McConnell faces growing pressure. TRANSCRIPT: 1/23/19, The Last Word w/ Lawrence O’Donnell.
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Rachel.
I`m just tweeting this now, Rachel Maddow predicts.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST, “TRMS”: No, not prediction. No, not a
prediction. Definitely not a prediction.
O`DONNELL: That Kamala Harris will be – oh, no, wait, has a good chance.
MADDOW: Has a very good chance.
O`DONNELL: Very good chance.
MADDOW: Anybody looking at this field, anybody looking at this potential
field, anybody looking at this time in American politics and at Kamala
Harris` record knows she has a good chance of winning this nomination.
O`DONNELL: And my record has way back in it a prediction that she would be
doing this and would have a very good chance of becoming president. Back
when she was district attorney. That`s why – like you, that`s when she
first came to my attention. I wasn`t aware – I didn`t see the D.A.
campaign that she won, but once she was D.A. of San Francisco, that`s when
she came to my attention.
SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D), CALIFORNIA: He did.
O`DONNELL: Senator, you`ll remember your very first appearance on this
network was right here.
HARRIS: I remember so well. I remember so well. When I was running for
attorney general, I remember it so very well.
MADDOW: How did it make you feel?
HARRIS: It was very special because nobody thought we would win. When I
ran for D.A. and attorney general, everybody thought this is never going to
happen. There were those that believed and I appreciate it.
O`DONNELL: Now, Senator, did you and Rachel see me during that last
commercial break standing over in the corner of the studio? Because what I
was going to do –
HARRIS: Oh, is he here?
O`DONNELL: I am not there now, but what I was going to do is beg you to
come on this program at your convenience at some point in the future.
HARRIS: I`d like to.
O`DONNELL: Because as we all know, I will beg, but I had to rush up here
because your interview went right up to here. Right to here. So this is
the official begging moment.
MADDOW: Way to put her on the spot, Lawrence. Well done.
O`DONNELL: Could you give me a date as you sit there?
MADDOW: My guest still. No, no, no. Bye, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Thank you, Senator. Thank you, Rachel.
HARRIS: Thank you, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Well, Nancy Pelosi crushed Donald Trump today. Crushed him.
And he knows that she crushed him and you can tell that Donald Trump wasn`t
sure what happened when he was first told what Nancy Pelosi did to him
We have the video of that moment. Because it was NBC News Peter Alexander
who told the president that Nancy Pelosi was changing her very polite
suggestion that the president wait until after the government shutdown to
find a mutual agreeable date for a State of the Union Address. She was
changing that to an absolute refusal to allow Donald Trump to set foot in
the House chamber next week to give a State of the Union Address after
Donald Trump in his typical bullying way said that he was still going to
show up and give his State of the Union Address, even after Nancy Pelosi
had politely asked him not to.
Now, watch Donald Trump`s face as he listens to Peter Alexander`s question.
Now, it`s very, very unlikely that Donald Trump has any idea what the
phrase concurrent resolution means. You can kind of see that on his face,
but he`s probably on his way to figuring out that it sounds like Nancy
Pelosi has more power over this whole State of the Union thing than Donald
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Mr. President, Nancy Pelosi just responded and she said she will
not consider a concurrent resolution to have you come to the House on
January 29th to deliver your State of the Union. Your response to the
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I`m not surprised. It`s
really a shame what`s happening with the Democrats. They`ve become
radicalized. They don`t want to see crime stopped, which we can very
easily do on the southern border, and it really is a shame what`s happening
with the Democrats.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: A shame? That`s the best Donald Trump could do? A shame?
That was it?
That was Donald Trump experiencing defeat on live television and there
wasn`t much fight in that guy. In fact, there wasn`t any fight in him.
Speaker Pelosi had just killed Donald Trump`s dream of being the very first
president to deliver a State of the Union Address during a government
shutdown and he didn`t personalize his response to Nancy Pelosi, he didn`t
attack her, he didn`t throw a nickname at her.
An hour later, an hour later, the president had time to confer with his
staff and they could explain to him that a concurrent resolution is a
resolution that has to pass both the House and the Senate, and that a
president`s formal invitation to address a joint session of the House and
Senate in a state of the union address can only be made after a concurrent
resolution inviting the president to do that is voted on by all members of
the House and Senate. And that is what Nancy Pelosi said is not going to
happen. The House of Representatives will not conduct the formal vote to
officially invite Donald Trump into the House that is now controlled by
Nancy Pelosi to address the Congress and the nation.
And after his staff explained that to him, Donald Trump realized it`s all
over. Nancy Pelosi just said no and that is the end of that. And so now
with that, let`s listen to Donald Trump an hour later after his staff had
the time to explain to him just how badly Nancy Pelosi had beaten him at
his tough guy game. Listen to just how defeated and crushed Donald Trump
is, and the proof of how crushed he is is the nickname that he came up with
deep in the rage of this defeat. The nickname he came up with for the
person who defeated him, the person who crushed him today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: We were planning on doing a really very important speech in front
of the House and the Senate, the Supreme Court and everybody else that`s
there. It`s called the State of the Union. It`s in the constitution.
We`re supposed to be doing it and now Nancy Pelosi or Nancy as I call her,
she doesn`t want to hear the truth –
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Nancy. That`s the best he could do. Joy Reid`s having a hard
time controlling herself right now. Nancy.
JOY REID, MSNBC NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I`m sorry.
O`DONNELL: That was it. That was the best he could do. That`s his new
attack name for Nancy Pelosi. The same name that her family uses for her,
the name her loving parents gave her.
Imagine how crushed and dazed and confused Donald Trump had to be to come
up with that when he reached for the hate-filled nickname. Nancy. That is
as disoriented as you have ever seen Donald Trump publicly. Seething with
hatred toward his latest opponent, as he so surely is.
And he doesn`t call her lyin` Nancy, he doesn`t call her low energy Nancy,
the nickname he comes up with for the very first person who has stood up to
him and stopped him, the first person who has had the power, the
constitutionally granted power to stop the president of the United States
from getting what he wants, the first person to do that to Donald Trump and
the vicious nickname he comes up with for her is Nancy. That`s what Donald
Trump sounds like in total defeat.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: We just found out that she`s cancelled it, and I think that`s a
great blotch on the incredible country that we all love. It`s a great,
great, horrible mark. I don`t believe it`s ever happened before.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Here`s a horrible mark, today the air trafficker controllers
association, the airline pilots association and the flight attendants
association issued a warning to anyone boarding an aircraft during the
We have a growing concern for the safety and security of our members, our
airlines, the traveling public due to the government shutdown. This is
already the longest government shutdown in the history of the United States
and there is no end in sight. In our risk-averse industry, we cannot even
calculate the level of risk currently at play nor predict the point at
which the entire system will break.
It is unprecedented. Air traffic controllers, the people who prevent
aircraft from crashing into each other in the sky, cannot predict the point
at which the entire system will break. Donald Trump said he was proud to
do this. He said he is proud to shut down the government, proud to be
pushing air traffic controllers to the spot where they cannot predict when
the entire system will break, and when that system breaks, people die.
Here`s another horrible mark of the Trump shutdown.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FAYE SMITH, SECURITY GUARD, SMITHSONIAN INSTITUTE : I`m here today to
bring my appeal t bill to Mitch McConnell to show him. If you`re not
familiar, I`m on a second chance program. I have to have my rent in on
time. I have no more money coming in.
I am a guard at the Smithsonian Institute and I need my rent paid and I
have nothing, and I need to know, when is he going to open things back up?
Because I`m about to be evicted. If I don`t have my rent in by the first
of next month through the second chance program, I will be evicted.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Leading off our discussion now, Joy Reid, MSNBC national
correspondent and host of “A.M. Joy” weekends here on MSNBC, Barbara Res,
the former executive vice president of the Trump Organization and author of
“All Alone on the 68th floor: How One Woman Changed the Face of
Construction”, and Jack O`Donnell, the former president and chief operating
officer of Trump Plaza and Casino, and co-author of “Trump: The Inside
Story of the Real Donald Trump.” Jack O`Donnell, of course, being the most
successful American with the name O`Donnell and not related to me, of
Joy, I want to start with the woman we just heard, Faye Smith. That is the
real face of this shutdown right now today. People who are on the verge of
losing their homes. She is going to be evicted in Washington, D.C. Donald
Trump has done a lot of evictions.
L. O`DONNELL: You know, in his life. His father has done a lot of
evictions. They know from their end of it how that works.
And Mitch McConnell is the person who now will be as responsible as Donald
Trump for Faye Smith getting evicted if she does.
REID: Yes, and not only doing evictions. If you follow history as Tony
Schwarz and others have laid out, using tactic like not fixing the heat,
making the apartment so unlivable that people essentially self-evict and
leave in order to redevelop properties into luxury condominium. He`s used
to inflicting suffering on people that he thinks are disposable in order to
get his way. This is the way he operates.
And, you know, unfortunately, the country is getting a couple of lessons at
once. We`re getting a forced lesson in the Constitution 101 on the – in
the powers of the Article I branch, which Nancy Pelosi is putting on a
clinic. As you said, she`s wielding her power so thoroughly and so
efficiently and so publicly in a way that we don`t normally see women, you
She`s not doing it with the sort of demure way we expect women to do.
She`s just wielding her power period. And we`re so used to weak speakers.
We`re not used to it.
So, Donald Trump is getting this lesson with the rest of the country.
Clearly, he knows nothing about the Constitution. But for the first time,
his infliction of misery on people, his lack of empathy for people is
coming up against another power trying to stop him.
The tragedy is the other half of the Article I power is apparently just as
callous as Donald Trump. I see no more concern in Mitch McConnell, no more
compassion than I see in Trump. In Trump, we know this is who he is.
We`re finding out this is also who Mitch McConnell is.
L. O`DONNELL: And, Barbara, I want to read you something that Tony Schwarz
said today. Tony, as we all know, actually wrote the book “The Art of the
Deal,” which has Donald Trump`s name on it. It also has Tony`s name as a
credited author, but apparently, Trump fans don`t notice that part.
Tony Schwartz, who knows him very, very well, said, I have never seen Trump
so utterly flummoxed and outgunned as he is by Nancy Pelosi. He seemed
both awed and cowed by her and it is turning her into a bigger powerhouse
than she already was. Fun to watch.
What is it like for you, Barbara, to watch Nancy Pelosi versus Donald
BARBARA RES, FORMER EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT, THE TRUMP ORGANIZATION: I
sort of predicted this because I know – I`ve followed Nancy for a long,
long time. I`m familiar with when Donald was run up against powerful
women. One comes to mind was a deputy mayor when he was working on the
Trump City project. She really took him on. And it was looking great.
And what he did was he just went over her head, diminished her. She
appeared in meetings and he called her honey and baby and he got away with
that because she didn`t have the power. She had some smarts and had some
But Nancy Pelosi, the minute I saw her – I knew she`d be speaker. I said,
wait, this is going to be good.
L. O`DONNELL: Yes, this is what`s going to be.
Jack O`Donnell, I want to talk about Trump the deal maker, Trump the
negotiator. As we`ve all seen in this shutdown, all I`m seeing is the
worst negotiator I have ever seen anywhere in American politics, not just
JACK O`DONNELL, FORMER PRESIDENT & COO, TRUMP PLZA HOTEL & CASINO: Well, I
think you`re right, Lawrence. I mean, he really hasn`t engaged, but I will
say, I don`t believe either side is really engaged in serious negotiation.
And, you know, historically, he likes very simple deals. I think that
suits his mentality generally. And, you know, he`s just saying no.
And I think it`s just a tactic that he hopes that Pelosi at some point is
going to start negotiating against herself, which would be to Trump`s
advantage, but I think he`s absolutely shocked that she`s not doing that.
She`s standing her ground and she has the support of the party.
And I think that`s significant because he also said today that Democrats
are moving across, right? And we all know that`s not happening. No
Democrats are going to move to Trump, regardless at this situation over the
L. O`DONNELL: Joy, it`s almost like, you know, he`s trying to sell some
apartments and he`s lying to the – to possible buyers about who is buying
and moving into the building. Democrats are moving into this Republican
REID: You mean like when he moved his kids in and said they had
L. O`DONNELL: Every vote we`ve seen Nancy Pelosi bring in the house of
representatives has picked up Republican votes.
REID: That`s right.
L. O`DONNELL: It has pulled Republicans away from Donald Trump, not lost a
REID: Yes, because unlike Donald Trump, particularly, you know,
Republicans who are up in 2020, and that senators and all the house
members, they can`t afford not to care. They at least have to pretend to
care because their constituents aren`t going to call Donald Trump, they`re
going to call them.
I want to say one quick thing about what Mr. O`Donnell had to say because
there is a chorus of people who do a both sides thing. Both sides aren`t
moving. The problem that I think, you know, I see with that, just looking
at it from a constitutional point of view, the money that Congress is given
by the taxpayer is not just behavior modification material, it`s the
fiduciary duty of Congress to spend that money wisely.
You don`t just say just give him some money so he`ll stop hurting people.
That`s not what the money is for. A wall does not cost $5.7 billion. It
would cost tens of billions of dollars.
How do people think he will get the next $5 billion? If he extracts each
$5 billion up to – if it costs $100 million including the lawsuits and the
takings clause, is he going to come back 20 times and put people at risk of
being evicted and being hungry?
In March, 40 million people will not get food stamps. Already a lot of
retailers who normally take EBT cards, meaning the to the food you can eat,
that`s all you can buy with food stamps, can`t take the payments. People
are going to be hungry. People are going to be miserable.
The money that Congress has been given us is not behavior modification
tools. It`s not a binky. It`s not there to make Donald Trump behave.
It`s tax money that the Congress has a duty to spend only on things that
are needed. A wall – no one, even Republicans don`t think it`s needed.
L. O`DONNELL: Barbara, Tom Malinowski, who`s a freshman member of Congress
from New Jersey, said today that we can`t possibly make any kind of
compromise with Donald Trump to re-open the government. We can discuss
compromise with him after we re-open the government, but we have to teach
him to never shut down the government again. If Donald Trump gets anything
from the shutdown, that will be a disaster going forward because he`ll do
RES: I tend to agree with that. I think they have him in a corner, and
the only way – the one thing I think is that there has to be a way to get
him out, not gracefully because he won`t, but in situations where he can at
least pander to the few people who want to follow him and do what he says.
So maybe come up with some kind of idea that he can say, I came in and I
made the arrangements, I did the settlement, I was the one who took the
high road, I made this happen and maybe he`ll – maybe he`ll do something
and everybody will look at him and point and say ridiculous.
L. O`DONNELL: Jack, does this resemble any of the corners you`ve seen
Donald Trump in when he`s in a tough deal, when you were working with him
in business? Was he ever in a box this tight?
J. O`DONNELL: Well, I don`t know if it was this tight. And it certainly
wasn`t on this stage. But the tragedy of this, Lawrence, is exactly what
was just stated, is that this is on the backs of the American people and
it`s not just the 800,000 government employees. Trump has literally turned
these people into a political human shield for himself, to protect that
small base that he has, the 36 percent or whatever it is that support him
regardless of what he does.
And that`s the shame of this. This is a – this is – that`s what they
have become to him, political human shields, and, quite frankly, the
American people at some point are all going to get it. And I think we`re
going to see marches over this.
L. O`DONNELL: Jack O`Donnell, thank you very much for joining us tonight.
As I say, Jack is not a relative. Actually, Jack, I suppose if we traced
it back 1,000 years, we`d find each other somewhere in Ireland.
Barbara Res, thank you for joining us.
And, Joy, please stay with us for a conversation later. We`re going to
talk about Kamala Harris` campaign when we come back.
Also, when we come back, Congressman Eric Swalwell will join us with his
reactions to the shutdown and also today`s developments on Michael Cohen`s
testimony to Congress. Michael Cohen has asked to delay his testimony
citing fears for his family because of President Trump`s attacks on him and
his family. Emily Jane Fox will join us with her reporting on what Michael
Cohen will do next.
And when he does testify to that congressional hearing, one of the members
asking the questions will be the newest member of that committee,
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. That is going to be a day in TV history.
O`DONNELL: Today, we learned two big things about what is sure to be the
worst day of this year for the Trump presidency. The first thing we
learned is that the worst day of this year of the Trump presidency is being
rescheduled. And the second thing we learned is that the most famous
freshman in the House of Representatives since John Quincy Adams will be
Today, Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was named one of the new
members of the House Oversight Committee. That is the committee Michael
Cohen is going to testify to in the House of Representatives. So, Michael
Cohen`s public testimony in the House of Representatives was already
guaranteed to be the worst day of the Trump presidency this year.
But now, the anticipation of that hearing has intensified with the news
that it will be Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez`s first turn in the spotlight of
an already very important congressional hearing.
That hearing is going to be rescheduled because Michael Cohen`s lawyers
told Congress today that he would like to delay his testimony before the
House Oversight Committee, which was scheduled for February 7th. Our next
guest, “Vanity Fair`s” Emily Jane Fox is reporting that Michael Cohen is
still determined to testify before the House committee before he reports to
begin his prison sentence on March 6th. So some time before March 6th.
Michael Cohen`s spokesperson Lanny Davis released this written explanation
today: Due to ongoing threats to his family from president Trump and Mr.
Giuliani as recently as this weekend, as well as Mr. Cohen`s continued
cooperation with ongoing investigation, by advice of counsel, Mr. Cohen`s
appearance will be postponed to a later date.
President Trump has issued several intimidating tweets about Michael Cohen
and his family, including things like this, lying to reduce his jail time.
And the president uses Fox News to deliver threats to Michael Cohen and his
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
TRUMP: In order to get his sentenced reduced, he said, I have an idea.
I`ll tell – I`ll give you some information on the president. Well, there
is no information.
But he should give information, maybe on his father-in-law, because that`s
the one that people want to look at, because where does that money –
that`s the money in the family. I guess he didn`t want to talk about his
father-in-law. He`s trying to get his sentenced reduced.
So, it`s pretty sad. You know, it`s weak and it`s very sad to watch a
thing like that. I couldn`t care less.
JEANINE PIRRO, FOX NEWS HOST: What is his father-in-law`s name?
TRUMP: I don`t know but you`ll find out and you`ll look into it because
nobody knows what`s going on over there.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: In a joint statement, the chairman of the House Oversight
Committee, Elijah Cummings and the chairman of the House Intelligence
Committee, Adam Schiff, said today after Michael Cohen requested a delay in
his appearance before Congress, they said this, our nation`s laws prohibit
efforts to discourage, intimidate or otherwise pressure a witness not to
provide testimony before Congress. The president should make no statement
or take any action to obstruct Congress` independent oversight and
investigative efforts, including by seeking to discourage any witness from
testifying in response to a duly authorized request from Congress.
Joining us our discussion now, Barbara McQuade, former federal prosecutor,
and Emily Jane Fox, senior editor for “Vanity Fair” and the author of “Born
Trump.” They are both MSNBC contributors.
And, Emily, what do we know about why Michael Cohen requested this delay
and what`s going to happen next? What is Michael Cohen`s thinking on what
EMILY JANE FOX, SENIOR EDITOR, VANITY FAIR: I think we should start
thinking about this as a test case. This is about Michael Cohen and this
is about the president`s language and threats that he has used about
Michael Cohen, not just last weekend in his fox news interviews, but over
the last couple of months he has been tweeting about him repeatedly. Every
time he`s asked about him, he basically calls him a liar. His attorney
Rudy Giuliani has called him a serial liar serially across various
interviews on every single network and in every single newspaper.
But what Cohen is basically doing now is he is saying to Congress, I am not
going to come and if you subpoena me, I will come but I won`t necessarily
answer all your questions unless you take action to make sure that these
kinds of threats will not be permitted. Not only to protect his family,
which is always something that he has stressed is incredibly important to
him, but as a larger message that this is wrong that the president is doing
it. It is possibly illegal to witness tamper in this kind of way, and I
think this is really a test to see – if this is going to happen to Michael
Cohen, this could happen to any witness that Congress calls.
O`DONNELL: Is he going to testify?
FOX: I think he`s only going to testify unless there is some action taken
that would assure him that these kinds of threats will not be carried out
O`DONNELL: Barbara McQuade, what action could be taken?
BARBARA MCQUADE, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: Well, you know, there`s the
ultimate action that could be taken is to impeach the president for witness
tampering. I don`t think anyone`s going to go that far in this situation.
Although I think you could make out a case that he satisfies the elements
of the federal criminal statue for witness tampering, to intimidate a
witness with intent to interfere with their testimony. So that would be
I mean, another would be to subpoena Michael Cohen to appear and testify
regardless of the fact that President Trump is tweeting and making these
statements about him. But unless one of those things happens, I don`t know
– we may still find ourselves in this standoff.
O`DONNELL: Has Michael Cohen indicated what action would – he would be
satisfied with that the Congress might be able to take?
FOX: I think that there are – I think that there are only a handful of
actions that you can take that would be serious enough. I think those
actions would have to be something like holding him accountable for witness
tampering or obstruction of justice.
O`DONNELL: And, Barbara, so now it`s starting to sound like if those are
Michael Cohen`s conditions, I don`t see how they can be met, unless
possibly a resolution – Nancy Pelosi could get a resolution passed through
the house of representatives, basically condemning the president`s conduct
toward Michael Cohen, rebuking the president`s conduct toward Michael Cohen
and witnesses generally that the House of Representatives is interested in.
That seems like something that Nancy Pelosi could get written and get
through the House of Representatives pretty quickly.
MCQUADE: Yes, you know, in a normal administration and normal times, what
usually happens when there is sort of this constitutional butting of heads
is that leadership tries to work out some sort of an agreement so that one
side will stand down. As we`ve seen with the shutdown, it doesn`t seem
like that kind of agreement is going to happen here.
What I think is more likely to happen is that Michael Cohen`s testimony
will be delayed. One benefit of delaying his testimony, I think, is Robert
Mueller`s investigation, and until that is completed, I think that Robert
Mueller would prefer that Michael Cohen not speak publicly about all of the
things that is being swirling around in BuzzFeed and some of these other
things until he is ready to share that with the public. And at that time
maybe things simmer down such that Michael Cohen is not the greatest threat
to Donald Trump.
O`DONNELL: So, Emily, this could be a longer delay than just a few weeks
before he goes to prison.
FOX: It could be, but that would mean potentially moving back when he`s
due to report to prison. The time when he was supposed to testify for
Congress was four weeks before he`s supposed to submit himself and go to
prison. So there is not a lot of time, unless that then gets moved back.
But we also have to step back and realize as this is going on, as Cohen has
been spending hours with his attorneys preparing to testify before
Congress, he`s also been meeting with investigators, continuing to
FOX: Still, recently. Continuing –
O`DONNELL: Recently meeting with investigators.
FOX: Continuing –
O`DONNELL: Is that the Mueller team or the Southern District of New York
FOX: And the attorney general of New York.
O`DONNELL: And the attorney general of New York? The state`s interest in
FOX: In my reporting today, I found out that he has been continuing to
meet with all of these investigating bodies, as he is preparing to report
to Congress at some point if he does testify. He also got shoulder surgery
on Friday. And so there is just a lot that`s been going on in Cohen`s
orbit. And on top of it, the president has been continuing to publicly
attack him and his family members.
O`DONNELL: We`re going to know eventually everything Michael Cohen knows
with all of these investigators. We just don`t yet know when or even at
this point what year that will be when we discover all that.
Emily Jane Fox, Barbara McQuade, thank you for joining us tonight on this
And when we come back, how will House Democrats deal with President Trump
attempting to interfere in their investigations? We`ve just heard Emily
Jane Fox tell us that Michael Cohen needs to see some action taken to
I will ask Congressman Eric Swalwell what Congress can do now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS (D-MD), CHAIRMAN OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE: We have not
decided exactly how we will proceed from here. But I guarantee you, as
sure as night becomes day and day becomes night, that we will hear from Mr.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining us now, Democratic Congressman Eric Swalwell from
California. He`s a member of the House Intelligence Committee and the
Congressman Swalwell, we just heard Emily Jane Fox`s reporting from Michael
Cohen`s team saying that he wants to see the Congress take action to
protect him against Donald Trump`s threats against him and his family,
particularly his father-in-law, who the president threatens individually,
What can you and the Congress do to reassure Michael Cohen and to encourage
him to testify, given that as Emily Jane Fox just reported, he wants to see
some action taken?
REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D-CA), HOUSE INTELLIGENCE AND JUDICIARY COMMITTEES:
America needs to hear from Michael Cohen. He has a story to tell. He was
on the inside in all of the president`s – in his personal, his
professional, and political lives, and he has turned for good. And we need
to hear that story.
So good evening, Lawrence. I would say that it`s not just a responsibility
on Congress, but it`s also a responsibility that the special counsel has,
particularly to protect a – what looks like a pivotal witness in a
And Lawrence, as we talk about this, of course, we`re talking about the
president of the United States and his lawyer. But as a former prosecutor,
this is no different than talking to someone who left a street gang and
they`re testifying against the kingpin. I`ve seen this so many times
where, you know, they want to do the right thing then they start to get the
threats, they start to get the pressure.
And you`ve got to convince them, you know, first, you`ve got to protect
yourself. We`ll do all we can to protect you. That`s going to have to
happen. But that doing the right thing is the best thing that you can do
for yourself and your family and not letting these individuals be rewarded
with this kind of street intimidation technique.
O`DONNELL: You know, if I were working on the staff of the House Oversight
Committee now, today, I would have drafted for the chairman a House
resolution rebuking the president for his witness intimidation conduct
publicly, citing these incidences on “Fox News” and elsewhere and
specifically what he said about Michael Cohen and Michael Cohen`s family.
And I would have brought that to the speaker right away and asked that the
House of Representatives vote on that.
SWALWELL: I`ll leave that to, you know, Chairman Cummings. He`s a pro when
it comes to this. He`s working. And I can tell you firsthand, he`s
working, you know, in a teamwork framework with Chairman Nadler and
Chairman Schiff because Mr. Cohen kind of crosses into all three of those
So we have to protect first the Mueller investigation and the witnesses in
that investigation. If the special counsel`s not able to do it because of
limitations that the president and the attorney general are putting on
them, you`re absolutely right, Lawrence, we should do all we can. He is a
pivotal witness here who will give us a window into the lies of the Trump
Organization and what was going on with the Russians.
O`DONNELL: What I think we both know is that we are eventually going to
know everything that Michael Cohen has testified to and everything that
he`s told investigators and the Southern District of New York, the state
attorney general in New York State. As we just heard, he`s still actively
cooperating with them, as well as the special counsel, who he still
actively cooperates with.
They will eventually reveal what they`ve found, but Congress` urgency to
know what Michael Cohen knows has other dimensions to it that are different
from prosecutors. So we can all know – we can all have the comfort of
knowing we will eventually know, but Congress has a different level of
urgency that the president seems to understand that.
O`DONNELL: And that`s why he seems to want to delay what Congress is
SWALWELL: We have a different level of urgency and we also have a
different responsibility, Lawrence. You know, the prosecutors can only
tell the American people what they can prove beyond a reasonable doubt. We
have to make sure we, you know, protect the institution of justice, the
institutions of the rule of law, our freedoms, and democracy.
And so we`re not restrained by that burden. And so, yes, I think we have
to have a parallel investigation. We don`t want to get in the way of the
Mueller investigation, but also recognize that it`s very likely that acting
Attorney General Whitaker and perhaps the new attorney general Barr will
not be working with our interests aligned in finding out truly what
happened. So we have to, I think, bravely and boldly pursue that parallel
track to find out just what happened.
O`DONNELL: Congressman Eric Swalwell, thank you very much for joining us
tonight. Really appreciate it.
SWALWELL: My pleasure. Thanks, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: And coming up, as you saw at the beginning of this program, at
the end of Rachel`s program, Senator Kamala Harris is already making news
in her first week as a candidate for president. She joined Rachel tonight
and had a second or two on this show before saying goodnight.
Joy Reid will join us and we will discuss the new candidacy for president,
Senator Kamala Harris.
O`DONNELL: Here is Senator Kamala Harris in her first appearance on MSNBC
as a presidential candidate with Rachel Maddow tonight, when Rachel asked
her a commander-in-chief question about keeping troops in Afghanistan.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RACHEL MADDOW, HOST, THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW: Do you think that we should
keep troops in Afghanistan? The president seems to want to withdraw a
large number of them but it`s not clear that`s going to happen.
SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D), CALIFORNIA: So I do not and I believe that we need
to do it, though, in a responsible way and that is not what the president
has done. He has been conducting foreign policy through tweets, instead of
what a commander-in-chief should do, which is understand the seriousness
and the severity of one`s decisions and then put the time and the effort
into studying an issue, consulting with their experts, be it generals, be
it foreign policy experts, be it ambassadors and members of the state
department, and our allies to make a decision.
Instead of this approach that assumes that we`re the only one in the room
or that he`s the only one in the room. I was in Afghanistan days before he
made that decision, and, Rachel, when I was there, I spoke with generals
and I spoke with troops.
There was an active conversation happening around negotiating what should
be the future of Afghanistan. And then out of nowhere, the president makes
his decision. It was irresponsible.
O`DONNELL: After a break, Joy Reid will join us on the predictable rise of
Kamala Harris from San Francisco district attorney to California attorney
general to California`s junior United States senator to a presidential
And I know that was all predictable because I predicted all of that back
when she was San Francisco`s district attorney. But there won`t be any
gloating when Joy Reid joins us in just a moment.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: You have only been in the Senate –
HARRIS: A great deal of respect.
MADDOW: Why so fast? Why would you – why are you willing to move on from
this job so fast, you just got there?
HARRIS: November of 2016. And in terms of my background, I have served in
local government, I have served in state government and now in federal
government. I understand how these systems work and I understand how it is
not working right now with this current administration and how it is
impacting people at every level of our society, much less government.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joy Reid is back with us. And Joy, I`m trying to think, I`m
just trying to think of whoever ran for president after two years in the
REID: That`s a good question.
O`DONNELL: I can`t –
REID: I think someone from Illinois.
O`DONNELL: Oh, yes, Barack Obama. Oh, yes, yes, and which means that if
she wins, she will have then served four years in the Senate –
O`DONNELL: – like Barack Obama. But, in fact, in her governing resume,
she has more experience and more varied experience than President Obama had
O`DONNELL: – he entered the Senate. He had just been a state legislator.
She had been a district attorney. She then statewide was elected as an
O`DONNELL: And then United States Senator. So here she is, the campaign
that I thought was inevitable the very first time I saw her campaigning in
California 10 years ago. Here we are.
REID: The moment she burst on the national scene, she gave you kind of a
lot of the same grace notes that you got with President Obama, right? This
interesting resume, interesting background, a multiethnic background that`s
sort of interesting.
And I tend to think about politics a little differently is that to me, the
shorter your federal resume, the better off you are, right. Because
opposition research is the first thing you have to think about when you`re
running for president. What will people use in ads against me?
Rachel Maddow very wisely asked her about two of them, three of them
really, and her answers to those were interesting. The death penalty
issue, which will be an opposition ad. The Republicans will run a Willie
Horton-style campaign about the fact she did not seek the death penalty
against the person who killed an officer named Espinoza.
The crime lab issue, which came up when there were flaws in a crime lab or
actually misconduct and she didn`t – and she threw out the cases. Yep,
Republicans are going to use that. She answered that tonight.
And criminal justice reform, which is going to be what the other side gets
her on. The thing Kamala Harris is facing right now is – are people on
the left, particularly younger people of color who are saying Kamala is a
cop, that Kamala prosecuted people, she`s a prosecutor so we don`t trust
I think that`s the core issue she has to answer in the primary. She has to
come up with an explanation for what her record means for her thoughts on
criminal justice reform. If she can get through that, that short resume`s
actually helpful. There`s not a lot more than that tor the oppo research.
O`DONNELL: I think what our recent politics has certainly taught us and
maybe it was a lesson we should have learned sooner, is that really
ultimately this no longer matters. The modern voter in the last cycle
cared nothing about your past. They did not care that Bernie Sanders was
an NRA –
REID: Who voted for the crime bill.
O`DONNELL: – who was, you know, voting the way the NRA wanted him to as a
Vermont senator. They didn`t care that he did that in the past because he
said that`s not where he was anymore.
You look at Trump. His entire past was opposed to what he was saying as a
candidate. They didn`t care. They didn`t care what his position on
abortion was in the past. They just cared what is it now and what is it
going to be as president?
And so I suspect that any candidate`s best answers to past questions are
going to be this is what I will do as president, and this is what I support
as president, this is what I think as president.
REID: And you know, while I rarely disagree with you, Lawrence O`Donnell,
the one caveat to that is they care more when you`re a woman, right.
Hillary Clinton got tagged for the crime bill. She was the first lady.
She didn`t even vote on it. Like her husband did the crime bill and she
could not escape it.
So you still I think as a woman, the burdens are higher. The ceiling is
higher. The level of attack is higher. And so I think that Kamala Harris
has to be prepared for that as a woman candidate and a candidate of color.
So she`s got these double things working in her disfavor in terms of
unfortunately where we are as a culture. But in her favor, on the other
hand, is a change election like we will have in 2020. Typically has the
electorate saying give me the furthest thing from what`s in there now.
George W. Bush and Barack Obama, give me the furthest thing. McCain, not
far enough, give me further change. Which is why you can see that there
are some people who voted for both Obama and Trump because they just say
give me more change.
She is the furthest change, right, from President Donald Trump. And she
also is an answer to some of the things people are the most alarmed about.
She`s a prosecutor. Maybe a prosecutor could prosecute the Donald Trump
experience and what he`s done and be the one to be able to interrogate his
presidency better than anyone else. So there are ways that she can even
use some of the things people use against her in her favor.
O`DONNELL: Yes. And the thing about campaigning in California is it is
the most competitive, most difficult market you can compete in other than
the national campaign. It has more high-value TV markets than any other
state in the union. It is the most expensive place to campaign.
So any statewide campaign in California is a warm-up for this is how it
works in the big game. And she did it as attorney general. She`s done it
on Senate campaigns. So that`s a kind of training that the other
candidates don`t have.
REID: And the fact that California– you showed last night that super
Tuesday map, brutal. So you`re going to have to win place or show in at
least probably two of those first four contests just to have the money,
fund-raising ability to get into California.
And California happens at the same time as Texas and lots of other races.
So you got to have the half. The fact that the field so far is clear, we
don`t know what Eric Garcetti is going to do, the Los Angeles mayor, but
right now she`d be the only California Candidate.
She would have some advantages naturally going into South Carolina because
she`s African-American. She also gives you sort of double, right, because
she`s also Asian-American. Her mom was of Indian background.
So she`s giving you so much that gives her cachet. And California`s early.
So you almost feel like maybe the gods are trying to make it a little
easier for her. That is an advantage but she`s also got to do the hard
work of politics.
O`DONNELL: Yes. California`s always been at the end of the calendar.
They got tired of that. They got tired of not mattering so much. They
moved it up. And now they`ve got a California senator in the race.
Joy Reid, thank you for joining us tonight. Really appreciate it.
Tonight`s last word is next.
O`DONNELL: Tonight`s last word goes to Virginia`s Junior Senator, Tim
Kaine, who once again tried another Kaine mutiny on the Senate floor and
made a move today that by definition is reserved – by tradition is
reserved only for the majority leader.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
The senator from Virginia.
SEN. TIM KAINE (D-VIRGINIA): Madam President, I ask unanimous consent that
the Senate proceed with immediate consideration of calendar item number 5,
hr-21, making appropriations for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2019.
I further ask that the vote be considered a third time and passed and the
motion to reconsider be considered set aside and laid upon the table with
no intervening action or debate.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is there objection?
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R) KENTUCKY, SENATE MAJORITY LEADER: Object.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Objection is heard.
KAINE: Madam president.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Senator from Virginia.
KAINE: Madam President, I rise to discuss the effects of the federal
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Didn`t work once again.
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Copyright 2019 ASC Services II Media, LLC. All materials herein are
protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced,
distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the
prior written permission of ASC Services II Media, LLC. You may not alter
or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the