“Very Stable Genius” vs. Evil Genius Transcript 1/9/18 The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell
Show: THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL
Date: January 9, 2018
Guest: Ron Klain, Ned Price, David Frum
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Rachel.
And when I got the transcript today, I knew you had it in your hands –
surely even before I did, before we managed to get it printed, because it
takes a while. As I started reading, I just thought, you know, Rachel and
I could just read the whole thing. She could just do an hour. I could do
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST, TRMS: More like, OK, I`m going to be Glenn
Simpson. OK. Now, you`re going to be Glenn Simpson.
O`DONNELL: But you just did it. You just read basically the whole thing,
I mean, the real meat of it, everything that was worth highlighting pretty
much. You saved people a lot of reading time.
MADDOW: I gave you some earmarks at least. Some corners to turn down.
O`DONNELL: But it is. It`s really irresistible and dramatic stuff. I
hope it`s not just us when we hold those pages just find it just read aloud
to be truly dramatic and revealing stuff. And Senator Feinstein getting it
out there changed our understanding of this in a way that nothing else
MADDOW: Yes. And, Lawrence, do you know of any other example of a senator
doing something like this?
I thought about you today, not just when we got the transcript, but when I
was thinking about what Feinstein did in terms of making this decision.
This is the ranking member. It`s a minority member of this committee,
releasing information that belongs to that committee in defiance of the
It relates to this incredible presidential national security scandal. I
don`t – I don`t know of any examples of senators doing something like that
O`DONNELL: You know, I`m going talk that –
O`DONNELL: – as I get into the show.
O`DONNELL: But I was thinking exactly that today. And I had to go all the
way back to 1984 to find anything.
O`DONNELL: Anything that even resembles this kind of boldness and unusual
step. And it was actually Senator Moynihan. It involved the Senate
Intelligence Committee. But that was nothing compared to what Senator
Feinstein did today.
MADDOW: But, of course, there is something in 1984. That`s the closest
analogy. And you knew about it and had something to do with it. Of
course. This is why you`re here, my friend.
O`DONNELL: But it`s such an important point, because the Senate is a very
careful place with the most behaviorally careful people in America.
O`DONNELL: And there is line you follow there are traditions. There are
rules. Those things and those mores are never violated. And I have to see
Dianne Feinstein do that today, for me was truly exciting because of – not
it`s just rarity, but its boldness, and what became the absolute necessity
to do it.
MADDOW: Yes. And I think – I`m not – I can`t get inside Senator
Feinstein`s head. I grew up in California. When I was growing up, she was
the mayor of San Francisco. I`ve known her as a public figure my whole
life. I don`t feel I have incredible insight into the way she thinks.
But I can`t help but think that the prospect being raised by other
Democratic senators, that they might do something nuts to get this
transcript released, that they might read into it the congressional record,
that they might do something else that would essentially be a gambit and a
stunt to try to get this out there might have had an impact on her in terms
she is going to do this herself in a dignified and open and no nonsense
kind of way.
She is a cut to the chase kind of senator. And she just short-circuited
all of this fighting happening around this transcript. And now, we`ve got
a lot of new material and a lot of new information that we didn`t have
The Republicans have created this really big narrative around what kind of
organization Fusion GPS is and why they did this dossier, and what led them
to the Russia sources that gave them this incredibly dramatic narrative.
They created a whole story about where this came from. Today, we got the
real story. And it just breaks this thing open.
O`DONNELL: Yes, and the so-called uncooperative witness was pretty
cooperative witness, as we saw.
MADDOW: That`s right.
O`DONNELL: Thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: Thanks, Lawrence. Thanks, my friend.
O`DONNELL: Well, what Dianne Feinstein did today was the single most
important act by a United States senator since Donald Trump took the oath
of office. Nothing less than that. Senator Feinstein reached the breaking
point with her Republican colleagues on the Senate Judiciary Committee.
It was her Howard Beale moment, that moment in Paddy Chayefsky`s Oscar-
winning screenplay “Network” when Howard Beale starts shouting, I`m mad as
hell and I`m not going to take this anymore and the whole entire country
starts shouting with him. There is nothing more rare in the United States
Senate than the Howard Beale moment.
They happen once in a generation, if that. The last one, as I said to
Rachel, the last one that comes to mind for me is from 1984 when Daniel
Patrick Moynihan announced his resignation from the vice-chairmanship from
the intelligence committee because the CIA director had violated his
obligation to fully and openly brief the committee, privately brief the
committee on the mining of the harbors in Nicaragua before going ahead and
mining those harbors.
The Republican chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee then, Barry
Goldwater, was as outraged as his Democratic colleague, Senator Moynihan.
And he too sharply criticized the CIA for that.
Filibusters are commonly mistaken by the press to be Howard Beale moments.
They are not. They are perfectly normal and traditional and very rare uses
of the Senate rules and procedures to prolong debate. That`s all they are.
What Senator Moynihan did in 1984 and what Senator Feinstein did today was
a break with Senate norms and traditions. Something Senator Feinstein was
loathed to do. In her 25 years in the United States Senate, Dianne
Feinstein has mastered the norms and the traditions and the rules of
committee procedure and Senate procedure and Senate decorum and respect for
her colleagues. Some say she has mastered all of that to a fault, to the
point of being too deferral to process and definitions and too deferential
to her colleagues, especially her Republican colleagues. I was working in
the United States when Dianne Feinstein was first sworn in as a senator.
In my experience working with her in the Senate, and watching her work as a
senator ever since, I could think of no one, and I mean no one on the
Democratic side of the Senate less likely to have a Howard Beale moment
than Dianne Feinstein.
But in her years in the Senate, especially her last few years in the
Senate, the Obama years, and now worst of all, the Trump year, she has
watched Senate tradition, Senate decorum, Senate respect for process, not
to mention senatorial integrity virtually collapse with Republican senators
like Lindsey Graham on the Judiciary Committee who went from trying to
expose Donald Trump as a fraud and a charlatan during the presidential
campaign to now running interference for him on the Judiciary Committee and
trying to steer the Judiciary Committee`s investigation of Russian
interference in our election away from Donald Trump and the Trump campaign
and toward one of the people who believed it was his duty to alert the FBI
to what he had discovered about that Russian interference.
Christopher Steele, the former British intelligence agent, who had written
memos now called a dossier on Donald Trump`s Russian connections for Fusion
GPS. Today, Senator Dianne Feinstein decided to release the 312-page
transcript of testimony about that dossier that the Republican chairman of
the committee, Chuck Grassley, was refusing to release.
Now, normally, testimony given to the committee privately behind closed
doors would only be released as a result of an agreement by the chairman of
the committee and the ranking member. But Dianne Feinstein violated that
tradition and just released it herself.
Ranking member is a term that has absolutely no meaning outside the Capitol
Hill campus of the United States Congress. It is the title that goes to
the highest ranking member of the minority party on a Senate committee, the
person who would be chair of that committee if their party was in the
In the old days of the Bush and the Clinton era, that distant period,
ranking members on committees that operated in true bipartisan style had
real power. Not even half the power of the chairman, but more power than
anyone else in the minority.
Chairman and ranking members of committees always try to use the power of
their seniority in their reelection campaigns, but very few voters ever
notice that or care about it. It`s not exactly the rousing part of a
campaign speech to say, hey, I`m the ranking member of the Senate Judiciary
Committee and therefore – in this Republican Congress, in the House and
the Senate, the ranking members on the committees are largely powerless,
largely ignored, until today.
Today, Dianne Feinstein taught all of her Senate colleagues on both sides
of the aisle the lesson that we are all supposed to already know.
Extraordinary times require extraordinary measures. Almost since the day
Glenn Simpson was interviewed by the Senate Judiciary Committee staff on
August 22nd of 2017 about the dossier that his firm, Fusion GPS,
commissioned Christopher Steele to write, his testimony has been lied about
by Republican senators.
Chairman Grassley publicly called that testimony, which he refused to
release, quote, uncooperative. Glenn Simpson wrote an op-ed piece in “The
New York Times” last week urging the committee to release his testimony.
The person Chuck Grassley was accusing of being uncooperative wanted to
show us how cooperative he actually was with the committee.
Chuck Grassley was never going to release that transcript. And Senator
Feinstein knew it. And so today, Dianne Feinstein willfully took an action
that humiliated the chairman of her committee, Chuck Grassley, something
she hated to do.
And in the process, she proved that the chairman of her committee has been
lying about Glenn Simpson`s testimony, publicly lying about it. The
transcript shows that Glenn Simpson was fully Cooperative, as he described
Christopher Steele and himself believing they were witnessing a crime in
progress. Those were his words, “crime in progress” with Russian
interference in the election.
And while Senator Feinstein was at it today, she participated in a
bipartisan meeting with the president and the cabinet room about
immigration policy in which she forcefully led the president to an
agreement to quickly pass legislation legally resolving the status of young
beneficiaries of the DACA program, which provoked Republicans to
immediately jump in panic, and try to steer the president back to his own
position of holding any such legislative progress hostage to building a
We`ll have more on how Senator Feinstein cornered the president today later
in this hour. But first, we`ll consider what we`ve learned today from
Glenn Simpson`s testimony, thanks entirely to the bold use of the power of
the ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Dianne Feinstein.
Joining us now Ron Klain, former chief of staff to Vice Presidents Joe
Biden and Al Gore, and former senior aide to President Obama. He is also
former chief council of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Also with us, Tim O`Brien, executive editor of “Bloomberg View”, author of
“Trump Nation”, and an MSNBC contributor who was mentioned, it turns out,
in this testimony.
Ron Klain, first to the committee, to the procedure. Your reaction to what
the ranking member did today.
RON KLAIN, FORMER CHIEF COUNSEL, SENATE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: Well,
Lawrence, I couldn`t agree more with what you said at the outset. I mean,
it`s hard to imagine a more unlikely person than Dianne Feinstein doing
this radical act today. But, you know, she really had no choice. A game
of liars poker was going on in the Senate Judiciary Committee. And it was
time the call an end to it.
Just last week, Senator Grassley, Senator Graham proposed a criminal
investigation into the British intelligence agent who put this material
together. And so, I think Senator Feinstein had no choice. She did the
right thing today.
Sunshine is the best disinfectant. And Senator Feinstein proved today to
be the real advocate of sunshine, the real advocate of truth, and made a
big difference for what we know about this investigation and we know about
the shenanigans that now have been going on the Republican side of the
Senate Judiciary Committee.
O`DONNELL: Tim O`Brien, in the testimony today, we see Glenn Simpson`s
description of how Fusion GPS, a firm like, this goes about this kind of
research. And as he said, before even getting Christopher Steele on the
case, the very first thing we do, when Fusion was hired to look into the
affairs of Donald Trump, he said the very first thing we do is we buy all
the books on Amazon about the subject, the subject being Donald Trump.
One of the books being Tim O`Brien`s book. And he was especially grateful
to the lawsuit that was provoked by your book because he found that a gold
TIM O`BRIEN, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Yes. I think, you know, Glenn Simpson is
a former investigative reporter at the “Wall Street Journal.” He
approaches this stuff the way journalists approach it, which is to gather
all known facts, assemble a fact pattern if you can, get up to speed about
what`s going on. And then send out some feelers.
And it`s very clear in this testimony, that`s exactly how he went about it.
He didn`t dodge a single question that he was asked. You could quibble
with some of the facts here and there. But by and large, the portrait that
emerges from this testimony is somebody who had an assignment from a client
and followed it through.
I think this is also an environment in which the GOP has tried to make the
Steele dossier the foundational document for the FBI investigation. And
the reason everything got started.
And as we now know from this testimony and from reporting in “The New York
Times” and elsewhere, it wasn`t the foundational document. The FBI
believed Chris Steele because he was confirming things that they already
knew to be true through their own investigations. And the testimony today
really puts a lot of narrative clothing on what went on and what led Steele
ultimately to decide to tell the FBI what he knew.
O`DONNELL: Ron, one more point on Senator Feinstein`s decision to do this
today. If you were still on the judiciary committee staff, she would have
asked you your advice about what to do in this situation. What would you
have told her?
KLAIN: Well, I would have told her to do what she did today. Look, it is
definitely an extraordinary act, but these are extraordinary times. And I
think what happened recently where the Republicans on the Judiciary
Committee went all in on trying to spread a false narrative about this
investigation, to get an investigation launched into Mr. Steele and into
Fusion, that really left her no choice. It was creating a false impression
about what had happened in this deposition.
And so, I think it was very important for her to correct the record. You
know, it was like watching – the past few weeks has been like watching a
007 movie where in the second reel, the bad bureaucrats try to get you to
believe that James Bond is actually the bad guy.
And I think, you know, Senator Feinstein stood up, stood up for truth
today, put the chips on the table and helped people understand that what
Christopher Steele was doing was a patriotic act by someone who isn`t even
an American citizen of letting the FBI know of a potential crime in
And for the Republicans to besmirch that and say that that was crime, that
was something that Senator Feinstein couldn`t let stand without being
O`DONNELL: And let`s listen to what Senator Feinstein said today when she
was asked about why she did this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Why did you decide to do that?
SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D-CA), RANKING MEMBER, SENATE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE:
Because I think people are entitled to know what was said. And the lawyers
also wanted it released. I see no problem with releasing it.
REPORTER: But, Senator Feinstein, Senator Grassley says you jeopardized
their ability to get certain witnesses like Kushner. Your reaction?
FEINSTEIN: Oh, I don`t think so. That`s been difficult in any event.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Tim, Jared Kushner doesn`t want to testify to that committee.
But one of the things Chairman Grassley tried to say today was, this will
inhibit witnesses who want to come and testify to us privately and testify
to the staff privately. The trouble is this witness was begging to have
the transcript released.
O`BRIEN: And Chuck Grassley has no standing right now on this issue.
Let`s remember, it was just last Friday night as Ron pointed out that
Lindsey Graham and Chuck Grassley decided to make the first criminal
referral in the congressional – at least the first one we know about
publicly in the congressional investigation targeting the very person who
had played a role in bringing some of this to light.
I don`t think he`s got any standing to criticize the release of this
document. And what we now know that it`s a public document is that there
is actually nothing explosive in it. It elaborates on some things we
already knew. And it`s a good document for the public to have.
O`DONNELL: And, Ron, as we read through the story told in this transcript,
we see Glenn Simpson. But primarily, Christopher Steele taking it upon
himself to try to bring this information to the attention of the FBI. He
did that. He wasn`t sure what the FBI was doing with it. He wasn`t really
getting any feedback what he was doing with it.
Also brought to it the attention of Senator John McCain through a totally
separate channel. John McCain`s aide who wanted to have this information.
Senator McCain gets involved in this. And you never hear any references
from Lindsey Graham about what was Senator McCain doing looking into this
Fusion GPS report.
KLAIN: Yes, Lawrence. I mean, I think that the pivot here by Senator
Graham for being side by side with Senator McCain as a Trump skeptic, Trump
critic, to now being the biggest cheerleader for Donald Trump, his golf
course and his agenda is a stunning and very sad pivot from someone who had
independence in the Senate.
And I think that`s another reason why I think Senator Feinstein did what
she did today. She saw her Republican colleagues – the Judiciary
Committee is not the most partisan committee in the Senate. Historically,
it`s been a place where there has been bipartisanship on investigative
And to see her Republican colleagues go so far and so hard to the pro-Trump
side I think provoked the kind of act, the extraordinary act we saw from
O`DONNELL: Tim O`Brien, your organization, Bloomberg, reporting tonight
that Michael Cohen, Donald Trump`s long-time lawyer is now suing “BuzzFeed”
for releasing – being the first one to release the Fusion GPS so-called
dossier and suing Fusion GPS and suing Christopher Steele.
What do you make of this lawsuit?
O`BRIEN: I think Michael Cohen, like everyone else in the Trump universe,
needs to get schooled on the libel standard. It`s actual malice. They
would have to show that “BuzzFeed” published this document with strong –
either outright knowing or strongly believing that anything in the
document, everything in the document was false.
They clearly didn`t. They thought there was a public value in publishing
it. And they did. I don`t think a New York court is going to give him
O`DONNELL: He knows this is a hopeless lawsuit. He`s got enough
experience even with Trump`s idiotic lawsuits with you to know that. Did
he do this today in reaction to this testimony being released? Did you
think he was sitting there waiting timing, deciding I`m going to have my
lawsuit ready to file when we need a counter story?
O`BRIEN: I don`t know. There is an extraordinary amount of stars ling on
this. Ben Smith, the editor of “BuzzFeed” wrote an op-ed in “The New York
Times” published tonight that said he was glad they published the document.
You had the Simpson transcript get released today. And now, you got
Michael Cohen suing over all of this.
I doubt he knew any of this was coming. I think one of the things we see
in the Trump family so to speak is that they`re all willing to please the
master, and that they`ll follow in his footsteps and essentially try to
weaponize the legal system and go after people they perceive to be their
opponents. This is very Trumpy.
O`DONNELL: Tim O`Brien, congratulations on at least one book sell to
Fusion GPS so they can begin their investigation of Donald Trump, and you
taking your rightful place in this testimony.
Tim O`Brien, thank you very much for joining us tonight. Ron, please stick
Coming up, the breaking news tonight. This headline from “The Daily
Beast”: White House official floated withdrawing U.S. forces to please
And also coming up, Senator Feinstein, you`ll see her on video, cornering
the president in the cabinet room today on DACA, and then setting off a
flurry of panicked Republicans in that room.
O`DONNELL: – released today, Fusion GPS founder Glenn Simpson says,
quote, Trump had said weird things about the Russians and Putin and things
that are very atypical for a Republican and that people found to be odd.
Tonight, “The Daily Beast” is reporting on a proposal about Russia during
the early days of the Trump White House that at least one former Trump
official thought was also to put it mildly, odd. Quote, a senior National
Security Council official proposed withdrawing some U.S. military forces
from Eastern Europe as an overture to Vladimir Putin during the early days
of the Trump administration. While the proposal was ultimately not
adopted, it is the first known case of senior aides to Donald Trump seeking
to reposition U.S. military forces to please Putin, something that smelled
to a colleague like a return on Russia`s election time investment in
The proposal came from Kevin Harrington, the National Security Council`s
senior official for strategic planning, who joined under Michael Flynn and
continues to serve on the National Security Council.
Joining us now, David Frum, a senior editor for “The Atlantic”.
Also joining us Ned Price, a former senior director and spokesperson for
the National Security Council, and a former CIA analyst. He is also a
MSNBC national security analyst.
Ned Price, your reaction to this report tonight.
NED PRICE, FORMER CIA ANALYST: Well, Lawrence, I guess I would start with
a couple of caveats. Namely that the office in question here is an office
charged with taking an outside-the-box stand-back even blue sky look at
some of the challenges and opportunities we face, which may explain where
this came from.
It`s also worth noting I think what the article says that these were
largely musings. It wasn`t anything like a formal proposal. And it
doesn`t sound like it went to the president.
So, I think what this underscores for me more than anything is that the
danger this administration poses to the American people is layered. We
have been so focused on malevolence, whether it is potential conspiracy,
during the election, conspiracy on the part of the Trump campaign with the
Russian, or during the Trump administration, the actual presence in the
case of Michael Flynn of a foreign agent in the White House that sometimes
we lose focus that it`s not only malevolence, but sometimes it`s dangerous
naivete that we face with this administration.
This Kevin Harrington is a person who had very little prior government
experience, no military experience, and surrounded by people like Michael
Flynn. It`s not all surprising that he would come up with such a hare-
brained idea that fortunately in this case didn`t go anywhere.
O`DONNELL: David Frum, Kevin Harrington, as is typical in this White
House, someone with less experience than is the norm for that job making
this kind of proposal. What`s your reaction to it?
DAVID FRUM, SENIOR EDITOR, THE ATLANTIC: I happen the know Kevin
Harrington a little bit. And I certainly have heard his views before he
went into government. He is a very intelligent and creative person.
But as – he has no national security background. He is a finance guy. He
is part of – he worked for Peter Thiel and came into the government as a
Peter Thiel protege.
I don`t think there is anything wrong with having people in government who
have out-of-the-box ideas, including bad ideas. If the only ideas you
listen to are good ideas, or ideas that begin as good ideas, then you`re
not going to have enough ideas at all.
I would draw attention, though, to understand what is happening here to a
couple of dates. The did of this memo is February 2017. The date of Steve
Bannon`s departure from the National Security Council is April 2017. After
April 2017, Steve Bannon no longer has access to National Security Council
materials. Before April 2017, he does.
So, who is there? Who would have an interest in leaking a document – a
blue sky document as Ned said that solidifies an allegation that he wants
to make that the people he didn`t like in the Trump administration were too
close to Russia? I think this is the beginning of Steve Bannon`s revenge.
And I think we`ll see more chapters of that in the days ahead.
O`DONNELL: Ned Price, I want to get your reaction to what we learned today
about the testimony that Dianne Feinstein released. This was testimony
that only Senate Judiciary staff had heard. There were no senators in that
room. So, it is very likely that very few of the senators, possibly even
on the Republican side, none, had actually read all of this. And now we
all have it.
PRICE: Yes, Lawrence. Well, reading that transcript, look, if there was a
modern day Rip Van Winkle, someone who had fallen asleep a year ago and
woke up today, read the transcript, you really couldn`t blame that person
for thinking that Glenn Simpson, the GPS Fusion founder, was the person who
attacked our democracy, was the person who engineered this multipronged
campaign to sway the election to Donald Trump and to denigrate Hillary
Clinton. That is how the Republican staffers treated this individual and
the tone and tenor of their questions.
It didn`t reflect the fact that Glenn Simpson was the one who commissioned
very broadly, commissioned a report to take a look at one broad aspect of
Donald Trump`s business relationships. They treated him as the culprit.
And I think that comes across very clearly, and it`s reflected frankly of
how this Republican-led Congress has dealt with this issue from the start.
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: David, your reaction to what we
learned in the testimony.
DAVID FRUM, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Well I have a much more parochial reaction
which is about the press coverage`s. As Ned said, the Republican staffers
treated this document in a way that is very different from reality. The
journalists who relied on and trusted those staffers I think have been led
into some dead-ends that make those journalists. I won`t use names but if
you`re familiar with this debate you know who they are.
I think a lot of those people look a little silly today. They look like
their confidence was abused. One of the things I hope as a journalist you
do is learn the lesson. If the people you trust and rely on deceive you
that you need to hold them to account. Maybe not even publicly, but in your
own work to say you guys gave me bad information and you made me look
And now I have to hold you to account and not trust you again in the
future. I hope those journalists who have been giving the Republican
staffers a good time will take this to heart if they`re enough minded or
their institutions are independent enough to allow them to do so.
O`DONNELL: We have to take a break here. before we do, I just want to go
back and double underline a point made by David Frum, which is the
likelihood, the possibility that the source of this leak today about Kevin
Harrington and the NSC and this proposal to move troops to please Vladimir
Putin, that the possible source of that is Steve Bannon. That is one of the
more fascinating developments and ways of looking at this story. And David
and that would be a kind of Bannon revenge that could keep on giving for a
very long time. We`re going have to leave there it for this break.
Ned Price, thank you very much for joining us. David, please stick around.
Coming up today in the cabinet room it was the very stable genius versus
the banished evil genius who is actually no longer in that room. And thanks
to Michael Wolff`s new book, no longer even has a job.
O`DONNELL: Today in the cabinet room, it was the very stable genius versus
the evil genius. But the evil genius of the Trump Whitehouse no longer
works in the Trump Whitehouse, and no longer works anywhere. Steve Bannon
was forced out of his job at Breitbart today. Steve Bannon was fired from
the Whitehouse by the President on august 18th of last year, and last week
Steve Bannon was attacked by the President who now calls himself a very
stable genius after Michael Wolff`s book Fire and Fury revealed Bannon`s
description and others` description of a President incapable of reading,
incapable of processing information, incapable of in any real way
fulfilling the duties and responsibilities of his office.
And surrounded in the Whitehouse by his daughter and son-in-law and other
enablers who are described in the book as incapable of doing their jobs, as
incapable as the President is of doing his job. Trumpism is Bannonism. and
there is nothing as important in Bannonism than building a wall on the
southern border and pushing back across that border wall the 12 million or
more people that have crossed that border illegally, along with everyone
related to them, including the young beneficiaries of the DACA Program
created by President Obama.
Today Steve Bannon had to be rolling over in his political grave as the
President engaged in a televised discussion with Democrats and Republicans
in the Cabinet Room in which the President immediately agreed with
everything that every Democrat said and then immediately agreed with
everything that every Republican said, never realizing that it is
impossible to agree with all of those things, most of which I are in
conflict. If the evil genius was still in the room with the very stable
genius, either that meeting would have never taken place, or the President
might have done a better job of actually holding to what used to be the
Here is Senator Dianne Feinstein getting the President to agree to
legislate a quick fix for the DACA kids and put off all other issues until
after that was done. Then watch what happens.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DIANNE FEINSTEIN, UNITED STATES SENATOR: What about a clean DACA bill now?
DONALD TRUMP, UNITED STATES PRESIDENT: I have no problem. I think that`s
basically what Dick is saying. We`re going to come out with DACA. We`re
going to do DACA. And then we can start immediately on the phase two which
would be comprehensive.
Yes, I would like that. Go ahead. I think a lot of people would like to see
that. But I think we have to do DACA first.
UNDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, I don`t need to be clear, though. i think
what Senator Feinstein is asking here, when we talk about just DACA, we
don`t want to be back here two years later you. have you to have security
as the Secretary would tell you.
TRUMP: but I think that`s what she is saying.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, I think she is saying something different.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: He had no idea what she was saying. Of course, back with us
David Frum and Ron Klain. And Ron, you`ve been in those meetings in the
Whitehouse, both as a Senate Staffer and as a Whitehouse Staffer.
RON KLAIN, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Yes.
O`DONNELL: What did you make of what we saw there today?
KLAIN: Another sterling episode of The Apprentice: Moron Edition. I mean
you know President as disclosed in Michael Wolff`s book doesn`t read his
briefing materials, doesn`t have any idea what he was doing, and basically
was just trying to put on a show and trying to make it seem that he was at
least sane. And I think he passed the sanity test perhaps for 55 minutes,
but not the Presidential test.
He doesn`t really know what he stands for. He doesn`t know the differences
between the Democrats and the Republicans. And, look, the idea he is
somehow coming around on immigration to a more compassionate position just
seems profoundly unlikely to me in light of the fact yesterday he was
revoking status for 200,000 Salvadorans.
So it was a nice show in the Cabinet Room. Another reality TV program but
no presidenting and no progress.
O`DONNELL: Now let`s watch him agree to the position that was absolutely
unthinkable for Donald Trump or Steve Bannon until Donald Trump agreed with
it today. And that of course is a pathway to citizenship. Let`s look at
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEFF SESSIONS, ATTORNEY GENERAL, UNITED STATES: I`ve been for a pathway to
citizenship for 11 million people because I have no animosity for them.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would vote for a path to citizenship which isn`t very
easy or the me, but I would do it just as an effort.
TRUMP: That whole path is an incentive for people. It would be an
incentive for people to work hard and do a good job.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: David Frum, he is actually making sense there. But he has no
idea that he is contradicting himself.
FRUM: Well, President Obama as you recall did two of these kinds of
events, one with the whole Republican caucus after the election of 2010,
and one earlier in 2010 with health care. And in both cases, Republicans
resented the encounter because President Obama was very forceful. He has
strong views, and he took advantage of the power of the Presidency to wrong
foot his opponents.
That`s not what you – it`s the opposite here. Donald Trump, he just puffed
with the wind. And for those people who look to Donald Trump to be an
immigration enforcer, I think it must have been a very dispiriting event.
There was no content to it at all.
The core Trumpian idea, or the core idea of Trump Supporters has always
been that DACA – some action on DACA had to be traded for some other
things that Republicans wanted, reduction in overall numbers, reorientation
of American Immigration Policy away from family reunification towards
skills. And he is giving away the center part of his negotiation for
O`DONNELL: And Ron, what used to be the Bannon position and now that
Bannon is completely shunned and banished and now completely unemployed,
it`s being held up now by nothing other than Ann Coulter Tweets the Bannon
position. Here is what Ann Coulter tweeted today. The DACA lovefest
confirms a main thesis of Michael Wolff`s book. When Bannon left, liberal
Dems, Jared, Ivanka, Cohn and Goldman Sachs took over. And then there was
this other tweet by Ann Coulter saying nothing Michael Wolff could say
about real Donald Trump has hurt him as much as the DACA love fest right
KLAIN: Well, I`m torn, Lawrence because I kind of wish what Ann Coulter
said was true. But I think we`re forgetting one character here. The white
nationalist Stephen Miller who still works in the Whitehouse and last week
was writing Donald Trump`s talking points about this DACA negotiation.
And so you know I think it`s very unlikely that Donald Trump has changed
his spots on immigration. And I think that, you know, just as unlikely as
it is that Lucy is going to let Charlie Brown actually kick the football
this time. I think we`re going see more of the same, more immigration
bashing from Donald Trump and his Whitehouse.
O`DONNELL: so to prove the President is of sound mind and body, they put
him in a room and watch him agree with every single speaker who speaks in
conflict with the previous speaker. That`s their proof. Ron Klain, David
Frum, thank you both for joining us tonight, really appreciate it.
KLAIN: Thank you.
FRUM: Thanks, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Coming up, Ivanka Trump brings even more disgrace to the Trump
family by throwing a brick at the Time`s Up Movement.
O`DONNELL: She did not say time`s up when her father admitted to sexual
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: you know, I`m automatically attracted to beautiful – I just start
kissing them. It`s like a Magnet. I just kiss. And when you`re a star, they
let you do it. You can do anything.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Whatever you want.
TRUMP: Grab them by the (BLEEP). Do anything.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: She did not say Time`s Up when over 20 women came forward with
their accusations that her father had sexually harassed or sexually
assaulted them. Ivanka Trump has been an active co-conspirator in the
enabling and covering up of her father`s self-confessed lifetime of sexual
assault and abuse. And the same Ivanka Trump had the depraved audacity as
we reported at this hour last night to tweet this.
Just saw Oprah`s empowering and inspiring speech at last night`s Golden
Globes. Let`s all come together, women and men and say Time`s Up. Michael
Wolff, the author of the new book Fire and Fury was our guest last night
when Ivanka Trump Tweeted that. And here was his reaction.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHAEL WOLFF, AUTHOR, FIRE AND FURY: Who does she think her father is?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: In Michael Wolff`s book, Steve Bannon says that he and the
Whitehouse staff realized very quickly in the Whitehouse that Ivanka Trump
is, in Bannon`s words, dumb as a brick. We`ll have more on the brick that
ivanka trump threw at the Time`s Up Movement with Ruth Marcus and Jessica
Leads, one of the women who has said Time`s Up to Donald Trump, next.
O`DONNELL: Joining us now, Jessica Leads, one of the women who has
accused Donald Trump of sexual assault. Also with us Ruth Marcus, Deputy
Editorial Page Editor and Columnist at the Washington Post and Jessica
Leads, what is it like for you to hear or read Ivanka Trump say, let`s all
come together, men and women, time`s up?
JESSICA LEADS, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Well it`s very hypocritical. And it`s
unfortunate, too, because you don`t want to speak badly of the President`s
family. They didn`t – perhaps they didn`t ask for this job or whatever.
But she`s totally misread her whole position and what`s going on in the
O`DONNELL: Your incident with Donald Trump occurred on an airplane over 30
O`DONNELL: And you know the first person she could have enlisted in this,
you would think, would be her father. She said let`s all come together,
women and men.
LEADS: If he had, at that debate, just stood up and said, oh, God, I was
so stupid. That was years ago, I apologize, and move on, I wouldn`t have
O`DONNELL: Ruth Marcus, your reaction to this?
RUTH MARCUS, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Well I think Jessica Leads is really being
awfully nice, So I`m not going to follow suit. Michael Wolff said last
night, who does Ivanka Trump think her father is? But my reaction to the
tweet was kind of along the lines of, who does Ivanka Trump think she is?
Really, she wants to pretend and act as if she cares about women and she
cares about empowering women.
And she`s going to champion what Oprah had to say when she not only stood
by when her father was credibly accused not just by JESSICA LEADS but of
many other women of doing terrible things to them. Look, I have some
sympathy for that because daughters want to respect their fathers. But she
also first said that there is a special place in hell for people who prey
on young girls after Roy Moore was credibly accused of doing that. And
then just stood by silently when her father and the rest of his
administration decided that it was much more important to make sure – to
try to make sure, anyway, that a Republican was elected to the senate
rather than to stand up for what`s right.
So, you know, I`m Sorry, don`t Time`s Up me, Ivanka Trump.
O`DONNELL: Alyssa Milano tweeted back to her and said, great, you can make
a lofty donation to the Time`s Up Legal Defense Fund that is available to
support your father`s accusers. That would be quite a development in the
LEADS: That would be. That absolutely would be. But I would have to -
MARCUS: You might want to get David (INAUDIBLE) to check and make sure
that contribution is actually made. I`m sorry to interrupt you.
O`DONNELL: Go ahead Jessica.
O`DONNELL: No. It`s a matter of we`ve been threatened. But absolutely
there`s been no movement. every once in a while I think I get up in the
morning and think, if I get in his face one more time, he is going to come
after me, but the fact remains -
O`DONNELL: Her father has specifically threatened you, among others, that
he was going to sue you. He promised you that when he was a Presidential
candidate. He has not done that.
LEADS: No. he has not done that at all. I`ve had a lot of people come
forward to say they`ll represent me, but no, there`s been absolutely no
O`DONNELL: Jessica leads, thank you very much for joining us. I really
appreciate your time. Ruth Marcus, thank you for joining us. I really
O`DONNELL: tonight`s Last Word is next.
O`DONNELL: Time for tonight`s Last Word. Ruth Bader Ginsberg will not
give Donald Trump a vacancy on the Supreme Court. Newsweek says Ruth Bader
Ginsberg shows Trump she isn`t going anywhere by hiring law clerks for the
2019 term. The 84 year old Supreme Court Justice announced she has hired
all her clerks who will serve through 2002, in other words, until there is
another President of the United States.
As Newsweek points out, Justices who plan to step down usually don`t hire
for the upcoming term. Ruth Bader Ginsburg has served on the United States
Supreme Court since August 1993. Ruth Bader Ginsburg gets tonight`s Last
Word. The 11th Hour with Brian Williams starts now.
BRIAN WILLIAMS, 11th HOUR ANCHOR: Tonight the full transcript is out of
that one secret close door testimony before a Senate Committee. And
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