Report: Trump “negligent” of Russia Transcript 1/10/18 The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell
Show: THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL
Date: January 10, 2018
Guest: Ron Klain, Jennifer Rubin
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Rachel. So, Normay.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST, TRMS: Normay.
MADDOW: The prime minister of Normay appeared unfazed.
O`DONNELL: So, Normay – there should be a Normay, though. Don`t you? I
mean, when you think of the country names in the world, it`s –
MADDOW: Nambia, Smeden. I know.
O`DONNELL: Norway, Normay, what`s wrong with Normay?
MADDOW: I know.
O`DONNELL: And Norm MacDonald should be the prime minister of Normay or
O`DONNELL: Thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: Thank you, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Well, the president seemed to move us one step closer to a
constitutional crisis today simply by saying, “we`ll see what happens.”
We`ll see what happens is an OK answer to some questions. But it is a
very, very bad answer to other questions.
Are you here to rob this bank? We`ll see what happens. That is not a good
answer. And it is a terrible answer to questions like this question.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Would you be willing to speak under oath to give your version of
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: One hundred percent.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: See? That`s the right answer. That`s the right answer.
The president of the United States is willing to submit to appropriate
legal process. The president gave that answer seven months ago. Today,
the president was asked exactly the same question and he said this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: We`ll see what happens. I mean, certainly I`ll see what happens.
But when they have no collusion and nobody`s found any collusion at any
level, it seems unlikely that you`d even have an interview.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: That answer sent Washington political and legal analysts into
overdrive today trying to figure out what that meant. Would the president
refuse to cooperate with the special prosecutor? Would he even refuse to
respond to a subpoena? And what would happen if the president defied a
special prosecutor`s subpoena?
We will consider all of those questions. But first, let`s consider, what`s
the difference? What`s the difference between now and seven months ago?
Seven months ago, the special prosecutor was quietly working in secret and
publicly revealing none of the results of his investigation. Seven months
ago, the special prosecutor had brought no indictments and had no
convictions, no guilty pleas.
Since then, the special prosecutor has a guilty plea from George
Papadopoulos, the Trump campaign aide who reportedly provoked the opening
of an FBI investigation of the Trump campaign`s contacts with Russia during
the campaign by telling the Australian ambassador to the United Kingdom
that Russia had e-mails of Hillary Clinton.
And the special prosecutor has a guilty plea from the Trump campaign`s top
foreign policy adviser, former General Michael Flynn, who became President
Trump`s national security adviser in the White House for 24 days before he
was forced to resign because of a FBI investigation of him that was under
way long before there was a special prosecutor. Special prosecutor took
over that investigation of Michael Flynn and within a few months obtained a
guilty plea from Flynn who along with Papadopoulos is now working as a
fully engaged witness for the special prosecutor, telling the special
prosecutor everything that he knows. As is Papadopoulos, including, of
course, everything that they know about Donald Trump himself.
And Donald Trump knows they`re doing that now. Donald Trump also knows
that his former campaign chairman Paul Manafort could turn on him at any
moment and reach a plea agreement with the special prosecutor on his
indictments for money laundering and other crimes. As can Paul Manafort`s
partner who also joined the Trump campaign and is also facing the same kind
of indictments Paul Manafort is now facing from the special prosecutor.
So, what`s changed in seven months?
Donald Trump knows tonight that the special prosecutor already has at least
two fully cooperating witnesses revealing everything that they know about
Donald Trump and might soon have two more. And Donald Trump knows that the
special prosecutor`s investigation`s getting even closer to his son-in-law
Jared Kushner who faces the possibility of being indicted for lying about
his contacts with Russians and other foreign nationals.
In other words, the noose is tightening around the Trump White House and
the Trump family. And the president knows by now that all of his lawyers`
public claims that the special prosecutor`s work was winding down is pure
fiction and that the special prosecutor is still adding to his staff of
legal experts pursuing this investigation.
The most notable new member of the team is Ryan K. Dickey, a federal
prosecutor of the Justice Department`s computer crimes section. Ryan
Dickey participated in the investigation of the famous hacker known as
Guccifer, who is now serving a federal prison sentence.
Donald Trump does not know how to use e-mail. He clearly does not have the
experience or the capacity to even begin to imagine what a cyber
investigation actually is and what – and Donald Trump might then actually
assume that he is safe from Ryan Dickey`s cyber investigation simply
because he himself never uses e-mail. But everything that has happened in
the special prosecutor`s investigation, the last seven months has obviously
been terrifying for Donald Trump.
How terrifying? A hundred percent guarantee that he would submit to an
interview with the special prosecutor has now become – we`ll see what
Joining us now: Jill Wine-Banks, former assistant Watergate special
prosecutor and an MSNBC contributor, Ron Klain, former chief of staff to
Vice President Joe Biden and Al Gore, and a former senior aide to President
Obama. He`s also a former chief counsel to the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Also with us, Jennifer Rubin, conservative opinion writer at “The
Washington Post” and an MSNBC contributor.
Jill, your interpretation of what you heard the president say today about
his cooperation with the special prosecutor.
JILL WINE-BANKS, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Well, there are three things that I
want to say about that. One, it`s not his choice. If he wants to try to
evade what he had already promised, he can be subpoenaed. So, he either
cooperates which would be politically the smart thing to do or he gets
subpoenaed which would be politically very bad for him.
He has to appear. He has to testify. He would not be the first president
to do that.
We interviewed Nixon after he resigned. Clinton had to testify. Ford had
to testify. So, he`s going to have to testify and he may as well do it
gracefully instead of making it look even worse for him.
O`DONNELL: Go ahead, Jill. Sorry.
WINE-BANKS: The second thing which is really important is that it`s sort
of like what led to the Saturday Night Massacre when Nixon tried to
compromise with us by offering – he wouldn`t give the tapes. He would let
the Senator Stennis listen to the tapes and tell us what they said which
would not have been admissible evidence. We couldn`t accept that. That`s
what led to the press conference that led to the Saturday Night Massacre.
So, he can`t compromise and I don`t think Mueller will be likely to say,
OK, you can answer written questions. That`s just not going to happen.
And the third thing is, he is going to be in a big risk because he doesn`t
know what Flynn actually knows, what other cooperating witnesses
Papadopoulos and maybe others cooperating. He doesn`t know. John Dean has
said the biggest mistake the White House had during Watergate was they
didn`t realize how much he knew and he testified fully and that was a very
good grounds for us to cross-examine all of the defendants, including the
So, I think those are important things to keep in mind in this.
O`DONNELL: Ron and Jill, I want you to put your heads together on this if
And, Ron, on the question of federal criminal process here, let`s say this
comes to a subpoena. Who goes to the White House with what subpoena? And
I mean quite literally, Ron, since you have worked there, how does that
person get in to the White House? Because the only way in to the White
House is that someone in the White House has to grant you that admission at
the White House gate. How does this work?
RON KLAIN: Well, you know, Lawrence, we`ll see just how obstreperous
President Trump gets. But there are definitely ways to serve that
subpoena. But at the end of the day, you know, it`s duty, ultimately I
suppose, of the deputy attorney general, one of his weekly visits over to
the White House to deliver it if need be.
I`m not really worried about the subpoena getting there. I think the
question is, what President Trump does when it arrives. And as Jill said,
this isn`t a question of what he wants to do. He has no choice. He has
one right that`s left, though.
We talked tonight about the briefing on to the Constitution Donald Trump
got. I hope he got up to the Fifth Amendment and may be – you know, that
may be what this comes down to, whether or not we have the incredible
spectacle, sitting president of the United States repeatedly asserting his
Fifth Amendment defense to decline to answer Bob Mueller`s questions.
That`s really the only option in the end Donald Trump has.
O`DONNELL: I have a funny feeling the Fifth Amendment is the only one
Donald Trump knew before becoming president.
But, Jill, let me go back to you just quickly on this procedural notion.
Did you have to consider this during the Nixon investigation if we have to
serve a subpoena, how do we actually put the piece of paper in the
WINE-BANKS: We actually did worry about that. We eventually worked out.
The subpoena went through his lawyers and they accepted delivery of the
But then, we worried about if he didn`t comply with the subpoena by turning
over the documents, how would we get a marshal to enter the White House to
seize the documents? That was a serious question. And we never really
figured out an answer, but luckily public pressure after the Saturday night
massacre forced the president to agree to give us the tapes.
O`DONNELL: And, Jennifer Rubin, as we sit here tonight discussing this,
Richard Nixon seems like such a reasonable man compared to –
JENNIFER RUBIN, COLUMNIST, THE WASHINGTON POST: And a smart one, yes.
O`DONNELL: Yes, compared to Donald Trump.
Also, you know, law school graduate who understood the process and
ultimately I think Jill would agree recognized that there wasn`t going a
way – this was eventually going to close in and not put the country
through this strange exercise of a marshal and thing out on Pennsylvania
Avenue trying to figure out how to get in.
But, Jennifer, your – what was your reaction to what you heard the
president say today backing off the 100 percent guarantee that he would
RUBIN: But you have to understand that despite all the bluster, despite
all the chest pounding and the throwing the dust in the air, Donald Trump
is a coward. He`s a physical coward. He`s an emotional coward. So, he
will not have the nerve to stand up and say, I won`t be questioned by Mr.
And then when he does he is going to be putty in his hand because three
things. One, he doesn`t know what he shouldn`t say. He doesn`t know and
still doesn`t accept that obstruction of justice is something that he can
commit and can be prosecuted after leaving office or impeached for.
Secondly, he doesn`t know what the other people know. And third of all, he
doesn`t know what the special prosecutors have in terms of documentary
evidence about his finances.
So, it is a minefield. I can imagine his lawyers must be having a nervous
break down at the prospect that he would be testifying under oath. Really,
Trump has two choices and two choices only. One, he can do this in an
interview or maybe his lawyers get to be present. Or secondly, he can do
it in front of a grand jury where even his lawyer isn`t there. So, he
could pick poison, but he`s going to have to go there and do his bit.
O`DONNELL: The president issued an angry tweet today about all of these
investigations, saying it`s a witch hunt and ending with the line, saying
the world`s laughing at us and ending with the line Republicans should
finally take control.
And, Ron Klain, it was not clear to me whether he meant that Republicans
should take control of the investigations going on in the committees and
the congressional investigations or whether he meant they should take
control of – also take control of the special prosecutor`s investigation.
KLAIN: Yes. I think this is a little bit of King Henry, won`t someone rid
me of this man? You know, he`s looking for someone to shut this thing down
because the water is rising.
And let`s be clear. The only witch hunt going on here is a question of
which members of the Trump inner circle committed which crimes, because
that is the witches we`re down to. There are convictions. There are
I mean, you know, this is far from anything other than a rounding of the
wagons to figure out ultimately who gets charged with what. And that`s got
to be scaring Donald Trump tonight.
O`DONNELL: Well, luckily, a reporter got a chance to ask the president
today what he meant by Republicans taking control of the investigation and
we have that video right now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Mr. President, how do you want Republicans to take control of
the Russian investigation?
TRUMP: Thank you very much, everybody.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Jill, he meant thank you very much apparently. That was his
answer to that question.
WINE-BANKS: That`s his answer to a lot of questions and I think he has
plenty to be worried about and I think we`re also getting away from the
main purpose of the congressional investigations is, which is to find out
how to protect American elections from the Russians interfering with them
and I think that the Democratic report today, Senator Cardin spoke very
well about that, is something that we need to pay attention to.
What are the steps we should be taking before 2018, so that we have a free
and fair election, not subject to foreign intervention?
O`DONNELL: And, Jennifer, that is the part that I`m so glad Jill brought
it up. That`s the part lost in all of this, in all of our coverage,
because we are pursuing this criminal investigation at the same time. But
there is also the issue of how do we protect this country`s election
process going forward and this is an administration that`s doing absolutely
nothing about that.
RUBIN: Right. That`s really struck me. First of all, the Republicans
didn`t join in the report. It`s a superb report. I talked to a number of
foreign policy specialists. It`s detailed, it`s factually accurate, it
makes concrete suggestions. Why in the world Republicans would not join on
this any other time? It would be unheard of. But they can`t join because
Donald Trump won`t admit that Russia is a real problem.
So, are they interested in protecting the country? It doesn`t seem like.
And certainly, if you go back to the transcript of the fascinating
interview before the Judicial Committee by Glenn R. Simpson, who is the
founder of Fusion GPS, it is very obvious that the lawyer doing the
questioning on behalf of the Republicans is interested in no real
substantive data. His entire line of questioning had nothing to do with
the substance either of the dossier, the so-called dossier, or the level of
confidence that Fusion GPS had in the dossier or anything else in
They`re there for one reason and one reason only and that is to protect the
president. And that regard, they`ve become complicit in this. They`ve
become co-enablers. They`ve become co-conspirators in a plot to obstruct
justice. And I think when this all washes out, they`re going to be people
like Lindsey Graham who used to have a spine and I think just pines to be
Mr. Trump`s secretary of state, who are going to look very bad in the light
O`DONNELL: And, Jill, to Jennifer`s point, when you read that transcript
as I did yesterday, the first, you know – long hour of it at least is all
this stuff that is not directly on point to why this witness is there.
Once you get to the real issues of why the witness is there, it`s really
just the Democratic staff that are asking those questions, although you
can`t tell in the reading of that whether it`s Democratic staff or
Republican staff. The questions all make perfect sense and trying to
pursue what was really going on in that investigation. But when you step
back far it and look at who asked the questions, the Republican staff as
Jennifer points out really did not ask virtually any relevant questions at
WINE-BANKS: You are both absolutely correct. And it is very much
confounding to me that there could have been a criminal referral made by
Graham and Grassley after that testimony. It`s clear that he, Steele, was
a completely credible source, that the FBI wasn`t acting fast enough and he
was genuinely concerned about the impact on American election and on
And if he went to the press, it was because he was trying to make sure that
Americans knew what was going on. And that he believed his information and
had credible information.
So, it`s a very concerning how the Republicans handled that hearing, and
the suppression of the tape. Congratulations to Senator Feinstein for
O`DONNELL: We are now going to have to create a new graphic for this show
written by Ron Klain called which hunt.
Jill Wine-Banks –
WINE-BANKS: Except for my pin. Notice my witch pin.
Jill Wine-Banks and Ron Klain, thank you both for joining us tonight.
Jennifer, please stick around.
Coming up, Senator Amy Klobuchar, member of the Senate Judiciary Committee,
will join us and tell us the committee`s reaction to Senator Feinstein
releasing that transcript yesterday. And one of the sources of the Fusion
GPS dossier on President Trump will join us.
And the president`s public schedule is now being dictated by Michael
Wolff`s book “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House.” The Trump
White House is doing everything it possibly can to prove that the book is
untrue and what they`re doing is not working.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Welcome back to the studio. Nice to have you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Welcome back to the studio.
The image of Donald Trump created in Michael Wolff`s new book “Fire and
Fury: Inside the Trump White House” is now completely controlling the
president`s public schedule. Yesterday, the White House decided to show
that the president has not lost his mind. Something no other White House
staff has ever had to try to prove.
And so, the White House staff allowed the first hour of the president`s
meeting with a bipartisan group of congressional leaders in the cabinet
room to be televised and that showed the president in action in a policy
discussion exactly as he is depicted in Michael Wolff`s book. And that is,
of course, agreeing with whoever is the last person to speak to him.
And yesterday, we saw the president do that, after every Democrat spoke and
then after every Republican spoke. First he agreed with Senator Dianne
Feinstein. To the Democratic Party idea that they should just legislate a
fix for DACA kids as fast as possible as a clean bill with nothing else on
Then, when Republicans started interrupting and seized back the president`s
attention, he agreed with them that, of course, we can`t do that. And so,
it went, back and forth. The dysfunctional president who understands none
of the legislative components or the legislative strategy being discussed.
A discussion that he has been forced to participate on TV to prove that he
does know what he`s doing.
It was alarming to anyone who thinks that the president should actually
have his own policy position on this or any other issue. No one was more
alarmed, more disappointed in the president yesterday than the hardliners
on immigration like the banished Steve Bannon and Ann Coulter.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANN COULTER, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think we can call this the lowest
day in the Trump presidency. I mean, he was clearly trying to overcome the
bad press of this Michael Wolff book by showing, oh, he`s in command. But
in fact, what he did was fulfill every description of him in the Michael
Wolff book. He doesn`t listen. He has no command of the facts. He agrees
with the last person who speaks to him.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining us now, Sam Stein, the politics editor of “The Daily
Beast”. He`s also an MSNBC contributor. And back with us, Jennifer Rubin.
And, Sam, I know these words are going to live in infamy for me on Google
but I`m forced to say them.
SAM STEIN, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Say it. Say it.
O`DONNELL: I agree with Ann Coulter.
STEIN: I knew you would say that.
STEIN: Yes. We`ll let that linger a little bit.
O`DONNELL: No, don`t. Jump in there, Sam.
STEIN: It was a remarkable but somewhat predictable moment. Not the Ann
Coulter comment but the Trump session.
And it was very clear from the get-go that this was not done for any other
reason than to counteract the narrative of Trump being way out of his
league and in total dis-command of the policy elements of any policy threw
in front of him. And what he ended up showing essentially he would sign
anything, literally anything that was put in front of him. His position
according to him was whatever the people in the room agreed to.
And maybe this works with health care and he could get by, maybe this works
with tax policy and he can get by, but immigration was the bedrock
principle, the bedrock issue upon which his entire campaign based and it`s
what drew a lot of this nationalist right to his campaign. It is what he
used as a cudgel against virtually every other candidate in the race.
And what we`ve seen is that there was no principle at all. That it was a
posture. And it`s not just yesterday in this session that we have seen it.
His position on the wall which was always symbolic but an important symbol
of his immigration policy has been basically upended over the summer, and
to this very day, there is no such thing at the wall outlined in the
campaign. There`s no coast to coast wall. Mexico`s not going to pay for
Now, it`s very much very much of a conservative mainstream position of what
a wall should be, which is a mix of physical barrier, along with border
security in the form of drones and new technologies. And it`s just a
remarkable thing to see him come to what would have been a heretical
portion for him in the 2016 primary.
O`DONNELL: Jennifer, Sam says it`s a symbolic position. I heard him
describe it in physical detail. I heard him tell us the days on which it
got higher in height. It went up ten feet, if someone in Mexico said
something that bothered him.
And so, I – were there not a substantial number in your estimation of
Trump voters out there who believed the president`s physical description of
this wall from the Pacific Coast to the Gulf Coast?
RUBIN: Lawrence, you are taking him literally. And you should have been
taking him figuratively, metaphorically. You know, it is a wall in the
sense that it`s a divide, a great divide between the two countries.
Listen, he never intended I think to do anything or say anything that was
going to cost him any of the votes in his base. So, if he had to say that
the wall was going to be pink and purple with elephants dancing on the top,
he would have said it. He has no sense of reality. He has no sense of
what is possible. He probably doesn`t even remember what promises he made
and what promises he`s reversing.
What you have to understand with Donald Trump is every time he says
something you really have to ask three questions of yourself.
One, does he have any clue what is going on in the room? And Sam is
exactly right. He obviously didn`t know what was going on in that meeting
and he would just yes, yes to anyone who talked to him.
Secondly, did he once know what he was talking about and then forget in the
guy with the greatest memory appears to not remember what he said the day
And third is, is he trying to snow and intimidate and really insult the
American people`s intelligence? And that`s possible, too.
But I think what we saw here and imagine that this was not about the wall
but about North Korea or about Iran, can you imagine someone trying to make
decisions like this? Oh, and, by the way, he is trying to make a decision
on Iran for a deadline on Friday.
So, it`s frightful. It`s exactly what the critics have said. It`s exactly
what`s in Michael Wolff`s book, and now, we can all go to bed understanding
that the president has not a clue what is going on around him. And if you
want to deal on DACA, as I and other people do, you should make sure that
Stephen Miller is not the last person to talk to Donald Trump.
O`DONNELL: And, Sam Stein, the deal on DACA, the polls indicate the
Democrats have tremendous leverage, 83 percent of Americans want to
continue DACA, 63 percent of Trump voters favored granting DREAMers
citizenship, and that`s in a Fox News poll.
STEIN: You know, this has been the standard – maybe not that high but
it`s polled this way and polled favorably this way for a long time. The
only caveat here is there have been issues before that poll overwhelmingly
popular that have gone nowhere in Congress. Chief among them gun control
That being said, from my own reporting, I can detect actual green shoots of
optimism about the possibility of a deal getting done.
Now, of course, it all could go to hell. There`s a possibility that some
of the hardliners will get Trump`s ear at the end. But people on the hill
genuinely believe they have at least the contours of what an agreement
should look like.
The question is, what is the vehicle for pushing it? Do you attach it to a
must-pass government funding bill? Do you wait until the expiration of
DACA program as defined by Donald Trump, although there are protections
expiring in real-time? And the question now that I`m trying to figure out
is, what does the Democratic Party feel is the best leverage point?
So, those are the major questions. They tend to be actually more
procedural than legislative in some respects.
O`DONNELL: Jennifer Rubin, thank you for joining us.
And Sam Stein, THE LAST WORD`s optimism correspondent, thank you very much
for joining us tonight.
STEIN: Thanks, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Really appreciate it. Coming up, Senator Amy Klobuchar member
of the Senate Judiciary Committee will tell us where the committee goes
from here now that Senator Feinstein has released the previously secret
committee transcript, on the Fusion GPS interview. And one of the first
sources consulted by Fusion GPS in its investigation of Donald Trump when
they were assembling that dossier, one of those very first sources will
O`DONNELL: So the day after senator Dianne Feinstein, the ranking member
of the Senate Judiciary Committee took it upon herself to defy the
Republican Chairman of that Committee and release the interview transcript
of Fusion GPS co-founder Glen Simpson, The reaction from the Republican
Chairman of the Committee and other Republicans on the Committee to my
great surprise was not outrage. Instead, the Republican reaction suggested
it was no big deal.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LINDSEY GRAHAM, UNITED STATES SENATOR: I`m actually OK with that. I want
the public to know about the dossier and how it was used by the FBI. I want
the public to see some of the things I have seen about Mr. Steele.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: And even more to my surprise the almost always cantankerous
sounding Chuck Grassley, the Chairman of the Committee, who`s usually very
easy to anger sounded like he wanted to make peace with Senator Feinstein.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHUCK GRASSLEY, UNITED STATES SENATOR: Obviously I was a little
disappointed because I had an understanding ahead a time that it`d released
when we both agreed to release it. And I think I`ve shown my cooperation
with the other side by just yesterday agreeing to two interviews that they
want of their – at their request. And so, I think we`re going to move
forward without any glitch in the way we have been operating.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: The one Republican who was outraged by Senator Feinstein did
is the one who knows absolutely nothing about the rules and procedures and
customs of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Donald trump wet the tweeted the
fact that sneaky Dianne Feinstein who has numerous occasions stated that
collusion between Trump/Russia has not been found would release testimony
in such an underhanded and possibly illegal way totally without
authorization is a disgrace, must have tough primary exclamation point.
Joining us, democratic member of the Senate Judiciary Committee and
Minnesota Senior Senator Amy Klobuchar. Senator Klobuchar, thank you for
joining us tonight.
AMY KLOBUCHAR, UNITED STATES SENATOR: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: Did you have any advance warning from Senator Feinstein that
she was going to do this?
KLOBUCHAR: Well a number of had been talking for days and come out and she
had, as well, saying it should be released, that Chairman Grassley should
release it but it wasn`t happening. She went ahead and did it.
And let me explain the between the tea leaves here why the Republicans may
be muted on this. Let`s remember that first of all Chairman Grassley
wanted Glen Simpson to testify publicly, right? So why would he care if
Secondly, you have the fact that Simpson himself has said he wanted it
released, the transcript. And I think that`s a pretty big deal because if
the witness had said otherwise I`m sure she would have come to another
decision in this case.
And the third thing is that there`s a right to know. Senator Cornyn, number
two Republican in the Senate, also said in addition to the remarks you
included today, he said, look, I believe in transparency. And that was key.
There were things leaking, things were coming out and being used about that
testimony that weren`t fair and it was important that the American public
got the full story.
O`DONNELL: Senator Grassley did say today that he was concerned that
something like this might inhibit Jared Kushner from cooperating with the
KLOBUCHAR: Well, I would be more concerned if this was a witness that said
I don`t want this public and you might have then people not want to come
forward and talk behind closed doors. But in this case, you had the
situation where a witness actually publicly said I want this out there.
Things are coming out that aren`t true.
You know for instance, the number of things were coming out about that in
fact they had asked Steele to go to the FBI and that just came out as not
true in the testimony that Steele had gone to them and said he felt it was
his obligation to the go to the FBI and being reported that Democrats paid
for this report and, in fact, in the testimony Glen Simpson explains that
both Republicans and Democrats were paying.
O`DONNELL: The – as we know, the president tweeted today that
Republicans should finally take control of the investigations. We are not
sure whether he also means the special prosecutor`s investigation. But he
certainly seemed to mean the Congressional Investigation.
And your Committee`s Investigation, the Judiciary Committee. Let`s listen
to how your Chairman, Chairman Grassley reacted to that today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GRASSLEY: I don`t know what the President has in mind and I don`t think I
better comment until I have a discussion with the President on that point.
And I don`t intend to have a discussion with the President on that point.
And i hope he doesn`t call me and tell me the same thing that you said he
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Senator, your reaction to that?
KLOBUCHAR: Well, I think that was pretty direct. What the Chairman was
saying, while we like to see more hearings and hope we have more coming up
is that he`s not going to take direction from the President. Now, this all
being said, what we have continued to see from a number of Republicans, not
all, but a number of them has been an undermining of Director Mueller`s
And that really has concerned all of us because that is a place where he
has the ability to get to the bottom of the facts while we have the ability
to get things out to the public. We`re never going to be able to do the
kind of work he`s doing. And that`s why while I`m glad that Chairman
Grassley wants our work to continue and I know the Intelligence Committees
But we have to remember that undermining Mueller is really – is to me is
really setting us backwards. You have to let him do his work and do his
job. And I think that`s very clear no matter what the president tweets.
O`DONNELL: Senator, within the incredibly important jurisdiction of the
judiciary committee, you have immigration law and policy. Tell us where you
think the situation stands tonight, legislatively on DACA.
KLOBUCHAR: Well, we are feeling better about this. Now, you know, we have
heard the President say before he wants to get this done. And he put us in
this position to begin with. But I was heartened by the fact that first of
all even before this meeting he`s made clear he knows we can`t wait until
March because of the status of so many of these DACA kids who daily are
going out of status and the court ruling, of course, helps but it`s still a
And then you have the meeting itself where he said he wanted to get it done
and went even further which surprised me to say he wants to work on
comprehensive immigration reform next. Now I don`t know what he means by
that. But I know the bipartisan bill in the Senate and it did some really
good things for this country, the economy, brought the debt down.
You name it. And it would get us to a different place if we actually
started talking about the contributions that immigrants made to our – make
and have made to our economy and what we need to do to keep that rolling.
O`DONNELL: We saw him on video, TV, agreeing with Lindsey Graham and
Chuck Grassley on the possibility of a path of citizenship for 11 million
people. But that was before the other Republicans started talking so we
don`t know. I don`t know. I don`t know how you figure out, senator, where
the President actually is.
KLOBUCHAR: We don`t. But even - you know as we go back and forth and I
appreciate everyone talking about this, you have to remember there`s
individual Dreamers out there, average age 6 1/2 years old brought over
here. 97% of them working or going to school and they`re watching every
word, they`re watching every speech. Their literal lives depend on this.
And so we just have to remember and I hope despite all this back and forth
on this and the president saying one thing or another we have this
obligation to get this done. And that is what we have to remember. Every
single day when we go to congress and we just ask our colleagues to join us
as the Democrats have been taking the lead on this. But we`re glad there`s
some Republicans at the side. We have to get this done.
O`DONNELL: Senator Amy Klobuchar, thank you very much for joining us in
your appearance in the New Year.
KLOBUCHAR: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: Really appreciate it.
KLOBUCHAR: New Year. That right. Thank You, lawrence. >
O`DONNELL: Thank you. Coming up, a special last word tonight, a little
peek at what I will have to say Seth Meyer show later tonight on NBC
O`DONNELL: Today as a follow-up to what I said then was the president`s
ridiculously empty threat to sue Michael Wolff and his publisher for his
new book Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House, the President said
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, UNITED STATES PRESIDENT: We are going to take a strong look
at our country`s libel laws. So that when somebody says something that is
false and defamatory about someone that person will have meaningful
recourse in our courts.
Our current libel laws are a sham and a disgrace and do not represent
American values or American fairness. We want fairness. You can`t say
things that are false, knowingly false, and be able to smile as money pours
into your bank account
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: The President was not asked today whether the new version of
libel law that he is imagining would prevent him from engaging in years of
pathological lying about President Obama`s birth certificate. One of the
phony libel suits that Donald Trump actually did file and lose was used in
the Fusion GPS Investigation of Trump`s Business affairs according to Glen
Simpson`s testimony to judiciary committee that was released testimony by
It was a libel case against Author Tim O`Brien who wrote a critical book
about Donald Trump and Glen Simpson`s testimony to the committee staff. He
said he began his investigation of Donald Trump this way. We ordered every
Donald Trump book. Those books cover his divorces, his casinos, early
years dealing labor unions and mafia figures. It was sort of an unlimited
look at his, you know, his business and finances and that sort of thing.
David Cay Johnston wrote one of the very first such books about Donald
Trump in that collection of books that began the Fusion GPS investigation
of Donald Trump. David Cay.Johnston will join us next,
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I own nothing in Russia. I have no loans in Russia. I don`t have
any deals in Russia. Russia is a rouse. I have nothing to do with Russia.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining the discussion now David Cay.Johnston, Pulitzer Prize
winning journalist who founded dcreport.org, a non profit news organization
that covers the Trump administration. He`s also the author of the fourth
coming book it`s even worse than you think, what the Trump Administration
is doing to America. And David, if you`re lucky the President will try to
shutdown the presses on your book as he did with Michael Wolff. David,
were you surprised yesterday to read the Judiciary Committee Transcript
where Glen Simpson says the first thing he did in investigating Donald
Trump was to get your book and other books written about Donald Trump?
DAVID KAY JOHNSTON, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Well, no, I was pleased but that`s
what reporters do. You know one of the first things you learn as a
reporter is you first read the clips, find out what`s in the record. And
Glen Simpson who I know just very tangently is a very excellent reporter.
He`s beaten a few times. So I know he`s good.
O`DONNELL: By beaten you, you mean got into the story before you? I just
want to clarify that for that record. So in that -
JOHNSTON: See the story I missed.
O`DONNELL: In that transcript, David, what jumped out at you?
JOHNSTON: Well, Trump made all these trips to Russia and yet there have
never been any business deals, at least that we know about. And that`s very
striking. Clearly Glen Simpson whose an excellent reporter, who understands
finance, got to looking at this and saying to himself, gee, why is he going
to Russia and there`s no deals? What`s going on at these golf courses in
Ireland, Scotland that have to make public reports and their loosing money
hand over fist. But Trump keeps saying he has money.
And of course immediately as this went on he began to realize the obvious
thing about Donald Trump is – is Donald Trump a major money launderer?
O`DONNELL: And what would be the indications of that?
JOHNSTON: Well, of course there`s the famous mansion deal in Florida,
where in 2008 the real estate market collapses and Donald Trump sells to a
Russian oligarch named (INAUDIBLE) a house for more than twice what he paid
for it. The cover story was the guy was hiding money from his wife.
Well, if you want to hide money from your estranged wife you don`t overpay
for property. You find things you can buy at a discount because of market
conditions. And it`s smelled deeply of being a payoff. If a state
senator in Florida had done the same deal, there would have been major
investigations of what going on with him.
O`DONNELL: And you can see in the Transcript Simpson`s fascination with
Felix Sater who he knew about and you have also studied.
JOHNSTON: Yes, Felix Sater who is twice convicted felon, Donald claims he
wouldn`t know what he looked like. He traveled with him all over the
place. There`s numerous photographs and videos of them together, is deeply
involved in Russian crime.
There are others. And you know, Donald keeps saying I have nothing to do
with Russia. You notice he never says Russians and he certainly never says
Georgians, people from Kazakhstan or Azerbaijan. And It`s a very narrow
statement that he actually makes when he says I have nothing to do with
Russia which by the way is obviously not true.
O`DONNELL: We`re going to have to leave it there for tonight. David,
when your new book coming out?
O`DONNELL: All right, there`s going to be room in the bookstores because
michael Wolff`s book is sold out. David Cay Johnston book is the next way
to take a look at Donald Trump. David Cay Johnston, thank you very much
for joining us tonight, really appreciate it.
JOHNSTON: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: Tonight`s Last Word is next.
O`DONNELL: Yesterday the PRESIDENT allowed the first hour of his meeting
with congressional leaders to be televised and so today naturally he
declared it a big hit.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: And my performance, you know, some of them called it a performance.
I consider it work. But got great reviews by everybody other than two
networks who were phenomenal for about two hours. Then after that they were
called by their abortionist and said oh, wait a minute, and unfortunately a
lot of those anchors sent us letters saying that was one of the greatest
meetings they`ve ever witness.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: And so tonight Seth Myers had to ask me if I was one of those
news anchors who sent a letter to it President praising his performance.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SETH MEYERS, COMEDIAN: He had a meeting yesterday, and he actually said
that the meeting went so well that anchors – he received letters from
anchors telling him how well it went.
O`DONNELL: Yes, he did.
MEYERS: Is it safe to say you did not sit down at your roll away desk last
night and write a letter?
O`DONNELL: It`s safe to say and I`ll have to check with the audience,
but no one in America wrote a letter. He is so wonderfully 19th century.
MEYERS: Also the fact the letter already got there meant they FedEx-ed it.
O`DONNELL: Yes, yes and I don`t know - I mean I supposed there`s maybe
fox News station showed up, but I imagine those guys just call them up and
tell him you did a great job. They don`t actually send letters.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: You can watch the full interview on Late Night with Seth
Meyers tonight on NBC. That`s tonight Last Word. The 11th hour with Brian
Williams starts now.
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