Senator Schumer calls for Intel. TRANSCRIPT: 1/30/19, The Last Word w/ Lawrence O’Donnell.

Guests:
Ron Klain; Eugene Robinson; Cal Perry
Transcript:

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

 

That is such an important public service announcement, and I have to say

that when I was living on tips as a parking attendant in Boston parking

cars, the tips were so rare, I have to tell you any amount, any amount was

fine with us.  We would take any amount.

 

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST, “TRMS”:  On a subzero night, if someone gives

you a nickel, you`re going to be like, where`s the right, right?  I mean,

like this is a time when it is – tipping is no kidding. 

 

O`DONNELL:  They were almost all subzero nights in Boston in winter, but

when we were parking cars for the Celtics and the Bruins and stuff, and if

you – whatever you gave us, we were very grateful for.  We really

appreciated it. 

 

MADDOW:  You know, my first – my first – my first service job, meaning

like waiting tables job was minimum wage, no tips and I had to wear

pantyhose.  And at that point had anybody illegally –

 

O`DONNELL:  What was the worst part – Rachel, of those three things, what

was the most difficult for you to bear? 

 

MADDOW:  For me, the most difficult was actually just waiting tables, even

if I had been well-paid and didn`t have to wear pantyhose because I`m so

terrible at it.  Yes, the tips thing is for real on a night this bad. 

 

O`DONNELL:  Rachel, this is the kind of night where I could go on and on,

especially where this has already been.  It`s been pretty great.  Thank

you, Rachel. 

 

MADDOW:  Pantyhose later.  Talk to you later, my friend.  Bye, Lawrence. 

 

O`DONNELL:  OK.  News time. 

 

We do have breaking news tonight, and it is breaking news from Democratic

leader in the Senate, Chuck Schumer.  He has written a letter to President

Trump`s Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats telling him to educate

the president.  Chuck Schumer is siding with Dan Coats and the other

leaders of intelligence agencies who were criticized by the president today

for completely disagreeing with him in their public testimony to the Senate

yesterday, giving their assessment of the worldwide threats that the United

States faces. 

 

Senator Schumer`s letter to Director Coats says: President Trump`s

criticisms of the testimony you and the other intelligence leaders provided

to Congress yesterday was extraordinarily inappropriate and will undermine

public confidence in the U.S. government`s efforts to protect our national

security and preserve U.S. power and influence abroad.  I believe it is

incumbent on you, Director Wray, and Director Haspel to insist on an

immediate meeting with the president to educate him about the facts and raw

intelligence underlying the intelligence community assessments and to

impress upon him how critically important it is for him to join you and the

leadership of our intelligence community in speaking with a unified

accurate voice about national security threats.  He is putting your

colleagues in an untenable position and hurting the national interest in

the process.  You must find a way to make that clear to him. 

 

Educate him.  In other words, do the impossible, do what no one has ever

been able to do. 

 

No previous president has ever publicly attacked all of the heads of

America`s intelligence gathering agencies and all of the people working in

those agencies.  That is what Donald Trump did today because the 42-page

report of the worldwide threat assessment presented to the Senate yesterday

by the heads of those agencies is actually the worked product of everyone

working in those agencies. 

 

The title of the document is: Worldwide Threat Assessment of the U.S.

Intelligence Community.  The work of thousands of people went into that

document, including thousands of people who were not being paid for some of

the time that that document was being produced because of the Trump

shutdown of the government. 

 

This is one of those days where we try to reach for the language that will

place this event in history.  We try to find the words to convey the

enormity of the abhorrent behavior the president displayed, and when we try

to find those words now, we fail because the language has been exhausted by

Donald Trump.  The word “unprecedented” has no power anymore.  The word

“outrageous” has no power. 

 

The word “irresponsible” means nothing anymore in the same sentence with

the words Donald Trump, but some of us will still try and some of us have

apparently given up.  “The New York Times” initial reporting of what the

president said today made no attempt at all to convey the profound

presidential perversity of Donald Trump issuing a tweet this morning in

which he screamed, they are wrong!  At what he called the intelligence

people. 

 

“The New York Times” report on that and other tweets attacking the

intelligence people said: it is unusual for the president to pick a fight

with his intelligence chiefs.  That kind of reporting is total victory for

Donald Trump.  The brainwashing is working.  The outrage fatigue is

working. 

 

“The New York Times” is completely wrong.  It is not unusual.  What the

president did today was not unusual, it has never happened.  To be unusual

it has to have happened before, but not very often.  Never, never.  

 

Unusual is not the word for what happened today.  The heads of our

intelligence agencies have been routinely appearing before the Senate to

present the worldwide threat assessment of the intelligence community year

in and year out and never before has a president of the United States

written a public statement saying they are wrong, they are all wrong. 

 

In his second tweet about their testimony, the president said: Perhaps

intelligence should go back to school.  What school? 

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  I went to the best schools. 

I`m like a very smart person. 

 

I went to an Ivy League school.  I`m very highly educated.  I know words. 

I have the best words. 

 

I went to the Wharton School of Finance, maybe the hardest school to get

into in the country.  The Wharton School of Finance.  And I was very good. 

Really good. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

O`DONNELL:  One thing we know they did not teach Donald Trump at the

Wharton School was intelligence.  No president has ever publicly insulted

the heads of all American intelligence gathering agencies and everyone

working in those agencies the way President Trump did today.  Perhaps

intelligence should go back to school. 

 

All of them, everyone working at the CIA, everyone working on

counterintelligence at the FBI, everyone at the NSA, thousands and

thousands of people, they should all go back to school? 

 

Now, I am not one to police typos on Twitter, but in a tweet where you`re

telling thousands of people to go back to school, you should not have

mistakes like, there economy is now crashing.  That, of course, should be

T-H-E-I-R, and there seems to be no one named Trump who knows that.  Their

schools did not teach that apparently. 

 

Donald Trump is now telling us that the people he appointed, he appointed,

he put in charge of intelligence gathering for the defense of the United

States of America should go back to school.  He`s telling us his choices

for those jobs are incompetent. 

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

TRUMP:  We`ve got the best people. 

 

I know the best people. 

 

We`re going to use our best people. 

 

The best people. 

 

The best people. 

 

I know guys that are so good. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

O`DONNELL:  Donald Trump promised his voters that he would hire the best

people, and two years into his presidency, what has happened to those best

people?  What has happened includes being indicted, pleading guilty to

federal crimes, being fired, resigning and, of course, being publicly

attacked by Donald Trump, the person who hired them. 

 

Donald Trump is telling his true believers today and only his true

believers because no one else believes this.  He`s telling them that this

government`s intelligence gathering agencies are wrong.  They are failing

in their mission to help defend the United States of America.  Donald Trump

is telling his followers that after two full years of the Trump presidency,

the intelligence community as run by Donald Trump`s appointees is a

complete failure. 

 

It is Donald Trump`s latest insult to the intelligence of his followers and

his latest insult to the people he has appointed.  Now, if you`re Dan

Coats, the director of national intelligence, and the president directly

insults you publicly today, how and why do you stay in your job?  The only

reason for the director of national intelligence or the director of the CIA

or the director of the FBI or the director of the national security agency

to stay in their jobs after being publicly insulted by the president of the

United States today is that they all recognize that the unstated threat to

this country that did not appear in their written report is actually the

president of the United States himself, and they are staying in those jobs

to defend this country against the threat of the Donald Trump presidency. 

 

Dan Coats served as a member of the house of representatives.  He served as

a Republican member of the United States Senate and was never once insulted

by any member of the house or any senator the way he was insulted by Donald

Trump today.  And like everyone who worked in the Senate when Dan Coats was

a member, I am absolutely confident that if Senator Coats had ever been

insulted like this, he would have immediately taken to the floor of the

United States Senate and responded to that insult with righteous

indignation. 

 

The only thing that I can think of that keeps Dan Coats in that job tonight

after President Trump has made that job much more difficult to do, and

after President Donald Trump specifically and directly insulted Dan Coats

today, the only reason I can think of that Dan Coats is staying in that job

is to help defend this country against the threat of Donald Trump, which

was actually something that Dan Coats in effect yesterday promised to

discuss with senators in private. 

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

SEN. RON WYDEN (D), OREGON:  According to press reports, Donald Trump met

privately with Vladimir Putin and no one in the U.S. government has the

full story about what was discussed.  Director coats, would this put you in

a disadvantaged position in terms of understanding Russia`s efforts to

advance its agenda against the United States? 

 

DAN COATS, DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE:  Senator, clearly this is a

sensitive issue and it`s an issue we ought to talk about this afternoon.  I

look forward to discussing that in a closed session. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

O`DONNELL:  Leading off our discussion now, Nick Rasmussen, former director

of the National Counterterrorism Center and an NBC News and MSNBC national

security and intelligence analyst.  Eugene Robinson, associate editor and

Pulitzer Prize winning opinion writer for “The Washington Post.”  He`s an

MSNBC political analyst.  And Ron Klain, a former senior adviser to Joe

Biden and President Obama and a former chief counsel to the Senate

Judiciary Committee. 

 

And, Ron, I want to start with you because I know you served on the Senate

staff when Dan Coats was there.  Your reaction to this direct insult from

the president to Dan Coats, and then this move with Chuck Schumer tonight

with a letter directly to Dan Coats telling him, as he put it, educate him. 

I mean, in effect asking Dan Coats to do the impossible, educate Donald

Trump. 

 

RON KLAIN, SENATE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE FORMER CHIEF COUNSEL:  Yes, look, I

not only worked in the senate.  I`m from Indiana.  I worked on campaigns

against Dan Coats.  In Indiana politics, even his opponents wouldn`t say

something 1/10 of what his boss said about him today.  That`s outrageous. 

 

And as for Senator Schumer`s letter, I mean, look, I think it may be

missing the point.  This may not be an issue of Donald Trump being educated

or Donald Trump just being a stubborn old real estate developer who still

thinks that gold plating is the solution to all problems.  Donald Trump,

this may be the product of compromise, kompromat, corruption and collusion. 

 

Donald Trump may not be mistaken about these things.  He may be taking

direction from his friends in Russia telling him what to do about these

things.  You know, education may not fix that, Lawrence. 

 

O`DONNELL:  Eugene, your reaction to this back and forth today, the

president`s attacks on his own appointees.  These are all people he

appointed, he chose and when he told us he told us they were the best. 

 

EUGENE ROBINSON, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  Unprecedented, shocking,

disgraceful, those are words that could have been used instead of unusual. 

 

O`DONNELL:  Listen, I don`t mean to pick on “the New York Times.”  I

understand the language fatigue here.  I`m sure as they develop their

reporting on this, they`re not going to leave it as unusual. 

 

ROBINSON:  No, they`re not.  Look, as an old newspaper man, it has taken us

awhile to learn the language we need to use to describe Donald Trump.  And

sometimes we backslide.  But so, “The Times” will be back.  Let`s not pick

on them. 

 

You know, one of the things that is true, and Ron`s absolutely right, this

could reflect a compromised president, the likes of which we have never

had.  And, you know, a huge national security crisis for the country. 

 

The other thing it reflects, too, on the list of things, the long list of

things that make Donald Trump unfit to be president of the United States,

pretty high on the list is the fact that once he gets an idea in his mind

and states it and says this is the way reality is, even though it isn`t, he

is impervious to fact and argument.  His mind cannot be changed.  You can

show him that, no, 2 plus 2 does not equal 5, Mr. President, it equals 4. 

 

And here – but he won`t listen.  And he gets mad at anyplace who tries to

correct him.  This is what`s reported again and again and again on – by

people who attempt to brief him and to educate him.  So Chuck Schumer`s

letter really is, you know, this is a –

 

O`DONNELL:  I`m assuming that Chuck Schumer is aware of everything you just

said and he`s using these words like “educate him” and convince him and

make it clear to him, because he knows when he sees the words written, oh,

that`s impossible.  He can`t be educated. 

 

Nick Rasmussen, talk about the effect that this – what the president did

today has on the intelligence community, the thousands of people whose work

was gathered into that report that was presented yesterday. 

 

NICK RASMUSSEN, NATIONAL COUNTERTERORRISM CENTER FORMER DIRECTOR:  Well,

thanks, Lawrence.  Let me come at this from the perspective of Director

Coats.  He has been someone who has stood up for the intelligence community

publicly and with the president on any number of occasions that we know

about, and certainly probably on occasions we don`t know about.  And that`s

something that is noticed and appreciated by the intelligence officers

across all of the 17 different intelligence agencies. 

 

That said, it can`t help this kind of spat, this kind of disrespect shown

to the intelligence community, expressed contempt and for the capability

and competence of intelligence professionals, it can`t help but undermine

kind of morale in the workforce and kind of the feeling of – what the

intelligence community is providing to the president is first-class work

and the intelligence community knows that, but to hear that from their

president has to be troubling and it certainly isn`t reassuring. 

 

You know, if you`re Dan Coats, though, from my perspective, he is not a

normal cabinet member.  Most cabinet members are there to advance the

political objectives of the president.  Dan Coats is there to speak for the

intelligence community and bring intelligence the best possible

intelligence to the table.  So from my perspective, I do hope he stays.  I

do hope he continues to do that.  I do hope he continues to stand up and

speak on behalf of the community. 

 

O`DONNELL:  Nick, the fact that the president just says they are wrong,

it`s just a blanket they are wrong.  Nothing like that, of course, has ever

occurred before, but is the intelligence community – is it your sense that

the intelligence community has somehow internalized this kind of thing? 

They`re sort of ready for it and they`re just determined to continue to do

their work in the face of it? 

 

RASMUSSEN:  I think that`s a great way of thinking about it because I have

a tremendous amount of fact and confidence in the professionalism in

intelligence officers all across our community.  And if – I used to tell

the folks that worked with me at the National Counterterrorism Center, if

the reaction of a president or anyone individual to your work throws you

off your stride then there is something wrong with the way you`re

approaching your work. 

 

You`ve got a mission.  Your job is to do the best possible job of

protecting the security of the national – of the United States of America

and our fellow citizens, and what the president says on a given day

shouldn`t – shouldn`t necessarily throw you off the beam. 

 

O`DONNELL:  Ron, my one notion of this, I mean, you raised the possibility

that the president does this is that he is compromised.  So that actually

involves a form of logic.  It`s criminal logic, but there is a logic to it. 

 

There is also just the completely empty-headed version of this.  People

talk about, where does he get his information?  I think it`s entirely

possible there is no information, there is nothing inside that brain and he

just asserts something, and then when someone says something counter to it,

they are wrong is what he`s been saying since he was 3 years old. 

 

KLAIN:  Yes. 

 

O`DONNELL:  So he has no thought.  He has nothing but reflex.  And that`s

the most innocent explanation of what we saw today. 

 

KLAIN:  Yes, I mean, that is the most innocent, but horrify explanation. 

 

O`DONNELL:  Oh, yes. 

 

KLAIN:  That the president –

 

O`DONNELL:  And unfit to serve. 

 

KLAIN:  Unfit to serve, who goes with his gut, who rejects, as you said,

the work of thousands of people. 

 

I think the thing that people out there watch should understand is it`s not

just the five or six heads of these agencies sitting at the table who are

Trump appointees, people he picked who say he`s wrong, it`s the thousands

of career people who have devoted their lives and billions of dollars of

U.S. technology that generates all of information that the president says

on a whim, on a gut or because he`s been influenced by other people, I`m

just rejecting all that. 

 

That makes us all unsafe, and, you know, it just puts the country and this

intelligence community in a horrible situation.  Presidents can debate

intelligence findings.  Presidents can disagree.  But just to stand out

there and say, hey, these people are all wrong, that`s crazy. 

 

O`DONNELL:  Gene, Dan Coats` response to Chuck Schumer`s letter, will there

be one? 

 

ROBINSON:  I cannot imagine that he will respond.  Maybe he`d want to

respond in a private session. 

 

O`DONNELL:  Dear Chuck, had a great session with the president.  He was

taking notes. 

 

ROBINSON:  Dear Chuck, I`ll meet you at the bar.  We`ll have a discussion. 

 

O`DONNELL:  We`re going to have to take a break here.  Nick Rasmussen,

Eugene Robinson, Ron Klain, thank you for starting us off tonight. 

 

And when we come back, Lindsey Graham has decided he`s mad as hell about

oppressive American law enforcement, especially when they`re arresting

Donald Trump`s friends. 

 

And later, the amazing story of the little church versus the big wall. 

President Trump is trying to seize land in Texas so he can build a wall

where a Catholic Church has stood for 120 years. 

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

O`DONNELL:  Lindsey Graham is mad as hell and he`s not going to take it

anymore.  He has reached the breaking point with American law enforcement. 

He`s had enough of the heavy hand of law enforcement coming down way too

hard on American citizens.

 

And it took a lot to get Lindsey Graham this mad.  He never said a word

about what happened to Rodney King when he got arrested.  And he has never

demanded a hearing on use of police practices in the Senate Judiciary

Committee, of abusive police practices. 

 

But his breaking point came today when he wrote a letter to the FBI to

complain about the way Roger Stone was arrested and to demand answers from

the FBI by next week about why they arrested him at all.  Why didn`t they

just call his lawyer and tell him to come down to the courthouse? 

 

Tonight, Donald Trump told a right-wing media outlet that he too was

bothered by the way Roger Stone was arrested, but he`s always bothered

about the style of an arrest when it involves his political associates and

friends like Roger Stone and Paul Manafort.  President Trump doesn`t think

the FBI should ever bang on their doors in the predawn hours if they are

arresting a Trump team member for Robert Mueller. 

 

Today, Robert Mueller`s office filed a motion to restrict a Russian

defendant`s access to the prosecutors` information in the case.  Standard

criminal procedure allows defendants to file discovery motions to see the

evidence that the prosecution has on them, but Robert Mueller`s motion

today revealed that discovery material already delivered to this defendant

has been altered and used to try to discredit Robert Mueller`s

investigation.  The special counsel`s motion says, subsequent investigation

has revealed that certain nonsensitive discovery materials in the defense`s

possession appear to have been altered and disseminated as part of a

disinformation campaign aimed apparently at discrediting ongoing

investigations into Russian interference in the U.S. political system.

 

Joining our discussion now, Ken Dilanian, intelligence and national

security reporter for NBC News.  And Joyce Vance, former federal prosecutor

and a professor at the University of Alabama School of Law.  She`s an MSNBC

legal contributor. 

 

And, Ken, tell us about this discovery motion today. 

 

KEN DILANIAN, NBC NEWS INTELLIGENCE AND NATIONAL SECURITY REPORTER:  So

what this motion did, Lawrence, is it was a reminder that when it comes to

discrediting the Mueller investigation, Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin

have a mutual interest –

 

O`DONNELL:  Yes.  They`re both at it. 

 

DILANIAN:  Absolutely.  These defendants are related to that Russian troll

farm case where Robert Mueller indicted a bunch of Russians, accusing them

of manipulating the election through social media through fake accounts. 

This is Concord Management connected to Putin`s chef, a guy Prigozhin, who

also ran mercenaries in Syria.

 

And none of these defendants are in court, but they sent some American

lawyers to represent the organization for the sole purpose it seemed of

getting discovery from Mueller, which according to Mueller, they sent to

some fake twitter account and put it online in a place people can find it

along with fake material designed to discredit the investigation and make

it look like Mueller didn`t have any evidence against this troll farm. 

 

So, a classic Russian disinformation technique.  A reminder that Mueller is

still doing battle with a foreign adversary, even as he`s investigating

people around the president of the United States. 

 

O`DONNELL:  Yes, Joyce Vance, what do you see in Robert Mueller`s motion

today? 

 

JOYCE VANCE, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY:  Well, it`s a really fascinating motion

because for so long I think people assumed that Mueller did not anticipate

having anyone show up in court to respond to this indictment.  No

individual defendant would subject themselves to possibly going to prison,

but Concord showed up and there was obviously a lot of fighting going on

about discovery.  Mueller didn`t want them to get away with it. 

 

And it looked like maybe the Russians had the upper hand until today, when

we learned that Mueller was able to get a very strict protective order. 

They can only look at the information inside of their lawyers` offices. 

It`s all kept offline.  They can`t take it out of country. 

 

So, now, if Prigozhin, who is one of the principals in Concord, if he wants

to see this evidence and participate in the company`s defense, he will have

to come to the United States, sit in his lawyer`s office and subject

himself to the jurisdiction of the United States courts.  Otherwise he has

to stay in the dark, and it might look like maybe they could get away with

something funny here, but Mueller has also signaled he is very cyber

literate and when there are problems, when evidence is abused or discovery

is sent out improperly, odds are he`s going to figure it out. 

 

O`DONNELL:  And, Ken, the defendant we`re talking about here is very close

to Vladimir Putin.  He`s the character who is referred to as Putin`s chef. 

 

DILANIAN:  Yes, that`s right.  He was funding this internet troll farm in

St. Petersburg, Russia, which was manipulating American public opinion in a

very pernicious way.  Some argue this was actually more impactful than the

hacking of the Democrats and leaking of the e-mails because it was actually

having real impacts in the election.  And as I mentioned, he has also – he

has a thing called Wagner Group, which is running mercenaries in Syria,

attacking American forces, and 200 of them were killed in a battle in

Syria, Lawrence. 

 

O`DONNELL:  Joyce Vance, in what is Chairman Lindsey Graham`s - one of his

first official actions as the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee,

he`s writing a letter complaining to the FBI about the way roger stone was

arrested. 

 

Let`s listen to what Roger Stone said about the way he was arrested by the

FBI. 

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

ROGER STONE, TRUMP ASSOCIATE:  This morning at the crack of dawn, 29 FBI

agents arrived at my home.  They terrorized my wife, my dogs.  I was taken

to the FBI facility, although I must say the FBI agents were

extraordinarily courteous. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

O`DONNELL:  So, Joyce Vance, they terrorized my wife, my dogs and they were

extraordinarily courteous.  I don`t know what that means. 

 

VANCE:  I thought you were dead on the money when you raised this. 

 

Look, there are issues in our criminal justice system, and we should

sometimes review policy.  There might be good reason to talk about how the

FBI conduct these sort of arrests, but Stone wasn`t just arrested, there

was also a search warrant executed at his home.  FBI had information that

he might try to destroy evidence so they went in I think with an

appropriate level of apprehension, both for their personal safety but also

to ensure that evidence could be properly collected. 

 

And we heard it from Stone`s own mouth.  There is really nothing here to

look at.  Graham is just showboating. 

 

O`DONNELL:  Ken Dilanian, Joyce Vance, thank you both for joining us

tonight.  Really appreciate it. 

 

DILANIAN:  You bet. 

 

O`DONNELL:  And coming up, shut out of the shutdown talks.  Donald Trump is

being shut out of the negotiations about how to avoid another government

shutdown.  And a new poll shows that the Democrats are now trusted on

border security much more than President Trump. 

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

O`DONNELL:  Shutdown.  And a new poll shows that the Democrats are now

trusted on border security much more than President Trump.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

O`DONNELL:  President Trump has been locked out of the negotiations about

how to fund the government after the current temporary funding runs out on

February 15.  The president complained about that tonight to a right-wing

website saying, “Without our involvement, a deal is not going to get done”.

 

At this point, it seems no one in the Congress, Democrat or Republican,

cares what the president thinks about funding the government.  Reports

indicate that at least 70 senators were ready to vote to re-open the

government last week when President Trump was forced then to re-open the

government on Friday.

 

Seventy senators is enough to override a presidential veto.  That leaves

the president clinging to the wreckage of his shutdown, desperately trying

to pretend he is relevant to the current negotiations to keep the

government funded.  The president is pretending to threaten another

shutdown if he doesn`t get wall funding in the next congressional budget

agreement, but no one in Congress believes the president will actually try

to shut down the government again.

 

And now, a new Quinnipiac poll shows that Americans overwhelmingly trust

Democrats on the issue of border security.  Fifty percent trust Democrats

on border security versus 41 percent who trust President Trump.

 

The Bipartisan Conference Committee of members of the House and Senate who

are meeting to work out a funding deal officially met today for the first

time.  And today President Trump tweeted, “If the committee of Republicans

and Democrats now meeting on border security is not discussing or

contemplating a wall or physical barrier, they are wasting their time.”

 

As Nancy Pelosi has proven, the president of the United States is wasting

his time by trying to tweet his wall into existence.  One of the leaders of

that bipartisan committee, Democratic Congresswoman Nita Lowey made a point

of emphasizing today that the president is not part of this process.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

REP. NITA LOWEY (D), NEW YORK:  The president wasn`t here today.  We heard

from Democrats, Republicans, House, and Senate about their real commitment

to try and resolve this issue.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

O`DONNELL:  The president is shut out of the shutdown talks.  Ron Klain and

Eugene Robinson will join us next with what happens now.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

REPORTER:  Senator, is the best way to get a deal to make it as narrow as

possible?

 

SEN. PATRICK LEAHY (D-VT), CHAIRMAN APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE:  The best way

to get a deal is let the grown-ups get together and do what`s best for the

country.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

O`DONNELL:  Back with us, Ron Klain and Eugene Robinson.

 

And Eugene, new polling from Quinnipiac on would you support or oppose a

bill to fund a new border security – new border security but no wall? 

Sixty-one percent support no wall.  Thirty-three percent want the wall. 

With polling like that, there`s only one outcome in politics.

 

EUGENE ROBINSON, COLUMNIST, THE WASHINGTON POST:  Yes.  I mean Donald Trump

watches the polls.  He sees what`s happened to his approval numbers and the

wrong track, right track numbers.  He clearly understands on some level

that the shutdown was a disaster.  Yet he wants to pander to his base.

 

So I don`t see how this results in anything but some sort of

unconstitutional emergency declaration in the end.  I mean maybe Ron has a

different idea, but I don`t see how we get around that.  And then it gets

tied up in the courts and nothing happens and he declares victory.

 

O`DONNELL:  What happens next?

 

ROBINSON:  The country goes on.

 

RON KLAIN, FORMER CHIEF OF STAFF TO VICE PRESIDENTS AL GORE & JOE BIDEN: 

Look, they just have to fund the government to golf season.  Once we get

Trump back out on the links, he`ll stop caring about any of this again.  I

mean the amazing thing here, Lawrence, is it`s not just that the wall is as

unpopular as what you said.

 

The Republicans control the House and the Senate for two years.

 

O`DONNELL:  Yes.

 

KLAIN:  Any day no those two years, they could have passed a vote.  They

had the votes to fund the wall if they wanted to.  They didn`t want to. 

Now all the sudden, Trump`s like, oh, yes, Democrats, you should fund the

wall.  It`s not going to happen.

 

And either he will blink again or he`ll do what Eugene suggested, some kind

of illegal emergency thing.  Bt one thing that`s not going to happen is

that Congress is not going to pay for a wall that Mexico was supposed to

pay for in the first place.

 

O`DONNELL:  Yes.  And Eugene, Nita Lowey said today that they`re willing to

add some more funding for border security above the $1.6 billion that

they`ve already – but none of it, zero of it can be for wall.

 

ROBINSON:  Zero for wall, right.  The people gathered in that bipartisan

group, they`re appropriators.

 

O`DONNELL:  Yes.

 

ROBINSON:  They know how to do the math.  They know how to come up with

something, call it border security, whatever.  They will give President

Trump if he chooses to take it, an excuse to falsely claim victory, to say

I got money for border security, look, I`ve made you safe.  Look, he

already claims to have built the wall, right, in some of his tweets.

 

O`DONNELL:  Yes.

 

ROBINSON:  So they will allow him to do that if he will take yes for an

answer.  But he won`t, I don`t think on this.  I mean he seems really dug

in and they`re not going to give him a wall.

 

O`DONNELL:  So, Ron, if we have cave part two, February 15comes, this group

comes together with a funding bill that is ready to sail through both the

House and the Senate with zero funding for the wall, Donald Trump signs it

and then he issues his illegal executive order, ordering the military

somehow to start building a wall or something like that, the next day or

the same day that`s challenged in court, right?

 

KLAIN:  Absolutely.  If that`s what President Trump does, if he really goes

down this path, he will be challenged in court.  And he will not only be

challenged in court, he`ll lose in court because the one thing that we know

that is not going on at the border is a national emergency, OK?

 

O`DONNELL:  Right.

 

KLAIN:  So Donald – maybe – the only way he wins that case is if it`s

litigated in the court of “Fox & Friends,” OK?  If it`s litigated in a

federal court, he is going to lose that case.  He is not going to get this

wall.

 

O`DONNELL:  But if he gets it into court, Eugene, then it`s off the news

cycle.

 

ROBINSON:  Exactly, it`s off the news cycle.

 

O`DONNELL:  I`m fighting it.  I`m fighting it in court.

 

ROBINSON:  He`s fought as hard as he could possibly fight and, you know, he

issued the order.  He`s building the wall in his mind.  And that should be

good enough for him, one hopes, and it will be golf season and he`ll be out

on the links.

 

O`DONNELL:  And as long as he keeps this issue in the news, the things like

what “The Washington Post” is reporting now about employees at the

Bedminster, New Jersey Trump Golf Club who were working there, undocumented

status.

 

“The Washington Post” has reported an undocumented worker who recently

worked for Trump National Golf Club and left after she publicly disclosed

her immigration status will attend President Trump`s State of the Union

address next week.

 

Victorina Morales who was born in Guatemala will be a guest of

Representative Bonnie Watson Coleman, a New Jersey Democrat.  The choice to

invite Morales follows news stories about the Trump Organization`s failure

to fully check the work status of all its employees.

 

KLAIN:  Yes.  I mean, really this is just new levels of crazy.  And I think

that, you know, President Trump obviously talks rhetorically, but his own

properties, employed people who do not have legal status to work here and

did nothing about it.

 

And so, you know, we have a lot of rhetoric.  We have a fake wall and we

definitely don`t have a national emergency.  And, again, we just have to

get to golf season.  That`s my answer.

 

ROBINSON:  But there are consequences, though.  Democrats are in charge of

the House, you know.

 

O`DONNELL:  Yes.

 

ROBINSON: So now they will have a story to tell.

 

O`DONNELL:  Yes.

 

ROBINSON:  In addition, of course, to Stacey Abrams delivering the rebuttal

or the prebuttal.  But they`ll have that story to tell to counter what

Donald Trump says about the wall.

 

O`DONNELL:  We`re going to have to leave it there.

 

Ron Klain, Eugene Robinson, thank you both for joining us.

 

And when we come back, the little church versus the big wall.  This is an

amazing story.  The Catholic church that has stood for 120 years is

fighting Donald Trump`s attempt to seize the church`s land and build a wall

right through it.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

O`DONNELL:  The Trump administration is using eminent domain to try to

seize land along the southern border to build the wall that will actually

never be built, but they are still trying to seize the land.  President

Trump is trying to seize the land of La Lomita, a small 120-year-old

Catholic church on the Texas side of the border.

 

This is what Democratic Senator Michael Bennet from Colorado was talking

about last week in the very best speech ever delivered on the Senate floor

on this subject.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

SEN. MICHAEL BENNET (D), 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.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

O`DONNELL:  NBC News Correspondent Cal Perry has done years of reporting

from the southern border and has visited La Lomita Chapel.  He joins us

next on his reporting on the church versus the wall.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

O`DONNELL:  It`s the church versus the wall on the southern border.  La

Lomita Chapel is in a legal fight right now with President Trump to prevent

the Trump administration from seizing their land to build the Trump wall. 

That legal process to seize that land is already underway, even though

Congress refuses to authorize building the wall.

 

Joining us now is NBC News Correspondent Cal Perry, who has visited the

church that is fighting the wall.  Cal, what do we have to know?

 

CAL PERRY, CORRESPONDENT, NBC NEWS:  Well, you have to know that the

funding for this was an appropriations bill from last year for border

protection, so here we go with the wall in Texas.  Take a look at how

Customs and Border Protection is advertising what they call RGV3, that`s

Rio Grande Valley Section number 3.  There`s a lot of wall going in and

it`s going to start next month.

 

How does the U.S. government actually seize land?  Well, take a look. 

We`ve got the court documents.  The U.S. government saying this church`s

land is going to be condemned and seized.  But Lawrence, there will be

holes in this wall for all of the obvious reasons.  And unless a judge

steps in, this church will likely end up on the Mexico side of the border

wall.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

PERRY:  Bells before dawn, praying before the light in La Lomita Chapel,

built in 1899.  The government wants to seize this frontier land for its

wall.

 

What does it mean to be a priest at a small historic chapel along the Rio

Grande River?

 

ROY SNIPES, FATHER, LA LOMITA CHAPEL:  It`s sweet.  It is sweet.

 

PERRY:  Does it feel like a frontier?

 

SNIPES:  Well, it keeps us in touch with the frontier, I guess.

 

PERRY:  This tiny chapel is at the heart of the Trump administration`s bid

to potentially seize land, securing the border in this section of Texas. 

Now, when you look at that map, on paper, it makes sense.  Put the wall

along the levee, right?

 

SNIPES:  The problem is once that wall is in, everything south of the wall

to the river, including La Lomita Chapel, becomes isolated.

 

PERRY:  You must interact with migrants.  You must see migrants come

through here.

 

SNIPES:  Sure.  Sure.

 

PERRY:  The church, the father, the community in the middle of a national

debate.

 

SNIPES:  I looked around in the dark, back in the back was a whole bunch of

young fellas from Guatemala just scared to death.  And then they asked me

if I could take them to town.  I said I would love to take you to town but

if we get caught, I`ll be in more trouble than you will.

 

PERRY:  The Catholic church believes they have a responsibility to protect

migrants.

 

SNIPES:  I had a fellow tell me a few years ago, he said, “Well, if that`s

what the church teaches, I don`t want to be a Catholic.”  I said, well,

that is what the church teaches.  If you were that poor guy trying to help

his family survive, what do you think you`d be doing?  If you had the

balls, you`d be doing what he`s doing.

 

PERRY:  With more apprehensions here in the Rio Grande Valley than anywhere

else along the border, Customs and Border Protection is constantly on the

lookout.

 

Border Patrol helicopter went overhead.  That must be a unique position to

be in with members of the Congregation –

 

SNIPES:  Oh, yes.  You can imagine there are people who live in fear

already of the border patrol.  Look at those guys.  You think they`re

looking at us?  It`s only me.  And they`re right here, right behind the

church.

 

PERRY:  Yes.

 

SNIPES:  Yes, they`re everywhere.

 

PERRY:  Border patrol agents along with local law enforcement were here

with President Trump on January the 10th.  Like many of his trips to the

border, it was quick.  A photo op, a listening session.  The sheriff of

Hidalgo County had a blunt assessment of the visit.

 

EDDIE GUERRA, SHERIFF, HIDALGO COUNTY, TEXAS:  He didn`t meet with me.  He

hasn`t met with any border sheriff.  And I`m talking about from San Diego

to Brownsville.

 

PERRY:  Like Father Roy, Sheriff Guerra is tasked with protecting the

church, a job made all the more complicated by the proposition of a wall.

 

GUERRA:  When they need services from law enforcement, they need services

from fire department, medical emergency, it just adds more time, and that`s

just not fair.

 

PERRY:  What do you make of the La Lomita Chapel?

 

GUERRA:  It`s very peaceful.  And so to build a wall on that chapel is just

not the right thing to do.

 

PERRY:  What`s it like living here?  I mean people say we need a wall for

safety.

 

DAVID MORENO, PARISHIONER:  I really don`t think so.  We`ve lived here so

many years and it`s nice and peaceful.

 

PERRY:  You hear the president say it`s unsafe without a wall.

 

RACHEL WELLIVER, PARISHIONER:  That`s not true.  I come here.  I bring my

grandchildren.  You see a lot of people that come and walk their dogs. 

I`ve never had any fear that somebody`s going to pop out and hurt me.

 

PERRY:  Is this a safe place to live here?

 

MADDY MADDEN, PARISHIONER:  There are a lot of misconceptions but we are. 

Are we ranked one of the safest cities?  We are.  So it`s really nice.

 

GUERRA:  And then they want to have an enforcement zone, which would mean

there would be a big 150-foot Caliche Road where they could go up and down

with a military vehicle.  So the whole peaceful, serene silence of La

Lomita, the spiritual atmosphere would be spoiled.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

PERRY:  And so here`s what the court will hear on February the 6th from

lawyers for the church, would not be minimally intrusive but would in fact

greatly intrude upon the defendant`s property and first amendment right of

freedom of religion.

 

Lawrence, I can hear it now, all those with business in front of the

Supreme Court, the Honorable, the Supreme Court.

 

O`DONNELL:  Yes.  And this freedom of religion coming up against this

attempt to build this wall.  And Cal, it seems as though they`re going

forward with these attempts at eminent domain even though they don`t have

actual funding to do the project.

 

PERRY:  Yes.  There`s federal land on either side of this church.  There`s

a butterfly sanctuary as well.  They`re going to try to put in as much of

that wall as they can so that when they go in front of the court, they can

argue eminent domain.

 

One of the other interesting things happening, though, is as you talk to

ranchers, and I know Senator Bennett hears this in Colorado just like we

hear in Texas, a lot of people are uncomfortable with really ceding land on

the other side of that wall.  We had somebody say to us, you know, if the

president gets this done, he`ll be making parts of Texas Mexico again.

 

O`DONNELL:  And Cal, what`s the timetable on this?  When are we going to

find out what the court thinks?

 

PERRY:  February the 6th, the court will rule on whether or not there can

be a survey.  That`s not going to be challenged.  The church actually wants

that survey to happen.  There are all kinds of things that could then

derail the wall.  We`re looking at a lengthy court battle.  But again, big

sections of this wall in and around McAllen and places like Mission are

going in next month.

 

O`DONNELL:  Cal Perry, thank you for your invaluable reporting from the

border as usual.  Really appreciate it.

 

That`s tonight`s last word.

 

“THE 11TH HOUR WITH BRIAN WILLIAMS” starts now.

 

 

 

 

 

END   

 

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

content.>