The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell, Transcript 9/12/17 Dire Humanitarian situation in Caribbean
Show: THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL
Date: September 12, 2017
Guest: Spencer Ackerman, Malcolm Nance, Joyce Vance, Ken Vogel
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC: That does it for us tonight, we`ll see you again
tomorrow, now it`s time for THE LAST WORD with Lawrence O`Donnell, good
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, HOST, THE LAST WORD: Good evening Rachel. As usual, I
will have to watch your show tomorrow night with Senator Warner so I can
figure out how to handle this hour of television because you will be
MADDOW: I`ll send you notes as he says stuff that makes news.
O`DONNELL: Well, I will be watching, thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: Thanks, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: No Democratic presidential candidate, not one has won North
Dakota in over half a century. Fifty three years ago, President Lyndon
Johnson won North Dakota in 1964, and that was the year after the
assassination of President John F. Kennedy when Lyndon Johnson was winning
in a landslide.
President Kennedy himself lost North Dakota to Richard Nixon in 1960, and
it wasn`t close. It`s never close in North Dakota in presidential
Donald Trump beat Hillary Clinton in North Dakota by 36 points. Take a
look at that. Look at that store, 63 to 27, that`s North Dakota voting.
That is the reason President Trump invited North Dakota Democratic Senator
Heidi Heitkamp to dinner tonight at the White House.
Thirty six points, and those 36 points are the reason that Heidi Heitkamp
accepted the dinner invitation. Senator Heitkamp won her election to the
Senate in North Dakota in 2012 by exactly one point.
Donald Trump won her state by 36 points. Politically, Heidi Heitkamp
can`t afford to turn down a dinner invitation from this White House.
Not when she represents a state filled with Trump voters. It is hard being
a Democrat in North Dakota, especially in the age of Trump.
And it is hard being a Democrat in West Virginia and Indiana. It`s hard
for a Democrat to win a state-wide election in those states.
The three Democratic senators from those states were invited to dinner at
the White House tonight.
Heidi Heitkamp along with Joe Donnelly of Indiana and Joe Manchin of West
Virginia, they are the only three Democratic senators who did not sign
Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer`s letter to Republican leader Mitch
McConnell and to President Donald Trump outlining the Democrats`
principles for a tax reform which was the suggest on the table tonight at
the White House.
Three Republicans joined the table – Senator John Thune of South Dakota,
Senator Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania and the senior member of the delegation,
Utah`s Orin Hatch; who is also the chairman of the Senate Finance
Committee where the tax bill will actually be written.
That dining table tonight was not the place where a tax deal was going to
get done if the Republicans can get a tax deal done.
The president couldn`t possibly get a commitment of support for a tax bill
tonight by any of the three Democrats because there is no bill for them to
No bill at all. The dinner at the White House tonight was mostly for the
people who were not there. The voters of West Virginia and Indiana and
North Dakota, where each one of those Democratic senators are up for re-
election next year.
The president and the Republicans want to put as much pressure as possible
on those Democratic senators to vote for whatever the Republican tax bill
is going to be.
And the Republicans need Trump voters in those states to exert that
pressure on those three Democratic senators.
Senator Joe Manchin issued this statement tonight after the dinner, “I was
glad to join the president tonight to discuss how we can work together in a
bipartisan manner on tax reform.
We had a productive conversation about areas of agreement as well as areas
where we will have to find compromise.
I will continue to fight for a simpler tax code that lowers rates for West
Virginians and incentivizes main street businesses to invest and grow in
Now, if you stop there, if Senator Manchin stopped there, everything that
Senator Manchin said, all of that generality is something that every
senator from both parties could agree with.
But Senator Manchin did not stop there. He did add one specific deal
point. “But we must do this without adding to our staggering debt.”
If Joe Manchin votes against the Republican tax bill, it will be because it
adds to our staggering debt, and Republicans writing a tax bill that
doesn`t add to our staggering debt is virtually impossible.
We have been here before. A Republican president pushing tax cuts with
Democratic senators from Republican states feeling that pressure.
When President George W. Bush pushed tax cuts in 2001 and 2003, Kent Conrad
was serving as North Dakota`s Democratic senator.
Kent Conrad voted against both of the Bush tax cuts, and he was doing that
about ten years after voting for the bill Clinton tax increases.
And through it all, Kent Conrad was re-elected in North Dakota, sometimes
with over 60 percent of the vote.
No one understands the pressures on those three Democrats sitting at that
White House dining table tonight better than Kent Conrad.
And joining us now, former Democratic Senator from North Dakota, Kent
Conrad; former chairman of the Senate Budget Committee and a former member
of the Senate Finance Committee.
And when I saw those invitations go out, senator, I thought of you. I
thought well, if Kent Conrad was in the Senate and Trump had won by 36
points in North Dakota, he`d probably be getting one of those invitations.
What would you have done? Would you have gone to this dinner?
KENT CONRAD, FORMER UNITED STATES SENATOR: Absolutely. First of all, and
I think anyone, any sitting senator who is invited to the White House by a
president of either party should go because it`s a chance to influence the
And besides, it`s also good manners. You know, when George Bush – George
W. Bush, Bush 43 was elected for the second time, the first trip he made
was to North Dakota to push his Social Security package.
He asked me to go with him on Air Force One, and I readily accepted. Now,
I didn`t believe in his Social Security package.
In fact, at the venue, I made clear that I thought there were very serious
problems with it.
But I thought it`s an obligation if the president asks you to go to your
state, you go. And I think that`s a smart thing to do because you can have
an impact possibly, you might influence the outcome.
And also, it`s just good manners.
O`DONNELL: And we saw Senator Heitkamp do that, like travel on Air Force
One to North Dakota with President Trump.
President Trump called her out at the rally, but no commitments, just like
you and President Bush on Social Security.
When the Bush tax cuts were done, the first round of the tax cuts, he –
they actually got three Democratic votes in the Senate on the first round
of Bush tax cuts on the second round of Bush – I`m sorry, the first round
of Bush tax cut, 12 Democratic Senate votes.
The second round of Bush tax cuts, three Democratic Senate votes. So
getting Democratic senators to vote for Republican tax cuts is not
something new. It is actually likely.
CONRAD: Yes, it is, but I would say this to you, Lawrence, it`s hard to
know with President Trump what he might do.
It`s entirely possible, like he just did with Senator Schumer, that he
crosses over and makes an agreement with Democrats.
And I think Democrats would be ready to agree to a tax bill if it didn`t
explode the debt, but it did reduce middle class taxes and went after some
of these offshore tax havens and abusive tax shelters.
There is lots of room there, there is lots of revenue there that could be
used to reduce middle class taxes.
O`DONNELL: Well, that would be if you followed the Reagan model that was
genuine tax reform where one of the principles was, we will not increase
the deficit, we will not add to the debt.
So when we cut a tax rate, we must eliminate a tax loophole so that the
revenue stays the same. And doing that, Reagan got 33 Democratic votes in
CONRAD: Absolutely he did. You know, Lawrence, that`s what makes your
show good. You`ve actually got historic memory of what happened in prior
agreements and what might happen in a new circumstance.
O`DONNELL: Joe Manchin`s line tonight, senator, leapt out at me when he
said that part about – of course, he wouldn`t support anything that
exploded our debt.
Now, do you think there`s a term of art there? Does he mean you can`t
increase the debt at all? You can`t increase the deficit at all?
It has to be revenue neutral? And the other two senators including Senator
Heitkamp did not say that in their statements after the fact.
They just issued generalities with no specifics.
CONRAD: You know, Senator Heitkamp did make reference to not expanding
the debt. It was unclear if that was a reference to the national debt or
the debt of individual taxpayers.
But she did reference the debt. You know, this is a day when the gross
debt of the United States reached $20 trillion.
We`re going to run deficits this year of hundreds of billions of dollars,
and if the budget plan outlined earlier is actually adopted with huge tax
cuts and big increases in spending on defense and infrastructure, and of
course now disaster aid, you could see an absolute explosion of the debt
which would be an incredible mistake at a time when economic times are
You know, you can understand expansions of deficit and debt when times are
bad. We generally don`t see expansions of deficit and debt when times are
And these are extraordinarily good times historically.
O`DONNELL: Senator, what would you say to Heidi Heitkamp with your
knowledge of the politics of North Dakota and what she is facing in a
possible Republican tax cut bill coming her way since you went through this
yourself a couple of times?
CONRAD: Well, I would say to her, look, if it is a tax cut bill that is
really aimed at the middle class, that`s not a giveaway to the wealthiest
among us, that really don`t need any tax relief.
And one that is – covers the lost revenue by shutting down these abusive
tax havens and these offshore tax shelters.
By the way, if you ever want to do an interesting exercise, Google offshore
tax shelters. See what you get.
It`s really quite remarkable. I did it one time, I got a million hits on
offshore tax shelters. It`s really a whole world that many of us don`t
O`DONNELL: Chairman – a former chairman of the Senate Budget Committee,
always a chairman to me, Kent Conrad, thank you very much for joining us
tonight, senator, I really appreciate it.
CONRAD: You bet, good to be with you.
O`DONNELL: Thank you. We`re joined now Jeet Heer; he`s a senior editor
at the “New Republic”. Also joining us is Ken Vogel; a reporter for the
“New York Times”.
And Ken, we saw these statements coming out of the dinner tonight where Joe
Manchin very specific about debt.
Heidi Heitkamp, as Ken Conrad just pointed out a little unclear what she
said about it.
Nothing really from Senator Donnelly, just a general it was a very nice
dinner. What do you make of this dinner tonight?
KEN VOGEL, REPORTER, NEW YORK TIMES: There is no doubt that it`s
significant, Lawrence. It doesn`t take a whole lot of Democratic support
in the Senate in particular to form a new coalition that could potentially
pass legislation even as there may be Republican hold-outs tax reform
obviously is one that Republicans had been advocating for and that Trump
had been excited about for some time.
But you see why a senator like Heidi Heitkamp or Joe Donnelly might be
persuadable in a situation like this.
Trump, I think, that was the import, that was the significance really of
the debt ceiling deal with Pelosi and Schumer was not necessarily the
actual what was in the four corners of the deal, which now Mitch McConnell
is suggesting wasn`t as significant as perhaps Trump and Schumer and Pelosi
But rather that Trump was willing to reach across the aisle after not
having a whole lot of luck working with just Republicans to pass health
O`DONNELL: And Jeet, there is a conceptual flaw in the meeting that we saw
tonight, and that is that the Democrats, if the notion that you could reach
over across the aisle and make a deal with the Democrats on a tax bill.
The Democrats cannot bring up a tax bill. They don`t have any procedural
rights in the Senate to even bring up the bill.
They cannot bring it through the Senate Finance Committee, only Orrin Hatch
can do that. They can`t have a markup of the bill.
Not to mention the fact that the only parliamentary procedure in the United
States constitution is that all tax legislation must begin in the House of
And so there is no one from the real congressional tax world really sitting
at that table tonight.
JEET HEER, SENIOR EDITOR, NEW REPUBLIC: That`s exactly right, and I think
that gives sort of lie to this idea that there can be any sort of
I mean, I think Trump is facing a real problem in the sense that he should
be getting his way on a lot of things.
He has a unitary government. But the Republicans can`t deliver what he
wants, so he`s looking for other options.
But I mean, like, it`s – but I think that the hurdles are strong enough
that it`s not going to happen.
O`DONNELL: Yes, Ken, one of strategic problems is if you`re Donald Trump
and you`re sitting there thinking, hey, can I make a tax deal with
Democrats, the answer is you can.
But you can`t include virtually any of the elements that we`ve heard about
from what the Republicans are talking about.
You can`t cut the corporate rate as low as they want to cut it. You cannot
eliminate the deductibility of state and local taxes, which would be a
wipe-out and a huge tax increase for taxpayers in California, New York and
There is every single thing that we`ve heard about, that is in the Trump
plan and the Republicans` plan is something so far unacceptable to
VOGEL: Yes, I mean, those three things that you just ticked off are
anathema to Democrats.
That said, you know, in North Dakota where you know, Heidi Heitkamp is
going to be up for re-election, she`s going to have to with Trump voters.
And so it`s not – it`s not like out of the question that there could be
elements of that, that could be made more palatable to her.
And now I`m not suggesting that it would be a deal with the Democrats writ
large and Chuck Schumer, but rather that it would be something that they
could find something that would be less objectionable to some of these
Democrats from red states that could potentially win their support, even as
there may be Republicans who would peel off.
O`DONNELL: But Jeet, it`s hard to think of the bill in which you can reach
around John McCain, around Susan Collins and pick up someone who is to the
I mean, these senators as moderate or conservative as they are as
Democrats, they all are to the left of John McCain and Susan Collins,
right? So –
HEER: Exactly right.
O`DONNELL: So you`re somehow going to reach people who are to the left of
John McCain and Susan Collins.
If you – if you were doing that and holding on to John McCain and Susan
Collins, you don`t need these Democrats because they`re talking about doing
this in reconciliation, you don`t need them.
HEER: That`s exactly right, yes. I mean, the thing is that if you can`t
hold the Republicans together –
O`DONNELL: Right –
HEER: Then like, how are you bringing out Democrats and making it
different? I don`t see how it adds up. it`s just – I mean, I think it`s a
move born of desperation more than anything else.
O`DONNELL: Yes, there are two completely different approaches to tax
legislation in Washington. One is Democrat, one is Republican, there is no
such thing as an independent approach, there is no middle there.
This – Trump is going to have to go one way or the other. And there`s
only one way procedurally where you can actually move the bill, and that`s
with the speaker of the House and the Republicans in the House of
VOGEL: You know –
O`DONNELL: Go ahead –
VOGEL: Lawrence –
O`DONNELL: Ken, go ahead –
VOGEL: If nothing else, I think it plants a seed of doubt in the minds of
Republican leaders certainly, and maybe even Democratic leaders.
O`DONNELL: But you can`t – but Ken, you can`t plant the seed of doubt in
Paul Ryan`s mind who knows that it has to begin in the House Ways and
Means Committee and he has to approve the whole thing for it to move.
He can`t trick Paul Ryan into thinking he doesn`t have the parliamentary
control over this – sorry, we`ve got to squeeze in a break here. Jeet
Heer, thank you very much for joining –
HEER: Thank you –
O`DONNELL: Us tonight. Coming up, we have new reports that say that the
Russian government expected President Trump to restore full diplomatic
relationships with the Russians almost immediately after his inauguration.
Now, why would they think something like that? And Robert Mueller has hired
so many criminal experts to add to his investigation team that the
Republicans believe it`s almost inevitable that that team is going to find
O`DONNELL: Flooding and power outages continue to be major problems in the
southeast as the remnants of Hurricane Irma continue to move north.
More than 6 million people are without power in Florida, Georgia, South
Carolina, Alabama and Tennessee.
And at least, 13 deaths have now been reported in the United States
according to FEMA estimates.
A quarter of all homes in the Florida keys were destroyed, and another 65
percent suffered major damage.
Emergency workers spent most of the day doing door-to-door – going door-
to-door to account for the seven to 10,000 people who did not evacuate.
Everyone has not been accounted for. Today, the White House announced
President Trump will travel to Florida Thursday to survey the damage.
It`s possible the president might also visit the U.S. Virgin Islands within
the next week. Hurricane survivors in the U.S. Virgin Islands described
the devastation there as apocalyptic.
FEMA officials toured the islands of St. Thomas and St. John. Today, FEMA
administrator Brock Long(ph) says officials will be on the islands for a
We are joined now from St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands by Stacey
Plaskett. She is the U.S. Virgin Islands` delegate to the House of
Congresswoman Plaskett, thank you very much for joining us on this
difficult night. And I just want to lay out the geography of the area for
It`s – we`re talking about three islands: St. Thomas, St. John and you`re
on St. Croix that we see there on the map.
But that`s about 30 miles or 50 miles south of St. John. And St. Croix was
not hurt badly by the hurricane. Is that correct?
STACEY PLASKETT, DELEGATE TO THE UNITED STATES HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
FROM THE U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS` AT-LARGE CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT: That`s
Because Irma hit us from the northern part, and we had a direct hit of the
hurricane while it was a category 5, it went across St. John and touched
the northern part of St. Thomas directly before it carried on to the rest
of the Caribbean.
So St. Croix, which sits 40 miles south of St. Thomas and St. John did not
get the same amount of hit from Hurricane Irma.
O`DONNELL: And talk about the two islands that did get hurt. St. John was
hit as the hurricane moved, it was hit first.
That`s the smaller of the two islands, relatively small population, small
commercial development there.
St. Thomas is the big one, that`s only a few miles away, that`s where most
of the U.S. Virgin Islands population is.
Talk about the way both islands have been impacted.
PLASKETT: Sure, you know, I was able to be on the ground for several days
on St. Thomas. Coast guard were able to bring me in immediately after.
And what you see on St. Thomas is major damage to not only homes and to
individuals and families, but also to much of our major infrastructure.
We`ve lost our hospital, the roof of the hospital came off, windows were
blown out, et cetera. Government houses, our airport, the terminal looks
as if the grenades were put inside it, and they were blown up from the
Also, the – our air traffic control, schools, firehouses, et cetera,
complete loss. Also on St. John, which you`re correct has a small
population which took an enormous hit, much of our resorts are now gone
Caneel Bay, you know, we have Trump Bay where so many tourists come to St.
John. But also the population there is even more isolated.
You cannot get airport there. So we`ve spent a lot of time with FEMA, the
coast guard and others who have been extraordinary in working with our
governor and with our local emergency management system to clear debris out
of the ports so that we can begin the ability to get from the island of St.
Croix, which has now become the base camp for not only U.S. Virgin Islands,
but for other islands as well to get support back and forth.
While the government is working with FEMA, with Department of Defense, the
Navy has brought in three ships, and we have marines that are on the
There are also private businesses, ferries, guys with fast boats, men and
women who are working to ensure that relief gets to people on the islands -
- food, water – you hear the phrase “water everywhere, not a drop to
So of course water is vital to us, being on an island, as well as the
support services. We`re going to have to be thinking long-term about the
power, which is going to take an extraordinary amount of time to get up.
Our water and power authority have been working nonstop. We found out
today that we had another loss of life.
One of the linemen trying to restore power for vital services lost his life
to working on the line this evening. And so we`re continuing to experience
losses, but we`re also working and trying to be the resilient people that
O`DONNELL: Congresswoman Plaskett, there is so much to talk about. I just
want to cover one more point before you go.
The devastation we`re seeing includes everything, obviously includes
schools in the entire school system of the – of those two islands.
What are the – and here we are at the beginning of a school year. What
happens to kids in St. Thomas, kids in St. John with the school year
coming? What can you offer?
PLASKETT: Well, you know, we faced this before during Hurricane Irma –
I`m sorry, Hurricane Hugo in 1989, Hurricane Marilyn in `95.
That`s why many of our structures met code, and we`re ready for a cat-4,
but couldn`t impact a category 5 direct hit.
But what we`re doing is the governor made an announcement about families
bringing their families over to St. Croix.
And also, Lawrence, we have a huge virgin islands population that are in
the United States in areas like Houston and Miami, New York, Atlanta,
Washington D.C., Maryland, Virginia area.
And many individuals will be bringing their children up to the United
States to do that. There are some schools which say hold on, we`re going
to try and bring generation and bring power.
St. Croix will open up their homes, we`re all one family for those students
as well. And we`re going to try and work on that.
But there is going to be needs, there is going to have to be transportation
for these young people to get to those families that are in the states, for
families that are not able to afford the plane ticket.
There is going to have to be temporary schools that are created,
potentially on cruise ships and others that will allow young people to
continue to learn.
And there is also going to be for those students that move to the states,
we live on a tropical island. So boots, hats, gloves, coats are another
thing that we`re going to have to think about when they`re moving with
those families there.
O`DONNELL: Congresswoman Stacey Plaskett, thank you very much for bringing
us the human detail of what`s happening there, really difficult situation,
really appreciate your time.
PLASKETT: And Lawrence, we`re so grateful that you opened up the news to
us so that people can see us as Americans and what we`re going through and
remember us when we`re looking about hurricane relief. Thank you.
O`DONNELL: Thank you very much. Coming up, reports about Russians using
Facebook to organize an anti-immigration rally during the 2016 campaign.
That now which we reported on last night has the attention of the Senate
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC ANCHOR: As we reported last night, according to
the daily beast, Russian operatives hiding behind false identities used
Facebook`s Event Management Tool to remotely organize and promote political
protests in the U.S., including in August 2016 anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim
rally in Idaho. A Facebook spokesperson confirmed to the Daily Beast that
it shut down several promoted events. Here is what Senate Intelligence
Committee Vice-Chairman Mark Warner said about that Daily Beast report
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARK WARNER, UNITED STATES SENATOR: Well I`m disappointed that when
Facebook came and presented to the Senate Staff, they didn`t lay out this
incident. It`s one of the reasons why I thought last week the Facebook
initial presentation was just the tip of the iceberg. We`re seeing more
evidence of additional ads and how they are used to manipulate individuals.
And I think they`re one of the reasons why we need to bring in Facebook,
Twitter and others to some level public hearing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Also tonight, Buzzfeed reports Russia was actively pursuing a
full reset of relations with the United States shortly after Donald Trump
took office. According to documents obtained by Buzzfeed, in the third
month of Donald Trump`s Presidency, Vladimir Putin dispatched one of his
diplomats to deliver a bold proposition. the full normalization of
relations between the United States and Russia across all major branches of
Buzzfeed reports the proposal reveals one of Moscow`s unspoken assumptions
that Trump wouldn`t share the lingering U.S. anger over Moscow`s alleged
interference in the 2016 election, and might accept a lightning-fast
rapprochement. Joining us now one of the co-authors of the Daily Beast
report Senior National Security Correspondent Spencer Ackerman. Also with
us Malcolm Nance, MSNBC Counterterrorism Intelligence Analyst and author of
the plot to hack America. Spencer, so the Senate is now interested in your
reports about Facebook. What are they going to find?
SPENCER ACKERMAN, REPORTER: they`re going to find that Facebook went from
hosting Russian active measures online to essentially wandering active
measures in right life, IRL. This is transferred –
O`DONNELL: Laundering you said?
ACKERMAN: You might as well say that. Facebook acknowledged to us that
these events were not simply things that bots did, not simply things that
false accounts put up. But things that they took money for. That`s what
this promoted event means.
This was paid. Whether Facebook has, as Senator Warner said, been fully
forthright with the Senate Intelligence Committee and others, it`s looking
more and more doubt. Certainly it`s looking like they have vastly more
questions than they`ve answered
O`DONNELL: And what is the venue you expect? Do you expect a public
hearing now is what you`re getting, what you`re hearing from Senator
Warner? They will have whether it be Mark Zuckerberg or Facebook official
there`s explaining exactly what they did?
ACKERMAN: I think it`s pretty clear that Facebook, whatever form they`ve
had the answer questions right now, the Senate Intelligence Committee does
not consider that sufficient, that it`s – I can`t say that I know that a
public hearing is going to happen, but it`s looking more likely than not at
O`DONNELL: Malcolm Nance, let me get your reaction to both of these
reports. first of all, what we`re learning about Facebook, and then the
notion that Vladimir Putin believe head had the President he wanted and
shortly after the inauguration, could have a full reset, drop all sanctions
against Russia, get things back to the old normal with the united states.
MALCOLM NANCE, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Well, let`s take point number two. This
has been Vladimir Putin`s strategic objective by helping put Donald Trump
into office all along. This is no secret to anyone who has been following
the Trump Russia act, you know, operation over the last year.
The CIA, FBI, NSA all said that, you know, the objective was to get Donald
Trump into the Presidency for the purpose of resetting Russian relations
and of course creating chaos and removing Hillary Clinton from the
political scene. That`s all happened. With regards to Facebook, they`re
just another component of the Russian active measures during this entire
I mean, Russia technically virtually marionanetting American citizens. I`ve
had that happen to myself on Twitter where Russian Intelligence actually
used a Twitter feed to come out and tell American citizens that someone who
was supposedly in Denver, Colorado, was going to assassinate me at a very
high profile conference. That is a form of intelligence manipulation of
American citizens. And it`s the next step of operations, that it started
last year is no surprise.
ACKERMAN: Yes, to take a point that MALCOLM made really aptly. You`ll
remember that toward the end of the Obama Administration, James Clapper,
the former Director of National Intelligence, started to in public
briefings on the Hill talk about Cybersecurity as a more elevated concern
than terrorism. One of the points that he would frequently make was at some
point the Intelligence Committee figured they were going to move from an
ex-filtration model, that is adversaries taking data from secured websites
or from someone`s servers and so forth, and they were to start moving into
not just data exploitation, but data manipulation.
ACKERMAN: That the data that you encounter online is not necessarily
going to be true. What we are now seeing Facebook talk about and what
we`re now seeing Facebook yet to discuss, but our reporting as well as
others are showing happened was that`s basically the model going forward
from this active measure stuff. You saw these really disgusting anti-
immigrant Islamophobic rallies promoted through Facebook.
That`s an effort to move even further from manipulated data, from false
information disseminated widely online, to getting people in the United
States who don`t know who is really putting this information out there to
actually do something.
O`DONNELL: Malcolm, quickly, before we get to a break here, when the Obama
Administration came out and started publicly talking about interference
with the camp – what was then the campaign? What should Facebook and some
of these other companies have done? Should they have listened to that and
at least had meeting saying what do we think our role in this might be?
NANCE: Well, certainly they should have done something much, much sooner
than we`ve seen because they took very active operations against ISIS and
Al Qaeda and Islamic Jihadists with almost without asking. But when it
came to this manipulation of the virtual world, manipulation of social
media to the point where they were changing reality for American citizens,
I mean, they should have realized that their platform was no longer an
information gathering or an information sharing platform but had been
weaponized into a foreign intelligence and governments system to manipulate
American systems. And it continues right to this minute
O`DONNELL: Malcolm Nance and Spencer Ackerman, thank you both for joining
ACKERMAN: thank you.
O`DONNELL: Coming up, lawyers are actually warning Whitehouse Staff
directly do not lie to investigators for the President.
O`DONNELL: I need loyalty. I expect loyalty. those exact words were in
James Comey`s written senate testimony when James Comey was quoting the
President of the United States speaking to him at their one-on-one dinner
at the Whitehouse, a dinner they`re Comey said he thought was inappropriate
from start to finish. Donald Trump`s firing of James Comey is what first
initiated the Robert Mueller investigation.
And now according to Axios, Robert Mueller is haunting the West Wing.
That`s the phrase that Axios uses. With Republicans close to the
Whitehouse saying every sign indicates that Mueller is going for the kill.
Last week Robert Mueller reportedly told the Whitehouse that he wants to
interview at least six top Trump advisers.
And as Reince Priebus, Sean Spicer and (INAUDIBLE) lawyer up, Politico
reports that lawyers representing Donald Trump`s current and former aides
are giving their clients one simple piece of advice, don`t lie to protect
the President. The Daily Beast reports that the Trump Campaign has begun
handing over documents to Bob Mueller. One former federal prosecutor
said that that handover of the documents means that Robert Mueller probably
continue his investigation past Thanksgiving at the very least.
And in the meantime, the Congressional Investigation proceeds. And today
Senator Dianne Feinstein said I believe Donald Trump Jr. will appear before
the Judiciary Committee in a public hearing in the coming weeks. But it`s
Chairman`s prerogative to set the date, And he`ll do so when he thinks it`s
appropriate. So did anyone tell Donald Trump Jr. not to lie for the
Would the President want Donald Trump Jr. to lie for him? To risk perjury
charges for him? Steve Bannon famously declared on 60 minutes the other
night that the ultimate test of loyalty was how members of the Trump team
reacted to the Access Hollywood video that came out in October of the
campaign in which Donald Trump bragged about his favorite methods of sexual
assault. And Steve Bannon was once again very, very wrong.
The ultimate test of loyalty is now and always has been testifying under
oath. Anyone in the Mafia could have told Steve Bannon that`s when you find
out who your real friends are. That`s how you find out whose really loyal.
This investigation might teach Steve Bannon and Donald Trump a lot of what
They don`t know about loyalty. More on the investigation next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: As the scout law says, a
scout is trustworthy, loyal. We could use some more loyalty, I will tell
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Needless to say, Donald Trump was not a Boy Scout. And there
are no Boy Scouts in the Trump White House. Joining us now, Joyce Vance, a
former U.S. Attorney for the northern district of Alabama. And back with
us, Ken Vogel. And Joyce Vance, to this advice that lawyers are giving to
Trump staffers, don`t lie for the president, what`s your reaction to that?
JOYCE VANCE, FMR U.S. ATTORNEY FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF ALABAMA: Well,
it`s awfully good advice, Lawrence. Because lying to a federal agent who is
conducting an investigation is enough to get you your own personal ticket
to federal prison. None of these witnesses want to be converted from
witnesses to subjects or targets of this investigation.
Their best way of maintaining their status as witness is to continue to
tell investigators the truth, to produce documents, to not withhold
material information, to answer questions honestly. Prosecutors love to say
that it`s the cover-up that hangs people up. And that`s true time and time
again in these public corruption investigations.
O`DONNELL: And Ken, I think you and I know that there are a lot of
politicians over the years who really you would have to say that to their
staffs because their staffs love them, were devoted to them, and were with
them for many years and could feel like maybe it`s not lying if they`re
just trying to shade the truth in the favor of the politician. But this
White House is the leakiest White House we have ever seen.
It almost seems like the Trump staff does not need the warning to tell the
truth about Donald Trump under oath because they seem to be telling the
dark truths to “The New York Times” and you guys and the “Washington Post”
almost every day.
KEN VOGEL, CHIEF INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER AT POLITICO: Yes, that`s right,
Lawrence. And it`s not just the leaking, it`s also the infighting and
there are concerns among the Trump legal team that prosecutors and the
special counsel will use these riffs and fissures between the staff that
have long been festering to essentially pit the staffers against each other
and other Trump associates against one another to use something they might
get from someone staffer or one associate to leverage something more out of
This, my sources tell me, has led to some dissent within Trump`s legal team
about how to handle this. About how there`s also dissent about document
production. Pace of document production and so we`re seeing some of these
tensions play themselves out in a legal defense in a way that I think is
extremely unhelpful for the president and for his team.
O`DONNELL: So Joyce, this point that Ken made sounds hugely important, for
example, the special prosecutor just by reading the paper, watching TV,
knows very clearly that Steve Bannon hates Jared Kushner is doing
everything he can to hurt Jared Kushner. They are investigating Jared
Kushner. Does the special prosecutor`s team go, shouldn`t – do they think
we should be talking to Steve Bannon specifically about Jared Kushner?
VANCE: I would suspect that the special counsel`s team will talk to
everyone about everything and by that I mean they`ll talk to all of the
available witnesses to get their view of what happened. And then they`ll
see how those versions line up. And it will be the outlier versions, the
details that don`t match up. If nine people are in agreement and one
person is saying something different, something that, perhaps, is more
beneficial to the administration, those people become the littlest zebras,
the witnesses that Mueller will cull out of the herd because if they have
some exposure for corruption or perjury or false statements, themselves
then it may be possible to flip them and have them testify as to what
really happened here.
O`DONNELL: And Ken, there are reports indicating the really decisive
conversations about firing James Comey which may be the single-most
important area of the investigation in the end occurred in New Jersey on a
weekend when Steve Bannon wasn`t there. And that Ivanka Trump was there.
Steve Miller was there. And - and that might be the - the spot where -
where that the special prosecutor really wants to penetrate, but in terms
of Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump, for example, you can`t have a spouse
testify against another spouse so that might be a tricky one.
VOGEL: Yes, that`s right. But it does get to the key point that the
former U.S. Attorney raised which is that it becomes about obstruction, it
becomes about the cover-up. Obviously the firing of Comey is the key piece
of that cover-up, but even the discussions that led up to that firing are
critical to establishing the case and to potentially establishing that
someone has misrepresented what went on.
That`s the area that Comey is really homing in on according to everyone who
I`ve talked to about this.
O`DONNELL: Joyce Vance and Ken Vogel, thank you both for joining us
tonight. Really appreciate it.
VOGEL: Thanks, Lawrence.
VANCE: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: Tonight`s “last word” is next and it is a “last word” about the
most important new bill on the democratic side of the senate.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BERNIE SANDERS, UNITED STATES SENATOR: What we have got to do in America
is what every other major country on earth is doing, guaranteeing health
care to all people as a right, not a privilege.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Bernie Sanders got a lot of applause for that, but two weeks
ago, Bernie Sanders had exactly zero co-sponsors in the senate for his
single-payer health care bill, Medicare for all. And then California
Senator Kamala Harris announced she would co-sponsor the bill and so
suddenly the loneliest piece of legislation in the senate had a co-sponsor,
a first co-sponsor. But Kamala Harris is not just any co-sponsor, and so
then Elizabeth Warren came onboard.
Now we begin to notice anything here? They are both likely Democratic Party
presidential candidates. Yesterday, another potential presidential
candidate became a co-sponsor, Senator Cory Booker, and then today Senator
Kirsten Gillibrand became a co-sponsor. And at 6:30 p.m. this evening,
Senator Al Franken became a co-sponsor of Medicare for all.
Any one of those senators could be the party`s nominee for president or
vice president the next time. And it`s not just the likely presidential
candidates now who are joining Bernie Sanders` bill. He now has a total of
13 co-sponsors including senators who are very unlikely to run for
president, but who could, could end up as vice presidential nominees.
Bernie sanders` Medicare for all bill has no chance legislatively in a
republican controlled congress.
Everyone knows that but it`s where the action is now for possible
Democratic Party presidential candidates all of whom will want to sponsor
that bill and get the support of Sanders` voters if they run. As every
inside look at every presidential campaign shows, candidates who actually
win nominations usually begin thinking about the presidential campaign four
years ahead of that election.
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