One on one with Pres. Candidate Tim Ryan. TRANSCRIPT: 4/5/19, The Last Word w/ Lawrence O’Donnell.
(JOINED IN PROGRESS)
ALI VELSHI, MSNBC HOST: This is the kind of ongoing vulnerability that you
would expect to spark real concern and apparently, it has. That does it for
us tonight. Rachel will be back here on Monday. You can catch me here
Monday at 1:00 p.m. and again at 3:00 p.m. Time now for “THE LAST WORD”
with Lawrence O`Donnell.
Good evening, Lawrence.
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Ali, and thanks for filling
in for Rachel tonight and thanks for filling in for me as often as you do.
Really appreciate it.
VELSHI: Thank you, sir.
O`DONNELL: We`re going to have another tax class tonight now that the
president is desperately trying to prevent the IRS from handing over his
tax returns to the House of Representatives. But in tonight`s class, I`m
not going to be the teacher. I`m going to be the student because our first
guest tonight is the highest authority that we have ever had on this
program on taxation.
George Yin is a former chief of staff of the Joint Committee on Taxation.
Now, you don`t hear about that very much, but the Joint Committee on
Taxation is a Congressional committee composed of both House members and
Senate members and the staff of the joint committee actually advises the
two tax writing committees and their staff, the Senate Finance Committee
and the House Ways and Means Committee.
And the staffs of the Joint Tax Committee are by far the leading experts on
taxation in Washington and the chief of staff of that staff on the Joint
Tax Committee is simply regarded in awe by all members of the staff of the
tax writing committees.
And so I am filled with awe tonight and very excited to have George Yin
with us tonight. He was actually hired by Republicans to run the staff of
the Joint Committee on Taxation. There is usually – depending on which
party is in power – a Democratic chairman of that committee or a
Republican chairman of that committee, it was always a Republican in George
But the staff of that committee is always considered nonpartisan. It isn`t
even bipartisan. It`s just they`re nonpartisan. They are completely trusted
by both sides. And George Yin has actually written the definitive article
on the tax writing committee`s legal authority to obtain the president`s
And so you are going to hear from the highest authority in the land on this
issue tonight and I`m going to be taking notes. And later in this hour,
we`re going to hear from the newest Democratic presidential candidate. In
our contenders` series tonight, we will be joined by Democratic Congressman
Tim Ryan of Ohio. Any Democrat who can win in Ohio is someone the
Democratic Party has to pay attention to.
And in the lazy labels of the political news media, Tim Ryan is often
referred to as a moderate, but I don`t know what moderate means anymore
because Tim Ryan is in favor of Medicare for all, which was just a short
time ago, the most extreme liberal position that you could take in
Congress. So, you may be surprised by some of Tim Ryan`s positions.
And remember, there are two slots that have to be filled at the Democratic
National Convention, president and vice presidents. We need two candidates,
and it`s never too early to start looking for a vice presidential candidate
who can maybe help the ticket win in a very important state like say Ohio.
So you`re going to want to hear from Mr. Ryan of Ohio tonight.
But first, Donald Trump has a new lawyer, and that lawyer is trying to do
something that has never been done before, and the reason it`s never been
done before is that the law is very clear about the case that President
Trump has hired his new lawyer to handle. And it may be the case that
Donald Trump fears more than any other thing that has happened to him since
he took the oath of office.
The president`s new lawyer is a private attorney who does not work in the
White House. He is not on the government payroll. He`s a private lawyer
hired by Donald Trump to try to stop House Ways and Means Chairman Richard
Neal from legally obtaining Donald Trump`s tax returns. As we`ve been
discussing at this hour for the last two nights, the chairman of the House
Ways and Means Committee has the unique power written into law that allows
him to obtain anyone`s tax returns.
And obtaining public official`s tax returns including the president is one
of the things that this law was actually designed to do. The law allows the
chairman of the tax writing committees in the House and in the Senate to
obtain any tax returns they want to see, and no one has ever successfully
blocked them from doing that, ever.
The president`s new lawyer, William Consovoy, wrote a three-page letter
today trying to block Chairman Neal`s demand for the Trump tax returns. It
could have been a much shorter letter if anyone had ever successfully
blocked one of the tax writing committees from obtaining a tax return
because if that had ever happened, the president`s lawyer could just cite
that case, claim it applies here and be done with it.
Instead, the president`s lawyer wrote a letter filled with irrelevant
references, political argument, and faulty legal scholarship. In other
words, the president has hired yet another lawyer who literally doesn`t
know what he`s talking about. But the president is desperate this time
because there is nothing the president has worked harder to hide than his
tax returns, nothing.
The president is happily living with the public knowledge and his wife`s
knowledge of his affair with Stormy Daniels shortly after his third wife
gave birth to his fifth child. I mean, the president was hoping we didn`t
find out about that, but he sure doesn`t seem to care that we did. His tax
returns are something else.
Tim O`Brien is a frequent guest on this program who has been studying
Donald Trump`s financial affairs for years and as a result of a lawsuit,
was once allowed to see one year of Donald Trump`s tax returns when he was
a “New York Times” reporter.
Today, Tim O`Brien said this, “This is something he is going to fight tooth
and nail. It opens a vein. He`s the most financially conflicted president
of the modern era. The tax returns are both emblematic of that and a
potential road map of what his conflicts might look like.”
Because like most people most of the news media is usually intimidated by
lawyer`s letters, you should brace yourself for days of news coverage in
which the president`s lawyer`s letter will be taken much more seriously
than it should be. It takes its place among the long list of lawyers`
letters sent on behalf of Donald J. Trump that have absolutely no legal
Like the letter another private attorney sent on behalf of President Trump
to block the publication of Michael Wolf`s book “Fire and Fury.” Charles
Harder has had a very successful law practice in Beverly Hills, but his
place in the legal Hall of Fame became secure on January 4th, 2018 when he
wrote this absurdist letter to Michael Wolf and his publisher saying on
page 3, “Mr. Trump hereby demands that you immediately cease and desist
from any further publication release or dissemination of the book.”
And of course the book went on to be a giant best seller. That was one
lawyer`s letter that everyone in the news media instantly knew was a joke
because it affects their business. They know that the First Amendment made
that letter a joke and helped Michael Wolf`s book sales skyrocket.
It was an 11-page letter by one of the most expensive lawyers in America,
and it meant absolutely nothing, and everybody realized that. And there was
no follow-up to that letter, none. The three-page letter that the president
paid for today must have been much cheaper and even though it has no legal
basis, this one, this one is not a joke because it is addressed to a Trump
appointee, Brent McIntosh, the general counsel of the Department of
And the letter asks the general counsel of the Treasury to tell the
Treasury secretary to not allow the IRS commissioner to deliver the Trump
tax returns to Chairman Neal. The IRS is technically part of the Treasury
Department, and so it is technically under the jurisdiction of the Treasury
secretary, although the IRS is usually allowed to operate as a completely
The letter says, “The IRS should refrain from divulging the requested
information until it receives a formal legal opinion from the Justice
Department`s office of legal counsel, which brings us to another Trump
appointee, Attorney General William Barr. And so this becomes another test
of what Attorney General William Barr is willing to do for Donald Trump.
And it becomes a test for Donald Trump`s commissioner of the IRS who has
absolutely no legal basis whatsoever for not turning over those tax returns
by Wednesday of next week as Chairman Neal has demanded.
And so, all the Donald Trump appointees involved, Treasury Secretary
Mnuchin, Brent McIntosh the general counsel of treasury, Attorney General
William Barr, and IRS commissioner Charles Reddick might all be staring at
Donald Trump`s lawyer`s letter tonight right now trying to see if there is
any legal hook they can possibly hold onto as an excuse for not complying
with very clear law, or they might not.
They might all be honorable men who happen to be appointed by Donald Trump
who take their oaths of office very seriously and recognize that the
president`s lawyer`s letter is a legal joke to be dismissed as soon as they
read it, maybe.
The lawyer`s letter says requests for tax returns and return information
must have a legitimate legislative purpose. Chairman Neal`s letter
demanding the tax returns says, “consistent with its authority the
committee is considering legislative proposals and conducting oversight
related to our federal tax laws including but not limited to the extent to
which the IRS audits and enforces the federal tax laws against a
It is necessary for the committee to determine the scope of any such
examination and whether it includes a review of underlying business
activities required to be reported on the individual income tax return. And
that is why the chairman is asking for Donald Trump`s tax returns instead
of Barack Obama`s tax returns because Donald Trump is the only president
who has significant underlying business activities.
The chairman wants to know whether the automatic IRS audit of presidential
tax returns includes Donald Trump`s business tax returns. The president`s
lawyer`s letter claims that Chairman Neal is only asking for Donald Trump`s
tax returns because he is a political opponent.
The letter makes no attempt to prove that, and the letter does that classic
bad lawyer thing of saying that the chairman has no legitimate committee
purpose for requesting the president`s tax returns, and then immediately
says, even if the Ways and Means Committee has a legitimate purpose for
requesting the president`s tax returns, that`s not the real reason Richie
Neal is doing this.
The letter simply says that the president`s lawyer does not believe the
reasons Richie Neal gave for demanding the president`s tax returns. The
president`s lawyer`s letter also includes this glaring mistake. It says,
“The president has even greater authority than Congress to obtain
individual`s tax returns.” That is not true.
The president does not have authority to obtain individual`s tax returns
that is more powerful than the Congress`. It is actually much more limited
than committee chairman`s authority to obtain individual tax returns.
Richie Neal is in his 30th year of service in the House of Representatives
where everyone calls him Richie just like they do back home in his
congressional district in Western Massachusetts. He`s not Chairman Neal
back there, he`s Richie Neal and he was Richie Neal to me when I was
working on the staff of Senate Finance Committee working on tax policy and
he was a member of the Ways and Means Committee working on tax policy.
Most of you have never heard his voice because his approach to
congressional life has always been about carefully doing the work and the
homework including carefully doing the work for his constituents in western
Massachusetts so that he is always re-elected, but never seeking the
limelight in Washington.
Richie Neal has had an open invitation to be on this program every night
since the Democrats won the House of Representative, and full disclosure I
think of him as a friend of mine, and he won`t do this show because he
doesn`t want or need the attention. Richie Neal is the opposite of Donald
Trump in every good way that you can be the opposite of Donald Trump.
And tonight, Donald Trump has no idea what he`s up against in Richie Neal.
But I, for one, have no doubt who is going to win. Richie Neal is going to
get Donald Trump`s tax returns. Leading off our discussion now, it is an
honor to be joined by George Yin. He`s the former chief of staff of the
Joint Committee on Taxation. He is now a professor of law and taxation at
the University of Virginia Law School.
And also joining us, Democratic Congressman Jimmy Gomez of California. He
is now a member of the House Ways and Means Committee, also a member of the
Oversight Committee, but he is a member of the House Ways and Means where
this demand for Donald Trump`s tax returns originated. George Yin, let me
start with you.
You`ve read the president`s attorney`s letter about this. You`ve also
written the definitive article about this law. Tell us – give us your
review of the president`s lawyer`s letter, and do you see any merit in it?
GEORGE YIN, FORMER CHIEF OF STAFF, JOINT COMMITTEE ON TAXATION: Thanks,
Lawrence, pleasure to be with you. That was an over the top introduction.
O`DONNELL: Well, you know – let me just stop you, you know and Jimmy
Gomez knows exactly how us former and current tax committee staff regard
the chief of staff of the Joint Tax Committee.
O`DONNELL: We always bow.
YIN: Thanks. That`s very nice, but I completely agree with you. The letter
really didn`t say anything useful. I thought Chairman Neal`s letter request
lays out a couple of reasons that would qualify as the legislative purposes
and one of the ones that is laid out I think is particularly strong, which
is to lend oversight over the IRS`s audit of the president`s returns.
The president has indicated repeatedly that his returns are under audit,
but the fact is there have been problems with that in the past. The first
audit by the IRS of President Nixon`s returns, actually, the IRS gave
President Nixon a complete, clean bill of tax health as a result of that
And even sent President Nixon a letter complimenting him on the care with
which he had prepared those returns, but on later audits of the same
returns, one by the nonpartisan staff of the Joint Committee on Taxation
and one by the IRS again, we discovered that, in fact, President Nixon owed
almost a half a million dollars of additional tax and interest.
So there`s an inherent conflict of interest when the IRS is asked to audit,
essentially its boss, and it`s absolutely the responsibility of Congress
and the Ways and Means Committee to exercise its oversight responsibility
to double check that those audit – that audit is being done appropriately
or whether there`s any funny business going on. So I think that the
chairman is very smart in laying out that rationale as well as others for
O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to Richie Neal. The audience will finally get to
hear his voice because they don`t hear this very much. He did make some
comments yesterday about his approach to getting the Trump tax returns.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICHIE NEAL, CHAIRMAN, HOUSE WAYS & MEANS COMMITTEE: We followed IRS
guidelines, which suggests to taxpayers that six years is generally the
measurements that they use for advising taxpayers on how long to keep their
So, we didn`t want to have the case perhaps dismissed on a technical
glitch. So again, I think as I`ve said to you now for a long period of
time, we`ve taken a very methodical approach to what will likely be an
established court case.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Congressman Gomez, talk about the way your chairman has
approached this because you`ve seen it from the inside. We only knew about
it the moment his letter came out saying he was doing this, but you saw
him, how he approached this, how he built to this moment.
REP. JIMMY GOMEZ (D), MEMBER, WAYS & MEANS COMMITTEE: You know, Chairman
Neal is one of the most strategic, methodical individuals in Congress and
he knew what was going to be before us as a committee and before him. So,
he was setting up something to make sure that we abided by the law by
statute and made sure every committee member understood the statute.
And this is why he`s done it so slow. He had a lot of pressure on him to go
after the taxes right away, but he didn`t do that because he knows that
this is too important and the American people are counting on him.
O`DONNELL: George yin, I want to talk about the law that governs this. It
refers to it, uses the phrase the secretary shall furnish the tax returns
meaning the secretary of the Treasury, and that`s simply because of the
organizational chart where the IRS is technically within the treasury
Historically, though, these requests have always been handled directly by
the IRS commissioner. Isn`t that the precedent we have for it and isn`t
that why Chairman Neal addressed his letter directly to the IRS
YIN: Well yes, you`re right. The commissioner of the IRS has more direct
custodial responsibility over the returns. Obviously people under –
directly under him are the ones who actually have the material that the
chairman has requested. So it makes some sense to direct the request there,
but you`re right.
The statute does indicate that the secretary of the Treasury shall furnish
it. So ultimately, the response, assuming that there is a response, the
response of the information requested would presumably come from Secretary
O`DONNELL: And so George, let me stay with you on the implications of the
president`s lawyer`s letter. He`s addressing it to the Treasury Department,
to the counsel at the Treasury Department. He makes a reference to asking
the Treasury Department to wait until the Justice Department basically
tells them what to do. What`s your reaction to that part of it?
YIN: Well, I don`t really see any grounds for that at all. Again, the law
is very clear, and I thought that Chairman Neal`s request was actually very
smart also in that it was quite targeted. So, you know, there`s a limited
amount of information that`s being requested, and I would think that, you
know, depending on how difficult it is to assemble it, it could be
forwarded fairly quickly. I don`t really see the need for Justice
Department interpretation. The law is pretty straightforward.
O`DONNELL: And Congressman Gomez, the president has always said as a
campaigner and he still says, you know, you can`t see my tax returns
because they`re being audited. We don`t know if that was ever true when he
was a candidate, but it is true that the president`s tax returns are
routinely automatically audited by the IRS, but Barack Obama as president
did two things.
He always filed his income tax returns on time before April 15th, and he
always released those tax returns publicly upon filing them even though
every one of those tax returns was being audited?
GOMEZ: That`s correct. You know, Trump has avoided releasing his taxes
since he started running for president, and I think we need to really focus
in on that. Why does he not want the American people to see his taxes? And
this is something that`s been done for 40 years, Republicans and Democrats
alike have released their tax returns, and even while under audit.
So there`s nothing that prevents him from actually showing his taxes and
putting the American people at ease that he`s not under leverage or being
leveraged by an individual or by a foreign government.
O`DONNELL: Congressman Jimmy Gomez and George Yin, thank you both very
much for joining us. I really appreciate you starting us off.
YIN: Thank you, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Thank you. And when we come back, Donald Trump`s presidency is
not about governing. It`s about the rallies. It`s about what sounds good at
his rallies and that is why Donald Trump is constantly retreating from
things he says to his rally audience that he just can`t get done or do in
government, things like, you know, closing the border with Mexico.
But appealing to his rally audience also means that Donald Trump`s support
has never increased, and that makes him a very weak re-election candidate.
And later tonight, we will be joined by the newest Democratic candidate for
president, Ohio Congressman Tim Ryan.
O`DONNELL: This morning a liar tried to explain a liar.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN BERMAN, CNN HOST: Has he dialed down the lying?
ANTHONY SCARAMUCCI, FORMER WHITE HOUSE COMMUNICATION DIRECTOR: No, he`s
very consistent. He`s probably consistent over the last 40 years in terms
of the way he frames a narrative in a story. He does it because he thinks
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: So the president of the United States lies because he thinks
it`s fun according to a liar who has known President Trump for a long time
and sort of kind of almost worked in the White House for about a week or so
even though he was never on the White House payroll.
The problem for the president is that a majority of Americans do not think
there is anything fun about him. That`s why the president`s approval rating
seems to be locked at a maximum of 43 percent. The president was elected
with only 46 percent of the vote. So, he`s in no positive to lose any bit
of that support which he`s already done.
And also, unlike any other president, Donald Trump has never once, never
once tried to appeal to a voter who has not already voted for him, and the
way the president has chosen to appeal to the voters he already has is
exactly the same way he appealed to them as a candidate, at rallies.
This is the rally presidency. The only thing that matters to Donald Trump
is how it sounds in a rally. Donald Trump doesn`t care if he can do the
things that he says like close our southern border with Mexico. I haven`t
been covering that story on this show because I believed it was just
another Trump rallying cry not something he was actually going to do. And
that of course turned out to be right.
And so many in the media are reporting that Donald Trump has once again
retreated from a Trumpian idea, an idea that no other politician would ever
suggest, a crazy idea of shutting down the border, but is it a retreat if
he was never going to do it? Do his voters think it`s a retreat, or do his
voters just want him to sound tough about the Mexican border? Is that good
enough for them?
His voters also seem to want him to actually be tough about the Mexican
border, but Donald Trump knows they most of all appreciate him sounding
tough and when Donald Trump tries to sound tough, he sounds hateful. It`s
very difficult to compare what Donald Trump says to what previous
presidents have said or presidential candidates have said, and so
presidential candidate Beto O`Rourke has found a very dark comparison to
what President Trump says.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. BETO O`ROURKE (D), TEXAS : I compare the rhetoric that the president
has 0employed to rhetoric that you might have heard during the third Reich,
calling human beings an infestation is something we might have expected to
hear in Nazi Germany.
Describing immigrants who have a track record of committing violent crimes
at a lower rate than native born Americans, as rapists and criminals,
seeking to ban almost all people of one religion. What other country on the
face of the planet does that kind of thing or in our human history or in
history of the western world?
Because they are somehow deficient or violent or a threat to us, putting
kids in cages, saying that neo-Nazis and Klansmen and white supremacists
are very fine people? You draw your own conclusions, but this is not
something I expected to hear the president of the United States ever say.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining our discussion now, Neera Tanden. She`s the president
for the Center for American Progress. She`s a veteran of the Obama
administration. She worked on the Affordable Care Act. Also joining us,
Rick Wilson, a Republican strategist and contributor to “The Daily Beast.”
He`s the author of the book “Everything Trump Touches Dies.”
Neera, it`s hard to recite Rick`s book titles without chuckling about them.
Neera, this is inevitable, that candidates are going to be asked about
Donald Trump`s rhetoric. Beto O`Rourke did not shy away from it. For him,
the closest comparison is something outside of our politics, something very
NEERA TANDEN, PRESIDENT, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS: In fact, this
afternoon Donald Trump further compared immigrants and people coming across
the border as animals, not humans, he said animals. Basically making Beto
O`Rourke`s point which is essentially Donald Trump for years now has tried
to adopt and has adopted the language of making immigrants, undocumented
immigrants animals, otherizing them, making them people that you don`t feel
And in my view it`s absolutely accurate that fascists do that. And I think
it`s really important that we call this language out for what it is, which
is not the language of Democrats or democracies or leaders of the free
world but language of dictators.
And I think there`s going to be a forceful debate within the Democratic
Party about immigration and other issues. But I also think the Democratic
Party is looking for leaders who are going to take the fight to Donald
Trump, not power, but to take the fight to him and say the way he`s
speaking is really frankly not American.
O`DONNELL: Rick Wilson, let`s talk about Trump voters for a second. I
mean I`m sure I have a smaller sample who I know, than you know, but the
Trump voters who I know do not believe him.
For example, the Trump voters I know, they never believed Mexico was going
to pay for the wall. They weren`t sure if there would be a wall, but what
they cared about when they heard Donald Trump talk about the southern
border is what they believed was no candidate is going to be tougher on the
southern border than Donald Trump, and that`s what they cared about.
O`DONNELL: And so for them, when Donald Trump does these things, I`m going
to close the border with Mexico and then he doesn`t do it, the Trump voters
I know don`t think of that as retreat. They just think of that as another
day where Donald Trump said the toughest thing he could think of about the
southern border and that seems to matter to them as much or more than what
he actually does.
WILSON: Lawrence, I think that`s exactly right. They`re always about the
spectacle of Trump. They`re always about the show of Trump. This is a
reality T.V. president, a reality T.V. constituency that supports him.
And so they believe these things that own the libs or that cause the media
to blow up. They love that effect of Donald Trump saying something
outrageous and stupid and pointless, but they think that that accomplishes
something politically for them that no one else could do for them.
And ultimately, though, it has a diminishing returns sort of effect over
time because we`re never going to have Mexico pay for the wall. There`s
not going to be a wall. There`s not going to be a fence. There`s not
going to be anything that Trump promises them ever, but they still play
this game because they think that Donald Trump is some transgressive
O`DONNELL: And Neera, he went to the southern border in California today
where the Obama administration had authorized some additional wall
structure where there already is a lot of fencing wall reinforcement. And
so this was a project authorized, paid for by the Obama administration.
President Trump put a Trump plaque, President Trump plaque on that new
piece of construction authorized by the Obama administration and claimed to
his voters that that`s my wall. That thing right there that you can see
TANDEN: I don`t know. It looks like a fence to me, not really a concrete
wall, 30-foot high wall. I don`t know. My eyes tell me it`s a fence, not
But I think Rick is absolutely right. Look, Donald Trump is a one trick
pony, whether it`s, you know, 2016, 2018, or 2020, he is going to use like
xenophobic appeals, anti-immigrant appeals, calling them immigrants –
calling them animals.
And that is his – that`s his strength. He thinks – he`s not president of
the United States, he is president of his base.
Now, the good news is that that is not a majority of the country. A
majority of the country thinks that what Trump is doing is actually morally
indefensible and wrong, but he is counting on exciting his base, getting
them enthusiastic, riling them up.
And I do think it is because they`re attacking some other group. It`s
always a politics of subtraction, never addition for him. And I think the
bottom line of this is he`s not growing his base. His tactic is to destroy
whoever the Democrat is and ensure his base is really strong.
O`DONNELL: Yes. Rick, when I`ve watched the news media over the two years
of this presidency so far talk about what Donald Trump is doing, so many
people in the news media seem to forget what you have to do to get
WILSON: That`s right.
O`DONNELL: And so I mean Richard Nixon, for example, who won the
presidency by less than one percent of the vote, on re-election he won 49
states. When Ronald Reagan was reelected, he won 49 states because he
spent four years trying to appeal to voters who did not vote for him the
WILSON: Remember, Lawrence, the Morning in America ads in `84 were target
on world democratic on rural Democratic voters. They weren`t the
Republican evangelical base or the economic concerted base. They were
spreading the message out.
Donald Trump is always recursive. It`s always internalizing everything
else. It`s a smaller, smaller, smaller, shrinking base. And at some
point, you run out of Cletus`s Slack-Jawed Yokel guys to go oh, MAGA. At
some point, you run out of people who are going to endorse things that are
intellectually bankrupt, morally dishonest and Trumpian in every respect.
At some point, you end up with people saying, wait a minute, 38 percent is
not going to get you home in an electoral college battle that requires you
to win 271 votes in this equation. And so that`s always sort of the dead
end of Trumpism is that they are always recursive. They`re always
internal. They`re always reducing the number of people they appeal to.
O`DONNELL: Rick Wilson and Neera Tanden, thank you for joining us on this
Friday night edition of THE LAST WORD. Really appreciate it.
WILSON: Thanks, Lawrence.
TANDEN: Thanks so much.
O`DONNELL: And when we come back, the field of Democratic presidential
candidates gets bigger every day, and one of the things that that means is
that the new ideas keep coming from the candidates in the campaign almost
every day. And some of those are among the best ideas I have heard in
democratic campaigns in a long time. That`s next.
O`DONNELL: A presidential campaign came to midtown Manhattan today where
several candidates appeared at Reverend Al Sharpton`s National Action
Network Conference. One of the results of this large group of presidential
candidates is that we are watching a very competitive field in terms of
their policy proposals.
The Democratic presidential campaign has already supported and created
important policy ideas that are going to become part of the boilerplate of
the Democratic campaign.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D), CALIFORNIA: Black households are twice as likely
to rent as to own, and nearly half of black families spend more than 30
percent of their income on rent.
So what I am proposing is that for families who are spending and
individuals who are spending more than 30 percent of their income on rent
plus utilities, they get a tax credit to help them get through the month.
SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D) MASSACHUSETTS: We are the richest country in the
history of the planet. Access to high-quality child care and education
during the early stages of a child`s life should not be a privilege
reserved for the children of the rich. It should be a right for every
single child in America.
And that`s why I`m proposing a big structural change. Universal child care
and early education for all our babies.
SEN. KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND (D), NEW YORK: We have to pass a national paid
HARRIS: I have proposed what will be the first in the history of our
country, federal investment in closing teacher pay with an emphasis also on
those districts and areas that have the highest needs.
SEN BERNIE SANDERS (I), VERMONT: And you know we`re going to pay for many
of these programs by not giving tax breaks to billionaires and large
corporations as Trump does. We`re going to tell them that they`re going to
finally start paying their fair share of taxes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: After this break, our contender series continues. We`ll be
joined tonight by a presidential candidate who knows how to win elections
in the crucially important State of Ohio. Congressman Tim Ryan announced
his campaign yesterday and we`re lucky to have him for his first MSNBC
prime time interview as a presidential candidate, tonight. Mr. Ryan of
Ohio is next.
O`DONNELL: Congressman Tim Ryan supports Medicare for all, the green new
deal, universal background checks for gun purchases, and barring people on
the terrorist watch list from buying firearms. And yesterday, “The View”
became the venue for Congressman Tim Ryan to make an important
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. TIM RYAN (D-OH), 2020 DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I can go
back just a few weeks where my daughter called me crying from school
because her friend was crying to her, her dad just got transferred at the
local General Motors Plant. The kids had to move.
RYAN: And my daughter called me and she said you got to do something. And
I said I`m going to do something and I`m going to run for president of the
United States, and we`re going make –
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: And that was Congressman Tim Ryan`s official announcement that
he is a candidate for president of the United States. And joining us in
tonight`s contender`s interview is Democratic Congressman Tim Ryan of Ohio.
Congressman, thank you very much for joining us in your first MSNBC
primetime interview. Really appreciate it.
RYAN: Thanks, Lawrence. Great to be with you.
O`DONNELL: I want to get through as many issues as we can. And the way I
frame my questions is what will you do as president? I want to know if
you`re in the Oval Office at that desk what you will sign, what you will
veto, what you will do.
I have a new question for the candidates that I`ve just started asking
because we don`t really know at this point what is going to happen to the
Mueller report and whether Congress is going to end up with a redacted
Mueller report and never get their hands on the full unredacted Mueller
And so as president, if you are the next president of the United States,
would you authorize the release of the unredacted Mueller report to the
relevant Congressional Committees?
RYAN: Of course. I think it`s important to have transparency. I think
we`ve got to rebuild some credibility and some trust with the American
people. I most definitely would with the exception if there was some
national security issue or some sources that would be revealed that we
wouldn`t want to go down that road and put anybody`s life in danger or
lives in danger.
That would be the only exception I would have but I think it should be
O`DONNELL: And it`s April which is, of course, tax filing time for all of
your constituents who are nervously trying to get theirs filed by April 15.
You voted for HR1, which makes it the law if it becomes law, that all
presidential candidates must release 10 years of tax returns. Have you
released 10 years of tax returns, or do you plan to do that?
RYAN: We have not yet but I most certainly will.
O`DONNELL: And will you be filing –
RYAN: I think that should be a pretty straightforward question for the
president of the United States.
O`DONNELL: Can you give us a timetable? We know April 15th is the
deadline for getting this year`s taxes done.
RYAN: Yes, I would imagine the next few weeks. Have to get everything in
order, but yes, we just announced yesterday. And we`ll be getting all of
these affairs in order but we will make sure we get that to the American
people. They deserve to see that.
O`DONNELL: And do you support higher income tax brackets and higher rates
for incomes over $10 million, or $20 million, $50 million, these
astronomically high incomes that we`ve never seen before?
RYAN: Well, I do but let me put a – not necessarily a caveat here. I
think it`s important, Lawrence. We have so many broken systems in the
The health care system is broke. We spent two and a half times more than
any other industrialized country and we get the worst results.
Our environmental system is broke. We`ve got algae blooms in the Great
Lakes, a dead zone at the mouth of the Mississippi River.
You look at our education system and the rankings there, you look at our
food system where half the country has diabetes or prediabetes. All of
these systems are broke.
So while I think we have to get more revenue and we have almost a trillion
dollar a year deficit that`s coming in the years to come, a year. We are
going to need more revenue.
But I think as Democrats, we have a responsibility to reform the government
so that whether we are asking middle-class people to pay taxes or the
wealthy to pay taxes, we are not asking them to dump money into a black
hole that`s wasting money.
And we have a responsibility in 2019, `20, `21. We`ve got to reform the
government. We`ve got to get it running more efficiently. It`s got to be
more modernized and I think we owe that to the taxpayers. So sure yes, and
not yes but.
O`DONNELL: I normally don`t ask political campaign questions of the
candidates but you are the one from Ohio and I simply can`t resist. Ohio
is a crucial state on the electoral map.
And what do you feel you know about appealing to Ohio voters which would
translate across the electoral map? What is it that Ohio teaches
Democratic politicians about how to win hearts and minds there?
RYAN: The entire ball game is about economic security. It is about having
dignified jobs for people who want to work hard and play by the rules.
They want health security. They want retirement security. They want to
work hard and then go home and not have to stare at the ceiling at night
and worry about whether or not their kids are going to have healthcare or
they can pay for their kids to go to college or they`re going to make the
bills this month. That`s the reality of it all.
And it is important for us to be a big tent party and talk about all of the
justice issues that are out there but we have to do both. If we are going
to win and rebuild that blue wall, Lawrence, it is going to be around
We have the highest stock market we`ve ever had. We have the lowest
unemployment we ever had. And yet 40 percent to 50 percent of the American
people can`t withstand a $400 or $500 emergency.
That is disgraceful in the United States. I am going to change that as
president. We`re going to have a laser light focus on rebuilding the
middle-class and the United States.
O`DONNELL: We`re going to have to take a break here
RYAN: And that`s how you win.
RYAN: That happens to be how you win too.
O`DONNELL: I get that. We`re going to take a break here, Congressman.
And when we come back, we`re going to go back to policy questions.
And I want to give you the next question right now. You just have a couple
of minutes to think about it. What is the best idea that you`ve heard from
one of the other Democratic presidential candidates? Think about it during
the commercial. We will be right back with more from Congressman Tim Ryan.
O`DONNELL: We are back with presidential candidate Congressman Tim Ryan of
Ohio. And Congressman, what is the best policy idea you have heard from
another Democratic presidential candidate?
RYAN: Well, I`ll be hard pressed not to say I like Kamala Harris`s
increasing teacher pay. As the husband of a first-grade school teacher, I
think that would benefit us well.
But I really do think Elizabeth Warren`s idea of really breaking up the
monopolies and the agricultural industry is really the most important thing
that I would agree with at this point. What`s happening in rural America
is an absolute disgrace. Farmers haven`t made a profit in five years.
There are complete monopolies around the seed, the fertilizer, the whole
process and it is stimming our ability to really start growing healthy food
and sequestering carbon. So I think that`s a piece of legislation that I
will be supportive of.
O`DONNELL: One of the ways President Trump won your state and others is
the way he talked about the coal industry and how he was going to save coal
jobs and increase coal jobs.
O`DONNELL: Exactly, the opposite has happened. In your State of Ohio, you
have some big coal-fired power plants that are shutting down, a lot of jobs
in the coal industry are being lost. What would you say to workers in the
coal industry about their future and your support of a green new deal?
RYAN: We are going to make sure that coal miners who`ve worked hard and
played by the rules in some very dangerous circumstances are going to get
their healthcare benefits and they`re going to get their pensions. They`ve
earned it. They deserve it.
And as president, I am going to make sure that that happens. And I am also
going to make sure that as we grow into the new technologies that are going
to help us sequester carbon, that are going to help us move towards
renewable and wind and solar and electric vehicles, and batteries, and
charging stations, as we move down that road, we need to have incentives,
public-private partnerships that are using venture capital, the tax codes,
the Department of Energy to drive investment into these distressed
Old coal, old steel, auto where we have been losing jobs the last 30 years,
the next generation of energy jobs has to be directed into these areas that
have been hurt. And they need to be paying what those coal miner jobs have
paid and the auto worker jobs have paid.
So we got to make sure we cut the worker in on the deal. So while we can`t
go back, we`re going to go forward. And instead of old economy, we`re
going to go to the new economy but the government has a responsibility to
push those investments and the communities that have gotten left behind by
globalization and automation.
O`DONNELL: When you talk to workers in the coal industry, do they
understand the big picture that coal consumption in the United States is
declining and that could only mean one thing for the future of their jobs?
RYAN: Oh, yes, they know it better than anybody. They have the economic
anxiety more than anybody. They have the health issues more than anybody.
They understand it very, very intimately.
But here is the deal. These are the best jobs in town and parents love
their kids. So when you are making $90 or $100,000, that`s the job. We
got to go to them with a real plan of which I will have for resuscitating
coal country and these older industrialized areas.
And anybody that hears me, Lawrence, and thinks this make sense, please go
to TimRyanforAmerica.com. I need your help and support to help implement
some of these ideas.
O`DONNELL: You got it just in time, Congressman. We`re six seconds over
pass the hour.
Thank you very much for joining us tonight, Congressman Tim Ryan of Ohio,
really appreciate it.
RYAN: Thanks, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Tim Ryan gets tonight`s LAST WORD. “THE 11TH HOUR” with Brian
Williams starts 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