Trump’s rhetoric on Iran. TRANSCRIPT: 5/9/19, The Last Word w/ Lawrence O’Donnell.

Ron Klain, David Frum, Eric Swalwell, Wendy Sherman

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


You know, Washington needs Screen Actor Guilds rules, because in the Screen

Actor Guilds, for example, there would only be one James Baker, and if

another James Baker tries to become a member of the Screen Actors Guild, he

can but he`s going to have to be James W. Baker or something.  He can`t use

his own name because someone already did in that occupation. 


And there`s one too many James Bakers in my head now in Washington from,

you know –


RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST:  In SAG rules here, he would be officially

former FBI general counsel James Baker, and you`d never be able to describe

him in anything.  That would be his first name. 


O`DONNELL:  There`s no limit to how long a SAG name can be. 




O`DONNELL:  And, of course, some people lengthen then just to take up

screen space.  People are known to do that.  Some people have been known to

use Jr. in their screen names to take up screen space.  I think we know who

we`re talking about. 




O`DONNELL:  Thank you, Rachel.


MADDOW:  Thank you, Lawrence.


O`DONNELL:  We`re off to another big hour here. 


MADDOW:  Appreciate it. 


O`DONNELL:  Thank you. 


What is a joke?  At the end of this hour, we are going to consider that

existential question because President Trump did something last night that

was reported by most people as a joke.  And I think most of that reporting

was based on the fact that the people in his audience laughed.  Now,

laughing is not proof that something is funny.  And we have many grim

examples of that, including the way Americans gleefully used to watch

lynchings in this country. 


So, at the end of this hour, we`re going to consider what the president

said last night.  We`re going to watch him say it.  I`m going to ask you to

explain the joke to me because I for one don`t see the joke.  And we will

consider what it means when Donald Trump talks that way with those

audiences.  Why he does it.  What that is about, what he wants them to know

about him. 


But, first, with a new poll showing increased public support for

impeachment of the president, some Democrats in the leadership of the House

of Representatives are now debating whether they are facing a

constitutional crisis or a constitutional confrontation or something else. 

A new “Reuters” poll shows 45 percent now support impeachment, 42 percent

oppose impeachment. 


Today, Craig Melvin asked Congressman James Clyburn how he would describe

the current situation that the House of Representatives is facing. 




CRAIG MELVIN, MSNBC HOST:  You`ve got Senator Mark Warner from Virginia

today, ranking member of the Senate Intel Committee, he says it`s not a

crisis, it`s more of a constitutional confrontation.  How would Congressman

Clyburn define it? 


REP. JAMES CLYBURN (R-SC):  I would define it as a confrontational crisis,

so that`s exactly what it is. 




O`DONNELL:  So there`s your multiple choice, constitutional crisis or

constitutional confrontation or the newest option, confrontational crisis. 

So far, we have not had a moment of true constitutional crisis.  So far,

we`ve had confrontations that have been followed by legal processes. 


For example, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Jerry Nadler,

demands the full, unredacted Mueller report.  The attorney general still

refuses to give it to him.  And then the chairman subpoenas the report. 

The attorney general still refuses to give the report to the chairman and

then the committee votes to hold the attorney general in contempt of



The House can also go to court to try to have that subpoena enforced, and

we would only reach the point of constitutional crisis if the Supreme Court

ordered the attorney general to comply with the chairman`s subpoena and

then the attorney general refused.  The Constitution doesn`t tell us what

happens next.  It makes no provision for what happens after that. 


And that is the zone that can legitimately be called constitutional crisis. 

In the investigation of President Richard Nixon many feared a

constitutional crisis when the Supreme Court ordered the president to

comply with the subpoena and hand over audio recordings of these

conversations.  If the president refused to comply with that subpoena, we

would have had a constitutional crisis. 


But President Nixon did comply with the subpoena, and so we never found

ourselves in a constitutional crisis then.  But Donald Trump is no Richard

Nixon.  Donald Trump has much less respect for the law than even Richard

Nixon did.  And so, it is easy now to feel a constitutional crisis

approaching in Washington. 


There is another crisis presented by the Trump presidency that has been

with us and been very visible every day of the Trump presidency.  It was

described by 27 mental health professionals who contributed to the

bestselling book, the dangerous case of Donald Trump.  The book describes

Donald Trump`s psychological weaknesses in ways that make him unfit for the



Three coauthors of that book have written an op-ed piece for the “Boston

Globe” based on their reading of the Mueller report.  And they say: The

pattern that emerges of the president is one of rash shortsighted decision

making without consideration of consequences.  He is protected only by

actions on the part of former FBI Director James Comey, former White House

counsel Don McGahn, and former campaign manager Cory Lewandowski who in

effect shields the president from himself by refusing or failing to follow

his directions.  Reckless, impulsive moves that are self-destructive

despite the intention of self-protection are characteristic of dangerous



They impede Trump`s capacity to prioritize national security.  There is no

room for consideration of national plans or policy or his own role in

bringing about his predicament and how he might change, but instead a

singular focus on how he is a victim of circumstance and his familiar

whining about unfairness. 


That is the real every day crisis of the Trump presidency. 


Leading off our discussion tonight: Ron Klain, former senior aide to Vice

President Joe Biden and President Obama.  He was a former chief counsel at

the Senate Judiciary Committee. 


David Frum is with us.  He`s a senior editor from “The Atlantic” and a

former speechwriter for George W. Bush. 


And Chuck Rosenberg is joining us.  He`s a former senior FBI official and

former U.S. attorney.  He was also former counsel to Robert Mueller at the

FBI and is now an MSNBC legal analyst. 


And, Chuck, let me start with you.  Do you have a preferred description of

where Washington stands tonight from constitutional crisis to crisis in

confrontation and all of these options? 


CHUCK ROSENBERG, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST:  Well, I certainly have, Lawrence, a

way of thinking about it that is quite at odds with the description of this

as a constitutional crisis.  I think it`s anything but at this point. 


It`s a mess.  It`s disheartening, but it`s not a constitutional crisis. 

And here`s why and, you know, I think back to something I remember from



When William Henry Harrison was president and died in office about a month

into his term, and there was an ambiguity in the Constitution about whether

his successor Vice President Tyler became the actual president or the

acting president or whether he would just assume the duties of the office. 

That ambiguity leads to a constitutional crisis. 


Here, we don`t have that.  We have the legislative branch and executive

branch at odds.  That happens frequently, and we have a path that may not

be a great one, but we have a path to resolve it through the courts of the

United States, which by the way is provided for in the Constitution.  So,

whatever this thing is, and it`s not pretty, it`s not a crisis. 


O`DONNELL:  David Frum, what is this thing? 


DAVID FRUM, THE ATLANTIC:  This thing is an accelerating situation.  Nancy

Pelosi has again and again said she doesn`t want to be precipitate on the

path to impeachment and that`s very wise.  Except Donald Trump also gets a

vote and he`s determined to goad. 


Just this evening, just this evening, “The New York Times” reported that

Rudy Giuliani for whom I volunteered in 2007 and 2008, Rudy Giuliani is on

his way to Ukraine to try to induce the Ukrainian government interfere in

the 2020 American election, on the theory, as was last Sunday, well,

everyone was so angry that Russia – we got Russia to intervene in a

clandestine way, if we do it publicly, is that OK?  Can we make that OK? 


And I`m telling “The New York Times” about all this.  There`s no secrecy

about it.  This is all happening in plain sight. 


And people absorb this and think, now, you want to stay off the impeachment

track.  It goes nowhere good.  But if people insist on doing things that

are attacks on the sovereignty and independents of the United States, at

some point, we can`t stop you. 


O`DONNELL:  Ron Klain, how do you see it? 


RON KLAIN, FORMER CHIEF OF STAFF VP BIDEN:  Look, I think it`s asymmetrical

constitutional warfare in the sense –


O`DONNELL:  OK, add that to the list. 


KLAIN:  In the sense the Democrats are going through a legal process, a

process that Chuck described, of issuing subpoenas, of holding contempt

votes, all these things and the Trump White House is just saying we don`t

care.  We don`t care what the law requires, we`re not giving you anything

pound of sand. 


Now, Chuck`s point which I agree with, we`re going to go to the courts,

we`re going to see what happens and maybe that`s just a bluff.  But to

David`s point, Trump is heading towards impeachment.  As some of his people

say, that`s what he wants. 


But whether he is bluffing or blustering or blundering towards impeachment,

he is putting himself on the path to being impeached. 


O`DONNELL:  And, Chuck Rosenberg, it does seem that Nancy Pelosi who has

been trying to mute talk of impeachment herself now every time she talks to

the press and answers questions, she finds herself drawn into it.  Does it

look to you as if the Trump White House is actually trying to force an

impeachment process? 


ROSENBERG:  Well, I think Ron`s characterization is accurate.  Again,

whether it`s bluffing or blustering or blundering, they seem to be pushing

the House in that direction.  By the way, of course, that process, the

impeachment process is also provided for in the Constitution. 


So in partial answer to your first question, also not a crisis but it is a

mess.  And I am struck by the fact that leader – I`m sorry, Speaker Pelosi

and the leadership of the house seems to be moving down that path with the

president.  Whether or not he wants that, whether or not it benefits him

politically, time will tell.  But she certainly seems to be moving down

that path. 


O`DONNELL:  And, David, I`ve just been handed the article you were talking

about.  It just broke as this show began.  And it seems according to “The

New York Times” reporting, Rudy Giuliani is going to Ukraine to try to see

if he can dig up something about former Vice President Joe Biden and his

son`s possible involvement in some kind of business activity there.  And as

you say doing it publicly, talking to “The New York Times” about it because

the lesson of the Mueller report, in effect, seems to be if you do it

publicly, if you ask Russia to hack and steal e-mails publicly then that`s



FRUM:  Rudy Giuliani is not going to Ukraine with his reading glasses to go

to the Ukrainian national archives to see what he can find in the

paperwork.  He`s going to Ukraine with political muscle to try to pressure

the Ukrainian government, which is very beholden to the United States which

it`s under invasion from Russia, to try to pressure them into saying and

doing things that the Trump people would think would be to their advantage. 

And as Rudy Giuliani told “The New York Times,” he`s doing this with the

full knowledge and approval of the president. 


One thing we all ought to consider, the courts may not be as quick to enter

into this domain as we`ve been suggesting in the earlier part of the

discussion.  The Bush v. Gore precedent in the background, the court said

and at the center of that story and they said someone has to resolve this,

we don`t see a good way to resolve it, I guess it`s going to be us. 


It is possible for the courts either for good faith reasons or perhaps this

time for opposite bad faith reasons to say we will not do it.  We are

stepping out, and the president and Congress has to sort this out between



O`DONNELL:  Ron, what`s your confidence level in the current Supreme Court? 


KLAIN:  Low to zero.  Look, I think it`s hard 15 years ago and the court`s

in an even worse place today in terms of partisanship and whatnot.  In

fact, the president brags openly about taking issues that couldn`t even go

to the Supreme Court to the Supreme Court on the idea he`s kind of got the

game rigged there, I think that`s really unfortunate. 


I think on this Giuliani, obviously, I`m a Biden supporter and it obviously

upsets me, but the Trump campaign slogan ought to be winning elections with

foreign involvement since 2016.  This is just the same play over and over

again.  And, you know, it doesn`t surprise me Rudy Giuliani`s doing it. 


He`s still stung over the fact in that 2008 campaign, Vice President Biden

in a debate said his whole campaign was a noun, verb of 9/11.  And that

stick at Giuliani, really hurt him then, he`s looking for revenge for a

long time. 


O`DONNELL:  Let`s listen to what the president said today about Robert

Mueller.  There`s no agreement yet when Mueller will testify to the House

Judiciary Committee.  And that apparently leaves Mueller out there as

someone he can attack with impunity.  Let`s listen to this. 





mine.  I have conflicts with him.  We had a business dispute. 


We had somebody that is in love with James Comey.  They liked James Comey,

they were very good friends.  They were supposedly best friends, maybe not,

but supposedly best friends.  You look at the picture file and you see

hundreds of pictures of him and Comey. 


And with all of that – and other things – he wanted the FBI job.  I don`t

know if anybody knows that, but he was considered for the FBI job, wanted

it and the day after he didn`t get it, he became the special counsel. 

That`s a conflict. 




O`DONNELL:  Chuck Rosenberg, your reaction to that. 


ROSENBERG:  Yes, it`s not a good one, Lawrence.  I had the privilege and

the pleasure of working for Bob Mueller at the FBI – remarkable man,

remarkable public servant and patriot and a man of tremendous integrity. 

It`s almost hard to know where the start of what the president said because

almost no word out of his mouth other than the pronunciation of Mueller`s

last time is accurate. 


And so, you know, I could take it apart piece by piece.  He and Comey are

not close personal friends.  Of course there are pictures together because

they served in the Justice Department at the same time.  But the notion Bob

Mueller did anything than walk a straight path and call it like you saw it

is deeply offensive to me. 


O`DONNELL:  David Frum, here`s – we don`t have yet an agreement for Robert

Mueller to testify.  Some Republicans saying there`s no reason for him to

testify, he shouldn`t be testifying.  The more the president publicly

attacks him, the more you build the reason for him to testify. 


There`s plenty of things for him to answer to in there, for example his

relationship with James Comey.  The president of the United States says you

are in love with James Comey.  Mr. Mueller, are you in love with James



FRUM:  Yes.  Well, a normal healthy man would of course be in love with Kim





FRUM:  So obviously there`s already something distorted there. 




FRUM:  But the president cannot avoid – he has this tell where he

indicates the closet in which the skeleton is hidden.  And this maybe goes

to your very first point about the “Boston Globe” people, that Donald Trump

could be in so much better shape if he had just pocketed the Mueller

report, let his spin people spin it and say I`m moving on.  I`ve got people

in it. 


And then come up with three other ideas Americans might actually like and

spend your time talking about that.  Instead, he keeps pointing.  It`s over

there, it`s over there.  It`s like one of the less competent villains in a

“Columbo” episode, I just made a reference. 


O`DONNELL:  Ron, to this point, the president out there attacking by name

Robert Mueller, Republicans trying to stand in the way of Robert Mueller



KLAIN:  Yes, as you said, Lawrence, I think the president`s building the

case for Mueller to testify, and his conducts overall, it`s just a guilty

person.  I mean, if this report really exonerated him, why is he asserting

a ridiculous executive privilege claim over the entirety of the report that

will not stand up?  If this report really exonerates him, why doesn`t he

want Mueller up there to testify?  I mean, he`s just going to put himself

in the situation.


As David said, it`s an obvious tell me that he knows, he did wrong things

and he really is just screaming don`t look in the closet and, of course,

everyone`s going to.  And so, I think he is actually raising the stakes for

Mueller`s testimony, which is going to come sooner or later. 


FRUM:  There`s a key sentence in the Mueller report where Mueller refers to

Donald Trump, be conscious of things that Donald Trump may believe were

crimes even though they were not. 


O`DONNELL:  Yes, and Donald Trump keeps basically creating a situation

where Mueller`s testimony is more and more necessary by each one of these

comments he makes about Mueller. 


We`re going to have to take a break here.  Ron Klain, David Frum, Chuck

Rosenberg, thank you all for starting us off tonight.  Really appreciate



Chuck Rosenberg, by the way, before he goes you should know is the new host

of the new MSNBC podcast “The Oath.”  Must listen podcast. 


Coming up, Congressman Eric Swalwell will join us on whether impeachment is

becoming inevitable.  Is Donald Trump, as Nancy Pelosi puts it, self-

impeaching?  Does anyone in the House know what that means?  We`ll find out

from Congressman Swalwell.  That`s next. 




O`DONNELL:  Here is Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi this morning. 




REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA):  The president is almost self-impeaching because

he is every day demonstrating more obstruction of justice and disrespect

for Congress` legitimate role subpoena.  This administration wants to have

a constitutional crisis because they do not respect the oath of office that

they take to protect and defend the Constitution – support the

Constitution of the United States. 




O`DONNELL:  Speaker Pelosi has not yet scheduled a full House vote on the

resolution passed by the Judiciary Committee to hold Attorney General

William Barr in contempt of Congress.  And Democrats warn more contempt

citations could be coming. 


Chairman Nadler has already threatened former White House Counsel Don

McGahn with contempt if he refuses to testify.  The confrontational

stonewalling from the White House is energizing House Democrats and

shifting the mood about impeachment according to “The New York Times.” 

Some who previously urged caution are now saying impeachment may be



Today, a coalition of national advocacy groups delivered a petition with 10

million signatures calling on Congress to begin impeachment proceedings

against the president.  The petition was delivered to freshman Democratic

Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib who introduced a resolution in March that would

direct the house committee whether Donald Trump committed impeachable



Joining us now is a member of the House Judiciary Committee and the House

Intelligence Committee, Democratic Congressman Eric Swalwell of California. 

He is also candidate for president of the United States. 


Congressman, thank you very much for joining us tonight. 



evening, Lawrence. 


O`DONNELL:  I want to get to your reaction to what the speaker said today

and where you think it stands in the multiple fronts now of confrontation

between the House of Representatives and the Trump administration? 


SWALWELL:  We`re on the road to impeachment.  There`s no question about

that.  I don`t think it`s a road any of us want to go down. 


We`re trying to demonstrate as we did today that we`re also going to

protect people with pre-existing conditions.  We already passed background

checks on gun violence, but we`ve got to hold this guy accountable. 


Right now, there`s a wall of obstructers who stand between us and the

evidence you need to hold them accountable.  So, I`m suggesting that the

best way to hold the president accountable is start getting rid of brick by

brick those obstructers.  That starts with Bill Barr, now, we`re going to

hold him in contempt in the full house.  I think we should move to impeach



I think Steve Mnuchin`s probably next.  He won`t give us the tax returns of

the president when it`s pretty clear that he should.  But we`re going to

get it right.  It`s not going to happen as fast as it probably needs to,

but I think we want to make sure we`re on solid ground as we go to the

courts to seek this evidence and show we`ve exhausted all the remedies and

the president left us with no other choice. 


O`DONNELL:  You`re a member of the House Intelligence Committee and

Chairman Schiff was here last night talking about the latest developments

there.  In the Senate Intelligence Committee, we had the revelation

yesterday that committee has subpoenaed Donald Trump, Jr. 


What was your reaction to that? 


SWALWELL:  Case not closed is my reaction to that, and the case shouldn`t

be closed.  Donald Trump, Jr., the candidate`s son at the time, took a

meeting with Russians offering dirt and then it looks like they lied about

it.  And no one believes that his father did not know about.  There`s just

no way knowing everything I know from interviewing dozens of witnesses

about this relationship. 


So he still has to the Senate at least some explaining to do, and he should

have to explain that.  And, Lawrence, what is so frustrating about the way

the Trump family has conducted themselves and the way the president is

conducting themselves is we have this report from the Mueller team that our

country was attacked, that the intelligence community says this attack is

ongoing and they`re probably going to do it again. 


And the president has a victory toast with Vladimir Putin last week when he

calls him.  That is just nutty, and that`s why we need to hold him

accountable to make sure it never happens again. 


O`DONNELL:  I want you to listen to Senator Blumenthal`s reaction today to

the subpoena for Donald Trump, Jr. 




SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D-CT):  He truly misled the judiciary committee. 

And now he needs to be held accountable.  Those answers about the Moscow

Trump Tower meeting, the meeting with Russian agents – he ought to be held

in contempt, and there is no question with Donald Trump, Jr. about any sort

of privilege to avoid this kind of questioning.  If he fails to answer, he

ought to be put in jail. 




O`DONNELL:  Congressman, one of the mysteries of the Mueller report is that

Donald Trump, Jr. refused an invitation to be interviewed by the Mueller

team.  But they never subpoenaed him. 


Do you have any theory about why he was not subpoenaed? 


SWALWELL:  No.  And what Senator Blumenthal I think is referring to just

for your viewers` sake by saying that he has no privilege, typically you

can assert the Fifth Amendment, that is almost absolute.  But if you were

told by a prosecutor you`re not going to be charged for your conduct, then

you don`t have anything to protect yourself from. 


And that`s why I think he thinks he can come forward because the Mueller

said that he was not savvy enough to understand why he was committing a

crime and that was one of the elements.  And so, I do think they should

press him.  This family, this administration only understands force and

consequence, and until we show force and consequence that we`re not going

to just let them continue to dictate the terms, they`re going to continue

to stone wall, and they`re going to continue to work with the Russians and

there was never anything by the way, Lawrence, in the Mueller report that

said all these contacts and 200 pages of working with the Russians,

stopped.  We`ve every reason to believe they think it`s OK to do this and

they`d be willing to do it again. 


O`DONNELL:  Congressman, doesn`t Donald Trump, Jr. still have an exposure

of possibility on perjury and therefore he might invoke the Fifth Amendment

to protect himself on perjury? 


SWALWELL:  Yes.  I mean, he – on perjury, he could still be indicted from

that.  I think the Mueller said at least from their perspective he did not

commit any crimes and they were not going to indict him.  So, if they want

to ask questions about that, again, if you`re afraid to commit perjury that

means you`re telegraphing that you`re not going to tell the truth. 


Again, if these guys are 100 percent exonerated, they would be 100 percent

cooperators.  Instead, they are 100 percent obstructers.  They know one

trick, Lawrence.  In fact, they know two tricks.  Work with the Russians,

obstruct the Americans. 


O`DONNELL:  Congressman Eric Swalwell, thank you very much for joining us



SWALWELL:  My pleasure.  Thank you. 


O`DONNELL:  Coming up, President Trump is learning that love isn`t enough

especially when it comes to North Korea`s murderous dictator.  Former

Ambassador Wendy Sherman will join us tonight on Donald Trump`s failed

international relations. 




O`DONNELL:  Sometimes love isn`t enough as Donald Trump found out today

with Kim Jong-Un.




DONALD TRUMP:  Chairman Kim would like to have another meeting.  And, you

know, the interesting – when I did it and I was really being tough and so

was he, and we would go back and forth, and then we fell in love, OK?


No, really.  He wrote me beautiful letters and they`re great letters.  We

fell in love.




O`DONNELL:  And then today, North Korea conducted another missile launch,

the second in less than a week.  Also today, the president threatened to

escalate his trade war with China by increasing his illegal tariffs on



Also today, the president said there is a possibility of a U.S. military

attack on Iran.




TRUMP:  Yes?


REPORTER:  What did Iran do to prompt you to send an aircraft carrier to

the region?  Is there a risk –


TRUMP:  We have information that you don`t want to know about.  They were

very threatening and we just want to have – we have to have great security

for this country and for a lot of other places.


REPORTER:  Is there a risk of military confrontation, sir?


TRUMP:  I guess you could say that always, right?  Isn`t it?  I mean, you

know, always.  I don`t want to say, no, but hopefully, that won`t happen. 

We have one of the most powerful ships in the world that`s loaded up and we

don`t want to have to do anything.




O`DONNELL:  The president made it very clear that he would just like Iran

to pay attention to him.




TRUMP:  What I`d like to see with Iran, I`d like to see them call me.




O`DONNELL:  Just call him.  And Donald Trump also made it very clear that

he is very jealous of the respect that former Secretary of State John Kerry

still gets around the world.  And in the president`s jealous rant, he lied

repeatedly and said that John Kerry breaks the law when he talks to people

in other countries.  Let`s listen to this.




TRUMP:  You know, John Kerry, he speaks to him a lot.  John Kerry tells him

not to call.  That`s a violation of the Logan Act.  And frankly, he should

be prosecuted on that but my people don`t want to do anything that`s –

only the Democrats do that kind of stuff, you know?


If it were the opposite way, they`d prosecute him under the Logan Act.  But

John Kerry violated the Logan Act.  He`s talking to Iran and has been, has

many meetings and many phone calls, and he`s telling them what to do.  That

is a total violation of the Logan Act.




O`DONNELL:  And that is a total violation of the truth.  A spokesperson for

John Kerry issued a statement saying everything President Trump said today

is simply wrong, end of story.  He`s wrong about the facts, wrong about the

law, and sadly he`s been wrong about how to use diplomacy to keep America

safe.  Secretary Kerry helped negotiate a nuclear agreement that worked to

solve an intractable problem.  The world supported it then and supports it

still.  We`d hope the president would focus on solving foreign problems for

America instead of attacking his predecessors for theater.


Joining our discussion now is Ambassador Wendy Sherman.  She`s a former

undersecretary of state in the Obama administration.  She was the lead U.S.

negotiator for the Iran nuclear deal.  And she is now an MSNBC global

affairs contributor.


Ambassador Sherman, your reaction first of all to what the president said

about Iran today.



doesn`t know what he wants to do.  He`s asked for –


O`DONNELL:  He does know he wants a phone call.


SHERMAN:  He wants a phone call today.  Yesterday, he wanted unrelenting

pressure on Iran.  He wanted them to meet all of the 12 conditions that

Secretary Pompeo set down for Iran to come to a negotiation.  None of this

is going to happen.


The president`s not going to get a call from Iran.  They`re not going to

love him up.


It was very interesting today.  Not only has he had this bromance with Kim

Jong-Un where he said the other day, after the first missile launch, I`m

with him.  And I said to him, President Trump, Kim Jong-Un is not with you. 

He seems to not understand that.


Then today, he said President Xi sent him a beautiful letter.  So for

Donald Trump, it`s all about give me some love.  It`s sort of like show me

the money.


O`DONNELL:  Yes.  And even with China, he gets the beautiful letter.  And

then within the same 24-hour period, he`s still threatening on tariffs.


And China is threatening, well, if you do that, then we will retaliate on

tariffs.  And not to mention the fact that he needs China in dealings with

North Korea, which he still doesn`t seem to grasp.


O`DONNELL:  Right.  The problem with the Trump administration is there is

no policy process and there is no strategy.


It`s transactional.  It is about show me the money.  I meant that quite

literally, not just in the movie sense.


And the president sort of goes about these things on a one-off basis trying

to drive to what is also not clear.  And exactly your point, he doesn`t

have a 360-degree view.


So, yes, China steals our intellectual property.  Yes, we have to bear down

on China for good trade practices and good business practices but we also

need them on North Korea.  We also need them on Iran.  We also need them as

a major power in the world.  And so you have to have a broad strategy for

how you`re going to go about this and I don`t see any.


O`DONNELL:  So we saw Senator Kamala Harris ask the attorney general if the

president has ever asked or anyone in the White House asked or suggested

that the attorney general prosecute anyone.  We saw the attorney general

fail to answer the question, stumble all over the room with that question.


And then we see the president today ask the attorney general to prosecute

someone but he does it on T.V.  He does it in the way that he did so many

things in the Mueller report, he does it on T.V. asking the attorney

general basically to prosecute former Secretary of State John Kerry.


SHERMAN:  Indeed.  There`s no greater patriot for this country than John

Kerry.  He loves this country.  He went to war for this country during



He came back to protest the very war in which he got a purple heart.  And

when we came to the end of the Iran negotiation, we sat in a small room

with all the other foreign ministers in the deal and the political

directors, people like me.


And after John Kerry read the talking points that we had given him, he

dropped the paper to the table and he talked about going to Vietnam and

coming back to protest even after his purple heart.  And he said, “For me,

this deal is about no more war.”


This is a man who feels very deeply about this country and wanting peace

and security for this country.  And he negotiated tougher with Iran than

anyone could possibly have done.  So quite frankly, if the president wants

to prosecute John Kerry, he`s going to have to prosecute me and a number of

other people who have talked to people around the world because we care

about our country.


O`DONNELL:  They`ve been trying to get me to go a break which we`re going

to do.  But can you please stay with us because we want to talk more about





O`DONNELL:  We`ll be right back with Ambassador Wendy Sherman.




O`DONNELL:  Today, “Time Magazine” made Senator Elizabeth Warren the first

woman in the presidential campaign to appear on the cover of a major

magazine after announcing her candidacy.  The new cover comes just one day

after “The New York Times” Frank Bruni noted that another one of the

candidates, Senator Kamala Harris, has not received the same kind of star

treatment of her – than her white male competitors have in the race.


Frank Bruni writes, “Harris has not yet received the sort of gushing star

treatment from the media than Beto O`Rourke and Pete Buttigieg, two

handsome and clean-cut Ivy League grads, have, a discrepancy that I think

says as much about us as it does about her.


Ambassador Wendy Sherman is back with us.  You`ve had some experience in

politics and working with senators and people with presidential

aspirations.  What is your reaction to the way the women candidates have

been treated so far in this campaign?


SHERMAN:  I think Frank Bruni is exactly right.  There`s data that shows

that most of the bylines are men.  Most of the analysts who get quoted –


O`DONNELL:  Most of the reporters doing these stories.


SHERMAN:  Most of the reporters doing these stories.  Most of the analysts

or the commentators that are quoted in these stories are overwhelmingly



And we`re human beings.  We go to the club and the contacts and the

networks that we have, and as a result, those men who talk to men cover

men.  And this has always been a challenge.


There is, in fact, a website called Gender Avengers that keeps track of how

many women are on panels, how many women get quoted, how many women are on

television.  MSNBC I think tries to really acknowledge this.  And so I

think there is an internal inherent bias against women in giving them



In addition, I don`t think people know how to deal with women candidates in

spite of the fact that Hillary Clinton actually won the last election on

the popular vote.  She was seen as someone who`d be president of the United

States.  We`re really behind the times.


When I became undersecretary for political affairs, I was the first woman

undersecretary ever.  That was 2011.  How absurd is that?


So we still have a ways to go and I think it`s incumbent upon the press to

give these women the coverage they deserve and have earned.


O`DONNELL:  We see Elizabeth Warren coming out more – with more policy

proposals than I think I`ve ever seen from a presidential candidate in

rapid succession.  We have seen the men generally at the top of the polls

tend to hang back.




O`DONNELL:  What`s going on with that where Elizabeth Warren needs to be so

specific and these other candidates seem to be able to get away with a much

softer approach?


SHERMAN:  So, you know, there`s a Hewlett-Packard study that says that when

men think they have 60 percent of the qualifications for a job, they know

they can get the job.  Women believe they have to have a hundred percent of

the qualifications for the job.


And a hundred percent means showing that you`re really up to it.  You need

every qualification necessary including showing you`ve got the plans,

you`ve got the stuff, you have the information.


I generally tell young women – and I`m teaching up at Harvard Kennedy

School now.  I tell young women if you`ve got 60 percent, go for it and do

what the guys do.  Either learn the other 40 percent on the job or never

learn the other 40 percent and define the job as the 60 percent for which

you feel you`re qualified.


I think these women candidates are as, if not more qualified, than every

man who is running and they are quite extraordinary.


O`DONNELL:  I completely agree with that.  And Wendy Sherman, who knows 100

percent of what she`s talking about, thank you very much for joining us

once again tonight.


SHERMAN:  Thank you, Lawrence.


O`DONNELL:  And when we come back, no one disagrees with Mitch McConnell on

the Mueller investigation than 20th century Mitch McConnell.  We have the





O`DONNELL:  With the Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee still

pursuing the unredacted Mueller report and voting to hold the attorney

general in contempt of Congress, while talk of impeachment grows louder by

the day in Washington, Mitch McConnell tried to put an end to all of that

by going to the Senate floor and saying case closed.


That was not Mitch McConnell`s reaction when Special Prosecutor Kenneth

Starr delivered his report to Congress of his investigation of President

Bill Clinton.  No one disagrees with Mitch McConnell`s attempt this week to

close the congressional investigation of the president more than 20th

century Mitch McConnell.





finding is clear.  Case closed.


Our nation is indeed at a crossroads.  Will we pursue the search for truth

or will we dodge, weave, and evade the truth?  I`m, of course, referring to

the investigation into serious allegations of illegal conduct by the

president of the United States, that the president has engaged in a

persistent pattern and practice of obstruction of justice.


The crisis in the White House is a crisis for our entire country.  The

crisis will only be resolved by a fair and sober search for the truth.


We can finally end this groundhog day spectacle.  Stop endlessly re-

litigating a two and a half-year-old election result and move forward for

the American people.


The search for truth is being led by a highly capable former solicitor

general of the United States and a former judge on the United States Court

of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, Kenneth Starr.


TRUMP:  Bob Mueller`s no friend of mine.


MCCONNELL:  The assaults on Judge Starr, the character assassination

against the court-appointed independent prosecutor is authorized and

approved by the president of the United States and it should stop.


In some corners, special Counsel Mueller came to be regarded as a kind of

secular saint destined to rescue the country from the inconvenient truth

that the American people actually elected Donald Trump.


The attacks on Kenneth Starr are unfounded and unproductive.  The attacks

are, in fact, unconscionable.


TRUMP:  I call it a witch hunt.  It is a witch hunt.


MCCONNELL:  Laughable threats of impeachment?


TRUMP:  It`s a disgraceful situation.




O`DONNELL:  It really is a disgraceful situation.


Up next, in tonight`s LAST WORD, what is a joke and is it a joke if Donald

Trump says it?




TRUMP:  Russia, if you`re listening, I hope you`re able to find the 30,000

e-mails that are missing.




O`DONNELL:  Was that a joke?  Donald Trump wasn`t laughing when he said it. 

No one in the audience laughed when he said that.


His defense was that that was a joke.  But the Russians didn`t think it was

a joke according to the Mueller report.  They immediately went to work

doing exactly what Donald Trump asked them to do.


It was a joke, is one of Donald Trump`s favorite defenses in the news media

usually falls for that defense.  Especially when the people in Donald

Trump`s audience laugh at what he says.  As they did last night when the

president responded to one of his enthusiastic supporters in his Florida

audience who suggested that the United States should just shoot people who

cross our southern border.


Most of the news media characterized the president`s response to that as a

joke.  Probably because people laughed.  But people laughing is not proof

that something is a joke.


White people laughed at Lynchings.  Here are some people having a good time

in 1930 in Indiana while watching a double lynching.  That was just about

30 years before Mike Pence was born in Indiana.


Here`s a little girl five years later in Fort Lauderdale, Florida having a

really good time.  She`s probably about 58-years-old now if she`s still

with us.  On that day in Fort Lauderdale, she was amused by a lynching.


Smiles and laughter are not proof that something is a joke or something is

funny.  So with that in mind, let`s watch what the president said in

Florida last night.




TRUMP:  When you have 15,000 people marching up and you have hundreds and

hundreds of people and you have two or three border security people that

are brave and great and don`t forget, we don`t let them, and we can`t let

them use weapons.


We can`t.  Other countries do.  We can`t.  I would never do that.  But how

do you stop these people?  You can`t.


There`s – that`s only in the panhandle you can get away with that stuff. 

Only in the panhandle.  So it`s a tough situation.




O`DONNELL:  So what`s the joke?  No one has explained the joke.  He got the

big laugh on that`s only in the panhandle you can get away with that



If that`s a joke, what does it mean, that in the Florida panhandle where

the president was last night, it`s OK to talk about shooting immigrants? Is

that what the president was saying?  Does the president agree with that?


Was that the joke?  Does the president agree that it is OK in the Florida

panhandle to say you want to shoot immigrants or to actually shoot

immigrants?  Which is it?


It seems like he does think it`s perfectly OK to say that.  The president

has had a lot of hecklers thrown out of his rallies, a lot but he didn`t

throw out the guy who said shoot them.  And he didn`t tell that guy that he

was wrong to say shoot them.


He didn`t bring any moral indignation to that.  He didn`t treat that guy as

if he would, say a federal prosecutor.  He did not tell the audience that

there was nothing to laugh about when someone yells shoot them.


Instead, what Donald Trump did was make it very, very clear to his audience

that he`s perfectly okay with anyone in his audience shouting that they

want to shoot people at the southern border. That is what the president of

the United States did last night, and that is not a joke.


That`s tonight`s LAST WORD. 


“THE 11TH HOUR” with Brian Williams, starts now.






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