White House knows “they’re losing,”. TRANSCRIPT: 1/24/19, The Last Word w/ Lawrence O’Donnell.
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Rachel.
A couple of things. You showed some of Senator Michael Bennet`s speech on
the Senate floor. I`m going to show a bunch more of it.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Good.
O`DONNELL: Because I have to tell you, since I left the staff of the
Senate in the 1990s I have never once, not once thought I would like to be
back on the Senate floor – not once – until today, when I was watching
O`DONNELL: That is just one of those moments where everybody who was in
the chamber is going to remember that for the rest of their lives. The
audience is going to have to fasten their seat belts and watch this thing
because there`s more to it.
MADDOW: I have – my great regret – I always have regrets for every show.
My great regret for this show is I didn`t play more of it, so I`m glad
you`re going to spread out into it.
Also the fact that Michael Bennet is known as being quiet – I mean, soft-
spoken. He`s a quietly confident person who does not need to yell to make
his point. And to see him out there with no notes, to see him out there
with no staff, to see him speaking from the heart like that in a way that
absolutely blew up, all the more powerful because of his – because of his
personality, because of his quietness.
O`DONNELL: And that`s what makes it the Hollywood moment. It is the Mr.
Smith moment, because he is, as you put it, mild-mannered, when you were
talking about it, and soft-spoken. It wasn`t a person anybody expected
Let me give you one more technical detail about this that was fascinating
for me and that is that when a senator rises to speak there is a microphone
that is attached to their desk and they pull it right out. It looks leek a
pen. It looks like a black pen like this and they pull it right out and
they drop it – they actually tend to just drop it right in the pocket of
the suit coat, right? You see that`s what Ted Cruz`s microphone, that`s
where it is before Michael Bennet starts speaking.
Michael Bennet jumped up without even grabbing his microphone. And that
did two things. Number one, he wasn`t wired to the desk. It allowed him
to move around as if this was Clarence Darrow in the courtroom. And it
really added a level of drama that I`ve never seen a senator able to convey
because of the physical movement.
The other thing, that`s why you`re hearing his voice dip off at certain
points, because he`s moving away from that microphone.
MADDOW: Because the mike is sitting – the mike is in a static position
and he`s moving around.
O`DONNELL: Yes. And then the other part of it is this. Most senators if
they get up and forget to pick up the microphone, you don`t really hear
them at first, which is to say Michael Bennet`s really, really loud. And
he`s not anywhere near the microphone. So I`m telling you, it was ten
MADDOW: Perfect. I cannot wait to see you do this.
O`DONNELL: It was extraordinary.
One other thing. We have Faye Smith tonight, Rachel. She wasn`t on this
show last night, but people saw her because I showed video of her at Mitch
McConnell`s office. She`s a federal contractor who`s been unable to pay
her bills. And she`s worried about being evicted.
And she reached our audience last night like no one I`ve ever seen. I was
getting phone calls and texts from people wanting to hp her, wanting to
know what`s happened to her. And so, Faye Smith is now going to join us as
a guest tonight and she`s got a lot to tell us about what`s happened since
she went to Mitch McConnell`s office yesterday.
MADDOW: That`s amazing. Well done, my friend.
O`DONNELL: Thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: Thanks, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Thank you.
Well, Nancy Pelosi said no to Donald Trump again today, and so, tonight, a
defeated president finds himself alone in a hell of his own creation, a
government shutdown which he thought was going to make him look strong but
makes him look weaker every day, with his polling numbers getting worse all
the time and with Republicans defecting from the Trump sinking ship every
day every time there`s a vote.
Nancy Pelosi beat Donald Trump once again today, and this time, this time,
Nancy Pelosi beat Donald Trump in the United States Senate. The Senate
took up a spending bill which Nancy Pelosi had passed through the House of
Representatives which would reopen the government for a few weeks, and it
won a majority vote including six Republican votes. Those were six
Republican Senate votes for what Nancy Pelosi wants and against, six votes
against what Donald Trump wants.
Senators Mitt Romney, Lamar Alexander, Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski,
Johnny Isakson, Cory Gardner, all Republicans, all cast their votes in
favor of their federal government worker constituents, the government
workers in their states who are suffering, and they cast those votes
against Donald Trump. The vote was 52-44.
And when President Trump`s vote came to a vote, it actually came to a vote
first in the United States Senate today. All those Republicans who voted
for the Pelosi bill after the Trump bill, they voted for the Trump bill.
But two Republicans voted against the Trump bill. And so the vote on the
Trump bill was 50-47. Each bill needed 60 votes to pass.
And now, the Republican Senate leader and the Democratic leader Chuck
Schumer are discussing what happens next, and no one knows what happens
next, least of all President Trump. President Trump says he will support
whatever, whatever Chuck Schumer and Mitch McConnell agree on. But Donald
Trump said that the last time that Chuck Schumer and Mitch McConnell agreed
on a spending bill which they then passed through the United States Senate
unanimously in December.
And after they did that and after Donald Trump promised that he was going
to sign it, he changed his mind, after they passed the bill. Donald Trump
said he was now opposed to it.
And so, today, reporters pressed the president on exactly what he would be
willing to accept.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Would you be open to temporary spending without money for the
wall? Just to reopen –
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I wouldn`t be happy with it.
I wouldn`t be happy. But we have a lot of alternatives.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Wouldn`t be happy with it? Wouldn`t be happy with it? He
didn`t say he would veto it. That`s what he`s supposed to say if he`s
going to veto it.
With a normal president wouldn`t be happy with it means he wouldn`t sign
it. But this is Donald Trump, so no one has any idea what he means.
Here is one of the alternatives for reopening the government, whatever that
means, that the president suggested today and that no one understood.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: One of the ideas suggested is they open it, they pay sort of a
prorated down payment for the wall.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Hmm? Well, here`s Nancy Pelosi`s masterful response to
whatever that was.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: He`s now saying he wants a large down payment for the wall. Is
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Well, that is not a
reasonable agreement between the senators.
REPORTER: Do you know what he`s talking about, what size down payment he`s
PELOSI: I don`t know if he knows what he`s talking about. Do you?
REPORTER: What about it being prorated?
PELOSI: I don`t know what that means.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: You cannot go wrong with the American public saying you do not
know what Donald Trump means. No one does most of the time.
That Donald Trump has the worst cabinet in history and the worst White
House staff in history is beyond dispute, the most incompetent staff and
cabinet in history. What is now sadly beyond dispute is that Donald Trump
has the cruelest White House staff and the cruelest cabinet in history.
This is a truly vicious form of cruelty. It`s the kind of cruelty that is
so oblivious to the way real people live that there`s no limit to how much
harm they can do to those people because of that obliviousness. I have
shown you on this program the president`s top economic adviser saying on
video that he believed the government shutdown was like giving federal
workers vacations. He said that with a smile, filled with the cruelty of
the oblivious man.
It was Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross`s turn today. Wilbur Ross is a
billionaire who is possibly the most corrupt and certainly the most
incompetent commerce secretary in history. And he said he can`t understand
why government workers are going to homeless shelters to get food because
they should just take care of themselves by getting loans.
Wilbur Ross doesn`t know that when you`re not Wilbur Ross, you can`t get
bank loans instantly. He doesn`t know what it is to be denied credit. And
the credit union in his own department, the Commerce Department credit
union, is charging 9 percent on personal loans if, if you can qualify for
If anyone working in the Commerce Department or anyone else in the federal
government were to ask Wilbur Ross how much of a loan should I get for how
long, he has no idea.
Nancy Pelosi said this about Wilbur Ross`s suggestion that 800,000 federal
government workers should do what he`s always been able to do when his
businesses hit a bump in the cash flow, just pick up a phone and get a
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PELOSI: I mean, is this the let them eat cake kind of attitude or call
your father for money? This is character building for you, it`s all going
to end up very well, just as long as you don`t get your paychecks.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining our discussion now, Jason Johnson, politics editor at
theroot.com and MSNBC contributor. And Adam Jentleson, the former deputy
chief of staff to Senator Harry Reid.
Adam, I want to begin with you with what you saw in the Senate today. We
saw six Republicans cross over to the Democrats on a bill that did not
include any funding for the wall. As this proceeds, that six could easily
double and then it could easily triple.
ADAM JENTLESON, FORMER SENIOR AIDE TO SEN. HARRY REID: This was an
important vote because while the top line was that both bills failed,
beneath the surface there was some significant movement, and six
Republicans defecting to the Democratic side, obviously, it didn`t get you
to a point where the bill can pass, but that`s the kind of movement that
starts to trigger big momentum shifts among senators. Because while the
top line was that both bills failed, beneath the surface there was some
significant movement, and six Republicans defecting to the Democratic side,
obviously it didn`t get you to a point where the bill can pass, but that`s
the kind of movement that starts to trigger big momentum shifts among
And senators look at that vote and they see the Democratic side gaining
momentum. So Chuck Schumer emerged much stronger from this vote today than
he was before it and McConnell`s position has been significantly weakened.
McConnell may want to be getting weaker because he may be wanting to show
Trump that he can`t hold the line much longer. But the bottom line was
that today was a good vote for Democrats and Chuck Schumer emerged from
that bill much stronger than he was before he went into it.
O`DONNELL: Yes. And, Jason, that`s one of those things that everyone
working in the Senate knows and I think a lot of the press knows but people
out there tend not to, that you can lose a vote in the Senate like Mitch
McConnell, you can come up on the short end of a vote and be glad that you
did because you`re actually trying to teach a lesson to the unreasonable
people on your side, which in Mitch McConnell`s case includes Donald Trump.
And so what you didn`t see today was anybody attacking those six Republican
senators for going across the aisle. There`s no indication that they`re
paying any price, even with Donald Trump.
JASON JOHNSON, POLITICS EDITOR, THEROOT.COM: Yes, Lawrence. What we`re
getting to here is we`re past the performance art part of these wall
negotiations and now we`re going to get some actual work done. Nobody
wants to be the 60th vote, but everybody`s happy to be 57th, 58th, or 59th.
And that`s what we`re about to head to.
These first six senators – and you look at them. You`ve got, you know,
Susan Collins from Maine who knows she`s going to be challenged. Lisa
Murkowski, who knows she might be challenged. You know, Isakson from
Georgia where he`s got the Super Bowl coming in a week and he doesn`t want
that mess. He doesn`t want a potential walkout at Atlanta Hartsfield
You have a lot of different senators, sometimes from red states, sometimes
from blue states, who are saying hey, look, we need to get this done.
They`re providing the cover. And really what I`m sure Mitch McConnell has
explained to the president right now is like look, I can only hold this
line but for so long. I can only put the Gandolf stand down and say “you
shall not pass.”
At some point, I`m going to be overcome by these senators. If you don`t
want to get embarrassed, you`re going to have to come up with some kind of
deal we can both work through. I think that will happen by this weekend,
and I suspect probably by the first week of February this might be over.
O`DONNELL: I want to read what Chuck Schumer`s office issued tonight,
minority leader`s office issued this statement. This is about that weird
prorated thing, whatever that`s supposed to mean. But the president said
just to lay down the markers on it, the statement is: Senator Schumer and
Senate Democrats have made clear to Leader McConnell and Republicans that
they will not support funding for the wall, prorated or otherwise.
And so, Adam Jentleson, Chuck Schumer is echoing Nancy Pelosi`s no. It is
a unified no. It is a flawlessly repeated no on the wall. And there`s
nothing else they say about the wall.
Donald Trump has been moving and changing what he`s been saying about the
wall every single day, both how much money he wants or whether it is a wall
or how much wall there will be, how see-through the steel spikes will be or
whatever it is, but from Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, it`s simply the word
JENTLESON: That`s right. And it`s impossible to overstate how important
it is that they`ve been able to maintain that unity both within their own
caucuses on each side of the capitol and then together and having them
issue statements, you know, basically echoing each other. It`s just
And what they`ve done is they`ve sort of taken any sort of sense of Dems in
disarray that media love to focus on, any sort of drama on the Democratic
side out of the picture. There hasn`t been any. There`s nothing for the
press to cover. Which has allowed all the focus to be squarely on Trump,
squarely on his changing position, his weak position, and it`s been
buttressed by polls showing the public overwhelmingly blames Trump and
supports the Democratic position.
So, that the unity has been enormously important and huge credit goes to
both Speaker Pelosi and leader Schumer for being able to hold that line.
O`DONNELL: And now, there`s a group of bipartisan senators who are
reportedly working on another version of the Pelosi bill which is a funding
the government for three weeks with no wall. And that includes people like
Lindsey Graham, who`s a little bit surprising to see on that list on the
I want to go back to what seemed like the conclusion of a drama yesterday,
but the real final moment was today when the president issued his own
verbal surrender on this. And that is the whole State of the Union where
Nancy Pelosi finally had to put it in writing to the president yesterday,
saying absolutely not, you`re not coming here, we`re not going to do the
concurrent resolution that allows you to come here to do your State of the
Union. It`s over, forget about it.
That seemed to get through to him, because listen to what the president
said today and how full his surrender to Nancy Pelosi is on this after
pretending to his followers that he was simply going to bully his way right
into the building, grab a microphone that night and give the speech anyway.
Let`s listen to what President Trump had to say about it today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Well, it`s really her choice. I mean, I would have done it in a
different location, but I think that would be very disrespectful to the
State of the Union, to pick some other place. I could have done it. I
could have gone to a big auditorium and gotten 25,000 people in one day,
and you`ve been there many times.
But I think that would be very disrespectful to the State of the Union. So
what she said I thought was actually reasonable. We`ll have the State of
the Union when the shutdown is over.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Jason, what she said I thought was actually reasonable. The
word “surrender” doesn`t appear anywhere there, but that`s what I heard.
JOHNSON: Yes, yes. Speaker Pelosi is from Charm City, but she`s really
from Baltimore and she laid this down and Donald Trump backed up. I mean,
he was – the fact that he had the sergeant of arms there and she told the
sergeant of arms no.
The president of the United States is facing something that really in two
years he has not faced from Congress because he hasn`t had a Democratic
Congress before. Trump has lost in the courts. Trump has lost in the
polls. Trump has lost in elections he`s endorsed.
He`s never lost a legislative battle before. He`s never lost a symbolic
legislative battle. And that`s what`s happened here.
He`s not going to get his wall. He`s not going to give the State of the
Union when he wants to give the state of the union. And at the end of the
day I don`t think he`s going to get much money even for homeland security
or any sort of border security he wants.
O`DONNELL: Jason Johnson, Adam Jentleson, thank you very much for starting
us off tonight. I really appreciate it.
And when we come back, Faye Smith will join us. You saw her on this
program last night on video at Mitch McConnell`s office crying as she tried
to explain what the government shutdown means to her and how she might be
evicted from her home.
And the breaking point in the United States Senate today was a thing of
beauty to behold. One of the most extraordinary speeches I have ever seen
in the Senate. It was a moment of heartfelt eloquence and outrage.
But first tonight, air traffic controllers and airline pilots, flight
attendants say they cannot calculate the risk of flying during the
government shutdown. If you`re flying this weekend, on Super Bowl weekend,
you have to listen to this, even though you`re not going to want to listen
to this. That`s coming up.
O`DONNELL: Captain Sully Sullenberger tweeted this about the government
shutdown: Like the air traffic controllers and pilots unions, I`m very
concerned about threats to safety caused by the shutdown. Our air traffic
controllers deserve to be paid. The traveling public and the American
people deserve better. This shutdown must end.
And there`s this from Sara Nelson of the Flight Attendants Association.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SARA NELSON, PRESIDENT, ASSOCIATION OF FLIGHT ATTENDANTS: Not only are we
aviation`s first responders, we are the last line of defense. And we are
going to work today understanding that the layers of security that need to
be there, the layers of security that were put in place after 9/11 when the
TSA was created are not there. This is about our safety and security and
our jobs and our entire country`s economic stability. No one will get out
of this unscathed if we do not stop this shutdown.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Because of the government shutdown, the TSA announced that
unpaid TSA officers who refused to work hit a record high last weekend, and
now air traffic controllers, pilots and flight attendants are warning
travelers they cannot guarantee their safety saying, quote, we cannot even
calculate the level of risk currently at play, nor predict the point at
which the entire system will break. And when that system breaks, people
“The Washington Post” reports that unpaid air traffic controllers are
waiting tables and driving for Uber in the time left over from their ten-
hour shifts, tracking the position and speed of aircraft to prevent
Joining our discussion now is Trish Gilbert, executive vice president of
the National Air Traffic Controllers Association. She was on air traffic
control for 21 years.
And Sara Nelson, president of the Association of Flight Attendants. She
has been a flight attendant for 23 years.
Trish Gilbert, I flew a couple of weekends ago p and immediately tweeted my
thanks to the air traffic controllers when we miraculously took off on time
and landed early. And there wasn`t much attention then to what was going
on in air traffic. I was very concerned about it.
Where are we now, and what is it like trying to – for air traffic
controllers trying to do their full work shifts, concentrate on that air
traffic while they`re worrying about how they pay the rent?
TRISH GILBERT, EVP, NATIONAL AIR TRAFFIC CONTROLLERS ASSOCIATION: So you
know, we`re 34 days in, much too long already. It`s unreasonable and it`s
reckless. Air traffic controllers` main job is to prevent planes from
hitting each other.
GILBERT: That is giving them turns, giving them climbs and descents to
miss other planes. They need to be focused on doing that job 100 percent
of the time. They shouldn`t be driving for Uber before their shift. They
shouldn`t be waiting tables. They should be getting rested.
Fatigue matters. The stress matters. They`re not sleeping at night now
because they`re worried about not just the paycheck they`ve missed and the
next one they`re going to miss tomorrow but how long is this going to go
Are they going to have to sell their house? Are they going to have to sell
cars? Are they going to have to keep their children out of college? What
are they – they don`t have any idea when they`re going to get their life
Their life is on hold and they`re making day-to-day decisions for something
that they did not ask to be a part of. They`re political pawns in a
reckless game of chicken. And they need to be pulled out of that game.
They need to be able to do their job and do it with 100 percent of the
people that are furloughed that need to be there to support them, quality
assurance specialists, training specialists, air space and procedures
people. Those are key people to get us ready for the Super Bowl and extra
traffic we`re going to have flying in and out of Atlanta.
We`re already looking at delaying the planning for the Daytona 500 and the
NASCAR circuit, the fly-ins. All that stuff is signature by the wayside on
top of the lack of maintenance on equipment because we are on a fix policy
at FAA. That is unacceptable and it`s reckless. It needs to end soon.
O`DONNELL: Sara Nelson, what`s the awareness of your passengers these
days? A couple of weeks ago I didn`t detect anybody was concerned about
this but I suspect by now it`s finally registered with the passengers that
there is a new strange kind of risk involved in air travel.
NELSON: Look, people are asking and the crews are asking, we`re actually
getting requests to our union. We`re getting tons of mail to our union
asking is it safe to fly? Just listen to –
O`DONNELL: Sara, when you say that, you`re saying flying professionals,
flight attendants, are saying is it safe to fly?
NELSON: Yes, they are. They are asking that question.
Listen to what Trish just said. OK? The job of an air traffic controller,
highly stressful job, highly trained job. They have to get it right 100
percent of the time.
Flight attendants are aviation`s first responders, but we`re also
aviation`s last line of defense. And we know when we come to work that
we`re coming to work in a system that has a whole set of layers of
security, and safety. And when you pull away those layers, you`re making
it – you`re entering risk into the situation. And flight attendants are
very aware of that.
We count on all these other people to do a ton of work behind us so that we
can take off and get people from point A to point B safely. And we`re very
concerned because the people who come to work and keep us safe, and we
really have to recognize what these air traffic controllers are doing.
They are coming to work now, we`re going on 35 days on the shutdown. It`s
unprecedented. It`s more than twice the time any shutdown in history has
occurred. And there`s a reason for that, because there`s incredible risk
for our country when we`re doing this.
And they are coming to work under the stressful situation because they know
very well if they don`t come the airplanes stay on the ground. And maybe
we will avoid casualty by doing that and loss of life, but we are going to
have massive, catastrophic economic pressure on this country. There will
be massive job loss. And no one will get away unscathed.
So, these people coming to work are doing it for all of us and they`re
working very hard to keep us safe and they`re make sure that it stays safe,
but in order to keep it safe, they`re probably going to have to cut down
the capacity that`s out there. And in the meantime, we`ve got people who
are totally stressed coming to work. And my members are very aware of that
and they`re asking questions about it. And the traveling public is asking
questions about it too.
O`DONNELL: And, Trish, what`s your quick answer to your friends and loved
ones who ask you is it safe to fly now?
GILBERT: Sara had it right on the head. We`re going to adjust capacity.
Because we do have a 30-year low in fully certified air traffic
So we`re already working the overtime. And we haven`t been hiring since
the shutdown started. So, we`re losing people coming in the front door and
we have 20 percent and 45 percent in the New York area but 20 percent
nationwide eligible to retire. And they are frustrated and looking at
retiring before they were ready to.
So that would leave us at a situation where we couldn`t staff our towers
and our radar rooms across the country, which means planes will stay on the
ground if we can`t put them safely in the air.
O`DONNELL: Trish Gilbert, Sara Nelson, thank you both for joining us
tonight. Really important information. Thank you.
And when we come back, the woman who went to Mitch McConnell`s office
yesterday to try to tell him about her fears of the government shutdown and
how she might be evicted. Faye Smith will join us.
O`DONNELL: Now, to the movie moment. The most important thing that was
said by a politician in Washington today. And it came as some of the
greatest dramatic moments in the Senate sometimes do, from the least likely
You could follow news in politics attentively and not know that Democrat
Michael Bennet, the senior senator from Colorado, has been serving in the
Senate since 2009. He is one of many mild-mannered senators who do not go
out of their way to seek attention. He`s the kind of senator who you think
might not even have a breaking point.
But that breaking point came today on the 34th day of the government
shutdown that has left 800,000 federal workers unpaid. His breaking point
came when Texas Senator Ted Cruz expressed his concern for some of the
first responders who are not being paid.
Senator Ted Cruz is the single most disliked senator in the body by
Democrats and Republicans for many reasons, including the fact that Ted
Cruz himself personally caused a government shutdown in 2013 at a time when
14 counties in Colorado had suffered a state of emergency from flooding.
And no Republican senators or Democratic senators supported that shutdown.
That was a Ted Cruz shutdown.
When Ted Cruz finished speaking, Senator Bennett was so agitated that he
jumped up from his seat without grabbing the microphone from his desk but
being unwired by that microphone on the Senator`s desk allowed him to pace
the floor. And when you listen to him now, know that usually when a
senator doesn`t pick up that microphone, the microphone isn`t really
capable of picking up the senator`s voice.
But Michael Bennet took us back to the days in the Senate when no one ever
needed a microphone. He reached into his soul and delivered a thing of
beauty. Perfection. Something everyone who was lucky enough to be on the
Senate floor today at that moment will remember for the rest of their
lives, the outraged passion of the gentleman from Colorado.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MICHAEL BENNET, (D) COLORADO: These crocodile tears that the senator
from Texas is crying for first responders are too hard for me to take.
They`re too hard for me to take. Because when you – when the senator from
Texas shut this government down in 2013, my state was flooded. It was
under water. People were killed. People`s houses were destroyed. Their
small businesses were ruined forever.
And because of the senator from Texas, this government was shut down, for
politics. Then he surfed to a second place finish in the Iowa caucuses but
were of no help to the first responders, to the teachers, to the students
whose schools were closed when the federal government, it was shut down
because of the junior senator from Texas.
Now, it`s his business, not my business, why he supports a president who
wants to erect a medieval barrier on the border of Texas, who wants to use
eminent domain to build that wall, who wants to declare an unconstitutional
emergency to build that wall. That`s the business of the senator from
I can assure you that in Colorado, if a president said he was going to use
eminent domain to erect a barrier across the State of Colorado, across the
Rocky Mountains of Colorado, he was going to steal the property of our
farmers and ranchers to build his medieval wall, there wouldn`t be an
elected leader from our state that would support that idea.
Which goes to my final point. How ludicrous it is that this government is
shut down over a promise the president of the United States couldn`t keep.
And that America is not interested in having him keep. This idea that he
was going to build a medieval wall across the southern border of Texas,
take it from the farmers and ranchers that were there, and have the
Mexicans pay for it isn`t true.
That`s why we`re here. Because he`s now saying the taxpayers have to pay
for it. That`s not what he said during his campaign.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: He wasn`t finished. Watch now. Watch Michael Bennet as his
feelings about Ted Cruz surge and he has to hold himself back from making
this even more personal than it already is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BENNET: Over and over and over and over again, he said Mexico would pay
for the wall. Over and over again. That was at – I was going to talk
about what he said about the junior senator`s father but I`m going to let
that alone. It was after that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: What Donald Trump said about Ted Cruz`s father is that Rafael
Cruz was involved in the assassination of President John Fitzgerald
Kennedy. Ted Cruz was briefly outraged by that but has since then actually
brought his wife and his children to the Trump White House and forced his
children to shake the hand of the man who said their grandfather was
involved in the assassination of President Kennedy.
Since I left the staff of the United States Senate, I have never once
wished I was back on the Senate floor. Until today when Michael Bennet
rose to speak.
After this break, one of the people Senator Bennet was speaking for, Faye
Smith will join us. She went to Mitch McConnell`s office to tell him that
she might be evicted because of this government shutdown. Faye Smith will
join us next.
O`DONNELL: The most important voice on this program last night was not
mine and it was not one of our guests. It was a woman you saw only on
video at Mitch McConnell`s office hoping to explain to the majority leader
what was at stake for her in the shutdown. Here is what she said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FAYE SMITH, SECURITY GUARD, SMITHSONIAN INSTITUTION: I`m here today to see
Mitch McConnell to show him I`m on a second chance program. I counted on
my rent paid on time. I have no more money coming in. I`m a guard at
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 am 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: And joining us now is Faye Smith. Faye Smith, thank you very
much for joining us. I know a lot has been happening and a lot`s happened
for you since that was on television last night. I can tell you that I was
getting phone calls during the show, texts during the show from friends of
mine who wanted to help you when they saw your situation. What has
developed for you since last night?
SMITH: Thank you for having me this evening. You go through stages with
this government shutdown and this furlough thing. And right now, my stage
is happiness. My happiness is because I`ve had so much outreach of love
Lawrence, everybody has donated to me, have been there for me, have helped
me. And I love you all so much. I wish I could just hug everybody. I
have my rent paid now. I have my rent paid for up to two months now.
Thanks to all of you.
And I also have a new special friend, Mr. D.L. Hughley. He called me today
and reached out to me with his wife. And they also have blessed me. So I
would like to say thank you for him. Thank you.
O`DONNELL: Well, as you know, I spoke to you this afternoon. I told you
that D.L. was calling me last night during the commercial breaks right here
and texting me and he wanted to get in touch with you. And I was very glad
to be able to put you together. And he told me last night he wanted to
help you in whatever way you needed. You also have a GoFundMe page.
But you`re just one, Faye. You`re just one of the workers. You`re
actually one of the contractors. So you`re never going to get the back pay
O`DONNELL: – as a contractor. And there`s more contractors like you than
there are government workers, over a million. Talk to us about your
friends and others who you know are in this situation who haven`t had that
moment to get our attention and therefore this direct help that you`ve been
able to get.
SMITH: Oh, we just – I just pray for my sisters in the unions, pray for
my co-workers, because so many of them have children with daycare. They
can`t get them to daycare. They have medicine. I have one particular
friend, she`s a diabetic, and she can`t get her medicine.
Another one that has her mom and her children living with her. And
everybody depends on that one check. It has devastated everybody that I
know. I have a sister. She has daughters. Five people in one family
furloughed. Come on. Five people in one family.
O`DONNELL: Faye, what would you say to President Trump if you had a
SMITH: President Trump, no disrespect. Miss Nancy is not going to give
you that wall. Mr. Trump, you need to stop holding us hostage. That`s
what you`re doing. We need to go back to work. You`re worried about the
wall, you better worry about what`s going on right here.
I`m from Southeast Benin Road, a little girl from Southeast Benin Road,
crossing guard at one time. Called me Mama Faye. I know what the kids are
like out here. They love their family.
And we need to get back to work because you know what? You`re worried
about the wall there. These children right here that`s going on and they
can`t provide for their family, it`s going to be something else here.
I`m not saying but I`m saying that we`re hurt. We`re angry. We`re
frustrated. We need work. All I know is work. I`ve worked hard all my
I have two daughters and two grandchildren that I`ve always wanted to help
with them, not support them because my daughters support her family but I
help them. And I can`t even help them.
I have a granddaughter in second year in college. I have a grandson
talking about graduating this year. I can`t even help. Come on.
I need you to look around us. Don`t let what`s going on in these other
lands and your wall and all this, you need to look right here in
Washington. You show more love to Putin, Young Kim. Show us some love.
Stop it. Let us go back to work.
Miss Nancy already told you she`s not going to give you the money for the
wall. I think Miss Nancy is awesome. I don`t like being out of work. But
guess what? I know she`s going to help us. And I know what she`s doing,
she`s doing it for a reason because everybody can`t be a yes man. She`s
not a yes man. She is a – ooh. I love her. I love her.
O`DONNELL: We`ll leave it there, Faye. Faye Smith, thank you very, very
much for joining us tonight. I`m so glad that D.L. Hughley and others have
O`DONNELL: – to help you. Really glad that you could join us tonight.
I`m glad things are better for you tonight.
SMITH: Great. Thank you so much. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
O`DONNELL: Thank you, Faye.
And we are joined now by Sam Stein, politics editor of “The Daily Beast”.
He`s also an MSNBC political analyst. And Jason Johnson is back with us.
Sam, first to you. your reaction to Faye Smith. She was really the face of
this suffering. I think she brought it through to people last night in a
way that they`d never seen before.
SAM STEIN, POLITICS EDITOR, THE DAILY BEAST: Well, yes. And I mean
there`s thousands, tens of thousands of stories that are emerging just like
this. And it`s not isolated as initially suspected in the Washington, D.C.
Beltway area. It`s across the country.
And what we`re seeing is that lawmakers are beginning to hear from their
constituents. Those constituents are showing up at town halls. They`re
showing up at Congress. They`re showing up at food banks.
It`s becoming a major local news story. It`s becoming a major national
news story. It`s beginning to move the needle a little bit.
The “Washington Post” today just came out a little while ago, noted that
within the Republican Senate caucus there is angst. It`s expressed
privately but it`s there at how this is playing out. And there`s a real
desire for it to come to a conclusion. We`re beginning to see breaks in
the ranks partly because these people are beginning to speak up about the
suffering they`re enduring.
O`DONNELL: Jason Johnson, whenever there`s a standoff like this in the
United States Senate, the thing you want to know is which leader asked for
the meeting? And we have a report tonight indicating that after the votes
today, it was Mitch McConnell who asked Chuck Schumer for the meeting which
is a very good sign for Chuck Schumer.
JASON JOHNSON, POLITICS EDITOR, THEROOT.COM: Right. If you`re the guy
asking for help, then you`re the guy who`s probably going to be most likely
to negotiate. But I think that the bigger issue here, we have to
understand how cruel this is and how disturbing it is that it`s not the
pain of people like Miss Smith that`s finally moved this administration,
it`s their embarrassment and their realization that they have faced real
I had a student – I`ve been tweeting about this today. I had a student
come into my office today. This is a 20-year-old kid who`s battling
cancer, OK? And has to deal with food stamps in order to get her tuition
paid because so many things are backed up by the federal government.
This has an impact on my students. This has an impact – I know several
people who are contractors. And these stories of pain and suffering, that
didn`t move Mitch McConnell. That didn`t move Ted Cruz. What moved them
was the realization that we`re just never going to get the votes.
So I`m still disgusted that we have a Senate, that we have one part of our
House – we have one part of Congress that didn`t care about the American
people. They only cared about the fact that they couldn`t get their power
moved on in time and now they`re going to have to negotiate.
O`DONNELL: And we have reporting from “The Washington Post” now, breaking
news actually at this hour, that the Republican Senate is really coming
apart over this shutdown. They are reporting Republican senators clashed
with each other and confronted Vice President Pence inside a private
luncheon on Thursday as anger hit a boiling point over the longest
government shutdown in history.
This is your fault, Senator Ron Johnson told Majority Leader Mitch
McConnell at one point according to two Republicans who attended the lunch
and witnessed the exchange. And Sam Stein, I`ve been at those luncheons on
the Democratic side. They rarely get heated. But when they do, it`s
always because the room knows that they are on a sinking ship.
STEIN: Yes. And for a variety of reasons. One, the first one is that
they all took a vote before the end of the year to open the government, to
keep the government running, and keep the spending at current levels and
not from the wall.
So they`re all on record saying that they`re fine with the resolution that
Democrats want but now they`re being asked to go against that very vote to
support the president who said he would gladly own the shutdown to support
a policy that`s not really well liked by the American public.
All the while, poll numbers show they`re on the losing end of this battle
and Trump`s own public opinion polls are plummeting as well. So they`re
not done. They`re not – they may not be politics but they`re not
politically done. They look at this and recognize that they`re in a very
difficult situation and they want to get out of it.
O`DONNELL: And Jason Johnson, we`ve seen presidential candidates
announcing these days. This is also the spot on the calendar where
senators decide if they`re running for reelection two years from now and
some who might have decided in December that they are, this week and
especially after today`s luncheon on the Republican side, and Mitch
McConnell himself could easily be sitting there saying why do I want to be
elected back into this body, two years from now, especially if we
Republicans are elected into a minority?
JOHNSON: Well, yes. You`ve got your sort of Trey Gowdy, Paul Ryan
situation of well, this isn`t so much fun if I`m not in charge. And that`s
why some of these Republicans are going to be looking at, look, the
weakness of this presidency and the weakness of the policy positions that
he puts these Republicans in will make it hard for them not just in 2020
but it also increases the number of Democrats who will be running against
I spoke to an Uber driver. I hate usually saying this sort of cliche. I
was talking to my Uber driver today and we were having this conversation.
And he said, look, my wife is furloughed right now. He is like this is
turning people into voters. My kids are angry about this and deciding to
register to vote.
This is not going to be the Ted Cruz shutdown that people forget about in a
year and a half. The financial consequences of this, assuming that it
doesn`t screw up the economy by the fall, is going to a (INAUDIBLE) for
these Republicans. They`re going to have some real concerns about this
going in the next year. And heaven forbid that they try this again.
Because it is not like Trump won`t try this same stunt again if he doesn`t
get what he wants on some other policies.
O`DONNELL: And Sam, we saw six Republican senators split from Donald Trump
on the Senate floor today. And for all we know, Mitch McConnell wanted
them to split. But Mitt Romney, Susan Collins, others, they`ve paid no
price. There isn`t any angry Trump tweeting at them for the way they voted
STEIN: No. I mean remarkably, he didn`t go after them. He tried to
highlight the other vote for his preferred legislation even though it
performed worse than the vote. But that is telling in its own right. And
yes, I mean this is a political problem for the Republican Party that
they`re beginning to realize.
I`m not totally sold that it will last until November. But the possibility
is that it really exists that we could end up in another government funding
shutdown situation in a couple of weeks. That`s why the Democratic demand
has sort of shifted a little bit here. It is no longer we`re not going to
fund any of the wall.
It is now, we will no longer be taken hostage so I wouldn`t be surprised if
lawmakers, Democratic lawmakers in the next couple Days say, listen, you
have to make an assurance that we won`t just find ourselves on the same
cliff two or three months from now.
O`DONNELL: And Jason Johnson, Republican Senator Johnny Isakson, Georgia,
represents the area where the Super Bowl is going to be played, and one of
the busiest airports in the world. And he voted against the president
today. We now have, we`re going to hear more of this, the dangers of air
You have air traffic controllers. You have pilots. You have flight
attendants saying it is no longer safe and we can no longer even calculate
what the risk is. That`s something that is going to reach Republican
senators beyond just Johnny Isakson.
JOHNSON: Oh, yes. And Lawrence, that hits on two different levels. I
spoke to Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms yesterday. You`ve got cities
now trying to come up with ways to provide loans, temporary loans to TSA
agents to manage what`s going to happen next week.
Delta Airlines is losing almost $25 million a week because of contracts and
government employees who aren`t traveling. So yes, Isakson is not going to
the only person who`s not only getting hit by angry at her constituents but
also large businesses in his state are suffering financially because of
This coalition cannot hold – the center cannot hold on this coalition and
that`s why I think Mitch McConnell is trying to cut a deal. He would
rather cut a deal now and save face than lose to Republicans who provide 60
votes for a Democratic bill and a House bill.
O`DONNELL: Sam Stein, Jason Johnson, thank you both for joining us.
STEIN: Thanks, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Really appreciate it.
And when we come back, a very special LAST WORD about an inspiring story
about immigration in America.
O`DONNELL: Time for tonight`s LAST WORD.
Anthony Reyes started at NBC News as an intern and was only 23-years-old
when he joined the team that created this show eight years ago. And it is
a better show because Anthony Reyes was there at the creation.
When Anthony left the LAST WORD, he went to work in the Treasury Department
at the Obama administration and then in the California Senate for Senator
Kevin De Leon who was then the leader of the Senate. Anthony is one of the
countless inspiring stories of immigration in America.
He was born in the Dominican Republic and came to this country as a child
and this country is richer for it. Anthony`s grandmother, Thelma Azcona
Lopez, is another one of those inspiring immigration stories. She was born
in the Dominican Republic 94 years ago.
And tomorrow and Saturday, Anthony and his family will say their farewells
to his grandmother at her wake and funeral in Brooklyn. She leaves 22
grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren. And this country is lucky to
have them here with us helping this country live up to its ideal of
(FOREIGN LANGUAGE) familia Lopez. That`s tonight`s LAST WORD.
“THE 11TH HOUR WITH BRIAN WILLIAMS” starts now.
BRIAN WILLIAMS, MSNBC HOST: After two failed Senate votes, the two leaders
McConnell and Schumer try to talk through a deal and the shutdown. And at
the White House, the president on the losing end of this right now says he
has alternatives if they don`t include wall funding.
As we approach day 35 of the shutdown, federal workers who never dreamed
they would need to rely on a food bank are about to miss a second pay
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
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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