Trump’s staff “say he is like a child” Transcript 1/5/18 The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell
Show: THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL
Date: January 5, 2018
Guest: Daniel Dale, Jennifer Rubin, Neera Tanden, Jill Wine-Banks, Hunter Walker
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: – by talking about the conspicuous fact that
Attorney General Jeff Sessions is not going to Camp David along with most
of the rest of the cabinet and all the congressional leadership and the
President and the Vice President this weekend.
That`s interesting both for Jeff Sessions` feelings and for the prospect
that the President might be looking to get rid of him and how consequential
that would be for, among other things, the Russia investigation.
Two Republican members of Congress this week called for Jeff Sessions to
resign, Jim Jordan of Ohio and Mark Meadows of North Carolina. Well,
tonight, we have just got a third. Chris Stewart, congressman from Utah,
is now the third Republican member of Congress calling for Jeff Sessions to
Again, the Attorney General, not invited to the sleepover at Camp David
this weekend. Now growing calls for resignation among Republican
congressmen. Watch this space.
That does it for us tonight. We`ll see you again Monday. Now, it`s time
for THE LAST WORD with Katy Tur in for Lawrence this evening.
Good evening, Katy.
KATY TUR, MSNBC HOST: In the words of Donald Trump, that is not nice to
Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Rachel, he was the first one that came out
and endorsed him. It was a big deal.
MADDOW: Here`s one thing that might be nice about it. Alabama never gets
as cold as Camp David is going to be this weekend, so it`s possible he is a
TUR: Well, there`s that.
MADDOW: And the President wanted to spare him.
TUR: You know, usually, I do these awkward handoffs with Ari Melber, and
they can be awkward. I`m not quite sure how to throw you off your game,
MADDOW: Oh, there`s – I can give you infinite possibilities. You just
sit here and look at me weird for a few seconds and I crumble.
See? OK. There you go. Bye, Katy.
TUR: Rachel, thank you.
MADDOW: Thank you.
TUR: It is exciting for me to take it away from you. I appreciate it.
And thank you, Rachel. I`m Katy Tur, in for Lawrence O`Donnell.
It is finally here, Michael Wolff`s much anticipated new book, “Fire and
Fury, Inside the Trump White House.” It officially arrived in bookstores
despite and probably because of the President`s attempts to stop the
The book is flying off the shelves around America, not just in New York and
D.C. but also in Wichita, Kansas, where a local bookstore owner told the
local paper: it`s crazy. There is a scramble right now to get as many
books in retail outlets as possible, and we`re just counting on the
publisher to deliver.
In Tempe and Phoenix, Arizona, the owner of a small book chain – bookstore
book chain told a reporter: we clearly under-ordered, no question. I worry
everyone wants it, and if they don`t get it within the next week, they`ll
look for the juicy parts online.
You can find similar headlines in Lubbock, Texas, Raleigh, North Carolina,
and Cincinnati, Ohio. Not to mention the bookstore downstairs here in
Rockefeller Center where “Fire and Fury” is sold out.
Here is what author Michael Wolff says about Donald Trump making his tell-
all the most in-demand book in America tonight.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SAVANNAH GUTHRIE, NBC NEWS ANCHOR: The President`s lawyers sent a cease
and desist letter threatening legal action against you and the publisher to
which you say?
MATTHEW WOLFF, AUTHOR, “FIRE AND FURY, INSIDE THE TRUMP WHITE HOUSE”: And
they sent that yesterday before they actually had read the book, but what -
- actually, what I say is, wait, where do I send the box of chocolates?
GUTHRIE: You think he`s helping you sell books?
WOLFF: Absolutely, I mean. And not only is he helping me sell books, but
he`s helping me prove the point of the book.
I mean, this is extraordinary that a President of the United States would
try to stop the publication of a book. This doesn`t happen. Has not
happened from other presidents, would not even happen from a CEO of a mid-
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TUR: The President and the White House claim Wolff`s reporting is a,
quote, book of lies and Trump tweeted this, this morning.
Well, now that the collusion with Russia is proving to be a total hoax and
the only collusion is with Hillary Clinton and the FBI/Russia, the fake
news media – mainstream – and this phony new book are hitting out at
every new front imaginable. They should try winning an election. Sad.
Wolff, who says he has audio to back up his book, responded to Trump`s
attack this way.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GUTHRIE: Would you release any of those recordings since your credibility
is being questioned?
WOLFF: I – my credibility is being questioned by a man who has less
credibility than perhaps anyone who has ever walked on Earth at this point.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TUR: Wolff also doubled down on the overall portrait of President Trump
which he says is shared by 100 percent of the people around him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GUTHRIE: Everyone around the President, senior advisers, family members,
every single one of them, questions his intelligence and fitness for
WOLFF: Let me put a marker in the sand here, 100 percent of the people
around him. I will tell you, the one description that everyone gave,
everyone has in common. They all say he is like a child. And what they
mean by that is he has a need for immediate gratification. It`s all about
I mean, this letter for – the cease and desist letter, I mean, I still
have sources in the White House, and I know everybody was going –
WOLFF: I know – we should not be doing this, this is not smart. And he
just insists. He just has to be satisfied in the moment.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TUR: Here is what some of the people around President Trump have said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PETER ALEXANDER, NBC NEWS NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Should Americans be
concerned about the President`s mental fitness that he appears to be
speaking so lightly about threats regarding nuclear button?
SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I think the President
and the people of this country should be concerned about the mental fitness
of the leader of North Korea.
REX TILLERSON, SECRETARY OF STATE: I`ve never questioned his mental
fitness. I have no reason to question his mental fitness.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TUR: Here`s the thing. It might be more noticeable what they did not say.
No one from the White House has directly addressed the claims in my Michael
Wolff`s book that it`s chaos inside the White House. No one from the White
House has addressed directly the claims that Trump acts like a child.
Will they? It`s hard to say.
But tonight, Axios reports more than half a dozen of the more skilled White
House staff are contemplating imminent departures. Many leaving are quite
fearful about the next chapter of the Trump presidency.
Joining us now are Neera Tanden, president of the Center for American
Progress; Daniel Dale, Washington correspondent for the “Toronto Star”; and
Jennifer Rubin, conservative opinion writer at “The Washington Post.”
Guys, welcome. I find it noticeable that so many of Donald Trump`s
sympathizers, Donald Trump supporters, are going on cable outlets and
dismissing this book wholeheartedly, but they`re not really getting into
many of the details.
There is one detail that really just struck out for me, one detail that I
noticed, and that came from Sam Nunberg, who I had on my 2:00 p.m. show
earlier today. And that was Sam Nunberg trying to explain the constitution
to a man who was running to be the President of the United States. Take a
listen to what Sam said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SAM NUNBERG, FORMER CAMPAIGN AIDE TO DONALD TRUMP: Michael says that I
went in there to teach him the constitution. I didn`t go in there to teach
him the constitution.
What I went in there was, it was a week and a half before the first debate
and I was scared. I go in and I try to have a brief, like, let me give you
a got you question on this, got you question on that, got you question on
I could only get to the Fourth Amendment before four other people are
walking in. He tells me, you know, it`s one –
TUR: No, that`s not what you said in the book. You didn`t say it was
people walking. In the book, you`ve said his eyes rolled back in his head.
You implied that he could not understand what was –
NUNBERG: Well, that`s not what I was –
TUR: – what was in the constitution. He didn`t care enough, maybe that`s
what it was.
NUNBERG: That`s what it was.
TUR: But he –
NUNBERG: I didn`t – first of all –
TUR: So he doesn`t care about learning the constitution?
NUNBERG: No, he knows the constitution. I don`t think he cared about –
TUR: Does he know the –
NUNBERG: I don`t think he cared about preparing.
TUR: But – hold on, hold on.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TUR: He didn`t care about preparing for that debate. He didn`t
necessarily care about learning the whole constitution as Sam Nunberg was
saying in that book.
Daniel, he is now in the White House. Who in the White House cares about
the constitution for the President of the United States?
DANIEL DALE, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, TORONTO STAR: Well, I think, you
know, everyone around him is responsible for making it appear as if he has
the level of knowledge that every previous president had.
What`s curious to me is that the media in the U.S. has never – has rarely,
if ever, pressed him to demonstrate this knowledge, the kinds of got you
questions that previous candidates without political experience often –
TUR: Is that a got you question, though, Daniel, what`s in the
DALE: No, I think it shouldn`t be considered, but I think candidates would
consider it one. But I – he – you know, Trump, himself, skates away in
interviews by opining on things.
But on things as diverse as the constitution, health care policy, Middle
East policy, it`s not clear that he has basic knowledge. You know, where
is Israel? What are its neighbors? What is Medicaid? What does ObamaCare
And so from all of those things and the constitution, we just don`t know
what precisely this President actually knows.
TUR: And, Jennifer, what do you think readers are going to take away from
this book once they can finally dig into it?
JENNIFER RUBIN, OPINION WRITER, THE WASHINGTON POST: Well, first of all,
Katy, I am sorry that the President didn`t threaten to ban your book
because I`m sure that would have been a big help to sales.
TUR: He did tweet about my book the day of the release, saying that I had
TUR: There is that.
RUBIN: Well, there is that to fall back on. I hope the American people
take away two things.
One is that the people around him are not doing the country a favor. They
are misusing their power, and they are committing a horrible miscarriage of
justice and miscarriage of the constitution. If he is incapable of
carrying out the duties of the presidency, it`s not their job to disguise
that or to run around doing the job. We didn`t elect any of them.
If he`s not fit, they need to come forward to the American people. And we
have a Vice President for precisely that reason. So I think the American
people should be very concerned that he is not fit for office and that
these people are disguising this, hiding this from us.
The second issue, I think, that we should be very alarmed about is that
there is an awful lot of evidence between this and “The New York Times”
release this week in terms of obstruction of justice. And this, in fact,
involves the Attorney General.
I have been one who said we shouldn`t fire the Attorney General because he
was there, in essence, to protect Mueller. Now, I think he has to go.
I think there`s direct evidence that he`s implicated in an obstruction of
justice in trying to cook up a phony reason to get rid of the FBI Director
at the time, and I think he has to go. And I think the little component
parts of a claim of obstruction of justice are coming together.
TUR: But, Jennifer, who would replace him? Who would get by a
RUBIN: You know what? We have a Deputy Attorney General and that person
can act in the Attorney General`s spot for as long as need be.
TUR: Rod Rosenstein. Neera, can you imagine a scenario where Michael
Wolff would get this sort of access to any other White House?
NEERA TANDEN, PRESIDENT AND CEO, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS: I mean, the
whole thing is really stunning. I have to agree with Jennifer. I worked
in two different White Houses, in the Obama White House and in the Clinton
White House. And there were certainly books that, you know, were portrayed
to be insider details, but they – you know, they did not – none of those
authors, like, sat out in the West Wing for months at a time.
And I mean, I think what`s really stunning about this book is just the
universal view of Trump`s own aides thinking he is unfit to be president.
And basically, in the last 48 hours, we`ve had reporter after reporter
basically sort of blindly – like, you know, in a way basically confirm
that the staffers will go on T.V. and defend the President, and then roll
their eyes about him or actually confess, privately, to hold serious
And so, you know, I don`t think – I think this is like a, you know, kind
of existential moment for the country. Do we have a President who is fit
to serve as leader of the free world and as leader of our country?
If you can`t read memos or read your presidential daily briefing or have no
interest in doing so, it`s hard to do the hardest job in the world. And,
you know, I just – this is like a – I think this is like a big moment for
the country, actually.
TUR: Daniel, the thing about this book is that although it is shocking in
its details and it`s riveting in the gossipy aspect of it, it does fall in
line with a lot of the reporting that we have been seeing since Donald
Trump took office about the chaos within his White House.
When you said the Axios reporting which talks about folks that are
considering tendering their resignation, how much stock do you put into
DALE: Well, we know that. We know that`s true. I don`t know if the
precise names that Axios is floating are correct, but we know, for example,
that Rex Tillerson has been thinking about it for a long time. Top
economic adviser Gary Cohn has been thinking about it for a long time.
This is a president who has suffered unprecedented first-year turnover for
a modern president. And by all indications, once these staffers hit the
one-year mark on January 20th, the pace of turnover is probably going to
These are people who are sick and tired of dealing with this president and
dealing with such a dysfunctional environment. Some of them have been
determined to stick it out to get to one year as a resume item or as a –
for a sense of personal accomplishment. But by all accounts, there`s going
to be an additional exodus in the coming weeks and months.
TUR: But, Jennifer, if they`re sick and tired of it and it`s – as James
Fallows puts it, it`s an open secret that there are questions about the
President`s mental stability and as people within the White House say that
they`re questioning it as well to reporters.
I got a text from somebody who used to work in the White House, asking me
if I think the President has lost a step. And this was three months ago
after my book came out and he read that and then looked at the President on
Given all of that, why are we not seeing resignations before now? Why are
folks sticking around?
RUBIN: This is the great moral dilemma. Why did they go in and why did
they stay and why did they remain quiet? And I think the real and very
disappointing answer is people do this because they`re careerists, because
they love the excitement of working in the White House, they love the
I would like to think that they`re patriots, that their conscience would
move us to do something. You know there`s been exactly one person who has
resigned because he thought something foul was going on, and that`s Mark
Corallo who was the spokesperson for the legal team for Donald Trump.
He was on the flight on Air Force One when they were crafting and re-
crafting the cover story for the famous June meeting in Trump Tower. And
he apparently told Mr. Wolff, listen, I thought there was obstruction of
justice. He quit.
Why don`t we have more than a single person? Well, that`s a good question,
and I think part of it goes to the fact that quality attracts quality. The
fish rots from the head. And very, I think, skilled, experienced people
did not want to go work for this White House, and so we got what we got.
My hope is that when they leave, they`ll be more forthcoming. They`ll
testify before Congress. They will come on the air. They`ll explain what
they have seen. And maybe we can come up, collectively, with a short
circuit for this presidency because I think we`re in a dangerous, dangerous
spot right now.
TUR: So in trying to blunt this book, the White House and the President
have been attacking Steve Bannon, saying this is all about Steve Bannon
being crazy and spinning lies. Michael Wolff, the author, pushed back on
that on “TODAY” this morning. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WOLFF: The President have – has tried to put this, this book is about
Steve Bannon. So let me say, very forthrightly, this book is not about
Steve Bannon. This book is about Donald Trump.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TUR: Neera, let`s play devil`s advocate here. Could you say that this
book is about Steve Bannon`s version of Donald Trump?
TANDEN: Well, I presume that Michael Wolff has a lot of sources. It seems
like he has a lot of sources from his book. Obviously, I am absolutely no
Steve Bannon fan. I think he`s a terrible person and has proposed terrible
policies for the country and is incredibly divisive.
What I think is – would be – people are kind of losing sight of here is
that Steve Bannon is an eyewitness to a lot of events. Jennifer referenced
some of them, but, you know, he is an eyewitness to the President`s
responses – to Donald Trump`s response to the Russia investigation.
The fact that he calls the campaign that he, later, was a CEO of treasonous
and unpatriotic and, you know, basically alleges that or basically argues
that there`s a lot wrong going on here, then the President attacks him
viciously, I think, you know, he has a lot to offer congressional
investigators. And obviously, Mueller, in being a witness to what happened
here, witness to possible cover-ups that happened inside the White House
around what happened in the campaign.
And so, you know, I think we`re talking about two people who basically have
guns to each other`s heads here. And for one to live, the other must die.
And I honestly don`t know which way it will go in the end.
TUR: Listen, a lot of folks have been predicting Donald Trump`s demise now
since he announced, since –
TANDEN: Yes, I`m not betting on it.
TUR: It was – hold on.
TANDEN: I`m not betting on it.
TANDEN: I`m just saying –
TUR: But – well, that`s what –
TANDEN: I`m just saying that –
TUR: But – and I`m not saying you are betting on it, but when people look
at this book and they say, oh, my gosh, it`s really detailing how nuts it
is inside the White House, you can`t survive this.
Neera, do you think this book is going to – or, actually, Jennifer, do you
think this book is really going to leave a mark?
Is this going to last, or is this going to be another way that the
President of the United States can say everybody is out to get me, the
media is out to get me, the mainstream political establishment is out to
get me, the deep state is out to get me? Look at all they`re doing to try
to embarrass me.
RUBIN: I don`t think anything is going to end this presidency until –
Neera, you got me – until you have a Democratic Congress. Until you have
a group of people who are willing to impeach this President, Democrats are
not going to sit still.
And I wonder what Republicans are going to think going into November when
their Democratic opponents say, we know that you have been enabling an
unfit, unbalanced president. We, Democrats, will do what is necessary to
protect the country and you won`t. I don`t know what the possible response
to that is.
TUR: Just to underscore –
TANDEN: I mean, the only –
TUR: Go ahead, Neera.
TANDEN: The only thing I would – the only thing I`d add to that is, you
know, this book takes place against the backdrop of a special prosecutor
investigation. So my point is only that Steve Bannon in this book, other
references in this book, can – will be fodder for the Special Prosecutor
I`m not saying that the book itself will take down Donald Trump, although I
think a lot of Republicans have to recognize that it`s not me saying the
President`s campaign was treasonous. It`s Steve Bannon saying that, but
I`m not saying that`s going to take him then.
I`m just saying, at the end of the day, there is a legal process underway
to create possible accountability for the President. And this book will be
part of the record of that legal process that Mueller himself can choose to
investigate. If I were on his team, I may call in Steve Bannon for a
question or two.
TUR: No doubt about. Guys, stay with us.
Coming up, new NBC News reporting about the White House crusade to stop
Jeff Sessions from recusing himself from the Russia probe.
And Senate Republicans have a new target in the Russia investigation. The
man who created the dossier, Christopher Steele.
And later, all the things that Trump administration did this week.
TUR: NBC News reports tonight that multiple Trump White House officials
urged Jeff Sessions not to recuse himself in the Russia investigation, in
addition to top White House lawyer, Don McGahn.
“The New York Times” first reported on Thursday that President Trump
ordered McGahn to stop sessions from recusing himself last March and that
Robert Mueller is aware of that demand.
The revelations come as Republican senators attacked one of the first
sources on the Trump/Russia collusion. Chuck Grassley and Lindsey Graham,
today, asked the Justice Department to consider criminal charges against
Christopher Steele, the former spy who compiled the document known as the
A source familiar with the investigation tells NBC News the referral stems
from at least one statement Steele made to the FBI about the timing of
discussions with journalists about the content of the dossier which
conflicts with what he told another source.
It`s the first criminal referral by Senate Republicans in their Russia
investigation, and it drew this reaction from Democratic Senator Richard
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D-CT), MINORITY MEMBER, SENATE COMMITTEE ON THE
JUDICIARY: I have seen no evidence, none whatsoever, that would justify
this criminal referral.
Stunningly and sadly, this first major action by the Republican leadership
of the Judiciary Committee is aimed at someone who reported wrongdoing
rather than committed it. It seems more like an effort to distract from
the real priorities, what should be the priorities of the committee.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TUR: Joining us now, Jill Wine-Banks, former assistant Watergate special
prosecutor and an MSNBC contributor. Also Ken Dilanian, the intelligence
and national security reporter for NBC News.
Ken, let`s start with you. What more do we know about this potential
investigation into Christopher Steele?
KEN DILANIAN, NBC NEWS INTELLIGENCE AND NATIONAL SECURITY REPORTER: Well,
Katy, this is a partisan referral by the Republicans only on the Judiciary
Committee. And that doesn`t mean we should discount it, but it`s something
our viewers should keep in mind. And the other thing to know about it is
that it`s classified, so we don`t have the exact details.
But I`ve been doing some reporting and talking to some sources, and I have
come away with the impression that it is essentially about what Christopher
Steele said about his contacts with reporters. Apparently, something that
he told the FBI contradicted with something that appeared through another
And it`s important to understand, too, that the Republicans are not even
alleging that Christopher Steele intentionally lied here. They`re just
saying that there is a material misstatement in a criminal investigation.
That`s leading a lot of Democrats to really question the whole premise of
this, why this would be a criminal referral. And it sort of underscores
the extent to which Charles Grassley and the Republicans on the Judiciary
Committee have really been going after Steele and the dossier and Fusion
GPS, the firm that hired Steele.
For months, they have been spending hours and hours of committee time
investigating this matter. And this appears to be one of the results of
TUR: Jill, is there any legal reason that you might want to go after
JILL WINE-BANKS, FORMER ASSISTANT WATERGATE SPECIAL PROSECUTOR: The only
reason would be to divert attention from the real issue.
Congress should be looking at what the Russians did. We know they
interfered with our election. We need to know before the next election how
to stop it, how to prevent them from interfering once again.
And whatever Christopher Steele`s possible misstatement was – and as you
said, we don`t know what it is, we haven`t seen it – it can`t be worthy of
an investigation of any further criminal charges.
It is a disgraceful act that they have done this. I totally disapprove of
it and think that we need to get focused on the people who committed
crimes, not reported them. He is the one who brought it to the attention
of the FBI, so this is – it`s just wrong. It`s totally wrong.
TUR: Ken, you also have more reporting adding to “The New York Times” that
it wasn`t just Don McGahn doing Donald Trump`s bidding the try and get Jeff
Sessions not to recuse himself. Who else was it?
DILANIAN: There were other White House officials who called, we are told,
Katy. And we don`t know who they are, but I think that`s the important
strand here. Because, you know, there really was a full-court press to
convince Jeff Sessions not to recuse from this investigation apparently
because Donald Trump really thought that he could benefit from Sessions
being in there as his protector.
He wanted an Attorney General who was loyal to him to sort of run roughshod
over the investigation. And his instincts were right about that because
nothing good has happened to Donald Trump in this investigation since Jeff
Sessions recused himself. But I`m not sure, you know, whether – and what
that means in terms of what was good for the country, Katy.
TUR: Jill, if it`s not just Don McGahn, if it was multiple people within
the White House going over to Jeff Sessions and telling him not to recuse
himself, can you dismiss that as something innocent as them thinking that
Jeff Sessions was doing a good job and didn`t need to, or does it prove
some sort of pattern or some sort of intent?
WINE-BANKS: I think it shows consciousness of guilt on the part of Donald
Trump. Why does he need a protector in the Attorney General`s seat? If he
has, as he claims, done nothing wrong, why wouldn`t the investigation go
forward? Why would he need any protection?
It`s clear that he knows that he`s guilty, and that`s why he wanted to keep
him. And I would further suggest that he knows that the Attorney General
had lied to Congress about his meetings, that he had had meetings.
And so that he may have thought that he would also be personally involved
in wanting to stop the investigation, not just on behalf of Donald Trump,
but on behalf of himself. So that he could be relied upon.
TUR: Jill, though, legally speaking, do you think you could actually
present a concrete case to say what you just said, that you think it`s
clear that he wanted to fire – or, excuse me, wanted Jeff Sessions to
protect him because he needed protecting? Legally, can you make that
WINE-BANKS: I think that what you have to do is take the pieces of the
puzzle and put them together, and then you see a clear picture. No one
fact alone says it all. But when you take everything and put it together,
to me, it becomes a pretty clear picture: that he is obstructing justice
and that he knew he was obstructing justice.
And, again, I want to point out that obstruction is a totally separate
crime from whatever the underlying crime was. Whether he or anyone on his
staff worked with the Russians to interfere in our election, it doesn`t
matter. There was a legitimate investigation of the Russian misconduct and
he interfered with it.
He wrote a phony statement which was intended to mislead the public and the
FBI about the June meeting. He fired Comey when Comey didn`t do his
bidding. He`s taken a series of steps that, all put together, say – and
he admitted to Lester Holt that he fired Comey because of the Russian
And he has admitted that he wanted to have Sessions stay because he needed
a protector. He said, where`s my Roy Cohn? And I could point out how evil
Roy Cohn is as the person involved in the Army/McCarthy hearings, but Roy
Cohn is a mentor to both Roger Stone and Donald Trump.
And so when he says, I want my Roy Cohn, or I want my protection, that says
to me – you put it all together – that he has some consciousness that
he`s done something wrong and needs protection.
TUR: Ken, is this an investigation now about collusion or obstruction?
DILANIAN: It`s clearly about both, Katy. And, you know, Jill`s making
some very strong points. I would just say that there are many legal
scholars who say that the obstruction case is a very difficult one to make.
And it may hinge on this question of whether the President has the absolute
right to fire his FBI Director for any reason, however evil the intent, or
whether that firing could be construed as an attempt to obstruct justice,
part of a conspiracy.
DILANIAN: And then all the other acts we have been hearing about were in
furtherance of that conspiracy, whether they were illegal or not. The
statement, the efforts to tell people to say there was no collusion, the
effort to tell Comey to go easy on Mike Flynn, all that stuff is part of
what Robert Mueller is looking at, Katy.
TUR: Ken Dilanian, Jill Wine-Banks, guys, thank you very much.
DILANIAN: Good to be with you.
WINE-BANKS: Thank you.
TUR: And coming up, new “Fire and Fury” book – the new “Fire and Fury”
book reveals a lot about Trump and women. It`s complicated. That`s next.
TUR: Michael Wolff`s new book, “Fire and Fury” has some shocking anecdotes
about Donald Trump and women. One involves the former Acting Attorney
General Sally Yates who was fired just 10 days after President Trump took
office after refusing to enforce the Trump administration`s original travel
We later learned that Sally Yates also had warned the White House that then
national security adviser Michael Flynn had lied about his contacts with
Russians and could be vulnerable to blackmail.
“Fire and Fury” details Trump`s preoccupation with Sally Yates even after
he fired her and quotes Donald Trump saying Sally Yates is, quote, such a
c-u-next-Tuesday. Wolff`s book says the Trump team predicted Donald Trump
would take issue with Sally Yates.
Quote, the transition report said Trump wouldn`t like the 56-year-old
Atlanta-born, University of Georgia, career Justice Department lawyer
slated to step up to Acting Attorney General.
There was something about a particular kind of Obama person. Something
about the way they walked and held themselves. Superiority. And about a
certain kind of woman who would immediately rub Trump the wrong way –
Obama women being a good tip-off, Hillary women another. Later, this would
be extended to, quote, DOJ women.
Back with us are Jennifer Rubin and Neera Tanden. Ladies, thanks for
Neera, you`re an Obama woman. When you read something like that, what do
TANDEN: You know, I think the book actually just confirms something we`ve
already seen if we just follow Trump`s Twitter feed or the things he says.
He went after Elizabeth Warren – Senator Warren from Massachusetts with a
racist remark, calling her Pocahontas which is, you know, essentially
disgusting. And then attacked Kirsten Gillibrand with the worst form of
And, you know, I think Donald Trump goes after a lot of people but
obviously has a problem with strong, intelligent women. And he has shown
that time and time again. You don`t need the book to tell you that. You
can read it his Twitter feed.
TUR: But the book also talks about how he feels closest to women. He
feels like women understand him most. And you can`t deny the fact –
again, to play devil`s advocate – that Donald Trump promoted women in the
And in the White House, there are two women leading communication roles –
in leading communication roles for the first time in the White House
history. There`s Sarah Huckabee Sanders who`s his spokesperson, of course,
and Hope Hicks who is the communications director –
TANDEN: He has –
TUR: – which sort of complicates things. Doesn`t it make it slightly
more complicated than –
TANDEN: It`s a little – I`d say it`s a little complicated. He has the
lowest member of appointees – women or female, appointees –
TUR: Yes, it`s also true.
TANDEN: – in the cabinet or even in his White House overall, his U.S.
attorneys. He has a very low number of appointees of women and such.
TUR: Well, they`re not directly around him, so that might be part of it.
RUBIN: But also, you know, we don`t know what the nature of those
relationships are. They may coddle him and soothe him and mommy him, and
so he loves it when women think he`s fabulous.
But we really do know what Donald Trump thinks about women. He said it on
the “Access Hollywood” tape.
RUBIN: You know, you can`t disregard all of those 20 women or so who made
allegations. And, you know, the fact that there`s a few people who have
figured out how to connive, how to butter him up, doesn`t really disprove
the main thesis which is that he is deeply misogynistic. He`s also deeply
racist and deeply xenophobic.
But, of course, he`s not going to like Sally Yates. She is strong. She
was honest. She took an allegiance to the constitution. That`s just the
kind of person he hates.
TUR: And she went against him, certainly, to a degree at the very least.
TUR: When Donald Trump was talking about that stuff in the “Access
Hollywood” tape or even saying what he said on Howard Stern, there was so
much documentation of him saying questionable – and that`s putting it
lightly – questionable things about women, his supporters would write it
off and say, oh, he just used to be an entertainer. You can`t listen to
any of that. He actually going to be different in the White House.
Here`s another anecdote from the book that I tweeted out the other day and
got – caught quite a lot of attention. I`m going to read it. This is
about Trump on – talking about his friends` wives.
TUR: Trump liked to say that one of the things that made life worth living
was getting your friends` wives into bed. In pursuing a friend`s wife, he
would try to persuade the wife that her husband was perhaps not what she
thought. Then he`d have his secretary ask the friend into his office.
Once the friend arrived, Trump would engage in what was, for him, more or
less constant sexual banter.
Do you still like having sex with your wife? How often? You must have had
a better blank than your wife. Tell me about it. I`ve got girls coming in
from Los Angeles at 3:00. We can go upstairs and have a great time. I
And all the while, Trump would have his friends` wife on the speakerphone
Do you think that`s a damning anecdote, Jennifer?
RUBIN: I think it`s sick. I think that is a twisted personality. I don`t
know what is going through his mind, but that`s just the kind of bizarre
Listen, the Republicans decided character didn`t matter, so they went out
and they found the worst human being who has ever held office, let alone
the presidency, and stuck him in there. And now, it is coming home to
I think that`s a telling comment about his considerations of loyalty.
Loyalty runs one way with him.
I think it`s a telling comment about how he uses women. And it`s a telling
comment that it`s all about him. It has always been about him. So in some
ways, that kind of wraps up the whole ball of wax when you`re talking about
TUR: 2018 may be all about Donald Trump, but I`m curious to see if 2018 is
going to be about the Me Too Movement.
TANDEN: Yes. I would just –
TUR: And potentially a lot more women in politics.
TANDEN: I would just add that quick point which is it is that women are
reacting to Donald Trump.
TANDEN: You see women voting in high numbers. They are – White college
women are moving steadily against the Republican Party. They moved
decidedly for Democrats in Virginia. A considerable number moved in
I would say that, like, American women are looking at what`s happening in
this presidency, and they are shifting their support because of him.
TUR: And we`ll see how much of this book gets trotted out in the campaign
trail. Jennifer Rubin and Neera Tanden, ladies, thank you so much.
TANDEN: Thanks for having me.
TUR: Coming up, this week, the Trump administration has been busy
reversing actions from the Obama presidency, but it`s Republicans in the
House and Senate who are sounding the alarm. That`s next.
TUR: As Donald Trump is furiously tweet-attacking “Fire and Fury” and
sloppy Steve, the Trump administration has been working on some
consequential policy changes that you may not have heard about, but
Republican senators in blue states certainly have.
First, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke announced a proposal to significantly
expand offshore drilling in nearly all U.S. coastal waters. All of them.
The proposal would undo an Obama era ban and also give energy companies
access to leases off the California coast where offshore drilling has been
banned since an oil spill in 1969.
Maine Republican Senator Susan Collins tweeted: the plan poses significant
risk to Marine and coastal resources, our economy, and our way of life.
Collins joins Florida Republican Senator Marco Rubio, Governor Rick Scott,
and Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen who announced their opposition
Florida, as you know, was hit hard after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in
The governors of California, Washington, Oregon, Delaware, New Jersey,
Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina also oppose the
Second, Attorney General Jeff Sessions rolled back another Obama era policy
and gave federal prosecutors the go-ahead to aggressively enforce federal
marijuana related charges in states where its production and sales are
Colorado Republican Senator Cory Gardner says Jeff Sessions and President
Trump went back on a promise they both made in 2016.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. CORY GARDNER (R), COLORADO: We were told that states` rights would be
protected and not just by the Attorney General, then the nominee to be
Attorney General. We were told that by then-candidate Donald Trump.
And I call on Attorney General Jeff Sessions to explain to me why President
Trump was wrong in 2016 and what changed their minds. Until he lives up to
that commitment, I will be holding all nominations to the Department of
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TUR: Twenty-nine states and the District of Columbia allow some form of
legalized marijuana, including California that began selling recreational
pot on Monday.
Third, the Senate – the State Department, excuse me, announced it`s
suspending security assistance to Pakistan until the Pakistani government
takes action against extremist groups including the Afghan Taliban and the
Haqqani network. The move caused protests in Pakistan. State Department
Spokeswoman Heather Nauert said she couldn`t provide a dollar amount since
the administration is still figuring out which types of aid are impacted by
And then there`s what the Trump administration did today on an anti-
segregation rule. That`s next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It`s such a big – such a
big thing. I think medical should happen, right? Don`t we agree? I mean,
I think so. And then I really believe you should leave it up to the
states. It should be a state situation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TUR: Joining us now, Hunter Walker, White House correspondent for Yahoo!
News. And back with us, Daniel Dale.
Hunter, on the campaign trail, Donald Trump was much more about states
rights than he seems to be right now, when especially with it comes to
marijuana policy. But it`s interesting because so many in the – so many
people in this country want marijuana to be legalized.
Sixty-one percent of Americans say it should be legalized. That`s a lot of
folks who potentially might vote on this issue in 2018. Any concern in the
White House about this?
HUNTER WALKER, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, YAHOO! NEWS: Well, you know, the
support for legalization is particularly strong among millennials.
WALKER: But the White House is, you know, I think, happy to be able to say
they`re getting things done. You know the first year was not the most
productive. And, you know, all this recent policy stuff in the past week
that you pointed out makes this actually a week where they did get a lot
done through executive order, which seems to be their favorite method, but
TUR: But getting something done that`s – it`s a states` rights issue, and
they campaigned on letting the states have more control of things. So is
that not going to – you know, are they not going to shoot themselves in
the foot with that?
WALKER: Well, you know, as someone who is in the briefing room, I can tell
you that any time you bring up something where they seem to have broken a
promise or there seems to be a downside, they just kind of steamroll right
over that and say that it`s fine. But I can tell you that outside the
White House, we`re seeing signs that a lot of people think they can
capitalize on this.
I spoke with Cory Booker last night, and he thinks that this is actually
going to increase momentum and support for marijuana legalization he`s
proposed, and he`s also eager to work – and he is calling it a Cory caucus
– with Republican Senator Cory Gardner who you showed earlier.
So I think, you know, critics see this as something that they can jump on,
but this is not a White House that ever apologizes or admits weakness or
admits even that they changed a promise.
TUR: The offshore drilling news, Daniel. It`s interesting to see
Republicans like Marco Rubio and Susan Collins coming out and saying, we
don`t want this to happen. I mean, even in states where they don`t want it
to happen, it`s going to happen.
Does the White House have any concern about that potentially going against
folks who need to vote on their agenda or potentially help vote in
DALE: From what I`ve seen, they seem to not care very much. You know,
they know that this is unpopular with people who usually support them,
people like Governor Rick Scott, people like Senator Marco Rubio, but they
sided with business interests as they usually do.
I think, you know, it`s fascinating, what we saw this week was the Trump
administration go against local rights on marijuana, go against the wishes
of local communities on oil drilling. And on the issue of housing
segregation, they overturned the Obama era rule which intended to promote
DALE: So their interest in local rights, the so-called states` rights, are
very selective, shall we say.
TUR: Last question to you, Hunter, Pakistan. Who in the White House is
telling Donald Trump to revoke aid to Pakistan?
WALKER: Well, you know, I think, first off, this is a policy that`s really
going to appeal to the President. He came in talking about taking a real
hard line against, you know, terrorists and against terrorist threats posed
from Muslim nations. So I don`t know that anyone really needed – would
have needed to convince him here.
But you know, I heard – I`ve heard diplomats say that he`s sort of
outsourced the foreign policy to the military. And I think when you see a
decision like this, it`s coming from his group of generals there in the
But one thing really interesting is it seems like his tweet actually sped
up their action on this. So this is a case where we saw the President send
an inflammatory tweet and that actually dictated the way the policy took
TUR: It`s a good reminder: don`t pay attention to what they say, pay
attention to what they do. Daniel Dale and Hunter Walker, gentlemen, thank
you very much.
WALKER: Thank you.
TUR: And coming up, tonight`s last word on the Michael Wolff book, “Fire
TUR: Bookstores from Raleigh, North Carolina to Wichita, Kansas are been
reporting that they have been selling out of Michael Wolff`s book, “Fire
and Fury.” Here is how some of the late night comedy shows are handling
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHEN COLBERT, HOST, “THE LATE SHOW WITH STEPHEN COLBERT”: According to
a new book called “Fire and Fury,” Donald Trump didn`t want to be
president. He didn`t want him to win. There`s a name for that. The
majority of American voters.
JIMMY KIMMEL, HOST, “JIMMY KIMMEL LIVE”: He sprays his hair with Just for
Men and Ivanka makes fun of him for it. He`s constantly leaking
information about himself and then demanding to know who leaked the
KIMMEL: He didn`t want to win the presidency and was horrified when he
did. Melania cried – we all cried, really, but, man!
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Treasury secretary Steve Mnuchin and former Chief of
Staff Reince Priebus believed Trump to be an idiot. Gary Cohn regards
Trump as dumb as – curse word. And the President`s top national security
adviser, H.R. McMaster, considers him a dope.
TREVOR NOAH, HOST, “THE DAILY SHOW WITH TREVOR NOAH”: Wow.
NOAH: Trump`s own people think that he`s dumb as a watermelon.
NOAH: I guess the country isn`t as divided as it seems.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Some believed that, for all practical purposes, he
was no more than semi-literate.
JORDAN KLEPPER, HOST, “THE OPPOSITION WITH JORDAN KLEPPER”: Huh! Semi-
literate? Sorry, haters, but that`s still literate.
COLBERT: Apparently, every night, if Trump was not having his 6:30 dinner
with Steve Bannon, he was in bed by that time with a cheeseburger.
COLBERT: I`m going to hope, eating it. And –
COLBERT: I love you, hamburger. What`s that?
COLBERT: I love –
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TUR: On Monday night, the author of the book, “Fire and Fury,” Michael
Wolff, joins Lawrence live here at THE LAST WORD for Wolff`s first prime
time interview. That`s tonight`s last word.
You can join me Monday through Friday at 2:00 p.m. here on MSNBC. And
you`ll notice from those late night clips that all of them are watching
MSNBC during the day, so you should too.
Meanwhile, “THE 11TH HOUR” starts right now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KASEY HUNT, MSNBC HOST: Tonight, the brutal week that was for President
Trump. A scathing book portrayal that launched open warfare with a former
top adviser. The author alleging Trump is less credible than perhaps
anyone who has ever walked on Earth.
And on the Russia front, debate over –
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