New Dem House Majority votes. TRANSCRIPT: 1/3/2019, The Last Word w. Lawrence O’Donnell.
Show: THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL
Date: January 3, 2019
Guest: Ron Klain, David Jolly
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Rachel.
And the fascinating detail within those votes that I`m looking at now is
that seven Republicans in the House of Representatives voted for the
package of funding bills that Nancy Pelosi put together that had nothing to
do with the border wall. And five Republicans voted for the other bill
that would temporarily extend funding for the Department of Homeland
Security without a border wall. So there`s five Republicans in the house
of representatives tonight who were perfectly happy to not only go without
the wall but vote in effect against the wall very specifically tonight.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST, “TRMS”: Yes, and as Hakeem Jeffries just said
live on-air just moments ago, as these bills now head to the Senate, what
the House has sent to the Senate are two bills that the Senate has been
very, very happy to not only support but act on and vote for in the past
with absolutely no controversy on either side of the aisle. So this is
calling the question in terms of whether or not the border wall is the
thing that Republicans in the Senate want to be known for in terms of
keeping the government shutdown. This absolutely eliminates all other
variables and puts them on them.
O`DONNELL: Rachel, for this and other reasons this next hour is going to
proceed with a theme, and it`s something I have stolen from a headline in
“The New York Times” today which is that 2019 will be the worst year of
Donald Trump`s life. And we are going to carry that through the hour on
several different fronts.
MADDOW: You know, didn`t everybody have a terrible 7th grade, though? Do
we really know – I mean –
O`DONNELL: We have a feeling he didn`t. We just have a feeling he didn`t.
MADDOW: Fair enough.
O`DONNELL: There`s something that feels a little spoiled in this
background. I don`t know. I may be a little overreaching there.
MADDOW: We say adult life.
O`DONNELL: Yes, adult life. It`s going to be like the year of the
unindicted conspirator and individual one and Stormy Daniels. That`s going
to be like the good old times for him by Valentine`s Day, I think. That`s
the theory for the next hour.
MADDOW: I`m staying here for it. Thank you, my friend.
O`DONNELL: Thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: Good night.
O`DONNELL: Well, as I said, 2019 will be the worst year of Donald Trump`s
life. That is the headline that greeted the third year of the presidency
in “The Los Angeles Times” today. An op-ed piece compares Donald Trump`s
2019 to Richard Nixon`s 1974, the year the special prosecutor`s
investigation of the president forced Richard Nixon to resign the
And that article compares Donald Trump`s 2019 to Bill Clinton`s 1999 after
being impeached by the House of Representatives, Bill Clinton survived an
impeachment trial in the United States Senate.
2019 will probably be the year when we discover whether the president can
be indicted by special prosecutor Robert Mueller. And if Donald Trump is
removed from office, the Vice President becomes president and the next
person in the line of succession to the presidency is now Speaker of the
House Nancy Pelosi who began this historic day on which she resumed the
speakership answering this question from NBC`s Savannah Guthrie.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SAVANNAH GUTHRIE, NBC NEWS ANCHOR: Do you believe the special counsel
should honor and observe the Department of Justice guidance that states a
sitting president cannot be indicted?
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: I do not think that is
conclusive. No, I do not.
GUTHRIE: Can Robert Mueller come back and say I`m seeking indictment?
PELOSI: I think that is an open discussion. I think that is an open
discussion in terms of the wall.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Donald Trump has gone from a speaker of the house who did
everything he could to help Devin Nunes, the chair of the House
Intelligence Committee, obstruct a legitimate investigation of Donald Trump
to a speaker of the House who is encouraging the new Democratic chairs of
House committees to do their duty to investigate the president and who
believes it is possible that the president can be indicted.
Nancy Pelosi has gone from discouraging talk of impeachment during the
congressional campaigns to allowing one of the senior Democrats in her own
California congressional delegation to introduce articles of impeachment in
the House of Representatives against President Trump today.
We will be joined later in this hour by California Congressman Eric
Swalwell who`s a member of the House Judiciary Committee which has
jurisdiction over the impeachment process. We will get his view of what
now seems truly to be the worst year of Donald Trump`s life. This worst
year of Donald Trump`s life has begun with one of the most difficult
problems a president can possibly face, a government shutdown and Donald
Trump is the very first president in history to publicly blame himself for
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I will be the one to shut it
down. I`m not going to blame you for it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Tonight is the first time in Donald Trump`s life as president
that he has watched the House of Representatives do something that he did
not want them to do. As Rachel reported at the beginning of this hour,
Nancy Pelosi pushed legislation through the house tonight to reopen the
government. In normal times, Republicans would vote for the Pelosi
legislation because they voted for it already. She passed six spending
bills tonight that have already been agreed to by Senate Democrats and
Senate Republicans, bills that have nothing to do with the border wall that
President Trump wants.
Speaker Pelosi suddenly pushed through the House a bill to extend funding
for homeland security at its current levels temporarily for a month that
would allow the president and Congress to continue to struggle over the
Trump border wall without the government being shutdown. Nancy Pelosi has
no doubt about her position on the border wall.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GUTHRIE: Are you willing to come up and give him some of this money for
GUTHRIE: Because apparently that`s the sticking point.
PELOSI: No. Nothing for the – we`re talking about border security.
GUTHRIE: Nothing for the wall, but that means it`s a nonstarter.
PELOSI: We can go through this back and forth. No. How many more times
can we say no? Nothing for the wall.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Speaker Pelosi`s negotiating hand has only been strengthened by
the blue wave that has shift Democrats into the majority in the Congress,
and includes among the freshman members of the Democratic House, some of
the strongest opponents of the border wall, including the already most
famous member of the freshman class, Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-
Cortez, who cast her first vote in the House today in favor of Nancy Pelosi
for speaker of the House.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ocasio-Cortez?
REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ (D), NEW YORK: Nancy Pelosi.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Pelosi.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: She was the only one who voted for Nancy Pelosi who got any
kind of reaction from Republicans. She is in complete control of those
Republicans and commanding their attention and in swatting away their
Moments later, at her swearing in, Speaker Pelosi in her acceptance speech
of the speakership announced her legislative strategy for the shutdown.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PELOSI: We will debate in advance good ideas no matter where they come
from, and in that spirit, Democrats will be offering the Senate Republican
appropriations legislation to reopen government later today.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining our discussion now, Joy Reid, MSNBC national
correspondent and the host of “A.M. JOY” weekends on MSNBC. Joy will have
a special town hall event at this very hour tomorrow night with Nancy
Pelosi right here on MSNBC at 10:00 p.m. And we are also joined tonight by
Michelle Goldberg, “New York Times” columnist and MSNBC contributor.
And, Joy Reid, a very impressive day one for Nancy Pelosi. And what may be
– what may very well be basically a day one of the worst year of Donald
JOY REID, MSNBC NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You know, it`s interesting,
Lawrence, and you know this better than most that I think a lot of people
sometimes forget because we`ve had an era of speakers who deferred, to put
it the most kind way, to the president of the United States. You had Paul
Ryan who did that, and you also had speakers who were very challenged by
members of their own caucus who made it very difficult for them to do their
job – John Boehner.
But I think people forget how powerful the speaker of the House is. As you
say, this is the person who is next in line to the presidency after the
president and vice president. And Nancy Pelosi in taking the speakership a
second time, really harkening back to powerful speakers, people like Tip
O`Neill, this is an incredibly powerful position. It`s an incredibly
powerful position particularly when it`s an adversarial position to the
president, think Newt Gingrich.
Nancy Pelosi came in and reminded the people listening to her give her
acceptance speech and in Article I of the Constitution. And in Article I
Section 7 Clause 1 of the Constitution, it says all bills for raising
revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives, but the Senate may
propose or concur with amendments.
This is where spending comes from. If Donald Trump wants money for a wall,
it has to go through Nancy Pelosi. There`s no other way around it. So, he
is now negotiating with a woman who has a masterful counter, who done this
job before, and who knows government as well as he has ignored the
rudiments of government, the workings of government.
So, this is going to be a really tough sled for Donald Trump.
O`DONNELL: Michelle Goldberg, you know, as a kid growing up in Boston, I
grew up through two Boston speakers of the House, John McCormick, and then
Tip O`Neill, and one Boston president, John Kennedy. And most politicians
in Boston when they needed something, they always went to John McCormick or
they went to Tip O`Neill, that`s where the power is.
We could do an hour on how powerful that position is. It`s one of the
reasons why during the president`s campaign, when I thought Donald Trump
was not going to be president, I would occasionally say, you know, when he
attacks Paul Ryan, he attacks the speaker of the House, if he ever became
president, he would discover how much power the speaker has over him, and I
was so wrong about that because of the collapse of so many things,
including apparently the collapse of male ego, which might be a good thing
But Paul Ryan as speaker used none of his power in relation to this
president. So this president two years in has no idea what the powers of
the speakership are.
MICHELLE GOLDBERG, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: And think how frustrated Donald
Trump has been just by the very rudimentary constraints that he`s already
faced, right? That he can`t go by fiat, that he basically has to at least,
you know, pretend to abide by the laws of the land, right. That he`s in
some respects checked by the Supreme Court.
He`s had these very minor constraints on what he imagined was a kind of
legal authority, and it`s driven him bonkers. And so, now, he`s going to
have both nonstop investigations and an inability to really get anything
substantive done, unless he is able to negotiate with Nancy Pelosi, who
despite his ridiculous reputation as a master negotiator, he has nothing on
her. He has no experience commensurate with hers.
O`DONNELL: Joy, tomorrow, when you get to Speaker Pelosi about this, what
do you intend to begin with her?
REID: Well, I think obviously, we have to start with the situation we have
now, the shutdown, because the impasse is complete. Donald Trump says he
wants $5.5 billion for a wall that he previously said Mexico would supply
all of the funding for. Nancy Pelosi said to our own colleague, Savannah
Guthrie, no money, zero, you get nothing for the wall.
So, that is the ultimate impasse, and now you have the Senate majority
leader who has said he will only put on the floor a bill that Donald Trump
has already affirmed that he supports, which is an incredible diminution of
his own power, because this can easily be solved if these Senate majority
leaders said, fine, Speaker Pelosi has now passed six bills and we will
simply repass the same bills that we passed before, these were our bill,
right, from the previous Senate, and be done with it and let Trump veto it
But, you know, it`s incredible to me, I don`t know if it`s you too,
Lawrence, we`ve entered an era of no vetoes, where Congress doesn`t even
low the president to exercise the constitutional power of the veto. They
won`t even let him do it. They say if he`s already for it, Mitch McConnell
who`s already supposed to be a powerful man, has said, I won`t do anything
unless Donald Trump says I can.
That`s extraordinary because the Constitution was designed to have each of
these bodies jealousy guard their power. And I just think Americans are
not accustomed to that jealous guarding of power. We`re going to get
accustomed to it now, because the new speaker of the House is going to
guard the use of power. I think what we`re going to start is to talk about
the way she intends to use her power.
O`DONNELL: And, Michelle, I do want to pause and reflect over this
historic moment. Here we are as Nancy Pelosi herself pointed out today,
100 years away from women getting the right to vote in this country. And
we have a woman speaker for the second time, the same woman. And we have
many more women members of Congress and women members of the Senate we`ve
ever had before but we`re still not at 50/50. We`re not close to 50/50.
And one of the measures we`re looking at in those 100 years is how long it
takes a denied population to catch up once you open the door.
GOLDBERG: I mean, it was so striking the side by side visuals. Like you
said, it`s not a parody, but it`s still a freshman class on the Democratic
side unlike anything we`ve ever had before. So you had this panorama of
America, all of these incredibly inspiring stories. These first – you
know, it was the sort of America that a lot of us had thought that we lost
when Donald Trump became president.
And then you have, you know, not just this overwhelmingly white male older
Republican caucus but Donald Trump trying to steal some of Nancy Pelosi`s
power by giving this sort of ridiculous address to the press, backed by
four identical bald clones in the White House briefing room, right? It`s
hard to imagine a starker representation of two different Americas.
And I also have to say, you know, that this is the first time that I
actually felt like maybe something good has come out of the calamity of
Donald Trump`s presidency, right? Because he didn`t, you know, build his
wall, and he`s not going to accomplish most of what he set out to
accomplish. But he did build that. I don`t think a lot of those people in
the Democratic side would have run, would have given up the lives they had
lived before they entered into politics had not this kind of national
emergency with his election.
O`DONNELL: Joy, I want to get your reaction to what you saw on the House
REID: You know, it`s extraordinary. Nancy Pelosi prioritized children.
There was an amazing moment where she brought not only her grandchildren
but all the children in the gallery up to stand with her as she took the
oath of office, as she raised her right hand.
And I think she was at that moment giving you sort of the both sides of the
spectrum of what women bring to power. She`s obviously somebody not
embarrassed about seeking and pursuing power. She`s not embarrassed to
wield power, but she also is still a grandmother. She`s also still a woman
who cares about children, has a nurturing side and isn`t embarrassed to
And I think for a lot of women in trying to figure out how do you balance,
how do you field authority, whether political authority, authority in the
business world, that is the balance. How much of each of those two sides
of yourself do you bring to the table? Because Donald Trump as Michelle
said is not accustomed to deal with a powerful equal, particularly a woman
who`s a powerful equal.
This is going to be an extraordinary education for him. I think he`s going
to learn a huge civics lesson. He`s never had a board of directors. But
now he`s got a woman who`s as much a CEO as he is. And it`s going to be
interesting to see how he navigates a world in which Nancy Pelosi is a
O`DONNELL: Speaker Nancy Pelosi with Joy Reid is going to be the show
tomorrow. You can watch Joy Reid moderated town hall right here on MSNBC
with Speaker Nancy Pelosi at 10:00 p.m., right here tomorrow night.
Joy Reid, Michelle Goldberg, thank you both for starting us off tonight. I
really appreciate it.
Congressman Eric Swalwell is going to join us coming up. And also, Senator
Chuck Schumer says the pressure in the shutdown is now on Republican
senators who are up for re-election next year. And two of those Republican
senators have already defected from the Republican position on the
And another part of the worst year of Donald Trump`s life looks like it`s
going to be the stock market and possibly the economy. That`s coming up.
O`DONNELL: Breaking news on the night is that Nancy Pelosi-led House of
Representatives has quickly passed a package of legislation to reopen the
federal government. One of the bills is temporary funding bill for the
department of homeland security that would allow the president and Congress
to negotiate how the full funding for homeland security this year will
include the border wall that Donald Trump promised Mexico would happily pay
In addition to that, Speaker Pelosi pushed through six spending bills that
would fully fund the rest of the fiscal year, the parts of the government
that have been shutdown by President Trump after he reversed his position
and withdrew his support for those very same spending bills. Last month,
Senate Democrats and Senate Republicans unanimously voted for essentially
the same package of legislation.
The House passed bills, now go to the Senate where Majority Leader Mitch
McConnell has said he does not intend to bring any bill Tuesday a vote that
President Trump has not agreed already to sign. But President Trump`s
promise to sign legislation has no meaning and Mitch McConnell knows that
since the president already promised to sign this legislation last month,
and then withdrew that promise after Mitch McConnell and the Senate
unanimously passed that legislation.
The Senate`s Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer now thinks the pressure is on
Trump and McConnell in the Senate.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY), SENATE MINORITY LEADER: It puts a lot of
pressure not only Trump but on Leader McConnell. And remember, it`s not
like last session when we had all these vulnerable Democrats who were up
for re-election. Now, they have a bunch of vulnerable Republicans up for
re-election. Republicans in the Senate will realize that it`s hurting
them, hurting them, hurting them, and they will say we want this. They
will go to McConnell and McConnell will say, look, we`ve got to make some
kind of agreement.
(END AUDIO VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: The Pelosi Schumer strategy already seems to be working. Two
Republicans, Cory Gardner of Colorado and Susan Collins of Maine, have both
said they support the funding bills. Both of them are up for re-election
next year in states that Hillary Clinton won in 2016. And so, the worst
year of President Trump`s life legislatively has begun with at least two
defections from the Republican ranks in the United States Senate.
Joining our discussion now, Ron Klain, former senior adviser to Joe Biden
and President Obama, the former chief counsel for the Senate Judiciary
Committee. Also with us, former Republican Congressman David Jolly from
And, David Jolly, I want to start with you because in the House tonight, we
had a total of seven Republican defections, seven Republicans voted for
that package of spending bills, the six spending bills that had nothing to
do with border security. Five of them voted for that temporary funding of
the Department of Homeland Security while the border security issue gets
What do you make of that total of seven defections from Republicans in the
DAVID JOLLY, FORMER REPUBLICAN FLORIDA CONGRESSMAN: Look, it`s interesting
on day one because Nancy Pelosi and House Democrats did the right thing.
And so, there are fewer Republican moderates in the House as a result of
many of the losses on November 6th. But what we saw there are still
Republicans who know opening the government and reaching consensus on
something that`s already been agreed to is the right way forward.
But, Lawrence, I will tell you, Chuck Schumer, spot on, they are
triangulating Mitch McConnell. And the story this week and the next two
years is going to be a Mitch McConnell dynamic, because, often,
particularly in shutdowns, is the person that seems least reasonable that
often loses shutdowns politically.
In this case, there`s no reason Mitch McConnell should not allow a vote on
something the Senate has already agreed to. He is protecting the president
with whom he really doesn`t have a pure alliance. It`s more an alliance of
And so, if Mitch McConnell`s going to spend the next two years being the
wall that protects Donald Trump, he needs to be very careful because we
know what happens when Donald Trump decides to turn on you.
O`DONNELL: Ron Klain, I want to read you the statements of Senator Collins
and Senator Gardner, because as a Senate expert, I think you`re going to
know exactly what they`re saying here, as well anyone out there in the
Susan Collins, very much as Chuck Schumer predicted, has put out a written
statement saying, my goal is to get government reopened as fast as possible
and six of those bills we`ve got agreements on. And so, I`d like those
bills signed into law. That`s Susan Collins defecting from Donald Trump
and Mitch McConnell.
Here`s Cory Gardner, a Republican senator, saying, I do not think shutting
down the government is ever the right answer. We should pass bipartisan
appropriations bills that includes money for border security, while we
continue to fight for more border security money.
Ron Klain, where does this go in the Senate?
RON KLAIN, FORMER CHIEF COUNSEL, SENATE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: Well, I mean,
I think David Jolly was exactly right here, that the wagons are circling
around Mitch McConnell and not in a good way. He`s got 53 senators, he`s
lost two. That means he can only lose two more. And we`re really at day
zero of this controversy.
They just passed the bill in the last hour. I think the pressure is going
to build. A bipartisan solution. Democrats and the handful of Republicans
in the House said, let`s reopen the government this way. This bill has
passed the Senate unanimously, Democrats, Republicans, together in the
Senate, and now really just two men stand in the way of reopening the
government, Mitch McConnell and Donald Trump.
And let me tell you something, Lawrence, the wall they should be worried
about is not a the wall at the south border, but Wall Street where we had
another gigantic drop today in where the last thing that`s underpinning
Trump`s survival here, which is strong economic results is starting to move
towards recession. If that turns, it`s a collapse for Trump, a collapse
for Republicans on Capitol Hill.
O`DONNELL: Now, David Jolly, consider Mitt Romney who has a former
governor – I know governors when they`re out there in the country and 50
states watching government shutdowns in Washington, they shake their heads,
they cannot believe that it ever happens because it basically can`t really
happen in a state government.
So, here`s Mitt Romney facing his first government shutdown, and what does
he do about it? And one of the first things he`s going to read about it is
his colleague western Senator Cory Gardner, Republican senator like Mitt
Romney from Utah, saying I don`t think shutting down the government is ever
the right answer.
If Mitt Romney just takes that one sentence to heart, I don`t think it`s
ever the right answer, he will with ease move into the Susan Collins-Cory
Gardner column here.
JOLLY: That`s right. And this is where the Senate may break. It`s a very
different dynamic, as you and Ron know in the House. Look, the House has
been the lapdog for Donald Trump for the past two years, House Republicans.
But it`s to be expected politically.
The Senate, though, always tries to posture itself as really an independent
body that`s above some of these issues. They each think of themselves as
presidents themselves. And so, to be playing a foil and fee be a lapdog to
Donald Trump is not going to play well with very individual senators like
Frankly, Rick Scott from the state of Florida, is he really going to be a
lapdog of Donald Trump or not, considering the fact that Donald Trump keeps
moving the goal posts? I mean they`re going into battle with a general, if
you will, who keeps moving the goal posts in the middle of the battle and
he`s going to leave all these senators out on the field and politically
vulnerable, which is why you`re seeing Gardner and Collins. I think you`re
going to see others begin to say, we can`t stick with you, Mr. President.
O`DONNELL: And, Ron, we know strategically as we all do in this discussion
that the one thing that the leaders in the House, leaders in the Senate
need to do in this kind of situation is hold onto every one of their
members in any vote. Nancy Pelosi did that tonight. Kevin McCarthy did
not. He lost seven Republicans on the first test vote of the shutdown.
That means on the next one, he is more likely to lose more of them because
those seven defections gives strength to any others who are considering
KLAIN: Lawrence, it`s an amazing thing to see. You and I both worked in
the Senate. We`re used to the fact that the Democrats are the party of
defections, that Democratic leaders have to desperately hang onto their
members. Nancy Pelosi got every single Democrat to vote with her tonight.
Kevin McCarthy lost Republican votes.
And that`s a new order on Capitol Hill. It shows how strong Speaker Pelosi
is in her party. It shows how united Democrats are facing down Donald
Trump. And the problems of Republicans in the House and in the Senate are
going to face.
And I think, you know, Speaker Pelosi has to call the president tomorrow
and say, hey, you want funding for the wall, call the speaker of the
Mexican parliament because you promised they would pay for the damn thing,
and let them pay for the wall, let`s get the government open.
O`DONNELL: Mexico will pay for the wall will be my negotiating position in
any discussion with Donald Trump about that wall.
Ron Klain, David Jolly, thank you both for joining us tonight. Really
And coming up, we have a new member of the new Democratic majority in the
House. Congressman Eric Swalwell will join us to discuss impeachment and
what promises to be Donald Trump`s worst year ever.
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, HOST, THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL: The worst
part of what will surely be the worst year of Donald Trump`s life will
probably occur in the House Judiciary Committee which has jurisdiction over
the impeachment process.
During the congressional campaigns, Nancy Pelosi discouraged talk of
impeachment, but she did not do that today when NBC`s Savannah Guthrie
asked her about impeachment.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SAVANNAH GUTHRIE, ANCHOR, NBC NEWS: You`ve said it would be sad and
divisive for the country to pursue impeachment. Are you willing to rule it
NANCY PELOSI, SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES: Well, we have to
wait and see what happens with the Mueller report. We shouldn`t be
impeaching for a political reason, and we shouldn`t avoid impeachment for a
political reason. So we just have to see how it comes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: And today, on the first day of the 116th Congress, a senior
Democrat in Nancy Pelosi`s own California delegation, Brad Sherman
introduced Articles of Impeachment against Donald Trump for obstruction of
justice in the firing of James Comey, which Congressman Sherman says was
done to impede and interfere with the FBI investigation of the President,
his administration and his campaign.
Republicans are gearing up apparently for possible impeachment proceedings
in the House Judiciary Committee. Axios reports that Republicans on the
committee are seeking an investigative counsel, an attorney with several
years of investigative or litigation experience.
Joining our discussion now, Democratic Congressman Eric Swalwell of
California. He`s a member of the House Judiciary Committee and the House
Intelligence Committee. Congressman Swalwell, thank you very much for
joining us tonight.
I think we all saw you, by the way, on the House floor today with your new
baby. There we are. What`s the baby`s name?
ERIC SWALWELL, U.S. CONGRESSMAN, CALIFORNIA, DEMOCRAT: Cricket, and I
wanted her to see Nancy Pelosi sworn in as a woman, so the first woman
Speaker sworn in again. So for my daughter to see that, it was very, very
O`DONNELL: Let`s hope she sees many more. I want to get your reaction
today to the Speaker`s comments about impeachment, which sounds like a
change of tone from what she was saying during the campaign.
SWALWELL: Well, Donald Trump is either going to be impeached by the
Congress or impeached at the ballot box. It`s really a race as to which
one will happen first. I think for the sake of democracy, just as Speaker
Pelosi said, I`d rather see it done at the ballot box, but we`re not going
to shirk our responsibility and give him the Presidential immunity he has
Lawrence, also if this was Donald Trump justice, Donald Trump would already
be impeached by now because he makes wild accusations, rushes to judgment,
doesn`t rely on any evidence.
That`s not what`s going to happen. We`re going to look at the Mueller
report. We are going to look at the emoluments clause. We are going to
look at these other abuses of power. And if there is evidence, we`re going
to follow it. We are going to, you know, run it down, but together an
airtight case and seek bipartisan buy in.
O`DONNELL: And Congressman, what do you believe are the central - should
be the central focuses of investigations of the President and his
administration that you in the House are now empowered to carry out?
SWALWELL: I would say first how they impact every day Americans. So, you
know, what he`s done at the Department of Justice to not enforce the
requirement that, you know, you can`t be charged more for a pre-existing
condition by an insurance company - that affects every day Americans, but
also the rule of law.
We all have to follow the law. No one is above it, and that certainly
applies to the President. So making sure that he, too, is not above it in
the way that he has fired his investigator, or the way he`s tried to pick
his judges, the way that he`s tried to get rid of his Attorney General or
put in place an Attorney General that would try and end the Mueller
So I think it`s really explaining to the American people that
investigations matter whether it`s upholding the Constitution, the rule of
law or issues that affect them at their kitchen table.
O`DONNELL: Congressman Neal who is going to be the Chairman of the House
Ways and Means Committee apparently intends to introduce a bill that will
require presidential candidates to release ten years of tax returns and Ron
Wideman in the Senate wants to introduce a companion bill requiring
presidential candidates to release ten years of tax returns.
You might be a presidential candidate. You`ve talked about exploring that.
Is that something you would support, releasing ten years of tax returns?
SWALWELL: It is something I would support, Lawrence. And for me it would
mean just going back to my turbo tax releases for most of the time I have
been in Congress until I got married and my wife said, I think it`s time
that we get an accountant.
But I do think that the American people should see any candidate`s taxes.
I think you need to know if a candidate for President has conflicts of
interests and if those interests are contradictory to American values. So
transparency, I think should win out here.
O`DONNELL: Now, obviously that`s a bill that would affect all Democratic
candidates. It`s interesting to note, by the way that Chairman Neal is
from Massachusetts and his senior senator Elizabeth Warren who is running
for President has already released ten years of tax returns.
But when I think when people hear that, they think about it as being aimed
at Donald Trump who has not released any tax returns and do you think there
could be Republican support for that bill? Or will they try to protect the
President from having to release tax returns?
SWALWELL: Lawrence, I`m afraid that most of them overwhelmingly will seek
to protect the President, and that`s disappointing, but they have gone out
of their way to take out the shovels, bury all of the evidence that we`ve
seen in many of these investigations to protect the President; and I expect
that even if it was in the interest of the country and even if it meant
that multiple billionaire Democratic candidates for President would have to
disclose their taxes, I think Republicans will do anything right now to
shield Donald Trump from lawful investigation.
O`DONNELL: Let me just get a quick word from you about the seven
Republicans who defected from the Republican position on the House floor
tonight in voting to reopen the government, is that the beginning of what
could be more defections in the House?
SWALWELL: It was the right thing to do, Lawrence. It was a bipartisan
vote, and it was actually a vote that had already passed 100-0 with
Republican and Democratic support in the Senate and I expect there`s going
to be more votes like that. And most Americans at home ask me all the time
in my district, why isn`t there a vote in Congress on the DREAM Act, on
background checks, on infrastructure when there`s consensus among the
And that`s because for the last eight years, Republicans have just
prevented those votes from coming forward. And so now, Republican members
will get an opportunity to vote on issues like this. And I think you`ll
see more bipartisanship in this new 116th Congress.
O`DONNELL: Congressman Eric Swalwell, thank you for joining us on this
important night. Really appreciate it.
SWALWELL: My pleasure. Thanks, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Anytime, thank you. And when we come back, the stock market
got worse today for investors and for President Trump, and so the worst
year of Donald Trump`s life could include Wall Street turning against him,
as the national debt and deficit continue to grow and the Trump tariffs
continue to hurt American consumers.
O`DONNELL: Here is what President Trump did not say today about the stock
market. You`ve got that? This is what President Trump did not say today
about the stock market.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Every day for the last long
period of days, the stock market, meaning companies, have been hitting new
We`re very proud of our stock market, what`s happened since I became
The stock market reached yet another all-time in history, all-time high
Have you all been helped? I think so.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Well, you weren`t helped today. Today, the stock market closed
lower again. The Dow Jones average was down 660 points. If you are a
schoolteacher or a nurse with a retirement fund that`s invested in a broad
base of stocks as most retirement funds are, you lost money today and you
lost some real money in 2018 in what was the worst performance by the stock
market in ten years.
Toward the end of the first year of the Trump presidency, Donald Trump
actually said the reason our stock market is so successful is because of
me. He has not said that about the stock market going down for the last
But today, the President tweeted some economical eyes to try to make his
voters feel better. He said, “The United States Treasury has taken in many
billions of dollars from the tariffs we are charging China and other
countries that have not treated us fairly.” We are not charging China
anything in tariffs. China and no other foreign country ever pays an
American tariffs are sales taxes imposed in America and paid by Americans.
American companies that buy imported goods and American consumers that buy
imported goods. That is why when Donald Trump imposed tariffs on washing
machines made in China, the price of washing machines in America went up.
And you didn`t see the word tariff on your bill.
When you purchased your new washing machine, but the American company that
imported that washing machine and then sold it to you already paid the
Trump tariff to the United States Treasury for your washing machine. And
then increased the price of your washing machine to you so that you then
paid the importing company for the Trump tariff that they already paid to
The Trump tariffs are collecting American money from Americans. Not one
penny of Trump tariff money that has gone into the United States` Treasury
was paid by China and never will be.
One of wall street`s favorite stocks of all-time, Apple shocked investors
this week and created more downward momentum for the stock market by
announcing that for the first time in 16 years, the company is reducing its
estimate of how much money it will make this quarter because of the Trump
And Kevin Hassett, the Chairman of the President`s Council of Economic
Advisers said today, quote, “It`s not going to be just Apple, I think that
there are a heck of a lot of U.S. companies that have a lot of sales in
China that are basically going to be watching their earnings be downgraded
And so after the huge increase in the deficit and the national debt created
by the Trump tax cuts and after the increased costs imposed on Americans by
the Trump tariffs and the business losses imposed on American farmers by
the Trump tariffs and the worst year in the stock market in ten years after
the very worst December in the stock market since the Great Depression of
the 1930s, will the economic news for Donald Trump be even worse this year
in 2019? Will the Trump economic policies make the worst year of Donald
Trump`s life even worse?
Jared Bernstein will join us with that, next.
O`DONNELL: So, will Donald Trump lose his bragging points about the
economy in what will surely be the worst year of Donald Trump`s life?
Nobel Prize winning economist and “The New York Times” columnist Paul
Krugman issued a series of tweets tonight saying “Everyone is focused on
the political news as they should be, but there is some important economic
news, too, and not just the market having another fainting spell. It`s
becoming clear that the Trump boom, such as it was, is over.”
“Nowcasts of fourth quarter growth suggests that it was around 2.5%, not
much above trend.”
“Very recent data and leading indicators suggest a significant slowdown
currently underway, not a recession, but growth probably under 2%.”
“All this suggests that the growth spurt in the second and third quarters
was no more durable and less impressive than the growth spurt in mid-2014,
which I don`t remember anyone hailing as an Obama boom.:
Joining our discussion now, Jared Bernstein, senior fellow at the Center on
Budget and Policy Priorities and a former chief economist to Vice-President
Biden, and back with us is Ron Klain.
Jared, your reaction to Paul Krugman`s points with where we might be headed
with the economy and what the Trump tariffs might be doing to nudge us
JARED BERNSTEIN, SENIOR FELLOW, CENTER ON BUDGET AND POLICY PRIORITIES:
I`m in full agreement with Paul`s assessment there. And in fact, one of
the things I`ve been writing a lot about lately is as the fiscal stimulus
from the tax cuts and some of the deficit spending that the last Congress
did begin to fade later this year.
Growth is going to settle back down to its earlier trend rate just as Paul
said there. Eventually, that`s going to lead to slower job growth and
higher unemployment. For now, just to be clear, the economy and the job
market in particular is still in a solid place.
But, you know, the stock market is forward looking, and it is recording the
fact that Trump`s tariffs are definitely hurting sales of some of our key
companies. Apple was off 10% its stock price today. That`s a remarkable
drop. And it`s not every day that we can point to a reason why the stock
market contracted as much as it did, over 600 points on the Dow.
This is clearly a function of the tariffs. And you explained - you did a
great public service there. You explained it perfectly. Those tariffs are
paid by American companies. They either take it in their profit margins or
they pass it along to consumers in higher prices.
O`DONNELL: And tariffs do inhibit imports from those countries, which
means, Ron Klain, when countries retaliate as China has done to, in say,
the soybean market, it means that American soybean farmers cannot, in
effect, sell soybeans in China because that government is in control of
those purchases, and simply says, we won`t buy any. We just won`t buy any
of your soybeans. We`ll go to another supplier.
RON KLAIN, SENATE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE FORMER CHIEF COUNSEL: Yes, Lawrence,
I mean, you`re looking ahead to 2019 tonight. But with 2018 over, we can
now look at what is the stupidest thing Donald Trump said in 2018. It`s a
long list. But one candid as March 2, 2018 where Trump said, “Trade wars
are good and easy to win,” okay. And so, you know, that statement is now -
we`re living with that right now.
In November of 2018, zero American soybeans were sold in China, none.
We`ll see the final total for December, it might also be none. And for
American farmers in the heartland and key parts of this country, they spent
years building up the soybean markets, but right now, my home state of
Indiana, the price for soybeans is lower than the cost of farmers planting
So they`re losing money on every soybean they planted. And that is going
to really hurt. It`s pinching farmers out there. It`s pinching farmers in
the heartland and the consequence of the trade war Donald Trump started,
and he promised it would be easy to win.
O`DONNELL: Jared Bernstein, I think it may be - you might have the same
experience I do, which is that I`ve never seen a Federal elected official
at any level come into office with an understanding, a full and working
understanding of international trade when I was working in the Senate
Finance Committee with jurisdiction over international trade, I watched
that learning curve in a lot of senators. You watch it in new presidents
because new presidents, frequently the one I working with, governor of
Arkansas had no experience in this.
And for most people, it`s actually a pretty quick learning curve because
people like you sit them down and take them through it.
We have not seen Donald Trump learn anything about this subject in two
years of the presidency.
BERNSTEIN: Donald Trump is not going to learn anything about anything from
anyone. I think that`s pretty much baked in the cake. And unfortunately,
he has some advisors who don`t understand this either.
And I think the Apple case is really interesting in this regard, Lawrence.
The problem is that globalization - and what I would have tried to explain
to someone in that position is that globalization at this point is an
omelet that can`t be unscrambled when it comes to these trade flows.
That doesn`t mean that it`s all good. It has downsides and we have to do a
lot to help the workers who have been hurt by it. Trump doesn`t do that.
What you can`t do is punish the trade flows themselves, because at the end
of the day, you`re going to end up hurting American companies, American
stock markets, investors, and workers themselves.
O`DONNELL: And you end up trying to pick winners and losers within your
own economy, which is something that all Republicans have always believed
government is really terrible at and government has proven it`s terrible
We`ve got to end it there. Jared Bernstein, Ron Klain, thank you both for
joining us tonight. Really appreciate it.
Tonight`s “Last Word” is next.
O`DONNELL: Their people have been here for thousands and thousands of
years, thousands of years before the European settlers arrived in what is
now called America. But it took 230 years of this government, for the
House of Representatives, to have its first women members who are Native
The C-SPAN cameras today captured New Mexico Congresswoman Deb Haaland of
the Laguna Pueblo, and Kansas Congresswoman Sharice Davids of the Ho-Chunk
Nation sharing an emotional moment after being sworn in.
Congresswoman Haaland took her oath in traditional dress and was joined at
the Capitol by her family. That is tonight`s “Last Word.” The “The 11th
Hour with Brian Williams” starts now.
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