of effort that we did see in their October statement. And
then we saw again later on in January. They felt that to write an op-ed to
The New York Times could not be enough of a joint effort.

O`DONNELL: And were they afraid that no matter what they did, it would
look political? that they were just struggling with how do we get out there
and not look like we are using administration assets to politicize this?

KUTNER: It wouldn`t surprise me if they were thinking that, given that
this was happening we`re told in June or July. This is not only the height
of the election season with the conventions were going on at this time.

But it`s also at the height of this Hillary Clinton e-mail controversy and
the FBI`s investigation into that. In July we saw Director Comey holding
his press conference that a lot of people said was unusual. So the FBI was
already being seen – as scrutinized as being seen as political. And that
scrutiny only continued later on into as we all know October 28th with his

O`DONNELL: But right in the middle of all that heat about comedy`s public
comments about the Hillary Clinton investigation and the heat being that
the FBI never comments, except this time they did, in the middle of all
that, he wanted more. He actually wanted to step into that same heat or
that same issue of comments on another investigation, in this case the
Russian Investigation.

KUTNER: That`s what my colleague Josh Shawl and I found apparently so.
And this is what I`m told by several people with the FBI. This is his
style. This certainly was not the style of his predecessors, his immediate
Director Muller. This is James Comey. He is a transparent person and a
lot of people have scrutinized him for it

O`DONNELL: Max Kutner, thanks very much for joining us tonight,
appreciate it.

KUTNER: Thanks for having me.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, an enemy of Vladimir Putin who was poisoned and
almost killed testified to a senate committee today. That`s next.



BILL O`REILLY, FOX NEWS HOST: He`s a killer though, Putin is a killer.

a lot of killers. What? You think our country is so innocent? You think
our country is so innocent?


O`DONNELL: Today Vladimir Kara-Murza appeared at a Senate Hearing to urge
the United States to do more to contain Vladimir Putin. He told the story
of how the Putin regime tried to kill him.


month, both times in Moscow, I experienced a sudden onset of symptoms
consistent with poisoning that led to a multiple organ failure and left me
in a coma and on life support. Doctors estimated a chance to survive at
about 5 percent so I`m very fortunate and certainly very grateful to be sit
hearing today.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What signal would it send in your view if America
decided to forgive and forget what Russia, the Putin regime tried to do in
our election?

KARA-MURZA: Mr. Putin, you know his background. He is from the KGB. And
for those people, accommodation and compromise is not an invitation to
reciprocate, but it`s a sign of weakness, and it`s a sign to be more

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If we decided to forgive and forget, that would be
screaming weakness to Putin?

KARA-MURZA: Weakness, lack of any kind of will, I would think, and an
invitation to carry on.


O`DONNELL: Coming up, a new threat by Paul Ryan to defund planned
parenthood, Cecile Richards will join us.


O`DONNELL: Breaking news tonight from Hawaii. Federal Judge Derrick
Watson who had issued a temporary restraining order on the president`s
travel ban has now granted a motion to convert that temporary restraining
order to a preliminary injunction. This is now a more permanent block of
the president`s travel ban.

This applies to, as it says in the judge`s order, all United States borders
and ports of entry, and all issuances of visas. This Hawaii court now
Judge Derrick Watson has made his temporary restraining order now a
permanent injunction until that case can be heard. Cecile Richards will
join us next.


O`DONNELL: Now that republican attempts to repeal and replace Obamacare
has failed, Paul Ryan thinks he has a new way to defund Planned Parent


REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: We think the best – we think
reconciliation is the tool because that gets it in law. Reconciliation is
the way to go.


O`DONNELL: That means Paul Ryan expects to be able to attach defunding of
Planned Parenthood to a bill that would need only 51 votes to pass the
senate. But there`s indication when he would try to move such a bill
through the house, what is clear is that as long as the republicans control
the house and senate and as long as there is a republican in the White
House, Planned Parenthood will be under threat.

The president of Planned Parenthood of Federation of America, Cecile
Richards will join us next.



clear what his position is on Planned Parenthood and obviously this was an
opportunity to defund it. And he – but I don`t want to get ahead of our
legislative strategy. We`ll look at other opportunities.


O`DONNELL: That was Sean Spicer talking about the president`s
disappointment in not being able to defund Planned Parenthood. Defunding
Planned Parenthood was part of the Trump/Ryan healthcare bill which failed
in the House of Representatives last week. But the threat to Planned
Parenthood continues, joining us now Cecile Richards, president of Planned
Parenthood Federation of America.

First of all Cecile how did you feel last week when the health care bill
went down and with it, its attempt to defund planned parenthood?

Well it was an extraordinary win for the women of America. I mean I think
all of this started when 4 million plus Americans marched for women`s
rights back in the day after the inauguration and we kept seeing that level
of activism and I think that`s a large part why this bill was unsuccessful
and the efforts to defund Planned Parenthood were unsuccessful as well.

In fact the interesting thing is from the day that Paul Ryan announced he
was going to kind of defund Planned Parenthood on this bill, you couldn`t
get a phone call in to his office, the phone lines were so jammed and
that`s what we`ve been seeing ever since. This is wildly unpopular. But
it does look like they`re going to continue to try to do it so the threat
is very, very real.

O`DONNELL: Yes, as of this week Cecile it seems that defunding planned
parenthood is the only thing that they`re going to continue to try to do
that was in that health care bill.

RICHARDS: Which is just completely crazy Lawrence, I mean one in 5 women
in this country have gone to Planned Parenthood for healthcare. And the
more and more they talk about this, the more attention that folks are
paying to it. In the last poll last week, the day before this bill was
supposed to be voted on in the Quinnipiac poll, 80 percent of Americans
supported federal funding for Planned Parenthood, the health care that we

This is wildly unpopular. But as you say, certainly Paul Ryan and some
members of congress are obsessed with trying to end women`s access to
healthcare but we`re seeing across country, it is just solidifier among
women and men all across America.

O`DONNELL: The other good news for you in the latest gallop poll tracking
the president`s approval rating is that he`s in an all time low now, 35
percent approval for the president. 59 percent disapprove. And so when
you see a president with that kind of approval rating trying to take this
kind of action, there can be some encouragement that at least the public is
not behind him on this.

RICHARDS: The public is absolutely not behind him. In fact President
Trump`s own voters his own supporters disapprove of defunding Planned
Parenthood. There are President Trump`s voters are our patients. Because
of course women come To Planned Parenthood not to make a political
statement, they come because they need access to affordable healthcare.

I was just in Paul Ryan`s own district where three of our health centers
are, women there are livid. They cannot figure out where he thinks they`re
going to go to for healthcare if he ends access to Planned Parenthood.

O`DONNELL: And Cecile the – the idea that Planned Parenthood is the one
thing left out of that bill they can keep going at. What strikes me is
that they are now deeply embarrassed by this loss last week both the
president and Paul Ryan. And they so desperately then need something.
They need something to be able to say they got.

It strikes me that possibly increases the pressure on you more than it was

RICHARDS: Well I think that`s right. Because they are – I mean look this
was their signature issue. They said they were going to easily repeal the
Affordable Care Act and it didn`t happen and it didn`t happen because
people marched and they mobilized and they went to town hall meetings and
our patients spoke out. So, they can keep trying and we`re going to keep

And I have to tell you, the American people are on our side. It is
extremely unpopular to end women`s access to family planning, to breast
cancer screenings, to pap smears, to well women visits and that`s what
they`re trying to do. The American people know it and they don`t support

O`DONNELL: Paul Ryan just tonight has just been quoted saying he very
specifically does not want the president to work with democrats on health
care legislation. He`s getting nervous about those statements that the
president is making. And again that may be another reason for Paul Ryan to
be pushing the defunding of Planned Parenthood to keep President Trump
where he wants him on this issue.

RICHARDS: Well I mean he can continue to try to do this. We will continue
to try to – we will continue to mobilize folks around the country. Again
we have a ton of support. And then of course it has to get through the
United States Senate where there is bipartisan support for Planned
Parenthood that`s been public, that`s been very, very clear.

So, I actually I think they should turn their attention to try to figure
out how we`re going to get more access to healthcare in America, not less
and when people hear that his entire agenda is in defunding planned
parenthood, or literally shutting down access, they wonder for what reason.
Taking on the only national women`s health care provider in this country,
it`s just not popular. It`s not popular with women, it`s not popular with

O`DONNELL: So, Cecile we heard from Paul Ryan that he wants to do it in
reconciliation meaning, 51 votes in the senate.


O`DONNELL: Do you believe tonight that they – that they would not be able
to get 51 votes in the senate?

RICHARDS: I really – I don`t think they could. It has been wildly
unpopular over there as well. And then of course he`s not only talking
about that, there have been a lot of rumors that they now want to put it on
appropriations bill. They – what literally with the republicans are
trying to do before, threatened to shut down the federal government over
the issue of Planned Parenthood.

And so we`re really watching that and making sure people understand the
danger of them driving the government, you know, literally to shut down
over the access of women to healthcare. But I think that Paul Ryan is
looking at all of these options and so we have to be ready for them.

O`DONNELL: Cecile Richards who is not getting a chance to relax after the
loss on the Republican Healthcare bill last week in the house gets
tonight`s LAST WORD.

“THE 11TH HOUR” with Brian Williams is next.


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