One on one with Pres. Candidate Tim Ryan. TRANSCRIPT: 4/5/19, The Last Word w/ Lawrence O’Donnell.

George Yin, Jimmy Gomez, Neera Tanden, Rick Wilson, Tim Ryan



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

Yin`s time.


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

tax returns.


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

independent entity.


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?



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.


YIN:  Thanks.


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

this request.


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.





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.




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.



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.




JOHN BERMAN, CNN HOST:  Has he dialed down the lying?



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

its fun.




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.




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.




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




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

are people.


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.


WILSON:  Right.


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

a wall.


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

first time.


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.




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

leave plan.


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.




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






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 –




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

United States.


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

economic security.


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.


RYAN:  Yes.


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  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.







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