The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell, Transcript 10/5/17 ‘Dossier’ author interviewed
Show: THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL
Date: October 5, 2017
Guest: Josh Earnest, Ron Klain, Jennifer Rubin, David Corn, Tony Schwartz,
Mandy Lee, Wendy Sherman
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC: All right, 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, a very big
news night for Christopher Steele, and the most important I guess, being
that the special prosecutor has already spoken to Christopher Steele.
MADDOW: And we were able to report tonight to add to that, that there is -
- Richard Burr said yesterday that they had hit a brick wall in terms of
trying to get Senate investigators to talk to him.
That we were able to report tonight that at least from the Steele side of
the equation, he is willing to talk, and so we may yet see him speaking
with those investigators as well.
O`DONNEL: Yes, and I read that you provoked a response from Chairman Burr
and Vice Chairman Senator Warner tonight, and I`ve read their written
And I`m wondering if there`s some gray area where it`s sort of true that
they haven`t gotten the cooperation so far from Christopher Steele that
they were seeking.
The way they put it is they have sought many times over the months they`re
open to any credible offer.
MADDOW: Yes –
O`DONNELL: So they might regard what has been offered as not credible or
practical or something.
MADDOW: Right, and they specifically reference that they`ve tried to reach
him including through his lawyers –
O`DONNELL: Yes –
MADDOW: They made sure to say that which – so I mean, what – I think the
bottom line is that they haven`t spoken yet.
That there does not appear to be a lack of will on either side that they
should speak, and it`s a matter of them each side recognizing the –
recognizing the desire for that meeting and that interview to happen.
And it – I think at least from the Steel side they – it looks like they
want that effort to be seen more positively than Burr is publicly
O`DONNEL: Yes, and maybe it should be because he lives beyond the reach of
American subpoena power.
MADDOW: Yes –
O`DONNELL: So for in order to – for him to have been interviewed by the
special prosecutor, that shows a level of cooperation right there.
MADDOW: Yes –
O`DONNELL: And maybe this is sequential and maybe now that he`s spoken to
the special prosecutor, something will happen with the intelligence
committee, but your breaking news on this tonight about how hard is that
wall that they`ve run into.
MADDOW: Yes –
O`DONNELL: Is kind of fascinating.
MADDOW: Yes, thanks, man, appreciate it –
O`DONNELL: Rachel, before you go, before you go –
MADDOW: OK –
O`DONNELL: You`ve been working here tonight, so you may not be aware that
you are going to have to make more room at home for another Emmy that you
won tonight while you were working here on the show.
MADDOW: That is very nice of you to say, somebody yelled something to me
as I was running out on to the set from the hall way –
O`DONNELL: Oh, OK –
MADDOW: That I haven`t talked to anybody about it yet, that`s very nice of
you to say –
O`DONNELL: Because –
MADDOW: I was in very good company in terms of the nominees tonight, my
O`DONNELL: There`s a statue on the way and you have the second nomination
that you`re up for tonight, I don`t have the word on that yet, so we`ll
have to wait.
MADDOW: You`re killing me, man, thank you very much.
O`DONNELL: Thank you Rachel.
O`DONNELL: I did it again. Yes, it`s so easy. Embarrassing Rachel,
easiest thing I do. Well, we are now on the second day of the Trump is a
moron controversy created not by the tens of millions of Americans who say
that to each other every day, but by the Secretary of State being quoted by
confidential sources as having referred to the president as a moron during
a high level meeting at the Pentagon.
And so far, no one in Washington has tried to make the case that President
Trump is not a moron. That part of the story has been skipped over by the
And on day two of this controversy, the Secretary of State continues to
refuse to deny that he called the president a moron.
The State Department`s spokesperson has said that the secretary did not
call the president a moron, but she was not present during the meeting at
Where it is said that Rex Tillerson called the president a moron and
nothing could be easier for the Secretary of State than to issue a one-
sentence written statement saying, I did not call the president a moron.
The Secretary of State very deliberately has not done that. Which is
infuriating to the president of the United States according to a new report
Nbc News reports tonight that four senior administration officials said the
president first learned of Rex Tillerson calling him a moron exactly when
the rest of us learned it, yesterday morning when Nbc News reported it.
President Trump complained immediately to White House Chief of Staff John
Kelly on Wednesday morning which led to General Kelly canceling his plans
to accompany the president to Las Vegas.
And John Kelly`s absence was noted in Las Vegas yesterday and there was
some speculation at the time that it could be related to the moron story
that broke before the president left for Las Vegas.
Officials told Nbc News that Trump was furious when he saw the Nbc News
report which was published shortly before 6:00 a.m. Wednesday.
For the next two hours, the president fumed inside the White House, venting
to Kelly, John Kelly summoned Tillerson and Defense Secretary James Mattis
to the White House where the three of them huddled to discuss a path
forward according to three administration officials.
Vice President Mike Pence meanwhile was fuming in Phoenix where he was
traveling, seven officials told Nbc News.
He and Tillerson spoke on the phone before the secretary`s public
appearance on Wednesday morning, and after all of that, Rex Tillerson went
out and gave a very rare press conference, he doesn`t give press
That alone was a very rare thing. Rex Tillerson giving a press conference.
And after all of that, he went out in that press conference and pointedly
and deliberately did not deny calling the president a moron.
Nbc News reports that the secretary`s refusal to deny that he had called
the president a moron in his opening statement and in his responses to
questions from reporters stoked Trump`s anger and widened the rift between
the two men, officials said.
And here is a picture of that rift. Here is the president in Las Vegas
yesterday acting as if he wasn`t bothered at all by Rex Tillerson and the
president is a moron story.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I`m very honored by his
comments, it was fake news, it was a totally phony story. Thank you very
much – it was made up, it was made up by Nbc.
They just made it up. Thank you all –
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Still have confidence in Rex?
TRUMP: Thank you, total confidence in Rex. I have total confidence, thank
you very much everybody.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: After watching the secretary`s response Wednesday, one White
House official said “when Tillerson didn`t deny it, I assumed it was true.”
Tonight, the president made some of the most bizarre comments he has ever
made to the news media.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: You guys know what this represents?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tell us, sir.
TRUMP: I don`t know, maybe it`s the calm before the storm.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What`s the storm?
TRUMP: Could be the calm, the calm before the storm.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you talking about Iran? ISIS?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What storm, Mr. President?
TRUMP: We have the world`s great military people in this room. I will
tell you that, and we`re going to have a great evening. Thank you all for
coming by the way, thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What storm, Mr. President?
TRUMP: You`ll find out.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining us now, Josh Earnest; former White House Press
Secretary for President Obama and an Msnbc political analyst.
Also with us, Jennifer Rubin; opinion writer at the “Washington Post” and
Ron Klain; former chief of staff to Vice Presidents Joe Biden and Al Gore
and a former senior aide to President Obama.
And Josh Earnest, I want to give you the first shot at trying to translate
what we just heard the president say about a calm before a storm.
JOSH EARNEST, FORMER WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I have no idea what he`s
referring to, and I have sneaking suspicion that none of the senior
military leadership who were in the room with him have much of a clue about
what he is referring to.
It is just – in some ways, Lawrence, this is the kind of thing that he
does on Twitter all of the time, and this time he just decided to do it in
front of the White House press pool in the state dining room of the White
O`DONNELL: And –
EARNEST: And which is to make veiled threats that are destabilizing to our
alliances and potentially provocative to our adversaries.
O`DONNELL: And Ron Klain, it immediately provoked questions about – are
you talking about North Korea? Are you talking about firing Rex Tillerson?
What is the storm?
RON KLAIN, FORMER CHIEF OF STAFF TO JOE BIDEN & AL GORE: Yes, and
ironically, of course, we`ve had a couple of major storms that the
president`s botched his response to one in Puerto Rico and the Virgin
And there`s nothing very calm about what`s going on right now. We`ve
learned that Secretary Mattis, Secretary Mnuchin and Secretary Tillerson
have signed the suicide pact.
I`ll resign if any of them is fired. So it doesn`t – you have to have a
very calm president, we`re in the middle of a series of storms that the
president can`t handle.
And as Josh said, I think he became a human version of his own Twitter
feed. And let`s hope that the only storm that`s left to be launched
tomorrow is some kind of tweet storm against the news media as the
president does almost every day now.
O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to how the White House handled the question of how
upset is the president with Rex Tillerson. Let`s listen to how that went
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KRISTEN WELKER, NBC NEWS: Is the president upset that his Secretary of
State didn`t deny calling him a moron in his public remarks yesterday?
SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Look, as the
Secretary of State said, this is a petty, ridiculous accusation and
frankly, I think it`s beneath the Secretary of State to weigh in on every
rumor out there.
His spokesperson, however, did come out and clarify that the Secretary of
State had never used those words.
WELKER: What`s your response –
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Indeed the president has undercut the Secretary of
State, Sarah, this quickly is for you –
SANDERS: I think it`s – the premise of that question is absolutely
ridiculous. The president can`t undercut his own cabinet.
The president is the leader of the cabinet. He sets the tone. He sets the
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: And so Jennifer Rubin, Kristen Welker takes her place in White
House history as the first reporter in history to ask the question, “is the
president upset that his Secretary of State didn`t deny calling him a moron
in his public remarks yesterday?”
JENNIFER RUBIN, OPINION WRITER, WASHINGTON POST: Yes, we have come to
that. We have come to that. You know, it`s interesting that not even the
president`s press secretary would deny that Rex Tillerson called the
president a moron.
She just said it was beneath him to comment. You know, I – this is such a
storm to borrow a phrase. The other thing that`s going on is that this
Keystone cop group of individuals is thinking of decertifying the Iran
Putting at risk that deal with really no sort of backup plan – they`re
just going to kind of bluff their way through and see if the Iranians come
back to the table.
Our allies are not on board with us, the Russians, the Chinese, so is that
another storm that`s coming? He`s going to wake up tomorrow and decertify
Or is he going to decide to go to war with North Korea, we really don`t
know. I mean, this is so preposterously destabilizing, so frightening I am
sure for our allies that, you know, one wonders, what is Rex Tillerson
doing still there.
Why does he still insist upon humiliating himself? And why doesn`t the
president who is so upset with him fire him for goodness sakes?
O`DONNELL: And Josh, the president immediately accused Nbc News of
practicing fake news. And now we have a reporting tonight from a large
group, a large group of unnamed sources in the Trump White House
contradicting the president, saying the president is infuriated.
Saying that they believe that Rex Tillerson did call him a moron,
especially because Rex Tillerson did not deny calling him a moron.
And so the counter to Donald Trump`s statements come from inside his own
EARNEST: Look, Lawrence, the reporting is true and everybody knows it.
And I`m sure that Secretary Tillerson is not the only person to have
expressed that sentiment in one form or another in the hushed corridors of
either the White House or some other important building here in Washington
This is an open secret. You know, Lawrence, Harry Truman once referred to
the White House as the crown jewel of the federal penal system and to
torture that metaphor just a little bit here, it does appear that we have
the inmates running the asylum now.
If you`ll recall, the whole reason that people like Secretary Tillerson and
General Mattis and General McMaster and even General Kelly were brought on
board was because everybody knew that President Trump didn`t know anything
about foreign policy.
And he was – we – he was going to rely on these individuals and the
country was going to rely on these individuals to try to keep things on
And I`m not sure that there`s much that they can point to –
KLAIN: Yes –
EARNEST: As evidence that they actually have succeeded in that effort thus
far. Whether it`s the Iran deal, pulling out of the climate agreement,
pulling out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, insulting our allies, our
NATO allies at the very first NATO meeting.
Calling into question the normalizing of our relations with Cuba. I`m not
really sure exactly what they would point to as evidence of their success
in as Senator Corker said, protecting the world and the country from the
chaos that is Donald Trump.
O`DONNELL: There`s more reporting in the “New York Times” tonight about
the Trump-Tillerson relationship. They say “aides and Trump associates who
have been in the room with them said Mr. Tillerson`s body language, eye
rolling and to his expression left little doubt that he disapproves of Mr.
Mr. Trump they said has noticed how Mr. Tillerson slouches in his presence,
particularly when he disagrees with a decision.
When overruled, Mr. Tillerson often says, “it`s your deal to the
president`s irritation according to two former administration officials.”
Ron Klain, does that sound like White House meetings that you`re familiar
KLAIN: No, it does not sound like my White House meetings, I am familiar
with absolutely not. But I dare you, you played that tape before of Sarah
Huckabee Sanders and it reminded me why I wanted to play poker with her.
Because she has a tell. She says the word “ridiculous” when something is
true and she can`t deny it. So she says Trump – you know, Tillerson
calling Trump a moron, oh, it`s ridiculous.
And the idea that Trump undercut – oh, that`s ridiculous. Well, the word
she is not using is false and she can`t use that word because it`s not
Those things are ridiculously true and that`s a big problem for the Trump
O`DONNELL: Jennifer Rubin, one thing and I noted this last night also that
the White House has not got gotten around to is defending the president
against the charge that he is a moron.
RUBIN: You know, even they have limits to what they can do. What can I
say? I mean, none of this would have any credence, no one would believe any
of this is going on if we had a president who is actually fit to be there
and fit to be commander-in-chief.
All of this seems entirely credible because we know he is completely
unschooled, he`s unknowledgeable, he`s erratic.
He hasn`t bothered to learn the job, so of course it`s true. What does
surprise me, however, is that you have both Tillerson and the president
behaving sort of like high school girls.
Don`t roll your eyes at me, I did not roll my eyes at you, and back and
forth this goes. This is ridiculous. Listen, for all the criticism I made
of the president he does deserve a Secretary of State who respects him to
And why has Tillerson not quit? Perhaps Condi and Bob Gates and all those
people who thought it was a great idea to make him Secretary of State
should pull him over to the side and say, you know, tomorrow is a Friday,
it`s a good day to quit in Washington.
Maybe it wasn`t the best fit. They could do the country a service and make
up for their glaring error and having recommended this guy by telling him
it`s time to go.
O`DONNELL: Jennifer Rubin and Josh Earnest, thank you both for joining us
tonight, really appreciate it.
EARNEST: Thanks, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Thank you. Up next, we have breaking news on the Russia
investigation, special prosecutor Robert Mueller`s team has interviewed the
former British spy who created that dossier on Donald Trump and his Russia
And coming up, in the week when the Secretary of State calls the president
a moron, a Yale psychiatrist has published a new book entitled “The
Dangerous Case of Donald Trump”, that psychiatrist will join us as will
Tony Schwartz, who was the author of Donald Trump`s first book “The Art of
O`DONNELL: As Rachel and I discussed at the beginning of the show, Robert
Mueller`s investigators in the Russia probe have interviewed the author of
that famous Trump dossier, Christopher Steele.
A source close to Christopher Steele confirmed the news to Nbc tonight.
Christopher Steele is a former British spy who worked in Russia. His
dossier contains personal allegations about Donald Trump and claims there
was a well-developed conspiracy of cooperation between Russians and the
Joining us now David Corn; Washington Bureau Chief for “Mother Jones” and
an Msnbc political analyst and Ron Klain is back with us.
And David, you`re our go-to guy on this Christopher Steele and the dossier
since you are the reporter who made that dossier public here in the United
What do you make of tonight`s developments especially in light of
yesterday`s press conference with the intelligence committee and the Senate
where you asked the questions and others did about Christopher Steele`s
cooperation with the committee?
DAVID CORN, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, MOTHER JONES: Well, it`s important to
keep in mind, Lawrence, as I reported last October, that Christopher Steele
was already cooperating with the FBI as far back as June 2016.
The work that he was doing for Democratic Financed Research Opposition
Project on Trump, he was – also started sharing with the FBI very early on
because he was so concerned about what he was finding about links between
Donald Trump and his camp and the Russian government and Russian
So if at some point in time in the fall, the FBI, you know, came to him and
said we need to know about your sources, we need to know who you – what
other material you have, we want to see everything you have.
And he cooperated fully as he told me, I have no reason to not believe
that. So a lot of the information he had from his investigation was
already in the hands of the FBI before Robert Mueller came along.
So I`m sure that whatever interview Mueller conducted with Steele, it was
reinforcing perhaps expanding a little bit on what Steele gave to him but
he already was cooperating because he felt, you know, he is not an American
but he felt a patriotic sense to help America and help British intelligence
as well, as he thought the Russians were messing in the election and had
some bizarre connection with Donald Trump.
O`DONNELL: Ron Klain, can you help us with something Rachel and I were
discussing which is here`s someone who is – as David said, not only
cooperating with the FBI, he went to the FBI –
KLAIN: Yes –
O`DONNELL: To say you should know about this, and then cooperating clearly
with the special prosecutor has submitted two interviews with them.
But we seem to get the sense, we did get the sense yesterday from the
intelligence committee that they were dissatisfied or frustrated with their
attempts at getting Christopher Steele to cooperate with them.
Can you see what might be happening there and less cooperation with the
committee than with the special prosecutor?
KLAIN: Well, I think it`s possible that he wanted to make sure he had
finished giving whatever he wanted to Mueller before he dealt with the
committee, get clearance on that.
It`s also possible the committee wasn`t really ready to make the overseas
trip that clearly Christopher Steele is going to require for this
But I think there`s – you know, two big takeaways here, Lawrence. The
first is that the evidence against Donald Trump, the evidence that the
Trump campaign colluded with Russia somehow is mounting.
And the second thing I think we got to understand is the clock that`s
ticking down towards the coming constitutional crisis when President Trump
tries to fire Bob Mueller, got that much closer to midnight tonight because
we know he hates discussion of this dossier.
It was his first grievance against Jim Comey when he raised a dossier with
him, and the news that Mueller went over to interview Steele is going to
flame Donald Trump`s hair.
O`DONNELL: David Corn, I want you to go to one point that they mentioned
yesterday in that press conference that you were at with the intelligence
committee chair and vice chair.
And that is this issue of who paid for the dossier?
CORN: Right –
O`DONNELL: And they seem to be suggesting that they don`t know very much
about that. We do know something about that, don`t we?
CORN: We know a little bit about it. We know that Fusion GPS; a research
consulting firm based in Washington was first hired by Republicans to come
up with research opposition research on Donald Trump.
And then when he turned out that he was heading towards the nomination, the
Republican funding phased out and Fusion GPS found a democratic source of
And it was around that point in time that they made contact with
Christopher David Steele to do this work.
So the money was being paid technically at that time by democratic source.
What Richard Burr seemed to be saying at the press conference yesterday was
that until we know who really paid for this, we don`t have the full story.
I don`t understand that to an extent, but you know – but the FBI, maybe
they asked Steele, maybe they didn`t, you know, is probably less concerned
with who paid for him to do the work than the work itself.
And who he spoke to, what sources he had and why he had reason to write
what he wrote, that in some ways is more important.
What the Republicans are trying to do, some of them – not saying Richard
Burr particularly, but certainly on the House Intelligence side is to try
to denounce the Steele dossier, even try to say that it was some type of
And to show that that was what triggered the FBI investigation, Trump
connections to Russia. And they have – everything is sort of comes from
this poisoned fruit to discredit everything.
It`s a crazy conspiracy theory because really, at the end of the day what
Christopher Steele wrote, you know, the FBI will find or not and they were
already on to this and on to these investigations before they got all his
So he did not kick this thing off.
O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to what Congressman Ted Lieu said to Ari Melber
about this today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. TED LIEU (D), CALIFORNIA: You can tell a lot about the actions of the
special counsel. When special counsel Mueller first came on, he looked at
the evidence and what did he did do?
Did he say, oh, I need to hire more investigators and look around? No. He
hired a lot of prosecutors. You hire prosecutors in order to prosecute.
And then he convened a grand jury. You convene a grand jury because you
want to indict people. So we can tell based on his actions that he sees
criminal behavior happening.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Ron Klain, with your experience in the Justice Department –
KLAIN: Yes –
O`DONNELL: What`s your reaction to that?
KLAIN: Well, I think that`s true. I mean, I do think frankly, he didn`t
need to hire investigators because he had the FBI at his disposal.
But there`s no question he has staffed up on the prosecutorial side, he has
three grand juries going. And I think if you look statistically, the odds
that three grand juries don`t produce an indictment is like a 1,000 to 1 or
something like that.
So indictments are coming, clearly, the ring is circling around Manafort,
it`s circling around Flynn, and then the question is, how much closer to
the president does it get and the president`s family?
You know, just as I said earlier, the facts mount every single day.
O`DONNELL: Ron Klain and David Corn, thank you both for joining us
tonight, appreciate it.
CORN: Sure thing.
O`DONNELL: Up next, former Undersecretary of State Wendy Sherman will join
us on the Trump versus Tillerson feud and the president`s possible
withdrawal from the Iran deal which she helped negotiate.
And coming up, a new book with contributions from 27 psychiatrists entitled
“The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump” and we`ll be joined by Tony Schwartz,
who was the author of Donald Trump`s first book, “The Art of the Deal”.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, PRESIDENT: We must not allow Iran
to obtain nuclear weapons. The Iranian regime supports terrorism and
exports violence, bloodshed and chaos across the Middle East. That is why
we must put an end to Iran`s continued aggression and nuclear ambitions.
They have not lived up to the spirit of their agreement and we will be
discussing that tonight.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL: That was the President before a dinner at the White
House tonight with Defense Secretary James Mattis and National Security
Counsel and Senior Military Officials. Today “the Washington Post” reports
that the President plan to announce next week to de-certify the deal with
Iran saying it is not in the national interest of the United States and
kicking the issue to a reluctant congress.
People briefed on an emerging White House strategy for Iran said. The move
would mark the first step in a process that could eventually result in the
Resumption of U.S. sanctions against Iran which would blow up the deal
limiting the activities that the country reached in 2015 with the United
States and five other nations.
Here`s what Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said about the Iran deal
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you agree with Secretary Mattis that the United
States to stay in the JCPOA?
REX TILLERSON, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, SENATOR: The JCPOA is a small
part of the many issues to deal with when it comes to the Iranian
relationship so it is an important part of that but it is not the only part
and I have said many times we cannot let the Iranian relationship be
defined solely by the nuclear agreement.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Wendy Sherman is the Former UnderSecretary of State of
Political Affairs. She was Special Adviser to President Clinton and Policy
Coordinator on North Korea for President Clinton. She is also a NBC news
and MSNBC Global Affairs contributor.
Ambassador Sherman, what do you make of Secretary Tillerson`s remarks
yesterday? He has previously agreed with Secretary Mattis in support of
the Iran deal but it seemed a little vague in his response yesterday.
WENDY SHERMAN, FORMER UNDERSECRETARY OF STATE OF POLITICAL AFFAIRS: Well,
I think it`s vague because his standing in the administration is pretty
vague. He was taken to the wood shed, maybe took himself to the woodshed
and I think he is trying to make up and show that he can be a team player.
I think what`s so sad about all of this and I`ll get to the Iran deal in a
minute, Lawrence, is that all of these men around the President spend all
day trying to figure their wake around him. Rex Tillerson knows that the
Iran deal that was reached by all five permanent members of the Security
Council, Germany, European Union, the entire U.N. Security Council does
keep Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons and I quite agree with President
We should keep them from getting nuclear weapons and only meant to deal
with that issue and they could not project power, more power into the
Middle East and the world with a nuclear weapon and therefore deter our
actions. So yes. There are a whole set of other actions that were not
part of the deal for which we have sanctions, we have strategies and we
have things we should be doing with people around the world to stop their
maligned behavior in the region and the human rights abuses at home and
abroad. But that is not the nuclear deal. We should be doing both. But
we should enforce this deal and Rex Tillerson knows this.
O`DONNELL: How much time did you spend in this state department with
Secretary Kerry trying to figure out how to talk to President Obama?
SHERMAN: Not much. President Obama was very direct person. He was very
well schooled in what he was doing. We all always didn`t agree but those
disagreements played out in the situation room and then the President
reached a decision. Everybody felt they were heard. We knew we were
representing the President of the United States. He was the only one along
with the vice President who was elected.
But nonetheless, he wanted to hear every point of view and then decide and
indeed on the Iran deal he learned every single piece of that deal. He
knew every single detail. As did Secretary Kerry, Secretary Munoz and the
whole team that worked on this was a whole of government effort and a very
disciplined way, and quite frankly, if the Trump Administration scotches
this deal, I can`t imagine what team will put it back together again.
O`DONNELL: And talk about what you see as – in the State Department now
with Secretary Tillerson. He`s quoted as calling the President a moron. He
doesn`t deny that quote. He`s given the opportunity to deny. He doesn`t
deny it. We see the White House`s reaction to this. Basically,
confirmation. A more unnamed White House sources confirming that this
Some saying they firmly believe that Tillerson did say this. Even though
they with respect in the room. And that`s sort of suggests there`s an
atmosphere there in the Trump administration where it`s not surprising and
ultimately not surprising that a secretary would call the President a
SHERMAN: I don`t think Rex Tillerson wanted to be Secretary of State from
the day he was confirmed and asked by the President to be Secretary of
State. I think he thought it was his duty do. He`s made common cause with
Secretary Mattis and nonetheless this is a man unhappy. He doesn`t have a
staff. He has only a small group of people he holds close to him, a loner
and very interesting.
When Senator – secretary sessions was being humiliated by the President of
the United States, you had many people come to his defense. Even democrats
who didn`t vote for his confirmation thought it was outrageous. quite
frankly, I haven`t seen a whole lot of people come to the defense of
Secretary Tillerson because he`s really made himself a loner in Washington
and you can`t get things done that way. He goes abroad and he`s not seen
as credible. He hasn`t built relations on Capitol Hill. He certainly
hasn`t built relations with the press and he hasn`t built relationships
with his own team inside of the state department.
O`DONNELL: And when the news came out, when NBC news reported that he had
called the President a moron, he was then summoned to a meeting with
General Kelly, White House chief of staff, a discussion with Defense
Secretary General Mattis. He also had a discussion with Vice President
Pence before going in to his public press conference. And surely either
one or all of them told him repeatedly that he must deny that he ever said
this and he very deliberately did not deny saying it.
SHERMAN: Indeed. He said, I don`t talk about such petty manners. We all
understand those of us who have been public people what that means. It
means I`m not going to deny it. I`m not going to admit it. I let it hang
out there. And, you know, all of this, what`s so dangerous about all of
this, Lawrence, is what it does to the National Security of the United
States. These are the people that we`re relying on to make sure that
families stay safe every day. People are very concerned we`re going to get
into a war with North Korea. They don`t think there`s a steady hand in the
oval office. They`re relying on people around the President to keep him
steady, when it`s nuclear weapons, whether that is Iran or more
concerningly North Korea, this is a very dangerous mixture.
O`DONNELL: Ambassador Kennedy Sherman, thank you for your perspective
tonight. Really appreciate it.
SHERMAN: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: Coming up, the dangerous case of Donald Trump. 27
psychiatrists and mental health experts assess a President.
O`DONNELL: The Secretary of State calls the President a moron. The
Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee then says that the
Secretary of State is one of the three people who, quote, separate our
country from chaos. This week`s chaos in the Trump Administration is by
now unsurprising and was in effect predicted by the new book “The Dangerous
Case of Donald Trump.” Edited by Mandy Lee, MD, a Psychiatrist. The book
includes and validates some of the general news media speculations about
Donald Trump`s mental capacity. There is this passage in the book from a
David Brooks column in “The New York Times.”
“He cannot be contained because he is psychologically off the chain. With
each passing week he displays the classic symptoms of medium-grade mania in
more disturbing forms, inflated self-esteem, aggression and a compulsion to
offer advice on subjects he knows nothing about. His speech patterns are
like something straight out of a psychiatric textbook. Manics display
something called flight of ideas. It`s a formal thought disorder in which
ideas tumble forth a disordered chain of associations. One word spars
another, which sparks another and they`re off to the races. As one trained
psychiatrist said to me, compare Donald Trump`s speaking patterns to a
Robin Williams monologue but with insults instead of jokes.”
And David Brooks wrote that column over a year ago when Donald Trump was
the Republican nominee for President. The reported reason that the
Secretary of State called the President a moron was because the President
compared the Afghanistan war policy to the renovations of the 21 club
restaurant in midtown Manhattan. President Trump told the National
Security Advisers a story of the 21 club hiring very expensive consultants
for a renovation of a year and ended up changing nothing in the restaurant
and Trump`s point was that talking to the waiters at the restaurant would
have led to a better set of choices than listening to the so-called
experts. And so why should he listen to the experts on Afghanistan?
And when that story became public, the 21 club said, not one word of it was
true. The owner of the 21 club at the time said `I have no idea what was
in his head. I never have.` The editor of “The Dangerous Case of Donald
Trump” and the author of Donald Trump`s first book “The Art of the Deal”
will join us next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Written by a nice reporter. Now the poor guy, you ought to see
this guy. I don`t know what I said. I don`t remember. He`s going like, I
don`t remember. Maybe that`s what I said.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: We`re joined by Dr. Mandy Lee, a Forensic Psychiatrist on the
faculty of the Yale School of Medicine and Editor of “The Dangerous Case of
Donald Trump.” 27 psychiatrists and mental health experts assess a
President. Also joining us, Tony Schwartz, co-author of Donald Trump`s
best selling book “The Art of the Deal.” He was the real author of the
deal. His co-author Donald Trump didn`t write a word of it. Tony Schwartz
with an entry in this new book edited by Dr. Lee.
Dr. Lee, what brought the group together to produce this book? Because I
know a year ago it was very difficult for me to find a psychiatrist to come
on TV and talk about Donald Trump because the general rule was, it`s a
patient I haven`t diagnosed and how can I talk about it?
MANDY LEE, YALE SCHOOL OF MEDICINE, FORENSIC PSYCHIATRIST: Well, that was
my same experience when trying to write to various congress members.
Initially I had a letter of concern and then I had organized a conference
to speak about the ethics of the duty to warn versus the duty to refrain
from commenting on public figures.
O`DONNELL: And so basically is a judgment among the professionals that in
this case, the duty to warn ways that the consideration that would normally
apply which is I`m not going to offer public diagnosis of a person I have
LEE: Yes. And initially it was very hard to get co-signatories to the
letter, letters that I was writing, or to get any co-organizers for the
conference. But after the conference hundreds of mental health
professionals got in touch with me saying their same concern. The
assessment was almost unanimous, that they were all concerned and did not
know of a way to speak about it. And now we have about 4,000 members of
the coalition that we had named to warn. We have 63,000 signatories to a
petition that John Gartner had created.
And when I was compiling this book, we couldn`t include everybody because
there were so many people coming forth. And as you can see, this is just a
representative sample of the most eminent members of our team.
O`DONNELL: Yes. You have Lance Donaldson here who is former Harvard
Medical School Faculty who was one of the first psychiatrist to join us
here last year and talk about it.
Tony, I have a question for you that is about policy and the psyche of
Donald Trump, and it`s the crucial – kind of the crucial question of the
day or the week for next week, and that is the Iran deal. We have a report
coming up tonight saying that the President is going to announce that he is
going to pull the United States out of the Iran deal.
Knowing Donald Trump as you do, you know him better than anyone who speaks
about him publicly. Would he pull the United States out of the Iran deal
just because Rex Tillerson is in favor of staying with the Iran deal? Is
that the kind of psyche -
TONY SCHWARTZ, THE ART OF THE DEAL, AUTHOR: Well, I don`t know that that
would be the only reason but that would put him over the edge. He`s
getting obviously very conflicting advice about whether to do that and
there`s still factions in his administration arguing each side. But yes,
he is emotionally driven, not obviously intellectually driven. You don`t
want to use that word with regard to Trump, and I absolutely believe that
any decision he makes is going to be primarily made by the intensity of the
emotion he feels about it.
O`DONNELL: Which includes personal feeling about the person he`s dealing
with whether he likes the person or not.
SCHWARTZ: You know it isn`t about liking a person. Donald Trump doesn`t
like people. What he does is sees them as useful or not useful and he sees
them mirroring him and supporting him or opposing him and diminishing him.
And there`s certainly no question that right now he sees Tillerson as
someone who is an injury to his sense of himself.
O`DONNELL: I want to go to just one entry in the book. This is Henry
Freedman, Associate Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. On
the role of Donald Trump`s cabinet relevant to this weeks television story.
He says, `A paranoid, hyper sensitive, grandiose ill-informed leader such
as Donald Trump, who has surrounded himself with a cabinet and set of
advisers who either are able to bring him out of his paranoid suspicions
and insistences or, worse, identify with his positions, represents a multi-
dimensional threat to our country and the world.`
And Dr. Lee, when a psychiatrist sees us that way, that`s the definition of
the duty to warn.
LEE: Exactly. The goldwater rule itself which is the ethical guideline
not to diagnose a public figure in the open falls under the ethical
principle that we participate in activities that promote public health and
public mental health. And so when it is – when silence contributes to
harm to the public health, then we do have a duty to speak out and the duty
to warn and the duty to protect is pervasive.
O`DONNELL: And prior to this situation, a duty to warn generally applied
individual cases, you – you have a patient who you believe would commit a
violent crime or something like that. Tony, take us inside Donald Trump as
you know that man when he gets the news yesterday morning at 6:00 a.m. that
NBC news is reporting that rex
Tillerson has called him a moron.
SCHWARTZ: I mean, it`s almost unimaginable how enraged he must have been
under those circumstances.
O`DONNELL: And that`s what our reporting is now, that he was enraged.
SCHWARTZ: Because the idea that such an authoritative figure in his own
administration, by a guy that claims to prize loyalty. He has none of it
towards other people but he expects it from other people, and a combination
of circumstances had to have put him at a very – and this is when he moves
in with the kind of emotion where he could vastly over react. It`s the
very thing as far back as July 16, I was saying made me think that he could
in an impulsive, angry moment, you know, punch in the nuclear code.
O`DONNELL: Thank you very much for joining us. The book is “The Dangerous
Case of Donald Trump” and this is an historic work in the history of
American Psychiatry. We have never been in this place before. Thank you
both very much for joining us.
Tonight`s last word is next
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CONAN O`BRIEN, LAST NIGHT WITH CONAN O`BRIEN, HOST: Our Secretary of State
Rex Tillerson called President Trump a moron and then was talked out of
resigning by Mike Pence. He called him a moron and then Mike Pence talked
him out of resigning. Pence`s exact words were, don`t quit, that moron
needs you. That`s kind of an odd. We need that moron.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Conan O`Brien gets tonight`s last word and the last word of
course is moron. There`s a special programming note. Tony Award Winning
creator and start of Hamilton, Lin-Manuel Miranda will join his high school
classmate Chris Hayes at 8:00 p.m. to talk about the crisis in Puerto Rico
and the aftermath of hurricane Maria, that`s 8:00 p.m. Chris Hase, Lin-
Manuel Miranda right here on MSNBC.
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