The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell, Transcript 7/3/17 Ironworker v. The Speaker
Show: THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL
Date: July 3, 2017
Guest: George Will, Michael Moore, Randy Bryce, Dan Rather
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: That does it for us tonight, happy 4th of July,
now it`s time for THE LAST WORD with Lawrence O`Donnell.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The entire thing has been a
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is not a witch-hunt. This is a search for facts.
JAMES COMEY, FORMER DIRECTOR, FBI: The FBI is investigating whether there
was any coordination between the campaign and Russia`s efforts.
TRUMP: The whole Russian thing, that`s a ruse.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There are three investigations. These are not hoaxes
invented by Democrats.
TRUMP: It should be over with, it should. In my opinion, it should have
been over with a long time ago.
SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: Has the dismissal of Mr. Comey in any way
impeded any investigation?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You cannot stop the men and women of the FBI from doing
the right thing, protecting the American people and upholding the
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What Trump is going to find out eventually is that the
rules do apply to him, and it`s going to come by way of Bob Mueller.
ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: The president of the United States is under
criminal investigation for his conduct in office.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Look, who brought this on? It was the president who
brought it on himself.
TRUMP: Regardless of recommendation, I was going to fire Comey.
MICHAEL MOORE, FILMMAKER: He can`t control himself –
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right –
MOORE: Because there is a disorder afoot here.
GEORGE WILL, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: There comes a point at which this
manages to be ludicrous without being at all funny.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don`t trust him, we deserve honesty and things that
don`t smell of corruption.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it`s time for us to take a deep breath, be
calm, be steady about it. No president is stronger than the whole country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: On July 4th, 1776, the declaration of
independence announced that from that date forward, the United States of
America would be an independent country.
The declaration said, “we hold these truths to be self-evident, that all
men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain
unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of
Two hundred and forty one years later, we do not hold that any truths are
self-evident, least of all that all men are created equal or that women are
the equal of men.
We have a president who does not hold that the truth of Barack Obama`s
birth certificate is self-evident. We have one political party that holds
that the long-term human influence on climate change is self-evident, and
another party and president who do not.
Some people hold that abortion is murder, but most do not. Some hold that
black lives matter, some do not.
As a result of inadequate education, including inadequate college
educations for people like the current president of the United States and
because of centuries of prejudice and out-of-control hatreds, we hold no
truths to be self-evident now.
The president calls perfectly truthful news reports fake news, and millions
of his supporters agree with that lie. If anyone in the American
government today produced a document containing the sentence, “we hold
these truths to be self-evident”, almost everyone in the opposing party
would attack that document.
So how is the government, whose first declaration was, “we hold these
truths to be self-evident”, holding up after 241 years in a political world
of no self-evident truths.
Thirteen years after the declaration of independence, the founding fathers
could not see – who could not see beyond their own sexism to allow us to
have any founding mothers, created what may be the most important documents
in the history of government worldwide.
It is certainly the most important document in the history of the American
government. The constitution of the United States has been the fundamental
law of this land for 228 years because it was written with a kind of
astonishing vision that has allowed everyone not granted rights by the
constitution to use that same constitution to obtain those rights through
the amendment process established by that constitution.
People very deliberately left out of the original document now have
constitutional rights. Women now have the right to vote.
An African-American in the south is no longer three-fifths of a person.
And thanks to the constitution, in the United States of America today, men
can marry men, and women can marry women, something that was inconceivable
to the founding fathers who wrote the document that unbeknownst to them
granted that right.
The American news media has made the president the most important person in
American government. The founding fathers didn`t see it that way.
The president was to be a functionary to them, an executive charged with
executing the desires and orders of the Congress.
The president of the United States is the sixth job mentioned in the
constitution. The first job described in the constitution is a member of
the House of Representatives.
The second job specified in the constitution is Speaker of the House of
Representatives. The third is United States senator.
The fourth job mentioned is the vice president. But the vice president`s
first mention is only in his role as president of the Senate with the right
to cast a vote in the event of ties in the Senate.
The fifth job mentioned is the temporary president of the Senate when the
vice president is absent from the Senate. And this sixth job, the sixth
job mentioned in the constitution is the president.
And that very first mention of the president in the constitution is about
impeachment of the president. Something the founding fathers expected to
The founding fathers expected the voters at some point to be tricked into
electing presidents who would have to be removed from office.
Presidents who would commit crimes, presidents who would abuse power,
presidents who would violate their oaths of office.
The founders knew that that would happen, and they make that very clear.
That expectation is very clear in the constitution`s very first reference
to the president.
When the president of the United States is tried, the Chief Justice shall
preside. “When”, not “if”, “when”.
The founders were careful about each word. When they came to that
sentence, they could have written “if the president of the United States is
tried, the Chief Justice shall preside.” But no.
Because they believed it was inevitable, absolutely inevitable. They wrote
“when the president of the United States is tried.”
The constitution grants the Congress what the founders believed were most
of the government`s most important powers.
And yes, the president could nominate a Supreme Court justice, but only the
United States Senate could confirm that justice.
Over time with the Congress acquiescence, the modern president in the age
of intercontinental ballistic missiles has usurped some of what used to be
Congress` exclusive war-making power.
We now have a president who knows nothing of the constitution and knows
nothing of our history, and by all appearances, arrived in the job
surprised that Congress had any power over him at all or that the courts
had any power over him.
And so 241 years after the declaration of independence, 228 years after the
constitution, how are the founding documents holding up against what might
be the only president who has never read them?
Joining us now, Joy Reid; the host of “AM JOY” weekends on MSNBC, and Joan
Walsh; the national affairs correspondent at “The Nation” and an MSNBC
Joy, how is the constitution doing? How is it doing?
JOY REID, MSNBC HOST, “AM JOY”: I`d say I love that setup. My geeky
little heart is very happy to hear you go through that because I am fond of
telling – of reminding people that the first branch of government is the
And if you want a better president, you need to get a better Congress. And
so it`s a lesson that Americans failed to learn because we have so much
emotionally invested in the presidency.
And if you think about as you laid out what the president does, sign bills
that is sent by Congress, tries to be – as he wants. Appoint justices,
order the government.
The other thing the president has done, really going back to the very
beginning, is sort of set the American ideal, explain the American ideal,
sort of explain America to itself as the only elected official ostensibly
elected by a majority of at least the states if not of the people, that is
kind of his job.
Donald Trump is the first president in my lifetime, probably in anybody`s
lifetime, who does not understand the American ideal.
And even if he did, I`m not sure he would explain it because all he does is
talk about himself. I was thinking my team and I were talking about
independence day, the film “Independence Day”.
Donald Trump is like the Bill Paxton character, the president character was
actually working with the aliens.
O`DONNELL: Yes –
REID: Right, as if he was on the aliens` side and refused to get up and
make that big speech at the end –
O`DONNELL: Right, yes –
REID: And we are going to declare independence day –
O`DONNELL: Yes –
REID: Because he didn`t care about –
O`DONNELL: Right –
REID: The humans around him. He was on the aliens` side.
O`DONNELL: And all the aliens would have had to do was flatter him. Need
to be on their side.
Joan, how is the constitution doing?
JOAN WALSH, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: You know, the constitution is OK,
except what the founders failed to anticipate is that we would wind up with
men and some women in Congress who would be so compliant and refuse to take
their jobs seriously and allow this president to walk all over them and
also to violate the constitution from noon on January 20th, right?
The emoluments clause –
REID: Yes –
WALSH: We all knew as it was happening, you know, that he is in violation.
He is getting foreign payments. We don`t know how much because he doesn`t
– he has never shown us his taxes.
And then it`s proceeded from there. A week later, he imposes the Muslim
ban, which again is a constitutional violation of the establishment clause.
You know, he pays no attention to voting rights, which are guaranteed in
the constitution. So – but you just have this go along Republican
leadership and most of the Republican Party.
And I don`t think they anticipated it.
O`DONNELL: But on the travel ban, we saw the courts swing into action as
the constitution designed. And when you get to this question of what about
Why isn`t Congress, especially Republicans in the Congress standing up to
this disastrous presidency so far? If we could have told the founding
fathers – oh, there are going to be parties. They didn`t want political -
WALSH: Right –
REID: Right –
WALSH: Right –
O`DONNELL: They would have said to us, well, oh, no, if you let – if you
let political parties grow, they`re going to – they`re just going to
calcify, and they`re just going to defend their stuff and be at war with
the other side –
REID: Yes –
O`DONNELL: And here we are.
REID: No, absolutely. And that parties would be more interested in
defending their own institutional power than defending the country.
I mean, the Congress I think have been shameful in their defense of their
own institution. We`ve done this before with George W. Bush when the rush
to war, the Congress essentially said hands off –
O`DONNELL: Oh, yes –
REID: This is whatever you want to do –
O`DONNELL: Yes –
REID: Mr. president, everyone slapped on a lapel pin and said whatever you
want to do, Dick Cheney, whatever – it`s your world.
And so you`ve seen Congress walk back further and further and further from
their authorities. But here`s the problem with that.
That – you know, walking back from your authority depends on you always
having an Eisenhower or an FDR.
And by the way, even great presidents have failed utterly the test of sort
of the basics of the constitution. FDR interred Japanese-Americans.
We`ve had awful presidents. Let`s not pretend Trump is the first one.
We`ve had Andrew Jackson who slaughtered native Americans and marched them
across the trail of tears.
We`ve had Woodrow Wilson who was a venial racist, you know, screening
racist movies in the White House and refused to do anything about lynching.
We`ve had bad presidents. The founders owned slaves, some of them. So –
O`DONNELL: Right –
REID: Not all of them have lived up to the ideals. What we have now is a
complete surrender, a complete surrender of the Congress to try to defend
the institution and a president who has already long since surrendered to
O`DONNELL: But Congress created the law that has given us the special
prosecutor we have now, and that –
REID: Yes –
O`DONNELL: Special prosecutor is not someone who is going to bend to
WALSH: Well, I guess we`re lucky that we have someone and that we feel
that strongly about, and I do trust him.
I still don`t think it`s off the table, Lawrence, that he will fire him or
he will make somebody else fire him.
And, you know, his lack of curiosity about the mechanics of the
interference with our election – even let`s leave aside his potential or
his campaign`s potential involvement in it.
The lack of curiosity about what happened and the lack of determination to
make sure it does not happen again is astonishing to me.
I mean, it`s such an abrogation of his duty to protect the country. It`s
just not even interesting.
O`DONNELL: There`s a break in your house, and then you don`t lock the door
after the break.
REID: Well, and you pad down in your nighties and find that your dad is
telling the robbers where the safe is, right?
I mean, literally you have Donald Trump –
O`DONNELL: Let me help you with that combination –
REID: Let me help you with that combination, here`s where the jewelry is.
I mean, Donald Trump has gone beyond not locking the door.
At this point, all the tools he needs to respond to what Russia did exist.
He could deploy them at any time, he`s doing the opposite.
O`DONNELL: We`re going to have to take a break there. Joy Reid and Joan
Walsh, thank you both for joining us –
REID: Thank you –
O`DONNELL: Really appreciate that –
WALSH: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: Coming up, Michael Moore and George Will finally agree on
something, they both have big problems with Donald Trump.
O`DONNELL: Trump has a dangerous disability. That was the title of George
Will`s column that was trending on Twitter today.
George Will has often had the most talked about column of the day in his
decades as a columnist. Today, there was an urgency to his writing.
He said, “it is urgent for Americans to think and speak clearly about
President Trump`s inability to do either. This seems to be not a mere
disinclination but a disability.
The dangerous thing is that he does not know what it is to know something.”
Joining us now, George F. Will; Pulitzer Prize winning columnist for “The
Washington Post” and an MSNBC contributor.
And George, I`m always honored to have you join us on a day like today. I
am thrilled to have you join us because once again you wrote the column of
the day that everyone is talking about.
And it`s one of those columns that puts in towards things that many of us
have thought in different ways, but most of us haven`t found the way to put
it into words. You`re saying that the president is actually not able to
WILL: Well, the problem, Lawrence, isn`t just that his sentences don`t
parse and that his pronouns float around in search of antecedents.
It`s not just that he`s seen tactically challenge Dwight Eisenhower,
occasionally it was. Although I think his oppressiveness was sometimes
It`s not just that he`s given to verbal fender benders. George W. Bush had
his share of those. The question is whether or not the way he talks and
the judgments he makes about matters of fact, history, for example, suggest
that he really is not capable of sequential thought, which is rather
alarming in a president.
You add that to the fact that his demonstrated lack of knowledge of
American history, his recent talk about Andrew Jackson being angry about a
civil war that occurred 16 years after he died, suggests that, again, his
basic unfamiliarity not just with our past but with our present.
Remember, during the Republican candidates debates, he said once in
defending the conservatism of his sister who is a federal judge, he said
that his sister had signed some of the same bills that Justice Alito had
signed on the Supreme Court.
Now, that suggests that he would flunk a sixth grade civics exam because he
suggests that federal judges and Supreme Court justices sign bills.
This is rather alarming. I mean, if next week, he comes out and says,
Grover Cleveland was a stern critic of the new deal, on the one hand, we`ll
be all pleased and surprised to know that he knows there was a President
But there comes a point at which this goes – manages to be ludicrous
without being at all funny, when you have a president who doesn`t
understand the basic facts of American history.
The basic realities of American governance, and finds it impossible to put
into simple, declarative sentences what he`s talking about.
O`DONNELL: I want to listen to a professional diagnosis here. This is
from Lance Dodes; a former professor at Harvard Medical School, a professor
of psychiatry. Let`s listen to what he had to say about the president on
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LANCE DODES, FORMER PROFESSOR, HARVARD MEDICAL SCHOOL: Lying in the way
that he does it, repeated, dangerous lied makes him unfit and is a sign of
serious mental disturbance.
And to the extent he doesn`t know reality. And I agree, by the way, I
don`t think he does know reality clearly. He doesn`t have a clear grass of
it because he changes it. He makes up reality to suit his internal needs.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: George, your column scrupulously avoided any diagnosis that
you`re not medically qualified to make, but were you tempted that you feel
– I feel your column goes right up to the border of psychiatry.
WILL: Well, I stopped there purposely. In the first place, I`m not
qualified. Second, I remember the gross abuse of psychiatry when my man,
Barry Goldwater, for whom I cast my first presidential vote, was running
for president in 1964 and a whole slew of psychiatrists diagnosed him from
a distance as having all kinds of authoritarian – another disagreeable
behaviors and tendencies.
I didn`t want to engage in that. I`m just going by the evidence that the
president continues to put in front of us in torrential amounts.
O`DONNELL: And your recommendation at the close of your column is, quote,
“for the public to quarantine this presidency.” How can the public do
WILL: Well, the public has to communicate to their elected representatives
that the elected representatives have more to fear from the public, from
their constituents, than they do from Mr. Trump.
That is the public has to say we have taken this man`s measure, and we find
him alarming, and we want you to be on our side, the side of our alarm and
our rational fear rather than the normal tendency to defer to presidents on
important matters, particularly war and peace.
I mean, it`s one thing for him to wander around and say, my gosh, who knew
health care was complicated. It`s another thing when he`s dealing with
North Korea, the South China sea, the Ukraine, Crimea, and all the rest
when the use of force is involved because that requires, A, a certain
confidence on the part of the public to support a president.
And because the normal Madisonian checks and balances simply do not
restrain presidents when it comes to the use of military force.
O`DONNELL: And George, based on what you`re hearing from elected officials
in Washington, is that message from the public because certainly many
members of the public already feel this, what you`re talking about in your
column and have been trying to communicate it to their elected
Is that message getting through?
WILL: I think it is. It`s – the important thing is that it gets through
to Republicans. The Democrats have gone into well advertised resistance.
The real question is will Republicans in Congress feel a need to defer. I
think not. Now, you notice the other day the president, when he broke new
ground in presidential behavior by urging a governmental shutdown said
also, which is really none of his business coming from the executive
branch, that the Senate should change its rules to get rid of the
There was an instant and then bipartisan rejection of that, which indicated
that Republicans as well as Democrats are finding a common ground in
establishing a distance and an institutional self-interest against Mr.
O`DONNELL: George F. Will has once again written the column of the day
that everyone`s talking about. George, thank you very much for joining us
tonight, really appreciate it.
WILL: Glad to be with you.
O`DONNELL: Up next, Michael Moore will join us, he is taking his campaign
to resist President Trump`s policies to Broadway.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MOORE: So when the rightfully angry people of Ohio and Michigan and
Pennsylvania and Wisconsin find out after a few months in office that
President Trump wasn`t going to do a damn thing for them, it will be too
late to do anything about it.
But I get it. He wanted to send a message. You had righteous anger and
justifiable anger. Well, message sent. Good night, America, you`ve just
elected the last president of the United States.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: That was Michael Moore last year in his election documentary
“Trump Land”. Later this month, Michael Moore is bringing his unique blend
of politics and performance to Broadway.
The show is called “The Terms of My Surrender”. Michael is hoping to find
the answer to the question, can a Broadway show bring down a sitting
president? Michael Moore told us all about it the day he announced the
It`s your Broadway debut first of all.
MOORE: It is, yes –
O`DONNELL: That`s a big deal.
O`DONNELL: And you`re going to go to Broadway.
MOORE: Yes –
O`DONNELL: To surrender to President Trump because he`s gotten it right on
health care. What are the issues that you`re surrendering on?
MOORE: Yes, exactly –
O`DONNELL: Am I misreading the title?
MOORE: No, exactly right. In fact, you will need to go because we already
know that I`ve given up.
No, I think the terms of my surrender are slightly different. The – no,
the show is – it`s a piece of satire that I`ve written, and I`ve always
wanted to do something live on the stage.
And I thought – actually, I`ve been on a bit of a creative tear since –
well, last Summer when I saw, you know, the train wreck that was coming.
And I`ve been doing a lot of writing and approaching this from various
fronts. And so the first salvo is going to be – I wanted to do something
here in this city frankly.
O`DONNELL: Yes –
MOORE: The global headquarters of corporate America, Wall Street, the
epicenter of the media, and the home of that great bastion of free
expression, the American theater.
O`DONNELL: Now will you – will your script adjust to things that happen
in the course of, say, Sean Spicer`s day or –
MOORE: Yes, it will be a living, breathing – it is scripted, but there –
if we need to bring in chocolate cake on any given night –
O`DONNELL: Yes, right –
MOORE: We`ll be able to do that.
MOORE: Part of the propaganda machine which, again, we like to laugh about
here, but actually it`s not very funny because they think they`re getting
away with it, with tens of millions of people, if they just say something
enough, often enough, and just repeat the lie, enough people will believe
And we know that –
O`DONNELL: Well, that is working for most of the people who have already
voted for Donald Trump.
O`DONNELL: And for no one else.
MOORE: Right, but because we – because Trump ran an election that ended
up being benefited – he benefited from the fact that he was appointed by
the electoral college, it doesn`t matter what the majority of Americans
think right now.
What is the good news is that we are the majority, myself and my fellow
Americans who didn`t vote for him, and we have raised a ruckus on so many
issues in these – in these first few months that I think we`ve kept him
And people are attacking this on all fronts. I came on your show right
after the election, and I said, we have to operate on four fronts here.
We need citizen mass action, we`ve seen that, right? We need our lawyers to
go to court and get injunctions. We`ve had that.
We need to run people who can win next year. We need to take back the
House of Representatives and if we keep our Democratic senators, it means
MICHAEL MOORE, FILMMAKER: We need our lawyers to go to court and get
injunctions. We`ve had that. We need to run people who can win next year.
We need to take back the House of Representatives, and if we keep our
Democratic Senators, it means we only need to remove three Republican
Senators next year.
We need to do that. And the final thing that I have pushed is that we need
an army of satire. We need everybody to use their sense of humor and their
comedy to bring him down because his skin is so thin, he gets so upset at,
you know, I mean all Melissa McCarthy has to do is just keep appearing and
Alec Baldwin on SNL, and, you know, basically I and others, we formed this
larger group of discombobulating him with humor, ridicule, satire. We want
him up at 3:00 in the morning tweeting. The more he`s doing that, the less
he`s doing to hurt the country.
O`DONNELL: He does appear to pay more attention to you and Alec Baldwin
and Melissa McCarthy and everybody at SNL than he does to even the
constituents of Republican Congressman Billy Long, who have impressed upon
this Republican Congressman, you can`t vote for this. So you`re right
about the number of fronts that need to be manned here.
MOORE: The thing is like you just said that, and we just admitted what – I
just announced what the strategy is. Let`s say –
O`DONNELL: Yes, it`ll still work.
MOORE: Let`s say he`s watching right now because I think over at Fox
during this hour, there`s just a test pattern. He`s flipped over here,
heard the strategy. That still – he can`t control himself.
MOORE: Because there is a disorder afoot here. And we want to keep him
busy with that disorder, not busy in the way where he`s launching more
tomahawk missiles necessarily. But to where he just is chasing his tail.
It`s our version of wagging the dog essentially.
O`DONNELL: When you go to Broadway, you will be, it seems to me,
preaching to the converted to a great extent as opposed to your
documentary, where you took the cameras, went right out into the heart of
Trump Land, which was a completely different world to talk to. talk about
the advantages of each one of those audiences.
MOORE: Well who says I`m not making a documentary?
MOORE: I`m just – listen, I said I`m on a creative tear, all right?
This is salvo number one. Why Broadway? Because people on my side of the
political fence need to start reaching the people who go to see Cats and
the Lion King so I`m planting my flag in a place where middle America shows
O`DONNELL: In the summer, that`s true. Yeah.
MOORE: And that`s why I`m doing it in the summer. We need to sponsor
Nascar things. We need to see, you know, climate change things on the
hoods of Chevys that are racing around the track, you know. We need, you
know, I did consider the ice capades or Disney on Ice perhaps.
But I`m just saying – I mean I`m not – I`m being funny, but I`m not
because I really do believe that we need to reach people where they`re at.
8 million Obama voters voted for Trump, all right? I probably can`t
convince the vast majority way on the right. But I think we can hold our
hands out –
O`DONNELL: You can talk to them. Yeah.
MOORE: To the 8 million Obama voters that voted for Trump. Remember, it
was just 10,000 votes in Michigan, two votes per precinct. That`s all we
lost by. We can do this. And going on Broadway is one way I`m going to
attempt to reach out to Middle Americans, and the pricing of seats, I got
the producers to – you can come there for like 25 bucks.
O`DONNELL: And discounts for Trump Voters.
MOORE: If Trump voters want to come, I will probably actually buy their
O`DONNELL: Great. June 20th, July 20th?
MOORE: it starts on July 28th. It goes only 12 weeks and next time I come
back on, we`ll go back to our show tunes that we used to do.
O`DONNELL: Oh, boy, you were singing during the commercial. I would
invite you to sing us out, but we`re in a big hurry. Michael Moore, thank
you very much for joining us. Up next, the Wisconsin ironworker who has
announced that he will run against speaker Paul Ryan next year. His
campaign launch video is being reviewed as one of the most effective
political campaign announcement videos in years.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: And Paul Ryan, come up and say a few words. Congratulations on a
job well done.
REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: This is repealing and
replacing Obamacare. Everybody doesn`t get what they want.
RANDY BRYCE, PROGRESSIVE IRONWORKER: My mom is – is probably the most
important person in my life. She was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.
There`s no doubt in my mind that there are thousands of people like her
that don`t have what she has.
I can see what people need. I could do so much more, and I will do so much
more taking my voice, taking our voice and what we need to Washington, D.C.
I think it`s time, let`s trade places. Paul Ryan, you can come work the
iron, and I`ll go to D.C.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Randy Bryce is trying to do the impossible, well, the almost
impossible. It has happened exactly twice in our history. A Speaker of the
House has been defeated in his re-election campaign in his home district
exactly twice. The first time was in 1862 when Galusha Grow lost his re-
election campaign in Pennsylvania and the second time was in 1994 when
Democratic Speaker of the House Tom Foley saw his 30-year career in the
House of Representatives come to a shocking end on election night when he
lost his re-election campaign in a close, close finish.
And no one in American politics saw that coming. Paul Ryan won his last
campaign in his Wisconsin district last November by 35 points. Tom Foley
had much bigger wins than that during his congressional career. He once
won re-election by 62 points during the Reagan years. Tom Foley won re-
election by 50 points and 52 points. By 1990, Tom Foley was down around the
Paul Ryan winning margin of 38 points.
That`s how much Tom Foley won by in 1990. Two years later, Speaker Foley`s
winning margin dropped to ten points. And two years after that, he lost in
a very close election. So can a Speaker of the House who wins re-election
in his district by 35 points be defeated? The answer is sure, he can. But
it might take more than one campaign to beat him. Randy Bryce, the
candidate who is trying to make history, joins us next.
O`DONNELL: Joining us now, Randy Bryce. He`s the ironworker, now the
Democrat candidate running against Representative Paul Ryan for that House
seat in Wisconsin. This is his first national interview. Randy, welcome to
Thank you for doing this. We were all quite struck by that campaign
announcement video that you released with your candidacy. And as soon as
we saw it, we played it here. We wanted to talk to you about your
candidacy. So you watched Paul Ryan win re-election with a 35-point winning
margin, and you thought, I think I`ll run against him.
BRYCE: Why not? Why not?
BRYCE: First of all, thank you for having me tonight, Lawrence. If you
want to see something that`s really impossible, I have a hard hat you can
borrow, and I`ll take you out to a job site in a construction area downtown
Milwaukee. What we do is oftentimes considered impossible, and I think as
a result of our launch, it was so successful, and it`s just a testament to
working people wanting to be heard. They see me as being them, and that`s
exactly why I`m doing this.
O`DONNELL: What do you think Paul Ryan is getting wrong in representing
his district because he`s got two different jobs. He`s got the job of being
speaker and trying to run that whole party in the house. Then he has
another job, which can very often be in conflict, and that is to be the
representative from that district?
BRYCE: Well, he`s for one, he`s not representing anything, anybody in the
district. He`s been absent. He hasn`t been in the district for over 600
days. But he does have time to appear at 50 fund-raisers where you can pay
$10,000 to have your picture taken with him. He`s not doing anything for
the people of the first congressional district, and we`re upset that we`re
not being heard.
And whatever he`s doing in Washington, it`s taking away things from us.
We`re working twice as hard, and we`re getting less to show for it.
O`DONNELL: Judging by your campaign announcement video, your number one
issue seems to be at this point health care. Why is that the number one
issue for you?
BRYCE: It`s an intergenerational issue. I have a son who is a miracle
child. I was told I probably wouldn`t be able to have children after being
diagnosed with cancer. I have to worry about you know cancer coming back
for me. I have to worry about my son going to play on a jungle gym. I have
to worry about him getting hurt or just letting him be a kid.
And it affects my mother, who obviously is the star of the video. And not
shown in the video is my father, who has Alzheimer`s. And you know, my
mom`s medication, thankfully she has insurance. That gives her the
independence to be able to visit my dad on a daily basis. So you know and I
consider ourselves lucky because we have insurance, and it shouldn`t be a
matter of have and have nots.
It`s a basic right for everybody that we should be able to go see a doctor,
to be healthy, to live fulfilling lives.
O`DONNELL: What is your biggest disagreement with President Trump?
BRYCE: with President Trump, I – I don`t trust him. I mean when I was in
the army, I spent time – it was during the cold war, and we were trained
to defend the country against the Soviet Union. And, you know, I look – I
turn on the TV. It might have even been your show, and I see the top spy
for Russia in the oval office. They`re putting party before the people, and
the people have had enough.
We deserve honesty and things that don`t smell of corruption.
O`DONNELL: I think you watched Paul Ryan closely probably during the
presidential campaign, and there were many times where he tried to distance
himself from the president, from presidential candidate Donald Trump.
Without ever disowning him, always trying to say, I don`t have to answer
for what he says as a candidate. What is your reaction now that, after Paul
Ryan didn`t answer to things that Donald Trump said as a candidate, he now
has him as a president and they`re now working together closely?
BRYCE: Well he was a few weeks ago the Wisconsin republicans had their
state convention, and Paul Ryan was thanking everybody there for electing
Donald Trump. He pretty much owns Donald Trump at this point. There`s no
distancing himself. He`s in charge of setting forth the policies, talking
about what`s going to be introduced.
You know, and what has he done? There`s nothing. Donald Trump has done
nothing, has not kept one of his promises, which I mean sounded good when
he was making them. But there`s a lot of smoke, and there hasn`t been any
action taken on any of those promises.
O`DONNELL: Randy, your reaction on election night when you saw your state
go for Donald Trump, and what will you say to Trump voters in Wisconsin to
pull them over to a democrat. Some of them have voted for democrats before.
How can you pull them back?
BRYCE: Well I mean just look at what`s been going on. There`s – nobody
has been listening to the people of the first congressional district, and I
think, you know, by announcing my candidacy, the way it just blew up,
people are energized. We`re ready to take things back. There`s a lot of
buyer`s remorse going on. And just the outpouring of support from workers
not just in the first congressional district, but from throughout the
entire country show that other congressional districts need working people
to represent them.
And this is all about for the working people of America, for the first
congressional district, and I appreciate all the support.
BRYCE: Well, it`s been a democratic district before. That was over about
24 years ago, and so who knows when it`s going to swing back. Randy Bryce
gets tonight`s last word. Thank you for joining us, Randy. Really,
BRYCE: Thank you. It was a pleasure to be on your show.
O`DONNELL: Finally tonight, Dan Rather on comparisons between president
Trump and President Nixon. Dan rather reminds us that we`ve seen some of
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD Trump, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: To fulfill my solemn duty to
protect America and its citizens, the United States will withdraw from the
Paris climate accord. Thank you. Thank you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Once again President Trump seems to be trying to fulfill a
solemn duty to Russia. The two biggest beneficiaries of President Trump`s
action today are Russia and the very first foreign country that he visited
Saudi Arabia. Both of those countries have oil dependent economies. They
are both now struggling to find ways together to main the price of oil at a
high enough level to sustain their economies.
There is only one way to do that that works. The bad way to do it is to try
to restrict the supply of oil, thereby driving up the price. But that`s
much harder to do than – than people think when they try to start it as
OPEC has discovered many, many times. The best way to do it, the very, very
best way to do it is to increase demand for oil and drive up the price by
increased demand. That is classical economics.
The Paris climate accord is designed to decrease demand for oil. Here is
what the leader of the free world said tonight about the United States
dropping out of the Paris climate accord.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
EMMANUEL MACRON, PRESIDENT OF FRANCE: Tonight I wish to tell the United
States, France believes in you. The world believes you in. I know that you
are a great nation. I know your history, our common history. France will
not give up the fight. I reaffirm clearly that the Paris agreement remains
irreversible and will be implemented, not just by France, but by all the
We will succeed because we are fully committed. Because wherever we live,
whoever we are, we all share the same responsibility, make our planet great
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: We`re joined by Dan Rather, former of anchor of CBS Evening
nuance a currently host of AXS TV`s The Big Interview. Dan, considering
all the presidents you covered all of whom gathered have carried the label
with them around the world leader of the free world, to see this tonight,
see president pull the United States out of a worldwide agreement, see the
president of France then step up, specifically speak in English to address
the United States of America, with a leadership tone on his part about
where – where our future lies in climate and other things.
Just an extraordinary moment.
DAN RATHER, AXS TV NEWS ANCHOR: Well it`s a momentous moment and very
ominous moment, because depending how far President Trump can go and how
effective he may be, the rest of the way, this can make the United States
second tier in terms of world leadership at least on this subject. And by
the way, I totally agree that Russia and Saudi Arabia are the big winners
here. But also China is a big winner.
Because the Chinese they seek to spread their influence, particularly in
Western Europe, do business there. Chinese are big winners. Steve Bannon is
a big winner. Steve Bannon is back big time in the White House. And the
showdown in the White House between the globalists and nationalists Steve
Bannon the nationalists won. But I do think Lawrence there is something
else at work here with President Trump.
And William Marshall wrote some of this on the internet today. And that is
from the outside looking in it seems clear that he is mad. He has some
rage. He is scared. The – what did he do with Russia narrative is closing
in on him. Still the investigation is about his tax returns which is
closing in on him. He just came back from his European trip and he was
angry with the leader of Germany, Miss Merkel and the new leader of France.
So what you have here is a president who is lashing out in anger.
We haven`t had a president this psychologically troubled – I`m trying to
use my language carefully. We haven`t had a president this psychologically
troubled in this way since at least Richard Nixon.
RATHER: And remember we are still very early in the Trump Presidency. But
this decision today – history is going to punish Donald Trump for this
decision. The question is how much – how much will it punish our own
country? That may depend on how much of the slack that they can take up,
that individual state governments, local governments and people who know –
including corporations, who know this is a bad decision, try to – they try
to resist it.
But you know the president is very strong. And when he makes this kind of
decision there are consequences, consequences of an election. He was
elected. There are consequences of these kinds of decisions. But I do think
that it`s time for us to take a deep breath, be calm and steady about it.
Over the long pull we`ll probably be all right, that no president is
stronger than the whole country. And this is not a popular decision.
O`DONNELL: You can see our entire interview with Dan Rather on our website
TheLastWord.msnbc.com. And that is the last word.
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