Trump faces primary challenger for 2020. TRANSCRIPT: 4/16/19. The Last Word w/ Lawrence O’Donnell.

Guests:
Bill Weld, Raja Krishnamoorthi, Tom Malinowski
Transcript:

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

 

Fisher cat – I`m just changing my first question. 

 

(LAUGHTER)

 

O`DONNELL:  I had never heard that scream.  I never heard of that

particular creature.  But, of course, of course, Bill Weld would choose

something –

 

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST, “TRMS”:  A fisher cat. 

 

O`DONNELL:  – obscure like that. 

 

MADDOW:  Seriously.  I mean, points to him on this.  The fisher cat lives

in trees.  It`s really big.  It drops down on to its prey.  It kills more

than it can eat. 

 

It`s a ferocious thing.  If you had to pick something to be like your

spirit thing for the – I – props to him. 

 

O`DONNELL:  So, Rachel, you know how in pros writing in books we get to use

footnotes and that`s kind of, like, wicked difficult to do in this form. 

I`m going to do my footnote with you. 

 

MADDOW:  OK. 

 

O`DONNELL:  Then I can just go on and do the story without reference to the

footnote.  The footnote is Pete McCloskey. 

 

MADDOW:  Aah.

 

O`DONNELL:  Pete McCloskey is the Republican who actually challenged

Richard Nixon in the primaries, for Richard Nixon`s reelection campaign,

but he dropped out right after New Hampshire.  He was challenging him from

the left as an anti-war candidate when the Democrats had the anti-war

candidate coming through their primaries, George McGovern. 

 

So, it – I`m not going to include it in my – in my – it`s –

 

MADDOW:  You`re setting me up to do, like, 45 minutes without a commercial

on Pete McCloskey some time in the next few weeks. 

 

O`DONNELL:  No, no, I`m just leaving McCloskey out of my analysis of the

importance and the damage that primary challenges do to incumbent

presidents in their re-election campaigns, and that damage is absolutely

devastating.  We don`t have – in my lifetime, a re-elected president who

had to survive a primary challenge, other than that Pete McCloskey thing

with Nixon.  

 

These primary challengers like Bill Weld are the first crack in the wall

that destroys a presidency on its way to re-election.  You can ask Lyndon

Johnson.  You can ask Jimmy Carter.  You can ask George H.W. Bush. 

 

And we`re going to ask Bill Weld about it tonight.  He may be as a figure

in presidential history the one who did the initial damage that stopped the

Trump presidency in the re-election campaign. 

 

MADDOW:  That is – that is spot on analysis.  All the – and it`s more

powerful by the fact that Bill Weld is so able.  They`re already trying to

dismiss him in the president`s re-election campaign, in the White House as

being this sort of figure of fun and nobody needs to be taken seriously. 

 

Bill Weld knows what he`s doing and he`s capable, especially in terms when

it comes to articulating stuff that is wrong with the other guy.  I think

you`re right.  Go, Lawrence, go. 

 

O`DONNELL:  Oh, by the way – 

 

MADDOW:  Yes?

 

O`DONNELL:  – he is currently polling higher than Donald Trump was polling

at this point four years ago at the beginning of the presidential campaign. 

So, Bill Weld is a factor.  That`s why we`re going to start off with him

tonight. 

 

MADDOW:  Well done, my friend.

 

O`DONNELL:  And every time I say what you`re going to hear, you`ll know

where to put in except Pete McCloskey in little tiny parenthesis that I`m

not going to mention. 

 

MADDOW:  It will be an A block sometime soon over here, Lawrence.  Thanks,

Lawrence. 

 

O`DONNELL:  OK.  Thank you, Rachel. 

 

Well, at the end of the hour tonight – I just want to tell you about this

now.  At the end of the hour, I am seriously bothered by today`s “New York

Times” headline and summary, an exhaustive summary of all the political

lies Donald Trump has told about 9/11 in attacking political opponents of

his with 9/11. 

 

And the problem with today`s list is it`s extensive.  It has every single

one of them that we all remember, the greatest hits, they`re all in there. 

Except the one that I think is the most important one. 

 

And it is on the verge of becoming Trump`s lost lie.  And we cannot let

this lie be lost to history because it is the worst lie, and I mean the

worst lie that Donald Trump has ever told about 9/11.  He told it twice. 

And then he stopped telling that lie. 

 

That lie lived for about 24 hours in the Trump campaign, and both times he

used it I immediately said it was a lie.  Then he stopped.  When Donald

Trump stops, that means he knows how bad that lie is.  We`re going to

revisit that lie at the end of this hour. 

 

But we begin tonight with some very bad news for President Trump`s re-

election campaign.  The president of the United States is now facing

something we have seen very rarely in American political history and

virtually every time it happened, it was the beginning of the road to

defeat for the incumbent`s presidential re-election campaign. 

 

Donald Trump has a challenger in the Republican presidential primaries.  A

Republican is finally running against Donald Trump and Trumpism.  A

Republican has finally had enough.  And history shows that is the single

worst thing that can happen to an incumbent president to be challenged for

the nomination within his own party. 

 

The usual scenario is the challenger inflicts enough damage on the

incumbent president during the primary season that the incumbent president

cannot win reelection. 

 

The modern history of this begins in 1968 when Democratic Senator Eugene

McCarthy did the unthinkable and announced his candidacy to run in just

four presidential primaries against incumbent Democratic President Lyndon

Johnson.  Gene McCarthy did not believe that he could defeat Lyndon Johnson

for the nomination, but he was running against Lyndon Johnson`s war in

Vietnam and he believed his candidacy was the only way for Americans to get

a chance to vote against Lyndon Johnson`s war in Vietnam.  He wanted to put

Vietnam on the ballot. 

 

Gene McCarthy scored what was considered a resounding victory in the New

Hampshire primary by coming in such a strong second to the president of the

United States, and by the end of that week, there was a second challenger

to President Lyndon Johnson from within his own party, New York`s

Democratic Senator Robert Kennedy jumped into the race against Lyndon

Johnson. 

 

We had never seen anything like this, two power challengers against an all-

power incumbent Democratic president who had won a landslide in the last

election, and the pressure from these two challenges against the incumbent

president forced something no one saw coming, something that shocked the

country, the president of the United States giving up, withdrawing from his

own re-election campaign. 

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

LYNDON B. JOHNSON, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT:  I shall not seek and I will not

accept the nomination of my party for another term as your president. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

O`DONNELL:  No one who saw that can forget that moment.  And then all hell

broke loose in the Democratic campaign.  Bobby Kennedy was assassinated. 

Gene McCarthy lost the nomination fight to Vice President Hubert Humphrey,

Lyndon Johnson`s chosen successor and the Democrats went on to lose the

White House in November. 

 

Eight years later, it was the Republicans` turn.  California`s former

Governor Ronald Reagan challenged Republican President Gerald Ford for the

Republican nomination.  President Ford held on to win the nomination and

then go down to defeat to President Jimmy Carter. 

 

Four years later, the Democrats did it again.  Another Kennedy – Senator

Ted Kennedy challenged incumbent Democratic President Jimmy Carter in the

Democratic primaries and once again, the president held on to win the

nomination of his party, but President Carter was so weakened by the

primary challenge that he lost his re-election campaign to Ronald Reagan. 

 

Ronald Reagan was not challenged in Republican primaries and was re-elected

easily, winning 49 states.  When his Republican successor George H.W. Bush

ran for re-election in 1992, he was challenged in the Republican primaries

by Pat Buchanan.  Pat Buchanan scored a Gene McCarthy-like upset in the New

Hampshire primary by coming in a shockingly strong second to the incumbent

president of the United States.  But even though Pat Buchanan did not win a

single primary, he weakened President Bush`s re-election campaign and his

grip on Republican voters to the point where President Bush lost the White

House to Democratic challenger Bill Clinton. 

 

Democratic President Bill Clinton was not challenged by a Democrat in his

re-election campaign, and his re-election victory over Republican Bob Dole

was never really in doubt. 

 

The next president, George W. Bush, was not challenged in his re-election

campaign by a Republican from within his party, and so was able to hang on

for a narrow win over Democrat John Kerry, in President Bush`s re-election

campaign. 

 

Then came the Obama presidency with President Obama facing no challengers

in his own party during his re-election campaign.  And so, President Obama

went into the general election at full strength and won a solid re-election

victory. 

 

And here we are again tonight with a challenge to an incumbent president

from within his own party.  These challengers have always been history-

makers.  They have always turned the tide of history against the incumbent

president.  So far, they have never been there at the end of the road when

the electoral votes are being counted on that Tuesday night in November,

but the president in their own party who they challenged in the primaries

always ends up on the losing side of the Electoral College. 

 

Donald Trump`s challenger is a lot more credible than the last one we saw,

Pat Buchanan.  He is the former Republican governor of Massachusetts,

William Weld, who served two terms as governor.  Prior to that, he served

as the U.S. attorney in Boston, the top federal prosecutor in Boston. 

 

Like Barack Obama, he is a graduate of Harvard Law School and like

President Kennedy and a few other presidents, he is a graduate of Harvard

College.  Bill Weld is not well-known nationally, but he is already polling

at 8 percent among Republicans.  And I know that sound low to you now, but

it is higher than what Donald Trump was polling at this point on the

campaign calendar four years ago.  At this point in the campaign calendar

four years ago, Bernie Sanders was polling at only 8 percent in the

Democratic primaries. 

 

Current polls show Donald Trump with 54 percent of the Republican primary

vote, with 8 percent definitely voting for Bill Weld and another 20 percent

currently leaning toward Trump, but they could vote for Bill Weld.  Bill

Weld is in a position to knock off Donald Trump.  Maybe not stop him from

getting the nomination, but history shows challengers like Bill Weld have

done damage to presidential nominees that cannot be repaired by Election

Day. 

 

Bill Weld officially launched his presidential campaign yesterday and

released this video yesterday. 

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

AD ANNOUNCER:  Today, we need Bill Weld more than ever, because America

deserves better. 

 

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  He`s a war hero because he

was captured.  I like people that weren`t captured, OK? 

 

Uh, I don`t know what I said.  Uh, I don`t remember. 

 

And Mexico will pay for the wall. 

 

I moved on her like a (EXPLETIVE DELETED)

 

You also had people that were very fine people on both sides. 

 

I love WikiLeaks. 

 

I know nothing about WikiLeaks. 

 

AD ANNOUNCER:  America has a choice.  New Hampshire 2019.  A better America

starts here. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

O`DONNELL:  Joining us now, the newest entry into the presidential

campaign, former Massachusetts Governor William Weld. 

 

Governor Weld, thank you very much for joining us tonight.  Really

appreciate it. 

 

BILL WELD (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  Thank you, Lawrence.  It`s a great

pleasure to be with you, as always. 

 

One point of order.  I actually didn`t compare myself to a fisher cat.  I

compared Donald Trump to a fisher cat via sort of a bleak compliment.  I

said he has a lot of animal cunning, but then I added so does a fisher cat

or a wolverine, which are the two meanest animals in the northeast woods. 

And you wouldn`t exactly invite a fisher cat or wolverine home to dinner

with the kids.  That`s how the animal came up. 

 

But Rachel`s right about the animal.  It`s the animal that Rachel Carson

brought in to eat all the porcupines on the islands in her novel “Silent

Spring”. 

 

O`DONNELL:  All right.  Well, now it`s making a lot more sense.  So you

don`t have an official mascot animal for your campaign yet? 

 

WELD:  No, no, I don`t.  But I`m very serious about this campaign,

Lawrence.  I think a lot of permanent damage is being done to our country

if nothing changes, the arc of the last two years.  If we have six more

years of spending ourselves into bankruptcy without a thought about it and

insulting our allies and eroding our military alliances abroad, and cozying

up to dictators and insulting everyone who is part of our lattice work of

defense, there is no limit to the damage that can be done. 

 

O`DONNELL:  Now, you`re coming to us from New Hampshire tonight.  That is

obviously where you`re going to concentrate, being from the neighboring

state of Massachusetts.  You`ve spent all of your life in the region.  You

know New Hampshire well.  You know it better than Donald Trump. 

 

Is it your strategy to try to land one of those Gene McCarthy or Pat

Buchanan blows in the New Hampshire primary and then see how far you can

get after that? 

 

WELD:  Well, my strategy is to win several of the New England states

outright, one of them, of course, being New Hampshire, and then to go on to

the Mid-Atlantic, New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, then probably

before then, California, Oregon and Washington.  The West is fertile

ground.  The president`s barely welcome in California. 

 

And then parts of the Intermountain West and the Southwest are also good

ground for me, after my run three years ago.  Take it from there.  You

know, the last – the last call will be the Rust Belt States.  You`re

talking about how to get to a majority. 

 

 

And states like Wisconsin, which the president won, and giving him the

victory.  I don`t know, that`s Bob La Follette state.  That`s my kind of

Republican and I think I could play well up there as well.  So we`ll see at

the end of the day. 

 

But right now, we`re on day one of my campaign, and I`m already in second

place.  How many of those 12, 15 Democrats would give their ITs to be in

second place right now? 

 

O`DONNELL:  That`s right. 

 

WELD:  I ask you. 

 

O`DONNELL:  Governor, what is your number one issue – policy issue that

you`re running against Donald Trump with? 

 

WELD:  I think it probably is the spending.  He hasn`t vetoed a dollar in

spending.  As you probably know, Lawrence, I was ranked the number one most

fiscally conservative governor in the United States when I was in office. 

And I think most Republicans think that we deserve an economic conservative

in the White House. 

 

When I took over the state of Massachusetts, the outgoing administration

said that the state was technically bankrupt. 

 

Well, let me tell you something – if we keep running trillion-dollar

deficits, and now with the president`s new budget another $7.9 trillion,

admittedly a ten-year budget, but that would get us up to $30 trillion of

accumulated deficit.  If the Chinese stop buying our bonds, we`d be just as

insolvent as the state would be if it couldn`t borrow to meet its deficit. 

 

So, you know, the federal government has to do what households do, which is

balance their checkbook.  I see no sign that`s ever going to happen with

Donald Trump as president. 

 

O`DONNELL:  Is it fair to say you will be running as the kind of Republican

that you always ran as in Massachusetts? 

 

WELD:  Well, yes, I mean, it`s no secret that I`m more open and tolerant –

very much so on social issues than the president is.  I made room for

everybody.  I reached across the aisle. 

 

My cabinet was eight women and three men.  It always included minorities. 

I reached out not only to the other party, but to Hispanics, South Asian,

East Asian, African-Americans, Caribbean Americans, everybody felt

included. 

 

And that`s why we got 71 percent of the vote on my re-elect, having gotten

only 50.1 percent coming in. 

 

O`DONNELL:  And, you know, I remember you something of a showman as

governor.  I retain in my visual memory only one image of your entire time

as governor, and we`re going to roll the video of it as we speak.  You`ll

remember it. 

 

 

You were signing a bill that was about water cleanup and you dove into the

Charles River to show your commitment to cleaning polluted water in the

area.  And we all saw that brown water splash up around your dive. 

 

So, you`re someone who is as willing as Donald Trump to embrace the

showmanship of campaigning. 

 

WELD:  Oh, I am a showman, and the other man in that picture when I dove in

was Bob Durand, who was secretary of environmental affairs.  He came up to

an event I had at the airport diner on Brown Avenue in Manchester today

just to show his solidarity with the campaign.  He and I have been hunting

and fishing buddies in New Hampshire, among other places, for a long time. 

But that`s the kind of friend you`d like to have. 

 

O`DONNELL:  Governor Weld, we`re just getting started on this conversation. 

When you come back, I want you to tell us if you think that Canada is a

national security threat.  And we have to have tariffs against Canada

imposed by the president of the United States.  And all sorts of other

issues I know you want to talk about. 

 

But as your campaign was launched, I just wanted to note its historical

significance in our recent history of challenges within a party of an

incumbent president.  So, we wanted to get you on as quickly as we could. 

We`ve got other business we have to get to in this hour. 

 

Governor Bill Weld, thank you for joining us tonight.  Really appreciate

it. 

 

WELD:  Thanks so much, Lawrence. 

 

O`DONNELL:  And when we come back, two members of Congress will join us on

the news of House committee subpoenas of bank records, probably involving -

- possibly involving President Trump. 

 

And Trump staffers are reportedly very worried about what the redacted

Mueller report will tell their boss about them. 

 

And at the end of this hour, Trump`s lost lie – the lie that “The New York

Times” once again forgot to include in its list of lies today that

President Trump has told about 9/11.  We cannot let this become Trump`s

lost lie.  It is his worst, ugliest lie about 9/11 and possibly the ugliest

lie he has ever told.  That`s at the end of this hour.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

O`DONNELL:  In a moment, we`ll be joined by two members of the House of

Representatives to discuss subpoenas that two House committees have been

issuing to financial institutions. 

 

The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Chairman Adam Schiff,

released this statement today about those subpoenas: As part of our

oversight authority and authorized investigation into allegations of

potential foreign influence in the U.S. political process, the House

Intelligence Committee today issued subpoenas to multiple financial

institutions in coordination with the House Financial Services Committee,

including a friendly subpoena to Deutsche Bank, which has been cooperative

with the committees.  We look forward to their continued cooperation and

compliance.

 

To try to translate that, joining us now is a member of the Foreign Affairs

Committee, Democratic Congressman Tom Malinowski from New Jersey.  We`re

also joined by a member of the House Intelligence Committee and the House

Oversight Committee, Democratic Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi from

Illinois. 

 

Congressman Krishnamoorthi, what do you know about these subpoenas and what

can we know about them that doesn`t violate your pledge of confidentiality

of anything classified? 

 

REP. RAJA KRISHNAMOORTHI (D-IL):  Sure.  Lawrence, thanks for having me on. 

 

I can`t comment on the specifics of the subpoenas, except I can mention

three facts which are publicly known.  One is that Deutsche Bank has lent

Donald Trump $2 billion over the last couple of decades, despite the fact

that, of course, Donald Trump has suffered numerous bankruptcies. 

 

Point number two is that Deutsche Bank is a bad actor in the money

laundering space.  They were fined $500 million by both U.K. and American

regulators for laundering money from Russia to other entities. 

 

And then the third and final point is that even today, the Trump

Organization owes $340 million to Deutsche Bank.  So, you know, it`s a

logical next step to try to figure out what is actually going on between

the president and his affiliates and Russian or Eastern European entities

that might be trying to launder money. 

 

O`DONNELL:  And what is the phrase “friendly subpoena” mean in this case? 

 

KRISHNAMOORTHI:  As Chairman Schiff pointed out, they are – Deutsche Bank

is cooperating with the committee right now, but they would not be able to

produce this type of information absent a subpoena.  In other words, absent

some kind of compulsory process. 

 

O`DONNELL:  Congressman Malinowski, you`re a veteran of the Obama State

Department.  Here you are a freshman Democrat now, who has always had a

foreign policy focus. 

 

Even before these Trump scandals, international banking, international

money laundering issues were always a matter of concern for the American

government.  What makes – what do you see in it here that is unique? 

 

REP. TOM MALINOWSKI (D-NJ):  So, this is – this is not just about Trump,

it`s about the fact that for years, Russian oligarchs have been looting

that country, billions and billions of dollars stolen and then laundered

through Western banks like Deutsche Bank, laundered through real estate in

Europe and the United States, shell companies. 

 

And this is about protecting our financial system, protecting our democracy

against that money.  Fifty-two percent of all the wealth of Russia is

outside of Russia.  And what we learned in 2016 is that it`s not just

sitting around, they`re doing something with it.  They`re influencing our

politics. 

 

Now, where the administration comes in is like this.  I think it`s really

interesting that when somebody is trying to go after Russian money

laundering, the president`s kids and lawyers seem to think it`s about them

automatically, and that`s a little bit bizarre.  And any normal –

 

O`DONNELL:  Eric Trump came out and immediately objected to this.  And your

response to that? 

 

MALINOWSKI:  Any normal administration would be working with us to protect

our financial system against foreign money laundering and dirty money. 

This is not a – been a partisan issue.  Republicans and Democrats feel

equally strongly about it. 

 

And so, I was kind of stunned that their first reaction was to, well, act

as if it`s all about them, when actually it`s about something much bigger,

protecting this country against that kind of influence. 

 

O`DONNELL:  Yes, Congressman Krishnamoorthi, to Congressman Malinowski`s

point, there is nothing really in the announcement of these subpoenas that

specifically says it`s going after anything Trump, and so it is odd for

Eric Trump and others to immediately jump out and say they object to this. 

 

KRISHNAMOORTHI:  It`s odd but not surprising.  I think right now – I think

Chairman Schiff is doing the right thing and following the rubles, quite

frankly.  We need to know why is it that all this money ended up going to

Donald Trump from Deutsche Bank, $2 billion, and whether any of it was

illicit money from Russia or Eastern Europe. 

 

Ultimately, Lawrence, this is about counterintelligence.  Regardless of

whether the ties between President Trump and his affiliates and Russians or

others amount to criminal conspiracy, they might still be the type of

information that the Russians could use as a source of leverage or

manipulation of the president or his affiliates, and that would endanger

national security.  So that goes to our counterintelligence mission as a

committee. 

 

O`DONNELL:  Now, this might be the first time I`ve ever read a tweet from

Eric Trump, and could easily be the last.  But it is so strange that, as

Congressman Krishnamoorthi mentions it –

 

MALINOWSKI:  Is it all caps? 

 

O`DONNELL:  It says: This subpoena is an unprecedented abuse of power and

simply the latest attempt by House Democrats to attack the president and

our family for political gain.

 

And, Congressman Malinowski, he doesn`t even know what`s in these

subpoenas. 

 

MALINOWSKI:  Well, maybe he knows something that we don`t know. 

 

O`DONNELL:  Right. 

 

MALINOWSKI:  But the point is, Trump or no Trump, this is about protecting

the country.  And we`re legislating on this. 

 

We`re looking at legislation to make it harder to set up these anonymous

shell companies, through which anybody can open up a company, you know. 

It`s easier to open up a company in Delaware than it is to get a library

card in many states.  You need less identification. 

 

We need to deal with real estate.  The fact that the Patriot Act requires

banks to do due diligence when suspicious cash transactions come through,

but it exempted real estate, and so, dictators, criminals, drug lords move

money through our system by buying real estate. 

 

O`DONNELL:  That`s a gigantic hole. 

 

MALINOWSKI:  It`s huge. 

 

O`DONNELL:  Yes.

 

MALINOWSKI:  And so we`ve got to legislate.  And to legislate, we`ve got to

know the extent of the problem.  And under normal circumstances, the White

House would be working with us to protect the country.  So, why is their

first reaction, oh, my gosh, this is directed us?  Interesting.

 

O`DONNELL:  The subpoenas might have that answer when you get the material.

 

Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi and Congressman Tom Malinowski, thank you

both for joining us. 

 

And when we come back, NBC News is reporting that some White House staffers

are now very worried about what the president will discover in the Mueller

report about them, meaning what they said about him. 

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST:  There is, quote, breakdown level anxiety,

end quote, among some current and former Trump White House officials over

the release of the Mueller report.  A redacted version of the report is

expected to be released on Thursday, and according to NBC News, Trump staff

who speak with Mueller`s team now fear retribution from the president. 

 

NBC News is reporting, quote: Some of the more than one dozen current and

former White House officials who cooperated with the special counsel Robert

Mueller are worried that the version of his report expected to be made

public on Thursday will expose them as the source of damaging information

about President Donald Trump, according to multiple witnesses in the

investigation.

 

Some officials and their lawyers have apparently sought clarity from the

Justice Department about redactions and whether Robert Mueller`s team will

redact the names of those who cooperated with the investigation.  These

officials tell NBC News that the Justice Department has refused to

elaborate.  Quote: They got asked questions and told the truth, and now

they`re worried the wrath will follow, one former White House official

said.

 

NBC News reports that the officials who are worried are those who said

negative things about Donald Trump.  The same former White House official

told NBC News, quote: Even if names are redacted or names aren`t in the

report to begin with, it could be situations people were asked about and

they answered truthfully that at least for some people, specifically the

president, would be identifiable because the situation applies to just one

person.

 

Attorney General William Barr stated in his four-page memo last month that

the special prosecutor`s team interviewed approximately 500 witnesses

throughout the investigation.  NBC News is reporting that President Trump`s

legal team met again today to prepare for the report`s release, and the

White House staff will do the same over the next two days, which is

peculiar because they don`t have the Mueller report yet, right? 

 

Trump personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani told “Politico” that the president`s,

quote, counter-report, as he`s calling it, has been edited already, and is,

quote, now at 34 or 35 pages.

 

Rudy Giuliani did not explain how the Trump team was able to write a

counter-report to a report they supposedly have not read.  Or have they? 

 

After this break, we`ll be joined by a presidential historian who says that

the Founding Fathers would have impeached Donald Trump already without ever

needing to see a single word of the Mueller report. 

 

We`ll also be joined by Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Eugene Robinson. 

He will join us.  He`ll tell us what he will be looking for on Thursday

when he finally gets to read the William Barr redacted version of the

Mueller report. 

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

O`DONNELL:  Presidential historian Jeffrey Ingle writes in “The Washington

Post,” quote: The Constitution`s authors wouldn`t have needed any summary

of the special counsel`s report to know it was time to impeach the

president.

 

Joining our discussion now are Jeffrey Engel, director of Southern

Methodist University`s Center for Presidential History and co-author of

“Impeachment: An American History”.

 

Also with us, Eugene Robinson, associate editor of “The Washington Post”

and a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist.  He is an MSNBC political analyst

and he is eerily awaiting his chance at the redacted Mueller report on

Thursday. 

 

Jeffrey Engel, let me start with you and your piece in “The Washington

Post” was so striking because you made the point about what the Founding

Fathers had in mind by writing the impeachment clause in the first place,

and they would have been, in your view, eager – or certainly ready to use

it against Donald Trump or anyone who behaved like Donald Trump. 

 

JEFFREY ENGEL, PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN:  Yes.  And to be clear, I think they

would have been very disappointed to have to use it. 

 

O`DONNELL:  Yes. 

 

ENGEL:  But, we have to remember how they developed the Office of the

Presidency as a Constitutional Convention in 1787 was really with George

Washington in mind.  It was expected he was going to be the first

president. 

 

We have to remember why that was.  It wasn`t really he was the best

politician or the smartest or to be honest a particularly amazing general,

it was because everybody could trust him.  They trusted that he was willing

to sacrifice his own needs, sacrifice whatever was needed for the good of

the country. 

 

And any president, they argued, who was unable to put the country first, to

put America first and instead sought their own interests was a president

who they thought was dangerous.  This actually underlies how they

understood their concept of high crimes and misdemeanors.  A high crime

doesn`t have to be a crime at all, what it really is an assault or a

difficult – difficult assault against the Constitution itself and the

American people. 

 

O`DONNELL:  Yes.  You quote some of the framers talking about it should be

used against anyone who has practiced corruption to win an election, for

example.  And here you have a president of the United States who stands

accused by federal prosecutors as an unindicted co-conspirator in a scheme

to pay off women to keep their silence in the last weeks of the campaign,

so that he could be elected president.  That strikes me as something that

the Founding Fathers would have found worthy of impeachment, according to

your research. 

 

ENGEL:  Yes, it`s actually quite amazing.  You know, the idea of

impeachment came up relatively early in the Constitutional Convention.  For

the most part delegates agreed that is something that would be necessary. 

But then the tricky question was, well, how do you know a president should

be impeached?  When do you know a high crime has occurred? 

 

And the delegates went through a whole litany of possible reasons a

president might want to be removed.  For example, someone who had lied in

order to gain office, someone who perhaps was willing to use his pardon

powers in order to release people who had broken the law under his

instructions from any kind of criminal activity, and essentially, any

president who was doing something that was not clearly what was in the best

interest of the people. 

 

And to be clear, they understood that some presidents would be quite

terrible.  They had a term for it.  They called it maladministration.  Any

president who was just an awful president was not one they thought should

be impeached.  It had to be somebody who went a step further and was doing

thing that actively hurt the nation out of their own self-interest. 

 

O`DONNELL:  Gene Robinson, the Democrats, especially as framed by Speaker

Pelosi, have always said impeachment or consideration of impeachment has to

wait until after the Mueller report.  After the Mueller report is probably

going to be some time around noon time on Thursday. 

 

EUGENE ROBINSON, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  Yes. 

 

O`DONNELL:  And so, we could be in a very different impeachment discussion

next week.  We don`t know what`s coming.  But on Thursday, we`re all going

to be hunkered down, I`m sure you are, devouring the Mueller report. 

 

What will you go to first?  What is the – what is the William Barr letter

left you wanting to know about first? 

 

ROBINSON:  Well, the first thing I`ll do is – is look through to see what

is the context of that one quote that the Barr report lifts from the

Mueller report about, you know, from – did not find evidence of a

conspiracy between the Russians and the – and the Trump campaigns –

campaign essentially.  And it`s just that one little sentence. 

 

So, the first thing I`ll do is try – is try to find that sentence and find

what is the context.  Is it – is that the sentence that the – at the end

of a long recounting of reasons to believe that shenanigans might have gone

on but we can`t quite prove it?  Or is it just a flat-out exoneration, as

the – at the president claims, which I kind of doubt.  But that`s the

first thing I`ll do. 

 

The second thing I`ll do is read deeply into what I expect to be a long

section on obstruction of justice.  Robert Mueller didn`t attempt to rule

whether the president – whether or not the president obstructed justice. 

William Barr made that decision for him, for the country, I guess, and

ultimately for Donald Trump. 

 

So I want to know what the balance of – the preponderance of the evidence

says about that question, and I`m pretty sure it`s going to say he

obstructed justice since he did it in plain sight and we followed just

about every step of it or a whole lot of steps of it. 

 

O`DONNELL:  Yes, Gene, I think we`re going to find a lot of evidence for

everything that the special prosecutor was investigating.  The Barr letter

used the word “established,” and the quotes from Mueller used the word

“established” instead of the word “proved.”  And I think if they had used

the word “proved,” it would have been a lot clearer to people. 

 

When they said that the investigation did not establish that there was

collusion, what they mean there legally is they didn`t get it to a level

where they could prove a criminal conspiracy in court about collusion, same

thing with obstruction of justice.  So it may well be that there is a large

menu of evidence for us all to stare at about all of these things. 

 

ROBINSON:  Yes, that`s true.  And on obstruction in particular, remember,

Mueller didn`t even try to make that decision, as we understand it from the

Barr report.  He said – he apparently did not consider it his role to –

to make that call, so – so Barr made it and now we get to make it, one

hopes, if the report is not entirely redacted. 

 

O`DONNELL:  Eugene Robinson and Jeffrey Engel, thank you both for joining

us tonight.  Appreciate it. 

 

And when we come back, Donald Trump`s worst lie about 9/11 is the one that

keeps getting lost in reports about his lies about 9/11, like today`s

report in “The New York Times.”  And it`s not just his worst lie about

9/11, it is the most perverse lie Donald Trump has ever told. 

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

O`DONNELL:  Today, “The New York Times” wrote a major story about Donald

Trump`s lies titled “Trump`s History of Using 9/11 for Political Attacks”. 

It contained all of the greatest hits of Trump lies about 9/11 that

everyone remembers. 

 

But as usual, it left out the most egregious lie that Donald Trump has told

about 9/11, and he told it twice, both times on TV.  But the torrent of

Trump lies was coming so fast and furiously at the time that just about

everyone missed it and “The New York Times” missed it today in what was

supposed to be a exhaustive survey of Donald Trump`s lies about 9/11 and

his use of 9/11 for political attack. 

 

And so, the newspaper of record, the newspaper historians relies on

continues to have a big hole in the record of Trump lies.  It`s Trump`s

lost lie. 

 

Readers of “The New York Times” know-nothing about it but regular viewers

of this program do.  We will show you Trump`s lost lie once again after

this break. 

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

O`DONNELL:  As usual today, “The New York Times” left out the big one from

its exhaustive multiyear survey of Trump`s history of using 9/11 for

political attacks.  And I say “as usual” because “The New York Times” has

never mentioned the big lie Donald Trump told about 9/11 in the South

Carolina Republican presidential primary debate while attacking Jeb Bush

and the Bush family, and every other Republican on that stage with him that

night. 

 

The big lie that “The New York Times” left out of its story today is one I

have shown you and talked about on this program four times in the last

three years since the day Donald Trump said it in February of 2016 in South

Carolina.  That means millions and millions of people have heard me talk

about it, have seen it on this program but it still hasn`t found it`s way

into the “The New York Times” official record of Trump`s worst lies about

9/11. 

 

And that means the lost Trump lie is not just lost to “The New York Times,”

it might end up being lost to history because historians rely on “The New

York Times” so much.  The fact that almost the entire American news media

never noticed this lie during the presidential campaign is one of the

proofs of the American news media`s failure in the coverage of the last

presidential campaign. 

 

Prior to Donald Trump, it is inconceivable that a politician could tell a

lie like this and not have it end the candidate`s campaign.  It is as vile

a lie as Donald Trump has ever told, and even Donald Trump knows how bad a

lie this is because he stopped telling it. 

 

He told it twice.  Once at the debate and the next morning on TV, and I

called him on it both times as soon as he said it, and he never said it

again, because even Donald Trump knows just how sacrilegious this lie is. 

 

Here`s the way he said it the first time. 

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

DONALD TRUMP (R), THEN-PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  How did he keep us safe

when the World Trade Center – the World – excuse me, I lost hundreds of

friends.  The World Trade Center came down during the raid.  He kept us

safe.  That`s not safe. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

O`DONNELL:  I lost hundreds of friends. 

 

The next morning, he didn`t lose hundreds of friends on 9/11.  He had time

to read my tweet overnight saying: Of course, Donald Trump lie said about

how many friends he lost on 9/11, hundreds of friends.  Proving there`s

nothing he won`t lie about. 

 

Donald Trump was actively responding to my tweets in those days and

attacking me and threatening me on Twitter and threatening to see me on

Twitter, and so, it`s very likely he saw that tweet.  And so the next

morning, hundreds of friends became many friends. 

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

TRUMP:  How did he keep us safe when the world trade center during his time

in office came down?  I was there.  I lost, many, many friends in that

tragedy. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

O`DONNELL:  Many, many friends.  I immediately tweeted Donald Trump was

lying again and Donald Trump never said that again.  He never said he lost

a friend on 9/11 again, not one. 

 

Now, full disclosure, I didn`t not fact check how many friends Donald Trump

lost on 9/11 before tweeting he was lying about that.  I just knew he was

lying because I`d been watching Donald Trump long enough to know how he

operates, the guy who tells you everything who was his uncle who is a

professor at MIT is not going to leave out a friend of his so he can name

who died on 9/11. 

 

And I knew that Donald Trump have never mentioned losing friends on 9/11

before.  You just had to be able to think about Donald Trump to know that

he was lying about that. 

 

Michael Daly did the homework and fact checking for “The Daily Beast”. 

Michael Daly did not find any proof that Donald Trump attended a single

9/11 funeral, not one.  Donald Trump did not lose a single friend on 9/11. 

Donald Trump didn`t go to a single 9/11 funeral, and he told that lie to

gain political advantage on a debate stage in South Carolina where he was

the only one from New York City, and no one there was smart enough to know

he was lying. 

 

And because this instantly became Trump`s lost lie, he got away with it. 

And what he got away with was stealing the grief of the 9/11 families,

stealing the grief of the thousands of people who lost fathers and brothers

and sisters and grandmothers and dear friends on 9/11.  Donald Trump stole

their grief and wrapped himself in it on a debate stage. 

 

He used it as a weapon on a debate stage to score points against ignorant

Republican presidential candidates who didn`t know he was lying.  He stole

other people`s grief, 9/11 grief.  And the campaign news media let him get

away with it as they let him get away with so much. 

 

And he got away with it again today when “The New York Times” once again

failed in its coverage of Donald Trump by leaving out the sickest, most

perverse lie that Donald Trump has ever told.  The man who doesn`t have

hundreds of friends, who might not even have any real friends at all, lied

about losing hundreds of friends on 9/11 and got away with it. 

 

The news media isn`t up to this job keeping up with the lies of Donald

Trump, so you`re going to have to hold onto this one yourself if you don`t

want it to be Trump`s lost lie. 

 

When your children and grandchildren ask you what is the worst lie that

Donald Trump told, you can send them to “The New York Times” archives, but

you might also want to have your personal list, the list that includes the

time the man who apparently has no idea what human suffering is stole all

of the suffering of 9/11 for himself.  He became a thief of grief. 

 

We owe it to history to not let that remain Trump`s lost lie. 

 

That`s tonight`s LAST WORD.

 

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

 

END   

 

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