House Judiciary Committee to hold vote. TRANSCRIPT: 4/2/19, The Last Word w/ Lawrence O’Donnell.

Guests:
Prudence Gourguechon, Ron Klain, Adam Jentleson, Harley Rouda, Caitlin Ostroff
Transcript:

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

president? 

 

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

information. 

 

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

when. 

 

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

presidency today. 

 

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

words. 

 

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

Germany. 

 

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

defense. 

 

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

today? 

 

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

Senate. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

O`DONNELL:  And minutes after Mitch McConnell said that, Donald Trump said

this –

 

(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

Obamacare. 

 

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

this. 

 

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

subject. 

 

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

today. 

 

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

House. 

 

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. 

 

O`DONNELL:  Yes. 

 

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.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

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

House? 

 

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.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

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.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

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

malicious code.

 

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

afternoon?

 

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.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

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.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

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

Academy Awards.

 

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

intervene.

 

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

like him.

 

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

letter.

 

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

Donald Trump?

 

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

BE UPDATED.

END   

 

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