Putin praises Mueller. TRANSCRIPT: 5/14/19, The Last Word w. Lawrence O’Donnell.
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Rachel.
Is he number 22?
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Depends on how you count. It`s either 22 or
MADDOW: I think.
O`DONNELL: Close enough.
MADDOW: Twenty-one? Yes.
O`DONNELL: OK. That`s tomorrow night.
Rachel, we have Cecile Richards joining us on that breaking news that you
just brought about what`s happened in Alabama, passing that bill tonight,
which basically completely outlaws abortion in Alabama.
MADDOW: Literally with no exceptions. I mean, they – they`re – that`s
what Republican-controlled states have wanted to do for decades. They lied
about it and said all they were trying to do was, you know, make abortion
more safe or, you know, regulate the field of abortion providing in a way
that was not at all about trying to outlaw abortion.
Something about the Trump administration makes them feel like they can come
out of the closet on this issue and so this is just an outright ban and
you`re seeing states, Republican-controlled states all over the country
just going for it now.
O`DONNELL: I mean, it`s risky for their side because it is – it is
possible that if this gets to the United States Supreme Court that they
could issue some – their own version of Roe versus Wade that actually
strikes this thing down. That`s why the other states have always not
wanted to go this far because they`re afraid of getting an outcome that
actually in effect reaffirms or at least partially reaffirms Roe versus
MADDOW: Right. And that`s why there`s been so much euphemism in all of
the Republican states` efforts as they`ve gone after abortion rights.
They`ve tried to make it de facto illegal to get an abortion without saying
that`s what they`re doing. They believe that they no longer have to hide
behind that artifice, and it is presumably risky for the same reasons that
they were afraid to do it before. It will be interesting what Cecile
Richards has to say about this given her current activism and her 12 years
with Planned Parenthood. But this is a landmark moment.
O`DONNELL: Yes, we actually asked Cecile to come on while the bill was
still moving. We weren`t sure it was going to pass or come to a vote by
this time, but it has done that in the last few minutes. Cecile is going
to be here in a few minutes.
MADDOW: Yes, well done. Thanks, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Thank you, Rachel.
Well, the NRA is finally attacking the right enemy, itself. The NRA is
completely collapsing in on itself in a breathtaking financial scandal
inside the NRA. NRA board members attacking other NRA board members. NRA
board members attacking the current president of the NRA, saying the
current president of the NRA is lying.
We`re going to have all of that for you, this stunning new information
about it and the crazy spending that Wayne LaPierre has been doing at the
NRA that is part of what all of this is about. We`re going to have that at
the end of the hour. A lot of the updates on the facts of that case,
you`re going to want to hear that.
But first, Donald Trump Jr. is going to respond to a subpoena issued by the
Republican chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, even though on
Sunday the Republican chairman of another Senate committee publicly advised
Donald Trump Jr. to ignore that Senate subpoena.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): If I were Donald Trump Jr.`s lawyer, I would
tell him you don`t need to go back into this environment anymore. You`ve
been there for hours and hours and hours and nothing being alleged here
changes the outcome of the Mueller investigation. I would call it a day.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: The 27 psychiatrists and mental health professionals who wrote
the book about Donald Trump are going to have to find some time to explain
Lindsey Graham is the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, the
committee with jurisdiction over our criminal justice system and our civil
justice system. That`s the committee that writes federal laws about, among
other things, how federal subpoenas are enforced, and the chairman of that
committee, who is a lawyer, is publicly advising a witness subpoenaed by
the United States Senate to ignore that subpoena, publicly advising him to
commit a crime.
Psychiatrists studying Lindsey Graham`s attempts to subvert and pervert
congressional subpoena power need to begin with 20th century Lindsey
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GRAHAM: The day Richard Nixon failed to answer that subpoena is the day
that he was subject to impeachment because he took the power from Congress
over the impeachment process away from Congress and he became the judge and
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Before Donald Trump Jr. reached an agreement about testifying
to the Senate intelligence committee late today, last night, Lindsey Graham
publicly coached Donald Trump Jr. again, telling “The Washington Post,”
quote, you just show up and plead the Fifth and it`s over with. Senator
Lindsey O. Graham told reporters Monday, adding that Trump`s lawyer would
have to be an idiot to let him testify again.
Lindsey Graham is an obstruction of justice. This is clearly witness
tampering. Lindsey Graham could be disbarred as a lawyer for that. And by
publicly tampering with a Senate witness, Lindsey Graham violated his oath
In any previous Senate, the Senate Ethics Committee would begin an
investigation of Lindsey Graham today that would very likely lead to his
expulsion from the United States senate.
Something very serious has happened to Lindsey Graham and we don`t know
what it is. Something deeply disturbing has happened to Lindsey Graham,
and we don`t know what it is. And it is not just the difference between
20th century Lindsey Graham and today`s Lindsey Graham, it`s the difference
between Lindsey Graham three years ago and Lindsey Graham today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GRAHAM: He`s a race-baiting, xenophobic, religious bigot. He doesn`t
represent my party. He doesn`t represent the values that the men and women
who wear the uniform are fighting for.
I don`t think he has the temperament or judgment to be commander in chief.
I think he`s a kook. I think he`s crazy. I think he`s unfit for office.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: It may just be that Lindsey Graham is now running for his life
in South Carolina in a way that he wasn`t three years ago. Lindsey Graham
is up for re-election next year and his very Trumpian public witness
tampering and obstruction of justice might just be what a terrified Lindsey
Graham has decided he has to do to avoid being challenged in a Republican
primary by someone more Trumpian than Lindsey Graham.
Lindsey Graham is now publicly everything he once said Donald Trump is. I
have never seen a United States senator disgrace his oath of office more
than Lindsey Graham has done just in the last couple of days alone.
Apparently, the Fox networks legal analyst, former Judge Andrew Napolitano,
has more influence over Donald Trump Jr. than Lindsey Graham.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FORMER JUDGE ANDREW NAPOLITANO, FOX NEWS LEGAL ANALYST: I never heard of a
senator saying disobey a valid lawful subpoena issued by the chairman of
another Senate committee. The subpoena, just like the one to Bill Barr, is
presumed valid. If you can`t or don`t want to comply with it, you got to
challenge it in court. You can`t just sit on it and you can`t not show.
Somebody will show up with handcuffs.
NEIL CAVUTO, FOX NEWS HOST: No matter who you are.
NAPOLITANO: No matter who your father is.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Donald Trump Jr. was smart enough to ignore Lindsey Graham`s
advice, or at least Donald Trump Jr.`s lawyers were smart enough, and so
they have agreed to Donald Trump Jr. testifying once again to the Senate
Intelligence Committee, but not publicly. It will be a closed-door session
in mid-June with a limited number of topics and will probably not last more
than four hours. That is the outline of the deal Donald Trump Jr.`s
lawyers reached with the Senate Intelligence Committee tonight.
“The New York Times” is reporting tonight that the House Intelligence
Committee chaired by Adam Schiff is investigating whether lawyers for
President Trump and his family helped shape false testimony that Michael
Cohen has now admitted he gave to the Intelligence Committee in 2017.
In his testimony to the oversight committee in February, Michael Cohen said
that the Trump lawyers helped edit the false testimony that he gave to
Congress in 2017 about a Trump Tower project in Moscow. A May 3rd letter
from Chairman Adam Schiff to the Trump family lawyers says, among other
things, it appears that your clients may have reviewed, shaped and edited
the false statement that Cohen submitted to the committee, including
causing the omission of material facts.
In addition, certain of your clients may have engaged in discussions about
potential pardons in an effort to deter one or more witnesses from
cooperating with authorized investigations.
Chairman Schiff is demanding documents from those lawyers in his
investigation. Today, Chairman Schiff said this –
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): If there were others that were participating in
that act of obstruction of justice, if there were others that were knowing
of that false statement, participated in the drafting of that false
statement, we need to know about it, we need to expose it and we need to
deter other people from coming before our committee and lying.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: We`re going to lead off our discussion tonight with some
veterans of the Senate Judiciary Committee who I am sure have never seen
anything like a Chairman Lindsey Graham in that committee before.
William Yeomans spent 26 years at the Justice Department and was the former
chief counsel on the Senate Judiciary Committee. He`s now a senior fellow
at the alliance for justice.
Also with us, Ron Klain, former senior aide to Vice President Joe Biden and
President Obama, and former chief counsel to the Senate Judiciary
And Jason Johnson`s with us. He`s the politics editor at theroot.com and a
professor of politics and media at Morgan State University. He is also an
And, Jason, I want to start with you because the explanation of Lindsey
Graham is not necessarily based on experience working at the Senate
Judiciary Committee because –
JASON JOHNSON, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Right.
O`DONNELL: – none of us have ever seen anything like it.
Is this just what it takes for him to get re-elected on a free ride with no
Republican challenger in South Carolina?
JOHNSON: Well, I think this is what it takes for him to sort of maintain
his brand, Lawrence. Like, you know, he clearly made a decision about two
years ago. I don`t know if it`s when John McCain passed away. I don`t
know if it`s just what he wants to do, but Lindsey Graham has said, look,
I`m going to go to the mat for President Trump in any sort of extreme way I
Whether that means defending Brett Kavanaugh with this whole sort of, you
know, rally-the-troops speech he gave, whether it`s encouraging other
people to not listen to congressional subpoenas. This is what Lindsey
Graham wants to do.
Look, the fact is, I mean, he has a Democratic challenger, I believe it`s
Jamie Harrison. Like Lindsey Graham is not safe, but I don`t think that
this behavior is due to any sort of elect fears. I think this behavior is
due to the fact he`s completely submitted to the Trump aura of power.
And the problem is that, you know, it`s not just historically he`s going to
shame himself. That`s already a given. It`s the fact that he also
diminishes the office and makes it more difficult for Republicans in the
Senate who want to do their jobs trying to do so when you have somebody
next door being a back seat driver in how we administer justice.
O`DONNELL: Ron Klain, the comment I`ve seen from Lindsey Graham would have
gotten you dragged in front of the Senate ethics committee when you were
working at the judiciary committee. And Donald Trump Jr. was – his
lawyers anyway were at least smart enough not to listen to Lindsey Graham.
RON KLAIN, FORMER CHIEF OF STAFF TO VP BIDEN: Yes, I mean, credit Trump
Jr., credit Andrew Napolitano. You know, it`s shocking whenever I agree
with him but he was right on this one.
Look, I think that, you know, I agree with Jason. It`s hard to explain
Senator Graham`s behavior as anything other than kind of a determination
just to do Donald Trump`s bidding, whatever it is, even really beyond –
beyond the pale here. I mean, the judiciary committee for its good days
and bad days, you know, has a vaunted tradition of standing for the law and
adherence to the law.
And for the chairman of that committee to tell a witness that they don`t
have to comply with a lawful subpoena from another Senate committee so
undermines the institution, so undermines the process. By the way, this is
a subpoena issued by obviously a committee chaired by another Republican
senator. And so, you know, this isn`t a partisan thing. This is just
really an effort to out-Trump any other Trumpy Republican senator.
O`DONNELL: And Bill Yeomans, we noticed no other Republican senator jumped
out there and said, oh, yes, Lindsey Graham is right, you should defy a
Senate subpoena and we know there is an awful lot of Republicans who love
every chance they get to say something pleasing to Donald Trump. And none
of them were willing to join Lindsey Graham walking out on that plank.
BILL YEOMANS, FORMER CHIEF COUNSEL, SENATE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: Well, yes,
I think it`s clear how over-the-top Lindsey Graham was here. It is, as
everyone has said, completely outrageous for the chair of the Senate
Judiciary Committee, which oversees the justice – the law enforcement
operation of the federal government to advise someone to defy the law.
I do think, though, it`s worth noting that there was a tremendous
Republican reaction to Richard Burr, who was willing to issue this subpoena
on behalf of the intelligence committee. And it`s my understanding that he
got an enormous amount of pressure from other Republican senators who came
to the defense of Donald Trump Jr. So while Lindsey Graham stands out, he
is not alone.
O`DONNELL: The inside the room reporting is that Mitch McConnell actually
supported Chairman Burr on this, as you would expect a majority leader to
do with any of his chairs issuing subpoenas. And, Jason Johnson, this is -
- this is all happening – we always have to remember – within a president
campaign that is already under way.
O`DONNELL: And so here we have one of the candidates` sons being
subpoenaed and responding to that subpoena to testify to a Senate committee
that could involve some jeopardy to that son.
JOHNSON: Well, some jeopardy to that son, some jeopardy to other members
of the family, some jeopardy to the father. Look, Lawrence, I`ll be
honest, when Barr initially put out the subpoena, I was skeptical. I
thought is this going to be an excuse for Republicans to do this sort of
dog and pony show and allow Don Jr. to just give speeches, right?
As we`ve seen in some of these committees, they don`t actually ask
questions, it`s an opportunity for them to play partisan games, but now
that this appears this is a real question, this goes to the heart of what
the Republican Party has to worry about. When we go beyond the House and
Senate, this goes to the heart of where the Republican Party is in the
country. This means – this is a reminder of what we`ve talked about all
along. There are Republicans in this country who do not trust this
administration, who do not trust Don Jr., who do feel they want to get to
the bottom of this.
I don`t think that Barr is acting just out of, you know, pure curiosity out
of what is going on. He also is reflecting a change in his party that`s
happening nationally. Republicans, they really need to be much more
careful about this. They don`t have as much strength in their base if they
don`t have as much strength in their party that they used to have.
O`DONNELL: Ron Klain, the House Judiciary Committee has now formally
scheduled the Don McGahn hearing for a week from today, Tuesday, 10:00
a.m., next week. We`re not sure how long we will be in suspense about
whether Don McGahn will show up or whether he`ll show up and take the Fifth
Amendment or whether he`ll show up and plead executive privilege.
What are the possibilities?
KLAIN: Well, first, we have to see if Lindsey Graham has legal advice for
Don McGahn. Doubtlessly, he does.
But, look, I think all those things you mentioned, Lawrence, are
possibilities. What we have to understand is unlike in the Senate this is
against the backdrop of massive resistance of Trump and his allies against
the investigation. The Trump lawyers were in court today trying to resist
a subpoena from the House Oversight Committee for Trump`s financial
records. They got slapped down hard by the judge in that case.
We`re going to see what they do with McGahn. But clearly, you know, Donald
Trump is trying his best to keep any of this information from coming out on
the House side. And they`re doing it in this kind of crazy way where
they`re in court today arguing that Congress shouldn`t be able to look at
Trump`s financial records because it`s a legal matter.
They were in a court a few weeks ago arguing, hey, this isn`t a legal
matter, it`s for Congress. They went to Mueller and said, hey, it`s not
for the Justice Department, it`s for impeachment process. I mean, it`s
constitutional three-card Monty that they`re trying to avoid this
information coming up. But sooner or later, I think the House is going to
get to the truth on this.
O`DONNELL: Bill Yeomans, what strategy does the House have available to
YEOMANS: Well, the House has to continue pursuing trying to get witnesses,
they have to issue subpoenas and follow through with contempt.
Unfortunately, all of that takes time. They have to go to court to file
civil suits, to enforce contempt citations, so they need to follow through.
But one thing that I think is very important is that they not get lost in
the process fights. So, for instance, on the Mueller report, it is
incredibly important that members of the committee continue to make the
public aware of what`s in the Mueller report. The American public is not
going to pay a lot of attention to process fights, as interesting as we
lawyers may find them.
YEOMANS: So I think the House Judiciary Committee has to be very creative
in finding ways to broadcast the president`s incredibly unpatriotic
behavior and his criminal behavior. And they need to do that in ways that
the American people will listen to.
O`DONNELL: We have to get a break in here. Bill Yeomans, Ron Klain, Jason
Johnson, thank you for starting us off tonight. Really appreciate it.
JOHNSON: Thank you.
KLAIN: Thanks, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: And when we come back, we have breaking news tonight.
Republican legislature in Alabama has just passed a law that would
basically make it a crime for a doctor to perform an abortion in that
state, punishable by 99 years in prison. This is the most extreme anti-
abortion law passed by a state. It awaits a decision by the governor
whether to sign that bill.
Cecile Richards will join us next.
O`DONNELL: Our breaking news tonight. About 30 minutes ago, the Alabama
State Senate passed a bill that essentially outlaws abortion in Alabama, in
conflict with settled federal law, as interpreted by the United States
The bill outlaws abortions except in cases that involve a serious health
risk to the pregnant woman. Republicans voted down an amendment that would
have added exceptions for victims of rape and incest. That vote was 21-11.
The bill now goes to the governor`s desk.
AL.com reports that on Friday, the governor said she would wait to make a
decision to sign the bill into law after the final version reaches her
desk. But if the governor does sign that bill, doctors who perform the
procedure could be charged with a felony punishable by up to 99 years in
prison. Doctors attempting the procedure could face up to 10 years in
Joining our discussion now, Cecile Richards, the former president of
Planned Parenthood. She is the co-founder of the new women`s political
group Supermajority. She`s also the author of the book “Make Trouble.”
Cecile, your reaction to the passage of this bill tonight?
CECILE RICHARDS, CO-FOUNDER, SUPERMAJORITY: Well, this is a terrible day
for women and for families in this country. This is, as you say, this is
the most extreme abortion ban that`s ever been passed. Obviously, Governor
Ivey has a really important decision to be made. This bill should not be
signed into law.
As you said, not only it would essentially end all abortions, legal
abortions in the state of Alabama, but it also would put doctors into jail
for up to 99 years. You know, obviously, this completely flies in the face
of Roe versus Wade, a court decision that was made more than 40 years ago.
This is a right women have had for all those years. Women are not going to
go back in America.
O`DONNELL: Is there any chance that the governor will veto this?
RICHARDS: I have no idea. But if she has – if she`s actually thinking
about the future and well-being of people in her state, she should not sign
I was so struck by one of the senators tonight, Senator Singleton, who
talked about what it was like to be the father of two daughters and the
state of Alabama by passing this legislation is basically saying to them,
you don`t matter, we don`t care about you.
It`s a really terrible day for the state of Alabama.
O`DONNELL: What could their legal theory be? This is a direct and
complete and full conflict with Roe versus Wade. Did they actually believe
they can get this case to the Supreme Court and this Supreme Court with two
Trump nominees will then completely struck down Roe versus Wade, because
that`s what you`d have to do to sustain this law?
RICHARDS: That`s – no, you`re correct. I mean, I don`t know what`s in
their mind. As we know, this is not the first time they`ve passed bills
that have been unconstitutional.
But, look, I think women are very worried – women and men in this country
are very worried now with the confirmation of Judge Kavanaugh. Roe is
hanging by a very thin thread.
But I think the other thing that`s really important to remember, this is a
country that supports abortion rights overwhelmingly. In fact, support for
Roe is stronger than it`s ever been, and I think that`s one of the reasons
we see women not only running for office, the vast majority of voters in
this country, 20 percent of Americans have marched or taken part in a
protest since the Trump inauguration. And the main reason has been women`s
So I think this is a, you know, I certainly hope that this law is declared
unconstitutional, but I will tell you, this is sending a chill across the
country and women are noticing and women are organizing.
O`DONNELL: And this – the Alabama legislature has a history, as you say,
of passing these bills that do get struck down in federal court at great
legal expense to the state. In legal fees as they go through this process.
And so, it`s possible that some of these legislators have just gotten
comfortable with the idea that they can do this as a stunt and as a way of
showing, you know, where they stand on this, knowing that they`ll never
have to live with the consequences.
RICHARDS: That may be true, Lawrence, but obviously it`s still incredibly
irresponsible to pass this kind of legislation. And I think that – I
think women are taking notice.
You know, it used to be – and I think Rachel mentioned this earlier – it
used to be that they passed these kinds of bills saying that they were
supposedly to protect the health and well-being of mothers. This is an
all-out abortion ban. The govern – you know, the legislators have said
it. The governor now can do the right thing and stand up for women in the
state of Alabama.
But I`m telling you, this is something that women are noticing all across
the country and women are going to be the deciding voters in the 2020
O`DONNELL: What does an issue like this now do in the presidential
election and the congressional elections?
RICHARDS: I think it`s going to absolutely put the issue of safe and legal
abortion on the ballot – and as it has been, but more in a theoretical
sense. I think with the confirmation of Kavanaugh, the real shift of the
court, obviously, Justice Breyer`s dissent this week. I think people are
concerned that this is a court that is ready potentially to overturn
precedent and a decision that was made more than 40 years ago that
guaranteed the constitutional right to abortion.
And one thing, Lawrence, I think is important to remember – look, abortion
existed before roe versus wade. It was simply unsafe and women died
routinely, healthy women in emergency rooms across America. I`m just
telling you, women in this country are not going to go back to those days.
O`DONNELL: Cecile, I think this is the first time we`ve sat here as close
watchers of the Supreme Court on this issue for the last four decades –
O`DONNELL: – and we really don`t know how this court would rule on this.
RICHARDS: I think we don`t. I mean, obviously, a lot of us really voiced
this concern in the Kavanaugh hearings and in the confirmation hearings.
But, listen, Donald Trump said he was only going to appoint justices who
would overturn Roe versus Wade, and I think we have to start believing him
and taking him at his word, and we`ll see if that, in fact, is what he`s
done and .
O`DONNELL: Cecile Richards, thank you very much for joining us on this
breaking news tonight. Really appreciate it.
RICHARDS: Thank you, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Thank you.
And when we come back, we have a new question that Robert Mueller will be
asked before he testifies before Congress and it comes from Vladimir Putin.
You will hear what Vladimir Putin said about the Mueller investigation,
O`DONNELL: Today, once again, President Trump denounced the Mueller
investigation. While in Moscow today, Vladimir Putin praised the Mueller
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (thru translator): However exotic
special counsel Mueller was, I have to say on the whole he had a very
objective investigation and he confirmed that there are no traces
whatsoever of collusion between Russia and the incumbent administration,
which we said was absolutely fake.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Vladimir Putin neglected to mention that the Mueller report
conclusively proves that Vladimir Putin ordered Russia`s interference in
our presidential election. Vladimir Putin neglected to mention that Robert
Mueller indicted 13 members of the Russian military who carried out
Vladimir Putin`s order to attack American democracy.
Tonight, the “Associated Press” is reporting after an FBI briefing, Florida
Governor Ron DeSantis says Russian hackers gained access to voter databases
in two Florida counts ahead of the 2016 election. The governor said he
signed an agreement with the FBI not to disclose the names of the counties,
but elections officials in those counties are aware of the intrusions.
After this break, we will consider how many ways Robert Mueller will
disagree with Vladimir Putin when Robert Mueller eventually testifies to
the House Judiciary Committee.
O`DONNELL: What is it like for Robert Mueller sitting at home tonight
watching Vladimir Putin lie about the Mueller report and Donald Trump lie
about the Mueller report and what will Robert Mueller have to say about
that when he eventually does testify to the House Judiciary Committee?
Joining us now, Ben Rhodes, former deputy national security adviser to
President Obama and Ned Price, former CIA analyst and a former senior
director and spokesperson for the National Security Council in the Obama
administration. Both are MSNBC contributors.
Ben, I really want to get your reaction to what you heard Vladimir Putin
say today about the Mueller report.
BEN RHODES, FORMER OBAMA DEPUTY NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR: Well, first of
all, Lawrence, it`s kind of chilling to hear the president of Russia, an
adversary of the United States that we know is still currently, actively
aiming to undermine our democracy echo the words of the president of the
United States, using the exact same formulation that there was no
And also to know that the Trump administration, whether it`s President
Trump or Secretary of State Pompeo, is going to do nothing, nothing to
address the finding in the Mueller report that Vladimir Putin directed the
systematic attack on our democracy in 2016 and is planning to do that again
This is happening right before our eyes, a foreign adversary attacking our
democracy, and we have an administration that is doing nothing about that,
despite the very clear findings in the Mueller report.
O`DONNELL: And we know the administration`s doing nothing and we know
you`re not allowed to mention it to the president of the United States if
you work in the Trump administration, but Mike Pompeo did mention it in
Russia today when he was with the foreign minister Sergei Lavrov. Let`s
listen to that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE POMPEO, SECRETARY OF STATE: I made clear to Foreign Minister Lavrov,
as we`ve made it clear for the past months, that interference in American
elections is unacceptable. If the Russians were to engage in that in 2020,
it would put our relationship in an even worse place than it has been and I
encourage them not to do that, that we would not tolerate that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Ned Price, that`s what Mike Pompeo says to reporters but Lavrov
is sitting there knowing that the United States has done absolutely nothing
NED PRICE, FORMER CIA ANALYST: Well, and Lavrov is also sitting there
knowing that President Trump himself, on numerous occasions, has had an
opportunity to raise this with Vladimir Putin and failed to do so, the
individual who was responsible for this multi-problem attack on our
democracy and failed to do so. Most recently failed to do so during their
May 3rd phone conversation.
Look, I think the broader point here, Lawrence, is that we`re seeing this
strange and wild metamorphosis that Ben alluded to. If you were just
reading a transcript of President Trump and President Putin, you would have
a hard time discerning which one was the purported leader of the free world
and which one was the former KGB head and now head of the Russian
Let me just give you a couple of examples. In their phone call earlier
this month, President Trump immediately thereafter took to Twitter and
gleefully announced that they had discussed the “Russian hoax”. The
Kremlin, for its part, actually put out this pretty professional-sounding
readout that sounds like a readout that Ben or I would have put out in the
Obama administration, saying they discussed issues of mutual concern.
Today, moreover, President Putin, as you showed, actually referred to the
Mueller report as objective. Meanwhile, half a world away President Trump
was attacking the director of the FBI. The leader of the free world is
increasingly mimicking and taking on the tones of the person who attacked
us in 2016 and continues that today.
O`DONNELL: And, Ben, the president knows that he came in second in the
vote and won the electoral college just barely with the help of Russia and
Vladimir Putin. Why would the president think he doesn`t need the help of
Russia and Vladimir Putin this time, and when you hear Mike Pompeo saying
that would not be tolerated, they just wouldn`t tolerate it if Russia
helped Donald Trump again, we just won`t tolerate that?
RHODES: Yes. Look, I don`t believe Mike Pompeo for a second that he
pressed Sergei Lavrov on this. There are very concrete things they should
You heard about the hacking of the voter rolls in Florida. We could be
providing cybersecurity assistance to all our states to protect our
elections. We could be imposing additional consequences on Russia through
sanctions to deter them from doing this. We should be working with tech
companies to get at the poison that is entering the social media accounts
of Americans from Russia intervention in our election.
What worries me, Lawrence is they want the Russians to intervene again.
They`ve essentially said that the Mueller report showed nothing wrong.
They`re signaling, we welcome foreign intervention in our elections.
And the reality is if in 2016 this took place, imagine what could take
place in 2020 with Donald Trump having all the resources of the U.S.
federal government at his disposal seeking Russian intervention in our
election, seeking any advantage he can get on a Democrat. This is
something that really should be getting alarm bells ringing in Congress.
And, frankly, aggressive action from the House Democratic majority to
figure out what is going on here and what needs to be done and putting
things on the table like funding for government agencies that are supposed
to be protecting our democracy and essentially have been told to stand down
by the president of the United States.
O`DONNELL: And, Ned, in the middle of these kinds of news developments
like Vladimir Putin on the Mueller report and so forth, we have the
administration in some kind of increased posture of confrontation with
Iran. And with this administration, with this president, it`s very
difficult to tell how real that is or how much of that is simply a Donald
Trump distraction from other news that he doesn`t want people paying
PRICE: Well, that`s right. And unfortunately, you know, the stakes with
Iran are incredibly high. The stakes with Venezuela are incredibly high.
But the fact of the matter is that this administration has squandered its
credibility across the globe with our foreign policy, but especially with
Look, you listen to John Bolton and to people like Mike Pompeo talk about
an increased threat from Iran and you can`t help but think back to the
early part of the 2000s when John Bolton was very credibly accused of
manipulating intelligence. And he actually was not – his nomination as
our ambassador to the United Nations did not go through.
You look at Mike Pompeo, who as CIA director actually manipulated and
weaponized intelligence, releasing information that painted a picture of a
close relationship between Iran and Al Qaeda, a relationship that is
anything but close, in an effort to tie Iran to a terrorist organization,
Al Qaeda, so that it would fall under what`s called the authorization for
the use of military force of 2001.
You look at the steps they have taken and you look at the contradiction
between what the Brits have said, what our closest allies have said,
Pompeo`s counterparts that he flew to Brussels and got a chilly reception
from this week, and you see a stark contrast. And we can`t help but think
that it`s our administration, not the others, who are increasingly
manipulating and off the reservation when it comes to the fact of the –
the facts on the ground in Iran.
O`DONNELL: Ben Rhodes, quick last word on the situation with Iran.
RHODES: I take this very seriously, Lawrence. We have reports of military
planning and we have an administration that essentially has been trying to
goad Iran into giving them a pretext for war. This feels very similar –
this is deja vu all over again to the Iraq war.
This is John Bolton cooking up intelligence again. This is moving military
assets to the Middle East. A war with Iran would be a disaster and we have
a president of the United States who has consistently lied about the threat
from Iran. I think we all have to be very concerned about the direction
this is taking because it`s nowhere good.
O`DONNELL: Ben Rhodes and Ned Price, thank you both for joining us
tonight. Really appreciate it.
And when we come back, the NRA is finally attacking the right enemy,
O`DONNELL: The Daniel Patrick Moynihan Prize was established in 2008 by
the American Academy of Political and Social Science to recognize public
officials and scholars who make major contributions to public policy.
Alice Rivlin was the perfect first recipient of the Moynihan Prize because
like Senator Moynihan, her career included a combination of scholarship and
public service. Congress literally did not know what it was doing until
Alice Rivlin became the first head of the newly formed Congressional Budget
Office in 1975.
Before that, Congress used to legislate with only the wildest of guesses
about how much things cost. Alice Rivlin changed all that by issuing the
official cost estimates for legislation that Congress was then required to
Her first government position was as an assistant secretary in President
Johnson`s Department of Health, Education, and Welfare. She served in
President Clinton`s cabinet as the director of the Office of Management and
Budget. She later served on the Federal Reserve.
Between government positions, Alice Rivlin repeatedly returned to the
Brookings Institution where she contributed to policy papers and always
instructive op-ed pieces. She once told “The New York Times”, “I`m a
writer who sometimes serves in government rather than a government worker
who sometimes writes.”
I saw the awe with which Senator Moynihan, himself, a world-class – a
world-renowned scholar and a former Harvard professor always regarded Alice
Rivlin when she testified to his committee or conferred with him privately
in his office. That awe was shared by most members of Congress on both
sides of the aisle in those days who always wanted to know the same thing.
What does Alice think?
The Brookings Institution announced that Alice Rivlin passed away today.
Alice Rivlin was 88-years-old.
O`DONNELL: The National Rifle Association has finally picked the right
battle with the right enemy. That enemy, of course, is the National Rifle
At the center of that war within the NRA stands the NRA`s Chief Executive,
Wayne LaPierre. Now, I have to admit to being wrong about Wayne LaPierre
because I`ve always said that he devoted his professional life to making
sure that America`s mass murderers are the very best equipped mass
murderers in the world but it turns out, he`s also devoted his professional
life to wildly and probably very illegally abusing the finances of the
National Rifle Association, which is to say abusing the $35 a year that NRA
members send to Wayne LaPierre for their memberships.
When “The Wall Street Journal” first reported on the stunning level of
Wayne LaPierre`s personal use of NRA money, the NRA`s new president,
Caroline Meadows released a statement saying “the entire board is fully
aware of these issues. We have full confidence in Wayne LaPierre.”
That didn`t sound quite right at the time. And now we know just how untrue
it is because one of the board members released a statement today calling
Caroline Meadows` statement “outright lies”. Alan West served one term as
a Republican member of the House of Representatives and is now in his
second term as an NRA board member.
And today, he issued a written statement saying, “I have never been told,
advised, informed, or consulted about any of these details mentioned in
“The Wall Street Journal” and who knows how much more despicable spending
of members` money.”
Alan West added, “These statements have maliciously, recklessly, and
purposefully put me and uninformed board members in legal jeopardy.” Alan
West is trying to make it very clear that he has no part in the financial
fraud that is now being exposed at the NRA.
Alan West revealed today that he supported former NRA President Oliver
North`s effort to get Wayne LaPierre to resign before all of this scandal
became public but Wayne LaPierre won that power struggle inside the NRA and
forced Oliver North to resign.
Alan West says, “There is a cabal of cronyism operating within the NRA and
that exists within the board of directors.” This is becoming public
because the NRA decided to sue the advertising agency that it had used for
many years, claiming that the advertising agency`s billing was inaccurate
And so as part of responding to that lawsuit, the advertising agency sent
this letter to Wayne LaPierre in an attempt to clarify some of the
underlying costs in the bills that the agency had sent to the NRA. The
letter says, “We need to address your wardrobe. You required us to
provide, specifically purchases at the Zegna Store in Beverly Hills.”
And right there in the middle of the letter is the breathtaking total that
Wayne LaPierre spent on clothing which he billed to the NRA`s advertising
agency which then rebilled that to the NRA so that Wayne LaPierre`s clothes
were actually paid for with NRA dues, $274,695.03, all from just one store.
In Beverly Hills.
Twice Wayne LaPierre spent $39,000 in a single day at the Zegna Store. The
last time Wayne LaPierre spent $39,000 in a day at the Zegna Store was
September 22, 2015.
And that should have been enough clothes for the rest of his life but a
year later, he spent $4,185 at the same store. And then five months after
that, he spent another $21,080 at the Zegna Store in Beverly Hills.
All of it, NRA dues money. The advertising agency that paid for the
purchases at the store no doubt deducted the $274,000 as a legitimate
business expense, which it is not. And so the advertising agency is now in
real trouble with the IRS.
Wayne LaPierre is now in probably bigger trouble with the IRS because
according to tax law, the hundreds of thousands of dollars in clothing that
Wayne LaPierre grabbed out of that store in Beverly Hills is considered
regular income to Wayne LaPierre, $274,000 of regular income.
And surely, Wayne LaPierre is very unlikely to declare that as income on
his tax returns. So Wayne LaPierre is probably in very, very deep tax
trouble now. Then comes the law firm that has represented the NRA for
Today in the “Daily Beast,” Betsy Woodruff reports that the NRA has been
paying an outside law firm $100,000 a day. None of the legal experts who
have studied the billing can understand it. $100,000 a day, that`s just
off the charts, said Deborah Rhode, a legal ethics expert from Stanford Law
The law firm sells itself as a multitasking law firm and includes in its
list of skills crisis management. And now the NRA`s law firm`s outrageous
billing has delivered a new crisis to the NRA which no one can manage.
The New York State attorney general is investigating all of this for
violations of New York State`s laws and regulations governing non-profit
groups like the NRA. Wayne LaPierre`s lavish personal spending has not
been limited to clothes. He also spent a couple hundred thousand dollars
on air travel and a very peculiar expense for an apartment in Fairfax,
Virginia, for a summer intern.
Wayne LaPierre spent well over $4,000 per month, per month, for an
apartment for a young woman who was a summer intern for a total summer rent
of of $13,804.84 all paid for – with NRA dues and that is a very, very
expensive apartment for Fairfax, Virginia. Wayne Lapierre and the NRA`s
crisis management law firm have not offered one word of explanation about
that apartment that Wayne Lapierre rented for the summer for that young
woman. Not one word.
Wayne Lapierre and the NRA`s law firm and the NRA board members who are at
war with each other are going to need a lot more crisis management. That`s
tonight`s LAST WORD. “THE 11TH HOUR” with Brian Williams starts now.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
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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