The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell, Transcript 9/5/17 Protests against DACA
Show: THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL
Date: September 5, 2017
Guest: Kamala Harris, Maria Teresa Kumar, Franco Ordonez
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC: That`s one, second thing – to try to interfere with
the Bob Mueller inquiry. So stick opinion on that, that`s one.
Second thing to underscore tonight is that Lawrence O`Donnell has Senator
Kamala Harris from California on his show tonight.
She never talks to anybody on cable news. She`s talking to Lawrence
tonight. 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. You know, I
think Kamala Harris made her first national television appearance on this
program years ago when she was first running statewide in California.
MADDOW: California AG, right?
O`DONNELL: Yes, for California AG, she was district attorney in San
Francisco at the time, but now she`s in the Senate of everything.
She`s on the Senate Intelligence Committee participating in that
investigation. She obviously has very strong feelings and a very strong
position on DACA.
She represents the state that has more people affected by this than any
other state. Over 200,000 just in California alone.
She`s thought about it a lot from the law enforcement perspective as a
former attorney general and as a senator.
So we`re really lucky to have her here tonight to be able to cover all of
MADDOW: And the fact that she never talks to anybody, and you got her to
talk to you tonight.
Do you realize how long I`ve been trying to get Kamala Harris to talk to
O`DONNELL: Really? –
MADDOW: I bow down before thee –
O`DONNELL: Oh –
MADDOW: Yes –
O`DONNELL: I had no idea. I feel really lucky. This is –
MADDOW: Yes –
O`DONNELL: I`ve got to say, this is – come on, Rachel, this is a first.
I mean, it`s a television first that someone is appearing on this program
instead of the number one rated cable news show with the biggest audience
in all of cable news, “THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW”.
MADDOW: I see what you did there, Lawrence.
I see what you did, now you`ve got me blushing, so I have to turn away.
O`DONNELL: Thank you, Rachel –
MADDOW: Good luck, thanks Lawrence –
O`DONNELL: Thank you. Well, to govern is to choose, and the choices are
never easy especially when you paint yourself into a corner as Donald Trump
did when he said this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The executive order gets
rescinded, one good thing about –
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You`ll rescind – you`ll rescind that one too?
TRUMP: One good thing about –
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You will rescind the Dream Act executive order –
TRUMP: You`re going to have to –
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The DACA –
TRUMP: We have to make a whole new set of standards. And when people come
in to –
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You`re going to split up families?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: It couldn`t be more clear? It couldn`t be more simple.
Candidate Trump was going to reverse President Obama`s executive order and
deport young people who came here as children and babies and have no memory
of living anywhere else.
That sounded harsh to 76 percent of Americans who believe that the dreamers
should be allowed to stay in this country.
And it even sounded harsh to Donald Trump once he was president.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: DACA is a very difficult subject for me. I will tell you. To me,
it`s one of the most difficult subjects I have.
Because you have these incredible kids in many cases, not in all cases. In
some of the cases they`re having DACA and they`re gang members and they`re
drug dealers too.
But you have some absolutely incredible kids. I would say mostly. They
were brought here in such a way – it`s a very tough subject.
We`re going to deal with DACA with heart. It`s a very difficult thing for
me because you know, I love these kids.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Got to deport them all, said Trump the candidate. I love these
kids, said Trump the president.
No president had ever painted himself into a corner like that. Last week
when the White House let it be known that the president would be announcing
some kind of decision about DACA today, the president was instantly
First, by politicians, and then, of course, by himself. Republican speaker
of the House Paul Ryan on Friday said he did not want the president to end
Paul Ryan might have genuine feelings for the dreamers, but he definitely
has genuine feelings for what it means politically to take a stand against
76 percent of what Americans think is right.
Several Republicans and Democrats including my first guest tonight,
California Senator Harris spent the weekend making speeches and statements
and tweeting strong opposition to President Trump ending DACA.
But in Trump`s mind, no doubt, there was the looming headline that would
appear in Steve Bannon`s “Breitbart” today if the president did nothing
And then, of course, it was the president himself. The candidate who
campaigned on ending DACA had only this to say when last asked about it on
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Should dreamers be worried?
TRUMP: We love the dreamers. We love everybody. Thank you very much.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Over the weekend, thus word began to spread that the president
would in effect delay a final big decision on DACA for six months.
Mark Krikorian; an immigration hardliner told the “New York Times” he`s
being pulled in a bunch of different directions and because he doesn`t have
any strong ideological anchor or deep knowledge of the issue, he ends up
sort of not knowing what to do.
I think the fact that they did nothing to it suggests that they had no idea
what to do. That was his assumption that the president would do nothing to
And so with no good choice left to the president because of his own
rhetoric on the subject, and their pressure of what his supporters expect,
today the president politically punted.
He delayed the big decision for six months and challenged Congress to come
up with a legislative version of DACA in the meantime.
But the president did stop new applications for the DACA Program, and just
to prove how politically flummoxed the president was by this decision and
how much he didn`t want responsibility for it, he handed the big public
moment to his least favorite cabinet member to make what was really a
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEFF SESSIONS, ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE UNITED STATES: I`m here today to
announce that the program known as DACA that was effectuated under the
Obama administration is being rescinded.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Jeff Sessions may have loved saying that today, but it wasn`t
true. The DACA Program still lives.
And in the president`s written statement that he was afraid to say publicly
on camera, the president said “work permits will be honored until their
date of expiration up to two full years from today.
Furthermore, applications already in the pipeline will be processed as will
renewal applications for those facing near-term expiration.
This is a gradual process, not a sudden phase out. Permits will not begin
to expire for another six months and will remain active for up to 24
“Breitbart” and the right-wing could have attacked the president today for
breaking another campaign pledge by refusing to end DACA while inviting
Congress to legislate a permanent version of DACA.
But “Breitbart” went along with the false Jeff Sessions concept that the
president was going through with his campaign promise and DACA was being
“Breitbart” said “Trump, Sessions repeal DACA. But will Congress, Javanka
That was before the president`s tweet tonight in which he clearly tried to
soften the blow of what he did to the dreamers today.
Congress now has six months to legalize DACA. Something the Obama
administration was unable to do.
If they can`t, I will revisit this issue. California Senator Kamala Harris
was one of only 11 senators who voted against General John Kelly`s
confirmation as Secretary of Homeland Security.
She did that because in testimony at his confirmation hearing, Senator
Harris could not get assurances from Kelly about how the Trump
administration would treat the dreamers.
In a statement today, Senator Harris said “President Trump has once again
sided with division and hate.”
Joining us now for an exclusive interview, California`s Democratic Senator
Kamala Harris. Senator, thank you very much for joining us on this
The president in effect has given Congress a challenge today. It`s up to
you to save these dreamers.
Do you think there`s a bipartisan possibility of getting a Dream Act passed
in the next six months?
SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D), CALIFORNIA: I do, Lawrence. I`m co-sponsoring a
bill with Senator Graham and others.
And I think that there is leadership on the Republican side of the aisle to
get this done.
Because you know, frankly, it`s just the right thing to do, and I think
that we have got to realize that we have as many as 800,000 young people in
our country right now who have only known one home, and this is it.
They are contributing to our economy. They are serving in our military,
and we need to do the right thing for these kids.
Not to mention the fact that when they first applied for DACA, we told them
we would not share their personal information with ICE.
And we got – you know, our country has to keep our promise to these young
people. And so the leaders in Congress, and I`ll speak for the Senate
You know, we`re going to have to lead by example, and if we expect and want
the young people of our country to live responsibly and to follow the rules
and play by the rules, and we should too.
O`DONNELL: California has the largest number of dreamers.
Some estimates 220,000. So it is the single biggest home in the United
States to these people. And California is not one of the states whose
attorney general is trying to sue –
HARRIS: Get time –
O`DONNELL: To end DACA. What is it that California knows about this
program? What did – what is it in your experience as a former California
Attorney General –
HARRIS: Yes –
O`DONNELL: That what would you tell the other states, especially the ones
like Texas and the other states that are suing to stop DACA?
What would you tell them about this program that you feel California knows
that they don`t.
HARRIS: Oh, it`s a wonderful question you`re asking. Because the one
thing, Lawrence, that I`ve become really aware of is, there are a lot of
people expressing opinions about DACA that have never met a dreamer.
And what I know being from the state that has the largest number, 220,000,
these are great kids. I met a young woman this weekend, she came up to me
and she – one, you know, asked for support, but then she just broke down
crying uncontrollably, because she`s terrified, Lawrence, and this is a
She is part of a – she`s actually part of doing free arts for kids in the
community, and helping out and being a part of her community.
And she was crying uncontrollably, she`s so afraid. So I think part of
what has to happen is that more people really should inform themselves
about who these young people really are and stop demonizing them.
It`s very easy to have an opinion about something you don`t know. But it`s
also – it`s irresponsible. And so I think at the more stories that we can
tell about the young people that I meet every day in California, who,
again, are in our colleges, they`re in our law schools, they started small
businesses, they are serving in our military.
They`re working in Fortune 100 companies. I think the more those stories
are known, the more people will realize that passing the Dream Act is just
the right thing to do.
O`DONNELL: The president was reportedly torn about this. That`s the word
that we see in kind of backstage reporting at the White House, and he seems
to have satisfied no one.
The dreamers who he`s given kind of a six-month window to hope for a new
legislative solution can`t be satisfied.
There`s a real threat to them and what happened today. And then those hard
core Trump supporters who want to see bus loads of these kids deported
immediately, they can take no satisfaction in what happened today.
It seems like the president couldn`t find his way out of the political
corner he painted himself into.
HARRIS: Well, you know, listen. From the beginning, I think the president
has been clear about where he is on this, and other issues related to
I serve on many committees in the Senate including Homeland Security
Committee, and we reviewed the president`s nominee to be secretary of DHS
who is now the chief of staff John Kelly.
And I asked him in an open hearing, would he promise to keep – would he
commit to keep America`s promise to these kids and not share their personal
information with ICE and he refused to make that commitment.
And this was many months ago. So I`m not surprised that we`re in this
situation. But I do believe that my colleagues in the United States Senate
can do the right thing.
I believe there is a will to do the right thing. But in terms of the
demonization of these young people, these dreamers, there`s so much that is
just misrepresentation of fact.
Just really – just outright untruths. So for example, Lawrence, it is
well documented that if we get rid of DACA and do not pass a DACA
statutorily, that we will lose 700,000 jobs in the United States.
It is well documented that over the next ten years if we rescind DACA
without replacing it, we will lose $60 billion in tax dollars.
So there is real economic benefit to allowing these young people who have
only known this is their home to be able to work, to be able to contribute
to our economy, and to be able to contribute to our society.
O`DONNELL: The president seems to have the opposite view of how it affects
jobs. He said today in his written statement, “we must also have heart and
compassion for unemployed, struggling, and forgotten Americans.”
HARRIS: That is a false choice. We – there was no question that we need
to take care of hard-working Americans who want to work, many of whom lost
their jobs during the great recession, and they need a pathway to finding
And we can do a much better job of helping them do that, and we can help
these young people who are called dreamers who are also contributing to the
economy and helping to uplift the economy.
It`s a false choice to say it`s one over the other, and it`s really
irresponsible to suggest to hard working Americans that the only thing
preventing them from getting a job are these dreamers.
What needs to happen is we need to do a much better job to actually get
employment and paths to employment for Americans who want to work.
O`DONNELL: Senator, it seems Attorney General Jeff Sessions has a
different definition of compassion than you do. Let`s listen to what he
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SESSIONS: The compassionate thing to do is in the lawlessness, enforce our
laws, and if Congress chooses to make changes to those laws, to do so
through the process set forth by our founders in a way that advances the
interest of the American people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Senator, that`s what Jeff Sessions says is the compassionate
thing to do.
HARRIS: Again, we`ve got to stop vilifying this population, and you know,
as a leader, you know, you`ve got to stop, you know, pulling out the boogie
These young people – let`s be very clear, they qualify for DACA because
they cleared a vetting where there was a very intense process of looking
into their backgrounds.
Like let everybody be clear about who these DACA kids are. In order for
them to qualify for DACA, they had to answer a lot of questions, and there
was basically an investigative process that took place to determine the
circumstances of their arrival.
To determine are they living a lawful life? Have they ever committed a
crime? Are they productive? And only when they cleared that vet did they –
did they receive DACA status.
So yes, we want to make sure. We don`t want people who are committing
crimes in our country to be here if they`re undocumented.
But we also have to understand that when we`re talking about these kids who
are in DACA, they have cleared a vetting process.
So for the Attorney General to suggest that they are other than lawful in
terms of in particular committing crimes is just – it`s irresponsible.
O`DONNELL: Senator Harris, I want to get a minute here on your position on
the Senate Intelligence Committee, a position that is more important than
ever with the Senate –
HARRIS: Yes –
O`DONNELL: Intelligence Committee investigation of the Russia connections
to Donald Trump and the Trump campaign.
There`s – there are some issues arising about cooperation with the Mueller
investigation. Mueller – Robert Mueller; special prosecutor would like a
transcript of an interview that the intelligence community staff had with
Robert – with Paul Manafort.
And there are some other questions of cooperation. Do you believe that you
should be sharing that information?
And are you in favor of sharing that information with the special
HARRIS: I first of all, I have a great deal of respect for Robert Mueller,
and also I`m a big advocate for him having independence and being able to
do his work without any interference from the administration or anybody
In terms of the coordination, if you will, between the various
investigations including the investigation that`s being conducted by the
committee on which I serve in Senate Intelligence Committee, there is
coordination that happens.
There is a process for deconfliction, and I believe that the process is
moving along in accordance with an understanding that each investigation
has its own purpose and that we should encourage each investigation to
pursue the facts where they lead them.
O`DONNELL: And senator, finally, a health care question. You have become
the first co-sponsor on Bernie Sanders single-payer bill, Medicare for all,
that people took notice of that everywhere including in local media in
California that –
HARRIS: Yes –
O`DONNELL: Cover you. And one of the reasons there`s a lot of interest in
it is that Bernie Sanders was very successful as a presidential candidate
in pulling in certainly on the left side of the Democratic Party.
People begin to wonder with that move joining Bernie Sanders` bill, does
that mean you might follow in Bernie Sanders` footsteps as a presidential
candidate next time?
HARRIS: The reason that I am supporting Medicare for all is really, pretty
basic. Which is that it`s – I believe the moral and ethical right thing
And to do otherwise means to have a system where we`re just not being
smart, where we are not maximizing our ability to make sure that every
American, every person has access to health care.
Let`s just look at the public health model that tells us really, well, you
want to deal with epidemics, the best way to deal with it is prevention
For dealing with it in the emergency room, it`s too late and it`s too
expensive. With Medicare for all is being a goal, we will be able to
ensure that Americans are having access to healthcare from the day they are
born throughout their lives.
And that`s just smart for us as taxpayers.
O`DONNELL: Well, I guess you`ll just continue to think about what you
might do in 2020 and we can talk about it the next time you`re here –
HARRIS: Lawrence, I don`t even know what I`m having for dinner.
O`DONNELL: OK, Senator Kamala Harris, thank you very much for joining us
HARRIS: Thank you –
O`DONNELL: I really appreciate it.
HARRIS: You`re welcome, take care.
O`DONNELL: Thank you. Coming up, we have breaking news tonight about the
Trump-Russia investigation and why Republicans on the House Intelligence
Committee are frustrated by the Trump Justice Department.
And later, an important new book tells the story of how Donald Trump became
the president of fantasy land.
O`DONNELL: Here is every word President Trump said on camera today about
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President, how is your DACA decision treating
Dreamers with heart?
TRUMP: Well, I have a great heart for the folks we`re talking about. A
great love for them. And people think in terms of children, but they`re
really young adults.
I have a love for these people, and hopefully now Congress will be able to
help them and do it properly. And I can tell you in speaking to members of
Congress, they want to be able to do something and do it right.
And really, we have no choice. We have to be able to do something, and I
think it`s going to work out very well, and long term, it`s going to be the
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining us now, Maria Teresa Kumar; president and CEO of Voto
Latino and an Msnbc contributor.
Also with us Franco Ordonez; White House correspondent covering immigration
and foreign affairs for McClatchy Newspapers and co-host of McClatchy`s
Maria Teresa, the president repeatedly refers to his love, that`s his word,
his love for the dreamers, he had a strange way of showing it today.
MARIA TERESA KUMAR, PRESIDENT, VOTO LATINO: Well, this love is abusive
because he`s literally playing into the hands and into the mental state of
800,000 young people who thought that they had done right by the law by
coming forward and tried to play by the rules that the U.S. government set
forth for them.
So this is – this is if anything, a bit cynical for him to be talking
about the fact that he loves them when in fact, he`s actually wreaking
havoc on them.
The tweet that he just sent out, Lawrence, just minutes before the show is
saying that he will revisit it if Congress doesn`t act.
That`s unfair. We need to have clarity on what should be done next. And
right now, the dreamers that I know they are standing up, they`re fighting
but more than anything right now we need the American people coming forward
and saying, not on our watch.
This is not who we are.
O`DONNELL: Franco, when Congress has an arbitrarily arrived at deadline
like for example the president saying I will give you six months, the first
thing you can expect of that deadline is that it will be moved.
That is the most likely thing to happen to a deadline that has no real
imperative to it. And the presidential tweet tonight indicates that may
very well be the next thing that happens.
Just to repeat that tweet, he said “Congress now has six months to legalize
DACA, something the Obama administration was unable to do.
If they can`t, I will revisit the issue.” And so Franco, there he is on
the day he makes what is supposed to be the big decision, saying six months
from now I`ll revisit it.
FRANCO ORDONEZ, MCCLATCHY NEWSPAPER WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT COVERING
IMMIGRATION & FOREIGN AFFAIRS: Yes, after a day of criticism, it`s
interesting that immediately he is already kind of flirting with the idea
of, you know, helping the dreamers again.
I mean, it`s the reality is that this Congress, it`s going to be very
difficult to pass any significant type of legislation involving
Including the dreamers, a dream act, any kind. But he`s also talking about
a more comprehensive bill.
He was talking today through Sarah Sanders in the White House briefing
today that he wants a comprehensive measure and even floated the idea of
possibly exchanging a Dream Act for a border funding.
So these are – this is a significant package that he is hoping to come out
of this and to get that in six months is a high bar.
O`DONNELL: But the White House would not say today that given that
ambition of wanting a big bill that might include dreamers and funding for
a border wall, the obvious question is OK, but would the president sign a
bill that was just for the dreamers and there was no answer from the White
House on that today.
Let`s listen to what Senator Lindsey Graham said about this today about his
challenge to Republicans.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: My challenge to the president is
that you`ve talked very glowingly about these kids.
Help us. Help us in the House. Help us in the Senate. I think you`re a
good man. Get involved personally, work the phones, try to find a
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Maria Teresa, we just heard the Senator Kamala Harris who is
partnering with Lindsey Graham saying, she believes that the Senate at
least can get this done.
KUMAR: Well, and they did the very first time around when we have – under
the Obama administration, they came out and had a comprehensive bill that
went into the House, and that is the problem.
Is that the congressional members are held hostage by a very extreme right
of the party that basically does not want any sort of immigration reform.
And let`s be clear, this idea that the president sent this back to
Congress, fronted it, ended DACA and saying that he was – he wanted to be
right on the right side of the law is just week – just less than a week
after he pardoned a sheriff that was basically breaking the law.
So it`s not that he wants – he wants it both ways, but it`s very clear
that it`s become very much a white nationalist agenda that he wants to push
And it was said by Jeff Sessions that even today at the bully pulpit of the
Justice Department was speaking on both sides of his mouth.
But he wasn`t leveling with the American people, and he was trying to
convolute issues of a refugee status problem that we had at the border with
this idea that they were taking away American jobs.
As Senator Kamala Harris had stated earlier, that is just not the case, and
he`s trying to pit Americans all against these dreamers in a way that is
unfair and not just.
O`DONNELL: And Franco, Senator Lindsey Graham said that he thinks the
Senate can get this done.
He essentially agrees with Senator Harris on that, but he said the problem
will be in the House. That there`s going to be a problem with this
legislatively, it will be in the House.
ORDONEZ: Indeed. I mean, this is the House – you`re going to have the
stronger, harder, more conservative body in Congress.
So – but this is a huge threat to the GOP, and the GOP knows that. That`s
why Paul Ryan had come out and asked Trump not to do this.
Let`s remember that, you know, as these DACA status expire in March, mid-
term campaigning is really going to be heating up.
And you`re going to have hundreds of DACA kids who are going to be losing
their work status, of losing their work permits, and being under the threat
Those are not optics that the Republicans want to have coming into a
critical mid-term election.
O`DONNELL: Franco Ordonez and Maria Teresa Kumar, thank you both for
joining us tonight.
KUMAR: Thank you, Lawrence –
ORDONEZ: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: Coming up, breaking news in the Russia investigation. New
subpoenas issued, but not the subpoenas you might expect to be issued.
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC ANCHOR: Tonight`s breaking news from the
Washington - Washington Examiner is a report that republicans in the house
intelligence committee are dissatisfied with the response of the republican
controlled justice department to information requests for their
investigation of Trump connections to Russia. The committee is especially
interested in what`s commonly referred to as the Trump dossier.
According to the Washington Examiner, the house intelligence committee has
subpoenaed the FBI and the justice department for documents relating to the
dossier. The FBI`s relationship with the dossier author Christopher Steel
and the bureau`s possible role in supporting what began as an opposition
research project against candidate Donald Trump. The committee issued the
subpoenas on august 24th giving both until last Friday, September 1 to turn
over the information.
Neither FBI nor justice turned over the documents. And now the committee
has given them an extension until September 14th to comply. Joining us now
David Frum. Senior editor for the Atlantic and Ron Klaine, former chief of
staff to Vice President`s Biden and Gore and a former senior aid to
President Obama. Ron Klaine the reports tonight indicate that this is a
republican mission to get this in terms of the committee anyway to get this
information from the justice department, from the FBI. And this is not
something that the democrats are pushing.
RON KLAINE, FMR SENIOR AID TO PRESIDENT OBAMA: That`s right. Because it`s
a republican effort to undermine and to interfere with the ongoing
investigation of Donald Trump`s ties to Russia. The heart of what Tray
Gowdy who made the request that saying is that they want to try to prove
that somehow the FBI created this investigation. The FBI created the
Russian issue that it`s investigating.
And of course that ignores the pile of Russian conduct from breaking into
both parties` databases, to hacking 20 state electoral systems to sending
people to Trump tower to meet with the president`s son and son-in-law and
campaign chair. All the acts that, the incredible acts we saw in this
campaign by hostile power to interfere in this election. That`s why the
FBI is investigating Donald Trump and Russia. Not because of the
allegations Tray Gowdy is trying to deflect to.
O`DONNELL: And David Frum how – why the FBI started the investigation is
always going to be less important than what the FBI found in the end of
their investigation. And did they find evidence of any crimes?
DAVID FRUM, SENIOR EDITOR OF THE ATLANTIC: Well, I think understanding
this story – maybe there`s a step back. Remember in the first weeks of the
administration that Kellyanne Conway spoke of alternative facts that could
present an alternative to the embarrassing actual facts? The house
intelligence committee has – this is the third of the alternative scandals
it`s tried to make people excited about.
It`s a way of diverting attention from the actual scandal. The first was
the claim that Obama administration had wiretapped with extra Ps Donald
Trump in Trump tower. The second was the claim that Susan Rice and other
people in the Obama administration had improperly unmasked the identities
of Trump campaign team people were talking to the Russians. And this is
Both of those two previous scandals – so-called scandals quickly fell
apart. The alternative facts, the alternative scandal did not cohere.
That`s what`s going to happen here again. As Ron says, what this is an
attempt to do is to say that the important story here is where did this
dossier come from? Did it inspire the FBI? But as Ron says, it didn`t
inspire the FBI. And – and secondly, that this interesting story about
the dossier, it`s not how did we find out about it.
But to what extent is it true? And that`s the conversation that this house
committee does not want to have. Once Devin Nunes stepped down they were
supposed to act in better faith. They`re not acting in good faith.
O`DONNELL: And Ron we know one way that the FBI got the dossier. Senator
John McCain says that he gave it to them when he came upon it. What were
they supposed to do? Just kind of push it back toward Senator McCain?
KLAINE: No of course not. And of course they had to look into it. And
they had to look into as I said all of these other things that are
undisputed that happened in the campaign. But David`s right. This is an
ongoing effort by the republicans on the house intelligence committee not
to do their jobs, not to look into a national security threat to the United
States. Not to look into an effort to undermine the core of our democracy,
our electoral system.
But instead to create cover and diversion for Donald Trump and as David
said, they did it twice before, both those failed. This is another effort
to get up a scandal. I`m sure we`ll see you know Alex Jones out on this in
the next day or two. I`m sure we`ll see you know all of their media organ
saying basically the real scandal here is that the FBI somehow created this
The real scandal here is that the Trump campaign and the Russians may well
have colluded to win this election, and that`s what everyone should be
O`DONNELL: And David -
FRUM: Something - something needs to be said about this dossier which is
most the people who came in contact with it. And I think all of us on the
air tonight don`t have a lot of confidence in it. This is the dossier that
alleged various theatrical sex acts that Donald Trump witnessed. I think a
lot of people have had a bad feeling about this dossier from the start, and
when you look carefully at how it originated, it does look like you know
scrounging for gossip in Moscow bars if not actually third-hand Russian
It is not - this dossier is not the reason that anybody is concerned about
what the Russians did in this election.
O`DONNELL: Ron, I want to go to your - your old committee, the senate
judiciary committee where you used to work. On Thursday Donald Trump Jr. is
now scheduled to discuss this investigation. That`s according to three
democratic members of the committee. Apparently that discussion is going to
be with the senators, with the members of the committee, not just the
KLAINE: Yes and that is a step forward. Look, I think that the senate
judiciary committee has had some interesting progress on this. And remember
you remember Senator Grassley promised during the recess - promised to that
town hall - during the recess to release key transcripts of some of those
interviews. So hopefully as this process moves forward, the senate is now
back and Labor Day has come and gone hopefully we`ll start to get the
information out of the judiciary committee as promised, get a vote on it as
promised and see what more they could find out about the real scandal here.
O`DONNELL: Ron Klaine and David Frum, thans for joining us tonight.
FRUM: Thank you.
KLAINE: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: Coming up, the Trump justice department has officially said
that the Trump tweet about President Obama wiretapping Trump tower is not
true. But it was the kind of fantasy that many people in fantasyland
believe, and that`s why Donald Trump became the president of fantasyland.
O`DONNELL: The Trump administration`s justice department has confirmed the
president`s tweet about President Obama wiretapping Trump Tower was a lie
just something Donald Trump made up. In a court filing Friday the justice
department said both FBI and the justice department`s national security
division confirm that they have no records related to wire taps as
described by the March 4th, 2017, tweets.
Trump justice department debunks President Trump`s tweets in court, but
that doesn`t mean the Trump supporters now have to believe that the Trump
tweets were not true, because this is the country where the truth is what
you say it is. That is the case made by Kurt Andersen in his brilliant book
“Fantasyland” about how America went haywire, a 500 year history. And that
500 year history tells us exactly how we got a President Trump.
It tells us exactly why Marco Rubio can stand on the campaign stage against
Donald Trump and call him a fraud and a con man and be completely right
about that, and still lose to Donald Trump in the republican primaries. In
my own analysis on this program of how we got a President Trump, I looked
at first at the news media`s treatment of the Trump campaign, especially
cable TV news, and then I looked back at Sarah Palin`s vice presidential
campaign in which public ignorance became something for republicans to
And then I found myself looking at entertainment television`s contribution
to Trumpism by putting Donald Trump on TV as a reality TV star as well as
what television`s embrace of so called reality TV mean to America`s ability
to distinguish reality from fantasy. I kept looking back through time at
our politics and our culture including our entertainment and our sports
figures and found myself looking as far back as 1963 for the seeds that
were being planted all inadvertently some of them by liberals especially
liberals in show business that led to an American President named Donald
Trump, a con man who after he was elected President had to pay $25 million
to the students he conned at Trump University. I saw only as far back as
1963, because I could not see what Kurt Andersen could see, and what he
delivers to us in this invaluable book that I`m going to hold up again.
This stands as the single most important explanation, and the fullest
explanation of how Donald Trump became President of the United States.
That could only happen in a country where enough people are incapable of
distinguishing between reality and fantasy. Only in fantasyland can Donald
Trump will President. Kurt Andersen, the author of Fantasyland which is
nothing less than the most important book I have read this year will join
O`DONNELL: The credo of Fantasyland is if I think it`s true, no matter how
or why I think it`s true then it`s true and nobody can tell me otherwise.
And that sounds like the credo of the President of fantasyland, Donald
Trump. Joining us now is New York Times best selling author and the author
of Fantasyland Kurt Andersen.
Kurt, the book comes out today. I`ve been reading it. I`ve got an advance
This is a stunning, sweeping explanation of how we got to Trump. Here I
thought the explanation was, at most, a multi decade explanation. You`ve
done us a 500-year ramp into Trumpism.
KURT ANDERSEN, AUTHOR, FANTASYLAND: And weirdly, to me, I started
researching this book in 2013, started writing in 2014, turned in before
Donald Trump was nominated. So I mean, I`m the one person who lucked out in
this country when Donald Trump came along and got the nomination and became
President. I wasn`t reverse engineering it. I had this set of ideas and
this big theory and Donald Trump came along and embodied it.
O`DONNELL: And your book would be valid, even if Donald Trump had come in
second for the presidency, if the Electoral College had just tilted the
other way. It`s astonishing enough that he would get the nomination of a
major party. You write in the book America was created by people resistant
to reality checks and convinced they had special access to the truth, a
place founded to enact grand fantasies. And the Trump Presidency now stands
as one of the grandest fantasies of all.
ANDERSEN: Right, of course, we had a few hundred years where that
fantastical impulse was kept in check by say the Jefferson`s and Franklin`s
of the world, and the elites and the establishment over hundreds of years,
until it kind of got out of control in the last few decades and Donald
Trump – my point is that Donald Trump didn`t cause anything.
He saw an opportunity, because he`s a con man and a grifter. He saw what
happened or instinctually felt it and said this is my time because the
ground has softened up. And facts don`t matter anymore and truth doesn`t -
- and empirical truth doesn`t matter anymore.
O`DONNELL: Let`s go back to your notion that this country was founded on
fantasy. You don`t mean the people we call the founders. They`re among
the most rational and sophisticated intellects of their day.
O`DONNELL: You`re talking about these adventurers that came here,
literally believing by getting off the boat in Virginia, they would
immediately find gold just by looking at their feet.
ANDERSEN: And most people, if that happened, they would spend six months
walking around, a year, maybe two and give up. They kept coming, they kept
dying. They kept coming.
20 years later, finally they decided well, guess there`s no gold here. And
these were people, yes. These adventurers, these people who gave up life
as they knew it, their families, civilized the world and came to this empty
place because they thought they could find gold. Those were people in the
south opposed to the Christian theocrats in the north.
O`DONNELL: And the people who came in the north, the so-called pilgrims
that were puritans and what they were seeking is what they called religious
freedom, which meant freedom of thought and ultimately enshrined in the
first amendment, freedom of speech. And that ultimately, in your telling,
becomes a freedom to think and believe anything.
ANDERSEN: Correct. at first, it meant after they were forced by the
English parliament to tolerate people other than themselves and not hang
Catholics who happened along, then we developed this freedom of religion
where basically as long as you believed in some version of probably a
Christian God it was OK. Then we got to the constitution and we go to the
founders. And along with the – it was the other side of the enlightenment.
The enlightenment we think of the thing that allowed reason and skepticism
of faith and of truths that people declared to be challenged. It also
allowed anything and everything to be believed, which it should be and must
be legally. But we`re not talking about legal freedom of thought. We`re
talking about freedom to believe any crazy thing you wish because you feel
the truth. And no expert is going to tell me otherwise.
O`DONNELL: And in modern times, which is to say our times that we live
through, you see the 1960s as the big explosion of believe whatever you
ANDERSEN: On the left, on the right, everywhere. And, again, this isn`t,
as you know, just about politics. But what happened in the `60s when you –
in the counterculture, you were supposed to find your own truth and make
your own reality and do your own thing. That led to a kind of ultimately, I
think, was part of what led to alternative facts and Donald Trumpism.
It was also a time simultaneously and I don`t think as a coincidence, when
religion in America, Christian Protestant religion became more exotic and
flamboyant and super natural than it had been in centuries. So yes, I think
the last 50 years, from various sources, led us to where we are today. Of
course, the internet, once there was an internet, there was no stopping us.
O`DONNELL: Then anyone with a crazy idea was no longer alone.
O`DONNELL: The book explains it all. It was not intended as an explainer
of how we got to trump, but it is. It`s the best explainer I`ve seen.
Where is that camera? It`s over there.
Kurt Andersen, thank you very much for joining us tonight. You must read
Fantasyland. You`re not going to understand where this country is tonight
without reading this book. We`ll be right back.
O`DONNELL: Here`s a look at protests tonight in downtown Los Angeles
against the President`s decision on the dreamers.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PROTESTERS: Say it loud, say it clear, immigrants are welcome here. Say it
loud, say it clear, immigrants are welcome here. Say it loud, say it clear,
immigrants are welcome here.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: The resistance to the President`s immigration policy gets
tonight`s last word. The 11th Hour with Brian Williams starts right now.
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