Trump lawyer pushed DOJ conspiracies. TRANSCRIPT: 03/19/2018. The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell
Show: THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O’DONNELL
Date: March 19, 2018
Guest: Kurt Andersen, David Cay Johnston, David Jolly, David Wasserman
LAWRENCE O’DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Rachel.
And as soon as I heard about the scheduling this March, I said to our
producers, let’s do a Friday night show in Washington, the night before the
march. Since then, as you know, the network has planned full day of
coverage and I’ll be doing a Saturday night show in Washington covering the
This one, I think we can tell, even from this distance, is going to be
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST, “TRMS”: Yes, and it’s not just a matter of it
being big. It’s about it being really, really salient and emotionally
resonant and otherwise politically important at this moment.
O’DONNELL: Yes, and we’ve never seen this kind of gathering in – on this
MADDOW: Well, yes – and I mean, yes, and the fact that it’s the kids from
Parkland who have been so incredibly astute and articulate and fierce about
pulling this thing together, at a moment when the country is not quite
ready to give up hope on this story – on this subject. Those kids just
injected so much more energy into this debate. To see Florida actually
take action – Florida of all places, the laboratory the NRA – they’ve
already – they’ve already obtained results these kids. And so, to take it
nationwide with this march this week, it’s going to be a big deal.
O’DONNELL: Thanks, Rachel.
MADDOW: Thanks, Lawrence.
O’DONNELL: So when we last got together for THE LAST WORD at 10:00 p.m. on
Friday night, Jeff Sessions, who was exposed by Al Franken for not telling
the truth in his confirmation hearing, fired Andrew McCabe for not telling
the truth. And then yesterday, we discovered that three unnamed sources
now say Jeff Sessions did not tell the truth when he told the House
Judiciary Committee that he pushed back against Trump campaign adviser
George Papadopoulos in a campaign meeting when Papadopoulos suggested
reaching out to Russia for help during the Trump presidential campaign.
It would be nice when you’re firing someone for not telling the truth to
have never been publicly caught not telling the truth yourself. But that’s
just about impossible for anyone working in the administration of the
greatest liar in the history of the presidency, the most relentless, non-
stop, pathological liar in the history of American politics and government,
We still don’t know why Andrew McCabe was fired, we do know that the
president wanted him fired and publicly urged that he’d be fired,
campaigned for months to have him fired. And we do know that the president
did that without having any evidence that Andrew McCabe should be fired.
And we now know that the inspector general who did not share his evidence
with the president, the inspector general of the Justice Department
recommended that Andrew McCabe be fired last week but we have not seen the
inspector general’s report yet, so we don’t know exactly what the expect
inspector general found.
It apparently involved how Andrew McCabe dealt with reporters, and the
possibility that he was not being completely truthful about how he provided
information to a reporter. McCabe says that the inspector general
misinterpreted his answers about that.
In a written statement as we reported Friday night, Andrew McCabe said:
Here is the reality, I am being singled out and treated this way because of
the role I played, the actions I took, and the events I witnessed in the
aftermath of the firing of James Comey.
Andrew McCabe is a witness in the special prosecutors investigation of the
president’s possible obstruction of justice. The president’s firing of FBI
Director James Comey is one of the central elements if not the proof of an
obstruction of justice case against the president. This weekend, we
learned that just like James Comey before him, Andrew McCabe made notes of
his discussions with the president when he was the acting FBI director.
When that was reported on Saturday, the president tweeted: Spent very
little time with Andrew McCabe, but he never took notes when he was with
me. I don’t believe he made memos except to help his own agenda, probably
at a later date. Same with lying James Comey. Can we call them fake
No, we can’t call them fake memos. They are called memos of conversations
and they are very common at the highest levels of government. Mem con,
that’s what those memos have been called for decades.
I first learned about mem cons when I was working for Senator Daniel
Patrick Moynihan. After we had a meeting in the Oval Office with the
president, Senator Moynihan immediately sat down and typed a mem con when
we got back to the Senate office. He explained that he had been doing that
since he first went to work in President Kennedy’s administration.
Senator Moynihan was in the cabinet and sub cabinet of four presidents,
Democrat and Republican, and wrote a mem con after every conversation he
had with every president. Those presidents all knew that that is what
experienced people in government do. They make memos of their important
conversations, usually immediately after the fact of the conversation.
Donald Trump first discovered this practice when it became public that
James Comey did that. I can guarantee him that people in his White House
did it today and are doing it every day as soon as they leave the Oval
Office. They are making a record of what the president said which they
will then use in their memoirs if not before, even though we discovered
through Ruth Marcus’s extraordinary reporting in “The Washington Post” that
the Trump White House personnel are the first in history who have been
required to sign non-disclosure agreements.
That is a hopelessly unenforceable attempt by Donald Trump to carry on the
use of non-disclosure agreements that he required for everyone working in
his business and that he apparently required for every woman that he met at
golf tournaments, like Stormy Daniels. There is something exquisitely
Trumpian in the fact that Donald Trump is the only president in history who
has asked his White House staff to sign non-disclosure agreements, and he
has the most talkative, leaking staff in the history of the White House.
Andrew McCabe’s memos of his conversations with the president, as well as
James Comey’s memos of his conversations with the president are important
exhibits in Robert Mueller’s investigation, which has clearly focused on
possible obstruction of justice by the president.
This weekend, “The New York Times” reported that Mr. Mueller is said to
have sent questions to Mr. Trump’s legal team as part of negotiations over
an interview with the president. Mr. Mueller is seeking the interview
according to two people close to the White House in order in order to ask
follow-up questions but put forward the list as a start.
The questions seem to have made the president a bit uncomfortable, if
you’re reading his mood from Twitter. On Saturday, he tweeted, Robert
Mueller’s name for the first time, the Mueller probe should never have been
started in that there was no collusion and there was no crime. It was
based on fraudulent activities in a fake dossier paid for by crooked
Hillary and the DNC, and improperly used in FISA court for surveillance of
my campaign. Witch hunt, exclamation point.
That was not the tweet of a man who is confident he has done nothing wrong
and has nothing to worry about in the investigation. Today, “The
Washington Post” reported that President Trump’s attorneys have provided
the special counsel’s office with written descriptions that chronicle key
moments under investigation in hopes of curtailing the scope of a
presidential interview, according to two people familiar with the
And CNN.com is reporting tonight that Trump’s lawyers had a meeting last
week about the case. Quote: Both sides sat down last week in a rare face-
to-face discussion about the topics investigators could inquire of the
president. It was the first in-person meeting after several weeks of
informal discussions between the two sides, according to two sources
familiar with the talks.
A well-placed source familiar with the meeting tells NBC News that this
sort of meeting actually happens regularly. The president has hired a new
lawyer and like the rest of the president’s legal team, the new hire is
nowhere near the top of the list of Washington lawyers for cases like this.
Joe diGenova is a familiar face to cable news watchers and he has been
commenting on legal affairs on television much more than he has been
handling them in courtrooms. Here is his view of the investigation of the
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE DIGENOVA, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: There was a brazen plot to illegally
exonerate Hillary Clinton and if she didn’t win the election, to then frame
Donald Trump with a falsely created crime. Everything that we have seen
from these texts and from all the facts developing shows that the FBI and
senior DOJ officials conspired to violate the law and to deny Donald Trump
his civil rights.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O’DONNELL: Joining us now, Barbara McQuade, former federal prosecutor and
a professor of law at the University of Michigan. She’s also an NBC News
and MSNBC legal contributor.
David Cay Johnston is with us, Pulitzer Prize winning journalist who
founded DCreport.org, he’s the author of the new book “It’s Even Worse Than
You Think: What the Trump administration is Doing to America”.
And Michael Isikoff, chief investigative correspondent for Yahoo News and
co-author of the new book “Russian Roulette: The Inside Story of Putin’s
War on America and the Election of Donald Trump”.
And, Michael, I’d like you to respond to what you just heard from the
latest member, the newest member of the Trump legal team that all of this
is a violation of the president’s civil rights.
MICHAEL ISIKOFF, CHIEF INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT, YAHOO NEWS: It seems
totally in sync with the president’s tweet, doesn’t it?
ISIKOFF: Not a surprise that he would reach out to Joe diGenova. Look,
the way I interpret this, everybody’s looked at this as, is he going to
fire Mueller and you hear contradictory things. John Dowd says, yes, you
know then Ty Cobb comes up with, no, we tend to fully cooperate.
You could take all of this, the president’s tweets, the hiring of diGenova,
and reach the conclusion that the real strategy here is to put down these
conditions for the interview say, well, we the lawyers will write the
answers, Mueller’s not going to accept that. You know, he’s a – he’s a
prosecutor he’s not going to accept what the defense lawyers right out.
So, he will push. At that point, Trump says no, my lawyers have told you
what they’re going to say, you know, take it or leave it.
What’s Mueller’s option? Subpoena. What’s Trump’s option? He could cave
or he more likely will say, no, I’m not going to accede to the subpoena.
We’ll take it to court, drag this out to court.
He doesn’t have to fire Mueller but what he is doing is laying the
groundwork to delegitimize Mueller and resist a Mueller subpoena, and that
puts this into the realm of the courts to slug it out, does, you know,
Mueller have the adequate criminal predicate to prevail. Ultimately, this
goes to the Supreme Court, where Trump probably figures he’s got the upper
So, he doesn’t have to fire Mueller to adopt a strategy that basically
says, you know, forget it, Mueller, I’m not cooperating, let it – you
know, let’s let this play out, drags it out for quite some time.
O’DONNELL: Barbara, on the – on the delay Mueller, instead of fire
Mueller strategy that Michael just laid out, which sounds very convincing,
how long would the delay Mueller strategy work?
BARBARA MCQUADE, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Yes, it’s a very interesting theory
and may very well explain what’s going on. I don’t think it would work for
a long period of time. You know, ordinarily when a case works its way all
the way up to the Supreme Court, it can take a year or more to work through
that process. But in a case like this, the Supreme Court does have the
ability to go on a very expedited docket when it is in the public interest
to do – to do so.
We’ve seen that with respect to the travel ban. We saw that in the U.S. v.
Nixon case. And so, I think they could get there – the case together
within a matter of weeks or months and not years. So, I think he could
delay it for some period of time, but I don’t think it could be a lengthy
O’DONNELL: David, “The New York Times” wrote a story about eight days ago
indicating that that Donald Trump was considering hiring more lawyers. He
then tweeted furiously, saying the failing “New York Times” purposely wrote
a false story, stating, I’m unhappy with my legal team on the Russia case
and I’m going to add another lawyer to help out – wrong, I am very happy
with my lawyers, John Dowd, Ty Cobb, Jay Sekulow, they are doing a great
And, of course, that tweet turns out to be a complete lie. What do you
make of the latest addition to the Trump legal team?
DAVID CAY JOHNSTON, FOUNDER, DCREPORT.ORG: Well, yes, it’s almost like a
schoolyard game of, you know, do the opposite so when Donald deny something
JOHNSTON: – it’s not true, you’re going to see the opposite.
You know, Michael Isikoff’s theory is very intriguing. Let me offer
another one from having reviewed some of the documents today. It’s also
possible that one of the strategies they’re thinking about is to let
Mueller continue his work and provide him with his minimal information as
they can possibly get away with.
But Mueller’s job is to file a report. If they get rid of Rob Rosenstein
and put in someone who was friendly to Trump, that report could just be
buried and we will never see it. They might even physically destroy the
report. Thank you. We’ve received the report, we’ve read it, and then
they put it in a shredder.
O’DONNELL: Michael, the idea that firing McCabe is – was a kind of let’s
test the waters, let’s see how firing feels publicly, the difference is
that there’s an inspector general’s report that we have not yet seen, that
we are all waiting to see. I’m reserving judgment on what this is about
until I see that.
ISIKOFF: As we should.
O’DONNELL: As we should. But it seems like you’re going to have trouble
trying to reproduce that kind of element in in other firings, an actual
inspector general’s recommendation.
ISIKOFF: Right. And I’m not sure the inspector general necessarily
recommended the fire. Inspector general made his findings, Michael
O’DONNELL: The attorney general seems to have said that he recommended it.
ISIKOFF: Well, certainly, the FBI Office of Professional Responsibility
recommended firing based on the conclusions. But look, the problem is that
Trump tainted the whole process –
ISIKOFF: – by then attacking McCabe and making it seem like this was the
outcome he wanted so that even if the people in the Justice Department
thought they were doing the right thing, they basically got sabotaged by
the boss who made it look political. So, in some respects, Trump, you
know, shot himself in the foot here, because, you know, he undermined what
could have been an advantage for him to have McCain fired by, you know,
career professionals in the Justice Department, although it was obviously
Sessions who made the final decision.
But then if you go back to what I think the larger strategy here which is
to delegitimize everything to do with the Mueller investigation, you know,
it wasn’t so – it wasn’t such a bad move because to the extent that you
can raise questions about McCabe and McCabe is a potential witness on any
obstruction charge he’s accomplished his goal.
So, I think this all fits back with theory I was saying before, which is
delegitimize everything to do with Mueller and then resist. You don’t have
to fire him, just resists.
O’DONNELL: Barb McQuade, when will we see the inspector general’s report?
MCQUADE: I think I’ve read that it may be coming out within a couple of
weeks, but I think that’s one of the points that’s really extraordinary
here ordinarily you get the report and then you make the decision and the
public decision about the firing. And so, I agree with Michael and David
that the firing does appear to be spiteful and vindictive and an effort to
discredit Andrew McCabe, a potential witness in the obstruction of justice
case, to fire him, you know, what 26 hours before his 50th birthday so that
he cannot collect his pension, you know, strikes me as very extraordinary.
But I think we’re expecting within about a – you know, two weeks that
it’ll come out, it’s not ready yet. And so, the decision should have
waited until the report is ready.
O’DONNELL: David, you’ve been studying Trump longer than the rest of us
for decades now. There’s a tweet this morning where he says, a total witch
hunt with massive conflicts of interests, exclamation point, and that’s it.
That’s the whole tweet it’s just this burst.
If you’re judging – well, let me ask you, do you think it’s it that it
actually does work to judge Trump’s moods on Twitter – actually use
Twitter to judge how he’s feeling?
JOHNSTON: Yes, to some degree, absolutely and in this particular tweet
this morning, you know, Donald keeps wanting to call this a witch-hunt
because as Michael said, he wants to delegitimize the process here. You
know, we have someone who his whole life has thumbed his nose at the law,
broken the all sorts of different laws and paid almost no price for it
throughout his life, and look where it’s gotten him.
So, we shouldn’t expect that he will change his behavior in any way because
this has always worked for him. If there’s clarity, muddy the waters.
That’s a fundamental Donald principle. If someone is investigating you,
turn around and attack them, something Roy Cohn taught him to do. And
we’re going to see this ramped up now.
But he – look at the success he’s had. All of the key people in the FBI
investigation, Comey and his top team, have been vanquished at this point
you terms of their ability to carry out the functions they had at the – at
the FBI. Now, they may come back to haunt him as witnesses later, but he’s
vanquished them for the moment.
O’DONNELL: David Cay Johnston, Barbara McQuade, Michael Isikoff, thank you
all for joining us really appreciate.
A Republican senator says if the president fires the special prosecutor, it
will be the end of his presidency. And another Republican senator says it
would be the stupidest thing any president has ever done.
And who threatened Stormy Daniels? That has been the question since Friday
when Stormy Daniels lawyer first said on MSNBC that she has been
threatened. Tonight, one of Trumps lawyers is saying it wasn’t him.
O’DONNELL: No one has gotten more wildly carried away in praising
President Trump than one of the oldest members of the United States Senate,
Republican Orrin Hatch. He actually said that Donald Trump is going to be
the greatest president ever. But today, Orrin Hatch said Donald Trump is
capable of being the stupidest president ever, when Senator Hatch was asked
about the possibility of the president firing the special prosecutor.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. ORRIN HATCH (R), UTAH: Because I think it would be the stupidest
thing anybody could do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O’DONNELL: And here’s Senator Lindsey Graham yesterday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: If he tried to do that, that
would be the beginning of the end of his presidency, because we’re rule of
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O’DONNELL: Also yesterday, Trey Gowdy told Fox News viewers something they
aren’t used to hearing about President Trump.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. TREY GOWDY (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: Give Bob Mueller the time, the
independence and the resources to do the very job. Keep in mind, Chris, he
didn’t volunteer for this. He didn’t start waving his hand and say, hey,
pick me. A Trump nominated Rod Rosenstein is who picked Bob Mueller.
So, give him the time, the resources the independence to do his job, and
when you are innocent, if the allegation is collusion with the Russians,
and there is no evidence of that and you’re innocent of that, act like it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O’DONNELL: Arizona Senior Senator John McCain tweeted his support for
And last week, retiring Arizona Senator Jeff Flake went to New Hampshire
and openly talked about the possibility of challenging Donald Trump in the
primaries for the 2020 Republican presidential nomination.
And today, Senator Jeff Flake said this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JEFF FLAKE (R), ARIZONA: This is serious. Firing the special
prosecutor, you know, the leader may say, well, he’s not going to do that,
they’ve said they’re not going to do that. A couple of weeks ago, he said
he wasn’t firing Tillerson. So, I think that’s preemptively we ought to
say that again, don’t do it, don’t go there. That’s a redline you cannot
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O’DONNELL: Joining the discussion now, Noah Shachtman, executive editor of
“The Daily Beast”, and Barbara McQuade is back with us.
Noah, you have Lindsey graham I going to the ultimate spot there, which is
– this is the end of his presidency if he does that. Lindsey Graham then
at other moments expresses confidence that the president won’t do this.
NOAH SHACHTMAN, EXECUTIVE EDITOR, “THE DAILY BEAST”: Yes.
O’DONNELL: But it seems like Lindsey Graham is saying that on television
because he knows that’s the way for the president to hear it.
SHACHTMAN: Yes, look, it – of course, I mean, that’s the number one way
to get to the president these days, if it’s not through the Oval Office
door, it’s going to be on Fox News, and these guys are trying to send a
warning. The question is, is Trump going to hear it, right? I mean, they
warned him not to raise the debt a lot and you did that with the tax bill.
So, it’s a little hard to imagine that these warnings from guys like Graham
and Flake who aren’t really part of his posse are really going to sink in
O’DONNELL: Barbara, there’s a new report in “The Washington Post” tonight
saying that Donald Trump is not listening to some of the people in the
White House about any of this. It says Trump is not consulting with top
advisors including Chief of Staff John F. Kelly, and chief White House
lawyer Donald McGahn on his Russian legal choices or his comments about the
probe, according to one person with knowledge of his actions who spoke on
the condition of anonymity to describe sensitive conversations. He’s
instead watching television and calling friends, this person said.
And, Barbara, let’s just note for the record that this person spoke in
violation of the non-disclosure agreement this person apparently signed to
be employed in the White House. So much for those non-disclosure
agreements. But there it is, I mean, someone inside saying, look, I mean
he gets his thinking from this by watching TV.
MCQUADE: Yes, I think Donald Trump would be really a nightmare as a client
if you were his lawyer because he clearly does not take legal advice. I
think any lawyer or senior adviser would be telling him not to tweet about
these things, talk about what you’re going to do to solve the opioid
crisis, talk about your policies on tariffs. You know, those are the kinds
of things you should be focusing on. Every time you tweet and talk about
these things, you are providing potential statements and admissions that
can be used against you.
So, it’s really unwise I think in some ways, he just can’t help himself he
gets ramped up watching television and as you said talking to friends. But
he could use maybe some stronger advisors or lawyers to tell him just to
keep his mouth shut about this thing. If he is, you know, as he says,
innocent, let Robert Mueller run his course and exonerate him. He is so
highly respected that if Robert Mueller finds that there is no collusion, I
think the public will believe it.
O’DONNELL: Let’s listen to Trey Gowdy’s saying almost word-for-word what
Barbara McQuade just said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOWDY: Let it play out its course. If you’ve done nothing wrong, you
should want the investigation to be as fulsome and thorough as possible.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O’DONNELL: Of course, Noah, if Donald Trump’s watching that and he knows
he has done something wrong, that advice does him no good.
SHACHTMAN: Yes and –
O’DONNELL: That’s the advice for the person who’s done nothing wrong.
SHACHTMAN: Right, and he sure doesn’t seem like – he sure acting like
something went wrong here. And also I’ll note, Flake, Gowdy these are guys
that are on their way out the door so Trump may not take them quite as
And, Barbara, we know from Michael Wolff’s reporting in “Fire and Fury”
that Steve Bannon says that he – based on his exposure to all of this,
that he believes that there’s something there, that there’s something for
Donald Trump to be afraid of and his Twitter behavior certainly reads like
someone who’s afraid.
MCQUADE: Yes. You know, purely speculating here, but it seems that in
recent days the thing that has changed is we’ve seen this report that
Robert Mueller has subpoenaed the Trump Organization and it seems like that
has set off President Trump in terms of these escalating tweets and naming
Robert Mueller by name, maybe that is triggered some panic that, you know,
he has crossed his so-called red line and is looking into the finances of
the Trump Organization and maybe it’s there that he thinks he’s most
vulnerable and is now going on the attack.
O’DONNELL: Noah Shachtman and Barbara McQuade, thanks for joining the
discussion. I appreciate it.
The Trump associate who has publicly threatened people is now saying he’s
not the one who threatened Stormy Daniels.
LAWRENCE O’DONNELL: Here’s what Stormy Daniels’ lawyer said tonight when
Ari Melber asked him about the allegation that Stormy Daniels has been
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHAEL AVENATTI, STORMY DANIELS’ LAWYER: I didn’t allege that. I stated
it as a fact. i’m going to state it again today as a fact. it is not an
allegation. We have a lot of information, a lot of evidence, a lot of
documents that haven’t come to light yet, numerous pieces of evidence,
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O’DONNELL: Also tonight in an interview with Vanity Fair Donald Trump’s
attorney who wrote the confidentiality agreement said he did not threaten
her. Michael Cohen said, in fact, I have never spoken to her, never e-
mailed her, met her, texted her. When asked if anyone else connected to
Donald Trump threatened her, he said I can only speak to myself. I
reiterate I have never threatened her in any way, and I am unaware of
anyone else doing it.
Michael Cohen has a long history of threatening people for Donald Trump.
That has been his job description for years. Here is what Michael Cohen
said to A Daily Beast reporter during the presidential campaign after
threatening to sue the reporter. I will make sure that you and I meet one
day while we’re in the courthouse and I will take you for every penny you
still don’t have, and I will come after your Daily Beast and everybody else
that you possibly know Cohen said.
So I’m warning you, tread very fing lightly because what I do is going to
be f’ing disgusting. You understand me? You write a story that has Mr.
Trump’s name in it with the word rape I’m going to mess your life up for as
long as you’re on this planet. You’re going to have judgments against you,
so much money you’ll never know how to get out from underneath it. He added
though there are many literal senses to the word if you distort it and put
Mr. Trump’s name on it, rest assured you will suffer the consequences. So
you do what you want. You want to ruin your life at the age of 20 and you
do you that, I’ll be happy to serve it up to you.
He added I think you should go ahead and write the story you plan on
writing. I think you should do it because you’re an idiot and I think your
paper is a joke and it’s going to be my pleasure to serve you with a $500
million lawsuit. And, of course, that Michael Cohen threat turned out to be
completely empty like most Trump threats to sue people including Trump’s
threat to sue me. Donald Trump and Michael Cohen on Friday night in a legal
filing threatened Stormy Daniels with a claim of $20 million for what she
has already said about Donald Trump. Joining us now Kurt Andersen, author
of the book Fantasyland, how America went Haywire. Kurt is also the host
of a public radio program Studio 360. And back with us is David Cay
Johnston. And Kurt, you’ve been studying Donald Trump for decades now in
New York Media. This Michael Cohen I never threatened her thing,
unfortunately from that side of the story comes from someone who has made
his living threatening people for Donald Trump.
KURT ANDERSEN, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Well I first became aware of Michael
Cohen a couple years ago when he was threatening some under graduate
members of a magazine I was on at Harvard, The Lampoon, who made fun of
them, and Michael Cohen threatened to get them expelled from Harvard. In
the Fortune Magazine for about that – by the way speaking of his threats.
Here’s Michael Cohen himself saying if somebody does somebody Mr. Trump
doesn’t like, I’m going to come at you, grab you by the neck and not let go
until I’m finished. That’s Cohen himself saying that. So this is a guy who
whether he is speaking metaphorically or literally is a guy who traffics in
those kinds of threats.
O’DONNELL: Yes and David, real lawyers know the kind of stuff that Michael
Cohen has done, those kind of threats can get you disbarred and disciplined
by the bar in many jurisdictions. But the other part of it is that Michael
Cohen as famous as he is for threats, he’s equally famous for empty threats
like the $500 million threat to the Daily Beast, which sounds a lot like
the $20 million threat to Stormy Daniels.
DAVID CAY JOHNSTON, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Well Cohen has done a number of
things that ought to be examined by the New York State Bar about
unprofessional conduct. And yes these threats are hollow. In the agreement,
by the way, not only has this constable million dollar per disclosure
penalty on Stormy Daniels, or Stephanie Clifford, but it’s one sided. There
are no penalties if Donald Trump violates the agreement to keep everything
secret. And Lawrence, I was reviewing the agreement before we went on the
air again. There’s a telling line that may help explain why Donald Trump is
so determined to shut down Stormy Daniels. The agreement says that among
the things they’re going to keep secret are you know his sexual
proclivities and it also refers to any alleged children and paternity
information. I wonder why that’s in there.
O’DONNELL: Yes Kurt we’ve identified those lines in the agreement here
before. And Michael Avenatti publicly, Stormy Daniels’s Lawyer has said
there are no paternity issues in this case, if that’s true, you go to the
question to Donald Trump, why do you have paternity issues in a
confidentiality agreement? Is that just something lifted from a previous
confidentiality agreement and how many of these do you have, and how many
confidentiality agreements do you have about paternity with how many women?
ANDERSEN: Well and Michael Avenatti, Stephanie Clifford’s lawyer, who by
the way is a far more impressive and serious lawyer than the dream that
Donald Trump has acquired. But what – yes, it could be boiler plate.
Avenatti says at least two of the six women that approached him have
similar NDAs to Stormy Daniels. It’s interesting in this vanity pair piece
where Cohen said I didn’t physically threaten her and he also says, well
unlike Mr. Avenatti I am not going to try this case in the court of public
opinion he says to Vanity Fair unnecessarily.
O’DONNELL: Yes. Yes.
ANDERSEN: So it’s just – he is such a perfect Donald Trump guy. Let’s
get some press and keep the show going.
O’DONNELL: And David Michael Cohen is perfect symptom of the way trump
does business which is on the cheap. It’s always cheap and this guy, that
any kind of lawyer that any serious person with serious money would ever
employ. And here you have an confidentiality agreement that remains
unsigned by one of the parties to it because of Michael Cohen. It includes
language in it that once exposed publicly is extremely damaging. As you
just pointed out the language of the Confidentiality Agreement itself is
extremely damaging to the President. And so this is what donald Trump
gets when he uses cheap lawyers like Michael Cohen.
JOHNSTON: Well, you know, having a long history of not paying your bills
tends to make top lawyers say thank you I’d rather have some other client
who pays their bills. You’re seeing this – it aslo goes to the heart of
how Donald does business. I mean Donald’s operation is, he first tries to
compromise people. And If that fails, he tries to bully them. Avenatti
however in this case has made it pretty clear that the threats here are
something significantly more than litigation threats. This is going to
very interesting to see how that plays out given that he told Ari Melber in
no uncertain terms that he has firm evidence and it’s a fact he can prove,
not an allegation.
O’DONNELL: And Kurt to stay on Michael Cohen, part of why Donald Trump
is in trouble tonight with Stormy Daniels is Michael Cohen and how bad he
is as a lawyer. The quote to the Daily Beast about rape was about Donald
Trump’s first wife accusing him of rape as she once did. And Michael Cohen
then famously went on television and said it was impossible for a husband
to rape a wife, which, of course, is contrary to law, but it’s law known to
everyone except Donald Trump’s lawyer.
ANDERSEN: Well and to Donald Trump because, of course, that is the sort of
idea that the Donald Trumps of the world maintain. You can’t rape your
wife. And the thing, of course, that we’re in the discussion of Michael
Cohen and the hush money and all the rest. We’re forgetting that Donald
Trump, of course, has now put his name to this suit against Stephanie
Clifford, even though he – or there is denial that such sexual
relationship ever existed, and he is not party to the agreement. So I think
we should all – if it’s that easy to get 130 grand out of Donald Trump,
I’m going to say I had sex with him.
O’DONNELL: Yes. The question is how many of these nondisclosure
agreements are out there and how many involve paternity. Kurt Andersen,
David Cay Johnston thank you for joining us tonight, appreciate it.
JOHNSTON: Thank you
O’DONNELL: Coming up, the Supreme Court once again today crushed the
Pennsylvania Republicans’ attempts to gerrymander Congressional districts.
And That means the big blue wave started last week in Pennsylvania is
really looking bigger and bigger and bigger in Pennsylvania and for
Democrats around the country in the House of Representatives races.
O’DONNELL: It was a very bad day for Paul Ryan today and a very bad day
for the Republican Party’s attempt to keep control of the House of
Representatives. The United States Supreme Court delivered more crushing
news to republicans who want to gerrymander their way to continued control
of the house. Today the court denied the latest Republican request to block
the new congressional map drawn by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. It is
the second time that the Supreme Court has rejected a Republican challenge
over the new map.
The Cook Political Report David Wasserman tweeted today, under new lines
Dems have excellent chance to pick up three to five set seats in addition
to Conor Lamb under the Old lines one to three. A new NBC News Wallstreet
Journal National Poll shows more terrible news for Congressional
republicans. Democrats have a 10-point lead going into the midterm
50 percent of voters want Democrats in control of the Congress, compared
with 40 percent who want Republicans in control. The Democrat advantage has
grown four points since January. The poll also shows that 60 percent of
Democrats have high interest in the midterms compared with 54 percent of
Republicans with high interest in the midterms. Former Republican
Congressman David Jolly will join us next to tell us how Republicans are
reacting to this news today.
O’DONNELL: Speaker of the House Paul Ryan has still not announced that he
will run for reelection to his Congressional seat and today when the United
States Supreme Court struck down Republican’s latest attempt to gerrymander
congressional districts in Pennsylvania. Paul Ryan got more reason not to
run for reelection. Joining us now former Republicans Congressman David
Jolly from Florida. Also joining us is David Wasserman, political Analyst
for the Cook Political Report. And David Jolly what’s it like in the
Republican cloak room these days when they’re getting these results from
Pennsylvania and now they’re seeing that they’re not going to be able to
gerrymander those districts?
DAVID JOLLY, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Sheer Panic. Republicans know there’s a
perfect storm coming and today probably turned another three to four seats
at least and that’s not including what we’re seeing in the poll numbers.
Look the poll number is devastating for republicans. It shows compared to
the last midterm in 2014, Republicans are down 13 points with nine voters
and 9 with suburban voters. Lawrence that is the Republican constituency,
white suburban voters and they are losing them. But let’s be honest
Republicans have done this to themselves.
They own this. If you look at the record of this congress, they tried to
repeal Obamacare without reassuring the American people with a replacement.
They’ve continued to look the other way on Trump’s ethical lapses. They
passed a tax bill that benefits the wealthy and in the wake of a national
tragedy like Parkland, they’ve done nothing. If you’re that Lancaster
Pennsylvania Secretary that Paul Ryan tweeted about, all you’ve gotten from
this Republicans Congress $1.50 a week toward your Costco membership a
health suspicion that the Republican Congress is just looking out for your
boss and his stock portfolio not nothing yourself.
O’DONNELL: David Wasserman as soon as we got that Supreme Court ruling
today you interpreted good for us on twitter with what it means in
Pennsylvania. It looks like – would you say it looks like a pretty
certain democratic pick up in Pennsylvania?
DAVID WASSERMAN, MSNBC CONTRUBUTOR: Look, democrats are in line to pick up
between three and five additional seats in Pennsylvania over the special
election gain they made in the 18th district last Tuesday. But look the
biggest gain for Democrats in terms of winning the majority is not this
Supreme Court ruling in Pennsylvania. It’s the fact that Donald Trump’s at
40 percent popularity nationally and that’s far lower than Bill Clinton and
Barack Obama were when they lost their house majority in their second year
in office. So I see democrats as probably between 60 and 70 percent
favorites to take back control of the house right now.
O’DONNELL: David Jolly, the speaker of the house is refusing to announce
that he will run for reelection to his own congressional seat. That is an
unprecedented condition for members of the majority party in the house to
be trying to run their own reelection campaigns. They don’t even know that
their own speaker has confidence that he himself can get reelected.
JOLLY: Paul Ryan is having to make that decision based on a presumption
he will no longer be in the majority next year, that the bottom is falling
out. Tom Foley in 1994 in wave election as a Democratic Speaker of the
House lost his seat being I’m not sure Paul Ryan wants to come back and be
in the minority because he probably would not be the minority leader having
lost Republican control of Congress. And Lawrence importantly there is
nothing left in the Republican agenda between now and November. The agenda.
the agenda is baked. It’s basically the tax cuts. That’s it. So there’s
no more good news coming for Republicans probably only bad news if it has
to do with Mueller or Stormy Daniels. And I think Paul Ryan tonight it
might be more likely than not that he does not run for reelection.
O’DONNELL: And David Wasserman I will never forget the shock about what
David Jolly was just talking about. 1994, the Speaker of the House,
Democratic Speaker, loses his reelection campaign in his Congressional
district and no one saw that coming, by the way, compared to what we’re
looking at now. There was no one predicting that was going to happen. It is
right now a reasonable possibility to say that the Speaker of the House
could lose reelection in his own district.
WASSERMAN: I’m not certain I agree with that, Lawrence. Look Paul Ryan
is pretty strong back in his home district. But look this isn’t the job he
signed up for when he was pressured to take the job of speaker a couple of
years ago. Keep in mind he had no idea at the time he could be dealing with
a president this mercurial. And the fact of the matter is remember the
Republican leadership that I’m looking at that has a shot of looking
reelection isn’t in Jamesville, Wisconsin. It’s in Spokane Washington
where Tom Foley lost reelection in 1994. And that’s Cathy McMorris Rodgers
a Republican from Washington State, who is up against a pretty stiff
O’DONNELL: And, David, the speaker of the house has powers over the
President. the Speaker of the House can push the President around in many
ways if the Speaker chooses to do that. And I remember during the
presidential campaign watching Trump insult Paul Ryan and thinking and
sometimes saying Trump is going to learn something about the power of
Speaker of the House. Paul Ryan shows no interest in using the powers of
the Speaker of the House against this presidency.
JOLLY: He does not. I wish my former colleagues would understand one
thing tonight and that is there’s no shame in putting country over party.
Frankly your legacy will be richer if you do so. if you lose a seat over
it, listen, the water is just fine out here. You can sleep well at night. I
promise you You can.
O’DONNELL: David Jolly gets tonight last word. Dave Wasserman thank you
both for joining also. I really appreciate it.
O’DONNELL: We’ll be right back.
O’DONNELL: And now for the good news, the happy news, the last word family
is expanding. Margo Lazarro Bailey arrived at 3 A.M. Friday morning
weighing a healthy eight pounds. Her mother, Jill Lazarro, is a producer
here. Jill is one of our favorites. We don’t play favorites. But Jill is
one of our favorites. Margo is the ninth baby born to the staff of the
Last Word since this program was launched just seven years ago. That’s got
to be a company record, nine in seven year. Congratulations Jill and Eric.
Get some sleep Jill. That’s tonight’s last word. Coming Up, Brian will
interview a 20-year colleague of Andrew McCabe about Andrew McCabe firing
and Donald Trump’s criticism of the FBI. That’s in the 11th Hour with
Brian Williams and that starts now.
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