Bannon subpoenaed by Mueller Transcript 1/16/18 The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell
Show: THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL
Date: January 16, 2018
Guest: Harry Litman, Mieke Eoyang, Howard Dean, Kimberly Atkins, David Jolly, Eric Swalwell
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Rachel. So that`s weird.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST, “TRMS”: Yes.
O`DONNELL: That`s the weird thing.
MADDOW: I found one weird thing in the news today.
O`DONNELL: No, but it really is. I remember commenting on that and
talking about it when it was revealed who this lawyer attorney Burck is
representing – Reince Priebus, Don McGahn, and Steve Bannon. There was
bound to be a conflict very soon. And here we had it today.
MADDOW: And, you know, it`s interesting, because he was representing
Priebus and McGahn for a long time before this. And that alone seemed like
a strange potential conflict. Now, he is representing Bannon as well.
I mean, one thing to keep in mind here is if there is a conflict of
interest, as it relates to the Mueller investigation and the things that
Mueller is looking at, presumably Mueller`s lawyers will pursue that and
try to, you know, if it ever comes to any future court proceedings or
whatever, that will then become an issue. They could push this thing. It
isn`t something that gets litigated in the press.
But for the life of me, I can`t figure out why Rod Rosenstein isn`t recused
from an investigation in which he is likely a witness. And I can`t figure
out how this one lawyer can represent three people who are on three
different sides of some of these important issues.
O`DONNELL: There comes a time if court cases develop where the court, the
judge won`t allow it.
MADDOW: Yes, exactly.
O`DONNELL: They can intervene if necessary for that. But you know, it was
a deadly serious day for Steve Bannon, Rachel. I could tell because he
shaved. He – and put on a necktie. But shaved. He didn`t even shave in
the White House.
MADDOW: I – I – yes. Punt.
O`DONNELL: One of those days. Thank you, Rachel.
O`DONNELL: Donald Trump as we know is the worst liar we`ve ever seen in
the presidency. By tonight, worst liar, I mean, two things, the frequency
of the lying and the skill at lying. Donald Trump lies more than any other
president in history and more than any other American politician in
history. “The Washington Post” has documented over 2,000 obvious lies in
less than a full year in the presidency.
But Donald Trump is also the worst liar because he is very, very bad at
Smart lying is lying you actually can get away with. Smart liars never lie
about things they can`t get away with. They don`t tell obviously insane
lies like “I am the least racist person.” We don`t know how many lies
other presidents have told because they were all better liars. They surely
all got away with more lies than Donald Trump does. That is the singular
achievement of the Trump White House and the Trump administration.
The worst lying we have ever seen in Washington from the president and the
people who work for the president. No one can forget John Kelly`s last
time standing in front of a microphone when he told a story about
Congresswoman Frederica Wilson and President Obama that was a lie from
start to finish about both of them. And it sure sounded like a racist lie,
a race-motivated lie.
And when John Kelly was proven to be an outright liar about Congresswoman
Frederica Wilson, within a day we all awaited his apology. We were hoping
to see John Kelly publicly teach Donald Trump what a man of fundamental
goodness and dignity and honesty does when he makes a mistake. Apologize.
And apologize gracefully.
We were all hoping to see the White House chief of staff publicly offer an
eloquent and heartfelt apology that would remove any suspicion of racist
motivation in what heed that say about Congresswoman Frederica Wilson. We
were hoping for the kind of apology that could make us feel that he just
made a mistake, an honest mistake. And so we waited for that apology.
And after one full day and night went by with John Kelly exposed as having
been completely wrong in what he said about Congresswoman Wilson, and he
did not apologize, what could have been a mistake really looked like a lie.
Because not apologizing for his untrue statements was a very, very
deliberate choice. Not a mistake.
We now have gone 89 days without John Kelly apologizing for what we can now
clearly see as an outright lie. Not a mistake about Congresswoman Wilson.
John Kelly takes his place on the White House payroll as one of the paid
liars of Donald Trump, paid with taxpayer money. He has chosen 89 days of
disgrace instead of instantly choosing honor and honesty and telling the
When John Kelly left his job as the secretary of the Department of Homeland
Security to become White House chief of staff, he installed his chosen
successor in the job of secretary of the Department of Homeland Security,
And today, Secretary Nielsen publicly took her place on the list of paid
liars in the Trump administration. Like her patron, John Kelly, and her
boss, Donald Trump, she is a very, very bad liar.
If you`re going to try to lie under oath in congressional testimony, you
better not try to lie about the small things, the things that don`t matter.
But when you`re trying to protect Donald Trump with your lies, when that`s
your job and you have decided to do that in under oath testimony to the
Senate Judiciary Committee, you will lie about anything.
Here is Kirstjen Nielsen lying under oath today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. PAT LEAHY (D), VERMONT: Norway is a predominantly white country,
KIRSTJEN NIELSEN, DHS SECRETARY: I – I – I actually do not know that,
sir, but I imagine that is the case.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Norway is over 92 percent white.
Now, we haven`t been able to find any biographical information about
Kirstjen Nielsen`s ethic heritage. But according to ancestry.com, most
people named Nielsen trace their heritage to Scandinavia, specifically
Denmark. Now, there is Denmark, right, across the water, just south of
Now, you don`t have to be of Scandinavian descent to know that Norway is
predominantly white, as Senator Leahy put it in his question that provoked
that very inept and obvious lie. Kirstjen Nielsen obviously decided she
had to lie about it, being common knowledge that Norway is predominantly
white. She had to lie about something everyone knows, which is that Norway
is predominantly white, in order to protect the racist president of the
United States who last week in a meeting that Kirstjen Nielsen attended
said he would rather take in immigrants from Norway than from any of the 54
countries of Africa or Haiti – countries that are the opposite of
Kirstjen Nielsen believed she had to pretend she didn`t know the president
was talking about white people when he said he preferred immigrants from
Norway. And so, she lied for the president today under oath. John Kelly
was no doubt very, very proud of his protege today. She also tried to lie
about what was said in that room last week in the oval office. She tried
to assign the kind of ugly profanity that the president used about all the
on countries of Africa to everyone in the Oval Office that day.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D), ILLINOIS: You said on Fox News that the president
used strong language. What was that strong language?
NIELSEN: Let`s see. Strong language there was – apologies. I don`t
remember specific word. What I was struck with frankly, as I`m sure you
were as well, was just the general profanity that was used in the room by
SCHUMER: Did you hear me use profanity?
NIELSEN: No, sir. Neither did I.
SCHUMER: Did Senator Graham use profanity?
NIELSEN: I did hear tough language from Senator Graham, yes, sir.
SCHUMER: What did he say?
NIELSEN: He used tough language. He was impassioned. I think he was
feeling very strongly about the issue, as was everyone in the room. And to
underscore a point, I think he was using some strong language.
SCHUMER: Do you all there the strong language he used repeated exactly
what the president had said prior to that?
NIELSEN: I remember specific cuss words being used by a variety of
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Republican Senator Lindsey Graham participated in that hearing
today. He kept his focus mostly on immigration policy and avoided
specifically quoting the words that the president used in the Oval Office.
But he did say this about Senator Dick Durbin, who has quoted the president
as referring to all of the countries of Africa as shithole countries.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: Dick Durbin has been one of the
best people you could ever hope to work with, that he is a decent, honest
man, a liberal Democrat. Yes, he said yes. And I`m a conservative
Republican. But on this and other things, we can find a way forward.
So, Mr. President, I`m going to end today where we ended Tuesday. Close
Thank you, Madam Secretary.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining us, Josh Earnest, former White House press secretary
for President Obama and an MSNBC political analyst. Kimberly Atkins, chief
Washington reporter and columnist for “The Boston Herald”. She is an MSNBC
contributor. And David Jolly, former Republican congressman from Florida.
And, Josh, as you watched that hearing unfold today, there was a lot of
interest in exactly how the White House meeting developed in which these
words were said last week. Lindsey Graham went into that in some detail.
But what were you most struck by in what you saw in that testimony today?
JOSH EARNEST, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Lawrence, the thing that I was most
struck by is that we have a secretary of homeland security who is entrusted
with substantial responsibility. We rely on the secretary of homeland
security to give us very specific advice, things like these interest steps
that you should take to prevent your family from being or your property
from being damaged in a storm. These are the steps that you and the
business community should take to protect your computer networks from a
cyberattack that emanates from overseas. Or a message to the American
public to say these steps that we`re taking to prevent terrorists from
The point of these examples, Lawrence, is not just the secretary of
homeland security is someone who deals with very serious life or death
issues, but that that secretary of homeland security is somebody whose word
and integrity matters, and whose word and integrity has life or death
And when you have a situation where that person who holds that job is
willing to say things that are obviously not true about something so
trivial, it includes – it inserts a seed of doubt whenever we`re hearing
her talk about something really important. And that`s troubling.
And look, Lawrence, I sat in enough oval office meetings with President
Obama where he had to listen to his secretary of homeland security, either
Janet Napolitano or Jeh Johnson say something that might have been
something inconvenient for him, might have said something that he didn`t
fully agree with. But they knew they had a responsibility to be honest, to
tell the truth, even if it was going to cause them to be in disagreement
with the president of the United States. They knew that`s what the
obligation of the job demanded of them, and they didn`t shirk from that
President Trump unfortunately hasn`t chosen someone with the same set of
O`DONNELL: I want to go to something else that happened in the meeting
today. And this is when Senator Graham was discussing the televised
meeting that had occurred two days before, I think we all remember, and one
of the most striking moments in it where – there were several moments –
where President Trump was moving left ward on immigration for a moment
completely agreeing with Dianne Feinstein before some of the Republican
House members there had to pull him back in their direction. And then he
would wander back into a liberal sounding agreement with Lindsey Graham
about possible paths to citizenship.
And in that exchange, the president actually talked about doing immigration
policy with love. It was a word that stunned me when I heard him say it.
Let`s listen to what the secretary of homeland security says about that.
And remember, she wasn`t watching this on TV. She was in the room when the
president said the word “love” in that meeting about immigration
legislation. Let`s listen to this exchange with Senator Graham.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GRAHAM: Do you remember him saying the word “love”?
NIELSEN: I don`t remember him saying the word love. I remember him saying
care. I`ve heard him use love before, compassion.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATE: It should be a bill of love.
Truly, it should be a bill of love.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Kimberly Atkins, two loves there. So that tells us just how
good a witness Secretary Nielsen is in reporting what happens in
KIMBERLY ATKINS, CHIEF WASHINGTON REPORTER, BOSTON HERALD: Yes. I mean,
look, these rooms aren`t that big. I know if I were in a room with my
boss, the editor-in-chief of my paper and he was speaking, I think I would
be paying pretty close attention to what he said. Certainly if he was
talking about immigration policy, and definitely if he used a pejorative
expletive to refer to countries in Africa. I think those are things that I
probably would remember. And I think that`s only magnified when the person
speaking and your boss is the president of the United States.
So, I really think that it`s really nonsensical, the answer that the
secretary gave. I also was struck by the fact that she used the term tough
language which is exactly the same language Donald Trump used a few days
ago in a tweet, which sounds to me like they were talking points given out
on this ahead of time.
So, I mean, I agree with Josh. It`s very disappoint when we come back you
have someone in such an important position speaking, one of the few
eyewitnesses to this much reported meeting that took place where the
president is reported to have made these statements and where you have
senators, Senator Lindsey Graham, a close ally now of President Trump, who
is not disputing that fact. And you have still people resisting and sort
of pushing this forward in a way that isn`t just disappointing in terms of
you`re seeing someone telling you not the truth in front of you.
But it`s blowing up a chance to deal with people, nearly a million people
who are in this country because they were brought here by their parents.
And for which there is bipartisan agreement to find a way to find a
solution for that problem, something that the majority of the American
public want. But because of this political spat where people have sort of
reverted to their political corners, it looks like that`s not going to
happen, at least not this week. That`s a terrible outcome.
O`DONNELL: We all heard Lindsey Graham tell the story of how that
presidential meeting occurred in the Oval Office. It began with Senator
Dick Durbin, the Democrat, having a very positive conversation with
President Trump on the phone at 10:00 a.m. Senator Durbin reported that to
Republican Senator Lindsey Graham. Lindsey Graham then said, well, let`s
set up a White House meeting.
The meeting was set up for two hours later, which have I have to say, Josh
Earnest, in my experience in dealing with the White House, that`s awfully
fast to set up a meet like this. These two senators –
EARNEST: It sounds like he had plenty of executive time this day.
O`DONNELL: Exactly. So they go racing up there. And by the time they get
there at 12:00 noon, Lindsey Graham discovers a completely different
president. Here is what he had to say about that after the hearing today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GRAHAM: I will say, I don`t think the president was well served by his
staff. I think the president`s – that we saw Tuesday is that that Donald
Trump exists, and somehow by 12:00 on Thursday, something happened. And I
don`t think he was well served by his staff. But he is responsible for the
way he conducts himself, and so am I. Can`t blame that on the staff. But
I do believe his staff was –
REPORTER: Would that be General Kelly?
GRAHAM: Pretty much missed the mark here. I don`t think General Kelly is
a fine man, but he is also a part of the staff.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: David Jolly, there is no bigger insult you can give a general
than to call him part of the staff. But that is an accurate description of
General Kelly`s position.
Where do we go from here, David, with your experience, the Republican
Congress? There is Senator Graham hoping he can somehow get the Donald
Trump of Tuesday to overrule the Donald Trump of Thursday.
DAVID JOLLY (R), FORMER U.S. CONGRESSMAN: Yes, but Lindsey said he didn`t
know what happened to the Donald Trump of Tuesday. I don`t know what
created the Donald Trump of Tuesday, because reality is that was the
exception. And, listen, Lindsey is very gracious in putting this on staff,
on General Kelly, on Stephen Miller.
The reality it is was conservative senators in Perdue and Cotton and House
members in McCarthy and Goodlatte and others who killed this deal. Staff
doesn`t get to kill the deal.
Now, to the defense of conservatives in Congress, the Durbin and Graham
compromise, if you will, never would have passed the House. And so, what
Donald Trump was faced with, and staff probably counseled him on is this
can`t pass the House. But the reality is Graham and Durbin tried to take
advantage of that Tuesday moment where Donald Trump said “I`ll sign
anything you put in front of me.”
But ultimately the hard line immigration conservatives got to Donald Trump.
The base got to Donald Trump and they realize they didn`t have the votes
for it, and they killed can it. So, we need to hold legislators
accountable for this, not staff.
O`DONNELL: Josh Earnest, Kimberly Atkins and David Jolly, thank you all
for joining us tonight. I really appreciate it.
EARNEST: Thanks, Lawrence.
ATKINS: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: Coming up, the congressional committee questioned Steve Bannon
today for nearly 10 hours today, about nine and a half hours. One of those
members of Congress, Eric Swalwell, who was in the room, will join us next.
And what we learned and what we did not learn from the president`s medical
exam. Dr. Howard Dean will analyze the results of that medical exam for
O`DONNELL: It was a very long day for Steve Bannon today in a meeting of
the House Intelligence Committee. We will have a member of that committee
join us in a moment to tell what`s he can about what happened in that room
for nine and a half hours that Steve Bannon was there. The lawyer
representing Steve Bannon in that meeting today is Bill Burck, who also
represents White House counsel Don McGahn, as well as former White House
chief of staff Reince Priebus.
This is an extraordinary situation because in the meeting today, Bannon`s
lawyer told the committee that Bannon was willing to answer questions, but
he was under instructions from the White House not to. Those instructions
would have come from White House counsel Don McGahn, who is one of the
clients of Steve Bannon`s lawyer.
Here is everything that reporters got out of Steve Bannon tonight after his
nine and a half hours with the committee.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Mr. Bannon, who from the White House asked you to invoke
executive privilege? How did the meeting go, Mr. Bannon?
STEVE BANNON, FORMER WHITE HOUSE CHIEF STRATEGIST: It was great.
REPORTER: Mr. Bannon, what did they ask you? What did they ask you, Mr.
BANNON: Great day. Thanks, guys.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: California Congressman Adam Schiff is the ranking Democrat on
the House Intelligence Committee. And when the meeting finally ended
tonight, he said this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA), RANKING MEMBER, INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: After he
explored several attempts to try to elicit information that took place
during those periods, we convened on a bipartisan basis and agreed to the
issuance of a subpoena to make his attendance at the hearing compulsory.
He was then served with the subpoena during the course of the interview.
His counsel then conferred again with the White House and was instructed by
the White House to refuse again to answer any questions, even though he was
under a compulsory process.
Mr. Bannon was also under instructions not to answer questions even after
he left the White House concerning conversations he had with the president
that might be for the purpose of the president seeking his advice on
The scope of this assertion of privilege – if that`s what it is – is
breathtaking. It goes well beyond anything we have seen in this
investigation. We expect to have Mr. Bannon back in. We hope very soon
with a different position by the White House, because this position is
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining us now, Congressman Eric Swalwell, a Democrat from
California who is a member of the House Intelligence Committee. He was
also at that hearing today.
Congressman Swalwell, was that everything that happened that was simply a
discussion about process and the witness saying through his lawyer I`m not
going to answer any questions? How did that become nine and a half hours?
REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D-CA), HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Good evening,
We witnessed today what I believe was the most aggressive effort by the
White House thus far to obstruct our efforts to seek the truth. And it
took a long time to sort out what Mr. Bannon was willing to talk about and
not. And most of it he was not willing to talk about, citing a privilege
for the White House.
I want to go through, Lawrence, first he cited that he couldn`t talk about
what happened during the transition period. There is no evidence or case
law to support that that is a privilege. Then he said he couldn`t talk
about what happened while he was working at the White House. Now, some
that of could be covered by the White House. However, he even asserted
that essentially if he was talking to a buddy over a beer about something
that the president had told him, that that was covered. That`s never been
recognized to have been covered.
Most stunningly, I asked him and Mr. Schiff had asked him questions about
what occurred after he left the white house in conversations with the
president, and he asserted that the White House was prohibiting him from
even talking than. So, outside the White House, even most recently that
he`s had conversations, he believes the White House is preventing him from
O`DONNELL: And, obviously, there is no conceivable legal grounds for any
kind of privilege during the transition. He is a private citizen at the
time. He is a private citizen after he leaves the White House. And any
conversations anyone has in that situation, there is no privilege
What – did his lawyer actually try to frame this in any kind of legal
terms that you recognized?
SWALWELL: I wouldn`t say it was with a straight face, Lawrence. And,
again, this is disappointing because there are a lot of questions for Steve
And arguably, you could say that he and the White House have waived his
privilege. After all, he was cited a number of times most recently in the
“Fire and Fury” book about conversations with the White House. And this
flies in the face of a president who has stood before the media and said
he`ll heel be completely cooperative and open with this investigation. And
now we`ve seen in the last few weeks not only is he backing away from the
president from being willing to talk to Bob Mueller, but now for the first
time they are muzzling witnesses who may have seen something pertinent to
O`DONNELL: And you have support from Republicans on the committee from
this? There are Republican members of the committee making public
statements saying there is absolutely no privilege that applies here.
Why are the Republicans suddenly cooperating with your view of this?
SWALWELL: I can`t speak to their motives. But I can tell you what`s
heartening for both of us to be on the same sheet of music today. That`s
what the country needs.
If we`re just pursuing what happened and talking to witnesses who have
information and seeking documents that are relevant, then we`re doing our
jobs. I was encouraged by that. We`re going have more witnesses coming in
the next few weeks. And I hope we continue to see that kind of
cooperation. We`ll have a much better investigation.
O`DONNELL: There is indication Hope Hicks is one of the witnesses you`ll
be talking to in the near future.
SWALWELL: I can`t confirm, Lawrence, who the witnesses are. She certainly
is a relevant individual in our investigation.
O`DONNELL: And also, the issue of bringing Steve Bannon back to the
committee, is that going to happen on Thursday?
SWALWELL: So, that`s right. I believe Chairman Nunes announced that that
subpoena will extend later on this week. And hopefully, we`ll have cleared
up with the White House and we will see just how cooperative they want to
It`s also, I think, very interesting that “The Daily Beast” is reporting
that Steve Bannon will cooperate with Bob Mueller and waive all privileges.
Under no case law or authority would he be able to waive the privilege to
talk to the special counsel, but not waive it to talk to Congress for our
O`DONNELL: Yes, and it`s just easier, you know, for the special counsel to
immediately enforce an order for him to testify since they`re actually
physically in court space, especially if it`s a grand jury. You – the
Congress would have to hold him in contempt and then try to go to court to
enforce that. That would take quite a while.
SWALWELL: That`s right. You have a judge, you know, likely upstairs who
can rule swiftly. But I hope my Republican colleagues are serious about
doing all we can to compel the testimony and overcome these shenanigans.
It`s not shenanigans. Let`s be real. This is an effort to disrupt our
efforts to get the truth. And I think law school professors will teach
entire semester news on the new made-up privileges that the Trump
administration has cited in this investigation.
O`DONNELL: Yes, and how long they actually last.
SWALWELL: That`s right.
O`DONNELL: How many hours that privilege works.
Congressman Eric Swalwell, please feel free to join us Thursday night and
let us know how it goes with Steve Bannon on Thursday. Thank you very much
for joining us tonight.
SWALWELL: All right. Thank you, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Thank you.
Coming up, Robert Mueller will hear everything that Bannon will have to say
that is what the daily beast is reporting tonight. A special prosecutor
has subpoenaed Steve Bannon to a grand jury. And Steve Bannon says he is
going tell him everything. That`s next.
O`DONNELL: It was subpoena day for Steve Bannon while Steve Bannon was
actually getting subpoenaed today by the House Intelligence Committee in
the middle of his meeting with the House Intelligence Committee because he
was refusing to answer the questions of the House Intelligence Committee.
The New York Times revealed that Steve Bannon had already been hit with a
subpoena by Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller. Steve Bannon is now the
first person from President Trump`s inner circle to receive a subpoena from
the special prosecutor.
The Times reports that Mr. Mueller is likely to allow Mr. Bannon to forgo
the grand jury appearance if he agrees to be questioned by investigators in
the less formal setting of the Special Counsel`s offices. The subpoena
received Bannon came days after Michael Wolff`s book Fire and Fury was
released. In the book, Steve Bannon is quoted harshly criticizing President
Trump, his family and members of his staff, and speculating about their
Bannon called the Trump Tower meeting between Donald Trump Jr., Jared
Kushner, Paul Manafort, and a group including a Russian lawyer, a group of
Russians including a Russian lawyer, he called that meeting treasonous and
unpatriotic. He told Michael Wolff, the author of the book the chance that
Don Jr. did not walk these people up to his father`s office on the 26th
floor is zero.
Joining us now, Harry Litman, former U.S. Attorney and Deputy Assistant
Attorney General under President Clinton. He is now a professor at UCSD
School of Political Science and Mieke Eoyang, a former House Intelligence
Committee Staff member and Vice President for National Security Program at
Third Way. And Harry Litman, I want you to take us into the world of the
special prosecutor, special prosecutors, when a book like Fire and Fury
comes out, and Steve Bannon is quoted at length speculating about possible
crimes and misdemeanors of the Trump circle, is that something the special
prosecutor grabs, starts reading and underling?
HARRY LITMAN, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: I think so. And it`s not whether Bannon
thinks that a meeting is treasonous. It`s not his legal conclusions. But
there are facts in there.
The one you just mentioned, Lawrence, about did Trump Jr. Take the
Russians up to visit and see Trump, which would be devastating evidence on
collusion. Discreet facts like that that he can question him on. And I did
want to mention based on your last segment the reason that he`s going to
have to talk to Trump and he didn`t have to talk to the House in the same
way her can`t exert executive privilege here because that`s been settled.
That`s what U.S. V Nixon, Richard Nixon.
Executive privilege is a balancing test. It has to yield to a criminal
investigation, and here Mueller has the cards that the House didn`t have.
But, yes, they`ll be poring through it and they`ll be loaded for bear an
all the specific allegations. And one thing that the Wolff`s book shows is
Bannon has panoramic knowledge of all kinds of events touching on
everything during the year he was there.
He`s also as clear from the book a dangerous infighter and witness who
maybe has some scores to settle with people, especially Jared Kushner.
That makes him somebody that Mueller especially wants to talk to.
O`DONNELL: And Meike, as Harry just said, any claims of these privileges
that they were playing around with today in the committee will not survive
a minute once you get into criminal process. We all know that. That is
settled law. But what do you imagine – what do you imagine those nine and
a half hours were about today if Steve Bannon was not answering questions?
And then parenthetically, have you ever seen anything like that in a
committee meeting? You have a voluntary witness there who starts refusing
to answer questions. And as he is sitting there, your committee that you
used to work for slaps him with a subpoena as he is sitting at the table
and saying, OK, now answer our questions.
MIEKE EOYANG, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: I mean, that in itself is stung, that
they issued a subpoena in the middle of a hearing to a witness who`s
refusing to answer questions. You to be really contemptuous of Congress to
have that happen. It is really an unprecedented step. I`ve never seen it
I`ve seen people get threatened with a subpoena. Most witnesses are usually
very deferential to the committee. But if Steve Bannon is the kind of
person that he`s described to be in front of the members, they may have
just gotten fed up with him and decided they weren`t going to take it
anymore. Now it`s clear that for 11 hours he was sitting there and not
answering a huge chunk of their questions. But they did say he was able to
answer questions related to the two months that he was on the campaign
before the election.
And that`s when some of these crucial meetings took place. The meeting in
Trump Tower with the Russians that Don Jr. arranged. Some of these other
questions about was Trump tweeting and what did he know about the Hillary
Clinton e-mails. Were they in fact coordinating with Russians on social
These are questions that could be answered in front of the committee. And
frankly, if Bannon isn`t telling the truth, those are criminal offenses for
lying to Congress.
O`DONNELL: I want to go back to Michael Wolff`s book Fire and Fury and
talk about how this affected the Special Prosecutor. It quotes Steve Bannon
as saying this is all about money laundering. Mueller chose Weisman first
and he is a moneylaundering guy. Their path to Trump goes right through
Paul Manafort. Harry Litman, don`t the prosecutors just read that passage
to Steve Bannon or something like it and say what do you mean.
LITMAN: What are you talking about?
O`DONNELL: The path to Trump goes right through Paul Manafort. What did
LITMAN: Right especially Andrew Weissmann I think takes notice of that.
So sure and one of the big I think headlines of today is an indication that
as far as the money laundering charges go and the Russia conspiracy charges
go, we are a very – we`re in the middle game. We`re a long way from the
end. They of course will ask him what he means.
And he, like Manafort, knows a lot of where the bodies were buried on money
laundering. Of course, Manafort isn`t answering questions. So he and
possibly Kushner are going to be rich sources of letter and verse. To date
all they`ve done is subpoena records, and it`s hard to make a case through
them. When the witnesses come in and say look here, look there, that`s when
it gets interesting.
O`DONNELL: Mieke Eoyang, I want to go to the politics of the House
Intelligence Committee for just a moment because it was just weeks ago we
were hearing Democrat members of that committee afraid that committee was
going to shut down its investigation any minute now. And here they are
looking for more witnesses and more witnesses from close in the Trump inner
circle, like Steve Bannon and others. And I`m a little confused about it.
I started to think that maybe the Republicans on the committee actually
wanted to obtain the testimony of those people so they could let the white
house know what their testimony is because they won`t be able to discover
that through the Special Prosecutor`s office on any Grand Jury Testimony.
But then when you see the republicans today joining in this subpoena it
seemed to be over the objections of the Whitehouse, I don`t have a theory
EOYANG: Yes, I think it`s important to remember that on the House
Intelligence Committee they`re basically running two different simultaneous
investigations. One of them is being run by Adam Schiff and Congressman
Conway of Texas. And that`s a bipartisan investigation where the members
are really interested in getting to the pack facts on potential
interference by a hostile foreign government in our nation`s electoral
system. And then simply from that, but at the same time, you have Devin
Nunes, the Chairman of the Committee who was on the Trump transition team
who is running all kinds of interference, trying to throw up all these red
herrings into the mix.
And he is somebody where its clear he is on team Trump on this and he is
not managing the committee in the best interests of the nation`s
intelligence services. So it really does feel schizophrenic from the
outside because you have two separate investigations running on the same
O`DONNELL: Mieke Eoyang and Harry Litman, thank you both for joining us
tonight, really appreciate it.
LITMAN: Thanks Lawrence.
EOYANG: Thank You.
O`DONNELL: Coming up, the single most important thing in President Trump`s
medical history was not included in the medical exam that the Whitehouse
doctor told us about today. That`s next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did you see any evidence of bone spurs which the
President said he suffered from?
RONNY JACKSON, MEDICAL DOCTOR: We didn`t – you know, none of that stuff
has been bothering him recently. So we didn`t examine him for bone spurs
right now. He has not come to me complaining of that. There was no reason
in this particular assessment. We were pretty crunched for time with
everything we had done. We didn`t look for issues like that. So I didn`t
assess that. No.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: And so the single most important thing in Donald Trump`s
medical history was not part of the medical exam that the Whitehouse doctor
gave him. The bone spurs that Donald Trump used to get him out of military
service during the Vietnam War have never been confirmed by an independent
medical examination of Donald Trump. The Whitehouse physician reported the
President as being 6`3”, 239 pounds.
The President would be clinically obese if he was just an inch shorter,
which he probably is. Here is a photograph of Jeb Bush who is 6`3 standing
beside Donald Trump who looks distinctly shorter than Jeb Bush. The
Whitehouse Press Corps seemed stunned that the President, who cannot button
the button on his suit coat isn`t much heavier.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did you take a waist measurement for the President? I
think he is at 239, right? I think that`s just shy of obesity, right?
JACKSON: He is. Yeah.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You`re confident of that number? And did you do any
JACKSON: We don`t do measurements. We height and weight and then you know
you can put him in the BMI calculator and you know what. But we`ve never
done measurements, you know. There is not a lot – you know, there is not a
lot in it at this point.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: We don`t do any measurements. Ooh, OK, doctor. But the doctor
did something no Whitehouse physician before him has ever done. He tried
to measure Donald Trump`s cognitive ability. Dr. Howard Dean will join us
next to consider those results,
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JACKSON: Had no intention of doing one. The reason we did the cognitive
assessment, because the President asked me to do it. He came to me and
said, is there something we can do, a test or some type of screen we can do
to assess my cognitive ability.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining us now for a house call at the last word, Dr. Howard
Dean. He is a physician and also former Chairman of the Democratic
National Committee, former Governor of Vermont and MSNBC Political Analyst.
Dr. Dean, if you had been involved in this physical exam, what would you
have wanted to do?
HOWWARD DEAN, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Well, leaving partisan impulses aside,
the cognitive test, the Montreal Cognitive Assessment is a fairly low level
assessment. It`s good at predicting dementia or pre-dementia which
President clearly does not have. It does not evaluate whether you`re
psychotic or not.
I don`t think he probably is if he spent an hour with a physician who has a
good reputation by the way. That doesn`t say he is not morally or mentally
unfit to be President. It just says he doesn`t have pre-dementia.
O`DONNELL: And what would you say are the things about the president from
a physician`s perspective worry you? What worries you about him as a
DEAN: What worries me about him is his ability to lie on a daily basis.
And appear to believe his own lies which I don`t think he does otherwise he
really would psychotic. The other thing that worries me about him is his
judgment, his seemingly inability to process information in a rational way.
The final thing that really does concern me is the fact that he seems to
lack empathy with others.
That I think is an important in the President of the United States. So he
may or may not be mentally unfit. I think he`s certainly morally unfit.
O`DONNELL: And Michael Wolff`s book goes into real detail. We`ve known
about this before, but this is the best presentation we`ve seen about the
President`s attention span which is functionally zero in a lot of
situations. And that`s what they were trying to show off to us in that
televised meeting in the cabinet room last week, where the President could
appear to stay on a subject for 55 minutes on immigration policy.
DEAN: Unfortunately, that meeting didn`t turn out so well. And, you know,
I think it was what it was meant to be which was a show and tell about the
President`s – was or was not cognitively impaired. He`s not cognitively
impaired from a medical definition point of view.
That doest mean he`s not psychologically impaired. I mean you know it`s
pretty obvious he has a personality disorder. That doesn`t mean he`s
psychotic, but it makes him not a great candidate for President or a great
O`DONNELL: Talk about that psychologically impaired and how that differs
from mental illness.
DEAN: OK. So he`s – a personality disorder is a form of mental illness,
it does not involve delusions. So this is not a guy who believes his own
lies we don`t think. And there`s no evidence of dementia with this test,
which is very accurate for dementia.
The problem is, if you had to call him up at midnight and say, Mr.
President, there`s a set of Russian missiles heading our way, what do you
want to do about it? You have five minutes to decide. And he doesn`t have
a chance to talk to the Secretary of Defense and people like that
immediately and get himself briefed. I don`t think you can predict there
would be a rational approach in his mind as to what to do.
You see is that every day in some of the things he says, and then changes
his tune the day before. The other thing that`s shocking to me, him saying
the things that aren`t true every single day, and then somehow expecting
he`s going to get away with people not calling him on it. There`s some
judgment error there.
O`DONNELL: Dr. Howard Dean, thank you for joining us tonight, really
O`DONNELL: Tonight`s Last Word will be tonight`s good news.
O`DONNELL: And now for the good news. In 2017, Nigeria completed a full
year without any new cases of polio. And that is a huge accomplishment for
Nigeria, a country that accounted for more than half of all polio cases
worldwide just six years ago. And now there is more good news for Nigeria.
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has agreed to basically pick up the
tab for the cost of polio vaccinations.
The Gates Foundation has announced that it will pay a $76 million loan that
Nigeria got from Japan for polio eradication. The Gates Foundation will
step in and pay back loan to Japan covering the cost of polio eradication
program in Nigeria. That is tonight`s good news, and that is Tonight`s
Last Word. The 11th Hour with Brian Williams starts now.
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