House Judiciary Committee to hold vote. TRANSCRIPT: 4/2/19, The Last Word w/ Lawrence O’Donnell.
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Rachel.
And the question for everyone is, what is William Barr doing? We know he`s
not responding to the deadline and that he says he`s working on redactions
of the Mueller report, and in the next few weeks it`s going to come out,
but by what is he doing?
I mean, is he working to try to protect the president? Are his redactions
designed to protect the president? Is the delay designed to protect the
We have reason to wonder about that. It might not be the case at all.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: And the, you know, the – in that letter that
went from the Democratic chairman to the attorney general within the last
24 hours, they had one line in there which I think was supposed to be
important for all of us to grock, which was they said that Nadler in his
call with Barr was led to believe by Barr`s comments that these grand jury
redactions that he`s making are substantial redactions. Meaning he`s
cutting a ton out of the report based on the fact that it`s grand jury
That immediately calls to question as to whether or not that grand jury
information is being properly withheld from Congress or whether somebody
should be asking a court to allow Congress to see that stuff. William Barr
could do that himself as attorney general. Conceivably, Robert Mueller
could do that as special counsel. Conceivably, Jerry Nadler and the
Democrats could make that request themselves to the court.
That seems like that`s the next big thing to happen and I just don`t know
O`DONNELL: This is why I`ve added a question to my presidential candidate
interviews. Will you as president release the full Robert Mueller report?
Because it could be that it will take the inauguration of another president
to see this.
MADDOW: I believe that something will happen in fairly short order. I
don`t have knowledge of this, I just believe the way this is going that we
will get at least a big chunk of it, but the un-redacted version of it will
be the white whale for Democrats until they get it and I think they`ll be
relentless on this.
O`DONNELL: Yes, they have time between now and the presidential election
to get it, even going through an appeals process and subpoenas.
MADDOW: That`s right.
O`DONNELL: Thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: Thanks, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Well, there`s more to say about what the attorney general is
doing, what he`s doing with the Mueller report. And I found more to say
about it in an extraordinary document from the Justice Department that no
one`s really been talking about today, except for one news outlet, one
extremely unlikely news outlet, to produce what I think is a very, very
important story today that shows us what William Barr as attorney general
working for Donald Trump is capable of.
And it is a very, very bad story. About what William Barr is willing to at
least allow to happen in the Justice Department while he is running the
department and approving what that department does. I`m going to save that
for the end of this hour.
It is the most unlikely place where we could find something that tells us
just how far William Barr is willing to go for President Trump. We don`t
know if this tells us what he`s going to do with the Mueller report, but it
is an extraordinary story about how the Justice Department has threatened,
of all things, the Oscars, the full weight of the Justice Department under
William Barr is now threatening the Oscars with legal action if they change
any of their rules for eligibility. You`re going to want to hear what this
might mean for the Mueller report and just how far the Trump Justice
Department has now gone in service exclusively to Donald Trump, not to the
people of the United States, but to Donald Trump.
And there`s more than one way to cover what the president of the United
States did and said publicly today. It`s an extraordinary day and it`s a
difficult day to find the right approach to what happened in the Trump
Our first approach to the Trump news today, even a few hours ago was to do
what we usually do, which is to deal with the policy and political
implications of a series of comments that the president made today that no
other president or politician would ever say or do, like threatening to
close our southern border. Something that the Republican leader of the
Senate says would be catastrophic economically. Something that would shut
down, I mean shut down the American automobile manufacturing industry, and,
yes, something that would mean the United States would run out of guacamole
in three weeks, literally three weeks. That`s the official calculation on
what Mexico`s avocado supply means to the United States.
But things got stranger than usual with the president today. He said
things for which there is no easy explanation. He said his father wasn`t
born in the United States. His father was born in New York.
Usually with a Trump lie you can easily figure out what he`s trying to
accomplish with the lie, but not today. The president struggled to
pronounce a very simple word and he repeatedly could not do it.
What does that mean? We have grown accustomed to the vagaries and
strangeness of Donald Trump`s public behavior, but this was a day where the
strangest strangeness dominated both the strangeness of the policy
positions and the strangeness of the president`s public behavior and public
And in his final comments, public comments of the day, he said this tonight
at a Republican fund-raiser in Washington.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If you had a normal
president, I don`t want to say that negatively. I think I`m very normal.
But if you had a normal – you know what I mean. In other words, if you
had a stiff as president, which most of them are, I hate to say –
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: How often do you hear a normal person say, I think I`m very
normal? Have you ever heard a president of the United States feel
compelled to publicly announce “I think I`m very normal?” Does that mean
he knows he`s not normal?
There are a bunch of important questions, urgent questions about the
president today that political analysis cannot answer. Political expertise
cannot answer some of these questions, and that`s why along with our
political analysts tonight, we`re going to be joined by a psychiatrist in
our leadoff discussion of what the president did and said today.
Donald Trump is a 72-year-old man whose father had Alzheimer`s and died in
New York 93 years after he was born in New York, and today, Donald Trump
said this about his father, Fred Trump, whose picture the president keeps
right behind his desk in the Oval Office.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: My father is German, right? Was German. And born in a very
wonderful place in Germany. So I have a great feeling for Germany.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: A wonderful place in Germany. What place?
His father was born in New York. Just like Donald Trump. Donald Trump`s
grandfather was born in Germany. What does it mean when you confuse where
your father was born with where your grandfather was born?
My father was born in Boston. My grandfather was born in Ireland and I
have never once confused that, but then I`m not 72 years old, I don`t have
Alzheimer`s in my family history and I`m not the president of the United
States trying to convince NATO that I`m not just being mean when I ask NATO
countries to spend more money on their military. That`s what Donald Trump
was actually talking about today when he said that his father was born in
He repeatedly said that the United States spends much more on defense than
we actually do, and that is the kind of Trump falsehood that we probably
wouldn`t even mention tonight, but in any other presidency, that would
actually be the hot news of the day. The president doesn`t even know how
much money we spend on defense. That would be big news, in any other
presidency. Watching the president today, you had a right to wonder
whether the president simply likes to exaggerate how much we spend on
defense or actually cannot learn the real number of what we spend on
You had a right to wonder today if there is something wrong with the
workings of the president`s mind, especially if you watched him repeatedly
struggle to say the word origin. What kept coming out was something that
sounded like oranges.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: And I hope that this investigation now, which is finished, it`s
totally finished. No collusion. No obstruction.
I hope they now go and take a look at the oranges (ph), the oranges (ph) of
the investigation. The beginnings of that investigation. You look at the
origin of the investigation, where it started, how it started, who started
it, whether it`s McCabe or Comey or a lot of them. Where does it go? How
high up in the White House did it go?
You will all get Pulitzer Prizes, OK? You`re all going to get Pulitzer
Prizes. You should have looked at it a long time ago, and that`s the only
thing that`s disappointing to me about the Mueller report. The Mueller
report I wish covered the oranges – how it started, the beginnings of the
investigation. How it started.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: He said oranges twice. Then he successfully said the word
origin, which apparently gave him the confidence to try to say it one more
time, and when he tried to say it one more time, he said oranges again. I
don`t know what that is.
I have my own struggle with words. You see that here. But it`s simply a
struggle to suppress my native Boston accent in favor of speaking American.
It`s not that I try to say a very simple word and I can only get out the
first two letters before I change that simple word into a completely
different word, repeatedly.
What is that? What was happening to the president of the United States
The president recently decided to order his Justice Department to switch
sides in a legal case from defending the affordable care act in court as
the Justice Department is supposed to do with all federal laws to opposing
the Affordable Care Act in court, which is an unprecedented position taken
by the Trump Justice Department.
The president did that against the wishes of the top Republican in
congress, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. It is a politically
disastrous position for the president to take, as Mitch McConnell knows,
and as every Republican in Congress knows, but the president did it anyway.
In any other politician, if any other politician did that, we would be
questioning his or her neurological health tonight.
That`s how politically crazy that is, but we`ve grown accustomed to that
with Donald Trump. The president has been pretending that he has a health
care plan ready to pass and be signed into law as soon as the Supreme Court
strikes down Obamacare, but no one believes that. And today, Mitch
McConnell said he finally got the president to stop saying that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Is there a difference between you and the president on what he
wants to do on health care and where you see the health care debate
standing right now?
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), SENATE MAJORITY LEADER: Not any longer. We
had a good conversation yesterday afternoon, and I pointed out to him the
Senate Republicans` view on dealing with comprehensive health care reform
with a Democratic House of Representatives. So I made it clear to him we
were not going to be doing that in the Senate. So we don`t have a
misunderstanding about that. We`ll not be doing comprehensive in the
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: And minutes after Mitch McConnell said that, Donald Trump said
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Did Mitch McConnell ask you to delay this?
TRUMP: No, I wanted to delay it myself. I want to put it after the
election because we don`t have the House, so even though the health care is
good, really good, it`s much better than – when the plan comes out, which
we`ll be showing you at the appropriate time, it`s much better than
Obamacare. So when the plan comes out, you`ll see it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: It`s much better than Obamacare. It doesn`t exist but it`s
much better than Obamacare. Not a word of the Trump health care plan
exists anywhere. Not on a note pad. Nowhere. But it`s much better than
What do you call that? There is a political discussion to be had about
this and there is a psychiatric discussion to be had about this.
And that is why we are leading off our discussion tonight with Dr.
Prudence Gourguechon, a psychologist and psychoanalyst, and past president
of the American Psychoanalytic Association.
Also with us, Ron Klain, a former senior aide to President Obama and a
former chief counsel to the Senate Judiciary Committee. He knows the
workings of the White House and the Senate, and knows the kind of dynamics
that go on between Mitch McConnell and President Trump in a situation like
And Adam Jentleson is with us. He`s the former deputy chief of staff to
former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. He knows the workings on Mitch
McConnell`s mind on these matters very well. He`s joined us before on this
But, Doctor, I want to start with you. This is the day where it just
became overwhelming – where in watching the president, it became
imperative that we once again check in on a psychiatric view of what it is
we`re watching when we`re watching Donald Trump in these situations.
DR. PRUDENCE GOURGUECHON, FORMER PRESIDENT, AMERICAN PSYCHOANALYTIC
ASSOCIATION: Well, I feel like you asked me here kind of on a house call
tonight. It was a very strange day, even for Donald Trump.
I think what he`ll see tomorrow, I predict, is that he meant to say his
grandfather was born in Germany. He was clearly struggling to find – to
kind of locate his thoughts and his memories. And he`ll get it – he`ll
just segue out of that by saying he meant his grandfather.
The word finding problem, I didn`t hear him saying oranges. To me he had
the first two syllables of the world and he couldn`t remember the end of
it. That`s what it sounded like to me and he substituted the beginning and
start of and he wanted to go back to it.
So, yes, is there – I can`t do a neurologic exam just watching the tape
today. If he were a normal leader, to use his words, he would seek an
evaluation. If he were the CEO of a big company and he found himself
forgetting words or making mistakes like grandfather and father,
conflating, he`d seek a neurologic – neuropsychiatric evaluation
willingly, eagerly, to see if he was having cognitive difficulties. But I
don`t think he`ll do that.
O`DONNELL: And, Doctor, when you see him tonight standing up there in
front of an audience after a day like today or any day, saying things like
I`m perfectly normal. I think I`m perfectly normal. In your experience,
and I`m not saying – I don`t mean Donald Trump particularly, since you
have no experience with him. But in your clinical experience in dealing
with people and the way they talk about themselves, does that kind of
comment about one`s self tell us anything about that person?
GOURGUECHON: Well, we have a concept called the unprovoked denial. If you
say I am not a liar and nobody asked you if you were, you wonder why the
person is bringing it up. So, it comes under the heading of unprovoked
denial, and, you know, it`s kind of like, okay, well, I didn`t ask you if
you were normal, so why is it on your mind? It clearly sounded very, very
stressed and anxious today.
And anybody with – is going to have more – with the slightest bit of
difficulty cognitively just in general if they`re under a lot of stress,
it`s going to show itself. If there is a tiny bit, a mild cognitive
difficulty, you`re going to see a lot more of it in a stressful situation.
O`DONNELL: The unprovoked denial. I`ve just written it down.
And, Ron Klain, I think that`s going to be a graphic that you will be
seeing describing other segments we will be doing on this show in the
future. The unprovoked denial.
Your reaction to what – Ron Klain, to what you saw the president doing
RON KLAIN, FORMER CHIEF OF STAFF TO VICE PRESIDENT BIDEN: Look, obviously
I`m not a doctor and I can`t diagnosis him. What I can say is as someone
who has watched this for the last go years and seen a lot of craziness come
out of the Oval Office, today was like the Beethoven`s Fifth of craziness
from Donald Trump.
It was just an endless array of ridiculous. The things you showed
obviously at the top of the show, Lawrence. But also, the president
announced we could solve the border problem if we just got rid of judges.
He announced basically he`d set up a task force to deal with the problem
that his task force is going to shut the border is going to create.
He announced that he has a health care plan, except that he doesn`t, except
that he would have one, except that Mitch McConnell asked him not to,
except he`s going to have one after the election. It really was, you know,
in an administration where every single day looks like this, this is really
one of the most notable days of exceptional nuttiness coming from the White
O`DONNELL: Adam Jentleson, I think you and I are Ron certainly, we first
look at all of these things politically. We look at them in terms of
governing analysis and political analysis, but today was a day where I had
to surrender the political analysis. That`s why I wanted the doctor on.
But to stick with the political analysis, the president starts – turns the
Justice Department around and says, I want you to attack the Affordable
Care Act in court. Mitch McConnell thinks that`s a disastrous thing for
the president to do. And that is something that if any – just that alone,
if any other White House was doing that, everyone in Washington would be
using the word “crazy” about that White House.
ADAM JENTLESON, FORMER SENOR AIDE TO SEN. HARRY REID: Yes, that`s right.
You won`t hear me say this very often, but I agree with Mitch McConnell.
It`s an insane thing to do.
JENTLESON: You know, the president was having a decent run of positive
news and then by ordering the justice department to do this, he put the
news squarely in Democrats` turf. I mean, health care is the single most
motivating issue to Democrats. It`s an issue we used very strongly to take
back the house in 2018. It`s just inexplicable for the president to put it
back in enemy territory like this. It just doesn`t make any sense at all.
O`DONNELL: Doctor, I wanted to ask you one more thing about the president.
This is something that Republican Senator Lamar Alexander said about the
president thinking – he was intending to compliment him.
He said: Even people who don`t like when, when they are with him, are
impressed with how easily he works a room. I think he likes people. He
lives in the moment. He`s not thinking of the next day or even the next
hour or the next person. He`s that kind of personality.
Doctor, what kind of personality is that?
GOURGUECHON: Well, I`m not sure I`d totally agree with that. I`d throw
the situation back to the political side because, again, as I said earlier,
he seems extremely stressed. None of his functions – whatever our
functional level is, whatever our best functional level is, fun of us is
there all the time. So if you see somebody slipping from their usual
level, that indicates they`re under a lot of stress and tension.
And I wonder if there is some political tension going on that makes him
look particularly vulnerable and scattered today.
Does he live in the moment? I think he`s constantly strategizing to figure
out how to – to make himself look good. And so I don`t know if I`d agree
with Senator Alexander.
O`DONNELL: All right. We`re going to have to leave it there. We have a
commercial break coming up.
Dr. Prudence Gourguechon, Ron Klain, Adam Jentleson, thank you all for
starting off our discussion tonight.
And when we come back, it`s meet the freshmen night again here at THE LAST
WORD. Democratic Congressman Harley Rouda, freshman, will join us. He`s a
member of the important House Oversight C that voted today to begin issuing
subpoenas to the Trump administration.
And at the end of the hour tonight, Attorney General Barr has revealed the
way he is running the Justice Department today in a way that he was hoping
we would never find out. It`s a letter from the Justice Department that
the attorney general doesn`t want you to see and is refusing to make public
tonight after we requested it today. That`s at the end of this hour.
O`DONNELL: Today, the House Oversight Committee voted along party lines to
subpoena former White House personnel security director Carl Kline to
testify before the oversight committee about security clearances issued to
the president`s daughter and son-in-law and others. That vote comes just
one day after whistle-blower Tricia Newbold accused the administration of
serially abusing the security clearance process.
Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings has been requesting
information about the security clearance process since January and cited
the White House`s refusal to comply with his requests as justification for
today`s vote on subpoenas.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS (D-MD), CHAIRMAN, HOUSE OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE: To this
day, they have not produced a single piece of paper or a single requested
witness to this committee. The White House needs to understand that they
cannot stonewall and stall this committee for months and then just offer us
a general information about their policies. Not when such – there are
such serious allegations of a risk to national security.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: At today`s committee meeting, Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-
Cortez commented on the Trump administration`s loose policies with security
clearances and loose practices involving national security communication.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ (D), NEW YORK: Folks are suggesting that we
are conducting foreign relations with folks with security clearances via
WhatsApp. I mean, every day that we go on without getting to the bottom of
this matter is a day that we are putting hundreds, if not potentially
thousands of Americans at risk. I mean, really, what is next, putting
nuclear codes in Instagram DMs?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining our discussion now, Representative Harley Rouda, a
Democratic freshman member of the Oversight Committee who voted to
authorize those subpoenas today. He represents California`s 48th district.
And, Congressman, what is the case – what is the case you will explain to
your constituents about why you are sending these subpoenas to the White
REP. HARLEY ROUDA (D-CA), OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE: Well, it`s good governance
to start with, and our obligations under Article I of the Constitution. We
have clear evidence here that through the process of issuing national
security clearances that the president either directly or indirectly
overrode 25 decisions not to offer clearances to certain individuals. That
puts our country at risk when we have classified information being made
available to individuals that we have clear concerns about.
It`s great that we had this whistle-blower step up and take exception to
that and hopefully save some important aspects of our democracy.
O`DONNELL: Congressman, you`re here on a night where the president did
talk about health care today and something of a change in tactic, saying
that, well, they won`t even attempt to legislate anything in health care
until you and your fellow Democrats are defeated in the House of
Representatives and the Republicans win back the House. The health care
issue is the – according to the exit polls, the number one issue that
elected so many new freshman Democrats to the House of Representatives.
What`s your reaction to the president`s attempt now to destroy the
Affordable Care Act in court and promise at some point in the future the
Republicans who have always failed to do this will once again attempt to
replace the Affordable Care Act?
ROUDA: Yes, let`s think about this, you know, for six years under Obama`s
administration they tried to repeal the ACA. And for the last two years,
the first two years of Trump`s term, when they controlled the House, they
controlled the Senate, they controlled the White House, they failed
repeatedly to come up with a plan that even their own party would support.
To suggest now – to take shots at the ACA through a court case and put
millions of Americans, including over 300,000 citizens in my district,
without health care coverage because of pre-existing conditions shows how
far removed this president and the administration is with mainstream
America`s desire to have quality affordable health care.
O`DONNELL: And, Congressman, do you your constituents understand at this
point that what the president`s going after is to knock out the entire
Affordable Care Act in court? And that would mean 23-year-olds who are on
their parents` insurance policies that would no longer be available to
them. It`s not just pre-existing conditions. It`s the entirety of it.
ROUDA: Absolutely. It`s the entire ACA. It would take us back – even
the insurance companies don`t want to see this happen. The Republican
faithful don`t want to see this happen because they know the impact to
Americans in every single district across the United States and how it
would upend the economic system. It`s difficult to fully calculate it.
So why the president has decided to fall on the sword again, to take on ACA
is anybody`s best guess. Maybe it`s just because it`s associated with
Obama and he feels the need to attack it, but we`d have to ask him as to
why his reasons are for continuing to go after a program that most
Americans want to see continued.
O`DONNELL: Freshman Democratic Congressman Harley Rouda, thank you very
much for joining us tonight. Really appreciate it.
ROUDA: Thanks, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: And when we come back, an extraordinary report today. A Chinese
citizen was arrested after gaining access to Mar-a-Lago this weekend where
she was found to be carrying malicious software. She was reportedly trying
to attend an event that was hosted – that she said was hosted by Cindy
Yang at Mar-a-Lago.
That`s the former owner of a massage spa where Robert Kraft is accused of
participating in things he shouldn`t have participated in. Robert Kraft,
friend of President Trump. All of that is next.
O`DONNELL: What happens if you show up at the president`s weekend Florida
home using two Chinese passports as identification, carrying four cell
phones, one laptop, one external hard drive, and one thumb drive with
malicious software on it? The answer is you get in. And then after a
while, on second thought, the secret service arrests you.
The criminal complaint against the 32-year-old Chinese woman who was
arrested on Saturday at Mar-a-Lago says, “Due to a potential language
barrier issue, Mar-a-Lago believed her to be a relative of member Zhang and
allowed her access to the property.”
The “Miami Herald” was the first to report how the Chinese national gained
access to Mar-a-Lago. One of the reporters for the “Miami Herald” who
broke this story, Caitlin Ostroff, will join us next along with national
security expert Jeremy Bash.
O`DONNELL: We`re lucky to be joined by one of the reporters on the
breaking news story of the night. We`re joined by “Miami Herald” Reporter
Caitlin Ostroff, joining us from the “Miami Herald`s” newsroom. She broke
the story on the arrest at Mar-a-Lago on Saturday.
Also joining the discussion, Jeremy Bash, former chief of staff at the CIA
and the Defense Department. He`s an MSNBC national security analyst and
can give us an assessment of the risks, national security risks of the
operations of Mar-a-Lago.
Caitlin Ostroff, this arrest is truly extraordinary and seems to bring
together every strange character recently in the headlines in Southern
Florida. Tell us what happened on Saturday.
CAITLIN OSTROFF, REPORTER, MIAMI HERALD: Yes. So the woman, Ms. Yang,
showed up for an event at Mar-a-Lago that was a United Nations friendship
event. No such event was actually going on, but a Mar-a-Lago staff thought
that she was – that she was with someone who was a member of the club.
And so they let her in after realizing that she wasn`t, in fact, with
someone or a member of the club. Secret service took her for questioning.
At which point, she became aggressive and, you know, she said that she had
been invited by a man named Charles.
We had done reporting last week that showed that you know, there was a man
named Charles Lee who was with a similar association called the United
Nations Chinese Friendship Association that took down its website once we
started asking questions, that promoted events to Mar-a-Lago from Cindy
Yang. So he would bundle her events and promote it to Chinese nationals as
a way to get access to Mar-a-Lago and to get FaceTime with the president.
And when you look at the court documents and what the woman was saying she
was there to do, which was to talk about economic relations between the
U.S. and China, that goes hand-in-hand with some of the events that were
being promoted on Ms. Yang`s website and on Charles` website about, you
know, why one might be at Mar-a-Lago on that day.
O`DONNELL: And Jeremy Bash, there is a picture of Cindy Yang. Of course,
she famously had already emerged as someone who was in effect selling
access to the president and his family at Mar-a-Lago. A lot of picture
selfies and other pictures like that she has of herself with the president.
She also happens to be the owner-operator of one of Robert Kraft`s favorite
places to go in Southern Florida for a Massage, something that`s now put
him in the spot of being a criminal defendant. And Jeremy, with your
experience, this seems to be a story that shows clearly what the risks are
in national security terms in the way Mar-a-Lago is operated.
JEREMY BASH: Yes. I think this is a scandal in three dimensions. First,
the president wants to try to close the land border with Mexico, yet he
cannot even close Mar-a-Lago to Chinese nationals walking around with
Second, we know that the People`s Republic of China has been engaged in
human espionage operations in which they want to implant malicious code,
basically software that could hack or penetrate the networks or devices of
government officials in the United States.
What better place to do it than Mar-a-Lago where you can apparently roam
around freely and potentially implant that malicious code, either by
inserting the thumb drive in a device or maybe even putting it out over the
Wi-Fi or local area network there.
But, third, I think it shows you something deeper about Mar-a-Lago. The
president really should have that place closed down when he`s there, yet he
keeps it open.
Why? Because he makes money from people buying memberships, which is
really a way to buy access to him and have I guess the bragging rights of
being close to the president. So the president is, in essence, sacrificing
his own security and national security so he can make a buck.
O`DONNELL: And Caitlin, your reporting says the arrest occurred at 12:30
p.m. on Saturday afternoon. Why did we just find out about it this
OSTROFF: I mean, so we weren`t the ones who broke the news of the initial
court filings, a local T.V. station did, but it also takes a day or two for
those documents to usually be filed within the court system. So if she
appeared for her first court appearance on Monday, it`s Tuesday, so, you
know, that`s probably going to be the delay for docs to be accessible.
O`DONNELL: And Jeremy, in your experience with any previous White House,
an arrest like that in proximity to the president, that`s something we
would have heard about within, what, an hour or two?
BASH: Yes, it`s a big deal. I think if there were a fence jumper, we
would have heard about it earlier. This is much more serious than a fence
jumper or somebody who crashes through the front doors of the White House.
This is a Chinese national shouldn`t have been there, who was there, really
because they claimed they were going there because an event was being
promoted by a massage parlor owner, alleged sex trafficker who`s selling
access to the president.
And she has, not one, but four cellphones on her and malicious code on a
thumb drive. All alarm bells should have been ringing. We should have
been notified about this as soon as it happened.
But I do give credit to the Secret Service, Lawrence because tonight their
statement made clear that it`s the president`s decision who goes into Mar-
a-Lago, not theirs.
O`DONNELL: Jeremy Bash, thank you for your invaluable perspective on this.
And Caitlin Ostroff, thank you very much for your important reporting and
for taking the time to join us tonight. We really appreciate it.
OSTROFF: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: And when we come back, Attorney General William Barr showed us
something today about just how low he is apparently willing to go for
Donald Trump. That`s coming up next.
O`DONNELL: What is Attorney General William Barr willing to do for
President Trump? That is the question that Democrats in Congress and
people throughout the country are asking themselves tonight since Attorney
General William Barr has refused to meet the House of Representatives`
deadline for turning over the full Mueller report.
The attorney general has just ignored that deadline. The attorney general
says that he will give Congress a redacted Mueller report in a few weeks.
Will the attorney general`s redactions protect the president? Is the
attorney general delaying the release of even the redacted Mueller report
to help protect the president? Did the attorney general summarize the
report that we now know is hundreds of pages long in a way that was
designed to protect the president?
We don`t know. But we did get a very important demonstration today of what
William Barr is willing to do for Donald Trump and it is outrageous.
William Barr seems to have taken orders from the president to use the
Justice Department or allow the Justice Department to be used in Donald
Trump`s feud with Hollywood.
Donald Trump is the only president in history small-minded enough to be in
a constant public feud with Hollywood. He hates the Oscars because someone
always makes a negative comment about the president, either on the red
carpet or during the ceremony.
And so Donald Trump`s Justice Department has now decided to threaten the
Oscars. That`s right. You heard correctly. William Barr has become the
first attorney general in history who has decided to allow the full weight
of the Justice Department to be used to officially threaten the Oscars and
to do it in writing.
And like the Oscars, this program has commercial breaks. And so after this
final commercial break, we will show you just how low William Barr has
already sunk as Donald Trump`s attorney general.
And when you hear this, you might just suspect that there is nothing
William Barr won`t do for Donald Trump, which makes this about much more
than the Donald Trump and William Barr threat to the Oscars. It`s about
much more than that. And it`s next.
O`DONNELL: Thanks to exclusive reporting by Ted Johnson of “Variety,” we
learned today the Justice Department has warned the Academy of Motion
Picture of Arts and Sciences that its potential rule changes limiting the
eligibility of Netflix and other streaming services for the Oscars could
race anti-trust concerns and violate competition law.
“Variety” reports that two weeks ago, the Justice Department sent a
threatening letter to Dawn Hudson, the CEO of the Academy saying, “Dear Ms.
Hudson, the Antitrust Division of the U.S. Department of Justice has
learned through news reporting that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and
Sciences may consider proposed rules changes limiting eligibility for its
It was signed by the head of the Justice Department`s Antitrust Division
Makan Delrahim. The Justice Department is so ashamed of this letter that
it has not released it publicly. “Variety” had to obtain a copy of it and
has not been able to release a full copy of it.
Makan Delrahim has disgraced himself before. He is the Trump appointee who
brought the antitrust case against AT&T`s acquisition of Time Warner
because the president wanted him to.
Unlike previous presidents, Donald Trump decided to publicly announce his
opposition to the merger saying, “It was not good for the country.”
Presumably, because CNN was part of Time Warner and according to the
president, an enemy of the people.
The president also said he was “not going to get involved.” But Jane Meyer
reports in “The New Yorker” Trump ordered Gary Cohn, then the director of
the National Economic Council to pressure the Justice Department to
According to a well-informed source, Trump called Cohn into the Oval Office
along with John Kelly, who had just become the chief of staff and said in
exasperation to Kelly, “I`ve bun telling Cohn to get this lawsuit filed and
nothing`s happened. I`ve mentioned it 50 times and nothing`s happened. I
want to make sure it`s filed. I want that deal blocked.”
According to the source, as Cohn walked out of the meeting, he told Kelly,
“Don`t you f`ing dare call the Justice Department. We are not going to do
business that way.” But Gary Cohn who has left the Trump White House
couldn`t stop the Trump Justice Department from trying to block the merger
the way Donald Trump wanted them to.
But the trial judge in the case ruled against the Trump attempt to block
the merger. And now the head of the Antitrust Division in the Trump
Justice Department has so much of nothing to do that he`s sitting around
the office reading show business publications about possible minor changes
to the Academy Award rules.
There are several rules that govern eligibility for an Academy Award but
there`s only one sentence of those rules that interests the Trump Justice
Department. It says that motion pictures that are released online by
services such as Netflix are eligible as long as they are released on or
after the first day that they are exhibited in a good old fashioned movie
theater in Los Angeles.
The Academy is considering changing that rule to require that the motion
picture run exclusively in a movie theater before it is released online.
You don`t have to go to law school to know that there is absolutely no
antitrust issue involved in that Oscar rule or any other Oscar rule, all of
which limit what movies are eligible for Oscars.
For example, there`s an Oscar rule that says the minimum for a non-mono
configuration of the audio shall be three channels as Left, Center, Right.
A Left-Right configuration is not acceptable in a theatrical environment.
Does that restrict anyone`s economic rights? Yes, it does. Those people
cannot – who don`t have the right audio cannot get their movies made
eligible for an Oscar, which is no concern to the government of the United
States or the Justice Department.
But Donald Trump has poisoned the Justice Department. He has appointed a
head of the Antitrust Division who will shame himself repeatedly by putting
his name on anything that Donald Trump wants him to put his name on,
including signing a threatening letter about the rules for the Oscars.
We already knew that the head of the Antitrust Division is a Trump cultist
who supported Donald Trump`s election in 2016 and wrote an op-ed piece
urging anti-Trump Republicans to forget their principals and be practical
Makan Delharim said in the op-ed piece, “Republicans should vote for Donald
Trump because a presidential election is all about supreme court justices.”
And Makan Delrahim is no doubt now waiting for his appointment to the
Supreme Court of the United States after faithful service to Donald Trump.
There is no surprise that he put his name on that letter filled with legal
absurdities. But Attorney General William Barr had to approve the sending
of that letter two weeks ago and William Barr approved it and that right
there is big news.
One month into his service to Donald Trump, Attorney General William Barr
said, “Yes, sure, send a threatening letter from the Justice Department to
the Oscars about their rules of eligibility.” Nothing else is ever going
to come of this. There will be absolutely no follow up to that phony
The Academy can change their rules any way they want and they will never
hear from the Justice Department legally again. The head of the Antitrust
Division knows that and he knows this letter is an empty and ridiculous
threat. Attorney General William Barr knows that.
Is this a case of William Barr giving Donald Trump a crazy little thing
that Donald Trump wants while William Barr resists Donald Trump`s much
worse demands? Or does this Justice Department letter threatening the
Oscars show us that there is absolutely nothing William Barr won`t do for
There is no order too small or too petty. No order from Donald Trump that
William Barr thinks is beneath him. Is that what this means?
Donald Trump has always said he wanted Roy Cohn as his attorney general and
he couldn`t have Roy Cohn because Roy Cohn died in 1986. And before he
died, Roy Cohn was convicted of crimes but he was Donald Trump`s first
lawyer and Donald Trump loved him because Roy Cohn would do anything for
Donald Trump, anything.
Does Donald Trump finally have his Roy Cohn again as his attorney general?
Is that what this Justice Department threatening the Oscars tells us about
the attorney general of the United States?
We don`t know yet but it doesn`t tell us anything good or anything decent
or anything honorable or anything professional about the Attorney General
of the United States. That`s tonight`s LAST WORD. “THE 11TH HOUR” with
Brian Williams starts right now.
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