Federal workers could miss first paycheck. TRANSCRIPT: 1/7/2019, The Last Word w. Lawrence O’Donnell

Guests:
David Frum, Adam Reilly
Transcript:

Show: THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL

Date: January 7, 2019

Guest: David Frum, Adam Reilly

 

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST:  Good evening, Rachel. 

 

And we now know exactly how far behind you I am. 

 

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST, “ALL IN”:  What do you mean? 

 

O`DONNELL:  I mean six years.  I mean you were on “The Simpsons” in 2013,

and I was on “The Simpson`s” last night. 

 

MADDOW:  Yay. 

 

O`DONNELL:  And that is – that is how far behind Rachel Maddow I am, six

full years. 

 

Hey, Rachel, tomorrow night. 

 

MADDOW:  That was so good. 

 

O`DONNELL:  Tomorrow night – we`re going to leave that picture up later in

the hour. 

 

Tomorrow night, how much time do you want?  Because apparently the

president`s going to steal about eight minutes of your show, maybe a little

more. 

 

MADDOW:  And Democratic rebuttal maybe. 

 

O`DONNELL:  And Democratic rebuttal.  They want equal time, which I hope

they get.  So I want you to have as much time as you need and I got some

space here at 10:00. 

 

MADDOW:  I`ll be fine. 

 

O`DONNELL:  Don`t worry about the bell going off at 10:00 tomorrow night. 

 

MADDOW:  I`ll be fine.  I`ll be fine. 

 

O`DONNELL:  OK.  Totally up to you. 

 

MADDOW:  Thank you, Lawrence. 

 

O`DONNELL:  Thank you, Rachel. 

 

Well, we are here tonight because of the failing memory of an old man. 

Seventy years old is old for a presidential candidate, at least we always

thought it was, and Donald Trump`s ability to retain information was never

good and obviously was getting much worse when he was contemplating his run

for president, and so, according to a “New York Times” report this weekend,

the wall, the wall was just a way to help Donald Trump`s failing memory. 

 

“The Times” reports as Mr. Trump began exploring a presidential run in

2014, his political advisers landed on the idea of a border wall as a

pneumonic device of sorts as a way to make sure their candidate would

remember to talk about getting tough on immigration, which was to be a

signature issue of his nascent campaign. 

 

How do we get him to continue to talk about immigration?  Sam Nunberg, one

of Mr. Trump`s early political advisers recalled telling Roger Stone,

another adviser.  We`re going to get him to talk about he`s going to build

a wall. 

 

And so, the 70-year-old builder running for president was able to remember

that there was something he wanted to build, and his supporters turned that

into a chant, and he told them who would pay for it.  Mexico will pay for

the wall, and because of that lie from that man with that failing memory,

we are now in the 17th day of a partial shutdown of the American government

because the Mexican government will not pay for the wall that president

Trump now wants American taxpayers to pay for. 

 

Today, the president of the United States requested time on all major

broadcast television networks tomorrow night at 9:00 p.m. to lie to the

American people and the world. 

 

The White House requested about eight minutes of time from the

entertainment networks to invade their primetime schedules with an address

by President Trump from the oval office.  The networks thought about it,

was not an easy decision, and they granted that time to the president, and

now, the Democratic congressional leaders, Senator Chuck Schumer and Nancy

Pelosi have requested equal time to respond to the president. 

 

The chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Jerry Nadler, expects one

thing from the president`s speech.  I expect the president to lie to the

American people.  Why do I expect this?  Because he has been lying to the

American people. 

 

Kind of logical, the president is going to lie.  The president intends to

tell the world why we need a Trump wall on the southern border and why the

government must remain partially shutdown and unfunded until Congress

agrees to pay for the wall that Donald Trump promised Mexico would pay for. 

Donald Trump will lie tomorrow night about terrorists entering this country

across the southern border.  We just don`t know yet exactly which version

of that big lie he will tell. 

 

The official Trump White House lie as told by the White House press

secretary is that 4,000 known or suspected terrorists come into our country

illegally at the southern border.  That is an invented number.  NBC News

has reported today that U.S. customs and border protection encountered only

six immigrants at ports of entry on the U.S.-Mexico border in the first

half of fiscal year 2018 whose names were on a federal government list of

known or suspected terrorists according to CBP data provided to Congress in

May 2018 and obtained by NBC News.  Six. 

 

The total number of people encountered at our borders in a typical year

whose names appear on the federal government`s list of so-called known or

suspected terrorists is about 2,000.  In 2017, there were 2,554, and almost

all of them are being encountered at airports.  Airports are by far the

most vulnerable point of entry in the United States for known or suspected

terrorists, and President Trump has not done one thing in response to that

known threat and has not said one thing in response to that known threat. 

 

The president will lie about that tomorrow and pretend that there is a much

bigger terrorist threat at our southern border.  The president will

probably drop his lie that former presidents have told him they wished they

had built a wall on the southern border.  Every living former president has

now publicly denied any such conversation with Donald Trump, and today,

Jimmy Carter joined that group in a written statement saying, I have not

discussed the border wall with President Trump and do not support him on

the issue. 

 

Here`s a lie that the president might tell tomorrow night. 

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  I may declare a national

emergency dependent on what`s going to happen over the next few days. 

 

REPORTER:  So you don`t need congressional approval to build the wall? 

 

TRUMP:  No, we could use – absolutely, we can call a national emergency

because of the security of our country, absolutely.  We can do it. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

O`DONNELL:  That is absolutely a lie, the president does not have that

power in this situation, and if he issued an order like that, it would be

challenged in court immediately, the way his Muslim ban was challenged in

the first week of his presidency, and federal judges would stop the

president`s illegal order as quickly as they stop his Muslim ban. 

 

The president got very good legal advice on that matter this morning from

Fox News senior legal analyst, former judge, Andrew Napolitano. 

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

MARIA BARTIROMO, FBN HOST:  The president said he`s threatening he will

declare a national emergency to build that wall.  Can he do that? 

 

ANDREW NAPOLITANO, FORMER JUDGE:  In a word, no.  That`s not me saying no

because the Supreme Court said no when Harry Truman attempted to do that,

when he – there was a steel strike during the Korean War.  He asked the

Congress to authorize him to seize the steel mills and operate them against

the strikers` wishes, and produce steel for our troops who desperately

needed it in the Korean War.  The Supreme Court said no, you can`t do that. 

 

Congress can do it.  Congress can pay for the steel mills and operate them,

but the president can`t do it on his own.  Stated differently, the Supreme

Court has made it very clear even in times of emergency, the president of

the United States of America cannot spend money unless it`s been authorized

by the Congress. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

O`DONNELL:  Leading off our discussion now, Maria Teresa Kumar, the

president and CEO of Voto Latino.  Also joining us, Jason Johnson, politics

editor at TheRoot.com, and Tim O`Brien, the executive editor of Bloomberg

Opinion.  All three are MSNBC contributors.

 

And, Maria Teresa, we have a report from “Politico” tonight indicating that

the president and the White House are worried about Republican members of

the House now peeling off and voting for the Democratic bill if Nancy

Pelosi, if and when Nancy Pelosi brings it to a vote again.  I shouldn`t

call it the Democratic bill.  This is a bill that passed the United States

Senate unanimously in a voice vote, no senators challenging it, Democrats

and Republicans supporting it. 

 

“Politico” is reporting that a senior House GOP aide said that Kevin

McCarthy, the Republican leader and his top lieutenants believe 15 to 25

Republicans will vote with Democrats this week, possibly even more, and,

Maria Teresa, starting to calculate what is the number at which that could

grow to override a possible presidential veto? 

 

MARIA TERESA KUMAR, PRESIDENT AND CEO, VOTO LATINO:  Well, you just hit the

nail on the head.  We just elected a whole new Congress that came into the

House that were sworn in because the American people said I don`t care what

your shenanigans are, Mr. President.  I don`t care that you keep trying to

basically make these individuals, these caravan of individuals coming to

our southern border and trying to scare us and making the midterm elections

all about building a wall and about refugees and seeking asylum.  Instead,

what the American people said is that they were going to vote in a new

Congress for new blood. 

 

Behind closed doors, a lot of the Republicans are basically making

calculations not only for their immediate future but for their future in

2020, and they want to continue having these positions of power.  They

also, what I`m hearing bind closed doors, also folks are saying that they

are finally feeling that they are free to actually do the governing that

they`ve chosen as public servants, and that`s one of the things I think

that is going to be very difficult for McCarthy, because McCarthy has been

trying to keep the Freedom Caucus alive as much as possible. 

 

And if Nancy Pelosi is able to bring in so many Republicans, not only

(INAUDIBLE) the Republican leadership and Trump are far much more troubled

than they could have imagined. 

 

O`DONNELL:  And, Jason, on that first test vote, seven Republicans moved

over to the Democratic side.  The Republicans now fearing as many as 25,

possibly more.  The magic number is 55.  If 55 Republicans move over, then

you can override the veto, and, of course, if that kind of number – if

that kind of movement is happening in the House, Mitch McConnell will not

be able to block a vote in the Senate or already there were a couple of

Republican senators saying we should vote on this. 

 

JASON JOHNSON, POLITICS EDITOR, THEROOT.COM:  Right.  Lawrence in a couple

of weeks, the Republicans are going to have to fold.  They don`t really

have a choice.  Not every agency has run out of money yet, but you`re going

to have several more agencies running out of money over the next three or

four days.  You`re going to have small towns in Midwestern and western

states where the only employer is the department of interior or forestry or

federal marshals, as more and more people start missing paychecks, as we

start going into later parts of January or early parts of February, I don`t

think it will take that long, the Republicans are going to fold. 

 

And so, the question is not going to be if this eventually is going to get

stopped.  The government shutdown is going to end.  The question is going

to be, how do the Republicans prepare to explain their betrayal to

President Trump? 

 

Because all of this, most Republicans don`t think this is a good idea. 

It`s impractical.  The wall has – there`s no functional historical or

economic justification for having this kind of a wall, ask they`ve only

done it out of loyalty to this president.  When they stab him in the back

and vote for what`s right, they`re going to have some explaining to do. 

 

O`DONNELL:  All reporting is indicating the Trump White House had no plan,

no strategic plan for a government shutdown and Donald Trump certainly

didn`t have one. 

 

And, Tim O`Brien, you are the least surprised person in the world to hear

that. 

 

KUMAR:  Shocking. 

 

O`DONNELL:  Because you, many reasons, you know Donald Trump better than

any of us, you`ve been sued by him for your book about him.  You crushed

him in that lawsuit about your book, and your piece today is headlined

“Trump was never a great deal maker and the shutdown proves it.”  And that

is one of the great ironies of the guy who had his phony best selling book

entitled “The Art of the Deal”.  Every business person I know in New York

says that no one knows less about the deal than Donald Trump. 

 

TIM O`BRIEN, AUTHOR, “TRUMPNATION”:  Yes, Lawrence, are we surprised at

this point that the White House had no plan, had no plan for how to deal

with this?  There`s not a crisis on the southern border.  There`s a crisis

in the Trump presidency, and the crisis is that he is inept.  He has boxed

himself into a corner around the budget negotiation, and he`s constantly

pushing the limits of how extreme he can get to try to claw back federal

funds so he can build a wall that nobody in his party supports, and no one

in the opposition supports, and everyone else holds all the cards. 

 

He made a very crucial mistake early on in December when he said to Schumer

and Pelosi that he`d be happy to take on responsibility for the shutdown,

and anybody who`s been in Washington, any politician who`s been in

Washington for any length of time knows that voters grow very weary very

quickly of government shutdowns, and the person who has that saddled around

their neck doesn`t come off very well.  Newt Gingrich learned this in 1995

and `96 at the hands of Bill Clinton. 

 

Donald Trump because he is not a student of that history, because he is not

steeped in policy, and because he`s inept went out on his own and said,

I`ll take on responsibility for the shutdown.  He`s left himself without

any negotiating leverage, and the Democrats can just sit by and watch this

spin for a certain period of time while the effects of the shutdown land at

his feet.  And as you noted, this is not a new problem.  During his

business career, he was a serial bankruptcy artist, he was routinely taken

to the cleaners by other deal makers who were more informed, more patient,

and more mature than he is, and those sort of things have come home to

roost in this negotiation. 

 

O`DONNELL:  And no one in the history of American government shutdowns has

gotten the language of the situation worse than Donald Trump.  We saw him

say in the Oval Office, I will do the shutdown.  I`ll take responsibility

for it.  I won`t blame you.  He couldn`t have gotten that worse. 

 

Now he`s out there actually pretending that he understands something about

the federal government workers who are on their way to missing their first

paycheck at the end of the week, and this is where he`s going to – there`s

not a single Trump supporter out there who thinks Donald Trump has any idea

what it`s like to be a government worker missing a government paycheck. 

Let`s listen to the way Donald Trump talked about that. 

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

TRUMP:  I can relate, and I`m sure that the people that are on the

receiving end will make adjustments.  They always do, and they`ll make

adjustments.  People understand exactly what`s going on, but many of those

people that won`t be receiving a paycheck, many of those people agree 100

percent with what I`m doing. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

O`DONNELL:  Maria Teresa, he can relate to TSA agents not receiving their

paychecks? 

 

KUMAR:  Let`s be absolutely clear.  A trust fund baby president has no idea

what the average American has when it comes to trying to put food on the

table, getting up in the morning, trying to make ends meet, having to make

sure not only they`re paying their bills but they`re also meeting their

medical obligations.  It`s nonsense.

 

And for every single federal employee right now who is furloughed or for

those individuals that are working to keep us safe, whether it`s the TSA

agents or those meat inspectors in rural America so that we can have safe

meat to eat at our table, I want to thank you because you`re doing above

and beyond the call of duty, something that this president not only has

neglected to do but has demured his own service for them. 

 

O`DONNELL:  Tim O`Brien, my favorite line in there after I can relate, the

absurdity of that, Donald Trump says they will make arrangements.  They`ll

just make arrangements.  Government workers whose living from paycheck to

paycheck who are running out of money. 

 

Donald Trump`s arrangement was always to just go to his father and say,

hey, my casinos are going bankrupt, could you please pay millions of

dollars into my casinos?

 

O`BRIEN:  Please show up with a lawyer and give me $3 million because

everyone can do that. 

 

And what does he mean by making arrangements, that they won`t pay their

rent?  That they won`t get medical treatment for their kids?  That they

won`t buy groceries.  Those aren`t things people make arrangements for. 

Those are hardcore sacrifices that imperiled people financially.

 

And he`s absolutely not in touch with any of that, and he`s never been

particularly sympathetic to the plight of working class people when he ran

his casinos in Atlantic City, he stiffed his vendors.  He has plowed willy-

nilly through his blue collar work force at his casinos.  He is not someone

who has any kind of personal or professional knowledge of the challenges

that working class folks face. 

 

O`DONNELL:  Tim O`Brien, Maria Teresa Kumar, and Jason Johnson, thank you

all for starting us off tonight. 

 

And when we come back, Americans are feeling the effects of the Trump

shutdown.  There is much more to come including the first missing paycheck

for federal workers this Friday.

 

And a presidential candidate went to Iowa this weekend and took questions

from reporters and from voters, and guess who asked the best questions? 

That`s coming up.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

O`DONNELL:  Donald Trump being Donald Trump means that Donald Trump will

want to set the record for government shutdowns, even if his shutdown is

only a partial shutdown of government departments and agencies that have

not already been fully funded for the year by Congress.  And to set that

record, Donald Trump has to keep the shutdown going until Saturday, which

will be the 22nd day of the Trump shutdown. 

 

The shutdown that Donald Trump told Democrats he would never blame them for

because he would take full responsibility for the shutdown.  President

Trump has scheduled a trip to the southern border on Thursday with the full

expectation and probably the desire that the shutdown is still a shutdown,

but the big problem looming for President Trump and Republicans in Congress

if they do set a record with this shutdown is that 800,000 federal workers

will miss their first payday on Friday.  Federal workers get their

paychecks twice a month and Friday is their first payday of the shutdown. 

 

In government shutdowns, nonessential workers are not allowed to report for

work because it is illegal for the government to force them to work for no

pay, but the government is forcing TSA agents to do that because their work

is considered essential.  There have been multiple reports of TSA agents

calling in sick, in effect refusing to work for no pay. 

 

Joining our discussion now, David Frum, senior editor for “The Atlantic”,

and Jason Johnson is back with us. 

 

And, David, this shutdown as it approaches the first missing paycheck

payday on Friday is already seeing reports of increasing defections among

House Republicans.  “Politico” report tonight indicating easily as many as

25 could vote for the bill if Nancy Pelosi brings it back up. 

 

DAVID FRUM, SENIOR EDITOR, THE ATLANTIC:  Well, Jason said in the last

segment, what the president must now be looking for is an exit, some kind

of face saving exit.  Some way he can blame this on somebody else.  And one

of the things Republicans in Congress need to be very careful of is that

they will do in a pinch, the president would prefer to blame Democrats but

he`s ready to blame them.  If this national emergency project is exposed as

illegal, it doesn`t have to work, it just has to create enough of a facade

that the president can later say I was ready to fight until the end, but

Mitch McConnell, he sold out and move the blame to him. 

 

O`DONNELL:  And, Jason Johnson, maybe the national emergency ploy that he

tries would – it would immediately be stopped by federal courts. 

 

JOHNSON:  Right. 

 

O`DONNELL:  Maybe that`s his way out, as David`s saying, he`s got to find a

thing where he says I tried and somebody else stopped me. 

 

JOHNSON:  One thing we know about Donald Trump, Lawrence, is he never lacks

for people to blame.  It could be the Democrats, it could be the liberals

on the court, even though those happen to be people who are appointed by

Republicans. 

 

It can be anyone he wants to blame.  I suspect at one point, once we start

hearing more stories about people missing paychecks and possibly be evicted

from their homes, he`ll blame landowners, he`ll say, hey, your landlord

should have been more reasonable.  There`s never going to be a point in any

of this crisis where Donald Trump will take responsibility for anything,

but I think that the problem is this.  At some point, he can only beat on

his own party so many times.  The Democrats don`t care.  They control the

House.

 

But at some point the Republicans will revolt.  They don`t like the idea

that they`re going to be taking this from both sides.  They`re getting

angry calls from their constituents and they`re going to get angry calls

from President Trump.  That`s not going to work, and he`s going to destroy

whatever kind of loyalty he still has. 

 

O`DONNELL:  David – 

 

FRUM:  Here`s the pressure that`s going to be on Republicans.  The money,

if this crazy scheme does somehow go forward, the president has to take his

emergency funds for the wall from another military project.  What project

would that be?  Something in somebody`s district, and Republicans are much

more likely to have military facilities in their districts than Democrats

are. 

 

O`DONNELL:  But it`s my suspicion, David, just legally that the whole thing

would be shut down before one dollar of the defense budget was spent in

this direction, that the courts would step in and shut it down that

quickly? 

 

FRUM:  As Jason said, that gives the president then, well, these liberal

judges.  I would have loved to do it.  He needs to look tough in his own

mind, and he needs to cover his retreat.  He got himself into a

predicament. 

 

Remember earlier, he was saying I want Nancy Pelosi to get me out of the

predicament.  Who does he think Nancy Pelosi is, his dad?  That`s not her

job.  That`s his dad`s job.

 

O`DONNELL:  And, Jason, we see the president.  We see Nancy Pelosi that`s

doing something that`s very simple.  She`s just saying the word no.  That`s

all she`s giving the president. 

 

Meantime, the president is publicly negotiating with himself in all sorts

of ways, including what is this wall?  Is it concrete, is it not concrete? 

He publicly negotiated a way concrete with himself without Nancy Pelosi

saying another word. 

 

JOHNSON:  Yes, the president`s negotiation skills are terrible.  He`s going

to be left naked at the poker table every time he goes up against Nancy

Pelosi.  She doesn`t have to give him anything anymore.  Watching the

president negotiating with himself, it`s like arguing with somebody over a

text message and they don`t respond and they just keep going and going and

going. 

 

The president keeps changing, first the wall was brick, now it`s stone and

that was Styrofoam, I don`t know what it`s going to be made up next.  At

the end of the day, he`s not going to get a wall.  Something I think that`s

important to think about, not just those Republicans, not when doing by the

president, getting calls from their constituents. 

 

You`ve got to look at Republicans who have seats on the border.  They know,

they saw this during the Bush administration when a fence was built, the

kind of lawsuits that are going to come from trying to build this wall, the

eminent domain fights.  You thought the Bundy Ranch was bad?  You will have

a revolution at the border if the president tries to get this done. 

 

And Republicans in Texas and Arizona, they know that, and they`re privately

trying to tell the president or at least Mitch McConnell, you`ve got to get

him away from this.  We can`t take this kind of fight. 

 

O`DONNELL:  And, David, the problems are more than Donald Trump ever

imagined.  Normally as we understand it, in a shutdown like this, the

Internal Revenue Service is not allowed to process tax returns and mail out

refund checks, and so, the Trump administration apparently has been trying

to figure out how do we mail out the refund checks even though we have a

shutdown, and there`s no agency of government more condemned as

nonessential than the IRS by Donald Trump and Republicans generally, and so

they would have to deem all IRS workers essential, bring them all back to

work, and somehow get them working on refunds. 

 

FRUM:  And he`s going to have a problem, an immigration problem, which is,

look, the immigration surge that has bothered the president a lot of the

president`s supporters, are these tens of thousands of Central American

border crossers who seek asylum, who present themselves at the U.S. border

and say I want to be released into the country pending a hearing, and I`m

coming with a minor so I can`t be detained. 

 

That problem won`t change, because what the wall does not do is change the

rules about asylum.  The border crossers and Central Americans don`t come

to deserted places.  What they want to do is turn themselves into an

authority to get their asylum hearing they maybe will never show up for. 

So, they`re going to – even if there`s a wall, assuming the wall has a

gate of some kind and crossings, that`s where the border crossers are going

to go and the asylum problem will reproduce itself just encased in a lot of

expensive concrete. 

 

O`DONNELL:  David Frum, Jason Johnson, thank you for joining us tonight. 

We really appreciate it.

 

And when we come back, Elizabeth Warren went to Iowa this weekend and

finally got a chance to talk to voters instead of just reporters about her

presidential campaign, and it seems voters liked what they heard.  You`ll

hear Elizabeth Warren on the campaign trail, and the voters who questioned

her. 

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Would you be willing to roll back the tax cuts that

Donald Trump gave –

 

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D), MASSACHUSETTS:  For the billionaires and the big

corporations?  You bet.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

O`DONNELL:  Senator Elizabeth Warren is still technically in the

exploratory stage of her presidential candidacy.  But in Iowa this weekend,

she ran like a full-on presidential candidate in the thick of the campaign. 

She took questions from Iowa voters and she took questions from reporters.

 

Guess who asked the best questions?  Reporters asked questions about the

process of campaigning and not about the policies she would pursue as

president.  Here is a sample of political reporters` questions for

Elizabeth Warren in Iowa this weekend.

 

What`s been your reaction to the very quick jump that you make comparisons

between your campaign and Hillary Clinton`s?  How important is this

jumpstart here in Iowa for you?  Can you just talk us through how and

whether you talk, think to yourself about the fact that you`re a female

candidate, how you plan on talking about that on the trail, or is it just

not an issue?

 

Here`s another question.  Congresswoman Talib used some profanity and

suggested the president used some profanity, suggested the president should

be impeached, a lot of people think that`s not appropriate discourse for

elected leaders.  What`s your opinion on that?  Do Democrats need to

condemn it?

 

Those are the reporters` questions.  Not one, not one about what would you

do as president of the United States.  Now, here`s a typical question a

voter asked Senator Warren.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I`m wondering how you feel about Title 10 funding

being taken away from certain family planning clinics such as planned

parenthood?

 

WARREN:  Bad.  I believe that women should have access to the full range of

health care services.  This is health care.  OK?  Health care for everyone. 

And that means we have to make the resources available.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

O`DONNELL:  When a voter named Molly asked a question, it wasn`t about

likability.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

MOLLY:  I would like you to tell us a little bit about your – what you

have done in the Senate that would make you a good president.

 

WARREN:  Oh, what a great question, Molly.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

O`DONNELL:  And it was a great question.  And one of the stories that

Senator Warren told in her long response to that question was how she has

helped lower the cost of hearing aids for the 44 million people in America

who suffer hearing loss.

 

And it`s a bipartisan story about how she first engaged the help of

Republican Senator Chuck Grassley and worked, as she put it under the radar

to get more Republican support for her bill to change federal regulations

that have helped keep the cost of hearing aids much too expensive for most

people with hearing difficulty.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

WARREN:  So I talk to a lot of people.  I get the bill written up that it

would take to do this.  And then I called Chuck Grassley.  And Chuck said,

“Huh, that sounds like a fine idea.”

 

I called another Republican and another Republican and another Republican. 

Kept this all under the radar screen.  No headlines on it.  And we found a

bill that was moving.  Hooked our Hearing Aid Bill onto it, and starting

next year hearing aids are going to be available over the counter.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

O`DONNELL:  Now, that`s a story about how things really do get done in the

United States Senate.  The most uncomfortable question Senator Warren faced

did not come from a reporter but from an old friend of hers and a former

student of hers.

 

A woman named Katherine who won one of the lottery slots to ask Senator

Warren a question was actually a student of Professor Warren 35 years ago

at the University of Texas Law School.  She asked the kind of question that

tests a candidate`s ability to handle a crowd and to handle disagreement.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

KATHERINE:  You really have an important message.  You support the families

and you support health care having just had a son die from cancer.

 

WARREN:  I know.

 

KATHERINE:  And in January alone of this year, the hospital bill was

$200,000, but he passed away in September.  I truly see the need for health

care for all.  It`s just ridiculous otherwise.

 

WARREN:  Yes.

 

KATHERINE:  I am in favor of your antitrust enforcement, giving people

greater voices in the corporations.  But I feel if you support abortion,

your entire message is lost.  Something I don`t want to see happen.

 

WARREN:  No, no, no, no, no.  So I think we`re there.  OK on the question? 

Is that OK, Katherine?

 

So Katherine and I have had this conversation off and on for a very long

time.  And it`s kind of amazing that you got the card to come up here and

ask a question because it is an ongoing conversation.

 

Katherine and I knew each other in law school.  And for me, this is a

question about the role of law.  I know that these are very hard personal

family decisions.

 

I think the role of government here is to back out.  I think a woman makes

a decision with her family, her priest, her doctor, the people the woman

chooses.  And I think that`s what respects all of us the most.

 

And thank you, Katherine.  It`s good to see you again.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

O`DONNELL:  Up next, more on Senator Warren`s first weekend campaigning

with someone who was there and got voters` reactions.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

O`DONNELL:  Boston Reporter Adam Reilly has seen Elizabeth Warren campaign

many times in Massachusetts.  But this weekend was the first time he saw

her campaign for president in Iowa and he got these reactions from Iowa

voters.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

EMILIANO MARTINEZ, IOWA CITY:  I think the room was full of chills.  And I

think that was something that was pretty special.

 

JOANNE WILKINSON, URBANDALE:  I loved her, everything I think she said.

 

MARY SLATTERY, DES MONES:  To me, she didn`t come off as being extreme

right.  To me, she came out as being pragmatic for the people, for the

regular people.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

O`DONNELL:  And joining our discussion now, Adam Reilley, a reporter for

“WGBH News” covering Senator Warren`s presidential campaign.  He followed

her to Iowa this weekend.

 

Adam, you`ve seen Elizabeth Warren, I assume, campaign many times in

Massachusetts.  What was different, if anything, about seeing her campaign

in Iowa?

 

ADAM REILLY, REPORTER, WGBH NEWS:  I think the level of enthusiasm that she

generated.  Going back to her first run against Scott Brown, people were

very excited about her but there`s, I think, an intensity that comes when

you`ve got your eye on the presidency that ratchets everything up.

 

I recall positive responses in that race against Brown.  For example, I do

not recall people talking about having chills when they watched her speak

or how Warren had mysteriously obtained a mind meld with them.

 

Now, maybe some of that is just because she happens to be the first big-

name candidate out of the gate in Iowa.  But I think some of it is part of,

you know, linked to her growth as a campaigner and her rise in prominence

nationally.

 

O`DONNELL:  You know, Adam, I saw her early in her Senate campaign, her

Senate career, make an appearance in California before the California

Democratic Party.  And it was a rock star reception.  And I saw a

performance on that stage that I was really struck by.

 

And it seems to be something that the Washington Media either hasn`t seen

or ignores, and that is that Elizabeth Warren on the campaign trail has

been elected to the Senate twice because she is a very good campaigner.

 

REILLY:  She is an outstanding campaigner.  As you know from having watched

a lot of people seek the presidency, not everyone who goes for that job

feeds off their interactions with the public.  She definitely does.

 

She draws energy from them.  She also energizes them and it creates a sort

of virtuous cycle that leaves everyone feeling exhilarated afterwards.

 

She did something which I think is worth describing just briefly.  In Iowa,

at these five stops in three days, every time she had an event more people

wanted to attend than were able to get into the venue.

 

So every time, she would go and greet the overflow crowd first.  She would

tell them how happy she was that they were there, how sorry she was that

they couldn`t get in.  Then she`d give a mini stump speech and take

unscripted, unvetted questions.  And if she had time, she would take

pictures with them.

 

It sounds like something of a no-brainer when you describe it, but not

every candidate who seeks the presidency does that.  I recall Hillary

Clinton at the last election cycle walking at a distance from the masses of

people who turned out to cheer her on and sort of waving to them from afar,

and that was that.

 

And I think Warren`s approach is going to play incredibly well in venues

like Iowa, in New Hampshire that put a premium on retail politicking.

 

O`DONNELL:  And Adam, it seems to me when I see her in Iowa that she`s got

two big advantages going for her.  One is that she`s from Oklahoma.  This

is not alien territory for her.  This is not the typical Massachusetts

politician going out to Iowa.

 

And you can feel that Midwest, that Oklahoma kind of connection that she

makes.  And also, it turns out this being a teacher, this being a professor

for all this time makes – seems to make her very comfortable in

interactions with questions audience which is to say in her previous

experience, student questions in the middle of her lectures.

 

REILLY:  I think you`re right on both counts.  And she brought up her

Oklahoma roots at every stop.  That`s a key part of her stump speech.  It`s

one of the ways that she`s trying to convince people that she is able to or

will be able if she is in the field to appeal to Moderate and even

Conservative voters.

 

She also makes a point of saying that she has three brothers.  And then she

pauses for effect and says one of them is a Democrat.  When the audience

figures out what she means, they all laugh.  And she talked again and again

about how Republicans and Democrats are united around fundamental values

when it comes to things like education and health care.

 

So she`s clearly working on that part of her pitch as I think a way of

reassuring people that she can get the voters the Democrats feel they

didn`t get in 2016.

 

O`DONNELL:  Adam, are you going to be following the Warren campaign around

the country?

 

REILLY:  Possibly not every step of the way but I think I`ll be checking in

with her frequently, yes.  And certainly, when she`s up here in New

Hampshire, I`ll be keeping tabs on her.  And my hunch is after this weekend

that I`ll be seeing her in other spots as well.

 

And as you pointed out, it sounds like this campaign, it`s not official

yet, but it sounds like a done deal when you watch her.

 

O`DONNELL:  It sure does.  Adam Reilly, I need to hear from you more.  Adam

Reilly who`s been watching Elizabeth Warren campaign for a long time and

saw her doing it this weekend.  Thank you for joining us tonight.

 

And when we come back, where is President Trump getting Vladimir Putin`s

talking points?  David Frum has an idea.  That`s next.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

O`DONNELL:  Historians have more than enough evidence to conclude that

Donald Trump is buy in order of magnitude the most ignorant person ever to

occupy the presidency of the United States and the least intelligent.  And

that combination means that when new information is inserted into the Trump

brain, the Trump brain has very little processing power to analyze that

information.

 

And so the Trump brain tends to do one of two things.  Reject that new

information or accept that new information.  One of the most fascinating

falsehoods now apparently residing comfortably in the Trump brain is the

big lie inserted there by someone about the Soviet Union`s invasion of

Afghanistan and the defeat of the Soviet Union suffered in its 10 years of

war in Afghanistan.

 

Vladimir Putin wants the world to believe a lie about that chapter of

Soviet history.  And that lie is now best recited for American audiences by

possibly the only American who believes it, Donald Trump.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

TRUMP:  The reason Russia was in Afghanistan was because terrorists were

going into Russia.  They were right to be there.  The problem is it was a

tough fight and literally they went bankrupt.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

O`DONNELL:  Literally, they did not go bankrupt.  They lost a war and were

driven out of Afghanistan.  But in the process essentially created Al Qaeda

and Donald Trump is now saying that the Soviet Union was right to do that.

 

There has been much speculation by David Frum and by Rachel Maddow about

how the president came to believe this extremely dangerous fairytale. 

Vladimir Putin told an Austrian news agency last June that he and president

Trump “regularly talk over the phone.”  Surely, Vladimir Putin has all of

those phone calls recorded and transcribed.

 

It is standard procedure for the president of the United States to have all

of his phone calls with foreign leaders transcribed.  If those transcripts

exist, will they show Vladimir Putin planting this big lie into the mind of

the most ignorant president in history?

 

Back with us, David Frum.  David, there is some possibility that the

special prosecutor might try to subpoena transcripts of the president`s

phone calls with Vladimir Putin.  And if those subpoenas succeed, we might

learn some answers about this?

 

DAVID FRUM, SENIOR EDITOR, THE ATLANTIC:  We might.  Apparently, there`s

something like a dozen officially recorded phone calls between President

Trump and President Putin over the past two years.  And there may be some

kind of transcript there.

 

But remember the casual approach the president`s had to telephone security. 

He`s had at many points in the past his own smartphone, which he has used

without any particular security to it.  We don`t know whether he`s got that

phone right now.

 

John Kelly made it a real project to take the phone away from him but those

projects tend not to succeed.  So there may be many phone calls we don`t

know about.

 

O`DONNELL:  And Mick Mulvaney was asked about this, the new acting White

House Chief of Staff, Jake

Tapper asked him yesterday where did he get that idea from?  And Mulvaney`s

answer was, “I think that idea is born out of frustration.”

 

Mulvaney made no attempt to defend the truthfulness of the idea at all. 

Just saying that the president is frustrated, therefore, he`s telling this

big lie.

 

FRUM:  Right.  And it is a lie that Vladimir Putin in recent days has been

particularly anxious to affirm.  The Russians are now trying to re-identify

more and more with the Soviet Union and even to defend the Afghanistan War

which is a very unpopular war inside the former Soviet Union.

 

Now, of course, not all those who fought in Afghanistan were Russians. 

Many belonged to the other Soviet Republics.  And Vladimir Putin is also,

who has said that the collapse of the Soviet Union was the greatest

geopolitical tragedy of the 20th century.  He has – he is very anxious to

blame that war for a failure that was much more inherent in the evil of the

Soviet system itself.

 

O`DONNELL:  Let`s listen to what Chuck Rosenberg said about this.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

CHUCK ROSENBERG, FORMER FBI SENIOR OFFICIAL:  The president of the United

States is echoing directly the line of the Kremlin on a whole bunch of

things.  And so whether or not it results in an indictment, whether or not

it`s something we ultimately can see, touch, feel, and hear, this is

something that U.S. intelligence officials have to understand.  Why is the

president saying what he`s saying?

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

O`DONNELL:  And David, U.S. Intelligence officials have different methods

than the special prosecutor about how to find this out.

 

FRUM:  Well, Rachel Maddow made a fabulous point in her presentation on

this where she reminded everyone that in the very beginning of the Trump

administration that the Trump administration was accepting crazy Soviet

propaganda, Russian propaganda I should say, accusing Poland, our NATO

ally, of meddling inside Belarus.  That was completely false.

 

But, again, that somehow got into the president`s head.  And there are

other examples, too, where he says things that no one except an RT viewer

and the president of Russia would believe.

 

O`DONNELL:  David Frum, thank you for joining us tonight.

 

FRUM:  Thank you.

 

O`DONNELL:  Tonight`s last word is next.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

O`DONNELL:  If you were watching Jeff Bridges get his lifetime achievement

award last night at the Golden Globes, then you missed my lifetime

achievement award last night which occurred on “The Simpsons” where I

appeared as an animated character with my voice.  There I am.

 

And that occurred exactly, what did we say?  2013, six years, six years

after Rachel Maddow appeared on “The Simpsons.”  And I think there`s

Rachel.

 There`s Rachel six years ago on “The Simpsons.”

 

There I am last night.  I was brilliantly written by Michael Price who got

the animated version of me.

 

END   

 

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