Trum Admin vs. Congress. TRANSCRIPT: 5/10/19. The Last Word w/ Lawrence O’Donnell.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: That does it for us tonight. I was so excited
for that interview. I can`t believe that we had James Baker here talk about
all this stuff. That was amazing. All right. I have to tell you something
about Monday night show.
Beto O`Rourke is going to be here, the former Texas congressman and current
candidate for the Democratic nomination for president. First time he has
been here since he has announced that he is running for president. That`s
Monday night right here on set. 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, great interview.
It was really fascinating and you asked the question that I most wanted to
know about, which is the Trump Tower stuff.
REID: It`s still weird for me. I still – I need more information on that
MADDOW: All the like potential leverage in counterintelligence stuff like
where did that go? Just poof.
REID: Poof, magic.
MADDOW: I feel like I finally sort of understand where it went after
talking about it. I`m going to make sense over the weekend.
REID: It does. And I think people forgot the scope and the limits of what
it is that Mueller was actually investigating and I think people did think
he was going to answer all of these questions, but of course, there is a
lot more to come. And congratulations on getting the Beto interview on
Monday. I`ll be watching.
MADDOW: Thank you very much. I love the self-esteem toss over. This is
REID: Because, you know what, we love ourselves, we love one another. We
have to build each other up. It`s a crazy time. I watch the “Handmaid`s
Tale” like it`s a documentary. It`s a crazy thought.
MADDOW: I love you Joy. Happy Mother`s Day.
REID: Happy Mother`s Day weekend, bye. All right, everybody, thank you for
joining us. I`m Joy Reid in for Lawrence O`Donnell. Well, tonight we begin
with a question for the president. If you truly believe that the 448-page
Mueller report totally exonerated you, as you so often claim, if you are
sitting on 448 pages of pure exoneration, why did you need your former
staffer to write a letter clearing your name?
That`s what we want to know after new reporting tonight from “The Wall
Street Journal” and “The New York Times.” According to “The Journal,”
“Within a day of the release of the Mueller report last month, President
Donald Trump sought to have former White House counsel Don McGahn declare
that he didn`t consider the president`s 2017 directive that he seek Robert
Mueller`s dismissal to be obstruction of justice.
But Mr. McGahn rebuffed the request. The “Times” adds that White House
officials “asked at least twice in the past month for McGahn to make that
public statement. NBC News has since confirmed this reporting. Now, it
seems we have finally found the one person in Donald Trump`s orbit while he
was perfectly willing to put his reputation on the line by associating
himself professionally and in history with Donald Trump, would not risk
being disbarred for Donald Trump.
It`s a pretty low bar. And it doesn`t mean Don McGahn is in the clear just
yet. Before this news broke, House judiciary chairman Jerry Nadler
threatened to hold McGahn in contempt if he doesn`t comply with a subpoena
to come before the committee.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
REP. JERRY NADLER (D-NY): We`ve subpoenaed McGahn and we`re expecting him
to show up on the 21st. And if he doesn`t, he will be subject to contempt.
Unless he has a court order telling him he can`t, which I don`t think he
would get. And we have – he has to respect the rule of law like anybody
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: This threat of contempt is just one example of the De0mocratic
gloves coming off. House Democrats fed up with the Trump administration`s
attempts to stone wall congressional oversight are mounting an increasingly
aggressive campaign to compel the president and the White House officials
under him to comply as the constitution demands.
Tonight, the chairman of the Ways and Means Committee in the House
subpoenaed the treasury department and the IRS for six years of Donald
Trump`s personal and business tax returns. Chairman Richard Neal said,
“While I do not take this step lightly, I believe this action gives us the
best opportunity to succeed and obtain the requested material.”
Chairman Neal gave the agencies until May 17th to produce Trump`s tax
records. He`s expected to go to court after that. Subpoenas are one of a
growing number of tools Democratic lawmakers are using or considering to
force the Trump administration`s hands. There`s the money threat. House
Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff floated a new idea for enforcing
subpoenas. Fine officials who ignore them.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): I think it`s far more practical to consider
levying individual fines on the person, not on the office until they
comply. Courts use that practice. I think it`s quite successful.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You`re talking about a big number?
SCHIFF: Yes, yes. Well, you could fine someone $25,000 a day until they
comply and that will probably get their attention.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And can you do that?
SCHIFF: We can do that. We can do that, but if there is going to be this
across-the-board stonewalling, we`re going to have to consider
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: Another financial option on the table, withholding funds until
officials comply with subpoenas. This week, the House Oversight Committee
threatened to withhold the salaries of interior department officials who
have blocked lawmakers from interviewing agency employees for an
investigation into Secretary David Bernhardt. Then there`s contempt of
The big news this week was that the House Judiciary Committee voted to hold
Attorney General William Barr in contempt over his failure to produce the
full, unredacted Mueller report. Now, Chairman Nadler has endorsed the idea
of bundling together several contempt resolutions against Trump associates
before having lawmakers vote on them.
And the biggest Democratic play of all may be the hardest to actually make
happen. Today, Jerry Nadler along with Congressman Ted Deutch and Eric
Swalwell introduced the No President is Above the Law Act. The legislation
would pause the statute of limitations for any federal offense committed by
a sitting president whether it was committed before or during the
president`s term of office.
As Chairman Nadler put it, “No person can be permitted to evade
accountability for their actions just because they happen to be president.
The presidency is not a get out of jail free card.” Leading off our
discussion tonight are two Democratic members of Congress, Congresswoman
Val Demings of Florida. She`s a member of the Judiciary and Intelligence
And Congressman Dan Kildee of Michigan, and he`s a member of the House Ways
and Means Committee. Thank you both for being here. You`re at a
disadvantage, you`re not at the table here with us so I`m going to go to
you first, Congressman Demings. You used to be the sheriff of Orlando,
You used to be a law enforcement officer. Have you ever in your career
heard of somebody going to court, being exonerated, being acquitted at
trial or, you know, completely exonerated of whatever the crime was, and
then going back and asking a witness in that trial to write them a letter
stipulating to their exoneration?
REP. VAL DEMINGS (D-FL): Good evening, Joy. It`s great to be with you. And
as you just stated, look, I spent 27 years in law enforcement, served as
chief of police in Orlando. And one thing I learned many, many years ago is
that nobody, nobody is above the law.
The constitution of the United States gives Congress the authority to
provide oversight over the executive branch as an equal branch of
government. While the president obviously has no respect for what the law
says, what the constitution says, or the oversight responsibility that we
I can tell you, Chairman Nadler, the Judiciary Committee and Congress, at
least on the Democratic side, we are serious about holding him accountable.
And to ask a staffer and, you know, thank God for Mr. McGahn who refused to
violate the law or lie for the president, refused to write that letter. But
no, I`ve never heard or seen anything like that even after 25 years on the
REID: Yes, you know, I`m tempted to give McGahn, you know, kudos for, you
know, refusing to commit something that, you know, in the end might get him
disbarred, right. Donald Trump asked people to commit abrogation of decency
and of their own ethics all the time. But he considered it.
You know, according to “The New York Times,” McGahn actually considered
doing it. He considered saying that Trump didn`t obstruct justice and then
the Mueller report came out. Here`s the quote, “Mr. McGahn initially
entered the White House request. But after the report was released
detailing the range of actions, Mr. Trump took to try and impede the
inquiry. Mr. McGahn declined to put out a statement.”
And then the “New York Times” goes on to report that Donald Trump was angry
and believed that McGahn had shown disloyalty by telling investigators for
the Special Counsel that Trump`s attempts to maintain control about –
Trump`s attempt to maintain over the Mueller investigation.
The chairman of the committee, Chairman Jerry Nadler, said this means
McGahn has to testify. But, you know, if he comes before your committee,
wouldn`t it perhaps be worth asking him whether or not the fact that he
considered actually going ahead and doing this. And then the Mueller report
came out, leads him to believe that the Mueller report actually shows that
Donald Trump committed obstruction of justice.
DEMINGS: Let me say this. As you well know, we voted this week to hold the
attorney general in contempt of Congress. We expect Mr. McGahn to appear
before our committee on the 21st of this month. If he does not appear,
respect the subpoena that he has received, we can go down that same path
And you better believe when he comes before the committee, we are going to
ask him after the Mueller report showed at least 10 instances where the
president either obstructed justice or attempted to obstruct justice, tried
to get witnesses to lie for him, threatened witnesses, members of his
staff, destroyed e-mails and other evidence, we`re going to ask him why on
earth would he even consider writing a letter that we all know would not
have been the truth?
REID: Yes. Let me go to you, Congressman Kildee, on the taxes, because a
lot of people do not understand why these officials in treasury and in the
IRS are being given so much time.
There`s a story in “The New York Times” that says that an aide to the
committee that you serve on the Ways and Means Committee suggested on
Friday, this is quoting the “Times,” “that though the panel is confident in
the merits of the chairman`s argument that the tax records should be turned
over, Mr. Neal and lawyers in the House ultimately decided they`re going
straight to court to try and enforce that provision carried too much risk.
They feared that a judge could simply throw out the case for lack of
standing, essentially rendering the use of the tax code provision
unenforceable whenever the executive branch objects.” And so in other
words, that Donald Trump could actually succeed to making it impossible to
ever enforce the provision. Is that why the delay is happening?
REP. DAN KILDEE (D-MI): Look, this is unchartered territory and so we are
doing everything we can to get this right. The chairman has been really
clear on this. We`re going to take a methodical approach. The problem that
we saw in 6103 is that we`ve never had the IRS say no.
KILDEE: And it was never even anticipated back in 1924 that there would
ever be a question as to whether the IRS would comply with a legitimate
request from the chairman of the Ways and Means Committee for a tax return.
So, issuing the subpoena gives us the tool that we need in the event that
they don`t respond positively to the subpoena to go and enforce that
subpoena. So, there`s never really an enforcement mechanism built into 6103
because nobody ever expected.
REID: No one ever did it before.
KILDEE: Nobody ever expected that they wouldn`t comply.
REID: Yes. Well, it`s everything about the Trump administration. What
about this question of withholding the salaries of the people who are
refusing to comply with the subpoenas? Could the House Ways and Means
Committee simply cut off the salaries of the IRS commissioner or cut off
the salary of the Treasury director and just start not paying people until
KILDEE: So my preference is to use the other branch of government, the
judiciary, to enforce a legitimate order.
REID: You trust the judiciary that Trump has seeded with 100 of his
personally picked or the right-wing, hand-picked judges from the federal
KILDEE: Ultimately, we have a system of government that depends on the
separation of powers.
REID: So you wouldn`t want it to say, listen, you`re not getting your
paycheck until you comply? That would probably make them comply.
KILDEE: Yes, I mean, I haven`t given that very much thought, but my first
inclination is to let`s follow the rule of law. Let`s use the system that
has served this country for a long time, knowing that it has flaws. And one
of the flaws is that presidents get to appoint judges that sometimes are
biased in their favor but we have to I think give that a chance.
You know, the people back home that I listen to, they`re exhausted by this.
They are absolutely exhausted by this and I just want to acknowledge that
because it`s important for us to point out that we really should be
focusing a lot more of our attention on the troubles that people have in
their own family.
REID: Well, let me ask you on that because – I want to ask both of you.
You`re members of Congress and you guys are both from states that are
obviously pivotal and important electorally, but also they`re human beings
living there, OK, just to be blunt.
And people in Michigan, if they don`t pay their bills, they have are going
to have real consequences. They cannot escape from the consequences of
getting a summons. You get (inaudible) you better go. You end up – you`re
summoned to court, you can`t just say I`m not going.
REID: So, I wonder if the people in your district are connecting with the
fact that this president is saying that he doesn`t have to do the things
they would have to do.
REID: They would be held to account if they attempted to not pay their
taxes or not respond to a court order.
KILDEE: They want us to focus on the problems that they face every day,
but they also do really want us to make sure that the rules apply to
everyone. And even if sometimes that puts us in a position where the
politics could get in the way, we don`t have a choice.
KILDEE: We swore an oath to the constitution.
KILDEE: We have to enforce it.
REID: Yes. And Congresswoman Demings, I want to play you what Adam Schiff
had to say about because Donald Jr., I mean, Donald, Jr. is not even in the
White House. He is not a White House official. He is not the president of
the United States.
This is an ordinary citizen out there in the world just like any of us
saying, I won`t comply with the subpoena. When I`m subpoenaed, I don`t have
to listen to that at all. That is extraordinary because it says something
about the ability to confer lawlessness on someone else by a president.
Here is Adam Schiff talking about Don, Jr. and even Ivanka.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SCHIFF: Yes, I think Don, Jr., has the same problem the president does.
Like father, like son, which is – and the president`s lawyers have been
quite blunt about this. They fear putting him in front of anyone under oath
where the president too is incapable of telling the truth for more than a
minute. It was legal malpractice. And Don, Jr.`s lawyers may feel very much
the same about him.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What do you think are the chances that Congress will
call Ivanka Trump?
SCHIFF: I don`t know. You know, there is certainly relevant testimony that
she maybe able to offer on things like Moscow Trump Tower. And so I
wouldn`t exclude anyone really because they are family of the president.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: You know, Congresswoman Demings, I`m quite sure the people who were
dragged before the Watergate hearings didn`t want to go. I`m pretty sure
Hillary Clinton didn`t want sit for 11 hours and answer questions about
Benghazi. When you get subpoenaed, you got to go. I mean, have you ever
taken someone into custody back in Orland when you were a law enforcement
officer that was willing to go, was happy to go, that wanted to go and go
DEMINGS: You know, Joy, let`s think about it. I think Mueller was pretty
clear on then for the investigation was about a sitting president. Any
other man or woman would have been indicted. And so you`re absolutely
correct. I don`t believe, number one, I do question that because I`m not
sure the president can do anything and not be indicted. Let me just – and
that`s just Val Demings talking. Let me say that.
But also for the president`s son, for the president, for the attorney
general, for the Treasury secretary, and others to absolutely just refuse
and ignore a subpoena, to refuse and ignore the authority, the oversight
authority that Congress has, is totally unacceptable. It`s acceptable for
them. Certainly it would be unacceptable for someone in my district.
REID: Yes, absolutely. At least in a democracy it would be. And that is
what we are. So, Congresswoman Val Demings, Congressman Dan Kildee, thank
you both very much. Have a great Mother`s Day weekend. Appreciate it.
And coming up, make no mistake, investigators are going to get Donald
Trump`s tax returns. They will get them. It`s just a matter of time. But
there`s already a scandal in what we already know. We have all the
information we need to call it out right now, tonight, later in the show.
REID: It`s been another bad week for Donald Trump. It`s been just three
days since the nation learned that Trump wrote off more than a billion
dollars in losses through the late `80s and early `90s, making him what
Walter Shapiro, writing in “The New Republic” called “The Worst Businessman
A man who for “The New York Times” reporting appears to have lost more
money than nearly any other individual American taxpayer during the same
period when he was carefully cultivating his image as a master of business.
Well there is another way to look at those huge losses that Trump reported
on his taxes during that period. I mean, if he was not America`s worst
businessman, the other option that is that he was engaging in massive fraud
to lower his tax bill.
And Congress may be on the verge of finding out just which one it is, after
House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal issued a subpoena for
Trump`s tax records. That subpoena comes on the heels of news that the
president`s eldest son and name sake, Donald Trump, Jr., could soon be
issued his own subpoena by the Republican-led Senate Intelligence
Trump for his part appears to be responding to this wave of bad news the
way he always does, by attacking whoever he sees as his biggest opponent,
sometimes with the help of a foreign government. Yesterday “The New York
Times” reported that Donald Trump`s T.V. lawyer, Rudy Giuliani has been
dispatched to Ukraine in order to, among other things, try and dig up dirt
on Hunter Biden, the son of former vice president and current presidential
candidate Joe Biden.
Giuliani`s other task, apparently, is to investigate the origins of the
Mueller investigation. And tonight, “Politico” reports that in a
conversation with Donald Trump, the president suggested it would be just
fine for him to ask his attorney general to investigate the leading
Democratic candidate running against him.
Joining me is Neera Tanden, president of the Center for American Progress
and a longtime adviser to Hillary Clinton who knows a thing or two about
Trump`s smear tactics, and Tim O`Brien, executive editor of Bloomberg
Opinion and am MSNBC contributor.
He has reported on Donald Trump for decades and was actually sued by Donald
Trump and won. Normally Neera I would go ladies first but I want to come to
Tim first because I want to know the answer to my question. I mean, Donald
Trump, there really – I can`t think of any two more – I can`t think of
more than these two options. Maybe there are more. Donald Trump was either
a terrible businessman. He`s just really bad at business.
TIM O`BRIEN, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Yes.
REID: Or is a fraudster.
O`BRIEN: Maybe. You know, there could be positive answers to both of those
things. You know, he`s tried to spin this “New York Times” tax story as
misguided because he was simply using the tax code to prevent his profits
from coming into his income tax returns, and that made him smart and that
was just about depreciation and it was just about using loopholes to lower
his tax bill. That`s not what it`s about.
The “Times” reporting specifically shows that most of the losses during
that 10-year period came from the fact that he was running his business
poorly. It wasn`t because of his skillful use of the tax code.
REID: I mean, if he`s so smart, why was he the only loss his father – I
mean, the father wasn`t exactly a guy who paid his taxes either, but he
made money. And the only time he lost money was when he lent his son,
Donald Trump anything.
O`BRIEN: Well, in fact, but for his father`s presence, Donald Trump
himself would have gone personally bankrupt. In the early 1990s in the
midst of this period, when he was reporting his massive losses, he had to
go and beg his siblings to extend him about $30 million loan to keep from
filing for personal bankruptcy. And they ended up making him pledge his
share of his father`s estate in order to give him the money.
O`BRIEN: And then he ended up presiding over six corporate bankruptcies.
He`s not a good businessman. That`s been know for a long time.
O`BRIEN: I think the value of the “Times” reporting is just putting real
numbers on him best that he can`t dispute.
REID: Right. And that`s the way he ran for president, was that he was
going to run the country like a business. Well, you know, actually he might
O`BREIN: He is. Yes.
REID: He actually is doing that, Neera Tanden. When the attorney general,
William Barr couldn`t really answers Chris Coons` question about whether or
not it would be unlawful for a campaign to seek foreign dirt on opponent,
well that was extraordinary, and at this point ordinary and the lies of
But it definitely, I guess clearly sent the green light to the Trump
campaign that they can send Rudy out to go and find more dirt. What do you
make of this attempt to go and search for dirt on Joe Biden in Ukraine?
NEERA TANDEN, PRESIDENT, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS: Well first, I would
just like to say on the tax avoidance story, which is such a huge story
that we jus can`t let it go. The fact that the president of the United
States is basically using tax avoidance as his excuse because that looks
better even though, I don`t know, waitresses, coal miners, people who work
in construction, they don`t get to avoid taxes through massive tax schemes.
But because they think he`s so sensitive about being a terrible
businessman, he`d rather make the case that he is a tax cheat than the
worst businessman in America. And so I`m really glad that we`re actually
going to get his taxes, hopefully, soon.
But I think what is really deeply concerning, and I know we use these words
like concerning and troublesome, but just what is happening right now is in
real time we are seeing Donald Trump and his actual campaign apparatus and
his personal attorney essentially trying to lure in a foreign country to
help his re-election.
The fact that he is essentially trying to go to the Ukrainians and curry
favor because he is president of the United States – they are a small
country – to go after Joe Biden, the opponent that is currently beating
him in the polls nationally and in the states that he needs to win like
Michigan, Ohio, et cetera.
And he wants to use a foreign government to create a scandal, a fake
scandal. And I need to say this. “The New York Times” itself reported that
there is no evidence that Joe Biden did anything for the benefit of his
son. So this entire thing is essentially a fake scandal in which the Trump
campaign has weaponized a “New York Times” story to go after his opponent,
which sounds familiar to me.
REID: Doesn`t it?
TANDEN: But it should be deeply worrying to the American people because
the president of the United States is basically using the foreign policy of
the country to ensure help his re-election, which is really a criminal
REID: And, you know, what ties these two stories together, Tim O`Brien, is
that Donald Trump, you know, to Neera Tanden`s point, it`s better for him
in a way to be seen as a tax cheat than to be seen as a bad businessman
because he sits atop the executive branch and per his attorney general,
there`s no law that can contain him.
He can do whatever he wants. He can violate whatever law he wants. And in
this case, William Barr has kind of said, go ahead. If you want to go and,
you know, play around in foreign intelligence services and governments –
O`BRIEN: Well, you know, they also gave him that same legal foundation
when they said they wouldn`t turn over his tax returns.
O`BRIEN: Steve Mnuchin said Congress has no right to these returns unless
their action is guided by some form of legislation, which completely
overlooks the fact that they`re empowered to oversee the executive branch.
They`re now saying he`s also empowered on the foreign, you know, landscape
to do anything he wants as well. They`re making an argument at every turn
for an imperial presidency.
O`BRIEN: I think that`s the larger issue here in all of these isolated
incidents that people have to really be concerned about it. And, you know,
Bill Barr is a sophisticated, disciplined, more intelligent version of Rudy
And he`s putting a smoke screen around all of these issues, whether it`s
the Mueller report, Donald Trump` taxes, to create an argument that it`s
nobody`s business by the president`s, that the president`s judgment is
paramount and that he shouldn`t be checked by constitutional powers that
belong in the Congress. I think people should be very concerned about where
REID: Unitary executive theory, you know, because that appears to be what
we have. Neera Tanden, talk to the media just for a moment because this
pattern of – down to the news of Ukraine as a lever against an American
candidate, an American Democrat that is attempting to run for president.
What should the media be doing to govern itself if as expected Rudy
Giuliani and whatever other minions they decide to send around the world
looking for dirt start offering stories to “The New York Times” or “The
Washington Post,” to the American media to try and harm Joe Biden or any
off the other candidates should they become the nominee?
TANDEN: I mean, look at the facts. Like, if you have a situation, if
there`s a situation in which a Democratic candidate is accused by Rudy
Giuliani or the Trump forces of doing something for their son and you don`t
find any evidence of that, don`t write the story.
I mean, what happened here with the story is that there were accusations,
there was no proof, and then this was weaponized with “Breitbart” and the
Trump campaign put money on Facebook behind the story and basically used
this as a campaign strategy to weaken Joe Biden.
Now, the truth is, I think people are relatively sophisticated and Joe
Biden is still doing well in the polls against Donald Trump. That is why we
should be incredibly vigilant about the idea that we have this and
basically, you know, funnel tube between the Trump campaign and media that
then the Trump Department of Justice can use its resources to then go after
a nominee and/or a candidate.
And the challenge behind all of this is that if you were treating Donald
Trump like a normal candidate, then you are basically engaging in
supporting his ability to weaponize information and to use the authority of
the Justice Department to attack the Democratic process, which we have seen
for two years and there`s really no excuse for letting that go by.
REID: Wise words from Neera Tanden. All right, Neera Tanden and Tim
O`Brien, thank you both. Really appreciate you joining us.
Coming up, the scandal no one is talking about when it comes to billion
dollar loser Donald Trump and his tax returns. But it is outrageous and we
will be talking about next.
REID: Americans are about to start paying more for many of the things you
shop for because Donald Trump – because of Donald Trump`s growing trade
war with China. The president, as promised, increased tariffs today to 25
percent on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods and is threatening even
American consumers will pay those tariffs. You will pay them. And
American farmers are predicted to face more financial nightmares.
But when it comes to negotiating a trade deal, the president tweeted,
“There`s absolutely no need to rush as tariffs are now being paid to the
United States by China”, which again is not how tariffs work. Americans
pay the Trump tariffs.
The trade war has already led to $12 billion in bailouts for American
farmers and now the president is expecting to need even more bailouts. He
tweeted, “With the over $100 billion in tariffs we take in, we will buy
agricultural products from our great farmers in larger amounts than China
OK. Remember, all of this comes after Donald Trump promised that trade
wars were good and easy to win. Apparently not. And as Trump places more
financial stress on struggling Americans, and it`s worth noting that he
himself has never had to face the same financial worries that regular
Trump inherited hundreds of millions of dollars from his daddy. And then
as “The New York Times” reported, his businesses has lost over a billion
dollars according to IRS data. More money than nearly any other individual
But Trump himself was able to lose all that money without facing the
consequences that you or any of us would face if we squandered money that
belonged to other people and banks and bond investors because Trump was
able to secretly lean on dear old dad`s wealth to continue living like a
Donald Trump literally applied for the job of president where he now gets
to make economic decisions affecting the entire country based on his
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I`m a businessman. I know
how to do this. I`m a world-class business guy. I built an unbelievable
company, very, very little debt, tremendous, some of the greatest assets in
the world, tremendous cash flow, tremendous cash sitting there.
I`m endorsed by some of the greatest business people in the world. We`re
going to use our great business people to make these deals.
REID: After a break, what Trump the businessman tells us about Trump the
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
IVANKA TRUMP, DAUGHTER OF DONALD TRUMP: I remember once my father and I
were walking down Fifth Avenue, and there was a homeless person sitting
outside of Trump Tower. And I remember my father pointing to him and
saying, you know, that guy has $8 billion more than me because he was in
such extreme debt at that point, you know?
TRUMP: I`m really rich. By the way, I`m not even saying that to brag it.
That`s the kind of mindset, that`s the kind of thinking you need for this
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: If Donald Trump had any self-awareness at all, any at all, he might
think, you know, I`ve been in dire financial straits even at the billion-
dollar level. I know what it feels like to not be able to pay my debts.
Maybe I`ll at least try to keep my campaign promise to help out regular
Americans who are struggling financially.
But no, Donald Trump is Donald Trump. And he loves that now that he`s –
he loves it now that he has benefited from the system that`s been rigged
for people like him, by people like him, that he just gets away with it
all. So he`s doing the exact opposite and he`s looking for ways to hurt
Americans who are just trying to dig out of holes that weren`t created by
losing all their daddy`s money.
Joining us now is Alexis Goldstein, senior policy analyst from Americans
for Financial Reform. She is also a volunteer for free black mamas, an
initiative to bail out black mothers in time for Mother`s Day. That`s
actually great. And back with us is Tim O`Brien.
Alexis, this is – what has been kind of obsessing me for the last couple
of days is this “New York Times” story came out. Donald Trump lost all
this money. He never paid any consequences for it.
But when you think about the consequences that people face every day when
they don`t pay a light bill or phone bill, when they don`t pay a bank loan
or a mortgage loan, the consequences are real and dire. I wonder if it`s
connecting out there that the rigged system that Donald Trump talked about
is the one rigged for him by people like him?
ALEXIS GOLDSTEIN, SENIOR POLICY ANALYST, AMERICANS FOR FINANCIAL REFORM:
That`s right, Joy. And thanks for having me.
And it`s really interesting to watch him as he`s come into office. It`s
very clear he wants everyone to think he`s rich, but all of his policies
benefit the rich, they coddle the rich.
The Trump tax scheme gave $28 billion in profit back to the Wall Street
banks that crashed our economy. And meanwhile, all of his policies are
trying to crush poor people, crush immigrants, crush people of color. And
you can see it so deliberately everywhere you look.
Just this week, speaking of debt, right, ordinary people who have debts
often get hounded by debt collectors, something that President Trump
probably has never experienced in his life even though he`s been in a lot
And the Trump administration is proposing that debt collectors be able to
contact you seven times a week for every single debt that you have. So if
you have three student loans, that`s 21 contacts, 21 calls from a debt
collector every week.
So it`s really a policy that`s going to hurt pretty much everyone who has
debt in the country, except, of course, wealthy people like Donald Trump.
REID: Yes. I mean there`s a reason “Bloomberg” reported the Trump
administration is thinking of altering the way it determines the national
poverty threshold, which means that people who are living on the margins
could lose their access to welfare programs like food stamps.
They would actually literally alter the formula so that people could get
kicked off of the things that feed their families. There`s a callousness
to what ordinary people are suffering that goes along with the fact that
he`s sort of laughing all the way to the bank to withdraw other people`s
money that he never pays out – pays back.
GOLDSTEIN: Well, right. And you can see it in budget proposals they`ve
put forward. They want to slash funding for public housing. They want to
make sure undocumented immigrants can`t live in public housing. They want
to change the rules for SNAPS so that people who live in states that have
like lots of unemployment still get kicked off of SNAP after a certain
amount of time limits pass by.
There are just all of this very deliberate steps. The Trump tax again is a
really good example of it. It hurt a lot of ordinary people. It gave
billions and billions of dollars to corporations. And it`s very deliberate
and you can see it in pretty much every single department from the USDA to
the IRS, to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau under Trump`s new head
of that, Kathy Kraninger.
REID: Tim, you talked about this in the break. Nothing helped Donald
Trump become president probably more than “The Apprentice.” And this
perception by ordinary people, well, he`s a good businessman so he`ll be
able to manage the economy.
Even people now who are getting hurt by his tariffs and going under are
going under believing, well, I think he`s going to know what to do and
he`ll do the right thing.
O`BRIEN: Yes. I think one of the great hoaxes he perpetrated during the
2016 campaign was that he was a friend of the little guy and that he was a
depth businessman who was going to come and shake up Washington and make
sure that Washington worked on behalf of the forgotten American.
And the reality is Donald Trump doesn`t care at all about average
Americans. You saw it when the government shutdown occurred. There were
lots of government workers who weren`t able to meet their rent or weren`t
able to buy groceries, and that Trump and his family coming up with
thousand reasons of how those people could help themselves out.
You`ve seen it on the border crisis, how immigrant families have been
treated. And now you`re seeing it this past week I think in both – where
the rubber meets the road on his tax policy and on tariffs. He
orchestrated a drastic overhaul of the tax code that benefited people like
Donald Trump, people in real estate get pass-through income, created a much
lower rate that other Americans and average American – working Americans
can`t take advantage of that tax code.
O`BRIEN: On the tariff policy, he`s putting that bonkers Twitter – tweet
storm he went on today in which he laid out a bunch of theories about how
tariffs work that no economist, CEO, or retailer would agree with. The net
takeaway from everything on his tariff policies, that`s going to increase
prices for average American consumers.
And I don`t know if it`s going to happen in states like Pennsylvania,
Wisconsin, and Michigan, swing states that he`s going to need in 2020 to
win. It`s voters in those states who are going to get hurt by it.
REID: It`s pretty amazing. And meanwhile – and we are out of time. But
he – you know, while Alexis is out there trying to free moms that are
incarcerated so that they can be home with their families for Mother`s Day,
he`s plotting to use the Justice Department, which he has control over, to
just personally prosecute whichever political enemies he sees fit. It`s a
completely two America`s bizarre scenario.
Alexis Goldstein, Tim O`Brien, thank you both. Really appreciate you
GOLDSTEIN: Thank you.
REID: And coming up – thank you. The war on women reaches a scary new
phase and it is indeed shocking. How far right-wing Republicans are
willing to go to put the state in control of women`s lives? But the women
who oppose, the laws, Republicans are – cooking up – aren`t letting them
pass without a fight. And that is next.
REID: Republican lawmakers in states across the country are waging a war
on women`s most basic rights that could lead to a new fight in the Supreme
Court over Roe V. Wade, a landmark decision that has guaranteed a woman`s
right to choose since 1973.
Yesterday, the Alabama State Senate delayed a vote on a bill that would
effectively make abortion illegal in the state, punishable by up to 99
years in prison for doctors who perform the procedure. Chaos erupted on
the floor as Democrats protested a Republican effort to strip exemptions
for cases of rape and incest from the bill.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All those in favor, say aye. Any opposed? Motion
passes. Committee amendment is tabled.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Chairman, there was no motion. There was no
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There was a motion. He made a motion.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He didn`t make a motion, Mr. President. He did not
make a motion.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: Wow. That bill is expected to pass next week, making it the
strictest anti-abortion law in the entire country. Alabama lawmakers also
introduced legislation that would make it a crime to falsely accuse someone
of rape or sexual assault punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
Earlier this week, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp signed into law a bill that
bans abortions after six weeks of pregnancy, before most women even realize
they`re pregnant. Just think about that for a moment.
But the law doesn`t stop there because the law grants personhood to
fetuses. Women who travel to other states where it is legal to get an
abortion could be prosecuted for leaving the state for the purposes of
committing a crime.
Even a woman who has miscarriage could be investigated by law enforcement
and potentially charged with a crime. Georgia is the fourth state to pass
a six-week abortion ban this year. In Ohio meanwhile, Republicans are
proposing a bill to prohibit private insurance companies from covering
abortions but could also limit access to birth control.
That bill also mandates a medical procedure for women with ectopic
pregnancies, where get this, the embryo would supposedly be re-implanted
into the universe, a procedure that doesn`t exist. As one gynecologist
told “The Washington Post”, the treatment laid out in the bill is science
fiction, nothing can be done to continue that pregnancy.
These laws have yet to take effect and some are already being challenged in
court. But some Republicans are making their motives clear. The “Post”
reports that Alabama State Congresswoman Terry Collins who sponsored the
bill said its purpose is to spark litigation that would force the U.S.
Supreme Court to reconsider Roe V. Wade.
After the break, we`ll talk about the Republican assault on women`s rights
and the fight to protect Roe V. Wade with former Democratic Texas State
Senator Wendy Davis who helped filibuster an abortion bill in Texas.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Do you believe in punishment for abortion, yes
or no? It`s a principle.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The answer is that there has
to be some form of punishment.
MATTHEWS: For the woman?
TRUMP: Yes, there has to be some form.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: That was Donald Trump on the campaign trail in 2016 telling our own
Chris Matthews that he thought women should be punished for having an
abortion. Well, now, after installing two conservative judges for the
Supreme Court, the Republican Party under Trump is trying to make it
Joining us now is Wendy Davis, a former Texas State senator and the founder
of Deeds Not Words, a non-profit that empowers millennial women to be
advocates in their communities. She stood for 11 hours on the Senate floor
filibustering that bill – filibustering a bill that would have restricted
access to abortion in Texas in 203.
Wendy Davis, thank you for being here.
WENDY DAVIS, FORMER TEXAS STATE SENATOR: Thank you for having me, Joy.
REID: I still remember your pink sneakers. A lot of women went and bought
pink sneakers after that. But you have an organization now that`s trying
to empower young women.
Are young women starting to connect with the threat to even their right to
birth control, this idea that if you make a rape accusation in Alabama and
the person is acquitted, that you then can be charged with a crime, sort of
almost making people afraid to go and report rapes? This whole attitude
toward women, is that connecting with young women?
DAVIS: It really is. And specifically, the idea that lawmakers who are
far removed from their lives and the consequences on their lives of these
intrusions are trying to make decisions that are about the agency that they
possess over their own bodies.
And I`m very encouraged by the fact that they are picking up the mantle,
understanding that they can`t wait their turn to show up in local decision-
making, state decision-making, and national decision-making where the
future, the integrity of their bodily decisions and the opportunities that
they`re able to make by virtue of possessing their reproductive rights,
they understand how threatened those are.
And I`m encouraged that they acknowledge their responsibility and the power
that they have to step forward and do something about it.
REID: The bill that you filibustered in Texas, seems almost quaint by
comparison to some of the bills we`re seeing now, that would put women in
jail potentially for life, subject them to a murder charge for taking a
pill. I wonder if they would have to monitor women`s online activity.
How would they catch them? How would they know who`s leaving the state for
the purposes of getting an abortion? Are they going to stop women at the
border from driving out of the state and check them to see if they`re
It does raise the handmaids – and I talked earlier with Rachel Maddow
about the handmaids but it does raise that specter that these people want
to put the state in charge of what you buy online and where you go if
you`re a woman.
DAVIS: It`s true. And really, when you think about it in the larger
context, Joy, it`s the idea that women are somehow not equal beings, that
our very autonomy, our very movements are those that could be subjected to
state and federal oversight. And it`s taking things to such an extreme.
In some ways, it seems so extreme that it`s surreal and therefore maybe we
shouldn`t get too fired up about it. But on the other hand, we have to
understand that this is a march that`s taking us in a particular direction.
And just as you said, in 2013, the bill that we filibustered in Texas which
was about as bad as things had gotten in the anti-abortion movement, it
seems pale in comparison. And we can`t let ourselves get numb to what
they`re doing right now in the belief that it`s so absurd it can`t possibly
Because bit by bit by bit, they`re moving the needle so that what was once
considered absurd is less so by comparison and women are losing their
rights all over this country. And the thing that I really think we need to
return the conversation to, they want very much for voters and the American
public to be thinking about this issue in the way that they talk about it.
That`s why they specifically choose to use language like a heartbeat when
we`re talking about a six-week unconstitutional abortion ban. For us, I
think we have to really demonstrate that they have zero credibility in
When it comes to the idea that they`re doing this because they`re trying to
protect the sanctity of a living being, when we in this country have one of
the highest maternal mortality rates in the developed world, we have one of
the highest infant mortality rates in the developed world and we are seeing
these marches, these intrusions against women`s decision-making in states
where we have the highest numbers of uninsured women, we have children who
are going without any kind of health care, we have states that refuse to
They don`t care about human beings and I think we really need to make sure
that we`re moving that argument forward and calling them on the lack of
credibility that they have.
REID: Absolutely. But boy, do they care about controlling women. Wendy
Davis, thank you so much for joining us. Really appreciate you. Thank
That is “Tonight`s Last Word.” I`m Joy Reid.
I will see you tomorrow morning at 10:00 a.m. Eastern for my show “A.M.
Joy” where I will have a big announcement. Big announcement coming
tomorrow. “The 11th Hour” with Brian Williams starts now.
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Copyright 2019 ASC Services II Media, LLC. All materials herein are
protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced,
distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the
prior written permission of ASC Services II Media, LLC. You may not alter
or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the