Fact-Checking Trump border claims. TRANSCRIPT: 1/8/19, The Last Word w/ Lawrence O’Donnell.

Guests:
Chris Van Hollen, George Will, Adam Schiff, Jon Meacham, Ron Klain, John Sandweg
Transcript:

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST:  Good evening, Rachel.  And thank you for

doing that summary of all the new investigation developments today because

I was thinking that in this hour, we weren`t going to be able to get to it. 

But since the president said nothing tonight, we just – we just might have

time for it coming up. 

 

I want to get more of your reaction to what the president said.  Here he is

asking the entertainment networks to preempt their programming tonight. 

 

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST:  Yes. 

 

O`DONNELL:  So that he can make an important address to the nation in which

I listened to every word, all thousand words, Rachel.  I didn`t hear him

say a single sentence he hasn`t said before. 

 

MADDOW:  No.  This was his greatest hits on immigrants are terrible.  And

we need a wall.  It was version of a – of campaign speech lines that he

hash been issuing since the very – since the very first day that he

announced that he was running for president.  I was talking with Nicolle

Wallace and Chris Hayes here moments ago about the fact that his litany of

horribles, the list of violence crimes that he ascribes to immigrants

changes a little bit.  He updates that all the time to make sure the gore

stays fresh when he talks about immigrants as murderers and rapists.

 

But he`s been doing that from the very beginning.  It`s the core of his

presidency and I think now the question is, why he felt like he needed to

take that campaign rhetoric into the Oval Office and do it in this big

picture way without anything new to add to what he`s either offering or

demanding? 

 

O`DONNELL:  I`m glad you said campaign rhetoric, Rachel, because when I was

listening to it when we got to the end of it, I believe what I had heard

was President Trump`s first nationally televised speech of his re-election

campaign, because that is the only purpose of that speech that I could see

him delivering tonight.  He did not make one move, didn`t make any offer to

solve the government shutdown over the border wall that he wants. 

 

And so, I saw nothing but a campaign speech or someone just lifted the

first couple minutes of the State of the Union Address and said, why don`t

we do that tonight? 

 

MADDOW:  Yes, yes.  But, you know, it`s interesting, I didn`t know what to

make of the request by Pelosi and Schumer to rebut the president tonight,

as if tonight was a State of the Union.  I thought that was – I didn`t

quite know what to expect. 

 

But it was interesting, the substance of their remarks, they engaged with

him a little bit in terms of his anti-immigrant rhetoric and what he`s said

about the wall, but really what they both said was, Mr. President, whatever

it is you want having to do with border security or the wall or any of

these other things you`re talking about, we can talk about that.  We can

have a policy fight about that.  Why don`t we re-open the government?  And

then we can talk about whatever you want. 

 

And for them to take that line on it today, they`re giving a lot of

Republicans a very wide door to walk through to join the Democratic take on

this issue, which is whether or not you`re persuaded by the president w

saying the same thing over and over again about terrible immigrants, how

about we don`t shut down the government for any longer?  And I think a lot

of Republicans will accept that invitation from the president because the

Democrats aren`t asking Republicans to take any serious issue with the

president and any of his remarks.  They`re just asking them to ignore him

and get the government working again so Americas can go back to work. 

 

O`DONNELL:  And as of tonight, my count is there are three Senate

Republicans who are willing to do what Chuck Schumer says they should dodo. 

That would bring a Senate vote to 50/50 if one more moves across, then you

have the 51 that the Democrats would need in order to get this done but

it`s still Mitch McConnell, they`d be in that struggle with Mitch McConnell

to actually allow that vote to occur. 

 

And that`s why I thought senator Schumer`s very clear outline of here`s how

we can move forward was so simple and important, easy to follow. 

 

MADDOW:  What do you think that Mitch McConnell will do here, Lawrence?  I

mean, McConnell is, you know, relatively good at getting things to work out

the way he wants them to.  He has not necessarily committed himself on

policy one way or the other.  He said he`ll only bring up something that

the president will sign and he doesn`t want any political stunts.  It`s all

sort of – sort of process talk. 

 

What do you think is actually going to happen here?  Because presumably,

McConnell is not as comfortable as the president with the idea of a

shutdown that goes on for years. 

 

O`DONNELL:  Well, Mitch McConnell said, emphatically, there would be no

shutdown.  So everyone knows that Mitch McConnell doesn`t want a shutdown

and these are the situations, Rachel, in which for a Senate leader, it

might be more important what he doesn`t do.  Is Mitch McConnell working the

phones tonight trying to hold the Republican Senate together or is he

staying silent on that? 

 

And his members understand it immediately.  If they don`t hear from him,

they know that they are set free in terms of his perspective, anyway, any

of them who want to go out and turn against this Trump shutdown, it seems

to me are being allowed to do that and it could even get to the point where

they are secretly being encouraged to do it.  Mitch McConnell never wants

to be perceived as the person who turned against President Trump in a

situation like this.  But if a dozen of his members move that way, what can

he do, Rachel, what can he do? 

 

MADDOW:  It`s just that he has to overtly do something even at that point. 

He does have to let something come up for a vote.  I mean, he can go on

vacation, he can pretend it`s not him but ultimately, everybody knows that

he controls what comes up for a vote. 

 

O`DONNELL:  Well, there is a parliamentary hole in that so if you get

enough momentum on the other side, there is a parliamentary hole that could

bypass anything, any theoretical block that Mitch McConnell might want to

pretend that he`s actually doing.  So, yes, generally, it`s up to the

majority leader what moves on the floor, but not entirely.  There`s a way

through that. 

 

MADDOW:  This is why it`s very, very good you have a television show,

Lawrence, because you know these things, my friend. 

 

O`DONNELL:  By the way, very few senators know that.  But enough do that

there are ways to maneuver through it and McConnell, himself, if he wants

the shutdown to happen, there` a way for him to look as if he`s on the

president`s side right through every minute of the process as the United

States is voting against the president.  He knows how to do that. 

 

MADDOW:  Anybody out there who has Mitch McConnell`s cell phone number,

please text him right now and tell him to watch Lawrence O`Donnell for the

next hour here on MSNBC.  It might help. 

 

O`DONNELL:  Rachel, if you need more time to talk about –

 

MADDOW:  I`m good. 

 

O`DONNELL:  – the president who said nothing tonight –

 

MADDOW:  Yes, I`m good. 

 

O`DONNELL:  OK. 

 

MADDOW:  Thank you, Lawrence. 

 

O`DONNELL:  Thank you very much, Rachel.  Appreciate it. 

 

Well, in this hour, we have important analysis and necessary fact

correction and checking of the president`s address from the Oval Office

tonight.  And even though it was empty in terms of any new comments by the

president or any news made by the president, it was an extraordinary event

in and of itself and it must be analyzed in terms of what it means to our

politics and our governing. 

 

We will also consider the speeches made in response to the president`s

address tonight by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Democratic leader

of the Senate, Chuck Schumer.  We will be joined by Democratic Senator

Chris Van Hollen and Congressman Adam Schiff, the chairman of the House

Intelligence Committee.  We will be joined by a former acting director of

Immigration and Customs Enforcement to help us fact-check the president`s

speech.  And we will be joined by a panel of analysts who have seen and

analyzed many presidential addresses from the Oval Office but none quite

like this. 

 

In the president`s 9-1/2 minute speech tonight, he managed to say not one

new thing that he hasn`t said before.  It was as if after watching Senator

Elizabeth Warren make her first presidential campaign speeches in Iowa this

weekend, the president decided to make his first presidential re-election

campaign speech from the Oval Office tonight.

 

Before – and before making that speech today, the president`s campaign

sent out a fraudulent e-mail to Trump supporters saying, friend, I will be

addressing the nation tonight at 9:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time on the

humanitarian and national security crisis on our southern border.  We need

to raise $500,000 in one day.  I want to know everyone who stood with me

when it mattered most so I`ve asked my team to send me a list of every

American patriot who donates to the official Secure the Border Fund. 

Please make a special contribution of $5 by 9:00 p.m. Eastern Time to our

official Secure the Border Fund to have your name sent to me after my

speech.

 

That was all a lie.  In the finer print of the e-mail, it says the

contributions are to the Trump Make America Great Again Committee.  That is

the president`s re-election committee.  The president lied to his

supporters in that e-mail today, telling them their contribution would be

to an official Secure the Border Fund. 

 

Immediately after the speech, the president then sent out another fund-

raising e-mail saying: Friend, President Trump just finished his speech

addressing our national security crisis on the southern border and

explaining why he will not cave to the Democrats.  We sent him a list of

all patriots who donated to our official Secure the Border Fund and he

noticed your name wasn`t on the list.  Since you`ve been such a strong

supporter and one of our greatest advocates for the wall, we have decided

to extend your deadline to get on the list.

 

And that, that is what the president`s request for network broadcast time

tonight was all about.  He used it to raise money for his re-election

campaign, pretending to his supporters that the money they would contribute

would be used to secure the border and he did not say one new thing in that

speech that he read from that teleprompter in the Oval Office tonight. 

 

Here`s the essence of the president`s speech. 

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  My fellow Americans,

tonight, I am speaking to you because there is a growing humanitarian and

security crisis at our southern border. 

 

As part of an overall approach to border security, law enforcement

professionals have requested $5.7 billion for a physical barrier.  At the

request of Democrats, it will be a steel barrier rather than a concrete

wall. 

 

This barrier is absolutely critical to border security.  It`s also what our

professionals at the border want and need. 

 

This situation could be solved in a 45-minute meeting.  I have invited

congressional leadership to the White House tomorrow to get this done. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

O`DONNELL:  Leading off our discussion now, Steve Schmidt, a former

Republican strategist, and MSNBC political analyst. 

 

Steve, many reasons why I want you to lead off tonight.  But as a former

presidential campaign strategist, I don`t know if you have the feeling I

did when I saw the president complete his speech tonight.  But I believed I

was watching the first Trump nationally televised re-election campaign

speech. 

 

STEVE SCHMIDT, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  I think you`re certainly right

about that, Lawrence.  I was struck, though, by the venue, the Oval Office. 

I thought about FDR and Churchill in the early hours of the Second World

War in that space, inches from where Trump addressed the nation, plotting

to save democracy and Western civilization. 

 

And you consider that speech, what a powerful argument it makes against the

theory of evolution.  As we look at the continuing debasement of the office

of the presidency of the United States.  We saw from Trump today the

typical lying, the racial demagoguery, the nonsense, the spinning of crises

out of whole cloth. 

 

But what was most apparent was the degree in which he appears to be an

utterly defeated and broken man, somebody who feels the walls closing in on

him.  It was the low-energy speech.  I suspect the political consequence of

it will be that Republicans are going to crack.  They`re going to take a

walk in the serious way for the first time during the Trump presidency. 

They`re going to start to lose their fear of him. 

 

What they saw in 2018 was 40 Republicans lose their seats.  They saw the

House flip to Democratic control in the map.  In 2020, it`s a map that is

very favorable to the Democrats unlike this map in 2018.  So, this is a

disaster. 

 

Of course, Trump claimed full credit for it, celebrated it, said he would

be proud of the shutdown.  And so, we see now Republicans living with the

consequences of having an inept lying, incompetent, racially demagogic

president talking about this issue.

 

And last thing, Lawrence, there is a humanitarian crisis at the border.  We

have children in internment camps and we have two minor children, the last

one a 7-year-old little girl who died in the custody of federal authorities

of the government of the United States.  It stains our national honor and

disgraces this administration. 

 

O`DONNELL:  Steve, your reaction to the president, using tonight`s network

preemption of entertainment programming to basically launch a speech that

was bookended by fund-raising appeals.  Fund-raising during the day saying

we desperately need your contribution by 9:00 p.m.  that`s the deadline. 

And then, of course, after the speech, telling the very same people out

there who had not yet contributed, that we`re going to extend the deadline

for you. 

 

That struck me as a classic Trump salesmanship. 

 

SCHMIDT:  Of course.  You describe them as supporters earlier, Lawrence,

and I don`t mean to quibble, but they`re less supporters than there are

marks.  The only thing that was missing from the e-mails was that, hey,

I`ll throw in a case of Trump wine and a couple Trump steaks and a master`s

degree from Trump University. 

 

This is a con man at work.  And what we`re seeing here is that the wizard

has been exposed.  At rally after rally, what did he say?  Many billions of

times the Mexicans would pay for the wall.  Where are the pesos? 

 

He`s talking about $5 billion when he told the American people over and

over again that there would be a wall, a wall paid for by Mexico.  There is

no wall.  There will never be a wall.  No wall will ever be funded. 

 

And he has denied this central victory against all the racial demagoguery

we saw from the moment he descended the escalator at Trump Tower.  It`s all

becoming undone.  And that desperation, I think, was on full display today. 

 

And of all the things you could say about Trump until tonight, the one

thing you really couldn`t say is that he`s boring.  He was just boring

tonight.  The shtick is getting old.  It was to some degree like the

episode when Fonzie jumped the shark tonight, coining that famous

phraseology.  I think tonight was a speech where Trump jumped the shark. 

 

O`DONNELL:  Steve, I need to hear more from you as a Republican expert

about the possible movements in the Senate on this.  We`ve seen Senator

Lisa Murkowski now defect from the Trump side of this.  She has now joined

so there are officially three Republican senators who have publicly said

they want to go forward the way Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi want to go

forward.

 

How long will it take for more to join them? 

 

SCHMIDT:  I don`t think very long.  There`s no upside to this.  I think

that a lot of the senators, a lot of the surviving Republican members of

Congress, watched a lot of their colleagues go over the cliff like

lemmings, to painful and agonizing political deaths.  I think a lot of

these incumbents looking ahead to 2020, looking at the news that broke

today, for example, with collusion between the Russians and the campaign

which becomes more and more apparent every day. 

 

I think that from a – if you were looking at this from an investment

perspective, I think increasingly, Republican senators are going to say,

let`s short the Trump stock.  Let`s – we`ve lashed ourselves to the mesh

here, how do we cut the ropes?  How do wee get out of this? 

 

And so, I don`t think it`s going to be more days.  Not too many more days

after the first missed paycheck before you start to see the real cleaving

of Republican support away from Trump.  This won`t last, I suspect, too

much longer because Republicans so long as the Democratic leadership holds

the line, they will defect and they will join the Democrats.  They will re-

open the government.

 

And at that point, what will become clear is that even the Republican

minority in the House, the Republican majority in the Senate, will have

joined every world leader, most of the American people, as a group who do

not take this man seriously at all.  They look at him as a joke, a clown,

and a farce.  When you look at everybody from the prime minister of Turkey,

to the Canadian prime minister, the British prime minister, the list of

people who both fear Trump and take him seriously is getting smaller and

smaller every day. 

 

O`DONNELL:  Steve Schmidt, thank you very much for leading us off tonight,

really appreciate it. 

 

And we are joined now by Democratic Senator Chris Van Hollen of Maryland. 

He`s been ranking member of the Budget Committee and the chairman of the

Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. 

 

Senator Van Hollen, your reaction to the president`s speech tonight. 

 

SEN. CHRIS VAN HOLLEN (D), MARYLAND:  Well, I have to agree with Steve,

that this is a continuation of the degradation of the Oval Office by the

president of the United States.  This time, using the tradition of Oval

Office speeches that are usually reserved for major statements, instead,

for a tawdry political speech. 

 

I mean, usually it takes the president 55 minutes at a rally to get out all

those lies and false statements.  This time, he crammed it into eight

minutes by reading a teleprompter.  I don`t think it advanced his case one

a bit, Lawrence, in terms of the wall.  In fact, a lot of the facts he used

don`t make sense in connection with the wall. 

 

For example, when he talks about drug interdiction.  We have a drug

interdiction problem.  Senate Democrats and Republicans have worked to try

to provide more – more efforts targeted there at the points of entry,

right?  A 2,000-mile-long wall doesn`t have anything to do with trying to

slow it down at ports of entry. 

 

So, this is why it`s important that Senate Republicans get together with

Democrats and pass those two House bills to open the government. 

 

O`DONNELL:  And, Senator, when you – when the president talks about hero

addiction, and the drug addiction in this country, much of this begins with

opioid addiction which begins legally through the prescription process. 

There has been no attempt by this administration to do anything about that

part of this devastating drug addiction that this country has and has had

for many years.  That has nothing to do with the southern border. 

 

VAN HOLLEN:  Well, that`s exactly right.  And Congress on a bipartisan

basis has passed some legislation to try to expand treatment for it, but

we`ve also, and ironically, in the homeland security bill that the

president is now holding up, there are additional funds to screen for drugs

that are coming across the border.  As you say, a lot of the opioid

addiction crisis is a totally homegrown crisis, but to the extent we have a

problem with drugs coming across the border, they`re coming across the

ports of entry and we have provided additional funds in the bill that the

president has said he will not sign to address that particular issue. 

 

And I have to say, Lawrence, that every day that goes by as you and Steve

were talking, is another day where Senate Republicans are complicit with

the president in this shutdown.  And that`s why it`s important they join

Senate Democrats s in passing the bills that are on the Senate calendar

right now, right?  One, that would open the Homeland Security Department

until February 8th so we can continue any discussions the president wants

to have, one that would re-open eight of the nine closed departments of the

federal government, along the same lines that Senate Republicans have

previously supported. 

 

So they`ve got no excuse to be an accomplice with Donald Trump in the

shutdown.  

 

O`DONNELL:  Senator, what`s happening with Republicans?  Your Republican

colleagues in the Senate.  We`ve seen Lisa Murkowski moving your way today,

joining Senator Collins. 

 

So, you`ve now got at least three Republicans.  Are there more coming? 

 

VAN HOLLEN:  I do believe there are more coming.  And, Lawrence, that`s why

this evening in the Senate, Senate Democrats said that the first order of

business has to be to pass these two House bills that are the keys to re-

opening the government. 

 

Let the president decide what to do with them when they get to the desk,

but Mitch McConnell should not be AWOL in this – in this debate.  And so,

we blocked consideration of the legislation that Mitch McConnell will want

to take up SB-1, and said the priority has to be solving this government

shutdown and the way to do that is to vote on those two houses bills then

we can ha a conversation about the most effective way tout secure our

border. 

 

Securing our border has never been the issue.  You know that.  The issue is

not wasting taxpayer dollars on an ineffective wall that Mexico is supposed

to pay for. 

 

O`DONNELL:  Senator Chris Van Hollen, thank you very much for joining us

tonight.  Really appreciate it. 

 

VAN HOLLEN:  Thank you. 

 

O`DONNELL:  We`re now bringing in our panel.  Eugene Robinson is an

associate editor and Pulitzer Prize-winning writer for the “Washington

Post,” George F. Will is a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for “The

Washington Post.”  Maria Teresa Kumar is the president and CEO of Voto

Latino.  All are MSNBC contributors. 

 

And, Gene Robinson, your reaction to the president`s speech. 

 

EUGENE ROBINSON, ASSOCIATE EDITOR, THE WASHINGTON POST:  Well, it was, I

think, Steve Schmidt said it was low energy.  It certainly was that.  He`s

not very good at the teleprompter thing. 

 

You know, I heard two things – two nuances that were new.  One, it`s now a

physical barrier.  It`s not a wall.  It`s not the big beautiful wall he

promised, of course, paid by Mexico.  It`s as physical barrier.  I don`t

know, a hedge or something, that he wants. 

 

And there was a new lie which is that it`s the Democrats who insist that

the physical barrier, not wall, be made of steel rather than concrete.  I

don`t know where he got that.  That`s invented.

 

It was – it was almost as if he were just sort of writing an excuse for

failing to get the wall.  An excuse to his base for failing to deliver on

this ridiculous promise that never could be fulfilled in the firs place. 

It was an absurd idea. 

 

And he seemed to have no idea of how to get it, of how to get where he

promised to get and to actually build this thing.  And so, he just – he

wanted to blame it all on the Democrats.  The Democrats made me do it. 

 

O`DONNELL:  Maria Teresa, your reaction

 

MARIA TERESA KUMAR, PRESIDENT AND CEO, VOTO LATINO:  Well, I think once

again we saw the president do double speak.  He started by saying all the

crimes that are committed and I think that everyone could agree that any

family that suffers at the hand of – any loved one that gets hurt, we`re

all against that.  But he did double speak when said that he wants to make

sure that there`s a wall on the southern border because there`s a

humanitarian crisis because of an unaccompanied minors that are right now

at the hands of a coyotes. 

 

Well, guess what, he exacerbated this issue because last year, the

president zeroed out CAM.  It`s a program for Central American minors who

can seek asylum safety in their home countries.  It was established by the

Obama administration after the last time we saw humanitarian crisis back in

2014.  So, the president is directly involved in this crisis because he

literally allowed for this program to be zeroed out and now he wants to

create a wall when in reality, we don`t, and unfortunately he`s trying to

do it at the backs of individuals, of federal workers who are trying to

basically put money – food on the table, living paycheck by paycheck. 

 

It was a charade.  The fact he tried to do a fund-raising e-mail before and

after is a classic Trump.  But more importantly, he`s doing it at the cost

of the American people and sadly, increasingly at the cost of minors and

children who are trying to basically seek a better life. 

 

O`DONNELL:  George Will, you`ve seen many television addresses by

presidents from the Oval Office.  So, I don`t think you`ve seen one

preceded by a fund-raising letter and then followed by a campaigned fund-

raising letter by the president.  The president who promised that he would

do the shutdown, himself, and he would never blame the Democrats tonight

said the federal government remains shut down for one reason, and one

reason only, because the Democrats will not fund border security. 

 

Your reaction to what you saw, George. 

 

GEORGE F. WILL, COLUMNIST, THE WASHINGTON POST:  Well, you said a little

bit earlier that it was an empty speech, and, Lawrence, that`s the news

tonight.  We`re all familiar with the Sherlock Holmes story in which the

crucial clues, what didn`t happen, it`s the dog that didn`t bark.  What

happened tonight was the president did not fulfill his threat, which still

loiters there of declaring a national emergency. 

 

The president is already under statutory authority imposing steel and

aluminum, tariffs and quotas on countries, including countries that are

military allies of the United States, in the name of national security. 

This is because Congress is under control by both parties have given

presidents of both parties enormous discretion to wield executive power in

the name of national security, so perhaps we have not heard the last of

this. 

 

In 1944, in the Korematsu case, the disgraceful case wherein the Supreme

Court ratified the president`s – President Roosevelt`s internment of

100,000 some people of Japanese extraction, most of them American citizens. 

In writing about that case, Justice Robert Jackson said, emergency powers

are like a loaded weapon laying there waiting for someone to pick it up. 

It`s still laying there. 

 

And the president could very well say, I tried in this speech tonight the

soft approach.  Now I have to resort to the powers that I have. 

 

And I think people would be astonished if they understood the vast

discretion that Congress has rashly, in my judgment, often from sloth,

often from inattention, have given to executives of all powers – of all

parties. 

 

O`DONNELL:  And, Gene, it seemed to me, given George`s warning about the

emergency power that the president might invoke is still there, it felt

like a retreat tonight.  It just seemed like such a quiet inconsequential

nine minutes of Trump time that it felt like this was someone who was

pulling away from doing anything dramatic. 

 

ROBINSON:  Well, that was the tone that I thought I was hearing in that

speech, Lawrence.  You know, an Oval Office address is a big deal.  And so

you could suspect that maybe he had some big announcement or something new,

at least, and he had neither.  I take George`s caution that we may not have

heard the last of this, but he certainly did not sound like a man who was

leaning forward into this anymore.  He seemed almost his back heel and

almost looking for a way out of this, to my ear.

 

O`DONNELL:  George, the best strategists we`ve ever seen in the White House

when it comes to a government shutdown, there are very few tools that they

have.  No one involved in any previous government shutdown actually wants

then shutdown.  Each side is always doing everything they can to avoid it. 

And so, it`s not surprising that the man who`s least equipped to do this

job is sitting in the oval office apparently without any tools to get out

of this. 

 

WILL:  Yes.  Generally, presidents win the shutdowns because presidents

speak with a single voice and Congress speaks with 535 voices and one

trumps 535 in politics.  In this case, the president in that famous episode

in the Oval Office, what, a week or so ago, when he proudly took ownership

of this, he played into the hands of Mr. Schumer and Ms. Pelosi. 

 

So, the president said he owned it, but, again, mark my words, tonight, hey

was very soft.  He began in his first sentence he described this as a

humanitarian and security issue.  Humanitarian first.  He went on to talk

about a cycle of human suffering.  This was, believe it or not, the kinder

or gentler Mr. Trump. 

 

But there is Justice Jackson`s metaphorical loaded weapon there.  And if he

chooses to pick it up and use it, do not count on courts considering this

something they want to intervene in.

 

O`DONNELL:  Let`s listen to what Nancy Pelosi said in response to the

president in what she described as the humanitarian challenge.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D), HOUSE SPEAKER:  The fact is that women and children

at the border are not a security threat.  They are a humanitarian

challenge.  A challenge that President Trump`s own cruel and

counterproductive policies have only deepened.  And the fact is President

Trump must stop holding American people hostage, must stop manufacturing a

crisis and must re-open the government.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

O`DONNELL:  Maria Teresa, your reaction to what Speaker Pelosi had to say.

 

KUMAR:  Well, I think that everybody could agree that we have a

humanitarian crisis at the border and it`s perhaps one of the few times

that I will agree with the president.  What he`s doing, though, is trying

to pull the wool over the American people`s eyes and trying to say, “Look,

I still need my wall to keep you safe.”

 

That is not the issue right now with the American people.  The majority of

federal workers are trying to do their job and many of them are just trying

to do it to keep them – keep it safe.

 

But one of the reasons I believe, Lawrence, that we saw the president use

low energy is that he feeds off crowds.  He feeds off other people in the

room.  He feeds off the energy of cameras, lights, and action.  And all we

saw is a lonely man today speaking directly to the camera.

 

And that is – he wasn`t getting the energy that he needs in order for him

to actually feel that hype.  And I believe that that is in part why we may

t not see the end of this story.

 

One of the reasons is that right now, he`s probably looking at his Twitter

feeds, he`s tuning into us, he`s tuning into “Fox News” trying to get the

feedback.  And I can`t imagine him being very happy with the reactions.

 

O`DONNELL:  Maria Teresa Kumar, George Will, Eugene Robinson, thank you all

for joining us with your analysis tonight.

 

And when we come back, we`ll be joined by Congressman Adam Schiff who is

the chairman of the Intelligence Committee in the House.  He will discuss

both the president`s speech tonight and new developments in the Russia

investigation.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

TRUMP:  I will have Mexico pay for that wall.  Mark my words.

 

Mexico will pay for the wall.  Believe me.

 

And who`s going to pay for the wall?

 

CROWD:  Mexico.

 

TRUMP:  Mexico, 100 percent.  Hundred percent.

 

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK:  My fellow Americans, we address you

tonight for one reason only.  The president of the United States having

failed to get Mexico to pay for his ineffective unnecessary border wall,

and unable to convince the Congress or the American people to foot the bill

has shut down the government.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

O`DONNELL:  Joining us now, Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff.  He`s the

chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.

 

Congressman Schiff, I want to get your reaction to what the president had

to say today, and what you just heard Chuck Schumer say, which is we`re

here because the president promised Mexico would pay for this wall but now

he wants American taxpayers to pay.

 

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA), CHAIRMAN, INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE:  Well, my

predominant reaction watching it was sad to see the office of the

presidency brought so low.  When you think about other people who have

occupied that office and the addresses they have given to rally the country

together, to rise in the face of some national challenge, then to watch

that display was just painful.

 

And Chuck Schumer is exactly right.  The reason we are where we are tonight

is the president promised his supporters over and over and over again that

Mexico was going to build this big, beautiful wall.  And that was a

fraudulent promise, but nonetheless, he made it.  Kept repeating it.

 

Now he can`t deliver it and he`s asking the taxpayers to pay for it.  Well,

they don`t want to pay for it.  Congress doesn`t want to approve it.  The

American people don`t support it.  And so we have this rather pathetic

display tonight.

 

We need to re-open the government.  We can continue this debate over the

president`s wall.  But not do it at a time where he`s effectively holding

the American people, federal employees, those who do business with the

government, those who need government services, hostage to this broken

commitment.

 

O`DONNELL:  As I revealed earlier, the beginning of this program, the

president also used tonight as a fundraising event for his re-election

campaign.  And in the e-mail that he sent to his supporters, telling them

it was a 9:00 p.m. deadline for their contributions, he lied to them very

clearly fraudulently represented the contributions as being money that they

would contribute to him to secure the border.

 

Then this being Donald Trump after the speech, he sent out another e-mail

to supporters who had not yet contributed by the 9:00 p.m. deadline and

extended the deadline for them to contribute.  And so it seems,

structurally, and including the content of the speech tonight, this was

from beginning to end a Trump campaign event including a public fundraiser.

 

SCHIFF:  Well, that may very well be.  And perhaps next time it will have

operators standing by, and a phone number across the bottom of your screen. 

But, look, this is how the president operates.

 

It`s all about him.  It`s all about now his re-election, re-election, and

the suffering that he`s imposing on hundreds of thousands of people who

aren`t going to get their paychecks, who can`t pay their bills.  Well,

that`s just too bad.

 

And, you know, we are going to be sending bill after bill to the Senate,

Senate-passed bills to re-open the government.  I think the pressure to do

so is going to become overwhelming on the Republicans.  And as you say,

we`re seeing defection after defection now.  It`s my hope that we can break

this impasse soon.

 

O`DONNELL:  Congressman, I want to get your reaction to the developments in

the Paul Manafort case today.  Discovered that the special prosecutor has

found that Paul Manafort was in contact with Russians, sharing polling

information and other Trump campaign information with Russians.

 

It raises the question, was that information that Paul Manafort, that

polling information, that Paul Manafort was supplying to the Russians, did

the Russian hackers then who were operating in the United States, did they

then use that to try – use that polling information to try to influence

the vote in the ways that could turn the electoral college in Donald

Trump`s favor?

 

SCHIFF:  Well, that`s a profound question.  And at this point, we simply

don`t know the answer.  What did a Russian-affiliated intelligence person,

at least in the view of the special counsel, want with Trump polling data?

 

And one explanation may be, look, they`re in the midst of a social media

campaign to help Donald Trump win the presidency.  And it`s useful to have

some of the campaign`s information on their polling numbers and where

they`re polling well and who they`re polling well among and who they need

to make up ground.

 

It also could be something very different.  It could be an effort by the

Trump campaign to show that the president or the candidate then was doing

better than the other polls suggested.  We just don`t know, but we

certainly need to find out.   It goes, I think, to the very issue of

whether and to what degree and how Trump campaign personnel may have been

either colluding or conspiring with the Russians.

 

O`DONNELL:  And what do you see today in the indictment of Natalia

Veselnitskaya that happened today and this was outside of the special

prosecutor`s jurisdiction?  This was the U.S. attorney in Manhattan

bringing this indictment.

 

She was the woman who helped arrange that meeting and attended that meeting

at Trump Tower in which she was promising basically dirt on Hillary Clinton

from the Russian government.  She`s indicted in an unrelated case to the

campaign.  A case that pre-existed the campaign.  But could there be some

linkage here?

 

SCHIFF:  Well, one thing that it certainly shows, Lawrence, that is

relevant to the Trump Tower meeting and the issues at the heart of the

Mueller investigation, and our own work in the Intelligence Committee, is

that this claim that she had made that she`s not a government attorney, she

has really little or no affiliation with the Russian government, is bogus.

 

The reason that she was indicted for obstruction of justice in that

Prevezon case is that she put forward a pleading that she said essentially

that she had no part in producing, a statement of the Russian government

absolving the Russians of complicity in this money laundering scheme when

we would later find out that, in fact, she wrote this in combination,

working in coordination with the Russian government and the Russian general

prosecutor.

 

So it certainly now is a consistent portrait we`re getting of Veselnitskaya

that that meeting at Trump Tower, her work on the Magnitsky Act, her effort

to do away with the sanctions that we`ve imposed on the Russians, this is

being done on part of her work on behalf of the Russian government.  And

that, of course, raises the stakes for that meeting in Trump Tower.

 

O`DONNELL:  Congressman Adam Schiff, thank you very much for joining us

tonight.  Really appreciate it.

 

And when we come back, a former director of Immigration Customs Enforcement

will join us with his own fact-checking of the president`s speech tonight.

 

And what about the Democratic response from Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi? 

We will hear more of that.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

SCHUMER:  Most presidents have used oval office addresses for noble

purposes.  This president just used the backdrop of the oval office to

manufacture a crisis, stoke fear, and divert attention from the turmoil in

his administration.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

O`DONNELL:  Joining our discussion now, Jon Meacham, presidential

historian, and an MSNBC contributor.  Ron Klain, former chief counsel to

the Senate Judiciary Committee and former senior adviser to Joe Biden and

President Obama.

 

And Jon Meacham, I want to start with you for the historical framing of

this particular oval office address.  I`ve already reported that it was

used as a fundraising event both before and after for the Trump campaign.

 

But also, this is the first time I`ve seen an address from the oval office

requesting the preemption of entertainment programming on the broadcast

networks for a president to simply announce his negotiating position in a

legislative struggle with Congress in which there is a bipartisan support

for the opposite position, from the president`s position.

 

This was both a campaign event and simply an announcement of normal kind of

legislative interaction that the president used this time for.

 

JON MEACHAM, PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN:  How many times, Lawrence, has this

something been the first time you`ve seen something in the past two years

or so?  There are a couple of thoughts here.

 

One is, basically, it seems to me both the president and to some extent the

Democrats by responding in kind have violated a fundamental principle of

negotiation.  Something that when President Kennedy was Senator Kennedy and

running in 1960, he reviewed a book by Basil Liddell Hart, a British

military strategist, in September of 1960 who`d written a book saying, you

never let your opponent get into a corner from once they cannot find any

possible escape route.

 

And what struck me about this is there was no oxygen for compromise, there

was no proposal that might actually move this Madisonian system of give and

take forward.  The other thought is, you know, Friday will mark the 30th

anniversary of when Ronald Reagan sat in that office and delivered his

farewell address to the nation.

 

It was one where the puration (ph) was about his vision of what Reagan

called the shining city on a hill.  Only Ronald Reagan could improve on

Jesus who used city on a hill.  And he talked about how the city if it had

to have walls, there had to be doors in those walls and it had to always be

open to all the pilgrims from all the lost places who had been hurtling

through the darkness toward home.

 

And that`s the kind of rhetoric we tend to expect to hear from the

epicenter of power.  We didn`t hear that tonight.

 

O`DONNELL:  Let`s listen to what another Democrat said tonight after the

president`s speech.  This is Beto O`Rourke in El Paso, Texas, where he`s

lived his whole life at the border.  This is Beto O`Rourke`s, in effect,

video response to the president tonight.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

BETO O`ROURKE:  We`re literally on the border, you know, you don`t have a

wall or a fence around your house.

 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  No.

 

BETO O`ROURKE:  I really believe that if people came to El Paso,

experienced it, if they could live here for a little while, even better,

all of this preoccupation and consternation and fear, so much of it founded

in paranoia, and perhaps the purposeful anxiety that the president seeks to

stoke and instill.  I think all that would melt –

 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Yes.

 

BETO O`ROURKE:  – away.  You just have to be here, see it, believe it.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

O`DONNELL:  Ron Klain, the president talked about people having walls

around their private homes.  There`s Beto O`Rourke in El Paso with someone

whose home is literally on the border and he doesn`t need a wall.

 

RON KLAIN, FORMER CHIEF COUNSEL, SENATE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE:  No.  Look, I

kind of wonder where the real Trump was tonight because I think that was,

like, the animatronic robot from Disney`s hall of presidents Delivering in

a robotic way canned lines that he`s delivered over and over again for the

past three years.

 

Just the same old lies, the same old rhetoric over and over and over again. 

Delivered in an incredibly boring and flat affect, to no political or

legislative impact whatsoever.

 

You know, I think that Jon Meacham a second ago said that you can`t have

negotiators in a corner.  What you saw today was Donald Trump in an oval

office stuck in a corner of a round office unable to find his way out of

it.  No path forward.  No solution.

 

And I think as your guests have said tonight, Lawrence, we`re going to

gradually see House and Senate Republicans melt away from the president,

join with the Democrats, re-open the government, and then have a

conversation about what the best way is to secure our border.

 

O`DONNELL:  Jon Meacham, you tweeted something earlier that really struck

me and I`d like the country to consider it.  We`re going to put it up as I

read it.

 

You said “America should build a wall of steel, a wall as high as heaven

against the flow of immigrants.  Georgia Governor Clifford Walker, at a

1924 convention of The Ku Klux Klan, then a powerful force at a time of

strain for the white working class.”

 

And Jon, the anti-immigrant wall concept has been around for a while.

 

MEACHAM:  It sure has.  Walker was a Georgia politician who had not been a

member of the Klan, had lost a gubernatorial election so he joined the Klan

and he won.  He gave that speech at a Klanvocation they called it in Kansas

City in `24.

 

Remarkable period.  1924, as you know, was the Democratic national

convention.  It drove the convention to 103 ballots because there were

something like 327 members of the Klan who were delegates to that

convention and they couldn`t vote for this radical figure, Al Smith.  Why? 

Because he was an Irish Catholic.

 

And there was this ferocious anti-immigrant sentiment.  Goes all the way

back to 1978 when we passed the Alien and Sedition Acts.  Anti-immigrant

sentiment ebbs and flows.  Right now, it`s flowing.

 

The interesting question is, to what extent is it genuinely flowing beyond

the fevered free precincts of the president and his base?  And that`s going

to be the fascinating question as you and Ron were just saying when we see

if there is a resolution, this particular moment.

 

Will there be Republican politicians who will realize that, in fact, the

“Fox News” world in which so much of the right-wing lives is not, in fact,

where the country is in 2018, `19?

 

O`DONNELL:  Jon Meacham, Ron Klain, thank you both for joining us.  Really

appreciate it.

 

And when we come back, we`ll be joined by a former acting director of

Immigration and Customs Enforcement.  We`ll get his reaction to what the

president had to say tonight.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

O`DONNELL:  Joining our discussion now is John Sandweg.  He`s the former

acting director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement under President

Obama.

 

John, I want to get your reaction to what the president had to say tonight,

especially what he said about the criminal element at the southern border.

 

JOHN SANDWEG, FORMER ACTING DIRECTOR, IMMIGRATION AND CUSTOMS ENFORCEMENT: 

Well, obviously, a lot to cover here.  I think the president,

unfortunately, engaged in a number of real distortions about what`s going

on at our southern border.

 

Our border`s never been more secure.  You know, just 15 years ago, we had

over a million people being arrested with only 5,000 border patrol agents

there to stop them.  Today, we have over 22,000 border patrol agents facing

the lowest numbers of border apprehensions we`ve had, you know, in decades.

 

So this kind of notion that with this border is out of control, full of

drugs coming across, terrorists and criminals, really is rejected by the

data.  We have a humanitarian crisis but it`s not one that poses a real

security threat.

 

O`DONNELL:  What do you think the border needs, given what you see

happening at the border now in terms of the humanitarian crisis and the

reality of what`s happening at the border?  What would you suggest the

border needs?

 

SANDWEG:  You know, Lawrence, 18 years ago when you had 1.5 million people

crossing that border, there were definitely areas where you needed fencing. 

The good news is that`s largely been build and it was relatively effective.

 

Well, the border – beginning in 2014, we saw this real shift where all the

sudden you stop seeing, you know, individuals infiltrate the border and try

to evade capture and get into the United States.  You saw the Central

American families who come up, mothers with their children seeking asylum

in the United States.

 

We`re not adequately resourced to deal with that threat.  We don`t have

enough immigration judges.  We don`t have enough humanitarian resources

dedicated for health and human services to kind of help the transition of

those people and move their cases along quickly.

 

The good news is the president does request money for those two things. 

The bad news, though, is that he seems so fixated on this kind of security

solutions that aren`t designed and are really ill-suited to address the

humanitarian crisis we`re facing.

 

O`DONNELL:  Are there any significant portions of the border where some

kind of barrier can be built that has not been built?

 

SANDWEG:  I think there`s some areas where we probably need to replace

existing walls.  There`s some areas in Nogales, Arizona where they use old

mats from aircraft landing, things from World War II.  Certainly, we can

replace those walls there.

 

But generally speaking, the areas where we need the walls, the walls exist. 

And if they don`t exist, it`s because simply the terrain doesn`t lend

itself to it.  What we really, really need are the immigration judges and

got to give them credit for requesting 75 new immigration judges, but what

we don`t need is $5.7 billion dedicated to a wall that`s going to be

ineffective.

 

O`DONNELL:  If you could correct the president on one thing that you know

he thinks, if you had one minute with him, what would you tell him?

 

SANDWEG:  I don`t know if a minute would be enough.

 

O`DONNELL:  Right.

 

SANDWEG:  The drugs don`t come across between the ports of entry. 

Terrorists are not coming across between the ports of entry.  And quite

frankly, what concerns me is all the talk about criminal aliens.

 

It`s not just that the immigrant population tends to commit crimes at a

lower rate than does the general population, it`s also that he`s redirected

ICE. to have a broad-based focus that diminishes their focus on those

criminals.  During the Obama administration, we had a laser-like focus on

criminals.  We`ve gone away from that.

 

O`DONNELL:  Thank you, John.  Former Acting Director of ICE, John Sandweg

gets tonight`s LAST WORD.  “THE 11 HOUR” with Brian Williams starts now. 

 

 

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY

BE UPDATED.

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