Trum Admin vs. Congress. TRANSCRIPT: 5/10/19. The Last Word w/ Lawrence O’Donnell.

Guests:
Val Demings, Dan Kildee, Neera Tanden, Alexis Goldstein
Transcript:

 (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

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.

 

MADDOW:  Yes.

 

REID:  It`s still weird for me. I still – I need more information on that

so.

 

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

great.

 

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.

 

(LAUGHTER)

 

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

else.

 

(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

extraordinary remedies.

 

(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

Congress.

 

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

Committees.

 

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,

Florida.

 

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

have.

 

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

police department.

 

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

for him.

 

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.

 

REID:  Right.

 

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

they comply?

 

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

society?

 

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.

 

KILDEE:  Right.

 

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.

 

KILDEE:  Yes.

 

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.

 

REID:  Yes.

 

KILDEE:  We swore an oath to the constitution.

 

REID:  Absolutely.

 

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

into court?

 

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.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

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

in America.”

 

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

Committee.

 

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.

 

REID:  Wow.

 

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.

 

REID:  Yes.

 

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

be –

 

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

Williams Barr.

 

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

behavior.

 

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.

 

REID:  Right.

 

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.

 

REID:  Absolutely.

 

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

Giuliani.

 

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

that`s headed.

 

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.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

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

more.

 

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

ever did.”

 

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

Americans have.

 

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

American taxpayer.

 

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

winner.

 

Donald Trump literally applied for the job of president where he now gets

to make economic decisions affecting the entire country based on his

business record.

 

(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

president.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

(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

country.

 

(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

of debt.

 

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.

 

REID:  Yes.

 

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

joining us.

 

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.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

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

motion.

 

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.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

(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

happen.

 

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

pregnant?

 

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

ever happen.

 

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

their argument.

 

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

expand Medicaid.

 

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

you.

 

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.

 

END   

 

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