Top FBI official leaves after Trump attacks Transcript 1/29/18 The LAst Word with Lawrence O’Donnell
Show: THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O’DONNELL
Date: January 29, 2018
Guest: David Leonhardt, Rene Elliott
LAWRENCE O’DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Rachel.
The Trump administration has more spelling mistakes in its first year than
I think any other administration’s total run of spelling mistakes.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNB HOST, “TRMS”: My favorite one was the first written
statement put out when he got his first Russia lawyers, when he had Marc
Kasowitz, and the first statement that he put out excoriating everybody on
the Russia scandal misspelled the world “president”. It was presidnet.
Normay is pretty good, state of the uniom is pretty good. But we’ll always
O’DONNELL: And not one firing so far for the spelling.
Rachel, I was listening to your interview with Congressman Adam Schiff and
there’s something in there that just totally mystifies me. Toward the end,
he said that when we see the transcript because I didn’t know that until I
heard him said on your show. But when we see the transcript of this
proceeding in which they voted to release the Republican memo, we will see
– we will be able to tell that there are Republicans in that meeting who
are dragging their feet and being forced to do this and aren’t really with
it, but they are voting to do it.
And that’s what I do not understand. I do not understand why Republican
members of the committee who don’t think this is a good idea are voting for
it. I don’t know what the committee’s power to persuade – what the
chairman’s power to persuade is on something like that. I don’t – I don’t
MADDOW: And they – you know, if a couple of Republicans had peeled off
and said, you know what, let’s at least let the FBI and the Justice
Department review this to see what kind of damage we’re going to do to
national security by releasing this classified information, we never in the
history of Congress has ever released classified information this way
before. Let’s at least give the professionals time to look at it and tell
us how dangerous this is, you’d only be take a couple of Republicans to
have some qualms about that, even just on the timing of it for it to have
been blocked, but they all went along, including ones who have law
enforcement and intelligence backgrounds themselves in their careers before
O’DONNELL: Well, we might be getting the transcript as early as tomorrow,
so we know what we’re going to be doing before the State of the Union if we
get that transfer.
MADDOW: That’s exactly right, my friend.
O’DONNELL: Thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: Thanks, Lawrence.
O’DONNELL: Well, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt has a bigger list of
major accomplishments than any other president because of the time that he
served, the period when he served and because he served longer than any
other president, the only president to be elected four times. Roosevelt
among many other things pull the economy out of the worst depression in
history, created Social Security, won World War II and created the Federal
Bureau of Investigation.
And only presidents prior to Donald Trump have dealt with the Federal
Bureau of Investigation beginning with Franklin Delano Roosevelt and none
of those presidents were crazy. But one of them was a crook.
Richard Nixon tried to coax his director of the FBI, L. Patrick Gray, to
block the Watergate investigation and that ultimately brought Richard Nixon
down. But Nixon never hinted at that publicly, that stuff he was trying to
do with the FBI.
Nixon never tweeted his antagonism toward the FBI for investigating him.
Richard Nixon wouldn’t dare to publicly intimidate the FBI. But Donald
Trump is not half as smart as Richard Nixon and so he has spent the better
part of a year attacking the FBI and the Justice Department for
investigating him, which, of course, makes the need to investigate him all
the more urgent.
But Andrew McCabe will no longer have a hand in that investigation or any
FBI investigation. The only deputy director of the FBI and former acting
director of the FBI to be publicly attacked by the president of the United
States repeatedly decided to quit the FBI this morning. A couple of months
sooner than he was reportedly considering retiring and he was only
considering retiring then because he believed he had become too much of a
distraction to the FBI given the president’s public obsession with him.
Andrew McCabe has had a 20-year career in the FBI beginning in the New York
field office where he was on the SWAT team. He then became the first
director of the high-value detainee interrogation group. He worked on the
successful investigation of the Boston marathon bombing.
But all Donald Trump had to know about Andrew McCabe is that James Comey
appointed Andrew McCabe to be the deputy director of the FBI which made
McCabe a Comey guy and no fact we have yet found, no anecdote, nothing yet
written about the Trump administration expresses how deeply and thoroughly
and perversely Donald Trump hates James Comey and the Comey team more than
what NBC News learned today about the day the president fired James Comey.
Jared Kushner had foolishly advised the president that the firing of Comey
would be well-received. And so, the president was no doubt watching
television in shock at the outrage that instantly erupted over the firing
of James Comey and the drama that then filled cable news TV screens as
James Comey was shown boarding an FBI plane in Los Angeles having just
received the word that he was fired.
The TV cameras stayed on the plane as a taxied to a takeoff from Los
Angeles to bring the fired FBI director home.
And today, Carol Lee of NBC News reports the day after President Donald
Trump fired James Comey, he became so furious watching television footage
of the ousted FBI director boarding a government-funded plane from Los
Angeles back to Washington, D.C. that he called Acting Director Andrew
McCabe to vent, according to multiple people familiar with the phone call.
Trump demanded to know why Comey was allowed to fly on an FBI plane after
he had been fired. These people said McCabe told the president he hadn’t
been asked to authorize Comey’s flight but if anyone had asked he would
have approved it. Three people familiar with the call recounted to NBC
News. The president was silent for a moment and then turned on McCabe,
suggesting he asked his wife how it feels to be a loser, an apparent
reference to a failed campaign for state office in Virginia that McCabe’s
wife made in McCabe replied, OK, sir. Trump then hung up the phone –
proving once again that no smaller or more vindictive mind has ever
occupied the presidency of the United States.
Joining us now, David Frum, senior editor for “The Atlantic” and author of
“The New York Times” bestseller, “Trumpocracy”. Also with us, Julia
Ainsley, national security and justice reporter for NBC News, and Harry
Litman, former U.S. attorney and deputy assistant attorney general under
President Clinton. He is now a professor at the University of California,
Harry Litman, what does the Andrew McCabe’s departure mean for the
HARRY LITMAN, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: Well, it’s hard to say what it means
for the investigation except I think it – that the – that the bureau has
been cowed. It’s a – you know, we have another breathless day of news and
you get used to taking a couple of days to assess.
But this really feels like a dark day to me. The sort of institutions you
look to to check Trump, the professional law enforcement staff or the
Congress now look to be both either cowed or complicit in his absolute
assault on the Mueller investigation. So, we – with the release of the
memo, we’ll want to know whether there’s going to be now Rod Rosenstein in
the crosshairs and just in general, I think the FBI is a very shaken place
O’DONNELL: David Frum, your reaction to McCabe’s announcement that he’s
leaving – that he left today.
DAVID FRUM, THE ATLANTIC: I think for the beginning of this presidency has
been clear, you can have the Donald Trump presidency or you can have the
rule of law, not both. Today was a good day for the Donald Trump
presidency and a bad day for the rule of law, not just the early departure
of an FBI acting director that President Trump didn’t like, but all so the
mobilization of the entire majority of the House Intelligence Committee, a
committee that was created in the 1970s to protect the public interest
against the excesses of intelligence, a mobilization of that committee to
act as the president’s personal PR shop and disinformation team.
O’DONNELL: Julia Ainsley, what do we know about why today there was this
public communications that Andrew McCabe would retire in March when he
reached a certain point in his federal employment where that would make
sense in terms of his future benefits. But what happened? What made it
JULIA AINSLEY, NBC NEWS NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Right, Lawrence.
So, this is coming about six weeks before we would have expected McCabe’s
planned retirement. He would have stepped down with his retirement, gotten
all of the benefits that he would for his long service. He’ll still retire
with that, but right now, he’s just totally stepping aside from his
position as deputy director.
And we know that it’s because he was under pressure, under pressure both
from this president and the administration, putting broad pressure on the
FBI, pressure on him specifically like what Carol Lee laid out in her
reporting, and also under pressure from Chris Wray. There’s been some
reports that have emerged tonight about a inspector general report that’s
expected out of the Justice Department that lays out details about McCabe
and Comey and their handling of the Clinton email investigation and for
whatever reason Wray speaking to McCabe. That conversation made McCabe
think that he needed to step down because of that pressure.
That’s the next thing we’re chasing. We want to know what those details
are – whether or not this pressure was valid or not. But I think it’s
like your last guest said, we have seen a furthering along these polarizing
lines today between Republicans and Democrats and how people are
interpreting this investigation and McCabe’s stepping down as being
interpreted completely differently by their Republicans who believe that he
was in charge of or oversaw a completely biased investigation or oversaw a
Clinton investigation in a bias way.
And Democrats who think that he was pressured out by a president who
doesn’t have respect for the FBI.
O’DONNELL: Senator Ron Wyden is one of those Democrats who’s concerned
about this. He said tonight, the FBI Director Wray needs to testify in
public about his role over the last few months during Trump’s attacks on
McCabe. Has he stood by his deputy director or given into pressure.
Harry Litman, that would be another unprecedented Senate hearing if Ron
Wyden gets his way.
LITMAN: Yes, it’s just one unprecedented thing after another. But Wray
had been a very – that stood by very steadfastly and suggested he would
resign if they tried to oust McCabe. But it’s – but exactly as Julia
said, there’s apparently something in the – another shoe to drop in this
I.G. report that hasn’t issued yet and you know the I.G. has been called up
to the – by the majority – by Nunes’ committee to talk to them tomorrow
about it. We’ll see how much he reveals.
But there’s obviously going to be some peccadillo that they’re going to use
to really try to lambast McCabe.
O’DONNELL: James Comey tweeted tonight: Special agent Andrew McCabe stood
tall over the last eight months when small people were trying to tear down
an institution we all depend on. He served with distinction for two
decades. I wish Andy well. I also wish continued strength for the rest of
the FBI. America needs you.
And, David Frum, President Trump will take that as proof that, of course,
Andrew McCabe should have been fired. He’s obviously a James Comey guy.
FRUM: Can we think just for a moment of how demented all this, that the
Trump administration –
O’DONNELL: Please, yes.
FRUM: – on its way to shutting down an inquiry into – doing its best to
shut down an inquiry into Russia’s help to Donald Trump, opportunistically
postures as the vindicator of Hillary Clinton’s campaign integrity and say,
we’re the reason we’re firing all these people is in order to avenge some
wrong against Hillary Clinton.
And this is maybe a point where Hillary Clinton – I know she has a lot of
wrong feelings against James Comey. If she wants to do her country one
final service in public life, she needs to declare an amnesty on the
handling, whatever fall she may feel about the handling of her emails to
say that do not fire these people on my behalf please? Do not make what
they did against me an excuse for shutting down the FBI and turning it into
Donald Trump’s disinformation shop.
O’DONNELL: And, Julia, we see Eric Holder also tweeting praise for Andrew
McCabe and again on their on the Republican – certainly in the Republican
House and possibly in the Republican Senate and definitely in the White
House, Eric Holder saying: FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe is and has
been a dedicated public servant, they believe that proves their case.
AINSLEY: Right. I mean I think the idea but we were talking about before
about how polarized this entire investigation or at least the perceptions
of this investigation have become doesn’t really help much to have someone
like James Comey or Eric Holder standing up for Andrew McCabe.
But let’s do remember that he is someone who served under different
administrations. He served as FBI since 1996. He served under
Republicans, under Democrats. He served under Robert Mueller and James
Comey, and he is someone who could have left much earlier and cashed in his
position for a lot more money in the private sector as a lot of his
predecessors have done, but he has stayed there.
And I think that’s what these reactions are coming from today. There are
people who say that the fact that someone who has been really a part of the
fabric of this agency is having to leave under these political pressures is
a problem and they think that it’s a red herring for what’s really
happening in this administration and really is unprecedented in terms of
the relationship between the White House and the FBI.
O’DONNELL: Let’s listen to the president’s explanation for it to his
followers and supporters about why Andrew McCabe should go. He was asked
this just last week. Listen to this question an answer.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
REPORTER: Should McCabe go, Mr. President? Should McCabe go?
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT: Well, McCabe got more than five hundred
thousand dollars from essentially Hillary Clinton and is he investigating
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O’DONNELL: So, David Frum, two lies there. Number one, McCabe did not get
$500,000. He did not get anything. He certainly did not get anything from
Hillary Clinton. His wife as a political candidate got about $500,000 from
PAC controlled by the then governor of Virginia, having nothing to do with
About the president in explaining his position on the deputy director of
the FBI can tell lies that just sail right through.
FRUM: Can we also stress that Andrew McCabe’s wife was a person in her own
right, was her own life, was running for state office.
FRUMP: – state office where they deal with, you know, snow removal. The
Virginia state budget whether or not houses should we tax more and cars tax
less. Those are the issues of Virginia – roads, highways, whether or not
there should be a subway that opens in the parking lot of Dulles Airport,
all the way inside Dulles Airport. Those are the issues in the Virginia
state legislature. They have nothing to do with the work of the FBI.
LITMAN: And the biggest lie of all, Lawrence, at the time when she was
running, he wasn’t had nothing to do with the Clinton investigation in the
FBI. It wasn’t until after the election that he took the reins at all.
Harry, David, Julia, thanks all of you. We really appreciate you being
FRUM: Thank you.
O’DONNELL: Coming up: Republicans took a major step in their attack on the
Mueller investigation today by deciding to release that classified material
that the Republican staff of the House Intelligence Committee has simply
And later, President Trump promised he would save people’s jobs especially
save those jobs at the Carrier manufacturing plant in Indiana. One worker
at that plant whose job was not saved feels betrayed. She will join us.
O’DONNELL: – that is the Trump strategy with the special prosecutor, and
that is the House Republican strategy with the investigation of President
Trump: shoot the messenger, not evaluate the evidence just attack where the
evidence comes from and that is what a memo written by the Republican staff
at the House Intelligence Committee apparently does.
The Republicans on the committee voted tonight to release that memo and
make it public because they apparently believe that it will show that a
FISA court judge was not fully informed about why the Justice Department
and the FBI wanted a warrant that would allow that it – allow them to put
Trump campaign advisor Carter Page under surveillance.
The Justice Department has told the committee that they believe it is
extraordinarily reckless – that’s their words – extraordinarily reckless
to release a memo that uses classified information.
The Democratic staff of the committee has written a counter memo that
provides context and explanations that are left out of the Republican memo,
the Democrats voted to release that memo, but the Republican majority the
committee voted to keep the Democrats memos secret.
Congressman Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the committee, just told
Rachel Maddow in the last hour that he believes today the committee crossed
a line. And here is what Congressman Schiff said right after the committee
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA), RANKING MEMBER, HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: In
my view, when you have a deeply flawed person in the Oval Office, that flaw
can infect the whole of government and it’s a today, tragically, it
infected our committee.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O’DONNELL: Joining us now, Charlie Savage, Pulitzer Prize-winning national
security and legal reporter for “The New York Times” and on MSNBC
contributor. Also with us, Ron Klain, former chief of staff to Vice
Presidents Joe Biden and Al Gore and a former senior aide to President
Obama and the former chief counsel to the Senate Judiciary Committee.
And, Charlie, I am confused about two things and how can Devin Nunes as
chairman of that committee who has refused himself from matters involving
this investigation suddenly just dip in and out of that committee and
decide to exercise his powers as chairman whenever he feels like it as he
apparently did today on this vote? How does he do that and why do the
Republican members go along with that?
CHARLIE SAVAGE, NATIONAL SECURIYT LEGAL REPORTER, THE NEW YORK TIMES:
Well, there was a – it seems like there was always less than meet the eye
to Devin Nunes’ recusal from the Russia investigation and what is he was up
to. He sort of said he was going to do that and then he kept on clearly
meddling in it and running it, and now, he’s clearly the hidden hand behind
him – not so hidden hand behind all of this.
Another thing interesting that was said in on the Rachel Maddow last hour
by Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on that committee, was that some of the
Republicans were clearly being strong-armed into going along with this and
then we would see that when we see the transcript. So, that’s something
I’m definitely looking forward to reading.
O’DONNELL: Yes. And, Ron Klain, that mystifies me too. I mean how do you
strong-arm a Republican who thinks this is unwise? What is the basis?
I mean you you’ve worked on a committee where you have to put you try to
get a vote that you don’t have even on your own side. I’ve worked on two
committees where I tried to get votes on my side of the committee that I
struggle to get. I can’t imagine what pressures you would bring on a vote
RON KLAIN, FORMER CHIEF COUNSEL TO SENATE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: Yes, and
you know, it’s especially ironic here in this committee, the intelligence
committee. As you know, Lawrence, these committees on the House and Senate
side were set up in the 1970s as a check on presidential excess and they’re
probably the least partisan committees in the Congress they’ve stood up to
presidents in the last administration. These committees stood up to
president Obama even the Democratic members stood up to President Obama.
And so, now, to see all these Republicans essentially throw off the guise
of oversight and put on the Trump MAGA hat and basically do his bidding on
a political matter. It’s shocking development and it really – it
represents a real turning point in the history of these committees and then
their role in having some kind of accountability and checks and balances in
O’DONNELL: Charlie, your newspapers reporting that Rod Rosenstein could be
the real target of this memo because he approved extending the surveillance
on the former Trump campaign official and the Republican staff of the
committee is finding fault it seems in the memo with the underlying
elements of that request to extend that surveillance.
SAVAGE: That’s right. I think it’s – we, of course, we haven’t seen the
memo yet and it sounds like we’re going to see it pretty soon. But our
understanding of it is that its essence is that the Justice Department used
information from Christopher Steele of the famous steel dossier in the
affidavit that went along with the FISA application and did not adequately
explain to the judge that he was working for Democrats when he was
gathering that information, even if he had been a reliable source before.
And from that – and we don’t know whether he just said, well, he was
working for someone opposed to Trump or was all the way but didn’t say it
was Democratic money or just didn’t say anything like that at all. But
that’s the essence of the complaint and it suggests that the whole thing is
draped in scandal that this was this sort of furthers this narrative that a
cabal of zealous anti-Trump FBI officials, Justice Department officials
conspired to create this under false pretenses and set the whole Russia
investigation into motion.
But I think the most significant part of it, as far as we understand it
now, is that it then goes on to say and in 2017, Rod Rosenstein, now the
newly installed Trump administration deputy attorney general, signed off on
extending the surveillance, which meant he resubmitted and put his name on
resubmitting the same information. And so, if it is indeed a firing
offense, a terrible thing to have put steal information in this FISA
application, Rod Rosenstein is the man standing between Trump and Robert
Mueller is now squarely in the crossfires here.
O’DONNELL: And we’re getting some NBC news reporting on this right now
from the White House, indicating an official at the White House saying that
no decision regarding the memo, its contents and possible release is
planned before the State of the Union. So, the White House is going to
review this memo and decide whether they approve – whether the president
approves of the release of it, but not until after the State of the Union.
Ron Klain, that certainly makes sense if it was released before the State
of the Union. State of the Union would barely get covered tomorrow night,
so we could understand that. But, Ron, this notion of what is proper, to
put in front of a judge in – for any kind of FISA warrant, the idea that
the House of Representatives would decide what that is instead of the
prosecutors, the investigators, working on the case and the judge himself
or herself who considers that evidence, because the judge is not a passive
character in those hearings.
KLAIN: That’s right, Lawrence. And it’s no surprise to me now after
pounding the table on release the memo, release the memo, the White House
is having second thoughts about the timing. And here’s why because
whatever went wrong in the Justice Department’s application, if it did, to
get that FISA surveillance continued, they had to show that in the previous
exercises of that surveillance, they were getting useful information
showing that Carter Page was a Russian agent.
So, the judge would not have renewed that application if useful information
demonstrating that a Trump associate was a Russian agent wasn’t being
produced. So, maybe, maybe there was some Keystone Kop action here, but
there are also some Keystone criminals here as well. And I think that will
not reflect very well on President Trump when that side of the information
O’DONNELL: Ron Klain, Charlie Savage, thank you both for joining us
tonight. I really appreciate it.
KLAIN: Thanks, Lawrence.
O’DONNELL: Coming up next, an article of impeachment has been written.
That’s what David Leonhardt wrote today in his “New York Times” column, an
article of impeachment against Donald J. Trump. David Leonhardt joins us
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICHARD NIXON, 37th U.S. PRESIDENT: And I want you to know that I have no
intention whatever of ever walking away from the job that the people
elected me to do for the people of the United States.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LAWRENCE O’DONNELL, MSNBC ANCHOR: And seven months later he walked away
from the job that the people elected him to do. And he got on that
helicopter and left Washington, left the white house, the presidency. And
he walked away because the House Judiciary Committee voted to approve three
articles of impeachment against President Richard Nixon. Republicans
Senators convinced Nixon that he would be convicted after a trial in the
And so Nixon resigned instead of facing all of that. The first article of
impeachment against Richard Nixon was for Obstruction of Justice. It
specified nine actions the President took that constituted obstruction of
justice. The vote on that article of impeachment was 27-11. All 21
Democrats on the committee voting in favor of that article of impeachment,
along with six Republicans voting in favor of that article of impeachment
but 11 Republicans voted against it.
In fact, most Republicans on the committee voted against each one of the
three articles of impeachment. So although Republicans were not in lock
step defense of the Republican President, if Republicans controlled the
House of Representatives then, it is not clear that the articles of
impeachment would have even come to a vote.
In today’s New York Times, David Leonhardt used his op-ed page column to
write an article of impeachment against Donald J. Trump. He modeled it on
that first article of impeachment against Richard Nixon saying the
President prevented obstruction – obstructed and impeded the
administration of justice. The items in this article of impeachment
against Donald J. Trump include, according to David Leonhardt, one asking
FBI Director James Comey for a pledge of loyalty, two on February 14th,
2017 ordering other officials to leave the oval office so there would be no
witnesses when he told the FBI Director to, “let this go” meaning drop the
investigation of Michael Flynn. Three, March 22nd directing other other
officials to leave the room so he could ask privately the Director of
National Intelligence and CIA Director to persuade the FBI Director to drop
the investigation of Flynn.
Four, in March and April telling the FBI Director to lift the cloud of the
investigation. Five, on May 9th firing the FBI James Comey. Six, on may
17th accusing the Attorney General of disloyalty for allowing a Special
Prosecutor to be appointed. Seven, in June ordering the firing of the
Special Prosecutor. Eight, on July 8th aboard Air Force One composing a
false statement for the New York Times for his son Donald Trump Jr. about a
meeting in Trump Tower with Russians during the campaign. Nine on July
26th, attempting to discredited FBI officials including the FBI’ Deputy
Director Andrew McCabe who could be a corroborating witness for James
Comey’s conversation with the president.
10, and this is language taken directly from the Nixon’s articule of
impeachment “making false or misleading public statements for the purpose
of deceiving the people of the United States. Joining us now the author of
that article of impeachment David Leonhardt an op-ed for the New York
Times. David, oit was fascinating to read and fascinating to see the
modeling you were able to do with these previous articles of impeachment,
including a similar obstruction of justice article of impeachment against
DAVID LEONHARDT, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: It’s an exhausting list isn’t?
LEONHARDT: Just to think about it and to realize. That’s what we know
Lawrence because that’s what been in the media. I am – I would think is
more likely than not that there are also instances of obstruction that we
don’t yet know. But that Bob Mueller might know about.
O’DONNELL: Yes. And when you see some of these elements, including lying
to the American people, it seems like the – certainly in the House of
Representatives they were – they were certainly using a much higher
standard of behavior than this Republican House of Representatives is so
far applying to this President.
LEONHARDT: That’s right. And one of the things I say at the beginning of
the column is look impeachment is a hard subject because I don’t think
talking about impeachment is actually a great political strategy for the
Democrats. I don’t think it persuades a lot of independent and swing
voters. And Republicans clearly aren’t going to do it.
So there’s this question of why even talk about it. I think it’s important
to talk about it simply on the merits because as you say I think Donald
Trump’s behavior clears the bar where serious conversation of impeachment
is the right thing for us to be doing even if it’s not a political strategy
or even if it’s not going to any time soon given how much House Republicans
have lined up behind President Trump.
O’DONNELL: Yeah and at this point in what became the Nixon impeachment
process, no one was really advocating impeachment a year into that
Watergate Investigation. And during his state of the union address when
President Nixon after a year of this Watergate investigation said you know
a year and Rachel showed this tape earlier tonight. A year of this
investigation is enough. He got big applause in half of that room that
night from the Republicans at least who had no expectation of going into an
LEONHARDT: Look partisanship is a heck of a drug, right? And it’s a heck
of a drug on both sides. Like you I’ve been disappointed by how
Congressional Republicans have chosen the rule of Trump over the rule of
law. But in some ways if you look at the history of this country, the idea
that they would defend a President of their own party is not shocking.
And I think you’re making the point there which is really important just
because this hasn’t happened so far, just because people haven’t flipped on
Trump so far, those of us who are deeply alarmed by what he’s doing, the
way he’s flouting the law again and again should not give up. It’s
important to continue pointing out what’s going on here because at some
point some of his support could start to weaken.
O’DONNELL: Another interesting point, if we were to go back to this point
in the Watergate Investigation, no New York Times op-ed columnist could
possibly have written a nine count article of impeachment for obstruction
of justice because that kind of information just didn’t exist publicly at
this point in the investigation.
LEONHARDT: No. And look it’s a real I’m not an investigative reporter.
I’m a columnist. It’s a real testament to the investigative reporters at
the Washington Post and my colleagues at the New York Times and people at
NBC News and many other places. There’s just a whole of great journalism
going on there. One of the things that struck me when doing this is that
actually even with just the publicly available information we are able to
put together much more details of what appears to be Trump’s obstruction
than the Nixon articles were able to put together about his obstruction.
Watergate as a crime looks like it was worse based on what we know than
what happened between Trump campaign and Russia. But the details of the
cover up and the President’s own involvement at this point looks like it’s
more detailed than worse in this case than it was back then.
O’DONNELL: Yes. There are these moments where on the Nixon tapes where
he’s trying to scheme out, what could if we could get the CIA to tell the
FBI to back off and they could never quite pull that off. And here you
have this President very directly asking the CIA to tell the FBI to back
off One of Nixon’s problems on the tapes you’ll hear is who should we get
to ask the CIA to do this. Trump skips that step. He does it himself.
LEONHARDT: Right. That’s exactly right. And I think part of what’s
important here is look obstruction of justice cases are really hard and
against a President you wouldn’t bring a criminal case. My reading based
on the legal experts I’ve talked to is you do not indict a sitting
President. The remedy for a sitting President whose broken the law is
impeachment not criminal charges. There’s some debate about that.
But I think the weight of the evidence is you don’t charge a sitting
President. And so but you use some of the same standards that criminal law
uses and for obstruction of justice you have to show intent. And what’s so
important about what we know about Trump is there so many is there’s so
much evidence of his intent. When he’s clearing the room, when he’s
telling people to leave the room, that shows what legal experts call a
When he is blatantly lying and telling his son to blatantly lie, that shows
a corrupt intent. And so you can never get inside someone’s head but boy
President Trump has left us a very long trail of evidence that points
extremely strongly toward a corrupt intent.
O’DONNELL: Yes. That point you made this morning in the article when I
read it about clearing the room, I don’t know why I hadn’t focused on that
before. But that is one of the biggest indicators of intent in this entire
flow of information, really, really important point. David Leonhardt thank
you for joining us tonight, really appreciate it.
LEONHARDT: Thanks for having me, Lawrence.
O’DONNELL: My next guest voted for Donald Trump. She voted for Donald
Trump because he promised to save her job. And now she says she feels
O’DONNELL: My next guest voted for Donald Trump for President. Here is
what Candidate Trump said that made her vote for Donald Trump for
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, UNITED STATES PRESIDENT: We’re going to bring jobs back.
We’re not going to let Carrier come in and just go to Mexico. So here’s
what’s going to happen within 24 hours I’ll get a call, the head of Carrier
and he’ll say Mr. President, we decided to stay in the United States, all
right. That’s what’s going to happen. 100 percent, by the way 100
If I were in the office right now carrier would not be leaving Indiana that
I could tell you. That I could tell you. We’re not going to let Carrier
leave. We’re going to do numbers. There are consequences when you leave and
we’ll talk about Carrier because say what you want, Indiana, I’ve been
talking about Carrier now for four months.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O’DONNELL: Talking about Carrier, that’s what did it. That’s what locked
in Rene Elliott’s vote for Donald Trump because Rene Elliott was working at
Carrier and was worried about carrier moving her job to Mexico. A month
after he won the election. President Trump elect triumphantly returned to
Carrier where he was greeted by many a as a hero for saving their jobs
before he even took the Oath of Office.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: The United Technologies and Carrier stepped it up and now they’re
keeping – actually, the number is over 1,100 people, which is so great.
Over 1,100 jobs. And by way that number is going to go up substantially as
they expand this area, this plant. So the 1,100 is going to be a minimum
number. They’re not going to leave this country and the workers are going
to keep their jobs. These companies are not going to be leaving anymore.
They’re not going to be taking people’s hearts out.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O’DONNELL: But that’s what Carrier did. Carrier went ahead with it’s plan
to move hundreds of jobs to Mexico and as Donald Trump would put it rip
people’s hearts out. Trump voter Rene Elliott was one of those people who
lost their job. She now says she feels forgotten and betrayed. Former
carrier worker Rene Elliott will join us next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Anybody from Carrier? We love you. Do you like Trump? How long
have you worked for Carrier? 10 years. How about you? 17 years. All
right, stick with me, fellas. Don’t worry.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O’DONNELL: That was Candidate Trump promising to save jobs at a Carrier
Manufacturing Plant in Indianapolis. Joining us Rene Elliott who use to
work in that Carrier Manufacturing Plant in Indianapolis but has been laid
off and is now unemployed. Rene first of all thank you very much for
joining us tonight. You’ve – in another interview you told NBC News you
told NBC News that you voted for Donald Trump and felt betrayed and
forgotten as one of the people laid off by Carrier. When were you laid off?
RENE ELLIOTT, FMR. CARRIER EMPLOYEE: Good evening and thank you for having
me Lawrence. I was laid off January 11th.
O’DONNELL: And did you believe your job was saved based on what you were
hearing in the campaign?
ELLIOTT: Yes, absolutely. We all believed our jobs were going to be
O’DONNELL: When the President came to Carrier when he was President-elect,
Chuck Jones, the Head of the steel Workers Union there came on this program
that week and he said the President lied when he was at Carrier and that
Chuck Jones was trying to explain to members, that, no, hundreds of workers
were still going to lose their jobs. Was that a confusing time?
ELLIOTT: Yes, it was. This whole situation has been like a roller coaster
for us. You know when they first announced they were moving to Mexico, we
had to come to the realization that the plant was closing totally. And
then to be given hope again you know by President-Elect Trump at the time
you know it really – we thought it was going to be fixed, he was going to
make a huge difference, but he didn’t. He saved jobs, yes, but he didn’t
save you know thousands of jobs.
O’DONNELL: And then in Tweet because Chuck Jones had said that publicly.
He then started attacking Chuck Jones in Tweets. And he said in one tweet
if United Steel workers 1999 was any good they would have kept those jobs
in Indiana, spend more time working, less time talking. So Rene, he ended
up in that tweet blaming the workers for losing their own jobs.
ELLIOTT: I know. And that was really heart wrenching as well because we
worked hard. We worked very hard in there. And gave them 110 percent even
though we were informed from the beginning you know the plant was going to
close of its entirety. So we still showed up every day and gave them 100
percent even after hearing that. So for him to blame the workers when he
was going to save the workers is kind of contradicting, I think.
O’DONNELL: What would you want to say to the president if he came back to
ELLIOTT: I would ask him why he felt compelled to give us all false hope.
Why he hasn’t issued a statement publicly or privately now that this has
happened, why did he not hold Courier accountable or United Technologies
Carrier accountable for their actions. Why did they receive 15 you know
contracts from the Federal Government including him and even after agreed
to send over a 1,000 jobs including mine overseas.
O’DONNELL: And what are your prospects now? Do you have any leads for any
ELLIOTT: I put out resumes everywhere. And hopefully there’s a company out
there that will hire someone that’s dependable, reliable you know that will
work hard and just wants to you know make it in life, doesn’t want to –
you know I want to work. I don’t want no one to hand me anything. You
know what I mean just an opportunity.
O’DONNELL: The President seems to think that you are – I don’t mean to
say you in particular, but people out of work and not finding work are
complainers or they’re not trying hard enough. In your case he actually
did blame, you the workers there, for Carrier not keeping the jobs there in
INDIANAPOLIS. Do you think the President understands how hard it is for
someone like you in a situation like this?
ELLIOTT: No, I don’t think he sees the big picture in terms of you know
they didn’t give us a large package for us to be sustained for more than a
week or two. I’ve never filed for unemployment. I’ve always worked, and
I’ve worked two jobs sometimes you know. I feel like he doesn’t truly
grasps, same as he didn’t grasp the fact we didn’t make air-conditioners.
We make furnaces. So you know he doesn’t understand fully I don’t think
the impact and the devastation and what it has done. You know, we’re lost
you know. And like I said, a lot of us showed up avenue day and gave it
110 percent even though we knew of the possibly of the plant closing and
then to get false hope our jobs could be saved, even up to the end you know
we still thought it was going to happen.
O’DONNELL: Rene Elliot I’m sorry you’re out work and struggling and wish
you real luck out there in the job market. Hope something happens soon.
ELLIOTT: Thank you so much. And I want to thank Good Jobs Nation for
keeping it out there and thank you so much for having me.
O’DONNELL: Thank you, rene, really appreciate it.
ELLIOTT: Have a great evening. The 11th hour with Brian Williams is
coming up at 11 o’clock because it is impossible for us to cover
everything we need to cover in just this one hour. And Brian is joining us
now with a word of what’s coming up in the next hour. Brian when I settle
into my easy chair what am I going to learn?
BRIAN WILLIAMS, 11th HOUR ANCHOR: Well, also we don’t get to talk because
our drummers start off our broadcast and they’re in here and we pay them
every night. And we feel terrible about it. Lawrence, we’re going to slip
into the conversation the fact that the new round of Russia sanctions is
not getting put into place tonight. We’re going to talk with a member of
the House Intel Committee about this memorandum and the hubbub around it.
We’re going to talk about the dynamic when the President walks into that
house chamber tomorrow night and so many of the sets of eyes looking back
are part of the investigation of him and Russia. And Chris Matthews is
going to be here with us tonight to talk about the dynamic of a speech that
could be successful. Also the New York Times reporting on Melania Trump.
We have a lot. We have enough to fill an hour, enough to fill 90 minutes
without even breaking a sweat.
O’DONNELL: A bunch of stuff we didn’t cover. I’ll be watching. Thank you
WILLIAMS: Thank you.
O’DONNELL: I really appreciate it. Thank you. Tonight’s Last Word is
O’DONNELL: Congressman John Lewis, Congresswoman Frederica Wilson and
eight other Democrats so far, possibly more will be boycotting the State of
the Union Address tomorrow night. That is an announcement that I have never
made before any other State of the Union address but such as it is in the
age of Trump. That’s tonight’s Last Word. The 11th Hour with Brian
Williams starts now.
WILLIAMS: The breaking news were covering tonight
Copy: Content and programming copyright 2018 MSNBC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
Copyright 2018 ASC Services II Media, LLC. All materials herein are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of ASC Services II Media, LLC. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content.