Nadler’s ultimatum to Barr. TRANSCRIPT: 5/3/19, The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell.

Guests:
David Cicilline, Tom Nichols; Evan McMullin
Transcript:

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST:  All right, busy Friday, busy week, busy weekend

ahead. Keep in mind that Monday is not only the day that Michael Cohen

reports to prison, it is the deadline set by the Judiciary Chairman Jerry

Nadler for the Justice Department to hand over the unredacted Mueller

report, 9:00 a.m. Monday is the deadline.

 

Today, Nadler said the committee will move to contempt proceedings if the

Justice Department doesn`t comply. Monday is also the treasury secretary`s

deadline for telling the Congress whether he`s going to give them

presidential tax returns or not.

 

There`s a lot going on right now. There`s a lot to worry about over the

weekend. But Monday and Tuesday are going to be a little bit nuts as well.

So, stay on your toes.

 

That does it for us tonight. We`ll see you again on Monday. Now, it`s time

for “THE LAST WORD” with Joy Reid, filling in for Lawrence tonight. Good

evening, Joy.

 

JOY REID, MSNBC HOST:  Good evening, Rachel. First of all, stipulating that

Monday is normally my Saturday –

 

MADDOW:  Yeah.

 

REID:  – so typically I would be asleep until like 10-ish.

 

MADDOW:  Yeah.

 

REID:  But I`m going to be up –

 

MADDOW:  I know.

 

(LAUGHTER)

 

REID:  – because those deadlines are like weighing on my soul. I cannot

wait to see A, whether or not any compliance happens, it probably won`t,

but also what the Democrats do about it. There has really been this

conundrum where the Democrats don`t seem ready to do the max, like the

things they could do.

 

MADDOW:  Well, I mean, especially with Nadler. You get the sense – Charlie

Savage had a good piece about this in the Times today. You get the sense

that he is sort of filling in the record for a future court for a future

federal judge who will be looking at his behavior and who will want to see

evidence that he did everything possible to come to a negotiated solution

that he gave them every out.

 

I mean, to a certain point, you know, you can bend over backwards until

you`re facing forward again. Monday`s deadlines – I mean, it`s the IRS

deadline.

 

REID:  Yeah.

 

MADDOW:  That`s a statutory deadline.

 

REID:  Yup.

 

MADDOW:  There`s the contempt deadline in terms of getting that report.

There`s Cohen turning up to prison. That was the original deadline for the

Deutsche Bank subpoenas. I mean, all of this stuff is coming through. Don

McGahn`s document subpoena is due on Tuesday.

 

REID:  Yup. And it`s Michael Cohen`s day that he has to report. There is so

much going on Monday. But it is interesting because you make a good point.

It feels like the Democrats are playing to an audience of one, one guy

named John Roberts.

 

MADDOW:  Yeah.

 

REID:  If any of this ends up in the Supreme Court, to your point, they may

want to have shown, look, we dotted every “I,” we dotted every “T,” we

weren`t out to get this guy, we really had no choice.

 

MADDOW:  Yes. I think that`s exactly right. And you have to balance that at

some point, right?

 

REID:  Yeah.

 

MADDOW:  Clearly, what the president is doing, which is just exactly what

Nixon was doing in `74, is playing for time.

 

REID:  That`s right.

 

MADDOW:  Try to delay, try to delay, try to delay.

 

REID:  Yup.

 

MADDOW:  I hope that some other eventuality pops up –

 

REID:  Yup.

 

MADDOW:  – that makes the delay worth it. You know, the Democrats right

now are allowing those delays to happen.

 

REID:  They are.

 

MADDOW:  At some point, those two interests will diverge –

 

REID:  Yup.

 

MADDOW:  – and the Democrats will decide to finally drop the hammer.

They`ll have to.

 

REID:  Yeah. As somebody that I really love once said, watch the space.

 

MADDOW:  Watch the space all the time.

 

(LAUGHTER)

 

MADDOW:  I wonder who that is.

 

REID:  It`s you. Rachel Maddow, have a great weekend.

 

MADDOW:  Thanks, Joy. Bye.

 

REID:  Bye. Well, I`m Joy Reid, in for Lawrence O`Donnell. OK, picture

this. You are the president of the United States. You`ve taken an hour-long

phone call with the president of Russia, the man who launched a cyber war

against the United States in an attempt to dictate the outcome of the

presidential election in which you became president.

 

What might be your big takeaways from that conversation? And what might you

want the country that you`re ostensibly leading to know about it? If you`re

Donald Trump, it`s that the Russian president smiled during the call.

 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (voice-over):  Mr. President, did you address the

election meddling issues that came up in the Mueller report with Mr. Putin

today?

 

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  We just got steady. Actually

sort of smiled when he said something to the effect that it started off as

a mountain and it ended up being a mouse. But he knew that because he knew

there was no collusion whatsoever. So, pretty much that`s what it was.

 

(END VIDEOTAPE)

 

REID:  He actually sort of smiled. That was the actual scene today in the

Oval Office, where Donald Trump speaking to reporters or more like speaking

at them, recounted a call he had this morning with Vladimir Putin.

 

The White House actually had to clarify later that it wasn`t a video call.

So it`s not clear how Trump knew Putin was smiling. Maybe he just felt it

in his spirit. Now, we could think of one reason why Putin might be smiling

during that phone call.

 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (voice-over):  Mr. President, did you tell him not to

meddle in the next election?

 

TRUMP:  Excuse me, I`m talking – I`m answering this question. You are very

rude. So we had a good conversation about many different things. OK?

 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (voice-over):  Did you tell him not to meddle in the

next election?

 

TRUMP:  We didn`t discuss that.

 

(END VIDEOTAPE)

 

REID:  Robert Mueller`s 22-month long investigation concluded that “The

Russian government interfered in the 2016 presidential election in sweeping

and systemic fashion and that the Trump campaign sought to benefit from

what Russia did.”

 

The fact that the president apparently has no time or interest confronting

Vladimir Putin about Russian meddling in future American elections should

raise alarm bells, and it`s not just because per two years of reporting,

Trump will do almost anything to avoid talking about Russian interference

because it makes him feel insecure about the legitimacy of his election,

and per that reporting, White House officials have been only too happy to

oblige.

 

The New York Times reported last week that then Homeland Security

secretary, Kirstjen Nielsen, was instructed not to bring up Russian

interference in Trump`s presence even as she was tasked with ensuring the

security of the 2020 elections.

 

And one former senior intelligence official told The Washington Post in

2017 that mentions of Russian interference, take meetings with Trump “off

the rails.” One explanation for this is that despite the unanimous

agreement of his intelligence services and a 400-plus page report from the

special counsel, Trump simply doesn`t believe Russian interference

happened, apparently because per his solicitous performance in Helsinki

last year, Putin told him so.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

TRUMP:  I have President Putin. He just said it`s not Russia. I will say

this. I don`t see any reason why it would be. I have great confidence in my

intelligence people. But I will tell you that President Putin was extremely

strong and powerful in his denial today.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

REID:  The more alarming explanation is that again, as was detailed in the

Mueller report, Trump`s campaign sought to benefit from Russian

interference. The Mueller report detailed how Russia`s Facebook efforts

reached more than 100 million people, targeting voters they hoped would

disenfranchise themselves by staying home and not voting. Mueller wrote

about how Russia organized pro-Trump rallies and attempted to find numerous

points of contact on the Trump campaign.

 

You think a president not seeking to benefit from that kind of activity

again in 2020 might do the release of the Mueller report as an ideal

opportunity to readdress the issue with Putin to get tough and show the

country that whatever you think of his campaign in 2016, a Donald Trump

administration will not stand for any kind of interference in our election.

You would think.

 

But as The Washington Post`s Aaron Blake writes, none of that was

apparently worthy of Trump`s time when he had a chance to talk to the man

who U.S. Intelligence says was behind it all. Clearly though, there`s

something that Trump wanted to talk about with Putin. Kremlin said that the

conversation was at Trump`s initiative. And Russian news agency, TASS,

which released this photo of Putin during his call with Trump, reported

that “The conversation lasted for almost 1.5 hours.”

 

If that reporting is true, then Donald Trump had nearly 90 minutes to

confront Vladimir Putin and warn him not to interfere in our elections.

Trump didn`t say a thing, until the question we`re left with tonight is why

not.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

TRUMP:  Getting along with Russia and China. Getting along with all of them

is a very good thing. Not a bad thing. It`s a good thing. It`s a positive

thing. Getting along with other countries, including your country, by the

way, but getting along with countries is a good thing. And we want to have

good relationships with every country.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

REID:  Leading off our discussion tonight: Frank Figliuzzi, former FBI

assistant director for counterintelligence; Evelyn Farkas, senior fellow at

the German Marshall Fund and a former deputy assistant secretary of

defense; and Eugene Robinson, associate editor and Pulitzer Prize-winning

columnist for The Washington Post. All three are MSNBC analysts.

 

Thank you all for being here. I want to start with you, Frank, because

there are two ways to think of Donald Trump`s refusal to confront Vladimir

Putin regarding the attack on our election in 2016.

 

One, per Helsinki, he just doesn`t believe it happened, so he doesn`t think

it`s important. Or two, the more sinister explanation, he wants to benefit

from it again. When you look at Donald Trump`s behavior in the Oval Office

today and what he said, which of those seems more plausible to you?

 

FRANK FIGLIUZZI, MSNBC ANALYST, FORMER FBI ASSISTANT DIRECTOR FOR

COUNTERINTELLIGENCE:  Many of us have been asking the question why. Why

would you be on the phone for an hour with the Russian leader and not bring

this up in a very firm way? Think of the political capital the president

could have gained with voters beyond his base, Joy, if he simply said, I

brought it up, I chastised him, threatened him with additional sanctions.

But he didn`t do that.

 

Many would have said, hey, he`s doing the right thing. He`s trying to make

sure this doesn`t happen again for the good of the country. So I`m left to

this conclusion, Joy. As you say, it`s not because he doesn`t think that it

happened. It`s not because he does not believe the Intelligence Community.

And it`s also not because he thinks it happened but it didn`t change the

outcome of the election.

 

I`m convinced that he`s fearful that he thinks it happened and it might

have actually impacted the outcome of the election, and he is OK with that

happening again. That`s the only conclusion that I can see here that makes

sense to me. And so he is essentially in – you know silence is assent. If

you`re not bringing it up with Putin, you`re essentially giving him the

green light.

 

REID:  Yeah.

 

FIGLIUZZI:  As with other mob bosses and that mentality, when you are

silent, when you give someone the look, the nod, you`re essentially saying,

keep doing it.

 

REID:  Yeah, and you know, Evelyn Farkas, the challenge with an alternative

explanation to what you just heard Frank articulate, is that Donald Trump

has been shown over the years to pretty much like anybody he thinks likes

him, and to think that anyone who is on his side is on the good side. And

that`s the way he sort of delineates the world in his binary way.

 

Let`s go back to Helsinki. Here is Vladimir Putin saying in his own words

what he wanted to happen in 2016.

 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over):  President Putin, did you want President

Trump to win the election and did you direct any of your officials to help

him do that?

 

VLADIMIR PUTIN, PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA (through translator):  Yes, I did,

because he talked about bringing the U.S.-Russia relationship back to

normal.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

REID:  And then here is Trump today tweeting about his call with Putin. “As

I`ve always said long before the witch hunt started, getting along with

Russia, China, and everyone is a good thing, not a bad thing. We discussed

trade, Venezuela, Ukraine, North Korea, nuclear arms control, and even the

Russian hoax. Very productive talk.”

 

So Donald Trump knows that Vladimir Putin wanted him to be president. He

knows that there was a big report saying that Vladimir Putin took action to

help him be president. And he says getting along with Russia, top priority

for him, he is getting what he wants. How else to interpret it that Donald

Trump is open to a repeat?

 

EVELYN FARKAS, MSNBC ANALYST, SENIOR FELLOW AT GERMAN MARSHALL FUND, FORMER

DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF DEFENSE:  Yeah, I can`t – I don`t want to

speculate too much, but everything Frank said and what you said makes

sense, Joy. I think the thing to be disturbed about is regardless of his

motive, Donald Trump is playing with fire, because Vladimir Putin is a

risk-taking leader who thinks that Donald Trump and America is weak.

 

I spent some time this week with Russian former oligarch who no longer

lives in Russia. I`m not going to say who it was. He talked very openly

about the fact that Putin himself is politically at a weak point

internally, domestically, which of course always makes Putin then look for

a way to distract his people and that is usually what he does is he takes

some sort of international military action.

 

We see him in Venezuela and I don`t know if you`re going to get to that

later in the conversation, but Putin lied to Trump about Venezuela and he

apparently accepted the lie just as he did in Helsinki about the

interference in our elections.

 

So I think the problem here is that regardless of the motive, our president

is playing with fire because Vladimir Putin is a man who sees President

Trump and America as weak. And Vladimir Putin himself is weak and when he`s

weak, he lashes out. And that could present a lot of danger for us and our

allies.

 

REID:  And just to stay with you for a moment, Evelyn, because we know now

that North Korea has fired off yet another missile.

 

FARKAS:  Right.

 

REID:  Donald Trump keeps saying that he solved the problem on the Korean

peninsula. He claims that Vladimir Putin apparently is advising him on what

to do. But that`s what happened today.

 

FARKAS:  Right. And they just met, Joy. So President Putin just met with

Kim Jong-un this past week. God knows what they discussed. The one thing we

know they discussed was probably sanctions because Putin came out with a

statement saying, we should find a way in exchange for North Korea`s good

behavior. He didn`t use that language but basically good faith actions. We

should find a way to relieve the sanctions.

 

Well, North Korea hasn`t taken any good faith actions. I mean, except for

maybe the long range ballistic missile, you know, the fact that they`re not

conducting those tests right now. But as you just said, they conducted the

short range test. This is the second one in a matter of a week or so.

They`re clearly signalling to our government that they want President Trump

to make more concessions.

 

REID:  Yeah.

 

FARKAS:  And that`s exactly what President Putin wants as well.

 

REID:  And Eugene Robinson, I don`t get it just from a standpoint of a

president seeking re-election. This all makes him look quite weak. You have

the Kremlin putting out readouts of his interactions with Vladimir Putin

that are more detailed than what we get from the White House.

 

You have Donald Trump being taken for a ride on Venezuela, taken for a ride

on North Korea, and essentially sort of acting like he is the junior

partner in this new partnership with Vladimir Putin. I don`t get it just

from a political standpoint. Do you?

 

EUGENE ROBINSON, MSNBC ANALYST, ASSOCIATE EDITOR FOR THE WASHINGTON POST: 

No, I don`t. You know, I fear – I mean, I`m not sure this is the case, but

all of you may be making far too much sense and being far too logical about

this. You know, one thing we should take into account when we talk about

President Trump is not just his venality and his ignorance and all the

other things that make him unfit, but also his massive narcissism.

 

And you know, at some level, I think he probably understands full well that

Vladimir Putin`s massive interference in the election quite likely put him

over the top. I think he understands that. I think he cannot admit that. He

cannot stand to have that talked about in his presidency. He cannot stand

to acknowledge it publicly. He certainly can`t acknowledge it to Putin with

whom he has the sort of almost junior partner relationship that is – that

is weird.

 

But that has been pretty consistent. He has always seemed to look up to

Putin. You know, hard to do when he`s, you know, 6`2” and Putin is about

5`7”, but he looks up to him.

 

REID:  Yeah. And you know, Frank, what might a foreign intelligence service

then make of an American president who seems to want to make himself the

underling of the Russian president who, to Evelyn`s point, isn`t even a

strong president at this point? What might a foreign intelligence service

do in that stead when you have an election coming up?

 

FIGLIUZZI:  Well, rest assured other foreign intelligence services are

monitoring this very, very closely. They`ve done a personality assessment

and they`re seeing, as Eugene said, this kind of illogical behavior that

they will try to capitalize on. So, you can compromise this president by

merely making him think that you`re helping him.

 

And if you do that in the context of the upcoming 2020 elections, let`s say

China, let`s say pick your country, decides to let him know with a wink and

a nod we are helping, we are behind you, we are going to do some social

media propaganda, we might do some hacking, they`ve got him. They`ve got

him. They own him. And rest assured we`re going to see them try to do that

unless our defenses are in place.

 

REID:  And Eugene, all of that then comes in the context of an attorney

general of the United States, who could not say with clarity that anything

that Frank just described would be illegal or would even be wrong.

 

ROBINSON:  Right. I mean, it was astounding – certainly – basically as I

understand Attorney General Barr`s position. The president cannot be held

accountable. He certainly could not be held accountable for winking and

nodding and sort of welcoming the next round of Russian interference. It

was an astounding performance the other day and it`s a sad state that our

Justice Department seems to be in under William Barr but that`s where we

are.

 

REID:  Yup. Now, it`s going to be an interesting election. Eugene Robinson,

Evelyn Farkas, Frank Figliuzzi, thank you all very much.

 

Coming up, one of the articles of impeachment against Richard Nixon was

tied to his refusal to comply with congressional subpoenas. Is Donald Trump

wandering into just that territory? Congressman David Cicilline joins me,

next.

 

And Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders and the other white male candidates have been

sucking a lot of the oxygen out of the Democratic primary race, but a woman

may be beginning to close the gap. That is coming up.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

REID:  Donald Trump and his administration have made it clear that they are

determined to stonewall any attempt at congressional oversight, and that

increase in brinksmanship is forcing reluctant House Democrats to explore

increasingly aggressive options to force the administration to comply.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said this earlier today.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA):  I do think that the path of investigation and

getting more information and you never know that one thing can lead to

another. Impeachment is never off the table.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

REID:  After dismissing Russian election interference in a phone call with

Vladimir Putin, the president teed up yet another battle with Congress over

calling additional witnesses.

 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (voice-over):  Does Mueller testify? Would you like to

see him testify?

 

TRUMP:  I don`t know. That`s up to our attorney general, who I think has

done a fantastic job.

 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (voice-over):  Did you decide whether you will invoke

the executive privilege as it relates to Don McGahn?

 

TRUMP:  That would be determined over the next week or so.

 

(END VIDEOTAPE)

 

REID:  Joining me now is a member of the House Judiciary Committee,

Democratic Congressman David Cicilline of Rhode Island. He is also a member

of the Foreign Affairs Committee. Congressman, thank you so much for your

time tonight.

 

REP. DAVID CICILLINE (D-RI):  My pleasure.

 

REID:  Let`s first talk about William Barr who has essentially stopped

complying. He did not show up to a hearing at the House Judiciary Committee

where he was scheduled to appear. He does not appear to be willing to

cooperate further. I want you to listen to your colleague, Congresswoman

Jackie Speier, who was on “Hardball” earlier tonight with my colleague

Chris Matthews. And this is what Congresswoman Speier says should happen if

Barr does not begin complying.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

REP. JACKIE SPEIER (D-CA):  Once there are specific subpoenas and he does

not comply with them, he can be brought before the House. He can be tried.

He can either be held there to testify or he can be punished. And there is

actually a jail in the Capitol which has been used as recently as 1930. And

there was actually the brother of a former attorney general during Teapot

Dome that was actually brought in from Ohio with a deputy sergeant of arms

to be required to testify.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

REID:  Teapot Dome has finally been invoked on a segment of television I`m

doing. Are you willing to go that far? Do you believe that William Barr if

he refuses to testify, if he refuses to comply with lawful subpoenas from

Congress, should be arrested?

 

CICILLINE:  Well, there`s no question that Congresswoman Speier is

absolutely right. Congress has the inherent authority to hold individuals

in contempt who defy a lawful subpoena that was affirmed by the Supreme

Court in 1821 and again in 1935. I hope it does not have to come to that.

 

But let me be very clear. Our congressional oversight is dependent on our

ability to compel the production of documents and to compel the testimony

of witnesses under oath. And when the committee issues a lawful subpoena,

they must be enforced. If we leave it to the executive branch to decide

what they`re going to provide, that will effectively extinguish our

oversight.

 

Clearly, that`s not permitted. I think members of the committee are

committed to making sure we get the materials and witnesses we need to find

the truth to demonstrate no one is above the law. The really tragic part of

all of this is all the stonewalling that the president is doing is wasting

an enormous amount of time.

 

We ran on an agenda for the people of this country to drive down health

care costs, raise family incomes, rebuild the country, and take on

corruption in Washington. We`re moving forward on prescription drug,

reducing prescription drug prices. We are moving forward on infrastructure

bill. We passed HR-1, a major reform. We passed equal pay for equal work.

We reauthorized the violence against women act. We`re getting a lot done.

 

But every minute we have to fight over getting what we`re entitled to is

not good for the American people. I think the whole committee understands

we will get the witness before the committee that we need to hear from to

get to the truth, to collect all the evidence we need, to make a final

judgment in this matter.

 

REID:  You know I`m glad you mentioned some of the things that Democrats

are trying to do. I think respectfully, sir, what a lot of the Democrats

are saying – you know, Democratic voters are complaining about is, that

the Democrats seem to be so focused on getting back to business, back to

doing the agenda that, as you said, Democrats ran on to get elected to take

over the House.

 

That they`re willing to put up with a lot – and a lot abrogation of

Democrats` constitutional authority and really not willing to go to the

maximum while the administration is willing to go beyond the maximum to

simply say we don`t owe you any compliance at all. There`s a piece in The

New York Times today reporting on how Chairman Nadler, the chairman of the

Judiciary Committee, has made yet another counter offer.

 

Yet another counter offer in terms of getting the full Mueller report

saying, “If the dispute moves to the courts, as seems likely, one of the

issues that will arise is whether each branch has tried to accommodate the

other branch`s constitutional needs. In previous legal battles, courts have

said the constitution requires both sides to negotiate in good faith to

find a solution. If nothing else, Mr. Nadler is establishing a record that

House lawyers can point to in any such litigation as they urge a judge to

find the administration`s position is unreasonable.”

 

Is what looks to a lot of the public like caution, really the attempt to

build a record that can survive the Supreme Court?

 

CICILLINE:  Yeah, absolutely. Look, I think we understand we have to do

both things. We have to deliver on the commitments we made in the election

to reduce health care costs, raise family incomes, to take on the

corruption in Washington, and to deliver results for the American people.

We`re doing that.

 

But we also understand we were elected to hold this administration

accountable and to discharge our responsibilities under the constitution.

And I think many on the committee are pressing the chairman. I think he`s

quite right in being certain that he develops a record because this will be

litigated.

 

And it`s absolutely the case that the court will look at what

accommodations you have attempted to make, and Mr. Nadler has really made a

magnificent record of all of the efforts he`s made to be reasonable with

the attorney general, to seek accommodation. But on Monday, if he doesn`t

comply, we`ll begin the proceedings to hold him in contempt and to compel

his compliance.

 

But what`s really stunning, Joy, is to think about the attorney general of

the United States has refused to come before the Judiciary Committee

voluntarily to answer some important questions. And you have to wonder why.

What is he afraid of? This is the chief law enforcement officer in the

country and he`s afraid of 30 minutes of questioning by a staff attorney?

That`s the real question here.

 

But we`re going to get him before the committee. We`re going to get the

full Mueller report and all the materials we need to make an informed

judgment about next steps for the committee.

 

REID:  Congressman David Cicilline, thank you so much for your time

tonight. I really appreciate it.

 

CICILLINE:  Thanks for having me.

 

REID:  Thank you. Coming up, Donald Trump is accused of ignoring his duty

to protect the United States from foreign election interference and is

accused of obstructing justice. And still, there is silence from his

political party. How long can that last? That`s next.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

REP. JONI ERNST (R-IO):  Russia will show no hesitation.  They have not in

the past.  They won`t in the future.  And using these types of acts of

aggression in an attempt to undermine our elections process and our way of

life.  And it doesn`t matter if the attack is coming from the end of a

barrel of a gun or the click of a mouse.

 

REP. BEN SASSE (R-NE):  In a digital cyber era, you don`t need a bar and a

hooker anymore.  You can surround people digitally much easier and we know

that we`re going to be having these kinds of attacks in the future and we

need to up our game.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

REID:  During this week`s Senate hearing on the Mueller report, it wasn`t

just Democrats who voiced concern about Russian election interference. 

Republicans did it, too.

 

But today, when we learned that Donald Trump spoke on the phone with

Russian President Vladimir Putin for more than an hour and didn`t once tell

him to stop attacking our elections, Republicans haven`t said a word.

 

Joining us now is Tom Nichols, a national security expert, and former

Republican Senate staff member.  Also joining us, Evan McMullin, a former

CIA operative and a former independent presidential candidate and he`s the

co-founder of Stand Up Republic.

 

Tom, I`m going to start with you because you had quite a tweet today.  You

tweeted, “I eagerly await the inevitable explanations from Republican

apologists and enablers about why the president told Putin he doesn`t

accept the Mueller report and why he won`t let McGah testify.  If you think

I`m questioning anyone`s patriotism, let me just assure you, I am.”

 

Do you believe at this point that Republicans are willing to allow Russia

to interfere in an election just so that they can stay in power?

 

TOM NICHOLS, NATIONAL SECURITY EXPERT:  I don`t think Russians – that the

Republicans are willing to let the Russians interfere with an election. 

And the part about McGahn turned out to be an error from an earlier NBC

report.

 

But the fact that Republicans aren`t speaking up about this, the

Republicans, the party of national security as they once billed themselves,

the party of Ronald Reagan, that they are not standing up, that they are

not criticizing this means they really have chosen party over country.

 

They have chosen to enable this administration rather than to do their

Constitutional duty and speak up about this problem.  And I question the

judgment and the patriotism of anybody who thinks that this is somehow

acceptable.  I really do.

 

REID:  And Evan McMullin, just to be specific, the Mueller report was very

detailed in the things that it says, that the GRU, which is the sort of

follow-on to the KGB what they did.  Just one part of it.

 

In November 2016, the GRU sent spearfishing emails to over 120 e-mail

accounts used by Florida County officials responsible for administering the

2016 U.S. election.  We understand the FBI believes that this operation

enabled the GRU to gain access to the network of at least one Florida

County government.

 

When Marco Rubio who is never really that strong in criticizing this

president, he`s pretty much a fan, most of the time.  But in an interview,

Senator Marco Rubio took it a step further saying that Russian hackers not

only accessed a Florida voting system but were in a position to change

voter roll data.

 

My biggest concern he said is that on election day, you go vote and have

mass confusion because voter registration information has been deleted from

the system.  This is an ongoing threat of literal disenfranchisement of

American voters by a foreign intelligence service.

 

How do you explain why Republicans don`t have their hair on fire and aren`t

standing up and demanding that the White House do something about it?

 

EVAN MCMULLIN, FORMER CIA OPERATIVE: Well, it`s incredibly frustrating and

incredibly dangerous.  And I have to tell you that you know, I`ve been

concerned for a few years now and I`ve made that clear.  But I am more

concerned now about the future of our democracy than I`ve ever been.

 

And look, I think if you ask why Republicans are behaving the way they are,

if you`re an elected Republican, you look at the base and you see the base

is still with Trump even in the midst of the Mueller report and all that it

revealed about his welcoming, encouraging and planning to capitalize on the

Russian attack and then all the efforts to obstruct justice, they are still

the Republicans.  The Republican base is still with the president.

 

And it`s not a surprise.  Why?  Because “Fox News” and the Republican media

establishment continues to lie to the base and to mislead them.  And so

then elected officials see that and they say well if I`m going to be

reelected again, I`ve got to continue to go along with this.

 

But it`s even more than that now.  Now, they`ve justified, they`ve defended

the president for so long, amid all this information, all these revelations

of wrongdoing that now they have to protect the president because if they

don`t, this entire Trumpian house of cards collapses.  And they go down

along with it in the next election.

 

And so now they have to protect it.  They have to stand it up.  Even at the

expense of our democracy, at the expense of American freedom.  And it is

disgusting how they`re willing to do that.

 

And I`m beside myself these days and it`s a time for them to stand up and

speak truth to the American people and stop looking out for themselves. 

Our democracy is truly on the line right now.  And they`re the ones that

have to act.

 

REID:  You know, and Tom Nichols, I think to Evan McMullin`s point, the

base of the Republican Party doesn`t believe that Russia interfered in the

election.  “The Washington Post” latest last poll of Republican voters

dated March 26 to 29 found that 54 percent said no, they don`t believe that

Russia interfered because, of course, their president is telling them that

it didn`t happen.

 

But you do have Patti Davis wrote a piece in “Washington Post” in which

really laid down the gauntlet and said essentially stop naming Ronald

Reagan as your hero, stop using the Reagan legacy if you`re going to stand

silent as America is dismantled and dismembered as democracy is thrown on

the ash heap of yesterday.  She says shame on you. don`t use my father`s

name on the way down.

 

Republicans still want to claim the mantle of Reagan.  They still want to

say that they`re tough on national defense.  But there`s an ongoing threat

to the election that`s coming up.

 

It`s hard not to make the argument that maybe that they`re like, you know,

if the outcome is on our side, that`s fine.

 

NICHOLS:  First of all, I agree with Evan.  I`ve never been this concerned

either.  I mean I just have never seen anything like this.  I`ve never seen

this kind of collapse of an American political party and the collapse of

their voter base that`s covered so much territory in 30 years to go from

being the party of Reagan to whatever this is.

 

But look, I believe that there are Republicans.  I shouldn`t say I believe. 

I know that there are Republicans who are deeply concerned about this.

 

But a principle isn`t a principle if you only voice it when it`s

politically convenient.  And that`s the problem is that you know, they`re

just concerned about taking on that minority in the primary vote who is the

majority of the Republican Party but a minority of voters.

 

And they don`t want to go down with that ship.  That`s just incredibly

dangerous.  This is a time to speak up.

 

REID:  Yes. Yes.  Tom Nichols and Evan McMullin, thank you guys very much. 

Really appreciate your time.

 

MCMULLIN:  Thank you.

 

REID:  Thank you.  Coming up, the ideas candidate.  Senator Elizabeth

Warren is defying the Democratic primary boys club and moving up in the

polls.

 

Lawrence`s interview with Senator Warren on her ideas to help the middle-

class that Donald Trump`s policies to help the rich are leaving behind. 

That`s next.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

REID:  It`s still very early in the Democratic presidential primary for

2020 but already we`re seeing some interesting movement in the polls.  Joe

Biden and Bernie Sanders have topped most of the early polling so far.

 

But this week, three different polls showed Senator Elizabeth Warren whose

campaign has been doggedly focused on policy, not flash, climb into the top

three.  One poll even found Warren one point ahead of Sanders in a

statistical dead heat.

 

Earlier this week, Lawrence spoke with Senator Warren about how her policy-

driven campaign might be affecting her standing in those new national

polls.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

O`DONNELL:  Let`s agree it`s way too early for the polls to be telling us

anything definitive about what`s going to happen in this race.  But there`s

very good news for two candidates in there.  There`s very good news for Joe

Biden who`s at the top of all of these polls.

 

And the other good news is for your candidacy which has moved up and

actually it`s in the top three of each one of those polls.  Coming in

number two in one of the polls moving slightly ahead of Senator Sanders,

actually in a statistical tie with him but you`re at 12 and he`s at 11. 

That`s a big jump up for you in that poll.

 

And everyone has been noticing that you have been rolling out more new

policy.  And I want to stress new policy because it`s one thing for

candidates to be coalescing around things like Medicare for All which is an

idea that has been gaining traction over time.

 

But you and some of the other Candidates are introducing new policies but

no one more than you.  Do you believe that this move in your candidacy is

actually about these policies that that`s what voters are listening to in

this campaign?

 

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), 2020 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  So look, I

can`t say anything about the polls.  It is way, way too early on polls.

 

But here`s what I can tell you.  Having a chance to go out and talk with

people all across this country about how we could actually make this

government work, not just for a thin slice at the top but make it work for

everyone else, and watching people engage that idea, it`s enormously

exciting.

 

You know, I get out and talk about a wealth tax.  Two cents on every dollar

above $50 billion for the great fortunes in this country.  Just two cents.

 

They pitch that in and all of a sudden, as a country, we can provide

universal childcare, universal Pre-K.  We could pay our child care and Pre-

K workers professional level wages.  We could do a universal college.  We

could knock off student loan debt for nearly 95 percent of the people who

have student loan debt.  And still, have nearly a trillion dollars left

over.

 

A trillion dollars to put into green energy, to put into infrastructure. 

That`s how you begin to rebalance an economy.  So it isn`t just working for

those at the top.  It`s working for everybody.  We could actually do that.

 

O`DONNELL:  We have a page one report in “The New York Times” above the

fold about the biggest corporations in this country playing not just paying

zero in corporate taxes, actually, and you know the punch line to this,

getting a rebate.

 

WARREN:  I do.

 

O`DONNELL:  A rebate.

 

WARREN:  Yes.

 

O`DONNELL:  And I`ve got to say, that shocked me, even having worked on tax

law myself.  I understand that they get away with paying zero.  But the

idea that Amazon and some of these big companies actually getting a rebate

from the government, this is the kind of issue you`ve been talking about

consistently.

 

And when I read in that story your quotes from voters who are very angry

about this and they`re not attaching in that article to particular

candidates.  But it`s very clear to me that the Democratic campaign, you in

particular and some of the other candidates, are talking very specifically

to that issue.

 

WARREN:  Yes.  So I have another proposal.  I got a plan for that.  And the

other plan around corporate taxes is to acknowledge those big companies

that are doing that like Amazon.

 

They tell the public, they tell their investors, they set their executive

compensation on saying, we made more than $10 billion in after-tax profits. 

Whoo-hoo.  And then they turn around and say to the IRS, well, by the time

we`ve jumped through this loophole and done this part and done this trick,

it`s actually zero or you owe us a refund.

 

You know, that`s just not right.  So what I`ve proposed is that for the big

companies, the ones making more than $100 million in income each year, that

they pay seven cents on the dollar.  Seven percent of what they publicly

announce as their after-tax income.

 

They do that, whatever the rest of the taxes are because we shouldn`t be in

an America where you know, most Americans are paying taxes, but these big

guys are making a zillion bucks.  And yet, they`ve wired the tax code so

that they are either paying nothing or getting a refund?

 

If we did that, we would raise a trillion dollars over 10 years.  And

here`s the deal.  You know, for everybody across this country, we just want

to say the guys at the top, whether it is a giant corporation or it`s one

of the great family fortunes in this country, you made it big.  Good for

you.

 

But you built those fortunes, you know, employing workers the rest of us

helped pay to educate.  You built those fortunes using roads and bridges

all of us helped to pay for to get your goods to market.  You built those

fortunes using police and firefighters all of us helped to pay for.

 

And the deal is you make it that big, put something back in so everybody

else has got a chance to make it.  That`s what this is about.

 

And that`s what my campaign is about.  It is about ideas and it is about

how we can really build a future together.  I hope that everybody who likes

campaigns about ideas will go to elizabethwarren.com, that they`ll

volunteer an hour, they will pitch in ten bucks.

 

They will be part of this because this is how we`re going to build an

America that works, not just for a thin slice at the top, but one that

works for all of us.

 

O`DONNELL:  Senator, I want to ask you what you would have said to the

president if you were in that meeting with the Democratic leadership and

the president on infrastructure.  I would also like to ask you what you

think the House of Representatives should do in reaction to the president`s

obstruction on their subpoenas.

 

But the commercial break structure of this show requires me to squeeze in a

minute or so.  Could you stay with us across that break and we`ll just do a

couple more questions after that?

 

WARREN:  Of course.  Of course.

 

O`DONNELL:  All right.  We`re going to be right back with Senator Elizabeth

Warren.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-NY), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE:  We just had a very

productive meeting with the president of the United States.  We came to

this meeting with an understanding that there is great need in our country

for rebuilding our infrastructure.

 

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY), SENATE MINORITY LEADER:  We agreed on a number

which was very very good, $2 trillion for infrastructure.  Originally, we

started a little lower.  Even the president was eager to push it up to $2

trillion.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

O`DONNELL:  And we`re back with Senator Elizabeth Warren.  Senator, as you

know, the Democratic leadership of the House and Senate met with the

president to talk about infrastructure.  It`s hard for me to see them ever

coming to an agreement.  But if you were in that meeting, what would you

have told President Trump about infrastructure?

 

WARREN:  So I really want to see us make an investment in infrastructure. 

This is how we build the future in this country.  This is how we build jobs

for the future in this country.  We have got to make those investments.

 

So I`d ask him, where is the money coming from?  You know, we can`t just

talk about this in the abstract.  I`ve got two proposals on the table.  And

ultra-millionaires wealth tax and a corporate tax.  Either one would raise

money for trillion dollars in infrastructure spending.  What is your plan,

Mr. President?

 

O`DONNELL:  How about an increase in the gasoline tax?

 

WARREN:  I got to say, I have real hesitation about that.  That hits

working families hard.  Why should we be going there instead of to the

75,000 richest families in this country?

 

Why should we be going there instead of to corporations that announce a

hundred million dollars or more in profits that are paying no taxes right

now?  Why don`t we do something that`s a little more progressive?

 

O`DONNELL:  And you have seen the obstruction that the White House

administration and the attorney general seems to be complicit in that

obstruction of the House investigations on multiple fronts, the president

trying to deny every – all sorts of cooperation and subpoenas in a way

that we`ve never seen before.

 

You have got an attorney general saying I will not take questions from

counsel in House hearings, something that has been happening in hearings

for my entire lifetime.  What would be your suggestion to the House of

Representatives about how to deal with this administration and the

obstruction that they`re running into now?

 

WARREN:  So I think this is a moment that, again, Congress needs to assert

itself.  We have responsibilities under the Constitution of the United

States, including oversight responsibility.

 

We`re supposed to be out here to make laws, to investigate the fact that a

hostile foreign government attacked our elections in 2016.  And to make

sure that we are properly prepared as we roll into 2020.  We have a job to

do and part of that involves getting information from the administration.

 

So I have a lot of confidence in our leadership in the House.  I know they

will be strong on this.  And they just need to keep bearing down because

the Constitution talks about two branches of government, not simply a

president and everyone spinning around him.

 

O`DONNELL:  Senator Warren, before you go, let me just squeeze in a

question I`ve asked every presidential candidate who`s been here.  What is

the best policy idea you have heard from one of your competitor`s in this

campaign?

 

WARREN:  Oh, I think Julian Castro, his idea around immigration and about

changing how we treat people who come here and who are not documented.  I

think he`s got some really good ideas around this.  I`m very interested in

his work.  I admire it.

 

O`DONNELL:  Senator Elizabeth Warren, thank you very much for joining us

and for staying a little bit extra with us.  We really appreciate it.

 

WARREN:  You bet.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

REID:  Well, that`s tonight`s last word.  Be sure to join me tomorrow

morning for my show “A.M. JOY” which starts at 10:00 a.m. Eastern, weekend

mornings.  And we`ll talk about the two candidates who had the best week

this week, both of them women, both of them you have seen in the last two

hours.

 

THE LAST WORD – I mean “THE 11TH HOUR WITH BRIAN WILLIAMS” starts now.

 

BRIAN WILLIAMS, MSNBC HOST:  Tonight, Donald Trump`s hour-long phone call

to Vladimir Putin. 

 

 

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY

BE UPDATED.

END

 

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