McMaster out, Bolton in. TRANSCRIPT:03/22/2018. The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell
THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL
March 22, 2018
Guest: Ron Klain, Chris Whipple, Wendy Sherman, Mieke Eoyang
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Rachel.
And I hope you`re ready for Stormy Daniels Sunday because she`s going to be
on “60 Minutes” Sunday night. So, something will have to be done to kind
of cloud that. There will have to be some news out of the White House to
compete with that.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: You think there will be a human generated news
storm to try to occlude that?
O`DONNELL: Well, how many firings would it take on Sunday or late Sunday
afternoon, how many firings would it take? I guess that`s the calculation
that the president has to make now.
MADDOW: I mean, at some point, we`re going to come to the end of the
cycle, because Fox News is a big organization, but they only employ so many
people. And so, eventually, they`re going to, I mean, presumably, they`ll
go through all the on-air talent. They`ll go the hosts, they`ll go through
the correspondents, they`ll go through people who have contributor gigs
with them. Once they get through the interns and stuff, they`ll have to
cycle through again or come up with a new strategy for how to bring new
O`DONNELL: At this rate, that will be by the next Christmas Party at the
MADDOW: Thanks, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Thank you, Rachel.
O`DONNELL: On April 9th, the United States will take one big step closer
to nuclear war. On April 9th, John Bolton will become national security
advisor to the president of the United States.
We don`t know who else will still be working in the White House by April
9th. John Kelly could be fired from the White House by then. We don`t
know what lawyers will be defending Donald Trump in the special
prosecutor`s investigation of the Russia investigation. The president`s
legal criminal attorney, John Dowd, left the case today. Dowd publicly
claims that he resigned, but he might have been fired. There`s no way of
knowing, because everyone in Trump world is willing to lie about
For an always chaotic White House, today was an unusually chaotic day. The
dumping of the criminal defense lawyer was followed by the dumping of the
president`s national security advisor H.R. McMaster and the naming of the
next national security advisor John Bolton, and a report that the president
is thinking about firing John Kelly and not replacing him.
The president is wondering aloud whether he actually needs a White House
chief of staff and it`s a reasonable question. He has had two White House
chiefs of staff and neither one of them managed to get a single day`s work
done by the Trump White House that was not chaotic every minute of the day.
And so, as we saw in the Nixon White House as the prosecutor gets closer
and closer to the president, the president gets more and more desperate,
more and more unhinged. And that means in the Trump White House we get
days like today.
And the other thing we got today, amidst the big shakeup of personnel, is
the guarantee that things will get worse in the Trump White House on April
9th. And that guarantee comes in the person of John Bolton, who will be
the president`s closest adviser on national security issues. The national
security advisor has an advantage over the secretary of state, secretary of
defense, director of the CIA, that is that the national security advisor`s
office is located in the West Wing of the White House, always steps away
from the president.
The national security advisor always gets the last word with the president.
After the cabinet members have left a meeting and are in their cars on the
way back to their departments, the national security advisor is still there
and still has the president`s ear.
And on April 9th, Donald Trump will have a national security advisor who
just five weeks earlier publicly called for a pre-emptive attack on North
Korea. In an op-ed piece in “The Wall Street Journal”, John Bolton made
what he called the legal case for striking North Korea first. He compared
it to other unilateral actions taken by the president of the United States,
including, quote, in 1988, President Reagan unilaterally extended U.S.
territorial waters from three to 12 miles.
What kind of strategic mind would see, in a nine-mile extension of United
States territorial waters – would see that in the same terms as a pre-
emptive military attack on North Korean. That`s who`s going to be advising
Donald Trump on North Korea on April 9th. The weakest mind that has ever
occupied the presidency of the United States will be advised by the second
weakest mind that has ever occupied the position of national security
advisor, second, of course, to Michael Flynn`s 24 days as national security
advisor to Donald Trump.
On April 9th, the only person left in the Trump administration with the
stature to possibly stand between John Bolton and a nuclear war with North
Korea is probably going to be Secretary of Defense James Mattis. It will
once again fall to James Mattis to explain to the president that if we
launch a pre-emptive strike to destroy North Korea`s nuclear weapons, it is
likely they will launch a nuclear weapon immediately against South Korea,
and it is absolutely guaranteed that if North Korea does not launch a
nuclear weapon, it will use conventional weapons to kill tens of millions
of people in South Korea in the first minutes of such a conflict.
Remember when James Mattis was Donald Trump`s favorite cabinet pick? It
was during the transition before Donald Trump really knew any of his
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We are going to appoint Mad
Dog Mattis as our secretary of defense.
Mad Dog Mattis. He doesn`t lose. He doesn`t lose.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: It was all about the nickname for Donald Trump. He didn`t know
anything about General James Mattis, just the nickname. But now, Donald
Trump knows that General Mattis is not mad dog enough for him. But on
April 9th, there will be a mad dog working in the White House and the world
will be less safe because of it. And the president will be that many days
closer to whatever his ultimate showdown with the special prosecutor turns
out to be, an interview with the special prosecutor, a subpoena to testify
to a grand jury, under oath questioning in front of a grand jury.
With his lead defense attorney now off the case, Donald Trump has a legal
mad dog to handle all of that now.
(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: That`s not a criminal lawyer talking. That`s a rodeo clown who
went to law school talking. That`s the president`s new criminal defense
If John Bolton was a criminal defense lawyer, he would sound a lot like
Joseph diGenova just did. The pattern we have seen is that every day that
Donald Trump comes closer to a showdown with the special prosecutor, every
day that Jared Kushner comes closer to what will be his own showdown with
the special prosecutor, which might or might not result in the president`s
son-in-law being indicted, every day that we move closer and closer to
whatever the special prosecutor`s confrontation with Trump world turns out
to be, Trump world gets crazier and crazier and more and more chaotic and
every containment strategy devised by the White House staff or by the Trump
family or by the Trump lawyers – every containment strategy designed to
try to contain the madness of Donald Trump does not work and the madness
And so, it will be into that White House where all of the systems of
containment of Donald Trump that have been tried and have already failed
and failed completely – it will be into that ever more chaotic White House
that John Bolton officially reports for duty for the first time on April
9th. And on April 9th, we will be that much closer to the mushrooming
madness of the Trump White House creating a mushroom cloud over the Korean
Joining us now, Chris Whipple, the author of “The Gatekeepers: How the
White House Chiefs of Staff Define Every Presidency”, Josh Earnest, former
White House press secretary for President Obama. He`s also an MSNBC
political analyst. And Ron Klain, the former chief of staff to Vice
Presidents Joe Biden and Al Gore, and a former senior aide to President
And, Josh Earnest, I just want to go to your reading of today. This has
been as we say a chaotic White House, I`m not sure which day was more
chaotic than today with the loss – the removal, firing, resignation,
whatever it was, of the president`s criminal defense lawyer, clearly the
firing of the national security advisor and his quickly named replacement?
JOSH EARNEST, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Lawrence, President Trump likes to
shake things up and today was the day in which he succeeded in shaking a
lot of things up. You know, my – you know, in the news, it seems to me
that the more significant move for the country is this change to replace
H.R. McMaster with John Bolton. You know, my tenure in the White House,
Lawrence, gave me a front row seat to seeing how presidents and their
national security advisors work so closely together to formulate the
national security of the country.
I flew around the world on Air Force One with Susan Rice. She sat in the
chair next to me for many of those trips. She was the person who prepared
the briefing materials for the president of the United States. She signed
off of them at least. She was the person who is flying on the plane.
Oftentimes, the secretary of state, the secretary of defense and the CIA
director flying on their plane. She was the last person to speak to the
president of the United States before he`d walk into a meeting with a
foreign leader and she was the person who is sitting next to President
Obama when he sat down across the table from other world leaders.
You will remember that famous photo of President Obama interacting with
Vladimir Putin at the G20 a couple of years ago. It was not a previously
planned meeting. It was a still photo of the meeting. And the only other
person that`s pictured in that photo other than Barack Obama and Vladimir
Putin was Susan Rice.
So, you know, John Bolton didn`t have a stellar during his first go around
in the federal government, in the executive branch. But, boy, we as a
country have a lot riding on him this time because there are a lot of times
where he`s going to be putting his head together with Donald Trump and the
two of them are going to be cooking up really important decisions.
So, we`re counting on you, John.
O`DONNELL: Well, that`s a lot to count on.
Ron Klain, I want to get your reaction to both of these moves today. I
want to note that in Michael Wolff`s book, “Fire and Fury”, the problem –
Steve Bannon was pushing John Bolton to be the national security advisor
and the problem that Donald Trump had with John Bolton was his mustache,
according to Steve Bannon in “Fire and Fury”. The other revelation in
“Fire and Fury” was that about H.R. McMaster. Donald Trump said: He bores
the crap out of me, and I cleaned that up a little bit.
RON KLAIN, FORMER CHIEF OF STAFF TO VP BIDEN: Yes.
O`DONNELL: But, Ron, with your experience in the White House, I want you
to talk about the change in the White House national security advisor but
also this legal change, the top criminal defense lawyer on the Trump team
is out today, what does that mean?
KLAIN: Well, you know, the day began with the president threatening to
beat up to crying the former vice president.
KLAIN: And it ends without that being one of the top five craziest things
that happened today.
O`DONNELL: Ron, I have to say that these comments about Biden, the tweet
about beating up Biden is now officially old news.
KLAIN: Officially old news, yes.
O`DONNELL: It happened before noontime, I believe.
KLAIN: So, look, I think we saw two big changes. And while I certainly
agree with Josh for the country and national security, this move of putting
John Bolton, a man who hasn`t found a country he doesn`t want to start a
war against, in as national security advisor is probably scarier.
But I do think this move of pushing out John Dowd and bringing in a TV
conspiracist as the president`s chief lawyer is a clear signal of a second
front in the Trump White House. They are loading up to fire Bob Mueller or
to fight the special counsel in some other kind of way, and instead of
handling this as a legal matter, they`re getting ready to handle this as a
P.R. matter. They`re getting ready to handle this as a political matter.
They brought in Joe diGenova. They brought in his wife. They are TV
And these TV lawyers are expected to do – I mean, do on a government
salary what they used to do for Fox News, which is to go on Fox and explain
crazy conspiracies, craziness of Trump and try to sell that to Trump`s
base. And that`s what Trump is readying the country for.
O`DONNELL: And, Chris Whipple, you`ve written a book about White House
chiefs of staff, and here we have the president today apparently being
reported by NBC News, that he is actually thinking about not just getting
rid of John Kelly, but also not replacing him because Trump is starting to
think he doesn`t need a White House chief of staff.
Imagine for us, the Trump White House without a chief of staff. You`ve
spent a long time talking to Reince Priebus about how it works.
CHRIS WHIPPLE, AUTHOR, “GATEKEEPERS”: Try to imagine. The thing is, it`s
no surprise that Donald Trump wants to get rid of his chief of staff and be
his own because he doesn`t want any grown ups in the room. He`s tired of
being told what he can`t do.
But history is littered with presidencies that tried to do that, to operate
according to a kind of spokes of the wheel, with the president at the
center, everybody coming and going. It`s never worked.
John Kennedy tried it until he ran into the Bay of Pigs. Afterwards, he
leaned on his brother, Bobby, as the de facto chief. LBJ ran into Vietnam,
there was nobody to speak hard truths to him.
So, it`s a model that has failed time and again. And all you have to do is
look at the first six months of the Trump`s presidency, where the model of
the 26th floor of Trump Tower, with everybody coming and going, and nobody
empowered. That will tell you what it`s like to govern without a White
House chief of staff.
O`DONNELL: Josh Earnest, the Trump White House without a White House chief
of staff, I mean, one thing I`m wondering about, is from our perspective,
from sitting out here, would anything at all appear to be different? Could
it possibly appear to be more chaotic if the White House chief of staff job
EARNEST: Well, Lawrence, I don`t know if it would have an impact on
President Trump`s public image but it would have a profound impact on the
inner workings of the White House. And, you know, one of the challenges
that John Kelly has accepted and actually faired relatively well in
managing is trying to manage the intense staff level rivalries inside the
White House. Remember, there was basically open war in the halls of the
West Wing when Reince Priebus was chief of staff and you had the Bannon
wing and Kushner wing.
And General Kelly, for all of his faults and he`s got many of them, has
actually been able to put a lid on that, in some cases by firing people
like Steve Bannon. So, I do fear and think this would be a legitimate fear
of everybody who works in the West Wing, that removing him as chief of
staff would actually take the lid off those rivalries again. And as
difficult a place the White House is to work even under the best of
circumstances, it would get far, far worse for the people that have to show
up there every day.
O`DONNELL: Ron Klain, there`s reporting that John Kelly opposed the choice
of John Bolton as national security advisor. We know John Kelly blocked
John Bolton`s freelance access to the president, that was going on before
John Kelly became the chief of staff. And so, it looks like this choice of
Bolton could be the beginning of the counting of the days for John Kelly.
KLAIN: Yes, I mean, I think we learned over the past couple days, when
Sarah Sanders goes out and says the president thinks you`re doing a great
job, it`s time to brush up your LinkedIn profile. And I think that time
could be coming for John Kelly.
Look, I have a lot of disagreements with John Kelly on matters of domestic
policy in particular. But we got to give him this, he is a military man
who understands the huge cost, human cost of war and was not a war hog. I
think seeing John Bolton come into the White House with his proposals for a
pre-emptive strike with North Korea, for war with Iran, he even wrote
recently about the idea of war with Cuba.
I mean, this is a person who`s going to get this country into a military
conflict, and I don`t think that`s what John Kelly wants. I do think this
is a sign that John Kelly may be on the way out.
O`DONNELL: Chris, on April 9th, John Bolton will be in there as the
national security advisor and we know based on the pattern, he`s going to
be Donald Trump`s favorite new toy. There`s going to be a favorite in the
White House on April 9th and it`s going to be the new guy. The interesting
thing is he`s there every day. He`s in a physical position for the
president to in effect start leaning on John Bolton as a de facto White
House chief of staff and make him be the traffic cop.
WHIPPLE: Here`s the troubling thing about it. Reagan said about his
fractious White House that the right wing doesn`t know what the far right
wing is doing. Well, this shows the far right wing has won. It`s
Bolton is a terrible choice for national security advisor because that
person has to be, above all else, the so-called honest broker of
information on every side of a national security issue. The model is Brent
Scowcroft under Bush 41. You never put your thumb on the scale. Bolton is
a hard right ideologue, and quite frankly, we have a White House chief of
staff who has also reinforced all of Donald Trump`s most partisan
So, competent people are headed for the exits, hard right ideologues are
coming in and it`s really a recipe for disaster.
O`DONNELL: Chris Whipple, Josh Earnest, Ron Klain, thank you for joining
us. Really appreciate it.
KLAIN: Thanks, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Coming up, President Trump`s appointment of John Bolton as
national security advisor has people who know John Bolton worried that he
shares the president`s worse instincts. David Corn, and Ned Price and
Ambassador Wendy Sherman will join us in that discussion.
We have breaking news in the special prosecutor`s investigation. A new
report ties the hacking of the DNC to a Russian military officer, one who
was in contact with an associate of the Trump campaign.
O`DONNELL: John Bolton has not limited his dangerous thinking to bombing
North Korea and bombing Iran after ripping up the Iran deal. He`s full of
dangerous ideas. In 2013, John Bolton appeared in a propaganda video in
Russia speaking directly to the Russian people. The video was created by a
Russian group called the Right to Bear Arms. That group was founded by a
close ally of Vladimir Putin who also has a very close relationship with
the National Rifle Association.
So, here is John Bolton in that video trying to open up new markets in
Russia for American gun manufacturers who fund the National Rifle
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN BOLTON, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE U.N.: Today, you`re engaged in
a historic debate about the possible expansion of your freedoms. Should
the Russian people have the right to bear arms? I can share with you a
word about what this particular freedom has meant to Americans and offer
you encouragement as you consider embracing that freedom which so many
nations and cultures have found to be the essential defense for all other
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining the discussion now, Ned Price, former senior director
and spokesperson for the National Security Council and a former CIA
analyst. He`s an MSNBC contributor. And David Corn, Washington bureau
chief for “Mother Jones”, and coauthor of the new bestselling book “Russian
Roulette: The Inside Story of Putin`s War on America and the Election of
Donald Trump”. David is also an MSNBC contributor.
And, Ned, tell us your reaction of John Bolton going into this position of
national security advisor.
NED PRICE, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I think the fact of the matter is,
Lawrence, and this is no exaggeration, but there couldn`t be a more
dangerous individual at a more dangerous time. You know, we`ve heard all
about this individual over the past several hours but it`s all true. He`s
a warmonger who has never met a potential conflict that he didn`t want to
rush into it, whether it was Iran, whether it was Iraq, whether it`s North
Korea, even in the Americas. He took aim at Cuba, cooking up intelligence
that Cuba had a biological weapons program that he thought would legitimize
the use of military force against Havana.
But we also have to consider the context in which he will be placed in to
this role. It will be in the coming weeks when Washington – when the
Trump administration will face key deadlines on at least two key issues,
that is North Korea and Iran. Obviously, we have the summit opportunity
coming up with Kim Jong-un and Donald Trump, and that`s a scary thought in
itself without John Bolton in the mix.
But also on Iran where the Iran deal will face a key deadline and President
Trump will have to decide whether to keep the deal, which is the only thing
that stood in the way of Iran and a nuclear weapon, or to scuttle it. And
both of these, these decisions could well spell the difference between war
and peace and we have Bolton at the helm of this decision-making process to
the same John Bolton who for years, if not more than a decade, has argued
for conflict against both countries, which is a very ominous, ominous
O`DONNELL: Let`s look at an issue where John Bolton disagrees with the
president, at least has disagreed with him publicly very strongly. And
that is on the approach to Russia.
Listen to what John Bolton had to say about the ex-spy being attacked in
England by – possibly by Russian agents. Let`s listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BOLTON: It`s so blatant in a public place. It reminds me of Kim Jong-un,
Moscow`s friend, killing his brother-in-law in an airport in Malaysia, by
having the women rub the VX nerve agent on his face. It`s an act of
defiance. It`s saying the London and to the other Western capitals, what
are you going to do about it? Well, I think there should be a strong
answer to that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: David Corn, how is that particular session going to go with
President Trump when he`s advised to have a strong answer to Vladimir Putin
DAVID CORN, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: You know, I think this is the scariest day
of the Trump presidency since election day. You know, you, me, Ned, we all
try to find themes and coherence and positions. I mean, that`s what Bolton
said a couple days ago but he also, after Trump congratulated Putin said,
oh, that was the right thing to do, that was the polite thing to do.
When Trump ran for president, he pointed to the Iraq war as the opposite of
what he wanted to do, as a disaster, sad, bad, whatever, he overplayed his
own opposition to it at the time. But it was what he used to say I`m not
going to be like that. Well, so now he`s putting in the office next door
the guy who`s one of the architects and lead cheerleaders of the Iraq war
who at the time said, you know, the American role in the invasion of Iraq
is not going to be that big.
I mean, he got everything wrong. He was part of the team that lied about
Saddam Hussein having weapons of mass destruction. In 2009, we at “Mother
Jones” got a copy of a tape of his talk he gave at University of Chicago
when he said the only way to get rid of Iran`s nuclear program would be for
Israeli to use nuclear weapons against it.
So, I mean, why Trump is bringing him there? I can think of no other
reason, other than Trump hates his staff and wants everybody at Fox News to
come on in and run the government for him. I think we`re going to see –
who knows, Sean Hannity may be the new chief of staff. Martha MacCallum –
I mean, there`s going to be jobs for everybody. I don`t know how they`re
going to get the shows on the air anymore at Fox, but that really seems to
be where Trump is heading here.
I don`t even think he`s picking Bolton because he`s a hard liner. I think
he`s picking him because he`s on TV.
O`DONNELL: And, Ned, John Bolton could not get confirm bid the Senate when
George W. Bush nominated him to be ambassador of the United Nations, so the
president then installed him through a recess appointment. But it seems
that John Bolton would have similar concerns getting confirmed now,
national security advisor does not have to be confirmed. And so, they
bypass that completely.
Talk about the national security advisor having the last word with the
president the way the job is designed with keeping the national security
advisor physically housed in the White House.
PRICE: Well, that`s precisely what gives the national security advisor his
or her currency, having that proximity to the president. The national
security advisor`s office is just feet from the Oval Office and as Josh was
saying on your program earlier, the national security advisor is the first
one in and the last one out when the president meets with his foreign
The other key point, though, Lawrence is the national security advisor is
not supposed to come to the position with firm prominent policy views of
his or her own. The person is supposed to be the coordinator, he`s
supposed to be the mediator between the secretary of defense, the secretary
of state, the intelligence community, the Treasury Department and so forth
and so on.
That`s not John Bolton. John Bolton is someone who comes to the job with
very strong preformed views.
And, Lawrence, I want to go back to the last question to David. This
question on Russia. You know, John Bolton is a hawk. He is a warmonger
but he has a soft spot and a strange soft spot for Russia.
In that 2013 video that the NRA sponsored, he hailed the new era of freedom
in Putin`s Russia. When the reports first started to emerge of Russia`s
meddling in our election, he raised the possibility that the Obama
administration was doing this as a false flag operation and to blame
And as David just mentioned he didn`t find President Trump`s
congratulations to Vladimir Putin all that surprising. It was the polite
thing to do. So it`s quite strange that John Bolton has this seeming
similarity to his future boss when it comes to Vladimir Putin`s Moscow.
O`DONNELL: Ned Price and David Corn, thanks for joining us.
DAVID CORN, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: OK. Thank you.
O`DONNELL: Ambassador Wendy Sherman is just as worried about the
appointment of John Bolton as everyone else we`ve heard from. Ambassador
Wendy Sherman who worked on negotiating the Iran deal and worked on
negotiations with North Korea will join us next.
O`DONNELL: On April 9th, when John Bolton officially become it is
President`s National Security Advisor he will be privately urging the
President to do what he`s been publicly urging the President to do, what
bomb North Korea, rip up the Obama Iran deal that prevents Iran from
developing nuclear weapons and then bomb Iran and create a new government
in Iran that is friendly to the United States.
In an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal this year advocating the forced
regime change in Iran, John Bolton offered this fantasy. Recognizing a new
Iranian regime in 2019 would reverse the shame of once seeing our diplomats
held hostage for 444 days. The former hostages can cut the ribbon to open
the new U.S. Embassy in Tehran. Joining us now from the CNBC Bureau in
Singapore Ambassador Wendy Sherman former Under Secretary of State and an
MSNBC Global Affairs Contributor. Ambassador Sherman I wanted to get your
reaction tonight to the selection of John Bolton as the next National
WENDY SHERMAN, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Obviously I agree with your guests this
evening, Lawrence. This is really a horrible step by President Trump. And I
know people have talked about this really bringing everybody from the FOX
News green room. But quite frankly it makes me think of the Godfather
someone, President Trump who believes he`s at the center of the universe;
there are no rules that apply. He`ll do whatever is necessary to keep his
base, to try to win reelection.
There are no principles. And I think none of us can forget, who have
watched all the Godfather movies that in the end Michael Corleone the new
Godfather even does in his brother Fredo. So there is no loyalty that goes
in directions here and that`s not loyalty to staff, but that`s loyalty to
allies and partners around the world. And that speaks great concern not
only for Iran and North Korea, issues of enormous concern that we have to
get right for our National Security but for our transatlantic relationship.
And I`m out here in Asia today where I`m here to talk about North Korea
even though I`ve got a bit of a cold. But also what`s happening with
China, these tariffs that may start a trade war. Indeed we have issues with
China but we also want China`s help to make sure we don`t have a nuclear
war with North Korea. So the stakes could not be higher.
O`DONNELL: I want to look at John Bolton`s confirmation hearing when he
was nominated to be the Ambassador to the United Nations by George W. Bush.
He did not succeed in getting confirmed by the United States senate and
part of it was because of the questioning in the Foreign Relations
Committee. I want to show one moment of that involving the junior Senator
from Illinois at the time, Barack Obama.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, 44TH UNITED STATES PRESIDENT: If the record indicate that
you were seeking to reject hard facts because they didn`t neatly fit into a
speech that you were making on behalf of the United States Government, is
it fair to say that would be something that this panel should be concerned
about and that that might undermine your capacity to be a credible advocate
for the United States in the United Nations?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: And Ambassador Sherman, the answers were not reassuring to the
committee members and that`s one of the questions tonight, is John Bolton`s
ability to ignore hard facts, as Senator Obama was pointing out there, when
making what`s supposed to be an honest broker presentation to the
SHERMAN: There is no doubt John Bolton is not going too be an honest
broker here. He has views, and one of my greatest concerns this evening
your time, morning my time, is what James Mattis is going to do. James
Mattis is in charge of our military. We believe in civilian control of our
military. And he believes in the credible threat of force but in service of
diplomacy as the first resort, military action as the last resort.
And now we have a National Security Advisor who believes that war is the
first resort. He was ready to bomb Iran for a regime change. He believes
to this day that the Iraq war was the best thing we did. although we were
proud of our troops, the shock and awe, the shock afterwards in our ability
to help make Iraq make the changes it needed is played out still today.
He believes we should attack North Korea which is be catastrophic not only
to the lives of American service men and women and our allies and partners
in Asia, but it will be catastrophic to world economy as well. So we
don`t have an honest broker. and if as you reported earlier in the show the
President is going to get rid of John Kelly and not put a new Chief of
Staff in place, I`m not sure what General James Mattis is going to do
because he thought he was in this with his brothers who served in the
military and all of those brothers are now gone.
O`DONNELL: Ambassador Wendy Sherman thank you for making an extraordinary
accommodation in your schedule to join us from Singapore for this important
news, really appreciate it.
O`DONNELL: Coming up, President Trump gets rid of his lead criminal
Defense Lawyer, that was his first big move today. But he`s doing that as
the special prosecutor is closing in. Who does the Special Prosecutor have
to negotiate with now on the scheduling of the questioning of the
President? And a new report tonight says that Roger Stone did, in fact have
direct contact with a Russian agent during the Presidential Campaign, and
that is something Roger Stone has always denied.
O`DONNELL: Did he resign or was he fired? That was the question today
about Donald Trump`s lead criminal defense lawyer, John Dowd or we could
also ask did he resign because he knew he was going to be fired and it
doesn`t make any difference. In Trump World everyone is on the verge of
being fired all the time. And if they pull the trigger on themselves first,
what difference does that make? But on the day that the President lost his
lead criminal defense lawyer, the investigation of Russian interference in
our election has taken a new and important return. The Daily Beast reports
Guccifer 2.0, the loan hacker who took credit for providing Wikileaks with
stolen e-mails from the Democratic National Committee was in fact, an
officer in Russia`s Military Intelligence Directorate.
The Russian agent reportedly left a digital trail that allowed U.S.
investigators to identify him as a particular GRU Officer working out of
agencies headquarters in Moscow. According to the Daily Beast Special
Prosecutor Robert Mueller has taken over the probe into Guccifer and
brought the FBI Agents who worked to track the persona onto his team.
At least one Trump associate communicated directly with Guccifer 2.0. Roger
Stone admitted in a blog post last March he had been in touch with Guccifer
2.0 over Twitter direct messages. Mieke Eoyang and David Corn will join
the discussion next about the chaos in the Trump legal team today and this
new report about Roger Stone`s contact with a Russian Agent.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Trump would you still like to testify to special
counsel Robert Mueller, sir? You would? You would like to, sir?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Remember, that is a pathological liar saying I would like to
testify to Robert Mueller. Joining us now Mieke Eoyang. And David Corn is
back with us. mieke I want to your reaction to the shake up in the Trump
criminal defense team at a critical point in this case. Is this going to
slow it down?
MIEKE EOYANG, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: I don`t think it will slow down the
investigation at all. it does show they may be changing direction. It may
slow down just because of the chaos who`s involved in the legal team. You
went from John Dowd who seemed to know who what he was doing and had
experience trying these kind of cases to someone who hasn`t had a lot of
criminal defense experience, whose experience is much more limited to
speaking about these things on television. so when you`re dealing with real
lawyers and real motions, he may have trouble handing these things.
O`DONNELL: David Corn I want to get your reaction to this report tonight
about Guccifer 2.0. This puts roger stone in direct contact with a Russian
CORN: It does. You know – you know how much I hate talking about my book
Lawrence but –
O`DONNELL: But David the title of the book as I recall is Russian
CORN: Yes. And so it`s quite fortunate how much new there is about it
this week. But, you know, in the book, Michael Isikoff and I talk about or
describe how Stone, you know, in the summer of 2016, was saying was in
touch with Julian Assange, was in touch with Guccifer. And one of the most
interesting things was that in August of 2016, when everybody was basically
saying you know with seems to be a Russian internet persona, not a real
Romanian hacker as he claimed to be, Stone wrote an article for whose else
but Breitbart saying everyone was wrong, the hacker was real, he was
Romanian. You could trust Roger Stone on this.
And of course, he was blowing smoke. But what he was doing, as we see now
clearly he was participating in a cover up to protect a Russian Military
Intelligence officer who is part of a plan to attack the United States. I
mean, you know, I don`t like to use the words of treason or traitor,
although I just mentioned them, but here he was helping somebody engaged in
attacking the United States. he has a lot to answer for.
O`DONNELL: Mieke Eoyang , if we were to give Roger Stone something of a
benefit of the doubt that he`s not being completely aware that Guccifer 2.0
is actually a Russian agent, this would at the minimum show that the Trump
Campaign and Trump Campaign Associates and Trump Campaign Supporters could
have been in touch with, and in some ways, colluding with Russian agents
without even knowing it.
EOYANG: That`s right. and what we heard from our Intelligence Officials
before and during the campaign was that there may have been people who were
either witting or unwitting in their working with the Russians, and the
Russian`s intentions were to help get Trump Elected and to see the defeat
of Hillary Clinton. I think there`s some real questions about how much
knowing there was inside the Trump Campaign, and if it was an innocent
mistake. What I don`t understand is why you wouldn`t own up to that and say
I didn`t know, and if the Russians were involved, that`s terrible and we
shouldn`t have done that.
And we shouldn`t have Russia deciding what`s going on in the elections. But
you don`t see that. You see denial after denial. A refusal to even
acknowledge what our Intelligence Community has found out and what Mueller
has charged in his indictments.
O`DONNELL: David Corn you`ve watched every Special Prosecutors
investigation on Washington up close for many years now, for decades now.
Here we have a lawyer bailing out, being kicked out by the President, the
lead criminal defense lawyer for the President in the middle of the
investigation, and we`re approaching a critical showdown point of does the
President speak to the Special Prosecutor, under what circumstances, a
delicate negotiation. Suddenly the President`s leader of those
negotiations is gone.
CORN: You know people ask me where do these lawyers take Trump on in jobs
like that? The reason they do it here in Washington is for fame,
notoriety, to be at the center of attention, the hottest game in town.
That`s why Abbey Low is defending Jared Kushner. A Democrat but defending
Jared Kushner.here and so John Dowd, it`s almost inconceivable to me that
he would leave on his own, unless he had just reached the conclusion that
this is helpless, the situation, Trump just can`t be lawyered. And you know
I`ve got to tell you, I know Joe diGenova.
And he`s not a guy I would turn to for legal strategy. If you want some
blustering on TV, that`s your man. But to sort of figure out how to deal
with this in a legal way, as Mieke just said, he`s not the choice. So the
good news is, Mueller`s investigation proceeds independently of who is
defending Trump. It has no bearing on anything that Mueller himself is
doing. He doesn`t need Trump`s interview to proceed with this case. He
probably wants it. But there`s so many other avenues for him to explore.
O`DONNELL: David Corn, Mieke Eoyang , thank you both for joining us,
really appreciate it.
EOYANG: thank you.
CORN: Thank you
O`DONNELL: Tonight`s Last Word is next.
O`DONNELL: Let`s take one more look at why John Bolton failed to win
senate confirmation when George W. Bush nominated him to be ambassador to
the United Nations. Here is some of what John Bolton ran into at his
confirmation hearing in the senate foreign relations committee.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: You had a particular perspective, you had an Intelligence Analyst
who was concerned that your perspective was not quite right, and that in
that context, you were interested in shading or shaping the analysis to fit
your reasonable hypothesis. That`s the reason, I think, we`re concerned,
applying your test. We don`t want our intelligence to be not corroborated
by not hard facts.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Senator Barack Obama gets tonight`s last word. there`s much
more in the changes in the Trump White House and the Trump Criminal Defense
team and very important insights from Ali Velchi on the stock market drop
today in reaction to a potential trade war being ignited by President
Trump`s policies. That`s all in The 11th hour with Brian Williams, and that
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