The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell, Transcript 7/6/17 Profiting off the Presidency
Show: THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL
Date: July 6, 2017
Guest: Michael Moore, Randy Bryce, Dan Rather
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC: List maintenance procedures in each state to make
sure states are in compliance with the law that decides who should be
kicked off the voter rolls.
Justice Department tells the states to explain how they`re going to kick
people off the rolls in every state in the country. We talked to officials
in Rhode Island and California, who told us that the Justice Department
letter was a total surprise out of nowhere.
People who track this sort of thing say the letter is unprecedented,
they`re calling it a directive from the federal government to start purging
voters off the rolls.
It appears that the Justice Department is laying the ground work for a
lawsuit if states refuse. This is one to keep an eye on. We have seen big
purges of the voting rolls before, and we have seen it go very wrong.
Whether or not there is a national effort to push for that sort of thing,
we do not know, but watch this space, the Department of Justice pushing for
Again, it`s unprecedented, and we don`t know how this is going to work out.
Watch this space. That does it for us tonight, now it`s time for THE LAST
WORD with Lawrence O`Donnell, good evening, Lawrence.
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, HOST, THE LAST WORD: Good evening, Rachel, I watched
the beginning of your show tonight after that cliff-hanger that you left
And so there`s so much to talk about in it, but the basic lesson seems to
be that the people who are telling us that it`s all fake news might want to
actually produce, deliver some fake news that they can therefore point to
as proof that it`s all fake news.
MADDOW: Yes, I mean, I don`t – I don`t know who – I mean, I don`t – I
don`t want to speak to the origin of this thing, this forgery that we were
I think the bottom line is we all need to do due diligence all the time.
But it is worth being aware that somewhere, for some reason – and we don`t
know what that reason is, somebody is shopping pretty good forgeries of
what appear to be NSA documents about Trump and Russia.
And so it`s just – I felt like – it`s kind of a weird thing to do a news
story about, but I sort of feel like I need to send a flag up the flagpole
to just let everybody else know what we have figured out because I can`t
understand – I can`t believe that it`s only going to happen to me.
I imagine this may be happening to other news folks as well.
O`DONNELL: Oh, no, it`s a very relevant report, especially with what we`ve
seen happen at “Cnn” that – look, this is what it`s like when you`re on
the receiving end of this.
You ended up handling it differently and more carefully than possibly
anyone else who would have received that.
MADDOW: Well, we had to get a lot of help with this. This was like an all
hands on deck sort of thing. But you know, listen, people try to – you
know, there are – in politics and in life, there are dirty tricks and
pranks, and it`s just sort of a – it`s a moment to really be on your toes
about those things.
O`DONNELL: It was also a great detective story to listen to.
MADDOW: Thank you, my friend, all right –
O`DONNELL: Thanks, Rachel –
MADDOW: Thanks, Lawrence, cheers.
O`DONNELL: Well, at least, no one is saying Donald Trump became president
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We want to see fair press.
We don`t want fake news.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He doesn`t want a fair press, he wants a fawning press.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes –
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Will you once and for all, yes or no, definitively
say that Russia interfered in the 2016 election?
TRUMP: Well, I think it was Russia, and I think it could have been other
people in other countries.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Donald Trump is the only American who does not believe
that the Russians interfered with our elections.
TRUMP: Obama, when he was president found out about this. He did nothing
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: To say he did nothing would not be accurate. For
example, the sanctions that the Obama administration put on Putin –
WILLIE GEIST, MORNING JOE: The president of the United States ripping
another president of the United States on foreign soil.
JOE SCARBOROUGH, MORNING JOE: And the CIA –
GEIST: And the CIA and the press. That`s unseemly on its own.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He`s saying that Obama did nothing about it, which
means – which lends it legitimacy. So which is it?
TRUMP: Nobody really knows, nobody really knows for sure.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Nobody really knows, yes. Your intelligence
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, actually do really know –
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Says they absolutely do know.
MALCOLM NANCE, MEDIA COMMENTATOR ON COUNTERTERRORISM & INTELLIGENCE:
Donald Trump has just undermined the strategic standing of the United
States by essentially saying his own intelligence agencies are unreliable.
Putin will love that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He`s ill-prepared. He`s inexperienced and he doesn`t
have the temperament for this kind of thing.
And because he`s the president of the United States, that`s what`s going to
get us into trouble.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: The president of the United States flew to Poland to deliver
this important message today to the Polish people and the world. Here is
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: “Nbc” is equally as bad despite the fact that I made them a fortune
with “The Apprentice”, but they forgot that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Now, I know it sounds like it, but that was not just another
goofy Trump line. That was the president of the United States trying to
communicate what he believes is an important American principle, a Trump
rule, that if you make money for a corporation and if that corporation owns
a news division, then everyone working in that news organization should be
publicly nice to you all the time.
This will be one of his ignored points, of course, in a day of public
comments that disgrace the American presidency and reduced it to something
nasty and inane.
And we will consider and discuss much more of what the president had to say
today. But for the moment, let`s just focus on this one Trumpian bit, this
sentence that is so easy to ignore when so many of his other sentences seem
so threatening to truth and a free press and other things.
Now, let`s not argue about how much of a fortune Donald Trump`s TV show
made for Nbc. Suffice it to say that hundreds of Nbc shows have made much
more money for the network than Donald Trump`s TV show.
The president clearly believes though that Nbc and Msnbc owe him friendly
and positive news coverage because he once worked on an Nbc show, well, so
did Bill Cosby.
A show that made thousands of times more money for Nbc than Donald Trump`s
show ever did. Most of the world does not enjoy a free press that is as
free as the American press.
Many well-meaning people around the world in those countries don`t believe
that the press should have more freedom than it already has in those
America and American presidents, when they go abroad have spent centuries
now trying to convince the world of a value, that the first amendment style
free press represents.
And now we have an American president who is telling the world that if
money changes hands, that changes everything.
If money changes hands, that changes the rule. If money changes hands,
then that should limit the freedom of the press.
Nbc News and Msnbc should remember that Donald Trump`s TV show sometimes
turned a profit for Nbc. “I made them a fortune with “The Apprentice”, but
they forgot that.”
They forgot, they forgot that they owe me. That`s going to make sense.
It`s going to make sense to some people around the world in government and
out of government who don`t yet have an American-style appreciation of a
It certainly makes sense to Donald Trump and everyone in his family. This
really is the way he thinks. Now, we know he`s lying about Nbc producing
He knows it`s real news. He`s just lying about that. We know he`s lying
about that. But he is not lying about the idea that Nbc News and Msnbc
should be nice to him because he used to work for Nbc.
And he is now in a position to spread that kind of poisonous transactional
thinking around the world. He is in a position to encourage foreign
leaders who want to restrict the news media in their countries.
If any other president of the United States had said something like that,
something like that one sentence, it would be the wildest thing that that
president said all year, and that president would have to retract it
immediately and insist that he didn`t mean it.
But not Donald Trump. He says something like that, and it just gets lost
in the avalanche of other comments that he made today, including his
continued refusal to acknowledge the unanimous view of the American
intelligence agencies that Russia did interfere in our election.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I said it very simply. I think it could very well have been
Russia, but I think it could well have been other countries.
And I won`t be specific, but I think a lot of people interfere. I think
it`s been happening for a long time, it`s been happening for many years.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You again say you think it was Russia. Your
intelligence agencies have been far more definitive. They say it was
Russia. Why won`t you agree with them and say it was? –
TRUMP: Well, I`ll tell you. Let me just start off by saying, I heard it
was 17 agencies. I said, boy, that`s a lot, do we even have that many
intelligence agencies, right?
Let`s check it. And we did some very heavy research. It turned out to be
three or four, it wasn`t 17. And many of your compatriots had to change
their reporting and they had to apologize, and they had to correct.
Now, with that being said, mistakes have been made. I agree, I think it
was Russia, but I think it was probably other people and/or countries. And
I see nothing wrong with that statement. Nobody really knows.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: President Trump had no harsh words for Vladimir Putin, who
directed – directed the Russian interference into our election.
And instead, he managed to blame President Obama for the Russian
interference in our election.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: The thing I have to mention is that Barack Obama, when he was
president, found out about this in terms of if it were Russia, found out
about it in August.
Now, the election was in November. That`s a lot of time, he did nothing
about it. Why did he do nothing about it? He was told it was Russia by the
CIA as I understand it.
It was well reported, and he did nothing about it. They say he choked.
Well, I don`t think he choked. I think what happened is he thought Hillary
Clinton was going to win the election, and he said, let`s not do anything
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: It is, of course, not true that President Obama did nothing
about it. He confronted Vladimir Putin directly about it and President
Obama authorized the intelligence agencies to make Russia`s interference in
the election public in October on the very same day that this became
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I just start kissing them. It`s like a magnet, just kiss I know
either way. And when you`re a star, they let you do it, you can do
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Needless to say, the Obama administration`s public warning
about Russian interference in the election was largely drowned out by
Donald Trump`s bragging about sexual assault.
If the world was looking for clarity or confidence in how President Trump
will deal with North Korea, this was what we got instead.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: As far as North Korea is concerned, I don`t know, we`ll see what
happens. I don`t like to talk about what I have planned, but I have some
pretty severe things that we`re thinking about.
That doesn`t mean we`re going to do them. I don`t draw red lines.
President Obama drew a red line and I was the one that made it look a
little bit better than it was, but that could have been done a lot sooner.
And you wouldn`t have had the same situation that you have right now in
Syria. That was a big mistake. But I think we`ll just take a look at what
happens over the coming weeks and months with respect to North Korea.
It`s a shame that they`re behaving this way, but they are behaving in a
very dangerous manner, and something will have to be done about it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining us now, David Rothkopf; columnist for “The Washington
Post” and a visiting professor at Columbia University School of
International and Public Affairs.
Also with us, Max Boot; senior fellow for national security studies at the
Council on Foreign Relations and a former defense policy adviser for Romney
David, where to begin. And in fact, please begin wherever you want on the
president`s public comments today working from what we just heard about
North Korea on back to what – everything we heard today.
DAVID ROTHKOPF, COLUMNIST, WASHINGTON POST: Well, you`re absolutely right.
We heard a lot of outrageous things.
We heard another bumbling, inarticulate performance that was unleaderly,
attacked our press, attacked our intelligence community.
But I think something bigger is happening here in this 24-hour period we
should look at because the president is systematically dismantling the
American leadership role in the world.
He stood next to a Polish leader who is restricting freedom of the press,
which is something we`ve fought for for decades.
And he lined up with him and attacked the press. So he undermined our
ability to lead towards a free press. He had his Secretary of State today,
Rex Tillerson, talk about becoming allied with Russia and Iran and Syria in
Syria, going away from the values that we fight for.
Today, because he`s taken steps back on trade, the Europeans and the
Japanese announced one of the biggest trade deals in modern history that
doesn`t have the United States involved in it.
Tomorrow, when he meets with Vladimir Putin, as it happens, he`s going to
be doing it at exactly the same time the G20 is meeting to discuss energy
and climate, a meeting he doesn`t want to be in.
At the same time, of course, he is cozying up to a man who undermined
American democracy, the principle thing we fought for over the course of
the period of the past century.
And he is not going to bring up the issue. He is going to effectively
reward Putin with the meeting. And today he took not the intelligence
community line on that interference in the election.
He took the Putin line of that interference. So energy policy, trade
policy, democracy policy, the values we stand for on the battlefield, these
are the things America has been known for for 75 years.
And one by one, in one day, they`re being obliterated by this man who is
systematically destroying America`s standing in the world.
O`DONNELL: And Max Boot, I agree with what David had to say, and I also
have the impression that Donald Trump doesn`t have the vaguest idea that
he`s doing any of that.
MAX BOOT, SENIOR FELLOW FOR NATIONAL SECURITY STUDIES AT THE COUNCIL ON
FOREIGN RELATIONS: He`s just being Donald Trump, but it`s especially
I think, when you see Donald Trump taking the Donald Trump show on the
road, I mean this kind of stuff is bad enough at home.
But it`s especially jarring where it`s before a foreign audience where he`s
not just speaking for his base. He`s supposed to be speaking for the
entire country, and he doesn`t seem to understand that.
I mean, remember just a few days ago when he said that what he does is,
quote “modern-day presidential.” Well, I`m kind of an old-fashioned guy,
and I prefer old-fashioned presidential.
And I`m thinking back to one of my heroes, Ronald Reagan. I mean, can you
imagine Ronald Reagan going abroad in 1981 and saying, oh, there`s no
evidence that there`s any Soviet expansion. That`s just our intelligence
community saying that.
They often lie. But if there is any Soviet expansion, it`s not my fault.
Blame Jimmy Carter, it`s all Jimmy Carter`s fault.
It`s shocking what he – that guy was a loser. I mean, you could not
imagine Ronald Reagan or any previous presidents saying anything remotely
But as David suggests, we`re used to this kind of stuff coming out of
Donald Trump`s mouth. I mean, it almost seems normal right now, but it
shouldn`t be normal.
We should be outraged that he is not representing America in the way that
America should be represented.
O`DONNELL: The point about it not being normal and outrageous is exactly
why I isolated just that one little sentence about his history with Nbc and
what – because that in itself is so wild and crazy, and yet it`s tucked in
to this giant sandwich of crazy stuff that makes –
ROTHKOPF: Lawrence, look what happened today –
BOOT: And it`s today –
O`DONNELL: Go ahead, Max, quickly –
ROTHKOPF: OK –
BOOT: Well, I was just going to say, I mean, it`s incredibly destabilizing
to America`s leadership role because, you know, for decades we`ve been
telling other countries that they need to promote freedom of speech,
freedom of the press, all the liberties that we take for granted.
And now any two-bit dictator in the world who wants to repress the media
can say, it`s just fake news, I`m opposed to it just like Donald Trump.
I mean, he is basically giving a license to every strong man around the
world to act on his worst instincts.
O`DONNELL: David, can you explain to Donald Trump why it is in our
interest for Poland to have a free press?
ROTHKOPF: I don`t know if anybody can explain anything to Donald Trump.
He doesn`t want to be briefed. He uses these tweet-length briefings.
You would think that it was evident on its face that a free press benefits
any society, but Trump is allergic to this idea.
He`s been fighting the idea of a free press from the very beginning. But I
just want to bring up one other thing. We are now 20 minutes into your
Today, the head of the Office of Government Ethics quit the United States
government because he feels the president of the United States is profiting
from the presidency and that the atmosphere for protecting ethics in the
United States government is so odious, he couldn`t do business anymore.
Now, you know, you made a comment earlier about that one line would have
stood out for a year in a presidency. The head of the Office –
O`DONNELL: Yes –
ROTHKOPF: Of Government Ethics quitting because he thinks the president is
corrupt and it`s like, you know, the third item, the fourth item in the
news for the day is a sign that we have crossed away.
And the one thing we have to remind ourselves, and Max does a good job of
it, you do a good job of it every day is this is not normal.
We are not in normal times. This man is undermining the United States, and
as I said in a column that I wrote for “The Post” earlier in the week, the
single biggest national security threat that we face as a country today is
the president of the United States.
O`DONNELL: Max, the thing that Donald Trump doesn`t seem to know is that
historically in the countries that do not have anything like a free press,
and the less free press they have, one of the most lied about entities in
their news media historically has been the United States of America.
BOOT: Of course, I mean, he shows very little awareness of what this
country has stood for for more than 200 years. And it`s especially jarring
when you think about the timing of this.
The fact that it was just two days ago that we were celebrating the 4th of
July, the issuance of the declaration of independence, which said that all
men have these rights, among them are life, liberty, and the pursuit of
Donald Trump seems utterly unaware of that, and I was struck, Lawrence,
reading his speech in Warsaw, the fact that he didn`t talk about freedom.
He didn`t talk about democracy.
What did he talk about? he talked about the shadowy forces that are
threatening to erase the bonds of culture, faith and tradition that make us
who we are; culture, faith and tradition.
This is the way that blood and soil, European populists have talked for
decades. This is the way that Steven Bannon talks.
But this is not the way American leaders have talked since 1776 because we
believe that there is a heck of a lot more uniting us than bonds of
culture, faith, and tradition.
We believe there are shared ideals, our shared commitment to the principles
embodied in the declaration of independence that we celebrated two years
ago, and Donald Trump seems either oblivious to those principles or hostile
to them. That`s unprecedented.
O`DONNELL: Max Boot, David Rothkopf, thank you both for joining us
tonight, I really appreciate it.
O`DONNELL: Coming up, we are now 11 hours away from President Trump`s
meeting with Vladimir Putin. What will they talk about? What won`t they
talk about? And will we ever know the truth of what they talk about?
And what is Mitch McConnell really trying to do with that health care bill?
Is he really trying to pass that bill?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHAEL MCFAUL, FORMER U.S. DIPLOMAT: What I expect is that President
Trump will meet Putin. He`s going to like Putin.
Putin is a straight shooter, straight talker. He`s going to – they`re
going to bond over things like, you know, their common dislike of fake news
and the deep state.
And Putin is going to try to play to Trump`s ego, to say you and I need to
work together against these enemies, especially those in your country so
that we can do big things together. That`s the thing I fear.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: The one thing that seems predictable about the Trump presidency
is how Donald Trump will behave with Vladimir Putin.
The president`s meeting with Vladimir Putin is scheduled for tomorrow at
9:30 a.m. Eastern Time. Attending the meeting will be President Trump,
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, President Putin, Russian Foreign Minister
Sergey Lavrov and translators.
Last week, national security adviser H.R. McMaster told “The New York
Times” there`s no specific agenda, it`s really going to be whatever the
president wants to talk about.
That, of course, means that Donald Trump will begin with the size of his
electoral college victory and the size of his inauguration crowds.
But Vladimir Putin has something more serious in mind. According to “The
Daily Beast”, his foreign ministry has said the agenda will concern
everything from Syria to Ukraine to returning two intelligence complexes on
U.S. soil, even to gay rights in Chechnya.
Joining us now, Evelyn Farkas; former deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense
for Russia, Ukraine and Eurasia.
She`s also an Msnbc national security analyst. And also with us, Adrian
Karatnyoky; a senior fellow at The Atlantic Council and an expert on
And Adrian, this is the buffoon meets the spy master. Is it – can it be
ADRIAN KARATNYOKY, SENIOR FELLOW, ATLANTIC COUNCIL: Well, if you think
about it, there will be two people on each side in the room who have some
role to play in the discussion.
Two of them have 20 weeks each of foreign policy experience. The other
guys have 20 years each. So even from the point of view of a more normal
presidency, this is unprecedented that a president would step in when
President Obama went in as a relative novice.
He brought people like Mike McFaul and people who had spent years studying
Russia, years understanding their adversary.
We have a guy who is involved in business transactions – we have two guys
involved in business transactions who are trying to get action going on
O`DONNELL: Evelyn Farkas, Adrian reminds us that the president – the
least experienced president in history, who is an obvious ignoramus about
all things will be sitting there with the least experienced Secretary of
State in history.
EVELYN FARKAS, FORMER DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF DEFENSE FOR RUSSIA,
UKRAINE & EURASIA: Right, and I`m also worried. I assume they`ll have an
I don`t know whether Putin will want to speak in English. But I`m more
worried that there won`t be perhaps a note taker there unless of course
Secretary Tillerson is going to take notes, which I would hope that he
would do, but I`m guessing that he might not do because Secretary Lavrov
won`t take notes.
I`m sure they`ll figure out a way to get a note taker in. So I`m worried
about the record as well because, you know, that`s how we hold officials
accountable if we lack trust.
And not only are they inexperienced, but there are some question marks
hanging over the president and even to some extent, Secretary Tillerson
with regard to how strongly and firmly he will deal with Russia and whether
he understands the real objectives of this Kremlin.
So I`m worried because it`s going to be a very chummy atmosphere.
Obviously, we know that President Trump is exceedingly comfortable with
Lavrov just based on what happened in the Oval Office right the day after
he fired former director of the FBI Comey because we got those pictures.
It will be just as chummy, and that`s actually the moment when he`s
supposed to be firm and say stop meddling in our domestic politics and stop
invading your neighbors.
And if you can do those two things and maybe we can talk about cooperating
on Syria and a whole host of other things.
O`DONNELL: But Adrian, H.R. McMaster has said there is no Trump agenda in
this meeting, none.
KARATNYOKY: I think there`s a clear Russian agenda. The Russian agenda is
the old policy of linkage. They`d like to link cooperation on the Middle
East and fighting terrorism with a carte blanche to menace their east
Now, I have to say that when Trump was on script, and I assume this was
prepared by the national security team, some of the messages he had were
He even talked about cyber terrorism, he talked about Russian
destabilization in Ukraine and Russian alliances with unworthy regimes like
Syria and Iran.
But off script, he is completely unpredictable and the weakest link in the
current entourage of his is Mr. Tillerson, the tough-minded people; General
Mattis and McMaster are not in the room nor is any strong hand who
understands Russia and understands how to deal with Russia.
O`DONNELL: Evelyn, are we going to know what – are we going to have any
accurate sense of what was said in that room?
FARKAS: I`m afraid that we won`t. I mean, that`s exactly the point that I
was trying to make earlier. And I would agree with Adrian that some of the
things that came out of the speech, some of the things that were said in
the speech in Poland today were good.
They were healthy. They were useful for our alliances, building – you
know, showing strong support for NATO and for our allies who are members of
But at the same time, it became very clear to me that in the language that
President Trump used, he still thinks that the number one threat to the
United States is terrorism.
And I respectfully disagree while I will not downgrade terrorism, I mean,
it`s clearly an ongoing threat to the United States.
Russia is the immediate existential threat to us. They are the country,
they are the entity that tried to take down our democracy if you will.
They attacked our election and they also have nuclear weapons, and they
also have a military modernization program and a doctrine that is very
It employs surprise, which again is dangerous when you`re dealing with
nuclear weapons but also even with cyber weapons of the type that they have
and the way they might use them, again, according to their doctrine.
So, I think we`re in a very dangerous space with Russia right now. The
last thing you do with a bully like Putin and someone like Putin who has
over time taken more and more – he`s invaded one country in 2008, he
invaded another one in 2015.
Then he went into Syria hard core and really challenged us. And then of
course the meddling in our elections.
If we don`t stand up to Putin, he will keep on pushing, and that is not in
America`s interest, and it`s not in the interest of our very alarmed
allies, including not just the Europeans but the Japanese.
Earlier in the segment, you mentioned the trade agreements. Our allies are
going to forge along without us and that will not be to the benefit of the
United States of America and its citizens.
O`DONNELL: Well, Vladimir Putin is on the verge of meeting the proven
weakest negotiator in the history of the American presidency. It`s going
to be quite a meeting.
Adrian Karatnyoky and Evelyn Farkas, thank you both for joining us tonight,
really appreciate it.
FARKAS: Thanks, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Coming up, former Republican Congressman who was part of the
leadership of the impeachment of President Bill Clinton in the House of
Representatives says that the charges that could be brought against Donald
Trump are far more serious.
He will join us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WALTER SHAUB, DIRECTOR, UNITED STATES OFFICE OF GOVERNMENT ETHICS: America
should have the right to know what the motivations of its leaders are, and
they need to know that financial interests, personal financial interests,
aren`t among them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: That was Walter Schaub`s exit interview today with CBS news.
Walter Schaub is the Director of the Office of Government Ethics for
another week or so. He is resigning that position six months before the end
of his term.
Walter Schaub did not publicly frame his resignation as a specific protest
against the ethical lapses of the Trump Administration. But when asked by
CBS news if he thought the President and his family are using the Office of
the Presidency to enrich themselves, he said this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SHAUB: I can`t know with what their intention is. I know that the effect
is that there`s an appearance that the businesses are profiting from his
occupying the presidency. and appearance matters as much as reality.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining us now, Kathleen Clark, Professor of Law at Washington
University in St. Louis. She is one of the country a leading experts on
ethical stands for government officials also joining us by phone, David
From, Senior Editor for the Atlantic. Kathleen, your reaction to Walter
Schaub a resignation?
It`s a five-year appointment by the president and it`s meant to extend
beyond one term of the presidency. so he was going to be leaving in six
months. What does it mean to you that he`s leaving six months earlier?
KATHLEEN CLARK, PROFESSOR, WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY: Well, it`s a shame that
he decided he could serve the public better by leaving the government. So
it`s a great loss for the public. But Walter Schaub has done a terrific job
as the Director of the Office of Government Ethics and has really shown
extraordinary leadership in the last year or so.
O`DONNELL: And David Frum, historically, the office of government ethics
power comes not so much from its ability on the enforcement side, which it
wasn`t really designed to do, but it`s supposed to be one of those agencies
where everyone wants the stamp of approval of the office of government
ethics, and they will do anything to get it. Not so with the Trump
DAVID FRUM, SENIOR EDITOR, ATLANTIC: This resignation puts a spotlight
where a spotlight is need. we`re talking today about a challenge that is
brought by some public interest groups about disclosures of assets that
Jared Kushner failed to make. But we should all be even more concerned, if
possible, by the omissions of debts in the disclosures from both President
Trump and Jared Kushner.
President Trump probably owes at least double what it is that he has
disclosed on his forms. That raises the question to whom is he beholden?
What does the President owe, and to whom does him owe it is going to be one
of the most important questions of this Presidency.
O`DONNELL: Kathleen Clark, now president trump gets to appoint the person
who will be examining the ethics issues for the president and for the trump
CLARK: That`s correct. And what we hope will happen is he will actually
appoint someone who will show the kind of independence and leadership that
Walter Schaub has done. Our fear is that he will appoint someone like his
own white house counsel, who seems intent on protecting Donald Trump as an
individual rather than protecting the people by representing the office,
acting on behalf of the public.
O`DONNELL: David Frum, this is an appointment that`s subject to Senate
Confirmation. So what can we expect from the Republican Majority in the
Senate when they examine Donald Trump a choice to head the Office of
FRUM: I don`t think that question is going to come up because if you ask
me what my expectation is, I expect he`ll leave the office vacant for
months and months and months.
O`DONNELL: Kathleen Clark and David Frum, thank you for joining us
tonight, really appreciate it.
CLARK: Thank you.
FRUM: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: Walter Schaub will join Chris Hayes tomorrow night at 8:00 p.m.
right here on MSNBC. Coming up, what would Paul Ryan have done if President
Hillary Clinton`s fired the FBI director who was investigating her? A
former Republican Congressman who was part of the impeachment team on the
Bill Clinton case says that the Republicans would already be pursuing
impeachment if Hillary Clinton had done what Donald Trump has done.
O`DONNELL: The charges facing President Trump now are more serious than
the charges that got president Bill Clinton impeached by the House of
Representatives says Former Republican Congressman Bob Inglis. In 1998,
Congressman Bob Inglis, a South Carolina Republican helped the House
Judiciary Committee draft the impeachment articles against President
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BOB INGLIS, FMR. REPUBLICAN CONGRESSMAN: Obstruction of Justice is what
he`s accused of. Now, if the man had discretion, he would resign. If he had
a shred of dignity or honor, he would resign today. But since he doesn`t,
we move on to a separate thing, and that is proof. We must now see if there
is proof that he has committed these crimes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Now, a former Republican Congressman, defeated in his last re-
election campaign largely because of his support for Al Gore`s position on
climate change. Bob Inglis says that a public censure or reprimand may
have been a better idea in the Clinton impeachment case. Bob Inglis also
says that if a Democrat in the Whitehouse had fired an FBI Director who was
investigating her, Paul Ryan`s House of Representatives would be pursuing
impeachment charges right now.
Joining us now, former South Carolina Congressman Bob Inglis. Congressman,
you`re seeing just pure partisan hypocrisy hire. If this was a Democrat
firing the FBI Director, and the FBI Director testifying about certain
kinds of intimidation tactics used in conversations with the FBI Director,
you would expect this republican House of Representatives to be moving
toward impeachment already.
INGLIS: Well, yes. Let`s say that Hillary Clinton had won and let`s say
that James Comey, Director of the FBI, had reopened the investigation into
her use of the private e-mail server. Let`s say that she didn`t like that
and that she fired him. Republicans would be howling, and rightly so
because it would look very suspicious. But Donald Trump has basically done
those things, and Republicans are whimpering.
That`s a real problem. We need to get to the bottom of this. We need to
restore confidence in our government, in our electoral system. So it`s
incumbent, I believe, upon my party to really get to the bottom of this and
to pursue this vision of Russia connections with real vigor.
O`DONNELL: In a piece that you wrote about this, you say that the
difference between Republicans now and Republicans during the Nixon
Presidency who helped, in effect, drive Richard Nixon out of office onset
they discovered the crimes he was involved in, you say the big difference
now is the presence of sick oh frantic media. What do you mean by that?
INGLIS: Well, if you watch Fox & Friends, what you`ll sigh is a steady
diet of basically fawning over the President and the Vice President.
Anything they say must be true. I remember when Donald Trump made the
unsubstantiated allegation that Barack Obama had wiretapped him in the
Trump Tower, that morning on Fox & Friends, they were basically repeating
that allegation as though it had been proven fact, completely dispensing
with what journalists should do, which is say, well, this is something they
said. But now let`s get to the bottom of this. Anyway, based on that kind
of thing, what you end up with is a media that supports that 38 percent
that is Donald Trump`s support and gives them the steady diet of
explaining, rationalizing, normalizing his behavior.
And the result is that we don`t have what we had back in the Nixon days,
which was very credible republicans facing three 30-minute nightly news
broadcasts knowing that they had to be straight with those folks that were
asking them questions on those three 30-minute broadcasts.
O`DONNELL: A lot of us have been looking at the Republican Party in the
house and in the senate and wondering when someone will step forward and
react to President Trump the way he or she would react to a democrat doing
the same thing. Do you have any candidates who you expect at some point to
step up to this challenge?
INGLIS: Yes. I think there are some people that really are being pretty
clear. Senator Ben Sasse, for example, has been very clear. Lindsey Graham,
from my state, has been clear, especially about the tweets and the
demeaning of the office of the presidency and the demeaning of the country
by those tweets. And so I would expect people like that to show a little
bit of independent nerve and some real respect for the office and respect
for the process to step forward.
O`DONNELL: Quickly before we go. What kind of reaction have you gotten
from your former colleagues for taking this position?
INGLIS: Well, I think that some of them are very grateful. In other words,
that somebody is out there saying something that doesn`t face the 38
percent. I mean I got to admit, you know, it`s easy for me to say these
things because I`ve been shot through by the 38 percent. So having been
killed by them, you know, it doesn`t hurt anymore, they can go ahead and
And so there`s some real liberty in that, but I hope that those that are in
elected office will eventually show that kind of courage.
O`DONNELL: Former Congressman Bob Inglis, thank you very much for joining
us tonight. Really appreciate it.
INGLIS: Great to be with you.
O`DONNELL: Coming up, why today was a very bad day for republican senators
who want to repeal Obamacare and a very good day for 23 million people who
would lose their health care coverage if those senators succeed.
O`DONNELL: If you`re one of the 23 million people worried about losing
your health care coverage when the president signs the republican health
care bill into law today was a good day for you. And it was a very bad day
for republican senators who are hoping to pass that bill. The republican
leader of the senate Mitch McConnell might actually be one of the many
republicans who really doesn`t want to pass that bill, even though he wrote
Maybe that`s why Mitch McConnell has never said anything that a majority
leader usually says when he is really trying to pass a bill. Not one word
about how confident he is that the bill is going to pass. He has refused
invitations from reporters to express any confidence at all. And every time
he refuses that invitation he makes it easier for republicans who are
opposing the bill.
Passing bills in the senate is far more complicated than the house with the
Senates more complicated rules. The majority leader needs everything to
line up just right. He needs to use party pressure which Mitch McConnell
has clearly chosen not to do. He needs to express confidence which Mitch
McConnell never has. And he needs momentum.
He needs to move as fast as possible, which Mitch McConnell has
deliberately not done. Today Mitch McConnell admitted publicly in his home
state of Kentucky that the republicans might never be able to agree on a
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MITCH MCCONNELL, UNITED STATES SENATOR: If my side is unable to agree on
an adequate replacement, then some kind of action on – with regard to the
private health insurance market must occur.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Majority leaders on their way to passing bills don`t ever talk
about what will happen if they don`t pass the bill. Because the majority
leader has to convince his own party to hold hands and vote for a bill that
is going to pass. Remember when the rumor spread the week before the fourth
of July that Mitch McConnell was going to find way suddenly to revive his
health care bill and have a vote on it on that Friday before the fourth of
It sounded impossible at the time and of course it didn`t happen. And now
republicans in the congress and in the White House are letting it be known
that the senate will not vote on the health care bill next week when they
are back in session. And they might – might get to it a week after that.
Momentum isn`t everything in legislation. But it is important. And Mitch
McConnell has completely lost the momentum. Today he sounded like a
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MCCONNELL: So where we end up if republicans are not able to agree among
themselves is the crisis will still be there. And we`ll have to see what
the way forward is at that point.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Up next, what was that we just saw? What is Mitch McConnell
really up to? Does he really want to pass a bill that he knows is
politically toxic to Republican Senators re-election campaigns?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MCCONNELL: I`m in the position of the guy with a rubiks cube trying to
twist the dial in such a way to get to at least 50 members of my conference
who can agree to a version of repealing and replacing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining us now Igor Volsky the vice president of the Center for
American Progress. Igor I have never seen a majority leader less
enthusiastic about passing his own bill. And I have long doubted that Mitch
McConnell really wants to pass this thing.
IGOR VOLSKY, VICE PRESIDENT AT THE CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS: Yes, he
is not terribly excited. But I think you know the significance of what he
also did today was really put a lie to this claim we`ve heard coming out of
the Trump administration, from republicans, that Obamacare is beyond
repair. There is nothing you could do. It`s going to die.
If Mitch McConnell is saying hey if this things fails we`ll find a way to
fix it in a bipartisan way. What that means is if you stabilize the markets
they`ll continue to function for years to come.
O`DONNELL: Yes. And Chuck Schumer jumped out immediately with a very
approving comment about what Mitch McConnell said today expressing
eagerness to work with McConnell if he fails with the republicans. And what
Schumer means is work to shore up and improve the current version of
VOLSKY: Yes. Make sure premiums are affordable, that the out of pocket
payments are affordable, that people have options. insurers need some
certainty but it`s all doable. And I think – look, if the fear that
McConnell is putting in his conference is get in line with this bill and if
you don`t you have to work with democrats, and that is like some – some
big obstacle they have to overcome if that`s what it takes, great.
O`DONNELL: But he isn`t even presenting it as some scary alternative. He
presents it as the perfectly logical next step. I got to say, I`ve looked
McConnell through this whole exercise and thought he knows this hurts
republicans if he passes it and becomes law. Why would he want to do that?
I think he was hoping that it died in the house and never got to him. But
here we are.
VOLSKY: Yes, that`s possible but also the bill is exactly what McConnell
wants, which is take services away from lower and middle income Americans
and give a huge tax cut to the rich. I mean that`s what McConnell has been
fighting for his entire career. So I don`t know that he doesn`t want it,
maybe not in this way but he certainly wants kind of the guts of it.
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