Sessions’ changing story on Russia Transcript 11/14/17 The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell

Cornell Belcher, Elise Jordan, William Barber, Tony Swartz

Date: November 14, 2017
Guest: Cornell Belcher, Elise Jordan, William Barber, Tony Swartz

JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: Rachel Maddow, listen, I am a forgettable soul. I
forget my keys. I can`t find half my stuff. Have I lost my wallet. How
can you forget your teeth?

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST, TRMS: I know, I know. I mean, if you popped
your teeth out, you would remember them, right? Even if I don`t didn`t
remember them right then, you would remember them at breakfast.

REID: Maybe they had scrambled eggs and they didn`t feel it. But at some
point, you might want some bacon with the eggs.

MADDOW: The rules of fiber actually prove that you would some time in the
next week require your teeth. So, it`s possible that somebody had them in
their pocket, or maybe they were a dental prosthetic technician who was
bringing work home.

REID: Maybe they were somebody else`s teeth and they were holding them for
the person. So they`re not personally missing them because they`re not
they`re teeth.

MADDOW: A tooth mugger.

REID: Stolen teeth!

MADDOW: It`s stolen teeth. And the victim is not aware. I don`t know.

REID: But there had to be a police report because somebody is missing
those teeth.

MADDOW: I know. I know. I`m telling you, it`s now global news.

REID: This is actually a bigger mystery than Russia-gate at this point.


MADDOW: Exactly! We`re quite clear the Trump campaign colluded with
Russia. But these freakin` teeth.


MADDOW: I`m on it. Special counsel.


REID: Thanks, Rachel. Bye. I don`t get it. I thought we had the best
forgetfulness story. Rachel clearly did.

All right. Thanks, everybody.

Roy Moore, somebody else who doesn`t remember things. He doesn`t remember
any of the things he is accused of.

And Jefferson Sessions can`t remember anything about Russia.

But people are trying really, really hard to jog both of their memories.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If there was a book about Jeff Session and his contacts
regarding Russia, we would be in the third revised edition.

JEFF SESSIONS, ATTORNEY GENERAL: I will not accept and reject accusations
that I have ever lied. That is a lie.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Jeff Sessions has made it a lot easier for a
prosecutor. He has lied three times.

SESSIONS: I don`t recall that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The American people are becoming desensitized to the
concept of truth.

SESSIONS: I don`t recall it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The party of Bible-waving and Bible-thumping, including
Steve Bannon, is getting religion a little late in this church service.

ROY MOORE (R), ALABAMA SENATE CANDIDATE: I`m the only one that can unite
Democrats and Republicans, because I seem to be opposed by both.

REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: If he cares about the values
and the people he claims to care about, then he should step aside.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MAJORITY LEADER: Roy Moore should step aside.
The women who come forward are entirely credible. He is obviously not fit
to be in the United States Senate.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Cool story, bro. You still shill for a sexual
predator. Donald Trump has been accused by 17 different women.


REID: Well, this has been an interesting couple of weeks for men from
Alabama who have been experiencing some pretty significant memory problems.

Roy Moore, the former chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court who is now
running for the United States Senate, says he doesn`t remember the five
women who have now accused him of sexual misconduct when they were
teenagers and he was in his 30s. But Roy Moore`s memory apparently isn`t
so bad that he doesn`t remember that he never, ever acted inappropriately
with any of them, whoever they may be.

Other Alabamans are having memory problems as well. There is Brett Talley,
the 36-year-old Alabama blogger Donald Trump wants to give a lifetime
appointment to the federal bench, who forgot to disclose that his wife
worked as a lawyer for the Trump White House.

And then there is the man whose Senate race Roy Moore is running for,
former Alabama senator and current attorney general, Jefferson Session.
Today in front of the House Judiciary Committee, Attorney General Session`s
year-long memory lapse about his knowledge of Trump campaign contacts and
communications with Russians continued to bewilder legislators.


today, you have stated, I don`t recall at least 20 times. Is that fair to

SESSIONS: I have no idea.

JEFFRIES: You criticized Hillary Clinton for telling FBI investigators I
can`t remember approximately 35 times. You also stated during that Lou
Dobbs interview that the intentional failure to remember can constitute
perjury. Do you still believe that the intentional failure to remember can
constitute a criminal act?

SESSIONS: If it`s an act to deceive, yes.


REID: So, Sessions has forgotten and remembered so many times, you have to
go all the way back to January to try to make sense of what he said today.
At his confirmation hearing, Sessions made this statement to Senator Al


SEN. AL FRANKEN (D), MINNESOTA: If there is any evidence that anyone
affiliated with the Trump campaign communicated with the Russian government
in the course of this campaign, what will you do?

SESSIONS: Senator Franken, I`m not aware of any of those activities. I
have been called a surrogate a time or two in that campaign. And I did not
have communications with the Russians. And I`m unable to comment on it.


REID: Senator Patrick Leahy followed up with questions the following week,
asking in a letter, have you been in contact with anyone connected to any
part of the Russian government about the 2016 election either before or
after Election Day? No, Senator Sessions replied. He did not elaborate.

Well, it turns out that wasn`t true. It`s since been reported that Session
met with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak at least twice during the
campaign, including a meeting during the Republican convention in July of
2016, and meeting in his Senate office in September of that year.

Fast forward to last month when during his testimony in front of a Senate
Judiciary Committee, Jefferson Sessions was pressed by Senator Franken
about that discrepancy. On the question of surrogate, communicating with
Russian, Sessions again denied any knowledge of those contacts.


FRANKEN: You don`t believe that surrogates from the Trump campaign had
communications with the Russians? Is that what you`re saying?

SESSIONS: I did not. And I`m not aware of anyone else that did. And I
don`t believe it happened.


REID: Not surprisingly, that was also revealed to be untrue.

Just 12 days later, on October 30th, a charging document was unsealed
showing that a campaign adviser named George Papadopoulos had engaged in
ongoing conversations with people linked to the Russian government with the
aid of setting up meeting between then-candidate Donald Trump and Russian
President Vladimir Putin. And what`s more, Papadopoulos mentioned those
efforts during a March 31, 2016 meeting that included both Trump, and wait
for it, Jefferson Session.

Today, Attorney General Sessions revised his testimony again, appearing
before the House Judiciary Committee, he addressed the discrepancy between
his denial of surrogate contacts with Russia and the Papadopoulos


SESSIONS: I do now recall that the March 2016 meeting at the Trump hotel
that Mr. Papadopoulos attended, but I have no clear recollection of the
details of what he said at that meeting. After reading his account and to
the best of my recollection, I believe that I wanted to make clear to him
that he was not authorized to represent the campaign with the Russian
government or any other foreign government for that matter. But I did not
recall this event which occurred 18 months before my testimony of a few
weeks ago.


REID: So, Jeff Sessions didn`t remember a meeting where he discussed
Russian communications. But now that his memory has been refreshed, not
only does he remember the meeting, but he also specifically remembers the
substance of the meeting, and that he pushed back on suggestions of Trump
meeting with Vladimir Putin.

Congressman Jerry Nadler asked for more details about this March 2016
meeting. But all of the sudden, just like that, the attorney general`s
memory went all foggy again.


that meeting, including then candidate Trump react in any way to what Mr.
Papadopoulos had presented?

SESSIONS: I don`t recall.

NADLER: OK. So, your testimony is that neither Donald Trump nor anyone
else at the meeting expressed any interest in meeting the Russian president
or had any concerns about communications between the campaign and the

SESSIONS: I don`t recall it.


REID: Now, remember, all of Jeff Sessions` testimony before Congress has
been under oath. His confirmation hearing was under oath. The Senate
judiciary hearing last month was under oath. Today`s House committee
testimony also under oath.

Congressman Eric Swalwell of California pushed Attorney General Sessions to
explain why his statements had changed so many times throughout those
hearings, when he could be under penalty of perjury for not telling the
truth in his clearly contradictory statements.


opening statement that my story has never changed. But, Mr. Attorney
General, it`s changed three times.

SESSIONS: Fairly three. The exchange I had with Senator Franken, I think
you can understand where when I answered the question, I felt like I was
answering it properly.

SWALWELL: But you would agree today it should be answered differently if
it was asked in the same form today, considering your recollection that you
just gave us?

SESSIONS: I believe that – when I was – you`re asking me today
explicitly did you meet with any other Russians, I am prepared to say I
did. I met with the ambassador in my office with at least two of my staff,
senior respected patriots, colonels, retired in the army. And nothing
improper occurred at all.


REID: Joining us now is Paul Butler, a law professor at Georgetown
University, former federal prosecutor and MSNBC contributor, Kyle Cheney,
politics reporter for “Politico”, and Democratic Congressman Eric Swalwell
from California who is a member of the House Judiciary Committee and
questioned Jeff Sessions today.

And, Congressman Swalwell, I`m going to go to you first. It does seem that
Jeff Sessions has a very tricky memory. He can`t remember the details of
any of his meetings that involve Russians. But he does remember that he
definitely didn`t – in those meetings, he doesn`t encourage anyone from
the campaign to talk with Russians or Vladimir Putin. Did you believe him
today to be honest with you?

SWALWELL: I still don`t believe he has been forthcoming, joy. And if past
is prologue, today`s I don`t recalls will be, you know, next month`s
hearing`s I do now recall. That seems to be the trend here with Attorney
General Sessions.

But what`s interesting is that only after the Papadopoulos guilty plea came
forward does General Sessions acknowledge the one part of the exchange with
Papadopoulos that he claims makes him look good, that he told Papadopoulos
not to have those contacts with Russia.

Also interestingly, Joy, he acknowledged that Carter Page told him he was
going to Russia. He said I can`t dispute that occurred. But he has no
idea why he didn`t tell Carter Page not to go. I asked him, well, within
three months you have Papadopoulos and Carter Page both on your national
security team. Both are invoking Russia. At that point, did you think
that you had a Russia problem on your hands? And do you think maybe you
should have told someone else on the campaign team or the FBI?

REID: And let`s actually play what his answer was, because that exchange
you`re talking about, we do have a clip of that. Let`s just play that now.


SWALWELL: With respect to Carter Page, he told you as you just
acknowledged that he was going to Russia. He was also on the national
security team. And that is the second person within about three months now
that is bringing up Russian contacts. And you did not tell him to not go
to Russia. Is that correct?

SESSIONS: No, I didn`t tell him not to go to Russia.

SWALWELL: And you didn`t tell anyone else on the campaign?

SESSIONS: I didn`t recall him saying that. But – so, am I supposed to
stop him from taking a trip?


REID: You know, Congressman, there he is making light of what is the
central question in this scandal, whether or not members of the Trump
campaign team were having meaningful contacts with Russian operatives and
with members of the Russian government. He seemed to be laughing that off.

Did you get the sense that the attorney general understands the seriousness
of the situation that he finds himself in?

SWALWELL: No, I don`t believe he understands it. He also didn`t express
any – he didn`t give us any assurances that they`re doing anything to stop
Russia in the next interference campaign that they want to run in.

And finally, Joy, I also am deeply concerned that if this was only Jeff
Sessions who failed to recall contacts with the Russians, maybe there might
be innocent explanations.

But he is the ninth individual in this Trump campaign team who has failed
to recall interaction was the Russians, and only because of press reporting
or investigations has had to minimally acknowledge them.

REID: Kyle Cheney, I want to play a little more. I know you sat through
testimony today. I want to play a little more. This is Jefferson
Sessions, the attorney general of the United States being questioned by
California Congressman Ted Lieu.


REP. TED LIEU (D), CALIFORNIA: You did have communications with the
Russians last year, isn`t that right? Just yes or no.

SESSIONS: I had a meeting with the Russian ambassador, yes.

LIEU: Great. That is exactly the opposite answer you gave under oath the
U.S. Senate. So again, either you`re lying to the U.S. Senate or lying to
the U.S. House of Representatives.

SESSIONS: Well, I hope the congressman knows, and I hope all of you know
that my answer to that question I did not meet with the Russians was
explicitly responding to the shocking suggestion that I as a surrogate was
meeting on a continuing basis with Russian officials. And the implication
was to impact the campaign in some sort of nefarious way.


REID: Just from your recollection in terms of the reporting, Kyle, was in
fact the question that was asked of sessions when he was a United States
senator to do with whether or not he was having on a continuing basis
contacts with Russian officials or whether he just plain met with Russian

KYLE CHENEY, POLITICS REPORTER, POLITICO: Right. The question was clearly
about whether he had met with Russian officials during the course of the
campaign. So, it was not – clearly not qualified quite like that, quite
like he claimed in his answer.

REID: And so, today, did you get the sense that Jeff Session, the attorney
general of the United States, because we saw him being flippant in some of
the answers, is that sort of the way it went throughout the day? Did he
seem to be taking it seriously?

CHENEY: Yes, that was actually within of the questions was his stamina and
endurance for a hearing like this. You have 41 members of the Judiciary
Committee, Democrats in particular really peppering him hard on these
questions, trying to push on some of those points about what was his
recollection, why can`t he recall all of these very specific points in
which he seemed to sort of shift his testimony over the previous few
months. And so, that was sort of – you saw him get a little chippier as
the hearing went on and get a little frustrated I think at the lines of

REID: Yes, absolutely. And Jeff Sessions is, of course, an attorney. He
used to be the chief attorney in Alabama.

And, Paul Butler, as a prosecutor, if you have a person in January saying I
did not have meetings with Russians, and then fast forward to November, say
I did, and qualify it by saying, well, the tenor of the question that was
asked me in January is something that offended me. It was an offensive
line of questioning. And that`s why gave a completely contradictory
answer. Would that be enough to keep them out of a charge of perjury?

PAUL BUTLER, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: You know, it sounds like he is
being cagey. It sounds like he is being evasive. It also sounds like he
is being lawyerly in the sense he is saying, well, I didn`t recall.

But a Senator Sessions said about Hillary Clinton intentional failure to
recall is a crime. That`s right. It`s false statements. It`s perjury if
it`s under oath.

And so, when the attorney general says, you know, I vaguely remember
reaching out, the Russians reaching out, hearing about that, but I
absolutely remember I pushed back against that, we get it. He`s trying to
play Congress. He is trying to play the American people. The hope for our
democracy and the rule of law is that special counsel Mueller will not be

REID: In your opinion, in terms of your legal opinion, do you think that
the ingredients for perjury are there? I mean, you have completely
contradictory testimony. Both sides of the testimony were under oath what
Session said in January, what he is saying now, what he said to the House
versus what he said to the Senate.

Are those the ingredients for the legal definition of perjury?

BUTLER: Yes, so, again, it`s intentionally trying to misrepresent. So,
the standard is what`s going on in his mind? Do we believe that he
actually is just the most forgetful person in Washington history with a
very loose understanding of what the truth, or is he intentionally covering
up the truth?

And that`s when prosecutors look for a pattern, because the congressman is
right. It`s not just session. It`s all of these Trump campaign operatives
when they`re asked about Russia conveniently forgetting. So it`s Michael
Flynn. It`s Carter Page. It`s George Papadopoulos. It`s Trump Jr.

And prosecutors look for patterns. They`ll start to wonder can all these
people really be that forgetful, or is this a conspiracy to obstruct

REID: Yes. And, you know, that brings me back to you, Congressman,
because then what is the remedy? This is the attorney general of the
United States. If, in fact, Congress believed that he has perjured himself
before either the House or the Senate, then what happens after that? What
is the remedy here?

SWALWELL: It`s really a decision for Bob Mueller and his team. And I`ll
leave it to them. I just – joy, I think it`s now on Congress to do
something about the multitude of contacts that the Trump team had with
Russia that they failed to disclose and the amount of evidence that they
were working and that they were willing and eager to receive information
from the Russians.

We`re not helpless in Congress. And we showed today that when we push
forward with evidence, that we can make progress and expose failures to
disclose in the past. So, that`s our job in Congress. And if the
curiosity exists on the other side of the aisle, I`m confident that we can
restore some checks and balances in our government.

REID: Any concern that if Jeff Sessions were in let`s say a theoretical
world were pushed to resign, that that would open the door to firing Bob
Mueller? Because that is one of the concerns that people are expressing
about the idea that he might eventually at some point have to step down.

SWALWELL: We can`t allow a discredited attorney general to continue to
preside and have his name on top of every charging document in the United
States. If he is discredited, he should resign. And it`s on the Senate to
confirm somebody who gives assurances that they would not fire Bob Mueller.
I just don`t accept that we keep him in place to protect Mueller. I think
the Senate has to show some courage themselves.

REID: All right. Congressman Eric Swalwell, Paul Butler, and Kyle Cheney,
thank you.

SWALWELL: My pleasure.

REID: Thank you.

And coming up tonight, Roy Moore disappointed every Republican that hoped
and indeed parade he would quit the race. But more Republicans are now
belatedly quitting him. That`s next.

And later, senators openly question the mental stability of the president
of the United States today in a Senate committee hearing about the use of
nuclear weapons. Let that sink in. We`ll discuss next.



think I`m being harassed by media and by people pushing forward allegation
as in the last 28 days of this election? Last 30 days it began. After 40-
something years of fighting this battle, I`m now facing allegations. And
that`s all the press want to talk about.

But I want to talk about the issues. I want to talk about where this
country is going. And if we don`t come back to God, we`re not going


REID: Roy Moore is not quitting. That was Moore at the God Save America
Revival Conference in Jackson, Alabama, tonight, where he shed was being
harassed by the media over the sexual misconduct allegations against him.

This afternoon, the RNC cut off funding for Moore`s campaign and canceled
its field operations for Moore. But inexplicably, more than a week after
allegations that normally would have ended a political career, some
Republicans are still agonizing over what to do about Roy Moore.

Here is Alabama Republican Congressman Mo Brooks today.


REPORTER: Do you believe Roy Moore over the women?

REP. MO BROOKS (R), ALABAMA: I believe that the Democrats will do great
damage to our country.

REPORTER: So, you will still believe Roy Moore?

BROOKS: I believe that the Democrats will do great damage to our country
on a myriad of issues.


REID: He is literally running away.

That`s after five women accused Moore of committing sexual misconduct
against them about 40 years ago when he was in his 30s and they were
teenagers, as young as 14. And after more than a dozen people told “The
New Yorker” they heard that Moore was banned from an Alabama mall because
he repeatedly badgered teenaged girls. Roy Moore has called the abuse
allegations absolutely false.

And here is Fox News`s Sean Hannity just moments ago.


SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS HOST: For me, the judge has 24 hours. You must
immediately and fully come up with a satisfactory explanation for your
inconsistencies that I just showed. You must remove any doubt. If you
can`t do this, then Judge Moore needs to get out of this race.


REID: Ah, change of heart.

Joining us now is Elise Jordan. She is a Republican strategist and a
contributor to She is also an MSNBC political analyst. And also
joining us is Cornell Belcher, president of Brilliant Corners Research and
Strategies, and also an MSNBC political analyst.

Elise, I`m going to start with you first.

Now, the bail. It`s taken Republicans over a week to figure out how they
felt about Roy Moore after five women accused him of sexual misconduct,
suddenly, Republicans seem to be catching on this might not be such a good

What do you think has caused this belated change of heart?

ELISE JORDAN, CONTRIBUTOR, TIME.COM: It`s amazing how we always want to
give these men who were accused of grave sexual misconduct the benefit of
the doubt. It`s funny how the women who are brave enough to come forward
with their stories, people – you know, “Breitbart” might send people to
Alabama to harass the women who told their stories. People immediately
want to try to say what is wrong with their story. But we always come up
with a reason to give the men a little bit more time to explain.

REID: Yes. You`ve had Sean Hannity who came out sort of swinging, right,
you know, and really in defense of Roy Moore and then came out swinging
again when people said he was excusing sexual misconduct. And then you had
Jeanine Pirro, very much on the side of Roy Moore, Andrew Breitbart, very
interesting, I mean, sorry, Steve Bannon. I`m quoting the late Andrew
Breitbart`s new guy running his operations. Steve Bannon.

This was Steve Bannon on “Breitbart Radio” just this past weekend. This is
not long ago. And he was coming out and talking about the accusations
against Roy Moore. Here he is.


destroying Roy Moore. You know why they want to destroy Roy Moore? They
want to destroy anybody that will step up and speak in your behalf. You
know what our response is? Bring it. Bring it.

You have not seen anything yet. You think we`re going to back down one
inch? You are dead wrong, folks.

Paul Singer, write this down. And you and these Republican scumbag, and
that`s what you are, you operatives. And here is the good news, folks. We
know your names. And more importantly, folks, we know your clients.


REID: Yes, we`re not going the back down one inch. And, Elise, you know
what happened today? Somebody close to Steve Bannon leaked to “The Daily
Beast”, he is having a change of heart maybe about Roy Moore and leaked out
an equally tough guy statement, I`ll put him in a grave myself if he
determines that Moore was lying to him. Numerous accusations, a source
close to Bannon told “The Daily Beast”.

JORDAN: Still, Bannon had better look the first go-around he was with a
conduct accused of grave sexual misconduct, Donald Trump. But by that
point, so many people really disliked Donald Trump that it wasn`t
necessarily unsurprising, the “Access Hollywood” video.

Roy Moore was supposed to be the pinnacle of piousness, a good Christian
servant. And he is showing the chip in the armor that, hey, maybe this has
all been one big fa‡ade, his holier-than-thou attitude covering up some
very grave sins.

REID: Yes, absolutely. And, Cornell, I`m not going back down one inch.
Tough guy Steve Bannon claiming he was going to fight to the finish for Roy
Moore. Fight to the – oh, let me get a statement out and try to get one
of my close friends to go and tell “The Daily Beast” I`m backing down one

Could it be because you now have “The Cook Political Report” saying this
race, in Alabama no less, is a toss-up? Is that really what`s behind the
sudden bail?

it is interesting. And all this is going on, Joy. But I want us to really
realize that you`re still talking about a state that in any other place you
wouldn`t be turning it to a toss-up. You would be turning it to a lean

You`re talking about a state that is demographically, and geographically,
you`re not talking about a lot of swing voters. You`re talking about a
state that is 18 points more white and evangelical than the nation as a
whole. You`re talking about a state that is 20-some points more rural than
the nation as a whole. You`re talking about a state that is less college-
educated than voters overall.

So, when you look at the demographics there in Alabama, particularly the
white evangelicals, well, remember this, right? The same white
evangelicals were among Trump`s strongest supporters, even after the
allegations that had happened.

So, given all this, you`re still going to see probably a very close race
there in Alabama. But for me, I think there is two pictures here. There
is the Alabama sort of small picture where quite frankly, I think Moore is
in trouble, toss-up. But he still very well could win, right?

But there is also the big picture. And when you look at the “Politico” put
out a poll today shows 60 percent of Americans think the women`s
allegations thankfully are credible, and that Moore should drop out. For
Republicans, and I think Mitch McConnell gets this, for Republicans, there
is the small war in Alabama. But there is a bigger picture.

And I point that back to the 22-point Democratic advantage with women in
Virginia last time around. I mean, spread that nationally for Republicans.
It becomes real problematic.

REID: Do you believe that poll, the poll that came out recently showing it
being a Roy Moore up 49, Doug Jones, 43? That`s a new poll that shows Roy
Moore still ahead. There have been some polls that showed it the other way

Do you believe that Doug Jones has a realistic chance?

BELCHER: I have not seen the internals of that poll. I mean, most of the
polling has it at real tossup, a toss-up is here, where you`re seeing him
getting – the Democrat getting 35, 36, 37 percent of the white vote. I
think Barack Obama last time around got 16, 17 percent of the white vote
and Hillary Clinton did even worse.

So, he is being a lot more competitive. But I also think for you to win in
Alabama, for a Democrat to win in Alabama, a Democrat to win in Alabama.
We do have to see some of what we saw in Virginia the last time around.
Look, Democratic - so Virginia was a lot more Democratic. This time around
than it was when McAuliffe won. And I think the turnout difference between
Democrats and Republicans will go a long way in deciding who wins.

JOY REID, MSNBC, ANCHOR: And Elise, I`ll give you the last word on this.
Because one of the key questions that has been asked for really since the
Hillary Clinton campaigns will white Republican women, you know, ever cross
the aisle? It generally does not happen. Do you see this being one
instance where white Republican women in Alabama switch sides?

ELISE JORDAN, MSNBC, POLITICAL ANALYST: Well I think Doug Jones is playing
it well by trying to keep it an Alabama race, trying to show how Roy Moore
will embarrass the men and women of Alabama. I think he is doing a good
job of keeping it local and not letting it become some referendum on the
Democratic Party. Whether that`s going to make a huge difference, who
knows. But I do know that Roy Moore is never that popular in his general
elections, and he only eked out his last one by about three points. And I
think that Doug Jones has a good chance.

REID: All right. We shall see. Elise Jordan, Cornell Belcher, thank you
very much.

And coming up next, a third of evangelical voters in Alabama say that they
are more likely to vote for Roy Moore after learning about the sexual abuse
allegations against him more. Bishop William Barber will try and help us
make sense of that, next.



ROY MOORE, FORMER CHIEF JUSTICE, ALAMABA: If you take a stand, you`re
going to come under persecution. It`s nice in churches to talk about your
persecution I guess in some churches. But I`m going to tell you, its part
of it. It says that`s your reward. That`s your reward. Blessed are you
when men shall revile you and persecute and say all men of evil are against
you falsely from I say, rejoice and be glad, for great is your reward in


REID: Wow. That was Roy Moore tonight speaking to a group of his core
supporters at a god save America revival conference in Jackson, Alabama.
The religious right is at the core of Roy Moore`s base.

In a recent poll, 55 percent of Alabama evangelical voters say they support
Roy Moore. Just 34 percent say they support Democrat Doug Jones. And
since the allegations against Moore came out, 37 percent of Alabama self-
described evangelicals say they more likely to vote for him. 28 percent
say they are less likely. And 34 percent say their opinion on Moore
hasn`t changed. One of Moore`s supporters defended him tonight.


DAVID WEBB: Reporters say allegations, accusations. I told him a while
ago that`s exactly what they are. All I can look and see a man that for 20
years has stood for right. And if I said that about them, they`d be on the
defense. I thank god for a man that stands for truth.


REID: Joining us now is Bishop William Barber, President and Senior
Lecture for Repairers of the Breach. Always great to see you in person,
bishop barbers. And when I heard – when I hear Roy Moore saying if you
take a stand, you`ll come under persecution and those blessed are you when
men revile and persecute and say all manner of evil against you and falsity
my name. I hope he is not talk about himself and that he is actually
talking about Jesus.

misinterpretation of the text. It is heretical. This is not Christianity.
This is, I`d say another day an extreme form of religionism. That text
actually refers to the prophets who stood up for poor, who stood up for the
least of these. Who stood against power, who stood against those who hurt
children. And they were persecuted for that, as was Jesus.

If you step back a second and look at Alabama, Alabama denied Medicaid
expansion, right. Alabama is the 12th lowest per pupil spending in
education. It is one of the poorest states in the union. I think it rates
47th in family income. Has the sixth highest child poverty. And most of
these are white.

Nothing that Roy Moore has ever done has sought to deal with those issues.
Instead, what has he done? He has supported segregation laws. He supported
the lies about birtherism. He violated his oath of office. And now, Joy,
he wants to be given the power to go to the Senate so he can block people
from having health care. That`s not Christian. So that he can write laws
against Muslims, gay people, and work on a tax reform that will hurt the
poor and the working poor.

This so such a form of heresy that it is troubling. And it`s troubling to
see themselves who call themselves white evangelicals be engaged in
supporting this.

REID: And you know, if when reporters will go down and ask people why they
support Roy Moore, they`ll generally talk about his Christian beliefs. So
this is Roy Moore a little bit more of him tonight. And this is an issue
that I do hear a lot. When you hear back from people who are white
evangelical Christians about why they are such staunch Republicans. And
here he is.


MOORE: By 1962, the United States Supreme Court took prayer out of the
school. Bible reading followed in Navington versus shift. They started to
create new rights in 1965. And today we got a problem.


REID: They started to create new rights in 1965. I wonder what new rights
he was talking about. That`s why he maintain support.

BARBER: Right. And notice that what he`s - tats` code word, `60s, Civil
Rights. Civil Rights act of `64. White religionists who were segregations
were against civil rights of `64. They were against the voting rights act
of `65. They were against Dr. King.

He says they took prayer out of the school. But we have segregation in the
school. So this is so crazy. It`s so heretical. It`s so wrong. This has
nothing to do with Christian policies. This is about a form of greed, not
a form of grace. It`s about lies and racism and not redemption and love.
There is no scriptural basis. This is not Christian.

And that is why that the church is making a bad mistake. Those who claimed
they represent Christ to support this kind of foolishness. Even before the

REID: Yes.

BARBER: Now, I`m saying he wasn`t supporting Christian policies before.
Now the claim and the accusation, the true accusations about what he has
done to these young girls. This is not Christianity. It is a strange form
of religionism. And Joy, somebody said today, we ought to stay out of
Alabama. Let me tell you, when has the civil rights movement stayed out of

No. We need to be calling everybody, white, black, brown, gay, straight,
Republican, Democrat, Christian and Muslim and Jew who want our politics to
have a certain level of truth to actually be engaging in Alabama and
calling everybody we know to get out the vote. This is very troubling.

And there is going to have to be a reckoning with these people who have
hijacked the Christian faith. If he just said these are my Republican
values, then OK. But when you try this claim that what he is supporting
and what the people supporting him are also Christian values, they are
contrary. There is no scriptural basis that you can find for these
supported to policies he is promoting.

REID: Bishop William Barber, thank you. It`s always a pleasure to speak
to you. Thank you very much.

All right. And coming up for the first time in decades, the Senate wants
to know how easy it is for the President to launch a nuclear attack.
Seriously. That`s next.



CHRIS MURPHY, SENATOR, CONNECTICUT: We are concerned that the President of
the United States is so unstable, is so volatile, has a decision-making
process that is so quixotic that he might order a nuclear weapons strike
that is wildly out of step with U.S. national security interests.


REID: For the first time in more than 41 years, the Senate Foreign
Relations Committee held a hearing today on the President`s authority to
launch nuclear weapons because Donald Trump is President and several
Senators are frankly concerned about his mental stability. Senator Bob
Corker, the Chairman of the committee, and a man who has called the Trump
White House an adult day-care center said this to reporters today.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is this hearing a rebuke on President Trump?

BOB CORKER, SENATOR: Not in any way, no. We, you know, are going to a
series of hearings that we start with the AUM map and we have some momentum
around developing something that I think we might be able to build
consensus around. We`re doing this. We`re going to be doing one just on
the North Korea issue itself and some of the issues that come into play.


REID: But in the new book, the dangerous case of Donald Trump, Dr. Henry
J. Freedman writes, `A paranoid hypersensitive grandiose ill-informed
leader such as Donald Trump who had surrounded himself with a cabinet and
set of advisers who are either unable to bring him out of his paranoid
suspicions and instances or worse, identify with his positions, represents
a multidimensional threat to our country and the world,` unquote.

The President probably didn`t calm anyone`s nerves when he tweeted this.
`NoKo meaning North Korea, has interpreted America`s past restraint as
weakness. This would be a fatal miscalculation. Do not underestimate us.
In all caps, do not try us.` Behavior like that is why Bob Corker held that
hearing today on the President`s authority to use nuclear weapons. His
demurrals or reporters not withstanding.

Tony Schwartz contributed to the book “The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump.”
He knows trump as well as anyone, having written “The Art of the Deal “with
Trump and he joins us after the break.



BEN CARDIN, SENATOR: – and the American people we have a system in place
that prevents an impulsive and irrational decision to use nuclear weapons.
Unfortunately, I cannot make that assurance today.


REID: Joining us now is Tony Swartz, Co-author of Donald Trump`s best
selling book, “The Art of the Deal.” And a contributor to “The Dangerous
Case of Donald Trump”. Twenty-seven psychiatrist and mental health experts
if assess a President. And Tony, you know, the subject of its hearing
today was whether or not the President should have the unfettered access
that he does under the constitution to launch nuclear war.

This is Bob Corker talking about Trump potentially risking World War III
with the way he behaves.


CORKER: He doesn`t realize that, you know, that we could be heading
towards World War III with the kind of comments that he`s making.


REID: Do you feel like Donald Trump doesn`t realize he could start World
War III or he doesn`t care?

TONY SWARTZ, THE ART OF THE DEAL, CO-AUTHOR: I actually think it`s that –
it kind of – it excites him. I mean it`s a horrible thing to have to
think but I think, you know, domination is his thing and as far back as 15
months ago, I said to the “New Yorker” that I was deeply concerned that if
he got elected, he would potentially get irritated by Kim Jong Un and set
off the nuclear codes or punch them in and people laughed, said what are
you talking about? Nnow it`s a very, very real possibility.

REID: Yes. This is Donald Trump talking about North Korea and threatening
fire and fury against them. Take a listen.


make any more threats to the United States. They will be met with fire and
fury like the world has never seen.


REID: And, first of all, American Presidents don`t typically talk like
that. But this is Senator Ben Cardin today at the hearing responding to
those comments.


CARDIN: Quoting the President, all these interview, `North Korea best not
make any more threats to the United States. They will be met with fire and
fury like the world has never seen.` Or the President`s comments, `we`ll
have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea.`

Now, many interpret that to mean that the President is actively considering
the use of nuclear weapons in order to deal with the threat of North Korea.
That is frightening.


REID: Based on the man you know, is Donald Trump when he says things like
fire and fury, is he imitating sort of, I don`t know, sort of an autocrat
or does he actually mean it?

SWARTZ: Well it actually look like he was reading that which is
interesting. But it`s very evident he deeply would like to be a dictator,
and the idea that Senator Cardin says people have and it interpreted it to
mean he might mean nuclear war, no. He has said it five days from Sunday
and that is the case.

REID: I want to read a little bit from the book, from “The Dangerous Case
of Donald Trump”. And this Lance Dodis, I don`t know if I`m pronouncing
his name right, MG (INAUDIBLE) and he says, the following on page 91.

He says ,”Mr. Trump`s sociopathic characteristics are undeniable. They
create a profound danger for America`s democracy and safety. Over time
these characteristics will only become worse either become Mr. Trump will
succeed in gaining more power and more grandiosity with less grasp on
reality. Or because he will in general more criticism producing more
paranoia, more lies and more enraged distruction.`

When I hear that, I think about the Russia gate investigation and him
getting boxed in more and more and more in those issues and lashing out.
Do you share the Dr. Dodi`s view?

SWARTZ: I do. And again, going back to July of 16, I said, I could rename
“The Art of the Deal,” I would rename it “The Sociopath.” A sociopath is a
person who`s somebody what`s more important is a person who doesn`t have a
conscience. Who doesn`t have ordinary emotions beyond anger, rage and so

So the idea of destroying an entire country, millions of people, doesn`t
fire up his sense of guilt and the feeling of being appalled. Again, I
think he finds that kind of exciting. And it`s some blend of, you know, a
very young child`s idea of fighting with guns or fighting with nuclear
weapons and a very demented older person potentially putting us at great

REID: And you write in the book page 72 that beneath his bluff exterior at
the same time, you write, `I always sensed a hurt and incredibly vulnerable
little boy that just wants to be loved.` What is there about sort of the, I
don`t know, the unconstructed man in Donald Trump, a boy in Donald Trump?

SWARTZ: Well, then we`re seeing it everywhere, Joy. I mean we`re seeing
it across you know, 25, 30 men, a powerful men who have now been accused of
sexual harassment in pretty persuasive ways. And I think men it`s, we`re -
you know, men are imprisoned by this need to seem tough and invulnerable
and to compete and dominate and they end up doing pretty terrible – pretty
terrible things in the name of masculinity and in the name of being men.

I think we`re seeing a reckoning here. And it`s interesting to kind of see
the dichotomy between this extreme kind of man represented by Harvey
Weinstein or a Donald Trump, probably makes Harvey Weinstein cringe to
think he`s now in the same game as Donald Trump. And on the other hand,
these women who are coming forward in a courageous way and I think a
growing number of men who are supporting them. You know, men are running
from the feeling of vulnerability, weakness and the possibility that
they`ll lose.

You know, Trump how he always explains things in terms of win and lose.
Why win and lose? Because lose is the equivalent of death. And if you`re
going to be faced with death, you sure are going to be obsessed with

REID: Very interesting. Tony Schwartz and really knows Donald Trump very
well. Thank you for being with us. Really appreciate it.

And up next, a prediction about Donald Trump.


REID: On “The Late Show” with Stephen Colbert, Former Vice President, Joe
Biden said this about the Donald Trump.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What do you think this has changed the presidency with
him being President? How will this influence future presidencies?

willing it will go down as the single exception in American history.


REID: Well, that`s the show. I`m Joy Reid and you can catch me Saturday
and Sunday morning on AM Joy right here on MSNBC. The 11th Hour with Brian
Williams is next.


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