Former Head of FBI Counter-Intel division. TRANSCRIPT: 4/23/19, The Last Word w/ Lawrence O’Donnell.

Guests:
Eric Swalwell, Jennifer Palmieri
Transcript:

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

 

Remember when they used to do the ethics investigations of cabinet members

before they were appointed and maybe not appoint them when they found stuff

that was a problem? 

 

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST, “TRMS”:  Yes, remember when you`d vet people

before you appoint them to a thing and if there were big outstanding

problems that were really glaring, they`d have their nomination either not

happened or get withdrawn, and if it went so far as to make it to the

confirmation hearings, then people would vote against them despite their

party.  Yes, those were the good old days. 

 

O`DONNELL:  Those were the good old days.  And there were responsible and

ethical Republicans in those good old days who would, like Democrats, stand

up against nominees that a president of their own party might offer if they

found grounds like this, especially if they ever found anything like this. 

 

MADDOW:  And they would have expectations that the White House would have

vetted people for those types of problems before they`d get there.  So, if

they were poised to vote against or consider – or tell the White House to

withdraw the nomination, it would be sort of more in sorrow than in anger

like, oh, you guys screwed this up.  Let me help you out of this

embarrassment.  Obviously, somebody with these problems can`t be running a

department. 

 

Now, there is just no interruption in that process at all, except for the

people in the swamp masks sitting behind the nominee in the hearings. 

 

O`DONNELL:  You know what`s happening, Rachel, the high school kids are

saying, what are they talking about?  What good old days are they talking

about? 

 

MADDOW:  Yes, that`s why we write books. 

 

O`DONNELL:  Yes.  Thank you, Rachel. 

 

MADDOW:  Thanks, Lawrence. 

 

O`DONNELL:  Well, if you`re a high school student in America, you have

never seen a Republican in Congress take a principled stand against a

Republican president.  It wasn`t always this way.  Principled Republicans

stood up against Richard Nixon. 

 

Bill Weld was one of those principled Republicans.  He was a young lawyer

working on a congressional committee with another young lawyer named

Hillary Clinton.  When Bill Weld later went to work in the Reagan Justice

Department, he took a principled stand against the Republican Attorney

General Ed Meese and Bill Weld resigned in protest, which then forced the

Republican attorney general to resign. 

 

Bill Weld went on to serve two terms as a Republican governor of

Massachusetts.  He is now the only Republican running against Donald Trump

for president.  He will join us tonight on a night when the president is

trying to turn back the presidential clock to the Nixon presidency and

stonewall the Congress. 

 

And at the end of the hour tonight, we have a special guest joining us who

has not been with us before.  He will respond to Jared Kushner`s statement

today that the Russian attack on our election that helped Donald Trump win

the Electoral College was nothing more than a couple of Facebook ads. 

 

We`ll be joined by Robert Anderson, who will be making his first appearance

on this program.  He`s a former assistant director of the FBI`s

counterintelligence division.  He will expose the lies that Jared Kushner

told today about the Russian attack that is proved beyond a reasonable

doubt in the Mueller report.  You will want to hear what he has to say

about all of that. 

 

On a day when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi once again publicly tried to steer

the House of Representatives away from impeachment, the president ended the

day with an historic decision that may now be speeding him toward

impeachment.  The president announced in an interview tonight with “The

Washington Post” that he will try to block any of his current or former

staff from testifying to any congressional committees about the contents of

the Mueller report or any other form of investigation of the president. 

Donald Trump is trying to turn the presidential clock back to the early

spring of 1973 when President Richard Nixon found it inconceivable that his

staff would testify to the special Senate committee investigating the

Watergate scandal. 

 

When the Watergate committee first considered calling White House counsel

John Dean as a witness in the investigation of President Nixon, the

president said that that was impossible because of executive privilege. 

President Nixon said, well, because it is executive privilege, I mean, you

can`t – I, of course, no president could ever agree to allow the counsel

to the president to go down and testify before a committee.

 

But because of pressure from Democratic and very importantly, principled

Republican members of the committee, President Nixon eventually surrendered

to that pressure on May 22nd, 1973.  Christopher Leiden reported in “The

New York Times” on a new written statement that day by President Nixon

offering his surrender on executive privilege. 

 

A single sentence near the end of his long statement today marked the

decline of the controversial doctrine in Mr. Nixon`s recent interpretations

of it.  Executive privilege, the president declared, will not be invoked as

to any testimony concerning possible criminal conduct or discussions of

possible criminal conduct in the matters presently under investigation,

including the Watergate affair and the alleged cover-up.  Hillary Clinton,

who went to work as a staff member of one of the committees investigating

President Nixon, remembered – remembered that this way today.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

HILLARY CLINTON (D), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  The witnesses in 1974

were – and `73 and `74 were predominately administration witnesses.  They

were John Dean, who happened to be White House counsel.  So, it`s fully

appropriate for this Congress to call Don McGahn, who happens to be – or

happened to be White House counsel. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

O`DONNELL:  Don McGahn was subpoenaed by the House Judiciary Committee

yesterday, and that will apparently be the first witness subpoena that the

Trump White House will fight in the House Judiciary Committee`s hearings

about the Mueller report. 

 

In an interview with “The Washington Post” tonight, President Trump said,

quote: There is no reason to go any further, and especially in Congress

where it`s very partisan.  Obviously very partisan.

 

Richard Ben-Veniste, a former Watergate prosecutor, told “The Washington

Post”: It seems to me executive privilege was waived when McGahn was

permitted to give testimony and be interviewed by special counsel Mueller. 

I don`t see how the White House can assert executive privilege with

something that has already been revealed.

 

Jerry Nadler, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, issued a

statement saying this: As such, the moment for the White House to assert

some privilege to prevent this testimony from being heard has long since

passed. 

 

A source close to former White House counsel Don McGahn told “The

Washington Post” this: He`s not eager to testify.  He`s not reluctant.  He

got a subpoena.  It compels him to testify, but there are some

countervailing legal reasons that might prevent that, said one person close

to McGahn, who spoke on a condition of anonymity to describe private

discussions.  He doesn`t want to be in contempt of Congress, nor does he

want to be in contempt of his ethical obligations and legal obligation as a

former White House official.

 

Also tonight, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin delivered a written

response to the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, Richard

Neal, about Chairman Neal`s demand that the Internal Revenue Service

deliver six years of Donald Trump`s tax returns to him.  The law very

clearly and specifically allows the chairman of the tax-writing committees

in the House and the Senate to see any tax returns they choose to see. 

 

The law puts no limitation on their rights to examine tax returns.  This

law has never been challenged or defied by the IRS or the Treasury

Department in its nearly 100-year history.  Secretary Mnuchin said that the

administration is still reviewing the demand for the tax returns and that

the Justice Department is now researching the legal issues involved, but

that they will have a final official response to Chairman Neal on May 6th. 

 

Leading off our discussion tonight is a member of the House Judiciary

Committee, Democratic Congressman Eric Swalwell of California.  He is also

a candidate for president in the Democratic primaries. 

 

Also joining our discussion, John Heilemann, national affairs analyst for

NBC News and MSNBC.  He is co-host and executive producer of Showtime`s

“The Circus”.  

 

And Jennifer Palmieri, former White House communications director for

President Obama and former communications director for Hillary Clinton`s

2016 presidential campaign is also joining us tonight. 

 

Great to have you all here. 

 

And, Congressman Swalwell, I want to start with you.  I`ve had a member of

the judiciary committee, at least one, on every night since the Mueller

report came out because it seemed so obvious as soon as we had it in our

hands that Robert Mueller was basically delivering this to you on the

Judiciary Committee as special prosecutors have in the past.  He clearly

has passages in there where he contemplates impeachment, contemplates your

committee considering impeachment.

 

And here we are tonight with the president of the United States saying in

effect, there will be absolutely no cooperation with any subpoena you send

involving any aspect of the Mueller report. 

 

REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D-CA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  We have a lawless

president right now.  The law and order doesn`t mean anything to him and

he`s banking on the American people not caring.  They care.  That`s why

they gave us the majority back in November, was to end, you know, these

abuses of power, put a balance of power on them. 

 

So to people like Don McGahn and the individual today who ignored our

subpoena who oversees security clearances and others who may be subpoenaed,

I tell them, why don`t you obey the Constitution and just come in and

testify and disobey a lawless president?  That`s doing the right thing. 

 

I don`t give Don McGahn points for telling the truth under oath.  I mean,

is that the standard now?  I would give him points if he disobeyed the

president and those countervailing legal principles or whatever he wants to

call it and come before Congress and lay out the number of times the

president disobeyed the law. 

 

We`re going to hear all of this eventually.  We`re on a road to

impeachment.  It`s not a road that any of us asked for.  I think the first

weigh point is going to be to hear from crucial witnesses starting with Bob

Mueller. 

 

O`DONNELL:  Nancy Pelosi clearly didn`t think you were on a road to

impeachment earlier this afternoon.  This is before Donald Trump made this

move tonight.  What Donald Trump has done tonight changes whatever Speaker

Pelosi might have to say about this tomorrow.  This is one of those things

where you can`t be in control of what happens next here because of this

president. 

 

SWALWELL:   Again, it`s something none of us have asked for, and the way I

look at it, look, there are a number of different ways to protect against

an abusive president.  First, the voters.  If the voters elect someone and

they`re abusing the law, then you have the checks and balances.  The voters

gave that. 

 

We`re exhausting the remedies.  We`re trying oversight.  We`re trying the

power of the purse. 

 

He shut down the government.  He`s refusing to use subpoena – to honor

subpoenas.  So where does that leave us? 

 

The only other remedy is to impeach him and suggest removal to the Senate. 

That`s where he`s taking us right now, not by choice, but just by the way

he`s acting. 

 

Lawrence, I have a 2-year-old.  I count to three and take away the toys

when he misbehaves.  I know if I don`t do that, he`s going to get worse. 

 

We have an awful kid in the White House.  If we don`t count to three and

start holding him accountable, it`s just going to get worse. 

 

O`DONNELL:  Jennifer Palmieri, you worked in the White House, you worked on

a presidential campaign, was victimized and attacked by the Russians,

successfully attacked by the Russians in support of the other candidate. 

Your reaction to what you`re hearing tonight from a president saying there

will be absolutely no cooperation with any of the subpoenas being issued by

the Judiciary Committee.  The president doesn`t want any of the witnesses

to show up. 

 

JENNIFER PALMIERI, FORMER WHITE HOUSE COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR:  The thing

that surprised me about the president`s – the interview that he did with

“The Washington Post,” he did with Bob Costa, is that he felt the need to

justify why he wasn`t going to allow anyone to show up.  You know, normally

– and that suggests to me they might be a little unnerved in the White

House. 

 

Normally, he would just say Russian hoax, it`s a witch hunt, I`m not going

to cooperate.  But he felt the need to say, we already did cooperate, I had

these people already speak to Mueller.  They don`t need to go to Congress,

too. 

 

And if you look at the scale of the people who are being called up to

Congress, it`s a lot of people that are not necessarily under his control

anymore, right?  Don McGahn, you see Mnuchin wrestling with whether or not

he`s going to give his taxes.  I thought it was interesting Mnuchin didn`t

just shut that down but said I`m going to come back to you in a couple of

weeks with an answer. 

 

You have Kline, Mr. Kline, who was the individual that used to approve the

security clearances.  He`s refused to show up.  But there are a lot of pots

involving the president`s legal standing that are starting to boil over and

it suggests to me the way the president`s handling it that he`s feeling a

little unnerved, as he should. 

 

O`DONNELL:  John, is this a run out the clock strategy?  Is this they want

my tax returns, the law clearly allows them to have my tax returns, let`s

come up with some kind of legal reply that says we`re not giving you the

tax returns, which then forces Chairman Neal into court, which takes, we

don`t know, a year, a year and a half, takes us up to the next presidential

election. 

 

Is that what he`s doing with the Judiciary Committee?  No witnesses, fight

through every subpoena in court all the way to the Supreme Court to get

each witness that you want so that he can run out the clock in a

presidential campaign? 

 

JOHN HEILEMANN, MSNBC NATIONAL AFFAIRS ANALYST:  I think it`s sort of cute

and quaint to suggest that there is a strategy in play here, Lawrence. 

 

O`DONNELL:  As opposed to chaos, you mean? 

 

HEILEMANN:  Well, as opposed to just panic and fear over more disclosure,

what will happen if more of the truth comes out.  I think the strategy –

that may be what they think they`re doing.  What it seems to me is actually

the net effect of this as a political matter is they are inviting

impeachment.  They are begging for impeachment.  They are making

impeachment much more likely. 

 

Your point a second ago, Nancy Pelosi and house leadership did not want to

pursue impeachment.  To a large extent, the large parts of Congressman

Swalwell`s caucus still doesn`t want to pursue impeachment, but the

president by pushing – by not just having obstructed justice already on

the plain meaning of what obstruction is as laid out in the Mueller report,

he`s still obstructing justice by trying to say, no, because Congress is

partisan, which is what he says to Costa.  He says they`re partisan, so I

can`t cooperate with them. 

 

By defying the subpoenas, by provoking this constitutional clash, by doing

the things he`s doing, he is making it impossible for Democrats not to

impeach him, whereas if he had played this smart over the course of the

last few days, he was aligned with Nancy Pelosi.  Neither wanted

impeachment.  Now he`s making it more likely with every move that he`s

making. 

 

O`DONNELL:  What about that, Congressman?  Is the president`s decision

tonight forcing – in effect forcing your committee to consider impeachment

in a quicker timetable than you might have? 

 

SWALWELL:  I think it shows a complete disrespect for the law, and that

he`s not going to follow the law and we`re going to have to enforce it. 

We`re going to have to hold in contempt the people who refuse to come

forward.  I don`t think, you know, people want that for their reputation. 

They should just do the right thing and come forward. 

 

And again, take a step back.  If this were just about Russia and the lies

he told to cover up Russia, maybe you can say, well, naive campaign, didn`t

understand what they were getting into, he was trying to protect himself. 

I don`t buy that, maybe you can say that. 

 

We`ve got the emoluments clause still outstanding.  That`s going to court. 

We`ve got him telling the commissioner for border patrol, hey, violate the

law and I`ll pardon you if you get in trouble.  There are so many

outstanding issues that we just have to do something.  Doing nothing is not

an option with this guy. 

 

O`DONNELL:  Jennifer Palmieri, Jerry Nadler has some subpoenas he wants

respected by both the witnesses and the courts.  Might he decide that in

order to add weight to these subpoenas in court and any court fight over

them, he simply changes the title of what the hearing was going to be to an

impeachment inquiry?

 

PALMIERI:  That`s a – I guess that`s an option that`s available to him.  I

think that everybody`s right that this is – that Trump`s poured accelerant

on the fire and that that could lead to impeachment, but I still think we

have a – you know, we have courts to weigh in.  You`ve got a long way to

go before you`re actually at that point, and I don`t know that it needs to

be at odds with what Speaker Pelosi has said. 

 

I think, you know, what she said is we have to – Congress has to uphold

its constitutional responsibility.  It`s got to hold the president

accountable.  It`s got to, you know, it has to pick at the Mueller report

and hold hearings on it and follow that where it leads. 

 

It just may lead to this – an impeachment outcome, you know, a little

sooner than it could have if, you know, as John points out, Trump was

smarter about it. 

 

O`DONNELL:  Jennifer, I have to ask you as a veteran of a presidential

campaign. 

 

PALMIERI:  Yes. 

 

O`DONNELL:  We see the presidential candidates responding to the

impeachment question differently.  Elizabeth Warren was out there right

away after reading the Mueller report saying, yes, you have to go to it. 

It`s a matter of principle.  You don`t have a choice.  There is a variety

of responses we now have.

 

What would you advise a presidential candidate if you were working on a

presidential campaign now on the Democratic side to handle the question of

impeachment? 

 

PALMIERI:  I think that`s a very – it`s such a serious matter that I think

how everyone should handle it is to say that Congress needs to follow its

constitutional responsibilities and, you know, pick up the Mueller report,

hold hearings on it and follow that path wherever it legitimately leads,

putting aside any political concerns and partisan concerns. 

 

And if that leads you to impeachment, then so be it.  If it leads you to

suggest that that`s not in order, then so be it, but it is – you know, we

have a president that doesn`t abide by rules of the Constitution and it`s

really important that Congress in this moment, whether it`s politically

popular or politically expedient or not, do that, and that`s how I think

presidential candidates should also answer that question. 

 

O`DONNELL:  John, you`ve always been of the school that Donald Trump is his

own worst enemy.  Is that what we`re seeing tonight because we`ve seen –

and I completely understand Nancy Pelosi`s political strategy on

impeachment, both last year when she didn`t want it to be part of the House

races in which she won the house of representatives and how much she has

not wanted it to get in the way of Democratic Party politics this year. 

How she would rather have a wounded Donald Trump on the presidential ballot

 

HEILEMANN:  Right. 

 

O`DONNELL:  – when the general election comes.  I get all of that. 

 

HEILEMANN:  Yes.

 

O`DONNELL:  Donald Trump seems unable to take – to see what Nancy Pelosi

was in effect trying to do, trying to get the Democrats past this, and he

seems to be crashing right into the impeachment process. 

 

HEILEMANN:  Yes, I mean, look, it`s interesting that we have noted many

times that Trump seems to respect Pelosi and he seems to get that she is a

master tactician and strategist, and yet in this instance, he – even

though he knows that and has acknowledged it in various ways, he does not

seem in this moment, a crucial moment when he – where it was not that hard

to figure out what she wanted to do and how she wanted to let this thing

play out.  He did not seem to be able to figure out whether that`s because

– he doesn`t have enough people around him advising him or he`s blind to

it. 

 

More I think likely, he`s blinded by his rage, the rage we`ve seen come

out.  The extraordinary thing what we`ve witnessed with him on Twitter over

the last few days where the – the ridiculousness of all of his aides going

on the air over the weekend saying he`s never been happier and all of this

public behavior betraying the fact he is still filled with anger, filled

with panic, filled with fear.  Everything he`s doing suggests that at this

moment, to the extent he ever has operational political faculties, they are

now totally out of whack and he is, I think, as I say, by provoking her –

by provoking the Congress, by continuing to behave in ways that no sensible

majority party in Congress can tolerate, he is, again, forcing Democrats to

do that which I think many Democrats would prefer not to do. 

 

SWALWELL:  It`s almost like when Johnson lost Cronkite, right?  Trump, he

doesn`t want to lose Pelosi.  She`s also been giving him the benefit of the

doubt, like do the right thing, follow the law, cooperate, we don`t want to

do this.

 

O`DONNELL:  Wait for the Mueller report, which was never necessary, which

is not what the Democrats did with Nixon.  And now, her new call was to

wait for the unredacted Mueller report, which also functions as a delay

tactic for Donald Trump, which he couldn`t accept. 

 

SWALWELL:  Yes, you don`t want to lose Speaker Pelosi on this.  He`s

pushing her and I think the Congress into a position where there is no

other option. 

 

O`DONNELL:  We`re going to have to take a break here.

 

Congressman –

 

(CROSSTALK)

 

PALMIERI:  Speaker Pelosi is pretty smart.  I think she – 

 

O`DONNELL:  Go ahead, Jennifer.

 

PALMIERI:  Speaker Pelosi`s pretty smart.  I think she understood when she

laid out her ground rules that Donald Trump was likely to ignore them and

lead himself to the, you know, spot that he finds himself in now.  So I`m

not sure that she is taken by surprise by this or didn`t understand that

from the – from the get-go when she – when those words first came out of

her mouth.  She knows what she`s doing. 

 

O`DONNELL:  That is a really great point, Jennifer, and I had not thought

of that.  But, yes, if this is a rope-a-dope, Nancy Pelosi has quite a dope

that she`s been roping into this. 

 

(LAUGHTER)

 

O`DONNELL:  Congressman Eric Swalwell, John Heilemann, Jennifer Palmieri –

 

HEILEMANN:  That was good.  That was very strong. 

 

O`DONNELL:  Thank you very much for joining us.  That was not written. 

 

When we come back, Bill Weld, the only Republican presidential candidate

running against Donald Trump, will join us. 

 

And later, the former assistant director of the FBI`s counterintelligence

division will join us to consider what Jared Kushner had to say today about

the Mueller investigation and the successful Russian attack on our election

which helped win the Electoral College for his father-in-law.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

O`DONNELL:  Today, Hillary Clinton reflected on the early days of her

career when she found herself on a congressional staff working on the

impeachment of Republican President Richard Nixon in 1974. 

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

CLINTON:  I was one of the young lawyers who actually drafted the memo

about what is a high crime and misdemeanor, and it was truly meant by our

founders to describe actions that undermined the integrity of our

government, that placed the personal or political interests of a president

over the interests of the nation. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

O`DONNELL:  She was one of the young lawyers who drafted that memo. 

 

The other young lawyer working on that memo about high crimes and

misdemeanors was a Republican, William Weld, who is now the only Republican

candidate for president running against Donald Trump. 

 

Those two young lawyers both had big futures in politics, in their parties. 

Bill Weld became the two-term Republican governor of Massachusetts after

serving as the U.S. attorney in Boston, appointed by President Ronald

Reagan.  And after that, Bill Weld was promoted by President Reagan to

become the head of the criminal division of the Justice Department.  Bill

Weld grew up in the era of principled Republicans and principled Democrats

along with corrupt Republicans and corrupt Democrats.

 

And what the impeachment investigation of President Richard Nixon showed is

there can come a time in politics when you have to stand on principle over

party.  We showed you that last night when the only Republican member of

the House Judiciary Committee who voted for all three articles of

impeachment against Richard Nixon announced his vote on impeachment. 

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

REP. LAWRENCE HOGAN (R), JUDICIARY COMMITTEE DURING NIXON IMPEACHMENT

HEARINGS:  Now, I`m a Republican.  Party loyalty and personal affection and

precedence of the past must fall, I think, before arbiter of men`s action,

the law itself.  No man, not even the president of the United States, is

above the law. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

O`DONNELL:  If you`re a high school student in America tonight, you have

never seen anyone like Larry Hogan in the Congress.  You`ve never seen

that.  You`ve never seen a principled Republican in Congress take a stand

against a Republican president. 

 

But the principled Republican used to not be so rare, and Massachusetts

produced more than its share of principled Republicans.  Elliot Richardson

was elected lieutenant governor of Massachusetts in the 1960s and then

attorney general of Massachusetts before he joined the Nixon

administration, serving in two cabinet positions, including secretary of

defense, before becoming attorney general during the investigations of

President Nixon. 

 

When on a Saturday night President Nixon ordered Elliot Richardson to fire

special prosecutor Archibald Cox, Elliot Richardson refused and resigned in

protest, and in that moment of standing on principle against the president

of the United States, Elliot Richardson became the model of integrity for

every attorney general who has followed him, some of whom have clearly not

lived up to the Richardson standard. 

 

One of those was Ronald Reagan`s Attorney General Edwin Meese, who was

accused of using his public office to enrich his friends.  Bill Weld,

resigned from the Reagan Justice Department in protest of the Republican

Attorney General`s conduct. 

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) 

 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Indications this morning that the legal problems

surrounding Attorney General Edwin Meese may force more defections from the

Justice Department.  The Department was rocked Tuesday by the resignation

of Deputy Attorney General Arnold Burns, and he was followed out the door

by William Weld head of the Criminal Division.  Both called it quits after

they were unable to persuade the White House to dump Meese on grounds that

his legal troubles are hurting the Department.  Officials say Meese was

stunned and was hardly able to speak when told of the resignations. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP) 

 

O`DONNELL:  Bill Weld then testified to the Senate Judiciary Committee

against the Attorney General. 

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) 

 

WILLIAM WELD, FORMER U.S. ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL:  The question is

whether Mr. Meese is taking official actions that he knows were going –

were down to the financial benefit of his friend, and I suggest that he did

so. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP) 

 

O`DONNELL:  Shortly after Bill Weld`s testimony, Attorney General Ed Meese

resigned.  Those were the days when corrupt Republicans had to deal with

principled Republicans.  Joining us now is Bill Weld, former Republican

Governor of Massachusetts and candidate for President of the United States. 

Thank you very much for joining us. 

 

WELD:  Thank you, Lawrence. 

 

O`DONNELL:  I want to lean on your experience as a Federal prosecutor, as a

Justice Department official to get your reading of the Mueller report. 

 

WELD:  I`ve been thinking a lot about 1974 recently, and the train coming

down from Boston to New York yesterday, I read the Bill Barr – AG Barr`s

19-page report about how really, you can`t ever accuse a sitting President

of anything in the criminal realm. 

 

And you know, Bill Barr is a very distinguished lawyer and very good guy. 

I`ve known him for a long time.  But it lay in my mind that he apparently

never read United States versus Nixon, the July of 1974 case, unanimous,

including three Nixon appointees that said the President is not above the

law. 

 

And that led to Article 3 of Impeachment against President Nixon, contempt

of Congress for contumaciously refusing to comply with lawful subpoenas,

you know, which we have going down today. 

 

So history is repeating itself, and I think the same errors are being made

again.  I think the Mueller report gives us kind of a window into Mr.

Trump`s mind, if not his soul.  And I think things are moving from

narcissism to megalomania, you know, “Only I exist.” 

 

This, of course, is what narcissists and particularly malignant narcissists

who like to see other people lose think in their heart of hearts.  And I

fear that Mr. Trump does have designs on becoming what the founders – the

writers of the Constitution most feared, and that`s a tyrant in our

country. 

 

O`DONNELL:  If you were – if this was the young Bill Weld on the staff of

the House Judiciary Committee right now on the Republican staff, would you

be talking about impeachment proceedings? 

 

WELD:  I`m not so sure about impeachment.  I say that not for legal

reasons, but for political reasons.  I actually think contrary to what

others do that the those boyos over at the White House are dying to have

impeachment proceedings initiated, so that Mr. Trump can scream like a

stuck pig for the next year and a half and not really have to engage on

anything.  He`ll just say, “witch hunt,” you know, “overreaching.”  And it

does seem unlikely, although I probably know half a dozen Republicans in

the Senate who might, you know, be persuaded to do the right thing if the

evidence is as strong as Mueller`s report suggests. 

 

But you know, it`s probably not going to be enough.  And then you`re going

into the election, with the Senate having refused to convict and remove the

President.  And it`s going to give him just a delicious talking point for

the last few months before the election. 

 

I think the most important thing is that everybody behave themselves so

that we don`t have six more years of the you know, let`s everybody lie. 

Let`s not just circle the wagons, but everyone has to lie.  Oh, you mean,

you can`t lie?  Because that`s not true.  What`s your point?  This is a man

whose first reaction is to lie about everything. 

 

Say what you want about President Nixon, he had the self-awareness to

recognize that he had done wrong, and he resigned.  And, you know, I`m not

sure that Mr. Trump has that self-awareness.  Thank you very much. 

 

O`DONNELL:  And Richard Nixon was a trained lawyer.  And it seems like

there were several points in the investigation where Nixon, the lawyer,

understood that there was no legal alternative in the next move that he

must, in fact, submit to the Supreme Court. 

 

WELD:  Well, he certainly understood it after the nine nothing Supreme

Court case because those tapes were turned over instantly, and he had to

know that they were his undoing.  They had him you know, lying on

television to the American people.  And that was enough to remove Mr.

Nixon.  Everyone said, “Oh, that`s one thing you can`t do, it is lie to the

American people.” 

 

It happens in this administration almost every day, sometimes on little

things, sometimes on very big things. 

 

O`DONNELL:  The point you were making that one of the Articles of

Impeachment was specifically about what the President is doing today, which

is refusing to comply with legal and legitimate subpoenas that are

investigating criminal conduct. 

 

WELD:  That`s right. 

 

O`DONNELL:  When they are investigating the Mueller report, they are

investigating suggestions and evidence of criminal conduct in the Mueller

report. 

 

WELD:  Now that`s exactly right.  And what Mrs. Clinton said yesterday, she

was Miss Rodham when I knew her then, we did work on that memorandum

together, but was absolutely right about the grounds for removal.  And I

think it was she who came up with the theory based on the failure to take

care that the laws be faithfully executed. 

 

The President takes an oath to take care that the laws be faithfully

executed.  Well, I mean, this President mocks the rule of law.  So it

couldn`t be clearer.  Volume 2 of the Mueller report could not be clear

about criminality. 

 

O`DONNELL:  Could you stay with us across a break?  We`ll squeeze in a

commercial here.  We`re going to be right back with former Governor Bill

Weld. 

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) 

 

O`DONNELL:  As of tonight, Bill Weld is the only Republican running against

Donald Trump in the Republican primaries, will former Ohio Governor John

Kasich be next? 

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) 

 

JOHN KASICH (R), FORMER GOVERNOR OF OHIO:  We`ve got to recall, I never

supported the guy.  I never endorsed him.  I didn`t vote for him.  I didn`t

go to the convention.  And a lot of people wondered why.  Well, it`s right

in front of you. 

 

You know, if you don`t want to read the whole report, just read parts of

the report.  The kinds of things that were happening in there, I`m not only

is disappointed and angry, I`m sickened by all this because this is not the

kind of performance or the kind of behavior that I saw from so many of the

President`s that I`ve either observed or have known. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP) 

 

O`DONNELL:  We`re back with former Massachusetts Governor Bill Weld who is

running for the Republican presidential nomination against Donald Trump. 

How does it feel like to be the only one?  And how long do you think you`re

going to be the only one in this field? 

 

WELD:  You know, I don`t know.  I spoke with both John Kasich and Larry

Hogan before declaring last week and invited them both in and they both

said, “We applaud what you`re doing.  We`re all on the same team.  Let`s

see what the fall brings.”  I think they`re not going to get in unless

things change.  Whereas I`m very happy to get in right now and try and make

things change by enlarging the electorate, et cetera et cetera. 

 

O`DONNELL:  Well, that`s what Eugene McCarthy did in in 1968 when he got in

against Lyndon Johnson on the Democratic side.  He had no expectation of

winning.  He only said he was going to run in four primaries, he ended up

running in more.  But then he showed there was incredible vulnerability for

Lyndon Johnson.  Bobby Kennedy jumped in.  So is that something that you

envision possible – possible here, especially around New Hampshire? 

 

WELD:  No, I intend to run a national primary except for parts of the deep

south where it really wouldn`t make a lot of sense for me, but I`ll start

in the six New England states led by New Hampshire, then go to the Mid-

Atlantic states where I`m a native and I spend a lot of time.  Then this

next month in May, I`m going to go out to California, probably Oregon and

Washington. 

 

California is Mr. Trump`s worst state.  They don`t get along on anything. 

That`s a lot of electoral votes.  I will strenuously contest New York and

Pennsylvania and New Jersey. 

 

O`DONNELL:  In the modern history of the presidency, any challenger of a

President and an incumbent President reelection in the primaries who stayed

in after New Hampshire did not win the nomination.  But that President did

not win reelection after being damaged from the primaries. 

 

WELD:  Well, in all five cases, the President did lose the general

election. 

 

O`DONNELL:  Yes. 

 

WELD:  None of the challengers won. 

 

O`DONNELL:  Right. 

 

WELD:  But in all five cases, except maybe Nixon, who was challenged by

Pete McCloskey as you`ve pointed out. 

 

O`DONNELL:  Speaking of Nixon.  President Nixon eventually, as we talked in

the last segment about his as a lawyer and his understanding of the law and

his understanding, eventually of the inevitable power of it.  He chose to

resign just when the Articles of Impeachment were voted on, he didn`t wait

around for the House of Representatives to vote.  He didn`t wait around for

a trial in the Senate. 

 

What about this President of the United States?  Should he for the good of

the Republican Party, if he could ever think that way resign the

presidency? 

 

WELD:  Forget the good of the Republican Party, for the good of the

country.  If he had the self-awareness that Richard Nixon had, sense of

shame is too strong a word, but self-awareness is probably too soft a word,

he would resign, we would be better.  The truth is we would be much better

off with a President Mike Pence than a President Donald Trump. 

 

O`DONNELL:  And what about the Republican Party?  What do you make of the

difference between the Republic Party you`ve worked with during the

impeachment of Richard Nixon and where this congressional Republican Party

is now? 

 

WELD:  Yes, when I worked in the House, when I worked in the Senate, lions

still strode the earth, people listened to each other.  It was a different

day.  The last 15 years have been totally different and poisonous.  And as

everybody knows, the two party system in Washington has gone into a death

spiral embrace and no one is really interested in working together on

anything. 

 

I`ll tell you if I get in there.  I`m going to have a bipartisan Cabinet

and on day one, just as I did as governor, reach right across that aisle. 

 

O`DONNELL:  And you wouldn`t be the first one to have a bipartisan Cabinet

because that`s the way it often used to be. 

 

WELD:  For sure. 

 

O`DONNELL:  Bill Weld, thank you very much for joining us tonight.  We

really appreciate it. 

 

WELD:  Thank you, Lawrence. 

 

O`DONNELL:  When we come back, the former Assistant Director of the FBI`s

Counterintelligence Division will join us to consider what Jared Kushner

had to say today about the Mueller investigation and the successful Russian

attack on our election that helped his father-in-law win the Electoral

College. 

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) 

 

O`DONNELL:  Jared Kushner told a couple of very big and very obvious lies

today about the Russian attack on our election that helped his father-in-

law win the Electoral College.  Robert Anderson will join us with his

reaction to what Jared Kushner said today. 

 

Robert Anderson served 21 years in the FBI including 12 years under former

FBI Director Robert Mueller.  He was an Assistant Director of the FBI`s

Counterintelligence Division.  This is his first time joining us on this

program. 

 

Robert Anderson filed a declaration in the case of Maria Butina, the

Russian who pleaded guilty to conspiring to act as a foreign agent.  In his

declaration to the court, Robert Anderson said, “Based on my review of the

information, Maria Butina, in fact provided the Russian official which may

have been shared with others within the Russian government.  I assess that

this information was substantial intelligence value to the Russian

government, and that Russian intelligence services will be able to use this

information for years to come in their efforts to spot and assess Americans

who may be susceptible to recruitment as foreign intelligence assets.” 

 

What does a foreign intelligence asset sound like?  Would a foreign

intelligence assets say that the Russian attack on our election was nothing

more than a couple of Facebook ads, and that the Mueller investigation has

been more damaging to the United States than the Russian attack on our

election?  Is that what a foreign intelligence asset would sound like? 

Because that`s what Jared Kushner said today.  Robert Anderson will join us

next. 

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) 

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) 

 

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA):  What we did learn is that the Russians had a

systemic overall assault on our electoral system and what we also did see

is that the President of the United States engaged in behavior that was

unethical, unscrupulous, and beneath the dignity of the office that he

holds. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP) 

 

O`DONNELL:  The same audience who heard that also heard this pair of lies

from the President`s son-in-law. 

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) 

 

JARED KUSHNER, SENIOR ADVISER TO PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP:  When you look at,

you know, what Russia did, you know, buying some Facebook ads to try to sow

dissent and do it and it`s a terrible thing.  But I think the

investigations and all the speculation that`s happened for the last two

years has had a much harsher impact on our democracy than a couple of

Facebook ads. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP) 

 

O`DONNELL:  Joining us now, Robert Anderson, former Assistant Director of

the FBI`s Counterintelligence Division.  He is currently the CEO of Cyber

Defense Labs.  Mr. Anderson, thank you very much for joining us tonight. 

We really we are eager to get your perspective on this.  Let`s start with

what Jared Kushner said today. 

 

First of all, it was just a couple of Facebook ads.  And secondly, the

Mueller investigation was actually the worst thing that happened to

America. 

 

ROBERT ANDERSON, CEO, CYBER DEFENSE LABS:  Well, good questions, Lawrence. 

Glad to be here.  First of all, I think it`s sad that somebody that close

to the President of the United States who is supposed to be one of his

trusted advisers cannot see the threat that the counterintelligence and

intelligence operations posed by Russia. 

 

And then I think the second thing is, obviously I think the bob Mueller

investigation and all the men and women that worked with him has allowed us

to see a very clear picture of how this White House is run.  And I think he

has also pushed some questions back to the Congress to see if they can

answer those around the President. 

 

O`DONNELL:  If the “Time” 100 had invited the Russian Ambassador today to

speak, would he have said anything different than what Jared Kushner said? 

Wouldn`t they say, “Well, it was just a couple of Facebook ads”?  Or even

if they would admit to that, didn`t do any damage and the Mueller

investigations been very harmful for America. 

 

ANDERSON:  Right.  I mean, I think one of the things people need to

understand is when you talk about intelligence operations, especially from

sophisticated adversaries, like Russia, we have a President, that`s a

former KGB officer serving, those operations are very complex and in depth,

and they can use varying different types of operations.  And I think people

need to be aware that some can be very innocent in nature and some could be

like the kind you see on TV, the high speed operations where people are

sharing classified information. 

 

O`DONNELL:  And your assessment of what you`ve read in the Mueller report,

especially in Volume 1 in the Russian attack section of the report. 

 

ANDERSON:  Yes.  Well, it doesn`t surprise me and I don`t think it

surprises a lot of the men and women that have worked for years, like I

have against these type of adversaries.  The one thing that I worry greatly

about, quite frankly, is the fact that look, they`re not going to go away. 

 

Russian intelligence officers and intelligence organizations are like

bullies on a playground.  They don`t understand, “please,” and “pardon me,”

and I guarantee you that they`re already back if they have even left at

all, looking at ways to try to get close to not only the people in Cabinet

level positions, but any of the men and women in our country that are

currently running for office, especially the upcoming presidential

elections. 

 

O`DONNELL:  And the Mueller report shows the Russians actually launching a

massive attack.  They reached – their communication reached over 90

percent of our voters.  And this is what Jared Kushner was trying to

diminish today. 

 

ANDERSON:  Yes, and I think that`s one thing.  It`s a good point, Lawrence,

when they make any type of intelligence operations, there is never a single

point of failure.  So the fact that they looked at cyber operations,

hacking into the DNC, political motive operations on Facebook, and then

trying to influence people in and around the President`s with different

types of meetings.  That is a classic attack of Russian intelligence

services.  It is well-coordinated, properly funded and very potentially

aggressive against the United States. 

 

O`DONNELL:  The President has done – at his end has done absolutely

nothing and Jared Kushner has done nothing to defend against the next

attack in the next election by the Russians.  But what about the permanent

investigators, the permanent staff of the FBI, of CIA, of the NSA?  Do they

need direct orders from the President to be doing this job?  Or are they

doing it? 

 

ANDERSON:  Now you can guarantee the men and women of the United States

Intelligence Community are fighting this fight every day and these

operations go on 24 hours a day, seven days a week. 

 

The one thing that people I think, don`t understand is the number one

priority of any Russian intelligence service and the number two priority

and the number three priority is every aspect of the United States, our

political wellbeing, our economic infrastructure, and then obviously,

anything that has to do with national defense. 

 

O`DONNELL:  We`re going to have to leave it there.  Robert Anderson gets

tonight`s last word.  Thank you very much for joining us tonight. 

 

“The 11th Hour” with Brian Williams starts now. 

 

 

 

 

 

END   

 

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