The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell, Transcript 8/24/17 Trump vs. GOP on the Wall

Eli Stokols, Charlie Sykes,Christian Petrili

Date: August 24, 2017

Guest: Eli Stokols, Charlie Sykes,Christian Petrili

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC: Remains. Today, the Navy released the name – from
the USS John McCain, they`re no longer treating that mission as a rescue

Instead, it is a recovery mission to try to find those sailors` remains.
Today, the Navy released the name of one sailor whose body was recovered
and the nine others who are still missing.

They also removed the commander of the 7th fleet, incidentally, relieved
him from duty. Meanwhile though, in the Philippines sea, CA-35, the USS
Indianapolis is found all these years later.

You know, it`s interesting the ship`s exact location remains classified.
They`re continuing to survey the site, but there are no plans to excavate
it or to disturb what`s there.

It`s being treated as a war grave, as a final resting place. But now, it
is one that has finally been found.

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

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, HOST, THE LAST WORD: Good evening, Rachel. One thing
that the president hasn`t found time for in his schedule is any kind of
emergency meeting about what`s going on with the Pacific fleet –


O`DONNELL: These two accidents, extraordinary accidents within a month of
each other, 17 lost Navy sailors.

MADDOW: That`s exactly right. And, you know, the John McCain is named for
the father and grandfather of Senator John McCain.

The president gave that speech this week in Arizona, no mention of those
sailors or the connection to – it`s hard to take.

O`DONNELL: Yes, it – obvious opportunity to do that was –


O`DONNELL: In Arizona. But to take it seriously as an issue, there`s
been no indication that he`s had even a meeting about it –

MADDOW: Yes, I know, and the Navy, you know, relieving the commander of
the 7th fleet is no small thing.

O`DONNELL: Right –

MADDOW: But in terms of involvement from the president or attention from
the president, we haven`t heard anything.



O`DONNELL: Thank you, Rachel.

MADDOW: Thank you, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Well, with some Republican members of Congress now not willing
to say that they will support Donald Trump for re-nomination as the party`s
presidential candidate in 2020, it sure looked today like the Republican
presidential primary was already under way in Seattle where a Republican
with presidential ambitions held a presidential campaign-style event.

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan who has had his tensions, to put it mildly,
with Donald Trump, both publicly and privately, went to Seattle today to
hold a town hall-style event at the factory of America`s largest exporter,

A company that is opposed to virtually everything that Donald Trump has
said about international trade.

A company that depends on the sales of Boeing aircraft to airlines around
the world. Today, Paul Ryan spoke in the same place the Secretary of State
John Kerry delivered the best speech anyone ever gave in support of the
Trans-Pacific Partnership.

It was also the best and clearest and most explanatory speech any American
politician has ever given on international trade.

Boeing supported the Trans-Pacific Partnership, Donald Trump in one of his
first acts as president destroyed the Trans-Pacific Partnership, making
Boeing`s work as an exporter of aircraft all the more difficult.

Boeing is one of the perfect political settings for challenging Donald
Trump right from the heart of American capitalism.

The way a Republican would want to challenge Donald Trump for the next
presidential nomination.

Speakers of the House do not do what Paul Ryan did today. This is not in
the job description. They don`t go around making presidential campaign-
style appearances at factories around the country.

They make public appearances in their district and they tend to make
private appearances everywhere else.

The way Paul Ryan did the last time that he visited Seattle, which was when
he was the Republican vice presidential candidate for president.

And even as a vice presidential candidate for president, Paul Ryan did not
make a public appearance in Seattle.

He appeared at two private fund-raisers in private homes. What Paul Ryan
did today is what Donald Trump likes to call very presidential.

Paul Ryan is clearly delivering the image of an alternative to Donald Trump
to the future Republican delegates of the next Republican convention.

Listen to his answer to a Boeing employee asking him about respect and
communication and ethical behavior and Donald Trump.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Boeing prides itself on respect and communicating
transparency to employees and also expects ethical behavior.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don`t know that every person sees that from our
president right now, so my question for you, Speaker Ryan is how do you see
yourself personally influencing, and are you confident that you can
influence the president?

Yes, it`s a day-by-day deal. I`m kind of joking.

First, you control your own actions and you lead by example.


O`DONNELL: What did you hear in that answer? I heard Paul Ryan say Donald
Trump is wildly erratic. That`s what he meant by “it`s a day-to-day deal”.
And then to soften it to humanize the moment, he said, “I`m kind of joking”
but everyone knew he was more kind of telling the truth than kind of

And then he said, “first, you control your own actions and you lead by
example.” Paul Ryan was claiming that behavior for himself.

Saying that he controls his own actions and leads by example and saying,
saying that was exactly the same thing in that moment as saying Donald
Trump does not control his own actions and does not lead by example.

That is the subtext that everyone heard when Paul Ryan said that. Paul
Ryan knew he was going to be asked politically uncomfortable questions
about Donald Trump today.

When a politician goes into a situation knowing what`s going to happen, it
means the politician wants it to happen.

That is a fundamental rule of politicians` behavior. If Paul Ryan wanted
to avoid public questions from voters around the country about Donald
Trump, that`s really easy.

He could have gone to Seattle today if he wanted to, the way he`s done it
in the past and just gone to private fund-raisers for the Republican
members of Congress in the state of Washington.

Paul Ryan might not run for president against Donald Trump if Trump`s poll
numbers somehow rally and his presidency somehow solidifies.

Maybe no major national Republican will challenge Trump for the nomination.
But if Trump is as vulnerable as he is now to a primary challenge, why
wouldn`t Paul Ryan run?

Today, he was laying the groundwork for what would be the ideal situation
for him, a demand that he run, a draft Paul Ryan movement.

Republicans seeing him in the – as the salvation from the disaster that is
Donald Trump. Paul Ryan has two huge jobs right now.

One is speaker of the House. The other is parent, father to three kids.
His speaker of the House job is in Washington.

His children are in Wisconsin, it is a huge personal sacrifice for Paul
Ryan to leave either one of those places for anything.

He could have been home with his three kids today, instead, he was in
Seattle, warming up the apparatus of a presidential campaign that he might
or might not decide to make official depending entirely upon the continued
collapse of the Trump presidency.

Meanwhile, back at the White House, the White House Press Secretary today
was doing a terrible job of fending off questions about the president`s

These are the kinds of questions that a Trump re-election campaign Press
Secretary will face every day, why did the president lie about that?

In this historic sequence that you are about to see from the White House
press briefing room, the White House Press Secretary does not dispute for a
second that the president has repeatedly told a horrible lie.

The Trump lie that goes undisputed here is the Trump lie that the White
House Press Secretary essentially confirms is a lie about a U.S. Army
General John Pershing having bullets dipped in pig`s blood before using
them to execute Muslim prisoners in the Philippines a 100 years ago.

It is a complete lie. The Trump story about that has been told repeatedly
by Donald Trump and it is a lie.

Even as new White House chief of staff, former General John Kelly, cannot
stop the president from telling a lie about a U.S. Army General a 100 years

Let`s watch how matter of factually the White House Press Secretary accepts
that the president is a liar and there`s nothing anyone in the White House
can do about that.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: About a week ago on August 17th, the president again
referenced a fictitious story about General Pershing committing a mass
execution in the Philippines.

A couple of questions on that. Does the president know that the story is
false? And if so, why does he keep repeating it?

And why does the White House think it`s appropriate for the president to
perpetuate this false story, if he hasn`t been informed that it`s –

chance to ask him about that, so I can`t speak to it –

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Then on the broader point, so the president is
spreading false information via his Twitter account that seems to encourage
war-time atrocities.

No one in the White House has thought to inform him that –

SANDERS: I didn`t say no one had, I said I hadn`t had that conversation,
so I wasn`t going to speak to something I wasn`t aware of.


O`DONNELL: Joining us now, Joel Connelly; staff columnist for the Seattle
Post-Intelligencer. Charlie Sykes; conservative, former talk-show radio
host in Wisconsin.

He`s also an Msnbc contributor, and Jonathan Capehart; opinion writer for
“The Washington Post” and an Msnbc contributor.

And Joel, I just want to make sure I get – I label the newspaper correctly
since you`re no longer a print edition. It`s the Seattle, is that
how we find it?

sir, we were the first to switch.

O`DONNELL: OK, and Joel, you were there today. What I am seeing as Paul
Ryan warm up the presidential campaign machinery.

Is that how it felt in the room today?

CONNELLY: What it felt like was that Ryan was saying, we are competent to
govern, we have an agenda, we are moving forward with this agenda.

Obviously, it was left to everybody to assume who is not moving forward –


CONNELLY: Who is gumming up the works. And of course, Trump obliged by
denouncing both McConnell and Ryan in a tweet shortly before Ryan went on
to Seattle.

So Ryan was essentially drawing the distinction and getting some help from
the other Washington.

O`DONNELL: And Jonathan Capehart, Paul Ryan ran for vice president, losing
vice presidential candidates always, always are looking for when is that
next moment when I run.


O`DONNELL: Paul Ryan is watching this presidency collapse. And this time
could be the time.

CAPEHART: This could be the time, and what we saw there in Seattle is a
Republican leader, he`s the speaker of the House, filling a vacuum.


CAPEHART: Usually, the speaker of the House and the Senate majority leader
are usually following the lead from the White House.

So, usually following the lead, especially when the person in the Oval
Office is from your party, you take orders from him and he tells you what
he needs you to do.

What votes he needs you to wrangle so that you can pass X, Y, Z
legislation. That is not happening in the Trump White House.

And so what Paul Ryan sees is this opening, an opening to show that he is
the polar opposite to the president of the United States.

He is someone through his own actions shows by example how one, how a
leader is supposed to lead.

Be an example for the American people, and particularly for children. And
he`s also sitting there talking about tax reform or tax cuts, however you
want to talk about it.

But usually it`s the president of the United States who goes before a town
hall audiences like that and talks about policies, specific things that he
wants to do.

President Trump isn`t doing that, Speaker Paul Ryan is.

O`DONNELL: And Charlie Sykes, you know Paul Ryan well, and I want to get
to what he`s up to here. I`m trying to think of previous speakers of the
House doing events like this and I can count them on one hand and I don`t
think I use all my fingers.

And most speakers of the House never did events like this. He`s got three
kids at home as you know and Wisconsin that he –


O`DONNELL: Presumably wants to spend as much time with as he possibly can
and he`s out there doing a campaign-like events.

SYKES: Lawrence, you`re really messing with me, aren`t you? Because, of
course, I would love to see Paul Ryan step up as the anti-Trump.

I would love to see him be able to break and say, here is the alternative
vision. I don`t see that happening in part because Jonathan Capehart is
absolutely right.

Paul Ryan is going to have to prove that Republicans govern. Which means
he`s going to have to do the heavy lifting.

He`s going to have to do the dirty work, and you know – and obviously
knowing that Donald Trump will throw him under the bus whenever possible.

But the contrast is rather dramatic. On this issue of tax reform, which
is basically the only thing the Republicans have left.

The president of the United States is absolutely absent on the issue, he is
not interested in the details, he`s not using his bully pulpit.

Every single day, Paul Ryan is out there pushing this agenda, making the
case, doing the kinds of things that presidents would normally do if you
had a major item on your agenda that you actually wanted to enact.

So, yes, the contrast in leadership is very dramatic. Is Paul Ryan running
for president? No, Paul Ryan is trying to salvage his speakership.

He`s trying to salvage, you know, a decade`s worth of policy wonky on this
particular issue. I mean, I wish, in fact, Paul Ryan was going to say,
look, you know, it`s now time for the Republican Party to say we need to
move past Donald Trump.

I don`t think he`s there yet, but the contrast was dramatic.

O`DONNELL: Charlie, I agree that he wants his speakership to work, but I
don`t see how he defines that as going out to Boeing and having that event
there today.

And Joel, there`s plenty of ways of running for president, especially when
you`re not supposed to be. When your party occupies the White House.

Here`s a president who is under special prosecutor investigation. There
may well come a time in the next couple of years, as we approach the
Republican presidential nomination, that there`s been enough movement in
that investigation for Republicans to think that they`ve got to do
something else.

And someone like Paul Ryan doesn`t want to step forward and declare
himself, but I think he really wants you to see him as often as possible in
the kind of setting where it`s really easy to imagine him as your

CONNELLY: He was – he was in the world`s largest building. He was being
a policy wonk, sure open.

Beyond that, he was setting the bar for himself pretty high, basically
saying that we`re going to have a major tax reform plan that will pass
Congress this year.

In addition to, of course, the debt ceiling, in addition to, of course,
keeping the government. So he set a very ambitious goal for himself, but
he kept emphasizing House Republican plans, or as they`re called, a better

They`ve of course taken the slogan from the famous 1970 movie with Robert
Redford running as Bill McKay, the better way.

But they`re recycling this 45, 47 years later. But he was emphasizing the
House Republicans` plan, the House Republicans` tax reform proposals, this
sort of thing.

Trump did not come into the discussion of what he was talking about that
they hope to do.

O`DONNELL: And Jonathan Capehart, the way you actually do a tax bill in
the House of Representatives is, you have hearings in the Ways & Means
Committee, you don`t go out to Seattle factories.

They`re having no hearings on it. You then have to have hearings in the
Senate Finance Committee.

You then have to move to a markup in both committees. There`s a way to do
this, that`s not what they`re doing.

CAPEHART: Right, well, no, and what you`re describing is I guess what they
call regular order, but these are irregular times –


CAPEHART: And so I think what – to my mind, just listening to what was
just said by Joel, we`re seeing a parallel universe here where, yes,
Speaker Ryan has all these plans.

He wants to get all these things done. He has a president who couldn`t
care less about the details, all he wants is a win.

So if all – if you know the president – all the president wants is a win.
You come up with your tax proposal, you get it, so you ram it through the
House, you get it through the Senate and you put it on and say, Mr.
President, look, here you go.

You can now have your big signing ceremony in the Rose Garden. You got tax
cuts done. But when it comes time to run for president, Paul Ryan would be
able to say, that`s my bill.

I got that done, and be able to say that legitimately and truthfully.

O`DONNELL: Joel Connelly, thank very much for being our eyes and ears in
Seattle today, really appreciate it.

Jonathan Capehart, thank you for joining us. Charlie, please stick around
with us. Coming up next, one of the Democratic senators investigating the
possible Trump campaign collusion with Russia says that the controversial
dossier could hold the key evidence in the case, that`s next.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Question is on pardons if I could, on Sheriff Arpaio.
Is the president seeking a recommendation from the pardon attorney, the
deputy Attorney General or is he asking for an FBI background check in his
consideration of the pardon?

SANDERS: I would imagine they go through the thorough and standard
process, and when we have an announcement on what that decision is after
that`s completed, we`ll let you know.


O`DONNELL: That was actually a very important question about the Russia
investigation at the White House press briefing today.

I know it didn`t sound like one, but it was about a former local sheriff in
Arizona who was found guilty of federal contempt of court for defying
orders to seize detaining undocumented immigrants.

But it is essentially all but promising Sheriff Joe Arpaio a pardon. The
president is getting America ready for the pardoner-in-chief who might soon
find himself pardoning people named Trump like Donald Jr. or Ivanka or her
husband, Jared Kushner in the Russia investigation.

So the next question today at the White House briefing was even more
important. What is the president`s pardon philosophy?

The Press Secretary`s answer to that was, of course, as is her answer to
almost everything, in effect, I have no idea.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Beyond Arpaio, there are 2,200 other pardon
applications pending. Does the president have any pardon policy, pardon
philosophy, any particular way that he would like to use his pardon power
during his term in office?

SANDERS: I haven`t had a specific conversation with him about that, but I
know his – the White House counsel plays a big role in that and would
certainly be involved in that process and any deliberations on that.


O`DONNELL: There are reports tonight that the paperwork on the Arpaio
pardon is making its way to the president`s desk for signature and that
talking points are being readied within the White House to defend the

This could become something of a routine for the Trump White House as the
special prosecutor continues to investigate the president, his family and
his campaign associates.

Joining us now, Jill Wine-Banks; former assistant Watergate special
prosecutor and an Msnbc contributor.

And Jill, to the question of pardons, past the Joe Arpaio pardon. What
would you expect to see the president if he was trying to use the pardon
power to protect his family. How would he do that?

JILL WINE-BANKS, LAWYER: The pardon power interestingly is quite
unlimited. As we know from Watergate, you can pardon someone before
they`re indicted.

You can forgive them for all crimes they may have committed without saying
what they are. That`s what President Gerald Ford did as soon as he took
office. He pardoned Richard Nixon.

Before there was even an opportunity for him to be indicted. So it`s
pretty unlimited and he could do it.

But I would remind the president, President Trump, that when President Ford
did that, he suffered political consequences.

He lost the re-election in large part because of having pardoned President
Nixon. So, while it is legally possible for him to do that, and while I`m
sure that he would feel compelled to do it for his own family, and for his
closest advisors and for those whom he cannot say anything bad about for
some reason, it might be a politically unwise move.

O`DONNELL: It`s worth noting that President Nixon did not issue any of
these pardons as his advisors were getting indicted and on their way to
trial, many of whom went to prison.

The risk of the pardon process for the president is once you`ve pardoned,
let`s say, Jared Kushner, Jared Kushner has no more 5th Amendment Rights
because the 5th Amendment is about preventing self-incrimination.

You can`t incriminate yourself for things you`ve been pardoned for.

WINE-BANKS: That`s exactly right. I wrote an op-ed for the “Chicago
Tribune” on the subject of pardons, and I was surprised by how many people
were shocked to learn two things.

One, that when you accept a pardon, you are admitting guilt, and that`s
something that is hard for some people to do.

It was a very sad day when Betten Becker(ph) went to President Nixon to
explain to him that if he explained – if he accepted the pardon from
President Ford, he would be admitting guilt, and he agreed to do that.

So that`s number one. But you are right on the second point is, once
you`re pardoned, you cannot protect yourself through the 5th Amendment and
that means that all of those people that have the most knowledge of what
President Trump may have done would have to testify.

They would have no way, or they would face prison for either perjury or for
obstruction by not answering questions.


WINE-BANKS: So you –

O`DONNELL: They`re still –

WINE-BANKS: A great point.

O`DONNELL: They`d still have to testify and they would risk perjury
charges when under oath. I want to listen to something that Senator
Richard Blumenthal just said tonight to Chris Hayes on his program about
the testimony just given to the staff of the Judiciary Committee.

Let`s listen to this.


SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D), CONNECTICUT: The public has the right to know
what Glenn Simpson said to our committee and, in fact, in my view, he
should be coming before the committee in public under oath.

This dossier has some allegations that could be very relevant to the
question of whether there has been obstruction of justice.

There`s also this special counsel investigation, separate and apart. Where
that dossier and the interviews with Glenn Simpson may be relevant as well.


O`DONNELL: And, of course, Glenn Simpson runs the company that put
together that dossier that eventually found its way into the special
prosecutor`s office and others, outlining the extent of Trump connections
to Russia.

And Glenn Simpson has said that he`s happy to have the full transcript of
his ten hours of testimony to the staff released immediately.

WINE-BANKS: There are a couple of things. One, of course, I`d really
like to hear from Mr. Steele directly, not from the person who hired Mr.

But I would also like to hear from Mr. Simpson as well. And there is a
fine line that has to be balanced which is between interfering with an
investigation of the special counsel and the public right to know.

And, of course, as a member of the public, I want to know and I would like
to know soon enough that it can be public before the 2018 elections.

I think that`s very important. I think they need to cooperate with Mr.
Mueller so that they don`t do anything.

For example, you don`t want them releasing information that is not already
public and that could give a clue to someone else who`s being investigated
that might change how they answer questions.

So you want to be careful of that and work with the special prosecutor.

O`DONNELL: Yes, and in criminal process, they frequently sequester
witnesses so one witness can`t know what another witness has said even
during trials so that it won`t enable them to adjust their testimony.

That could be at work here. Jill Wine-Banks, thank you very much for
joining us tonight, really appreciate it.

WINE-BANKS: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, as President Trump`s wall on the southern border
collapses before Mexico has built it, the president`s promises to his
voters are collapsing.

What will that mean in a Republican – a possible Republican challenge to
this president in 2020 Republican primaries?


LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC ANCHOR: Ohio`s Republican Governor, John Kasich
finds himself in a Republican Presidential Primary once again with Donald
Trump. He will be able to humiliate Donald Trump about the wall, the way
he tried to last year.


JOHN KASICH, OHIO`S GOVERNOR: The Mexicans aren`t going to build a wall
that they`re going to – are you kidding me? The Mexicans are going to
build a wall and pay for it? That`s not going to happen.


O`DONNELL: The headline on Steve Bannon`s Breitbart for most of the day
was that Donald Trump is reportedly embarrassed by the lack of progress on
the border wall. In today`s utterly pointless White House press briefing,
reporters played the game of asking questions to the person who doesn`t
know any answers.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sarah, the President promised over and over again
during the campaign that Mexico would pay for the wall. So why is he now
threatening a government shutdown if congress won`t pay for it?

making sure this gets done.


SANDERS: Matthew?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why is he threatening a shutdown over paying for it? I
mean, again, he said over and over again, he talked about the campaign,
over and over again, he said Mexico`s going to pay for the wall. He asked
people – crowds chanted back at him, Mexico`s going to pay for it. Now
he`s pushing, threatening a shutdown of the government.

SANDERS: Now, once again, the President is committed to making sure this
happens and we`re going to push forward.


O`DONNELL: And once again, the press secretary could not answer the
question of why is the President threatening a government shutdown over the
wall that Mexico was supposed to pay for? Now that the President has
switched from threatening Mexico about paying for the wall to threatening
the United States Congress about paying for the wall, threatening the
American people about paying for the wall, naturally, the White House got
this question today.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Since the President is going full-court pressure the
threatening a shutdown over the wall, does that mean he`s abandoning
efforts of negotiating with Mexico?

SANDERS: I certainly don`t think any efforts have been abandoned.


O`DONNELL: Yes. OK. But the President did abandon it in a phone call
with the President of Mexico, the transcript of which was leaked by the
Trump White House. That was the phone call in which the President begged
the President of Mexico to simply please stop talking about the wall. To
simply say he`s not – please stop saying that you`re not going to pay for
it. to which the President of Mexico said to Donald Trump, “My position
has been and will continue to be very firm,” saying that Mexico cannot pay
for that wall.

Everyone in the world now knows that Donald Trump has completely given up
on getting Mexico to pay for the wall and Mexico is not going to pay one
penny for that wall and so the White House Press Secretary today instead of
the truth today, chose the most childish response she possibly could have.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: On the threat of government shutdown if congress
doesn`t secure funding for the wall, how is that not a concession from the
White House That Mexico actually isn`t going to pay for this wall and
American taxpayers will?

SANDERS: Again, this is something the President is committed to, committed
to protecting American lives and doing that is through the border wall.
We`re moving Forward. Noah?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But he`s not saying Mexico is going to pay for it.

SANDERS: Yes. he hasn`t said they`re not, either.


O`DONNELL: He hasn`t said they`re not. Your average first grader could
not do better than that, your average first grader could not do worse than
that. That`s the average you`re watching now, first grade.

Here`s the final entry in the wall discussion today in the very silly game
of asking he questions to the person who does not know the answer to the
questions and does not even know what an answer is.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: President Trump said if we have to close down our
government, we`re building that wall? Does he stand by that statement?

SANDERS: Look, I think the President`s been clear that this is a priority,
protecting American citizens is a priority. Something he`s committed to
and we`re going to – as I`ve said multiple times today, he`s committed to
seeing that through.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is he going to enforce a government shutdown to get
the wall built?

SANDERS: I think I`ve answered this question several times.


O`DONNELL: No. You haven`t answered the question. Not once. You haven`t
come close to answering the question, will the President try to shut down
the government in order to get the wall paid for? It is just a bold-faced
lie to stand up there at the end of that sequence and say, I think I`ve
answered this question several times. Try that in court sometime when you
never answer a question. That is a lie.

And the years of Trump lying about the wall might be in the next
Presidential campaign the single, clearest, simplest, most effective way of
showing Republican voters in the primaries the two most important things
about Donald Trump, one, he tells gigantic lies, like nothing we`ve ever
seen before in American politics, and, two, he is the most ineffective
President of the United States that we have ever had. Seven months into
the Trump presidency, the President is eagerly raising money for his re-
election campaign, and Republicans increasingly believe the President is
vulnerable to a Republican primary challenge. And I have more on that



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Would you back the President when he says I`d rather
shut the government down than build this wall?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: we don`t need a government shutdown, that never ends
well. We don`t save money doing it.


O`DONNELL: Joining us now, Eli Stokols, White House correspondent for the
“Wall Street Journal” and an MSNBC Political Analyst. Back with us,
Charlie Sykes.

Eli, tonight`s headline coming out of the “Wall Street Journal” editorial
is Trump divorces the GOP Congress. And the lesson is when Trump divorces
you, you`re never going to get back with him.



STOKOLS: I mean, this – you know, you go back to January, I remember all
the optimism from Republicans on Capitol Hill, even those who were
skeptical about Donald Trump, took a long time embraces him, they thought
this was going to be this brand new era of Republican dominance, Republican
governance. They thought they were going to pass a lot of things and he
was going to sign them and everything was going to be great.

Obviously, it`s taken six months. That`s deteriorated. Now that they`re
with them, they`re criticizing the President publicly. And he feels back
into a corner and this border wall, may sound like a quixotic pursuit for
the President to take, at this point. But it matters to him. It matters
to his base. And he is the kind of person, hear it over and over again
from people who spend time with him, work with him, you tell this guy, you
can`t do something, he`s going to go out and do it.

He`s clearly trying to create leverage threatening this congress about a
shutdown, talking about possibly getting rid of Daca as if he thinks that`s
going to bring democratic votes his way. He`s sort of throwing everything
at the wall trying to see if he can get ome movement to get some money for
that wall.

STOKOLS: charlie sykes, the President has Wall Street worried now that he
might get in the way of the debt ceiling and try to attach the wall to the
debt ceiling or shut down the government. And that`s one of the things
Paul Ryan was talking about today in his, what looks like a campaign stop
today, saying there will be a clean debt ceiling, we`re going to get the
debt ceiling done. He was assuring everyone at Boeing that it depends on a
stable economy, we`re going to get the debt ceiling done.

Republicans in congress should have learned from history if you`re going to
get into bed with Donald Trump, you need a prenup before the divorce. But,
you know, on this issue of the wall, I mean, you have to ask yourself, was
this one of the issues that the base took him seriously but not literally?
Did people really believe that Mexico is going to pay for the wall? I
think a lot of people kind of knew that he was kind of making that up and
they voted for him, anyway. But this – this is clearly, you know, the
issue that plays so strongly to the base for Donald Trump. And I think
that we`ve really moved past any plausible governing scenario for the Trump
administration. So now we`re moving into the grievance phase. The stab in
the back phase.

Donald Trump is the fighter and if he fails, it`s not because he didn`t –
not because he failed, but because – but because he was betrayed, because
he was stabbed in the back by democrats, by Paul Ryan, by Mitch McConnell.
There`s always somebody else to blame. And I think Donald Trump is going
to be comfortable fighting this. How was he going to shut down the federal
government? I don`t know. I`m very skeptical he`ll go that far.

But keep in mind that this whole notion that Donald Trump is fighting
against an establishment that wants to undermine him appeals deeply to his
base. He`s been playing that card for a very, very long time. I think
he`ll be comfortable continuing to do so on he wall.

O`DONNELL: I think, Eli, Charlie makes a great point that his base heard
all that, Mexico`s going to pay for the wall, they love the chant. They`ll
take what they can get. What they`re sure of is there will never be
another politician who`s going to be tougher on the southern border than
Donald Trump no matter how much wall gets built or gets repaired or
whatever is done with that wall. And the way for him to shut down the
government is the house and the senate have to pass a budget bill which
means pass it with some democratic votes. The bill has to be presented to
the President.

He has to veto it, actually veto it. He ask to actually veto it and say it
them I`m vetoing it because the wall is not in here, there`s not enough
money for the wall in here. Why would he do that, if Charlie`s point is
right, that his voters know, or believe, he`s trying his best on the wall,
it`s just those other guys that are stopping him?

STOKOLS: Yes. It seems farfetched that even this President would go that
far and shut down the government almost unilaterally, but, you know, you
never know. I di think the politics of this, this President and the people
at the White House think about politics, they believe as far as Republican
primaries go and pressuring some of these moderate senators, they think
that the politics are on their side and they might be right, that there`s
more Republican primary voters who support this President who like the way
that he talks tough, the way that he goes after the media, the way he goes
after the sort of squish Republican lawmakers as they perceive them to be
on the hill.

They like that. So even if he doesn`t get anything done or actually follow
through on any of these promises, they kind of like the attitude and
they`re making a bet right now that at the end of the day, the Republican
primary voters, more of them are going to be with this President than with
Mitch McConnell and his Republican senate.

O`DONNELL: The – the – there`s no bigger –

SYKES: I agree.

O`DONNELL: – dent in the superman armor of Donald Trump and his voters
than not getting the wall. He – they may stick with him but they`re going
to know next time, they`re not voting for superman this time. Eli Stokols,
Charlie Sykes, thank you for joining us tonight.

STOKOLS: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: really appreciate it. Coming up, white – what do white
supremacists hear when President Trump speaks? We`re going to have an
unusual discussion tonight with a former white supremacist who now tries to
pull people away from the white supremacist movement.


O`DONNELL: Nothing has separated President Trump from Republicans in
congress as sharply as this.


following the terrible events unfolding in Charlottesville, Virginia. we
condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious this play display
of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides, on many sides.


O`DONNELL: On many sides. What the President had to say about what
happened in Charlottesville got rave reviews from David Duke and White
Supremacist Richard Spencer who organized the Nazi demonstration that the
led to the murder of Heather Hire.

Spencer said that Trump has never denounced the alt right more will he.
Wwhat are the White Supremacists and Nazi`s hearing from Donald Trump. My
next guess used to subscribe o scribe to white supremacists he founded an
organization that pulse people away from that organization. He tells us
what they hear when they listen to Donald Trump. That`s next.



TRUMP: When you say the alt right, define alt right to me you go ahead.
No define it for me come on let`s go.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Senator McCain defined them as the sand.

TRUMP: What about the – discuss me what about the alt left that came
charging at the – as you say the alt right? Do they have any semblance of


O`DONNELL: Joining us now Christian Petrili. He`s the co-founder of Life
After Hate exit USA and non-profit organization and created after
renouncing ties to the White`s Supremacist movement. He is also the author
of Romantic Violence, memoirs of an American skinhead.

Christian, what do White Supremacists hear when they hear Donald Trump we
just heard the challenge to the reporter to define that alt right and then
throwing the – what he calls the alt left back at the reporter.

a common tactic for folks to shift the blame to other people. It`s always
about blaming the other. But more importantly what we – from what we
heard is what we didn`t hear, that was his denunciation of the alt right
specifically. A group that is at the tip of everybody`s tongue these days
associated with neo-Nazis with the KKK and White Nationalists. Though he
specifically omitted mentioning them as part of the sentence when he
denounced the groups.

So I think to me for somebody a member of these groups and espoused the
same types of ideology it`s not a dog whistle to me it`s a bull horn that
speaks loud and clear.

O`DONNELL: I want to go to a clip of a conversation you had with Richard
Spencer, the organizer – one of the organizers of the White Supremacist
march in Charlottesville. Let`s watch this.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you think you put up propaganda?

RICHARD SPENCER: Propaganda in the true sense of the word, yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you think you put out miss information.

SPENCER: Absolutely not. sometimes I`m a thinker, sometimes an organizer,
sometimes an entertainer, yes. Sure. To be ideologicl and also
entertaining that`s the trick.


O`DONNELL: Christian what do we make of that? What does he mean of
ideological versus entertaining? What`s the entertaining part on his end
of this and what`s the ideological part in?

PETRILI: You know, I had the opportunity when I spoke in White Fish,
Montana which is Richard Spencer`s homestead part-time. It was also a town
that had been attacked by neo-Nazis online and terrorized. But I spent two
hours with him. And you know I really was able to reach kind of his – his
human side without debating ideologically with him every time he tried to
start a debate about politics I would shift and ask a question about his
personal life and his family.

And I think you know my take on Richard Spencer is that in front of the
camera he is very much a performer. He is very much an entertainer where
he amplifies his message. Because he realizes this is his 15 minutes of
fame. That`s not to say he doesn`t believe what he says. But the
intention there is to – is to really amplify this hateful message because
of the attention he is getting and to rile people up to commit acts of
violence and you know certainly he is responsible for the action as of many
of the people committing violence.

O`DONNELL: Christian, how did you get into this movement and how did you
get out of it?

PETRILI: You know, I`m a firm believer that ideology is not the form of
radicalization it`s a human search for identity community and purpose. If
there is broken underneath, if there`s a void being filled and people are
desperate enough and haven`t been able to find that identity community and
purpose they tend to find that in negative pathways. So for me I felt
abandoned as a young kid my parents were Italian immigrants who came in the
sixth. I didn`t understand why they were away from home all the time
working. Of course now as a parent I do understand that. But I felt
really abandoned and marginalized. And every time I was looking for an
unit to fulfill my passions, I couldn`t find it.

And the only people that spoke to me that accepted me at that point were
some of America`s first neo-Nazi skin heads. I raid traded in my
antiracism and growing up without prejudice annual just wasn`t in my family
DNA to accept this lifestyle just to belong. I suspect that`s the case for
many of these folks who are on the alt right is that they`re doing this to
get attention and to belong to something.

O`DONNELL: And what`s your approach to trying to pull people out of it?

PETRILI: You know, I listen to people. I don`t ever battle ideologically
with them because I know that polarize us further and doesn`t accomplish
much. But until I listen for pot holes that may have deviated the path
from the intended path could be trauma abuse abandonment in my case.
Mental illness addiction whatever the case may be peen a perceived
grievance. I listen and fill the pot holes in because what I`m trying to
do is billed the resilience of the human being to make them self-confident
and move competitive they don`t have to blame the other they feel is taken
away from them. But the way I challenge the doctrine is introducing them
to people they think they hate whether a holocaust denier with a holocaust
survivor or Islamophobes spending a day with a Muslim family.

And the point is to try to get them to humanize tease people that for their
whole lives they`ve never had a meaningful international was with because
have hatred for because they feel they`ve taken something away. My goal it
so really dispel the myth of the demon.

O`DONNELL: Christian Petrili gets ton`s Last Word. Thank you very much
for joining us tonight we appreciate it.

PETRILI: Thank you Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: The 11th Hour with Brian Williams is next.


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