The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell, Transcript 10/6/17 AXIOS: Trump wants to replace Tillerson
Show: THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL
Date: October 6, 2017
Guest: Neera Tanden, E.J. Dionne, Daniel Dale, Maura Healey, Jill Wine-
Banks, Kara Swisher, Kathleen Clark
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: That does it for us tonight. Thanks for being
with us. We`ll see you again Monday. Now, it`s time for THE LAST WORD
where Ari Melber is in for Lawrence tonight. Good evening, Ari. I`m
sorry I ate a little bit of your first minute.
ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Don`t worry, Rachel, but I do need to speak to you
for just a minute.
MELBER: And since I know you a little bit, I know you might not like it.
But I want to wish you congratulations –
MELBER: – for two Emmy Awards last night.
MADDOW: Thank you.
MELBER: I know you`re not big about victory laps on awards.
MELBER: But I will add, you know, I went to school in Michigan. And I
think the award on the Flint coverage, the reporting you did from here and
from the ground, meant a lot to a lot of people out there. So
congratulations on that.
MADDOW: Oh. Well, thank you for saying it. You – it drives me crazy to
have this conversation with you, but for Flint, especially, for that award,
is – you know, if it gets a little more attention back to Flint even now,
it`s all we can do. Thanks, Ari.
MELBER: Congratulations. Have a good weekend, Rachel.
MELBER: Donald Trump has been ad libbing a warning that we are now in a
calm before the storm, which may not mean anything, but it does come as
Trump is in open war with his own Secretary of State, which means it may
In fact, it was just last Friday, you may recall, when Trump ousted his
healthcare chief. Rex Tillerson did make it through this Friday evening,
which wasn`t certain.
According to Axios reporting today, Trump was seething when he returned
from his Las Vegas trip and then, quote, saw Tillerson`s gaffe dominating
cable news coverage. Everywhere he flipped, there was Tillerson`s face
instead of his.
The relationship is so toxic, few in the White House think it can be
rebuilt. Trump is considering firing Tillerson and giving Mike Pompeo the
job, which would leave a vacancy, of course, at the CIA.
But apparently, quote, Trump recognizes a cabinet shuffle would bring bad
press. White House Chief of Staff John Kelly wants stability, they write,
and so is discouraging high-level departures before next year.
Today, in Puerto Rico, Vice President Mike Pence was asked by NBC News
about his confidence in Tillerson. He said, quote, oh, sure, and then
reported that phrase when pressed about his confidence in Tillerson.
So that`s the staff drama. Then, of course, there is the Trump drama.
Today, reporters asking Trump about his bizarre reference to the calm
before the storm, and he winked.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President, what did you mean by calm before the
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yesterday, what did you mean by that?
TRUMP: Thank you very much.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thanks, everyone. We`ll answer the questions.
TRUMP: You`ll find out.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: What was that? I mean, we don`t know. And a lot of people asked
the White House spokesperson who didn`t have an answer and instead, tried
to flip the scrip and argue this is all part of Trump`s mysterious wait and
see approach to foreign policy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Was he referring to military action when he said calm
before the storm?
SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: As we have said many
times before – I know the President has, as I have from this podium, on
quite a few occasions – we`re never going to say in advance what the
President`s going to do. And as he said last night, in addition to those
comments, you`ll have to wait and see.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Now, there could be a good chance that Trump didn`t actually mean
anything by it. Maybe he was ad libbing or just trying to stir up drama.
But when it comes at the very time that he is publicly undercutting his
chief diplomat`s efforts to defuse this nuclear-related feud with North
Korea, what do we do with the chance that Trump did mean something by it?
And then there`s the over-organizing question, the one that comes up a lot
when you talk politics these days. Does any of this matter?
There is a cliche. I know I hear from people sometimes that, well, Trump
supporters just stick with him no matter what. But a lot of cliches,
they`re just not true.
Look at today`s new A.P. poll. Donald Trump, right now, after all this,
hitting his lowest approval marks ever. Sixty-seven percent of Americans
approve – disapprove. Only 32 percent, I should say, approve.
And on a day when Trump issued a new rule limiting healthcare coverage for
women, note, those numbers do have a major gender gap. His approval among
women, even lower. A recent CNN poll puts it at just 27 percent, far lower
than how he rates with men.
Joining me now is E.J. Dionne, opinion writer of “The Washington Post” and
MSNBC political analyst and co-author of the new book, “One Nation after
Trump.” Neera Tanden, president at Center for American Progress and a
former aide to Hillary Clinton. And Daniel Dale, Washington correspondent
for “The Toronto Star.”
So much to get to. Neera, I give you open season both on the gender gap,
and please speak, if you would, to this approach to foreign policy, these
dramatic comments and the Tillerson feud.
NEERA TANDEN, PRESIDENT AND CEO, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS: You know, I
actually think these two issues are related. I think they`re a lot of
women who are fearful. Fearful about what the Trump administration is
doing, fearful about what the Trump – what Donald Trump himself is just
rattling off at any given time on a weekend.
You could be out with your kids and you come back home, and all of a
sudden, he seems to have threatened war with North Korea. He seems to be
taking joy in the idea that we`d all be worried about him having with a war
I think a lot of women look at this administration and say, it`s attacking
the issues that they – that we care about, but also that he`s completely
unstable. And that is a national security threat. It`s an issue of
security. And I think his comments yesterday only give rise to the idea
that this is entirely dysfunctional in every way, shape and form.
MELBER: E.J., Neera is suggesting that there is a type of enjoyment in the
way the President can keep everyone in the suspended animation, which is
especially bizarre when you have the powers of the presidency because, by
definition, everyone is in that suspended animation.
The fact that he feels the need to stir it up, as we saw, and not walk back
the comments, what do you make of it?
E.J. DIONNE, JR., OPINION WRITER, THE WASHINGTON POST: Well, I think you
said it right earlier on when you were talking about Tillerson and the
trouble he is in.
The President was upset with Tillerson because he wanted to save face from
Tillerson calling him a moron, which Tillerson himself has not denied. And
he worried about not seeing his face, Trump, on television instead of –
Tillerson was there instead.
And so what you are seeing, I think, in these poll numbers is a sense from
Americans that this guy just doesn`t take this job seriously. He thinks
about ratings. He thinks about how he looks.
He says stuff that could tank markets, you know, the calm before the storm.
He says stuff that every other president of either party would never think
of saying because the president is supposed to be the guardian of
And so I think the country is very nervous. And I`m really glad you made
that point at the beginning about the cliche that Trump`s people won`t
leave him. Forty-six percent of people voted for him. He`s down to 32
percent. Americans are paying attention to all this.
MELBER: Americans are paying attention. They`re making assessments.
Women are clearly out the door. A lot of other groups. I mean, we
sometimes slice the groups in different ways.
And, Daniel Dale, I`ll show the Republicans number for you. Trump job
approval among people who self-identify as Republicans – and by the way,
we all know he`s driven some people to stop self-identifying. But even
among those who do, now, a third disapprove, Daniel.
DANIEL DALE, WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, THE TORONTO STAR: Yes. I think the
country can be overly fixated on the continued existence of any base for
Donald Trump. So people see that, you know, there`s a 30 percent that does
stick with him.
DALE: And they say, oh, my gosh, how could that be? But, you know, he has
been overwhelmingly unpopular from the minute he took office, and he`s
become more so.
So I think, in sort of puzzling anthropologically about, you know, who
these people and why they think how they do, we can miss the forest here,
which is that this is a historically unpopular president, and he is
bleeding support slowly but surely.
MELBER: I want to point you, Neera, as a former Hillary aide to a
“Politico” article about something that I think people forget. At least,
you tell me if I`m wrong with something I have noticed in talking to folks
who work in Washington and across administrations, is, on substance and on
policy, not on the politics –
MELBER: – there`s a desire sometimes to try to be supportive of other
people who are serving in the government, right? So you might not serve to
– choose to serve Donald Trump, but there`s a sort of a camaraderie around
the service to the nation.
And I say that in teeing up what I`m going to read to you, which is John
Kelly was named White House Chief of Staff in July. His predecessor in the
job, Rahm Emanuel, who you know, called the office to wish him luck and
offer himself as a resource.
Bill Daley, a former chief to President Obama, as well as other
administrations, sent him a note with the same message. Kelly didn`t
return either, Neera.
TANDEN: Look, I think this administration, at every moment, this White
House, this administration, every element of it, has basically said that
they`re the administration of what they think is half the country.
When Democrats have reached out, they`ve been rebuked. When Rahm Emanuel
reaches out, he`s rebuked. When – in every legislative attempt, they only
want to use Republicans. They`ve never reached out.
They have the most right wing extreme positions on every issue. Today`s
contraception ruling is just part of that, but it`s part and parcel of
their tax plan and their healthcare plan and everything else, which is to
govern for the hard right of this country.
And I`m so glad you`ve mentioned the fact that he has actually bled support
from his base. He had a high watermark just after the election of 46
percent, 45/45 support, oppose. He`s now at 32 percent.
So Americans are waking up. A lot of American women are waking up. A lot
of this non-college women who voted for him are moving away from him
because I think they see his policies as against their interest.
MELBER: And to broaden that out, E.J., you know, Ta-Nehisi Coates was on
earlier with my colleague, Chris Hayes. And Rachel`s show, tonight, was
looking back at the year ago that was in October, leading up to the
Elections are scheduled. They`re scheduled in the constitution. But when
they occur, it can also feel a bit like an accident.
When you look at the wrong track numbers today – you mentioned if this
election were held now or if we had a parliamentary system where you can
have a snap election, which we don`t, but if you look at it now, 74 percent
of Americans say we are on the wrong track.
I wonder, E.J., if – you`re our – you know, you`re our – I want to say
this without calling you old, but you are our most experienced commentator.
DIONNE: I`ve been around a while. It`s OK. I accept that.
MELBER: So I want to ask you, as we take a step back –
TANDEN: He`s a very young pundit.
MELBER: As we –
DIONNE: Bless you, Neera.
MELBER: As we take a step back on a Friday night and go just beyond the
politics of it, what do you see when you see 74 percent one year in? Do
you see a cultural assessment? Do you see a Watergate level assessment?
Or point us to how you look at something like this because we`re not
usually at three quarters of the country, even higher, I should note, than
the disapproval numbers, saying this whole country of America right now is
on the wrong track.
DIONNE: Well, you know, I`ve been saying a lot over the last several
months that when people compare Donald Trump to Richard Nixon, I actually
think it`s unfair to Richard Nixon.
And the reason I say that is because Richard Nixon had some degree of
seriousness about policy. He even signed bills – to go to Neera`s point
about working with Democrats, he signed a lot of bills that Democrats put
on his desk, like to create the EPA.
With Donald Trump, there is nothing like that. There is no seriousness
about the job or about policy. He`s gone on both sides of DACA within a
few days. On some days, he wants to expand healthcare beyond ObamaCare.
On other days, he doesn`t care as long as ObamaCare is repealed.
And so I think he is somebody who even – it`s said that he has this solid
base, but nobody out there really knows if he stands for anything. So he
may be able to fall even lower than Richard Nixon did who, after all, had
about – I think it was 24 percent when he left office. And you wonder,
given his inconsistency, if he will even hit that if he keeps going down.
MELBER: Well, E.J., didn`t Nixon also have a sense of shame?
DIONNE: He has some sense of shame. He had some – he was introspective
in a lot of ways, sometimes gloomily so. And you don`t sense a lot of
introspection in Donald Trump.
MELBER: Daniel, go ahead.
DALE: Yes. You know, I don`t know what the low point is for Trump. We
know that he`s done a whole lot and still has retained, you know, that
core, but there`s a lot still to come.
I think what will be interesting to see is whether he can pivot to
campaigning for Republican congressional candidates after he`s been
savaging them, the guys he calls Mitch and Paul and their band there in the
House and Senate.
You know, he has been mocking them, chiding them, publicly embarrassing
them, and he`s going to have to depend on that group getting re-elected in
order for him to achieve anything.
So can he succeed at doing both of those same things? You know, both of
those things at once, raging at them while also helping them get elected by
his voters. It really remains to be seen.
MELBER: Daniel Dale and E.J. Dionne, thank you both. I really appreciate
it. Food for thought.
DIONNE: Good to be with you.
MELBER: And, Neera, I`ll be speaking with you again.
Coming up. In a new interview, the head of Donald Trump`s digital
campaign, breaking tonight, is talking about embeds from Facebook that he
recruited on a partisan basis working in the Trump campaign. It`s turning
We`ll show you exactly what he said, but, first, Donald Trump getting sued
again. This time, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey is suing the
Trump administration over those new rules rolling back contraception
coverage in the Affordable Care Act.
MELBER: This weekend marks the anniversary of Donald Trump`s “Access
Hollywood” tape leaking, which women`s groups commemorated by playing it on
a loop at the National Mall today in Washington. And today is the day the
Trump administration picked to issue this new rule limiting women`s
The Attorney General of Massachusetts is already filing a suit against it,
along with the ACLU, arguing the new Trump rule illegally limits women`s
healthcare by enabling employers to back out of contraception requirements
they would, otherwise, have under current federal law.
The Trump administration, offering a new broader religious exception. The
rule is an attack on women`s health, says Massachusetts Attorney General
Maura Healey, adding, I`m suing today to defend these critical protections.
And the Attorney General joins us now.
Thank you for making time tonight. I`m going to speak with Neera Tanden in
a moment, but, Attorney General, how do you win this case?
MAURA HEALEY, ATTORNEY GENERAL OF MASSACHUSETTS: Well, it`s great to be
with you, Ari.
Today, what we see from the Trump administration is a direct attack, a
direct assault, on women in this country, and under the guise of religious
freedom, which already existed under the law. And the Supreme Court had
already made that clear.
Nevertheless, Trump and the administration have sought to deny women access
to affordable and reliable birth control. As a result, over 55 million
women in America today are at risk. That`s just wrong.
We sued today in court to stop this rule from going forward because it`s
unconstitutional. It violates the constitution in any number of ways, and
it needs to be stopped.
MELBER: And, briefly, what are one or two of those ways?
HEALEY: Well, the first thing it does it`s a violation of the equal
protection clause. You have a situation where the administration has
offered a rule that discriminates against women. It only affects women.
Therefore, it violates equal protection.
Ari, you`re a lawyer. You understand the establishment clause. Here we
have a situation where it`s the boss getting to impose his religious
beliefs on his workers, a woman and her family. That`s wrong.
MELBER: Let`s –
HEALEY: Women should be able to exercise the freedom to make the choice.
MELBER: Let`s pause on that because that`s such a great point. I want to
get one more thought from you on that, then we`re going to bring in Neera.
The religious freedom part is something that appeals to people on paper.
For the reasons you just mentioned, though, it makes no sense here because
if you say, well, what do I get to do with my own healthcare or my prayer
or my choice not to pray?
All of those go under religious freedom. But what it seems like here is,
as you`re arguing, you can go to court and say, wait, we have employers or
men deciding that religious freedom enables them to change their employees`
HEALEY: Yes, and that`s why this is unconstitutional and just so wrong.
But are you surprised? Was I surprised today? No. It`s a shameful act,
and women across America are rightly scared by today`s actions and the
continued actions from this administration.
But here`s why we`re going to win. It`s – you can`t do that. The basic
principles say that we get to exercise religious freedom, of course, and
the law and the Supreme Court recently set this clear in Hobby Lobby.
There are already existing protections for religious freedom under the law
that protect religious institutions and the like.
But that`s not what this is about. This is about a systematic effort to
eviscerate and undermine, completely, women`s access to healthcare. And
I`ll tell you why not only are they offering religious objection, Ari, as a
reason, they offered a separate rule today that said the boss gets to,
basically, lob a moral objection that would allow the boss to deny care to
women or to other employees.
That`s just wrong, and that`s what`s really scary. The idea that somebody,
an employer, could make a moral objection that would deny women access to
needed healthcare really opens up, to a scary degree, any number of
options. And again, it`s why I sought to file directly in court this
afternoon and to seek an immediate order to stop this rule from going
As I say, President Trump is, once again, showing to be at war with women
in this country. He needs to be stopped, and we`re going to look to do it
through the courts here through this action.
MELBER: And, Neera, go ahead.
TANDEN: I think the challenge here is that this isn`t the first thing the
President has done, that Donald Trump has done, regarding women.
He has – from the moment this administration started, he announced and has
pushed forward a plan to defund Planned Parenthood. He`s rolled back rules
on paid leave, rolled back protections around equal pay.
From beginning to end, this administration has been, it seems, at war with
women. They`re really, fundamentally, attacking basic core protections.
Let me just say, this contraceptive rule has been incredibly impactful.
It`s helped women, but it`s dropped the teen pregnancy rate in this
country. We`ve had the biggest decline in teen pregnancy in decades. Why?
Because of access to contraception.
Why people want to get rid of that is really just a reason, they just want
to undermine women`s rights. And that`s what`s at stake here.
MELBER: So, I mean, that`s the law and the policy and some of the
constitutional footing. Neera, I`m also going to ask you about the
Senator Sherrod Brown suggesting today that this is not a winning path for
Republicans if, in addition to the government and your medical office, they
should add your boss. Healthcare decisions, he says, should be between you
and your doctor, not the government and your boss, Neera.
TANDEN: Access to contraception is not a 50/50 issue or a 60/40 issue or a
70/30 issues. It`s an 80/20, 90/10. There is almost unanimity on this
country in the country. But once again, Donald Trump is appeasing the most
extreme elements of his base.
And you know, as you discussed earlier in the show, his support now is at
32 percent. The group he`s losing is women. Women of all stripes. And I
think this is the reason why. They see that Donald Trump stands on one
side, Jeff Sessions starts – stands on one side, HHS stands on one side,
and they stand on another.
MELBER: Attorney General, final thoughts on the road ahead? You obviously
acted quickly. I wonder if you could share with our viewers how that
works, how prepped and ready, how long ago did you start drafting this
HEALEY: Well, you know, Ari, we have been contemplating this for a while
because, unfortunately, this is a president who, time and time again, has
sought to make good on any number of unconstitutional campaign promises.
So we were ready to go today because we know how high the stakes are, how
serious this is.
You`re talking about women`s access to preventative healthcare services
that, as Neera says, are so effective and so important and so widely used
by Democrats and Republicans alike. This is not and should not be a
partisan issue. This is about healthcare.
So look, we have sued the Trump administration before. We`ve been
successful. We`re going to continue to make our case every day.
This is about the constitution. And once again, we have a president who
doesn`t seem to think that the rule of law applies to him, doesn`t seem to
think that his administration needs to abide by or respect basic
constitutional principles. But as a state attorney general, that`s my job
to make sure he does.
MELBER: Attorney General Maura Healey and Neera Tanden, thank you both.
TANDEN: Thank you.
HEALEY: Thank you. Good to be with you.
MELBER: Excellent. Have a good weekend.
Now coming up, we know investigators are looking into how Facebook was used
in the election. The Trump campaign`s digital director, though, speaking
out in remarks that are leaking tonight about how the campaign worked with,
he says, embedded Facebook staff. That`s next.
MELBER: New developments in the role of social media in the 2016 election
today. Facebook announcing some Russian political ads also showed up on
Instagram, making it the latest platform implicated. And reports finding
Russia bought ads targeting about a dozen specific states.
And then tonight, “60 Minutes” is releasing this brand new clip from its
forthcoming interview with the Trump campaign`s digital director, Brad
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRAD PARSCALE, FORMER DIGITAL MEDIA DIRECTOR FOR DONALD TRUMP`S
PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN: We took opportunities that, I think, the other side
LESLEY STAHL, CBS NEWS HOST: Like what?
PARSCALE: Well, we had our – their staff embedded inside our offices.
PARSCALE: Yes. Facebook employees would show up for work every day in our
STAHL: Whoa, wait a minute. Facebook employees showed up at the Trump
PARSCALE: Google employees and Twitter employees.
STAHL: They were embedded in your campaign?
PARSCALE: I mean, they were there multiple days a week. Three or four
days a week, two days a week probably.
STAHL: What were they doing inside? You mean –
PARSCALE: Helping teach us how to use the platform. I want to get –
STAHL: Helping you get elected?
PARSCALE: I asked each one by e-mail, I want to know every single secret
button, click, technology you have. I want to know everything you would
tell Hillary`s campaign, plus some. And I want your people here to teach
me how to use it.
PARSCALE: Yes. I want them sitting right next to us.
STAHL: How do you know they weren`t Trojan horses?
PARSCALE: Because I had asked them to be Republicans, and I would talk to
STAHL: Oh, you only wanted Republicans?
PARSCALE: I wanted people who supported Donald Trump.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Trump`s digital director bragging about this close coordination
is, number one, at odds with President Trump`s recent tweets that Facebook
was always, quote, anti-Trump.
And while it does echo a line that Parscale used when he announced that he
would speak to the House Intel Committee about, quote, staff it provided to
the Trump campaign, by Facebook, Google, and Twitter, it would certainly be
odd if Facebook was part of screening its own full-time employees for their
partisan loyalty before, quote, embedding them with the Trump campaign.
As a campaign claim, coming now amidst the Russia inquiry, this certainly
raises as many questions as answers.
Joining me now is Ken Dilanian, the intelligence and national security
reporter for NBC News, and Jill Wine-Banks, a former assistant special
Watergate prosecutor and an MSNBC contributor.
Jill, your reaction?
JILL WINE-BANKS, FORMER ASSISTANT WATERGATE SPECIAL PROSECUTOR: Well, I`m
reminded of something that I learned that I thought was fascinating from a
University of Chicago professor, who pointed out that the micro-targeting
that we`re now seeing through Facebook is something similar to the use of
radio versus television in the Nixon/Kennedy debates.
People who saw him on television, saw the debate on television, thought
that Kennedy won. People who heard it on radio thought Nixon won.
And we always assumed it was because of the sweating Nixon on television,
but according to studies that he cited to me, it`s because it was a rural
audience listening on the radio and an urban audience, that tended
Democratic, that saw it on television. The rural people did not yet have
televisions in the `60s.
And so I think there`s something similar going on here with the targeting
of rural populations with specific ads that could only reach them through
something like Facebook. It would be too expensive to do it any other way.
So I think it`s really interesting and very scary.
MELBER: And there`s two threads here, Ken, the pull on. One is, as Jill
says, whether that was crucial targeting and was that simply effectively
done, or was it a type of expertise that was shared somehow by Americans
with Russian hackers or other Russian supporters?
And then two, whether Mr. Parscale here is simply is ginning up an old
talking point in a dramatic way, or whether he is suggesting a type of
embedded, full-time corporate expertise screened by party affiliation that
might somehow be more concerning.
KEN DILANIAN, NBC NEWS INTELLIGENCE AND NATIONAL SECURITY REPORTER: Well,
I think there`s a couple of things going on here, Ari. One thing is that
these embeds, this is actually not a new thing. Those of us who are
following every jot and tittle of this were aware that not only Facebook,
but Google and Twitter, had employees – because this is something they
offer all their major advertisers.
And it so happened that the Trump campaign seems to have made better use of
them than the Clinton campaign and other campaigns. Now, whether they were
tailored to be Republicans, that sounds like a little bit of a stretch, but
MELBER: A stretch, meaning you don`t really buy the way he`s putting it
DILANIAN: I`m not sure I buy it. I guess anything`s possible. I`m not
sure that it`s even material. The bottom line is that they – Parscale did
have an effective Facebook operation. He was running 50,000 tailored ads a
day, according to him. But the big question is, so did the Russians.
You know, the Facebook turned over 3,000 ads to the intelligence committees
this week that were from a Russian propaganda effort, and that`s only the
tip of the iceberg. And so the big question is, did this sophisticated
Russian social media propaganda at work – network interact –
DILANIAN: – coordinate, collude, in any way, with this successful Trump
social media effort.
MELBER: Right. And not to put too many threads here on a Friday night,
but that goes to the reporting you`ve been doing all week about also what`s
in the dossier and what overlaps with that and what has been publicly
verified, which I want to ask you about.
So both of you, please hang with me, but to finish out some of the
expertise and give context on these new claims, I want to also bring in a
very special guest, which is Kara Swisher. She`s the executive editor of
“Recode,” which is a partner of ours at NBC and our digital experts.
So, Kara, what do you see in all of this?
KARA SWISHER, EXECUTIVE EDITOR, RECORD (via telephone): Well, I think Brad
– as Ken was saying just briefly, I think they were screening them for
their political affiliations sounds suspect to me. And I`ve called
Facebook. I`m going to ask them is that`s the case. It seems unusual.
But then again, these embeds are usually used in lots of advertisers. They
bring them in to show them how to use things. They brought them in to –
when I was working at Dow Jones. They brought them in, you know?
They used – they bring them in to show or you get lessons from Twitter,
how to use them. And they`ll bring people at your office and give you –
so it`s very common.
MELBER: Right. And then –
SWISHER (via telephone): It`s not uncommon and –
MELBER: Let me ask you about that because that goes to the coordination.
SWISHER (via telephone): Sure.
MELBER: I mean, the question is whether those people, when they come in to
Dow Jones, then become Dow Jones employees and are seen as all one team?
SWISHER (via telephone): No. No.
MELBER: Because he is –
SWISHER (via telephone): No, no, no, no. They just –
MELBER: Go ahead.
SWISHER (via telephone): No. They just give you lessons, like in how to
use these technologies. And they – you know, I have had one. I`ve had –
Twitter has come in and thought reporters how to use Twitter better and
things like that. So I don`t think that`s what the unusual part.
I think the issue is, you know, how much – how effectively the Trump
campaign used Facebook over other campaigns and how ineffectively the
Clinton campaign did.
I mean, everybody was using these social media platforms. And as I`ve said
many times, they became weaponized, really, for whatever side managed to
use the weapons better. Whether it was Twitter or – and Facebook was
highly effective, obviously.
And then, on top of it is these inventions that were created in the United
States of America were used and abused by Russian – different parts or
different influential people, influences in Russia, to create problems in
our election system.
And so it`s kind of ironic that we invented everything, and then they
turned around and used it to our detriment.
MELBER: Right. Ironic, indeed, and something investigators are probably
Kara Swisher, thank you for adding your expertise to this.
Ken, I want to go, as promised, then to the other piece of this. The
dossier, an explosive document.
Its author has been pursued, and we`re told Mueller`s talked to him. And
your reporting suggests the negotiations continue with the Senate Intel
Committee, which has said they`d hit a wall.
Let me read the latest. Senator Burr and Mark Warner, saying the Committee
has made these multiple requests to meet with Steele over last nine months,
including his attorneys. We remain open to, quote, any credible offer to
meet with Mr. Steele.
What can you tell us about this?
DILANIAN: Yes. So I think what that reflects is that there is a sort of a
dance going on here, Ari. Even though Senator Richard Burr, as you`ve been
reporting, said earlier in the week, look, we have asked Steele to come in
and he has basically refused, it`s more complicated than that.
Steele has offered to come in, but he doesn`t want to do some things that
the Senate Intelligence Committee apparently wants him to do – for
example, reveal who paid for the dossier, the work that he was doing – and
maybe reveal some of his sources.
So that is ongoing. But, you know, as we have also reported, Mueller`s
team has gone to interview him, and I find that significant, you know,
nearly a – more than a year, actually, after the FBI first got parts of
So they`ve had a long time to investigate these claims. They are still
going back to talk to Mr. Steele to ask more questions, which tells me it`s
still in play and there`s still some things in there that they`re trying to
vet and verify, Ari.
MELBER: Jill, how do prosecutors look at something like that?
WINE-BANKS: Well, there are two things happening here. One is the public
disclosure by Senators Burr and Warner, which, I have to say, sounds very
misleading to me, listening to it, versus what we`re hearing about the
willingness to cooperate.
The other part is I think that Mr. Steele is quite justified in some of his
concerns. He doesn`t want to reveal his sources, and he doesn`t want to
reveal who hired him because his business depends on confidentiality and
because of the risk of leaks. Not from the FBI and not from Mueller, but
the risk of leaks from Congress, which seems to be the source.
MELBER: So, Jill, what should the Republican Chair Burr have said? Should
he have just said, we can`t agree on terms for our interview, instead of, I
hit a wall? Because he certainly left the world with a different
impression, as you allude to.
WINE-BANKS: Yes. I mean, I think the honest answer is, we are negotiating
the terms of cooperation. And if the problem was that Mr. Mueller wanted
them not to talk because that would be a problem, he should have said that,
but it seems like it really is the terms.
And honestly, Michael Steele`s terms do not seem outrageous to me. He
seems quite justified in saying, I don`t want to reveal my sources.
And we`re getting diverted from the real fact, which is, what are the
facts? It doesn`t matter who hired him. It doesn`t matter who paid him.
Did he discover things that are true? And some of his report has clearly
The willingness of the Russians to provide negative information on Hillary
to help the Trump campaign seems to be true. The fact of the Trump Tower
in construction in Russia, that`s something we didn`t know about that is
definitely true. So –
MELBER: Right, or you might care who paid for it because it goes to
incentive, motive, and the original context of the gathered information.
Mueller might ultimately try to determine that.
But the notion that the Republican Chair says, well, I don`t even want to
sit down with you to get some of what is true or allegedly true, I don`t
want to – I don`t even want to talk to you until I can know everything,
that doesn`t strike me as a normal investigative process.
WINE-BANKS: I agree with you. And again, who hired them may determine
whether they were looking for a certain point of view, but we already know
WINE-BANKS: We know that this was done for opposition research. We know
it was anti-Trump, so we already know that the bias was to find negative
things. That doesn`t mean what they found isn`t true. We ought to be
looking at, is it true? Not who hired them.
MELBER: Right. And all I`ll say, as a reporter, is we don`t know whether
the whole dossier is true. We do know a lot of credible people, including
the former Republican FBI Director Robert Mueller, are very interested in
this explosive dossier. Not the last we`re going to hear about it.
Jill Wine-Banks and Ken Dilanian, thanks for joining me on a Friday night.
WINE-BANKS: Thank you.
DILANIAN: Thanks so much, Ari.
MELBER: Up next, the Trump cabinet secretary whose wife took heat for
posting those selfies describing her expensive wardrobe, her terminology,
aboard private government jets. Well, that cabinet secretary has been
taking even more trips on government planes. We`ll explain, next.
MELBER: It was just last Friday that Donald Trump ousted his healthcare
chief over private jet travel. This Friday, his Treasury chief now under
fire for spending close to a million dollars on private military jet
travel. We know this because of a new internal watchdog report as travel
spending by three other top Trump officials is also under review.
Now, Mnuchin`s flights include $27,000 on a trip to Kentucky, first exposed
by his wife in that Instagram post. Another 15k trip from Washington to
New York to go to Trump Tower. And $43,000 flight to Miami.
When a nonpartisan career official at the Treasury saw that bill before
they booked the flight, he told Mnuchin, in writing, it was over 60 times
the cost of just hopping a normal flight. Quote, for your awareness, the
official wrote, the cost on commercial air is $688 round trip.
Now, this new watchdog report raises, quote, a disconnect between the
standard of proof called for and the actual amount of proof provided by
Treasury and accepted by the White House in justifying these trip requests.
Now, if you`re thinking this is not normal, that`s because it isn`t.
Here`s Obama`s former Treasury Secretary.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JACOB LEW, FORMER SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY: I never used military
aircraft for domestic travel.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Joining us now is Kathleen Clark, a professor of law at Washington
University in St. Louis and an expert on government ethics.
KATHLEEN CLARK, PROFESSOR OF LAW, WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY IN ST. LOUIS: This
is very bad. And it`s bad not just for Treasury Secretary Mnuchin, but
it`s bad for the Trump White House because the problems with Trump cabinet
secretary travel is widespread, and it really points to a lack of controls
on the part of this administration.
MELBER: Also, a lack of regret. My colleague, Chuck Todd, spoke to
Treasury Secretary Mnuchin about this. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHUCK TODD, MSNBC HOST: Do you regret doing that?
STEVEN MNUCHIN, SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY: I don`t, and let me tell you
why. First of all, all of our travel went through the same process as
previous secretaries of the Treasury. Every single one of my trips was
approved by the White House.
And the only time I`ve ever used or would use a private plane for
government purposes, if either there was a national security issue or we
couldn`t get somewhere. And that`s what this is about.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Is he lying?
CLARK: No, but he is deflecting what the problem is. The problem isn`t
necessarily what the process was, they – using the same process as was
used in the Obama administration, but the outcome, I think, is quite
different. Or at the very least, the outcome here is bad for the Trump
It looks terrible, not just with Mnuchin`s flight but also the other
cabinet secretary – secretaries` flights. And so something went wrong.
The fact that Mnuchin can`t admit error or identify error at this stage is,
in itself, troubling.
MELBER: You know, a lot of conservative thought leaders and commentators
talk a lot about culture and personal responsibility. You`re an expert on
ethics, which is not about, just as you say, process or the rules. It`s
also about the ethical culture of an institution.
Do you see indications here that these individuals, because this is more
than one person in the administration, seem to have some view of themselves
as the rules don`t apply, or this is some sort of taxpayer-funded party?
I mean, Steve Mnuchin is someone who got rich foreclosing on people`s homes
because they missed a few payments, but seems to think that he can rack up
these enormous bills paid for by taxpayers.
CLARK: Yes. The practice of the Trump cabinet secretaries traveling by
military jet, BY government jet, or private charter, really demonstrates a
lack of sensitivity, a lack of judgment. But again, this is a problem that
may well start at the top.
Since we – I believe that Donald Trump`s own personal travel to his
various resorts and golf courses has cost the taxpayers tens of millions of
dollars, far outstripping what was budgeted for the Secret Service and
So this is a widespread problem. And the one thing that Mnuchin said that,
I think, we should pay close to attention to is he`s blaming the White
House. And it may well be that part of the blame belongs there, on the
CLARK: But that`s not the only place the problem is.
MELBER: Well, and Trump reportedly removed Tom Price over this same
private jet travel. So if what you say is true, for accountability, the
President, ultimately, would have to, by that standard, remove himself.
We`ll keep an eye on that.
CLARK: If I could, I just want to clarify. Mnuchin traveled by government
jet, and I believe that Price, many of his flights, were actually by
private jet. So similar problem, but just technically a different
mechanism was used.
MELBER: Right. No, I mentioned in the set-up of our discussion that a lot
of this was military jets. And that`s why, again, when you see a former
Treasury official say, we never did that, I mean, not once –
MELBER: – in his entire tenure did they ever do that. For the obvious
reason that, with all due respect to the important role that the Treasury
Secretary plays over the capital markets, he can be in the air for an hour
or two and pick up phone calls when he lands. He is not the President.
MELBER: I mean, that`s just what we know from the history. Kathleen
Clark, as always, thank you for your ethical acumen.
CLARK: Thank you very much.
MELBER: Coming up, new clues offer, indeed, more questions than answers
for FBI investigators on this important case. What do authorities know
about the Las Vegas shooter`s motive? The latest on that story coming up.
MELBER: It has been five days now since that deadly shooting attack on a
country music festival in Las Vegas. All 58 victims have now been
identified. And we can tell you, today, investigators emphasizing their
belief there was, as previously reported, one shooter.
But after chasing down more than a thousand clues and combing through this
gunman`s life, police say they`re really no closer to explaining what drove
this 64-year-old reclusive but wealthy gambler to commit those horrific
I want to show you, now, NBC National Correspondent Miguel Almaguer with
more from Las Vegas.
MIGUEL ALMAGUER, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Replacing the windows where
Steven Paddock unleashed the murder, the nightmare, investigators have now
scoured multiple crime scenes, the hotel, the concert turned killing field,
and the homes where he lived.
What can you tell us about motive?
KEVIN MCMAHILL, UNDERSHERIFF, LAS VEGAS METROPOLITAN POLICE DEPARTMENT: I
can tell you that I really don`t have an answer for you about motive. I`m
confident telling you today that we had one shooter, and he`s deceased.
We`re confident he did it alone, but did anybody else know what he was
planning and why? That is the main focus of our investigation today.
ALMAGUER: IRS records show Paddock earned at least $5 million gambling in
2015. Two sources say the gunman bought some ammo from a recent gun show
in Phoenix and sought to purchase tracer rounds, bullets that leave a
visible trail in the dark.
Shot four times, Samantha Faranda was finally able to go home today.
SAMANTHA FARANDA, SHOOTING SURVIVOR: I`m just grateful I didn`t have to
completely say goodbye to all the people that I love.
ALMAGUER: What happened in Vegas is being felt nationwide. Today, in
Chicago and Austin, stepped up security as thousands gather for concerts
and baseball games.
Tonight, we now know the names of all 58 victims, 30 with ties to southern
California. The youngest, just 20, Bailey Schweitzer. The oldest, 67-
year-old Pati Mestas, loved life and her eight grandchildren. Las Vegas
police officer Charleston Hartfield served 16 years in the military, dying
on a battlefield at home, in the city he loved.
Tonight, growing memorials in Las Vegas as 58 families began to plan
ALMAGUER: As investigators pore over the crime scene behind me, they say
they are certain the gunman acted alone. What is unclear after weeks,
months, possibly even years of meticulous planning, how could no one else
know about the murderous plan.
Ari, back to you.
MELBER: Thanks, Miguel, for that report. Tonight`s last word is up next.
MELBER: The very talented Lin-Manuel Miranda made some headlines this
weekend when he was calling out President Trump`s disparaging comments
about the Mayor of San Juan in the wake of the hurricane.
Miranda tweeting, quote, you`re going straight to hell, Donald Trump. No
long lines for you. Someone will say, “Right this way, sir.” They`ll
clear a path.
Unusual because he is usually such a positive type of communicator. Well,
tonight, Lin-Manuel Miranda had this to say on “ALL IN.”
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LIN-MANUEL MIRANDA, CREATOR, HAMILTON: It`s the definition of adding
insult to injury. And at the same time, it`s jaw dropping. This has been
an unprecedented disaster, and it deserves an unprecedented response. And
– or at least commensurate with the two other hurricanes that have also
ravaged the United States of America. Puerto Rico is a part of the United
States of America.
Copy: Content and programming copyright 2017 MSNBC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
Copyright 2017 ASC Services II Media, LLC. All materials herein are
protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced,
distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the
prior written permission of ASC Services II Media, LLC. You may not alter
or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the