Bannon calls for Corker to resign Transcript 10/9/17 The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell
Show: THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL
Date: October 9, 2017
Guest: Nicholas Kristof, Ezra Klein, Chris Whipple, Jennifer Reuben, Charlie Sykes, Clint Watts
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC: 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. And while
you were working tonight, Steve Bannon was on television announcing that he
is going to run Republican primary challenges against every incumbent
Republican senator running for re-election except Ted Cruz, and I`m not
actually sure how Ted Cruz escaped that but he did.
Like why not Ted Cruz but, yes, Orrin Hatch? Like I can`t quite figure –
MADDOW: What do we – if it`s the – sort of it`s Steve Bannon against the
Republican Party, what do we call the Bannon party, right?
And like what gets – if the two of them have decided it`s a fight to the
death and it`s zero sum, it`s either Steve Bannon or the Republican Party,
what do we call the remainders there and what do they run for?
O`DONNELL: And who do you call to call off Steve Bannon? Might you call
for example his friend, the president of the United States in whose name
Steve Bannon is doing this.
He`s doing this because he says this is good for Donald Trump? You`re Orrin
Hatch; the chairman of the tax-writing committee in the Senate, you`re
being attacked by Donald Trump`s pal Steve Bannon, who do you – who do you
MADDOW: Yes, well, and let it – let the record be clear that nobody has
ever fanned being fired from the White House into better press and more
supposed influence than Steve Bannon.
Literally, Steve Bannon fired from the White House and went back to running
a website, and we`re all supposed to see that as a gigantic promotion that
makes him the dark overlord?
O`DONNELL: Well, let`s consider this, in a White House as powerless as
this one, is it possible for a White House adviser to actually be more
powerful at a website? This could be –
MADDOW: I want to get stuff done, I`m leaving the White House.
O`DONNELL: That`s right –
MADDOW: Sarah Palin approached to governing Alaska.
O`DONNELL: Well, there –
MADDOW: Yes –
O`DONNELL: We are, thank you, Rachel –
MADDOW: Thank you, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Senator Bob Corker chooses his words very carefully. He had
several days to decide what he was going to say when the Trump attack on
him finally came.
And that attack came yesterday and Bob Corker hit back much harder than the
president hit him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BOB CORKER (R), TENNESSEE: We could be heading towards World War III
with the kind of comments that he`s making.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It could be the calm before
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What storm, Mr. President?
TRUMP: You`ll find out.
CORKER: He`s just putting on an act.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Essentially saying the emperor has no clothes.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Calling the Trump White House a reality show and
adult day care center.
STEVE SCHMIDT, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: The entire interview demonstrates
that he questions his fitness as commander-in-chief.
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MAJORITY LEADER, SENATE: Think Corker is a
valued member of the Republican conference, and they`re going to be
turning to the budget next week and he will be a big help in helping us get
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And he just walks away. They want to get their
little weeny tax bill done so badly that they`re not going to listen to Bob
Corker screaming at the top of his lungs that we are at risk of World War
SCHMIDT: It is past time for members of the United States Senate,
particularly in the Republican Party, who know what`s going on, to speak
out directly about it.
They didn`t take an oath to the Republican Party, they didn`t take an oath
to Donald Trump, they took an oath to the constitution of the United
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: The most important political news of the weekend and today also
happens to be the most important news in the world.
Because it`s about nothing less than World War III. And this news doesn`t
come from some conspiracy theory website.
This news comes from the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations
Committee, Republican Senator Bob Corker.
Senator Corker shocked Washington yesterday by saying what virtually
everyone in Washington was thinking which is always the best way to shock
Washington by saying something that everyone is thinking but not saying.
And when Bob Corker said it, he said he was speaking for most of the
Republicans in the Senate, the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations
Committee is the most careful Republican public speaker in Washington, he
is also one of the smartest Republicans in Washington if not the smartest.
And so all of Washington knew that Bob Corker carefully chose his words
when he said we could be heading toward World War III, thanks to President
Here`s some of the audio of Senator Bob Corker`s interview with the “New
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
CORKER: You got to realize that, you know, that we could be heading
towards World War III with the kind of comment that he`s making.
You know, it very much feels to me like he thinks as president he`s on a
reality television –
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right –
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Of course, part of the Trump presidency is a reality television
show and like all so-called reality television, it is designed to distract
you from reality by offering you the fake reality of so-called reality TV.
The largest part of President Trump`s job as he sees it seems to be
executive producer of the Trump White House reality TV show.
And for yesterday`s episode, he sent Mike Pence to a football game in
Indiana which meant that fans going to the game had to start driving hours
earlier than usual to avoid the traffic jam created by a vice presidential
But it was worth it for those fans not because they wanted to see the vice
president who they might not have bothered to cross the street to see when
he was their governor but because they were going to honor the beloved
Indianapolis Colts legend Peyton Manning who is surely on his way to the
NFL`s hall of fame.
The halftime show was a long planned display of praise and love and
affection for Peyton Manning and that`s why the vice president was
scheduled to attend that particular football game yesterday to honor Peyton
To honor Peyton Manning`s contribution not just to the game played on the
field, but to the civic life of Indianapolis and Indiana.
But the Trump reality show had already decided that Peyton Manning was not
worth honoring if any football players got down on one knee during the
And it was absolutely guaranteed that players would get on one knee during
the national anthem because the visiting team was the San Francisco 49ers,
the team that began the one-knee protest against unjustified killings by
police when quarterback Colin Kaepernick was the first one to get on one
knee last year in protest of unjustifiable police use of deadly force.
Executive producer Donald Trump told cast member Mike Pence that he must
flamboyantly walk out of the stadium if this happened.
And so Mike Pence left the stadium without so much as a public hand shake
with Peyton Manning. And not a single fan who endured all that vice
presidential traffic to get into that stadium followed Mike Pence out of
that stadium because they all knew why they came.
It wasn`t so much to watch a game between two of the worst teams in the
NFL. It was to honor their sports hero Peyton Manning.
But that`s not why Mike Pence was there. Mike Pence was there to play his
role in the Trump TV reality show, a show designed to distract American
voters from the reality of a Trump presidency, a reality that Senator Bob
Corker put in the most horrifying possible terms – World War III.
When Mike Pence was walking out of the stadium yesterday, Donald Trump was
playing golf. Donald Trump was playing golf the day before that.
And Donald Trump was playing golf today because it`s a federal holiday and
what`s a federal government worker supposed to do on a federal government
holiday even if that federal government worker has moved us closer to World
War III and should be spending all of his time trying to pull us back from
the brink of war, a brink he brought us to.
Today was just another golf day for the most dangerous president of the
nuclear age. Bob Corker`s comments in the “New York Times” about the
president came after Donald Trump attacked him in tweets yesterday morning.
“Senator Bob Corker begged me to endorse him for re-election in Tennessee,
I said no and he dropped out. Said he could not win without my
He also wanted to be Secretary of State, I said, no, thanks. He is also
largely responsible for the horrendous Iran deal, hence, I would fully
expect Corker to be a negative voice and stand in the way of our great
agenda, didn`t have the guts to run.
Bob Corker knew that attack was coming. He might only have been surprised
by how long it took, how many days it took because last week, after
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was quoted as calling President Trump a
moron, Bob Corker said this in defense of Rex Tillerson.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CORKER: I think Secretary Tillerson, Secretary Mattis and Chief of Staff
Kelly are those people that help separate our country from chaos.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Bob Corker had four days, four days to think about how he would
respond to the inevitable Trump attack for what he just said.
And Senator Corker`s carefully-considered choice was to hit back at Donald
Trump, even harder than Trump hit him. First with a tweet, “it`s a shame
the White House has become an adult day care center. Someone obviously
missed their shift this morning.”
Imagine Donald Trump`s rage when he read that tweet. And you have to
imagine it because Donald Trump has been silent on Bob Corker since that
But Bob Corker has not been silent. The “New York Times” managed to
interview Bob Corker after the tweet exchange with Trump and that`s when
Senator Corker said that we could be heading toward World War III.
Senator Corker also said “he concerns me, he would have to concern anyone
who cares about our nation.” Senator Corker said that Donald Trump was
lying about him, that in fact, President Trump urged Bob Corker to run for
re-election and promised to endorse him if he did.
And Bob Corker reminded us that he took himself out of consideration for
the vice presidential nomination. Bob Corker says there is no grand
strategy to what Donald Trump does or says.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
CORKER: A lot of people think that there`s some good cop, bad cop act
under way, but that`s just not true. It`s like what he says doing “The
Apprentice” or something and –
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes –
CORKER: You know, he`s just putting on an act.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Senator Corker told the “Times”, “I know he has hurt in several
instances, he`s hurt us as it relates to negotiations that were under way
by tweeting things out.”
And by us, Senator Corker means the United States of America in
negotiations with other countries, possibly even including North Korea.
Senator Corker also told the “Times”, I know for a fact that every single
day at the White House, it`s a situation of trying to contain him.
Prior to this weekend, Bob Corker`s sharpest criticism of the president
came in August when he said this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CORKER: The president has not yet – has not yet been able to demonstrate
the stability nor some of the competence that he needs to demonstrate in
order to be successful.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Yesterday, Senator Corker told the “Times” that all of his
critical comments about Donald Trump have been for an audience of one.
He told the “Times” that he had made all those comments deliberately,
aiming them at an audience of one plus those people who are closely working
around with him, what I would call the good guys.
He was referring to Mr. Tillerson, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and White
House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly.
The “Times” reported that during the interview yesterday, Mr. Corker
speaking carefully and purposefully seemed to almost find cathartic
satisfaction by portraying Mr. Trump in terms that most senior Republicans
use only in private.
And we don`t know how many other Republican senators might be on the verge
of experiencing that cathartic satisfaction of telling the truth about
But it seems someone in the White House realized that the best way to find
out how many Republicans want to experience that cathartic satisfaction.
Would be for Donald Trump to continue to attack and lie about Bob Corker.
There isn`t one Republican senator who would side with Donald Trump over
Bob Corker in this kind of dispute.
And so Donald Trump sits in the White House tonight, beaten into his corner
by Bob Corker, humiliated by Bob Corker by being accurately described by
The collected public quotes about President Trump by Senator Corker are the
worst things ever said about a president by a senator in the same party.
They are now actually the worst things ever said by a senator about a
president, World War III, World War III.
There is nothing worse that you can say about a president than that he`s
setting the country on the path to World War III.
There is nothing worse that a president could do. Donald Trump is the
slowest student ever to occupy the presidency, and so it is taking him a
long time to discover that he doesn`t actually have any power over senators
like Bob Corker, but tonight the president might finally be learning that
lesson in the most painful way possible by having to sit there in the White
House humiliated by Senator Corker and being unable to attack Senator
Corker with a tweet because he has finally discovered that Bob Corker has
more power over him than he has over Bob Corker.
And what the country and the world has a right to be worried about tonight
is does Senator Corker`s humiliation of President Trump move us forward or
backward on the path toward World War III?
Joining us now, Nicholas Kristof; Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for the
“New York Times”, he returned from a five-day trip to North Korea, this was
his third trip to North Korea.
Also with us Ezra Klein; editor-at-large at “Vox” and host of the podcast
“The Ezra Klein Show”. And Nick, one of the things that Bob Corker says is
that Donald Trump does not understand how the world takes his comments.
And he made a point that I think a lot of people don`t often consider. He
said – and you have to think about these comments in translation because
they have to then be translated into languages around the world.
What is your reading of what North Korea is taking from this president when
he says these things, like “calm before the storm” and people wonder what
that mystery is about and the other thing that he says.
NICHOLAS KRISTOF, COLUMNIST, NEW YORK TIMES: I mean, I think that when
President Trump keeps talking about war with North Korea, I think he`s
I think he`s trying to put pressure on North Korea, and I think this is a
huge miscalculation –
O`DONNELL: What do the North Koreans think?
KRISTOF: They complete – they perceive it as real, and it does a few
things. It limits their capacity to actually reach a deal.
It essentially means that they respond – Kim Jong-un and Trump are both
kind of similar and they intuitively escalate.
And that means is that it becomes much harder to avert the collision that
we`re on right now. And it also dramatically increases the tensions.
Everybody that we talked to in North Korea raised the issue of President
Trump`s speech to the United Nations.
It feeds Kim Jong-un`s line that he needs his nuclear weapons for
defensive reasons to protect Korea from those American imperialist jerks
who are going to invade the country.
So it essentially boosts Kim Jong-un`s legitimacy, undermines the chances
for any kind of a deal and increases the risk of the cataclysmic war that
Corker described – World War III.
O`DONNELL: Ezra, the Trump administration has made life in Washington
almost insufferable for a lot of people, including Republican senators.
And so senators who were not sure about whether they would run for another
term, Donald Trump is making it probably easier for them to decide to not
run for another term.
And now the Trump White House is discovering that one of the most dangerous
things for them on Capitol Hill are the – are Republican senators who
won`t be running for another term like say, Bob Corker.
EZRA KLEIN, EDITOR-AT-LARGE, VOX: So something that Nick just said is
instructive here. He just said that president – the president of the
United States and the leader of North Korea are in an important way
So that as an American is a depressing thing to hear from somebody who come
back from North Korea.
And the thing is, and this is what was behind Corker`s comments,
Republicans know it, too. Corker said there are other Republicans who feel
this way, the “New York Times” said it was a very notable line in that
That Corker is using terms senior Republicans use only in private. Not
terms senior Republicans do not use, but terms used only in private.
I have heard this, anybody who does reporting with Republicans on this
administration has heard it. It`s well-known that people in the
administration think this about Donald Trump.
And it does a couple of things. As you say, one of the things it does is
it makes serving in government right now extremely unpleasant.
That is bad for the country in certain ways. Mike Allen at “Axios” was
saying today, they`re pretty much anyone you can think of in the Trump
White House is eyeing the exits as much as they can.
That the exits of this administration after the year mark which is when
people began to feel that they have served enough to say they served is
going to be pretty devastating and who they`re going to get to replace
these folks is not like folks who are lining up to work for Trump.
But the part of it that`s going to hurt the Trump administration is in the
House, in the Senate. Republicans do not want to be in the position for
four years, for eight years potentially of yoking themselves to this guy
And because it is so hard to oppose him if you`re going to continue to
serve and run, the move might be to simply leave, be able to say what you
want on your way out the door and at least save your own legacy.
O`DONNELL: Steve Bannon apparently has a solution for Donald Trump`s
Corker problem and he announced that tonight on “Fox News”, let`s listen to
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEVE BANNON, FORMER WHITE HOUSE CHIEF STRATEGIST: If Bob Corker has any
honor, any decency, he should resign immediately.
He should not let those words stand what he said about the president of the
United States –
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Now, that, Nick, that is as madman as you get in political
analysis. He thinks that Bob Corker has to resign his seat because he
criticized the president of the United States.
KRISTOF: You know, I mean, this would be comical except people around the
world are looking at this, and this is humiliating for our country.
Any foreign policy professional, any Republican senator for that matter,
having to choose between the maturity shown by Senator Corker and their
contribution to the country, and that shown by this White House would
immediately turn to Corker.
He`s seen as the grown-up and the president as the child. And so for
Bannon to say that Corker should resign, it just compounds the sense that
we have a presidency that is not only unfit, but also dangerous.
O`DONNELL: Ezra, is that a measure of Steve Bannon`s political
intelligence because if it is, his political intelligence is zero.
Or is that just the kind of stunt language and stunt statement that his
business depends on and “Fox News” is the perfect place for him to drum up
O`DONNELL: One of the fundamental dynamics of the entire Trump
administration is a bunch of people who are demanding the Republican Party
be loyal to them when they`re not in any way loyal to the Republican Party.
Bannon is very much one of these folks and he`s trying to set himself up in
this weird way. I mean, “Breitbart” is not correct anymore to think of it
as a media organization in my view.
It`s an activist organization. Bannon is trying to run an interest group
not dissimilar from the Club for Growth or Heritage for America or
different kind of tea party groups that`s springing up over time.
Its immediate platform, what he`s trying to do is become a king maker and
an internal revolution inside the Republican Party.
When he goes on “Fox News” and says that he`s not trying to help Donald
Trump, that doesn`t help Donald Trump, and he`s not trying to help the
Republican Party, he`s not making the argument on behalf of decency, the
He`s making an argument on behalf of trying to be seen as what he wants to
be seen as next, which is the leader of the Trump era iteration of the tea
O`DONNELL: Nick, it sounds like he`s an Abbie Hoffman, Jerry Rubin yippee
version on some weird section of the right wing.
KRISTOF: I think that that`s largely right, but I mean, which is strange
is the way this all coalesce, it`s – you know, if it`s Steve Bannon, it`s
not a problem.
The problem is when you have these ties to the White House and I do think
that it relates to this central issue that Corker raised.
It is not just a question of immaturity, it`s not just a question of
unfitness. It`s a question – and even in domestic policy, there are
constraints on a president in terms of courts, Congress, the news media for
But in foreign policy, and especially in terms of the nuclear button, there
is no constraint and there the president is on his own.
And so that I think is what frightens Corker and I think that`s certainly
what frightens me.
O`DONNELL: Yes, and that is Corker`s jurisdiction, that`s why he`s worried
about it all day and he just couldn`t remain silent. Ezra Klein, Nicholas
Kristof, thank you both for joining us tonight, really appreciate it.
KLEIN: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: Coming up, new reporting tonight on the Trump reaction to the
Bob Corker interview with the “New York Times”, some saying that Donald
Trump is in a pressure cooker and that pressure cooker is going to explode.
And Steve Bannon announced his new plan to destroy the Republican Party, he
doesn`t describe it as that, but we`ll give you the details of his new plan
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BANNON: If Bob Corker has any honor, any decency, he should resign
immediately. He should not let those words stand what he said about the
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He wouldn`t –
BANNON: Of the United States.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: That was Steve Bannon, no doubt channeling Donald Trump tonight
in his reaction to Senator Bob Corker`s attack on President Trump.
An attack about which the president has so far remained
uncharacteristically silent. The “Washington Post” is reporting tonight
Senator Corker`s brutal assessment of Trump`s fitness for office, warning
that his reckless behavior could launch the nation on the path to World War
Also landed like a thunder clap inside the White House where aides feared
possible ripple effects among other Republicans on Capitol Hill.
Trump`s Sunday morning Twitter tirade against Corker caught staffers by
surprise, although the president had been brooding over the senator`s
comment for a few days, earlier about Trump`s chaos endangering the nation.
One Trump confidant likened the president to a whistling tea pot saying
that “when he does not blow off steam he can turn into a pressure cooker
I think we are in pressure cooker territory”, said this person. Joining us
now, Chris Whipple; author of “The Gate Keepers: How the White House Chiefs
of Staff Define Every Presidency”.
And Chris, this is the presidency that is not defined by a White House
Chief of Staff, although, we certainly have the image of General Kelly
working overtime and obviously achieve some kind of success with Trump on
this because he has not responded in any way to Bob Corker`s attack and we
know that has to be driving the president nuts.
CHRIS WHIPPLE, AUTHOR: Yes, well, you know, it`s hard to overstate how,
though, how dangerous and really frightening this whole situation is.
You know, I have been talking to a lot of the former White House chiefs of
staff in the last 48 hours, and they all really share Bob Corker`s concerns
that the John Kelly is the thin line between Donald Trump and disaster for
And I got to tell you every one of them can tell you in chilling detail
about that night before the inauguration when the chairman of the Joint
Chiefs comes in and explains the activation of the nuclear codes.
And every one of them will tell you that there is really nobody who can
countermand that order. And that`s the situation we find ourselves in
O`DONNELL: And that – and Bob Corker knows that and Bob Corker has
sources inside the White House who are telling him as he said in the “New
York Times” about how everyone`s time is spent, and Kelly`s time in
particular, trying to contain, simply contain the president.
And that is a new phenomenon.
WHIPPLE: Yes, well, Kelly in my opinion made a big mistake when he said at
the outset that he was only going to manage the West Wing, he wasn`t going
to try to manage Donald Trump.
You know, Leon Panetta and James Baker, the two best in my mind, will tell
you that the most important thing a White House chief does is he tells the
president what he doesn`t want to hear.
O`DONNELL: Well, obviously he`s doing that. I mean, he`s trying to do
that because and the proof of it is that Bob Corker comes out and tweets
about the president being an adult day care, and then gives this interview
to the “New York Times” and Donald Trump is absolutely silent.
And we know that`s not –
WHIPPLE: We`re talking about, what, 24 hours?
O`DONNELL: Yes, but that`s not – that is not the Trump method. The Trump
method is to instantaneously hit someone who does that.
WHIPPLE: But here`s –
O`DONNELL: So someone`s holding him back.
WHIPPLE: Yes, well, holding him back maybe in some instances, but here`s
the problem. I mean, you`ve got a guy who he may go on script for a day or
two, but the next day he rips the script up, goes on an unhinged tirade –
O`DONNELL: But that`s the pressure cooker thing that we were hearing about
in the “Washington Post” tonight from someone close to Trump.
That if –
WHIPPLE: Yes –
O`DONNELL: You do get to control him for a couple of days, it might be
that you make things worse because then you get a bigger explosion a few
WHIPPLE: Well, maybe so, but I think – I mean, the real concern here is
that you`ve got somebody who again said during the campaign, why do we have
nuclear weapons –
O`DONNELL: Yes –
WHIPPLE: If we can`t use them? You`ve got somebody who goes on these
unhinged tirades, John Kelly doesn`t seem to be able to stop those.
You know, most – a really empowered chief of staff would have tried to
take the phone away on day one. That obviously never happened.
But in the meantime, he`s got to be thinking about worst-case scenarios.
He`s got – you know, when Ronald Reagan was on the operating table in 1981
in George Washington hospital, James Baker went into a utility closet, what
that means, they discussed the 25th Amendment. Baker decided not to
activate it because for two reasons. One, he knew it would look like a
power grab by the vice President. Number two, he knew that Reagan was
coming out of surgery. Donald Trump is not coming out of surgery.
WHIPPLE: This guy is not going to change and John Kelly is really the thin
line between Trump and disaster.
O`DONNELL: Chris Whipple, thank you very much for joining us tonight.
Coming up, Steve Bannon versus the Republican Party. He is threatening
every incumbent Republican Senator running for re-election except one.
O`DONNELL: After Steve Bannon`s candidate beat Donald Trump`s candidate in
the Alabama Senate Primary last month, tonight, Steve Bannon explains what
happens next and it is the best news senate democrats could possibly hope
for from Steve Bannon.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEVE BANNON, BREITBART NEWS, EXECUTIVE CHAIRMAN: Corker, McConnell and
Corker in the entire clique, establishment globalist clique on Capitol Hill
have to go. And by the way, McConnell could not be majority leader unless
Trump in Missouri, Wisconsin was able to carry those senators across the
finish line. It is incumbent upon them to back President Trump`s but you
don`t see it. What you saw with Corker said today is what they talk about
on Capitol Hill. That`s when I left the White House remember. I said I`m
going after the Republican establishment and we`re going to go after them.
We`re going to challenge as a coalition.
PARSCALE: You mean the states?
BANNON: Ther`es a coalition coming together to challenge every Republican
incumbent except for Ted Cruz.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: That`s why I left the White House. He was fired from the White
Bloomberg is reporting today that Steve Bannon demanded all of the
candidates that he supports for the senate agree to two conditions, that
they will vote against Mitch McConnell as majority leader and they will
vote to end senators` ability to block legislation by filibustering. If
Bannon manages to carry out that threat, that means that Republican
Senators will have to raise and spend more money than they have planned to
on their reelection campaigns and it means that Donald Trump`s ally Steve
Bannon will spend the year attacking the same Republican senators who
Donald Trump needs to vote for anything that Donald Trump hopes to get
through the senate.
We`ll go inside the wreckage of the Republican party next with Charlie
Sykes and Jennifer Reuben.
O`DONNELL: We have breaking Trump Twitter news tonight of sorts. The
President is tweeting tonight. He`s up and active and tweeting. He
tweeted one about the NFL and two about the stock market and nothing,
nothing about Bob Corker. And so, we are now moving past 24 hours of
Donald Trump suffering this attack by Senator Bob Corker saying the worst
things about him that any senator has ever said about a President and still
absolute silence from President Trump.
Joining us now is Jennifer Reuben, Opinion Writer at Washington Post. Also
joining us Charlie Sykes, Author of the new book, “How The Right Lost Its
Mind” and a Msnbc Contributor. And Jennifer, two things to comment on
tonight. One is this, the Trump silence continues in the face of Senator
Corker`s powerful attack against the President. And, Steve Bannon`s attack
against Republican Senate going – he`s going to run a primary if he can
against every Republican Senator up for election except for lying Ted,
except for Ted Cruz, known as “Lying Ted” by Donald Trump.
For some reason being Lying Ted doesn`t – doesn`t disqualify him from
Donald Trump`s affection anymore. Take on the two things, one is Trump
silence on Twitter at least and elsewhere and on Bob Corker and this Bannon
assault on Republicans in the Senate.
JENNIFER REUBEN, WASHINGTON POST, OPINION WRITE: The only thing I can
think of is that John Kelly literally stolen the phone away from Donald
Trump. Someone else is perhaps twitting the innocuous things because
essentially what Bob Corker did was he outed himself and every member of
the Republican Party for allowing someone who they believe is mentally
unable to perform the Office of the President of the United States, unable
to perform the duties, a risk to the country to remain. And in doing so,
he raises not only a question about Trump, but about the rest of them.
What are they doing there if they truly believe that this man is about to
cause World War III or eventually will cause World War III?
What if tomorrow John Kelly, Mattis and Tillerson would all quit? Would
they feel that the country is in parallel? I certainly think they should.
So that`s the only explanation I can come up with on that one.
As far as the senate goes, oh my. What fun this is going to be. The
crazies against the crazier. Listen. Bannon is obviously trying to
convert the entire party into a Bannon party, all right? He wants to
become the king maker.
But what is interesting is that the possibility now opens up that some sane
Republicans might get into the act. You know, if the pro Trump Republicans
are going to fight it out between, say, Deb Fisher in Nebraska and some
crazy Bannon person, perhaps a sane person, someone who actually believes
in the constitution could get into the Republican primary. Maybe with 35
percent of the vote, someone who actually believes in the constitution, who
believes in diplomacy in North Korea, who believes in the rule of law,
could get into the act. And we now raise the interesting possibility that
perhaps there can be a war for the soul of the Republican Party. The
alternative, of course, that they go out of business and we have a lot of
democrats in office which is possible, as well.
O`DONNELL: That is a fascinating point that putting a right wing or I
don`t know what to call them. A Bannon wing challenger in these Republican
primaries opens up a possibility where you an win it with 35 percent of the
vote and you could win it in kind of classical Republican terms of the dole
era of reasonable candidates.
Charlie Sykes, fascinating point. And I want – I want to get you on what
is happening here. When we watch Steve Bannon, when I watch Steve Bannon,
the clips of him on fox news, it seems like during Donald Trump`s silence
of Bob Corker, he has Steve Bannon out there saying the things he
desperately wants to say, like the senator should resign the senate
CHARLIE SYKES, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Steve Bannon doesn`t think crazy town is
crazy enough. But this is strategy. This is almost free form rage. It is
not ideology. It`s nihilism.
You know, pushing the party further and further from the sanity that
Jennifer was talking about, the tell here is that Bannon is not only
supporting people like Roy Moore and the challengers, he is also supporting
the disgraced senator of New York, Michael Grim, just got out of jail. You
know, Michael Grim is not a populist. He`s basically a loud mouth. He`s a
troublemaker. He is a thug. He is a crook.
So what – what is the strategy here except to blow things up? And what`s
really extraordinary about it is that Bannon is pushing this agenda at a
time when Donald Trump himself is blowing up his own administration, is
burning so many bridges. And what you are seeing here is, you know, look,
this is not a governing philosophy. This is a – this is like getting in
touch with the Steve Bannon Trumpian id. It`s hard to imagine how it makes
the Trump presidency more successful or how it will do anything other than
to continue the Republican civil war.
I mean, yes, you can have sane, rational Republicans, you know, rise to the
top. But right now, that`s not the trajectory of the Republican Party.
O`DONNELL: Jennifer, if the Secretary of the State is right and the
President is a moron, what is Steve Bannon?
REUBEN: Well, he`s sort of the instigator of the moron. Trump doesn`t
like the notion that Bannon pulls his strings behind the back but that`s
sort of what he is doing because after all Trump wants to take control of
the Republican Party and Bannon is doing the work for him because Trump
isn`t skilled enough or articulate enough or however you want to put it to
make that come to pass. So now it`s not really Trump`s party. It`s
Bannon`s party. Perhaps he is the kingmaker and the man pulling the
I would agree with Charlie on the point that this is about rage and I
wonder if for his supporters at this point, that`s all they have left.
They know they`re not getting anything. They`re not going to get the
promises. All they have is rage at this point and that`s all Trump can
O`DONNELL: Charlie, a quick last word. Charlie, go ahead.
SYKES: Yes. Yes. I mean, this is – remember we heard this during the
campaign. We want to burn it all down. We want to tear it down. And then
that`s what`s Steve Bannon is doing. He`s not trying to pursue a strategy
that will get any legislation passed. He is going to – he is pushing a
strategy designed to maximize chaos and I think he is likely to get it.
O`DONNELL: And so, Steve Bannon is supporting – he`ll support you if
Donald Trump called you a lie your like Lying Ted or if like former Staten
Island, Congressman Michael Grim, you`ve actually done time. You have
actually been convicted of crimes, gone to jail.
SYKES: He`s the other guy.
O`DONNELL: You can get the Steve Bannon endorsement that way. We have to
leave it there for tonight. Jennifer Reuben and Charlie Sykes, thank you
both for joining us. Really appreciate it.
Coming up, we`ll show you one of the Russian-backed videos that they put on
Facebook to try to push votes to Donald Trump. We now have one of those
O`DONNELL: Here is a video from one of the Russian-backed Facebook
accounts that attacked Hillary Clinton during the Presidential campaign.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Most of the black people in America thinks that Hillary
is the one who is going to protect them and Hillary is the one who is going
to fight for them. Well, hell know. Hillary Clinton is one of the liar.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This woman, she is sick in her head. She thinks like
crazy. She behaves like crazy. Or tries to pretend like she`s an angel.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: We have no idea who those people are. They call themselves
Williams and Calvin. Their content was pulled from Facebook in august
after it was identified as a Russian government backed propaganda account.
They claims to be Atlanta residents but there is no trace of them in
Atlanta. And we don`t know where in the planet their programming
Today, Google revealed that tens of thousands of dollars were spent on ads
by Russian agents who aimed to spread disinformation across Google`s many
products. According to the Washington Post, the Russian-purchased ads on
Google do not appear to be from the same Kremlin affiliated troll farm that
bought ads on Facebook, a sign that the Russian effort spread
disinformation online. Maybe a much broader problem than Silicon Valley
companies have unearthed so far.
And so how did the Russians know where to target their anti-Hillary Clinton
and pro Donald Trump messages? Did the Russians get guidance from the
Trump campaign`s digital team? Here`s what the Trump campaign digital
director told 60 minutes last night.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRAD PARSCALE, TRUMP`S PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN, DIGITAL DIRECTOR: I think
it`s a joke when they involve myself because I know my own activities. And
I know the activities this campaign, I was there. This is a farce.
LESLIE STAHL, CBC` 60 MINUTES, HOST: It`s a farce that you colluded with
PARSCALE: Yes. It`s just a joke.
STAHL: Did you have a hand in generating these bots?
PARSCALE: I have nothing to do with bots. I don`t think bots work.
STAHL: But if you see there are hundreds of thousands of bots floating
around with pro-Trump messages, somebody generated it. Where would it come
PARSCALE: I would imagine there were people, everyday people in America
who thought they were trying to help. I don`t know.
STAHL: If the bots came from the Russians, would you know?
STAHL: Do you think it might have?
PARSCALE: No idea.
STAHL: Could it have?
PARSCALE: Could be for anybody in the world.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Former FBI Agent Clint Watts, a cyber security expert will join
us next on the question, how did the Russians know which voters to target
to try to flip the electoral college to Donald Trump.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PARSCALE: I understood early that Facebook was how Donald Trump was going
to win. Twitter is how he talked to the people. Facebook was going to be
how he won.
STAHL: and Facebook is how he won.
PARSCALE: I think so. I mean I think Donald Trump won, but I think
Facebook was the method. It was the highway in which his car drove on.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: That was the Digital Director of the Trump Presidential
Campaign. And here is one of the ways Facebook helped Donald Trump win the
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hillary is being (INAUDIBLE) by the Muslim and she is
going to stand for the Muslim. Hillary Clinton is not our candidate. So,
if you vote for her, you take responsibility for our crime.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: That was a Russian-backed Facebook account that was removed by
Facebook in august. Joining us now, Clint Watts, Former FBI Agent and
Senior Fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute. He`s also an MSNBC
And, Clint, so now we are finally seeing the Russian-backed material. It
seems pretty crude.
CLINT WATTS, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Right. That example is extremely crude
and one I doubt, you know, moved a lot of the American minds. But what the
Russians do that Americans don`t necessarily do is they try everything.
You know, they`ll try every platform. They`ll try every message.
In 2015 when we really started to see them do influence and social media,
they focused on social issues. That`s what you`re seeing from these
Facebook disclosures. Race, religion, rich versus poor, police violence,
Bundy ranch standoff, jade helm, military exercises, second amendment
rights. That`s how they stack up.
They find those audiences that are receptive to their message and when it
comes election year, that`s when they start pushing these themes on
candidates. And so, what you`re seeing now is every social media platform
is finally getting around to the data. They`re using each other`s data and
we see these disclosures each day. And whether it`s Facebook to twitter,
now twitter to Google, you`re seeing them reveal different parts of these
networks and that is a built-in strategy from the Kremlin. Their active
measures are meant to be distributed so they have plausible deny ability.
And so they`ll try all the techniques. When they find success, they double
down and triple down and that`s how the system works across all the
O`DONNELL: We heard Brad Parscale tell Leslie Stahl last night on 60
Minutes, and it`s a joke to think that there would have been any possible
collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians. But how would the
Russians figure out exactly where to target the possible flipping of voters
so that you could affect the Electoral College? There are very, very few
political analysts who would be able to guide you in that.
WATTS: Well, they were in the audience space long before the political
campaigns kicked off. I mean, we were picking them up in social media
going all the way back to 2014. They actually have a fairly sophisticated
understanding of what issues resonate because they run so many iterations
over and over.
Second thing is there are lots of Americans that work at R.T., you know, in
these news outlets. There are lots of Americans overseas that are in
Russia that help out and assist in these operations. So, they are – they
are not necessarily without experience in this case. And I think the third
thing is they`re successful because our elections are always decided in
five to seven states in every iteration. They don`t have to dig too hard
to figure out what is going to be important Election Day.
O`DONNELL: Clint Watts gets tonight`s Last Word. Thank you Clint really
WATTS: Appreciate it.
O`DONNELL: The 11th hour with Brian Williams starts now.
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