Mueller subpoenas Trump campaign Transcript 11/17/17 The Last Word with LAwrence O’Donnell
Show: THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL
Date: November 17, 2017
Guest: Bruce Bartlett, Max Boot, Betsy Woodruff, Maria Teresa Kumar
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Good evening. I`m Lawrence O`Donnell, and
this is tonight`s LAST WORD live from Los Angeles tonight.
President Trump and Republican leaders in Congress won some very important
votes yesterday, but President Trump doesn`t seem to want voters thinking
about that tonight.
He doesn`t want Trump voters thinking about it. He doesn`t want Democratic
voters thinking about it. He doesn`t want independents thinking about it.
Because the votes that Donald Trump won in Congress yesterday hurt all of
The Trump tax cuts that passed the House of Representatives and the Senate
Finance Committee are the worst pieces of tax legislation that have ever
passed the House of Representatives and the Senate Finance Committee. The
But the full Senate hasn`t voted on the bill yet. And Donald Trump seems
to believe that the more voters know about the tax bill, the more trouble
the bill will face, especially in the Senate.
Which is why last night, at this hour, when the Senate Finance Committee
was voting on the tax bill, President Trump dramatically changed the
subject to something he was sure the news media would prefer to talk about.
The President is so desperate to turn voter attention away from what`s
actually in the tax bill that he changed the subject to his own history of
He knew that`s what he was doing when he sent out two tweets at this hour
last night attacking Senator Al Franken.
He knew everyone would point out the hypocrisy of Trump attacking Franken
and not saying a word about Roy Moore. And, of course, the hypocrisy of
Donald Trump of all people attacking anyone about sexual matters after
Trump, himself, was caught on tape, confessing and bragging about sexual
Donald Trump knew exactly what his tweets last night were going to do to
the coverage of the tax bill. And we will get to the news about Al Franken
and Roy Moore and Donald Trump`s own history of sexual assault later in
this program after we begin with the worst piece of tax legislation written
in Congress since the federal income tax was invented in 1913.
Tax cuts are the easiest thing to pass in Congress. The easiest thing.
Republican tax cut bills always pass very, very easily, and they pass with
Democratic votes. They are genuine bipartisan votes.
Twenty percent of the votes in the Senate for the Bush tax cuts came from
Democrats. Twelve Democrats in the Senate voted for the Bush tax cuts and
one Republican voted against them. John McCain. A true bipartisan vote.
Some of the Democrats who have voted for Republican tax cuts in the House
and in the Senate in the past have had to overcome some qualms about
increasing the deficit and then unfair distribution of the tax cuts that
favored the rich. But in the end, voting for tax cuts was politically
irresistible to them.
And so it is a profound statement about just how outrageous and
indefensible the Republican tax cuts are that exactly zero Democrats in the
House of Representatives voted for the tax cut bill. Zero.
And exactly zero Democrats on the Senate Finance Committee voted for this
Senate version of the bill. Not one Democratic senator.
In the House of Representatives, 13 Republicans voted against the bill
because it hurts their states very badly by reducing the deductibility of
state and local taxes.
The Senate bill is even worse. It completely eliminates the deductibility
of state and local taxes, and therefore steeply increases taxes in states
with higher than average property taxes and state income taxes.
And it is no coincidence that the states most burdened by this tax increase
are the wealthier states in the country that finance much more of the
federal government`s activities than the other states. And the states –
these are the state that is routinely vote for Democrats, including
Democratic candidates for President.
This is the first time that the personal income tax code has been used by a
political party to punish the voters and taxpayers of the other political
party. This is a politically vindictive tax bill. It literally forces
voters to pay higher taxes because they vote for Democrats.
And both the House and the Senate version of the bill force middle class
voters, including Trump middle class voters, in all states, to pay higher
taxes when the bill is fully phased in.
Americans earning less than $75,000 would face substantial tax increases,
and this is exactly the opposite of what the President promised when he was
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We will massively cut taxes
for the middle class, the forgotten people. The forgotten men and women of
this country who built our country.
We will massively lower taxes. It`s in our plan.
We will save and protect Social Security and Medicare. Hillary is going to
cut your Social Security and cut your Medicare benefits.
We will massively cut taxes for the middle class.
Tax relief will be concentrated on the working and middle class taxpayer.
They will receive the biggest benefit, and it won`t even be close.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: In fact, this tax bill is the single biggest transfer of wealth
to the richest Americans in the history of American government.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So you wouldn`t benefit under your tax plan?
TRUMP: No, I don`t benefit. I don`t benefit. In fact –
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You don`t think rick people benefit?
TRUMP: In fact, very, very strongly, as you see, there`s no – there`s –
I think there`s very little benefit for people of wealth.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining us now, Joy Reid, MSNBC national correspondent and the
host of “A.M. JOY” at weekends here on MSNBC.
Also with us, Bruce Bartlett, former deputy assistant secretary of the
Treasury under President George H.W. Bush. He`s the author of the new
book, “The Truth Matters.”
And, Joy, there is Donald Trump telling us he doesn`t benefit from –
O`DONNELL: Come on! Can I finish the question, Joy, without –
JOY-ANN REID, MSNBC NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Sorry.
O`DONNELL: – without mocking. He does not benefit from this tax bill,
and he tries say that with a straight face. Every report tells us that the
Trump family is on its way to a billion dollars tax free in this, maybe.
Or maybe less, maybe more, depending on how rich he really is.
REID: You know, it – yes! And I`m sorry for the laughter, but, I mean,
REID: I mean, I guess, in the sense that Donald Trump cannot leave money
to himself, he doesn`t benefit from the estate tax repeal, but his kids
sure will benefit. You know, hopefully, Tiffany will be included.
He is essentially going to be able to leave, tax free, his the entire
estate, whatever it`s worth, to his children. As will every other
And if you think about Donald Trump, the way that his businesses operate,
there isn`t a Trump Inc. that`s one thing. There are these hundreds of
individual LLCs, this pass through income, that also magically gets this
big tax cut.
There`s a big tax break for private jets. You know, the things that people
like Donald Trump utilize are all subject to a tax cut.
And as you said, the bill explicitly punishes the states that didn`t vote
for him, but it also punishes his own taxpayers. They are going to have
their Social Security disability income gone after because Mick Mulvaney
thinks that`s welfare. This has opened the door.
Republicans are at least being honest now in saying, yes, they can`t
guarantee that middle class people and lower middle class people won`t pay
more. But, you know, we all have to pay more because we need to lower the
corporate tax rate permanently, so everybody else`s are just going to have
to be temporary.
Sorry, taxpayers, you`ve been had.
O`DONNELL: And, Joy, I, as – I do the worst job of keeping a straight
face when talking about Donald Trump`s life.
O`DONNELL: So I just wanted to see what it felt like, to see if we could
possibly do it straight. But it`s –
REID: It can`t be done.
O`DONNELL: It is extraordinary.
Bruce Bartlett, the President, we just heard him talking in the campaign
clips about what he called the forgotten people, the forgotten men and
women of this country, the middle class. And he`s going to massively lower
their taxes. That`s what he said in the campaign.
BRUCE BARTLETT, FORMER DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY: Well,
it`s true that the middle class is suffering, but it`s not suffering from
over taxation. Taxes on the – on a family of a median income are about as
low as they have been in the history of the United States.
What the middle class really needs is higher wages, and there`s absolutely
nothing in this legislation that is going to cause that to happen. The
report that the White House put out, saying that cutting the corporate tax
rate will magically lead to higher wages is just complete and total
All you have to do is go to bls.gov, look up what happened to wages the
last time we cut the corporate tax rate. In 1986, we lowered it from 46
percent to 34 percent, a big reduction. Wages fell for 10 years after that
O`DONNELL: And, Bruce, that`s President Reagan`s corporate tax rate cut.
BARTLETT: Yes, that`s right.
O`DONNELL: That was the rate that he thought was reasonable under the
circumstances and the compromises you make in tax reform.
Joy Reid, I`m here in California, and I was talking to people deeply
involved in the politics of Sacramento when they were watching these House
Republicans from California, most of them, vote for this bill, which hurts
California very badly.
And these are political types who just were so eager to take them on in the
next congressional election, but California taxpayers are going to get hurt
REID: Yes, absolutely. California and New York, where I am here today and
where I live, you know, are going to get hurt really badly.
California Republicans are already something of an endangered species, so
it`s amazing to me that anybody who is elected to the House in California,
particularly in those districts – and I think there are more than 11 of
them that Hillary Clinton actually won outright and the others that are –
that were close, even in this – you know, the redder districts in
California. There`s no blowouts for Republicans in California.
So they`re going to have a big problem, and they`re going to have to defend
the fact that they literally raised taxes on. I read one analysis that
said one in 11 taxpayers is going to have their tax increased come by 2018.
So by the time we are voting to, you know, re-elect the entire House of
Representatives in 2018, almost one in 10 taxpayers will have already seen
the tax increase. And they`re going to hit hardest in places where
Republicans are already vulnerable, like California and New York, places
So, you know, once again, Donald Trump has done his party no favors when it
comes to trying to get their jobs back next year.
O`DONNELL: And, Bruce, you and I have worked on tax legislation as it
moves through the Congress. And I`m looking at this historically and I
don`t see anything like it. I`d like to get your historical perspective on
BARTLETT: Well, I think the most extraordinary thing about this
legislation is the undue haste through which they`re ramming this through.
And it proves the point that you were making earlier that they don`t want
anybody to know what`s in this legislation because it`s terrible
Trump lies about it. The Secretary of the Treasury lies about it. The
chairman of the Senate Finance Committee lies about it.
They just keep saying, oh, this is great for the middle class and it`s not.
It`s only great if you`re extremely wealthy, and then it`s really
wonderful. And they just don`t want people to know that.
And they also don`t want people to know about the inevitable spending cuts
that are going to be caused by this legislation. The second the ink is
dry, something called PAYGO takes effect. And they begin to sequester $150
billion worth of spending in the current fiscal year, of which at least $25
billion is going to come out of Medicare.
O`DONNELL: And, Joy, there`s a lot of details to get into in the bills,
and we will, but the main point I wanted to make tonight is – my point is
I don`t believe there has been a worst piece of tax legislation written and
advanced and voted on in Congress.
There`s been some crazy ideas that were introduced as bills that never got
anywhere, but here it is. It`s gotten through the House of
Representatives. Now, a version has gotten through the Senate Finance
And as far as I`m concerned, it takes the place as the worst. There`s no
cohesive tax theory to what this is. It isn`t tax reform. It`s not
describable as anything but a very peculiar set of tax cuts that are
targeted, in every way possible, at the rich.
REID: Yes. And I mean, you have to remember that, you know, the income
tax amendment to the constitution didn`t exist in the gilded age, right?
So there`s no possible way for it to have been worst tax legislation.
O`DONNELL: Yes, that`s right.
REID: This is gilded age legislation. And you know, the one thing that
has happened, I think, that has been sort of helpful to the discourse is
that Republicans have lost this sort of phony language of helping the
middle class. They`re saying it now because they have to add that because
they had to run television commercials for 2018.
But you got people like Mick Mulvaney and Roy – and Mr. Cohn be very open
about the fact that, listen, yes, this is going to raise taxes on the
middle class. Yes, we feel that it is right to raise taxes on lower income
people because we must do this tax cut for the very rich and for
The sort of I`m Randy and – language has come back. People are being much
more open about what they want to do.
You have an admission now that they do want to go after Social Security
disability insurance, which a lot of Trump voters are receiving to pay for
that – those nursing homes for their parents.
They have admitted they want to go back and do this premium support switch
to Medicare. That is the dream of Paul Ryan.
And they`re being very open. When you talk to Republican strategists, and
I have, they are being very open and blunt in saying our donors are
demanding that we do this big tax cut. And if we don`t do it, they won`t
donate to us anymore. They`re doing this for the very wealthy donors and
literally no one else.
O`DONNELL: And a quick last word, Bruce, about the debt. We all remember
President Trump campaigning vehemently against the national debt, and he
was going to bring it down. What does this do to the national debt?
BARTLETT: Well, it increases it by $1.5 trillion. It`s going to increase
the national debt as a share of GDP by more than 50 percent. And this
absolutely guarantees that the second the legislation is passed, all the
Republicans are going to start talking about how we have to have deficit
reduction. And they`re already talking about this.
And they plan to do to the Democrats what happened to them in 1993, which
you remember very well, that led ultimately to the Republicans taking
control of Congress. They want to tie the deficit around the Democrats`
necks and make them vote for very unpopular deficit reduction legislation
that was – when the deficits are caused by the Republicans.
O`DONNELL: Bruce Bartlett, thank you very much for joining us tonight.
Joy Reid, please stay with us.
Coming up, a new NBC News report reveals that Jared Kushner had yet another
contact with Russians that had not been revealed until now. And once
again, Donald Trump, Jr. is also involved.
And later, the Governor of Alabama said she has no reason to doubt Roy
Moore`s accusers, and she is still going to vote for Roy Moore.
O`DONNELL: NBC News reports Jared Kushner failed to disclose what
lawmakers called a Russian back door overture and dinner invite involving a
banker who has been accused of links to Russian organized crime. The
banker is Alexander Torshin, a close ally of Vladimir Putin.
E-mails that made the way to Jared Kushner suggest Alexander Torshin wanted
to meet with a high level Trump campaign official at the National Rifle
Association convention in May 2016 and may have had a message for Donald
Trump from Vladimir Putin.
Sources told NBC News Jared Kushner rebuffed the request, but Alexander
Torshin later claimed he dined with Donald Trump, Jr. on the sidelines of
the NRA convention.
Joining us now, Ken Dilanian, intelligence and national security reporter
for NBC News, who broke this story.
Ken, what`s the significance of these new e-mails?
KEN DILANIAN, NBC NEWS INTELLIGENCE AND NATIONAL SECURITY REPORTER: Good
evening, Lawrence. Well, yesterday the Senate Judiciary Committee
admonished Jared Kushner in a letter, saying that he and his lawyers had
not turned over significant documents in their investigations.
And one of the things they mentioned was this Russian back door overture.
They didn`t explain, though, what it was.
So my colleague, Carol Lee, and I have learned today that it was, in fact,
this e-mail chain from this Russian named Alexander Torshin, who is a
deputy governor of the Russian Central Bank, a former senator, and, as you
said, has been accused by Spanish prosecutors of having ties to Russian
Now, he denies this, but an e-mail chain made its way to Jared Kushner, in
which he requested a meeting and also suggested – Torshin did – that he
had a message that he wanted to carry from Vladimir Putin to Donald Trump.
Now, Jared Kushner`s lawyer tonight issued a statement, telling us that
Kushner`s response to this e-mail was, quote, pass on this. A lot of
people come claiming to carry messages, very few we are able to verify.
For now, I think we decline such meetings.
So Kushner declines it, but then somehow – and it`s not clear how – this
same Alexander Torshin tells Bloomberg News that he has dinner with Donald
Trump, Jr. on the sidelines of this National Rifle Association convention
back in May 2016.
And congressional investigators are trying to figure out how that dinner
was set up, what was said, what was the nature of it. And the reason
Kushner`s under fire is because he failed to disclose that this overture
was made and it made its way to him. And investigators are asking
questions about why he and his lawyers failed to turn over these documents,
O`DONNELL: And let`s remember, the collusion under investigation, the
possible collusion, is a two-way street. This would be the Trump campaign
colluding with the Russian government. And anything that indicates that
there is a willingness on the Russian side to engage in this kind of
activity is evidence that would enter into that theory.
I want to read “The New York Times” reporting on this tonight, saying the
subject line of the e-mail turned over to Senate investigators read, quote,
Russian back door overture and dinner invite, end quote, according to one
person who has seen the message.
And so, Ken, I can imagine the congressional investigators, when they`re
coming across material like this, it is just so starkly self-expressive in
admitting what it is.
DILANIAN: Yes. This is just the latest example of sort of senior Russians
with ties to Vladimir Putin circling around this campaign, trying to
infiltrate, trying to get meetings with senior officials. And it`s an
example of where a senior official, Jared Kushner, did not fully come clean
And the other thing that`s really important here, Lawrence, is sort of
unrelated to this but involving Jared Kushner, is that he told both
congressional committees, he testified, that he did not recall – actually,
he said he was not aware of any campaign contacts with WikiLeaks.
Well, now we learn this week that, in fact, Don Junior was in Twitter
communication with WikiLeaks, forwarded an e-mail about that to Jared
Kushner, and Jared Kushner forwarded that e-mail on to Hope Hicks. His
lawyer confirmed that in the same letter I just read to you.
And that`s really important because it has people in Congress wanting Jared
Kushner to come back and testify about why he said he didn`t remember
something that he clearly knew about and forwarded an e-mail about.
And it`s really important that the campaign was in communication with
WikiLeaks, obviously, because WikiLeaks was in receipt of those hacked e-
mails that Russian intelligence got from the Democrats, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: And then, of course, there was Donald Trump`s very open and
public communication with WikiLeaks from the campaign stage, saying I love
WikiLeaks and asking them for help publicly.
NBC`s Ken Dilanian, thank you very much for joining us with your breaking
news report tonight. Really appreciate it.
DILANIAN: You bet, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: NBC News also reports tonight that one of the people who helped
arrange the Trump Tower meeting with Russians during the campaign is ready
to meet with Special Counsel Robert Mueller`s office.
According to several people familiar with the matter, Rob Goldstone has
been living in Bangkok, Thailand, but has been communicating with Mueller`s
office through his lawyers.
Goldstone`s New York lawyer, G. Robert Gage, declined to comment other than
to say nothing is presently scheduled. However, sources close to Goldstone
and familiar with the investigation say they expect he will travel to the
United States at some point. In the near future, as one of them put it.
We`re joined now by Max Boot, a senior fellow for national security studies
at the Council on Foreign Relations and a former foreign policy adviser for
the McCain, Romney, and Rubio presidential campaigns.
Also with us, Betsy Woodruff, a politics reporter for “The Daily Beast.”
And, Max, here we have Jared Kushner having said he knew nothing about
contact of WikiLeaks. Here`s an e-mail showing him clearly aware of it to
the point where he`s forwarding an e-mail about contact with WikiLeaks.
MAX BOOT, JEANE J. KIRKPATRICK SENIOR FELLOW FOR NATIONAL SECURITY STUDIES,
COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS: Right. I mean, Lawrence, it seems just like
pretty much every day, another lie from the Trump folks about their
connections with Russia is exposed, right? I mean, have they ever told the
truth in the slightest sense about this, and why are they lying?
Keep in mind the bigger picture, too, which is that it was only a few days
ago that Donald Trump, himself, was in Vietnam, meeting with Vladimir
Putin. And what did he do after this meeting with Putin? He comes away
saying Putin denies having hacked the DNC and I believe him. And the
professionals who run the American intelligence community, they`re a bunch
of hacks, political hacks, because they said the Russians hacked.
So, you know, Donald Trump, himself, is lending credence to this notion
that there was collusion. And then we`re seeing evidence of that collusion
emerge almost every single day.
O`DONNELL: And, Betsy, the – here`s Jared Kushner who has to revise his
testimony, in effect, sequentially. It`s almost one of the most reliable
things in the investigation, is that the Jared Kushner statement on X will
be different a month from now.
BETSY WOODRUFF, POLITICAL REPORTER, THE DAILY BEAST: And on top of that,
we have now seen both the Republican and the top Democrat on the Senate
Judiciary Committee actually publicly call out Jared Kushner, just this
past week for what they say is failure to turn over documents that they
asked for that related to communications between the Trump campaign and
WikiLeaks, or related to WikiLeaks.
That`s really important because we`re seeing not just a lot of general
frustration directed at Jared Kushner over his failure to reveal certain
communications and certain contacts with folks who are linked to the
We`re seeing Chuck Grassley, who is one of the most powerful Republican
senators, actually indicate or suggest that he thinks Jared Kushner, one of
the President`s top advisers, hasn`t been entirely honest with him.
This criticism that Kushner is getting when it comes to his honesty and his
forthrightness is not a partisan criticism. It`s coming from both sides,
and that`s an incredibly important development that we have seen play out
this week. And that, I think, is going to have ramifications for quite
some time, going forward.
O`DONNELL: And, Max Boot, there`s real criminal liability here for Jared
Kushner because he, apparently, was under oath when he said that he was not
familiar with any attempts by WikiLeaks to contact the campaign.
Now, they have an e-mail about WikiLeaks and the campaign that he
forwarded. So you can`t forward an e-mail without physically forwarding
the e-mail. And so, he`s got that.
He`s also got other possible criminal liabilities on the disclosures –
these disclosure forms he was supposed to do for his security clearance.
It would seem that he could be a very serious pressure point for the
BOOT: Absolutely, along with Donald Trump, Jr. who is also neck deep in
all this because he was also at the center of these various contacts with
And we have already seen the way that Mueller, like any experienced
prosecutor, goes after possible perjury rap sheet or lying to federal
investigators. Very easy to nail somebody like George Papadopoulos and, of
course, he is building the case against – to go after Kushner and Donald
And, of course, we know where that leads in the end. And, you know, I
think Donald Trump, himself, knows where that leads. And that`s why I
think we have to be very concerned as this investigation moves forward that
Trump is going to think about trying to get rid of Mueller.
O`DONNELL: And, Betsy, we have reports tonight indicating that Robert
Mueller is sending extensive range of subpoenas to the Trump campaign. And
that means, of course, that any destruction or misuse of anything that`s
under subpoena is, in and of itself, a crime.
WOODRUFF: And it`s also an important new report because it very much goes
against what the public statements from folks in the White House and close
to the White House have been suggesting.
People close to the President and close to the campaign have been saying
that publicly, that they this investigation is going to clear the
President`s name, that they think that they`re trying to speed it up, try
to get things done even as early as Thanksgiving, according to one of the
attorneys working with the President, because they think there is nothing
to see here.
The fact that Mueller had actually subpoenaed the Trump campaign indicates
that the Trump campaign might potentially be in possession of documents
that they failed to turn over to Mueller`s team.
That suggests that the sunny view of this investigation we have been
hearing publicly doesn`t line up necessarily with what`s actually going on
behind closed doors.
O`DONNELL: Betsy Woodruff and Max Boot, thank you both for joining us
tonight. Really appreciate it.
WOODRUFF: Sure thing.
O`DONNELL: Coming up, the sexual harassment and misconduct allegations
against Roy Moore, Donald Trump, and Al Franken.
O`DONNELL: When Roy Moore was a 32-year-old assistant district attorney,
he was reportedly constantly trying to date teenage girls who were at least
14 years younger than he was and one who was only 14 years old.
And when he was 38 years old, Roy Moore actually succeeded in marrying a
woman who was 14 years younger. And today, she said this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KAYLA MOORE, WIFE OF ROY MOORE: So let me set the record straight. Even
after all the attacks against me, against my family, against the
foundation, and now against my husband, he will not step down.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Right.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: The Republican Governor of Alabama, Kay Ivey, announced today
that she will vote for Roy Moore in the Special Election on December 12th.
And then she was immediately asked this question.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And do you believe any of the women that have brought
accusations against Roy Moore?
GOV. KAY IVEY (R), ALABAMA: I certainly have no reason to disbelieve any
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: The Republican Governor was not asked if she believes the more
than a dozen women who publicly accused Donald Trump of sexual harassment
and sexual assault last year. But that question did come up at the White
House today in the aftermath of President Trump`s Twitter attacks on Al
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CECILIA VEGA, ABC NEWS WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: If it`s fair to
investigate Al Franken and the allegation made by his accuser, is it also
fair to investigate this President and the allegations of sexual misconduct
made against him by more than a dozen women?
SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Look, I think that
this was covered pretty extensively during the campaign. We addressed that
then. The American people, I think, spoke really loud and clear when they
elected this President.
VEGA: But how is this different?
SANDERS: I think in one case, specifically, Senator Franken has admitted
wrongdoing and the President hasn`t. I think that`s a very clear
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Of course, that is not true. The President did admit
wrongdoing. And in that admission, he expressed no regret as Senator
Franken has expressed for his conduct. Donald Trump actually bragged about
his favorite techniques of sexual assault when he was admitting to sexual
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I better use some Tic-Tacs, just in case I start kissing her. You
know, I`m automatically attracted to beautiful – I just start kissing
them. It`s like a magnet. I just kiss. And I don`t even wait.
And when you`re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything.
BILLY BUSH, NBC NEWS HOST: Whatever you want.
TRUMP: Grab them by the (INAUDIBLE).
TRUMP: You can do anything.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Senator Al Franken has apologized to Leeann Tweeden after she
accused him of aggressively kissing her during a rehearsal of a comedy
sketch in 2006 and posing for this picture while she was asleep on a
military aircraft traveling back from a USO tour of the Middle East in
2006, two years before Al Franken ran for Senate.
Today, Leeann Tweeden appeared on “The View,” where she read a handwritten
letter that she had just received from Al Franken.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LEEANN TWEEDEN, KABC RADIO NEWS ANCHOR: It says – Dear Leeann, I want to
apologize to you personally. I don`t know what was in my head when I took
that picture, but that doesn`t matter. There`s no excuse and I understand
why you could feel violated by that photo.
I remember that rehearsal differently, but what`s important is the impact
it had on you. And you felt violated by my actions, and for that, I
apologize. I have tremendous respect for your work for the USO, and I am
ashamed that my actions ruined that experience for you.
I`m so sorry. Sincerely, Al Franken.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Leeann Tweeden also said this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TWEEDEN: I wasn`t calling for his resignation. I wasn`t calling for his
career to end. I didn`t want any of that. I just wanted to shine the
light and stand on the shoulders of these other women to go, this is not
He has fessed up to it and he apologized. And I sincerely think that he
really – I think he took in and realized, man – that he looks at it now
and says I`m disgusted by my actions.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Today, we heard from women who have worked with Al Franken in
the Senate and as well as one woman who worked with him at “Saturday Night
Live.” We will bring you what they have to say next, and we`ll be joined
by Joy Reid and Maria Teresa Kumar.
O`DONNELL: Today, several former Senate and campaign staffers who worked
for Senator Al Franken released this statement.
Many of us spent years working for Senator Franken in Minnesota and
Washington. In our time working for the Senator, he treated us with the
utmost respect. He valued our work and our opinions and was a champion for
women, both in the legislation he supported and in promoting women to
leadership roles in our offices.
Casey Aden-Wansbury who served as Senator Al Franken`s chief of staff from
2011 to 2015 released this statement.
In the eight years I have known Al Franken, including four as his Senate
chief of staff, he has always worked hard to create a respectful
environment for his staff. The inappropriate behavior reported today does
not live up to the values I know he holds, and I am glad he has apologized.
I have worked in government and politics for two decades and have never
seen anyone take public service more seriously or care more deeply about
his responsibility to the constituents and the country he serves.
Sarah Paley was 21 years old when she was hired as a writer at “Saturday
Night Live” in 1979. She was the youngest writer working at the show.
Today, Sarah Paley said this about Al Franken.
When I was in my early 20s, I worked with Al Franken at “Saturday Night
Live” and “The New Show.” In an atmosphere that was rife with crude male
behavior, Al never made me feel uncomfortable. We became friends in part
because he did not engage in the macho harassing behavior that was the
standard in the workplace in the late 1970s and `80s.
Joining us now, Maria Teresa Kumar, president and CEO of Voto Latino and an
MSNBC contributor. And back with us, Joy Reid.
And, Joy, I just wanted to get your assessment of this entire range of
discussion that we have been dealing with here now at the end of the week.
REID: Yes. You know, Lawrence, I think it`s really important that you
mention the year that the Al Franken incident with Ms. Tweeden took place.
It was 2006. This is a year after Donald Trump said to Billy Bush that, as
a celebrity, he just starts kissing beautiful women that he likes, and that
he feels that he can grab them by the – you know what he said after that.
And it`s important, I think, to make that – put that in context as Donald
Trump is attacking Al Franken for exactly the behavior he bragged about to
Billy Bush, literally a year before Al Franken kissed this woman without
her consent and took the stupid picture that, apparently, at the time, he
thought was funny. And it was vulgar and the gross.
But the difference between these two men is not just their ages, 66 and 71.
It`s that Al Franken actually manned up, admitted he did wrong, and
apologized to Ms. Tweeden, which is exactly what he should do.
And we`re seeing this constriction of the boundaries of what celebrity men,
and even men just with power and no celebrity, have felt forever that they
could do. As a woman, you know that men, when they acquire any money or
power, start thinking that their boundaries are much wider. That if
they`re interested in a woman, they can kind of do anything.
Donald Trump voiced that literally in the “Access Hollywood” video. I`m a
celebrity. Therefore, if I want that woman, I can just go up and kiss her.
If I want to see those teenagers naked, I`m the head of this pageant, I`ll
walk in and I`m going to look at them naked. There`s nothing they can do.
Mistreating women as sort of an object that`s really only there for male
Al Franken was also somebody who was guilty of doing that. But unlike
Donald Trump, he has the ability to evolve and to admit that that was gross
and wrong and to apologize.
Can you imagine how different the world would be if Donald Trump, President
of the United States, was man enough to apologize and to admit the
wrongdoing that more than a dozen women have accused him of? But he isn`t
that guy. He isn`t capable of it.
O`DONNELL: Marie Teresa, your reaction to where the stories stand tonight?
MARIA TERESA KUMAR, PRESIDENT AND CEO, VOTO LATINO: I think that was a mic
drop job by Joy-Ann Reid. But in all fairness, I think that the biggest
difference is that not only did he apologize to the victim, basically
saying, look, I definitely crossed the line and I didn`t mean to, he
basically just called an ethics investigation on himself, saying, come and
actually – yes, I actually invite my colleagues to scrutinize my past,
making sure that I`m actually fit to serve in this office.
Donald Trump has not done any of that. Not only has not done any of that
by any means necessary, but he also has not gone after through the same
scrutiny and talked about Roy Moore, who, right now, has allegations
against him from a 14-year-old – from a woman that was – when she was 14
years old, was groped by him.
So the fact that the inconsistencies and hypocrisy behind Donald Trump not
being able to not only man up, as Joy says, but also trying to basically
shine the light only on Al Franken and not on this – the Alabama Senate –
person that`s running for Senate of Alabama is not only unfair, but it also
demonstrates what his priorities are. And that he doesn`t actually want to
get involved in those waters because it reflects too closely to home.
O`DONNELL: And of course, we will never forget which politician said no
one has more respect for women than I do.
O`DONNELL: That, of course, was Donald Trump. And he was saying that when
he was also promising to sue every one of the women who, during the
campaign, accused him of some kind of sexual harassment or sexual assault.
And he called all of them liars, Joy.
O`DONNELL: That was his word for them. We didn`t hear anything like that
from Al Franken.
REID: Right. And I think, you know, that it`s – you know, as
embarrassing, obviously, as this is for Al Franken, in a moment for him,
it`s almost perfect that he is the guy that this happened to in this sense.
Donald Trump and Al Franken are very analogous in terms of their entry into
politics. Al Franken was famous-famous. He wasn`t famous because he kept
calling “The New York Post” and trying to get himself on page six because
he was just some rich guy who`s desperate to be in the news like Donald
REID: He was, like, famous-famous. He was on “Saturday Night Live.” He
left “Saturday Night Live,” made movies.
By the time this happened in 2006, he had had best-selling books, including
one that Bill O`Reilly tried to sue him for because he called him a lying
liar. He had – was on Air America Radio, so he was a radio star for
people on the left who are listening to, you know, the liberal radio
So he was a celebrity. And he was acting in the way that too many people
with that kind of fame behave. And his celebrity propelled him into
politics. He was elected in part because he was famous.
They are very analogous men. But the difference is when you`re a man, if
you are trying to be a man and man up in in that sense of the word, when
you are wrong, when you have committed wrong against someone else, the
thing to do – if you`re a Christian, let`s say – and I don`t know Al
Franken is a Christian –
REID: – I don`t know what his religion is. But you admit it. Donald
Trump isn`t capable of doing that. So I mean, he isn`t half as capable of
that or a tenth as Al Franken is. And I`ll stop.
O`DONNELL: Well, that`s going to have to be the last word on it tonight.
Joy Reid and Maria Teresa Kumar, thank you both very much for joining us
tonight. I really appreciate it.
REID: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: Thank you.
KUMAR: Thank you, Joy. Thank you, Lawrence.
REID: All right.
O`DONNELL: Coming up, the events that started the political world that we
O`DONNELL: – noticed that I missed the last few nights of this show
because I`ve been meeting LAST WORD viewers around the country while
talking about my new book, “Playing with Fire.” Here`s a highlight reel of
some of the T.V. talk about the book.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHEN COLBERT, “THE LATE SHOW WITH STEPHEN COLBERT” HOST: Now, you have
a new book here. It`s called “Playing with Fire.” It`s about the campaign
of 1968. What, today, can we learn about the transformation of our
politics? Anything here that we can learn about today`s politics?
O`DONNELL: We can see all of the precedents that occurred in 1968, which
is kind of where our modern politics began, for what we just saw in the
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Your book about `68, particularly on the
Democratic side, is the only other thing that has made me feel like, oh,
right, we`ve done this before as a country. We`ve been this overwhelmed.
O`DONNELL: We had a resistance this big before and it was in 1968 and it
was against both the Johnson presidency. And then following, it was
against the Nixon presidency. And it was an anti-war resistance. And the
– what was at stake was nothing other than life and death. Everyone over
18, every male, had to have his draft card in his pocket.
MADDOW: You can learn about Watergate by learning about what Richard Nixon
did. But if you really want to learn about Watergate, learn about what the
country was like and what was going on in the country at the time Watergate
happened, which allowed Watergate to end the way it did. And the way to
start understanding that is to understand `68, OK?
O`DONNELL: Oh, and there is a little bit of collusion –
O`DONNELL: – in the victory in the end that is worth – it`s actually
Richard Nixon used collusion with a foreign government, the South
Vietnamese, in order to win, in the end.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When you look back at this, do you think that our
country has ever fully healed itself from this year of division?
O`DONNELL: No because this is where the divisions got locked into cement.
Roger Ailes was a 27-year-old executive producer, which is kind of amazing,
of Mike Douglas` talk show at the time. He meets Richard Nixon at that
Nixon says, why am I doing a silly talk show like this? Ailes gets mad at
him and tries to explain to him the importance of appearing in a
nonpolitical venue on T.V. and then gives him a big lecture about T.V. and
how wrong Nixon has been about T.V.
Nixon loves it, and he pulls Ailes into his presidential campaign. Ailes
helps Nixon get elected. He helps Nixon get re-elected. He helps Ronald
Reagan get elected. He helps George H.W. Bush get elected.
And then he creates Fox News, and Fox News supports every Republican
candidate everywhere. Without Fox News holding Donald Trump up through
every valley that he went into during that campaign, Donald Trump would not
be president tonight. Without Roger Ailes and Fox News, we would have a
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: In San Francisco this week, I got a request for a book
signature from one of the youngest members of the LAST WORD audience, this
And in Los Angeles last night, Conan O`Brien did us the honor of serving as
moderator for a book discussion at the Writers Guild Theater. Conan
elevated the discussion with his own extensive reading of presidential
history. And, yes, he delivered more laughs than any of my previous book
Conan really was extraordinary last night. He has much more knowledge of
history than I do. He was a history major in college. I could go on and
on about how brilliant and masterful Conan was last night. Tonight`s LAST
WORD is next.
O`DONNELL: Time for tonight`s LAST WORD.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COLBERT: And you have a badge of honor, if that`s what it is, in that you
were one of the first T.V. political pundits, if you don`t mind that term,
to be attacked –
O`DONNELL: I`ll take it.
COLBERT: – to be attacked by the President before he was the President.
This was in 2015.
I hear that dopey political pundit Lawrence O`Donnell, one of the dumber
people on television, is about to lose his show. No ratings, too bad.
COLBERT: And then this is even better – I heard, because his show is
unwatchable, that Lawrence has made many false statements last night about
me. Maybe I should sue him?
O`DONNELL: That`s my space in Twitter history. I`m the first person, I
think the only T.V. person, that he threatened to sue on Twitter. On
COLBERT: Really? I`m next. Now –
COLBERT: I can`t even – he won`t even tweet about me.
O`DONNELL: Yes. No, well –
COLBERT: He won`t even tweet about me.
O`DONNELL: That`s fascinating. It`s fascinating that he won`t tweet about
you. What do you have to do to get him to tweet about you? You haven`t
gone far enough. I think the –
COLBERT: Say something nice about him.
O`DONNELL: I guess so. That would do it.
COLBERT: Not going to happen.
O`DONNELL: That would do it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Stephen Colbert gets tonight`s and this week`s LAST WORD.
The “11TH HOUR” with Brian Williams is next.
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